Transcript of Pat Kenny’s interview with Zabrina Shortt on Newstalk

Dialogue Ireland is publishing the transcript of this interview, to reveal the strategy that Scientology employs when giving interviews. Here Pat Kenny has to both interrogate his guest and act as an impartial umpire of this interview. It is an impossible task. However, it is one which Scientology has perfected. It claims its views are not being heard but refuses to engage with anyone directly who oppose their views.

They will only agree to an interview if interviewed on their own. Classic Catch 22. Ultimately, even with a seasoned campaigner like Kenny Zabrina Shortt  manages to duck and dive to the extent that she comes away smelling of Roses. However, there are a load of people out there who know exactly what Zabrina Shortt is about and we want to open our comment section for responses. Those like John McGhee have already exposed her strategy, but we also publish other commentaries as full new posts, or just leave a comment.





Pat Kenny interviews Zabrina Shortt


Friday 17th January 2014






Pat Kenny: The Church of Scientology has recently been at the centre of controversy following the publication of a video used for internal promotional purposes which used local radio branding, that of Sligo based Ocean FM in order to highlight the amount of media coverage the Church of Scientology had received within this country.


The video has been described by the station as “bogus”, while the Church has defended it’s decision to produce and broadcast the video as part of a New Year’s presentation.


In an address that lasted over two hours, the leader of the Church, David Miscavige said a lot about the Church of Scientology’s Mission in Dublin, for instance showing members distributing literature on O’Connell Street, in Talbot Street, in Moore Street, Gardner Street and at the G.P.O. Dublin’s city centre was made to seem awash with Church members. Mr. Miscavige also made this claim:




David Miscavige: With truth about drugs spokesmen hitting national airwaves from Ocean FM to BBC Radio and thereby impacting no less than 270,000 listeners, all while newspaper headlines reinforced the message, well, that’s how this Mission of Dublin accomplished an 85% drop in drug-related crime while, through it all, they have also now introduced more than 42,000 people to Dianetics and Scientology, and, yes, that’s Scientology Missions International planting their flag into the bedrock of a nation.”






Pat Kenny: Now, I’m joined by a member of the Church of Scientology and campaigner with the “Truth about, eh, Drugs” campaign. That’s Zabrina Shortt. Zabrina, good morning and welcome.


Zabrina Shortt: Good morning Pat.


Pat Kenny: Now, there has been some controversy. Ocean FM themselves said “look, this interview was bogus. What was seen on screen was not anything to do with us.”


Zabrina Shortt: Ok. Well just to give a little bit of background on that. Myself and my brother have been campaigning with The Truth about Drugs Campaign for about a year and a half now. Ahm, our background is, we were both users of drugs since we were teenagers. So we got very excited by the fact that we took on this campaign. We’ve given out 110,000 of these little booklets here into different homes and businesses around Ireland, Donegal and Dublin in particular. And Ocean FM actually interviewed my brother on two occasions. The first one was in April of last year and the second one was in August. And the interview talks about the Campaign and my brother who was, eh, severely stabbed, ehm, about five years ago now and he almost lost his life due to drugs. So he talked about how he has got a very personal passion in this campaign and Ocean FM at the time were again very happy to have us again back in August, like I said…


Pat Kenny: Ok, but what was shown to the assembled members, eh for the address by Mr. Mc…savage is not what happened. I mean. it shows a set that purports to be Ocean FM, which is not Ocean FM. An interviewer which purports to be the interviewer at Ocean FM. That’s not him.


Zabrina Shortt: Yeah, that’s correct. What we actually did, myself and my brother decided to make a little reconstruction of everything that we have done since we started… 


Pat Kenny: Normally when you do that though, it puts on the corner of the screen “reconstruction”.


Zabrina Shortt: That’s true when it’s for public consumption but when it’s internal…


Pat Kenny: Were the listeners to that speech by Mr. Miscavige made aware of the fact that this was a reconstruction?


