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June 23, 2009

Explosive series on Scientology

Between the criminal trial in France and the new cable and online advertising campaign in the United States, we had been planning to post something here about Scientology. Now comes a remarkable series in the St. Petersburg Times containing explosive allegations against church leader David Miscavige by four formerly top-ranking Scientology officials.

The defectors include former Miscavige lieutenant Marty Rathbun and former church spokesman Mike Rinder. Lawyers and current spokespersons for the church deny any wrongdoing and describe the whistle-blowers as disgruntled former employees who were demoted or removed from their jobs and now are attempting to stage a leadership coup from outside the church.

On Sunday, Times reporters Thomas C. Tobin and Joe Childs alleged a culture of violence promoted among the church leadership by Miscavige, who the defectors allege personally beat underlings who would not fight back. Monday’s installment detailed the last days of Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist who died in 1995 after 17 days in the care of the church.

Tuesday, the reporters describe a bizarre game of musical chairs to determine who among the church leadership was the most committed to the tasks at hand. According to the defectors, Miscavige told the group that all but the winner would be reassigned to Scientology's far-flung outposts – a threat he did not ultimately carry out.

Read the series at the St. Petersburg Times.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 12:36 PM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Scientology


Thanks Matthew for posting about this issue. For many years I worked with Marty, Mike, Amy and Tom at Scientology’s Int Base. Like them, I too have seen and experienced the violence of David Miscavige. On 4 occasions I saw him physically attack people including some of the same individuals who only days ago denied anything like that ever happening, a classic example of “battered person syndrome.” I had many run ins myself with Miscavige whereby he threatened me physically in addition to intense verbal abuse. These journalists have presented a truthful and accurate picture into the madness of David Miscavige. He is in actual fact a self-appointed dictator who gained his position by coup about 25 years ago.

As to Miscavige’s influence upon the religion, his subversion has become so pervasive that I believe Scientology in its present state bears almost no resemblance to the religion it could/should be. Those of us who lived the nightmare under Miscavige’s boot heel are beginning to speak out. Some months ago I established a website for the purpose, and only yesterday posted a new article explaining further details on how Miscavige obtains the false “evidence” that he uses to discredit... or in his words, to “annihilate” his detractors (violent words, violent man). The article is entitled “Forced Confessions” and you’ll find it at Thank you for speaking out. We need all the help we can get to end this abuse.

Alleging something does not make it true. Anyone can allege anything about anyone, especially if you have a paper like the SP Times willing to parrot whatever unprovable tall tales you want to spout.

Whether it's at Gold Base or at a Burger King restaurant, there's one thing you can always count on: disgruntled ex-employees will say anything, no matter how implausible or hateful, to lash out and "get back" at their old boss. True that.

This expose' of the crimes and abuse that takes place inside the "church" of Scientology is long overdue. Of course Scientologists are denying everything the way they always do, but the testimony of so many ex-members speaks volumes. Research more about their scams at xenu (dot) net.

"Whether it's at Gold Base or at a Burger King restaurant, there's one thing you can always count on: disgruntled ex-employees will say anything, no matter how implausible or hateful, to lash out and "get back" at their old boss. True that."

One thing they won't do, however, is substantiate each others stories independently. These people were approached by the St. Pete Times independently, and detailed the same stories in individual interviews. They didn't come out together, they were sought out.

Kornston: So you are saying Scientology is a business? Then it should be taxed as such. But the CoS response to these incidents is anemic and predictable. "Close ranks and deny." There is no question that David Miscavige has altered the basic practices of the Scientology applied religious philosophy to suit his own, less than altruistic ends, and exerts undue control over his cult-like followers.

Kornston, how many 'disgruntled ex-employees' have you ever heard accusing their former 'church' of abuse and degradation of THIS magnitude?

And it's not just them speaking out about this abuse, either. is chock full of stories from (mostly) young people who were born and grew up inside the COS and managed to escape to tell their tales. Read just three and you'll see; this isn't just 'a few' people... it's nearly EVERYONE who's escaped from this insidious group.

Please explain to me how so many people can be lying?

Unless, of course, you're OSA... to which I say FLUNK!

