Scientology Reacts to TomKat Divorce from Nixon-Era Playbook

Categories: Scientology

On Sunday, we talked to former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun and agreed with his predictions for how the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce would go. The next day, the former couple announced that they had reached a settlement. So how did we do?

Prediction 1: Katie would get sole custody of Suri, and Tom gets visitation rights. Result: All indications are that this is the case.

Prediction 2: Katie and Tom would say publicly, however, that they are sharing custody to hide the actual situation. Result: Their statement does hide the actual situation by essentially saying nothing, but this isn't really what we predicted.

Prediction 3: In return for custody of Suri, Katie would sign a written statement that Scientology had nothing to do with their split. Result: The couple instead issued a terse, vague statement about respecting each other for the commitment to their respective beliefs, and Katie selected a Catholic church in Manhattan, a pretty big middle finger to Scientology. Katie showed far more backbone than we gave her credit for.

Prediction 4: Scientology would launch a shame-and-blame-the-media campaign aimed at pushing back all of the negative publicity it's received.

Result: We think this is going to happen. But so far, it's being rolled out like Scientology still thinks it's 1974.

Last night, Piers Morgan wasted the talents of Nancy Many and Steven Hassan in a segment that was pointlessly brief. (Each did get in good points in the short time they had.)

However, CNN did manage to get this statement out of Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw, which was about as delightful as one of her announcements ever gets...

With respect to Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce, the Church has no comment. Please direct any questions to their representatives. This is and always was a private family matter and the Church will continue to respect their privacy.

With respect to your other questions, the Church regrets that excommunicated self-serving apostates are sadly exploiting private family matters to further their hate-filled agendas against their former faith. Having left the Church many years ago, these sources have no current knowledge about the Church and their recollections are distorted by their animosity.

Every religion has its detractors and these stories come at a time of tremendous Church growth. Anyone desiring correct information about the Church can find it on the Church's website,, which contains thousands of pages of information and hundreds of videos involving all aspects of Scientology.

It just doesn't really get any better than when Karin unleashes her righteous fury on those pesky apostates.

Karin, of course, is just following the classic Scientology "Black PR" playbook, whose first principle is "dead agenting," as explained by founder L. Ron Hubbard. You see, church mouthpieces like Pouw are taught never to actually address the substance of complaints made about Scientology abuses. Instead, as Hubbard explained in a May, 1974 policy letter, she is instructed to focus all of her efforts in tearing down the credibility of anyone who dares reveal church secrets:

This is correct procedure:

1. Spot who is attacking us.

2. Start investigating them promptly for FELONIES or worse using our
own professionals, not outside agencies.

3. Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of

4. Start feeding lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the
attackers to the press.


ALWAYS ATTACK in a press release. Never Defend or Deny.

Unlike her predecessor Tommy Davis, however, Karin Pouw seems to lack much originality or personality, and she tends to fall back on the same bizarre insult, calling people "apostates" as if this were the 13th century and excommunication featured a human flesh-fed bonfire.

What caught our eye this time, however, was a new step in Karin's routine -- the bit about these apostates having "left the Church many years ago."

Well, in Nancy Many's case that may be true. But Nancy also had one of the most remarkable careers of any ex-Scientologist, as she details in her book My Billion Year Contract and as we explained in an interview with her. This is a person who worked directly with L. Ron Hubbard, spied for the Guardian's Office, and spent months in the RPF -- the Sea Org's prison detail -- under horrid conditions. This is a woman who not only knows the history of the church, she lived it. (And she managed to make a great point during the Piers Morgan show, that in her 23 years, she was part of a self-help group, not a church, and was always told the stuff about Scientology being a religion was just for the attorneys and accountants.)

But OK, let's give Karin her due and grant that Nancy's been out of the church for awhile. Based on some similar chatter we've heard behind the scenes, we're getting the feeling that this is going to be a big part of Scientology's strategy to curb the media frenzy: Scientology is trying to frighten network attorneys by claiming that prominent ex-Scientologists who tend to be interviewed for these shows have all been out of the church too long to know what is happening inside it right now.

We're big fans of Scientology history here at the underground bunker, so we've always found it illuminating to talk to someone who was around in the early days. But let's play Karin's game. How fresh are some of our sources, and can we really claim to know what's happening in David Miscavige's church in the present day?

Well, we can only point to the story we published on Friday, about a couple named Dani and Tami Lemberger. They've each been in Scientology for 32 years, experienced it in cities around the world, and for the last 20 years they've operated the largest mission in Israel, the Dror Center in Haifa.

