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October 19, 2012

Exclusive: \’The Scientology Reformation\’ author examines Tom Cruise and David Miscavige

Filed under: Religion,Scientology — admin @ 5:00 am

Exclusive: ‘The Scientology Reformation’ author examines Tom Cruise and David Miscavige

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Friday, October 19, 2012

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Church of Scientology Berlin HQ
More information on Scientology:
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  • Scientology beliefs and practices
  • Scientology controversies
  • Scientology and the Internet
  • Xenu

Wikinews held an exclusive interview with former high-ranking Scientology executive Mark Rathbun on his new book The Scientology Reformation: What Every Scientologist Should Know. Rathbun examined the close association between actor Tom Cruise and Scientology leader David Miscavige. Before leaving the organization led by Miscavige, Rathbun served as Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center within Scientology. He currently practices the teachings of Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard independently of the organization managed by David Miscavige.

Background

Mark Rathbun in 2010
Image: Mark Rathbun.

Mark Rathbun — also known as Marty — left the Scientology organization in 2004 after having been involved for 27 years. Throughout the majority of his tenure as a member of the organization, Rathbun held high-ranking executive posts and was involved with managing multiple litigation issues.

Cquote1.svg I had the No. 2 position from 1998 until I left. Cquote2.svg

—Mark Rathbun

He was raised in Laguna Beach, California. He first joined the Scientology organization in 1977 at age 20 after being introduced to a communications course in Portland, Oregon. He subsequently joined the elite Scientology group known as the Sea Org and was assigned to Los Angeles, California. He rose in the ranks and reported to Scientology leader David Miscavige in the 1980s as his lieutenant.

Rathbun attained the high-level position of Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center, the division which manages trademarks and copyright over works by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard relating to Scientology and Dianetics.

He served as director of external legal affairs for the organization. He described his role within the organization to the San Antonio Express-News, “I had the No. 2 position from 1998 until I left. I answered to no one but David Miscavige, who was chairman of the board. I was the personal counselor for Tom Cruise, Lisa Marie Presley, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley.”

Cquote1.svg I was concerned there might be some type of Waco or Jonestown event. Cquote2.svg

—Mark Rathbun

He helped manage multiple key hurdles for Scientology, including its 1993 success at attaining tax exemption in the United States, and dealing with the aftermath of the 1995 death of Scientology member Lisa McPherson. He assisted in the Scientology defamation claim against Time magazine over its 1991 article “The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power“.

Rathbun left the Scientology organization led by Miscavige on December 12, 2004, leaving on a motorcycle. Rathbun has stated he left due to physical abuse witnessed at the Scientology international headquarters known as Gold Base, located in Riverside, California. He later took up residence in Texas.

In 2009, he began speaking out critically about the organization as managed by Miscavige, with coverage from CNN, The New Yorker, and the St. Petersburg Times of Florida. Rathbun explained to the San Antonio Express-News his motivation for coming forward publicly with criticism of the Scientology organization, “I did a lot of soul-searching before going public. I was concerned there might be some type of Waco or Jonestown event.”

Request for comment

Wikinews reached out to Church of Scientology International for a comment about Scientology or David Miscavige, and to representatives of Tom Cruise for a comment related to Mark Rathbun. As of this article’s original publication no response was received. A subsequent response if received within 24 hours of this article’s publication would be appended to this article as an addendum.


Update: 24 hours from time of article publication, Wikinews had not received a response from representatives for Church of Scientology International, David Miscavige, or Tom Cruise.

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png If David Miscavige were to leave the Scientology organization, what would happen to the leadership structure of the organization?

Mark Rathbun: “Nothing. It would just fade away under the do-less bureaucracy Miscavige created.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Who would take over the way things are set up at the present time? Is there a succession plan in place?

MR: “Who knows? For the past twenty years it has been organized under the principles of The Lord of the Flies — whoever the collective, bee hive, stimulus response mentality collective that is left will do as they will. Might as well flip coins.”

Cquote1.svg I have no interest in organized religion. Cquote2.svg

—Mark Rathbun

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png If you could be plopped into the Scientology organization position of Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center (COB RTC) and replace David Miscavige, right now, would you do it, or who else would you suggest who would be capable in that role?

MR: “No, I have no interest in organized religion. Because of that I am the last person qualified to answer the second question.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts on the “disconnection” policy in organized Scientology? Do you think it should be discontinued?

MR: “Yes. But it never will because Scientology management has correspondence from Hubbard from 1983 re-instating; making it impossible for such literalists to cancel it.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In your view, what top 5 things would you change from the leadership policies of David Miscavige, and why?

MR: “There are no five single things. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of arbitrary whims of Miscavige effectively chiseled in their minds as ‘policy’. That is why I say ‘Scientology Inc is dead’, way past the point of possible rehabilitation.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Your first book on this subject, What is Wrong with Scientology?, displayed on its cover the “Squirrel Busters” group who showed up on your doorstep in Texas. In a statement to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, they admitted that their goal was to make your life “a living hell”. What are your thoughts on using Scientologists and private investigators in this manner?

MR: “It is reprehensible and unjustifiable in the twenty-first century.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you think there is any situation which would justify using Office of Special Affairs (OSA) intelligence operatives, private investigators hired by the Scientology organization, high-ranking Scientologists, or some combination thereof, surveil, monitor, or gather information on former members of Scientology or critics of the organization? If so, can you describe what situations would warrant this type of response?

MR: “No. The tactics are anachronistic. They were conceived during the Cold War to deal with a cold war era attack.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts on the response of the precursor to the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), the Guardian’s Office (GO), to journalist and author of the book The Scandal of Scientology, Paulette Cooper? Is there any inside information or backstory you can share with us, regarding what happened to her? Is there anything else that you know, that hasn’t yet been exposed, about what happened to Paulette Cooper?

MR: “Reprehensible. I have no other data to share — it is quite graphically spelled out in the GO’s own documents that were put on the public record in the D.C. Federal Court in 1978.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Other high-ranking executives within the Scientology organization have left before you, and tried to form groups which practiced a similar philosophy. For example, David Mayo formed the Advanced Ability Center in Santa Barbara, California, which (according to Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman) after a few years of operating by 1986 was “bankrupt after several years of litigation and harassment, shut down.” Another group was called the “Free Zone“, similarly formed over disagreements with David Miscavige and the RTC, which was influenced by former Sea Org member William “Captain Bill” Robertson. How and why will the current “Independent Scientology” movement succeed, where others have failed?

MR: “The main difference is that David Mayo and Bill Robertson tried to become the new L. Ron Hubbard and set up another version of what Hubbard created. That creation — the organization structure served the organization well for its first several decades, but became outdated and obsolete around the time of Hubbard’s death, 1986. The current independent movement is predicated on the idea that Scientology was destroyed by being monopolized — and if it survives it will because enough people appreciate that was the core reason for the demise of the original organizations.”

Cquote1.svg [Scientology executives] were long ago overwhelmed with cognitive dissonance to the point where they have created a bizarre, anachronistic universe that is destined for extinction. Cquote2.svg

—Mark Rathbun

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Since leaving organized Scientology under David Miscavige have you read much about the theory of cognitive dissonance?

MR: “Yes.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png How do you think cognitive dissonance applies to those high-ranking executives still under the authority of David Miscavige?

MR: “They were long ago overwhelmed with cognitive dissonance to the point where they have created a bizarre, anachronistic universe that is destined for extinction. They are clueless and they are so unreal and stuck to literally following outdated policies that it is hardwired for dissolution.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Could you reflect on and describe your own period of mental growth and cognitive dissonance since leaving organized Scientology under David Miscavige?

MR: “I had a long three years with no contact whatsoever with any semblance of the subject or any Scientologist. I spent three years walking through my own valley of the shadow of death reflecting on my participation in abuses within that were anathema to the philosophy the organization was created to propagate. I studied far and wide outside of Scientology — including from the sources (Eastern thought and Quantum mechanics) that Scientology was derived from. Only with that distance and education could I begin to change my thought patterns and evaluate the organization’s history and future sanely.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you think that public and Sea Org members of the Scientology organization that believed the recent articles in Scientology’s Freedom Magazine which try to explain away criticism of David Miscavige from former executives such as yourself by calling you, a “posse of lunatics”, are suffering from a form of confirmation bias ? If not, why do you think those who read the 2009 series on the Scientology organization as led by David Miscavige in the newspaper St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) are still actively “in” the Scientology organization?

MR: “Those still in are suffering from heavy cognitive dissonance, and consequent thought stopping. Dozens of veterans have told me they woke up to what I was saying by first reading Scientology Inc’s propaganda on me. It led them to check out my videos (three and one half hours worth) on the Tampa Times website — and then they really began waking up.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What are your thoughts on the L. Ron Hubbard biography, Bare-faced Messiah, by Russell Miller? Have you read the book? Do you think it is accurate?

MR: “Miller’s biography is a cheap propaganda assault on Hubbard. Miller was a hater. Hubbard was no saint, but Miller only put things in the worst possible light.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You wrote the foreword to the book Blown for Good by Marc Headley, published in 2009. Why did you agree to write the foreword, seeing as how Headley and yourself have differing views about Scientology?

MR: “As covered in the forward itself.”

Cquote1.svg Church of Scientology Inc controls every aspect of Narconon. Cquote2.svg

—Mark Rathbun

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Are you aware of the situation unfolding now with the multiple recent deaths related to the Scientology drug rehab Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma? What do you think of the controversy surrounding these four recent deaths? Should David Miscavige change the way Narconon is run, or promoted to potential patients?

MR: “Yes, I gave Narconon Int President Gary Smith the green light to make medical supervised withdrawal policy. I was Inspector General (Number Two) at the time, 2002. The only one with the authority to cross order that was Miscavige. It is quite apparent he did after my 2004 departure.”

[Note: Clark Carr is currently president of Narconon International; Gary Smith is currently CEO of Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma and has been active in Narconon in Oklahoma since at least 1989.]

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Soon after the June 11, 2008 death of Patrick W. Desmond, Director of Narconon in Georgia Mary Rieser sent a memo to the Scientology Office of Special Affairs (OSA). Why would OSA have been notified of a death of a former Narconon patient? Is this standard practice?

MR: “Because Church of Scientology Inc controls every aspect of Narconon.”

[Note: Per an August 29, 1972 letter by L. Ron Hubbard, subject “Narconon”, heading “Sea Organization”, “The incomparable Guardian’s Office has been running the Narconon (drugs no!) Program over the world.”]
David Miscavige
David Miscavige
Image: Scientology Media.
Tom Cruise
Tom Cruise
Image: Caroline Bonarde Ucci.
Scientology leader David Miscavige and celebrity member Tom Cruise

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The description of your new book, The Scientology Reformation: What Every Scientologist Should Know, states it will answer questions including, “Why does Tom Cruise continue to support Miscavige despite international media reports of his increasingly sociopathic conduct?”. Can you give us a little taste and explain in brief why Tom Cruise still supports David Miscavige after the reporting of controversy in the Scientology organization from news sources including the 2009 St. Petersburg Times “The Truth Rundown” series, and the 2010 Anderson Cooper 360 piece on CNN, “Scientology: A History of Violence”?

