Scientology's Own Promotional Material Attests to 15-Year-Olds in the Sea Org

Categories: Scientology

DennyChang.JPG
Remember Denny?
As we explained yesterday, TMZ probably messed up when it claimed that Katie Holmes was filing for divorce because she feared that her husband Tom Cruise and Scientology would send her daughter Suri away to the Sea Org, which is a "boot camp."

We went to some lengths yesterday to point out that the Sea Org is not a boot camp -- but it has a boot camp called the Estates Project Force. Also, Sea Org members work in various places around the Scientology empire, from Los Angeles to Clearwater, Florida and on the church's private cruise ship the Freewinds. A Sea Org member does not necessarily get shipped off to the International Base east of Los Angeles, as some news organizations implied yesterday. (However, that did give them the excuse to show some nifty photos of the base -- something we've had fun with ourselves.) And also, it's just not likely that a celebrity like Suri would end up in the Sea Org.

However, the best part about this flub by the tabs is that it elicited a response from the church itself. Scientology huffed and puffed, saying that Suri isn't eligible for the Sea Org because the church doesn't take anyone for the hardcore, elite unit under the age of 16.

Wow, is that a big fat lie.

How do we know that? Well, just take a look at this promotional flier that the church itself mails out...

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Kunzli2.JPG
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Gosh, Sebastien Kunzli was just 15 when he started his exciting life in the Sea Org, signing a billion-year contract and promising to come back, lifetime after lifetime.

Were you prepared, at 15, to sign a billion-year contract and go to work 100 hours a week for pennies an hour?

Kunzli's mailer brought back memories of another flier we posted back in December. Perhaps our longtime readers will remember it.

It featured an 18-year-old Sea Org member named Denny Chang, who told a story that made him out to be a very experienced young man...

SeaOrgDennyChang.jpg

We couldn't help noticing that his testimonial seemed to imply quite a long term of service...

I'm 18 years old; I'm already an experienced Professional Course Supervisor and a permanent Class IV auditor. And I'm a Commodore's Messenger Organization staff member.

We asked Melissa Paris, who had joined the Sea Org at only 14, to interpret Denny's list of qualifications, and estimate for us how long he must have been working.

"Years," she responded. "Pro supervisor is 6 months to a year. Class IV auditor is easily a year and that's studying every day -- he said that he did it on his own time. Probably longer. I'd say he's been in since 14-15 years old if not younger."

Again, this flier was sent out by the church itself in order to attract other youngsters to the high-flying life of the Sea Org, where kids work incredibly long hours for pennies an hour, generally get little or no formal schooling, become cut off entirely from the Internet or books not written by L. Ron Hubbard, and can spend almost no time with their own family.

As we've pointed out several times before, Australian journalist Bryan Seymour reported recently on a young man who had joined the Sea Org at 8 years of age, and finally escaped from a suburban labor camp at 20. By 14, he was working 14 hours a day, seven days a week.

Labor laws? Pshaw. These youngsters are getting spiritual training as they muck out toilets, operate machines at publishing facilities, and swab the decks of a cruise ship. Labor laws be damned.


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More Obnoxious Self-Promotion

If it weren't bad enough that yesterday we posted video from a television appearance, we're going to put up in this post a link to a radio show we did yesterday morning.

But we have a reason that is not entirely self-serving. We were really impressed by the questions that Brad of the Rick & Brad morning show at KATT-FM in Oklahoma City asked us during this lengthy interview. The guy had done some homework, and it allowed us to get into some very interesting areas. (Note to Tony: work up a better, less stutter-filled description of the Tone Scale for the next time.)

I'm just glad I managed to get a plug in there for Fox 25 and the work it's doing on Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma. Looking forward to more from them at some point.

Hey, have a great Independence Day. Here at the underground bunker, we'll be sipping a cool one and trying to relax after one of the busiest weeks ever. And thanks to all of our loyal readers for sticking with us as the rest of the news media went Scientology-crazy!

Please remember to check our Facebook author page for updates and schedules.



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Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at tortega@villagevoice.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.

As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.


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20 comments
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jashan

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Cynical basturd
Cynical basturd

What has 2 thumbs and appreciates your cynicism? This guy!

John P.
John P.

