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How ‘greedy, evil cult’ infiltrated rugby league and stole a legend

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  • How ‘greedy, evil cult’ infiltrated rugby league and stole a legend

    Stay away from Scientology!

  • #2
    Leah Remini's documentary program on SBS Viceland is also full of similar horror stories. The 'church' denies them all and always tries to discredit the person.

    How greedy, evil cult infiltrated rugby league and stole a legend
    APRIL 06, 2019
    On the outside he was a rugby league hero who had completed arguably the most remarkable solo performance in the game’s history – playing in three grand finals on the one day for St George in 1985. But privately Guider was grappling with inner turmoil, a country boy searching for meaning in the big city. So at the end of 1986 the tiny, tough hooker who had captained the legendary Red V walked away from his childhood dream and into the clutches of the Church of Scientology. For more than two decades he lived the Scientology life, from playing basketball with Tom Cruise to helping John Travolta prepare for movies.
    But the dream church founder L. Ron Hubbard preached turned into a nightmare. The notoriously private church told Guider to take a lie-detector test to attend his own father’s funeral in 2005, and he was only able to escape when his wife hatched a plan to use her pregnancy as an excuse in 2009.
    “It’s an evil, greedy cult, that’s exactly what it is,” Guider says.
    The now 57-year-old sat down in a park on the outskirts of Brisbane with Michael Carayannis to reveal the full story behind one of rugby league’s greatest mysteries – what happened to the man who played in all three grand finals? Being the youngest of four brothers, Guider had to toughen up pretty quickly, playing his first rugby league game at seven for St Joseph’s Mungindi, on the border of NSW and Queensland.
    “Sometimes the opposition would have boots but if they did they had to take them off so we could all play in bare feet,” Guider says.
    The family moved to Moss Vale, where Guider played for his local side in the colours that matched his beloved St George team. He spent hours trying to emulate the likes of Billy Smith, Graeme Langlands and Ted Goodwin in the family backyard. “Everyone loved ‘Lord Ted’,” Guider says. “When I was eight I decided I was going to captain St George. I was running around in my footy boots thinking I was playing for St George.”
    The family moved again to Tamworth and in 1980 Guider was picked as vice-captain in NSW’s under-18 side after out-playing Ben Elias in a City-Country match. He started at hooker in the warm-up to the inaugural 1980 State of Origin match at Lang Park.
    “It was unbelievable,” Guider says. “They told us it was going to be packed but it was something like we’ve never experienced.”
    Guider rejected an approach from the Roosters in 1981 because he “was just a country kid having to handle himself in Sydney and somehow play good footy. I didn’t like my chances so I didn’t go”. Instead he returned home to Tamworth, but maintained a burning desire to crack it in Sydney. He starred for Maitland in the Newcastle competition, leading them to a premiership and a rookie of the year award in his only season there when he was coached by St George premiership-winning player Robert Finch.After a recommendation from Finch, Guider joined the Dragons in 1983. “I remember speaking with (coach) Roy Masters,” Guider says. “He told me he’d seen my tapes and that it all looked good. I was super excited.’’
    Guider’s first run-on start was against the Eels at a sold-out Kogarah Oval on Anzac Day in 1984. He played 19 first-grade games that season, including St George’s one-point loss to Parramatta in their preliminary final. The excitement for the 162 centimetre hooker was short-lived though with a debilitating condition forcing him into premature retirement at 22. A rare infection as a youth had left Guider with one enlarged and one undersized kidney.
    “I used to get so hot after games and couldn’t cool down,” Guider says. “I thought it was normal. I didn’t know it was a problem. I was just so exhausted after games. I could still run and breathe but the engine was running too hot which is bad for the car, so to speak. “I was told my career was over, that I would be risking my life because if anything happened to my good kidney I would be running a big risk.
    “It was like a dream where all your support networks are knocked out and you’re free falling. I was just adrift. I went back to Tamworth because that’s all I knew. “I wasn’t embarrassed because it wasn’t my fault but I had no platform to communicate on. My platform had been being that rugby league person.” It was during this dark time that Guider was first introduced to the Church of Scientology by St George teammate Pat Jarvis. Guider ignored the advice of doctors to give up, changing his diet, taking medication and training for a career that was now in limbo. His path back to the top flight started in an innocuous rugby union game in Armidale in April 1985 after an invitation from his brother. “I’m not supposed to play,’’ Guider told his brother Jeff, who responded that he could play at centre to avoid the heavy going. “I was getting agitated because I wasn’t getting any contact,’’ Guider says. “This guy made a break down the sideline, I came across and hammered him over the sideline and broke his nose. I felt good.”