MR: “It is covered in excerpts posed on my blog markrathbun.wordpress.com.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You published an excerpt of The Scientology Reformation on your blog, “Chapter Eight: The Gates of Hell”, where you write: “After I had spent more than two years recovering Tom Cruise to the Scientology Bridge, auditing him for dozens of hours, indoctrinating his children to choose him over their mother (his former wife), auditing and guiding him through the entirety of OT V, OT VI, and onto OT VII (three of the highest levels of Scientology spiritual advancement), Miscavige became impatient.” What was it that caused Tom Cruise to need to be “recovered” back to the “Scientology Bridge”? How were you able to convince him to come back? Do you now think in the end this result was to his benefit?

MR: “The end result in 2003 was definitely to his benefit. What Miscavige did to him after that will be his undoing.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In The Scientology Reformation, Chapter Eight, you write, “As much as Miscavige’s head swelled in the Tom Cruise inner circle, he became more and more detached and individuated from the Sea Org members of international management who had built the empire he was profiting from. They slaved on in squalid communal quarters, working long hours with no time off and next to no pay.” Is Tom Cruise aware of the real working and living conditions of Sea Org members?

MR: “Yes.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What did he tell you he thought of this Sea Org lifestyle in the Scientology organization under the leadership of David Miscavige? While you were in the Scientology organization, did Tom Cruise voice his opinions about this to David Miscavige?

MR: “This is really covered in the book. Cruise has been turned into a sociopath by Miscavige’s close personal tutoring. They have absolutely no concern or regard for human life other than their own.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Further, in Chapter Eight of The Scientology Reformation you also state, “Miscavige forbade me from letting Tom get on with his life as a free Scientologist.” What do you mean by this?

Scientology international headquarters in Riverside California, known as Gold Base
Image: carmenslade.

MR: “Miscavige ordered Tom come to the International Headquarters and become David’s close friend. The rest is covered in my book. Miscavige destroyed him.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What is the difference between Tom Cruise before this directive of David Miscavige, and afterwards?

MR: “Tom was caring — about his family, about church staff members, about those he worked with. After he cares about nobody but himself and his best man Dave.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What do you mean by “life as a free Scientologist”? How would Tom Cruise’s life be different today, if he could live life as a “free Scientologist”?

MR: “He would [be] sort of a normal guy.”

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Thank you very much for participating in this interview for Wikinews.



Related news

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Tom Cruise
  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg David Miscavige
  • Wikiquote-logo.svg David Miscavige
  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Mark Rathbun
  • Wikiquote-logo.svg Mark Rathbun

Sources

Wikinews
This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

External links

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September 10, 2012

ABC News yanks 20/20 investigation of Tom Cruise and Scientology

ABC News yanks 20/20 investigation of Tom Cruise and Scientology

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Related stories
  • Exclusive: ‘The Scientology Reformation’ author examines Tom Cruise and David Miscavige
  • ABC News yanks 20/20 investigation of Tom Cruise and Scientology
  • Scientology guilty of fraud rules French appeal court
  • Australian woman claims Church of Scientology imprisoned her for twelve years
  • British Government warns against tax breaks for Scientology

Church of Scientology Berlin HQ
More information on Scientology:
  • Scientology
  • Scientology beliefs and practices
  • Scientology controversies
  • Scientology and the Internet
  • Xenu

An investigation into Scientology and Tom Cruise which was set to air this past Friday on the American television program 20/20 was removed from broadcast by ABC News. This is not the first time that ABC News has pulled an investigation into Scientology from airing on 20/20.

ABC News headquarters in New York City, New York. (2008)
Image: Jim.henderson.

A press release published by ABC on Thursday announced the scheduled airing of the investigation. It described the program as “an in-depth look” by Elizabeth Vargas into the recent report on Tom Cruise and Scientology by journalist Maureen Orth for Vanity Fair in its October 2012 publication.

An analysis of the situation by Editor-in-Chief Tony Ortega of The Village Voice pointed out that in 2008, actor and former Scientologist Jason Beghe was interviewed by Elizabeth Vargas after he had flown to New York. Beghe recounted to Vargas his experiences within Scientology and his decision to cease activity in the organization.

However, this interview by Vargas was never shown on ABC.

Cquote1.svg ABC caved again, and this time much more publicly. Cquote2.svg

Editor-in-Chief Tony Ortega, The Village Voice

Ortega noted, “Then, Friday night, ABC caved again, and this time much more publicly.” He highlighted a television screenshot which displays clearly the description given by ABC for the 20/20 program scheduled for Friday: “20/20. New. ‘Lovestyles of the Rich and Famous; The Camera Never Lies’ Journalist Maureen Orth discusses her recent article in Vanity Fair on Scientology and actor Tom Cruise; celebrity”.

According to Ortega, this was to be a significant investigation into Scientology. It was going to cover topics including the recent divorce of actress Katie Holmes from Tom Cruise, the role of minors within the Scientology organization, material on Scientology’s chief David Miscavige, and controversy regarding the elite Scientology group known as the Sea Org. Ortega was himself interviewed as part of the investigation, which he was told would comprise an hour-long broadcast.

Cquote1.svg We just got word that both ABC 20/20 & Nightline have pulled the TV shows that were going to air tonight. Cquote2.svg

—Marc Headley

In addition to Ortega, former Scientologists Marc Headley and his wife Claire were interviewed by ABC News for the 20/20 piece which they were informed would be complemented by a news segment on Nightline. Claire told the camera of her two mandatory abortions she experienced while a member of the Sea Org in Scientology; Ortega reported that this interview moved the ABC television crew to tears.

Marc Headley confirmed that he had learned of the ABC News decision. In a post Friday to a legal fund webpage he set up to support his family with litigation costs from Scientology, he commented: “We just got word that both ABC 20/20 & Nightline have pulled the TV shows that were going to air tonight. It appears that someone at OSA is trying to sandbag the downstats over the next few weeks.” OSA is an abbreviation for the Office of Special Affairs — a department within Scientology which has been compared to an intelligence agency that handles legal affairs and public relations. Downstat refers to a negative impact on statistics gathered by Scientology members of the Sea Org due to critical investigations of the organization by the media.



Related news

  • “Women reveal accounts of forced abortion in Scientology” — Wikinews, June 15, 2010
  • “Blown for Good author discusses life inside international headquarters of Scientology” — Wikinews, November 13, 2009
  • “YouTube accounts of Scientology critics suspended” — Wikinews, April 18, 2008

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Office of Special Affairs
  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg List of Guardian’s Office operations
  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Operation Freakout

Sources

Wikinews
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

February 2, 2012

Scientology guilty of fraud rules French appeal court

Filed under: Religion,Scientology — admin @ 5:00 am

Scientology guilty of fraud rules French appeal court

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Thursday, February 2, 2012

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Church of Scientology Berlin HQ
More information on Scientology:
  • Scientology
  • Scientology beliefs and practices
  • Scientology controversies
  • Scientology and the Internet
  • Xenu

France’s appeal court, the Court of Cassation, has upheld the findings of the lower courts in a 2009 fraud conviction of the Church of Scientology.

Scientology building in France.
Image: Dominique Pipet.

According to the ruling, the church has to pay €400,000, the church’s bookshop has to pay €200,000, and the head of the Church of Scientology in France, Alain Rosenberg, has to pay €40,000 and has a two-year suspended sentence. Four other members of the Church have been given fines and suspended sentences.

The conviction for fraud was based on claims by a former member of the group that she had been put under pressure to buy books, courses and “purification remedies“. She paid the group €21,000 after having taken out loans. Another claimant in the initial case had lost her job working for a Scientologist after refusing to participate in Scientology classes.

Approximately 50 Scientologists protested outside the courts in France with banners reading “non a la discrimination religieuse” (“no to religious discrimination”) and “respectez notre liberte religieuse” (“respect our religious freedom”). France, along with Belgium and Germany, does not grant the Church of Scientology—which was founded in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction author—legal recognition as a religion unlike the United States.

Karin Pouw, a representative of Scientology, said the decision was a “miscarriage of justice” and said that the Church plans to appeal, possibly to the European Court of Human Rights.



Related news

  • Court in France convicts Scientology of organized fraud” — Wikinews, October 28, 2009
  • “Trial against Church of Scientology begins in France” — Wikinews, May 25, 2009
  • “Trial date set for fraud case against Church of Scientology in France” — Wikinews, January 31, 2009
  • “Church of Scientology in France accused of fraud; ordered to stand trial” — Wikinews, September 8, 2008

Sister links

Wikipedia-logo.png Scientology in France on Wikipedia.

Sources

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This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

December 2, 2011

Australian woman claims Church of Scientology imprisoned her for twelve years

Filed under: Religion,Scientology — admin @ 5:00 am

Australian woman claims Church of Scientology imprisoned her for twelve years

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
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Friday, December 2, 2011

Related stories
  • Exclusive: ‘The Scientology Reformation’ author examines Tom Cruise and David Miscavige
  • ABC News yanks 20/20 investigation of Tom Cruise and Scientology
  • Scientology guilty of fraud rules French appeal court
  • Australian woman claims Church of Scientology imprisoned her for twelve years
  • British Government warns against tax breaks for Scientology

Church of Scientology Berlin HQ
More information on Scientology:
  • Scientology
  • Scientology beliefs and practices
  • Scientology controversies
  • Scientology and the Internet
  • Xenu

Valeska Paris, an Australian woman and former Scientologist, has claimed that the Church of Scientology imprisoned her for twelve years aboard the Scientology-owned cruise ship, Freewinds.

The Church of Scientology’s cruise ship Freewinds in Bonaire.
Image: Mary-Austin & Scott.

Paris claims she was first sent to the ship aged eighteen for two weeks as a teenager but ended up spending twelve years there. Paris also claims that her passport was taken away from her and she was forced to work in the engine room.

Paris was born in Switzerland but her parents moved her to the United Kingdom when she was six so they could be closer to the church’s headquarters. She joined the Sea Org aged 14. In 1995, at age seventeen, she was told to “disconnect” from her mother.

Cquote1.svg I was basically hauled in and told that my mum had attacked the church and that I needed to disconnect from her because she was suppressive. Cquote2.svg

—Valeska Paris

“I was basically hauled in and told that my mum had attacked the church and that I needed to disconnect from her because she was suppressive“. Her mother had spoken out against Scientology on French television after her ex-husband and Paris’ father, Albert Jaquier, committed suicide after he lost his fortune to Scientology. Paris claims that she was kept at Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida until she was eighteen and then transferred to the Freewinds.

On board the Freewinds, Paris claims that she was working from 6:00am to midnight and due to lack of sleep ended up being a “walking zombie”. She also claims that in 1997 and 1998, she was tasked with removal of asbestos from the ship.

In 2007, Paris left the ship after a confrontation with the ship’s management. She was eventually sent to Rehabilitation Project Force in Sydney, which the Church describes as a religious retreat, but critics charge is a forced work camp. Here, she met her future husband and subsequently left the church.

In a statement to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Church denied these allegations: “She certainly wasn’t ‘forced’ to be there. She was also never forced to perform labour in the engine room.” They also claimed Paris was a “volunteer” and claim she has a “vested interest for misrepresenting her experiences with the Church.” The Church also claims that Paris not having her passport was “maritime procedure”.



