29 Jan 2008

Niece of Scientology leader describes how her own family was broken apart by the movement’s policies.

ReligionNewsBlog.com - January 28, 2008

The author of a controversial new biography on celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise has found an unexpected new ally: the niece of Scientology’s current leader, David Miscavige.

In an open letter to a senior Scientology official that has been widely posted on the Internet, Jenna Miscavige Hill described how her own family was broken apart by the movement’s policies.

Hill’s father is Ron Miscavige, the older brother of David Miscavige, the current leader of the Church of Scientology.

“Hell, if Scientology can’t keep his family together — then why on earth should anyone believe the church helps brings families together!” she wrote.

Hill, 23, wrote the letter after Scientology attacked writer Andrew Morton’s recently published book “Tom Cruise: an Unauthorised Biography“. The actor is a vocal advocate for the movement and the book gives it extensive coverage.

In a 15-page statement issued on January 14, Karin Pouw, the movement’s public affairs director, denounced the book as a “bigoted defamatory assault replete with lies”.

But in her reply to Pouw, Hill retorted: “I am absolutely shocked at how vehemently you insist upon not only denying the truths that have been stated about the church in that biography, but then take it a step further and tell outright lies.”

In particular she challenges Scientology’s denial that it puts pressure on members to break all contact with relatives who do not support the movement — a practice known as disconnection.

Hill said it was this policy that broke up her own family.

“As you well know, my parents officially left the church when I was 16 in 2000,” she wrote. Having been separated from them since the age of 12, she decided not to go with them.

But she added: “Not only was I not allowed to speak to them, I was not allowed to answer a phone for well over a year, in case it was them calling me.”

Hill goes on to detail how Scientology officials intercepted letters from her parents and her friends.

She was only allowed to visit her parents once a year for a maximum of four days, she wrote — and then only after her parents threatened legal action to get access.

When she returned from these visits, she was questioned to see if her parents had said anything bad about the movement.

Asked about the Hill’s statement, Pouw told AFP: “The church stands by its statement of 14 January. The church does not respond to newsgroup postings.”

Contacted by AFP, Hill said she had circulated the letter to draw attention to the practice of disconnection.

“My intention is to put it on a public forum so they are pressured into changing their ways — even if it is just to cover for themselves.”

Founded in the United States in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, the Church of Scientology was officially recognised as a religion there nearly 20 years later.

But it is often accused in Germany and other European countries, including Belgium, France and Greece, of exploiting its members financially.

Morton’s book is currently at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for hardback non-fiction after its first week on sale.



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    By Benjamin Carlson The Daily September 27, 2011

    Welcome to “Scientology High,” where students imagine they’re in a Harry Potter book, make lots of clay models, look up “the” in the dictionary and learn the ethical principles of L. Ron Hubbard — all while paying more than $42,000 a year in tuition and fees.

    The administration of the secretive and secluded Delphian boarding school recruits students with the suggestion that it is a real-world Hogwarts — an enchanted place for teens, deep in the bucolic mountains of western Oregon.

    “The school in itself, it’s different,” says one smiling teen in an official marketing video for Delphian School. “You know, it’s on a hill, and I’m a big Harry Potter fan … You’ve got the Forbidden Forest out there, it’s like, awesome.” A fresh-faced female student describes it as “kinda magical.” In the video, a swooping shot from a helicopter shows ethereal rays of sunlight illuminating the school’s centerpiece building, an old Jesuit monastery surrounded by towering pines.

    But there may be reason to question whether all is magic and wonder on that 800-acre Oregon campus. The institution, which counts Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s daughter among its former students, charges more in tuition and fees than Phillips Exeter Academy. Yet it lacks academic accreditation, and relies on Hubbard-inspired teaching methods rejected by mainstream education experts.

    Founded in the 1970s by Scientologists, Delphian has remained largely a mystery for decades. But with the unraveling of the church’s public face, alumni of the school have begun to speak out. For this exclusive two-part series, The Daily extensively interviewed numerous former students, obtaining a more detailed behind-the-scenes picture of life at the school than has ever before been reported.

    The former students said their education at Delphian included a dizzying array of jargon, unorthodox notions of academic learning and an intensive and complex disciplinary system based partly on peer monitoring. Some spoke of feeling lost after leaving Delphian and attempting to adjust to the world outside of Scientology. The Daily also found that a steady stream of Delphian grads have gone on to join the Sea Org, a Church of Scientology religious order that some former participants have equated with human slavery.

    From a distance, Delphian seems like any other pricey boarding school. It’s small, with roughly 250 students, and runs from the equivalent of kindergarten to the senior year of high school (known at Delphian as Form 8). The campus is gorgeous, encompassing an idyllic hilltop about 90 minutes southwest of Portland. There are stables, tennis courts and a track. The Delphian Dragons play sports against other independent schools.