    A knee injury suffered in a touch football game soon after drew Guider back to the Dragons. He needed an operation and reached out to long-term Dragons secretary John Fleming, who helped arrange a surgeon at St George Hospital.
    “I called Roy shortly after that and he said I could come back,” Guider says. “The doctor said I could have some medication to control my blood pressure. I was excited to come back. It was all I could think about. I was in the under-23s for the back half of the season but I wasn’t happy with that. I called Roy up and told him I was the best hooker in the club. He told me he’d look at it.”
    Just three months after playing in an amateur rugby match Guider was back in St George’s first-grade side, coming off the bench in two matches that season. But he eyed a permanent first-grade spot. St George were a club riding high. They had their under-23s, reserve grade and first grade team competing in the grand finals at the SCG. Guider arrived at the ground on that sunny Sunday with the rest of his under-23 side, thrilled to be taking on Parramatta. The Dragons triumphed, the players got a mug and Guider enjoyed a lap of honour.
    Then came the first shock. “Well done, Chris,’’ a St George official told him. “Now we want you for reserve grade.’’ It was commonplace in those days for players to sit on the bench for the next fixture if needed.
    The SCG was packed for the 1985 grand final where the Dragons went down 7-6 to the Bulldogs: Picture: Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

    After playing a full game in the under-23s, Guider came on with six minutes to go in the reserve grade decider. Coach John Bailey delivered a simple message: “Go out there and win it for us.”
    “I didn’t win the game but I helped,’’ Guider says. “We scored and beat Canberra.
    “I did another lap of the oval thinking it was time for me to celebrate now.’’
    Guider was drinking champagne when the gear steward ran over to deliver the second shock of the day.
    “We need you for first grade,” he told Guider.
    The only problem was Guider had swapped his jersey with Canberra’s reserve grade hooker, so an official raced out to track that player down and retrieve Guider’s No.38 shirt.
    “I had to collect myself,’’ Guider says. “I was up for it. I’d called the coach already telling him I should be in the team so I had that resolve. In the under-23s I was playing with some younger guys who didn’t have that reality. They hadn’t been there. I’d already put my head up above the clouds and knew what was out there. I was confident. I just needed an opportunity. I was surprised how the day worked out but I wasn’t worried that I could do it. I was sitting on the bench just thinking about getting on.’’
    At halftime Masters told Guider that first-choice hooker Phil Ritchie was struggling with injury and he needed to get ready. Guider was sent on 10 minutes into the second half with the Dragons trailing 6-0. When he ran through the SCG gates and onto the famous field he became the only player in rugby league history to feature in all three grand finals on the same day. The Dragons fought back but the Bulldogs prevailed 7-6 in front of 44,569 screaming fans. His teammates were gutted but Guider struggled to relate to their distress.
    “I wasn’t disappointed,” Guider says. “I couldn’t be disappointed. There were two teams of mates who weren’t shattered. I’ve had a lot more regrets since wondering what the difference would’ve been having won three of them. On the day I couldn’t have been put down. I felt bad for the guys that they’ve lost but in my own mind I was on a roll. I just wanted to go to the Leagues Club.”
    Guider’s grand final heroics made him a household name.
    The next year he re-established himself as a first-grade star, captaining the Dragons in his final four games and winning the club’s player of the year award in a team which featured the likes of Jarvis, Walsh, Craig Young, Chris Johns, Brian Johnston, Michael O’Connor and Ricky Walford. St George offered Guider a two-year contract extension worth $100,000 but at 24 he quit the game.
    Jarvis had introduced Guider to the Church of Scientology in 1984 and ever so slowly became an influential figure in his life.“Before I went back to Tamworth in 1984 is when Pat first mentioned it,” Guider says. “Before I played again in 1985 (the Church of Scientology) rented a car and invited me to go and see Pat play for City Firsts in Newcastle. I hadn’t seen Pat since I stopped playing. His game had been elevated to become an Australian and NSW player. I got chauffeured up and watched him play and then Pat came home with us.
    Guider didn’t know many people outside rugby league. “I was vulnerable at the time because I’d just had my career ripped out from me. We spoke about it again when I came back in 1985. There was a void there. I was in a team as an athlete but I wasn’t part of a team otherwise. The executive director of the (Scientology) group in Sydney told me I was going to quit rugby league. If I didn’t it was open-ended (what would happen); I didn’t ask that question. We can talk about it here and you can say ‘you should have just walked out the door’. Now I would say ‘yeah, you’re right’ but back then I was in no shape to do it. There was no physical chains but a lot of mental ones.”
    Guider lived in Rockdale during his final year at the Dragons, studying the church’s teaching five days a week and undergoing counselling as part of the process of being indoctrinated into the faith. He joined Sea Organisation, a religious order for the most dedicated Scientologists who sign one-billion year pledges to symbolise their commitment.
    “By 1986 I was fully in with them,” Guider says. “That’s where you’ve committed the rest of your life to live with them. I was still playing footy on the weekends but it was really weird. You had this dichotomy where two lives were running but not running together. They were running at different speeds.The church had greater plans than just enticing Guider and Jarvis. They met with other St George players and coach Masters in the hope of infiltrating one of the game’s greatest clubs.
    “They were trying to get in with Roy and further establish themselves,” Guider says. “He was approached but didn’t want a bar of it.”
    Young, then a police detective and one of the most influential players at the Dragons, offered to bust Guider out of Scientology’s grasps. Guider stopped playing rugby league in 1987. He spoke with South Sydney coach George Piggins and also had interest from Illawarra and Newcastle about returning but it went nowhere.
    “I was never OK with leaving rugby league,” Guider says. “I wasn’t sure where my life would go. My career was going to last 10 years at best. It’s a short solution to life. I needed to have something more, something longer. I never did. I was only a rugby league player. My dad was really concerned. My mum (Margaret) tried to be supportive. In 1987 and 1988 I was a student. Whenever I thought about coming back to playing rugby league they would change my schedule and restrict it. The other thing is there were lots of pretty girls around too. I didn’t have a relationship when I was at St George. This was important to me and I had a connection in (Scientology). I met my wife at the time there and then she took up a position in the US and I worked my way through to make my way over there.”
    Guider stills considers Jarvis a friend but the pair have not spoken in years. In 1989 Guider followed his first wife Jean Sparshot to Los Angeles to work at the Church of Scientology’s headquarters – a place he described as “resort-like”. The pair married in Sydney in 1988 – Guider said she escaped from the church in 1991.
    The first impressions were promising - good food, decent living quarters and nice work uniforms. He was part of Scientology’s version of the secret police – snooping on other people to ensure they were toeing the company line, keeping their belief and not slacking off at work. Members would study in the morning, then break for lunch where there would be a head count, then head to work in the afternoon. At night there would be another intense study session.
    “You’d earn like $50 a week but staff would also get bonuses which meant you could get $1000 a month,” Guider says.
    Actor John Travolta is one of the most famous Scientologists and Guider was on his security detail. Guider rose up the ranks, allowing him access to Scientologist’s megastars such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis. “I was assigned as (Travolta’s) security,’’ Guider says. “He had a film he was doing and needed to get in shape. He needed someone to exercise with him. He was nice enough. “Tom Cruise was married to Nicole Kidman at that time. It was made known to him that I played rugby league in Australia so there was a connection there. I played basketball against him. “I went to an Angles baseball game with Haggis. It was fantastic.”But the stars only saw one side of the church.