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October 21, 2010

British Government warns against tax breaks for Scientology

Filed under: Religion,Scientology — admin @ 5:00 am

British Government warns against tax breaks for Scientology

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Related stories

Church of Scientology Berlin HQ
More information on Scientology:
  • Scientology
  • Scientology beliefs and practices
  • Scientology controversies
  • Scientology and the Internet
  • Xenu

The new British coalition government has warned local authorities in the United Kingdom not to provide tax breaks to branches of the Church of Scientology. After an investigation by The Guardian newspaper revealed that several local authorities have granted Scientology tax breaks worth over a million pounds, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles intervened to urge councils to end the practice.

Scientology building in London
Image: Adambro.

Pickles noted in a statement that Scientology was not officially recognised in the UK as a religion or a registered charity and was not eligible for tax relief. Pickles commented, “I do not believe the majority of the public would want their own council to be giving special tax breaks to such a controversial organisation.”

Cquote1.svg I do not believe the majority of the public would want their own council to be giving special tax breaks to such a controversial organisation. Cquote2.svg

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles

The minister’s intervention followed the disclosure by The Guardian that at least four local authorities have given Scientology lucrative tax discounts on branches in their areas. These included:

  • The City of London Corporation, which gave an 80% tax exemption worth £1.3 million to the flagship Scientology centre in the City of London. The corporation justified the exemption on the basis that Scientology could be considered to be a charity either for the advancement of religion “or other purposes beneficial to the community”. It said that it feared being sued by the organisation if it discontinued the exemption.
  • Westminster City Council granted 80% rates relief to the Scientology Celebrity Centre in the Bayswater district of London. This saved Scientology £165,303 over the past ten years, though as of July 2010 the centre is no longer in use. The council determined that Scientology was a “non-registered charity” that is “beneficial to the community”.
  • Birmingham City Council awarded the Church of Scientology Religious Education College an 80% tax discount on the grounds that the property was an educational institution.
  • The City of Sunderland gave the Church of Scientology’s branch in the city tax relief worth £30,000 over five years.

Camden London Borough Council refused to disclose whether and how much tax relief had been granted to the Scientology branch in the London Borough of Camden. Other local authorities, including Manchester City Council and Mid Sussex District Council, said that they charged Scientology the full commercial rate.

In response to The Guardian report, Eric Pickles issued a statement saying that Scientology should not receive privileged tax status and did not deserve to do so, “Tolerance and freedom of expression are important British values, but this does not mean that the likes of Church of Scientology deserve favoured tax treatment over and above other business premises. The Church of Scientology is not a registered charity, since the Charity Commission has ruled that it does not provide a public benefit. Nor are its premises a recognised place of worship. Councils may award charitable relief. They should take into consideration the Charity Commission’s rulings when weighing up whether to do so. I do not believe the majority of the public would want their own council to be giving special tax breaks to such a controversial organisation.”

Cquote1.svg Scientology is very popular with those who have visited our churches… Cquote2.svg

—Scientology spokesman

The controversy was the latest in a series of disputes involving Scientology’s tax status in the UK. Scientology is not officially recognised as a religion. The Charity Commission for England and Wales rejected an application in 1999 by Scientology for charitable status, ruling that its activities did not meet the “public benefit” test. However, in 2000 Scientology obtained exemption from Value Added Tax (VAT) on the grounds that its services were educational and non-profitable. It successfully sued HM Revenue and Customs for the return of £8 million in overpaid VAT.

A spokesman for the Church of Scientology told The Guardian, “Scientology is very popular with those who have visited our churches, met with Scientologists and observed or utilised our numerous community activities that effectively address drug abuse, illiteracy, declining moral values, human rights violations, criminality and more. Local council authorities, government bodies in this country and many others, and the European court of human rights have all recognised the religious nature of Scientology or the fact that Scientologists are actively helping those in their communities as a direct reflection of their religious beliefs.”

Birmingham City Council told the local Sunday Mercury newspaper, “We have noted Mr Pickles’ comments and will take them on board.”



Related news

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Scientology in the United Kingdom
  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Scientology status by country

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October 11, 2010

Author Amy Scobee recounts abuse as Scientology executive

Author Amy Scobee recounts abuse as Scientology executive

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Monday, October 11, 2010

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Wikinews interviewed author Amy Scobee about her book Scientology – Abuse at the Top, and asked her about her experiences working as an executive within the organization. Scobee joined the organization at age 14, and worked at Scientology’s international management headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005. She served as a Scientology executive in multiple high-ranking positions, working out of the international headquarters of Scientology known as “Gold Base“, located in Gilman Hot Springs near Hemet, California.

Background

Scientology – Abuse at the Top by Amy Scobee
Image: Amy Scobee.

Scientology was founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1952. Scobee joined Scientology at age 14, and after leaving in 2005 she began to speak out critically about the organization and her views on alleged abuse carried out by management leader David Miscavige against staff members.

Scientology – Abuse at the Top was published in May, and Scobee has subsequently appeared in interviews about her experiences in the Scientology organization – for media including the St. Petersburg Times of Florida on June 23, and the BBC program Panorama hosted by investigative journalist John Sweeney, The Secrets of Scientology, which broadcast on BBC One on September 28.

Scobee’s book is structured chronologically, and she recounts her experiences first joining the Scientology organization, then becoming a staff member in its elite group the Sea Org, and finally rising to serve in multiple different high-ranking roles at the organization’s international management headquarters. Periodically throughout her experiences as an executive staff member for Scientology, Scobee was sent to the organization’s penal justice system the “Rehabilitation Project Force” (RPF), for supposed “evil on L. Ron Hubbard” or negative thoughts about the organization. These sentences often occurred after a division of management Scobee had served under experienced downward statistics related to profit margins and financial performance for the organization. In each instance she was sent to the RPF, Scobee was subsequently reinstated to an executive management role, and given supervisory responsibility over other senior Scientology officials.

The author reveals difficult emotional experiences in her book, including an incident where she was raped at age 14 by a Scientology supervisor and subsequently instructed by a “Scientology Ethics Officer” that she was in a “state of treason” and to keep the matter quiet and not report it to the police. Scobee describes difficult experiences she endured as part of her punishment served in Scientology’s RPF, including being sent to the RPF at age 16, and subsequently being slapped across the face for refusing to climb into a garbage can and clean it out.

Within Scientology management and the Sea Org, Scobee rose to serve in the Watchdog Committee (WDC) – the highest ecclesiastical body in the organization. After leaving the organization, Scobee was declared a “Suppressive Person“, and Scientology’s intelligence agency the Office of Special Affairs attempted to enforce organization regulations preventing her from ever speaking to her family including her mother again.

Prior to her book’s publication, Scobee was threatened with legal action, in a letter from a lawyer Bertram Fields representing influential Scientology member and celebrity, actor Tom Cruise. Separately, Scientology representative Tommy Davis stated the organization was also preparing a lawsuit against her related to the publication of her book. Further news about such threatened lawsuits have not been forthcoming following these statements from Tom Cruise’s lawyer and Scientology’s spokesman.

After Scobee began to speak out critically about Scientology to the St. Petersburg Times, the Scientology propaganda publication Freedom Magazine issued a publication in which it referred to her repeatedly as “The Adulteress”. Though Scobee had thought that statements she made during Scientology counseling sessions called “Auditing” were to be kept confidential under priest-penitent religious privilege, BBC News reported that “intimate details of her sex life” were forwarded by Scientology, to the St. Petersburg Times. BBC News reported that during an interview for the Panorama program, Scobee was photographed by agents for Scientology along with journalist John Sweeney. These photographs were then sent by Scientology UK lawyers from the firm Carter-Ruck to the BBC, in an attempt to show “bias” of journalist Sweeney towards Scobee in his interviewing.

Scientology – Abuse at the Top received a favorable reception from reviews and media coverage. All Headline News characterized it as a “tell-all book” about Scientology. Scobee’s account has also received positive reception in coverage from Today Tonight, The Drew Marshall Show, Lateline, and Panorama.

Interview

Wikinews waves Left.pngWikinewsWikinews waves Right.png How did you first get involved with Scientology?

Amy Scobee in 2007
Image: Amy Scobee.

Amy Scobee: I was 14 years old. My parents had recently divorced and my mother took custody of me and my older brother. The three of us moved 30 miles north to the Seattle area and my mother started working as a draftsman at a company near by. My brother and I would go to school during the day and spend the evenings with our mom. We’d visit my father on the weekends. I was beginning to get used to this routine when suddenly my mother was no longer spending the evenings with us. Instead, she began attending classes after work at the local Church of Scientology.

One day I was home alone and the phone rang. It was a staff member from the church named Brett. I told him that my mom wasn’t home. He said that he was actually calling to talk to me. He said that he heard I was a very nice person and that I should come into the church to do an introductory service myself. I remember becoming very curious about this. I recall thinking, “Even though I’m just a kid, these guys are interested in me!” That somehow made me feel recognized and important.

I told my mother about the invitation and asked if I could go in with her to meet Brett, to which she agreed. Brett was a very handsome man, posted as the Public Registrar, responsible for signing new people up for service and collecting their money. He interviewed me and said that he could tell I had a lot of potential and would go very far in life, but that I needed to learn several tools to be able to do so successfully. I really wanted to find out all about this. Brett called my mother into his office and had her pay for my first course so I could get started immediately. And so, I enrolled on my first course – the “Communications Course”, on 17 May 1978.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Do you still see positive benefits out of some aspects of Scientology methodology? How so? What courses, programs, do you consider beneficial?

AS: There are some things that I consider to be basic truths, such as that one is a spiritual being, but that’s not unique to Scientology. I honestly no longer consider the methodology to be beneficial since I have seen the results of its application in broken families and broken individuals. I do have many friends who still very much believe in the technology, but consider the organization has turned criminal. To me, people should be free to believe in what they’d like. It’s when the practices begin to hurt people is where I object.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Why did you decide to join the elite Scientology group, the Sea Org?

AS: I thought that it sounded like an exciting adventure where I could help “salvage the planet” on a much larger scale than just in my home town. The “Sea Organization” (also Sea Org or SO for short) is defined on the official Church of Scientology web site as follows:

“The Sea Org was established in 1967 and once operated from a number of ships. It was set up to help L. Ron Hubbard with research of earlier civilizations and supervise Church organizations around the world. The first Sea Org members formulated a one-billion-year pledge to symbolize their commitment to the religion as immortal spiritual beings. It is signed by all members today. The Sea Organization is also entrusted to minister the advanced services of Scientology. The Sea Organization retains its name in celebration of the fact that Mr. Hubbard’s life was frequently connected to the sea. Although today the majority of Sea Organization members are based on land, in keeping with the tradition of the order’s inception, they still wear maritime-style uniforms and have ranks and ratings. Sea Org members work long hours and live communally with housing, meals, uniforms, medical and dental care provided by the Church. They participate in Scientology training and auditing during a portion of each day, but otherwise dedicate themselves to furthering the objectives of Scientology through their particular functions.”

Amy Scobee in 2007
Image: Amy Scobee.

