FAZ - Beatings inside the spiritual headquarters

Ackerland

Patron with Honors
This is from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), one of Germany's most renowned news papers.

Original article: http://www.faz.net/s/RubCD175863466...F4BD21E86E58E0DA74~ATpl~Ecommon~Scontent.html

Scientology
Beatings inside the spiritual headquarters
By Katja Gelinsky, Washington

[subtitle left image] Officially stays faithful to his cult: John Travolta

August 27, 2009 John Travolta still belongs to them. A speaker for the actor rejects reports about Travolta having severed ties with "Scientology", after the tragic death of his son Jett early this year, as "completely false". "There is no change in the relationship between the 'Church of Scientology' and John", discloses Paul Block, the spokesman for the actor. "He (Travolta) is a member and it is going to stay this way now and forever."

For years, Amy Scobee was the woman in the top management of Scientology who made sure that prominent members like John Travolta or Hollywood actor Tom Cruise are supervised, advised and kept in line in "Celebrity Centers" of the organisation. She allegedly brought Travolta back twice when the movie star wanted to leave the cult. Back then, Scobee would have "never" thought that she herself would get the idea of quitting. Like many leading Scientologists of her generation, the 45 year old American became a member as teenager already. "I knew nothing about the world outside because I was in for so long."

[subtitle right image] Scientology Leader Miscavige is alleged to have beaten employees.

But in 2005, after 27 years of Scientology, Scobee decided to "blow", as the exit of defectors is dubbed in the vocabulary of the cult. "The furthering of human rights is written in our agenda, but we ourselves have the worst balance sheet that you could imagine", says the former person in charge for Scientology's high society in a recent interview with the "St. Petersburg Times", a news paper published in Florida.

Physical violence, slave labour, punishment camps

Scobee is one of four former Scientology members from the innermost leading circles who, after years of being silent defectors, level heavy allegations against the cult and in particular David Miscavige, long-standing leader of Scientology. The breakaways report about physical abuse, psychological terror, slave labour, punishment camps, violent and arbitrary rulership. Miscavige had with his own hands beaten, choked and kicked his closest staff.

These charges are not new. "But now key figures pipe up", says the avowed Scientology critic Ursula Caberta, head of the Task Force Scientology of the Hamburg's Ministry of the Interior. "These are extremely important people", confirms professor of sociology Stepehn Kent from the Canadian University of Alberta, one of the few scientists in North America who deal critically with Scientology.

Apart from Amy Scobee former Scientology leading cadres Tom de Vocht, Mark Rathbun and Mike Rinder blew the lid off in front of the "St. Petersburg Times". Numerous other American Scientologists renounced themselves from the cult thereupon. For years De Vocht, a born Belgian and member of Scientology for 28 years, was a top-notch manager in Clearwater, Florida. The "spiritual headquarters for Scientologists from all over the world", as the cult itself writes about the centre, is situated there.

De Vocht estimates from 2003 unto his "blow" in 2005, he observed Miscavige beat staff for over a hundred times. He himself fell victim to the temper tantrums of the 49 year old Scientology leader, as well. Even Mark Rathbun and Mike Rinder were not spared. "Even though they were the right and left hand of Miscavige", says Ursula Caberta.

[subtitle left image] Another Scientology adherent: Actress Kirstie Alley

Rinder was a longtime spokesperson for Scientology and head of the notorious secret service of the cult. The 54 year old escapist is now into selling cars. For years, Rathbun occupied a key position in the highest leading committee, the "Religious Technology Center" based in Los Angeles, as the chief for legal and financial matters. He left Scientology in 2004 after he fell out of favour with Miscavige. Some people speculated Rathbun had died. In Febuary of 2009, the 52 year old breakaway reported back on the internet as an advisor for defectors from Scientology.

According to the descriptions of Rathbun and Rinder, the management of the Scientology organisation, which advertises it creates "a civilisation without insanity, criminals and without war", is a microcosm that epitomised the exact opposite of these goals. Miscavige not only thrashes people. Staff are also bullied with bizarre games, public confessionals, security checks and by compulsory isolation for reputed misdeeds. But Rathbun and Rinder admit to not only being victims. They themselves have abused staff as well.