    Delphian rejected The Daily’s request to visit the campus, and the school headmistress and assistant headmaster declined to comment for this story. Although the word “Scientology” appears nowhere on the Delphian website, and the school is technically independent, its connections to the group are intimate and pervasive. “A good majority, if not all the staff, are Scientologists,” said Elaine Ke, 18, who graduated from the school this year. Other alums back that estimate. Both the headmistress and the assistant headmaster are listed as having completed various levels of Scientology programs in the group’s publications.


    One of the religion’s most controversial institutions is the Sea Org, the poorly paid labor corps that staffs Scientology’s affiliated companies. The path from the boarding school to the Sea Org seems to be well-worn. “A lot of people who go to Delphian wind up in the Sea Org,” Jenna Miscavige Hill, the niece of current church leader David Miscavige, told The Daily.

    read the full article at:



    By Benjamin Carlson September 28, 2011


    When and if [accreditation] happens, this secretive and secluded Scientology boarding school would take one big step closer to the mainstream. As the flagship school of Delphi Schools Inc. — which operates seven private schools under the same educational philosophy, including day academies in Los Angeles and Boston — the Delphian School in Oregon is arguably the most prestigious Scientology-affiliated school in the world.

    Think of it as the Eton or Andover of the “Dianetics” set.

    But the accounts given to The Daily by former students paint a picture very different than that of your average elite boarding school. From rules and discipline, to academics theory and practice, Delphian is a place apart.

    Inside and outside of class, students are subject to a sprawling and intricate set of regulations derived from L. Ron Hubbard’s precepts. At Delphian, not only are sex and drugs verboten, so are casual Fridays, public kissing and facial hair. Elaine Ke, a 2011 graduate who is not a Scientologist, explained that “one of the most commonly broken rules is that you’re not allowed to show any PDA except holding hands. They’re pretty strict about that.”

    Kids at Delphian tend to get caught misbehaving in one of three ways, alumni say: Student watchdogs called “rovers” catch them, schoolmates turn them in or students voluntarily report themselves.

    “It was a very fear-oriented student life,” said Paul Csige, who attended Delphian in the late 1990s. Csige is not a Scientologist. “Students were encouraged to tell on other students.”

    On the school’s “ethics and integrity” website, administrators quote one anonymous student praising this system: “My first year here was the total opposite of what I’d seen before, where the cool kids were breaking the rules, stealing, etc. Here the cool people are the ones who call you on doing that.”

    Csige said this includes quizzing students who yawn or have blank looks on their faces — both giveaways, according to L. Ron Hubbard’s notions, of a dreaded “misunderstood word.”

    The consequences of a “misunderstood” can be grueling, Csige said. Students suspected of not fully grasping every word that they’ve spoken, read or heard can be subjected to a “method 3” questioning, he said. When this happens, “you have to read aloud, and if you pause and hesitate, you have to look [the word] up. And if you pause or hesitate again, you have to look up every word in the definition. It once took me three days to go through two and a half pages. They ask you the definition of ‘the,’ and I didn’t know what the precise definition of ‘the’ was.”

    If caught for a more serious breach, like making out in the woods or a broom closet, students can be sent to the ethics officer. Someone who misbehaves — a condition called “out ethics,” in Delphian’s lingo — might need to make “amends” by doing chores for whomever he wronged.

    Rule-breakers’ names and violations are also listed on a sheet called the “Golden Rod” that hangs on the ethics officer’s door, alumni said.

    “If you were a real joker kind of person, you probably would have had a tough time,” said Mac Stevens, who graduated in 1989 and went to 16 straight Delphian alumni weekends until 2009, when he was told he was a “bigot” and was no longer welcome. He said he suspects this is because he had repudiated Scientology in an open letter.

    “I considered the staff there my family,” he said. “It was very, very difficult for me, and it’s still kind of tough.”

    The account is consistent with stories of former Scientologists being cut off from friendships, marriages and family relationships after leaving the church.

    read the full article at:


  3. How Scientology ensnares celebrities

    In an exclusive from her new book, the niece of the church's leader explains the secrets of the Celebrity Centre


    In comparison to other Scientology churches, things for all the celebrities at the Los Angeles Celebrity Centre were over-the-top in terms of elegance and privacy, starting with their own separate double-gated entrance on the corner of Franklin and Bronson Avenues, and a special area in the underground parking garage that was monitored by security.

    Celebrities entered through the President’s Office, which had its own lobby, Purif delivery area, and private office space. Upstairs were two auditing rooms and a private course room to be used solely by celebrities and other people of importance, such as big donors to the Church.