It was September, 1979. Word arrived that an expansion event was being held in the Seattle church for all local Scientologists by officers of the Sea Org. Attendance was mandatory. My mother and I went to the event together. As people arrived, we were all ushered in and seated in a large hall. Before the event began, surveys were passed out for the audience to fill in, asking detailed questions about our individual qualifications, such as whether or not we had ever taken LSD, ever been institutionalized, if we had a criminal record, had huge personal debts and so forth. My answer to every one of these questions was, “No”. The surveys were collected up and the event began.

The speaker came out and briefed us on the strategy to make Scientology a household word internationally and how it was vital for everyone to immediately get on the bandwagon to help make this a reality. He had a large map of the world behind him and pointed out the small red dots as current church locations, which appeared minuscule compared to the size of the planet. Then, in the middle of the event, the speaker read out a list of people who were to report immediately to a room in the back for a private briefing. My name was on the list. I felt my heart pounding as I couldn’t figure out how they knew my name. I had forgotten all about filling out the survey prior to the event.

My mom’s name wasn’t on the list, so I had to go to the special briefing without her. I reported to the back, along with about twenty others from the audience. The main event speaker (named Don) came to the back room, along with three other people in full dress Sea Org uniform (navy caps, gold lanyards, white gloves, dirks tied around their waist – the works). He informed us that we were the select few who were qualified and that we were all to join the elite team of the Sea Org – right now!

Don said that while he moved on to the next city to get many more people on board, two SO members were staying behind in Seattle to get all of us packed and sent off to the Sea Org. He handed out Sea Org contracts, had us all stand up, raise our right hands and repeat the code of a Sea Org member after him. This is called the “swearing in ceremony”. We all then signed the contract, pledging to work full time for the next billion years.

I had no clue what I was doing. I wondered why my mom’s name wasn’t called and what she would think. I didn’t dare question the Sea Org Officers. Everyone was following orders and I thought I had better as well. I did ask what type of work we’d be doing and the response was, “Our mission is to get ethics in on this planet and the universe. You’re joining the elite of the elite, responsible for handling the suppressive psychiatrists that exist in the here and now and those who implant beings between lives so as to make planetary clearing an actuality”. I was speechless.

The intermission was over, everyone was reseated and those in the back re-joined the rest of the audience for the remainder of the event. The speaker came back up and announced the names of those who had just joined the Sea Org. Immediate standing ovation! Loud cheers! We were going to be heroes!

My mom flipped out, “No way—don’t they realize that you’re still a minor? They have no parental consent. You’re only in 9th grade and now you’ll never get a proper education. How could they do this without discussing it with me first? It’s out of the question!”

I went back to the recruiter and said I couldn’t go as it wasn’t coordinated with my mom.

Like lions jumping on prey, the SO officers were all over my mom to handle her “counter-intention towards Scientology expansion”.

Finally, after being promised that I would absolutely continue my schooling to obtain a high school diploma, have three weeks off a year to come home to visit and be able to maintain routine communication with the family (all of which turned out to be a blatant lie), my mother signed a parental consent form, giving her approval for me to join the Sea Org – effective once I turned 16, which was only a few weeks away.

The recruiters had me list out things to handle before reporting for duty. My main concern was telling my dad, who knew nothing about Scientology. They said what I needed was a cover story, so tell him that I got a great offer and I’ll be going away to become a model in Paris. My mother and I went to visit my dad and that’s what we told him. He was so proud of me! I thought I was going to be sick.

Within a few weeks of signing my Sea Org contract, I was booked on a flight to Los Angeles. This was the first time I had been away from home and the first airplane I had ever been on. I arrived in Hollywood, California on 31 October 1979.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Why did you choose to write a book about your experiences?

AS: I felt it was very important to not only thoroughly review what I had just gone through for my 27 years as a staff member for Scientology, but to make that experience known to others so they can learn what goes on behind the scenes. The beginning services in Scientology seem very sensible and helpful. It’s like the bait and once you nibble on it, they get a hook into you and it’s NOT easy to free yourself once you’re hooked. Making the information known will hopefully enlighten people so they can see just how controlling and demanding and abusive the organization is – and stay clear of it themselves.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Can you explain your choice of the book’s title – what it means and refers to?

Cquote1.svg My book describes the physical, mental/emotional abuse that occurs day-in and day-out in the Scientology’s Sea Organization – from their Rehabilitation Project Force … to the physical assault & battery committed on the top executives by their current leader, David Miscavige Cquote2.svg

Amy Scobee

The title of my book is SCIENTOLOGY – ABUSE AT THE TOP. At the lower echelons of the organization, the parishioners are “schmoozed” and treated with all kinds of smiles and compassion. That’s because they pay for service and promote the “religion” to others so as to expand their ranks. So the organization needs to keep them happy and therefore the “internal laundry” of what goes on behind the scenes is kept entirely hidden away. The TOP of Scientology is the Sea Organization. My book describes the physical, mental/emotional abuse that occurs day-in and day-out in the Scientology’s Sea Organization – from their Rehabilitation Project Force (which is nothing short of a slave-labor camp, to which I was assigned four times for several years), to the physical assault & battery committed on the top executives by their current leader, David Miscavige (which I personally witnessed on at least a dozen occasions). Somehow the Scientology organizations are free from outside inspection because they are a “religion” and therefore allowed to practice their religious beliefs in any way they see fit. This is dangerous and the information about how far this has gone needs to be exposed, as it is extreme.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You left Scientology in 2005, why did you decide to publish the book, five years later?

AS: When I left in March 2005 after being a full-time, live-in staff member for a quarter century, I had a total of $150 to my name. I had no outside job skills, never cooked and I barely knew how to drive. I had no clue what I would be doing to make a living in the “outside world”. It was not unlike being dropped on another planet and having to figure out how to survive from scratch.

After I became stable and saved up some money, I began writing. As I wrote, I realized how important it was to get my story out. This “religion” promotes how their purpose is to create a sane world without criminality, etc. and the more I was OUT of their grip, the more I realized just how insane and criminal they really are. I learned about the Universal Declarations for Human Rights and saw how many points I personally knew were violated by the Scientology organization with their members. I learned about laws of the land (which I had been entirely ignorant of while a staff member) and realized some of the acts that I witnessed were actual violations of the LAW.

But what set me on the past to exposing the abuse within Scientology the most was when my mother was forced to disconnect from me, per Scientology’s “disconnection” policy where members are to cut all ties with anyone not in good standing with their “church”. This was a very emotionally traumatic situation. In my view, no religion worthy of the title should have a right to stand between loved ones.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Quite early on in the book’s first chapter, you recount an incident of being raped at age 14, by a 35-year-old married man who was your Scientology supervisor. You describe how your “Scientology Ethics Officer” found out, said you were in a “state of treason”, and that the incident was kept quiet and not reported to the police by Scientology officials. How difficult was it to include this in the book? For what reason did you choose to include this? Why didn’t you tell your parents about this?

Cquote1.svg One of the worst crimes you can commit as a Scientologist is bringing about “bad public relations” for them. Cquote2.svg

—Amy Scobee

AS: To me, it was very important to include this information in my book because it gives the reader an idea of how Scientology operates. One of the worst crimes you can commit as a Scientologist is bringing about “bad public relations” for them. Things that happen internally are KEPT internal with the “we handle our own” doctrine. Unfortunately, this was a CRIME for which that person could have been arrested. Instead, it was “handled” by the local staff (swept under the carpet) and forgotten about. I didn’t tell my parents because I was ashamed and afraid.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png After describing your arrival at the Scientology “Flag Land Base” in Florida at age 16, you recall how you met and became intimate with a 26-year-old man named David Paul, who later became your husband. For this act, you were subjected to a “security check” process on the Scientology device, the E-meter, and ordered to serve time performing manual labor on the controversial “Rehabilitation Project Force” (RPF) of Scientology. Is 16 a relatively young age to be sentenced to the Rehabilitation Project Force in Scientology? Did you know other individuals on this program that were younger than you, or around the same age?

AS: Yes, 16 is a young age to be sentenced to the Rehabilitation Project Force. I should have been attending school as per the agreement with my mother when she gave parental consent for me to join the Sea Organization – but I factually never saw one day of school after I joined. There were other teen-agers on the RPF at the same time, but I believe I was the youngest.

Scientologists working in the organization’s “Rehabilitation Project Force” in Los Angeles, California
Image: Martin Ottmann.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png During participation in the Rehabilitation Project Force, you recount how you were slapped across the face for refusing to climb into a garbage can after being ordered to do so by a leader of your group. How did this make you feel? Did you consider leaving the organization at all at this point in time? Why or why not, and why did you remain?

AS: It was a completely nutty order and I wasn’t about to comply. I ran around the block to get away as the lady who issued the order chased after me. I went to the person in charge asking for help but he was not in his office. The lady chased me into that office and then hit me across the face. I did NOT hit her back because I wanted to show that she was the crazy one. However when the Ethics Officer got there, he said I should have complied as she was my superior. I felt like it was a huge injustice because the order made no sense and had no purpose. She was just trying to exert her “authority” over me. But, I didn’t want to be in more trouble, so I did my punishment for non-compliance and carried on. No, I did not think of leaving then. At that point, I just thought that lady was insane, not the entire organization.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png After completing your time on the Rehabilitation Project Force, you were appointed to the position of “Commanding Officer of the Flag Land Base’s Communicator”, where you were “responsible for all in-coming and out-going traffic from the executive and obtaining compliance to all orders issued”. Did it surprise you that directly after finishing the Rehabilitation Project Force, you were given such a position of responsibility as a Scientology executive? Does this occur often in Scientology to members after they finish their sentence in the Rehabilitation Project Force?

AS: In the Sea Organization, one is expected to be able to perform any duty – with or without training. It’s preached that the salvation of the world is on our shoulders and everyone needs to pull up their bootstraps and make it go right. So, the appointment did not surprise me.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Shortly after your promotion from Rehabilitation Project Force member to this position, you were promoted to “Flag Land Bureau Estates Management Chief”, where you were “responsible for all public hotels and services”, and subsequently promoted to the “Commodore’s Messenger Organization (CMO)”. At the end of chapter 3, you write how you were “placed under a group justice action, called a Committee of Evidence”, and the committee, “recommended my removal for neglect of duty regarding the schedule”. However, a few days later you were told you were assigned to Los Angeles, California, in order to recruit for members to join the CMO. Again, this appears to be a pattern of conflicting orders within the organization, where in one instance you were disciplined for perceived slights, and yet directly afterward, promoted to a higher position of authority as a Scientology executive. How do you explain this behavior within the organization?

AS: The control and handling of personnel within the Sea Org was very unpredictable. There were always huge demands and needs for people on various projects or positions that had to be filled “at once”. So one could expect rapid changes. It was also considered that after one messes up, they can be corrected using the “ethics technology” of Scientology and confessionals so they can carry on after their level of ethics are once again acceptable.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png What was the highest-ranking position you held within Scientology? Who did you report to in this position? What responsibilities did you have, and how many other people and sub-entities did you oversee?

