BANGKOK, Thailand — After Cyclone Nargis left a trail of corpses along Burma’s coast in May 2008, foreign aid workers clamored to enter the military-controlled backwater. Despite the world’s pleading, Burma’s paranoid generals forbade most foreign relief workers from entering the disaster zone. A frustrated U.K. threatened unauthorized air drops. The U.S. Navy was forced to float vessels loaded with life-saving supplies offshore. But among the few who managed to access Burma’s worst-hit areas included adherents of the California-based Church of Scientology. According to the church, miracles ensued after Scientologists touched down. Their team sought out traumatized Burmese for Scientology’s touch-healing techniques, professed to revive the spirit...
Tag Archives | Scientology
No, the above isn’t hyperbole. The New Yorker has a fascinating and authoritative exposé on Scientology. The experiences of Hollywood director and ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis are the starting point, but the piece hits upon everything from the cult’s origins to its use of violence and child labor to John Travolta magically healing Marlon Brando’s leg via touch:
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In December, 2009, Tricia Whitehill, a special agent from the Los Angeles office, flew to Florida to interview former members of the church in the F.B.I.’s office in downtown Clearwater, which happens to be directly across the street from Scientology’s spiritual headquarters.
Whitehill and Valerie Venegas, the lead agent on the case, also interviewed former Sea Org members in California. One of them was Gary Morehead, who had been the head of security at the Gold Base; he left the church in 1996. In February, 2010, he spoke to Whitehill and told her that he had developed a “blow drill” to track down Sea Org members who left Gold Base.
Lawrence Wright’s forthcoming tell-all book about the Hollywood uber-cult Scientology (The Heretic of Hollywood: Paul Haggis vs.The Church of Scientology) has been in the news often the past few weeks, mostly concerning speculation about whether or not award-winning scribe Paul Haggis “officially” collaborated with Wright.
The book still hasn’t been scheduled for publication and considering the cult’s propensity for litigation it might face considerable delays. For those who can’t wait, Wright has contributed a fascinating and lengthy essay on the topic to the current issue of the New Yorker.
It’s a must-read for anyone interested in the cult of Scientology. Here’s the beginning:
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On August 19, 2009, Tommy Davis, the chief spokesperson for the Church of Scientology International, received a letter from the film director and screenwriter Paul Haggis. “For ten months now I have been writing to ask you to make a public statement denouncing the actions of the Church of Scientology of San Diego,” Haggis wrote.
It’s been tagged as “the Scientology expose we’ve been waiting for” (Gawker), but some serious questions have been raised about just how much Paul Haggis has cooperated with New Yorker staff writer and Looming Tower author Lawrence Wright’s new book, The Heretic of Hollywood: Paul Haggis vs.The Church of Scientology. The LA Times suggests it’s time for conspiracy theorists to ponder whether or not Haggis has been nobbled by the Scientology “Church”:
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Paul Haggis has severed ties with the Church of Scientology. But maybe he’s not quite willing to tell all.
Last week, a number of reports said Haggis was collaborating on a Scientology-themed book with New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright, who was also writing an as-yet-unpublished magazine article on the subject. The book was to explore the director’s involvement with, and disassociation from, the Church of Scientology.
The next day, a representative for the filmmaker messaged to clarify that while Haggis was cooperating with the book, he was not an author and would not benefit financially from it.
Adding to Scientology's woes, some of the people who have been making defections in recent years are turning around and writing damning tell-alls. Regular publishers won't touch these books -- even though some of them are actually very well written -- so the authors have had to go the self-published route. Last year's killer I-escaped-from-Scientology narrative was put out by Marc Headley. His Blown for Good made for a gripping read, about a low-level grunt who spent years at Scientology's secret HQ in the California desert until he finally made a mad dash for freedom. This year, we can report that Headley's book has been equaled. In Counterfeit Dreams: One Man's Journey Into and Out of the World of Scientology, ex-Scientologist Jefferson Hawkins not only provides his own dramatic tale of getting sucked into and ultimately escaping from Scientology, but Hawkins was no low-level scrub. He, maybe more than any other single person, may be the reason Scientology ever became as popular as it did...
