SCIENTOLOGY'S DISGRACE: AN OPEN LETTER TO TOM CRUISE

Thumbnail image for TomCruiseDavidMiscavige2.jpg
Tom, your buddy David needs you now
Dear Tom,

It's time for you to start talking publicly about Scientology again.

Your religion is in serious trouble.

In 2005, you ended a longtime policy of not talking about the church by suddenly bringing it up in interviews. Most memorable, of course, was the way you challenged Matt Lauer, telling him that you had a superior understanding of the evils of psychiatry because of your Scientology training. Some wondered if you'd gone off the deep end, especially after the episode involving Oprah's couch. Soon enough, however, you clammed up about Scientology again. But in 2008, a video of you the church had made four years earlier surfaced, and it had a huge effect, both on your reputation and the church's. For better or worse, your strange words about, for example, how only Scientologists can help out at the scene of a car accident cemented in the minds of many that you were not only the truest of true believers in L. Ron Hubbard's unusual religion, but that you had become, in fact, its public face.

And that's why, today, you must come forward and speak for a church in crisis.

Tom, last week I was in San Antonio, and I saw with my own eyes the sworn court testimony of someone you once knew and respected.

Her name is Debbie Cook, and for 17 years she was "Captain FSO" -- the top executive who ran Scientology's spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida, which is called "Flag Land Base." Back in 1975, when you were still a Catholic kid growing up in Ottawa, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard got tired of running Scientology from a yacht in the Mediterranean, and moved operations from his "flagship" the Apollo to Clearwater, taking over the old Fort Harrison Hotel and many other places in town. With "Flag" now on land, the upper-level spiritual training that Hubbard was delivering on the ship could now take place at the Florida base.

DebbieCookFlag.JPG
Debbie Cook beckons members to "Flag"
Scientologists -- including celebrities -- save up to come to Flag to this day, and it's quite an operation, with the Flag Service Organization, FSO, employing about a thousand Sea Org members and a budget of over $100 million annually. I'm told it's something of a miracle that Debbie Cook managed to stay in her position running the place for 17 years. I guess it's no wonder that over time images of Debbie welcoming people to Flag in the church's magazine articles and internal videos came to represent for many church members their aspirations for what Scientology could be.

In other words, if for the outside public you became the face of Scientology, inside the church, it was Debbie's that came to mind for many.

That is, until 2006, when Debbie was suddenly called away from her job to the church's international headquarters -- known as "Int Base," a 500-acre compound in the desert east of Los Angeles.

As Debbie testified in court last week, Scientology's leader, David Miscavige -- best man at your last wedding, Tom -- needed her not only to keep running Flag, but also to take care of pressing matters at Int Base, in England, and in Spain. Running a 1,000-person operation in Florida while she was off taking care of other church emergencies was so stressful, she testified, she had time to eat only every other day, and to grab sleep only every other day as well.

I know, it's hard to believe, but then you probably already know that members of the Sea Org are a group of people accustomed to nearly inhuman deprivations. I mean, by this time, some 23 years after you first joined the church, Tom, you've been around Sea Org members and know that they work up to 100 hours a week, grabbing only three or four hours of sleep a night, with never a day off, or time to see their families. These are dedicated folks -- so dedicated, they join the Sea Org at a young age and sign contracts promising to work for Scientology for the next billion years. We wrote earlier about how some Sea Org members, making only about $50 dollars a week, helped customize a motorcycle for you, transformed an SUV, and also tricked out an airplane hangar that you own.

Debbie Cook was another of those exhausted, sleep-deprived, and very poorly paid workers who gave their all, year in and year out. But now, at Int Base in California, she found herself doing things that called for something else besides stamina: She was made to take part in a bizarre prison project.

I know this because I've talked to someone who was already in that strange prison -- known as "The Hole" -- when Debbie arrived. As we wrote earlier, Mike Rinder, who at the time held the post as the church's top spokesman, had been sent to the odd office-jail for reasons so trivial, he couldn't even remember them.

For a story last month, I asked Rinder to describe The Hole...

"It was the two double-wide trailers that were called the CMO Int building. It consisted of one main conference room with cubicles around it, and other office spaces, and a men's and a women's bathroom. That's all it was."

"Where did you sleep?"

"On the floor. Under a desk."

"For two years?"

"Yep."

"And Debbie Cook showed up one day and made you march down to the lake and jump in it?"

"It was October or November. Yeah, it was cold. She was on orders," Rinder says.

Later, Tom, Debbie herself was put in The Hole. How she got there was actually pretty cinematic, so maybe you'll appreciate it. Here's how she described it in court last week, while I was taking notes...

I was at the international base. Mr. Miscavige was not there, but I was supposed to be doing numerous things at the Int base at his direction. I was on the phone to him every day, sometimes several times a day. And there were certain things he was unhappy about, that weren't done to his satisfaction. Anyway, I was on the phone to him, somebody was pounding on the door. I was on the phone, so I couldn't answer it...Somebody pried the window open, two big guys came in. Mr. Miscavige said on the phone, "Are they there?" Yes, I said, they are. And he said, "Goodbye."