Zabrina Shortt: Well, whenever we do little promotional pieces like what we’ve done for what we do in Dublin and Donegal, it is known…it’s a known fact that we do reconstructions so it’s something that, because it’s already known it doesn’t have to get mentioned.


Pat Kenny: Would you accept though that in that piece… and I looked at the piece about Ireland particularly and about Dublin, that there was total misrepresentation of the density of the Scientology effort in Dublin city. As I said, it appeared the city was awash… with people. And anyone who walks through Dublin city may occasionally come across Church of Scientology members but not to the degree that was suggested by you?


Zabrina Shortt: Actually I took a l took a little bit of offence when people say that it wasn’t awash, because with these booklets, I’ve personally given out 30,000 of them. That took a lot of my effort. 50,000 have gone out in Dublin in the last year. So, it is…what you see in the video of giving out the booklets, it’s actually true.


Pat Kenny: It may have happened in a number of different places, but the same people in the different places. Whereas it appeared as if this was, as I say, a major army giving out the booklets, which is not so… How many members do you have?


Zabrina Shortt: That I actually can’t answer because I’m not… employed by the Church.




Pat Kenny: Now, the other extraordinary claim: that because of the work of the Church of Scientology that there’s been an 85% reduction in drug-related crime?


Zabrina Shortt: Yeah, where that came actually came from…I brought some newspaper clippings from last year. There was a significant drop in drug-related crime in areas that we have done the campaign in. One area saw a 60% drop, one saw an 85% drop. But I would like to state in there that there are many other people out there that are helping to handle the drugs problem..and to..


Pat Kenny: No, but I mean the claim that the Church of Scientology in Ireland, eh, led to…it’s campaign led to a reduction of 85% in drug-related crime is totally misleading.


Zabrina Shortt: Ok. I can understand why people would think it was misleading. Again, with the excitement of the campaign, what we put in there is we’re trying to let people see that we are doing something that is good. If, for me, that I got a little bit excited in what I did with the promotion of it, then I can apologise for that but it is something that I believe strongly in. And one of the articles that we have done before regarding the drop in crime, it states that we feel the campaign is making a difference and it’s contributing to it.


Pat Kenny: Alright, I mean I could understand that if you target a particularly small area and you target it intensively and get information to people who might wander into the drug scene inadvertently that you could, you could change things, there’s no doubt about that. If the state did the same on a nationwide basis we might have similar results, but that clearly is not happening. But the general claim you see that this was a big success internationally for the Church of Scientology in reducing drug-related crime in Ireland by 85% was just was so far fetched that he doesn’t do your church any credit.


Zabrina Shortt: Ok.


Pat Kenny: Ahm, how did you get involved in the Church of Scientology yourself?


Zabrina Shortt: About twelve years ago I was living in Sydney and I came across one of the Organisations there and I decided I would go in and find out what this is all about.


Pat Kenny: It’s fair to say that you had been curious about other religions, other than the ones you find commonly in Donegal (laughs).


Zabrina Shortt: That’s true. I mean to be honest I grew up in Donegal. I’d never even heard of Scientology. But when I was 11 I decided that being brought up as a catholic in school, I wanted to explore other religions. I was a buddhist, I was a muslim, I was everything that I could possibly be until I found something that I liked.


Pat Kenny: And you just wandered into a Scientology meeting? Eh, did you do the test?


Zabrina Shortt: Yeah, I did a personality test in one of the Organisations in Sydney.


Pat Kenny: What was it about Scientology then that, eh..appealed to you as distinct from being a buddhist or a muslim?


Zabrina Shortt: I guess there’s a couple of things. One was I found out that things that happen to you in the past can hold you back in your current life and they can also affect your future…various different fears that you might have..


Pat Kenny: Are you talking in past lives rather than in you past life this time around, as it were?


