15 May 2011

Celebrity asks Illinois legislators to allow Scientology's religious propaganda into public schools

Washington Post - May 11, 2011

Ill. education committee says resolution’s Scientology link inappropriate for public schools

By Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Not even the voice of Bart Simpson could convince Illinois lawmakers to approve a resolution aimed at teaching character in public schools because of its link to the Church of Scientology.

The resolution endorsed a program called Good Choices as an example of how to teach morals and values. The program is based on “The Way to Happiness” by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

Actress Nancy Cartwright, a Scientologist who also provides Bart’s voice on the U.S. version of “The Simpsons,” testified before a House education committee that the program has “nothing to do with religion.”

She said it stresses moral concepts such as respecting others’ religion, living up to promises and treating other people the way you want to be treated.

“This book is not part of any religious doctrine,” Cartwright said.

Opponents contend the Good Choices Program is closely associated with Scientology beliefs and promoting it in schools would violate the separation of church and state.

Rob Sherman, a Buffalo Grove atheist activist, said the Good Choices Program book says on its cover that it is based on “The Way to Happiness.” He said students could easily search the Internet for that title and discover a link to Scientology, which he said would be akin to advocating a religious text in public schools.

The resolution sponsored by Rep. Dan Burke, D-Chicago, lists Good Choices as one of several successful programs for teaching character. It commends Good Choices’ ”common sense guidelines covering specific tools to help children evaluate situations and make good decisions that will improve life for themselves and others.”

Burke acknowledged the link between Scientology and Good Choices was stronger than he realized. Burke said he would rewrite the resolution and bring it up again later.

The resolution is HR254.

Online: http://www.ilga.
This article was found at:

Secular News Daily  -   May 13, 2011

Reading, Writing, and Scientology?: ‘Bart Simpson’ argues for Church of Scientology program in schools – and we have a cow, man

by: Joseph L. Conn

Bart Simpson showed up at the Illinois legislature yesterday to lobby for character education in the public schools.

Well, not Bart himself. It was Nancy Cartwright, the actress who does Bart’s voice on the Fox cartoon comedy “The Simpsons.”

Cartwright came to the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee to tout H.R. 254, a resolution promoting “Good Choices,” a program affiliated with the Church of Scientology (of which she is a member). She denied that the program is religious, but conceded that it is based on The Way to Happiness, a book by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, other witnesses at the hearing said promotion of the church-related program violates the separation of church and state.

“The Way to Happiness is the Bible of the Church of Scientology,” said Rob Sherman, an atheist activist. “This would be no different than Francis Cardinal George coming here in and saying, ‘Well, we need character education so teach the Holy Bible.’”

If news media reports are accurate, the reaction of some legislators to this matter was deeply troubling. Some of them seemed more interested in having a celebrity appear before them than delving into the serious constitutional and policy questions at issue.

But at least a few legislators seemed troubled by the prospect of religious intrusion into the schools.

“I’m not arguing with their beliefs,” said Rep. Jerry Mitchell (R-Sterling). “When the man’s name [Scientology founder Hubbard] is on the back of the book… I’m not sure the public schools should be in the business of allowing that kind of relationship to be fostered.”

Resolution sponsor Rep. Dan Burke (D-Chicago) indicated he would rewrite the measure to remove references to the Scientology program.

That’s a step in the right direction. But I think legislators should tread very cautiously here. Public schools serve children from many faiths and some who follow no spiritual path at all. No religious tradition should be allowed to proselytize in our classrooms, directly or indirectly.

Frankly, this isn’t the first time there have been reports of Scientology outreach in the schools. [see related article links below]  A church affiliated anti-drug program popped up in California public schools a few years ago, and a Scientology-affiliated tutoring firm in Georgia has raised some parents’ eyebrows.

Religious Right activists relentlessly look for ways to evangelize in schools. I wonder what they think about letting the Church of Scientology do it? Somehow, I don’t think that’s what they have in mind.

Joseph L. Conn is the Director of Communications of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. He regularly contributes to AU's Wall of Separation blog.

This article was found at:


Australian school with strong link to Scientology receives government money but not all is spent on students

Scientology Endangers Children [video]

Their targets used to be university students, but today fringe religious groups are believed to be recruiting school-aged children.

Scientology Cult Front Group Holds Recruiting Event for NYC Children

Scientology Recruiting Children in South Africa

Scientology linked to tutors on state list

B.C. Education Minister defends a ministry publication that identifies a Scientology website as a potential resource for teachers

B.C. Education Ministry won't delist scientology website

School unaware of link to Scientologists

Scientology link at Montessori school alarms parents

Unlicensed Scientology kindergartens operating in Tel Aviv

Munich Closes Scientologists' Day-Care Center

Scientology's African evangelism targets children for indoctrination, opens new 'school' in Ghana

Anonymous Announce 'Operation: School's Closed'

Cult survivor reveals deceptive recruiting tactics used by Scientology and similar cults

Scientologist children isolated from non-Scientology kids, subjected to indoctrination and 'auditing' from age of 6

New website "Ex-Scientology Kids" now online

Niece of Scientology Leader Rebuts Claims of Family Values

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

Daughter of Scientology leaders in Australia describes it as a toxic organization that treats children like cattle

Survivor of Scientology abuse speaks out on her life as a "child slave" after Australian parliament refuses to investigate "dangerous pseudo-religion"

Australian TV airs new evidence of coerced abortions and child exploitation in Scientology cult 

Scientology - Child Abuse and Labour Pt.1 [video]

Scientology - Child Abuse and Labour Pt.2 [video]

Former Scientologists Claim Coerced Abortions, Child Labor Inside Church

Former Scientology film production employees allege labor violations

New lawsuit alleges child labor and exploitation in totalitarian Scientology compound

Modern Day Slavery Within The Church Of Scientology

Ex-Scientology lawsuits target Sea Org, a cult within a cult

Ex-Scientologists speak about abuse and lawsuits on anniversary of global protests against sci-fi cult 

Tom Cruise practiced Scientology indoctrination techniques on isolated, vulnerable teenager

Video of former 30 year Scientologist discussing Jett Travolta based on her personal experiences of medical abuse

Jett Travolta: Did Scientology Kill Him?

Riddle of John Travolta's son - could he have been saved?

Scientology critics cite 2007 prediction of Jett Travolta's death

Did John Travolta’s weird faith seal his son Jett’s fate?

More on Jett Travolta: an audio recording of L. Ron Hubbard talking about epilepsy 

John Travolta Admits Son Jett Suffered From Autism

Death of John Travolta's son "deeply shaken" his faith in the Scientology cult

John Travolta couldn't save his son from Scientology, but will he now save others from cult abuse?

Video interview by Steve Hassan of top ex-Scientologist at international cult conference in New York

Was Scientology's efforts to suppress online revelations of the Xenu story the beginning of the end for sci-fi cult?

Denunciation of Scientology in the Australian Parliament aims to expose science fiction cult disguised as religion

Scientologists try to prevent film depicting them as a totalitarian, unethical group from airing on German public TV

Former Scientology leaders in Ireland describe psychological manipulation, spiritual abuse and exploitation

Paul Haggis did not think New Yorker interview would focus on Scientology but he stands by its accuracy

Paul Haggis predicts he will be target of disinformation to scandalize him after his recent attack on Scientology

Survivors confirm claim in Paul Haggis article that FBI is investigating human trafficking in Scientology cult

The article on Paul Haggis that inspired the reporter to collaborate on new book exposing abuses in Scientology

Expose of Scientology by Paul Haggis promises to be "most profound reckoning to date" of the abusive cult

Rolling Stone republishes 2006 investigative report on Scientology

Scientology cult hides abuses behind fancy new 'church' fronts, claims millions of adherents despite declining membership

The abuse behind Scientology's facade

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

California father sues Scientology front Narconon for fraud and breach of contract, alleges it recruits for the cult

Scientology front group Narconon recruits, deceives, indoctrinates and endangers lives with fake science


  1. Bart Simpson is more rational and has more common sense than Nancy Cartwright. Scientologists are constantly claiming that their science fiction cult is a religion. They claim their right to religious freedom and religious exemptions, and complain of religious persecution. Yet, somehow their propaganda publications they use to proselytize and indoctrinate are not in any way religious or connected to any religious doctrine. What a fucking stupid cow, man.

  2. Controversy over Scientology influence clouds future of Pinellas charter school

    By Drew Harwell, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer February 26, 2012

    DUNEDIN — One Friday afternoon in December, leaders of a tax-funded elementary school called Life Force Arts and Technology Academy shepherded students into a Scientology church in Tampa's Ybor Square. The children were fed candy and pizza, given Scientology books and DVDs, and shown a performance of a play written by Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Some posed for photos with Santa Claus in front of a silver Scientology cross. It was, as Life Force leaders had promised, a Christmas party, the school's first since a small Clearwater company called Art of Management had been hired to reorganize the school as it filed for bankruptcy.

    Though company president Hanan Islam was also executive director of the World Literacy Crusade, a California organization that promotes Scientology study methods, she had reassured parents then that her group would "not push any religion" at the school. But as Life Force parents stood in one of Scientology's newest churches, dedicated last year by Scientology's worldwide leader, David Miscavige, some felt their trust had been betrayed.

    Some parents and former teachers at Life Force, which receives about $800,000 a year in public funding, say the Pinellas County charter school has become a Scientology recruiting post targeting children. Opened to serve a low-income Clearwater neighborhood and advertising classes in computers and modern dance, Life Force had begun pushing Hubbard's "study technology," which critics call a Trojan horse Scientology uses to infiltrate public classrooms. And while Life Force students and teachers worked in poorly stocked classrooms and teachers went unpaid, the bankrupt school funneled tens of thousands of dollars more to Islam's business interests than she told the bankruptcy court she would charge.

    "There can be no accountability when this kind of stuff goes on," said teacher Tim Roach, who said he was fired from Life Force last month after criticizing the school. "It's the students who are going to suffer."
    But as the 2011-2012 school year began for about 95 students in August, Islam and other Life Force administrators began insisting on the use of Hubbard's "study tech" in the classroom, former teachers said. Every teacher was given Learning How to Learn, an illustrated children's book and starter's guide to study tech that includes a biography of Hubbard. Teachers also were trained in Smart Way, a phonics program designed by Scientologists. One teacher took photos of white boxes stacked in the principal's office labeled "L. Ron Hubbard Books."

    Teachers were required to attend training sessions at Scientology's flagship resort in downtown Clearwater, the Fort Harrison Hotel. Islam posted pictures online with a caption saying teachers were "trained on the barriers to study," a Hubbard study tech fundamental. Teachers were taught extensively about one study tech solution, "word clearing," in which fatigued or frustrated students must trace back their problem to a "misunderstood word." Though teachers believed their students' struggles often stemmed from broken homes or social problems in their neighborhood, they were taught to point troubled students to a dictionary.

    "Everyone knows the easiest way is through a child," said Blunt, who has some convictions for nonviolent crimes. "Here, little girl, have some candy. Here, little boy, have some books to read. … Kids are kids. They're impressionable. If you can get through to the kids, trust me, you can rule the world." [...]

    read the full article at:


  3. Pinellas school district officials sour on new charter for Scientology-affliated Life Force school

    By Drew Harwell, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writer
    February 29, 2012

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County School District officials on Tuesday delivered a blow to a charter school tied to Scientology, recommending the School Board vote against a proposal that could keep the school open through 2016.

    Life Force Arts and Technology Academy leaders asked the district last month to amend the embattled school's charter to provide for a fresh start.

    But amid concerns that the tax-supported elementary school uses "study technology," a Scientology teaching method criticized as a covert recruiting tool, superintendent John Stewart recommended the School Board reject the charter amendments at its meeting March 6.

    Rejection would not close the school or cancel its charter, which was approved in 2008 and expires in June 2013. But it could set the stage for future sanctions and prove disastrous in bankruptcy court, where a judge is considering the school's Chapter 11 reorganization.

    Overseen by proponents of Scientology and members of the black supremacist group Nation of Islam, Life Force's focus on "study tech," a methodology devised by Scientology's late founder L. Ron Hubbard, worried parents and former teachers. Their frustrations over school mismanagement and secrecy were reported in Sunday's Tampa Bay Times.

    On Tuesday, Stewart released a memo and an appended evaluation that reiterated many of those concerns, criticizing everything from a top-heavy administration reluctant to meet educational standards to a school staff made "unstable" by faculty firings and resignations.

    Louis Muhammad, who chairs the school's board of directors, said he did not want to comment. Hanan Islam, whose private company, Art of Management, runs the school, did not return messages late Tuesday.

    Run by their own boards of directors, charter schools receive public tax funding based on enrollment. They are monitored by the school district but freed of some requirements of regular public schools, allowing them to offer unconventional curricula.

    With nearly all of its 100 students qualifying for free or reduced-price meals, Life Force received extra funding through federal grants. Last year, audits show, the school earned more than $800,000 in public funds, a per-student rate higher than the state and county average for all schools.

    Life Force's proposed 209-page amendment is, in effect, a new charter, establishing a new budget, curriculum, leadership structure and name: the SMART Academy.

    But Stewart's memo and the staff evaluation suggested the amendment faced insurmountable odds:

    • The school's new curriculum would be provided by Bright Sky Learning, a for-profit company founded by Scientologists, and would not meet state standards.

    • Its new budget would be based on "unrealistic enrollment projections," and would depend too much on "large donations."

    • The amendment-proposed classes would be newly refocused on physical education, art, music and technology, while not budgeting for teachers to cover those subjects.

    • The school would claim no responsibility for busing, instead relying on parents to contract with a local bus company.

    • Teachers would be "paid substitute wages" and would not be given contracts. Meanwhile, the school's administration would include a management company, a principal, and directors of operations, administrative affairs, academics and public contact.

    • Parents who didn't meet the school's requirements for volunteering could find their children expelled — a practice officials said was unheard-of in other Pinellas charters.

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    District officials said some concerns about the requested amendment stemmed from the school's past issues. The school's proposed punishment system, according to the amendment, would include disciplinary "service projects." In December, Islam defended a school punishment — forcing young boys to scrub a bathroom — as a way to build self-esteem.

    Officials also questioned the oversight of the school's board of directors in ensuring the amended charter was upheld. Like Islam, most board members have yet to give their fingerprints for background screenings mandated by the state's Jessica Lunsford Act.

    The board has also experienced regular turnover, officials wrote. New board members listed in the amendment proposal include Fatima Talbird, who has taken Scientology courses and been photographed with Scientology spokeswoman Pat Harney and Nation of Islam minister Tony Muhammad, and Bahiyyah Sadiki, a Clearwater tutor promoted by a study tech group called Applied Scholastics.

    Nowhere in Life Force's proposed amendment do the school's administrators make mention of study tech or Scientology. A student reading list includes 17 notable authors but not Hubbard, whose writings, former teachers said, formed the base of all instruction at Life Force.

    Toccara Hobbs, whose daughter has attended Life Force since it opened in 2009, said she was shocked by former teachers' revelations of the school's inner workings detailed in the Times.

    She would like to remove her third-grade daughter from the school, but she worries it would disrupt her schooling as FCAT tests loom.

    "If I would have known all this was going on, I would have never put her in Life Force," Hobbs said. "You're putting all your trust in these people."


  5. Charter school dangers on display in Scientology case

    Tampa Bay Times Editorial March 5, 2012

    The Life Force Arts and Technology Academy in Dunedin, a charter elementary school serving low-income children, has sold area parents a bill of goods. It promised an enriching arts and technology program and delivered a school stripped of resources by its management company and laden with Church of Scientology teaching methodology. The school's actions raise serious questions about fiscal control and church-state separation. Pinellas County schools superintendent John Stewart is right to recommend to the School Board that it be shut down as soon as possible.

    Almost since it opened in 2009, Life Force has been riddled with problems. Its first principal was fired, charged with stealing from a family trust. By last summer the school had debts of more than $400,000. Facing possible closure by the school district, which oversees the county's charter schools, the Life Force board enlisted Hanan Islam's Art of Management company to overhaul the school. The school also filed for bankruptcy, giving it protection from the district terminating its charter school contract.

    As reported by Tampa Bay Times staff writer Drew Harwell, since Islam came to Life Force some parents and former teachers charge that the school's children have been targets for recruitment by the Church of Scientology. The student body of about 95 students was taught using the "study technology" of Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard, according to former teachers. The school's children attended a Christmas party at a Scientology church in Tampa's Ybor Square, where they were given Scientology books and DVDs. And another endeavor of Islam's was as executive director of the World Literacy Crusade, a California organization that promotes Scientology education methods.

    All of this exposure to Scientology-related material violates prohibitions in the U.S. and Florida constitutions on religion in public schools. The school may claim that the material is secular in nature, but since Scientology insists it is a religion, anything produced by it or by Hubbard should be considered religious. The church may freely open its own private schools, but it cannot infiltrate public schools like charter schools or have its teachings influence the curriculum. Life Force receives about $800,000 in taxpayer support per year.

    In addition to the church-state problems, Islam's management is highly suspect. She generously rewarded her company even as the school was foundering. Islam's management company was paid more than $56,000 for the three months following the school's bankruptcy filing, which is nearly double what Islam told the courts she would charge. Meanwhile the school stopped paying for bus service, teachers couldn't get classroom supplies or get paid on time, and the school's academic performance failed to meet many of its self-written goals.

    The debacle at Life Force points up the dangers of charter schools. The freedom given these privately run schools using public money can be easily abused in the wrong hands. On Tuesday, the Pinellas School Board should give Life Force its 90-day notice of termination as Stewart recommends. The sooner this school is shut down and Islam is given her walking papers, the better.


  6. Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Inside the Secret World of Cults

    by LUKE MCKENNA, Bullet Magazine CULTURE / SPRING 2012 March 02nd, 2012

    Across the world, millions of everyday people subscribe to the teachings of magnetic cult leaders, many of whom spread the gospels extolling the virtues of incest, child abuse, and rape. Luke McKenna meets some of the victims who eventually escaped-and one cult enthusiast who's just getting started.

    Peter Frouman was only 10 years old when, on December 31, 1985, in a small, run-down house in Corrientes, Argentina, he sat naked among 25 members of the Children of God, waiting to become a man. He watched as a candle and a worn-out green T-shirt, a totem meant to represent truth, were passed from person to person, each of them unclothed and confessing their sins to the group. It was the first time Peter had been invited to take part in the adults-only ritual, his first taste of the sect's twisted take on coming of age. He could barely contain himself.

    Children of God, the apocalyptic sex cult that famously raised Rose McGowan and River Phoenix, is just one of countless high-intensity religious factions hiding in the shadows of conventional society. Rise International, a nonprofit organization that specializes in helping children raised in "restrictive, isolated, or high-demand communities," puts the global population living as part of these groups in the millions. In America alone, there are said to be more than 3,000 functioning cults, ranging from the quaint and quirky to possibly destructive, each with its own rites and rituals to mark transitions from passive observer to active participant, outsider to insider, and youth to adult.

    "The idea was to break me down with nudity and confessions," Frouman, now 36, says of that fateful night in Argentina. When it finally came time for him to wear the T-shirt, which was steeped in sin and reeking of sweat, the young boy admitted to pride and independence-vices, according to COG. "I considered it an honor to be allowed to participate considering I was still 10 years old," Frouman says of a time when he didn't know life any other way. "I have never forgotten this warm moment from my childhood."

    Frouman currently runs xFamily.org, a Wikipedia-like online resource that documents the lives and experiences of former child members of COG, since renamed The Family International, which has had up to 35,000 members pass through colonies in 15 countries. Formed in California in the 1960s, the cult and its deceased founder, David Berg, capitalized on the blossoming hippie movement with its promises of spiritual revolution and sexual freedom. Beneath the group's quiet, communal exterior, however, hid a particularly bawdy brand of evangelical Christianity.

