Arrows in the Dark, by Merrell Vannier, is a page-turning true account of the Church of Scientology. It is written by a man who was a member of the Church of Scientology for 30 years, and was employed by them as a spy under the code name of “Ritz.” It is the true story of the espionage work that Vannier conducted for the Church of Scientology and the reasons why he eventually became disillusioned with the organization, after which he decided to write about his experiences as a spy.
In Arrows in the Dark, Vannier explains that he had been a Methodist prior to joining the Church of Scientology. He grew up thinking that his fellow church members were good Christians, until he discovered that some of them, who owned businesses in the small town in which he lived, were racists who did not want any black people in their stores.
When the author found out that the people who he had looked up to and had thought were good Christians harbored decidedly un-Christian attitudes when it came to black residents of his town, he looked elsewhere to find meaning in his life and in life in general. Vannier was studying to be a lawyer at college when a member of the local chapter of the Church of Scientology he was attending approached him and asked him if he would like to become a part of the Guardian’s Office, or G.O.
Vannier relates in Arrows in the Dark that he eventually agreed, after asking what it entailed, to become a member of the G.O. He was told by John Spencer, who was a member of both the Church of Scientology and the G.O., that “it was a separate part of the church that handled its external affairs, things like public relations and legal matters.”
In his fascinating look into the Church of Scientology, Arrows in the Dark, Merrell Vannier makes a clear distinction between how Scientology was when he originally joined and how it changed after the Church of Scientology was taken over by David Miscavige, who was 21 at the time. Even before it was taken over, the U.S. government and F.B.I. sought to infiltrate the organization and bring it down. Vannier opposed their efforts, even risking going across the line and committing illegal activities out of his loyalty to the Church of Scientology.
Though Vannier’s acts of espionage for the Church of Scientology, which he writes about in Arrows in the Dark, were done out of a sense of what he felt was right and wrong, after the takeover by Miscavige, the organization turned its back on him and did not want to stand behind him when he got into some legal problems. The Church of Scientology still expected loyalty from him, but did not seem to want to repay him with the same sort of loyalty he was showing to it.
Merrell Vannier relates how the Church of Scientology shunned him, and how he became, in effect, excommunicated by them. This was very painful to him, as he still had a daughter, Angie, in the Church of Scientology, and even she has now turned her back on him. The policy is called “disconnection.” The Church of Scientology labeled Vannier, a person who was once a trusted member of the G.O. and a spy for them, as a “suppressive person.” This finally led Vannier to write Arrows in the Dark, “to publicly condemn the destructive policy,” as he puts it.
Anybody who is interested in the Church of Scientology and wants to find out more about it and its inner workings will enjoy reading Vannier’s true account, Arrows in the Dark, of being employed as a spy for the organization. It is an insightful and page-turning book that exposes many of the practices of the Church of Scientology, why the organization practices certain activities like espionage, and how it has changed since Miscavige took it over.
Book Review by Douglas Cobb
Source: Arrow in the Dark by Merrell Vannier
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