Zabrina Shortt: Aw no, I’m talking about, say for example, if somebody when they’re younger has their confidence shot down all the time by their parents. They may find it very difficult when they want to go and say get a job and they’ve got a difficult boss to deal with. They find it difficult to get a promotion because they don’t know how to deal with being shot down a lot. So that’s something that happened in somebody’s past that what we can do in Scientology is help them deal with that so that then that’s not an issue for them anymore and they can move on and that’s what helps to shape their future because they don’t have that holding them back anymore. 


Pat Kenny: It’s often said about the Church of Scientology that it targets people who are vulnerable. Now we all know that the big stars in Hollywood who are Scientologists who don’t appear to me to be vulnerable at all so we’ll set that aside. But that’s the charge that’s been made about people. People who are suggestible, people who are vulnerable. Now, in your own life because of the imprisonment of your father Frank. His subsequent vindication we have recorded many times… on the public airwaves, but do you think that made you particularly vulnerable?


Zabrina Shortt: I would say that I probably wasn’t in good shape growing up. Like I said, I’d taken drugs from when I was 13 years old, but to cover the angle is that with Scientology, anybody can use it, whether they’re young or old, no matter what their profession, what their background, which is why you can see some celebrities in it. These people are already making it very well in life but this gives them a little bit of a hand. Or you can have the housewife who doesn’t know really how to deal with the kids and get them to go to bed. That can be helped as well. To somebody who’s taking drugs and is down and out in their life.


Pat Kenny: The Church of Scientology, it’s belief system. I mean, L. Ron Hubbard. I remember when I was in America years and years ago, I was given some of the books and I read them and I thought they were nonsense to be quite honest.


Zabrina Shortt: Ok. That again is absolutely your prerogative to believe that. Ahm, everybody’s open to having their own opinion about everything that they feel out there, whether it’s religion or a political viewpoint. But I do admire the fact that you would read them for yourself and decide for yourself.


Pat Kenny: Yep. Ahm, why do you think the Church gets such bad publicity? And it does.


Zabrina Shortt: Ok. One of the main reasons, I feel, is that a major campaign, which is the one I work in, is the Truth About Drugs Campaign. No, if you remember when the “Head Shops” opened in Ireland many years ago, back in 2010, there was uproar about that. And the reason for it is drugs are such a major problem in society. And I as a parent am worried about my little girl. Is she going to end up on drugs? So, when you have such a huge economy out there of drug-pushing and drug-dealing, when they see that they’re going to loose some of their market they get a little bit upset about that. And so, therefore, they’re..they cause trouble for backing any organisation that’s got a truth about drugs message.




Pat Kenny: If the Church of Scientology and The Truth About Drugs Campaign was really successful, we would see a massive diminution in the United States, where the church was founded, in the drugs problem, but that does not appear to be the case. Quite the contrary.


Zabrina Shortt: Well, actually, one of my counterparts actually works in Italy..and, I have a letter which he sent in to me. It’s from the Senator in Italy. His name is Salvo Flares…and he actually works with bringing economy into Italy and Sicily with Taiwan. Now, he has given a letter to us, my counterpart on The Truth About Drugs which states that he has noted himself a 25 decrease in drug-abuse in his country and has thanked the organisation for 25 years of giving out The Truth About Drugs booklets..


Pat Kenny: And, cause and effect though, (laughs) you know, that may be observable, I don’t know enough about the drug problem in Italy. If there is a 25% drop, it’s one thing to say that that might be the case and record it and it’s another thing to say that all the efforts of the police and the authorities can be set aside and the credit can be given to the Church of Scientology.


Zabrina Shortt: Oh, absolutely not. I really appreciate everybody out there who’s working in the anti-drugs field. It’s a very very tough job. I work hand-in-hand with these people.


Pat Kenny: What kind of commitment do you have to give to the Church of Scientology? Do you have to give them a tithe of your income? Do you have to turn up every week, eh for some sort of reinforcement lectures? Or what do you have to do, as a member?