    Scientology defined celebrities as anyone influential, so it could be well-recognized names like Tom Cruise and John Travolta, but it could also be someone like Craig Jensen, CEO of Condusiv Technologies, and Scientology’s biggest donor, or Izzy Chait, a prominent Beverly Hills art dealer. The security for the celebrities was very tight but deliberately inconspicuous, so that a big celebrity could literally be on services and most people at the Centre would never know he was there.

    The Celebrity Centre also had guest rooms. They weren’t special rooms designed just for celebrities. Any of the paying public could reserve any room as long as they were able to afford it; some rooms commanded a hefty overnight rate. It all depended on the size and level of elegance of the room, but the prices were in line with upscale hotels in the city. Back when my mom had been working on the renovations of the Celebrity Centre, I’d even stayed at the hotel a couple of times. The room we stayed in was a duplex, and was super nice. I was told that Kirstie Alley had actually stayed in that particular room. When my boyfriend Dallas was working there, Kirstie was the only celebrity he knew who would stay overnight. The others would just come for the day for their services, then go home.

    As Dallas explained, the celebrities who would come to the center were very human there. Some were quite nice and social; others were more reserved and didn’t want to be bothered. And, of course, some sucked up to other celebrities and were rude to the staff who worked there. All in all, it was a mixed bag of attitudes — as varied as the celebrities who frequented it. According to Dallas, John Travolta, at least, was very appreciative of Sea Org — the inner core and devoted order of the Scientology parish – staff members at the center and their hard work. On one occasion, he met Travolta, who praised him for his service.

    Hearing all this, it was hard not to be curious about the most famous celebrity Scientologist of them all, Tom Cruise. Dallas told me how, during the time he worked at the Celebrity Centre, Tom was not coming there. Tom was still a Scientologist; he just wasn’t actively involved at that time. Dallas was told by members of the CC staff that because of Tom’s marriage to Nicole Kidman, who was not as committed to the Church, Tom had been labeled a “Potential Trouble Source,” which had interfered with his progress in Scientology.

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  4. Because Nicole’s father was in the psychology field, this made perfect sense. We were taught that those in the mental health field were bad and evil. We believed what L. Ron Hubbard had written about them was true, that they were the reason behind people like Adolf Hitler and everything else bad that had ever happened on the “whole track,” the whole record in our minds of things that had happened to us over trillions of years.

    When Dallas told me all this, it reminded me of something Aunt Shelly had once said when I was at Flag. At the time, Tom Cruise had just been getting back into the Church, and it was being mentioned in magazines. I said something to Aunt Shelly about it, and she proceeded to go on about how similar Tom Cruise and Uncle Dave — that is, Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige — were, in that they were both very intense. Apparently, people called them by the same nickname, which had something to do with the word “laser.” I told Aunt Shelly how it seemed to me that Nicole wasn’t really into Scientology, and she seemed surprised that I had figured that out, saying I was exactly right and it was a problem they were trying to solve.

    No matter what level of star they were, one of the big draws for the celebrities was the Communication Course offered at the center, which claimed to get people comfortable for auditions and helped them to network effectively. Another attraction was the fact that the auditing sessions had a priest-penitent privilege stamp of secrecy, meaning that the contents of each session were guarded, similar to the way that a priest would guard secrets heard during confession. This level of security made celebrities comfortable with relating their problems and the oddities that they wanted fixed.

    While the facilities and the hospitality that celebrities received at the Celebrity Centre went far beyond that which regular public Scientologists encountered, the differences weren’t just superficial. There were also numerous financial and course-related benefits that celebrities received. Money and the art of selling Scientology were crucial differences that the ordinary public Scientologist experienced compared to celebrities. For one thing, celebrities didn’t have to endure the constant “regging,” the harassment from the Church to give money for projects or further services. They were still asked to give donations and pay for next services, but they dealt with one designated person, instead of being solicited by various staff members, like the normal public Scientologists were. In addition, celebrities were allowed to do Scientology at their own pace, whereas everyone else would begin that way but soon get pressured and pushed constantly for the next level, which meant they’d also have to pay more money.

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  5. For other Scientologists, these requests for money weren’t limited to course work. Dallas’s parents, for example, were always pressured to give money and sign up for more courses, even if they’d already paid for their next three courses. This sort of thing was never allowed with celebrities. Similarly, when Scientologists would travel to San Diego to fund-raise for the church projects, they would often go to Dallas’s parents’ house late at night to try to get his parents to donate. Not surprisingly, that kind of house call would never happen to a celebrity.

    The end result of all this was that the celebrity experience of Scientology was vastly different from what most Scientologists experienced. It was never entirely clear whether the celebrities knew the full extent of their special treatment, or if they had any idea what life was actually like for the Sea Org members who waited on them hand and foot.

