Scientology's Gag Reflex: The Church's History of Enforcing a Vow of Silence

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Village Voice:

Tomorrow, one of the most remarkable legal hearings in the litigious history of Scientology should unfold in a Texas courtroom.

Two weeks after filing suit against Debbie Cook, the former executive who for 17 years ran its spiritual mecca in Florida, Scientology will be seeking to turn a 14-day restraining order into a temporary injunction that will keep a gag order in place as it sues Cook for a minimum of $300,000 in damages.

Scientology is suing Cook for sending out a New Year's Eve e-mail to thousands of her fellow church members in which she complained that the church, with its focus on "extreme fundraising," has wandered from the principles of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. The church claims in its lawsuit that Cook's e-mail was a violation of a non-disclosure agreement she signed in 2007, when she left her position on church staff and accepted a payment of $50,000. Cook, we believe, will attempt to introduce evidence that she signed the agreement under duress after her career in Scientology's "Sea Org" had become unbearable (we have previously written about homophobic hazing Cook was made to endure, and we hear that she is prepared to present evidence of far worse treatment).

In other words, things could get pretty ugly in Bexar County's civil court chambers tomorrow.

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