Here, with English subtitles, is an April 24, 2018 interview in French with Montreal ex-Scientologist Michel Laflèche Francoeur. Michel Laflèche Francoeur was born into the Mission of the Holy Spirit, a Christian cult in Quebec. When he was about 6 years old, his family left the Mission after an end-of-world prophecy failed to materialize. A few years later, his father joined the Montreal Church of Scientology and recruited the rest of the family. At the age of 12, Michel Laflèche Francoeur spent 7 months working long hours at Flag in Clearwater. Transcript: Program: Denis Lévesque LCN, Montreal Broadcast date: April 24, 2018 Host: Denis Lévesque (DL) Guest: Michel Laflèche Francoeur (MLF) DL: PQ MNA Agnès Maltais yesterday launched a petition at the National Assembly. You are invited to sign a petition that calls upon the government to establish a parliamentary commission that would study the reality of cultic movements in Quebec. There are probably more than we think, including those we've talked about in recent months, among others. Ms. Maltais says that the government has a moral obligation to investigate this so that we can have a very clear idea of what is going on and get to the root of the problems this causes. My guest has experienced a lot in this regard. He is a former member of the Mission of the Holy Spirit and also of the Church of Scientology. Because his father was a member of both of these movements. He began in the Mission of the Holy Spirit and later moved into the Church of Scientology. Afterward, as he grew older, he set out on a religious quest. He was seeking a church, because all of this instilled a kind of questioning in him. With me is Michel Laflèche Francoeur. Good evening, Mr. Francoeur. MLF: Good evening, thank you for having me. DL: Laflèche is really a religious name in the — MLF: Yes, it's my first name. DL: Because, in that cult, everyone is named Eugène or Richer or Laflèche. MLF: Or Laflèche or Fléchère or Eugénie. Names derived from those names. DL: Which was the founder's name. MLF: The founder, who was the master, Eugène Richer "dit La Flèche" [aka "The Arrow']. DL: Okay. MLF: But in the early days, when the Mission of the Holy Spirit cult was founded, we didn't have those names. This came later. They began this later for the sake of publicity. DL: Ah, okay, okay. MLF: To gain notoriety for the cult, they decided to give children certain names. DL: Because, when I meet someone whose first name is Laflèche, I think: "Oh, he's either still a member or was once a member of that cult." MLF: Yes, it's surprising you should say that. Because it's the same for me, when I see ... And I'm surprised, sometimes, to see that there are people who are still members. DL: Are there still many of them? They're in the Lanaudière region, aren't they? MLF: Well, there's Joliette, Lavaltrie, Montreal North. The groups aren't all the same, and I don't know the current situation. I hesitate to venture too much. I've heard there may be about 200 persons around Joliette. Another group in Lavaltrie, I don't know: maybe 30 or 40 persons. I don't know. I can't say for sure. But I'm surprised. I occasionally get a chance to approach them. The other day, for example, I saw the name Laflèche Jolicoeur. I thought: "That's a Mission guy!" But in my mind, they're no longer into that. Because I can't understand that there are still people in those little groups. So I approach them, sort of thinking they're no longer in. It happened to me twice during the past year or 2 that I met persons who are still in the group. DL: There are still some left. MLF: Yes, and when I tell them my name is Laflèche, and I left when I was a kid — And I'm a little arrogant, so I tell them I've been damned for a long time. Because that's the way it is. When you leave the group, you're damned. And with my arrogance, they talk back to me, and it's immediate anger aimed at me. They don't know me any more. They don't want to speak to me any more. The people still inside the cult are very hostile toward those who have left. In those groups, you are not free to leave. DL: It's important to remember that you were a child and it's your father who was a member of that group. And was your father born into it or did he join? MLF: I was born into the fourth generation. My father's grandparents were born into the Mission of the Holy Spirit. DL: Oh! Wow! MLF: Yes. MLF: They were probably among the first followers. I don't know when the Mission was founded. I think it was around 1920. DL: Your grandparents? MLF: Yes. DL: Your parents? MLF: Yes. And the doctrines are very twisted. What they teach is very, very twisted. From generation to generation in the families, the ideas that are propagated are taken from the doctrine. DL: Give me examples of doctrines that you had to learn. MLF: I was born into a fourth generation. DL:Yes. MLF: When I was born — I've brought some excerpts from the documents they use to indoctrinate children. My parents were told that, because I belong to the fourth generation, I was supposed to be similar to Jesus. DL: Oh, yeah? MLF: Yes. These are questions from an indoctrination document. The fourth question asks: "Who will