    In many ways, the Celebrity Centre was the perfect stage for the act that Scientology put on for the celebrities. The accommodations were gorgeous, and the beautiful grounds made the experience enjoyable. Everything was tightly controlled and orchestrated, and if the celebrities themselves took things at face value, they’d simply see the act and never witness what went on behind the curtain. There was never a risk that they would get exposed to child labor or something similar that the Church didn’t want them to see. Sea Org members at the Celebrity Centre appeared happy because it was their job to do that, so celebrities wouldn’t know from talking to them or watching them whether they’d been paid their forty-five dollars that week, or if they missed their families.

    This act of the Celebrity Centre was crucial to how the Church reached out to celebrities and encouraged them to join. Simply put, it operated almost identically to any other Church where people take courses and get auditing, but it focused on the famous. You didn’t have to be famous to go there, but they targeted up-and-coming artists or forgotten artists trying to rebuild their careers. There were numerous policies about celebrities that explained how celebrities are good PR for the Church since their wins will be in the public eye.

    In the end, all this amounts to one of the most powerful recruiting tools that the Church has, offering celebrities a chance to mingle with other like-minded Scientologists and enjoy their time in Scientology outside public scrutiny. In that way, it plays to many celebrities’ sense of entitlement and selectivity. To that end, even non-Scientologists find themselves there on occasion. When my mom was originally working on the Celebrity Centre, she saw Brad Pitt there because he was dating Juliette Lewis. On other occasions, I heard stories of people like Bono and Colin Farrell attending galas there despite not being Scientologists themselves.

    Excerpted from “Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape” by Jenna Miscavige Hill with Lisa Pulitzer, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins. Copyright 2013. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.


  6. Is Jenna Miscavige Hill Scientology’s most powerful opponent?

    JOHN ALLEMANG, The Globe and Mail February 09 2013

    To the Church of Scientology, Jenna Miscavige Hill is an apostate – a discredited troublemaker bent on destroying the faith in which she was born and raised.

    The soft-spoken 29-year-old mother of two doesn’t come across as a heretic worthy of Inquisition-era damnation.

    But with Beyond Belief, her just-published coming-of-age memoir, she has challenged a church that despises criticism by making allegations about Scientology’s mistreatment of its youngest adherents. What makes her defiance even more provocative is that her uncle, David Miscavige, is the all-powerful leader of the highly secretive institution.

    Ms. Miscavige Hill says Scientology makes it hard for devotees to leave the faith, and most who do depart go quietly, since the church threatens its dissidents with severe reprisals. For an insider to speak out is rare, but her testimony is rarer still: Groomed for leadership from earliest childhood, she says she has direct experience of the church’s indoctrination process and can speak with personal authority about an upbringing in which child labour, family separation, arbitrary punishment and psychological bullying were sanctioned by the church.

    “I want to turn this horrible part of my life into something that has a good purpose,” she says. “I hope to discourage new people from being lured into Scientology, as well as helping people whose loved ones are in there. And maybe I can get to people who are inside, and plant a seed of doubt.”

    Ms. Miscavige Hill’s story suggests that the open society we inhabit still includes enclaves where authoritarian religious values are forced on innocent children. It is hard to look away when she describes the day-to-day torments she says she suffered in a church whose beliefs and behaviours are weird even by the standards of offbeat new religions.

    But then everything about Scientology is peculiarly fascinating to the rest of us: the intense cultivation of Hollywood celebrity culture, the “space opera” theology of past lives and roaming aliens created by founder L. Ron Hubbard and the extreme enthusiasm of the church’s followers, who spend small fortunes on training courses that lead them through the mysteries of the faith. Ms. Miscavige Hill describes it all as “brainwashing,” a cultish term that can’t help but pique the sensation-seeking prurience of outsiders.

    Like all new religions that face opposition, Scientology is keen to trumpet its successes and the church has embarked on a global expansion plan that includes the building of dozens of state-of-the-religious-art facilities – including a new church in Cambridge, Ont., that is being opened on Saturday, and a luxurious advanced-training resort nestled along the Niagara Escarpment northwest of Toronto. But the church’s trademark optimism can’t fend off a dissonant chorus of complaint that the institution has lost its way.

    The mounting criticism includes Lawrence Wright’s new book Going Clear, which focuses on Mr. Miscavige’s courting of celebrities such as Tom Cruise and Canadian filmmaker Paul Haggis; a recent Vanity Fair article on the church’s efforts to arrange a marriage for Mr. Cruise; a film, The Master, which describes the dodgy origins of a post-war therapeutic cult called The Cause; a South Park episode that casually revealed Scientology’s most closely guarded secrets about the creation of wandering spirits known as thetans; and calculated cyberattacks by the Anonymous group of hacktivists.
    The anti-Scientology campaign claimed a victory in Canada last April – and added to the skepticism about the future of the organization – when a church-affiliated Narconon drug-rehabilitation centre in Trois-Riviere was shut down by provincial health-care officials.