[Click to enlarge.] The letter Dani Lemberger was handed in the Tampa airport.
As we explained in our article, they're now fed up with David Miscavige and the controversies gripping the church, and they have decided to pull their entire mission out of official Scientology. As part of that decision, they came to the U.S. last month, and as they were arriving at the Tampa Airport on June 28, a woman walked up to them and handed them a letter informing them that they had been excommunicated. We then interviewed them on Tuesday, July 2 -- only five days after they had been kicked out of the church.

I don't know, Karin, I think I'm going to have a tough time beating that record. And it's kind of hard to argue that someone like Dani Lemberger doesn't know what its like inside the Church of Scientology right now. (Of course, that's not taking into consideration all of the Scientologists supposedly in good standing who also feed us information, but we can't talk about that.)

Tom Cruise, a God?

Unfortunately, I was unable to get Amy Scobee on the phone last night to ask her about a fairly strange quote that was attributed to her by E!Online and picked up by Jezebel, that Tom Cruise is "viewed as a complete god" in Scientology.

I had to scratch my head at that one, because in the past Amy has said pretty much the complete opposite.

Sure, Tom Cruise is a shining movie star and Scientologists, even more than the rest of the population, have a right to be in awe of his success. But there's something else about him we've been pointing out for years that wasn't really well known at the time -- that while he was married to Nicole Kidman, Tom severely reduced his participation in the church, until, in the late 1990s, he had only a tenuous connection to it. After Cruise and Kidman broke up, Marty Rathbun was tasked with bringing Tom back into the fold, and from 2001 to 2004 he did such a good job of it, Cruise became as gung-ho as anyone. To reward Tom for that return to fervor, David Miscavige decided not only to name him an International Association of Scientologists Freedom Medal winner (a few are named every year), but to create a special version it just for Tom, the Freedom Medal of Valor, with a consequently bigger medallion. At the ceremony, Miscavige called Cruise, "the most dedicated Scientologist I know."

Amy explained to me that Miscavige's praise of Cruise -- a pampered movie star who had spent a few years of hard work, not the twenty or more years of abject, around the clock devotion of your typical Sea Org executive -- came as a slap to the face.

A god? Hardly.

I hope I can get Amy to explain what she said to E! to clear that up.

UPDATE: I just talked to Amy Scobee on the phone and yes, she confirms that a reporter took her words out of context.

Amy says she was explaining the 2004 moment to a reporter about how Miscavige was trying to give the impression that Tom Cruise, with all of his dedication, was like a god. And she also pointed out that Tom, at his house was treated like royalty.

But Amy was not saying that Scientologists actually think of him as some kind of deity.

In fact, as I reported earlier, Amy's reaction was the opposite -- she was actually offended that Miscavige was trying to give the impression that Cruise was some kind of savior to the movement. And she says her husband, Mat Pesch, had the same reaction:

"When Mat and I saw that, we thought it was over the top and ridiculous. He's an actor."

Karen de la Carriere is Going to Need a Bigger Boat

Last night, Karen de la Carriere told me that hundreds of e-mails from Scientologists were pouring in after she sent out her mass message to church members, informing them of what was really going on with the death of her son Alexander Jentzsch, and her ex-husband, Alexander's father Heber Jentzsch, the president of the Church of Scientology International.

She had gathered mailing lists of the most active and influential church members to target with her message. By the time she pushed send, she had more than 10,000 addresses. Some of those recipients have in turn sent her additional mailing lists.

"It makes me cry. People who are still in are risking their eligibility to give me support," she says. "The response has been overwhelmingly positive."

A few have angrily told her off, she adds. And she also heard from the Office of Special Affairs, Scientology's intelligence and legal affairs wing, which wasn't amused.

But as many have already pointed out, while this salvo from de la Carriere was clearly modeled on the Debbie Cook example, it seems more personal and has more emotional impact. It's also gratifying to hear that Karen is receiving replies from many church members in good standing who tell her that they'd learned about the death of her son by reading this blog.

Hey, Scientologists! Thanks for reading.

See also:
What Katie is saving Suri from: Scientology interrogation of kids
Scientology's new defections: Hubbard's granddaughter and Miscavige's dad
Scientology's disgrace: our open letter to Tom Cruise
Scientology crumbling: An entire mission defects as a group
Scientology leader David Miscavige's vanished wife: Where's Shelly?


The Tanja and Stefan Castle Story, Done by KABC

One of my favorite parts of Janet Reitman's excellent 2011 book, Inside Scientology, was the dramatic way she tells the story of Tanja and Stefan Castle, a couple forced to divorce by the jealous David Miscavige.

Now LA's ABC station, KABC, has done a fine rendition of it...

KABC is sitting on a ton of interview footage about Scientology that it had gathered over the last couple of years. It's good to see the station finally starting to make use of it!

Here's hoping they show the Lori Hodgson story soon!

And Astra Woodcraft did a great job last night on CNN...