    “Weeks before they came people would be doing all-nighters to clean things, renovate things,’’ Guider says. “They would literally work through the night. Those people were treated like royalty. They came in and think it was a paradise. They had no idea what was going on.”
    Guider knew exactly what was behind the façade, and his reservations grew as he saw and heard “god-awful” things.
    But his rise continued and he began working directly under church leader David Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, who hasn’t been seen publicly since 2007. “Miscavige is crazy,” Guider says. “When he became more influential pay became cut, work schedules got longer, there was physical abuse. Initially it was all exciting but it got worse and worse.’’
    Church officials have repeatedly denied allegations against Miscavige and said a group of anti-Scientologists have tried to generate controversy.
    “He has an irrational temper,’’ Guider says. “His office is very high end – his diet is worked out to microscopic calories. I was there so long because you couldn’t get out.”
    Guider tried to escape for the first time in 1993 – planning on leaving with new wife Melita Tampion.
    “Having worked in Miscavige’s office I knew I wanted to leave,” Guider says. “I booked some plane tickets for myself and my then wife. I got myself organised. I brought it up with my wife because she’d basically given me hints that she wanted to leave. You can’t openly say you want to go because by rules that person has to report you. I sensed some indicators and innuendo that she wanted to go too..
    “I got it all worked out to leave but when I told her she went into hysterics. She didn’t want to go. I stopped it and then she reported me. I got demoted and ended up being a carpenter. The reason they think you want to leave is that you must’ve done something bad. So they would talk to you, trying to get you to divulge anything you did that you felt was bad. That works to keep people in line to a certain degree. Any bad things you did get promoted to people that know you so you’re made less of by people in the group. It takes the sting out of wanting you to leave. If you do something bad you fall out of good standing. The way you get back into good standing is to do extra projects and work.”
    Guider worked his way back into the good books with the church’s hierarchy, eventually overseeing their rehabilitation and re-training program for three years before being shifted to pre-production on films shot at the compound. It wasn’t until the death of his dad Richard in 2005 that he realised time was starting to get away from him.
    “Things build up over time and you want to leave but different things prevent you,” Guider says. “When my dad died he became the first person who’d been there my entire life that had passed. That hit home for me leaving me thinking, ‘I’m in America, what if my mum passes, I won’t see her before she dies’.
    Guider isn’t part of rugby league anymore but he still carries his memories.“That lit the flame inside of me that I didn’t want that to happen. “It was awkward for me to come back to the funeral. You had to get a clearance to leave. They sit you down and put you on a lie detector to see if you’re honestly going and coming back. All the questions are targeted to get a reaction out of you. If you react and start saying stuff that is off they won’t let you go. You have to be a good little boy and answer the questions without emotion. “By the time I came back I was ready to go.”

    Sensing things were awry the church wanted to enrol Guider in 2007 in the very course he had once taught – the Rehabilitation Project Force. He agreed, but with one catch.
    “I told them I would only do it if I could do it in Australia,” Guider says. “I thought I could connect with my family and take it from there. I got questioned about coming to Australia and if I planned an escape but at that time I wasn’t.”
    The Church of Scientology has previously claimed Guider was sent to the centre in Dundas in north-west Sydney for “repeated violations of church scriptures’’ and it is a voluntary religious retreat. Guider has publicly declared he was sent there because of his failure to hit a colleague with a stick under the orders of Miscavige. The church has denied the incident took place.
    “The Rehabilitation Project Force is like a prison,’’ Guider says. “They try to rehabilitate you. You’re not allowed to talk to anyone. You’re only allowed to talk to people on the program with you. You can’t read books, there is no TV and no breaks. You’re on an extended schedule. You do confessionals where you have to answer to all the bad things you did. The one positive out of Guider’s time in rehabilitation was crossing paths with his now wife Valeska, who was also in the program. She had grown up as a Scientologist and had worked on the church’s Freewinds ship.
    Valeska has her own horror stories, which the church disputes. She says she was held against her will for 12 years on the cruise ship that caters to high-level church members. Valeska’s pregnancy opened the door for their exit in 2009. Members of Sea Organisation must leave the religious order if they fall pregnant because their duties are considered “not compatible with raising children’’.
    “They tried to forbid our marriage,” Guider says. “She got pregnant so there were no questions after that. They want you to have an abortion but they don’t say it to your face. Falling pregnant and (using that to) get out was her idea. My rationale was that I was happy to leave. Her family are split now because she’s moved on. Her dad and brother are in Scientology so she knew she’d lose them if she left.”
    The family are settled in Brisbane now with three children under 10.
    Guider, who is the midst of writing a book about his experiences, has found work as a carpenter but can’t shake the stigma of spending two decades in what he says is a cult.
    “It ruined a big part of my life,” Guider says. “I’m not prepared to say it ruined my life but it ended my rugby league career. I have three beautiful kids and a wife so there is still a lot to life.
    “I don’t have regrets. I don’t have mental issues, I don’t get depressed. I’m in a good place. I want to get better. It’s not like people want to employ you. Once the process starts people look you up and who wants that trouble when they can get someone who doesn’t have that baggage? People ask, ‘you spent 20 years in there, why, what did you do? “You just have to be up front and say I wasted all that time. It’s a difficult position to be in.”
    Guider has the 1985 grand finals on DVD and often watches the matches along with some of the other 46 first-grade games he played. He hopes to one day find a role within rugby league.
    “I’ve tried to get back into rugby league but it hasn’t worked out,” Guider says. “In some degrees I understand, other degrees I do not. My life is a work in progress but having children is a big difference. That helps put some distance between you and shadows of the past.”
    Guider had a complaint against the church to the Fair Work Ombudsman dismissed. He maintains governments should do more to halt the organisation.
    “It’s an evil, greedy cult, that’s exactly what it is,” Guider says. “They profess to do good and they come up with programs they think are helping people. But they take what they can from a person and feather their own nest. I had nothing when I left. I stayed with my mum and she was overjoyed to have us there because it had been a long, rough road. Anyone considering joining is in a bad place. The fact they are even considering it means they’ve followed the Pied Piper too far.”
    Last edited by ccfc bondi; 04-07-2019, 11:23 AM.