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  7. Scientologists are trained to ignore all this critical noise. For powerful Scientologists such as Mr. Cruise, the church’s rigorous teachings have undoubtedly helped them overcome doubts and find a discipline that is laser-like in its fixation on a goal.

    “They sincerely believe that their lives gain purpose and meaning, and that they have superior insight into the world,” says Lorne Dawson, professor of sociology at the University of Waterloo.

    Mr. Miscavige has made it a priority to cultivate the church’s big names, maximizing their P.R. potential and flattering them with deluxe celebrity centres and special honours of recognition – Mr. Cruise was awarded Scientology’s newly created Freedom Medal of Valor in 2004.

    But there’s little Mr. Miscavige can do to counteract the memoir by his own niece, because it’s such a seemingly matter-of-fact retelling of the indoctrination process that gives the church control over its members.

    Ms. Miscavige Hill says her early childhood was spent at a remote camp in the California desert, where the third-generation Scientologist was put to 14-hour days on manual labour and the church’s technical training without getting even a rudimentary academic education. She says she saw her parents, who lived at Scientology headquarters 30 kilometres away, once a week at best.

    By the age of 7, Ms. Miscavige Hill says she held the job of camp medical liaison officer, responsible for tending the health of her fellow trainees. Her Miscavige name accelerated her advancement: The same year she was inducted into the Scientology’s executive-leadership stream, known as the Sea Organization, and told to sign a billion-year contract with the church.

    “It’s disgusting,” she now says. “It’s completely taking advantage of someone who’s innocent, vulnerable and has no one there to protect them – who really has no idea what they’re signing.”

    But for anyone living in the Scientology environment, where excommunicants claim the outside world is depicted as ignorant and threatening, imposing a billion-year contract was perfectly suited to the church’s values.

    “We believed that we were spirits called thetans who’d lived lifetime after lifetime and been around billions of years,” Ms. Miscavige Hill says. “So even though your body was young, you’re basically an adult.”

    Scientology’s future leaders, she says, were expected to reveal everything about themselves in sessions with superiors and willingly inform on their colleagues’ slightest deviation from the religion’s norms. Early training involved practicing how to stare at a policy statement by L. Ron Hubbard for an hour or enduring two hours of being belittled in a toughening-up exercise of humiliation called Training Routine Bullbait.

    Scientology, which began as a self-help movement in the 1950s, teaches its followers to disconnect their mind from their feelings, to react logically rather than emotionally. The aim is to gain control, of self and others, and to block out negative thoughts – Ms. Miscavige Hill’s grandfather, an early convert, credited Hubbard’s teachings about unlimited human potential with making him a top salesman.

    But the “crazy, closed world” Jenna Miscavige Hill says she inhabited as she did the laundry for church executives and made beds for visiting Scientologists in church-run hotels was one of restriction, suspicion and mistrust.

    Submission to authority was prized. Outbreaks of individuality were treated as ethical violations and individual desires as disruptive signs of selfishness. Questioning and curiosity were regarded as defiant and dangerous. Those who resisted authority and conformity risked being declared a Suppressive Person – an extreme form of demonization that could require other Scientologists, family members included, to cut them out of their lives.

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  8. Outsiders, labelled wogs in church parlance, were increasingly finding fault with these manifestations of Scientology as the Internet expanded, but word of their criticisms never penetrated into the Sea Org. universe.

    “Within the church, you’re not allowed to have cellphones, the only access to the Internet is in a locked room, and there’s special software that blocks anti-Scientology websites,” Ms. Miscavige Hill says. “So if you have a bad experience, you think you’re the only one who feels that way, you think you must be crazy.”

    Because of her relationship with the head of the church, she says, she was sometimes spoiled and pampered, such was the fear of offending her uncle. But as she matured into a friendly, too enthusiastic teenager, she was more closely monitored, making it easier for an unbearable deviation like flirting with male co-workers to be spotted and corrected through demotion and hard labour – her punishments included scrubbing mouldy bathroom grout with a toothbrush.

    When her parents, fed up with being mistreated themselves, finally decided to quit the church, their daughter says, she became suspect as well and her loyalty was tested even more. At 18, she was caught having sex with her fiancĂ© in violation of church laws, and was forced to describe every detail of the experience. Such intrusive confessionals are an essential element in the church’s practices, she says, and any admissions of wrongdoing or shameful behaviour are weapons that can later be used against would-be critics.

