31 Oct 2010

Ex-Brethren father loses battle for children



The Age - Australia June 28, 2009

by Michael Bachelard

A GRIEVING father's only contact with his Exclusive Brethren children will be permission to buy their photographs from the sect's school, as long as they are not there at the time, a Family Court judge has ruled.

Justice Sally Brown has comprehensively ruled against the father, who can be known only as Peter, denying him any contact with his son, 15, and daughter, 10, after a five-year court battle, waged mostly in their home state of Tasmania.

After spending $100,000 winning court orders in 2006 for access, then trying unsuccessfully to enforce them, Peter could only afford to represent himself in the most recent retrial.

The Exclusive Brethren paid for the mother, Elspeth, to hire one of Melbourne's top family court QCs, Noel Ackman, as well as a junior barrister and a solicitor.

The church's "doctrine of separation" prevents people who have left the fold having any relationship with those still inside, including their own children.

Early in 2007, Justice Robert Benjamin sentenced the mother and two male relatives to four-month suspended jail sentences for failing to encourage the children to go with their father. These sentences were overturned on appeal.

Justice Brown's judgment, delivered in Melbourne on Thursday, ruled for the Brethren mother because during the course of the case the children's relationship with the father had broken down, and there was no prospect of re-establishing it.

The judge blamed the father for this, saying that his attempts to make sure that earlier court orders were obeyed had alienated the children from him and that parts of his application were "cruel and punitive" towards the children.

The mother fell ill with a recurrence of breast cancer after Justice Benjamin's ruling in 2007, and the "family narrative" blamed the father for this.

"It is clear that the mother attributes responsibility for the recurrence of her cancer, at least in part, to the trauma she experienced when sentenced," Justice Brown said. Whether or not this was true was "less relevant than its currency in the home".

The daughter had "taken on board" this message and had torn up and returned a card her father had sent her, saying if he wanted her to be happy "he should just leave us alone".

However, she rejected the father's suggestion that the Exclusive Brethren had prompted this behaviour, despite evidence over many years that the sect encourages young children to reject their lapsed parents.

In 2006, a court-appointed psychologist described the Brethren's attempts to turn the children against Peter as "psychologically cruel, unacceptable and abusive" to the children and at "the highest end of psychological abuse".

But Justice Brown's views on the Brethren were generally positive: their religious conviction was as "vital to them as the air they breathe", and "they perceive a life lived outside their faith as unsustainable". She questioned whether it was their policy to remove children from non-Brethren parents, quoting a report to her that said that "the church says in its publication this is not the case".

Justice Brown said it was false to think, as the father did, that this case was "a duel between law and religion".

The father said the few times he had had contact, the children had "warmed up" to him, but the opinion of a court-appointed consultant, Ineke Stierman, was that the daughter's "youth and courtesy explain her relatively polite responses". As for the son, one visit had ended with him curled in a foetal position in the cubby house and refusing to eat.

Having "nothing to do with them now might show ultimate caring", Ms Stierman recommended.

Justice Brown accepted that the result of her judgment was that "the children will not spend time with anyone who speaks positively about the father".

The father had applied for custody of both children but late in the case changed his position, asking for custody of his daughter and access to his son. The judge condemned this as "indicative of a significant lack of understanding of the children's needs" .

The mother's application was to have custody of the children until she died, following which they be cared for by an older sister and her husband.

Although Justice Brown did not rule on what would happen after the mother's death, she agreed the children needed support by their extended family "during these traumatic years", that the girl had bonded with her older sister, and that this must take priority over any relationship with the father, or "any questions about the Exclusive Brethren's compliance with court orders".

Although Ms Stierman suggested contact of "an hour or two, once or twice a year", Justice Brown said she could see no benefit to that. Instead, Peter could, at his expense, be provided with a copy of their school reports, photos and newsletters as long he obtained them at a time when any family members "are not likely to be on the school premises".

Asked by The Sunday Age if he had a message for his children, Peter, who himself grew up without a father because of the Brethren's doctrine of separation, said: "I just want them to know I tried my best."

The Exclusive Brethren declined to comment, saying it was a private family matter.

This article was found at:

http://www.theage.com.au/national/exbrethren-father-loses-battle-for-children-20090627-d0lc.html

Proposed faith-healing bills under scrutiny



Journal Sentinel - Milwaukee, Wisconsin June 26, 2009

Groups argue religious vs. children's rights

By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Doug and Rita Swan were lifelong Christian Scientists when their 16-month-old son died of meningitis in 1977. In keeping with their faith, the couple turned not to doctors, but to prayer, in their failed attempts to save their child.

In the decades since his death, the Swans have crisscrossed the country working to repeal state protections for faith healing, almost always doing battle with their former church.

This summer, a year after a Wisconsin girl died of untreated diabetes in a faith-healing case, the battle moves to Wisconsin, where the Swans and Christian Scientists are lobbying for competing bills now being drafted in the Legislature.

Both measures - one to be introduced by Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), the other by Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison) - would repeal the exemption secured by Christian Scientists in 1987 that prohibits prosecutors from charging parents with child abuse or neglect in cases where they opted for prayer over medicine.

But each contains provisions that would shift the current balance among freedom of religion, parental rights and the rights of children to health and safety - a shift with potentially constitutional consequences.

"We have two competing bills that strike fundamentally different balances," said Peter Rofes, a constitutional law professor at Marquette University Law School, who reviewed the drafts for the Journal Sentinel.

"One, by limiting the scope of parental authority, could implicate the constitutional right of parents and families, including the right to freely execute their religious beliefs . . . as well as their due process rights in raising children," he said.

"The other could conceivably be viewed as undervaluing the constitutional rights of grievously ill minors."

The debate comes a month after a Marathon County jury convicted Leilani Neumann of second-degree reckless homicide in the death of her 11-year-old daughter Madeline Kara, who died of untreated diabetes in March 2008. Neumann is scheduled to be sentenced in October. Her husband, Dale, is awaiting trial on an identical charge.

Although the Neumanns are not Christian Scientists, such cases and the legislative backlash they sometimes provoke have broad ramifications for the church, which advocates healing by prayer.

According to drafts of the proposed bills:

• Taylor's measure would create a provision to allow parents to present an affirmative defense in faith healing cases in which they've been criminally charged. It includes a litany of factors deemed relevant in determining whether their actions were reasonable, including whether the parent should have known the condition was life-threatening, the risks and side effects of medical treatment and the family's prior experiences with spiritual healing.

• Berceau's bill would, by omitting the exemption, allow child welfare workers to consider faith healing along with other factors in determining whether abuse or neglect has occurred or is likely to. It opens the door for a court to require medical treatment for a Christian Science child, though not an adult.

Christian Scientist lobbyist Joe Farkas said that the Taylor bill allows those who believe in faith healing the same right to present a defense that other criminal defendants enjoy and that Berceau's provisions goes too far in restricting religion.

"State law is quite clear about what the standard of care is in all serious cases," he said. "There's no need to restrict parents' ability to use spiritual means in everyday life."

The Swans and others say that the Berceau bill lets the state step in before a child has died, and that Taylor's bill would make it all but impossible to prosecute parents in faith-healing cases.

"The bill is a wish list of Christian Science defenses," said Shawn Peters, a University of Wisconsin-Madison lecturer and author of "When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children and the Law."

"It puts the law on the side of the parents and not on the side of children in a way no other state has done."

State faith-healing exemptions date to the 1970s, when the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare required them as prerequisites for some federal funding.

Several states have repealed them in recent years, often after high-profile court cases, according to Rita Swan, co-founder of the Iowa-based nonprofit Children's Healthcare is a Legal Duty, or CHILD Inc.

Farkas said nine states have adopted affirmative defense statutes.

"It's an issue of fundamental fairness," he said.

But the state must also consider what's fair to the child," Berceau said.

"The bottom line to me is that no child should ever die because a parent didn't take them to a doctor when a reasonable parent would have known it was a life-threatening condition," she said. "No child should have to die because of a parent's religion."

This article was found at:

http://www.jsonline.com/features/religion/49284187.html

Jehovah's Witness girl's forced blood transfusion didn't violate rights: Supreme Court of Canada



CBC News - Canada June 26, 2009

But Manitoba government must pay her legal costs, estimated above $450,000

Canada's top court on Friday dismissed the case of a Manitoba girl — a Jehovah's Witness — who said her rights were violated when she was forced to get a blood transfusion against her will when she was a minor.

In a 6-1 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that such medical interventions are constitutionally sound, striking a balance between the choice of the child and the state's protection of the child.

However, the ruling also said lower courts from now on must consider the maturity and decision-making skills of minors before deciding on enforced treatment.

"The more a court is satisfied that a child is capable of making a truly mature and independent decision on his or her own behalf, the greater the weight that must be given to his or her views when a court is exercising its discretion" regarding the best interests of the child, said Justice Rosalie Abella, writing for the majority.

"If, after a careful analysis of the young person's ability to exercise mature and independent judgment, the court is persuaded that the necessary level of maturity exists, the young person's views ought to be respected."

The court stressed that this in no way means that a child should be allowed to make a decision that might endanger his or her life.

"I don't want to die, which is why I went to the hospital for treatment. I just wanted the best medical treatment without blood …" the young woman, who is now 18, told CBC.

"There almost are no words to say just how brutal of an act [blood transfusion] is. I once compared it to almost being raped. There are no options for you, there's nothing you can do about it and it's very hard to deal with."

David Day, the girl's lawyer, called the ruling a huge moral victory.

"For the past 38 months, my client … has been looking for respect in the Canadian courts for her medical treatment wishes. Today, she got respect," he told CBC.

They argued her case so convincingly that the Supreme Court awarded her costs so she doesn't have to pay for the pricey legal action. Instead, the government of Manitoba will have to pay her legal costs, which are reported to be at least $450,000.

"There aren't necessarily any winners or losers in a situation like this," Claudia Ash-Ponce of Manitoba Child and Family Services told CBC.

"We acted [in] protecting the best interests of the child and, in this case, the highest court … upheld our action and endorsed our legislation."

With regard to the court's direction to consider the maturity of children in future cases, Ash-Ponce said that is already being done.

"We've always as a province acted in a way that considers the wishes and desires of the child, whether they're over or under 16. We do hold that in high regard and it is an important piece that even in this case was considered."

The then-14-year-old Jehovah's Witness, identified only as A.C., received a court-ordered blood transfusion in 2006 at a Winnipeg hospital to treat internal bleeding from her bowel associated with Crohn's disease.

The girl and her parents opposed the transfusion, based on their religious belief that the Bible forbids ingesting blood.

A.C. had signed an advanced medical directive stating she didn't want a blood transfusion. Three psychiatrists who assessed her all concluded she understood her medical condition and the consequences of not getting a transfusion.

Under Manitoba law, people under the age of 16 can be given medical treatment against their will.

Believing the girl's life to be at risk, doctors contacted Child and Family Services, which deemed A.C. to be "a child in need of protection." After lawyers for the child welfare agency obtained an order from Manitoba's Court of Queen's Bench, the girl was given three units of blood.

The Manitoba Court of Appeal had also unanimously upheld the imposed transfusion.

This article was found at:

http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2009/06/26/supreme-blood026.html

The abuse behind Scientology's facade



St. Petersburg Times - Florida June 24, 2009

Editorial

In recent years the Church of Scientology worked hard to present a kinder, gentler image to the public, claiming it had cast aside the criminal activities, dirty tricks and abusive behavior of the past that brought it widespread condemnation and sent some of its former leaders to prison. But a St. Petersburg Times special report this week revealed the reality behind the new facade: At its core, the Church of Scientology has not changed. It is an organization that uses intimidation and brutality to control its employees, places financial ambition above spiritual service to its members and stops at nothing to undermine its critics.

Times staff writers Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin interviewed former high-ranking officials of the Church of Scientology who have defected from the church. Their independent accounts, told for the first time, provide an unprecedented view of the secretive top tier of Scientology management and the bullying leadership style of David Miscavige, a high school dropout who muscled his way to the top of the international organization after the death of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in 1986. Among the disturbing accounts told by Miscavige's former top aides:

  • Miscavige beat and incessantly criticized top executives to subjugate them. Those executives in turn used that style of intimidation on other church employees, creating a management culture of physical violence and humiliation.
  • Church officials lied and covered up their mistreatment of Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist who was detained in a guarded room at church facilities in Clearwater after suffering a mental breakdown. She died after 17 days in the "care" of church staffers, including secretaries, security guards and an unlicensed doctor. One of the defectors, Marty Rathbun, now acknowledges that as police investigators moved in, he destroyed incriminating documents containing details of McPherson's last days.
  • Scientologists are punished for infractions and forced to write detailed confessions, sometimes about trumped-up allegations, which are held by the church in so-called "ethics files." They expect these written confessionals to remain confidential, but the church released the defectors' files to the Times, apparently caring less about maintaining confidentiality than about undermining the credibility of their detractors.
  • The church, which needs vast sums of money to finance its worldwide growth, charges parishioners hundreds of dollars an hour for counseling sessions called "auditing," more than $13,000 for auditing training, and has repackaged old Scientology texts for resale to members.

The Times articles also provided new details about some church history — for example, the church's all-out effort to win a tax exemption granted to religious organizations from the Internal Revenue Service. The church overwhelmed the federal agency with thousands of lawsuits, raising suspicions that the exemption finally was granted in 1993 because of relentless intimidation and pressure rather than an interpretation of the tax code. The exemption has cost government at all levels untold millions in lost tax revenue. The IRS isn't likely to reconsider the tax exemption, but it should.

The church denies much of the information provided to the Times by the defectors. To respond by calling these longtime top officials liars, opening their confidential files and producing their former spouses to denounce them reflects Scientology's long-standing strategy to deny and attack when its actions are questioned.

For years, church leaders have claimed that modern Scientology is law-abiding, open to everyone and eager to build bridges in the community. International celebrities and local politicians have bought into the story of change, joining church officials for their galas and community events at Scientology's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater as if all were well. The Times series, many other media reports and criminal investigations of Scientology that are under way in several foreign countries tell a different story. There is a cancer at the core of Scientology, and that has not changed.

This article was found at:

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/editorials/article1012832.ece

Connecticut Church Posts Exorcism of Gay Teen on Youtube



According to this Fox News report, the video was taken off of Youtube by the church. You can probably still find it somewhere, but for now this report includes clips from that video.



This video was originally found at:

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2009/06/24/what-if-i-dont-want-to-be-welcomed-by-the-anglican-church-joel


**********************************************************************************
Newhaven Register - Associated Press June 24, 2009

BRIDGEPORT — The video shows the 16-year-old boy lying on the floor, his body convulsing, as elders of a small Connecticut church cast a "homosexual demon" from his body.

"Rip it from his throat!" a woman yells. "Come on, you homosexual demon! You homosexual spirit, we call you out right now! Loose your grip, Lucifer!"

The 20-minute video posted on YouTube by Manifested Glory Ministries is being called abuse by gay and youth advocates, who are demanding an investigation. But a church official this week denied that the teenager was injured or that the church is prejudiced.

"We believe a man should be with a woman and a woman should be with a man," the Rev. Patricia McKinney told The Associated Press. "We have nothing against homosexuals. I just don't agree with their lifestyle."

The church posted the video on YouTube but has since removed it; it is still available on some Web sites that copied it. The church declined to make the video available for distribution by The Associated Press.

It shows church members standing the youth on his feet by holding him under his arms, and people shouting as organ music plays.

"Come out of his belly," someone commands. "It's in the belly — push."

Later, the teenager is back on the floor, breathing heavily. Then he's coughing and apparently vomiting into a bag.

"Get another bag," a participant says. "Make sure you have your gloves."

As the youth lay back on the ground, limp, church members put a white sheet over him.

It's nearly impossible to say how often similar exercises occur in churches nationwide. But Kamora Herrington, who runs a mentoring program at True Colors and has worked with the youth, said she believes it's fairly common.

"This happens all the time," she said. "This is not isolated."

Robin McHaelin, executive director of True Colors, an advocacy group for gay youths, said her organization is aware of five cases in recent years in which youths in her program were threatened with exorcism.

In one case, she said, a child called to report that his caregiver had called a priest who was throwing holy water on his bedroom door.

"I think it's horrifying," McHaelin said of the video by Manifested Glory. "What saddens me is the people that are doing this think they are doing something in the kid's best interests, when in fact they're murdering his spirit."

McHaelin said she planned to report the situation to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. An agency spokesman said the agency does not comment on complaints or investigations.

"They have this kid in a full nelson," she said. "That just seems abusive to me."

McKinney said the youth was 18. The boy confirmed he is 16 but otherwise declined to comment, citing the advice of his pastor.

McHaelin said the boy told her staff that the church performed the ritual three times at his request. She said the boy has been engaging in risky behavior that she blames on the church's treatment.

McKinney said the youth went to the church last year and collapsed on the floor during a service.

"He was out of control in the church," she said. "This young man came to us. We didn't go to him."

McKinney denied the ritual was an exorcism, describing it instead as a casting out of spirits. She said the church took care of the youth, providing him clothes.

"He was dressing like a woman and everything. And he didn't want to be like that," McKinney said.

The teen had been in reform school for stealing but was eager to get out and go to the church to have what he thought were his demons driven out, Herrington said.

Exodus International, a Christian group that believes gays can become straight through prayer and counseling, does not advocate the church's approach, said Jeff Buchanan, director of church equipping.

The Rev. Roland Stringfellow, a minister in Oakland, Calif., said he was subject to demon casting in the 1990s when he was at a Baptist church and was struggling with his sexuality. He said he was put in front of the church as members shouted "demon of homosexuality come out of him."

"It caused nothing but shame and embarrassment," Stringfellow said.

McKinney also has a weekly radio program. She talked on Wednesday's program about being "persecuted" in recent days but did not mention the video specifically.

"It's been a hard time for me, but I'm looking good and I'm standing strong because when you have a mandate like mine you're not going to say what you want without the adversary coming after you," she said. "If you are a true prophet you're not going to be popular with the people."

This article was found at:

http://www.nhregister.com/articles/2009/06/24/news/doc4a4272ff59656226534647.txt

New hearing for ex-leader of cult convicted of starving son to death



The Sun Chronicle - Attleboro, MA - June 25, 2009

ATTLEBORO - Former Attleboro religious cult leader Jacques Robidoux has been granted a rare post-conviction hearing in federal court of his highly publicized 2002 murder case.

Robidoux, 36, is serving a life prison term for starving his son, Samuel, to death three days before his first birthday in April 1999, then burying his body months later at Baxter State Park in Maine.

He is not eligible for parole because he was convicted of first-degree murder.

Robidoux testified he believed he was following instructions he and other members of his family had received from God.

His defense, however, raised the possibility the boy died of other causes. U.S. Magistrate Judge Leo T. Sorokin granted Robidoux's request for a hearing on his habeas corpus petition, but no date has been set.