Cquote1.svg I was in the Watchdog Committee (WDC) which is the highest ecclesiastical body in Scientology … I was in WDC for about a decade and held about six different sectors over the years Cquote2.svg

—Amy Scobee

AS: I was in the Watchdog Committee (WDC) which is the highest ecclesiastical body in Scientology, with a WDC member appointed over each of the numerous “sectors” or areas of Scientology to see to their proper management. My boss as a WDC member is the WDC Chairman. This is the highest management position in the organization. I was in WDC for about a decade and held about six different sectors over the years, including the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) sector, which is responsible for the secular aspects of the organization – drug rehabilitation, criminal reform, Applied Scholastics study technology and The Way To Happiness Foundation – and the Celebrity Center sector. Anything that goes on inside your sector or sphere of responsibility as a WDC member, is your responsibility and you’re held accountable. This could be very stressful, particularly when the current head of Scientology – David Miscavige – is so abusive. For example, Miscavige learned that the Tampa Scientology organization was not paying their rent in 2003. As I had previously been the WDC member for all Scientology churches (approx 175 of them around the world) and should have noticed and handled it then, Miscavige demanded that I personally pay the rent of $5,000 (which I did not have). This order was enforced by his personal staff – I had to borrow the money from several other staff members and turn it into the Finance Office, who then wrote a check to the Tampa organization to pay their back rent as a “gift” to them from management.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In chapter 4 of Scientology – Abuse at the Top, you cite the book Combating Cult Mind Control by cult researcher Steven Hassan, who explains that, “Members are made to feel part of an elite corps of mankind.” At what point in time did you read this book? Are there other books which helped you understand and put your experiences within Scientology into a greater context?

AS: I read several quotes from Steven Hassan from the internet that made total sense to me, so I ordered his book. It’s a fantastic read. I learned quite a lot about mind control and particularly found it interesting and true that a key aspect of mind control is INFORMATION CONTROL. If one can control the information that you are allowed to receive, then you can really control their thinking. They wouldn’t be equipped with all of the ACTUAL information to be able to analyze and made a sane decision about something. In Scientology and especially in the Sea Organization, information is controlled intensively. This includes ALL communication via telephone or mail – incoming and outgoing – being screened through security personnel in order to detect any antagonism regarding Scientology from the “outside”, no televisions allowed, no internet access, not being permitted to listen to or read any article that said anything negative about Scientology.

“News” was obtained by the numerous Scientology events, covering the “unprecedented expansion and world-wide acceptance of Scientology”. It was a lie, but it kept those not in-the-know thinking that we were doing well, so we need to keep working our guts out. It was astonishing to see when I left that Scientology had a BAD reputation of tearing apart families, of attacking critics, of scamming people out of their money, etc.

I saw how Tom Cruise (supposedly the BEST Scientology disseminator in the world) was losing it on Oprah Winfrey’s couch and with Mat Lauer. He was actually a laughing stock in the “real world”. But to Scientology, per David Miscavige, Tom Cruise is the most dedicated Scientologist he knows and was responsible for booming Scientology around the world. Well, the statistics I saw while in management for two decades didn’t have a Tom Cruise “boom” of expansion. In fact, we were constantly trying to find what was causing a lack of expansion in the various sectors of Scientology.

So, information control is a very important aspect of mind control to understand and watch for.

Another book I found to be very beneficial after leaving Scientology was Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It answered a lot for me.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You described in chapter 6, being assigned to a sub-division of the Rehabilitation Project Force, called the “RPF’s RPF”. How was this different from the main RPF itself? What typical tasks were you ordered to perform? Were there many other women assigned to this unit? Were women given different roles or treated differently than men while on the RPF or the RPF’s RPF?

AS: The Rehabilitation Project Force (or RPF) is described by the church as a program offering a second chance to Sea Org members who have become unproductive or have strayed from the church’s codes, involving intensive physical labor at church facilities and auditing and study sessions to address the individual’s personal problems. I have a much harsher definition after spending a total of 5 ½ years on this program: A controlled slave labor camp to which is assigned anyone arbitrarily deemed a liability for actions (or thoughts) considered to be in opposition to the group.

If one gets in trouble while on the RPF program, they can be sent to the RPF’s RPF, which is a mandatory two week sentence and could take longer. One is segregated from the rest of the RPF and suffers twice the penalties of a regular RPF member, works longer hours, gets no pay and experiences other such restrictions. Men and women are not treated differently – as a Scientologist, they think they are not their body but spiritual beings, able to endure anything. You are expected to be able to perform any duty, no matter the excuse. I did all sorts of degrading jobs as a member of the RPF’s RPF, including hand shoveling a literal mountain of fermented and maggot-infested garbage for days. Several of these stories are included in my book so one can get the details of what really goes on to “handle” staff members in Scientology.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png During chapter 7, “Scientology Celebrities”, you recount how you were ordered to eat “rations of beans and rice for breakfast, lunch and dinner”, until you had filled a vacant WDC post. You write that you worked for two months in this capacity, attempting to fill the position and submitting 46 different recommendations. How did such a diet and living conditions affect you during this time? How was your overall health, well-being, and energy levels as compared to that when consuming a healthy full-balanced diet?

AS: There is some writing from L. Ron Hubbard that rice and beans, eaten together, form a complete protein. So that was the justification of why it was okay to put people on such a meager diet as a form of punishment – they can’t starve to death eating that. I learned to add things like mayonnaise to make it taste different and slide down easier. Looking back, I can’t believe I went through with it – or 99% of everything else I endured, but you’re in the frame of mind that any trouble can be overcome because one has to keep their eye on the overall big picture of helping to salvage the planet.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png While serving as executive over the Personnel Division at Commodore’s Messenger Organization International, you write that you were given the task of “a special project in LA to establish the Tom Cruise household with staff who were all Scientologists”. After interviewing individuals without telling them what they would be hired for, you note that – supervised directly by Shelly Miscavige, David Miscavige’s wife and personal assistant – you narrowed down submissions which were then given to Tom Cruise’s assistant, Andrea, to hire. Did these members of Scientology that were selected by Scientology management and then hired by Tom Cruise’s assistant report back to the chain of command through David Miscavige, or to Tom Cruise, or both?

AS: I did video recorded interviews with several Scientologists – they didn’t know what the interviews were for. I told them that I was doing a project, had some questions and at some point may possibly get back to them. I asked them questions about themselves, their skills, where they stood on Scientology training and counseling, etc. I then weeded out the ones that I didn’t think would be appropriate for the personal staff of Tom Cruise and for those who seemed promising, I compiled their video with contact information and sent it to Shelly Miscavige. She would forward to Andrea (TC’s Assistant at the time) any she thought were good. Andrea would then contact them for an interview directly. This continued until they had Scientologists selected for all of the key functions of the Cruise household (chef, nanny, Executive Housekeeper, etc.). Up to that point, several of those functions had been being done by Sea Org members (the specifics on this are covered in my book). Once they were hired by TC, they reported to him or his Assistant for their work assignments, not to the Scientology organization to my knowledge.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png After being appointed in October 1991 as the “Watchdog Committee member over the Celebrity Centre sector”, you recall meeting several members of “the top Scientology celebrity public”, including John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, Anne Archer, Nancy Cartwright, Billy Sheehan, Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Juliette Lewis, Isaac Hayes, Tom Cruise, Edgar Winter, and Jenna Elfman. In what capacity did you meet these Scientology celebrities? Were they coming in for Scientology auditing, or counseling? Did they receive advice and assistance in some form with their professional careers?

AS: While I was working on the project to build Celebrity Centre International in Hollywood, I was often in the President’s office of the Celebrity Center where the top celebrities often would come. That’s how I met most of them. They would come into Celebrity Center to attend a course, to go in for a counseling session or to bring someone new in to introduce them to Scientology. Celebrity Centre International has a “career counseling” service it does provide and some celebrities have done this service to hopefully help them to do better in their careers.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png You write that you are aware of situations where members of Scientology hired by celebrities as assistants or security staff, have actually reported back to the organization through a Scientology process called “Security Checks”, with revealing information about those celebrities. Did any of these celebrities ever find out such a tactic was being used to uncover information about them? If so, what was their response to this?

AS: No, not to my knowledge.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Shelly Miscavige told you that you were in the “highest ethics condition attainable” in Scientology while holding the executive position of “Watchdog Committee Celebrity Centre” (WDC CC), a condition called “power”. How did it feel to attain this status within the Scientology executive leadership? Were you pleased, satisfied, or feel that the work you had done to date was worth it? Did you feel it was appropriate to serve time on the Rehabilitation Project Force, in order to later get to such a status?

AS: Shelly Miscavige commented that I took the position to a condition of power – which is the highest condition of existence per the Scientology scriptures. But it was just a statement from her. No certificate or anything was issued.

I was awarded PERMANENT POSTING STATUS on two executive positions in Church of Scientology International (CSI – the highest management organization for Scientology). This is a status that can only be verified and authorized by the Religious Technology Center (RTC – the holder of the Scientology trademarks and service marks). I received my Permanent Posting certificate by RTC as the Watchdog Committee member for Celebrity Centres (WDC CC), which I held as a single duty for four years, and as a function with other Scientology sectors for nearly a decade. Amongst the extensive list of requirements one must meet to become Permanently Posted, ones ethics and production record must be verified as excellent and you must be capable of generating on the order of a million dollars a year for the organization.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In 1996, you were transferred to the executive post of Watchdog Committee member for the Association for Better Living and Education (WDC ABLE). ABLE is an organization operated by Scientology management which oversees groups that promote Scientology techniques. In this executive position, you were responsible for supervising Scientology-associated entities including: Applied Scholastics, Narconon, Criminon, and The Way to Happiness Foundation. Can you explain a little bit about the function and purpose of each of these groups? Are they actual-practice, separate “secular” functioning organizations, or somehow related to the Scientology organization itself? How specifically were these groups influenced and/or managed by Scientology leadership? How involved was David Miscavige in the functioning of these groups?

AS: Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE): ABLE is an umbrella organization which specializes in promoting the use of Scientology technology as a means to solve social problems (drugs, crime, illiteracy and immorality) through Narconon, Criminon, Applied Scholastics and The Way to Happiness.

Narconon: The Narconon program is a drug education and rehabilitation program, founded on Hubbard’s belief that drugs and poisons stored in the body impede spiritual growth. Its “purification program” uses a regimen composed of sauna, physical exercise, vitamins and diet management, combined with auditing and study.

Criminon: A program designed to rehabilitate criminal offenders by teaching them study and communication methods and helping them reform their lives.

Applied Scholastics: Applied Scholastics promotes the use of Hubbard’s educational methodology, known as study tech, originally developed to help Scientologists study course materials.

The Way to Happiness (TWTH) Foundation: The TWTH Foundation promotes a moral code booklet written by Hubbard, entitled The Way to Happiness.

These are secular organizations and they are definitely related to Scientology in that the entity that manages them are all members of Scientology’s Sea Organization. When I was the Watchdog Committee member for the ABLE sector, one of my statistics was “Reserves” which was made up of the money collected from the tithes of each of these entities. David Miscavige appointed me to the WDC ABLE position and then issued a series of directions on what actions to be taken with the sector over the year that I held that job.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png After being told by David Miscavige that your husband at the time, Jim Mortland, was being removed or “offloaded” from Scientology’s Sea Organization, you were called into the office of the Internal Executive where you were pressured into making a decision to stay in the Sea Org and separate from your husband. You write in the book, that your “brainwashed response” was to answer, “I’m staying”. Why did you characterize this as a brainwashed response. How and why did you come to believe you had been a victim of brainwashing?

