Gee, it seems only a short time ago that I blogged about the Church of Scientology’s failed “investigation” of the St Petersburg Times, which late last year ran an extensive multi-story exposé of that so-called religion. This weekend, the estimable New York Times ran its own single-story (to date) exposé of Scientology (WebCite cached article):

Defectors Say Church of Scientology Hides Abuse

Raised as Scientologists, Christie King Collbran and her husband, Chris, were recruited as teenagers to work for the elite corps of staff members who keep the Church of Scientology running, known as the Sea Organization, or Sea Org.

They signed a contract for a billion years — in keeping with the church’s belief that Scientologists are immortal. They worked seven days a week, often on little sleep, for sporadic paychecks of $50 a week, at most.

But after 13 years and growing disillusionment, the Collbrans decided to leave the Sea Org, setting off on a Kafkaesque journey that they said required them to sign false confessions about their personal lives and their work, pay the church thousands of dollars it said they owed for courses and counseling, and accept the consequences as their parents, siblings and friends who are church members cut off all communication with them. …

They soon discovered others who felt the same. Searching for Web sites about Scientology that are not sponsored by the church (an activity prohibited when they were in the Sea Org), they discovered that hundreds of other Scientologists were also defecting — including high-ranking executives who had served for decades.

The large number of recent defections from the CoS likely explains this rash of newspaper stories on Scientology’s abuses. At any rate, the story acknowledges that the “average” CoS member may not be aware of all of this:

The defectors say that the average Scientology member, known in the church as a public, is largely unaware of the abusive environment experienced by staff members. The church works hard to cultivate public members — especially celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Nancy Cartwright (the voice of the cartoon scoundrel Bart Simpson) — whose money keeps it running.

But recently even some celebrities have begun to abandon the church, the most prominent of whom is the director and screenwriter Paul Haggis, who won Oscars for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash.” Mr. Haggis had been a member for 35 years. His resignation letter [cached version], leaked to a defectors’ Web site, recounted his indignation as he came to believe that the defectors’ accusations must be true.

The Times continues by relating the Collbrans’ harrowing story of trying to leave Scientology, which included impediments such as taking their passports so they couldn’t travel. It also recounts things like beatings of Scientology members and employees, some at the hands of the head of the CoS, David Miscavige.

Marvelous people, eh?

I wonder if the CoS will try the same stunt they attempted with the St Petersburg Times and try to hire other reporters to investigate the New York Times. Even if they do, I’m betting they will also refuse to reveal the contents of that investigation.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.