His appellate lawyer, Janet H. Pumphrey of Lenox, could not be reached by The Sun Chronicle for comment Wednesday.

However, in an online story in Lawyers Weekly, Pumphrey said, "This is not something that happens on a regular basis."

"The premise of my argument is that Robidoux was not competent at the time of his trial and that he should have been evaluated," she told the legal journal. "The fact that he has been granted a hearing in federal court is a very significant development."

Pumphrey said she plans to call four or five witnesses.

Pumphrey handled Robidoux's appeal before the state Supreme Judicial Court, which upheld the first-degree murder conviction in December 2007.

In court filings in U.S. District Court in Boston, Pumphrey makes similar arguments she made before the SJC, including that Robidoux should have been evaluated before trial for competency.

Taunton lawyer, Francis O'Boy, who defended Robidoux, had raised the possibility of an insanity defense, but Robidoux rejected it.

Robidoux's wife, Karen, was charged with second-degree murder and was tried after her husband. She maintained she was brainwashed by the cult and was acquitted.

Jacques Robidoux's federal petition was opposed by the office of state Attorney General Martha Coakley.

This article was found at:

http://www.thesunchronicle.com/articles/2009/06/25/news/5194307.txt

For further information regarding the cult that Robidoux started, his trial and other related documents visit The Rick A. Ross Institute website at:

http://www.rickross.com/groups/attleboro.html

How Cults Rewire The Brain [video]

Diane Benscoter, an ex-Moonie, is now invested in finding ways to battle extremist mentalities and their potentially deadly consequences.

Why you should listen to her:

At 17, Diane Benscoter joined The Unification Church -- the religious cult whose members are commonly known as “Moonies.” After five long years, her distressed family arranged to have her deprogrammed. Benscoter then left The Unification Church, and was so affected by her experience that she became a deprogrammer herself. She devoted her time to extracting others from cults, until she was arrested for kidnapping. The shock of her arrest caused her to abandon her efforts for almost 20 years.

Now, after decades of research and study, Diane has begun to speak about her experiences. She recently completed a memoir describing her years as a member of The Unification Church and as a deprogrammer.

Furthermore, she has embarked on a new project to define “extremist viral memetic infections”. She believes that defining extremism as a memetic infection, from a cognitive neurological perspective, might allow us to develop better memes that would inoculate against the memes of extremist thought.

These inoculating memes could prevent the spread of extremist viral memetic infections and their inherent dangers.

watch the video at: http://www.ted.com/talks/ex_moonie_diane_benscoter_how_cults_think.html



This article was found at:

http://www.ted.com/talks/ex_moonie_diane_benscoter_how_cults_think.html

Judge orders reluctant teen to continue chemo



MSNBC - Associated Press June 23, 2009

Court-ordered treatment seems to be working for Minn. teen

By AMY FORLITI | Associated Press Writer

NEW ULM, Minn. - A Minnesota judge has ruled that a 13-year-old boy who fled the state to avoid chemotherapy must continue getting the treatment because it appears to be working.

Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg issued the ruling Monday during a hearing on Daniel Hauser's case. Daniel has Hodgkin's lymphoma but resisted chemo, citing a preference for alternative treatments.

His attorney, Philip Elbert, says recent X-rays of Daniel's tumor show that the tumor is a white, see-through mass. Previous X-rays had shown a dense, black mass.

Elbert says Daniel has lost about 10 pounds and sometimes doesn't feel like eating.

Prosecutors had argued the case should stay in court after Daniel and his mother, Colleen, fled to California last month. The judge ruled Daniel is still in need of child protection services.

This article was found at:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/31511848/ns/health-cancer/

******************

ABC News - June 24, 2009

Cancer Teen Wants to Stop Chemo Therapy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_je7cMS1TWg

Bolivia: 8 Mennonite men accused of raping dozens of women and underage girl



Associated Press - June 23, 2009

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) -- Eight men from a Mennonite farming community in eastern Bolivia have been accused of raping dozens of females at the settlement, a prosecutor said Tuesday, indicating at least one victim was an underage girl.

Prosecutor Freddy Perez told The Associated Press that 60 women, from 11 to 47 years old, have accused the men of rape. He said the men were suspected of using a form of aerosol spray to drug the women.

"Members of the community told us that for religious reasons, and because they didn't have electric lighting, they didn't move about late at night, but these youths did and were spotted jumping into the windows of houses," he said.

ATB television said the men all denied the charges.

Perez said the suspects range in age from 18 to 41, but are mostly young. He said they were arrested Monday and taken to the town of Cotoca in the Santa Cruz region.

The men were scheduled to go before a judge Wednesday. Investigators from the Office of the Public Prosecutor planned to go to the farm colony, near the town of Manitoba, on Thursday.

Mennonites belong to a conservative Christian sect that does without most modern conveniences and limits contact with outsiders.

This article was found at:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/L/LT_BOLIVIA_MENNONITES?SITE=FLTAM

Scientology Exposed Once Again By Insiders: A smiling storefront, a darker interior



Note from Perry Bulwer:

The St. Petersburg Times in Florida has published a three part report, concluding today, June 23, 2009, that exposes some of the inner workings of the Scientology cult. All three articles, plus some background reports are copied below.

The report relies heavily on the accounts of four former top leaders of that cult. While the report and accompanying articles do not mention the plight of children in Scientology, there is no doubt that children are abused and their human rights denied. To read what children born and/or raised in the Scientology cult have to say, including the niece of current top leader, David Miscavige, go to:

http://exscientologykids.com/

You can find all the articles related to Scientology on this website by using the Search This Blog tool.


As I mentioned, the articles below rely heavily on accounts by former top leaders, members of Miscavige's inner circle. Scientology, of course, dismisses their accounts as nothing more than lies concocted by disgruntled apostates. That is a typical cult tactic that I am very familiar with. The cult that I escaped from -- the Children of God/The Family International -- uses the same tactic. A few years ago when several members of that cult's leadership inner circle left the group and started exposing the abuses and crimes committed by cult founder David Berg and other top leaders, they too were denounced as lying apostates. You can read about those defections, denunciations and rebuttals at:

http://www.xfamily.org/index.php/James_Penn

Those familiar with cultic issues will be familiar with many of the manipulations and tactics exposed in the following articles. As I read them, I could hardly keep track of all the similarities between Scientology and the Children of God/The Family International, as well as other cults. It's almost as if they are following the same cult handbook. It is well known that cult leaders and their apologists in academia dismiss outright any testimony by former members. It is astonishing to me that those academics believe that cult members are sincere and truthful, but former members are disingenuous liars. One such academic, Dr. James D. Chancellor, wrote a book purporting to be an oral history of the Children of God/The Family International, yet he did not interview even one former member. His book was so unbalanced that I wrote a response, filling in what he omitted and criticizing him for his pejorative descriptions of former members. See:
"A RESPONSE TO JAMES D. CHANCELLOR'S LIFE IN THE FAMILY: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD" at: http://perry-bulwer.blogspot.com/p/response-to-james-d-chancellors-life-in.html

From my perspective as a former cult member, there is no doubt about the truthfulness of the insider accounts in the following articles. First up is an introductary article, followed by the 3-part report and supplementary articles.


*******************************************************************************

Scientology: A smiling storefront, a darker interior

By Howard Troxler | St. Petersburg Times Columnist Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Either several former ranking, long-term members of the Church of Scientology have all simultaneously decided to lie to the St. Petersburg Times, in a thorough, orchestrated and masterful conspiracy …

Or else they are not lying, and they confirm that the church is led by a man, David Miscavige, with serious issues of power and paranoia, even given to not-infrequent physical attacks, all of which permeate the culture of the church's upper echelons.

The articles in the Times these past three days by my colleagues Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin have been extraordinary. We haven't had a look inside a religious organization like this since Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, or the Rev. Henry J. Lyons.

Let's make a distinction here between the church's doctrine, what it claims to be teaching, and the practices documented in these articles, which veer into the surreal.

The street-level message of Scientology actually is pretty standard: We have a spiritual essence; we are imperfect; through the religion's guidance we can improve.

True, Scientology refers to this essence as a "thetan" and requires the believer to hook up to a meter to be measured, which is not my cup of tea. But then again, neither do I believe in reincarnation, the karmic wheel, or that I have to obey all 613 commandments in the Old Testament, although I do not disrespect people who do.

Anyway, lots of people say their lives have been improved by Scientology, and I believe them. Any external structure can be an improvement for people who need it.

But as these articles by Childs and Tobin show, at its higher levels Scientology is more of an insidious loyalty cult than a benign self-help society. And the punishment for being disloyal is severe.

Frankly, a lot of the church's reaction to its apostates has been histrionic and weird. (As for the ex-Scientologists, I have mixed feelings, since they used to perpetuate with a vengeance the same tactics to which they are now victim).

Come on — bringing in their ex-spouses, still in the church, to denounce them? Publicizing the bizarre, ritualized "confessions" that the church makes its people write for "ethics files"? For a while, Scientology tried to appear reassuringly beyond such tactics. No more.

The case of Lisa McPherson, who died in church custody following a breakdown in 1995, is a turning point in the story. One of the former church leaders, Marty Rathbun, now admits that he destroyed evidence, though the statute of limitations has long lapsed. Criminal charges were eventually dropped; the church reached a settlement with McPherson's family.

We also know more now about the orchestrated campaign by which the Church of Scientology browbeat the IRS into granting it not-for-profit status, promising the IRS commissioner the offensive would be turned off "like a faucet" once he complied. This is an impressive accomplishment. Also a scary one.

In the end, these articles show a deep divide between the optimistic message being peddled in storefronts and the church's paranoid practices at its highest levels. Where the private religion of Scientology and the public sector intersect, whether in covered-up deaths or setting tax policy, the public sector must be more than routinely vigilant. As for those who seek answers in Scientology, they are entitled to the full story. What they believe is up to them.

This article was found at:

http://www.tampabay.com:80/news/religion/article1012458.ece

Scientology: The Truth Rundown, Part 1 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology

St. Petersburg Times Sunday, June 21, 2009

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers

The leader of the Church of Scientology strode into the room with a boom box and an announcement: Time for a game of musical chairs.

David Miscavige had kept more than 30 members of his church's executive staff cooped up for weeks in a small office building outside Los Angeles, not letting them leave except to grab a shower. They slept on the floor, their food carted in.

Their assignment was to develop strategic plans for the church. But the leader trashed their every idea and berated them as incompetents and enemies, of him and the church.

Prove your devotion, Miscavige told them, by winning at musical chairs. Everyone else — losers, all of you — will be banished to Scientology outposts around the world. If families are split up, too bad.

To the music of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody they played through the night, parading around a conference room in their Navy-style uniforms, grown men and women wrestling over chairs.

The next evening, early in 2004, Miscavige gathered the group and out of nowhere slapped a manager named Tom De Vocht, threw him to the ground and delivered more blows. De Vocht took the beating and the humiliation in silence — the way other executives always took the leader's attacks.

This account comes from executives who for decades were key figures in Scientology's powerful inner circle. Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest-ranking executives to leave the church, are speaking out for the first time.

Two other former executives who defected also agreed to interviews with the St. Petersburg Times: De Vocht, who for years oversaw the church's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, and Amy Scobee, who helped create Scientology's celebrity network, which caters to the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

One by one, the four defectors walked away from the only life they knew. That Rathbun and Rinder are speaking out is a stunning reversal because they were among Miscavige's closest associates, Haldeman and Ehrlichman to his Nixon.

Now they provide an unprecedented look inside the upper reaches of the tightly controlled organization. They reveal:
Physical violence permeated Scientology's international management team. Miscavige set the tone, routinely attacking his lieutenants. Rinder says the leader attacked him some 50 times.

Rathbun, Rinder and De Vocht admit that they, too, attacked their colleagues, to demonstrate loyalty to Miscavige and prove their mettle.
Staffers are disciplined and controlled by a multi­layered system of "ecclesiastical justice.'' It includes publicly confessing sins and crimes to a group of peers, being ordered to jump into a pool fully clothed, facing embarrassing "security checks'' or, worse, being isolated as a "suppressive person.''

At the pinnacle of the hierarchy, Miscavige commands such power that managers follow his orders, however bizarre, with lemming-like obedience.
Church staffers covered up how they botched the care of Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist who died after they held her 17 days in isolation at Clearwater's Fort Harrison Hotel.

Rathbun, who Miscavige put in charge of dealing with the fallout from the case, admits that he ordered the destruction of incriminating evidence. He and others also reveal that Miscavige made an embarrassing miscalculation on McPherson's Scientology counseling.
With Miscavige calling the shots and Rathbun among those at his side, the church muscled the IRS into granting Scientology tax-exempt status. Offering fresh perspective on one of the church's crowning moments, Rathbun details an extraordinary campaign of public pressure backed by thousands of lawsuits.
To prop up revenues, Miscavige has turned to long-time parishioners, urging them to buy material that the church markets as must-have, improved sacred scripture.

Church officials deny the accusations. Miscavige never hit a single church staffer, not once, they said.

On May 13, the Times asked to interview Miscavige, in person or by phone, and renewed the request repeatedly the past five weeks. Church officials said Miscavige's schedule would not permit an interview before July.

At 5:50 p.m. Saturday, Miscavige e-mailed the Times to protest the newspaper's decision to publish instead of waiting until he was available. His letter said he would produce information "annihilating the credibility'' of the defectors. Beloved by millions of Scientologists, church spokesmen say, Miscavige has guided the church through a quarter-century of growth.

The defectors are liars, they say, bitter apostates who have dug up tired allegations from the Internet and inflated the importance of the positions they held in Scientology's dedicated work force known as the Sea Org. They say it was the defectors who physically abused staff members, and when Miscavige found out, he put a stop to it and demoted them.

Now they say the defectors are trying to stage a coup, inventing allegations so they can topple Miscavige and seize control of the church.

The defectors deny it. They say they are speaking out because Miscavige must be exposed.

Rathbun says the leader's mistreatment of staff has driven away managers and paralyzed those who stay. "It's becoming chaos because ... there's no form of organization. Nobody's respected because he's constantly denigrating and beating on people.''

"I don't want people to continue to be hurt and tricked and lied to," Rinder said. "I was unsuccessful in changing anything through my own lack of courage when I was inside the church.

"But I believe these abuses need to end … This rot being instigated from inside Scientology actually is more destructive to the Scientology movement than anything external to it.''

BEATINGS: Random, whimsical

At 49, Miscavige is fit and tanned, his chiseled good looks accented by intense blue eyes. His frame is on the short side at 5 feet 5, but solid, with a matching, vise-like handshake.

The voice, resonant and strong, can transfix a crowd of thousands. Many call him "COB," because he is chairman of the board of the entity responsible for safeguarding Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard in 1954.

"He is one of the most capable, intelligent individuals I've ever met," Rathbun said. "But L. Ron Hubbard says the intelligence scale doesn't necessarily line up with the sanity scale. Adolf Hitler was brilliant. Stalin was brilliant. They were geniuses. But they were also on a certain level stark, staring mad."

Rathbun, Rinder, Scobee and De Vocht say they participated in and witnessed madness, from musical chairs to repeated physical abuse.

What triggered Miscavige's outbursts? The victims usually had no clue.

"If it wasn't the answer he wanted to hear, he'd lose it," De Vocht said. "If it was contrary to how he thought, he'd lose it. If he found it to be smart aleck, or it was a better answer than he had, he would lose it."

Rathbun and Rinder list the executives they saw Miscavige attack:

Marc Yager: At least 20 times.

Guillaume Lesevre: At least 10 times.

Ray Mithoff: Rathbun said Miscavige "would regularly hit this guy open-handed upside the head real hard and jar him. Or grab him by the neck and throw him on the floor."

Norman Starkey: "Right in the parking lot, (Miscavige) just beat the living f--- out of him, got him on the ground and then started kicking him when he was down,'' Rathbun said.

He said he saw Rinder "get beat up at least a dozen times just in those last four years … some of them were pretty gruesome."

Said Rinder: "Yager was like a punching bag. So was I."

He added: "The issue wasn't the physical pain of it. The issue was the humiliation and the domination. ... It's the fact that the domination you're getting — hit in the face, kicked — and you can't do anything about it. If you did try, you'd be attacking the COB.

"It was random and whimsical. It could be the look on your face. Or not answering a question quickly. But it always was a punishment.''

Scobee said Miscavige never laid a hand on her or any other woman, but she witnessed many attacks, including the time the leader choked Rinder until his face turned purple. Rinder confirmed that account.

De Vocht estimated that from 2003 to 2005, he saw Miscavige strike staffers as many as 100 times.

Rathbun, Rinder and De Vocht admit that they, in turn, hit others. In January 2004, Rathbun pummeled Rinder and had to be pried off by several church staffers.

"Yes, that incident happened," Rinder said. "It wasn't the only time that Marty or I was involved in some form of physical violence with people."

He recalled holding a church staffer against a wall by the collar and pressing into his throat.

Rathbun said he attacked many people, many times, including throwing Lesevre across a table, boxing Starkey's ears, and tackling Yager down a flight of stairs — all, he said, on Miscavige's orders. He said he threw another staffer against the hood of a cab at Los Angeles International Airport. As a crowd gathered to watch, he cocked his fist and told him to improve his attitude.

De Vocht said he "punched a couple of guys" during one of many sessions where managers confessed their wrongdoings to their peers, a gathering that got raucous and physical. Embarrassed about it now, he says he easily rationalized it then: "If I don't attack I'm going to be attacked. It's a survival instinct in a weird situation that no one should be in."

The four defectors each said the leader established a culture that encouraged physical violence.

"It had become the accepted way of doing things," Rinder said. "If COB did it, it was okay for everybody else to do it, too."

Rinder said Rathbun was Miscavige's enforcer. "If Dave didn't want to go do any dirty work himself, he sent Marty to do it for him."

Rathbun doesn't deny it. It's difficult to get the truth, he said, "unless you talk to somebody who's got some dirt on their hands. And I freely admit I got dirt on my hands, and I feel terrible about it. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing."

Rathbun wasn't exempt from Miscavige's attacks. "He once grabbed me by the neck and banged my head against the wall.''

Nobody fought back.

"The thing is, he's got this huge entourage," Scobee said. "He's the 'savior' of everything because he has to bail everybody out because we're all incompetent a-------, which is what he repeatedly tells us.

"You don't have any money. You don't have job experience. You don't have anything. And he could put you on the streets and ruin you."

Church spokesman Tommy Davis said the defectors are lying. Responding to Rinder's contention that Miscavige attacked him some 50 times, Davis said: "He's absolutely lying.''

Yager, Starkey, Mithoff, and Lesevre all emphatically told the Times that Miscavige never attacked them.