Zabrina Shortt: You don’t have to do anything, to be honest with you. Which is another thing that I do like about it and why I chose that as a belief system. You don’t have to believe anything. You don’t have to do anything that you’re told to do. There are no rules in particular. When you find out about the Campaign you can decide if you want to help with it or not help with it.




Pat Kenny: Do you have to pay?


Zabrina Shortt: For the Campaign?


Pat Kenny: No, to pay…eh, a tithe of your income, a fraction of your income to continue to be a member of the Church of Scientology?


Zabrina Shortt: Oh God, absolutely no..


Pat Kenny: Because it is characterised as a church that is very adept at extracting money from it’s members.


Zabrina Shortt: You definitely don’t have to pay any tithes. You’re not committed to paying for anything. If you want to do a course you can pay for the course. The Campaign is supported by Scientologists. They actually donate money which pays for these booklets that we have here. That’s one way that the Church would…


Pat Kenny: But aren’t you encouraged all the time to…raise yourself to a higher level by taking another course and then another course and then another course? Each one of course costs.


Zabrina Shortt: It’s like any kind of educational institution. If you do a course in there, of course they’re going to give you the gamut of other courses that are available so you can chose whether you want to do one of those courses or not.


Pat Kenny: Now, Dianetics, I heard you mention that and that seems to be the key, if you like, to this church. What is Dianetics?




Zabrina Shortt: Dianetics is a little bit like I told you at the beginning. That things that have happened in your past, they can affect the way you feel about things right now and they can shape your life. So Dianetics is a process that we use to help alleviate some of the pain and suffering that’s alway happened…


Pat Kenny: But what is it? What is Dianetics?


Zabrina Shortt: It’s a process that’s used. It’s basically a counselling. So. it’s having somebody look at a painful, emotional incident or a pain experience that they’ve had in the past. And when you look at it and you confront it, the you can actually start to get a little bit in control of it where you weren’t before.


Pat Kenny: How many of these courses have you done? I mean, have you reached an elevated level within the Church of Scientology?


Zabrina Shortt: I don’t know the number of courses…maybe 12, 15 courses… at this point.


Pat Kenny: How much would you say it’s cost you to get to this point?


Zabrina Shortt: I don’t know. Certainly less than my (laughs) college education which was in Queens University.


Pat Kenny: In terms of it being a church, there is normally, in a church, a God figure, a God head. Is L.Ron Hubbard that person, that God head..or when you talk about a belief system and call it a church, what is divine about Scientology?




Zabrina Shortt: Well again another thing I like about Scientology is you are allowed to believe whatever you believe about God or what’s out there, or what’s not out there. You can be an atheist. You can believe in the Catholic God. You can be a Buddhist. You can be a Muslim. You can have whatever concept you believe of something other than ourselves…or nothing..


Pat Kenny: So, what do you have to believe in to be a Scientologist? Nothing?


Zabrina Shortt: Again, you don’t have to believe anything you’re given so…


Pat Kenny: So, how is it a church? You know, if there’s no belief system, how is it a church? I mean, if you believe in Dianetics, it sounds to me a little bit like psychotherapy, if that’s what you’re talking about. You know, in psychotherapy they deal with issues from you past and try to help you resolve them. So, I mean so should it really be the church of some kind of psychotherapy rather than Scientology? Is that what is does? Does it not have ant divine at all?


Zabrina Shortt: Well, there’s two aspects to it, if you like. There’s Dianetics, which we’ve spoken about, is…similar to what you’ve mentioned there. It’s counselling of something that’s happened to a person that’s traumatic. And then you’ve got the other aspect which is more spiritual and that’s the Scientology aspect.


Pat Kenny: What is that? I’m trying to get a grip on that. You say “any belief system will do”. You can believe in everything or nothing and still be a Scientologist. So, where is the divine in Scientology?