educate or teach these children?" The answer that children learn by heart — Every week we had to learn 3 questions — DL: Like a catechism. MLF: "Those children will need no teaching from anyone because the True Light will have enlightened and educated them before they are born and Nature, which encompasses everything, will inhabit them." DL: So you had no school when you were a child? MLF: Well, because of my first name, Laflèche, on my first day of school — in fifth grade ... The children were asked to say their first name, so I said my first name. I was a little — I wasn't yet used to being out in the world with the ... In the Mission, we all had names like that, so we were used to it. But when we go out into the "world" — pardon this term that I detest, but that's what the reality of those movements is like — the other kids are all Mario or Stéphane or ... but for me, it's Laflèche. The teacher said: "But I didn't ask for your family name!" The reaction this provoked in the class was that they all burst out laughing. And I was going through some very difficult things at that time. So this was like one straw too many, and that was my last day of school until ... I didn't do fifth grade. That was my first day in fifth grade. I just ran out into ... I felt humiliated by the children laughing at me. I ran out into the school, there was a big scandal. They kicked me out of the school. And they didn't report this to Youth Protection. I don't think so. DL: You never went to school after that? MLF: No, I returned to school at a youth center only at the age of 14. DL: Wow! When I was at the TQS network, we prepared a report about that. And there were people who never went to school at all. Your situation sounds similar. MLF: I wanted to draw your attention to this issue. You are aware that they obtain school permits. But the parents of children in the Mission of the Holy Spirit consider that their children don't need school. So they send children to school only to avoid problems with the government. DL: But they still have a permit to have schools? MLF: They opened a school in 2016. DL: Yes, yes. It still exists? MLF: Oh, yes. DL: Oh, yeah? MLF: So ... DL: But what do they teach there, because — MLF: It's basically eugenics. Eugenics, sort of like in German Nazism. DL: So "white people are better?" MLF: No, it's not the whites — even though everyone is pretty much white in there. There aren't many immigrants in the Mission of the Holy Spirit. No, it's the renewal of the psyche, the quality of the psyche, by the imposition of hands on the fetus of children. DL: Oh my! MLF: They say that if hands are not layed on the mother — on the child — The teachings say that the mother is the cradle of evil. This is really heavy stuff! DL: The mother is the cradle of evil, and if children don't touch this cradle of evil — MLF: They are children of Satan. Let's look at question 200. DL: They're raised like that? That's how they think? MLF: Yes. Here's another one. It's about God, referring to the founder, Eugène Richer dit La Flèche. He was said to be "God in person, the Holy Spirit, who united with a bestial woman." Children are told: "Yes, the wife of Eugène Richer dit La Flèche was a woman." But this is after saying that, on Earth, it's only women who have a bestial character. DL: Women have a bestial character, and children cure them by the imposition of hands? MLF: It's the parents who cure them, the fathers and the consecrated persons of the church, by the imposition of hands. DL: Okay, so they have ecclesiastical people of some kind? MLF: Yes, but I'm not sure about that term. DL: Pastors? MLF: Consecrated persons — yes, pastors, who — Well, based on my understanding — I'm 46 years old. I've been gone a long time. But by studying the doctrine from documents that I found, in particular, at Info-Cult ... I read them, and I felt so ... Here's question 323: "You no doubt mean to say that woman has the spirit of evil in her breast?" The answer that children must learn by heart: "Absolutely!" "This is why Satan is the father of this humanity. An invisible father; a spirit cannot be seen. But always present, always active." DL: Wow! That's scary! MLF: This is heavy stuff, really heavy stuff! DL: You stayed there until what age? MLF: I was out at the age of 5 or 6. DL: Because your father ... There was a schism. What happened? MLF: There was a warning about the end of the world. Many members of the Mission of the Holy Spirit — I heard that some people sold their taxi permits at a low price. They sold their business, they went to live in Parent. They were sure it was all over! We left Montreal. We went to Mascouche. DL: Oh, yeah? MLF: Mascouche was more remote. It wasn't a suburb as it is today. DL: You found a refuge to face the end of the world? MLF: I remember that, at our place, we had 50-gallon containers of beans and rice. We ate that for years. DL: Wow! For years? Because no specific date was given. It was just coming soon ... MLF: Oh, no. We kept it. We were stuck with it when the world didn't end. DL: So, there was a date? MLF: Yes, it was supposed to happen very, very soon. DL: Oh, okay. MLF: But when it didn't happen, the Mission