Apparently Mr. Miscavige has a flair for the dramatic.

The two gentlemen escorted Debbie to the same office trailers that Rinder had described. For the next seven weeks, it would be her home. In court, she gave a pretty vivid description of her time there, Tom. Like Rinder, she mentioned that there was nowhere to sleep but on the ground. She remembered also that there was an infestation of ants, and in a bid to punish these fallen executives even further, she testified, Miscavige had the air conditioning turned off as desert temperatures climbed past 100 degrees.

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Debbie Cook testifying on Thursday in a San Antonio court
But the physical environment wasn't the only thing that made The Hole a living hell, Tom. Debbie testified that there was psychological terror too, in the form of mass confessions that the residents of The Hole had to take part in. Debbie testified to one case of forced confessions that we had written about earlier, and which brings up Scientology's troubling history as an organization infused with homophobia.

Debbie confirmed what we'd heard earlier, that Miscavige wanted two male executives, Marc Yager and Guillaume Lesevre, to confess to the rest of the 100 or so prisoners that they were having a homosexual relationship. The two were beaten until they said as much, but then Debbie spoke up when this was reported to Miscavige, saying that actually what they had admitted to was being exaggerated so Miscavige would hear what he wanted.

For speaking up on behalf of the two terrorized men, Debbie herself was then subjected to a sick ritual of abuse. She was made to stand in a trash can for the next twelve hours as the other prisoners were made to shout slurs at her, dump cold water over her, and also taunted her with more homophobic hazing, calling her a lesbian.

And Debbie saw worse. One executive, Mark Ginge Nelson, she saw beaten and then made to lick a bathroom floor for a half hour.

Let me pause here, Tom, not just because I'm literally feeling sick while typing this, but because I want to remind you what it is we're talking about. We're talking about business executives in your church who had fallen out of favor for one capricious reason or another, who were imprisoned in an office trailer on a remote desert base, in some cases for years at a time, with no chance to communicate with the outside world or to escape.

There's nothing about religion in that description. These people weren't monks flagellating each other. They weren't arguing theological concepts. The only sworn, court testimony and other accounts we have indicate that this was nothing more than David Miscavige's personal prison for employees he wanted to humiliate and starve.

Yes, starve. In one of the more vivid moments during her testimony last Thursday, Debbie described the food that was served in The Hole...

Horrible. It was a big pot of slop. You'd line up and get a bowl of slop for breakfast, lunch, and dinner....It was like leftovers. Bits of meat, soupy kind of leftovers thrown into a pot and cooked and barely edible.

Here's another form of testimony to the food in The Hole. They are photos of Mike Rinder after he'd spent two years locked up in the prison, and then more recently on the right, now that he's back to a healthier weight...

RinderBeforeAfter.jpg

Rinder and Cook both finally were able to leave the Hole for the same reason -- Miscavige eventually needed them elsewhere.

In Debbie's case, she was called back to Clearwater to help put on a large event. While she was there, she was reunited with her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, who was also a Sea Org employee. And here's one of those little details that make this story so remarkable. Even after what she'd just seen and been through in The Hole, Debbie testified that she didn't tell her own husband about it. To do so would have been "very treasonous," she said.

Imagine being that loyal to an organization that imprisons and tortures you, Tom. I find it stunning.

But even though she was back with her husband in Florida, Debbie testified that she was still under guard, 24 hours a day. A woman was assigned to go wherever Debbie did to keep an eye on her. "Even if I went to the bathroom, she went to the bathroom with me. She had a radio and a phone, and if there was any trouble, she could call security," Debbie testified.

What happened next, my counterparts at the Tampa Bay Times, Joe Childs and Tom Tobin got down more accurately than I did as we were all furiously taking down Debbie's testimony at the San Antonio courtroom...

Later that summer, Cook said she and her husband said they had had enough. One morning, a church staffer drove them to the church dining hall in downtown Clearwater and went inside to get them some breakfast. Cook jumped into the driver's seat, drove to a rental car company and left the church vehicle in the lot.

Having escaped from the place she had run proudly for so many years, Debbie and her husband Wayne made for Debbie's father's house in North Carolina. On the way, they stopped for a sandwich in South Carolina.

"We were sitting there eating and looked up, and Kathy True was standing there," Debbie said, and explained that True was in charge of "external security" at the Flag base.

As she testified to this, Tom, Debbie really didn't sound surprised that she'd been tracked down by True and other members of Scientology's security team. But then it became obvious why: Debbie herself, in her role as Captain FSO, had also taken part in previous manhunt operations when members "blew" -- Scientology jargon for defecting. Debbie knew the drill. "There's a procedure when someone of significance blows... A number of people are put on tracking you down. They're sent to the airport, the bus stop. They're sent where your family is. They start a whole operation to track you down," she testified.