AS: Per this Wikipedia definition, “Mind control (also known as brainwashing, coercive persuasion, mind abuse, thought control, or thought reform) refers to a process in which a group or individual ‘systematically uses unethically manipulative methods to persuade others to conform to the wishes of the manipulator(s), often to the detriment of the person being manipulated’.” In my right mind, I would not have walked away from my husband of 17 years. In my right mind, I would not have “turned a blind eye” when I witnessed a dozen accounts of assault & battery being committed on my comrades by David Miscavige. And I would never have given in to the physical labor and other “ethics” actions taken on myself and others for trumped up offenses. But I now understand that I was under the influence of mind control. This is not a light matter. People can laugh that concept off so readily, but it’s a very REAL thing. When one considers what is at stake (or is thought to be at stake) if one were to step out of line or violate the rules in any way, you try to remain quiet and compliant. In Scientology, if you get yourself in enough trouble (from some executive’s point of view), you can be banned from ever being allowed to receive the upper level services in Scientology – and thus enslave yourself as a spiritual being for eternity. Another more minor factor, but still major enough to keep you in line is the threat that any of your family or friends in Scientology would have to disconnect from you if you were no longer in good standing. So to say you want to leave, to go against the head of the organization, to report to outside authorities what’s going on inside is considered more of a crime than being quiet and compliant as a “good Scientologist”. This is what I consider has people brainwashed. It’s a way to control their rational thinking. It’s “the end justifies the means”. When I realized that I had been rationalizing away utter insanities that I both witnessed and experienced in the organization and that I needed to simply look at what was factually in front of me, I started making my plans to leave. The details of this revelation and how I finally got out is all detailed in my book.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In chapter 10, “Assault and Battery”, you recount witnessing instances of violence by David Miscavige towards Scientology officials including: Ray Mithoff, Mike Rinder, and Jeff Hawkins. You write, “I am ashamed that I did not have enough courage at the time to inform the authorities or call the police, which would have been the logical thing to do.” Why do you think you decided not to report these instances to the police? What do you think law enforcement would have done if you had reported the matter to police? Knowing what you know now, and revisiting your memories of these incidents in hindsight, would you have acted differently if you were in the same situation again?

AS: As I mentioned above, I learned at an early age that Scientology “handles its own” and that one of the biggest crimes you can commit is to bring about bad publicity for the organization as that is directly counter to the expansion plans of eradicating the reactive mind on the entire planet before it’s “too late”. At first, I justified the abuse – making excuses for why it could possibly be occurring. I thought, “Miscavige is the head of the religion and he’s having to handle so much that all the stress and non-compliance is putting him over the edge”. But when it kept occurring and kept occurring, I ran out of justifications. I could finally see that it was a pattern of an abusive sociopath. When I first started exposing the abuse after I left Scientology, several of the Scientology executives who I used to work with put together sworn affidavits claiming Miscavige never laid a hand on anyone. These were typed up and signed under the penalty of perjury. They know it’s a blatant lie, but they think they’re defending their religion by doing this.

Regarding whether or not I would have done things differently were I in the same situation today – ABSOLUTLEY. I would have called the police. I would have filed criminal reports. I would have alerted the authorities that the head of the organization is hurting people in many ways and I would have gotten the agreement from my peers that Miscavige needed to come off any position of authority and has no right to lead in this fashion. I know that I would have been removed for Treason and declared a suppressive person for making that stand, but I’d be proud of the title because the one thing I would have left intact is my personal integrity.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The last chapter of your book describes your emotional reunion with your family after leaving Scientology – first meeting your father and then calling and meeting your mother – and finally reuniting with Mark “Mat” Pesch, now your husband. At any point in time did you feel unsafe during your journey to reunite with these people? Did Scientology’s intelligence agency, the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), monitor you or your family after you left the organization?

AS: As I was getting on the airplane home, the OSA staff member who escorted me to the airport said that I could not talk to my mother due to the “suppressive person” declare issue that she handed me a few hours before. Of course, after I arrived to my father’s house, I realized that I was no longer under Scientology’s control and I could contact my mother if I wanted – and I desperately wanted to! I hadn’t seen her in years and now I was home for good! Scientology did find out about us seeing each other and took various actions to put pressure on my step-father to enforce their disconnection policy. This was very messy and is one of the key reasons I chose to speak out publicly against Scientology’s human rights violations. At one point, my husband and I were followed by Private Investigators anywhere we went. We had to file a police report because one in particular was being very reckless in his attempts to stay on our tail – and flee when we tried to confront him. I finally filed a declaration against Scientology, showing several instances of harassment to myself and my family, which I considered witness tampering since I was named as a witness on an on-going lawsuit against them.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Were you concerned that your relationships might be affected due to Scientology declaring you a “Suppressive Person“, and telling members of the organization never to speak to you again? Has this stopped you, or are you in communication with current and/or former members of the organization?

AS: Aside from the incident mentioned above with my mother (which is now handled as she, too has left the church along with her husband), the “Suppressive Person” label has not stopped me from communicating to anyone I feel the need to communicate with. Some associates “discovered” (were told by Scientology when they saw them as my friend on facebook or something) that I was declared suppressive and therefore told me they could no longer talk to me. If they want to continue to support a controlling organization and toe the line, they are welcome to. I know what it’s like to be in a cult and understand their “reasoning”, no matter how much I now see it to be illogical and irrational.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png One month before your book was published, All Headline News reported that you received a legal threat from Tom Cruise’s lawyer, Bertram Fields, that warned you would face a defamation lawsuit from Cruise if the book was made publicly available. Specific complaints made included your accounts of hearing about a “drug history” involving Cruise, an ultimatum made by the Scientology organization to Cruise to decide between Nicole Kidman or the organization, and that Cruise’s personal assistants and employees that staff his home are chosen and paid for by the Scientology organization. Can you speak to how you came to have knowledge about these assertions you made, why you believe them to be true and factually accurate, and how you felt when you received the legal threat letter from Cruise’s attorney?

Prior to publication of Scientology – Abuse at the Top by Amy Scobee, the author was threatened with separate legal actions – by lawyer Bertram Fields representing influential Scientology member and celebrity, actor Tom Cruise; and Scientology representative Tommy Davis on behalf of Scientology management.
Image: Amy Scobee.

AS: Bertram Fields made a mistake by issuing that legal threat when he hadn’t even read my book to know what I actually said about his client. He made assumptions based on hearsay. When I received the letter, I thought that it was just like Scientology – issue threats to intimidate and back someone off. I wasn’t going to back off because what I wrote in my book was true. I am the one who did the project to hire Scientologists for Tom’s household. I am the one Shelly Miscavige told what disqualifying drugs Tom took so he could not qualify for the Sea Organization – which he supposedly wanted to join. I didn’t say anything in my book about Cruise having to decide between Nicole or the organization. So, I knew that it was an attempt to prevent me from putting out my book as “little ‘ol me” could never possibly stand up to the high-powered lawyer of an A-list celebrity who has millions of dollars at his disposal. But the fact is – it didn’t phase me as truth is truth and I’m willing to stand up for the truth.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The book was subsequently published and made publicly available. At this point in time, has there been any follow-up from Tom Cruise, his lawyer, or representatives, to you? How do you feel about your legal standing if Cruise were to escalate the matter beyond the initial legal threat letter?

AS: None, whatsoever and I highly doubt they would follow through with any lawsuit because what I stated in my book is truth. It’s what I did myself. It’s what I witnessed myself. What I reported in my book can be backed up with evidence and several witnesses – easily.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png The month your book was published, the New York Daily News reported that Scientology organization public representative Tommy Davis characterized your accounts as “fiction”. With regards to assertions you made that David Miscavige and Scientology officials “snooped” in the confessional folders of Scientology members and particularly celebrities, Davis stated, “Nobody in the church has ever violated the priest-penitent privilege. … [Confessional files] are held in the strictest confidence.” How do you respond to these statements by Davis?

AS: Just like I did to the New York Daily News when they asked me about it: If Scientology does not violate the priest-penitent privilege, what is the Scientology spokesperson doing talking to the press about my sex life?

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Davis further stated to the New York Daily News that (separate from the earlier intimations from the lawyer for Tom Cruise) the Scientology organization was itself “preparing a lawsuit” against you because of the “disgusting allegations” in the book. Have you received any notice from the Scientology organization with regards such a potential lawsuit?

AS: No and I don’t expect to. Everything I’ve stated in my book are things that I personally observed (and where that wasn’t the case, I make it clear). I was careful not to exaggerate, but to be as factual as possible about my experiences. There is so much more I could have said about severe abuse others witnessed and told me about, but I kept it to my story. As there are numerous witnesses now out of Scientology who also saw what I saw while working at the International Headquarters for Scientology, I do not think Miscavige and his attorneys would be very successful trying to prove my “defamation” and their innocence in front of a jury.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Davis proceeded to make claims to the New York Daily News about your sexual relationships. Additionally, BBC News reported that after you began to make public criticism of the organization and its leader David Miscavige, Scientology provided “intimate details of her sex life” to the Florida newspaper the St. Petersburg Times. How did you feel when these sexual details were made public by Scientology? How do you feel this behavior by the organization and its officials reflects on its assertions of keeping confidential information secret, and respecting the privacy of priest-penitent privilege?

AS: To me – and MANY other people – it was obvious through their child-like reaction that they have something fairly big to hide. I gave a detailed eye-witness account of the head of the Scientology religion repeatedly beating staff members. That they respond with exaggerated accusations about my sex life is just a red herring. And it also proves that private information you may divulge in confessionals while a member of Scientology could be used against you should you step out of line in the future.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png In an August 2009 issue of the Scientology publication, Freedom Magazine, the issue referred to you multiple times only as “The Adulteress”. How did this make you feel when you found out about this publication? When you were still a member of the Scientology organization, what was your opinion at that point in time of Freedom Magazine? What is your opinion of the publication – its reputability and reliability, at this point in time?

AS: The “Freedom” magazine is the public mouthpiece for Scientology, often used as a medium to expose what they consider to be the ills of society (psychiatry, pharmaceutical companies and major critics of their religion). I was not surprised that they put out a magazine against those who exposed the illegal actions of the Scientology leader, David Miscavige, with his repeated abuse and assault and battery being committed on his junior Scientology executives. They felt that an attack on Miscavige was an attack on the whole religion and therefore those people involved needed to be exposed as rotten to the core.

In the August 2009 publication of “Freedom”, they slandered both the St. Petersburg Times reporters and the “defectors” (myself, Marty Rathbun, Mike Rinder and Tom DeVocht). Note: they did not use the name “Amy Scobee” in this magazine. Instead, they refer to me as “the Adulteress”. This slanderous character assassination appears in more than 20 places in their publication. It’s painfully obvious that they were referring to me since I was the only female that spoke out in the article they were protesting. I’m not “an adulteress”. As a member of Scientology’s Sea Organization (age 16 to 42), I had sexual intercourse with my first husband, my second husband and my current husband. Regardless, my “sexual purity” has nothing to do with my reporting the fact that I witnessed the head of the Church of Scientology commit repeated assault & battery on specific church executives while I was employed there. It’s just their attempt to “annihilate credibility” for exposing this crime. In my view, the Freedom magazine is used to help carry out Miscavige’s private agenda to try to remain in a position of power in that organization.