Davis produced court affidavits in which Rathbun and Rinder, while still in Scientology's top ranks, praised the leader as a stellar person and vigorously denied rumors he had abused staff.

Davis pointed to a 1998 Times story in which Miscavige denied the same rumors. Rathbun backed him, saying that in 20 years working with Miscavige, he never saw the leader raise a hand to anyone.

"That's not his temperament,'' Rathbun said then. "He's got enough personal horsepower that he doesn't need to resort to things like that.''

Says Rathbun now: "That was the biggest lie I ever told you."

Davis played video of a confrontation between Rinder and a BBC reporter in London in 2007, just before Rinder left the church. The reporter repeatedly asked about the Miscavige rumors, which Rinder heatedly denied as "rubbish."

Now Rinder says that he lied to protect the church, and that his loyalty to Miscavige was misplaced. He said he did then what Miscavige's staff is doing today: "Just deny it. Nope. Not true. Never happened."

The Church of Scientology describes itself as working for "a civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights."

Scobee says Miscavige does not practice what Scientology preaches. He liberally labels church members as enemies, which forbids any contact with family and friends still in Scientology.

"You cannot call yourself a religious leader as you beat people, as you confine people, as you rip apart families," she said. "If I was trying to destroy Scientology, I would leave David Miscavige right where he is because he's doing a fantastic job of it."

Character assassination

That's what the defectors are doing to Miscavige, according to a team of two church lawyers and two spokesmen.

Rathbun, Rinder, De Vocht and Scobee: All of them failed at their jobs, broke Sea Org rules and were ethically suspect, the team said. Stack these four failures against a man of Miscavige's stature and it's clear who is credible and who is not.

"It's not a question of they have a version and we have a version. It's that this never happened," said Monique Yingling, a non-Scientologist lawyer who has represented the church for more than 20 years. "There is a story here, and it's not what you've been told."

As the lawyers and spokesmen defended Miscavige and sought to discredit his detractors, they produced materials from the four defectors' "ethics files'' — confessions, contritions, laments that the church keeps to document their failures.

The documents illuminate a world of church justice outsiders rarely see. This ethics system keeps Scientologists striving to stay productive. It relies on the notion that at any given time, every human activity can be reduced to a statistic and everything — a group, a person, someone's job or marriage — can be measured and placed in one of 12 "conditions."

The lower conditions include "Confusion," "Treason" and "Enemy." The highest condition is "Power," followed by "Power Change" and "Affluence."

Moving up the ethics ladder requires that the subject pen confessions or soul-searching memos called "formulas," which are said to better the individual as he or she examines what went wrong. These memos also can give the church a ready source of written material to use against members who would turn against Scientology.

More documents are generated when a person wants to leave, or "blow."

In 1959, Hubbard wrote a policy stating that a person leaves as a kind of noble gesture when he can't help himself from injuring the church. To justify leaving, Hubbard believed, the person thinks up bad things to say about the church.

Anyone who leaves has committed "overts" (harmful acts) against the church and is withholding them. The church is obligated to make such people come clean, Hubbard said, because withholding overts against Scientology can lead to suicide or death by disease. They must write down their transgressions to remain in good standing when they leave.

Yingling and Davis said the church doesn't relish using documents from ethics files. But after the four defectors spoke out against Miscavige, the lawyer and spokesman said they had no choice.

They produced documents showing Scobee violated Sea Org rules on "romantic involvement outside of marriage." Scobee said the church is exaggerating.

She acknowledged violating the rules by committing a sexual act in a supervisor's room, but noted the man involved was her future husband. Another document said she "started a relationship" with a man not her husband in 1988. Scobee said it was a non-Scientologist electrician who asked her to run away with him. She said she declined and reported it to a supervisor but was disciplined anyway.

A document from July 2003 cited poor performance and declared her unfit to work at the California base.

Scobee counters that the church kept her in positions of responsibility for more than 20 years. She was pictured in a 1996 church magazine as one of the "most proven" and "highly dedicated" senior executives in Scientology.

"The point is, it doesn't matter if I was God or if I was a sloppy janitor," Scobee said. "What I saw is what I saw."

De Vocht was in a condition of "Treason" when he authored a memo in 2004 saying he made a land deal in Clearwater that lost the church $1 million. In a 2002 letter to Miscavige, he confessed to squandering $10 million in church funds through waste and overspending on two projects.

Asked about those documents, De Vocht said the writings in the ethics formulas reflect the distorted culture created by Miscavige, not reality. "You say whatever you have to, to appear to be cooperative. It's not a voluntary action. It's a cover your a--, get with the program thing or you're going to get beat up.''

Praising Miscavige was part of the formula, De Vocht said. "He's our pope, our leader, and he can't do wrong. … If you say, 'I'll do everything I can to get it right,' then you can be okay. You don't have an option other than to bow down and say, You're right and I'm wrong.''

The church says that Rinder, Scientology's top spokesman for decades, is an inveterate liar. In its ethics files, the church says, Rinder admits that he lied 43 times over the years.

"It was a real problem, Mike's propensity to lie ….Obviously he had an issue with the truth,'' said Davis, Rinder's successor as spokesman.

After denying Miscavige hit him or anyone else, Rinder is lying now, Yingling said. "He left because he was demoted … He is bitter now and he has in his bitterness latched on to the one allegation he so vehemently denied for so many years.''

Added Davis: "One of the things he was known for saying was, 'Well, if I'm so bad, why keep asking me to do things?' You know the answer to that question?... The ultimate answer to that question is 'Mike, you know what, you're right. Why keep asking.' And we stopped asking. And then he left and nobody came for him.''

Like the other defectors, Rinder says he's sure he wrote whatever is in the ethics files, but he says the admissions are meaningless, they were just whatever his superiors wanted to hear. "All of these things were written to try and get into good graces or curry favor."

Davis said Rinder has not been able to deal with his fall from spokesman for an international church to his current, workaday job.

"Mike left. I think we can all agree he is bitter,'' Davis said. "This is a guy who ran with the big dogs in the tall grass … it's a very exciting life. And now he is selling cars, and it must be a hell of a shock.''

The church released numerous pages of files it kept on Rathbun. Among them: a 1994 letter that said he had completed a Truth Rundown — one of many types of confessionals — and apologizing for leaving the church briefly the year before; three confessions for striking and verbally abusing staff dozens of times; and documents where he admits that he mishandled situations.

In a 2003 document, Rathbun writes a "public announcement" detailing two decades of flubs, including: making himself out to be more important than he was, making more work for Miscavige, mismanaging staff and messing up major assignments, including the church's long-running battle with the IRS.

Rathbun says he wrote what Miscavige wanted to hear.

The church made special note of an affidavit dated June 6, 2009 — after the Times asked the church about Rathbun — authored by a Sea Org member whose name the church blacked out. She criticized Rathbun for being violent and abusive and playing a role in her family's recent effort to wrest her out of Scientology.

Rathbun says yes, he tried to help the family, because the woman voiced strong doubts about returning to Scientology.

Like De Vocht's, many of Rathbun's confessions are marked by bountiful praise of Miscavige. He writes, for example, that the leader "single-handedly salvaged Scientology."

Scientology's international management cadre lives and works on the church's 500-acre compound in the arid hills opposite Mount San Jacinto from Palm Springs.

Rathbun orchestrated a "reign of terror" there in 2002 and 2003, church representatives say, masquerading as an ethics officer while Miscavige was in Clearwater handling legal and other matters. They say the leader returned in late 2003, summarily demoted Rathbun and began to clean up his mess.

Rathbun says he was away from the base for almost all of 2002 and 2003, handling lawsuits and other sensitive matters at Miscavige's behest. When he returned to the base in late 2003, he said, it was Miscavige who had established a "reign of terror.''

The church said Rathbun has inflated his importance in Scientology; they say that after 1993, he never had a title.

But in a 1998 Scientology magazine, Rathbun is featured as the main speaker at a major event at Ruth Eckerd Hall attended by 3,000 Scientologists. The magazine said he was "inspector general" of the entity charged with safeguarding Scientology. Also, the church provided the Times a court document from March 2000 that listed Rathbun as a "director'' of the same entity.

If Rathbun's responsibility was as limited as the church says, the Times asked, how did he get people to submit to a reign of terror? Davis, the church spokesman, erupted.

"He's the one who's saying that Dave Miscavige beat these people,'' Davis screamed. "And he's saying that Dave Miscavige beat the exact same people that he beat. And that's what pisses me off. Because this guy's a f------ lunatic and I don't have to explain how or why he became one or how it was allowable.

"The fact is he's saying David Miscavige did what he did … And now I'm getting a little angry. Am I angry at you? Not necessarily. But I'm g-- d--- pissed at Marty Rathbun. Because he knows that he was the reign of terror."

Landing in Clearwater

Fall 1975. An outfit calling itself the United Churches of Florida announced it would rent the Fort Harrison Hotel from the Southern Land Development Corp., a company with plans to buy the historic building.

No one — not even lawyers for the seller — could find out anything about Southern Land. Not even a phone number.

When the sale closed on Dec. 1, Southern paid $2.3 million in cash for the landmark property, where for 50 years locals held weddings, New Year's bashes and civic events.

The newcomers promptly closed the hotel to the public. Uniformed guards armed with mace and billy clubs patrolled the entrance.

On Jan. 28, 1976, a public relations team from Los Angeles came to Clearwater and announced that the real buyer was the Church of Scientology of California.

The deception put a scare into the sleepy town with gorgeous beaches. Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares was incensed by the group's evasive and then heavy-handed tactics.

"The Fort Harrison has been here for a half century and now, for the first time, it is actually a fort," he lamented. "It's frightening."

Locals grew anxious as they heard that Scientology was a cult with a belligerent streak. It had sued the State Department, the Justice Department, the IRS, the CIA, the LAPD — any agency that pried or denied its requests.

Why did Hubbard choose Clearwater? He had run the church for years from a ship, the Apollo, and wanted a "land base.'' He sent scouts on a mission: Find a big building, near a good airport, in a warm climate.

A property in Daytona Beach made the short list. So did the Fort Harrison.

It was to be Scientology's "flagship." Hubbard sent dispatches on how "Flag'' should be run, everything from marketing plans to the staff's grooming and dress. It would be "huge, posh and self-supporting,'' Hubbard wrote, "a hotel of quality that puts the Waldorf Astoria to shame."

Hubbard trademarked a motto for the hotel: "The friendliest place in the whole world."

He would die a decade later, but already the next generation of church leaders was forming.

The Young Turks

Hubbard called it "fair game.'' Those who seek to damage the church, he said, "may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.''

Mayor Cazares raised questions about the new group inhabiting the Fort Harrison, calling it a cult and trading lawsuits with the church. The Times and the Clearwater Sun investigated.

Scientologists followed Hubbard's playbook and went after enemies. They tried to frame Cazares in a fake hit-and-run accident. They intercepted Times' mail and falsely accused the paper's chairman, Nelson Poynter, of being a CIA agent.

By the spring of 1976, Hubbard — the "Commodore" — was realizing his vision for the Fort Harrison. Scientologists from around the world checked in for long stays. They spent thousands on counseling called "auditing," which seeks to rid the subconscious mind of negative experiences, leading to "higher states of spiritual awareness."

Mike Rinder, a 20-year-old Australian, ran the hotel telex, sending and receiving dispatches from Scientology outlets around the world.

David Miscavige, a 16-year-old from suburban Philadelphia, dropped out of 10th grade on his birthday that April and came to work at the Fort Harrison. He tended the grounds, served food and took pictures for promotional brochures.

In no time, the cocksure Miscavige was supervising adults. In 1977, after just 10 months in Clearwater, he was transferred to California, where he joined the Commodore's Messenger Organization, an esteemed group of about 20 who took on "missions'' assigned by Hubbard.

Late in 1978, Miscavige was put in charge of the crew remodeling Hubbard's home on a Southern California ranch. Among the group was a 21-year-old former college basketball player who had joined the church a year earlier in Portland.

Thirty years later, Marty Rathbun says he can picture the first time he laid eyes on the teenage boss, strutting about, "barking out orders.'' No mistaking David Miscavige.

The early power plays

In the mid 1970s, the IRS hired a clerk-typist named Gerald Bennett Wolfe. What they didn't know was that he was a Scientology plant — code name "Silver.''

He broke into an attorney's office at IRS headquarters in Washington and copied government documents for months, with help from the Guardian's Office, the church's secretive intelligence arm.

The IRS had revoked Scientology's tax exemption some 10 years earlier, saying it was a commercial enterprise. Scientology fought back, withholding tax payments, unleashing its lawyers and using Silver to infiltrate the agency.

But his undercover mission backfired. On July 8, 1977, the FBI raided Scientology headquarters in Washington and L.A., seizing burglary tools, surveillance equipment and 48,000 documents.

In October 1979, Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue, who directed the Guardian's Office, and 10 other Scientologists were convicted on charges of conspiring to steal government documents or obstruct justice. Her husband, named an un­indicted co-conspirator, went into seclusion at his ranch near La Quinta, Calif.

By then, two of the young men from the remodeling detail were trusted aides to the self-exiled church founder. Rathbun delivered Hubbard's mail and messages; Miscavige was his "action chief.''

In January 1981, Miscavige asked Rathbun to join him on a road trip to the Super Bowl. Driving eight-hour shifts from L.A. to New Orleans, they got to know each other along the way.

Later that year, Hubbard gave Miscavige a critical assignment: Resolve the crush of lawsuits and investigations that threatened the church. Miscavige chose Rathbun and three others to help handle the job.

Rathbun says he spent six months prioritizing cases and developing strategy.

"I put together units to handle cases, one in Clearwater, one in New York, one in Boston, one in Toronto,'' he said. "They would answer to me. I was sort of becoming in charge of the legal operation.''

Miscavige, meanwhile, was disposing of internal rivals and building power. At age 21, he talked Hubbard's wife into resigning.

It didn't hurt to have Hubbard's approval. His son had filed a lawsuit claiming that the company overseeing Hubbard's assets, headed by Miscavige, was siphoning his fortune. Hubbard responded with a declaration stating that he had "unequivocal confidence in David Miscavige, who is a long-time devoted Scientologist, a trusted associate and a good friend to me."

Rinder, in turn, became a trusted associate to the emerging leader. Miscavige pulled his childhood acquaintance out of Clearwater to help dissolve the Guardian's Office, the arm of Scientology that had stolen the IRS files and committed other offenses.

He installed Rinder as head of the new international Office of Special Affairs. Part of Rinder's new job was to spread a revised narrative about Scientology: The church's new leaders were appalled to learn of the Guardian Office's dirty tricks. That was not, they said, what Scientology was all about.

Besting his rivals

On Jan. 27, 1986, thousands of Scientologists gathered at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles, where a solemn Miscavige delivered the news: The founder had moved on to a new level of research that would be "done in an exterior state … completely exterior of the body.''

At 74, L. Ron Hubbard was dead.

Miscavige yielded the microphone to church attorney Earle Cooley, who did not mention Miscavige by name, but helped cement him as future leader. Cooley disclosed that Hubbard, who had died of a stroke, left the bulk of his estate to Scientology, giving final instructions that were "his ultimate expression of his confidence in the management of the church.''

He left no explicit succession plan, leaving open the question of who would lead the church.

Months later, Miscavige, Rathbun and another executive took control of the Religious Technology Center, the RTC, which Hubbard created as the highest ecclesiastical body in the church. They dismissed the staff and pressured the head of the office to step down.

Miscavige became the RTC's chairman of the board, a title he still holds. Rathbun took the high-ranking post of inspector general for ethics.

The last rivals for control of Scientology were Pat and Annie Broeker, who had assisted Hubbard in his last years. The founder had elevated them to "loyal officer" status, a higher rank than Miscavige, a captain.

The Broekers also had custody of Hubbard's last writings, the cherished upper levels of Scientology auditing that he wrote by hand while in seclusion. For a church that depends in large part on auditing fees, the papers were a gold mine not only spiritually, but financially. Miscavige wanted them.

Rathbun reveals what they did:

The day Pat Broeker and Miscavige flew cross-country to meet church lawyers in Washington, Rathbun positioned a team of about 20 men outside the Broekers' ranch in Barstow, Calif.

During a layover in Chicago, Miscavige called with the signal for Rathbun to phone the ranch caretaker. Rathbun told her that Miscavige and Broeker had called with a message: The FBI planned to raid the ranch in two hours. If they didn't get Hubbard's papers out, they might be lost forever.

The woman let Rathbun and his guys in.

"It worked like a charm," he said.

Miscavige's rise was complete. At 26, he answered to no one in Scientology.

For Rathbun, the point of the story is that Miscavige maneuvered his way to the top, he was not the chosen one. But Scientologists believe he was anointed. "And when they believe that, they're willing to do almost anything."

It was a conversation days after getting their hands on Hubbard's last writings that Rathbun says showed him that Miscavige saw himself not as a political climber but as a chosen leader.

Miscavige seemed in awe of his new responsibilities, so Rathbun tried to buck him up. "I said my basketball coach in high school had these inspirational sayings. One, from Darrell Royal of the Texas Longhorns, stuck with me. He said, 'I don't worry about choosing a leader. He'll emerge.' ''

"That's false data!'' Miscavige shot back.

Said Rathbun: "He rejected that so fast. Boy, when I suggested he was anything other than anointed, he jumped down my throat.''

Scientology vs. the IRS

By the late 1980s, the battle with the IRS had quieted from the wild days of break-ins and indictments. But Miscavige was no less intent on getting back the church's tax exemption, which he thought would legitimize Scientology.

The new strategy, according to Rathbun: Overwhelm the IRS. Force mistakes.

The church filed about 200 lawsuits against the IRS, seeking documents to prove IRS harassment and challenging the agency's refusal to grant tax exemptions to church entities.

Some 2,300 individual Scientologists also sued the agency, demanding tax deductions for their contributions.

"Before you knew it, these simple little cookie-cutter suits … became full-blown legal cases," Rathbun said.

Washington-based attorney William C. Walsh, who is now helping the church rebut the defectors claims, shepherded many of those cases. "We wanted to get to the bottom of what we felt was discrimination,'' he said. "And we got a lot of documents, evidence that proved it.''

"It's fair to say that when we started, there was a lot of distrust on both sides and suspicion,'' Walsh said. "We had to dispel that and prove who we were and what kind of people we were.''

Yingling teamed with Walsh, Miscavige and Rathbun on the case. She said the IRS investigation of Miscavige resulted in a file thicker than the FBI's file on Dr. Martin Luther King. "I mean it was insane,'' she said.

The church ratcheted up the pressure with a relentless campaign against the IRS.

Armed with IRS records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Scientology's magazine, Freedom, featured stories on alleged IRS abuses: lavish retreats on the taxpayers' dime; setting quotas on audits of individual Scientologists; targeting small businesses for audits while politically connected corporations were overlooked.

Scientologists distributed the magazine on the front steps of the IRS building in Washington.

A group called the National Coalition of IRS Whistleblowers waged its own campaign. Unbeknownst to many, it was quietly created and financed by Scientology.

It was a grinding war, with Scientology willing to spend whatever it took to best the federal agency. "I didn't even think about money,'' Rathbun said. "We did whatever we needed to do.''

They also knew the other side was hurting. A memo obtained by the church said the Scientology lawsuits had tapped the IRS's litigation budget before the year was up.

The church used other documents it got from the IRS against the agency.

In one, the Department of Justice scolded the IRS for taking indefensible positions in court cases against Scientology. The department said it feared being "sucked down" with the IRS and tarnished.

Another memo documented a conference of 20 IRS officials in the 1970s. They were trying to figure out how to respond to a judge's ruling that Scientology met the agency's definition of a religion. The IRS' solution? They talked about changing the definition.

Rathbun calls it the "Final Solution" conference, a meeting that demonstrated the IRS bias against Scientology. "We used that (memo) I don't know how many times on them," he said.

By 1991, Miscavige had grown impatient with the legal tussle. He was confident he could personally persuade the IRS to bend. That October, he and Rathbun walked into IRS headquarters in Washington and asked to meet with IRS Commissioner Fred Goldberg. They had no appointment.

Goldberg, who did not respond to interview requests for this story, did not see them that day, but he met with them a week later.

Rathbun says that contrary to rumor, no bribes were paid, no extortion used. It was round-the-clock preparation and persistence — plus thousands of lawsuits, hard-hitting magazine articles and full-page ads in USA Today criticizing the IRS.

"That was enough," Rathbun said. "You didn't need blackmail."

He and Miscavige prepped incessantly for their meeting. "I'm sitting there with three banker's boxes of documents. He (Miscavige) has this 20-page speech to deliver to these guys. And for every sentence, I've got two folders'' of backup.

Miscavige presented the argument that Scientology is a bona fide religion — then offered an olive branch.

Rathbun recalls the gist of the leader's words to the IRS:

Look, we can just turn this off. This isn't the purpose of the church. We're just trying to defend ourselves. And this is the way we defend. We aggressively defend. If we can sit down and actually deal with the merits, get to what we feel we are actually entitled to, this all could be gone.

The two sides took a break.

Rathbun remembered: "Out in the hallway, Goldberg comes up to me because he sees I'm the right-hand guy. He goes: 'Does he mean it? We can really turn it off?' ''

"And I said,'' turning his hand for effect, " 'Like a faucet.' ''

The two sides started talks. Yingling said she warned church leaders to steel themselves, counseling that they answer every question, no matter how offensive.

Agents asked some doozies: about LSD initiation rituals, whether members were shot when they got out of line and about training terrorists in Mexico. "We answered everything,'' Yingling said, crediting Miscavige for insisting the church be open, honest and cooperative.

The back and forth lasted two years and resulted in this agreement: The church paid $12.5 million. The IRS dropped its criminal investigations. All pending cases were dropped.

On Oct. 8, 1993, some 10,000 church members gathered in the Los Angeles Sports Arena to celebrate the leader's announcement: The IRS had restored the church's tax exemption, legitimizing Scientology as a church, not a for-profit operation.

"The war is over," Miscavige told the crowd. "This means everything.''

Recharged on the Freewinds

The euphoria was short-lived. With the tax cases ended, court records became public. Newspapers wanted to know why Miscavige and his wife together made around $100,000 while at the time most church staffers made but $50 a week. Miscavige was furious, and got angrier still when Rathbun argued it would be an insignificant story.

Shortly after, Miscavige's wife, Michelle, came to Rathbun's office and, without a word, removed the gold captain's bars from his Sea Org uniform. Miscavige called him an SP, a suppressive person, and Rathbun was forced to confess his sins before his own staff.

Rathbun was done. "I thought to myself: You know what? That's it. What am I doing here?''

From the safe in his office at the California base he took three 1-ounce pieces of gold, worth about $500 each, slipped on a bomber jacket, ate breakfast in the mess hall and drove east toward Pensacola, to visit a friend. Miscavige tracked him down and arranged to meet in New Orleans.

"He begged me to come back,'' Rathbun recalled, adding that Miscavige offered the carrot of a two-year stint aboard the Freewinds, a Scientology cruise ship where parishioners get the highest levels of counseling while sailing the Caribbean.

Rathbun said Miscavige told him:

You've worked hard, you deserved a reward. Go spend time on the ship. Get yourself right, get in touch with what made you love the church in the first place. Hone your skills, come back as the best auditor on the planet.

It was just what Rathbun needed to hear: "I couldn't have been more thankful.''

He came aboard the Freewinds late in 1993. He worked odd jobs, devoured Hubbard's writings and spent eight to 10 hours a day receiving counseling and training to be an auditor.

After two years at sea, he reported to Clear­water, to Flag, where the church bases its best auditors and offers upper levels of training. But the quality of auditing had slipped. Rathbun's assignment was to help bring it back up.

Late in the summer of 1995, a woman exited an auditing room at the Fort Harrison Hotel, raised her arms above her head and shouted with delight — a breach of the all-quiet protocol on the auditing floor.

"Who's that?'' Rathbun asked a supervisor.

"That's Lisa McPherson.''



ABOUT THE STORY

Mark C. "Marty" Rathbun left the Church of Scientology staff in late 2004, ending a 27-year career that saw him rise to be among the organization's top leaders. For the past four years, he has lived a low-profile life in Texas. Some speculated he had died.

In February, Rathbun posted an Internet message announcing he was available to counsel other disaffected Scientologists.

"Having dug myself out of the dark pit where many who leave the church land," he wrote, "I began lending a hand to others similarly situated."

Contacted by the St. Petersburg Times, Rathbun agreed to tell the story of his years in Scientology and what led to his leaving. The Times interviewed him at his home in Texas, and he came to Clearwater to revisit some of the scenes he described.

Seeking to corroborate Rathbun's story, the newspaper contacted others who were in Scientology during the same period and have left the church: Mike Rinder, one of Rathbun's closest associates for two decades; Tom De Vocht, whom Rathbun named as key to his decision to leave; and later, Amy Scobee.

Rathbun and Rinder were well known to the reporters, who had interviewed them dozens of times, sometimes combatively, through years of controversy in Clearwater. They also hosted the reporters in Los Angeles in 1998, when Miscavige granted the only print media interview he has given.

Two reporters met Rinder in Denver, where he now lives, but he declined to be interviewed. About a month later, two Washington-based lawyers who work for the church showed up unannounced in Denver, informed Rinder that they had heard about the newspaper's visit and asked what he had revealed.

They reminded him that as one of the church's top legal officers, attorney-client privilege did not end when he left the church. They told him he could hurt the church by going public.

Weeks later, after the church provided the newspaper with a 2007 video of Rinder heatedly denying that Miscavige hit him and others, Rinder decided to talk to the Times.

De Vocht was interviewed in Winter Haven. Scobee was interviewed in Pinellas County, when she and her husband came to visit relatives.

The reporters interviewed the four defectors multiple times, and met with church spokesmen and lawyers for 25 hours.

Joe Childs, Managing Editor/Tampa Bay, ran the Times Clearwater operation dating to 1993 and supervises the newspaper's Scientology coverage. He can be reached at childs@sptimes.com

Thomas C. Tobin has covered the Church of Scientology off and on since 1996. He can be reached at tobin@sptimes.com

This article was found at:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/article1012148.ece

Death in slow motion
Part 2 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology

By Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs, Times Staff Writers

St. Petersburg Times Monday, June 22, 2009

The night after Lisa McPherson died, the leader of the Church of Scientology sent word for one of his top lieutenants to wait by a pay phone at the Holiday Inn Surfside on Clearwater Beach.

When Marty Rathbun answered the ringing phone in the lobby, David Miscavige let him have it:

Why aren’t you all over this mess? The police are poking around. Do something.

“Yes sir,” Rathbun said.

McPherson, a 36-year-old parishioner in apparent good health, had spent 17 days in a guarded room at the church’s Fort Harrison Hotel. Scientology staffers tried to nurse her out of a mental breakdown, but she became ill. She drew her last breaths in the back seat of a van as they drove her to a hospital in the next county.

Her death on Dec. 5, 1995, triggered nine years of investigations, lawsuits and worldwide press coverage. Alive on the Internet, it stains Scientology’s reputation still.

Now, for the first time, comes an inside account from the upper ranks of Scientology — from the man who directed the church’s handling of the case.

Rathbun, who defected from Scientology’s staff in late 2004, admits that as prosecutors and attorneys for McPherson’s family prepared subpoenas, he ordered the destruction of incriminating evidence about her care at the Fort Harrison.

He and others who have left the church disclose for the first time that Miscavige was involved in McPherson’s Scientology counseling. Just weeks before her mental breakdown, they say, it was the leader himself who determined that she had reached an enhanced mental state that Scientologists call “clear.’’

For years Rathbun was adamant that the church did nothing wrong. Now he says that McPherson’s care was a debacle from the start. It was a “perfect storm of incompetence and irresponsibility” within the church, he said. “You couldn’t justify it.’’

He disclosed that the church was prepared to pay almost any price to make the case go away. He said he sent an emissary to McPherson’s funeral in Dallas with authority to give her mother, Fannie, whatever she wanted. The approach was rebuffed because the family didn’t trust the church.

“Whether it was financially or any other thing, we’re taking care of that woman because it was on our watch. If she needed $5 million, we would have come up with $5 million.”

Church officials say Rathbun is a bitter ex-member who inflated his importance in Scientology and whose motives are suspect. They say Miscavige demoted Rathbun in 2003 in part for missteps he made in the McPherson case.

A settlement agreement with the woman’s family forbids them from providing specifics, said Monique Yingling, a long-time Scientology attorney and friend of Miscavige. Still, she said that Rathbun botched the case from the start, and “possibly caused the whole thing.”

A little fender-bender

McPherson joined Scientology in Dallas, her hometown, when she was 18. She worked for a marketing company owned by Scientologist friends; the company moved to Clearwater in 1994 to be near the church’s spiritual headquarters, and McPherson came, too.

Shortly before 6 p.m. on Nov. 18, 1995, her Jeep Cherokee ran into a boat trailer stopped in traffic on S Fort Harrison Avenue.

McPherson, frantic, walked up to the driver pulling the trailer, put her hands on his shoulders and asked, “Where’s the people? Where’s the people?”

Firefighters had her move her car to the side of Belleview Boulevard. She signed a statement saying she did not want medical care. As officers and paramedics tended to other duties, they saw McPherson had stripped off her clothes and was walking along Belleview.

They took her to Morton Plant Hospital, where doctors discussed having her committed for psychiatric evaluation under Florida’s Baker Act.

But Scientology considers psychiatry and psychiatric drugs evil. The church believes it offers less intrusive and more humane treatment for problems of the human mind.

Adamant that McPherson not be exposed to psychiatry, about 10 church members showed up at the hospital and said they would take care of her. She said she wanted to leave with her friends and signed out against a doctor’s advice.

Church staffers checked her into the Fort Harrison and assigned her to Room 174 of the cabanas, a group of less formal rooms facing the street behind the hotel. Four members of the church’s medical office were assigned to watch McPherson. Staffers from various departments were pulled in to help — including a payroll officer, a file clerk, a secretary, a personnel director, security guards and two librarians.

Supervising was Janis Johnson, a doctor unlicensed in Florida, who was a church medical officer.

For more than two weeks, they tried to calm, feed and medicate McPherson. They gave her chloral hydrate, a mild sedative. A staff dentist, unlicensed in Florida, mixed aspirin, Benadryl and orange juice in a syringe and squirted it down her throat.

The staffers kept logs of what they did. Trying to calm McPherson, a staffer tried to force three Valerian root caplets down her throat, but McPherson spit them out. “My idea of closing her nose so she has to swallow so she can breathe through her mouth is only marginally successful,” the staffer wrote.

McPherson slapped and screamed at her caretakers. She babbled, she vomited her food. She destroyed the ceiling lamp and broke glass in the bathroom. She jumped off the bed, fell on the floor, ran around the room.

She pondered a light bulb, saying, “You have to follow the light, as light is life.”

“She was like an ice cube,” one caretaker wrote. “She refused to eat and spit out everything she took. Her breath was foul … had a fever to my touch.”

By the evening of Dec. 5, McPherson had lost about 12 pounds. Johnson, the church doctor, telephoned David Minkoff, a Scientologist and a doctor at Columbia New Port Richey Hospital. Minkoff said to take McPherson to Morton Plant Hospital down the street.

But Alain Kartuzinski, a church counseling supervisor, told Minkoff he feared that McPherson would be exposed to psychiatric care at Morton Plant, and Johnson assured Minkoff that McPherson’s condition was not life-threatening.

What they didn’t tell Minkoff: McPherson was limp and unable to walk. Her breathing was labored, her eyes fixed and unblinking. Her face was gaunt, a sign of severe dehydration.

Minkoff agreed to see her. With McPherson in the back seat of a van, her caretakers drove 45 minutes to the Pasco hospital, passing four other hospitals on the way.

They rolled her into the ER splayed across a wheelchair. She had no pulse, no heartbeat and was not breathing. Minkoff pronounced McPherson dead.

He took Johnson aside and yelled at her.

“I was shocked out of my wits,” he said later. “I really wasn’t in the mode of finding out what happened. I was more in the mode of, ‘How could you bring this person up to me like this?’?”

Miscavige’s role

Scientology employs a unique brand of counseling called auditing. In a quiet room, an “auditor’’ asks the parishioner prescribed questions while monitoring a device called an electro­psychometer, or e-meter. Scientologists say there is a “charge” associated with areas of upset in a person’s life, such as marital conflict or a childhood accident.

When such topics come up, the e-meter’s need­le responds. The act of locating the troubling episode dissipates the charge and the needle floats back and forth. The person is supposed to feel better.

One goal is to reach “clear,” a state where the mind’s negative images are gone and the person is said to be rid of all fears, anxieties and irrational thoughts.

John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Tom Cruise are among the celebrities who have extolled the benefits of Scientology. Parishioners from around the globe travel to Clearwater to be audited by the best. Scientologists come for the deluxe accommodations and the top-flight, “Class 12” auditors, whose services, Rathbun said, cost $1,000 an hour.

But back in 1995, Rathbun says, even the church thought most of its Class 12 auditors were not worth the money. They were burned out, their sessions rote and uninspired, like a doctor with a poor bedside manner.

“These guys are all overweight, they’re obese, they’ve got back problems. They don’t sleep enough,” he said. “And one of the problems, I realized, is for 15, 20 years they’re cash cows.’’

He said they were “just getting milked nonstop.”

Rathbun and others say Miscavige was in Clearwater in 1995 to launch “The Golden Age of Tech,” an initiative aimed at raising the quality and precision of auditing at Scientology’s mecca.

Rathbun said he was assigned to help. Miscavige would look in on parishioner auditing sessions from a control room with video feeds from multiple counseling rooms.

One of the parishioners was Lisa McPherson.

“He’s watching live with the videocameras every session that she’s in and (supervising), saying ‘Do this next, do that next’ and so forth,” said Tom De Vocht, a top church executive in Clearwater who has since left the church and is speaking out for the first time.

The folder containing records of McPherson’s auditing history came in and out of Miscavige’s office, said De Vocht, whose office was next door and who had overseen a renovation of the leader’s living quarters.

Don Jason, then a high-ranking officer at the Clearwater spiritual headquarters, said he saw Miscavige take off his headphones and say McPherson had achieved the state of clear in a previous session. Jason, 45, said he saw the leader write a note that McPherson’s auditor would read to her, informing her of her new status.

Scientologists who are “clear’’ don’t go psychotic, Jason said, so for a person to have a breakdown so soon after was a “huge problem.’’

Church officials say De Vocht and Jason are wrong. “I can tell you that’s utterly, totally false,’’ said Angie Blankenship, a top administrator in Clearwater from 1996 to 2003.

“I was here. Chairman of the board (Miscavige) wasn’t even here at the Flag land base during that time. He’s a liar. Never happened.”

Yingling and church spokesman Tommy Davis also said Miscavige was not in Clearwater at the time, and they say they have minutes of meetings he attended in California to prove it. They also question how De Vocht and Jason, almost 14 years later, could remember anything about a woman who then was just another parishioner.

Jason said the moment stood out because staffers require special training and refresher training to be able to identify when someone becomes clear. “So it did strike me as like, ‘Wow’?” that Miscavige had that expertise.

Not only that, “I was standing right next to him when it happened,’’ said Jason, who left the church in 1996 but still finds Scientology valuable.

“This is a huge deal,” De Vocht said of Miscavige’s involvement. “There’s no way not to remember it.”

De Vocht said he worked closely with Miscavige during that time. He said the leader zeroed in on McPherson because she was having issues with her counseling and was the friend of a prominent church member.

He said he saw Miscavige view McPherson’s auditing sessions through a video feed and write notations in her counseling folder.

“I watched him personally,” De Vocht said. “A whole bunch of people watched him personally.”

The church’s representatives said there are no notations by Miscavige in McPherson’s file. In any case, they say, Miscavige would have been qualified to supervise McPherson’s case had he been so inclined. “He is an expert in every field,” said Jessica Feshbach, a church spokeswoman.

Rathbun recalled walking through a hallway to the auditing rooms at the Fort Harrison and a woman bursting through a door.

“She’s going, ‘Aaaaaah! Yahoo!’ She’s screaming at the top of her lungs,” he said.

It was McPherson, cheering about the news that she had been deemed clear.

Her accomplishment was celebrated in a ceremony at the Fort Harrison in September 1995. By mid November, she would be back at the hotel, babbling to her caretakers.

Introspection rundown

When Rathbun learned that McPherson had died, he interviewed the 15 to 20 Scientologists who had cared for her.

“It was like walking into a disaster area,” he said. “They all looked devastated. They lacked sleep. Some of them had scratches and bruises from getting hit by Lisa. All of them were extremely emotionally distraught because each one of them put it on their shoulders that they had done something wrong.”

Their feelings were justified, Rathbun said. “The whole thing was done wrong. I can’t tell you what a technical crime this was’’ in terms of Scientology methods.

The caretakers had given McPherson an “introspection rundown,’’ a procedure created by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The goal is to isolate and calm a psychotic person enough to be audited. She is to be kept in a silent environment with no one around to “re-stimulate” mental images that might upset her.

Yet church staffers came and went from McPherson’s room, as did guards using walkie-talkies, Rathbun said. One staffer cried in a corner. Others held McPherson down while trying to medicate and feed her.

Instead of calming, McPherson grew agitated and self-destructive during her 17-day stay.

Rathbun said he has participated in several introspection rundowns, and none lasted more than a day or two.