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, 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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Clam On A Halfshell
Clam On A Halfshell

I get the 'apostate' part, it's the 'excommunicated' and 'defrocked' part that make no sense to me. Excommunicated from what? The Sacrament of Holy Auditing? "Defrocked?" When  were they ever ordained?

Clam On A Halfshell
Clam On A Halfshell

Why might that be? It can't possibly have anything to do with a lifetime of Sea Org, can it? /end sarcasm.

Clam On A Halfshell
Clam On A Halfshell

I don't think it's possible for $cientology to gain credibility in the age of the internet. Lose credibility, yes. Gain it? No.

Clam On A Halfshell
Clam On A Halfshell

Her immediate concerns are protecting herself and especially protecting her daughter. I'm sure she doesn't yet feel safe.

Clam On A Halfshell
Clam On A Halfshell

Thank you, thank you. :)  I was inspired by Operation Clambake. I'm as woggity a wog as ever wogged; I just have a fascination with $cientology news. It's like watching a slow-motion train wreck. One of these days I'm getting a Guy Fawkes mask and finding an Anon protest. And bringing some caek.

WildaBeast Derbygirl
WildaBeast Derbygirl

Directed at a commenter who was concerned that none of the escapes from the Hole have led to investigations and/or criminal charges against whatever branch of CoS is responsible for what happens at Int Base (at least on paper): Have a look at the not-so-recent history of Scientology.  The...organization...(I don't have it in me to call it a religion) was founded by a perceptive, intelligent con man whose sense of his own importance was sufficiently inflated that he spoke his every thought and had what seems to be his every word outside of casual conversation for the last 36 years of his life recorded by adoring worshipers.  Which is to say that LRH is exactly the sort of person who would have seen ways to turn legal loopholes and cultural tendencies to his advantage, often through sheer determination and over-application. You try and charge the CoS, or any important member (and anyone not in the Hole at Int Base is important)?  Every Scientologist in the state will file a lawsuit claiming anything they think they will get a lawsuit heard.  Religious discrimination, emotional damages because all my neighbours who know I'm with the CoS think I'm just like the ones putting people in the Hole now and it's all your fault, libel, slander, ANYTHING.  The CoS is called the Co$ for a reason: they have DEEP pockets.  They've spent years deepening them.  They can afford to fight 3,000 lawsuits simultaneously and call it chump change.  No police department can do that.   That and it's just easier not to fight, when you're going to have a fight like this on your hands, and the commissioner is saying, "Let it slide" while he pulls up in a new car, or maybe in his old car, but looking mighty nervous about nothing obvious.  Scientologists believe that breaking the law to intimidate or subdue any of the rest of us who threaten them is morally right - more, that it's morally necessary. I'd think twice myself before I let my department in for that.  And I'm the kind of person who will never run a department, in part precisely because I call bullshit too loudly and too often.

Robert Eckert
Robert Eckert

The Internet almost always attributes "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results" to Albert Einstein, but it is actually from Bill Wilson, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.


Umm, yeah, "every religion has its detractors," but I dont remember any ex-Methodists holding picket signs claiming en masse systematic child abuse, administrative insanity, and brainwashing. Scientology PR is ridiculous in its denial of abuses. It's like something out of the 1950's. Oh, wait a minute. It IS out of the 1950's. . . .

Robert Eckert
Robert Eckert

There's precedent for that in the Catholic church as well....


"How fresh are some of our sources"  In Katie's case, two weeks.

John P.
John P.

A couple thoughts from the quotes you pulled:  1)  Several things imply "The tech works 100% of the time when standardly applied." And if it doesn't work, it is your fault.  The classic cult indoctrination technique.  2)  The complete bogus scientific validations of "the tech" are remarkable.  I would love to see the documentation of a squadron of pilots going without an accident for a year after auditing.  Of course, since that never happened, I am sure there are no documents.  Several other examples.  I have to believe that Hubbard amazed himself at each bigger lie he told when nobody challenged him on it.  3)  The health claims are remarkable in how brazen they are, as bad as any quack healer.  Matching the dates of these comments would be interesting, particularly if they're after the FDA action.  You missed an interesting quote, on the 5th photo (p. 203 of whatever book it's from):  "Scientology has long pursued the firm policy of sending the sick to the medical doctor."  But Hubbard then goes into a rant about how doctors are good for bones and joint problems, but "the only place he falls down is in handling general illnesses, particularly of a chronic nature."  This ridiculous unsupported generalization sounds like where they decide to keep people away from legitimate medical care in favor of their quackery.  In the very next sentence, Hubbard says, "medicine has been overtaken in healing by nutritionists and biochemists."   How many nutritionists and biochemists would advocate tons of niacin while sweltering in saunas?  None of them.  But apparently, this is the pretext from which Hubbard felt that his drug addiction treatment programs would work.  


