A man who moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career has revealed all about how he fell into Scientology.
Steven Mango arrived in California as an aspiring actor, yet quickly became involved in what he refers to as "Hollywood's most dangerous, secretive and famous cult".
As reported in News.com.au, Mr Mango created a documentary of his experiences. Delving into the world of Scientology, Mango drew attention to the alleged financial exploitation of members. According to Mango, he spent four years within the sect, during which he donated over $50,000 to the church.
A religious movement that began in the 20th century, Scientology is a body of beliefs created by the science fiction writer L.Ron Hubbard. In 1953, it incorporated the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey. Drawing in various high profile celebrities, scientology has come under criticism for exploiting members and taken their money.
In the documentary, Mango recalls how he spotted a newspaper advert in 2009, which promised to get aspiring actors a manager and auditions. Mr Mango saw it promised a book by L. Ron Hubbard, who he knew ran the church of Scientology. Wanting to find out more about the suspicious advert and intrigued by their "large celebrity following", he approached the church.
Straight away, they made in clear they wanted money. Mr Mango reveals they asked him if he has "investments" or "gold bullion" - before obtaining his social security number and other financial information.
According to Mango, members of the church asked him to telephone his grandmother and ask her to donate £3200. This was just the first payment of the tens of thousands of dollars the actor had donated by the time he left.
He had unwittingly entered into "Division Six" - which is described as the "new people department" which often recruits from the queue outside Central Casting, an agency for new actors. They offer to help people establish careers, seeking vulnerable and unemployed members of the public to introduce into the church. High-profile Scientologists, such as John Travolta and Peaches Geldof, are used to attract new recruits.
In his documentary, Mr Mango revealed: "So that's kind of the way they try to recruit new people totally fresh. Because that's their prime candidate: the wannabe actor, the wannabe model, the wannabe musician. They want to catch them at their most vulnerable point where they're willing to do anything."
According to Mango, the "audit" is a process required by all new members of the church. In Scientology, there are two sections of the mind, the analytical section - which stores data - and the reactive. The latter, which Scientologists believe contains fears and pain, should be destroyed. In doing so, you become a "more capable" person.
As Mr Mango recalls, the sessions take around 12 hours and are repeated 40 to 50 times. The "intensive" sessions require an auditor to pinpoint upsetting or stressful incidents in your life, to achieve L. Ron Hubbard's version of enlightenment. Each session cost Mr Mango $3200.
One of the strict beliefs of Scientology is that psychiatry is "abusive and destructive" and should be abolished.
The first major step, according to Mango, however, is the "purification rundown". Members are forced to drink a calcium magnesium cocktail along with a "mega dose" of vitamins, while exercising and spending hours in a sauna. This "purification" is believed to "sweat out" any drugs in your system, as anti-medicine is fundamental to Scientology.
Dehydration, according to Mango, is one of the dangerous side effects of this practice. He said: "I started feeling kind of strange at about hour three in the sauna. I'm basically almost scared for my life at this point because I'm not sure what's going on with me. I'm dehydrated .... I couldn't even walk. I can't talk. It's scary when you're inside your body and you're like 'why aren't I talking?'"
He was briefly taken out of the sauna by a supervisor and placed under a cold shower, then returned. Mr Mango added: "[I was] in this state of delusion and craziness to sweat out the drug. I just felt like I was being tortured. I was in the sauna for about six hours."
As revealed in Mango's documentary, emotional manipulation into joining the Sea Org, the religious order of Scientology, is common. He said the members of this section would spend hours recruiting for the group.
"Until you're ready to sign the contract they will go for hours and hours and hours until they reach that end product which is you joining the Sea Org," Mr Mango said.
He added that they backtracked on their original pledge to help his career, urging Mango to join the Sea Org instead.
He stated he was locked in a room for hours, while he was "abused emotionally".
"They would say 'This is the most elite and important mission that you can undertake in this lifetime ... It's just your reactive mind that's holding you back ... And your silly goals to want to join the entertainment industry'."
He stayed in the organisation for four years. Eventually, Mr Mango left the church because of their stance on the LGBT community. As stated in the documentary, the "auditing" process is used to supress feelings of gay, lesbian and bisexual members. After he left, he was hounded by the church, who called and emailed him. According to Mango, they even arrived at his home, to stry and pursuade him back to Scientology.
He commented: "I couldn't put up with being in an organisation that just suppresses people and tells them not to be who they are and tries to audit it out of them."