    Alongside entries about Family music and art, xFamily carries graphic descriptions of pedophilia, incest, and violent beatings. Frouman watched while sexual boundaries were abandoned within immediate families. Once members reached the age of consent, considered to be 12 years old until well into the 1980s, they were encouraged to share their bodies with the group, imagining they were having sex with Jesus as they did it. (Males were instructed to visualize themselves as females while engaging with the Lord, since homosexuality was a no-no.) Young women were prostituted, luring outsiders into the group via the bedroom, a practice that became colloquially known as Flirty Fishing or FFing. Christian notions of sexual guilt and repression were bent over and defiled. This was sex for salvation.

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    The Family, whose numbers have sagged dramatically over the past decade, was forced to publicly sanitize its teachings after a series of raids, investigations, and testimonies by escapees exposed the cult's more sordid practices. Most communes have been disbanded and members are now permitted to make decisions for themselves. But these changes came too late for Frouman, who escaped the cult around the time of his 14th birthday, after he'd already endured years of sexual and mental abuse.

    Months after Frouman's New Year's Eve awakening, the boy's virginity was put to a Family vote. It was decided that a 28-year-old mother of five, who was visiting from Brazil, would deflower him. The encounter took place in a darkened room, next to the woman's sleeping children and the boy's own mother. "At the time it seemed fairly normal to me," says Frouman, who had seen kids younger than him with adults older than she was.

    Juliana Buhring, who also grew up in COG, works with Rise International to help children escape similar cults. "All these groups have almost identical dogmas or ways of operating," she says. Charismatic cult leaders are deified, their ideas treated as gospel, while the outside world and nonmembers are portrayed as evil and dangerous. "Cults are naturally secretive, so society at large has no idea," Buhring says. "But there is a very large group of ex-cult kids who all struggle with the same problem: trying to reformulate an identity outside what they believed, or what they felt, or how they thought about things."

    Donna Collins was the first Western child to be born into the Unification Church, an international Christian sect headed by charismatic Korean businessman Sun Myung Moon. A "blessed child," as she was labeled, Collins became a powerful, white poster child for the predominantly Asian religion, which seeks to unite all religions under Moon. They said she'd been born without sin. They said she was perfect.

    Moon, the self-anointed Second Coming of Christ, separated Collins from her family when she was 11 years old, moving her from home to home. Her travels took her to Korea, where she studied the language and UC teachings at the church's Little Angels School. Collins was instructed to devote herself entirely to God, Moon, and the UC. "There weren't a lot of boundaries," says Collins, who, as an 8-year- old girl, doled out relationship advice to followers who would also confess to her intimate details about their sex lives. "They would come and say, 'My marriage isn't working, what do I do?' In one case, I remember telling a man, 'I don't think you'll ever be happy with your wife-she's not a very nice person."

    Collins, who left the church in her early 20s, was always skeptical of the Moonies, as Unificationists are unhappily known to the outside world. "I saw through the church from a very young age, but I also wanted to be a good Moonie, and to be loved and accepted like any other person," she says. "It took me a very long time to leave because I was afraid. It was all I knew."

    While the young Collins was struggling with questions about her faith and her leader, he was matching her peers-some as young as 16-for marriage. Unificationists believe that Moon has divine insight into their spiritual compatibility, and so they submit to his decisions with the understanding that they are, quite literally, matches made in heaven. Early on, there was talk of Collins being betrothed to one of Moon's supposedly sacred sons, perhaps in one of the giant ceremonies that join masses of Moonies in a single afternoon. The biggest even in the West, at which Moon blessed 2,075 couples, took place in New York's Madison Square Garden in July 1982; some ceremonies blessed as many as 30,000 couples.)

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    The ritual, which participants consider to be as much a commitment to Moon as it is to each other, is a vital part of growing up in the church. Ahead of the ceremony, couples strike each other with sticks to rid themselves of sin, before vowing to live their lives for others and to create a family that contributes to world peace. A commitment to "sexual purity" precedes a "separation period," where couples are directed to go without sex for 40 days following the ceremony. You can sweep the rose petals off the bed -there's nothing hot about a honey-Moonie.

    Collins observed the dissolution of many Unificationist marriages, but she says some do prosper. Either way, she doesn't fault the followers. She says that unlike their leader, the Unificationists who support Moon's religious and business empire, which was valued at more than $100 million at its peak in the late '90s, are some of the kindest people she has met. "They're very idealistic," she says. "They genuinely want the world to be a better place."

    According to the International Cultic Studies Association, the majority of people who devote themselves to these fringe groups are as well-adjusted as they are educated; most of them come from stable families and have college degrees, a statistic that's not lost on many sects, such as Scientology, whose disciples notoriously target university campuses. The UC even went so far as to make a formal investment in Connecticut's University of Bridgeport in 1992. (The institute regained financial independence in 2003, but a number of Moonies still hold administrative positions there, and followers are urged to attend the school to be educated among their own kind.)

    Leaders want people who are intelligent enough to contribute to the group and, in the future, to win over the minds of others. Curious youths, living away from home and searching for answers in those tender years, are ripe for the plucking. It's Cult Recruitment 101.

    Daniel Maldonado was first introduced to Rael, leader of the Raelian Movement, as a teenager growing up in the grimy housing projects of New York's Upper West Side. The atheistic extraterrestrial sect, which believes that every prophet from Moses to Mohammed was a visitor from a superior alien race called Elohim, first attracted the boy because it filled in so many of the mystic gaps in his Catholic education.

    Raelians argue that Elohim, through science, created life on Earth about 25,000 years ago. The group believes in using similar technology to revolutionize the human existence, including cloning for immortality and the betterment of mankind. The science behind the teachings fit with Maldonado's own rigorous education about the universe, physics, and humanity. "Little by little, it all added up to the Raelian philosophy," he says.

    Elohim officially acknowledged Maldonado, now 21, on a sunny autumn day in New York last year, at an intimate gathering in a gay support center downtown. The date, December 13, was significant: It marked the anniversary of Rael's first encounter with the extraterrestrial race at a volcano in France in 1973. The 4-foot-tall green creatures reportedly told the sportswriter and racecar driver, then named Claude Vorilhon, that he must change his name to Rael and prepare the world for their imminent return. So far he has reached roughly 55,000 people, according to the group's own estimates.

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    Ten Raelians watched as a trained bishop, or "guide," baptized Maldonado and another convert in a ceremony called "the transmission of the cellular plan." At exactly 3pm, when the Elohim were said to have their antennae facing the east coast of the United States, the regional leader dipped his hands into a plastic bowl of water and placed them on the front and back of Maldonado's head, which then became a conductor to beam the boy's unique genetic code to the all-seeing beings above. "Elohim has recognized you," the guide whispered, leaning in for a charged hug from the newest member of the group.

    After the ceremony, the endearing assortment of New Age sensualists and Trekkie types discussed "paradism," their belief that in the near future a new class of clones and robots will perform all labor. According to Raelians, not only will this harmonize society, but it will also leave plenty of time for some of their more hedonistic pursuits, such as the Cosmic Orgasm, a kind of sexual nirvana achieved through meditation and erotic massage, and Go Topless Day, which is exactly what it sounds like. Nothing is taboo, so long as all parties are satisfied-and Raelians strive for universal satisfaction.

    "It wasn't no normal day," Maldonado says of the baptism, which could only happen once he was deemed mature enough to choose the religion for himself, and to sign an Act of Apostasy renouncing all others. "I've been thinking a little different, a little less selfish, like I need to fix things."

    Maldonado's situation is different than most in that his group membership was voluntary. "People who join cults can go home to their families and friends, and live like they did before," says Collins, who was born into the UC. "Those of us who grew up in cults, we had no other life. When I left, there were none of these online support groups. You were out on our own, you would lose the majority of your friends, and the cult would often demonize you."

    At first, Collins relied on a handful of friends she met while attending an independent college. It wasn't until she married outside of the church, in a Methodist ceremony to a man she loved, that the fallen Moonie truly found herself. It was the first step toward creating her very own stable family. "And there was no beating the sins out of each other," she says, laughing.

    Buhring, of COG, spent her formative years away from her parents, surrounded by sex. After a childhood of enduring the worst kinds of adult encounters, she discovered what it really meant to be a grown-up in the simple splendor of outside life: opening a bank account, renting an apartment, savoring a warm cup of coffee alone in a cafe, free from the regimented schedule of the cult that stole her innocence. "I felt this incredible sense of maturity and freedom," Buhring says of the first year following her willful excommunication. "It's like being blind your whole life, and suddenly you see. At first you don't understand what it is you are seeing, but as you start to understand, the beauty of it all becomes overwhelming. You can sit for hours and just smile, taking it all in. That, I think, was my coming of age. That's when I finally became an adult."


  10. Lisa Marie Presley Signals A Break With Scientology

    by Roger Friedman, contributor Forbes May 26, 2012

    Lisa Marie Presley and her mother, Priscilla, have long been members of Scientology. But recently things have changed. It’s been signalled in the tabloids, but suddenly Lisa Marie has made a declaration at least in song that she’s disillusioned with the notorious sect.

    On her new album, “Storm and Grace,” Presley makes several allusions to Scientology that are unmistakable. In the new single, “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” she sings:

    Move up Move down

    “You can think that I’m evil and I’m off the rails
    You ain’t seen nothing yet
    That I’m a bit transgressive and suppressive as well
    You ain’t seen nothing yet
    Am I a disruption to your corruption
    You ain’t seen nothing yet”

    She also sings:

    “Lay down the truth don’t make a sound
    Just a piece of fruit who has hit the ground
    I don’t respond, I lost the plot
    Unethical, not what I thought”

    The song uses language from the Scientology lexicon. A “suppressive” is a Scientology outcast. Then she is more pointed as a “disruption to your corruption.”

    There are other references to her dissatisfaction with Scientology throughout the abum produced by T Bone Burnett. In “Storm of Nails” she sings:

    “It’s been a long highway
    Where do I get off and drive away
    I’m looking for a sign that should say
    When you’ve had enough, exit this way
    If only I were a gopher now
    I’d dig a hole and I’d not come out”

    There’s another song, too, called “So Long” that alludes to the end of her road with Scientology.

    On her website, www.lisamariepresley.com, the daughter of legendary rock pioneer Elvis Presley has also wiped out almost all reference to Scientology. Where she once promoted the group’s causes, she’s now down to just one. Otherwise, her emphasis is on her own foundation and one named for her father. They are each dedicated to people and causes in Memphis.

    Presley said in interviews with Billboard, USA Today and “Access Hollywood” recenntly that she’d cleaned house and gotten rid of a lot of people whom she’d trusted. It does seem like it’s all associated with Scientology. If the group has lost Lisa Marie, then it’s a blow. She was one of their chief celebrities to whom they pointed, and from whom they were guaranteed some sizable coin.

    Here’s the video for “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” in which the singer puts a lot of objects in a trunk then throws the objects in a lake before rowing away. There’s a teddy bear–does that represent her mother, who’s still with the group? There’s also a trumpet and a wooden doll of a man. And don’t miss the rattlesnake–that’s some imagery.

    Move up Move down

    see the video at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/rogerfriedman/2012/05/26/lisa-marie-presley-signals-a-break-with-scientology/2/

    I’ve met LMP about a half dozen times over the years. She always seemed like a straight shooter, not mysterious at all, and quite straightforward. It also seemed like the one thing that separated her from the music career that eluded her so long was her connection to Scientology. Now, that may be over.


  11. Katie Holmes: Scientology cult will not get my Suri

    Actress vows to save her daughter from Scientology

    By GORDON SMART, Showbiz Editor, PETE SAMSON, US Editor, and CAROLINE GRANT in Iceland, The Sun UK July 1, 2012

    TOM Cruise’s wife Katie Holmes is divorcing the star to save daughter Suri from Scientology, it was revealed last night.

    Katie, 33, is fighting for sole custody of Suri, six, so SHE — and not Cruise, a follower of the cult faith — controls the child’s religion and education.

    A pal said she was “terrified” Suri would soon have to begin Scientology schooling.

    Katie reached breaking point with hubby Cruise because she felt “suffocated” living with his mum and sister.

    The constant presence of the Hollywood superstar’s family triggered rows between the celebrity couple.

    And it is one of the main reasons behind Katie’s decision to divorce Top Gun idol Cruise.

    The actress, who will look to friend Victoria Beckham for support, is also desperate to save Suri from the Scientology religion followed by her three times-wed husband.

    Katie, raised as a Catholic, is said to have been secretly plotting the split for weeks.

    While Cruise was away filming, she whisked Suri to New York from their Beverly Hills home and rented an apartment in the Big Apple for her and the little girl to move into.

    Citing “irreconcilable differences,” she hired a hot-shot lawyer to end the five-year marriage — and is seeking sole custody of her daughter.

    She is thought to have a better chance in New York as Scientologists are rife in powerful positions in Los Angeles and Californian courts are more inclined to favour joint custody deals.

    But last night reports claimed Cruise, who turns 50 on Tuesday, is set to fight back by launching rival divorce proceedings and demanding they be heard in LA.

    His lawyers will insist Katie does not meet residency requirements to file in New York because although the couple have a plush property in the city, their “full-time” home is in California.

    A source told a US celebrity website: “At the same time, Tom will file for divorce in California and will request joint custody of Suri.

    “There is absolutely no way he is going to let Katie have sole custody.

    “The lines are being drawn and this is going to shape up as a very contentious custody battle.”

    The three issues of the in-law war, Suri’s future and Scientology are intertwined.

    Cruise’s mum Mary Lee, sister Cass and adopted children Isabella, 19, and Connor, 17, all live in the couple’s Beverly Hills mansion.

    They are Scientologists and Cass helped to home-school Isabella and Connor.

    A source close to Cruise and Katie said: “Katie has found the set-up extremely suffocating at times. One of the main things she and Tom fought over was his family.

    “His mum was always around everywhere they went and so were his sister and kids. They all lived in the same mansion. But even though the house is huge it just became too much for Katie.”

    Another source said Katie was “terrified” at how Suri would turn out if she was inducted into Scientology.

    Cruise — said to have been “completely shocked” by Katie’s announcement of her divorce action on Friday — went to ground in Iceland’s capital Reykjavik yesterday.

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    The Mission: Impossible hero is in the country filming scenes for his new movie Oblivion. He is flying between Reykjavik and the set by helicopter — and looked haunted when spotted.

    Isabella and Connor are with him. And the lad has been happily tweeting about his adventures there, which have included whitewater rafting, cliff jumping and grilling hot dog sausages in a volcanic crater.

    But his tweets stopped as soon as Katie, who played tomboy Joey Potter in TV series Dawson’s Creek, went public on her divorce plans.

    Friends believe this proved Cruise, along with Connor, was taken totally by surprise. The source said: “It will take time for Tom to get his head around it all.”

    A former pal of Cruise told last night how Katie made her move because Suri was about to begin learning and practising Scientology — a movement founded in 1952 by sci-fi writer L Ron Hubbard and also followed by Grease star John Travolta.

    Marc Headley, 39, was a confidant of the star at the controversial religion’s Gold Base HQ in Gilman Hot Springs, California, before he quit the cult.

    He described the religion’s “security checks” in which ethics officers probe followers using a device called an e-meter, which claims to use electrical energy to measure emotional shifts. Marc said: “Suri has just turned six and that is when Scientology children first endure child security checks. They are rigorous interrogations that are terrifying, especially to children. She would also be tested by the e-meter.

    “I wouldn’t want my children or anyone’s children to go through this ordeal. They would bark at Suri, ‘Did you steal?’ or “Did you lie?’ She is only six. This is why Katie is choosing to escape now.

    “The fact that Katie has gone aggressively for sole custody is to save Suri from Scientology. She knows if Tom has his way, the girl will be home-schooled by the cult.

    “Katie can see how badly it turned out for Isabella and Connor.

    “She has seen they have no relationship with their mother, Nicole Kidman, and she’s terrified of that happening to her.” Married dad-of-two Marc, claimed Katie was HAND-PICKED to be Cruise’s wife by the Church of Scientology. He said the relationship was orchestrated by Scientology leader David Miscavige, 52, who was Cruise’s best man at their wedding near Rome.

    He added: “The Church recruited Katie to be Tom’s wife.”

    Katie is said to have rented the New York pad despite having a home there. It is thought she wanted her own place.


    MyView BY SAMANTHA DOMINGO, Ex Scientologist

    DIVORCE isn’t controversial in Scientology if both parties remain in the religion. But it gets very messy if one leaves — as I did. My husband and I were given Scientology-style counselling before our divorce. As you’re questioned you hold electrodes hooked to an “e-meter” with a dial while an auditor interprets its movements. After two weeks we were exhausted. When I left Scientology I spoke about my awful experiences, including being coerced into an abortion.
    My ex-husband was then told to disconnect from me and to only contact our kids through a lawyer. If Katie leaves Scientology and Tom remains in it, things could get difficult. I’ve no doubt the church will do all it can to keep them both under control.

    read the rest of this article and see the photos at:


  13. The school at the centre of Cruise split

    Insiders claim Katie Holmes filed for divorce to prevent the Church of Scientology educating her daughter

    by Guy Adams, The Independent July 3, 2012

    Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise in an attempt to prevent her six-year-old daughter being educated at schools with links to the Church of Scientology, multiple sources claimed yesterday, adding to evidence that the controversial faith lies at the centre of the couple's split.

    The blockbuster legal battle, which became public on Friday, has highlighted disagreements between Holmes and Cruise over their child Suri's relationship with the New Village Leadership Academy in Calabasas. The school educates children using "study technology", a technique created by Scientology's founder, L Ron Hubbard.

    Holmes, 33, was raised a Catholic and is said to have concerns about Suri's religious upbringing. The Academy – which Suri was seen at in 2009, and again late last year – is officially secular, and employs "study technology" as just one of a range of educational methods. But several members of its teaching staff are Scientologists. The school is also considered a feeder to the Delphian School in Oregon, a $42,000-a-year boarding school which counts Tom Cruise and his ex-wife Nicole Kidman's adopted children Connor and Isabella, 17 and 19, among alumni. Up to half of its pupils are members of the church.

    "[Suri] is coming to an age where she gets educated enough to get locked into the faith," Marty Rathbun, a former senior executive in Scientology told The Independent yesterday. "That's why there's almost certainly truth in the consideration that schools have started coming into play in all this."

    Since news of the divorce broke, Holmes is said to have enrolled her daughter at a Catholic elementary school in Manhattan.

    Cruise is Scientology's most celebrated member. He and Holmes were married in 2006, at a ceremony presided over by the church's leader, David Miscavige. But they are said to have had growing disagreements over how the faith should be applied to rearing their child.

    "Scientologists believe in reincarnation, that infants are essentially ancient adults being in children's bodies," a source familiar with the dispute said. "Tom treats Suri as a little adult. Katie takes the opposite view: that she deserves a childhood."

    Importantly, Suri has reached the age at which church members begin being "audited", a form of counselling at the centre of Scientology. A "security check" devised by Hubbard for use on six to 12-year-olds requires them to be asked personal questions while attached to an "e-meter", measuring electrical charges carried by their body. The list of questions includes: "have you ever gotten yourself dirty on purpose?" And: "have you ever told bad stories about someone?"

    Holmes is apparently anxious to prevent her child from being subjected to any such "check". She is therefore reported to be seeking sole custody of Suri, a move that would give her the right to determine her religious upbringing and where she is educated. The actress filed for divorce in New York, while Cruise, 49, has counter-filed in Los Angeles. Both jurisdictions will take a similar view regarding the distribution of the couple's $275m fortune, but New York courts tend to grant sole custody, while joint custody arrangements are more common in California.

