Family enlists Kelly Slater in bid to woo estranged brother away from religion…
About a month ago, our comments moderator Negatron urged me to follow up on an interesting comment left on Chas’ article Awards: Enchantment Under the Sea.
Here’s what the poster had to say, in regards to Chas’ Scientology spiel.
I took Negs’ tip and contacted Brett Reisdorf, who just so happened to live in Encinitas, CA, to see if he’d be keen for a chat. The following conversation was recorded on sunny, if somewhat blustery, afternoon at Seaside Reef.
MC: What’s your family’s connection to Scientology (click here for a brief history of the religion)?
BR: My grandparents (on both sides) were the first generation to get involved with Scientology. L Ron Hubbard was doing lectures at this time – that’s where my Dad’s dad bumped into it in Iowa back in the fifties. This was before it was Scientology, when it was still called Dianetics. My mom’s side of the family got involved a little later, so both of my parents were born into it. Then they met on the ship that L Ron was traveling on. My dad was a deckhand and my mom was one of L Ron’s caretakers.
Have you ever been a Scientologist?
Right before I was born my parents were kicked out by the current leader. When I was born we moved back to South Africa to live with my mom’s parents, who were still very high up in Scientology, and they safe-housed us without the Church knowing, because otherwise they would have made us disconnect (the Church forces parishioners to cease all contact with family members who actively speak against Scientology). So I grew up in the house with it, but I never grew up in the study room.
I watched your episode (click here) on Leah Remini’s show, Scientology and the Aftermath, and found out that your brothers got involved with the organization. What’s the deal with that?
We all grew up in California and were not connected to the Church, but occasionally we’d travel back to South Africa, where my brothers would see the other side of the family who were still Scientologists – my mom’s sisters and stuff. At some point their prodding got into my brothers heads, and it was like this little seed that threatened to grow.
Eventually we went back to South Africa for my wedding, and my youngest brother Craig, who had just graduated high school, was supposed to go from South Africa to Oz and then Indo in order to surf and explore the world. He was 18 and ripping.
At some point my mom’s sister put this guilt trip on him, and it worked. So while I was there from the wedding I was literally watching my brother become a Scientologist. Craig bailed on his trip to stay in South Africa and study the religion.
When Craig came back to San Diego he officially joined the Church then got my other brother to join. My parents saw the writing on the wall that disconnection was gonna happen, so they just started pretending. Their efforts in rejoining were purely to keep the family together.
But you were able to get your other brother, Brandon, back. How?
Someone brought up the HBO show, Going Clear, on social media, and my brother defended the Church. That was an opportunity for us, because we knew the guy he was arguing with, so we actually fed this guy a bunch of info, like, “Say this to Brandon as if it were coming from you.” In Scientology, you’re trained to not look at the media, so this was one of our only ways in. Even if they do see it, they generally don’t believe it because they’re taught that these evil people are just trying to go against what’s right.
Our friend really helped out with that, then we got Brandon a trip to Las Gaviotas, and we brought a few ex-members of the Church to help with de-programming him. We had Brandon down there in Mex and he didn’t really have the ability to get away, so we just kinda laid it on him. Then he finally caught onto all the lies and kinda snapped, and that’s when he went and threw a hammer at the Church (as seen in the Leah Remini episode). He was just yelling like, “I want my brother back!”
But you haven’t had so much luck with Craig?
No. At this point Craig was slowly cutting ties. He wouldn’t answer phone calls or come visit so it was pretty obvious what was happening (disconnection). We’ve tracked him all over southern California. We’ve found him a few times and sent him messages of love, but it’s almost impossible to get a hold of him. We actually need to find him again, because he keeps moving.
We explained the situation to Kelly and asked him to help us get Craig back. I brought up the concept of having Kelly tell my brother he won a ticket to the wavepool through some online drawing, because there was no way Craig would turn down that opportunity. From there, our whole family would be waiting at the pool to meet him.
But you’re thinking that surfing can help lead Craig back home?
We hope! We’ve certainly been trying. For instance, Craig’s allergic to neoprene, so if he gets a new wetsuit he’ll break out in a full-on rash, but if he gets a used one he’s stoked. I’ve been giving him my old suits, trying to remind him that we love him.
And what about the Kelly thing?
I sent a letter to the Kelly that I hoped would help win Craig over, because I know that my brother looks up to Kelly similarly that he would David Miscavige (the current Scientology leader). Basically we explained the situation to Kelly and asked him to help us get Craig back. I brought up the concept of having Kelly tell my brother he won a ticket to the wavepool through some online drawing, because there was no way Craig would turn down that opportunity. From there, our whole family would be waiting at the pool to meet him. The only hitch was the plan included Leah Remini’s camera crew, because they were super interested in that idea for the show.
To my surprise, Kelly responded and was really into the idea. He was like, “Yeah, let’s do this! How do we make it happen?” But when the show’s producer wrote a letter to Kelly’s agent, they unfortunately had to decline. Supposedly ownership of the pool denied it.
And that was interesting to you…
Yeah, well first of all, Chas has often hinted that Kelly has ties to Scientology. I like to think this isn’t true. We’ve talked with a lot of ex-higher-ups, like Leah Remini’s co-host Mike Rinder, who have assured me that if Kelly played any role in the Church, they would know. What’s interesting, however, is Dirk Ziff.
You know how the WSL bought rights to Slater’s pool? Well that makes Dirk Ziff its legal owner. It also turns out that Dirk’s uncle, David Ziff, was/is (there is a discrepancy within the Church over David’s status as alive/dead) a major player in the Scieno community. The only other thing that ties Dirk to the Church is that he’s used the company Gensler for multiple projects throughout his career, and Gensler builds all of the Scientology Ideal Orgs (high-end churches). It’s not much, but it’s something.
All I know is, Kelly seemed really keen on helping out but then his manager got back to me saying ownership of wavepool denied request with no further comment.
I just ask that people are kind to myself, my brother and the rest of my family. This is a very delicate situation and it affects us greatly.
Boy do I love a good conspiracy theory! The Ziff-Scientology-pool thing might be stretching things, howevs.
While this story intrigues, it’s clear we don’t have all, if any, of the answers. Do any of our readers have a connection to the Scientology world? If yes, please share any thoughts and info on the subject!
We wish the best of luck to the Reisdorf family in rescuing their estranged brother/son Craig, and if you feel so inclined to join Brett’s crusade, go ahead and like their Facebook page Surfing to Stop Scientology.