of the Holy Spirit — DL: Split apart? MLF: Split apart into several groups. DL: So some people said: "This doesn't make sense. We've been had." MLF: Well, I don't know. Many people thought about it differently. DL: Oh, okay. MLF: Most joined other cult movements. DL: What did your father do? MLF: My father fell into depression, my mother too. After all, they were born into the cult. DL: Oh, yes. MLF: They had spent their lives in there. DL: Three generations! MLF: My father was 29 years old. He had 8 children to support! He was handsome. DL: And they had to produce many children! MLF: Yes. My father was a handsome man! DL: Oh. MLF: When he was in the Mission, everyone had to be pure. After they left, it was a free-for-all. Remember, this was at the beginning of the 1980s — pot and ... DL: So after being inhibited for years, he decided: "Now I can let go and have a blast!" MLF: Many members of the Mission of the Holy Spirit, after they left, began using drugs and ... I remember that sometimes ... our family ... Two or three years later, my parents separated, and I went to live with my father. I remember that my father sometimes didn't return home for 3 days because he was depressed, and he was partying. I was living with my older brothers. DL: We're going to take a break, and when we return, we'll talk about how your father was searching for answers. He always very questioning in his religion, and he found his answers in the Church of Scientology. You were involved in that too. We'll be back in 3 minutes after the break. * * * * DL: With me is Michel Francoeur — Michel Laflèche Francoeur. But you don't call yourself Laflèche any more. MLF: Yes, Laflèche is just to ... DL: A reminder of having been in the Mission of the Holy Spirit. MLF: It's like stigmata. DL: And so your father, after this end of the world didn't occur, was morally adrift and, finally, he found refuge in the Church of Scientology. How did this affect you, a young boy of — How old were you at that time? MLF: When we got into Scientology, I must've been 10 or 11 years old. DL: Ow! That was quite a change for you. Tell me how it unfolded. MLF: Well, Scientology, at that age, 10 or 11, you don't really understand the doctrine. What I saw was that my father's morale had changed. It was as though he had found a new Mission of the Holy Spirit. It seemed he had found hope that — DL: No more pot, no more depression. MLF: No, no, he didn't stop smoking pot. It was Scientology that made him quit. DL: Ah, okay. MLF: But, between us, I think he would've been better off continuing to smoke pot. DL: Oh? MLF: Because my father was neurotic. He had serious problems. He wasn't well. DL: So the hope of finding answers there didn't calm him? MLF: At first, at first. Because, when he started out in Scientology, they filled him with great expectations. That's how they attract people. My father wasn't an imbecile either. He was demolished. He was looking for solutions. In Scientology, you know the famous "personality test." For every person, the test reveals deficiencies in their emotional makeup. They find something for everyone. And I imagine that my father, when he began in Scientology, found people he could talk to and who would listen. I don't know which points were made to recruit him, but he joined Scientology. He brought all of us children along, but some of us didn't buy into it. I bought into it. I liked it. I liked it. That's how I am. I'm interested in cults. It became a passion. DL: Okay, they gave you books, and you read the books? Was that it? MLF: I was 12 years old when I started. I recruited people on the street — DL: Oh, yeah? MLF: to bring them into the Church of Scientology. I spent entire evenings preparing mailings to send advertisements to people. I did housekeeping in the org — the organization. And I did courses that are more for children, like the famous "communication course." But, in fact, it's indoctrination. It's TRs — a form of meditation. But I won't go too much into that. And I began to undergo indoctrination too. DL: Okay. MLF: Just before joining into Scientology, we were living in Ville Saint-Michel. When my father found Scientology, we moved directly behind the church. Because he didn't do things halfway! DL: "Joining the gang!" MLF: Right behind the church, we moved. But at our old place in Ville Saint-Michel, I was being sexually abused. DL: Oh! MLF: As I said earlier, my father was often gone for 3 or 4 days, and a neighbor was asked to look after me. DL: Mm-hmm. MLF: And that man started molesting me. I had no one, so I kept my mouth shut. When I arrived into Scientology, no one ever tried to get me to talk about this. Because my parents were so lost, and they were trying to cope. Meanwhile, they weren't capable of observing the changes occurring in me. They couldn't see that I had — Because they themselves were, you know ... They needed help. You know, a family ... DL: And they still had 8 children? MLF: Oh, yes. DL: Everyone followed along? MLF: Yes, me plus 2 or 3 of my sisters, maybe one of my older brothers, who were in Scientology for a while. I think I'm one of those who most bought into it, along with my sisters. At the age of 12, I went to Florida and — DL: To Florida? MLF: But I wanted to talk to you about sexual abuse. I brought here a brief excerpt of Scientology indoctrination. What do they say about psychology concerning children? I'll read this to you quickly. "The reason people started to confuse children with dogs and to start training children with force lies in the field of psychology." This is L. Ron Hubbard speaking. "The psychologist worked on 'principles' as follows: Man is evil. Man must be trained into being a social animal. Man must adapt to his environment." This is Hubbard putting words into the mouth of psychology as a whole. And then: "As these postulates aren't true, psychology doesn't work. And if you ever saw a train wreck, it's the child of a professional psychologist." DL: So they call into question — MLF: Psychology. DL: the utility of therapy, of any therapy you can follow. MLF: Yes, when I was a child, I would've needed care. Moreover, Scientologists are firmly opposed to psychiatry and psychology. DL: To antidepressants too, I think. MLF: Yes. But psychiatrists, above all. In fact, psychiatrists, according to their doctrine, as you go farther up their famous "bridge," they tell us that psychiatrists come from another galaxy. They rule the world — they want to rule the world, to rule the Earth. You know, they made the movie — DL: They're extraterrestrials! MLF: But they made the movie, starring John Travolta, called "Battlefield Earth." I don't know if that rings a bell. DL: I remember, yes. MLF: The invaders of the Earth, what were they called? The Psychlos! DL: Okay! The Psychlos! MLF: Those are techniques for indoc— Because, when you're in the Church of Scientology — Take, for example, the TRs we talked about earlier, so-called "training routines." They say it's training to become a therapist. And you spend hours in front of another person, staring into each other's eyes without moving. You fall into a sort of altered state, a kind of hypnosis. After that you return ... After you finish, you take a break, and when you walk around the Church of Scientology organization, you see posters with the Psychlos — monsters. The Psychlos. And you associate the Psy— DL: So you were constantly being manipulated, and, moreover, you were young! MLF: They're brainwashing methods. When I was a child — After that — excuse me — I went to Florida. I worked for Scientology for about 7 months in Clearwater, at Flag, in a kitchen. And, thank God, I cut the tip of my finger. And it caused a scandal. They said: "Home come he's working in a kitchen?" I had to go to a hospital. And they were scared the media would come and see that a child had been injured. DL: The video on screen is from a report that was produced for the "J.E." program. MLF: I had no passport. I had nothing over there. DL: Oh! MLF: So they didn't want it to — They said: "He's going to go to school. He's too young. He's got to go to school at least half-a-day." I was working about 50 or 60 hours a week at the age of 12 — DL: Plus half-a-day of school. MLF: in the — No, in the mornings, I had to go to school. Just to — But it wasn't — DL: To be legally accepted. MLF: But it wasn't a real school, it was in an old motel. They had taken 2 rooms, torn down a wall, and also — There, they taught math, or I don't really remember what they — But I didn't want to do that, because I — DL: Tell me how you managed to extricate yourself from that. MLF: I fled during the night with an 18-year-old guy who was expelled from Florida because — DL:So your parents were still in Scientology, and you were in Florida. MLF: My parents were in Canada.I hadn't seen them for 7 months. DL: Okay, still members. You hadn't seen them for 7 months. MLF: Yes. DL: And you decided: "Enough! I'm out of here!" MLF: Yes. I had no clothes. I had no money. When you join the advanced organization they call the "Sea Organization" — the "Sea Org" — they make you sign a billion-year contract. DL: Boy! Is that ever long! MLF: But the principle is that a — And you're supposed to have clothes, a nice shirt, you know, and everything. I liked that. You know, cults attract people with — They know our unconscious better than we do. I wanted to save the world, and I pictured myself in the uniform. It's like a Navy uniform, with a nice shirt. But they weren't giving me one! I had — For 7 or 8 months, I was dragging around the same T-shirts I brought from Montreal! One night — I had only one pair of pants, and I had to wash it at night before bedtime. Sometimes they didn't dry out! I had to put them on wet the next morning. I remember getting expelled from an office because I stank! Because my pants were dirty! DL: So you decided to escape. Did you return to your parents? What did you do? MLF: I ended up — I returned here. In Montreal, I ended up back at my father's place. Then I was sent to Toronto for security checks. I was 13 years old, and they were treating me like a criminal. I was followed round the clock. DL: Because you weren't a good cult member? MLF: Because I had run away. DL: Ah, okay, okay. MLF: According to them, if you flee, it's because you committed a crime, or something. DL: At what age were you