Amy Scobee in 2009
Image: Amy Scobee.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png BBC News reported on September 26, that during an interview for the Panorama special, The Secrets of Scientology, yourself and reporter John Sweeney were photographed, and such photographs of the two of you hugging after completing the interview were sent by Scientology UK lawyers from the firm Carter-Ruck to the BBC. What do you think Scientology was attempting to accomplish by sending these photos to the BBC? Is such behavior by the Scientology organization with regard to monitoring of journalists, critics, or former members such as yourself common? What do you do to cope and/or respond to such behavior from the Scientology organization?

Cquote1.svg To me, it’s more important to prevent anyone else from being hurt by making Scientology’s human rights violations known Cquote2.svg

—Amy Scobee

AS: Yes, this type of intimidation is common practice by Scientology. As a witness in an on-going court case against Scientology, I was recently in a deposition with Scientology’s lead counsel. He pulled out the photo that their private investigators took of John Sweeney giving me a hug on the highway outside of the Scientology compound in Hemet after nearly two full days of interviews. He proceeded to ask me how much “alone time” I spent with Mr. Sweeney (which was none) and when I explained that we all gave each other hugs goodbye before we went our separate ways and that my husband was right there with me, the lawyer said, “We’ll see what the jury says about that!” All they are trying to do is intimidate us into silence through constant trails by PI’s, slandering our names with ridiculous accusations, etc., so we’d become cowed, be quiet and let their criminality go on, unchecked. Well, it hasn’t worked to keep me silent. To me, it’s more important to prevent anyone else from being hurt by making Scientology’s human rights violations known than to worry about them tarnishing my personal reputation in retaliation. I believe that the truth must be brought to light, despite consequences.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Are there any other points that you would like to elaborate or explain?

AS: I think it’s very important for people to be educated on the subject of cults – including Scientology – so they know what to look out for and avoid. My book: Scientology – Abuse at the Top, gives people a good look at what goes on behind the scenes and how one could get gradually more and more involved until it’s their entire life – to the exclusion of almost anything or any one else. I hope it makes it into many people’s hands and they find it useful.

Wikinews waves Left.pngWNWikinews waves Right.png Amy Scobee, thank you for taking the time to participate in this interview with Wikinews.

AS: Thank you.



Related news

  • “Author of My Billion Year Contract reflects on life in elite Scientology group” — Wikinews, January 14, 2010
  • “Blown for Good author discusses life inside international headquarters of Scientology” — Wikinews, November 13, 2009

Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Gold Base
  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Sea Org

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October 10, 2010

US federal judge and Florida judge clash over Scientology wrongful death case

Filed under: Religion,Scientology — admin @ 5:00 am

US federal judge and Florida judge clash over Scientology wrongful death case

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

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A United States federal court judge and Florida state court judge are enmeshed in a conflict against each other regarding a wrongful death lawsuit involving Scientology.

Scientology building in Clearwater, Florida (2009)
Image: Taty2007.

A federal judge for the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Steven Douglas Merryday, ordered Pinellas County Senior Circuit Judge Robert E. Beach not to intervene regarding appearance of an attorney in a federal court case involving Scientology. Lawyer Kennan Dandar is representing the estate of Kyle Thomas Brennan in a wrongful death claim against the Scientology organization.

The suit asserts that members of the Scientology organization, including the father of Brennan, removed access to the deceased’s anti-depression medication, and provided him with means to utilize a loaded gun. Brennan had been staying with his father for a week prior to his death. Police in Clearwater, Florida investigated the 2007 death of Brennan, and determined it was a suicide. Kyle Brennan was himself not a member of Scientology. The lawsuit, filed in 2009, was filed by Brennan’s mother on behalf of her son’s estate. Named as defendants in the lawsuit include the Scientology organization, its subdivision the Flag Service Organization, twin sister of Scientology leader David Miscavige – Denise Gentile, and her husband Gerald Gentile.

Attorney Dandar had previously represented the estate of Lisa McPherson in a separate civil wrongful death claim against the Scientology organization. After being under the care of members of the Scientology organization for 17 days, McPherson died in Clearwater in 1995. The wrongful death suit claimed that Scientology officials permitted McPherson to deteriorate to a dehydrated state, where her condition was such that she did not have the energy to fend off cockroaches from biting her skin.

Scientology management settled the McPherson wrongful death case in 2004; lawyers representing the organization stated the settlement included a confidential arrangement with Dandar to never again represent clients in lawsuits against Scientology entities. The settlement included an agreement that both sides would never speak again about the case; California lawyer Ford Greene commented, “The church bought silence.” The Scientology organization had also filed a countersuit against the estate of Lisa McPherson, and named Dandar a party to that lawsuit. The organization claimed Dandar had inappropriately tried to add the head of Scientology David Miscavige as a party to the wrongful death lawsuit.

Cquote1.svg I’m stuck in the middle of two courts. Cquote2.svg

—Kennan Dandar

Scientology legal representatives requested Judge Beach to see to it that Dandar abide by the secret settlement agreement, and Beach subsequently issued an order in June 2009 that Dandar be removed from the Brennan wrongful death case. Dandar faced sanctions from Judge Beach including suspension of Dandar’s license to practice law, a US$130,000 judgement to be given to the Scientology organization, and a fine of $1,000 per day. Judge Beach ruled that all money from the sanctions imposed against Dandar – were to go directly to the Scientology organization. The Tampa Tribune noted that Judge Breach made his ruling, “in an inexplicably closed hearing from which Beach tossed a St. Petersburg Times reporter”.

Faced with these possible sanctions, Dandar filed an “involuntary” motion to withdraw from the Brennan wrongful death case in federal court, but Judge Merryday denied this request. Dandar stated to The Tampa Tribune, “I’m stuck in the middle of two courts.”

D. Wallace Pope, a lawyer for the Scientology organization, stated that he wished to show evidence regarding the settlement in the McPherson wrongful death case. However, Judge Merryday emphasized his main issue was determining whether or not Dandar was being penalized for obeying the federal court’s order denying his request to be withdrawn from the Brennan wrongful death case. Judge Merryday stated he would prevent the Scientology organization along with Judge Beach from punishing Dandar for representing his client in US federal court. Merryday stated Beach had attempted to usurp control outside of his jurisdiction, thereby “aggressively” interferring with the US federal court process through imposing sanctions on Dandar.

Merryday has served as a US federal judge based in Tampa, Florida since 1992. The St. Petersburg Times noted that Judge Merryday, “has presided over some of the region’s most noteworthy cases.” Judge Merryday’s court order creating an injunction against Beach was 29-pages long, and criticized the “stunning severity” of Beach’s sanctions imposed on Dandar. Merryday explained that the federal court needed to “act in defense of the (federal) court’s jurisdiction”, due to Beach’s actions. Referencing Judge Beach, Merryday wrote in his court order, “A judge should not undertake, directly or indirectly, overtly or through a surrogate, to compel an act by another judge, especially in a different jurisdiction.”

Judge Merryday stated to Scientology lawyers, “have forced my hand on this issue.” Merryday stated to Scientology lawyer, Robert Potter, “I don’t like being put in this position. When people start to squeeze, other people can squeeze back.” Potter asked him to seal the proceedings from public view, and Judge Merryday responded, “I’m not going to be entering any seals unless I see a lawful reason, and I can’t even see the beginning of a reason”. Merryday stated he would not allow his court to be influenced by “some circuit judge somewhere who appears for all I can tell to have sealed something for some unknown reason”.

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Judge Beach responded to Judge Merryday’s injunction which “permanently enjoined” him from imposing sanctions on Dandar, by filing a motion on Thursday in federal court in Tampa. Beach asked Merryday to rescind his order so that he may recuse himself from acting as a judge on the Scientology case related to Dandar. Beach’s motion argued that he was denied due process because he was not given notice by Merryday of the hearing which occurred before Merryday issued his ruling. In addition, Beach asserted Merryday did not have power to issue the ruling restricting him from sanctioning Dandar, because Beach was not a party to the Brennan wrongful death case, and Merryday lacked authority to restrict powers of a judge from outside his federal court jurisdiction. In response, Judge Merryday has scheduled a hearing for October 12 in federal court to hear state court judge Beach.

Martin Errorl Rice is an attorney in St. Petersburg, Florida who represented Beach in the motion before the US federal court. Rice stated his client’s motivation in requesting the ruling by Judge Merryday be rescinded was to allow Beach to recuse from the Scientology case. Rice told the St. Petersburg Times that his client’s conflict with the US federal court has “cast kind of a cloud” over Beach’s position in the Scientology case.

Stetson University College of Law constitutional law professor Michael Allen analyzed the clash between the US judge and Florida judge for The Tampa Tribune. Allen observed that it was “very, very rare” for a US federal judge to order a state judge. He noted that a 1793 federal law contravenes such orders – except in “extraordinarily narrow” cases where the federal judges are permitted to create rulings in order to safeguard the jurisdiction of their federal court proceedings.

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Sister links

  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg Lisa McPherson
  • Wikipedia-logo-v2.svg List of deaths related to Scientology

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October 9, 2010

Scientology defector arrested after attempting to leave organization

Filed under: Religion,Scientology — admin @ 5:00 am

Scientology defector arrested after attempting to leave organization

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

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Recent reports have revealed that a defector from the elite group within Scientology called the Sea Org was first persuaded to travel back to a management building for the organization in California, where he was interrogated by an attorney for Scientology and then arrested.

Daniel Montalvo in September 2010, after having left the elite group within Scientology called the Sea Org. Montalvo is holding a copy of the book Blown for Good critical of Scientology, written by Marc Headley.
Image: Mark Rathbun.

Daniel Montalvo, 19, a member of Scientology all his life, was arrested after leaving its elite group the Sea Org. He was released on US$20,000 bail on Thursday. Montalvo was charged with taking hard drives and a zip drive from the Scientology organization after leaving the Sea Org group. The Sea Org requires members to sign a billion-year-contract, agreeing to work for the organization founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard for multiple lifetimes. Members of the Sea Org live a strict lifestyle – with little income, small diet provided and significant time invested in work per day.

Montalvo had read an article in the Scientology propaganda publication Freedom Magazine, which attacked high-ranking defectors from the organization including Tom Devocht and Mark Rathbun. Montalvo had known Devocht personally, and came to the conclusion that the claims made about him in the Freedom article were lies. Montalvo was subsequently motivated to seek out information about Scientology on the Internet, and came upon a blog written by Rathbun. Montalvo contacted former members of Scientology, who helped him leave the organization and get in touch with Devocht. He traveled to Florida to meet with Devocht, who had told Montalvo he would assist him with future employment and housing.

According to Rathbun the Scientology property in question was returned by mail to the organization by Montalvo shortly after he left the Sea Org. Scientology officials have stated they have not received the materials. After calling the Scientology organization by phone to attempt to speak with his mother, Montalvo was instead put through to a Scientology attorney, Kendrick Moxon. Rathbun wrote, “Moxon proceeded to lie to Daniel that the hard drives were never returned, and made a convincing case (not difficult to do with a 19 year old who doesn’t even know the three branches of government) that Daniel would be put behind iron bars for a good long time, UNLESS of course, he returned and cooperated with Moxon and routed out properly.” To “route out” in Scientology jargon refers to the member who wishes to leave proceeding through a set of interrogative exit interviews while attached to the Scientology device called the E-meter.