Having thus been run to ground herself, Debbie and Wayne did, reluctantly, agree to turn back and return to Flag base. And you might be wondering, why would they do that when they were so close to freedom?

CruiseCook.JPG
From one of Scientology's own publications: Tom Cruise jubilant over starting "New OT VII" at Flag -- with Debbie Cook looking on
Well, you see, Scientology has this procedure they work on people who have doubts, Tom. They tell them that if they don't either return to their post, or at least "route out" in a more proper way, they risk being excommunicated -- "declared a suppressive person" in church jargon -- and then risk losing all contact with anyone they know who might still be in the church, including their own family members.

Wayne was particularly vulnerable to this. His mother was in a Scientology-funded retirement home, and his own sons were Scientologists. He had little choice but to return, and he and Debbie soon found themselves locked away in a run down complex owned by the church, the Hacienda Gardens apartments.

Once again under guard, subjected to more confessions, and with her experience in The Hole still fresh in her mind, Debbie testified that she had begun having a "serious meltdown." And that's the situation she was in -- desperate to leave, and willing to do anything to do it -- when she was presented with a draconian non-disclosure agreement to sign. "I would have signed that I stabbed babies over and over again and loved it. I would have done anything basically at that point," she said in a remarkable part of her testimony. "If I had refused to sign the agreement, then I wouldn't have been able to leave."

Take it from someone who was there, Tom: Debbie Cook's testimony last Thursday was so stunning, so horrific, it completely overshadowed the reason we were there. (The quick version: on New Year's Eve, Debbie sent out an e-mail to thousands of church members complaining that your buddy Miscavige has turned Scientology into little more than "extreme fundraising," and so the church is suing her for a minimum of $300,000, saying that her e-mail violates the terms of the agreement she signed in 2007 when she promised not to disparage the church. Her attorney says the agreement isn't valid because Debbie signed it under duress. The church's legal team said it would now move for summary judgment. Debbie's attorney, Ray Jeffrey, scoffed at the notion of a judge granting that, and indicated that he'd keep pushing for a trial, saying that a Texas jury would be outraged to hear Debbie's testimony.)

The lawsuit is likely to drag on for a long time, but really, the damage to the church is already done. Debbie Cook is not some run-of-the-mill former church member, or some outsider, Tom. She not only was a nearly legendary former executive at Flag, she still genuinely considers herself a loyal and heartfelt member of Scientology and is dedicated to the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard, even after your boy, DM, had her confined to his desert torture chamber.

In other words, there's almost no one more credible to describe the cancer eating away at the heart of your religion, Tom, and yet the church's attorneys walked right into it last week in a blunder that is completely uncharacteristic of Scientology's history as a sharp litigator.

But hell, that's what emerged last week. Tom, there was similarly bad news a little more than 24 hours ago which came out of Australia. If Debbie Cook's testimony hasn't already turned your stomach, what happened to a young man named Shane Kelsey really ought to.

You remember that I brought up earlier how Sea Org members are so dedicated that they sign contracts of a billion years, and then work insane hours with little real hope that they'll ever get much time off or even see their non-Sea Org family or friends.

Well, Shane Kelsey made that amazing commitment to your religion. And he did it when he was eight years old.

Do you remember when you were 8, Tom? That would have been third grade, maybe, when you were at Robert Hopkins Public School in Ottawa. You think you would have been ready to make a commitment for a billion years, and to begin working 35 hours a week and for about 35 cents an hour?

Well, that's what Shane did as he was put into a labor camp in a Sydney suburb by his Scientologist parents. He saw his parents only one day a week over the next several years, but he told TodayTonight journalist Bryan Seymour that when he turned 15, things got even more insane -- he started working 14 hour days, seven days a week.

Shane finally left Scientology last year at 20 years old, having "never used the Internet, watched television or followed the media," Seymour reported.

"You're not allowed to read any books other than Scientology books, you can't read newspapers, no radio, no movies, nothing," Shane told him.

A labor camp for children, in a Sydney suburb? Tom, can you see how disastrous this is for Scientology? And it's disastrous because, of course, it isn't really new information at all. Years ago, David Miscavige's own niece, Jenna Miscavige Hill, told Nightline that she'd been through similar treatment and that other children were subject to hard labor and confinement. Meanwhile, here at the Voice we've been reporting other cases of outrageous conduct carried out under instructions by Miscavige.

There was Valeska Paris, for example, a young woman who says Miscavige wanted to keep her away from her own mother, who was suing the church. So the young Sea Org member, only 18, was put aboard Scientology's private cruise ship, the Freewinds, against her will from 1996 to 2007. (Remember the Freewinds, Tom? That's where Miscavige threw that swell birthday party for you in 2004, and in 2005 you had that secret Scientology wedding ceremony with Katie.) We also talked to Ramana Dienes-Browning, a woman who was put under incredible pressure to sign the Sea Org's billion-year contract when she was only 15, was married on the Freewinds at only 16, and then says she was humiliated by Sea Org executives when they interrogated her husband and found that he'd been masturbating because their sex life was unsatisfying.

We also told the tale of Melissa Paris, Valeska's sister, who endured menial labor for several years in England as a Sea Org teenager and was paid nothing for it. She says she was forced into a marriage at 16 to the son of a famous and wealthy Scientologist. In each case, these young women say they found themselves working incredible hours and under guard, so that they couldn't leave. And after they did finally "blow," like Debbie Cook and her husband Wayne, they faced the prospect of being cut off entirely from family and friends. For each of them, it was incredibly difficult to leave the control of the church.

We also reported another remarkable case of church control: its spying on you, Tom.

For more than a decade, former church officials say, they used your personal assistant to feed information about your household to church officials in order to keep you from leaving Scientology while you were with Nicole Kidman, who didn't like Miscavige or the church.

One thing I want to emphasize at this point, Tom. So far, in all of this shocking, rotten information about the church that has leaked out in recent months and that I've listed in this letter, not a shred of it involves the beliefs of Scientology. Sure, the church's interest in past lives, its promise of raised IQs and super powers, and its space opera origin story have long been the butt of jokes and easy fodder for late-night comedians.

But that's not what has Scientology in turmoil, Tom. It's not the beliefs of Scientology that are ripping your religion apart, with many longtime members leaving and becoming "independent Scientologists" while they complain about the relentless fundraising that Debbie Cook brought up in her e-mail.

Here's what you must begin to deal with, Tom: you are the public face for an organization that is becoming known for confining and torturing its own executives, that is employing children of public school age in ways that would make a nineteenth-century foreman blush. You are the symbol for an organization that beats confessions of homosexuality out of high-ranking members. That asks children to work around the clock without a chance to get real schooling. That does all this with claims that it is somehow helping the planet.

Tom, you're in a bad position here. All of these things, they're being done at the behest of your best friend, the man who runs Scientology, and who appears obsessed with making you a kind of unofficial second pope. Increasingly, you will be seen as a tacit partner in these practices.

But there's an alternative. I want to hear what you know about how Debbie Cook was treated, about how children are serving in the Sea Org, about how women in the Sea Org are coerced into abortions so they can keep working 100-hour weeks without the distraction of pregnancy and childbirth.

Let's talk, man. I want to know what you know, and how you're going to do something about Scientology going off the rails. It's time you spoke out.

I know you and other celebrities who join the church take a lot of abuse for your involvement. And I know that you stick with Scientology because you truly think it can help make the world a better place. But it's heading over a cliff, man. And it's time that you and people like Jason Lee (who already promised me a sit-down) and Juliette and Kirstie and Travolta and Suplee and Ribisi and Anne and Jenna started to deal publicly with what's ripping Scientology apart.

Give me a call at 212-475-2405, or drop me an e-mail at tortega@villagevoice.com

I'll be standing by. Let's talk.


Debbie Cook Coverage in the Village Voice...

January 1: Scientology rocked by allegations of greed in e-mail to 12,000 church members
January 3: Is Scientology imploding? Watching the panic after a former executive dares to question church management
January 4: Scientology in crisis: Debbie Cook's transformation from enforcer to whistleblower
January 6: Scientology in turmoil: Debbie Cook's e-mail, annotated
January 31: Scientology sues Debbie Cook over her New Year's Eve e-mail
February 2: Debbie Cook files to dissolve Scientology's temporary restraining order: We talk to her attorney, Ray Jeffrey
February 3: Debbie Cook's motion denied: Scientology's restraining order remains in place until Thursday hearing
February 4: Scientology wants it both ways: The church's opposite legal strategies in Florida and Texas
February 9: The Voice live-blogs Debbie Cook's testimony in a San Antonio courtroom
February 10: Debbie Cook's hearing, day two -- Scientology surrenders at the Alamo
February 11: The Debbie Cook interview

Also, please see our primer, "What is Scientology?"


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [What is Scientology?] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology]
[Commenters of the Week] | [Thursday 2pm Stats!] | [Scientology vs. South Park]
[This Week Aboard the Apollo] | [Sunday Funnies]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]
[Paulette Cooper, Scientology's original and worst nightmare: a Thanksgiving tribute]

THE TOP 25 PEOPLE CRIPPLING SCIENTOLOGY

1. L. Ron Hubbard | 2. David Miscavige | 3. Marty Rathbun | 4. Tom Cruise | 5. Joe Childs and Tom Tobin | 6. Anonymous | 7. Mark Bunker | 8. Mike Rinder | 9. Jason Beghe | 10. Lisa McPherson | 11. Nick Xenophon | 12. Tommy Davis | 13. Janet Reitman | 14. Tory Christman | 15. Andreas Heldal-Lund | 16. Marc and Claire Headley | 17. Jefferson Hawkins | 18. Amy Scobee | 19. The Squirrel Busters | 20. Trey Parker and Matt Stone | 21. Kendrick Moxon | 22. Jamie DeWolf | 23. Ken Dandar | 24. Dave Touretzky | 25. Xenu

HELD ABOARD THE FREEWINDS: TALES OF THE SEA ORG

[Valeska Paris, held against her will from 1996 to 2007 on Scientology's cruise ship]
[Ramana Dienes-Browning, marriage at 16, sexual interrogation, life in the engine room]
[Melissa Paris, Valeska's sister: forced to marry at 16]

SCIENTOLOGY VS. SOUTH PARK: INVESTIGATION AS RETALIATION

[Scientology targeted South Park's Parker and Stone in an investigation]
[More documents in the South Park probe: instructions to send in a young mole]
[Scientology responds in typical fashion] | [Lloyd Kaufman confirms the probe]
[Mark Ebner also investigated after South Park involvement]
[Mark Chauppetta, private eye, explains what Scientology operatives look for]

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"

[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

[Hey, Scientology Celebrity, Here's Your Media Training Checksheet!]
[Tom Cruise and X Factor's Stacy Francis singing together on the Freewinds]
[X Factor's Stacy Francis: Her first husband, Michael Sandlofer, answers abuse claims]
[Tom Cruise and Baby Suri embarrassed by news item, so someone must pay]
["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]

JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]

HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

["The Money Machine": another blockbuster St. Pete Times investigation]
[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology in Israel: Arson, attempted murder, paranoia -- and a visit by the Voice!]
[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]
[Australian farmer blamed for giving Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, loses her friends, family]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology chillin' with hip hop!] | [The curious career of Scientology rapper Chill EB]
[Chill EB and me: the Voice interviews Scientology's in-house rapper]
[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Desperate Scientology fundraising caught on video]



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493 comments
liannavarbanova
liannavarbanova

I have always had serious doubts about the whole scientology thing, to me it's a cult, preying on the weak and vulnerable, and seeing the news reports etc over the years has only strengthened that opinion, so I watched the new documentary Going Clear, wow, it's even worse than I thought!  I have one question.  WHY is this RELIGION still going??  I am reading this in 2015, three years later and nothing seems to have changed, why not??  More and more people are coming forward and still this continues? How is this possible? I don't  understand? I would have thought David  Miscavige would have been in jail, or at least in court facing jail, oops! - trial!  And they are still classed as a religion and tax exempt? How!?  Most of all my heart breaks for children born into this who know nothing else - they never had a choice!  I have to wonder - just what will it take to end this nightmare?

CypherZero
CypherZero

meidaatit, Tony actually went out of his way to say that it is NOT Scientology's beliefs under scrutiny here, rather the actions of its "leader" towards members of the "church," so pull your head out of DM's butt and smell what he's shovelling, which would be the same as when you had your head up his butt, only more rancid, if possible............ 

Speaking of stench, your posts reek of OSA propaganda. 

meidaatit
meidaatit

Tony Ortega, You are not allowing Tom Cruise the religious freedom you enjoy. Shame on you. Keep America free,

meidaatit
meidaatit

For some, scientology is a philosophy. They study scientology and also practice another religion such as Christianity.

meidaatit
meidaatit

Just because Tom is a scientologist does not make Kate Holmes a victim and free of any guilt in her divorce from Suri's father.

meidaatit
meidaatit

hOW RUDE THAT THE MEDIA ADDRESS AN INDIVIDUAL ON THEIR RELIGION. iS IT NOT TRUE IN AMERICA WE DO NOT DISCRIMATE BASED ON RELIGION, SEX AND RACE. hOW DARE THE MEDIA CRITICIZE ANYONE'S RELIGION? WOULD THE MEDIA CRITICIZE THE RELIGION OF ANYONE ELSE BUT A SCIENTOLOGIST?

meidaatit
meidaatit

Tom Cruise has a right to practice his religion. What business is it of yours or the media?

Mick
Mick

Nothing about Scientology makes sense to me - never has, never will.  Something is very wrong with it on so many levels.

Caravoca
Caravoca

Now that is a really awesomely presented letter if I may say so myself.  Every bit of it heartfelt and true.  I hope he responds and soon!

JT
JT

Tom ~   You've got the bucks guy........ Kool Aid for everyone will fix everything.

Pixy
Pixy

Wow that was a really well done article. I had no idea how sick and depraved these freaks were. I'm still reeling.  How can the imprisoning and torture be legal? How are these sickos getting away with this?

Anne
Anne

Tom Cruise and anyone who joins Scientology I truly believe has a mental and emotional problem. To immerse yourself in to something so idiotic and unnatural and to believe the things they do is just mind boggling. There is something seriously lacking in all of them

guest
guest

 Why would anyone make that up?  If she were truly free to go, she would just go. There would be no need to make something up.  Sheesh.

Clam On A Halfshell
Clam On A Halfshell

Count me as an ex-fan. Ever since his divorce from Nicole Kidman, when I realized he was a nut. And then there was the couch-jumping incident, which confirmed the impression... It's always disapointing when a movie I'm interested in winds up starting Tom Cruise. "Minority Report," for instance. Great flick. Too bad Cruise was in it.