Missed this one a couple days ago.   First, I'm not arrogant enough to think I have a definitive answer to this one.  Given my own interests and style, I'm interested in thinking about scenarios of what could happen, and I certainly don't want to narrow down the options.  In fact, my whole analysis is based on the idea that this week represents a critical mass in press coverage -- the number of people exposed to the message, and the number of calamities that have popped up:  *  Katie Holmes files for divorce and does it in a way that blindsides Tom and the cult, denying them the opportunity to get out in front of the message.   *  Issue becomes not just that Scientology is a nutty cult but that its beliefs can easily lead to harming of children, particularly putting underage kids in Sea Org slave labor camps.   *  Suri Cruise is pulled out of a high-profile celebrity school featuring "Study Tech" and put into a nice ordinary Catholic school in New York, negating favorable publicity recently accruing to the school from Will/Jada Smith donations and Suri's enrollment there.   *  People start to bring up the issue of where Shelly Miscavige might be.  This is interesting in that Miscavige has been somewhat Teflon, in avoiding broad press coverage of his behavior and actions in the past.  *  Cult's denial that it puts kids into slave labor camps younger than 16 is undone by its own materials.  *  Leading mission in Israel, including heads, staff and almost all members, defects, potentially foreshadowing defections of other orgs in Israel plus in other developing countries, a key source of "fresh meat" and of staff members in G-20 countries where organizations are imploding.   *  Death of Alexander Jentzch and subsequent denial of even basic civility to his mother highlights disconnection (again) and takes emerging meme of "Scientology = child abuse" to an entirely new level.   *  Over 104 million pages in Google Search contain all four of these phrases: "Tom Cruise" "Katie Holmes" "divorce" "scientology."   Add this up and it tells me that there is a massive amount of information in the public consciousness about Scientology, and almost none of it is positive.  And while the news on the one hand is spanning a bunch of different fronts, on the other hand, it all seems to fit together to give a ghastly picture of an evil whole if you start to read it all.  The public opinion about the cult is a tinder box ready to blow. And the public will remember the evil and the crazy for a long time.  My feeling is that it would hardly be useful for me to try to direct the flames when the tinder box finally gets a spark.  There doesn't need to be coordinated action for enormous negative impact to happen.   As a prototype, the Anons had little plan other than showing up outside Scientology orgs wearing masks on a particular date.  Four years later, they're still at it and still having an effect.  And they're still sort of making it up as they go along.  Sure, many have moved on, but there is still quite a core of protest that remains.  "CofS Exit Zone" does a great job documenting the religious aspects of the cult in regularly updated PDF books, a phenomenal service and a really first-class piece of work.  There are many other examples of great work done by individual anons and small groups, as well as Chanology as a whole.  My suggestion is that people outraged by the cult do something... basically, do anything at all to be heard.  That could range from writing a blog comment, even if there are dozens or hundreds of other voices, to asking public officials why the cult still has an IRS tax exemption, to joining a protest or Anon raid at a cult facility, to writing one's Congressman, to anything else one can think of.  I don't want to specify the options because I wouldn't want to limit them.  Just pick an issue that's important and do something, no matter how small.  If a million people do that, it will dwarf anything the cult can do in return.  

Ro3mck
Ro3mck

I would like to know why it is fraternal religious order?

Jgg
Jgg

  Astra Woodcraft joined the Sea Org (Cadet Org, whatever) at age 7; Suri is now six.

grundoon
grundoon

LRH died at a covert Scientology facility near Creston, California, under somewhat suspicious circumstances. His ashes were disposed at sea.

Music8r
Music8r

no, there is no financing. You pay - oops, excuse me - "donate" up front before services are rendered.

Victoriapandora
Victoriapandora

Has Denny changed his name to Daniel? Martys latest blog post makes me wonder.

Jgg
Jgg

  And, in any case, they can always bend the rules for the #2 person in the church, can't they?

John P.
John P.

About the only Tom Cruise picture that triggers my (not all that accurate) gaydar more than the Miscavige-Cruise motorcycle buddies photo is the beach volleyball scene in Top Gun.  I should point out that the thing about oxygen in shopping malls is a complete urban myth, which was originally about casinos doing that to keep people feeling perky and thus at the tables longer.   I ran this by a friend, a researcher in anesthesiology, who knows a lot about such things, and here's his take:  Most people are healthy enough to run fairly close to 100% oxygen saturation in their blood.  If you're at 100% O2 sat, common in people in reasonably good shape when they're sitting relaxed in a chair, breathing pure oxygen won't make you feel any different because your blood is already carrying as much oxygen to your tissues as it can.  The only people who routinely run below about 95% O2 sat at rest are those with emphysema, long-time smokers or others whose pulmonary function is compromised (blue asbestos snorters on the Freewinds, I'm thinking of you in that last category!).   To get someone whose normal high O2 sat is 96% up to 100% O2 sat, they'd have to breathe pure oxygen for a while.  The higher the resting O2 sat, the higher the pressure that they'd have to be in to get to 100%, perhaps in some sort of hyperbaric chamber.   How much oxygen would it take to get everyone in a mall to 100% O2 sat?   The average regional mall in the US is about 400,000 square feet, with some much bigger. Assuming 25-foot ceilings, you have about 10 million cubic feet of space that you'd need to oxygenate.  Air at sea level is about 20% oxygen. So you already have 2 million cubic feet of oxygen; you'd need to boost oxygen to at least 30% to give incremental benefit, in other words, you'd need to maintain an additional 1 million cubic feet of oxygen in the building.  Buildings leak. Doors open and close.  And people use up the oxygen when they breathe.  You could end up having to put in 3 to 4 million cubic feet of oxygen into the property every single day in order to have some chance of that effect, and probably a lot more than that.  Assume that you have oxygen concentrators that give you the volume you need at $0.05 per cubic foot.  That means you're spending about $200,000 per day, or $73 million per year, to oxygenate the mall enough to have any effect at all.    And what would the benefit be?  Annual sales per square foot in 2010 were about $400 (http://online.wsj.ZOM/article/SB10001424052748704059004575127711780438090.html).  So a mall with 250,000 square feet would probably drive about $100 million in business annually.  No way will they spend $73 million per year to get a slight increase in sales. They wouldn't even spend $7.3 million per year.  And the benefit wouldn't be that much -- remember, the only people that might act differently with higher oxygen content would be the relatively small minority of people who don't have 95%-plus O2 sat walking around the mall.  Assuming the mall does $100 million and has 3-4 million visitors annually, averaging $25 apiece in spending, if you have 15% of customers benefiting from additional oxygen and every single one of those is spending 20% more, you have sales going up by $3 million per year.  They'd lose money even if oxygenation would cost $7.3 million per year, not $73 million.   Oh, and I'm sure the Fire Marshal would just love any idea that would increase the speed that a fire could spread in a crowded public space.   Same logic applies for casinos.  And note in casinos that all those ladies who play the slots smoking furiously the whole time already bring their own portable oxygen tanks, one of the sad sights that makes me loath to drop a nickel at casinos, aside from the fact that I, as a titan of finance in Global Capitalism HQ have the math skills to figure the odds of winning accurately.  