Scientology is taking a long overdue beating.The law suits are mounting -and for a good reason .Several months ago on the cover of St.Petes in true David and Goliath fashion read "Mom sues Church of Scientology."The bullying and intimidation tactics of Scientology are ending.Amen

Kornston -- people can be convicted of crimes "beyond a reasonable doubt" based on eye witness testimony. The story has four witnesses to the attacks by the Scientology head and the first poster above is a fifth.

How many more do you need?

Re: Kornston is OSA? the way you can tell an OSA plant or post is that they attack the critic without offering any specific aspects of $cientology's practices. It is how they are trained in their propoganda rundowns. A rundown is a "course" for which they pay money. The foundational belief of $cientology, for which members pay in excess of $150,000 to learn about is that, and I am not making this up, millions of years ago the Space Lord Xenu, with the help of psychiatrists, blew up millions of people with hydrogen bombs in volcanoes on Earth, which Hubbard called Teegiac. These disembodied spirits cling to us and are called Thetans. You pay scientology for courses that help you remove these clinging spirits that are the cause of all our problems, until you become "clear." Once Clear you can fly and have no health or other problems. Make sure you check out actor Jason Beghe's interview about his experience with and departure from the cult.

COS = Fightclub???

So I can give them all my money, get the crap beat out of me, and get brainwashed for extra measure?

Sounds like a great path for self-improvement..... for serial killers.

"Scientology is taking a long overdue beating.The law suits are mounting -and for a good reason .Several months ago on the cover of St.Petes in true David and Goliath fashion read "Mom sues Church of Scientology."The bullying and intimidation tactics of Scientology are ending.Amen"

That mother was Victoria Brennan. Her son killed himself while visisting his scientologist father. His father locked away his prescription despression meds for his bi-polar, manic depression. The father in the case contacted church officials and waited for their arrival before ever calling 911 or emergency services. In fact he waited at least an HOUR to do so.

On video hosting sites Victoria made a number of dedication video's for Kyle. None mentioning Scientology what so ever. The remarks left by scientologists on every site was disgusting. They are trained to attack the attacker, whether just or unjust. Stop this cult now!

I was in Scientology a long time & found it a very divided organization attempting to keep up some type of united front.
They are not allowed to know the real stiry of their leader Hubbard & keep trying to sell the fabricated story of the life of Hubbard as was told by himself.
Hubbard was a pathological liar, suffered illusions of grandeur & was extremely paranoiac. In such mixed up mind he could also be described as a genius.
He did sell many truths mixed with a tremendous amount of disinformation.
Miscavige appears being a misfit more of a mind of Hitler than of a religious leader.

My latest, and last, experience with Scientology was "paying" for a course, which THEY then decided I couldn't take because I was dealing marijuana to patients (after about 10 interview/auditing sessions they arrived at this decision). Then, when I asked about getting my money back, my payment was suddenly turned into a "donation." When pressed, "I could get you your money back, but the door just won't be open as wide next time." I am quoting Bob Anderson, head of the mission in Boulder, Colorado. I'm sure this editorial statement makes me a "suppressive" in their eyes. Their organization is suppressive - that's the reality. Thanx for your time.

The title of your blog, in good faith, doesn't apply to Scientology. They state that they don't have faith in Xenu or L. Ron, they KNOW. They don't have faith or love in their beliefs, just knowingness and survival, and the determination to lie, cheat, steal and now beat and be beaten, to Keep Scientology Working, up to a breaking point.

The idea of Marty Rathbun, admitting to destroying evidence in the Lisa McPherson case, to wrest control of Scientology away from Slappy Miscavige is laughable. ADMITTING TO SOMETHING TERRIBLE one did to cover for Scientology's horrible actions and mistakes, means getting thrown out of this cult forever.

The cult will say these people are "bad apples." Really, they are some of the best apples in this bunch. Better yet, are the people who know to leave after taking one course from this scam outfit, but after all, they do employ brainwashing techniques and all it takes is vulnerability. At one point, I considered that only masochists could become Scientologists, because outside of Celebrity Center Treatment, practically everyone who has left Scientology after more than two years, feels they escaped from a con.

Thanks for linking to the Times report on Scientology. The coverage has gotten an incredible amount of worldwide attention. Hundreds of people -- many former Scientologists -- have responded to the stories and video on I'll keep you posted on any more follow-up coverage.

The stories of Miscavige's beatings have been around for a while. This is just the first time they have been told by former executive.

Let's say the allegations are just a load of nonsense. We still have upper management who spend years beating the defenseless, overboarding, destruction of evidence and a church that will take parishioiners confessions and use the confessions against them if they get out of line.

Also judging by the reaction of the rank and file Scientologists, their members will believe anything they are told, no matter how implausible, as long as it is told by the leader of Scientology.

God, I can't believe in today's America these cults thrive. Are we nuts to allow this rubbish? What's the difference between voodoo practitioners, the Islamic extremists and scientologists? Scientology would not thrive without willing disciples. This country is filled with gullible and superstitious folks who may as well be from primitive times. We may pat ourselves over the march of science--math, physics, biology and chemistry but when a phenomenon like Scientology creeps out of the woodworks to trap so may among us we have to cringe. To this day we are susceptible to the tyranny of men who call themselves Gods and miracle workers. Never will change human nature even after we conquer the farthest reaches of space.

I went to Narconon, Scientology's Drug and Alcohol Program. I have been sober and thriving (doing incredible) for 5 years now, but in no thanks to Narconon. My drug "counselor" was a drug addict that 'graduated' as a patient DURING my detox. Then she got thrown out 2 weeks later after building my trust, for doing Heroin. It was a dreadful place, absolutely dreadful. The intake counselor, the day after I got there, got thrown out for drinking and abusing Listerine. The night watchmen, two days later, got thrown out for smoking crack. That is just the tip of the iceberg, really. I dont want to give too much away, but I wound up finding out way more than I wanted to...I got sucked in and had a hell of a time breaking free. I befriended an ex-sea org member, who is seriously, seriously screwed up. A beautiful person, but Sci did a number on her. Her family are still all Scientologists, and they treat her terribly for leaving the "church". Her father is on his 5th wife and treats her like dirt. It is such a shame. I have tons of stories, of crazy things I have seen and heard first hand. Everyone who I have met who is a high level Sci is seriously creepy. The vibe is so odd. I feel bad for them. I understand what a minf-F and brainwash this is. The stories of DM are all absolutely true. And there are still so many secrets and lies to come out. I LOVE all the brave people who are finally speaking out. Seriously, its very, very brave. Fair Game is no joke. - PK

As much as I appreciate the Baltimore Sun and 'In Good Faith', I feel I have to correct one misconception.

Scientology is not a 'church', it's a cult - in the same manner as the Shining Path and other deadly cults.

They just happen to have a few crazy celebrities in their ranks so they appeal to common folk.

While everyone is entitled to their own beliefs (the point of 'In Good Faith', I suppose) these people take it to a whole new level. They use their beliefs to break up families, hurt their own staff, and push forced abortions.

They need to be stopped.

Thank you or pointing me to this news. I was involved with Scientology for many years but luckily I got out. I believe these stories. It's not a religion, but it's good at making money tax free.

Thanks to you and all others like you for exposing all the nasty shit that the Co$ doesn't want you to see.

Really, what kind of 'religion' abuses it parishioners?

Keep up the good work.

I want to thank PK for the comments here on Narconon, one of Scientology's front groups.

His/her story highlights one of my larger concerns about this organization:

Former patients, (Narconon calls them "students") are routinely employed by Narconon, fresh out of treatment. Newly sober folks are subject to relapse. New students are potentially left in their care and often with unfortunate outcomes or very poor treatment experiences as PK describes. This doesn't seem like a safe environment for vulnerable addicts attempting to get sober IMO.

Although, Narconon boasts of incredible success, their statistics are fictitious, and not based on long term sobriety. Their treatment modalities are questionable and not backed by science.

Buyer beware.

I read the actual series carefully and fully.

Not once did it mention any supporting evidence so easy to create and reproduce these days:
No cell phone pictures of a bruise or cut.
No receipt for a doctor's visit.
No note or email home to Dad, or a buddy.
No paper notes to/from a concerned spouse.
No entries in a personal paper diary or blog.
Additionally, that church has a well-honed ethics system, yet not one of those people mentioned reporting any violence nor has a copy of such a report to show.

I really smell the preps for a lawsuit coming here.

But maybe one of the demotees just wants his/her job back and they're angling to get current leader kicked out.

Something about it seems fishy.

And that very much includes St. Petersburg Times reporters' headlong eagerness to print a shocking story without asking for or citing a shred of physical evidence--which would have been so easy to contemporaneously produce and save.

As reporters, they should be more suspicious of being taken for a ride by vested interests.

In case you don't have reason to follow the Tampa/St. Pete area closely, the St. Pete Times has a long record of attacking the local Scientology community, whereas the Tampa Tribune covers that church's matters more sedately, if at all.

Draw your own conclusions.

I have just finished reading the blog "Counterfeit Dreams" a by the ex-Marketing Dir of Scientology who left after 32 yrs and details his rise in the sci orgs. Extremely well written and very engaging account. The truth about scientology and it's deception is EASILY known for those who are honestly seeking the truth.

I also see that Google is running TONS of scientology ads these days while at the sametime running ads to discredit Christianity...I wonder who is responsible for placing the ads to discredit Christianity ????

"I wonder who is responsible for placing the ads to discredit Christianity ?"

You mean the plethora of contradictions and the evidence that the whole Christian story is based on previous mythologies with similar saviors?

They didn't need ads - Christianity discredits itself.

Think "Christianity = older Scientology."

I worked closely with Marty Rathbun for 7 years, until he blew on his motorbike and left me to deal with the mess he left behind. I worked closely with Mike Rinder for 18 years. I worked with Amy Scobee (then Mortland) for at least 5 years. I know them all intimately well.

Marty stuck his fist in my face and was about to beat me up until, lucky for me, he realized that I was one head smaller and a woman. Now he says he's sorry for his behavior, well, that doesn't quite do it for me.

Mike Rinder has made my life hell for literally years (and believe me, the specifics would make anyone puke so I'll spare you those details). He also says he's sorry, well Mike, that doesn't do it for me either.

I have been in literally hundreds of meetings with David Miscavige, including the very ones described by Rathbun, Rinder and Scobee. The absolute "worst" I saw was that he threw a glass of water over someone who had just said he had done absolutely nothing for an entire week while we were all working our guts out for days on end. I can tell you, I was about to do worse to that guy than throwing a glass of water over him.

In other words, contrary to all the commentary writers here, I was there, I have witnessed most of the "incidents" referred to in those meetings, and unfortunately for all those who are dying to hear some inside skinny on Scientology, they didn't happen. The worst that occurred was that most of these meetings were deadly boring because none of the people involved could bring up anything decent to handle the real situations we had to deal with in a large organization such as the church.

Look, it's true as stated in one of the comments here: If people were so abused, how come I never saw the bruises, the stiff necks, the split lips, the marks on the faces, the ripped clothes? How come there is absolutely no other evidence than what they're saying? I worked with these people day in day out. They were sitting literally next to me so I certainly would have noticed.

I've had my own run-ins with people in the church but on the other hand, literally the only person who would talk to me when I was in trouble, was David Miscavige. Both Rinder and Scobee couldn't give a shit.

So don't tell me about all the crap these "poor people" went through. In my book they were vipers of the worst kind.

And I was there, I saw it, every bit of it.

How would they be able to take photos and what not of their injuries when they are IN THE CULT. Obviously they were being closely watched and I'm sure if they went to someone about it while they were in the cult, much worse would have happened to them. I dont know of any church who has private detectives. That alone shows that this "religion" is messed up.
You would be very surprised to see how well one can cover bruises and cuts. Not to mention, of course there aren't going to be any notes, or personal diaries. Scientology is very good at destroying evidence.

Thanks Witness, for corroborating that these individuals who spoke out against Miscavige were indeed high ranking members of Scientology. Why didn't the church do anything about these violent acts? Why are there no police reports? Photographs? No doctor receipts or communications with their families about these crimes. Sure makes you wonder about all the criminal acts going on behind the barbed wire fences of Scientology.

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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