Clam On A Halfshell
Clam On A Halfshell

People Magazine doesn't do expose' articles. They do puff pieces carefully orchestrated with publicists. Maybe New York Magazine, Rolling Stone, or Vanity Fair...They do both the puff piece features and the exposes.

Beth
Beth

Now they have a NEW campaign which I'm sure was devised by DM.   Reporting that the reason why Katie left TC is NOT over Scientology.  Even the casual observer has learned their propaganda schemes.    They are obviously trying to diffuse and keep $cientology out of the Spot Light. I know some Crew  who have worked on some of his films.  Perhaps someone can print this letter out and make sure it appears on his doorstep. He is in too deep now.  Really sad for him to think it's $cientology that has made him who he is today.   Vow never to see another one of his movies again and haven't seen one since Tropic Thunder because I am a huge fan of Robert Downey, Jr.      Unless he defects, no more Cruise movies.

..
..

Too bad Tom did not take your open letter to heart sooner, now it's too late, he has lost his wife and daughter forever, UNLESS he dumps the entire cult and everyone in it, then maybe, just maybe, he'll have a fulfilling family life...

leila
leila

Kudos to you for blowing this out of the water. It is a sick organization--it's time people are held responsible. 

AuthenticFacade
AuthenticFacade

I seriously doubt that Tom Cruise would ever see or believe any of what is written in this open letter to him. I think he is brilliant in many ways but somehow fell into the Scientology trap, mainly because, in his position as a star, he is only exposed to a face of Scientology that is positive and unrealistic. He is controlled and kept happy, I'm sure, no doubt being lied to at every turn. For as long as that cult controls people and has any power left, it is going to put on its act to the stars, more than anyone else. I have no doubt that they will be the last to leave. Poor Mr. Cruise, if he only knew the truth, I think he'd die inside. He is really in a no win situation from the stand point of his soul, his happiness is based on a lie and if he knew the truth, I think he'd be heartbroken - ignorance IS bliss for him. I have pity for him and not sympathy, by the way. Also, I said he would be heartbroken because I think if he were to accept the truth and realize his part in the wrong doing(funding, befriending, believing in, defending, etc) - well, I doubt he could handle that, given how 'right' and 'enlightened' he thinks he is.

Timothy Higgs
Timothy Higgs

Yeah, Mike Rinder looks like crap in the photo on the left. As a matter of fact come to think of it, I think he looks like crap in both photos. Before and after. By the way, did you know that Mike Rinder admitted on the Internet that he had enough information on David Miscavige to put him in jail? What's he waiting for?

Timothy Higgs
Timothy Higgs

 First of all, you don't know for certain that he's gay or bi. You are forwarding unproven slander against the man.

Bridget Jones
Bridget Jones

It looks like his "loving family" finally escaped!

Kay
Kay

Ever since his Scientology ties got revealed, (& closeted homosexual - or is it bisexual now? - status while simultaneously making the gay bar rounds in West Hollywood that were widely known around town - just as long as they were not in the local news across the nation so his bankability as a star wouldn't have suffered), along w/entering into sham marriage after sham marriage that makes a mockery of the institution of marriage by a gay man, I have made a point in not only boycotting his movies in theaters, but also not giving the network choosing to show his movies my ratings...I avoid any movie that has his name in the credits, particularly that cult-dogma-filled "War of the Worlds" - not that his movies are worth watching anyway....they're his vehicle to disseminate propaganda & further global mind control, IMO. When he blows Scientology, comes out of the closet, admits he's not the genetic male donor for Suri, then he might get some of my attention. jmho

Kay
Kay

Tony O, you wrote "....your best friend, the man who runs Scientology, and who appears obsessed with making you a kind of unofficial second pope. ". As a practicing Catholic who sees Scientology as a secular cult created by a narcissistic, delusional science fiction writer as an experiment in mass mind control worse than could be found in a now-defunct totalitarian political system, I resent your deliberate analogy of the head of the Catholic Church (Pope) to the head of a secular cult in your use of the description of Tom Cruise as being made into an unofficial "second pope". 

Noah Miller
Noah Miller

Jessica in case you read this and thought "man these people are horrible", this is what was done to Debbie Cook. 

Myfarah94
Myfarah94

Tom cruise hated his father for abusing him when he was young but what happen is, he has become just like his old man. Like father like son and he never realise it. Tom cruise need to see a psychiatrist !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

for everyone
for everyone

While he signed a billion year contract I signed an eternal one with the one true god I believe his son came to this earth to save us by dying on the cross its because of this our sins can be forgiven even yours tom cruise even yours you have been desieved and tempted away by a serpent to eat from a tree stop worshiping a false god and belief rip up a billion year contact and sign an eternal one with your lord and saviour jesus christ

Too Much
Too Much

ROFL! Oh man, Miscavige and his fellow criminals had to jump to *silence* Cruise and his insane cult spewing in public, there's no way that the Dwarf will allow Cruise to open his fucking yap in public any more. 

Julie_Kanon
Julie_Kanon

One cult two cult three cult four, Scientology, made Tom Cruise their whore :)

mother555
mother555

 The *C* Cult word gets overused,but in some cases it is appropriate. The definition of a destructive religious cult is like alcoholism-if booze controls you instead of the other way around you are an alcoholic.The Watchtower society Jehovah's Witnesses as an example is not benevolent and won't let you leave their organization in peace.If they try to ruin your reputation and break up your family for trying to get out then they are a cult!Whenever you surrender your logic and reason to anyone who asks you to trust them because they know better and to please donate generously, it's a cult. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.... -Danny Haszardhttp://www.dannyhaszard... 

Danny Haszard
Danny Haszard

 The *C* Cult word gets overused,but in some cases it is appropriate. The definition of a destructive religious cult is like alcoholism-if booze controls you instead of the other way around you are an alcoholic.The Watchtower society Jehovah's Witnesses as an example is not benevolent and won't let you leave their organization in peace.If they try to ruin your reputation and break up your family for trying to get out then they are a cult!Whenever you surrender your logic and reason to anyone who asks you to trust them because they know better and to please donate generously, it's a cult. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.... -Danny Haszard

Danny Haszard
Danny Haszard

 The *C* Cult word gets overused,but in some cases it is appropriate. The definition of a destructive religious cult is like alcoholism-if booze controls you instead of the other way around you are an alcoholic.The Watchtower society Jehovah's Witnesses as an example is not benevolent and won't let you leave their organization in peace.If they try to ruin your reputation and break up your family for trying to get out then they are a cult!Whenever you surrender your logic and reason to anyone who asks you to trust them because they know better and to please donate generously, it's a cult. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.... -Danny Haszardhttp://www.dannyhaszard... 

Nicole Valles
Nicole Valles

You have my utmost respect for penning this letter. I really hope one of these celebrities comes forward.

Willothewisp
Willothewisp

I would love to hear from the little runt David Miscarriage. Hubbard once said: "Scientology can and is the only thing that can protect you from Radiation, but can't cure the little runts Asthma? Oh, and Tom. I also had dyslexia. Didn't need Scientology to fix the problem.

Willothewisp
Willothewisp

Dear Tom - You once said Scientology is all about helping others and never standing on the sidelines. Look up info on the children of the Slums in Brazil and India. What is Scientology doing to help those in need to make their life better? Truth is Scientology is only there to help those with money, and if you are poor and starving, forget it. Wake up my friend.

kayray
kayray

Does anyone know if David M.'s wife has been seen lately? Remember his mother-in-law committed "suicide" by shooting herself three times in the chest.

Unex Skcus
Unex Skcus

I CURSE YOU, TONY ORTEGA!  I've lost hours of work reading your daily updates. I'm as hooked as those on TV soaps. :(

Hah!  Just a bit of silly Aussie humour. Really great to see you communicate with so many others as you do, including our Aussie journo Bryan Seymour, and that politician Senator Xenophon (who I admit I have quite some respect for).

May the Village Voice prosper, you get promoted to "Commodore Of The Entire Universe And Anything Beyond", and you lay claim to all Co$ stashed billions.

OMG, I'm convulsing... the thought of the dwarf... penniless... lawyer-less... PRICELESS.

kayray
kayray

David Miscavige is an evil little troll. When will these sci-bots realize he is a megalomaniac hoarding millions for his own little empire?

Jgg
Jgg

  When you drive by a cult that is splitting into two warring factions--it's not like anything else--you KNOW you are the only person who can do anything about it.

Squirrels
Squirrels

Just a thought, but Tom Cruise's son Connor has been in the paper quite a bit lately. Seems he's trying to make a name for himself in LA as a DJ. He recently had a Twitter spat with an agent-friend who had been booking his gigs. The agent jokingly sent Connor a Twitter message about the Patriots losing the Super Bowl. Connor, a huge Pats fan, went ballastic and cussed the guy out and made a homophobic remark. The guy immediately replied saying it was a joke, and then informed all his Twitter followers he was no longer going to work with Connor Cruise. A day later, it seems they sorted things out and the agent posted a message saying the matter was resolved and everyone should move on. Since then, no more media coverage for Connor.

A few things come to  mind. Connor's unreasonable rage over such a benign remark from a friend and the gay remark.The idea that a child of Tom Cruise, a media-savvy nut, could have gone off the rails like this is significant. Yes, he's a kid, but he's Tom Cruise's kid. They are watched and controlled all the time by handlers. They know the power of media and social media. Also, Connor's behavior is not in keeping with the religion. Tom raised them as Scientologists. They are supposed to make the world a better place. How is telling someone to F off and gay slurs making the world better? Connor and Isabella seemingly disconnected from their mother Nicole - although no one is confirming it, it's implied - when was Nicole Kidman last seen with her older children? So what's the deal? Is Connor rebelling from Tom, the church and its teachings? Or is the whole Crusie family rebelling? Was Connor shuttled off to one of these camps described for Scientologists who need to be punished. Is he in the hole? Hmmm. Lots of cracks in the veneer. Wondering when it will all shatter.

SK
SK

Thank you Mr. Ortega for your open letter to Tom Cruise.Wow, having been in the SO from 1983-2004 (at the Int Base from 1983-2001) I can tell you that based on Debbie's account, conditions there continued on their severe decline after I left. There was one time when I was on a high job, doing well as far as my senior was concerned, when all of sudden I was being investigated by my own org and colleagues andI was made to scrub the toilets with a toothbrush! This was bad enough, but to be made to lick a bathroom floor for 1/2 hour or stand in a garbage can for hours - my gosh. And it is interesting now, being out for 7.5 years, reading the part of how Debbie and her husband, after blowing, would feel they would need to return.  Reading it now it just seems so insane -- how could they ever do that!  And that is my reality NOW,  but back then, after I personally tried leaving 3 times -- and returning after each -- I can only impart the reality that I did so for the sole hope of being allowed to depart in "good standing" and thus not get declared, not be forced into disconnnection from my life-long friends and also to some day continue practicing the higher levels of my religion. But even after attempting to route out,standardly (as per the policy) the Church failed to execute THEIR targets on the routing form (sec checks) and denied my routing out, leaving me no choice but to leave and not return.Having realized that one's ability to practice one's religion is a FREEDOM in the US which no one can prevent you from -- has given me the greatest strength yet.  I am no longer in fear of the Church of Scientology Management under David Miscavige and I am prospering as all Independent Scientologists are doing!

ScamProof
ScamProof

Once again I need to thank you for all you do Tony. This was a great piece which I shared on my Facebook page, explaining to my friends why I cannot go see a Tom Cruise movie. I won't be responsible for putting any money in the pocket of someone who is the public face of this cult. I think this information would sicken just about anybody and the point here is that it really should sicken Tom Cruise!

redhead
redhead

We dont care if Tom Cruise is Gay or Bi for that matter.Tom Cruise is a great actor, Im uncomfortable seeing his films these days knowing he is a Scientologist. I would be happier going to see his films even if he were gay or bi.  At  least he would be true to himself

What matters is the person that one is inside.  Today  it should not matter about a persons sexuality,  and it should not make a difference to your career, does it make one less an actor? Less a doctor? Less a director? No.

 Does it make a gay person any less of a person- No

Whatever Tom Cruise is , he is a person first.   With weaknesses and strenghs in his character.

Scientology plays on those weaknesses , to entrap people , those searching for meaning to life and fulfillment.

  DM is a false prophet, as was RH

redhead
redhead

Good ole Uk, so glad they have picked up the story.I for one feel that Tom is a misguided person, as with the rest. However i would like to see him come to his senses and get out of this sect.Ive heard about his childhood , his days of searching for  God.  Well i think he found more than he bargained for, and is in real deep.I hope that he finds the light at the end of this dark tunnel, and becomes a Lion instead of a Cat.  Roaaaar Tom, dont meoooow

Sid
Sid

Another British national newspaper has picked the story up. That's two national newspapers now in the UK, both making the link to Tom Cruise.

Perhaps someone could explain to me why the major US media seems to not give a shit about any of this?

fdaes
fdaes

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DodoTheLaser
DodoTheLaser

"4.  Oh ya, Tom Cruise also gets off on physically assaulting Sea Org members.  Ask Tommy Davis, if he should ever escape from Miscavige's desert trailer of horrors." ~ Mat Pesch

It is a good time for a testimony under the oath.

Witnesses will be protected by law.

Intheknow
Intheknow

Tom won't be able to read your letter.  His computer's Internet access is censored by anti-Scientology filters.

What I want to know is: Which team in the FBI are we supposed to contact, if we have information about criminal activities.  I've got tons of info, but I never get a return call from a special agent....?  And some of those duty agents (basically receptionists) are downright rude.  It's like as soon as I mention Scientology/DM, they don't want to hear it.  And, I'm not talking about "Oh, he slapped me!" complaints.

What I also want to know is, has an appropriate party ever reported Michelle Miscavige missing, and if so, what jurisdiction is supposed to be investigating that?

Fredric L. Rice
Fredric L. Rice

"...known as "Int Base," a 500-acre compound in the desert east of Los Angeles..."

Tony, we need to get you to come out to Giman Hot Springs if you have not done so already,. It's called "Gold Base" because it's along Highway 79 -- the atomic weight of gold. It's also not a desert, you're thinking of Hemet which is close by. Gilman Hot Springs is chaparral though I suppose one could consider it "high desert" though the mean rainfall there is Mediterranean rather than desert.

The screamingly insane criminal chose Gilman as one of his hideouts from the FBI specifically because it was within fairly easy access to Mexico though by the time the felloon (sic) actually needed to flee the FBI he was too fat and drugged to the gills daily that he couldn't waddle his fat ass cross country like he wanted to pretend he could -- like out of some Western movie or something.

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