Members leave "in increasingly shorter intervals"

[subtitle right image] Another prominent member from Hollywood: Actor Tom Cruise

In the elite unit "Sea Organization" (Sea Org) a mutual hewing and stabbing supposedly exists. "Noone is being respected, because he (Miscavige) keeps belittling and beating people.", according to Rathbun. For this reason, Rinder sees the organisation on a way to self-destruction. "This festering out of the inner core is . . . more destructive to the Scientology movement than all other outside influences." Mark headley, an escapist from Burbank, California, makes similar remarks. "More and more members leave the organisation in increasingly shorter intervals", says the former Sea-Org member in discussions with the news paper. It is not exactly known how many members Scientology still has. But Headley is certain that meanwhile their number is lower than the number of breakaways.

Defectors like Headley, Rathbun and Scobee are branded as embittered liars and failures by Scientology. Everything is fine. Scientology registers an "enormous growth", the spokesman of the cult, Tommy Davis, son of actress and Scientologist Anne Archer, claims. Since 2004 they have opened nine new centres, additional five shall follow this year.

"Pure Propaganda", says Ursula Caberta. The number of Scientologists stagnates internationally or is declining. "We've been observing signs of decay for quite some time." Stephen Kent has the impression that the cult is in "big trouble", too. Both the professor of sociology and the head of the Hamburg Task Force Scientology trace back this development to the interconnectedness of breakaways on the internet. "Especially in the United States where there is no government-run educational work, the shocking reports by defectors play an important role", says Caberta. The protest movement "Anonymous" is giving the cult a hard time as well. The activits who started their resistance against Scientology on the internet organise international protests in front of Scientology centres. Furthermore, Miscavige is confronted with potentially costly damage suits of erstwhile allies - an ironical turnabout, since for years the cult fought their opponents with lawsuits.

Followed by private investigators, maligned in front of friends

Now it itself is the defendant, for instance in a suit about violation of labour laws that Mark Headley has filed against Miscavige and his stalwarts. The complaint reads Scientology "enslaves" its employees by means of "intimidation, forced signatures under waivers and by enforced poverty". Headley, who came with his mother to Scientology as a six-year-old, refers to his experiences in the Californian Scientology-complex "International Management Headquarters" at Hot Springs. There, from 1989 till his exit in 2005, he worked among other things as head for media production. The litigation is designed to be a "test case" for possible following lawsuits by breakaways.

However, for his revolt Headley is paying a high price. He says he is being spied upon and denounced. "I am being followed by private investigators, maligned in front of my friends and a few of my customers got calls by Scientology agents that claimed I was the leader of an international hate group". In order to prevent even more executives from running away, the Scientology chief has boosted the pressure inwards, too. "Miscavige and his remaining personnel are highly nervous", says the Scientology commissioner Caberta.

The American government is protecting Scientology - as of yet

To date, critics of the cult unavailingly wait for indications that police and justice in the United States follow up on these most recent revelations about violence and force at the top of "Scientology". Politics has to react, too, thinks Ursula Caberta. From the German point of view, especially the reports of breakaway Rathbun about the tax exemption are "Highly interesting". Rathbun confirmed to the "St. Petersburg Times" that the cult carved its way to tax exemption as a "non-profit organisation" in 1993 by wearing out the American revenue authorities with thousands of lawsuits. "Extortion was not necessary anymore", so the architect of the tax exemption campaign.

Ever since Rathbun's coup, Scientology enjoys the protection of the American government - and towards German Authorities, too. So Germany is regularly being criticised in the human rights report of the American foreign ministry for not recognising Scientology as a religious community.
"Well, I do expect", so Caberta, "that the American government now starts to think about who they really are supporting."

[subtitle image bottom]
Police in front of the Scientology centre in Berlin. To date, there is no law in Germany against the cult.

Text: F.A.Z. [Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung]
Image material: ddp, dpa, REUTERS
 
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Ackerland

Patron with Honors
lolwut_display.jpg
 

Lohan2008

Gold Meritorious Patron
Fuhrer

:lol: Miscaviage gets called Führer :nazi:

Scientology-Führer Miscavige soll Mitarbeiter geschlagen haben
 

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KnightVision

Gold Meritorious Patron
Beautiful. And to think that so many of us were once part of that group. Come a long way, yes, indeed.
 

Ackerland

Patron with Honors
:lol: Miscaviage gets called Führer :nazi:

Scientology-Führer Miscavige soll Mitarbeiter geschlagen haben

"Führer" is the proper word for "leader". Yes, when used in some contexts it may be an innuendo to Hitler, even in the German language. This is not one of them.
 
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