He said it was obvious to him that McPherson was the victim of “out-tech,” a term for Scientology malpractice.

Rathbun had another problem: Kartuzinski, the auditing supervisor, and Johnson, the medical officer, had lied to Clearwater police. They said McPherson had not received an introspection rundown, and they said there was nothing unusual about her stay.

“That’s the hand I’m dealt,” Rathbun said. “I’ve got two false sworn statements to law enforcement agents’’ on top of how badly the Scientologists handled McPherson.

It was such a “dog’s breakfast” of facts, he said, his first instinct was to do something entirely out of character.

“I really truly, sincerely wished that I was in a position where I could just follow my heart,” he said. “Because my heart in December 1995 was to go straight to the state attorney’s office and say, ‘My God. There’s been a terrible accident … We want to take responsibility.’?”

But that wasn’t in the playbook. His nearly two decades immersed in Scientology culture had taught him: When under siege, close ranks, never admit fault.

He said he wrote an internal report that concluded church procedures had been violated, but the mistakes did not contribute to McPherson’s death.

He put the report in a manila envelope and sealed it the way he learned years earlier as a 20-something newbie handling Hubbard’s correspondence. Slice the seams with a razor, cover them with tape and melt the tape so no one can open the envelope without tearing it. Then off the envelope went to the church’s California base.

For a year, not a word about McPherson’s death had appeared in the media.

But in mid December 1996, details of the Clearwater police investigation leaked to reporters. An autopsy report from Pinellas-Pasco Medical Examiner Joan Wood concluded that McPherson died of a blood clot in her left lung caused by “bed rest and severe dehydration.”

Rathbun coordinated the public response, which he now acknowledges began with lies. Church spokesmen said McPherson had been at the Fort Harrison for rest and relaxation. They said she could come and go as she pleased. They denied that she had received an introspection rundown.

McPherson “suddenly fell ill’’ and participated in decisions about her care, church officials said. Her death was an unfortunate accident, unrelated to anything Scientology did.

Wood spoke out, saying her autopsy contradicted the church’s statements. The veteran medical examiner said there was nothing sudden or accidental about McPherson’s death. Her health deteriorated gradually over about 10 days, and she probably was unconscious toward the end.

The church sued Wood for access to her records. A Scientology lawyer called her: “Liar. Liar. Liar. Liar. Liar. Hateful liar.”

McPherson’s family sued the church for wrongful death.

And the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office investigated whether to file criminal charges.

Destruction of evidence

In early 1997 as investigators closed in, Rathbun met with church staff at Scientology offices in Hollywood, Calif. They combed the daily logs that McPherson’s caretakers kept during her 17 days at the Fort Harrison.

Three entries particularly troubled Rathbun.

One contained a bizarre sexual reference McPherson had made. Another revealed that no one thought to remove the mirror from the room of a psychotic woman bent on harming herself. The third was one caretaker’s opinion that the situation was out of control and that McPherson needed to see a doctor.

Rathbun concluded the notes had to go.

“I said, ‘Lose ’em’ and walked out of the room,” he recalled, adding that the decision to destroy the records was his own.

“Nobody told me to do it and I did it,” he said. “The truth is the truth and right now I’m going to confession, and I really think it’s something that hurt the church more than it hurt the people that were trying to get recompense.

“But it is what it is, and I know it could potentially be a crime.”

In a recent interview, State Attorney Bernie McCabe said it was clear the records were missing because the church handed over entries for every day of McPherson’s stay except the final two before she died. That the church appeared to be hiding something only fed McCabe’s sense that something was amiss.

Prosecuting Rathbun is not an option, because the time to bring destruction of evidence charges expires after three years, McCabe said. “We’re done.’’

Stress ratchets up

On Nov. 13, 1998, McCabe’s office charged the church’s Clearwater entity with two felonies: criminal neglect and practicing medicine without a license.

The church now faced the prospect of trials and embarrassing testimony in both criminal and civil court.

Miscavige delegated dealing with lawyers and reporters to Rathbun and to Scientology’s chief spokesman, Mike Rinder. But the church leader kept hold of the controls, working to forge Scientology’s message from behind the scenes.

Rathbun revealed that while he and Rinder conducted phone interviews, Miscavige often was at their side, directing what to say and gesturing wildly when he thought they got it wrong.

A key legal issue in the McPherson family’s wrongful death lawsuit was whether Miscavige could be added as a defendant. Church lawyers argued that he should not be named in the suit because he dealt only with ecclesiastical matters. The family countered that Miscavige “totally controls” and “micromanages all of Scientology.”

In December 1999, a Tampa judge ruled that Miscavige could be added as a defendant.

For the church leader, it was “a big snapping point,’’ Rathbun said.

“That was like the explosion of all explosions that he was now potentially going to get deposed and his name would be embroiled in that litigation. He became progressively more antagonistic, violent, irrational.”

William C. Walsh, a Washington, D.C., human rights lawyer who has represented Scientology for years, said the account is far-fetched.

“One thing I do know is Dave Miscavige, and I’ve known him from December 1999 on and way before that,” Walsh said. “And I never saw any change in his personality when he became a defendant in the case. He didn’t become more antagonistic. He did not become more violent. And he’s never been irrational.”

Said Yingling: “He wasn’t happy to be a defendant. That’s true. But he took it in stride with everything else that was happening in the case.”

Rinder and Rathbun recall an afternoon on the third floor of a small office building overlooking N Fort Harrison Avenue, when they say Miscavige attacked Rinder. They say the leader shouted obscenities at Rinder, grabbed him and, while holding him in a headlock, twisted his neck and threw him to the floor.

Of the dozens of attacks Rinder says he endured, this one was the most painful.

“I remember my neck was out of place, and for maybe 30 minutes I couldn’t speak because my larynx had been squashed against the back of my throat,’’ he said.

Clamped in the headlock, Rinder said his thoughts tracked a familiar arc: What did I do to cause this?

When Miscavige dresses you down or, worse, punishes you physically, “You get into trying to figure out what you have done to him,’’ Rinder said. “And that’s the thing with the beatings. What did I do to cause this to happen to me?’’

Overprepare. Attack, attack

Reminiscent of how Scientology fought the IRS to restore its tax exemption, the church would not be outworked defending itself from the criminal charges in the McPherson case.

Scientology spent millions of dollars, and church lawyers filed thousands of pages of medical studies and consultant reports that said McPherson’s care at the Fort Harrison could not have caused her death.

The case collapsed after Wood, the medical examiner, unexpectedly changed her official finding on the manner of McPherson’s death. Previously “undetermined,’’ she changed it in February 2000 to an “accident.’’

Prosecutors dropped the charges four months later, citing Wood’s conflicting and confused interpretations of the evidence.

Conspiracy theorists suggested that the church somehow “got to’’ Wood.

Rathbun denies it. He says the medical examiner changed her conclusions in the face of the reams of scientific information from church experts.

“There was no blackmail on her,” Rathbun said. “There was no intelligence. It absolutely was all evidence. I swear to God.”

Wood, reached at her home, declined to comment.

McCabe said it was his impression that evidence and expert testimony swayed Wood. “One thing you quickly come to realize when dealing with (Scientologists) is that they are persistent,” he said. “And they were persistent with her.”

In May 2004, four years after the criminal charges were dropped, the church settled with McPherson’s family, ending their lawsuit. The terms remain secret.

In a speech to the International Association of Scientologists, Miscavige proclaimed victory over government officials, over the press and over others who he said tried to use McPherson’s death to bring down the church.

He said the roots of the attack stretched from the German government, which opposed Scientology, to the Clearwater police, which investigated the church for two decades.

“They were just looking for anything to get us,” he told the crowd. “We always knew we’d win.”

Quoting Hubbard, he listed the qualities that would always hold Scientology in good stead. “Constant alertness, constant willingness to fight back.”

Winning but losing

Though Scientology prevailed on the legal front, the McPherson case set back a long-running effort by the church to cultivate a benign, mainstream image.

Among the details that emerged: In McPherson’s last five years, she had spent at least $176,700 on Scientology services and had $5,773 in the account she kept at the church. She died with $11 in her savings account.

The case reignited passions about Scientology and its practices, bringing pro- and antichurch protests back to the streets of Clearwater after years of relative calm.

Some people paid a price.

Minkoff, the Scientologist doctor who pronounced McPherson dead, was disciplined by the state of Florida. Without having met McPherson, he had written prescriptions for her during her stay in the Fort Harrison.

Kartuzinski, the supervisor in charge of her stay at the Fort Harrison, was banished for years to work in the church’s laundry in Clearwater.

Scientology parishioners were called on to dig deeper into their pockets. The church’s Clear­water entity, the Flag Service Organization, typically took in $1.5 million to $2 million a week, Rathbun and others said, providing a picture of Scientology’s revenues never before disclosed.

Miscavige decided the exorbitant legal bills from the McPherson case were to be paid from the Flag operation, Rathbun said, so church registrars urged parishioners to come in for more auditing and other services.

“It was a matter of, ‘Step things up, get people in,’?” he said. “They brought in a lot of money during that period.”

Yet another group would pay in a different way. According to Rathbun and other high-ranking defectors, Miscavige grew more violent and erratic as the McPherson case wore on.

Said Rathbun: “Working under David Miscavige from 2000 forward was a steadily deteriorating situation.”


ABOUT THE STORY

Mark C. "Marty" Rathbun left the Church of Scientology staff in late 2004, ending a 27-year career that saw him rise to be among the organization's top leaders. For the past four years, he has lived a low-profile life in Texas. Some speculated he had died.

In February, Rathbun posted an Internet message announcing he was available to counsel other disaffected Scientologists.

"Having dug myself out of the dark pit where many who leave the church land," he wrote, "I began lending a hand to others similarly situated."

Contacted by the St. Petersburg Times, Rathbun agreed to tell the story of his years in Scientology and what led to his leaving. The Times interviewed him at his home in Texas, and he came to Clearwater to revisit some of the scenes he described.

Seeking to corroborate Rathbun's story, the newspaper contacted others who were in Scientology during the same period and have left the church: Mike Rinder, one of Rathbun's closest associates for two decades; Tom De Vocht, whom Rathbun named as key to his decision to leave; and later, Amy Scobee.

Rathbun and Rinder were well known to the reporters, who had interviewed them dozens of times, sometimes combatively, through years of controversy in Clearwater. They also hosted the reporters in Los Angeles in 1998, when Miscavige granted the only print media interview he has given.

Two reporters met Rinder in Denver, where he now lives, but he declined to be interviewed. About a month later, two Washington-based lawyers who work for the church showed up unannounced in Denver, informed Rinder that they had heard about the newspaper's visit and asked what he had revealed.

They reminded him that as one of the church's top legal officers, attorney-client privilege did not end when he left the church. They told him he could hurt the church by going public.

Weeks later, after the church provided the newspaper with a 2007 video of Rinder heatedly denying that Miscavige hit him and others, Rinder decided to talk to the Times.

De Vocht was interviewed in Winter Haven. Scobee was interviewed in Pinellas County, when she and her husband came to visit relatives.

The reporters interviewed the four defectors multiple times, and met with church spokesmen and lawyers for 25 hours.

Joe Childs, Managing Editor/Tampa Bay, ran the Times Clearwater operation dating to 1993 and supervises the newspaper's Scientology coverage. He can be reached at childs@sptimes.com

Thomas C. Tobin has covered the Church of Scientology off and on since 1996. He can be reached at tobin@sptimes.com

This article was found at:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/article1012234.ece

Scientology: Ecclesiastical justice

Part 3 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology

By Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs, Times Staff Writers Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The four high-ranking executives who left Scientology say that church leader David Miscavige not only physically attacked members of his executive staff, he messed with their minds.

He frequently had groups of managers jump into a pool or a lake. He mustered them into group confessions that sometimes spun into free-for-alls, with people hitting one another.

Mike Rinder, who defended the church to the media for two decades, couldn't stomach what was happening on the inside.

The tactics to keep executives in line "are wrong from a Scientology viewpoint,'' said Rinder, who walked away two years ago. "They are not standard practice of Scientology. They are just not humanitarian. And they are just outright evil.''

Church spokesmen confirm that managers are ordered into pools and assembled for group confessions. It's part of the "ecclesiastical justice'' system the church imposes on poor performers.

Rinder and the other defectors couldn't cut it in the tough world of Scientology's Sea Org, a group whose members dedicate their lives to service of the church, the church says. Rather than accept their own failings, the defectors are putting a sinister twist on something that is normal.

The Sea Org is a "crew of tough sons of bitches,'' said church spokesman Tommy Davis, an 18-year veteran of the group.

"The Sea Org is not a democracy. The members of it agree with a man named L. Ron Hubbard. They abide by his policies . . . and we follow it to the T, to the letter, to the punctuation marks. And if you disagree with that and you don't like it, you don't belong. Then you leave."

A better thetan

The order came about 10 p.m. on a winter's night: Report to the swimming pool.

From around the church's postcard-pretty base in the mountains east of Los Angeles, some 70 staff members turned out in their Navy-style uniforms. David Miscavige was unhappy with the troops, again.

The punishment the leader had in mind was not new to members of the Sea Org. Hubbard, the church's late founder, "overboarded" Sea Org members in the 1970s when he ran Scientology from a ship named the Apollo.

Miscavige had the staffers line up at the diving board in their uniforms, and one by one, jump into the pool. Before each person went in, Norman Starkey, once the captain of the Apollo, called on them to be better spiritual beings. He recited a traditional Sea Org saying:

We commit your sins and errors to the deep and trust you will rise a better thetan.

Miscavige ordered the group to go to an office in their wet clothes and stay put until they figured out where they had failed.

Tom De Vocht says he can't recall what angered Miscavige that chilly night early in 2005. But he well remembers the doubts that crept into his head as he sat wet and shivering.

What am I doing here?

De Vocht had joined the church with his mother when he was just 10 and rose to a top executive post at Scientology's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater. But in the months after that mass dunking, he no longer recognized the organization.

Neither did Rinder, who went into the pool that night with De Vocht.

Two others already had acted on their doubts. Marty Rathbun, one of Miscavige's top lieutenants for years, left in 2004. Amy Scobee, who held several executive posts, left in 2005.

The four defectors, speaking publicly for the first time, each served more than 25 years in the Sea Org.

"Right, wrong or indifferent, I felt I was doing something for the good of man, and I'll never give that back," said De Vocht, who left in 2005. "But the longer I was in it, it got crazier and crazier as Dave took over."

Normal vs. abnormal

Confession is ingrained in Scientology culture. Admit all your bad thoughts and transgressions, leave nothing out, and you will feel free, unburdened, joyful.

The four defectors say Miscavige took the practice to a new level. They said he convened group confessions that came to be known as "seances."

The executives would confess sins they had committed against Miscavige, reveal their bad thoughts about Scientology and make personal disclosures, including sexual fantasies. If someone couldn't come up with a transgression, the others bullied him into admitting something. Anything.

"And Dave would sit there and listen to it and enjoy the hell out of it," said De Vocht, who recalled one seance when he said Miscavige struck executive Marc Yager and threw him to the floor, then singled out Faith Schermerhorn, a midlevel administrator who is black.

"He goes, 'By the way, (Yager) thinks black people are n------, and he doesn't want Scientology to help blacks. Go kick him.' So (Yager) is down on the ground and she's kicking him,'' De Vocht said.

"Everybody in that damned room — people are wild and out of control," he said. "I punched somebody. Everybody was punched. And screaming and yelling. It just got like, What the hell is going on here? ''

The church provided the St. Petersburg Times with sworn declarations from Yager and Schermerhorn denying that the incident happened. In Yager's declaration, he said he is not prejudiced and Schermerhorn is a friend.

Schermerhorn wrote that she has never heard Miscavige use the n-word: "As a matter of fact, I know that Mr. Miscavige has been the person in Scientology who has done the most for black people.''

Rinder said a group confession early in 2004 stands out for him because Rathbun, his longtime friend, ended up attacking him.

"You stand up and there's 50 people in the room all screaming and shouting, 'What did you do? And you did this and you did that.' And I'm standing there saying, 'No, I didn't do that,' '' Rinder said.

The group ganged up on him. He had to have done something: Come on. Own up. Come on.

"And then when I said nothing, that's when Marty leaped on me,'' Rinder said. "And that's psychotic. There is a term for it in Scientology. It's called Contagion of Aberration. . . .

"When you get a group of people together, they will stimulate one another to do things that are crazy."

Davis, who succeeded Rinder as church spokesman, said the term "seance'' is not used in Scientology and Miscavige never encouraged violence. But it's not surprising that Rathbun attacked Rinder, Davis said, because Rathbun physically attacked other managers all the time.

Rinder said the ugly moment was an example of the corrosive atmosphere at Scientology's base near Los Angeles. "There's an attempt to play people off, one against the other. And you know that and you see it," Rinder said.

Rathbun's attack "wasn't motivated by hatred toward me, it was motivated by some attempt at preservation for him."

Davis cited church founder Hubbard's policy that encourages members to confront and "come clean" when they have done something to bring down their group. It's one hallmark of a successful organization.

"It's not for the purposes of punishment,'' Davis said, "and it's certainly never for the purpose of trying to make the person feel guilty for it."

The church says Rathbun and De Vocht acted so inappropriately — roughing up staffers — that they were required to confess publicly. "They were definitely guilty, definitely in violation of the mores of the group,'' said spokeswoman Jessica Feshbach.

"And were they confronted by peers and asked, What's going on? Absolutely. Because that is the responsibility of the group.''

Letting down the group also can result in overboarding, church spokesmen said. It's a Sea Org ritual akin to traditions in other religious orders.

Starkey, the 66-year-old former captain of the Apollo, said plenty of people have been overboarded in his 50 years in Scientology.

If a Sea Org member messes up, "you throw him over the g-- d--- side of the ship," Starkey said.

"He falls into the water, he swims around, climbs up the ladder, gets off at the dock, walks back in again. He never does that again. He knows that that is the way we operate. That is what the Sea Organization is like."

Church lawyer Monique Yingling said overboarding is part of ecclesiastical justice. "They're not backing away from it or ashamed of it,'' she said. It has been done hundreds of times, with precautions taken to make it safe.

In the example De Vocht and Rinder recounted, church spokesmen said, the pool was heated, towels were provided, a lifeguard was present. And Miscavige wasn't even there.

De Vocht and Rinder say he was. "He was standing right there, laughing,'' Rinder said. "It was very entertaining for him."

Rinder said he doesn't remember any towels at the ready, that night or any of the 10 or so other times he says large groups of staffers were escorted to the lake under guard and required to jump in fully dressed.

He disputed Yingling's contention the "overboarding" incident as described, with a large group of people, is accepted church practice. He said it's meant to address an issue with an individual.

Which is how church spokesman Davis said he punished a subordinate.