Cquote1.svg Daniel was picked up by an investigator in a black car with blacked out windows. Cquote2.svg

—Mark Rathbun

According to Rathbun, a detective for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s office was provided with material from Scientology to build a case against Montalvo. Rathbun stated, “Daniel was picked up by an investigator in a black car with blacked out windows. Instead of being taken to a hotel, where he could route out as promised, he was taken to the Century City Towers. He was deposited in an office on the 33rd floor where a pricy church lawyer interrogated him for two hours.” Rathbun asserted that Scientology officials, “… plied the Sheriff’s detective with a grand conspiracy theory, characterizing me as the ‘anti-christ’ of the church of Scientology. … The next thing Daniel knows he’s in a cell where he sat for the next 30 hours.”

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Steve Whitmore, a representative for the LA Sheriff’s office, told LA Weekly in a statement that the case involving Montalvo was being dealt with as charges relating to grand theft. Whitmore stated Montalvo left Scientology-related employment in Los Angeles on September 24. On September 29, Scientology officials went to the East Los Angeles sheriff’s station where they claimed Montalvo allegedly left the organization with computer hard drives. Whitmore told LA Weekly that on October 6 after traveling back from Florida, Montalvo “walked into lobby of the East L.A. station and turned himself in”, and told the police, “everything he did”. Whitmore stated to LA Weekly that the alleged crime involved five hard drives each of $200 in value.

Montalvo has been assisted by former members of Scientology, including musician Tiziano Lugli and actor Jason Beghe. Rathbun requested donations via a statement made on his blog, in order to help Montalvo with his legal defense financing. He described Montalvo as an individual, “facing the penitentiary in thanks for the following sins: a) Leaving a lifehood of slavery to get a taste of freedom and the world. b) Refusing – despite every provocation and incentive and threat – to frame three guys who went out of their ways (and dipped into their pockets) to help the kid achieve that freedom.”

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September 8, 2010

Australian Senate Committee recommends formation of Charities Commission

Australian Senate Committee recommends formation of Charities Commission

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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

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The Economics Legislation Committee of the Australian Senate reported Tuesday on their investigation into the matter of investigating the benefits of religious charities in Australia, and recommended the formation of a Charities Commission. The recommendation has received bipartisan support. The inquiry began as the result of legislation initially introduced in the Senate by Senator Nick Xenophon after he had received complaints from former members of the Scientology organization in Australia.

Australian Senate in 2006
Image: Dysprosia.

The Charities Commission recommended by the Australian Senate Committee would have responsibilities including investigating charitable organizations in order to make sure that their business dealings were forthright. Such organizations would be required to prove they were worthy of maintaining charitable status from the government.

Cquote1.svg it was as a direct result of being approached by many victims of the Church of Scientology. Their evidence, their complaints played a key role in triggering this inquiry. Cquote2.svg

—Senator Nick Xenophon

Senator Xenophon commented that the recommendation would begin a process towards increasing accountability of these organizations, “I believe reform is now inevitable. We can’t continue to have business as usual when it comes to organisations that have been beyond any reasonable level of accountability.”

He emphasized such inquiry came about due to controversial revelations from former members of the Church of Scientology, “This inquiry came about because of legislation I introduced for a public benefit test for religions and charities, and it was as a direct result of being approached by many victims of the Church of Scientology. Their evidence, their complaints played a key role in triggering this inquiry.”

Senator Xenophon said that recommendations included in the Report served as a warning to cult-like organizations such as the Church of Scientology. The Report requested that the Attorney-General of Australia investigate laws relating to cults in the country. The “Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010” was introduced into the Senate by Senator Xenophon in May 2010; the Economics Legislation Committee investigated this proposed legislation and completed a report on the matter in the form of a series of recommendations for the new government in Australia to consider.

A member of the inquiry committee itself, Senator Xenophon pointed out that the recommendations of the Report went beyond the scope of his initial proposed legislation through a recommendation that a Charities Commission use a “Public Benefit Test” in order to assess non-profit organizations active in the country. Senator Xenophon provided an addendum to the Report in the form of a special notes section, wherein he wrote that due to the nature of the disturbing accounts told before the committee regarding controversial activities of organizations in the country, legislation to set up a Charities Commission should be completed before June 30, 2011.

Cquote1.svg It is … important that [religions and charities] are transparent and appropriately accountable. Cquote2.svg

—Report, Economics Legislation Committee, Australian Senate

The Committee’s Report included recommendations regarding concerns about controversial activities of cult-like organizations. The Report stated there was sufficient evidence heard before the Committee such that the activities of cults should be investigated in the country with the goal of forming policy broader than simply with respect to taxation laws. For the purposes of the Committee’s investigation, the Macquarie Dictionary was cited to define the term cult as, “A religious or pseudo-religious movement, characterised by the extreme devotion of its members, who usually form a relatively small, tightly controlled group under an authoritarian and charismatic leader.”

With regard to behaviour of cults in the country, the Committee recommended the Attorney-General report on operations of governmental organization which investigate these groups such as the French government organization, MIVILUDES. The recommendation to the Attorney-General stated, “The Committee recommends that the Attorney-General’s Department provide a report to the Committee on the operation of Miviludes and other law enforcement agencies overseas tasked with monitoring and controlling the unacceptable and/or illegal activities of cult-like organisations who use psychological pressure and breaches of general and industrial law to maintain control over individuals.”

In the summary and recommendations section of the Report, the Committee concluded, “Religions and charities, and other not-for-profit organisations … play an important role in the community and in the economy. They receive significant tax concessions. It is therefore important that they are transparent and appropriately accountable.”



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  • “Women reveal accounts of forced abortion in Scientology” — Wikinews, June 15, 2010
  • “Senator Xenophon of Australia calls for criminal investigation into Scientology” — Wikinews, November 19, 2009

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June 15, 2010

Women reveal accounts of forced abortion in Scientology

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Women reveal accounts of forced abortion in Scientology

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

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Scientology is facing renewed criticism, due to an extensive exposé in the Florida newspaper the St. Petersburg Times which contains revealing accounts of women involved in the organization who say they were forced to have abortions. Multiple different female members of the Scientology group called the Sea Org said they were pressured to have abortions, and were threatened with separation from their families, hard labor, interrogations, and shunning, if they did not comply.

A protester holds a sign which reads: “C[hurch] o[f] S[cientology] forces its female members to get abortions”
(February 10, 2008)
Image: Martin Poulter.

Women that came forward to the St. Petersburg Times said that those who did not wish to undergo an abortion were shunned by others within the Sea Org group, and were labeled as “out ethics” and “degraded beings”. The Sea Org consists of 6,000 members of Scientology, who sign billion-year contracts to work for the organization for multiple lifetimes. Joining the Sea Org is considered a high calling within Scientology.

L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, stated his appreciation for families within the Sea Org. Scientology’s subsequent leader, David Miscavige, issued an order that children were to be banned in the Sea Org. The mandate by Miscavige asserted that children hampered the productivity of the Scientology order.

Cquote1.svg There is no church policy to convince anyone to have an abortion, and the church has never engaged in such activity. Cquote2.svg

—Tommy Davis, Scientology spokesman

Scientology representative, Tommy Davis denied all of the assertions made by the women. “There is no church policy to convince anyone to have an abortion, and the church has never engaged in such activity. The decision to have a child or terminate a pregnancy is a personal decision made by a couple. That applies to all Scientologists. If any current or former Sea Org member ever ‘pressured’ someone to have an abortion, they did so independently, and that action was not approved, endorsed or advocated by the church,” stated Davis to the St. Petersburg Times.

Another woman is suing the Scientology organization in United States federal court, and stated she was threatened with severe repercussions if she did not have an abortion. Claire Headley, 35, a member of the Sea Org when she was in Scientology, told the St. Petersburg Times, “The policy was if a staff member became pregnant, that they were to have an abortion.”

In 1991, Headley became a member of the Sea Org at age sixteen, and began work with the division of the organization in Los Angeles, California. She married at age seventeen, while a member of the organization. Headley said that officials within Scientology leadership pressured her to have two abortions: one at age nineteen, and another at age 21. Headley believed she had “no choice”, as she had witnessed other women that refused to have abortions instructed to perform manual labor, with one pregnant woman ordered to dig ditches. Headley said that during pressure to have her second abortion she was forbidden to phone her husband to discuss the decision. She spent a total of thirteen years in the Sea Org.

Cquote1.svg The policy was if a staff member became pregnant, that they were to have an abortion. Cquote2.svg

—Claire Headley

Laura Dieckman, 31, said that she was enthusiastic about beginning a family when she became pregnant within Scientology at age seventeen, but was instructed to have an abortion. In a federal lawsuit against Scientology, Dieckman stated she joined with the Sea Org at the age of twelve, and at age sixteen she married another member of the group, Jesse DeCrescenzo. She said she was pressured to have an abortion in 1996.

Dieckman said to the St. Petersburg Times: “I was pounded for two days by the top person in my organization … about how the baby wasn’t a baby yet, it was just tissue and it wouldn’t matter if I aborted the baby.” Dieckman left Scientology in 2004. In a video posted to the website of the St. Petersburg Times, Dieckman emotionally recounted how she had immediately regretted going through with the procedure, “They will do an ultrasound before the procedure so you see the heartbeat. … I’m lying there … and I was like, ‘No.’ But it’s too late. I’d already done it.”

Natalie Hagemo said that 20 years ago at age nineteen, she was pressured by Scientology officials to have an abortion, but she resisted. Hagemo gave birth to Shelby on August 20, 1990. Hagemo’s daughter was recruited into the Sea Org at age 14. Shelby contacted her mother a week later wanting to leave the Sea Org; Hagemo had a difficult time getting Shelby out of the group. It was not until this year that Hagemo told her daughter about experiencing pressure from Scientology officials to have an abortion.

The St. Petersburg Times received sworn depositions from additional women including Sunny Pereira, who said they were intimidated into having abortions they did not wish to undergo. “They put you in this position where you’re weighing the lives of all these people you’re supposed to be saving against this one little tiny speck of nuisance that’s growing inside of you,” said Pereira. Spokesman Tommy Davis stated the women were accusing Scientology of forced abortions because of choices they now “appear to regret”.

In Nevada, Republican party candidate for the United States Senate, Sharron Angle, was the focus of criticism for her support of a Scientology-associated program. Angle’s opponent, incumbent Senator and Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid, took out a 30-second negative political ad critical of Angle for supporting “a Scientology plan to give massages to prisoners”. The prison program Angle had supported was based on techniques developed by Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Angle had previously been the subject of a similar ad in the Republican primary, generated by the campaign of her opponent Sue Lowden. Sharron Angle is pro-life, and The New York Times columnist Ramesh Ponnuru noted her position against abortion helped her win the Republican primary. “Angle would not have been able to unite populist conservatives and beat the party establishment’s candidate had she been pro-choice,” noted Ponnuru.



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