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    Holmes is perhaps also anxious to prevent history from repeating itself. When Cruise divorced Kidman, he secured a joint-custody agreement. The couple's children grew up as members of the church and today have a relatively distant relationship with their mother, who is not a Scientologist.

    Mr Rathbun says he "audited" Cruise at Scientology's headquarters in Los Angeles between 2001 and 2003, when the actor was divorcing Kidman, and claims to have witnessed this process. He said he saw Connor and Isabella, who were six and eight-years-old at the time, being introduced to auditing.

    "Everyone was thrilled to see Connor playing on an e-meter," he said.

    The church did not respond to queries about that affair yesterday. But in the past, it has attacked Mr Rathbun's credibility, describing him as a "liar", a "criminal" and an "apostate".

    Elsewhere, it was reported that Holmes was anxious to stave off an imminent effort to enrol Suri in the Sea Org, the church's clergy, which requires recruits to sign a billion-year contract.

    But expert sources poured cold water on those particular claims, pointing out that the Sea Org does not typically welcome new members until their teenage years. Mr Rathbun said, however, that schools which employ "study technology" – an educational technique that revolves around rigid study programmes, repeated use of dictionaries and a strong emphasis on building clay models – can provide a long-term path to membership in the organisation.

    "In the old days these schools would use study tech as a small part of a traditional curriculum," he said. "Now things have evolved, to the point where you hear of pupils are being assigned 'lower ethics conditions' and told to do auditing and getting an education which revolves around how to be 'good' Scientologists. Many of them are becoming a recruiting ground for the Sea Org."

    The church has yet to comment on its role in the divorce, except to deny extravagant reports carried by the British tabloids that yesterday suggested that it had hired private investigators to follow Holmes around New York. Behind the scenes, a damage-limitation exercise is afoot. But it is hampered by the unfortunate absence of Jessica Davis, a church employee who has been its leading point of contact with Holmes for many years. The wife of Tommy Davis, Scientology's spokesman, she has been ill for some time. As a result, a church source said, "David Miscavige lost his lines of communication with Holmes some time ago".


  15. Lachlan Murdoch with Rupert on Scientology being weird cult

    by JULIE POWER, Great Lakes Advocate July 4, 2012

    Rupert Murdoch's eldest son Lachlan Murdoch has issued a statement claiming he "comes close" to sharing his father's views on Scientology.

    In his own statement, Lachlan Murdoch denied that he'd ever thought about joining the group, allegations that arose following reports that movie star Tom Cruise – perhaps Scientology's most famous member – tried to convert him.

    "I can confirm, on the record, that I have never considered or close to considered becoming a Scientologist in any way or at any time.

    "The premise of the story is entirely wrong. I probably come close to sharing my father's views about the religion, but I resist tweeting them," Lachlan Murdoch said in a statement published in The Telegraph in the United Kingdom.

    Lachlan's father, News Ltd's chairman, Rupert Murdoch, this week described the Church of Scientology as a "weird cult"' on Twitter, giving hope to those fighting to reverse Scientology's status in Australia as a tax-exempt religion.

    Mr Murdoch was the most "significant figure" to have come out against Scientology, said Nick Xenophon, the independent South Australian senator who has championed the fight against Scientology in Australia. He "wholeheartedly congratulated" News Ltd's chairman for his comments.

    "For every high profile Scientology bust up like Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes [which prompted Mr Murdoch's comments on Twitter] there are hundreds of unreported cases where people's lives are ruined because they've tried to break away from Scientology.

    "To have someone as powerful as Rupert Murdoch take on Scientology would give some comfort to the people whose lives have been ruined by it and are trying to escape it, " he said.

    Senator Xenophon said he hoped the government's new Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, which is being established, would apply a test to Scientology and other religions to check that they weren't doing more harm than good.

    Former cult member David Ayliffe said Australia should follow France and outlaw Scientology as a religion. The Australian High Court ruled in 1983 that Scientology was a religion and, as such, was entitled to tax exempt status.

    The 2011 Census data reveals just 2163 Australians call themselves Scientologists. By contrast, there are 65,000 self-described Jedi Faith Masters.


  16. Katie Might Be Able to Leave Tom — but Divorcing Scientology Won’t Be Easy

    by Eliza Shapiro, The Daily Beast July 4, 2012

    Leaving a highly secretive and close-knit group like Scientology might not be as easy as checking the “irreconcilable differences” box.

    Since news broke that Katie Holmes filed for divorce from Tom Cruise, her husband of nearly six years, speculation has been rampant that she wants out of Scientology—and she wants to take daughter Suri with her.

    Steve Hassan, an “exit counselor” who says he’s worked with “countless” people trying to leave the Church of Scientology, says the church has a history of blackmailing members into staying within the fold by threatening to divulge intimate details they’ve shared in “auditing sessions.” These are counseling sessions in which one member coaches another to “clear,” or rid himself, of any negative forces that interfere with devotion to the church. Hassan says people he’s worked with have described the church as strong-arming “members to give up their children.”

    Holmes, says Hassan, “has a right to be concerned about her daughter.”

    Suri is now 6 years old, the age when kids reportedly start becoming more involved in Scientology, and being subjected to a process called “sec checking,” which the Village Voice describes as an interrogation to make sure kids and their parents aren’t “hiding any covert hostilities to the organization.” The extensive list of questions allegedly includes what founder L. Ron Hubbard dubbed “the most potent” query: “What has somebody told you not to tell?”

    Marty Rathbun, who left the church in 2004 and describes himself as an “independent Scientologist,” says getting out can mean losing “every business contact you ever made, every friend you ever had, and every family contact you ever had.” A person who leaves the church is categorized as a “suppressed person,” he says, and an official shunning policy called “disconnect” is immediately enforced.

    Multiple messages left with the Church of Scientology International in Los Angeles were not returned, nor were emails and phone calls to Cruise’s representatives.

    Short of going into the witness-protection program, how can Holmes disentangle herself and her daughter from the Church of Scientology?

    Ex-Scientologist Sasha Zbitnoff, 40, says a good first step is finding others who’ve made the leap. He says he was raised in the church, but when he was 20 years old, he started questioning the ethics of Hubbard and his teachings, and eventually decided to leave. “You become a lemming in a big scary world,” says Zbitnoff of making the transition. At the time, he sought out other ex-members to share stories and feel connected.

    A network of former Scientologists has blossomed on websites like the Ex Scientologist Message Board, which contains bountiful advice for Holmes. “Do not sign anything that stops you talking about Scientology!!!!!” reads one entry.

    Some former Scientologists say it takes years of talking to others with similar stories to understand the experience. Once out of the church, old habits die hard. Zbitnoff says that his first relationship after leaving Scientology was essentially a replication of what he had learned in the church; he instinctively saw friends and family outside the relationship as a potential threat.

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    Holmes appears to have already started building a new network of associates, reverting to her old, pre-Cruise public-relations firm and firing her old security detail. Leslie Sloane, Holmes’s agent, didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    David Bromley, a professor of religion at Virginia Commonwealth University, says the process for leaving the church is fairly extensive and often involves “burning bridges ... and breaking up friendships and families.”

    Hassan says he tries to have ex-members identify the difference between their church “identities and real identities.” He asks his patients to remember what they did before they joined their groups in order to reconnect with their former selves. A “basic” session with Hassan is typically 25 hours spread over multiple daily sessions. Hassan himself is a former member of the Unification Church, also known as the Moonies, a group he left only after his family intervened, hiring an agent to “deprogram” him. During his two and a half years in the church, he says, he was a “total fanatic.”

    Experts say deprogramming, in which friends or family forcibly remove loved ones from religious groups, was popular in the 1970s. But after a series of high-profile allegations of kidnapping, it’s now rarely done. Peter Farrell, a former Scientologist who joined the church as an adult, says, “Leaving was a very scary experience.” After Farrell spent most of his life savings, including his children’s college savings, on auditing sessions and classes offered by the church, his wife hired Hassan to intervene. Farrell is currently a veterinarian outside Albany. “Katie is scared with really good reason,” he said of Holmes.

    James Richardson, a sociologist at the University of Nevada, says that when members express skepticism or decide to leave, the church attempts to isolate them from the group to prevent their doubts from spreading. Jeff Hawkins, a member of the church for 35 years, says he tried to make it simple. “I said, ‘I want to leave.’” He says he was then put in a “three-month program of security checks and hard labor,” involving weeding and trimming trees at a Scientology center in California.

    Hassan says he’s worked with patients who have had “psychotic breakdowns” after leaving Scientology, and others who have been left in financial ruin after spending their life savings on courses and auditing fees. He says he’s skeptical about Holmes’s chances of making a tidy exit from the church: “I hope she’s getting good advice.”


  18. Katie Holmes is Biggest Nightmare in Scientology History, Say Experts

    by Dana Kennedy, Hollywood Reporter July 4, 2012

    In filing for divorce from Tom Cruise -- and apparently blindsiding him -- amid indications she doesn’t want her daughter raised a Scientologist and is seeking sole custody, Katie Holmes has made it clear that she is taking a very different tack from Nicole Kidman, who split up with Cruise in 2001.

    Kidman effectively lost the two children she adopted with Cruise when the kids chose to live with their father after the divorce. She has said it was the kids’ decision to stay with Cruise but has never explained why.

    "With Katie, it's like she’s taking a leaf from [Church of Scientology founder] L. Ron Hubbard's own playbook," says Marc Headley, an ex-Scientologist who fled the church with the help of police in 2005 after years spent working closely with Cruise and his close friend, Scientology's powerful and feared chairman, David Miscavige. "Hubbard always said, 'Attack, don’t defend.' "

    Holmes appears more aggressive and fearless than those who have taken steps to distance themselves from the church or have "blown" -- Scientology parlance for leaving the church -- according to one-time key members of the church who have left, many after years of soul searching, and endured what they claim was often harassment, intimidation and being cut off from their families.

    But some of Holmes’ apparent courage could stem from the fact that many of the high-ranking Scientologists who ran interference for Cruise during his marriage to Kidman and often discouraged or intimidated mainstream media from reporting on Scientology have left the church. A number of them are now actively working against Miscavige and Cruise by spilling church secrets to the very reporters they once threatened.
    Even Jenna Miscavige Hill, David Miscavige's niece, who left the church in 2005, issued astatement Tuesday in support of Holmes and any concern she has over her daughter's involvement in the church.

    "My experience in growing up in Scientology is that it is both mentally and at times physically abusive," Jenna said. "I was allowed to see my parents only once a week at best -- sometimes not for years. We got a lousy education from unqualified teachers, forced labor, long hours, forced confessions, being held in rooms, not to mention the mental anguish of trying to figure out all of the conflicting information they force upon you as a young child. ... As a mother myself, I offer my support to Katie and wish for her all the strength she will need to do what is best for her and her daughter."

    Still, Holmes’ decision to file for divorce from Cruise in New York state and ask for sole legal custody and primary physical custody of their 6-year-old daughter, Suri, sent a strong message, ex-members say, that she isn’t cowed by Cruise and his reputation as a prominent member of what has long been considered a powerful and litigious organization. Holmes has hired Allan Mayefsky, a high-powered matrimonial lawyer with experience handling difficult divorces who is known to play cases out in the media, as well as New Jersey divorce lawyer Jonathan Wolfe.

    Requests for comment from Holmes attorneys were not immediately returned.

    "Katie ambushed Tom Cruise and in so doing outwitted some of the most controlling people on Earth," says Karen De La Carriere, who was once one of the most powerful executives in Scientology and was married to Heber Jentzsch, Scientology's longtime president who mysteriously hasn't been seen in years. De La Carriere shocked the church by leaving in 2010 and telling secrets in anti-Miscavige blogs -- including her claim that she was kept for six months against her will at the secretive church base camp near Hemet, Calif.

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    "I have no doubt that she’s being tailed by them. It's par for the course. But she had to have planned this very carefully, right down to using disposable cell phones and laptops to throw people off her trail. It had to have been a very cloak-and-dagger operation."

    A former Scientologist with close ties to members of Cruise's family says his adopted daughter Isabella worked for Holmes at her clothing line, Holmes and Yang, and was abruptly fired about two months ago.

    "There was never any trouble between them," says the source. "Bella called Katie ‘Mom.’ She was fired out of the blue, and once Katie filed for divorce, it all made sense. This was a carefully planned ambush. Katie didn’t want Bella working for her anymore because she was Tom’s kid."

    Backed by her family, according to sources, especially her father, who is a divorce attorney, and perhaps emboldened by the increasing critiques and exposés of the church by former top members, Holmes is standing up to Scientology in a way that was almost unthinkable in 2001.

    "This was a very bold move on Katie’s part, but at the same time she knows these are different times and she has more support," says De La Carriere, who joined the church’s elite and secretive Sea Organization in the early 1970s at the invitation of the Hubbard, who died in 1986, and is the last surviving top "auditor" to be trained by him. (Auditing is a form of counseling central to Scientology philosophy.)

    "By filing for sole custody of Suri, she’s making it very clear she’s not going to let what happened with Nicole Kidman happen to her," says De La Carriere.

    Holmes has the advantage of going up against an organization that has been significantly weakened during the past decade, as an increasing number of high-level Scientologists such as Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder have defected. Together, Rathbun and Rinder were considered the second- and third-most powerful church officials under Miscavige and took care of troublesome legal and media issues, among them Cruise’s divorce from Kidman. The pair have been described as one of the church’s most effective weapons by ex-Scientologists and in many media accounts.

    "They don’t have the resources or the people to help them attack the way they used to because so many key people have blown," says Amy Scobee, whose mother signed her over to Scientology when she was 15 and who went on to run the church’s Celebrity Centres before leaving in 2005 because she did not like Miscavige. Scobee also knew Cruise well and hired his household staff (who were Scientologists) when he was married to Kidman.

    "Marty and Mike are irreplaceable," says Scobee. "They were tough. They understood Scientology, and they knew how to take care of business. Scientology can hire all the lawyers they want now, but they won’t hold a candle to Marty and Mike. The people Miscavige needs to help him with the Tom and Katie mess are now on the outside working against them."

    In response to previous reports in The Hollywood Reporter that cited Scobee’s accounts of her experiences, the church attacked her credibility, saying she was dismissed from the church for gross malfeasance.

    Hundreds of people including high-level leaders have left -- or tried to leave -- the Church of Scientology, especially in the past six to seven years, as dissatisfaction with Miscavige has intensified. Many defectors, most of whom remain loyal to Hubbard’s legacy and teachings, have accused Miscavige -- variously in the press, in books and, in the case of Headley, in a lawsuit filed in 2009 -- of being violent, of abusing adult and child labor laws at the Hemet base camp and of focusing too much on fund-raising.

    Even Rupert Murdoch tweeted this week that the church was "evil" and "creepy" in a move some saw as proof that the media should no longer fear reporting about the church.

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    Fox News' Geraldo Rivera followed the boss’ tweet with one of his own on Monday, asking, "Does Scientology have special program to provide cover for closeted gay superstars?"

    Holmes has not commented yet on why she decided to file for divorce from Cruise, but the actor's camp has indicated it was Holmes’ decision. Cruise issued a statement saying he was "deeply saddened."

    In contrast, Kidman has said that she was the one who was shocked by Cruise’s divorce petition in 2000, though she never took to Scientology during their 10-year marriage. She told Vanity Fair in 2002 that she was so upset by Cruise dumping her that she lay "crying in the fetal position on the floor" at one point.

    Unlike Kidman, who kept quiet during her divorce from Cruise and has rarely commented publicly about it since, Holmes already has made a statement of sorts by filing her petition in New York and saying she wants full legal custody and primary residential custody of their Suri.

    "Katie could blow Scientology wide open," says Rathbun, who was in the church for 22 years before leaving in late 2004. Rathbun, who calls himself an "independent Scientologist" and writes a candidblog popular with former members, was Cruise’s auditor and handled Cruise’s divorce from Kidman.

    "If Tom’s smart, he won’t fight her on anything, even custody. He should just try to settle his way out of it," says Rathbun. "She could press this sole-custody issue and litigate it, and that would be the biggest nightmare in the Church of Scientology’s history. It would be a circus they couldn’t survive."

    When THR cited Rathbun’s experience with Scientology in a previous article, the church also attacked his credibility, focusing partly on alleged personal transgressions.

    In a statement regarding the defectors who spoke on the record to THR, Gary Soter, a Calabasas, Calif.-based attorney representing the organization, said: "All of these people are ex-communicated self-promoters who are sadly exploiting a private family matter for their own personal financial gain. The Church stands by its previous statements with respect to all of them. They cannot be believed given they have acquired no firsthand knowledge of the Church for many years and have a record of making false and/or misleading statements about the Church."

    Says Headley, who was once the head of film and video production for Scientology: "The church may be underestimating Katie. She knows how to play Tom, and she’s been doing it brilliantly. She knows he’s locked down up in Iceland shooting his movie and he can’t fly back to the U.S. to handle this."

    Cruise was filming Oblivion in Iceland but flew back to the U.S. on Tuesday, his 50th birthday. His longtime lawyer Bert Fields did not respond to requests for comment, but it has been reported that Cruise has hired Dennis Wasser to represent him in the divorce -- the same attorney who represented him in the split from Kidman.

    When asked if the church is advising Cruise in this matter, Soter responded: "The Church doesn't comment on any individual parishioner or his or her spiritual journey. This is a private matter, and it is inappropriate for comment. The Church has respected and will continue to respect the privacy of both parties during this difficult period."

    Two former Scientologists who say they have a connection to both a member of the Holmes family and people still inside the church claim that Holmes’ family has been wary of Scientology from the start.

    One reason for their concern might have been that it is a common Scientology practice to order members to cut off or "disconnect" from family members who disapprove of the church.
    "Katie was monitored as if she lived under the Stasi," says Rathbun. "It was not quite as bad for Nicole. But that’s how it is now."

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  21. Because of Rathbun’s former status in Scientology, he says he is the go-to guy for people leaving the church. He told THR he got information about how Holmes has been spied on and reported on by Scientologists from people who defected as recently as three months ago.

    His well-read, no-holds-barred blog also contains detailed comments by many of them, a number of whom state their names.

    "Church members are required to report on one another, especially if they see any infractions to the way the church believes you should lead your life," says Rathbun. "Tom’s personal staff including his sisters are much more afraid of Miscavige than they are of Tom. They’ve reported every detail of Tom’s life to Miscavige for 15 years. Katie was always being watched. So is Tom."

    But even if Scientology is in a more precarious state than it was 10 years ago, these former members do not expect the church to necessarily abandon its trademark moves when it comes to trying to crush what it sees as the opposition. Nor does the church necessarily realize how the 24-hour news cycle and breaking-news gossip sites like TMZ have made some of its practices more transparent, ex-members say.

    "Scientology is going to do to Katie what they always do in these situations," says Headley, who wrote 2009's Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology. "They’re going to put a thousand private investigators on her tail and dig through her garbage and talk to her staff even though they don’t have any real dirt on her."

    Adds Headley: "Scientologists don’t know the world has changed. Miscavige lives in a bubble. They are still using Hubbard’s playbook for strategy that was written in the 1950s and doesn’t work too well in the age of the Internet."

    On the allegations that Holmes has been being followed by the organization, Soter wrote: "There is no truth whatsoever to the reports that the Church of Scientology has sent anyone to follow Katie Holmes. The cars and individuals widely reported in the media as looking suspicious were not sent by the Church.

    "We understand that the media has now confirmed that the 'suspicious' men outside of Katie Holmes’ residence were actually working for Katie Holmes (see, e.g. latest Inside Edition report)," he wrote. "Yet, one of the people that you interviewed confidently reported on his blog that the Church had hired security guards to follow Katie Holmes and that the Church and its attorneys were engaged in artful lying. I would consider any republication of alleged information from these sources to be made in reckless disregard of the truth."