"It was a guy who was blowing it and kept blowing it and kept blowing it — making mistakes, underperforming," he said. "It was my responsibility to uphold the ethical standards of the Sea Org. Yeah, absolutely, I tossed the guy in.''

If the defectors could not hack such punishments, Davis said, they could have left years ago. "The g-- d--- front door wasn't locked. And if they had a problem with it they could have walked out."

Intense and hands on

The defectors were not only soft, they couldn't maintain the accelerated work pace Miscavige established, the church says. Rathbun flubbed so many assignments, such as his handling of the Lisa McPherson wrongful death lawsuit, that Miscavige had to take over, distracting him from more important duties, spokesmen said.

With Rathbun gone, Miscavige focused on growth plans: "2004 was a paradigm shift, the point where everything changed,'' Davis said. "Where Mr. Miscavige was able to get on to what he always wanted to get on to.''

Davis played DVDs of Scientology ads now on cable TV. He outlined a multimillion-dollar international expansion program to open an array of "ideal orgs," each with course rooms, displays that explain Scientology to the uninitiated, facilities for community outreach groups, and rooms for auditing, the core counseling of Scientology.

The church revamped its Web site, improved the books that are the foundation of Scientology and restored the grainy films of Hubbard's landmark lectures. All of this accomplished in the past four years, all led, planned, designed and created by Miscavige.

The spokesmen described him as a "hands-on" leader working in video editing bays, proof­reading manuscripts, helping write scripts, staying up each night to listen to every one of Hubbard's 3,000 lectures and setting up a construction office to outfit the 66 new buildings the church has acquired since 2004.

Miscavige is intense, church spokesmen said, but he never behaves in degrading, crude or violent ways, and he never altered church policy. The church brought more than a dozen international managers to Clearwater to speak to the Times. All said they worked with Miscavige for years and spoke of his kindness and compassion.

All of them deny the defectors' allegations that Miscavige hit them.

"They're such lies," said Ray Mithoff, his voice shaking. "I've known the man for 27 years."

Said Mark Ingber, a Sea Org member since 1968: "I've never been beaten to a pulp in my life. Mr. Miscavige is my friend."

The best and worst

One night before Christmas 1997, Miscavige's wife, Michelle, telephoned Rathbun and Rinder. The leader wanted to see them. Right away.

From different parts of the California compound, they jogged to his quarters.

They say Miscavige bustled through the screen door in a terry cloth bathrobe and without a word grabbed Rinder around the neck, slapped him, slugged him and threw him against a tree.

Rinder ended up in ivy, mud on his uniform, his lip bleeding. Miscavige led them to the officers' lounge, poured Rinder a glass of Scotch and said it would make him feel better.

The leader of Scientology turned and walked toward his quarters.

People would flinch when Miscavige walked by, De Vocht said.

"That's how routine it was," he said. "His whole entire outlook was that everybody was out to get him. Anything and everything anybody else touched was going to be screwed up, and he had to do it himself. He didn't trust anybody.''

Scobee described working in her office cubicle along the wall of a large conference room. Miscavige was seated alone on one side of the table facing several staffers, including Jeff Hawkins.

"So I'm not paying attention and all of a sa sudden I see David Miscavige jump up on top of the table — the conference room table," Scobee said.

He lunged at Hawkins, she said, and the two of them landed at her feet. Miscavige "stayed on top of him and was choking him and hitting him and grabbing his tie. Buttons were flying and change falling out of Jeff's pockets. And I'm sitting here going, 'Oh my God!' "

Hawkins has spoken and written publicly about the 2002 incident.

Church executive David Bloomberg tells a far different story. Bloomberg said that he was seated next to Hawkins that day and that Hawkins became belligerent with the leader. Hawkins fell out of his chair and ended up putting a scissor lock on Miscavige's legs.

"Mr. Miscavige did not touch Jeff Hawkins,'' Bloomberg said.

At his best, Miscavige inspires staffers, Rathbun said, recalling times the leader invoked a dispatch Hubbard wrote in the 1980s: The planet's fate rests on the shoulders of "the desperate few."

Miscavige used it to stir a sense of mission and make you feel special, Rathbun said.

"He'd make you feel like you were really important. And that's why you would do stuff for him.''

But the defectors said Miscavige's tendency to change plans, micromanage and undermine the chain of command paralyzed the management team and stifled growth in the years before they left. To pump up revenue, Rathbun said, Miscavige repackaged old Scientology books and services and marketed them to parishioners as must-have, new products.

He cited the church's recent blitz urging members to buy new versions of "the basics," a collection of Hubbard books that are the foundation of Scientology. In 2007, Miscavige told Scientologists who had bought and studied the books for decades that the volumes were flawed, with whole passages missing, out-of-order or written by editors.

No wonder people complained about not being able to understand them, the leader said. The church put the volumes in their proper state and was selling them anew.

Said Rathbun: "He's telling (parishioners) literally to their faces, 'You didn't understand the first thing about Scientology because you couldn't possibly have because the books were screwed up.' "

The 18-volume set now sells for $450, down from the 1986 price of $738.

Davis, the church spokesman, describes the reworked collection as a sensational development, a historic recovery of Hubbard's work comparable to the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.

Said Yingling, the church attorney: "It was received with such joy by the Scientology public at large.''

Rathbun, De Vocht and Scobee said they were privy to weekly internal data reports that showed a gradual decline in key statistics, including the value of church services delivered and the number of auditing hours and courses completed.

"These are the statistics that are supposed to matter," Rathbun said. "All that stuff's been going down."

De Vocht described Miscavige's decisionmaking as erratic. He said the leader often changes course, resulting in situations like Scientology's multi­million-dollar "Super Power" building in downtown Clearwater. The mammoth structure, finished on the outside, has sat vacant for six years.

After repeated design changes, work on the interior restarted this month.

Davis and Yingling trumpet Scientology's worldwide expansion. The past five years, the church has acquired 80 properties; three new churches — called orgs — opened this year, with five more on track to open by year's end.

Is this the real life?

They called it the Hole.

For months, the small building at the California base was like a prison for more than 30 of the highest-ranking officers in the Sea Org.

They could leave only once a day, for a shower, otherwise they stayed put. Food was brought in. They slept on the floor, men around the conference table, women in the cubicles and small offices ringing the room.

Miscavige called meetings at odd hours, 2 a.m., 4 a.m. Day after day, the exhausted executives puzzled through management structure and the pricing system for church services, trying to guess what their leader wanted.

He rejected their ideas, cursed them, branded them "suppressive persons" who put their church at risk. He demanded they go back at it; they could not leave until they got it right.

Sometimes Miscavige would let someone out of the Hole or throw in somebody else. Rinder says he was there from the start. In January 2004, Miscavige added De Vocht to the mix.

"Everyone gathered around the table. He's throwing things, yelling at people, beating people up," De Vocht remembered. "It was a weirdo scene, let me tell you."

Later that month, Miscavige threw a bigger name into the Hole: Marty Rathbun.

The leader told the others not to listen to a word Rathbun said, he was not to be trusted: I know you all have come to respect this guy over the years, but he is the guy that's f----- me up.

A few days earlier, Rathbun says, Miscavige had pushed his head against a wall and slapped him hard across his left ear for not being tougher on the staff. He figures that must be what landed him in the Hole.

The building consisted of small offices and a conference room tucked into two double-wide trailers. When Miscavige tramped down the corridor, the hollowness of the floor made a klunk, klunk, klunk sound.

Four days into Rathbun's stay, the klunking signaled Miscavige's arrival, flanked as always by his wife, who took notes, and an assistant with a recorder so that everything the leader said could be transcribed and distributed across the base.

Miscavige announced that they were going to play musical chairs to determine who among them was the most committed to the tasks at hand. All but the winner would be reassigned to Scientology's far-flung outposts.

Some staffers cried at the thought of being separated from family. Others made ready, positioning chairs around the 30-foot long, maple conference table.

Miscavige used a boom box to play Bohemian Rhapsody, by Queen.

Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide

No escape from reality

When the music stopped, the uniformed Sea Org members jostled for chairs, knocking each other aside. Two men fought so hard a chair came apart in their hands.

Losers were told where they were being assigned, husbands and wives finding that they were to be thousands of miles apart. Rinder said Miscavige taunted one husband for showing a soft side by consoling his tearful wife.

"Oh yeah,'' Rinder said. "It was fun and games.''

Again, church officials said, the defectors are making the normal seem abnormal. Miscavige was merely trying to make a point, they said, citing a Hubbard policy that says frequent personnel transfers are like "musical chairs" and can harm a group's progress. Miscavige wanted the group to see for themselves how destructive that can be.

Yingling said Miscavige had been away from the base and returned to find that in his absence, Rathbun had transferred hundreds of staffers. "That's why nothing was getting done," she said.

Rathbun and Rinder said it was the opposite: Nothing was getting done because Miscavige took top managers from their posts and ordered them to the Hole. Rathbun said Miscavige berated him for not transferring more people.

From evening into the wee hours of the next day the game of musical chairs dragged on, sometimes interrupted by the leader lecturing the group on their incompetence.

"It's like Apocalypse Now," Rathbun said. "It's bizarre."

The game ended with two women competing for the last chair.

"It was definitely a physical struggle and they were grappling and wrestling," Rathbun recalled. "Then (Miscavige) leaves and says, 'Okay, good. We'll see you f------ tomorrow.' "

Miscavige never carried out his threat of mass transfers.

One beating too many

The next night, Miscavige ordered his executives to jog from the Hole to a building where staffers made CDs of long-ago lectures by Hubbard.

With the group still huffing from their 400-yard run, Miscavige grilled De Vocht, who had overseen renovations to the building. He slapped De Vocht, threw him to the floor and began to choke him.

De Vocht can't recall why he was attacked. Maybe he hesitated with an answer. Maybe he gave a look the leader didn't like. Whatever the reason, he accepted his drubbing in silent, degrading submission.

Miscavige grew angrier if you expressed pain or resisted, the defectors said.

"You're literally sitting there thinking, I'm not going to hit this guy," De Vocht said. "It happens so suddenly, what do you do? And then if you want to go after him, how many other people are going to pummel you? You've got to realize this place is so cultish it's scary."

Scobee says the executives at the California base were trapped. They dared not speak to each other about Miscavige's behavior, afraid they would be found out in confessions known as "security checks."

A person who said something negative about Miscavige might withhold it in her own confession, Scobee said, but someone else would invariably report it in theirs.

"So you don't want to go against him," she said. "It wasn't even an option, as amazing as it seems. Now, after being out, I would so do everything different."

For Sea Org members, there's a personal struggle as well. "You put your life into the church and you do think that is your route to freedom," Scobee said. "There are a lot of great things about it … and you don't want to throw that away. You don't want to risk it."

Why not just leave?

Easy to say, according to Rinder.

Scientology preaches self-reliance. You alone control your environment, your condition in life is no one else's doing but your own.

But just as strongly, Scientology holds that if you leave the church, something is wrong with you. Somewhere in your past is an "overt," a transgression.

"It becomes a big sort of dichotomy," Rinder said. Staying in an unhappy situation is no way to control your environment. "But if I leave, I'm doing something wrong, too. It's like a catch-22."

For Rinder, the Scientology experience he knew and loved had become something foreign, a work climate increasingly strange and abusive.

It also was at crosscurrents with the kinder, gentler public posture the church sought to build over the past 20 years, a message that Rinder, as chief spokesman, conveyed time and again: The church purged the lawbreakers and dirty tricksters of the 1970s and reinvented itself.

"We just stopped doing things that I and others considered to be foolish and harmful and off policy,'' Rinder said.

Except at home.

"Now, the irony is what's being done on the inside is foolish and harmful and abusive,'' he said.

Rathbun saw and delivered many beatings over the years. But he said Miscavige's attack on De Vocht the night after the musical chairs game clarified his thinking.

Four days earlier, when Miscavige put Rathbun in the Hole, he instructed everyone not to talk to him. But De Vocht quietly defied that order, asking Rathbun to help them figure out what to do to please Miscavige. Now De Vocht was being beaten.

"I'm watching this go down, and I just had this incredible connection … this humanity connection with Tom," Rathbun said. "I subscribe to the Popeye philosophy: 'I can take so much but I can't takes no more.'

"I still have a thread of dignity and I see it being crushed in people around me. What am I going to do? Am I going to become one of them, too?"

As the rest of the group herded back into the Hole, Rathbun broke off and ducked into some bushes. He went for his motorcycle, a Yamaha 650, wheeled it to the back gate of the compound and hid in the brush for about 20 minutes. When the gate opened for a car, he sped away.

Rathbun said he felt rage and loss, mixed with an odd excitement.

"I'm kind of exhilarated that I've made the step, and I'm hauling a-- because I'm thinking someone's following me."



ABOUT THE STORY

Mark C. "Marty" Rathbun left the Church of Scientology staff in late 2004, ending a 27-year career that saw him rise to be among the organization's top leaders. For the past four years, he has lived a low-profile life in Texas. Some speculated he had died.

In February, Rathbun posted an Internet message announcing he was available to counsel other disaffected Scientologists.

"Having dug myself out of the dark pit where many who leave the church land," he wrote, "I began lending a hand to others similarly situated."

Contacted by the St. Petersburg Times, Rathbun agreed to tell the story of his years in Scientology and what led to his leaving. The Times interviewed him at his home in Texas, and he came to Clearwater to revisit some of the scenes he described.

Seeking to corroborate Rathbun's story, the newspaper contacted others who were in Scientology during the same period and have left the church: Mike Rinder, one of Rathbun's closest associates for two decades; Tom De Vocht, whom Rathbun named as key to his decision to leave; and later, Amy Scobee.

Rathbun and Rinder were well known to the reporters, who had interviewed them dozens of times, sometimes combatively, through years of controversy in Clearwater. They also hosted the reporters in Los Angeles in 1998, when Miscavige granted the only print media interview he has given.

Two reporters met Rinder in Denver, where he now lives, but he declined to be interviewed. About a month later, two Washington-based lawyers who work for the church showed up unannounced in Denver, informed Rinder that they had heard about the newspaper's visit and asked what he had revealed.

They reminded him that as one of the church's top legal officers, attorney-client privilege did not end when he left the church. They told him he could hurt the church by going public.

Weeks later, after the church provided the newspaper with a 2007 video of Rinder heatedly denying that Miscavige hit him and others, Rinder decided to talk to the Times.

De Vocht was interviewed in Winter Haven. Scobee was interviewed in Pinellas County, when she and her husband came to visit relatives.

The reporters interviewed the four defectors multiple times, and met with church spokesmen and lawyers for 25 hours.

On May 13, the Times asked to interview Miscavige, in person or by phone, and renewed the request repeatedly the past five weeks. Church officials said Miscavige's schedule would not permit an interview before July.

Joe Childs, Managing Editor/Tampa Bay, ran the Times Clearwater operation dating to 1993 and supervises the newspaper's Scientology coverage. He can be reached at childs@sptimes.com.

Thomas C. Tobin has covered the Church of Scientology off and on since 1996. He can be reached at tobin@sptimes.com.

This article was found at:



http://www.tampabay.com/news/scientology/article1012575.ece
Lisa McPherson case: events leading to the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson

Times Staff Writer
St. Petersburg Times
Monday, June 22, 209

LISA MCPHERSON TIMELINE: This is part of a St. Petersburg Times special report on Scientology. For the full report, see tampabay.com/scientology .

1994: Lisa McPherson, a longtime Scientologist, moves from Dallas to Clearwater with her employer, AMC Publishing. The company is operated and staffed mostly by Scientologists who want to be close to the church's spiritual headquarters.

September 1995: In a ceremony at the Fort Harrison Hotel, Lisa McPherson is publicly declared "clear," a state in which a Scientologist is said to be free of inhibitions caused by painful images in the subconscious. In her last five years, McPherson spent more than $175,000 on Scientology counseling. She is 36.

Nov. 18, 1995: After a minor traffic accident, Lisa McPherson takes off her clothes and tells a paramedic: "I need help. I need to talk to someone." She is taken to Morton Plant Hospital for psychiatric evaluation but signs out against a doctor's advice. Church members take her to the Fort Harrison. Supervising her medical care was Janis Johnson, who was not licensed to practice medicine in Florida and whose license was restricted in Arizona.

Dec. 5, 1995: After 17 days, the Scientologists caring for Lisa McPherson worry that she has become seriously ill. They drive her to a hospital in New Port Richey — past four closer hospitals — so she can be seen by Dr. David Minkoff, a Scientologist who works in the ER. McPherson is not breathing, has no heartbeat and is gaunt, bruised and unkempt. Minkoff pronounces her dead. There is no local obituary and no public police report of her death.

Dec. 16, 1996: News of Lisa McPherson's death leaks out. The church's version of what happened: She checked into the Fort Harrison Hotel for "rest and relaxation" and "suddenly fell ill."

January 1997: The Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement join Clearwater Police in the investigation. Medical examiner Joan Wood tells reporters there is no way Lisa McPherson "suddenly fell ill."

Feb. 19, 1997: In Tampa, Lisa McPherson's relatives file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, alleging that Scientologists allowed McPherson to languish in a coma without nutrition and liquids while she was held in isolation at the Fort Harrison Hotel.

Nov. 13, 1998: After reviewing the Lisa McPherson case for 11 months, State Attorney Bernie McCabe charges the Church of Scientology with two felonies: practicing medicine without a license and abuse of a disabled adult.

February 2000: After reviewing medical information provided by Scientology, Wood changes Lisa McPherson's death certificate. She amends the manner of death from "undetermined" to "accident."

June 12, 2000: His review complete, McCabe drops the charges, noting that Wood's change of opinion undercuts the state's requirement to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.

May 26, 2004: The church and the estate of Lisa McPherson reach a settlement. The terms are confidential.

LISA MCPHERSON CARETAKER NOTES: 17 days at the Fort Harrison in Clearwater

From Nov. 18 to Dec. 5, 1995, Scientology staffers who monitored Lisa McPherson around the clock kept logs. Marty Rathbun, who managed the fallout from the case for the church, now admits that he ordered the last two days of logs destroyed. He feared they incriminated the church. Here are excerpts from the logs that were not destroyed:

Nov. 18

2:45 p.m. Lisa is talking since about 30 minutes: "I created time 3 Billion years ago and now I am dramatizing it since then … I am LRH and I didn't confront it because I didn't confront that power … I want to dance. … I need my auditor … I need to confront my mom.''

3:15 p.m. She is still talking non stop. She tried to go out of the door.

Nov. 19

This afternoon Lisa walked like a robot. What is new: if she starts talking she talks and talks, then she stares at a spot; She also tries to push buttons on me (what she never did before). She says I am her and she is controlling my body. She kissed me on my mouth. Once I let her sit outside for 5 minutes.

... She took my arm and put it on her tummy and went with her tongue over my face. I brought her back to bed.

Nov. 20

She has difficulties even to swallow a bit of water. She got 2 sip of protein drink down. Right now she is again jumping out of the bed over and over.

Nov. 22

I went into the room + she was totally Type III. Blabbering, incoherent non stop. Shaking, no warm clothes on — a bra top + shorts + shoes — no socks. She fell asleep for 4 hours + got up. I finally chased her around the place 50 times + got on slacks + tee shirt, jacket, socks + shoes. She was like an ice cube.

She talked incoherently hour after hour. She refused to eat + spit out everything she took. Her breathe was foul. She looked like measles and chicken pox on her face. Had a fever to my touch.

After 1 pm she went violent + hit me a few times telling me in a rage she was to kill me #s of times. I called in the "guard'' outside … He stayed with me during the rage— but she still smacked me around. (I did cover + guard myself but she was out of control).

Nov. 30

9 pm - 1 am. Awake. On floor scooting around, moving arms + legs + speaking + groaning.

1:30 - 5:00. I probably got the equivalent of 3 Valarian root caps into her. It took 4 feedings over a 4 ½ hour period. She will appear to be very cooperative — hold her mouth open, make eye contact, act as if she is there, then close the back of her throat + not swallow. … My idea of closing her nose so she has to swallow so she can breathe through her mouth is only marginally successful.

9:15 am I got a small amount of the banana + shake mixture into her + about an ounce of tea. She is much more physically strong this a.m. She sits up frequently + for long periods of time. Whereas yesterday I only saw her sit up once — she was lying on the floor scooting around. She is using her legs to kick again. Yesterday it wasn't much of a threat.

P.P.S. Lisa has come uptone — she was apathetic yesterday — physically + in her comm. — just a couple spurts of anger + not very determined at that. This a.m. she is deliberate + nasty — even evil.

Dec. 2

1 am - 3 am I gave her 4 Valarian root capsules, 4 Orinthane (not positive of the name — haven't seen the bottle, but it is one of the herbal sleeping preparations) and approx 6 oz of cal mag.

She has gotten drowsy from time to time but at 3 AM is still awake + talking.

We also cut her fingernails. This will reduce the risk of scratches to herself + us. She has scratches and abrasions all over her body + on elbows + knees has pressure sores. None of them are open + none of them look infected.

8 am. ... I will give her more of the herbal sleep preparations + will be in comm with Janice later about other measures to ensure she gets some serious sleep today.

The finances for her protein drinks ran out last night. I was in comm a security guard who said the source of the money was Lisa's employer + he thought he could get more this morning.

Dec. 3

1:00 - 1:30 a.m. Tried to feed her again but wouldn't take anything. She thought we were psychos or other enemies who wanted to kill her.

10 a.m. She slept most of the time — several hours of really good deep sleep. When she awakened this a.m. she was very confused + combative ...

2 p.m. Appears to be awakening. She has tried to stand several times but is not strong enough yet. I am going to feed her some mashed banana + protein powder. Have been in comm /c security re getting more money for her.

3 p.m. She is resting now. She originated that she knows we are trying to help her although she doesn't know our names and we don't talk to her. The rest of her comm. is the usual confused stuff. She also had a couple oz's of water. Body wise she is very restful + gentle. She has tried to stand a couple of times but is not strong enough.

6:30 p.m. Fixing more bananna + protein powder + half + half.

This article was found at:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/article1012240.ece
Leaving the Church of Scientology: a huge step

By Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs, Times Staff Writers
Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Those who join the Sea Org dedicate their lives to Scientology and sign a 1-billion-year contract, to symbolize their commitment to serve in this life and the next ones. Many of those who leave undergo a "security check'' to see if they have ill intentions for the church, and many are cut off from contact with family still in Scientology.

Mike Rinder

In March 2007, David Miscavige assigned Rinder to get the BBC to spike a story it was preparing. A reporter and film crew had been to Los Angeles, asking pointed questions about Miscavige. Rinder followed them back to the UK.

Working out of church offices in North London, Rinder wrote network executives, asking to meet. He camped out at BBC offices.

On March 31, he intercepted the reporter at a church test center. A church videographer stood by. Blocking the doorway and face to face with the reporter, Rinder repeatedly denied allegations Miscavige abused his deputies. "It's rubbish,'' he said.

The story aired May 14, but it did not expose Miscavige. Rinder was relieved.

But Miscavige still was furious with him. The first week of June, Rinder says, the church leader wrote that he was to be sent to a remote part of Australia. And a manager in the London office told Rinder that Miscavige had phoned to say that first he was to report to the church's facility in Sussex, England, and dig ditches. He was not to return to the United States.

The church says Rinder was not told to dig ditches and was not told that he could never return to the United States.

Rinder picked up his briefcase and headed for the subway. He knew the route well. Go to Victoria Station, catch a train to East Grinstead, in Sussex. He had made the trip many times.

But not this day. He exited the subway before reaching Victoria, walked up to street level and toured one of his favorite cities.

A few days later he called Tom De Vocht, saying he was flying into Orlando. Could Tom pick him up?

De Vocht hadn't seen his old friend since he left the church two years earlier. On the way to De Vocht's apartment, they stopped at Kohl's to get Rinder something to wear.

Rinder stayed a few days, then went to Virginia. He wrote the church, saying he wanted to talk to his wife and also wanted his stuff, except his motorcycle and bicycle. Give them to his kids, he wrote.

He did not talk to his wife.

Soon a FedEx package arrived, including a check for $5,000, to cover the motorcycle "and everything else,'' Rinder said. The only items not sent were family photos.

Rinder and his wife, Cathy, divorced after 35 years. A Sea Org member for 35 years, Cathy Rinder called her ex-husband's allegation that Miscavige struck him on some 50 occasions "outrageous.''

"I slept with Mike,'' she said, "and I would have seen it.''

The Rinders have two adult children, both Sea Org members. Since he left the church in 2007, Rinder has had no contact with them and didn't know their 24-year-old son battled cancer the past 18 months.

A Sea Org member since he was 18, Rinder is 54 and lives in Denver. He sells cars.

Marty Rathbun

After riding away from the California base aboard his motorcycle in February 2004, Rathbun flew to Clearwater to "sort things out'' with his wife, Anne, a longtime Scientologist. Eventually, he hoped to sort things out with Miscavige, too.

Rathbun was a "potential trouble source" for any Scientologist he encountered. For 10 months, he ate alone, roomed alone in staff housing — his wife in a separate apartment — and pulled a daily shift in the church's furniture mill.

Through his wife, Rathbun conveyed that he wanted to confront Miscavige. He said he waited for 10 months but the leader never came to see him.

On Dec. 12, 2004, he walked away from 27 years in Scientology. He rented a car and drove around the South for 35 days, stopping at the southern tip of Texas, where he found it easy to blend in.

"It's not a big thing that a guy in middle age comes into town destitute or depressed. There's a lot of that along the border," he said. "So it wasn't like I stuck out like a sore thumb. It was nice."

In Clearwater, a church critic put up posters asking, Where's Marty Rathbun? On the Internet, there was speculation: "Is Marty Rathbun dead?''

Now divorced, Rathbun and his girlfriend of three years share a stilt house near Corpus Christi, Texas. They have a dog, Chiquita.

His former wife, now Anne Joasem, remains in the Sea Org. She said Rathbun was violent and saw his role as a warrior for the church.

She said he told her he was leaving because the church was entering an era of expansion and he didn't want to get in the way.

Rathbun scoffed at that. "This is all manufactured. This is Miscavige-scripted stuff."

Rathbun writes for two small newspapers but considers himself more activist than journalist. Last year, he worked as an organizer for the Obama campaign. He also hawked beer at a local ballpark.

He said he gives advice and counsel — and listens a lot — to people in and out of Scientology.

He has an e-meter in his home office and says he still practices Scientology. He is 52.

Amy Scobee

When Scobee first saw Miscavige physically strike a church executive, back in 1995, she said she rationalized it this way: The guy must have done something really wrong to make the leader angry.

The next six years, she saw more abuse and other dehumanizing practices, she said, before she had an epiphany:

"What I am seeing is completely insane and I am nonstop trying to make it make sense, and it doesn't."

She started speaking up and constantly got in trouble. She was sent to Scientology's Rehabilitation Project Force, RPF for short, a work detail that is supposed to offer Sea Org members a chance to sort things out, recharge, reorder misaligned priorities. Scobee called it "slave labor.''

She had to scrape the inside of a septic tank with a wire brush. She dug drainage ditches.

Scobee was married 17 years to fellow Sea Org member Jim Mortland. But she said they rarely saw each other because they were often assigned to different locations, had different schedules and were kept apart a total of five years because of the RPF.

In 2003, a church "Fitness Board'' found her unfit to work at the California base and "off-loaded" her to the RPF in Clearwater.

At first, she thought, she would try to redeem herself. But then she started thinking she wanted to leave. She asked fellow Sea Org member and longtime friend Matt Pesch if he wanted to leave with her. He did.

They began the cumbersome process of "routing out.'' They knew they faced confessionals called security checks, but Scobee was shocked to learn she was being declared a "suppressive person,'' an enemy of Scientology. She would be allowed no contact with any church member.

"I blew up. Somebody's going to do a sec check on me and put me on the streets after 27 years of working my a-- off around the clock, not getting paid. I was really livid.''

During the routing out process, Scobee said she and Pesch were guarded 24 hours a day and fed only beans and rice.

Two months later, on March 1, 2005, Scobee and Pesch told their handlers the process had gone on too long. They left separately.

The church gave her $500, most of which paid for her flight back to her home near Seattle. On the way to Tampa International Airport, she had her driver stop at a salon so she could get a haircut.

Twenty-six years after coming to Clearwater as a 16-year-old Sea Org newbie, she said she boarded the plane with about $175.

"That's how much I started the world with,'' she said.

"I never had job. I had no prior job experience. No high school diploma. I had no bank account. No driver's license. … I knew nothing of the outside world.''

A few weeks later, Pesch traveled to Seattle and the two married. They buy and sell used furniture. Scobee is 45.

TOM DE VOCHT

De Vocht said Miscavige hit him twice, first in 2004 after musical chairs, and again in May 2005 in the film studio at the church base in California.

"He slapped me across the face, pushed my neck and head up against the wall, which hurt pretty good.''

De Vocht told his wife, Jennifer, a Miscavige aide, that if it happened again, he would fight back.

Days later, De Vocht said, he was summoned to a room, where about 15 people waited, including his wife. Miscavige telephoned from Clearwater and over a speaker phone read an order declaring DeVocht a "suppressive person," an enemy of the church.

Not allowed to talk to his wife again, he bunked in a small room. Rinder shadowed him for three days, pitching reasons to stay.

But De Vocht wouldn't budge. He agreed to a limited number of confessions called "security checks," but he told everyone he was leaving, that Sunday afternoon at 3:30. He also asked to talk a last time with his wife. Rinder told him no.

Sunday came. The guard at the base wouldn't open the front gate so De Vocht scaled it and walked to Hemet, a city 6 miles away. Rinder walked with him.

De Vocht, a 28-year Sea Org member, had his $300 severance pay. He checked into a hotel and called his brother in Florida to come pick him up. Days later, Rinder met De Vocht and turned over his belongings and his two dogs, Puggers and Guppers.

The church also called, saying he had left his wet suit. De Vocht gave a forwarding address. Two weeks later, the wet suit arrived, along with a "freeloader's bill'' for $98,000 to reimburse the church for courses he took for free as a Sea Org member. He hasn't paid a dime.

De Vocht and his wife, now Jennifer Linson, were divorced after 19 years. She told the Times her ex-husband successfully completed a number of construction projects in Clearwater, but badly overspent on a key project at the base, was demoted, became bitter and left. They haven't spoken since.

"I don't hold anything she had to say against her,'' De Vocht said, "because she was put up to saying it.''

He is 45 and runs a furniture business in Winter Haven.

This article was found at:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/scientology/article1012520.ece
Scientology's response to church defectors: 'Total lies'

By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers
St. Petersburg Times
Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Church of Scientology pressed vigorously Friday to delay publication of the Times' Scientology story. Its spokesmen and lawyers said that the few days the newspaper gave the church to respond to Mike Rinder, who only recently agreed to go public, was not enough time. The church also said the Times needs to talk to more people.

Church spokesmen, executives, attorneys and others flew in from around the country to meet with reporters in Clearwater. The parade started with ex-wives of the three male defectors. All three are Scientologists still. Each praised Miscavige's visionary leadership and said their ex-husbands can't be trusted.

Jennifer Linson said her ex, Tom De Vocht, had a reckless streak. Anne Joasem said her ex, Marty Rathbun, "lives for war.'' Cathy Rinder said her ex is so out of touch with their children he doesn't know his 24-year-old son has skin cancer.

Next came Norman Starkey, a church executive who knew Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. He said Miscavige never attacked him. "I know everything he is doing is exactly in line with what Mr. Hubbard had in mind.''

Hubbard biographer Danny Sherman told a story of Miscavige spotting an injured sparrow, talking to it and checking back later to see if it lived. "It was immensely tender.''

New York lawyer Eric Lieberman said he has represented the church 32 years and worked with Rathbun, who he said is aggressive and prone to ill-advised decisions.

After eight hours, when reporters readied to leave, church spokesman Tommy Davis brought in nine senior members of the management team. They stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the exit and insisted they be heard. Marc Yager, Guillaume Lesevre, Ray Mithoff, Mark Ingber, all said Miscavige never struck them.

"I stayed up all night, scribbled notes on a piece of paper of things I had to tell you,'' Lesevre said. "And obviously you don't want to hear me. Fine. I want it on record that you don't want to hear what I've got to say."

Ray Mithoff: "These guys are attacking — they're not just attacking him, they're attacking my whole religion and saying things about my base, the place I've worked for 27 years.''

Greg Wilhere, yelling, said, "Mr. Miscavige never hit, abused anyone. And I know it better than anyone because I've been by his side more than Rinder, Rathbun and the rest of them.''

David Bloomberg: "Do you not think that you are perhaps being used as a pawn in a very sick game?"

Lyman Spurlock: "What they want to do is extort money from the church. … and right now the St. Pete Times is their extortion vehicle. ... you're just their lackeys. They're using you."
A 25-hour effort

In 25 hours of meetings with reporters, the two church lawyers and two spokesmen extolled the accomplishments of David Miscavige and attacked the credibility of the defectors.

The defectors are spewing "absolute and total lies,'' a church spokesman said, in an effort to tarnish Miscavige, a revered religious leader.

The defectors are vengeful failures, said lawyer Monique Yingling, a non-Scientologist who represents the church.

"They didn't leave because one day they decided they wanted a different life,'' she said. "They left because they were removed from post, demoted and they couldn't handle it. That's basically it.

"And now they are out there bitter and disgruntled and attacking the one individual who is really responsible for what's happening to the church. That's your story.''

Yingling and chief church spokesman Tommy Davis acknowledged that violence became part of the management culture. "Some of them were beat up,'' Yingling said. "But not by David Miscavige. You know by who? Marty Rathbun.''

Davis said his own internal investigation found that Rathbun attacked 22 Sea Org members in the years before he left the church — 50 instances in all.

The violence played out at the church "base'' outside Los Angeles in 2003 and 2004, the church says, when Miscavige was in Clearwater negotiating to end the wrongful death lawsuit that Lisa McPherson's family filed against the church.

Back at the base, the church said, Rathbun instituted a "reign of terror.''

Yingling said Miscavige returned to California, put a stop to Rathbun's brutality and got back to expanding the reach of Scientology. "When that (McPherson case) was wrapped up in 2004, he did go back to the base and essentially said ... 'I don't have to have my time and energy distracted to those legal lines. So what we are going to do now is what I've always wanted to do and concentrate on the expansion of the church. And either you're with me or you're not with me.' …

"And it turned out these individuals you are talking to weren't willing to get on board. And for that reason they were taken off post.''

Yingling cited another reason Rathbun and Mike Rinder were demoted: After McPherson died, they made mistakes when they worked with the church's legal team in Clearwater.

"Unfortunately, the extent of their bungling was not discovered until afterward. ... They were removed from post and a lot of it has to do with McPherson.''

Rathbun's real agenda is to hijack Scientology, the church says, pointing to postings on Internet message boards from "T. Paine'' — who the church said is Rathbun. One post concludes Miscavige "has no right to his position in Scientology. He was not appointed, elected or even nominated. He just grabbed it. It's time we grabbed it back.''

Said Yingling: "Marty is basically saying he wants to come in and set things straight in Scientology and all he has to do is get rid of Dave and then he's going to take over.''

Rathbun said he didn't write the posts; the administrator of the Web site told the Times someone else wrote them.

Davis said Rathbun is hurting financially and, against all church rules, is conducting auditing sessions on his own. "I will tell you exactly what this is about,'' Davis said. "This is about money, plain and simple. He (Rathbun) ran out. ... And what he is doing is drumming up business. He is using your publication to do it.''

Davis and Yingling said church growth spiked in the years after the defectors left. "I have represented this organization for more than 20 years,'' Yingling said, "and I've never seen such expansion.''
Scientology says: It's been a 'renaissance'

Scientology has enjoyed unprecedented growth, spokesmen say, a credit to the "hands-on'' leadership of David Miscavige. Church material has been updated and new churches opened.

All of church founder L. Ron Hubbard's books, lectures and course packs have been translated into the 17 languages spoken in Scientology's target markets.

Nine new churches, called orgs, opened since 2004, plus four smaller test centers, including in downtown St. Petersburg and Plant City. Three orgs opened this year — Dallas, Nashville and Malmo, Sweden ­— with five more to open before year's end, in Las Vegas, Rome, Brussels, Tel Aviv and Washington, D.C.

In Clearwater, the church's signature property, the Fort Harrison Hotel, re-opened in March after a $40 million renovation.

At the OT Summit 2007 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Miscavige announced the release of a new edition of Hubbard's 18-volume basic texts. Used by Scientologists for half a century, the volumes contained errors. Miscavige corrected thousands of pages over three years and listened to a Hubbard lecture every night.

Calling Miscavige "the author of the Renaissance,'' Davis said the church's numbers refute the defectors' claims of a slowdown. "The fundamental problem in their allegations is apparent in that it's incongruent with the great growth experienced.''

Catalog of confessions

The church prepared binders of indexed material that included confessions the defectors wrote during their time in Scientology.

A key tenet of Scientology is that an individual who admits and takes responsibility for his bad thoughts and acts feels unburdened and joyful. Church members write confessions, which go into "ethics files'' that are supposed to remain secret. But to rebut the defectors' allegations about David Miscavige, church officials took the extraordinary step of releasing excerpts from the files. In them, the defectors admit transgressions and praise the leader. The church says the files undercut the credibility of those attacking Miscavige. The defectors say the "confessions" are given under pressure, and writing them is the only way to survive inside Scientology.