Zabrina Shortt: You see, because it’s non-denominational it allows you to hold on to whatever religious views you believe in yourself. But, to define what a religion is, a religion is a belief system..that, the…the centre point of it is that we are spiritual beings. We’re not just bodies. There’s more to us than just the body that you see in front of you right now. And you can have whatever connection you feel to whatever spiritual entity you think is out there…or not out there. And that’s what Scientology is.




Pat Kenny: So there is no belief system, really, within the Church of Scientology. There’s no…there are no commandments. There are no statements of religious principle. There’s nothing at the heart of this except some sort of psychotherapy.


Zabrina Shortt: We do have a belief system in… we’ve got a thing called The Way to Happiness which are 21 precepts. They’re a little bit similar to the ten commandments, if you like, of the catholic religion.


Pat Kenny: Can you name a couple of them?


Zabrina Shortt: Do not murder. Do not be promiscuous. Ahm, very similar to “Honour you Father and your Mother” type thing of the Ten Commandments. These are precepts that we give to people to help them make the right decisions in life. Like “Take Care of Yourself”, try and be the best person that you can be. Again, they can look at it, they can decide to follow these for themselves.


Pat Kenny: The term “Scientology” that was coined by L. Ron Hubbard, what does it mean?


Zabrina Shortt: It means knowing how to know. “Scio” is a greek word that means knowledge, and “ology” would be the study of that, or knowing about it. So, knowing how to know about yourself, about life, about why things are the way they are.


Pat Kenny: How do people respond to you when you tell them you’re a Scientologist. I mean, it’s not something you hide…because you’re out there: the campaign against drugs, and if anyone asks you you tell the that you’re a Scientologist. How do they react to you?


Zabrina Shortt: I actually have got more people asking me questions, just like you. Well what is it because I don’t really know what it is? You know, they may see some negative things in the press. They may seem some positive things, but they don’t know. That’s the reaction I get.


Pat Kenny: They don’t know. So they’re not particularly hostile to you? They don’t think that, for example, you’re in some way mentally captive of a cult?


Zabrina Shortt: No. I have actually never personally experienced that myself.


Pat Kenny: Do the members of the Church of Scientology feel persecuted?


Zabrina Shortt: I don’t see that they feel persecuted, no. I do think that there is negative press, that is put out there. But I understand the press, that it has to be controversial to sell papers.


Pat Kenny: Do they feel ridiculed?


Zabrina Shortt: No.


Pat Kenny: The Church of Scientology, eh, what’s it’s ambition?


Zabrina Shortt: The ambition is to help people make their life a little bit better, or a big bit better, depending on what they want. And therefore, if their life is better, then they can make the lives of others better and then society starts to come up a little bit from where it is right now.




Pat Kenny: Do you see that’s it’s totally undermined though by the kind of thing we’ve been talking about this morning, you know, a bogus video, a reconstruction of Ocean FM which immediately allows us to attack you? The contentions about the drug-related crime being reduced by 80% all to do with the Church of Scientology. I mean, when these things are not credible it undermines the whole credibility of your operation.


Zabrina Shortt: Well, what it is unfortunate about that is that it was an internal briefing video that was made, essentially mostly for Americans which is why it’s a bit jazzy and blingy…


Pat Kenny: But also deceitful, really.


Zabrina Shortt: Well, it was a pirated DVD which was again, like I said, for internal promotion.


Pat Kenny: When you say “Pirated” you mean it was something that none of us were meant to see except the members of the Church of Scientology? So, somebody got it. I think we found it on a Russian website because the ads before the particular thing were in russian so I know that that’s where it came from. It is something that the church would prefer not to have been seen by outsiders.


Zabrina Shortt: Well, it’s a little bit similar to any business. When they’re making an internal briefing they’re using words that only their people will understand. They’re doing things in a way that people will understand. It’s internal which means it’s close to our heart. It’s not for public consumption. It was pirated. It was stolen in Russia and pirated versions are being shown all over the world. That wasn’t the intention.