The following is a press release sent to disinformation by Anonymous:
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Over 1,000 former members of the Church of Scientology have spoken out publicly against the so-called church, according to a list researched and compiled by Anonymous over the last year and announced on April 11th 2010.
The individuals on the list have spoken out under their real names against the abuses seen and experienced within the so-called church despite being subjected to Scientology’s “Fair Game” policy, which gives members permission to destroy its critics. Most former members do not ever speak out against the church, largely because of this policy.
The stories told by these ex-members are similar to the revelations made recently by former members speaking out against Scientology in highly visible stories in the New York Times, the St. Petersburg Times, and most recently, in a five-part series on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360. According to the Church of Scientology, these former members are “liars” and “apostates” with an agenda to destroy the church.
Under a new law empowering the Russian government to ban written work categorized as "extremist materials," the Russian Prosecutor General's Office has declared that the work of L. Ron Hubbard, the American founder of Scientology, belongs on a list of materials "undermining the traditional spiritual values of the citizens of the Russian Federation." The law lays out fines of 3,000 rubles ($100) for anyone in possession of such materials, or a jail term of up to 15 days — with harsher penalties imposed on repeat offenders and/or those with a criminal history. According to the Moscow Times, 28 Hubbard-penned titles are now on that forbidden-readings list, including such works such as "The Factors, Admiration & the Renaissance of Beingness" and "The Unification Congress. Communication! Freedom and Ability." The writings were reportedly intercepted by Russian transport officials, who forwarded them to a panel of "psychiatrists, psychologists, and sociologists" for review...
Scott Rose writes in the Moscow Times:
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Works by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard will be added to the country’s list of extremist literature for “undermining the traditional spiritual values of the citizens of the Russian Federation,” the Prosecutor General’s Office said Wednesday.
The ruling — initiated by transport prosecutors in the Siberian city of Surgut and Khanty-Mansiisk customs officers — is the latest use of the hotly debated law on extremism to target systems of belief that are not traditional in Russia.
Individuals in possession of extremist materials can be jailed for up to 15 days or fined 3,000 rubles ($100). The law also allows for harsher punishment of suspects convicted of other crimes.
Prosecutors said they intercepted 28 individual titles, including books, audio and video recordings by Hubbard that were sent to residents in Surgut from the United States. The materials were sent for study to “psychiatrists, psychologists and sociologists,” who determined that they should not be distributed in Russia, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
From the Telegraph:
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Two former Scientologists have shone a less than flattering spotlight on the controversial organization, which counts the actors John Travolta and Tom Cruise among its followers, in a landmark lawsuit.
In the test case against the US-based Church of Scientology, Marc Headley and his wife, Claire, have told how they were treated like slaves and forced to work 20-hour days almost continually through the year.
Mrs Headley claims she was coerced into having an abortion, while Mr Headley has spoken about how he was subjected to a strange mind-control practise by the actor Tom Cruise.
Both were members of Sea Org, the Scientologists’ “religious order” and a supposedly elite vanguard made up of its most dedicated recruits, and signed up to the religion when they were still teenagers.
Members of the order sign a billion-year pledge of loyalty, promise not to have children, and live and work communally.
Script writer J.D. Shapiro wrote an open letter apologizing to “anyone who went to see Battlefield Earth” printed in the New York Post. It’s actually a refreshingly honest look at how a historically bad Hollywood movie came to be made:
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It wasn’t as I intended — promise. No one sets out to make a train wreck. Actually, comparing it to a train wreck isn’t really fair to train wrecks, because people actually want to watch those.
It was 1994, and I had read an article in Premiere magazine saying that the Celebrity Center, the Scientology epicenter in Los Angeles, was a great place to meet women.
I researched Scientology before signing on to the movie, to make sure I wasn’t making anything that would indoctrinate people. I took a few courses, including the Purification Rundown, or Purif. You go to CC every day, take vitamins and go in and out of a sauna so toxins are released from your body.