" she also heard from the Office of Special Affairs, Scientology's intelligence and legal affairs wing, which wasn't amused" LOL!! Somehow the picture of OSA and the Mighty Midget being 'not amused' seems a little light. (the Tomkat divorce really floated that picture of TC standing with DM by his side coming up to his shoulder, and we all know how petite TC is, DM really is teeny weeny!),


 Ah, John...... I've always loved your brilliant and insightful comments on this blog and Marty's blog, and those comments alone would be enough for me to invite you for cocktails at a Global Capitalism HQ approved pub----------but to now find out that you know Jack Reacher as I do makes me wonder if we are not destined to be life partners. Oh well.....perhaps not, but please keep on posting as you have been.  I truly find it hard to believe that you've never been involved with Scientology, as your understanding of the corporate structure is just so thorough.  Is it really true you never were in the organization or attended Delphi or whatever?  Should I just attribute your brilliance to being a "quick study" or is there some other undisclosed brilliance we should know about?  


It's probably a combination of things: 1) exes seem to take a long time to speak out, out of fear or trauma or both and by the time they do speak out their experiences are either not taken seriously or statute of limitations may come into play 2) proving their specific allegations is hard because they won't be able to find any willing witnesses still in One day though a group will escape together and if they go to the police soon after, we may see things play out differently...


I think you'll all like this and especially John P who, I think's brain might actually genuinely over-heat trying to analyse the clam-speak. It's Scientology's Genuine Medical Claims and Instructions as written by Hubbard himself http://www.facebook.Kom/media/set/?id=716261673&tid=2458691841&skipClustering=true&qn=1341984606&success=79&failure=0&set=oa.10151024158211842 it's 79 screen grabbed pages and here's just a sample of the crazy inside: The only technique available at this writing which will benefit the insane is contained in all the overt-motivator sequences and Grade II technology. At Flag at this writing new improvement on this exists but it is so powerful that slight errors in use can cause a psychotic break in the insane.  As of this writing the insane can be handled. The proof of any pudding is the processing. And this is successful. It is also rather swift. But, as I say, it is so swift the special technique has to be done by the specially trained flubless auditor. “An account of an assist which I gave recently. “The pc, aged 17 years, was completely new to Scientology: he was suffering from chronic bronchitis, which was currently particularly worrying to him ….. “I used the case-analysis assist, first establishing he was ‘sitting in’ chest trouble,…..  I let him ITSA on both these incidents until TA slowed down, then indicated to him that the trouble was connected to grandfather’s death." Also, some cases do not know they have recovered. It is Scientology that addresses improved awareness, not Dianetics If the pc doesn't recover at all, then the Auditor's Code has been violated or the engrams were overrun or not run long enough to erase or the pc was very ill medically and should have had a medical examination first. But even with poor auditing it is rare for a pc not to recover. A woman has a child. The engram of delivery should be run out soon after. The result of doing so is very spectacular. There is no "postpartum psychosis" or dislike of the child and no permanent injury to the mother. It is in fact best to audit the mother both before and after the delivery, which gives one fast relatively painless childbirth and quick recovery. Pilots audited with Dianetics, by a test involving a whole squadron, went without a single even minor accident for the following year. Scientists audited with Dianetics have greatly improved intelligence. Dianetics raises IQ as a side product to usual auditing, at a rate of about one point of IQ per hour of processing. Withered limbs, skin blotches and rashes and even blindness and deafness have all responded to Dianetics. When a young man can't finish his schooling you audit out his unhappy school experiences. Dianetics is for USE. There is not a lot of admin about it. It isn't something you use after bowing down three times to Chicago. You just USE it. A Dianetic auditor who sees someone sick and who doesn't get him treatment and then audit him is just not humane. Woman going to have a baby—get out the meter and audit her into shape for it. When she's had it, run out the delivery. Fellow burns his hand, break out the meter. Dianetics is the answer to human suffering. USE it. People will ask, "Deafness? Now what special process is needed in curing deafness ......?" 349 This is one of the modern refinements of Dianetics. One runs whatever is assessed for the preclear. He doesn't decide to cure somebody of deafness. He handles the illness that reads. Maybe it will be deafness...... I hope that's whetted your appetite.... look forward to your thought John P[incidentally, there's a lot of stuff there that is completely at odds at how sciontologists should have looked after  Alexander Jentzsch] .... can you imagine being audited before AND after childbirth?


I think he missed this one, I heard he wears ladies undies...not that there's anything wrong with that. 


thanks for taking the time out to reply.... I'm surprised that this little gem didn't garner more responses - but then I realised I posted at 4am NY time.  oh, well

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