Pat Kenny: But nothing in that was misrepresenting what actually happened on the day. I mean that did happen on the day. The video’s not been doctored. The claims about Ireland were not made up by the pirates, they were made up by Mr Miscavige.


Zabrina Shortt: That’s correct yeah.


Pat Kenny: Now, those leaflets you’ve been handing out and the videos you’ve been handing out, “The Truth about Drugs” campaign, what’s the form of that campaign. I mean the claims that are made for it are very excessive. So what are you doing that would make that campaign work better than others who have tried and failed to combat the drugs problem.


Zabrina Shortt: Well, to give you a little bit of background is that there obviously is a huge drugs problem in Ireland. Heroin, for example, has got the highest usage rate of Europe in Ireland and Cocaine is the third highest usage between 15 and 34 year olds. And that’s something… statistics that have been gotten from the EU monitoring centre. And, also, just a little aside from that, 60% of suicides in Ireland are related to substance abuse. So I know there’s a massive problem. Like I’ve said before, I was 13 when I started to take drugs. My brother was…




Pat Kenny: By that…the way, that suicide problem.. Alcohol may have a much more dominant effect than either of the two drugs that you mentioned.


Zabrina Shortt: That’s correct. But then again alcohol is also a drug.


Pat Kenny: Sure.


Zabrina Shortt: Myself and my brother, like I said, we were very young when we started to take drugs. He almost died. He was on a life-support machine for many months after his stabbing. He had a cocaine habit of €500 per week. A lot of this habits people have they lead to crime because who can support a cocaine habit? And it’s literally killing out young people. It’s killing our economy. So, I want to do something about this.


Pat Kenny: So the campaign, I mean, what form does it take?


Zabrina Shortt: The major part of the campaign are these little booklets which we get out and, like I said, I’ve gotten out 110,00 of these in Ireland in the last year and a half. They talk about drugs such as Ecstasy. LSD, Speed, Cocaine, Marijuana. What they do is when they’re given to kids, they can look up and they can see like, you know, the effects of ecstasy. Do they really know that it can increase the brain temperature to a point of causing a stroke. Most kids don’t know that. We like to tell them that. It’s almost like Russian roulette. I took a lot of ecstasy whenever I was younger. I was lucky that I didn’t die. I had a lot of body damage. I almost broke my back. I knocked out teeth, various things like that. But because it’s not a controlled substance as in it’s not made in a laboratory. You can have one ecstasy tablet that’s got a different constitution to another one so you don’t know what you’re taking.


Pat Kenny: Alright, I’ve looked at the booklet and it is very informative. It tells you about the short-term and the long-term effects of the various drugs, including Crystal Meth and Heroin and Cocaine and so on. And indeed Marijuana. It does invite people if they want to check everything out they can go on the web at Drug Free World dot org and email info at drug free world dot org. I know the cynics will say that’s a way of sucking people in to Scientology. You know, they’re curious about the drugs, they want more information, and suddenly they’re within your web. What do you say to that?


Zabrina Shortt:  Well, what I can say is you have the booklet in your hand. There’s absolutely no reference whatsoever to Scientology on that. If anybody would like to look at the website which you’ve just quoted as well, there’s absolutely no reference to it. It merely supports and pays for our Campaign which I think, with the lack of government support right now and the funds being cut last year, we should be welcoming this.


Pat Kenny:  Alright Zabrina Shortt, thank you very much for joining us in the studio today.



2 Responses

  1. Thank you for this interview. My favorite part is:

    “Pat Kenny: But nothing in that was misrepresenting what actually happened on the day. I mean that did happen on the day. The video’s not been doctored. The claims about Ireland were not made up by the pirates, they were made up by Mr Miscavige.”

    “Zabrina Shortt: That’s correct yeah.”

    So they mostly lie to members so they can scam them for more money. Yeah, that’s the cult’s MO.


  2. Thanks for doing this!


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