    Eventually, she too, decided she had to leave, and faced the breakup of her marriage when church officials told her husband he would be disconnected from his family of big-donor Scientologists if he joined her. She says she was also told to swear that she would never speak out against the church – each violation would cost her $10,000.

    When the church inaugurates its so-called Ideal Org. (i.e. church) in Cambridge, Ont., on Saturday, a building meant to display all that is best about David Miscavige’s visionary leadership, protesters will assemble to dampen the festive spirit.

    Negativity is in the air. Scientology’s optimistic plans for an advanced training base northwest of Toronto – which a church publication says will include 50 rooms where members can rid themselves of past-life traumas by being hooked up to a machine called an e-meter and a fully equipped office reserved for the return of L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986 – also attracts online jeers and public protests from ex-Scientologists and their allies.

    Former members of the church are skeptical of the need for these new centres and dozens like them that have been built around the world, even as they acknowledge the institutional logic of the growth strategy. “They’re attempting to convince people that they’re expanding simply by acquiring real estate,” says Jefferson Hawkins, a one-time Scientology marketing expert. “They’re showplaces, but they’re largely empty because membership has been declining for many years.”

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  9. Official Scientology membership numbers are hard to come by. The degree of commitment to Scientology can extend from a casual purchase of Mr. Hubbard’s seminal book, Dianetics, or the filling out of an introductory Scientology questionaire (“Do you sleep well?”; “Do your past failures still worry you?”; “Are you often impulsive in your behaviour?”) to the high-level courses that supply Mr. Hubbard’s more esoteric revelations after years of study and the expenditure of several hundred thousand dollars.
    Canadian Scientology leaders say there are about 100,000 members in the country, but the 2001 Census recorded only 1,525 Scientologists. Prof. Dawson estimates that there are 5,000 Canadian Scientologists, and 150,000 worldwide. Mr. Hawkins guesses that the global total is no more than 40,000 – countering claims by church officials that there are as many as eight million members.

    If there is such a glaring discrepancy between low membership numbers and a grandiose expansion plan, attracting new followers to the glamorous new buildings would seem to be essential for Scientology. But some outsiders think the growth strategy could be just as much about boosting the enthusiasm and support of long-time members, particularly big donors such as Mr. Cruise, and Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson.

    And so the unveiling of a new facility resembles a massive Scientology pep rally. At the recent opening of an Ideal Org. in Padua, Italy, thousands of devotees celebrated the renovation of a delapidated 18th-century Veneto villa, local politicians praised the church’s anti-drug campaigns and disaster-relief efforts, and the boyish-looking Mr. Miscavige made a pledge “to bring our help and the infinite wisdom of L. Ron Hubbard’s technology to this region.”

    Such highly visible displays of solidarity aim to drown out all the ambient negativity about the faith: “There’s a P.R. value externally, but there’s also a P.R. value internally,” Mr. Hawkins says. “Because they can say, look how well David Miscavige is doing as our leader.”

    But beyond the ambitious CEO’s growth trajectory, there’s also a deeper psychological element that holds Scientology’s believers close to their faith. “You think your entire progress as a spiritual being is tied up with your progress in Scientology,” Mr. Hawkins says. “You’re going toward a state of immortality where you’re an all-knowing being and can go from body to body, and that’s a hell of a thing. If somebody says, ‘You do what I say or I’ll cut you off from any spiritual advancement,’ you’re going to tend to do what they say.”

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  10. To outsiders, this kind of complete devotion may sound extreme and even self-destructive. “What we’re missing is that an individual has undergone maybe a decade of what’s called cognitive drift,” Prof. Dawson says. “It’s a process where you get drawn in and experience social reinforcement, you like the people and enjoy the activity, maybe you get psychological benefits, you feel more relaxed. Eventually, and only a small segment of people get to this stage, your mindset shifts.”

    But this is where Ms. Miscavige Hill draws the line: Scientology’s growth strategy, she says, now depends on retaining the children of the most fervent Scientologists, people who are nurtured in the faith and accustomed to its ways.

    “There are many people like myself who were born into it,” she says. “They didn’t have a choice and that’s all the world is for them. They don’t have anywhere else to go. … We weren’t given a good education, we weren’t taught how to drive, we don’t know how to use a bank account or how to cook, and that’s a really big deal.”

    To address those feelings of isolation and anxiety, she helped establish the exscientologykids.com website with a mission that neatly matches the It Gets Better campaign for gay youth.

    “It’s a place where people in Scientology who are having trouble and don’t think things are quite right can visit and know that there are people out there going through the same thing,” she says. When Katie Holmes split from Tom Cruise and demanded custody of their daughter, she offered public encouragement. “I was just saying, good for you, get your daughter away from there, that’s no place for children.”

