Exposing Scientology

I’ve written about the ludicrous “space opera” beliefs of Scientology (the Plan 9 from Outer Space of modern religions). In the future, I want to tell the story of my personal encounter with Scientology proselytizers, but today I have another subject: some recent news exposés that reveal the secrets and the machinations of the cult.

First and foremost, the St. Petersburg Times deserves credit for its truly superb investigative reporting on the inner workings of Scientology. In their 2009 special report, The Truth Rundown, they interview numerous defectors from the church, some very high-ranking. The stories they tell don’t paint an appealing picture, including multiple sources who allege that David Miscavige, the ruler of the church, would use violence against underlings who displeased him:

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

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

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

…”He lifted Mike Rinder nearly off of his feet and smashed his head into the wall, and he banged his head into the wall three times, just BANG, BANG, BANG!

Other forms of confinement and physical abuse have also been reported by ex-members:

As a form of punishment, Sea Org members had to run around a circular dirt track with a pole at the center for hours on end in the desert heat.

“You would be on it anywhere from eight to 12 hours a day,” Morehead said. “For every hundred people that were out there doing the running program, one of them was there because it was part of their actual (spiritual) progress.”

To answer these charges, Scientology resorted to one of the ugliest tactics I’ve ever seen in any religion: they disclosed the contents of the defectors’ “ethics files” – confessions of past wrongdoing that the church extracts from its members as part of the “auditing” process. The records of these confessions are kept so that the church can use them to punish and humiliate those who get out of line, as reported in this excerpt:

Jackie Wolff wept as she recalled the chaotic night she was ordered to stand at a microphone in the mess hall and confess her “crimes” in front of 300 fellow workers, many jeering and heckling her.

This is an excellent example of why you should never trust any religion with personal secrets. But Miscavige practices what he preaches – according to an article from Xenu TV, his own family was broken up by his adherence to Scientology teachings.

On a different note, you can also read the contract that all Scientologists must sign. A few interesting clauses include 2(e)(ii), in which the member agrees that the church makes no claim that “the application of any Scientology or Dianetics technology or practice will have any particular effect on me” (in layman’s terms: the church doesn’t promise that Scientology auditing does anything!); 4(g), which states that the applicant agrees that “all mental problems are spiritual in nature”; and especially 6(a), in which the applicant waives all future rights to sue the church for any reason (here’s a tip: don’t join any church that wants you to sign something like that!).

Happily, not all of Scientology’s members are hopelessly brainwashed. There are many who’ve come to their senses enough to see its phony claims for what they are, such as actor Jason Beghe:

“I started explaining to him about Xenu and the loyal officers” — a basic story from L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction. “I couldn’t get a third of the way through the story, and we had our faces on the floor. We were laughing so hard. I mean you couldn’t even talk. It’s so retarded.”

Finally, if you want to know more about the “Anonymous” movement that’s been fighting Scientology, you can read about the history of the movement at The Frame Problem.

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