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Carl Barney  Versus  Objectivity
By  William Swig

For those arriving late to this story I’ll begin by recapping some prior events. Two days before his birthday in 2016, Carl Barney was featured in a New York Times article for which he had been interviewed. The article stated that with some embarrassment he had admitted to once dabbling briefly in Scientology. [1]  Then in 2017 ARI Watch exposed that statement as a gross misrepresentation of the truth, in the article Who is Carl Barney? He had not briefly dabbled,” he drank the entire pitcher of Kool-Aid !  Barney spent about two decades ladder-climbing within Scientology. He was a student, an auditor, an executive-in-training, a franchise (or mission) holder, a reverend of the Church, and, as we shall see, his relationship with Scientology did not end there.

But first a little more recapping. After being hectored on social media, in July 2019  two years after the ARI Watch exposé had appeared  The Objective Standard finally began defending Barney, initially speaking on his behalf, then publishing a letter he wrote to Craig Biddle. Instead of addressing the New York Times or ARI Watch directly, The Objective Standard chose to address unattributed gossip and smears. [2]  In this evasive manner some relatively minor misconceptions were identified, such as whether Barney had joined Scientology’s Sea Organization. He had not. However, given the pile of evidence against him, Barney and friends were compelled to accept the major point of contention: that his time in Scientology was no mere dalliance, it was more like a marriage. He had been heavily involved in Scientology for many years, even running several of its missions.

Barney, in his letter to Biddle, now offers an excuse for his serious involvement in Scientology (though not for misrepresenting it to the New York Times). He states that in the past Scientology benefited lives. He does not say that he mistook it for a real value and left once its harmful nature became apparent. If he did that we might sympathize with him. Instead, to repeat, Barney wants us to accept that the Scientology of yesteryear was a beneficent enterprise, and that he knows this from firsthand experience.  As he says:
In the early days, I got a lot of benefit from Scientology courses, as did many others. The courses in communication, personal efficiency, relationships, and counseling helped a lot of people. And many good people engaged in them. While it is embarrassing to be connected to Scientology in any way today, I do not regret and am not ashamed of anything I did while involved.
It would help Barney’s case if he explained how Scientology courses and counseling benefited him. But he does not do that in The Objective Standard article. He mostly doubles down on the general proposition that Scientology benefited him in some unspecified way.  He continues:
In addition to the courses, people gained value from the practice of auditing, which consists of asking structured questions that help a person to introspect, overcome mental blocks, and think more clearly about his life, goals and choices. Because licensing laws forbade non-licensed counselors from using the term psychotherapy, the practice was called auditing or counseling instead. [3]
Yes, but how did Barney himself benefit from this psychotherapy? How did Scientology affect his life in particular? What made it better than other forms of counseling?

Barney presents himself today as a living example of Ayn Rand’s philosophy in action. He doesn’t just discuss her ideas, he talks about his own application of them in his personal life and business. [4]  Thus, in order to objectively evaluate what he says one must check the veracity of his personal story, which comprises the evidence for his claims. To justify his past involvement with Scientology, he likewise appeals to his personal story, except that period of his life remains largely a mystery. An objective critic therefore has only two options. Either dismiss his assertions of benefits as arbitrary, or do some research and see what his life in Scientology was really like.

I chose to do the research.

A Scientology Family

I seek the answer to one question: Did Scientology benefit Carl Barney? Skeptical of his claim, I want to find authentic documentation of that period in his life. But I will not make public personal details that I believe to be unnecessary in arguing my case. I will respect Barney’s privacy as best as I can. However, if he should challenge my facts, I am prepared to provide more details and to assist readers in finding the source material for themselves.

I started the investigation by casually typing names and words into search engines and following clues online. The Internet rabbit-hole ran very deep, across strange and unfamiliar ground, but eventually I found something very interesting at the end of that tunnel: the file number for an old divorce case.

More serious now, I put the computer away and visited a county records building, where I reacquainted myself with microfiche film. From the contents of the file I learned many things about Barney’s hidden history within Scientology.

The file revealed that in 1973 Barney had married a Scientologist. Looking through official Scientology publications, I found her maiden name listed under staff members at Washington, DC in the early 1960s. At that time the DC location was Scientology’s Central Organization in America. L. Ron Hubbard himself worked and lectured there as Executive Director, and his wife, Mary Sue, was the Director of Administration. [5]

By 1973 Barney’s wife, like him, had already achieved the status of Clear and had become an advanced auditor. At the end of the marriage a decade later she was at least a level 5 Operating Thetan (OT V), a seriously committed Scientologist trusted with some of the religion’s greatest secrets. [6]

So we can say Scientology benefited Barney by helping him find a wife, who, in addition to romance, provided him with a son in 1975. Unfortunately those benefits did not last. According to Barney’s declaration in the file, he and his wife separated emotionally in 1976. They continued occupying the same home for their son’s sake. But in December 1983 she filed for divorce, and in February 1984 she used a restraining order to keep him out of the family’s house.