    Yet for all that she is dedicated to changing the ways of Scientology, she is still a product of the system, and she hesitates when asked if it did her good as well as harm.

    “There are some truths there,” she says slowly. “Scientology started out as a self-help group, and there’s one thing Scientologists love to say: Communication is a universal solvent. Some things L. Ron Hubbard said may be true. But you can find those same truths in much less controlling and abusive organizations.”

    And then she turns back to her own experience of Scientology, the lesson she’s gleaned from the 21 years she spent in the faith. “It’s one thing if you go there to get help as an adult. But if you start to experience Scientology as a child, it’s hard to say it’s helping you solve your problems when it’s also creating all of your problems. The one thing Scientology helped me with is to get over my fear of crazy Scientology executives.”


  11. Church of Scientology strikes back at 'ludicrous' tell-all book

    by LEILA MACOR Mail & Guardian MARCH 16, 2013
    The Church of Scientology has lashed out at a new book by its leader's niece recounting being brainwashed and cut off from her family before escaping.

    In Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape, Jenna Miscavige-Hill – whose uncle David Miscavige runs the secretive group – also claims she was forced to work as a child.

    But a spokesperson for the Church said her claims were "false" and denounced "efforts to exploit Mr Miscavige's name".

    "The Church has long respected the family unit while accommodating and helping those raising children," Karin Pouw, spokesperson for the Church of Scientology International, told AFP.

    "The Church does not engage in any activities that mistreat, neglect or force children to engage in manual labour. The Church follows all laws with respect to children," she said, accusing Miscavige-Hill of "apostate behavior".

    In the book, published in February, the 29-year-old tells of hard labour she and other children were forced to do in the 1990s in the Ranch, in a remote part of the California desert.

    The Ranch, near San Jacinto, 150km southeast of Los Angeles, was "like a military boot camp, with grueling drills, endless musters, exhaustive inspections and arduous physical labor that no child should have to do."

    The children saw their parents for only a few hours per week. They did not receive any education in the traditional sense, said Miscavige-Hill, who lived there for six years, until she was 12 years old.

    Those interned there until 2000 were the children of the Sea Org, the elite of the Church founded by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard. They worked 14 hours a day, seven days a week for a weekly wage of $45.

    The details fit in with another book which came out in January in the United States, Going Clear by journalist Lawrence Wright, which the Church described as "so ludicrous it belongs in a supermarket tabloid".

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  12. Among other back-breaking tasks the Scientologist children had to drag enormous rocks to build a wall or dig irrigation channels under the blazing desert sun, said Miscavige-Hill.

    "The conditions we worked under would have been tough for a grown man, and yet any complaints, backflashing [Scientology term for talking back], any kind of questioning was instantly met with disciplinary action," she said.

    The Church of Scientology's celebrity members include Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis and the singer Beck.

    But the stars were shielded from the dark side of the shadowy organisation. "There was never a risk that they would get exposed to child labour or something similar that the Church didn't want them to see," said Miscavige-Hill.

    "Celebrities wouldn't know from talking to them [to Sea Org members] or watching them whether they'd been paid their $45 that week, or if they missed their families."

    The ex-Scientologist, who like Wright and other ex-Church members including Canadian director and screenwriter Paul Haggis – who published an open letter when he left &ndashh; also criticises its reported "disconnection" policy.

    The rule, which the Church denies having, allegedly bans all Scientologists from any contact with ex-members who criticise the organisation.

    Its spokesperson cast doubt on the claims made in Miscavige-Hill's book.

    "Those who decide a religious order isn't for them are free to move on with their lives, as Ms Hill did. Every religion has its detractors; there is no faith that can satisfy everyone's spiritual needs," she said.

    "Revisionist histories are typical of apostate behaviour and tabloid tales should always be taken with an enormous grain of salt."

    Protected in the United States by the US Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion, the Church of Scientology is considered a sect in other countries.



    by Tony Ortega on Scientology, The Underground Bunker September 20, 2013

    On Tuesday, Barbara Walters once again came to the rescue for Scientology, this time sticking up for the church’s “educational programs” on The View.

    Whoopi Goldberg started the discussion by bringing up Jaden Smith’s infamous tweet, in which the 15-year-old actor encouraged kids to drop out of school. Jenny McCarthy then brought up Scientology, which the Smith family has been said to dabble in. At that point, Walters spoke up, saying, “I’m not going to speak about Scientology in general, but Scientology has a pretty good educational program. They’re not telling people to drop out.”

    That surprised Sherri Shepherd, who remembered that the program had recently had a guest who said just the opposite. “She said they pulled her out and put her in a camp. What kind of school is that? It’s like it was a hard labor camp. She built the doggone — the huts that they lived in.”