    Rathbun, Rinder, De La Carriere, Scobee and Headley told THR they are still sometimes confronted, threatened or followed by people sent by the church years after having left Scientology. All of them, as well as other ex-Scientologists who did not want to go on the record, say they have been disconnected from family members.

    Says Rinder: "What Katie is doing is going to drive a wedge in a door that Scientology was trying to keep closed. She is going to stir up a media frenzy, and a lot of people are going to find out what a lot of us have known for years."
    Scobee says that the impending divorce -- Cruise’s third -- will be an embarrassment to Scientology. "The church is supposed to be about people improving their lives," she says. "It’s supposed to help people with their marriages, not get divorced three times."

    De La Carriere says Holmes may be legitimately scared for her daughter because she claims Scientology deliberately turned the two adopted children of Cruise and Kidman against Kidman during and after the divorce.

    One anti-Scientology activist who has worked with church members after they left the organization recalls that Kidman called him during her divorce from Cruise.

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  22. "Nicole reached out to us because there was really no one else to go to," the source says. "It was very different back then, and she didn’t have anyone to go to for help and answers."

    Rathbun says Cruise was a "total gentleman" during his divorce from Kidman, and they split everything 50-50, including custody of their adopted daughter Isabella and son Connor.

    But Rathbun says that then the organization, including all the staff members who work in Cruise’s Los Angeles home, began to quietly turn the kids against Kidman.

    Rathbun says he witnessed Tommy Davis, head of the church’s Celebrity Centre and the son of actress Anne Archer, feeding Isabella and Connor Cruise false information about their mother so as to turn them against her.

    "Tommy told them over and over again their mother was a sociopath, and after a while they believed him," Rathbun says. "They had daily sessions with Tommy. I was there. I saw it."
    A number of former Scientology members say Holmes must know that as Suri gets older, the church might start exerting more of an influence on her.

    "She’s at the age where the kids get indoctrinated," says Headley. "It’s like, playtime over. You’re a Scientologist now. And they really de-emphasize the family. Katie becomes a lot less important as a mother. It’s all about the organization over the individual."
    Soter compared the religious training of children to the practice in Catholicism of beginning to receive Holy Communion at age 7.

    "Parents may choose to begin educating their children about religion at any time, much as in any other religion," his statement said. "There is nothing unusual here."

    Headley, who began working 100-hour weeks at the Sea Org base in Hemet when he was 16, often for no pay, was shunned by his Scientologist mother when he left in 2005.

    "You're either in or out when it comes to Scientology," says Headley. "That’s why Katie is making custody such an issue in the divorce petition. If you’re out, the way she seems to be, they want to cut you off from everyone, including your kids."

    Rinder says his biggest regret about leaving is that his son, daughter, mother, sister, sister-in-law, brother-in-law and several nieces and nephews refuse to speak to him.

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  23. Rinder’s 34-year-old daughter works at the Sea Org base near Hemet, where Miscavige has ruled in recent years that no one can marry or have children. His son, 29, works at the Clearwater, Fla., base, from which Rinder was turned away recently and accused of trespassing when he tried to see his son, who may have cancer.

    "I feel bad because I put them there -- they were born in the Sea Org," says Rinder. "They’ve been in it their whole lives. At the same time, they’re adults now, and I wish they’d come to their senses."

    Rinder’s children might not, as he says, "come to their senses" as Scientology forbids reading stories about the church on the Internet.
    But despite the enormous amount of negative reports online about Scientology -- whether written by ex-members, church opponents or investigative journalists such as Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker, Tony Ortega of The Village Voice or the staff at The Tampa Bay Times -- none of it has really seemed to stick to the church, Rinder says.

    Ortega, for example, writes about Scientology at least once a week and broke the news last week that Miscavige’s father, Ron, and a niece of Hubbard escaped from the Sea Org base camp in Hemet sometime this spring after decades with the church.

    “I think Tom and Katie, along with Rupert Murdoch’s tweet, is what is going to open the floodgates,” says Rinder. “Murdoch basically telling all his own reporters that it’s open season on Scientology. It means Rupert isn’t scared of them and their reputation for litigiousness. That’s not good news for Scientology.”

    It is good news theoretically for Holmes, who might be more successful holding on to Suri after her divorce than Kidman was with her two adopted children if she wins the press over to her side and is able to force some transparency in her divorce negotiations with Cruise.


  24. Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes amicably settle divorce, attorney says

    By Alan Duke, CNN July 9, 2012

    Los Angeles (CNN) -- Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes "amicably settled" their divorce just two weeks after Holmes filed for it, an attorney told CNN Monday.

    While no details of their agreement are public, the former couple said they are "working together" in the "best interests" of their young daughter.

    In the June 28 divorce filing, Holmes sought sole custody of 6-year-old Suri. Holmes and Cruise have been married for five years.

    "We are thrilled for Katie and her family and are excited to watch as she embarks on the next chapter of her life," said Holmes' attorney Jonathan Wolfe.

    Wolfe thanked Cruise's lawyers "for their professionalism and diligence that helped bring about this speedy resolution."

    Another one of Holmes' attorneys, Allan Mayefsky, said the divorce was "amicably settled."

    "The terms of the settlement are confidential," Mayefsky said. "The parties have issued a joint statement regarding this resolution. We will have no further comment."

    That statement, prepared jointly by Cruise, 50, and Holmes, 33, was sent to CNN by Cruise publicist Amanda Lundberg.

    "We are committed to working together as parents to accomplishing what is in our daughter Suri's best interests," the statement said. "We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other's commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other's roles as parents."


  25. Tom Cruise's former Scientology auditor speaks about Cruise/Kidman divorce

    By Anna Schecter Rock Center MSNB July 11, 2012

    Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise's settlement is now final and neither of them has publicly addressed reports that the Church of Scientology-and the future role of Scientology in their daughter Suri’s life-was a cause of the split.

    One former Church of Scientology official is speaking out about what he said he witnessed at the time of Cruise’s 2001 divorce from actress Nicole Kidman.

    Marty Rathbun, who worked at the church for 27 years before leaving in 2004, said that he believes church officials used Scientology doctrine to turn Kidman’s children against her.

    “It was more than implied….[Kidman] was somebody that they shouldn't open up with, they shouldn't communicate with, and they shouldn't spend much time with,” said Rathbun in an interview airing Thursday, July 17 at 10pm/9c on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.

    Rathbun said he spent countless hours working with Cruise at the church’s celebrity center in California starting in late 2001. He said he was conducting counseling sessions with Cruise that the church calls "auditing.”

    “[Cruise] and I were intensively at it, you know, auditing several hours a day over several months,” he said.

    When Cruise’s children were with their father at the church, they were often in the hands of the Church of Scientology staff, according to Rathbun.

    “And they were being indoctrinated, and they were reporting to Tom on how that was going in my presence,” Rathbun said.

    Rathbun claims church officials suggested to Cruise and Kidman’s children, then six and nine years old, that their mother was a “suppressive person,” which the church’s website, Scientology.org, defines as “a person who seeks to suppress other people in their vicinity.”

    “A Suppressive Person will goof up or vilify any effort to help anybody and particularly knife with violence anything calculated to make human beings more powerful or more intelligent. The "suppressive person" is also known as the "anti-social personality." Within this category one finds Napoleon, Hitler, the unrepentant killer and the drug lord,” according to the official Church of Scientology's website, Scientology.org.

    Rathbun said the Church of Scientology closely monitors the communication of high profile members and orders members to sever ties with suppressive people, particularly those who are critical of the church.

    “That person could be your son, it could be your daughter, it could be your father, it could be your mother. It doesn't matter,” Rathbun said.

    Rathbun said these policies came into play with regards to Kidman’s children, Conner and Isabella. “They were being steered toward and indoctrinated toward coming to the conclusion that Nicole was a suppressive person,” he said.

    The Church of Scientology has denied that any such conversations with Kidman’s children took place. It has said that it has no policy that requires members to sever ties with relatives who do not believe in the religion. On the church's website, Scientology.org, it says that, "A Scientologist can have trouble making spiritual progress in his auditing or training if he is connected to someone who is suppressive...[and] as a last resort, when all attempts to handle have failed, one 'disconnects' from or stops communicating with the person."

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  26. continued from previous comment:

    The church declined to comment on the divorce of Cruise and Holmes, saying it would be “inappropriate.”

    Kidman’s publicist did not respond to requests for comment on this story. A representative for Cruise told Rock Center that Rathbun is not a reliable source.

    "He is a bitter ex-Scientologist who spends most of his time attacking Scientology and using Tom Cruise's name to get attention for his bigoted diatribe. If he "audited" Mr. Cruise, he is violating the privilege of that position by discussing it," said Bert Fields, Cruise's representative.

    Of the Church of Scientology's role in influencing Kidman and Cruise's children, Fields said, "It is absolutely false that Mr. Cruise, or anyone else to his knowledge, did or said anything to lessen Connor and Bella's communication or relationship with their mother. On the contrary, Mr. Cruise did all he could to encourage that relationship."

    In a letter to NBC News, Gary Soter, an attorney for the Church of Scientology, wrote that Rathbun is an unreliable source and a liar. Soter described Rathbun as “a defrocked ex-communicated apostate.”

    Soter wrote that Rathbun is a self-promoter who is “shamelessly” exploiting a tragic personal matter to forward his own anti-Scientology agenda and to profit from it.

    Scientology’s online publication FreedomMag.org contains numerous allegations against Rathbun, including charges of violent and psychotic behavior.

    Rathbun admits to violent behavior against other members of the church while still a member himself, but says it was part of the culture within the church, which the church denies.

    One of the posts on FreedomMag.org asserts that church officials ultimately fired Rathbun from the church for bad behavior and had to “clean up his mess.”

    When asked about the allegations against him, Rathbun replied, “Then why was I assigned by the Chairman of the Board to audit Tom Cruise during the last four years of my involvement at the Church of Scientology?”

    Karen Russo contributed to this report.

    Editor's Note: Kate Snow's full report airs Thursday, July 12 at 10pm/9c on NBC's Rock Center with Brian Williams.


  27. Scientology storm: Tom Cruise, bride auditions and Haggis' outrage

    By Matt Donnelly, Los Angeles Times September 3, 2012

    The Church of Scientology and Tom Cruise are certainly laboring this holiday weekend.

    An explosive new report contends the organization auditioned potential brides for Cruise following his 2001 split from Nicole Kidman -- one that's been backed up by a famous detractor of the religion.

    On Saturday, Vanity Fair magazine released a cover story titled "What Katie Didn't Know," an expose claiming an effort on the part of the church to find and vet partners for Cruise, a title that eventually went to his now ex-wife Katie Holmes.

    Reportedly executed by Scientology leader David Miscavige's wife, Shelly, the search for a new bride began in 2004 (presumably after Cruise's split from his "Vanilla Sky" costar Penelope Cruz), with an objective to find an eligible actress in the congregation.

    Those who met the criteria were told the church was filming a new training video for members, and were reportedly called in to audition for the nonexistent roles. They were asked, among other questions, "What do you think of Tom Cruise?"

    A former head of Scientology's in-house media studio, Marc Headly, told the magazine that he had seen several audition tapes and implied that the line of questioning served to benefit Cruise and his religion.

    "It’s not like you only have to please your husband -- you have to toe the line for Scientology," Headly said.

    But Headly is nowhere near the star of this account. The article identifies an actress and former Scientologist named Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-born beauty who was allegedly chosen by Shelly Miscavige for Cruise, whom he dated for two months.

    From November 2004 to January 2005, the story claims, Boniadi was placed in seclusion, given a credit card for expenses and policed heavily by church officials via Cruise. She had little contact with Tom, though the article said she'd moved in with the actor and occupied a bedroom in his house.

    As things deteriorated in January, due in part to Boniadi's reported refusal to indulge Cruise in public displays of affection, she was moved into L.A.'s swanky Scientology Centre, then to an affiliated center in Florida -- where she was made to clean toilets with a tooth brush and dig ditches, the article said.

    We'd call that a bad breakup. A Cruise rep is calling the whole report a lie.

    "Lies in a different font are still lies - designed to sell magazines," Tom's rep said in a statement, meaning the magazine is slumming it with such fare.

    The bombshell report marinated through Monday morning, when Vanity Fair got a supporter in Paul Haggis -- the Hollywood director who memorably blasted Scientology, of which he is a former member, to the New Yorker.

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  28. continued from previous comment...

    Haggis said he's known about Boniadi for three years, and is horrified by the church's treatment of the "General Hospital" player.

    "Naz was embarrassed by her unwitting involvement in this incident and never wanted it to come out, so I kept silent," Haggis wrote in an email to Showbiz 411.

    "However I was deeply disturbed by how the highest ranking members of a church could so easily justify using one of their members."

    The "Crash" director also makes the dizzying accusation that Boniadi is only one example of such treatment.

    "This story will draw attention because of our fascination with celebrity. Most of the others are just ordinary people whose stories, if told, would not appear in a magazine," he said, "they live in fear of retribution, legal, financial or personal, even some famous ones."

    And still, one more player in the fold: Katie Holmes. The teen soap star would go on to date Cruise three months after the story says Boniadi was sent packing. The one who would marry Cruise in 2006 and divorce him only weeks ago.

    She's the face smiling from Vanity Fair's cover, the same who's been bounding around New York Cityas a single mom (she and Cruise share 6-year-old Suri). Single indeed, but we'd hardly call this free.


  29. Church of Scientology paid two private investigators millions to trail David Miscavige's rival, lawsuit claims

    By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Tampa Bay Times Staff Writers September 22, 2012

    Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige ordered surveillance on one of his former church rivals in a secret operation that lasted 25 years and ate up millions in church funds, a Texas lawsuit alleges.

    The two private investigators who filed the suit say the church hired them to conduct intensive surveillance on Pat Broeker, a church leader who worked closely with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in the 1970s and '80s. Broeker was ousted by Miscavige in a power struggle after Hubbard's 1986 death.

    Paul Marrick and Greg Arnold allege that five years into the "Broeker Operation" the church agreed to employ them permanently but stopped making payments early this year. The two are seeking damages, alleging the church made false representations and breached its agreement with them.

    Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw said the church had no comment because it had not seen the petition, which was filed Thursday in San Patricio County, near Corpus Christi.

    The Broeker Operation was first revealed in 2009 when former church executives Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder told the Tampa Bay Times that Miscavige wanted to know about Broeker's every move after he continued his life outside the church. The lawsuit not only corroborates their story but fills in extraordinary details about the operation.

    Marrick of Colorado and Arnold of California say that, at the church's direction, they followed Broeker as he moved around the United States and overseas. The lawsuit says they recorded his phone calls, picked through his trash, took photos and video of him and "communicated with him under false pretenses."

    Their attorney, Ray Jeffrey, said the church paid the men a total of $10 million to $12 million over the 25 years. That works out to between $33,000 and $40,000 a month.

    Said Jeffrey: "You have a completely secret operation that only a small handful of people knew about, with nothing ever in writing: no contracts in writing, no invoices, no anything."

    Jeffrey said the church paid the men for years by depositing cash into their bank accounts each month. Later, they were told to start a corporation, and the payments were sent to the corporate account.

    He said Marrick and Arnold paid income taxes on the money and conducted their investigations professionally.

    Miscavige received regular briefings, Jeffrey said. And whenever the investigators found anything of interest in Broeker's trash, they sent it to the church.

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  30. continued from previous comment...

    The men also did other work for Scientology, including surveillance of Mitch Daniels, the Indiana governor, the lawsuit says.

    That operation allegedly took place in the early 1990s when the church was at war with the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. At the time, Daniels was the company's senior vice president.

    Marrick and Arnold also say they have conducted surveillance on Rathbun and Rinder. Rathbun left the church in 2004 and Rinder in 2007. They have since been leaders in a growing movement of "independent" Scientologists who oppose the way Miscavige is running the church.

    Marrick and Arnold know where Broeker is. But Jeffrey said he wants to "reach out" to him with "some level of sensitivity" before revealing anything publicly.

    "He could very well be a witness," Jeffrey said. "Although to the best of our knowledge he wasn't aware that he was being surveilled for 25 years."

    For years, the church has insisted that it doesn't hire private investigators. It has said its attorneys sometimes hire them as part of standard litigation practice to protect the church's interests.

    But the lawsuit says Marrick and Arnold dealt directly with Miscavige's staff, not attorneys, and that Miscavige feared Broeker might one day try to reclaim his position.

    Broeker left quietly and was not a threat to Scientology, Jeffrey said. The surveillance operation "just seems inconsistent with their mission."

    Five years into the operation, the two investigators began to worry about whether anyone would hire them when the church no longer needed them.

    They say they were told the church would deny any knowledge of them or their work if anyone asked.

    The two men began looking for jobs in their former field, law enforcement. But when Miscavige's staff learned about it, they told the men not to leave — that the church would pay them permanently, even if the Broeker Operation ended.

    According to the lawsuit, the church said it would treat the men better than if they had law enforcement careers.

    The lawsuit argues that the church is legally bound to those words, even if there was no written contract.

    Jeffrey said the church's payments to the men became irregular, then stopped completely early this year.

    He said they contacted him after he represented Debbie Cook, a top Scientology executive who spoke out against Miscavige in January and February. The church sued Cook but later reached a settlement that requires her never to speak of Scientology again.


  31. This high school seminar brought to you by Scientology

    By Daniel Piotrowski news.com.au February 21, 2013

    HIGH school students completed a seminar without being informed it was sponsored by the Church of Scientology, news.com.au has learned.

    At least 60 junior students at Woodridge State High School, south of Brisbane, participated in a class on December 10 about human rights featuring materials from the group, Youth For Human Rights.

    Staff and students were not told the group is sponsored by the Church of Scientology - but the Church hailed the group's visit to the school in an international media release.

    The seminar did not include teachings from Scientology, although it did include a quote by Scientology founder, science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard.

    Teachers and ethics experts have now called for greater disclosure about background information from groups coming into school grounds.

    Kevin Bates, president of the Queensland Teachers’ Federation, said the lack of disclosure was concerning. "The key issue is that [their links] were unbeknown to the school," Mr Bates said.

    He said the school, which has a high refugee population and often works with NGOs, should have learned an important lesson on background checking organisations.

    Ethicist Dr Simon Longstaff said all organisations, whether they're religious or commercial, should disclose their backgrounds when coming into schools.

    "Any organisation thinking to make a presentation within a school environment should be transparent about who they are," Dr Longstaff said, adding it was essential for staff and students to make informed decisions to consent.

    Sei Broadhurst, a Church of Scientology spokeswoman, said in a statement it believed religious groups should disclose their identity before school visits.

    "Youth for Human Rights however is not a religious group. Its only purpose is to promote the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is non-religious," she said.

    The Church describe Youth For Human Rights as a "separate and secular organisation" but said the Church provides funds for its materials.

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  32. Youth For Human Rights "does not promote Scientology at all", Ms Broadhurst said, adding that the L. Ron Hubbard quote in study materials only promoted human rights.

    "The Church of Scientology does not conduct school visits and only does presentations of Scientology teachings in our own churches and these are always for our own members," Ms Broadhurst said.

    The Church's support for Youth For Human Rights was clearly disclosed on its main website, she said.

    Kalisi Bese, the volunteer who ran the seminar, told news.com.au it did not matter who supported the seminar given the huge need for human rights education in the community.

    "When I deliver the package it’s more on what human rights is all about, not who is financially endorsed by who or what not," Ms Bese told news.com.au. "It’s a tool that’s really needed."

    Ms Bese said she was a Christian, not a Scientologist, and Scientology only sponsored Youth For Human Rights. She said she had given similar presentations to schools and staff in Sydney.

    Not the first time

    In 2009, then NSW Education Minister Verity Firth directed schools not to use Youth For Human Rights brochures and DVDs, after it was revealed they had been sent to "most schools in Australia".

    "It's just a marketing exercise for Scientology," Ms Firth said at the time.

    Ms Broadhurst denied the materials were not banned in NSW. They have not been submitted for approval for use by the NSW Education Department as they have their own materials.

    A prominent critic of the religion, Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, said the Church of Scientology had a lot of nerve promoting human rights.

    "The cruel irony of this Scientology-backed group spruiking human rights is so many ex-Scientologists have told me how their human rights were abused while in Scientology," he said.

    Ms Broadhurst said none of Mr Xenophon’s allegations, made under parliamentary privilege, had been substantiated. The Church had been exonerated by the Australian Federal Police, she said.

    "The fact that no media outlet has called Senator Xenophon to task over his disgraceful abuse of parliamentary privilege is frankly a disgrace," Ms Broadhurst told news.com.au.

    She said the Church places a "very high importance" on promoting human rights in a world "where there is too much prejudice, hate and violence".

    Scientology, which is a religion under Commonwealth law, has launched an Australian media offensive this year.

    Reporters and celebrities - including former rugby league star Matthew Johns - were invited behind the scenes of Scientology's Australian churches.

    News.com.au was the first Australian news organisation to receive access.


  33. Scientology is still a red flag in Germany

    by Rachel Baig Deutsche Welle February 22, 2013

    Critics in Germany accuse the Scientology sect of denying fundamental human rights. The organization insists that it's a religion. While it is not banned, Germany's domestic intelligence monitors the group.

    Ursula Caberta has given up. The former Commissioner of the Scientology Task Force for the city of Hamburg is Germany's best known Scientology critic and is a highly regarded expert far beyond Hamburg. The fact that she has recently resigned from her post shows just how difficult the fight against the sect and its structures is.

    For almost two decades, Caberta was in charge of dealing with Scientology for the Hamburg Senate. Her aim was not simply to inform about the organization but also to help people that wanted to leave and get out. For her, Scientology is not just the problem of individual victims, but a threat to the national security of Germany. "I realized that Scientology is not a religion, but a totalitarian organization with a leadership cult and master race ideology." Caberta called for a ban – but never got the political support she would have needed.

    The Hamburg Senate also didn't support her as much as it could have. For financial reasons it closed the work group on Scientology in 2010 and handed the individual counseling over to the domestic intelligence agency. Caberta could have continued with her work, but no longer had any staff. She has now thrown in the towel because the political support is no longer there. "When there are not enough funding, it gets difficult to do the job," the 62-year-old told DW.

    Scientology remains under surveillance
    Scientology claims to be a religion and calls itself a church – and that's one of the points that many critics focus on. Jürg Stettler, spokesman for the organization, describes the group as an "idealistic union" and stresses that "Scientology was first established in Germany in 1972. There are eight churches, 10 missions and many individual groups." The churches and missions are registered associations and regulate their own internal activities. They finance themselves through membership fees and donations. As a religious organization, Scientology also has many tax advantages.

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  34. But this is only what you see from the outside, says Manfred Napieralla of Hamburg's domestic intelligence service. Scientology is seeking money, power and influence. Critics, and people who have left the organization, talk about massive psychological pressure on members to fully conform to the sect's ideology. The organization seeks "to influence, use and control key people in politics, the economy, media and other areas of society," warns Napieralla.

    This was not always the case. When it was founded in 1950 by L. Ron Hubbard as a helter-skelter mix of science fiction, philosophy and psychology, it first seemed to be just one sect among many. "In the late 1960s and early 70s, which was a time of social upheaval, there were a lot of cults and sects and Scientology was just one of many. It had time to quietly spread and grow," Napieralla explains.

    In 1997, a conference of Germany's regional interior ministers decided to put Scientology under surveillance. The legality of the move was later upheld by the courts, which agreed that Scientology was aiming for a society that would infringe or even abandon basic rights like human dignity, or the right to equal treatment.

    Declining influence

    Scientology is not banned in Germany, but court cases, media focus and reports by the domestic intelligence service have led to a declining number of followers in Germany as well as in many other European countries. "If Scientology were not under investigation, or if there was less attention from the authorities, the organization would become more aggressive again and would be able to grow," Napieralla believes. Scientology ruthlessly attacks its critics.

    "There is a a special unit, the so-called Office of Special Affairs, with a department in Germany," he says. Scientology does not shy away from putting pressure on critics and spying on them, Napieralla explains.

    And he should know. The Hamburg domestic intelligence office receives more than 500 requests for help each year from people who want information or want to leave the group. "Even if it's clearly going downhill with Scientology, they still cause a lot of anxiety and insecurity. They aim to reach a broad spectrum of society and they do a lot of subversive work," notes Napieralla. Ursula Caberta is convinced that the efforts against Scientology have to be kept up. "This is an organization that has survived many crises in the past," she warns. "If you don't keep up the work, they will quickly recover."


  35. Phoenix Schools Under Fire For Program Linked To Scientology

    by PETER O'DOWD NPR March 27, 2013

    A group of Phoenix charter schools is facing criticism for using a teaching tool based on the work of L. Ron Hubbard, best known for founding the Church of Scientology.

    Teacher Katie Donahoe says that shortly after she was hired in 2010, she went to a memorable training session on the teaching method, called Applied Scholastics. The session was held at the Applied Scholastics headquarters near St. Louis.

    "They didn't start off talking about instruction. They started off talking about L. Ron Hubbard," says Donoho, who was there at the urging of her new superintendent. Later that fall she would start teaching English at Robert L. Duffy High School in Phoenix. But first, she was asked to get familiar with Hubbard's methods.

    "The next stop was to watch a video talking about how great Applied Scholastics was," Donahoe says. Among those in the video were Isaac Hayes, Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

    "These are not education experts. These are Scientology spokespeople. It was very weird," she says.

    Donahoe has since left the school.

    Applied Scholastics is a program based on something Hubbard called Study Technology. The idea is that some kids struggle because they can't overcome learning barriers. They misunderstand words or progress through the content too quickly. The Church of Scientology makes no secret of its support for the program. It even distributes highly produced videos on it.

    Applied Scholastics would not comment on tape for this story. But in an email, a spokesperson says the materials are secular and their sole purpose is to help people learn. However, in the past year, Applied Scholastics' presence in publicly funded schools has concerned parents and educators in places like Denver and Tampa. In Denver, the school system warned Applied Scholastics in 2012 that the program was not helping students and it would be dropped unless students improved. The company did not apply to be considered as a teaching tool for the 2013 school year. In Tampa, the charter school using Applied Scholastics closed.

    So here's the issue: does Applied Scholastics violate the Constitution when it shows up here?

    continued in next comment...

  36. Robert L. Duffy High School is home to mostly minority, low-income students who've struggled academically. Robert Duffy, the man who runs the six-school charter district of about 1,000 students, says Hubbard's work is effective here.

    "It's a tool. It's nothing that goes beyond this. Believe me," Duffy says.

    For example, if a student struggles with ratios, a teacher might ask the student to make a clay model to better visualize the concept. Duffy also makes available a booklet written by Hubbard that's described as a secular guide to moral living.

    "It's very basic stuff. It has nothing to do with church or religion. Believe me, I am not a Scientologist. I hear things about them, and I don't support that at all," Duffy says.

    Charles Haynes, a First Amendment expert and director of the Religious Freedom Education Project, says the materials as he reads them are "certainly not explicitly proselytizing."

    "The harder question," he says, "is whether they implicitly promote the Church of Scientology."

    Haynes reviewed Applied Scholastics on behalf of California public schools. He says there is no doubt these so-called secular materials share language with official Scientology teachings. A red flag, for sure, "and at some point you get enough of these red flags and it becomes a constitutional question that will be challenged," Haynes says.

    But he says just because Hubbard wrote it doesn't make it inappropriate for public schools. Tell that to parent LeAnn Thomas.

    "They were literally trying to slide it in there without anybody supposedly knowing," Thomas says. "No. That's not right."

    Her son, Brandon, graduated from Robert L. Duffy High School in 2011. He was class president, and at times really liked the school. But had his mom known the teachers were using L. Ron Hubbard's materials, she says, "I definitely would pull him." Not telling parents about something so potentially controversial, she says, just feels underhanded.


  37. Scientology in schools

    Yahoo! News Australia April 12, 2013

    Two human rights groups, funded by Scientology, have sent out information packs to schools and kindergartens without declaring their relationship.

    Children are being introduced to Scientology funded programs in schools without even knowing it.

    One school even allowed them to hold a seminar, not realising who was really talking to the students.

    Kindergartens across the country recently received a strange 'information pack' in the mail.

    Catherine Waters is the director of Melbourne's JJ McMahon kindergarten.

    "My initial response was to put it in the bin. So I started reading carefully through the accompanying literature and it wasn't really till I got to the last page that I realised there was a connection with the Scientology organisation," Waters said.

    The kit included a warning to parents and a form for them to sign. The form was an exemption against health checks that are carried out on young children at school.

    The information pack claims the health checks could lead to their children being prescribed mind-altering drugs.

    "It's not something that I would suggest they exempt their child from, because if your child has difficulties, it's really important for their sake that it's identified as soon as possible," said Waters.

    The group behind this information pack is the CCHR, or Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

    "We don't have principals or office staff screening our mail, it's up to the teachers and sometimes the volunteer parents to sort out fact from fiction. And this is an area which, for me, is making life additionally difficult for those people," Ms Waters said.

    The Government introduced the Healthy Kids check in 2008 - it is funded by Medicare. The Federal Mental Health Minister has slammed the Scientology pack as factually wrong and misleading.

    "I've just been incredibly disappointed by the lack of openness on behalf of this group because it has a severe impact on your ability to trust what you're receiving through the mail. I don't feel that they had our best interests at their heart," Waters said.

    At Woodridge State High school, south of Brisbane parents were stunned to learn 60 children attended a seminar run by a Scientology funded group calling itself Youth for Human Rights.

    "It’s false representation isn't it?" said one parent.

    Another parent said, "I do not want any of my family involved in it whether it's my kids, my grandkids, my brothers and sisters. I don't want them involved!"

    The group failed to declare that they were a Scientology-funded group.

    A video was found online by Youth for Human Rights video that included senior Australian Scientologist, Luke Ayres, confirming it was made by the Church of Scientology.

    continued in next comment...

  38. Kevin Bates, the president of the Queensland Teachers' Federation is calling for regulations for schools to better check who they're letting inside school gates.

    "There was no disclosure about the background of the group concerned or who was funding them and now that information has been made available the school has taken steps to ensure that further contact with students isn't going to be an option," said Bates.

    "It would be our view that there would be a place for some central regulation of these sorts of programs that are being introduced to schools to ensure that we do see in a school context that there are only those programs that are found to be free from outside influences that might be considered inappropriate in a school context," Mr Bates said.

    "I think the important thing is we should have disclosure."

    Senator Nick Xenophon has for years exposed the abuses inside Scientology. He believes they are turning to these front groups because too many people now know the truth about Scientology.

    "This is mean and sneaky and tricky and, above all, dangerous misinformation that's why it must be stopped," said Senator Xenophon.

    "Too many people have come forward, I mean, the fact these jokers go on about human rights when I've seen so many people who been in the so-called Church of Scientology who've had their human rights abused, who've had their lives ruined, who have been ruined both emotionally and financially and for them to be talking about people's human rights is really a cruel hoax," Xenophon said.

    Perhaps the most extraordinary tale told by Scientology is that its founder L Ron Hubbard is a great humanitarian equal in standing and achievement to Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and others.

    "It just shows you how deluded these people are to be mentioning L Ron Hubbard in the same breath as Gandhi and Martin Luther King. It really is a sick joke," Senator Xenophon said.

    What the CCHR claim:

    That hijacking of the history of the holocaust was outlined by the President of the CCHR, long-time Scientologist Jan Eastlake.

    "Psychiatrists set up the whole euthanasia campaign in the concentration camps, (The camps built by the Nazis during World War Two), they went into the concentration camps and they set it up and they decided who was going to be killed," Eastlake said.

    The CCHR - the group campaigning to stop kindergarten children getting valuable health checks - claim the holocaust was organised and carried out by psychiatrists and there is no such thing as mental illness. The group was founded and is funded solely by Scientology.

    When it comes to Human Rights, there are many examples of how Scientology has abused them. One example is that of Shane Kelsey.

    As a child in Scientology in Sydney, Australia, he was forced to work 14 hours a day and paid as little as $4 a week when he was just 15 years old.

    "You're not allowed to read any books other than Scientology books, you can't read newspapers, no radio, no movies, nothing," Kelsey said.

    to read Scientology's official response to this article go to:


  39. Leah Remini Quits Scientology After Years Of Interrogations

    By Jessica Goodman The Huffington Post July 11, 2013

    Leah Remini, the star of "King of Queens," has reportedly quit Scientology.

    According to the New York Post, Remini was subjected to "years of 'interrogations' and 'thought modifications'" after she questioned Scientology leader David Miscavige. A source told the Post that the church questioned Remini's family and "blacklisted" her before she quit.

    The Brooklyn native admitted to being a Scientologist in a 2001 interview and has defended the church multiple times. She even hosted gatherings where she would help fellow church members get to the next level of Scientology practice. An email she wrote about the events, was published on Gawker. But Mike Rinder, a Scientologist blogger, wrote that the "drama surrounding Leah has been ongoing for some time." http://www.mikerindersblog.org/leah-remini-has-left-the-building/

    Scientologist expert and former Village Voice editor Tony Ortega uncovered Remini's rift with the church earlier this week. http://tonyortega.org/2013/07/08/scientology-celebrity-rebellion-leah-remini-dared-to-ask-wheres-shelly/

    He said that at the wedding of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, Remini asked Miscavige, who was also Cruise's best man, why his wife was absent. Ortega reported that Miscavige's wife has been "kept out of sight at a secretive Scientology facility near Lake Arrowhead." http://tonyortega.org/2013/07/07/alanna-mastersons-dad-calls-connor-cruise-worst-person-in-the-world-for-her-to-date/

    After the wedding, Remini wrote church-authorized reports in which she criticized Miscavige and his leadership. In the years that followed, the actress and her family were reportedly subjected to repeated questioning and hostility.

    Lest it is forgotten, Remini was one of the first people to ever lay eyes on Suri Cruise.


  40. How Scientology changed the internet

    By Dave Lee, Technology reporter, BBC News July 16, 2013

    What do Wikipedia, Wikileaks, Anonymous and copyright law have in common? The answer is they have all been influenced by the Church of Scientology International (CSI), as it took on ex-members and critics who took their protests on to the internet. As the Church successfully removes another website, just how big an influence has Scientology had on the internet we all use?

    Last month digital rights activists at the influential Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) placed the Church of Scientology into their hall of shame over what it says were repeated acts against internet freedoms.

    It was just the latest twist in the Church's long-running feud with "negative" Scientology content online, one that has lasted almost two decades.

    Back in May 1994, at a time when most major organisations were yet to figure out how exactly to deal with the relatively unknown power of the internet, the Church's Elaine Siegel had a few ideas, outlined in a leaked email to "all Scientologists on the internet".

    They're kind of innovators in finding ways to censor the internet”

    "I would like to ask your assistance in getting each one of you to post positive messages on the internet (at least once a week, more if you like), about Scientology," she wrote.

    "If you imagine 40-50 Scientologists posting on the internet every few days, we'll just run the SP's [ex-members] right off the system.

    "It will be quite simple, actually."

    Or perhaps not.

    'Censorship innovators'

    Unsurprisingly, the Church of today is keen to distance itself from Ms Siegel's email.

    "It is ancient history in terms of internet development," spokeswoman Karin Pouw told the BBC in a series of emails about the Church's relationship with the internet.

    "The email in no way reflects or represents the Church's current relationships with IT professionals or our use of the internet to provide information about Scientology to anyone who seeks it."

    She's right - the Church has moved on, instead seeking new ways to have "negative" content removed from the web.

    "They're kind of innovators in finding ways to censor the internet," said Dr Martin Poulter from the University of Bristol.

    Dr Poulter is a lead trainer for Wikimedia UK, the British arm of the non-profit organisation that looks after Wikipedia, and often edits its Scientology pages - something the Church is no longer able to do.

    "Scientology was the first organisation to be officially banned from Wikipedia," he says, referring to the landmark decision in 2009.

    "There were several different accounts making very similar contributions and advancing pro-Scientology lines, or deleting anti-Scientology stuff."

    Dr Poulter's first experience with the Church's actions online came in the early 90s when he was browsing a newsgroup called alt.religion.scientology, a place where critics and ex-members were posting information on the Church.

    "The reaction from the Church of Scientology was that it went really berserk," recalls Dr Poulter.

    With the help of local authorities, houses belonging to newsgroup users across the US were raided, with computer equipment being seized for weeks on end.

    "The days of the internet as a cosy, private, intellectual cocktail party are over," technology magazine Wired prophetically declared in 1995.

    'Encourage tolerance'

    Scientology officials remember those early days with a slightly different perspective.

    "The Church at that time had been a pioneer in religious website development," said Ms Pouw, but she admitted to the BBC that there had been concern about hate speech.

    So much so, the Church took internet service providers such as Netcom to court over users who were posting copyrighted works online in order to attack Scientology.

    continued below

  41. Netcom retaliated, saying it could not be expected to screen everything its users were posting - a defence now frequently utilised by large sites like YouTube.

    That row was one of several which led to the creation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), a US law that gives copyright holders the power to ask for the removal of content to which they own the rights.

    The DMCA is now widely used by the entertainment industry to have content removed from the internet.

    For the Church, it was a tool that allowed them to go after ex-members and others who had posted "secret scriptures" online.

    One such site, Operation Clambake, was a particular thorn. Set up by Andreas Heldal-Lund, the site not only hosted previously private Scientology documents but large amounts of criticism of the Church too. Because it had been set up in Norway, Xenu.net was beyond the DMCA's reach.

    Google 'meeting'

    So the Church did the next best thing: it made a request to Google for the site to be wiped from search results. Google complied, sparking strong criticism.

    Faced with the backlash, Google came to what founder Sergey Brin would later describe as the "right compromise", removing the listings, but replacing them with links to another website - chillingeffects.org - which lists the details of DMCA requests.

    Former high-ranking Scientologist Geir Isene, who left the Church in 2009, told the BBC the Church was so concerned about this that it put pressure on Mr Brin at a conference in the hope he would alter search results to down-rank, or remove, anti-Scientology material.

    The Church denies any discussions took place, while Google told the BBC it had no record of a meeting - but added that Mr Brin and other Google bosses would often meet webmasters and discuss matters relating to search at industry events.

    The company strongly denies any suggestion it would have considered changing its search algorithms.

    Mr Isene said his IT expertise was used by the Church to get under the skin of Mr Heldal-Lund, by posing online as a girl asking for advice after being brutalised by Jehovah's Witnesses.

    Years later, when the Church asked Mr Isene how to combat their "Google problem" he told officials they could never pressure the company into change.

    "They thought that was the most stupid thing Google could think - because obviously Scientology was going to save the world and Google was just a simple search engine."

    When asked about the meeting, the Church of Scientology played down Mr Isene's contribution.

    "He has joined a small group of former Scientologists who are trying to generate media stories about their former faith through exaggerated claims of their own importance," spokeswoman Ms Pouw said.

    "He was one of many IT professionals we consulted at the time. Nothing more."

    As the years progressed, Scientology's run-ins with the internet community would come thick and fast - mostly notably from the likes of Wikileaks, which in 2008 was still in "beta". It posted more scriptures, provoking the first significant legal challenge to the site's owner, Julian Assange. He ignored the Church's threat.

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  42. Superbowl stats

    Today, the Church takes pride in its presence on social media and says it works with Google "almost daily" on web ad campaigns.

    "The teamwork has resulted in exciting technology and user experience milestones like our rich media YouTube channel as well as the YouTube homepage interactive experience seen by 61,771,958 people in a single day in February of this year."

    But that impressive traffic day, it must be noted, was largely thanks to a Superbowl advertisement costing several millions of dollars.

    So while it may have embraced the internet for its own purposes, organisations like the Church of Scientology still face the internet's disregard for secrecy as a constant threat.

    According to some measures, the Church is suffering from declining membership. Many who leave the Church are now more able to speak out - particularly with the help of blogs and social media, a threat that even the most intensive use of copyright laws struggles to touch.

    "Founder L Ron Hubbard told them how to do everything in life," reflects Dr Poulter from Wikipedia.

    "But he didn't leave any instructions on how to handle the internet."

    Meanwhile, anti-Scientologists linked to Xenu.net from their own sites, thus pushing it up Google's rankings until it appeared ahead of the Church's official site.

    What is Scientology?

    Scientology was founded in Los Angeles in the 1950s by a science fiction author, L Ron Hubbard (above).

    He said human beings contained the souls of Thetans - immortal creatures responsible for making the Universe.

    However, the world has been invaded by dark forces - the Engrams - and individuals can be cleansed and enlightened only through intense therapy called Dianetics.

    It is a costly process and the Scientologists expect their adherents to donate considerable sums.

    In the US, where Scientology has attracted a number of Hollywood celebrities, it enjoys the full rights of a recognised religion.

    But in Europe, several governments - including the UK - have denied Scientology tax exemptions enjoyed by other churches.

    Birth of Anonymous

    In 2008, a leaked video of Tom Cruise showed the actor and prominent Scientologist energetically enthusing about the Church.

    The Church moved swiftly to have it removed from YouTube, and in doing so helped inspire a new, as-yet unknown foe: Anonymous.

    Until this point, Anonymous had been made up of mischievous frequenters of message boards like 4Chan, intent mainly on pranks.

    But with Scientology in its sights, the group embarked on Project Chanology - a co-ordinated effort to use various hacking techniques to disrupt the Church in any way it could.

    Chanology was the first "op" that mobilised the hacktivists in this way, recalls Wikipedia's Dr Poulter.

    "Scientology gave them a target to organise around, and brought them off the internet and into real life.

    "You wouldn't have people in streets around the world in V for Vendetta masks if it wasn't for Scientology."


  43. Leah Remini Speaks Out About Leaving Scientology

    By Jessica Goodman, The Huffington Post July 29, 2013

    Leah Remini's exit from Scientology has not been a smooth one.

    The "King of Queens" star confirmed her split from the church, and recently told People, "I believe that people should be able to question things. I believe that people should value family, and value friendships, and hold those things sacrosanct. That for me is what I'm about. It wouldn't matter what it was, simply because no one is going to tell me how I need to think, no one is going to tell me who I can, and cannot, talk to."

    Remini left the church after she was subjected to "years of interrogation and thought modification." She spoke out against church leader David Miscavige and was reportedly concerned about the strange disappearance of his wife, Shelly. But the actress received harsh criticism from other celebrity church-goers like Kirstie Alley. Scientologist expert and former Village Voice editor Tony Ortega wrote that Alley was "livid" with Remini. see: http://tonyortega.org/2013/07/14/leah-remini-blowback-kirstie-alley-calls-for-scientology-celeb-strategy-session/

    The 43-year-old actress was a member of the Church of Scientology for three decades and in the past was one of its ardent defenders. Her tune has now changed. In the comment to People she said, "I'm not about to shut up."



    by Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker August 8, 2013

    Leah Remini has taken a surprising new step, the Underground Bunker has learned.

    After speaking with the Los Angeles Police Department, we have confirmed that on Wednesday Remini filed a missing-person report for Scientology leader David Miscavige’s wife, Shelly Miscavige, who has not been seen in public in six years.

    As we reported when we broke the news July 8 of Remini’s departure from Scientology, one of the main reasons she began to question her involvement in the church was discovering at the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in November 2006 that Miscavige was there without his wife, who had disappeared without explanation. When Leah asked about it, then church spokesman Tommy Davis told her, “You don’t have the fucking rank to ask about Shelly.”

    In other stories, we have explained that in late 2005 or early 2006, Shelly was transferred from Scientology’s International Base near Hemet, California to a secret compound near Lake Arrowhead in the mountains above Los Angeles. This compound, the headquarters of the Church of Spiritual Technology, is home to only a dozen or so Scientologists who are completely cut off from the outside world. We’ve been told that Shelly has been there for the past six years. But Miscavige and his attorneys have so far refused to publicly confirm her location there, and they have not produced her to confirm that she is in good health.

    Now, Remini has put enormous pressure on the church to do just that by involving the LAPD.

    Their job won’t be easy. Remini filed the report in Los Angeles, where Scientology’s international administrative headquarters are downtown, as well as many other church facilities. Before she vanished, however, Shelly Miscavige was living and working at the church’s international management headquarters on a 500-acre compound near Hemet, California, which is in Riverside County. The CST compound, where we believe Shelly is being held today, is near Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino County. This jurisdictional jigsaw puzzle is complicated by the church’s relationship with law enforcement agencies, which includes a cozy friendship with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, as well as a history of support from the Riverside County board of supervisors.

    But Leah Remini’s involvement may prove a major shift in that calculus.

    Our sources tell us that Remini has been dealing with an enormous reaction to the news of her defection. She’s been inundated with reactions from other church members who find themselves also having grave doubts about Scientology leader David Miscavige, and are also facing the ravages of Scientology’s toxic policy of “disconnection,” which tends to tear families apart.

    Remini has been busy dealing with her family’s safety, the alleged abuses of Scientology’s Sea Org workers, the disconnection policy, as well as the whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige and whether she has freedom of movement or has been convinced she is being punished for her own shortcomings.

    We had previously been told that Remini had considered Shelly a friend, and we now have photographic evidence of it, obtained from our sources in the church…

    to view the photos and read the rest of this article go to:


  45. The Massive List of Celebrities That Departed Scientology

    It's not the celebrities in Scientology that matter — it's why so many more have left.

    By Skip Press, Contributor The Morton Report August 11, 2013

    Leah Remini recently exited Scientology stage left, and the resultant media attention will be ongoing, given her announced intention to publish a book. Meanwhile an interview with her sister Nicole revealed what happens when a person leaves L. Ron Hubbard's moneymaking scheme. Do I or others exaggerate about Hubbard's love of money? I can only report from my experience.

    His long-time literary agent, Forrest J. Ackerman, once laughingly told me about "Ron" begging to borrow $50 so that he could pay child support and stay out of jail. Several people (all non-Scientologists) told me how Hubbard was popular pre-Dianetics because of his hypnotism skills and ability to entertain with bombastic stories that no one believed. Someone had to give him a ride to parties, however, because he never had a car and was always broke.

    Recently, a number of publications compiled lists of celebrities who departed Scientology. The Hollywood Reporter wrote about "7 Stars Who Quit Scientology." Us magazine offered "Stars Who Left Scientology" — which I was happy to see because they included Jerry Seinfeld, who has often been left off of such lists. E! included Demi Moore and Patrick Swayzeas stars who were involved. As I read these articles I wondered why the reporters hadn't done more homework? What about Brad Pitt, who dated Juliette Lewis for five years? How about Catherine Bach, the original "Daisy Mae" on the hit TV show Dukes of Hazzard? I suppose none of the journalists ever searched the site Big List That Left Scientology. It's not complete but the names are voluminous.

    But first, let's look at how Hubbard defined celebrity. You can read it in full here. "Any person important in his field or an opinion leader or his entourage..." is a short version. What started the emphasis on celebrity was Hubbard's 1955 "Project Celebrity" with offered rewards. He didn't snag anyone on his list, but Scientology did get Walt "Pogo" Kelly's kids, Carolyn and Peter, when the Los Angeles Times revived Kelly's famous comic strip in 1989 under the title Walt Kelly's Pogo. The strip ran through the early 1990s, which is when I was in touch with Carolyn, but later the Kellys left the church. Their involvement reminded me of when Johnny Carson's son Cory took the Communications Course at the Scientology Celebrity Centre's original location on 8th Street near downtown L.A. Cory was quiet, practiced his classical guitar on breaks, and after that course never came back.

    If you ever saw The King of Late Night's contentious exchange about Scientology with Karen Black on The Tonight Show and wondered why that happened, now you know.

    As a staff member at "CC" and later as a "celebrity" myself, I saw many notables come and go. I was amazed one day when actress Anne Francis ordered something from the snack bar I ran, only to be later disappointed when she left Scientology because she heard Hubbard's daughter Diana say the purpose of the Public Division of Scientology was "to capture and control the public." I wrote about Rock Hudson's brief flirtation with the subject in another article about sex and Celebrity Centre. I didn't mention Lou Rawls taking the Communications Course at the short-lived Celebrity Centre Las Vegas, then visiting CCLA to get CC Founder Yvonne Jentzsch to quit promoting him as a Scientologist. I've written how all the members of David Bowie's "Spiders From Mars" band took the Communications Course at CC, but I failed to mention that The Grateful Dead did the same at a briefly-existent Celebrity Centre San Francisco.

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  46. Many famous musicians came through Scientology then left. Al Jarreau was involved on and off for years. Burton Cummings, leader of the Canadian rock group The Guess Who, did a drug detox program at Scientology's Narconon in Los Angeles, then got out of Scientology as he found out more about it. I met him at a party Paul McCartney gave after the "Wings Over America" tour in 1976. Arguably the best electric bass player alive, Stanley Clarke, was involved for years both when in a group with Chick Corea, and afterward, but is no longer involved. Van Morrison did quite a bit of Scientology in San Francisco via my former roommate, rock pianist Nicky Hopkins, then after leaving he came out with the album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher. Apparently, it took Van a bit longer to realize, as Elvis Presley once stated, "that son-of-a-bitchin' group. All they want is my money." (And the celebrity bragging status he would give them.) Numerous musicians came into Scientology via Corea and left, often very unhappily, such as Corea's former Return To Forever members: percussionist Airto Moreira; Moreira's wife, vocalist Flora Purim; and guitarist Al Di Meola.

    Famed jazz guitarist Gabor Szabo did more than leave - he filed a $21 million lawsuit against Scientology before his death.

    How do I know all this? For years while a staff member at CC I ran the Central Files and wrote the majority of the recruiting letters, as many as 1300 per week hand-typed on a portable typewriter while making a carbon copy of each letter. Any time anyone bought a book, they went into Central Files. I found TV legend Steve Allen there once, corresponded with him, and found out he'd read Dianetics, but way back in 1950 when it first came out. Allen had not visited CC; Yvonne Jentzsch put Allen's name and address in "CF" when she found out he'd read the book. She didn't mind subterfuge to get her way; she used the "Project Celebrity" idea to get off the Scientology ship Apollo and escape Hubbard, who was continually hitting on her. Too bad for her the celebrity recruitment didn't pay off, as I chronicled in my first article about Scientology for The Morton Report.

    Celebrities leaving Scientology has been going on as long as I remember, as well as lies about who was involved. When I took my first course in Austin, Texas, I was told The Moody Blues were involved — it was a story told often to recruit people. I wanted proof, so I called the then central headquarters of Scientology in the world, St. Hill in England, and was told the Moodys had never been involved.

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  47. A great many major stars got in and got out. How major? How about Superman? I met Christopher Reeve when he showed up at the Celebrity Centre on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood to fly Yvonne Jentzsch and her husband Heber to a Scientology event called Prayer Day in Anaheim, California. (He was a licensed pilot.) "Can I go?" I asked naively and was told the small plane was full. I remarked that obviously he was an actor, and he said matter-of-factly that he was in town to filmSuperman.
    Being a typically uninformed Scientology staffer who didn't read newspapers (Ron's recommendation) or watch TV (ditto), I said, "That's great, who are you playing?"

    After he got the stunned and bemused smile off his face, Chris said, "Superman."

    I learned he'd done a good bit of Scientology counseling in New York at a mission run by Helen Geltman and wanted his pre-paid "auditing hours" transferred to Celebrity Centre. Yvonne went all the way to Hubbard to try to get that accomplished, but Geltman refused. Reeve got disgusted and left Scientology, and the whole world benefited. He later wrote about it but without the details I just gave you. Can you imagine how Hubbard and his minions would have played it, publicity-wise, had Reeve stayed? "Superman is a Scientologist! Come fly our clear blue skies!"

    It's a long, long list of celebrities who came, saw, and said adios - Sonny Bono; Candice Bergen (got involved to write an article about it); actress Peggy Lipton (her brother Kenny was on staff at CC); William Burroughs wrote a book about it; Leonard Cohen's "Famous Blue Raincoat" had a line about "going Clear"; actress Cathy Lee Crosby; All-Pro NFL quarterback John Brodie; actor Michael Fairman; and many more that you can sort through (both those who remain and the many more who left) here. (Watch out, though, rumors must be sorted through. For example, actor Ron "Tarzan" Ely got confused with another person by that name who was in Scientology. The actor did, however, show up at Celebrity Centre on La Brea Avenue one day to buy a used pickup truck from a Scientology course supervisor named Ron Santasierro - I met him when he was there.)
    Internally-generated setbacks of alienating celebrities have, for decades, kept Scientology from achieving its ambition of total domination of Hollywood and fooling the world into thinking Scientology is worthwhile. Lately, I've been continually pleased as people like my old friend Paul Haggis wake up and depart, and I'm thrilled with how Leah Remini turned the Scientology policy of "Never defend, attack!" on her former comrades. As Scientology stumbles to its inevitable imminent demise, I applaud every single person I've known who has left, and particularly those who spoke out. They have helped greatly toward ridding the world of the former pulp fiction writer's most evil creation.

    to read the numerous links embedded in this article go to:



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  50. How Scientologists Are Sneaking Their Way into Schools to Spread Their Propaganda

    A drug education program is functioning like a Trojan Horse.

    By Robert Martin Wolfe, City Limits AlterNet July 7, 2014

    By its own estimate, Foundation for a Drug Free World, an education non-profit, has visited at least 20 percent of New York City's schools, public and private. That's over 14,000 children, it says, mainly in disadvantaged schools in outer boroughs. Drug Free World has won accolades from the City Council and the state Senate and been featured by over a dozen local publications, including the Daily News.

    But in two recent presentations witnessed by a City Limits reporter, the organization—which is connected to the Church of Scientology—presented information on the dangers of drug abuse that had little basis in fact and could be traced to the works of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

    In a section of its website titled "How We Help," the Church of Scientology lays claim to Drug Free World and a slew of other nonprofits, including Narconon, a faith-based drug rehabilitation program. Though Drug Free World is a secular program, chapters in Californiaand Pennsylvania have directed addicts to Narconon, whose rehab procedures are discredited by medical science.

    There's no evidence that's been done by the New York chapter of Drug Free World, founded eight years ago by Meghan Fialkoff—a Scientologist from Bayside, Queens—after completing her undergraduate degree in public relations at the University of Maryland. With Fialkoff at the lead, Drug Free World has visited daycares, YMCAs, NYPD youth programs, homeless shelters, community fairs, and churches. The group posts the thank-you notes it receives from administrators on its website. Dating from early 2012 onward, there are hundreds.

    Claims about Flashbacks

    Fialkoff, who denies the program's links to Scientology, declined to allow a reporter to attend a Drug Free World presentation. But during an interview, the group's photographer extended an invitation to a presentation at Little Flower, a Catholic after-school program for troubled teenagers in Queens.

    There, in the vaulted stone rectory, Drug Free World's presenter David Tidman battled the Friday afternoon doldrums.

    "You know mushrooms? They're a funny brand of plant. Some mushrooms are good in salad, like Portobello. Some mushrooms will give you hallucinations for hours. Some mushrooms will kill you in two hours flat, just like that."

    "'Shrooms," a girl echoed, dreamily.

    "They take they damn selves," another girl added, expressing her approval of the popular psychedelic. Both girls giggled.

    Tidman is Drug Free World's lead presenter in New York City. He took a fatherly tone with the teens while explaining how all drugs, not just LSD, can cause flashbacks.

    "A certain amount of that drug or medicine stays in your body for weeks, months, even years, and later on what happens is it can dislodge from the fat tissue and reactivate in your body," he said.

    continued below

  51. At Odds with Science

    The concept of the human body storing lipid-soluble drugs for years comes from Clear Body, Clear Mind, a self-help book compiled from materials written by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. The book outlines a detoxification regimen used by a number of Scientology-funded groups, including Narconon. Drug Free World's materials make no mention of the flashback theory, or any Scientology for that matter, but Tidman used it in both presentations City Limits witnessed.

    Dr. Amir Garakani, a psychopharmacology specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital, called Tidman's theory an overgeneralization: while LSD is linked to flashbacks, other drugs aren't. "There's no pharmacological basis for that. It's not accurate," he said.

    While Drug Free World has multiple presenters, Tidman is its main man in New York City. He estimates he presented to 15,000 children last year, so many that he's forced to recycle near verbatim his jokes, analogies, and anecdotes. Take, for example, the evening of December 13, when Tidman visited the Parent Teacher Association at Herbert Lehman High School in the Bronx.

    "Some mushrooms are good in a salad," Tidman said. "Others will make you sick and give you hallucinations for hours. Some will kill you in a matter of hours."

    And again, the fatty tissue theory.

    "Ever notice how in the hottest part of summertime how people drive on the B.Q.E. [Brooklyn-Queens Expressway]? Or the Bruckner?" Drug flashbacks were responsible, he said.

    The parents were boisterous and responsive. They laughed at his jokes. Afterward Tidman said he thought it went well, but Rosaline Torruella, the parent-teacher coordinator, disagreed. Whether Tidman knew it or not, he had been auditioning to the parents. Torruella said she decided there were too many inaccuracies for another invitation to be extended.

    Links to the Church?

    Tidman, a member of the Church of Scientology, is not paid for his presentations; he says he makes a living working for a dentist's office. The dentist is Bernard Fialkoff, Meghan Fialkoff's father, a high-ranking Scientologist who funds Drug Free World both out of pocket and through his study club of local doctors.

    continued below

  52. Fialkoff acknowledges that the New York City chapter of Drug Free World is run by Scientologists out of church headquarters in Times Square, yet denies that Drug Free World is a Scientology program. "There's a lot of sponsors for the program. One of them happens to be the Church of Scientology," she said. And if Tidman had deviated from the carefully secularized materials, that could be corrected, she added.

    Through Bernard Fialkoff's dental study club, Drug Free World has solicited awards from State Senator José Peralta, as well as former Councilman Dan Halloran, who is now under indictment for corruption. Both issued proclamations honoring the organization. Neither official responded to requests for comment.

    How Effective?

    In at least one respect, Drug Free World's presentations resemble a visit from D.A.R.E. or many other anti-drug organizations: After the kids file out of the room, it's hard to tell whether the message stuck.

    On the way out of Little Flower, Tidman recognized the difficulty in changing at-risk children's behavior over sporadic, hour-long visits.

    "Once you're gone, many of the students don't even know you were there," he said.

    Tidman said he wishes he could spend more time with smaller groups of children, but the organization is always pushing for more presentations in new places.

    But most schools seem happy with what they get. In March 2014, Leydy Avila of Sunnyside Community Services in Queens wrote to the group, "As a Director, I strive to be able to provide an excellent program for my children that will be well-rounded for their needs. However, due to budget constraints as you can imagine it is often difficult to achieve this without sacrificing something. Having organizations and individuals like you […] and the flexibility to accommodate so many of my children was really appreciated."

    When asked how he could measure the effectiveness of his program, Tidman doesn't have a ready answer. There is a follow-up mechanism called "Drug Free Marshals," where at the end of a presentation children—without providing contact information—signed a pledge that promised they will avoid drugs, encourage their friends to do the same, and seek more information on the website.

    Fialkoff says she removed that element because it had a religious aspect that didn't belong in her secular program, but it is still sometimes used. At Lehman High School the parents and a few kids signed, though at Little Flower the forms stayed in the box.

    The Foundation has responded to this article. Read their response here.

    Rob Wolfe is a staff writer for the Valley News in Lebanon, New Hampshire and a 2014 graduate of Columbia Journalism School.


  53. Bart Simpson to visit Scientology HQ in East Grinstead

    By Sam Satchell, East Grinstead Courier October 20, 2014

    AY CARAMBA! Bart Simpson is coming to town – along with thousands of Scientologists.

    Actress Nancy Cartwright, who provides the voice for the world- renowned cartoon character, is set to host the 17th annual Saint Hill Gala Charity Concert.

    The appointment has been heralded as a "major coup" by organisers of the event, held at the UK headquarters for the Church of Scientology, Saint Hill Manor.

    Liz Ostermann, one of the organisers, said: "Nancy has been coming to our events for a few years and we thought it would be a great idea to ask her to host it this time around. Fortunately, she said she'd be delighted to do so.

    "I think she will appeal to people of all ages because she has been in the show for more than 20 years. She won't just appeal to children who watch the show today, but adults who watched it when they were young too.

    "I don't know anyone who hasn't heard of The Simpsons, so this is a major coup for us."

    Nancy will introduce each act to the stage during the event, which takes place at the venue in Saint Hill Road on Sunday evening.

    The concert will feature a variety of music from jazz and showtunes to classical and soul. The ever popular Jive Aces – dubbed the UK's number one swing jive band – will performhttp://images.intellitxt.com/ast/adTypes/icon1.png alongside American impressionist and singer Jim Meskimen, and top Australian vocalist Kate Ceberano.

    Funds raised from the concert will be used to support two charities – East Grinstead Museum and the British Exploring Society, and Nancy will give further details on the night.

    The tradition of the charity concert dates back to the 1960s when L Ron Hubbard, who founded Scientology, supported local charities when he lived at Saint Hill Manor.

    It will conclude a three-day weekend of activities at the Church of Scientology, with more than 6,000 people attending from around the world.

    A link for tickets to the concert, priced between £12.50 and £25, can be found at www. sainthillmanor.org.uk


  54. Heads up Tom Cruise HBO finishing doc on Scientology

    by Maria Puente, USA TODAY November 24, 2014

    Words to alert lawyers (and maybe unnerve Tom Cruise): HBO is finishing up a tough documentary on the Church of Scientology.

    The Hollywood Reporter says that a "bombshell" film on Scientology and its hold on some Hollywood stars will air in 2015.

    HBO confirmed only that Oscar winner Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) is doing the film and HBO plans to run it.

    The film is expected to feature new revelations about the controversial church and its famous followers, such as Cruise and John Travolta. If it's finished in time, it will be submitted to the Sundance Film Festival in January.

    THR says the film is based on the book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Lawrence Wright.

    No matter what Gibney's film says, no matter how well sourced it is, no matter how respected HBO's documentary unit is, the notoriously litigious Church of Scientology is likely to be peeved.The book in turn stemmed from Wright's 2011 New Yorker profile of filmmaker, Oscar winner and former Scientologist Paul Haggis, who incurred the church's wrath after he publicly left in a huff in 2009 and started criticizing its teachings and behavior toward members.

    HBO is ready for any protests,

    says Sheila Nevins, HBO's president of documentary films. "We have probably 160 lawyers (looking at the film)," she told THR.

    This turns out to be an exaggeration for effect, but it is true the cable network has many lawyers on standby, which they might need.

    For instance, Going Clear, a National Book Awardfinalist in the USA, was never published in Britain because the church exerted pressure on the British publisher, which then dropped it on advice from its lawyers.

    When THR excerpted Wright's book in January 2013, it focused on the church's "seduction" of Cruise and its role in his divorce from second wife Nicole Kidman. A church spokeswoman, Karin Pouw, responded with a long, written statement critical of Wright.

    "The one thing 'clear' about Lawrence Wright's book is that he continues to carry water for a handful of angry, bitter individuals led by a pathological liar still consumed with vengeance a decade after being removed for malfeasance. Mr. Wright produced a work of fiction that does little more than regurgitate six decades of false, bizarre tabloid allegations about the religion's Founder, its leadership and its prominent members," the statement said.

    The film is HBO's first specifically about Scientology but it is not the first time the network has run into trouble with the church. Its 1998 documentary, Dead Blue: Surviving Depression, inspired Scientology protests at the network's Manhattanheadquarters because it presented anti-depressant drugs in a positive light.

    Scientologists oppose psychiatry in general and anti-depressant drugs in particular, a stance that garnered attention in 2005 when Cruise publicly attacked his friend Brooke Shields for taking medication for her post-natal depression. He thought she should have taken vitamins instead.


  55. Documentary Draws Ire From the Church of Scientology

    By MICHAEL CIEPLY, New York Times January 15, 2015

    LOS ANGELES — If controversy sells, HBO may suddenly have a hit in Alex Gibney’s new documentary about Scientology and renegades who left it behind.

    On Friday, the Church of Scientology is expected to strike out at the movie — which its members and leaders have not yet seen — with full-page newspaper advertisements in The New York Times and elsewhere detailing what it says are journalistic lapses by Mr. Gibney.

    In a pointed reference to a much-challenged magazine article about a campus rape at the University of Virginia, the ads ask whether the movie, called “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” is “a Rolling Stone/UVA Redux.” The film is based on a book written by Lawrence Wright, who is a producer of the documentary.

    The critique guarantees a combustible debut for a movie that is scheduled to make its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 25, and will screen in a small number of theaters before reaching a wide audience on HBO, beginning on March 16.

    The church’s forceful response risks calling attention to what might have seemed like old news. Scientology has already been closely investigated by Mr. Wright and others. A similar campaign in 2013 by SeaWorld against the documentary “Blackfish,” about orcas in captivity, did nothing to dampen the film’s popularity when it was broadcast later on CNN. But media flare-ups around accusations of sexual misconduct by Woody Allen and Bill Cosby — denied by both — have also shown that past claims can ignite new problems.

    “Going Clear” arrives at Sundance as one of a cluster of volatile documentaries. While part happenstance, film agents say directors are leaning harder into controversy-courting topics as a way to cut through the clutter of television and video-on-demand services, where a lot of these films now primarily play.

    Sundance bills “The Hunting Ground” as a “startling expose of rape crimes.” Marc Silver’s “3 1/2 Minutes” is a topical examination of racism in the American criminal justice system, while “Pervert Park” works to humanize pedophiles.

    “Among documentaries, we’re seeing an increased shift toward topics that punch you in the gut,” said John Cooper, the Sundance director.

    In its ad and in an interview with representatives, the church said Mr. Gibney had rejected its 12 requests for an opportunity to address accusations, while asking instead for interviews with the church leader, David Miscavige, and celebrity adherents that include Tom Cruise, John Travolta and others.

    In a statement, Mr. Gibney on Thursday said he had “requested interviews with various people — including current church members and officials — who could shed light on specific incidents discussed in the film.” All of those asked, he added, “either declined, did not respond or set unreasonable conditions.”

    continued below

  56. Separately HBO said in a statement that it was customary in making documentaries to request on-camera interviews from those involved in relevant events. “This film identifies those that were approached,” the statement added.

    Speaking on Tuesday, several church representatives said the refusal to disclose the film’s assertions was unusual and unfair. “In my 40 years of experience, this has never happened,” said Anthony Michael Glassman, a lawyer who has represented Scientology in media-related cases.

    The church representatives said they were making no attempt to block the Sundance screening. But they said they were entitled to address claims in a movie that was built heavily around on-camera interviews with Paul Haggis, Marty Rathbun, Michael Rinder, Jason Beghe and other former adherents who have painted a picture of declining membership and abusive practices within the church.

    Interviewed last week, Mr. Gibney said his film was still undergoing a legal review, and that a version shared by digital link at that point might change slightly. He said he was confident of the film’s solidity, but acknowledged having received sharp queries from church representatives who “seem to be warning us, but warning us without knowing” what is in the movie.

    Mr. Gibney said he had been working on the film for about two years. Scientology representatives said he first broached the subject of interviewing Mr. Miscavige and others last October.

    A prolific documentarian, Mr. Gibney won an Oscar in 2008 for “Taxi to the Dark Side,” about the use of torture by the United States in the war on terror. He said he had frequently been asked to explore Scientology as a subject, but “actually wasn’t that interested.” He became intrigued with Mr. Wright’s book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief,” which was published in January 2013.

    Most alluring, said Mr. Gibney, was the book’s underlying theme, which, in Mr. Gibney’s words, explores “how people become prisoners of faith in various ways.” (Mr. Gibney describes himself as “very much a lapsed Catholic.”)

    The film includes a small amount of dramatic reconstruction, some harking back to the early days of Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. It also uses clips that were licensed, were in the public domain, or were within the bounds of fair use, Mr. Gibney said. Some wariness surrounds any prerelease discussion of the clips’ precise content. Mr. Gibney and HBO have severely restricted access to the film, to reduce risk of an attempt to block its use of clips before the Sundance premiere.

    Like Mr. Wright’s book, the documentary depends heavily on interviews with Scientology dropouts whose filmed accounts mostly track with earlier descriptions of claimed abuse, both physical and emotional, that were compiled by Mr. Wright.

    continued below

  57. Their impact is enhanced by the power of film, however.

    “In the book, you have to take my word for it,” said Mr. Wright, who will join the film’s promotion at Sundance. “In the documentary, you get the chance to judge for yourself.”

    (Mr. Wright extensively engaged with Scientology officials while writing his book.)

    Speaking by telephone last week, Mr. Rinder said he had participated as an interview subject — and would join the Sundance contingent — to prompt change within Scientology. “I hope this movie increases public pressure for the church to change its abusive practices,” he said.

    Mr. Rinder mentioned specifically the practice of “disconnection,” under which members of the church break contact with friends, family members or associates who are deemed to have become hostile toward Scientology.

    Monique E. Yingling, a lawyer for the church, said shunning was practiced by a number of religions, has been upheld as legally permissible by courts and, in the case of Scientology, is reserved for those who have started “attacking the religion.”

    Ms. Yingling and others further challenged claims, reflected in both the book and the film, that church membership had dwindled in recent years. While citing no specific number, Ms. Yingling said adherents of the church number in the millions. Karin Pouw, a church spokeswoman, said Scientology had been growing in the years since Mr. Rathbun and Mr. Rinder left (Mr. Rathbun in 2004, Mr. Rinder in 2007), as it opened new facilities around the world.

    Ms. Pouw and Ms. Yingling said the church and its leaders did not abuse members.

    Still nine days from a public showing, Mr. Gibney’s film has clearly widened the gap between adherents and apostates. In its newspaper advertisement, the church, without mentioning names, characterized some people who had contributed to Mr. Wright’s book as having been expelled from the Scientology organization for malfeasance.

    Speaking last week, Mr. Rinder — who was not named in the ad — had already described the church as “a parasite on society.”

    Mr. Gibney, for his part, declined to say Scientology was the toughest subject he has tackled in a filmmaking career that has examined government abuse in “Taxi to the Dark Side,” financial shenanigans in “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” and a clerical sex scandal in “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.”

    But, he said, “it’s definitely in the top five.”

    Brooks Barnes contributed reporting.

    A version of this article appears in print on January 16, 2015, on page B1 of the New York edition with the headline: Documentary Draws Ire From Scientology.


  58. Why Scientologys Cone of Silence Shattered

    For decades, the controversial church was able to bat down unflattering media attention. But now the klieg lights are everywhere.

    by Jacob Siegel, The Daily Beast March 25, 2015

    For most of its existence the Church of Scientology grew and prospered by protecting its secrets. But it’s been tough holding on to that model in the 21st century, a notoriously bad era for powerful institutions in the secret-keeping business. That point has been amply made in recent years by top church officials turned whistleblowers, a high-profile book by Lawrence Wright of The New Yorker, and now a lacerating new HBO documentary based on Wright’s exposé. The new voices in the Scientology debate have both testified to the church’s efforts to silence its critics and, by speaking out, shown the limits of that approach. Their accounts seem to show the church losing its grip on the public narrative it once aggressively controlled.

    “The history of Scientology’s attempts to scuttle critical stories goes back decades,” said Stephen Kent, a sociology professor at the University of Alberta who has studied and written about the church.

    In 1970, Paulette Cooper, a Harvard graduate in comparative religion with a master’s degree in psychology, began publishing work about Scientology. When’s her book The Scandal of Scientology came out in 1971, it drew the church’s attention.

    Internal Scientology documents (revealed in later court documents) described the church’s plan for Cooper, a child of parents killed in Auschwitz during the Holocaust, which was to have her “incarcerated in a mental institution or jail, or at least to hit her so hard she drops her attacks.”

    Less extreme examples of Scientology’s reported pressure tactics abound. Former high-ranking Scientologists and experts on the group describe an approach that relies on the threat of legal action and implied negative consequences to dissuade reporters and entertainers from using the church as a subject.

    “I know for a fact that some media individuals, media organizations and even academics were scared off from doing stories about Scientology for fear of being sued or otherwise harassed,” Kent said. The professor related a story about being interviewed for a Canadian television production exploring Scientology when, he said, “one of the shows announcers got cold feet” and it never aired.

    “Even The Daily Beast knows we do not ‘harass’ the media,” Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw wrote in response to a list of questions submitted by The Daily Beast. “This is a myth spread by those who produce one-sided hatchet jobs like Alex Gibney [Academy Award-winning director of the HBO documentary Going Clear] and Lawrence Wright did, but whine when we exercise free speech by pointing out their bias and shoddy methods.”

    continued below

  59. Mike Rinder knows about Scientology’s approach to dealing with media criticism from experience. Rinder, who’s featured in Going Clear, was a senior executive in the church who spent time in its public affairs division before leaving Scientology.

    In 2007 the BBC’s Panorama program began producing a feature, “Scientology and Me.” “The church sent private investigators to follow the BBC’s reporter, John Sweeney,” said Rinder. “The people involved in the production, from Sweeney and his producer all the way up to the top of the BBC, were investigated.”

    Pouw, the Scientology spokeswoman, did not address specific claims about the BBC show but wrote in her statement: “The Church does not hire private investigators to follow journalists.”

    Rinder, a top official in the church at the time of the BBC program, said he was involved in the operation and saw it firsthand. “I know the church hired [private investigators] to follow Sweeney, as I was there,” he said. “I also saw the reports from them. And John Sweeney video’d them and showed them in his Panorama documentary!”

    “That’s basically the tactic the church uses,” Rinder said. Scientology’s approach with its critics, he said, is to “silence them by finding out something that they’re seeking to protect that will either cost them their job or the threat of exposure will cause them to back away.” And “of course, there were also legal threats,” Rinder said.

    “Basically that’s the playbook,” Rinder said of the BBC show, “that gets used for every perceived media piece on Scientology.”

    At some point, though, that alleged tactic, which left a trail of gaps in the public’s understanding of Scientology where stories were left on the cutting-room floor or never written at all out of fear, apparently began losing its effectiveness.

    Ex-Scientologists and experts differ on when exactly they believe the church’s hold on the story of Scientology first started to slip, but they agree on the cause. “The simple answer is the Internet,” said Kent, the University of Alberta sociology professor.

    “The ’Net changed everything and from all accounts has had a major impact on membership,” said Mark Bunker, a TV journalist and longtime anti-Scientology activist.

    The Internet, of course.

    Still, it’s a bit more complicated than that, Kent said. “It’s not just the Internet,” he said. Much of the momentum in the anti-Scientology movement that has culminated in the new HBO documentary comes from ex-members of the church, he said. The Internet gave them a chance to meet each other and trade stories, creating an echo effect that amplified their voices. “Former members became emboldened enough to start speaking on the Internet” about abuses they had allegedly witnessed and, Kent said, that in turn led to more defections and more ex-members speaking out.

    “The big change came around 2005, when South Park did their episode on Scientology and ended it with ‘Sue Me,’ and they didn’t get sued,” said Bunker. That lessened the fear among commentators of being sued and, in a dangerous turn for any official piety, opened the group to wider ridicule. Said Kent, “The gravitas of Scientology diminishes rapidly as comedians start picking it apart.”

    “The fallout from the first airing of that South Park episode was pretty stunning,” said Bunker. According to Rinder, it led Scientology to scramble to use Tom Cruise’s weight in Hollywood to get the episode quashed.

    “When South Park did their program, I went to CAA,” said Rinder, using the abbreviation for Creative Artists Agency, a top Hollywood talent agency that represented Cruise.

    continued below

  60. Rinder said this is what happened next

    “The Tom Cruise card was played with CAA to get them to put pressure on Comedy Central and Viacom. Ultimately, it really backfired.

    After the South Park dustup came other public bruises for Scientology. In 2008, the church found itself in a war with the Internet collective Anonymous. The dispute began over Scientology’s attempts to remove a video from the web that showed Tom Cruise praising the group at an internal church event. That roused an impassioned defense of free speech in a growing online culture that considered the Internet inviolable ground. The back-and-forth ended up generating publicity for Anonymous, which seemed to relish the audience, and exposing Scientology to added and sometimes harsh media attention.

    At the same time, Scientology experienced a number of defections by high-level members. Some said they were leaving the church over disputes with its current leader, David Miscavige. And some of those former Scientologists then went public with sharp criticisms of the church and detailed allegations of abuses they claim were carried out by Miscavige or under his authority. In turn those defections supplied some of the critical source material for Wright’s book, which became the basis for Gibney’s new film. And now, coming out on the heels of all the developments that preceded it, the film is generating a wave of press attention that has made it easier to cover Scientology without fear of standing out.

    Rinder has another reason he believes the church’s old tactics aren’t as useful as they once were. Litigation as a default response is no longer as effective. That’s because “the first notice of deposition is going to be to [Scientology leader] David Miscavige,” according to Rinder, “and the second note is going to be to Tom Cruise. And that is something that they can’t deal with.”

    “They’ve got too many skeletons in their closet and too much they can’t answer to, so their response is to just say everyone’s a liar,” he said.

    The church has run an ad campaign attacking the new HBO film that does call nearly everyone involved a liar, criminal, violent psychopath, or some combination of the three.

    Scientology’s secrets fill a space both in and outside the organization.

    Former Scientologists say that even loyal followers don’t learn about key tenets of church doctrine until they’ve spent years in the church and spent considerable sums for the privilege.

    It’s only gotten harder to control the narrative now that HBO’s new documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, has been touring film festivals before its premiere on March 29. The film illustrates the church’s heavy-handed approach to outsiders, but its most harrowing scenes are the ones that purport to show what happens to church insiders who run afoul of Scientology’s leaders.


  61. Going Clear filmmaker: Scientology abuses its tax-exempt status


    When I made the film "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief," which aired on HBO on March 29, I assumed that the response from the Church of Scientology would be vitriolic. I was right; but I hold out hope that this reaction may lead to the reform of an organization that has harassed its critics and, in my view, abused its tax-exempt status.

    Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, believed that critics of the church were so fundamentally evil that any kind of counterattack was, according to doctrine, "fair game." He wrote in a 1967 "Policy Letter" that critics "may be deprived of property or injured by any means … may be tricked, sued, lied to or destroyed."

    In keeping with this doctrine, the church has waged a crusade against the film starting months before its release. The ex-Scientologists who testify in "Going Clear" have been on the receiving end of threats, surveillance and a smear campaign on the Scientology website Freedommag.org. In one of the attack videos, titled "Crocodile Liar," a bull's-eye frames a picture of Sara Goldberg, a grandmother who left the church in 2013. Rather than engage in informed debate, the videos accuse all the critical ex-members of various misdeeds, including theft and perjury, without mentioning that some appear to have been committed on behalf of the church.

    Wright, the New Yorker staff writer and author of the book on which the film is based, has not been immune. Nor have I. The church spent a great deal of its followers' money publishing a parody of the New Yorker; it contained expensive graphics that were the envy of David Remnick, the actual editor of the New Yorker, which published Wright's first investigation into Scientology. Because I am a filmmaker, the church produced a video going after me and my father, who has very little to say on the matter since he died in 2006. Wright and I have received countless letters from the church and its attorneys. My face appeared on full-page ads in the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times attacking the film.

    These tactics, however, don't seem to have damaged the film's popularity. On the contrary, according to the Hollywood Reporter, "Going Clear" attracted over 1.75 million viewers on its first broadcast, the best showing for a documentary on HBO in 10 years.

    Only one group is averting their eyes: active Scientologists, who are encouraged, by doctrine, to avoid any criticism of the church. As "Going Clear" shows, the church will sanction its members for reading or viewing critical material. It may be that many of the church's attacks on the film are not designed for the general public, but rather serve as a signal of possible danger for the flock. Recently, longtime Scientologist John Travolta criticized the film — even as he said he had no intention of ever watching it — because it would be a "crime" to "approach a negative perspective."

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  62. Judging by online feedback the most fervent viewers have been ex-Scientologists who seem to be delighted by the fact that their experience has been given voice in a national broadcast. As one long-suffering former member of the Sea Org (the church's clergy) told me, "We were afraid our story would never be told."

    The reason for that fear — and the apparent pent-up demand for this story among the general public — may be that, historically, Scientology has been effective at limiting or even preventing open debate about its practices. Over the years, reporters on this beat have been ruthlessly intimidated and their journals and networks subject to war by litigation.

    Roughly 20 years ago, according to investigative reporter Richard Behar, the Church of Scientology spent millions attacking him and his employer, Time magazine, in court and through the aggressive use of private investigators. Although the church lost at every level, right up to the Supreme Court, it regarded the litigation battle as a victory because it succeeded in putting the "fear of God" into most media organizations.

    In the wake of Wright's book and the film, many reporters, critics and ex-Scientologists seem to be more confident about speaking out and investigating ongoing charges of abuse. Only a few days ago, this newspaper published a story about a private investigator armed with a cache of weapons and 2,000 rounds of ammunition, who was allegedly paid by Scientology to spy on the father of the church's "Chairman of the Board," David Miscavige. A number of articles have even raised the question of whether the church should be permitted to maintain its tax-exempt status in the face of so many alleged or documented civil rights abuses, such as the videotaped harassment of ex-Scientologist Marty Rathbun and his wife, Monique. It's an important question, since it implicates all of us.

    The church maintains that its activities are protected by the 1st Amendment as religious practices. Partially on that basis, the church convinced the Internal Revenue Service in 1993 that Scientology should be tax-exempt and that all donations to the church should be tax-deductible. (The film shows that the church's method of "convincing" the IRS featured lawsuits and vilification of its agents.)

    In the past, critics of the church have called for its tax exemption to be revoked because it is not a "real religion." I agree that tax-exemption isn't merited, but not for that reason. The Church of Scientology has a distinct belief system which, despite its somewhat strange cosmology — mocked by the TV show "South Park" and many others — is not essentially more strange than, say, the idea of a virgin birth. Scientologists are entitled to believe what they want to believe. And the IRS website makes it clear that anyone is entitled to start a religion at any time without seeking IRS permission. To maintain the right to be tax-exempt, however, religions must fulfill certain requirements for charitable organizations. For example, they may not "serve the private interests of any individual" and/or "the organization's purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy."

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  63. On these points alone it is hard to see why Americans should subsidize Scientology through its tax-exemption.

    Regarding "private interests," it seems clear that Scientology is ruled by only one man, David Miscavige. Further, powerful celebrities within the church, particularly Tom Cruise, receive private benefits through the exploitation of low-wage labor (clergy members belonging to the Sea Org make roughly 40 cents an hour) and other use of church assets for his personal gain.

    It appears that many church activities may have been either illegal or in violation of public policy. Numerous lawsuits, my film, other media accounts and an abandoned FBI investigation have turned up allegations of false imprisonment, human trafficking, wiretaps, assault, harassment and invasion of privacy. And the church doctrine of "disconnection," in which members are forced to "disconnect" from anyone critical of the church, seems cruelly at odds with any reasonable definition of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

    A proper criminal investigation that followed the money — a virtual river of cash from tax-exempt donations and fees — could sort out some of these issues. Or a congressional subcommittee investigation could force Miscavige — who was unwilling to answer questions for Wright's book or the film — to testify under oath about allegations of abuse.

    There is ample precedent for the revocation of tax-exempt status: It happens more than 100 times per year. There is also an important Supreme Court ruling that addresses the religious issue. In 1983, the court upheld a decision revoking the charitable status of a religious college, Bob Jones University, because it forbade interracial dating. The court stated in Bob Jones University vs. the United States that the "government has a fundamental, overriding interest in eradicating racial discrimination in education ... which substantially outweighs whatever burden denial of tax benefits places on [the university's] exercise of their religious beliefs."

    It seems to me that our government has a "fundamental, overriding interest" in protecting individual liberty by not subsidizing harassment or surveillance by gun-toting private eyes. The 1st Amendment should not be a smokescreen to hide human rights abuses and possible criminal activities.

    Alex Gibney is an Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker.


  64. A Doctors Scathing 1950 Takedown of L. Ron Hubbards Dianetics

    By Martin Gumpert, The New Republic FROM THE ARCHIVES MAY 5, 2015

    In 1950, science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard published a $4 self-help book he called Dianetics, drawing on Greek roots for "through" and "the mind." Hubbard claimed to be able to cure "human aberrations" with auditing, an intensive form of counseling. Readers ignored rebukes by medical and therapy professionals; the book quickly became a bestseller. Scientologists—of which there are currently about 25,000 in the United States—now refer to the text as "Book One."

    In his review of the book for The New Republic, physician Martin Gumpert outlined the dangers of following Hubbard's advice. "There can be no doubt that many will feel helped by the new fad," Gumpert wrote, sensing the allure of easy-fix pseudoscientific suggestions such as taking Vitamin B1 to prevent auditing-induced nightmares. While Gumpert at times tilted towards hyperbole ("It may prove fatal to have put too much trust in the promises of this dangerous book," he wrote), his warnings against the false prophets of science ring true today.

    This piece originally appeared in The New Republic on August 14, 1950.

    DIANETICS, by L. Ron Hubbard (Hermitage House; $4)

    It is not so much the content of this book which deserves analysis as its effect on the average reader's mind. Dianetics has been steadily climbing on the best-seller list since its publication, and, next to the spectacular success of the Velikovsky book, its popularity is the most frightening proof of the confusion of the contemporary mind and its tendency to fall prey to pseudo-scientific concepts.

    The book opens with the statement: "The creation of dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of free and superior to his invention of the wheel and arch." Dianetics, we learn (from the Greek dianoua—thought), is the science of mind. "The hidden source of all psychosomatic ills and human aberration has been discovered and skills have been developed for their invariable cure." With the help of these skills everybody can achieve "release" within less than 20 hours, and can grow into a "dianetic clear," or an individual with intelligence considerably greater than the current norm. A few lines later we learn: "It is new that life has as its entire dynamic urge only survival."

    The dianetic prophet, L. Ron Hubbard, a civil engineer and science-fiction writer, has revealed "as an established scientific fact" that man is uniformly and invariably good. He claims as one of his great discoveries "a hitherto unsuspected sub-mind." The concept of the unconscious mind is replaced by the "reactive mind." The reactive mind receives its recordings as cellular "engrams" when the "conscious" mind is "unconscious." These engrams disturb our thought processes. No physical or emotional pain is ever fogotten unless it is removed by dynamic therapy.

    The dianetic patient "returns" to his pain and changes into an individual full of memories but without pain. Lying in a quiet room he falls into a state of "dianetic reverie" and his "auditor" (and everybody can be everybody else's auditor) tells him "to go to rather than remember" various periods of his life, including his prenatal existence. So he travels on his "time track" back to his mother's womb and draws checks on his "standard memory bank," reaches his "cellular level engrams," and—in the reexperiencing of them—they are finally erased and refiled automatically as "standard memory." The result of this treatment is the dianetic "clear," who "is to a current normal individual as the current is to the severely insane."

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  65. I must confess I have never been confronted by such a bold and immodest mixture of complete nonsense and perfectly reasonable common sense, taken from long-acknowledged findings and disguised and distorted by a crazy, newly invented terminology. Most revolting is the repeated claim of exactitude and of scientific experimental approach, for which every trace of evidence is lacking. The author lives continuously on borrowed concepts, though at the same time he attacks them most ungraciously and ungratefully. Whatever makes sense in his "discoveries" does not belong to him, and his own theory appears to this reviewer as a paranoiac system which would be of interest as part of a case history, but which seems quite dangerous when offered for mass consumption as a therapeutic technique.

    Hubbard's concept of psychosomatic disease is definitely wrong. Psychosomatic ailments are not simply caused by emotional disturbances: they are diseases in which the emotional and the organic factor are closely involved and interdependent. But the author does not stop at the usual group of recognized psychosomatic ailments. He announces (p. 93): "At the present time dianetic research is scheduled to include cancer and diabetes. There are a number of reasons to suppose that these may be engramic in cause, particularly malignant cancer." He prescribes that "the preclear should take a daily dose of ten to twenty milligrams of vitamin B1 while in therapy," because otherwise he might have nightmares. And, of course, like the leader of any crackpot movement, he suspects and condemns the skeptic and disbeliever:

    Should the pre-clear discover that anyone is attempting to prevent him from starting or continuing dianetic therapy, the fact should be communicated immediately to the auditor. Anyone attempting to stop an individual from entering therapy either has a use for the aberrations of that individual or has something to hide.
    This physician has no use for the aberrations of dianetics-addicts, but he earnestly hopes to prevent readers of the book from trying their luck with its methods. There can be no doubt that many will feel helped by the new fad, and, unfortunately, it was only to be expected that somebody would get the idea of inventing some kind of home psychoanalysis. No method of psychotherapy exists—however bizarre it may be—which will not exert a temporary effect in the hands of disciples who are haunted by anxiety and despair. However, the harm that may be done by dianetics-auditors and their victims should not be underestimated. Hubbard says:

    A pre-clear should not be disheartened or dismayed to find himself with a flicker of "coronary trouble" on Tuesday, the shadow of a "migraine" on Saturday and a cough on Wednesday....Anything so restimulated by therapy cannot reach any dangerous heights and is of passing duration.
    The flicker of coronary trouble may be a serious occlusion, the psychosomatic ulcer may be a disguised cancer, and the cough a tumor of the lungs. While the patient is spending his hours in dianetic revery, precious time for saving his life may be lost: it may prove fatal to have put too much trust in the promises of this dangerous book.

    The examples of dianetic auditions which are quoted are of fantastic absurdity, especially where they are concerned with the poor patient's pre-natal life and his mother's sex habits and abortions. I wish there were enough space to reprint some of them. This reviewer, in exploring the book, suffered a most painful "cellular engram"—to use the author's language. And he ardently wishes that something could be done to prohibit the activities of psychotherapists of this sort. Our exploiters of mass anxiety are a serious menace to public health.


  66. What Going Clear means for the decline of Scientology

    HBO’s documentary about Scientology finally crosses the border into Canada. What does it say about the Church’s future?

    by Rachel Browne, Maclean's May 8, 2015

    Nan McLean first joined the Church of Scientology in Toronto in 1969 when she was 46 years old. She was out driving and heard reporters on the radio discussing the religion she had never heard of. When one reporter mentioned that Scientologists believe in reincarnation, she got so excited she almost drove off the road. “I always believed in reincarnation, but wasn’t sure how I could practise it—until then,” she recalls. A few weeks later, McLean, her husband, and two sons made it official. She walked into the Church—at that time a house on Avenue Road before it moved to itsYonge Street location–and paid $500 for the first required course, excited to start this new chapter in her life. “I still remember that was the weekend Armstrong walked on the moon,” she says. “It felt good to be part of a community, something different.”

    But after a year and a half of what she calls hypocrisy, and allegations of physical and mental abuse, the McLean family decided they wanted out. For 18 months before they left, her son John had been part of the Sea Org (short for Sea Organization)—an elite contingent of devout Scientologists who sign a billion-year contract dedicating their life to working for the church—working aboard the Apollo, the yacht that served as founder L. Ron Hubbard’s headquarters. John convinced Sea Org to let him go, and he joined his family back home. Since then, McLean has devoted her life to helping other Scientologists who want to leave, and stays in touch with former members across the country. “I know first-hand that members of this group are controlled by fear, that’s why people stay in it even when things are horrible,” she says.

    Now 91, and still living in Toronto, McLean believes strongly that Scientology should cease to exist, but says that will take time—and public outcry. That’s why she has been anxiously following press coverage of Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, the new HBO documentary based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 investigative book (it had its U.S. premiere in March but is only now being released in Canada in select theatres and on iTunes). The term “clear” is found in Hubbard’s 1950 bestselling book, and foundational Scientology text, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, referring to a state of mind Scientologists can achieve through study and practice. “My goal wasn’t to write an exposé,” Wright tells director Alex Gibney in an interview in the film. “It was simply to understand Scientology.” Ultimately, his book and the film serve both goals.

    Gibney (known for his films that take on religion’s dark side) weaves details of Scientology’s complex, and often contradictory, history with interviews with eight ex-Scientologists, including people who made it to the church’s upper echelons, such as Paul Haggis, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker from London, Ont., who in 2009—after 35 years in the church—left Scientology because of its support for an anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative in California.

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  67. Spanky Taylor a woman who was a Scientologist for 17 years, and was assigned to work with John Travolta after he first joined in 1975, says in the film that she was sent to the church’s “Rehabilitation Project Force,” what she described as a prison camp on the seventh floor of the Scientology headquarters for members of the Sea Org who criticized the church, after she confronted the church for not providing adequate medical treatment for her boss. She describes brutal living and working conditions—30 hours on, three hours off with little food—and how she was forced to hand her daughter over to other members so that motherhood wouldn’t compromise her devotion. She wonders why Travolta, her close friend at the time, didn’t help her get out sooner even though she says he knew about the abuses she faced. “I often wonder what could possibly keep him there,” she says.

    Much of the film focuses on the auditing sessions—a cornerstone of Scientology—that Scientologists participate in as part of their spiritual journey. An auditor listens as the person being audited divulges their feelings and life experiences. The auditor takes meticulous notes while the whole thing is recorded. According to former members quoted in the film, Travolta’s auditing sessions were secretly recorded, even though he requested they not be. In an interview, Wright describes how a Scientologist was tasked with compiling a “black PR folder” that allegedly contained every salacious detail from Travolta’s sessions to use against him should he decide to leave.

    McLean was disappointed when she couldn’t find Going Clear online or on TV—the documentary has yet to air on HBO Canada—but she hopes it might signal the final stages of the church’s demise. “Each moment like this is a new step in the right direction,” she says.

    The Church of Scientology has withstood countless allegations of abuse, corruption and fraud ever since it was founded in 1954 by 43-year-old L. Ron Hubbard, a sci-fi writer from Nebraska. A brief timeline of its history paints a picture of the young religion’s resiliency:

    During the 1970s and 1980s, Scientologists infiltrated government agencies in the U.S. and Canada and stole hundreds of documents as part of Operation Snow White, the church’s mission to get a hold of any potentially damning documents about them and Hubbard; 11 Scientologists were convicted of conspiracy in 1980. But the church recovered from the scandal quickly, still managing to convert an impressive roster of celebs, including Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Tom Cruise, who joined in 1990.

    It was shortly after that, with the rise of the Internet, that many ex-Scientologists took to chat rooms and forums to document their stories of alleged exploitation and to protest the church’s rigid hierarchy. Since then, the church has tried every trick in the book to combat the deluge of negative post­s. In 2009, it became the first group officially banned from Wikipedia after creating numerous accounts dedicated to deleting anything disparaging. The church has also been in a heated battle with hacktivist group Anonymous, which has targeted it since 2008 after the church tried to remove a video of Tom Cruise that Anonymous posted to YouTube. In Germany, government ministers have been trying to ban Scientology, as critics there deem it a cult. And in 2009, a French court convicted the church of fraud and slapped it with an $800,000 fine.

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  68. Then there are the scathing films and tell all books: the 2010 Australian documentary Scientology: The Ex-Files follows ex-members of the church’s Sea Org as they describe what they claim were slave-like living conditions, forced abortions and torture (a 2010 FBI investigation into Sea Org yielded no charges). And in 2013, ex-Scientologist Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of the leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige, published her memoir, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, where she delves into stories of brainwashing and child labour while she was part of the church.

    For Stephen Kent, a professor at the University of Alberta who specializes in Scientology and new religious movements, the revelations in Going Clear might not be entirely new, especially since it’s based on a two-year-old book, but will likely contribute to preventing prospective members from joining. And Wright and Gibney’s combined credentials give new weight to claims that have been circulating for decades.

    “For years, people have been predicting the demise of Scientology,” Kent tells Maclean’s. “That hasn’t happened. But we do know it’s under siege and on the decline. Most new religions don’t make it beyond a few generations, and Scientology is definitely in that cycle.”

    Religions emerge in relation to and reaction against historical and cultural circumstances, and when those change, as they already have, the religion becomes less relevant and will have diminished appeal, says Kent. “In order to be successful, a religion has to successfully cultivate its children.” Kent claims that Scientology, especially at the upper levels, is quite harsh on children; it has been reported that, since 1987, members of Sea Org are prohibited from having kids.

    When Kent first arrived in Edmonton in 1984, the Church of Scientology had a large, high-profile office downtown, but now operates in a tiny office outside of the city. A 2012 Maclean’s e-book on Scientology describes Scientology’s relationship with Canada. In 2011, the Church announced plans to set up one of its few retreats—and new Sea Org base—at a golf resort in Mono, Ont., near Orangeville. But with only seven churches and an estimated 2,500 members in Canada, Scientology isn’t exactly thriving here. Even though it claims to be the world’s fastest-growing religion, the American Religious Identification Survey reported 25,000 Scientologists in the U.S., down from 45,000 in 1990.

    Further, Kent says the film could change the ways academics study Scientology, particularly when it comes to using testimony from former members, which he says academia is often quick to dismiss. “There has been a very odd but persistent reaction against using the accounts of former members of Scientology in academic work,” he says. “They can be seen as disgruntled former members. And I’ve used accounts of former members and have had others attempt to discredit me. Of course [the former members] could be lying, but it’s up to experts [academics] to corroborate what they say.” Kent hopes Going Clear might encourage academics to take these various perspectives more seriously.

    Kent tells Maclean’s he believes the biggest misconception about Scientology is that it’s even a religion at all. “I define it as a multi-national conglomerate, only one part of which is religious,” says Kent. But he doesn’t go so far as to call it a cult. “I’m more concerned about groups that cause harm regardless of what sort of label we put on them. And that’s the sort of thing Going Clear is about.”