The L. Ron Hubbard building was just across the street. I asked my partner Danny, “You wanna do it? You wanna go in?”
“Ya sure?” he said with a little hesitation.
“Yeah… let’s go for it!”
Scientology makes normal cults look comforting. I don’t know what motivated us to want to go into this place to give the Gospel. Pride? Possibly. A sense of adventure? Of course. The command by Jesus to go into all the world, which includes this false religion? Absolutely! The gates of Hell shall not prevail…
We crossed the street and entered through the double doors where we were greeted by a friendly young woman working the reception desk. “May I help you?”
I looked around the place and noticed two very large, tall doors with lights blinking seductively behind them. This was obviously designed to arouse a visitor’s curiosity, and it was working. “What’s behind the doors,” I asked.
A second woman, probably the tour guide said, “You have to take the tour.”
“The tour? How long is the tour?”
I knew exactly what type of “tour” this was; it was a brainwashing tour. After taking it, Danny and I would come out and sign our future paychecks over to the followers of Hubbard’s strange religion. Or we’d each have strange little horseshoe shaped scars on the sides of our temples. We weren’t buying it. “Can we take a ten-minute tour?” I asked.
“No. You must take the forty-five minute tour.”
I looked to my left again, intrigued by the blinking lights, the blinking lights… Hmmm, just what do you think those lights are for? I closed my eyes and felt uneasy. Snapping back to attention, I saw Danny handing a million-dollar bill to the tour guide. I did the same, laying it down on the reception desk.
“What are those?” Miss Tour Guide asked, not wanting to touch the bill. The receptionist looked at hers, but wouldn’t pick it up either.
“Oh. They are phony million-dollar bills and I like to ask the million-dollar question. Do you know what it is? If you were to die today, would you go to Heaven or Hell?”
They paused a moment before answering. The receptionist said, “Heaven,” while Miss Tour Guide said, “In the ground.”
I asked Missy if she had kept the Ten Commandments. Then I asked if she had ever lied, stolen or hated anyone and would she be found innocent or guilty on Judgment Day.
She justified herself and blurted, “I’m a Catholic. I mean, I mean, uh… I’m a Scientologist—“Immediately, another woman—a security guard—burst onto the scene.
“You can’t do that in here,” she warned. “You cannot harass our employees like that!”
I couldn’t believe it. This was the second time in a day that I was accused of harassment—all because I was trying to spread the Gospel.
“You will have to leave,” the Security guard barked.
We hurried out the door. “Did you see that? They slammed the door on us,” Danny said shocked.
“I know.” I pulled out my camera. “Danny. Here. I want you to take a picture of me at the reception desk.”
“Are you kidding?” he asked as he took the camera from my hands.
I slowly opened the doors to the L. Ron Hubbard building and quickly stood next to the desk with a big smile. Danny popped in and took the shot. Miss Tour Guide ducked; the receptionist didn’t know what happened.
But the security guard did, and she didn’t like it. She pulled out her walkie-talkie and started shouting into it. The receptionist took her cue and called out on the intercom, “Security to the reception area! Security to the reception area!”
Since God gave Danny and me the gift of wisdom, we thought it best to leave post-haste. I kept remembering what these people did to Tom Cruise.
“Danny!” I said between hyper-ventilated breaths. “RUN!”
We ran down the block and turned onto another street. Huffing and puffing we looked for an alley, but there was none. The entire street had interlocking chain-link fences and brick buildings forming a Great Wall of Hollywood, and frustrating our escape attempt. Looking over my shoulder, I saw five or six Scientology security personnel congregating on the corner below us. I don’t know what it is about cults, but they just don’t like unauthorized photos taken of their staff (See a “Great Cloud of Jehovah’s Witnesses”) I started to panic, remembering what Scientology did to John Travolta.
A security guard on a bike started after us. Then another guy on a bike. What is up with this? Are they going to arrest us? Shoot us? I was so scared that I nearly forgot about Danny. I looked behind me and saw him trying to catch his breath while gesturing with his index finger to wait-up.
I ran into a Rent-a-Car business and asked a driver if he could give us a ride down the street for ten bucks. He said no. “Does this parking lot go all the way through, then?” He shook his head. We ran out and back up the street, but the two cycling security guards caught up with us.
“What were you doing?” the first one said sternly.
“We were giving the Gospel,” I replied breathlessly. The second cyclist arrived.
“What’s the Gospel?” Number One asked. I glanced quickly at Danny and shot him a relieved smile as I shared the good news with these lost boys. After my presentation they asked, “Why were you taking a picture?”
“Hey! I explained. “The L. Ron Hubbard building is a Hollywood landmark!”
“I guess it is,” Number One agreed proudly. We shook hands, and he took a Ten Commandments penny.
Me and Danny walked back together. I felt like a fool for being such a chicken and I apologized to Danny for almost hanging him out to dry. Some brave, bold evangelist I am. I lost all enthusiasm for witnessing at that point. We sauntered slowly and silently back to Grauman’s.
I met up with Ed and said goodbye to Danny. I was completely discouraged and just wanted to go home. I had had enough of witnessing for one day. Kicked out of Starbucks—twice! And now barely escaping with my life from crazed Hubbardites. I was done. Time to go.
I looked to my right and saw a member of the Evangelism Boot Camp Team handing out tracts. The leader, Darrel Rundus, was on a stool pounding out the Gospel to all passers-by. A hundred feet away from him was another guy on a stool barking out the truth of Jesus. And another guy farther down from him.
Inspired once again, I handed a million-dollar bill to a clown. I attempted to ask the million-dollar question, but he didn’t speak English.
I didn’t care. It was good to get back in the game. I handed out a few more tracts and struck up a couple conversations. Then I was reminded of a very important truth: For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him.
I looked down and pointed something out to Ed as we headed back to the car to go home. It was a piece of a million-dollar bill—someone had torn it up in anger.
Someone had gotten the message. Someone actually got the message!
Thank God someone was willing to give them the message.