    Shepherd was speaking, of course, of Jenna Miscavige Hill, who had visited The View in February. And Jenna has a message for Barbara Walters.

    In February, William Morrow published Jenna’s memoir, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape, and she went on a major publicity tour, whose first stop was The View.

    We thought at the time it was interesting that Walters, a longtime Scientology apologist, was not on the show.

    But Shepherd was there, and clearly, Jenna’s tale about the way young Scientologists are made to do hard, manual labor, and the way education is an afterthought in the church, made an impression on her.

    But Walters would have none of it. “I have been to some of the Scientology schools and some of their education programs are very good. The last thing I want to do is argue about Scientology,” she said.

    see video at http://www.mrctv.org/videos/barbara-walters-gets-testy-view-dont-knock-scientology

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  14. Well, Barbara, Jenna has some words for you. She sent them to us, but she wrote them directly to the newswoman…

    With all due respect, saying that Scientology has a very good education system is an incredibly ignorant and irresponsible thing to say on your platform and for that reason I feel that I have to say something about it.

    Without getting into the details of my childhood and the dangers of Scientology’s education system I will say this.

    The leader of Scientology, Tom Cruise’s best man, my uncle David Miscavige, is a high school dropout. What does that say about the value Scientology puts on education? Is this not what Jaden Smith is advocating?

    As Sherri Shepherd rightly pointed out, I myself was born into Scientology. And instead of being properly educated, I was indoctrinated into Scientology and made to do heavy labor daily from the age of six years old. I have no high school education, and college was never even a vague possibility for me until I escaped.

    Scientology values its “educational system” because of its ability to recruit new members into its ranks. I’m guessing it worked for Jaden Smith.

    I don’t know what propaganda you have seen or what your celebrity advocate friends have told you, but it’s time to look a little deeper. If you don’t want to know the truth (which I gather is the case from you saying you “don’t want to talk about Scientology”) then please refrain from praising a system you clearly know nothing about.

    Although Scientology’s educational system is one of its most disconcerting aspects because it involves children, it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Scientology’s deception and abuse.

    We have a feeling Walters won’t be heeding Jenna’s words. We noticed the following exchange on Twitter happened just a week ago, which helps explains where Barbara is coming from….

    to view tweets go to: http://tonyortega.org/2013/09/20/jenna-hill-responds-to-barbara-walters-on-scientology-education/

    Play back that footage from The View, and you’ll notice another interesting exchange. Near the end, Sherri Shepherd tells Barbara that she ought to believe what she’s saying about the church: “Believe it, because they’ll get you!” It was a clear reference to Scientology’s reputation for retaliation. But Walters was quick to stomp on that notion: “No that’s not true…You just shouldn’t say things like that.”

    Oh, Barbara. Maybe it’s time The View had on Lori Hodgson. Or Mike Rinder. Or Monique Rathbun. Just a thought.


  15. Scientology leader's father to publish 'Ruthless' memoir

    by Michael Schaub, Los Angeles Times March 16, 2016

    Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology leader David Miscavige, has written a memoir about his controversial son.

    St. Martin's Press will publish "Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige and Me" on May 3, according to a news release. The media described the memoir as "the only book to examine the origins of Scientology's current leader" and "a riveting insider's look at life within the world of Scientology."

    Ron Miscavige and his family converted to Scientology in 1971, living for a few years in Saint Hill Manor, the British headquarters of the religion. They later returned to their home in Pennsylvania, and David Miscavige joined the Sea Org — a religious order within Scientology — at age 16.

    The elder Miscavige, who now lives in Wisconsin, eventually left Scientology.

    In an exclusive article published last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that Ron Miscavige was spied on for 18 months by two private investigators evidently working for the Church of Scientology.

    One of the investigators, Dwayne S. Powell, was arrested in 2013 near Milwaukee with six guns, thousands of rounds of ammunition and a homemade silencer in his rented vehicle. He told police he had been hired by the Church of Scientology to spy on Ron Miscavige.

    A police report about the incident says the elder Miscavige and his wife believed they were being targeted by his son. "They advised that Ronald's son, David Miscavige, the leader of the Church of Scientology, is obviously having them watched because they left the church two years ago and David is afraid that Ronald will speak with the media about the negative inner workings of the church and David's abuse of the members of the church," according to the report.

    Through his attorney, David Miscavige denied that he was behind the surveillance of his father.

    David Miscavige has been criticized by some former Scientology members, who claim he has a violent temper. In his book "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief," author Lawrence Wright wrote that several people claim to have been physically attacked by the church leader, who denies the allegations.

    Ron Miscavige's memoir won't be the first book critical of Scientology to be written by a relative of David Miscavige. In 2013, David's niece Jenna Miscavige Hill published "Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape."