Scientology staffers who sell Hubbard's courses are called "registrars." They earn commissions on their sales and are skilled at eliciting every facet of an individual's finances, including bank accounts, stocks, cars, houses, whatever can be converted to cash.
"I remember being dragged across a desk by my tie because I hadn't made my (sales quota)," said Barnes, who once toured the world selling Scientology until he had a bitter break with the group.
Barnes and other ex-Scientologists say that this uncompromising push to generate more money each week places intense pressure on registrars.
Another former Scientology salesman in Los Angeles said he and other registrars would use a tactic called "crush regging." The technique, he said, employed no elaborate sales talk. They repeated three words again and again: "Sign the check. Sign the check."
"This made the person feel so harassed," he said, "that he would sign the check because it was the only way he was going to get out of there."
A 1984 investigative report by Canadian authorities quoted a Toronto registrar as saying that members of the public want to be "bled of their money. . . . If they didn't, they would be staff members eligible for free training."
The Canadian report also recounted a meeting during which Scientology staffers chanted: "Go for the throat. Go for blood. Go for the bloody throat."
Former Scientologist Donna Day of Ventura said that church registrars accused her of throwing away money on rent and on food for her cats and dogs--"degraded beings," they called her pets. They said the money should be going to the church.
"I was so upset, I finally left the house with them sitting in it," said Day, who sued the church to get back $25,000 she said she had spent on Scientology.
Several years ago, church members persuaded a Florida woman to turn over a workers compensation settlement she received after the death of her husband, Larry M. Wheaton, who left behind two children, ages 3 and 7. He was the pilot of an Air Florida jet that plunged into the Potomac River after it had departed Washington, D.C.'s National Airport in 1982.
The Wheatons were longtime church members.
Joanne Wheaton gave nearly $150,000 to the church and almost as much to a private business controlled by Scientologists. But the deal was blocked when a lawsuit was brought by an attorney appointed by the court to protect the children's interests.
The suit claimed that the Scientologists had disregarded the future welfare and financial security of the Wheaton family by taking money that was supposed to be used solely for the support of the children and their mother.
After protracted discussions, the money was refunded and the Scientologists who negotiated the deal were expelled by the church for their role in the affair.
For years, one of Scientology's top promoters was Larry Wollersheim. He traveled the country inspiring others to follow him across Hubbard's Bridge. Then he became disenchanted with the movement.
In 1980, he filed a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, accusing the church of subjecting him to psychologically damaging practices and of driving him to the brink of insanity and financial ruin after he had a falling out with the group.
Three years ago, a jury awarded him $30 million. The award was recently reduced to $2.5 million.
During the litigation, Wollersheim filed a 200-page affidavit in which he offered this analysis of what keeps Scientologists hooked:
"Fear and hope are totally indoctrinated into the cult (Scientology) member. He hopes that he will receive the miraculous and ridiculous claims made directly, indirectly and by rumor by the sect and its members.
"He is afraid of the peer pressure for not proceeding up the prescribed program. He is intimidated and afraid of being accused of being a dilettante. He is afraid that if he doesn't do it now before the world ends or collapses he may never get the chance. He is afraid if he doesn't claim he received gains and write a success testimonial he will be shunned. . . .
"How many people could stand up to that kind of pressure and stand before a group of applauding people and say: 'Hey, it really wasn't good.'?"
Wollersheim said that the courses provide only a temporary euphoria.
"Then you're sold the next mystery and the next solution. . . . I've seen people sell their homes, stocks, inheritances and everything they own chasing their hopes for a fleeting, subjective euphoria. I have never witnessed a greater preying on the hopes and fears of others that has been carefully engineered by the cult's leader."