able to get out? MLF: By the age of 13, I had pretty much dropped out, but then I got caught up in drugs. DL: Oh. MLF: Quite heavily. I went through some very, very difficult times. I woke up in a bath of ice water, and a policeman was shaking me. They reported me to Youth Protection, and that's when Youth Protection — This was about 6 months after I returned to Quebec. I returned in February or March, and in September or October, I entered a youth center. DL: So you lived at a youth center. MLF: Until I was 18 years old. DL: Did you see your parents after this, or did you — MLF: From time to time. No, no, I saw my parents. Because when you leave a movement like that, you're often considered a pariah, and they don't want to see you again. I saw my parents, but they weren't proud of me, you know. They weren't — DL: Okay. MLF: They were embarrassed. DL: "You're a quitter." MLF: My father was in a world of his own. He didn't stop smoking joints right away. DL: My understanding is that your life after this was complicated because you — Your father was constantly searching for the absolute. He did the same thing, trying to find religions for years. MLF: What happened is, when I joined Scientology, my sexual abuse — In Scientology, you are responsible for your condition. DL: So it was your fault. MLF: It's like karma, it was my fault. So I transformed this. I decided: "Okay, I will take responsibility for this event." Even though it occurred when I was 10. "I will take responsibility for it." So if I take responsibility for having been abused by that man, for not saying anything, that makes me a homosexual. In Scientology, homosexuality is a profoundly degraded state of being. DL: So you were constantly disparaging yourself. MLF: Well, I didn't want to be perceived as a degraded being, so I didn't talk about it. But I was still in Scientology, and they were brainwashing us against psychiatry. DL: But once you were out, you tried to find answers in other religions. Why? Did you feel an existential emptiness? MLF: To wrap up quickly: I had that overdose and ended up at the Mont Saint-Antoine youth center. Thank God! At Mont Saint-Antoine, I learned a manual occupation, even though I'm an intellectual. They looked after me, you know. And when I left at the age of 18 or 19, I began having bouts of depression that were quite severe. Even suicidal thoughts. When I was 21, I remember, I was at Le Dauphin. I looked down, and had a flash of seeing my body smashed apart on the sidewalk. I then began to reflect a bit and see that something wasn't going right. At that time, I stopped using drugs. I was 22. But giving up drugs put me in contact with my emotions. And I sort of fell back into depression, and I returned to Scientology. DL: Ah, okay, and — MLF: Because they told me: "We're going to help you." DL: So for years after that, you were flirting with — MLF: But during my adolescence, I was a bum, I was a delinquent. I was at the Mont Saint-Antoine youth center. They found me an occupation. At 22, I was a machinist. This was — what? — 25 years ago. I was earning about $40,000 a year. You know, that wasn't bad, so they said: "Oh, this guy's got money!" They recruited me, and I returned to Scientology from when I was about 22 until the age of 26. DL: You left when you were 26 and — MLF: I left when I was 26, because I was studying music at McGill University. I wasn't getting anywhere. I had problems. I only had only finished Secondary IV. Secondary IV from Mont Saint-Antoine and Secondary IV for adults. I had never done history, chemistry, or papers ... But I practiced classical singing and I ... But things weren't going well, so I had to go see the psychiatrist to ask her for help. It was my only way to be able to stay within my dream of music. DL: And it's from that age onward that you successfully rebuilt your life? MLF: It's my dream of music that took me out — that saved me from Scientology! DL: We get the sense that you really went deep down to the bottom, and when you were pulling yourself out, you dove back in, and it gave you another swing to get out. MLF: I felt pain inside, and my inner wound stemmed a lot from the fact that I needed my father. Even though I was in my early twenties, I adored my father. I wanted to be close to my father, but he was still in Scientology. DL: There are many really paradoxical threads that run through all this. In any case, you are here to talk about the petition. The public can sign it on the National Assembly website. And you also have a website whose name appears at the bottom of the screen, on a Facebook page. MLF: "De secte en secte" DL: "De secte en secte" MLF: where people can communicate. I would like that. You know, when people leave a cult, they feel unprepared. People often don't know how to rebuild after they've spent their life in Scientology. DL: People should help one another. MLF: We should help each other. DL: This parliamentary commission would help. MLF: Yes, yes, it's not necessary for people always to be on the verge of committing suicide to leave a cult. DL: Anyway, I appreciate your testimony. MLF: It was much too short, I had so much to say. DL: Well, that's for sure.