Around this time Barney was declared a suppressive person (SP) by the Church of Scientology, which instructs members to disconnect” from SPs. [7]  In his declaration Barney explicitly accuses his wife of using the Scientology practice of fair game, treating him as an enemy who may be lied to, tricked, sued or destroyed. [8]  The above facts strongly suggest that by 1984 Barney had been declared an SP. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that his wife, after tolerating his presence for a decade, suddenly changed her mind on account of Church policy, and that Scientology is substantially to blame for Barney’s divorce and for his eviction from his own home.

The divorce became final in December 1984. Barney won joint custody and the right to visit his son frequently. However, he claims on the record that his now ex-wife subsequently interfered with his rights and alienated their son against him. Barney says he ceased child support payments in 1987, when she effectively hid their son from him. He apparently did not take her to court, as one might expect from a father eager to maintain a healthy relationship with his son. Instead, the file shows that he reduced his role as father, twice letting a year pass between visits.

In 1989 his ex-wife enrolled their son in a very strict, long-term boarding school that did not permit off-campus visits. A few months later she took Barney to court again to stop him from removing their son from the school campus. Barney argued to the court that six years after their divorce his ex-wife was continuing the fair game harassment. He blamed her behavior on her studies of Scientology and the book The Art of War. [9]  The case was settled out of court in 1991. It’s not clear if Barney has seen his son since then.

In 2019 Barney claimed that he hadn’t followed Scientology for 40 years, and so he wasn’t aware of its current practices. [10]  Yet he had been married to a Scientologist 35 years before and had personally experienced her Scientology-based wrath for at least six years after that. Additionally, I suspect a flare up occurred in the early 2000s, when she found him living in another state and tried to collect unpaid child support. So Barney might not have been following Scientology, but clearly it was following him. And he was certainly aware of its practices, having been the target of them. Scientology helped destroy his marriage, and it interfered with his relationship with his son. This is not on the benefit side of the ledger.

The Business of Scientology

Scientology clearly harmed Barney’s family life, but what did it do for his business life?

He tells us via Craig Biddle in The Objective Standard that from his nonprofit Scientology franchises he received a small salary, less than $1,000 dollars a month. Considering that he ran five missions simultaneously throughout the 1970s, that is indeed not much money per mission per month. It was actually from an unnamed friend, he says, that he learned how to purchase a property with a small down payment, improve the property, and sell it at a profit. And that basic real estate practice, he claims, is how he made his first millions. [11]  Thus, Barney himself does not credit his great business success to anything he learned from Scientology.

So if the religion did not help him become a multi-millionaire, what effect, if any, did it have on his business interests?

Barney told the New York Times that before discovering Scientology he sold encyclopedias door to door and picked grapes in Australia, and that he was good at it. [12]  So he was already a hard worker and an accomplished salesman before deciding to push Hubbard’s books on the public instead of encyclopedias. Church courses in communication and efficiency might have contributed to his existing skills, but they did not turn him into a successful salesman. Also, at OCON 2016 he spoke of leaving home at eighteen. He traveled by land around the globe with only $150 dollars and a backpack to his name, while surviving on penny bunches of bananas. [13]  With a résumé like that he probably could have taught an efficiency course himself the first day he walked into the Melbourne mission.

In 1971 Barney spent two months aboard the Scientology flagship Apollo. He paid to take the Flag Executive Briefing Course. [14]  Here is a description from The Auditor, the Church of Scientology’s monthly journal:
The Flag Executive Briefing Course covers the basics of Organization and organizing for any Scientology organization or business and is open to anyone who wishes to attain full training in Executive leadership and management. [15]
Biddle says that Barney hated the experience, because some of the crew and passengers were hostile to free-enterprise people like him. [16]  It seems unlikely that such haters of free-enterprise provided the benefits to which Barney alludes. In fact, it sounds like this business course had a mostly negative effect on his life. Nevertheless he remained a missions holder for another eight years afterward.