Following are some of the church's assertions about its former leaders.

Marty Rathbun

The church says Rathbun is a liar, a bully and an incompetent who screwed up task after task. Church attorney Monique Yingling cites a "phenomenon in Scientology'' when the accuser has committed bad acts he attributes to another; she says that's what Rathbun is doing.

April 19, 1994: Communication. "While I didn't spread any lies about you directly, it did become manifest to me that my actions over the past year have potentially created black PR on you. ... To me, worse than all the shortcomings and overt acts and their effects, is the potential effect they had of tarnishing your image and presence and power. I say 'potential' only because I think it would be presumptuous of me to suggest I could do any real harm to you. ... I did want you to know that I have never regretted anything as deeply as I regret having betrayed you.''

2001: Statement: Rathbun confesses to physical and degrading attacks. "In May 2001 I grabbed Yager by the shirt and lifted him into a wall when he got caught out on outright false reporting to COB as I recall. ... In April or May 2001, Guillaume gave me some 1.1 backflash and I threw him across a table. ... On about 25 occasions I severely ripped into (name blacked out). ... I called her a 'f------ c---' and a "suppressive b----,'' and a "black PR infested criminal. ... I ordered her to Ethics on about 8 occasions to get her overts, withholds, BPR and evil purposes handled in lieu of cramming orders.''

Dec. 8, 2001: Suppressive Person Declaration. Referring to himself as "Marty,'' Rathbun said he had harmed and undermined colleagues. "Marty took advantage of a number of false reports he had put in place over years giving a false picture as to his role in handling external attacks and the IRS in particular.''

"Marty then engaged in a campaign to covertly and systematically take out and undermine any executive or staff who might expose him. He did this through abusing his privilege to act as a security checker. ... He began the out-tech practice of sec checking people with no formal session set up, and brow beating hair-raising confessions out of them.''

Sept. 28, 2003: Public Announcement: Rathbun wrote: "I have developed a slick false PR technique of positioning myself as having been integral in handling threats during and after the fact, when they are actually terminatedly handled by COB. By calculation I have lost the Church 43 million dollars on losses and expenses that could have been avoided....

Miscavige "has single-handedly salvaged Scientology from potential external ruin ... Had he not been here and done what he has, Scientology would have been lost. ...

Rathbun writes that had he not wasted so much of the leader's time, "Scientology would be so big not a dime would have to be diverted to defense because no one would dream of fooling with it, and we would be very well on the way to a clear planet.''

"The motivation for these acts are a psychotic computation for self-preservation: keep enough chaos and threat stirred up in the environment, make myself appear to be a solution to it instead of the instigator of it, and lots of people go down and remain in turmoil while I go unrecognized as the source of it and survive.

"I recognize my actions have been unfounded and ignorant and destructive in the extreme.''

Mike Rinder

The church says Rinder is a habitual liar, noting one "Admission'' he wrote to Miscavige in which he said he lied 43 times over the years.

February 2005: Apology. "Dear Sir, I owe you something way beyond and, in addition to an apology, my gratitude for saving my life. Your insistence for months and years that I get straight is the only thing that has actually brought me to my senses. Several times in the past I pretended to myself, you and others that I had confronted my out ethics and gotten myself handled. It was not true.''

June 4, 2005: Announcement. "I recognize very clearly how Treasonous I have been towards you and Scientology. This comm. is to inform you of my Step B and Doubt Announcement. The announcement is to go to "persons directly influenced'' and that is most definitely you. Your insistence that I get straight is what made me confront my suppressive acts. I know that when you say something it is true and it is what has kept me going ...''

Amy Scobee

The church says Scobee violated rules on "romantic involvement outside marriage.'' In her "confession" the 2D reference is for Second Dynamic but is used as slang for sex.

Jan. 16, 2005: Reasons for leaving: "I have constantly been in ethics trouble,'' Scobee writes, to the point that she has become a "distraction to the group.''

Jan. 22, 2005: Specifics on 2D activity: In graphic detail, Scobee outlines everything from "holding hands'' to back rubs that "evolved into full out 2D'' and the time "we were in the C/S office and had sex.''

Tom de Vocht

The church says De Vocht was demoted for overspending on renovation projects he oversaw.

July 20, 2004: Treason report. De Vocht writes that he blew a land deal in Clearwater that not only cost the church $1 million, it wasted the time of the Chairman of the Board — Miscavige — cleaning up De Vocht's mess.

This article was found at:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/article1012138.ece
David Miscavige bio, and bios of Scientology officials who defected

St. Petersburg Times Times Staff Writer
Sunday, June 21, 2009

David Miscavige joined the Church of Scientology at age 16 and has been its leader since 1987. Now, former top church officials have come forward to describe a culture of violence under Miscavige. For the full St. Petersburg Times special report on Scientology and David Miscavige, see Scientology: The Truth Rundown.

Here is a brief look at David Miscavige.

Born: Suburban Philadelphia

Age: 49

Joined Scientology: As a child, with his parents; joined Sea Org at age 16.

Family status: Married to Sea Org member Michelle Miscavige. They have no children.

Career highlights: The ecclesiastical leader of Scientology since 1987, when he became chairman of the board of the Religious Technology Center. The RTC is responsible for preserving, maintaining and protecting Scientology and ensuring that its practices hold true to the original "technology" set out by founder L. Ron Hubbard.

He dropped out of high school and joined Scientology staff in Clearwater, where among other jobs he delivered telexes and worked as a steward. In early 1977 he was sent to La Quinta, Calif., to work with Hubbard, who was making Scientology training films. By age 19, he headed the Commodore's Messenger Organization, responsible for sending out teams to investigate church problem areas.

One such area was the Guardian's Office, the church's intelligence and legal unit. Eleven of its members were convicted in 1979 for conspiring to steal government documents and cover it up. David Miscavige broke up the "GO." In 1982, Hubbard appointed him to manage his fortune through a corporate entity outside the Scientology umbrella.

After Hubbard died in 1986, David Miscavige rose to his current post by asserting himself over other church executives. From 1991 to 1993, he worked to get the IRS to restore the church's tax-exempt status.

Works primarily from Scientology's base outside Los Angeles and travels to church facilities worldwide, including its spiritual headquarters in Clearwater. Church officials say he is leading a "renaissance" with new releases of Hubbard's books and a major expansion program.

David Miscavige quote, from a 2004 speech: "While one can complain about the conditions we live in and it all can seem overwhelming, we take a different view that the most important commodity on Earth are people … So, yes: We believe in human rights and are doing something to make them an everyday fact."

BIOS OF SCIENTOLOGY OFFICIALS WHO DEFECTED

MARTY RATHBUN

Born: California

Age: 52

Joined Scientology: At age 20, in 1977

Left Scientology: 2004

Family status: Divorced from Sea Org member Anne Joasem. They had no children.

Career highlights: A top lieutenant to David Miscavige. Key player in legal affairs unit. David Miscavige's "detail guy'' during lengthy negotiations with IRS; among those who signed settlement agreement. Inspector general and board member of Religious Technology Center, church's top ecclesiastical authority. Says he audited Tom Cruise and other celebrities.

Now: Lives near Corpus Christi, Texas. Works as reporter for weekly and monthly newspapers. He counsels and audits people who have left Scientology, accepting whatever they choose to pay.

Quote: "I had my share of people that I slapped around too. I don't feel good about it. And I seek them out and I try to apologize where I can.''

Watch Rathbun's interview at: tampabay.com/scientology

MIKE RINDER

Born: Australia

Age: 54

Joined Scientology: At age 5, when parents joined. Joined Sea Org at 18, in 1973.

Left Scientology: 2007

Family status: Divorced from Sea Org member Cathy Rinder. They have an adult son and daughter, both Sea Org members.

Career highlights: Head of Office of Special Affairs for 25 years, overseeing legal efforts, investigations and media relations. Became the public face of Scientology, doing countless interviews with TV and print reporters, many in Tampa Bay area. Was in first group of Scientologists to occupy Fort Harrison Hotel in late 1975. Became chief administrator in Clearwater from 1978 to 1981, then ascended to executive strata of international church.

Now: Sells cars in Denver.

Quote, on the church's contention that the defectors are plotting a coup:

"They are saying that just so they can position this for the Scientology public. ... If they can keep saying: This is an attempt to take over or overthrow, then it is going to gain traction with Scientologists. I have absolutely no intention of going back or taking over or anything. None. It's just a PR positioning.''

TOM DE VOCHT

Born: Belgium

Age: 45

Joined Scientology: At age 10, in 1974, when mother joined.

Left Scientology: 2005

Family status: Divorced from Sea Org member Jennifer Linson. They had no children.

Career highlights: Supervised numerous church construction projects in downtown Clearwater and, in later years, at the church compound in California. From 1986 through 2000, had administrative authority over Clearwater operations. Started working full time for church at 14, as bellhop at Fort Harrison Hotel.

Now: Lives in Polk County. Buys and sells used furniture.

Quote: "I was at it for 28 years. ... That was my life. Those were my friends. ... I respect them. I still consider the vast majority of them my friends. I would love to hear from them. ... I've never really seen it (Scientology practices) do any harm to anybody. That's for damned sure. And I wouldn't have done it for all those years if I didn't think there was something good about it.''

AMY SCOBEE

Born: Washington state

Age: 45

Joined Scientology: At age 14, in 1978

Left Scientology: 2005

Family status: Married to former Sea Org member Matt Pesch. They left the church together in 2005. They have no children.

Career highlights: Oversaw several operations sectors during 20 years as manager at the church's international base in California. Built the network of Scientology Celebrity Centres, assembling and training staff to match four-star service levels. Oversaw church's film and taping facilities. As teenager, managed kitchen, housekeeping and grounds crews in Clearwater.

Now: Lives in Seattle area. Buys and sells furniture.

Quote: "I never had a job ... No high school diploma because I started on staff when I was 14. I had no bank account, no driver's license.

I knew nothing of the outside world because I had been there for so long.''

Watch her interview at: tampabay.com/scientology

This article was found at:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/article1012137.ece
Scientology: Origins, celebrities and holdings

Scientology, which was established in Los Angeles in 1954, describes itself as the handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others, and all of life. Following are details about Scientology's beliefs and history.

In Scientology, a person is an immortal spiritual being — a "thetan" from the Greek letter "theta," meaning "spirit" — who has a body and a mind and lives on from lifetime to lifetime. By following Scientology practices, a person can achieve spiritual awareness.

Scientologists believe that the "reactive mind,'' the part that works on a stimulus-response basis — not under the individual's control — commands one's awareness, purposes, thoughts, body and action.
A Scientology timeline

Following is a timeline of Scientology's history:

May 1950: L. Ron Hubbard's book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, is published.

1954 : The first Church of Scientology opens in Los Angeles.

Late 1975: The Southern Land Development and Leasing Corp. buys the Fort Harrison Hotel and old Bank of Clearwater in downtown, and leases it to a secretive group called United Churches of Florida.

Jan. 28, 1976: It's announced that Scientology is the real buyer of the Fort Harrison Hotel.

1977: Scientology files the first of many lawsuits contesting its Pinellas County property tax bill. In Washington and Los Angeles, federal agents raid Scientology offices. According to FBI files, Scientologists arrived in Clearwater with plans to control civic leaders and discredit critics. The files also reveal that Scientologists staged a phony hit-and-run accident with Clearwater Mayor Gabe Cazares in an attempt to discredit him.

October 1979: Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue, and 10 other church staffers are convicted of conspiring to steal federal government documents and cover it up.

December 1979: An estimated 3,000 gather at Clearwater City Hall to protest the church coming to Clearwater. Across the street, Scientologists stage a counter rally, dressed as clowns and wearing animal costumes.

Jan. 24, 1986: L. Ron Hubbard dies of a stroke at his ranch in California. He was 74. The honor of announcing his death falls to David Miscavige, who delivers the news to Scientologists at the Hollywood Palladium. Miscavige says Hubbard's body "had ceased to be useful, and had in fact become an impediment'' to the important work he has left. "The being we knew as L. Ron Hubbard still exists.''

May 1987: Establishing himself as church leader, Miscavige becomes Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center, which owns the religious trademarks of Dianetics and Scientology.

Feb. 14, 1992: David Miscavige sits for his only television interview, with ABC's Nightline, hosted by Ted Koppel.

October 1993: The IRS recognizes Scientology as a tax-exempt church, settling a 40-year battle. It's a monumental victory for Scientology, not only for untold millions of dollars in taxes it would save, but for legitimizing it as a religion. The New York Times story announcing the settlement identifies Marty Rathbun as "president of a Scientology organization'' that got the exemption and quotes him in the second paragraph: "This puts an end to what has been an historic war. It's like the Palestinians and the Israelis shaking hands.''

October 1993: The IRS recognizes Scientology as a tax-exempt church, settling a 40-year battle. It's a monumental victory for Scientology, not only for untold millions of dollars in taxes it would save, but for legitimizing it as a religion. The New York Times story announcing the settlement identifies Marty Rathbun as "president of a Scientology organization'' that got the exemption and quotes him in the second paragraph: "This puts an end to what has been an historic war. It's like the Palestinians and the Israelis shaking hands.''

October 2004: Tom Cruise receives Scientology's Freedom Medal of Valor. Cruise effusively praises David Miscavige.

MARCH 2007: The BBC program Panorama was preparing an expose on Scientology when reporter John Sweeney confronted Mike Rinder in London and repeatedly asked if Miscavige ever hit anyone, including Rinder.

Rinder, far left, repeatedly called the allegations "rubbish" and "absolutely false, totally and utterly" and accused the reporter of ambushing him.

During filming for the same documentary, a church spokesman interrupted a Sweeney interview and the reporter exploded, an outburst a Scientology videographer caught on tape. Sweeney apologized and said he looked like an "exploding tomato.''
Scientology celebrities

Scientology loves its celebrities. The Manor Hotel, built in Hollywood in 1929 and restored in 1992, is the home of the church's Celebrity Centre International.

In the 1930s and '40s the hotel was home to, among others, Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn and Clark Gable.

Today, the church says, the manor at 5930 Franklin Ave. caters to "the artists, politicians, leaders of industry, sports figures and anyone with the power and vision to create a better world.''

Following are some of the church's most prominent current celebrities.

Tom Cruise: The actor is probably Scientology's best known, most fervent supporter. In 2004, Miscavige presented Cruise with the church's first Freedom Medal of Valor and called him "the most dedicated Scientologist I know." When Cruise married Katie Holmes in 2006, People magazine said "the best man was Cruise's best friend, David Miscavige.'' And who audited Tom Cruise? Marty Rathbun says that Miscavige entrusted him with that task.

John Travolta: He reportedly attributes his career success in large part to Scientology. After he began auditing sessions in the mid-1970s, he landed a lead role on the TV series Welcome Back, Kotter. He starred in Battlefield Earth, a movie based on a work of science fiction by L. Ron Hubbard. Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, come to Clearwater often. In March 2007, hundreds turned out to see the couple at the grand opening of the Scientology Life Improvement Center of St. Petersburg.

Chick Corea: The pianist posed at the Fort Harrison Hotel before he played at the 2002 Clearwater Jazz Festival.

Other famous Scientologists: Kirstie Alley, Anne Archer, Beck, Jenna Elfman, Isaac Hayes, Chaka Khan, Jason Lee, Elisabeth Moss, Priscilla Presley, Lisa Marie Presley, Giovanni Ribisi, Greta Van Susteren.
A Scientology glossary

Out tech

Anything that diverges from what Scientologists believe is standard Hubbard doctrine.

Clear

A "highly desirable state" in which a person, through auditing, gets rid of all the interference from troubling memories buried in the subconscious, or "reactive mind.''

RPF

Short for Rehabilitation Project Force. Scientologists describe it as a "second chance'' program that offers "redemption rather than dismissal'' for members deemed to have committed serious offenses. Those in RPF receive intense religious counseling and must perform manual labor. The program reportedly can last months or even years.

Sea Org

Short for Sea Organization, a religious order for those who dedicate their lives to the service of Scientology. Paid $75 a week plus meals, lodging and medical care, members sign a 1 billion year contract, to symbolize their commitment to serve in this life and the next ones. The Sea Org was developed when Scientology was largely based on ships, hence the name, and the maritime ranks.

Suppressive person, or SP

A Scientologist who "works to upset, continuously undermine, spread bad news and denigrate other people and their activities.'' Often applied to a member who speaks ill of the church. An SP cannot have contact with other Scientologists, even family.

Auditing

"Helps an individual look at his own existence and improves his ability to confront what he is and where he is.'' The auditor asks questions and uses a device called an e-meter that is said to measure the person's reaction, allowing the auditor to locate areas of distress.

Fair game

A Hubbard policy that says church enemies "may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist;'' and that the person "may be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.'' Hubbard canceled the policy in 1968, but critics say the church still uses it to justify harassment of opponents.

Flag

The Flag Service Organization in Clearwater is the worldwide spiritual headquarters for Scientologists. The highest ecclesiastical organizations used to be aboard a flotilla of ships, and Hubbard's home, the Apollo, was the "flagship" of the flotilla, "Flag" for short. In 1975, those operations moved to Clearwater, which is why it is still called Flag.

Introspection Rundown

A Scientology procedure Hubbard devised to calm a person in the throes of psychosis. The person is isolated and not spoken to except for frequent auditing.



Scientology's properties

The church owns a staggering array of properties, from a college on 55 acres in England to a luxury cruise ship. The church often buys historic buildings and refurbishes them in grand fashion.

The Base: The 500-acre "Int'' base is in an arid area 80 miles east of Los Angeles. It's home to top church executives, including David Miscavige, and Golden Era Productions, the church's media and publications division.

Hollywood, Calif.: Scientology owns buildings in and around Hollywood, including this office building, which features a ground-floor museum, and the Celebrity Centre International, a restored hotel where celebrities study and receive Scientology counseling in a "distraction-free'' environment.

The Fort Harrison: The church put $40 million into lavishly renovating the 82-year-old hotel, including the grand lobby. Scientologists from around the world come to Clearwater, the church's spiritual mecca.

The Flag Building: Across from the hotel, the "Super Power'' building has sat vacant and unfinished for six years. It eventually will have 300 rooms for the church's core practice of auditing. It's to be the only place in the world where a classified program called Super Power will be offered, thus the nickname.

The 'Freewinds': Scientology uses its cruise ship as a religious retreat and for recreation. The highest level of Scientology auditing, OT VIII, is offered exclusively on the ship.

Sussex, England: The Saint Hill College for Scientologists, also called Saint Hill Castle, is on 55 acres of rolling hills outside Sussex. Church founder L. Ron Hubbard lived and worked at nearby Saint Hill Manor from 1959 to 1966.

This article was found at:

http://www.tampabay.com/news/article1012139.ece