Chee Chalker!!
Chee Chalker!!

You crack me up John P!   Yes, I was aware that the H2O in malls was an urban myth, but I liked the analogy and, for the life of me, I don't know how anyone can sit through a reg session, much less a 3 hour DM diatribe, I mean, motivational speech.  What I should have said (and this I know to be true) is that they don't (or at least they did not used to) display clocks in department stores so would not know how much time you spent shopping. I know this for a fact as, once many year ago, I spent many hours in Marshall Fields, only to realize there was not a clock to be found.  From that point on I made it a habit to look for clocks in department stores.  And while there may be one or two prominent clocks, you won't find one in every department.  My point being - are there any clocks in Flag?  Maybe there is one next to the oilness table. I'm rambling here because of my giddiness over the recent exposure of the Cult of $ceintology.  I've only really been following this nonsense for a couple of years, so I can only imagine how some of the long time readers of Tony must feel. This truly was a great Independence Day! Cheerio!

Chee Chalker!!
Chee Chalker!!

And thanks, in part, to people like you California, the attempt of the Co$ to inflitrate the schools in Illinois was shot down almost immediatley.    This is what we all must remember - the word is getting out - it may take some time, but it is happening.   So - thank you California!   All your hard work paid off and helped to prevent other innocent children from being exposed to the LRH "blech" (not tech)

Chee Chalker!!
Chee Chalker!!

Coming soon to a TV near you........Co$ credit cards!   Can you imagine the commericals on those?  They already have all the talent at their disposal - they wouldn't even need an Alec Baldwin.  And the options for the pictures on the cards would be endless - Tom Cruise in Top Gun; Tom Cruise in MI I; Tom Cruise in MI II; you get the idea.   Personally I would request the volleyball scene from Top Gun for my Co$ credit card.  I wonder if you can keep your tax exempt IRS status if you become a financial "player"  (i.e. lending "parishoners" money for services), but I am sure they have already examined all the possibilites on this one.  As you said, they are old fashioned when it comes to finance - so they just went with the old "let us hold your money in a non interest bearing reserve account and then refuse to give it back to you when you wise up" route.  I wonder if they pump fresh oxygen into Flag (like they do at malls) to give people a sense of energy and refreshment, which helps them while shopping, I mean, praying.  Then, when the regs come a callin, people are more apt to put thier money in a reserve account.  Other than that, I can think of no other reason any sane individual would put large amounts of cash into these accounts. 

Peter Bonyai
Peter Bonyai

Here is a link to a document where the Church confirms that a 6 year old has signed a Sea Org contract (it's a reply to a petition for a rejected R1 visa application).

MrsVonTrapp
MrsVonTrapp

Tommy Davis is Ann Archer's son and he joined the Sea Org. Katie's probably met him... Anyway, I know Ann Archer is no where as big as Tom Cruise, I'm just saying, any Kool-Aid drinking Sci-celebrity would be so proud of their child if they joined the SO, just like any other Kool-Aid drinking Scientologist would. I think one of Placido Domingo's kin also joined the Sea Org. I'm just saying, it has happened. If Katie was having doubts, the thought could have crossed her mind. Even for some non-staff public Scientologists, the thought of your child joining the Sea Org sends nightmare-ish chills up your spine. 

grundoon
grundoon

5littlestones, please take a deep breath and calm down. The truth about Scientology is bad enough, no need to go off into fantasies of "torture methods of extreme force" and bodies dumped at sea. Get a grip.

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