Despite Barney’s claim that his missions earned him only a small salary, they made a lot of money for the Church. He was considered a top-earning, major franchise holder, having been given prime locations in Southern California. But something awful happened in 1979 and he lost all of his missions. His Scientology business came to an ignoble end, and at the hands of other Scientologists. According to Cheryl Sola, who worked for Barney at the time, he was accused of illegally using funds, and consequently the Mother Church put his missions into receivership. [17]  Peter Greene, an original franchise holder, gave his insider’s account in a 1982 debrief. He claimed that the Church’s Guardian’s Office had been planning to steal Barney’s missions for years, and that they also took $4 million dollars from him. [18]

Barney’s divorce file covers some of this time period and reveals additional information about Scientology’s effect on his business and finances. At the end of July 1979 he opened a service account called Flag Services and Accommodations, which suggests that the Flag Service Organization [19]  was possibly sending a team to investigate his missions  a service for which he would have been required to pay many thousands of dollars per day. [20]  This is also consistent with Cheryl Sola’s story that crazy things were happening at Barney’s Scientology Coordinated Services corporation just prior to [her Clear check] auditing, which occurred in August 1979.  A second possibility is that Barney used the account to pay for services and lodging at Flag in Clearwater, Florida. [21]

The file further reveals that Barney loaned his wife $12,500 dollars on the same day he opened the Flag service account. He then loaned her $20,000 in August, $10,000 in September, and $25,000 in November, a grand total of $67,500  debt which he ultimately forgave in the divorce settlement.

Depending on whether Flag visited his missions, and for how long, Barney might have given close to $100,000 dollars to Scientologists in the span of only four months in 1979.  And they still took his missions in the end.

Finally, there is the related question of why the Church went after Barney at that particular time. I suspect it had something to do with the Riverside mission being raided a month and a half earlier, on June 13, 1979. [22]  The Riverside mission, while not one of Barney’s, was only an hour’s drive from his locations in Los Angeles. Sheriff’s deputies had learned of a possible loan fraud scam and seized several boxes of evidence during the search. Flag might have used that event to justify its own raid on Barney’s missions. Perhaps they sought to prevent another incident like Riverside, which resulted in bad press and several members later being arrested. [23]  Or perhaps, as Peter Greene said, Flag was executing a plan to steal Barney’s missions. Whatever the purpose, the result was financial damage and the collapse of his career in Scientology.

Vestigial Scientology

Earlier I quoted Barney saying that it is embarrassing to be connected to Scientology in any way today. Presumably he refers to the exposure of his past activity in organized Scientology. But it’s not clear how that exposure might be embarrassing when he is not ashamed of anything [he] did while involved. Taking his statement literally, he does not admit to any embarrassment because he admits no present connection to Scientology. Nor should he, if he no longer believes in it. But anyone who spends two decades in a cultish religion will likely retain vestiges of that system long after they try to move away from it.

We sometimes hear ex-Scientologists say that they don’t regret their time in Scientology. Besides Barney, another example is actress and critic Leah Remini, who had been raised as a Scientologist from the age of nine. [24]  At the end of a 2015 interview with Nightline she said: I don’t regret spending my life there, because it really did teach me a lot. [25]

To Remini’s credit she also harshly judges the Church in subsequent interviews. On Larry King Now she even referred to her former Scientologist-self as a liar and a fraud. [26]

Back to the point, though no regrets may be a common idea, it is rule #11 in the ethical code of Scientology (published in 1953 by Hubbard himself): Never regret yesterday. Life is in you today, and you make your own tomorrow. [27]

Regret is the recognition that a prior action was a mistake and should not be repeated. It links that past behavior with a negative judgment, so that we think twice before doing it again. But such rational self-criticism apparently runs counter to Scientology’s code. Also consider rule #4: Never disparage yourself or minimize your strength or power. That sounds like a fine maxim  except when we objectively deserve strong criticism.

Scientologists who find themselves expelled from and shunned by the Church naturally have trouble changing their ways. Some try to live by the Scientology code as an outcast, because they never really rejected it. They refer to themselves as Independent Scientologists. They criticize church leader David Miscavige and some of the more extreme beliefs and practices, such as Xenu and fair game. They’re reformists who maintain much of the ethical dogmas and defend the main practice of auditing. [28]  Others join a different religious or ideological movement. They adopt a new label, possibly try to hide the old one, and thereby potentially infect the new movement with the Hubbardian virus, the remains of which linger in their mind and continue affecting their thought and action.

By operating several Scientology missions Barney did much more to advance that harmful religion than any average Scientologist. He should regret what he did as a Scientologist. But he cannot regret what he refuses to examine objectively.

At OCON 2016 Barney completely excised his Scientology career from his brief autobiography. He found time to describe the benefits of cheap bananas and luggage racks, but not one second to explain the great benefits of Scientology, the belief system he actually discovered in Australia while allegedly searching Earth for morality and a purpose in life. Only now, when he cannot deny the extent of his past involvement, has he begun to praise Scientology publicly.


Acknowledgement:  The author thanks Mark Hunter for his assistance in editing and improving this article.

1  New York Times, An Ayn Rand Acolyte Selling Students a Self-Made Dream by Patricia Cohen, May 7, 2016.

2  The Objective Standard, Regarding Carl Barney and Scientology by Craig Biddle, July 15, 2019.

3  The Objective Standard, Regarding Carl Barney and Scientology, Part Three.

4  Ayn Rand Summer Conference, The Objectivist Ethics Applied to Life and Business by Carl Barney, July 7, 2016.  (The Ayn Rand Institute made this video private sometime between July 2020 and November 2020. The link is to a copy on the Internet Wayback Machine.)

5  See archived issues of Ability magazine at The International Association for the Preservation of Spiritualist and Occult Periodicals (IAPSOP).

6  Barney’s and his wife’s status was verified by searching Scientology magazines and the database at Truth About Scientology.

7  Based on leaked Suppressive Persons lists available at Scribd (search the site for “uppressive persons”) and IDOCPUB, Barney was declared SP sometime after January 27, 1983 and before September 10, 1991. He does not appear on the ’83 list (SO ED 2192 INT) and does appear on the ’91 list (FLAG ED 2830). From SO ED 2192 INT (Sea Organization Executive Directive 2192 International):  This issue is the list of declared suppressive persons. It is for your use to safeguard the lines of your Org or Mission and to ensure that these individuals are not connected to or on lines of your Org or Mission in any way.

8  In his declaration, Barney quotes the definition of fair game from Scientology literature.  For more on this policy see Scientology Fair Game by Mike Rinder, July 30, 2019.

9  Presumably The Art of War by Sun Tzu, though no author was specified.

10  The Objective Standard, Regarding Carl Barney and Scientology, Part Three.

11  The Objective Standard, Regarding Carl Barney and Scientology, Part Two.

12  See New York Times article (also referenced in note 1).

13  See ARI’s OCON 2016 video (also referenced in note 4).

14  The Auditor, issue #64 (1971), page 8. Barney is listed as being currently on the course.

15  The Auditor, issue #58 (1970), New Course at Flag!, page 7.

16  The Objective Standard, Regarding Carl Barney and Scientology, Part Two.

17  Xenu.net (Operation Clambake), The Cheryl S Story by Cheryl S, June 1999.

18  Xenu.net, Peter Greene Debrief by Peter Greene (transcript), June  23, 1982.

19  Flag is Scientology’s spiritual headquarters in Florida.  See  Scientology.org.

20  See Xenu.net, The 1982 US Mission Holders’ Conference (transcript), October 17, 1982. Near the end of the transcript Lesevre and Reynolds mention that teams sent to clean up missions cost $15,000 per day.

21  Around the same time Barney opened the service account (July 31, 1979), he took a Scientology course of auditing called  ARC Straightwire.  His service completion is listed in issue #21 (June/July 1979) of Source, the official magazine of Flag Land Base. Lists from this periodical are furnished by  TruthAboutScientology.com.

22  San Bernardino Sun, Deputies hold raid on church by Tina May, June 14, 1979.

23  San Bernardino Sun, Riverside D.A. lodges charges by Alan Ashby, October 20, 1979. Also, at this time Barney might have been close friends with one of the arrested Scientologists, Bent Corydon. In an early 1980s Appeals Court case, Church of Scientology Mission of Riverside vs. Bent Corydon (E-006764), Barney is named as having given Corydon a personal loan sometime before March 1982.

24  See Remini’s entry at  Wikipedia.

25  ABC News, Leah Remini Says She Doesn’t Regret Life in Scientology, Nightline, October 30, 2015.

26  Ora.TV, Leah Remini on Scientology: I was a fraud, Larry King Now, December 16, 2016.

27  See Scientology.org, The Code of Honor by L. Ron Hubbard, 1954. Also, a special 1959 issue of Ability (#94M) titled The Codes of Scientology included The Code of Honor. From the cover text:  When you abide by these Codes then you are successful. When you stray from them then you have Mankind to answer to when success and progress aren’t among your fruits.

28  To learn more about Independent Scientology, visit  iScientology.org  and the  Free Zone.

Published  April 4, 2020.  Material added April 20, 2020.  On February 27, 2023: (1) the link of Note 4 changed to a copy on archive.org, also known as the Internet Wayback Machine, (2) the same for the first link of Note 28, (3) explanatory remark added to first link of Note 7.