The Catholic Thing
The Prisons of Scientology Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Friday, 22 February 2013

As you read this, somewhere in America hundreds, perhaps thousands, of our fellow citizens are packed into private prisons.

These prisoners are packed thirty and forty into rooms made for far fewer. They are fed from slop buckets, leftovers from their jailers. They eat without utensils.

Some have been in these prisons for years. They have been placed there without trial, some without really knowing why they are there.

They are not allowed visitors. Their families usually don’t know where they are, though some family members are in fact their jailers.

They often do what amounts to slave labor for their masters. Their overall master is a man named David Miscavige, who happens to be best friends with Tom Cruise. Insofar as Tom Cruise says he is the number-three person in Scientology – after the late L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology CEO Miscavige – Cruise, too, could be considered their jailer.

Welcome to the darkest side of Scientology – “darkest” because in Scientology there is nothing but darkness of varying degrees.

These claims beggar belief. How could private prisons exist and we not know about them? These and other horror stories are told by Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright in Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief just out from Knopf.

You may wonder, are these simply metaphorical prisons? Scientology is certainly that, but the prisons described above are actual prisons. Why don’t the cops simply bust them down? For a whole host of reasons, chief among them is that the IRS recognizes Scientology as a religion and, therefore, it is protected by religious freedom. Protection came after a two-decade legal battle during which Scientology went after the IRS and IRS personnel, who finally gave in. That story alone would warrant a whole book.

The second and even more frightening reason the prisons are not shut is that the people in them, the prisoners, are largely content to be there. They recognize their crimes and are eager to get back in the good graces of their masters. They feel they deserve imprisonment and don’t complain about it.

Scientology was founded by a charming madman named L. Ron Hubbard who was, according to Wright, a drug abuser, wife-beater, dabbler in Satanism, bigamist, and conman.

Hubbard worked hard for years to make a name for himself as an adventurer and a writer of pulp fiction, including science fiction. Unable to make a living as a writer, he published the now well-known Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health. It was in part Hubbard’s stab at destroying and replacing psychiatry, which for various reasons he had come to loathe. But it held the seeds for what became Scientology.

         Thetan operator: Cruise with Oprah

According to one account, Scientology teaches, “that we are all trapped in this universe; that we used to be ‘free’ and powerful but we have gone down a ‘dwindling spiral’ of degradation, life after life, eventually, after trillions of years, becoming powerless and mired in suffering; that L. Ron Hubbard developed the only road out of this trap back to ‘real freedom’ and power; that the Church of Scientology is the only valid source of this technology; and that we will only get this one chance to make it out.”

We became trapped because 75 million years ago, “a tyrannical overlord named Xenu ruled the [Galactic] Confederacy.”  Xenu had been chosen by a Praetorian Guard called the Loyal Officers, who turned on him: “Xenu and a few evil conspirators – mainly psychiatrists – fed false information to the population to draw them into centers where Xenu’s troops could destroy them.”

These beings – called Thetans – were killed and packed into space planes resembling DC-8’s and sent to Teegeeack, now called Earth, where they were placed in volcanoes and blown up with hydrogen bombs. Being immortal, the Thetans “became trapped in an electronic ribbon and placed in front of a ‘three-D, super colossal motion picture’ for thirty-six days, during which time they were subjected to images called R6 implants.”

These Body Thetans are in all of us and the goal is to get “clear” of them and become Operating Thetans by walking along the “Bridge to Total Freedom,” which Scientology alone possesses. And the only way to get “clear” is through Scientology “technology” that costs hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars to access. But this is the only way to salvation.

Most Scientologists don’t know this crazy theology. It is reserved for those who have achieved Operating Thetan III status. Tom Cruise – an ex-Catholic, as are 25 percent of all Scientologists – is OT VII.

Back to the prisons. They are reserved for those who join the Scientology “priesthood” called the Sea Org. When you join the Sea Org, sometimes as young as 14, you sign a billion-year contract and agree to slave away seven days a week, fifteen hours a day for pocket change. You also separate from any family member not in Scientology.

In the Sea Org, you are watched constantly and any deviation from largely arbitrary rules can land you in hot water.  You live in fear of being “declared” a “suppressive person,” which is the equivalent of being cast into hell for this and all future lifetimes. If you are found guilty of an infraction you happily agree to “Rehabilitation Project Force,” i.e., prison. You sign a waiver and other legal papers saying you are doing it freely. You could be inside this prison for years.

It is possible that tomorrow on a street corner in your town, or on the campus where your daughter goes to school, she will be approached by a well-scrubbed happy girl and boy who will offer to show her a short film on how to reduce stress and get better grades. And if she strains to hear, the sound in the background will be the eager cackling and scratching of Satan and all his demons. 

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (14)Add Comment
written by Manfred, February 22, 2013
Thank you for filling us in on the subject of Scientology, Austin. There was a line years ago: "Life is a battle of wits and many people go through it unarmed." It is sad but true. There was a Catholic Charismatic group in north New Jersey some years ago which, among other things, insisted that their female members could not go to college as the female could never be better educated than her potential husband. Moonies, Mormons, boys preyed upon by predator priests for years without telling anyone, Catholics who vote for Obama (or who vote at all when one considers the choices are The Abortion Party or The War Party), they will never go away. I appreciate your research into this almost unknown phenomenon.
written by DS, February 22, 2013
I wish someone would ask Cruise in an interview: "Why does Scientology put a cross atop some of its buildings? Why do you co-opt a central symbol of a faith in which you do not believe?"
written by athanasius, February 22, 2013
I just want to be clear. Is Scientology different from the Christian Scientists? It sounds like it is. I would apprecitate it if someone who knows might post an answer.
written by Jacob, February 22, 2013
It knocks you off your feet to think that these people exist.

It just goes to show you that there are those who pick their religion based on its entertainment value.
They all must feel like they're living in some kind of Hollywood movie like Miscavige's friend Tom acts in..
written by Nick, February 22, 2013
Well done! You can expect a cease and desist letter from Scientology's lawyers very soon.
written by okramsey, February 22, 2013
athanasius - They are different. Christian Scientists believe in the Bible, Christ, and the resurrection, however, not in the same way as Catholics and most mainstream Christians. It is a little over 100 years old and was started by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy.
written by Austin Ruse, February 22, 2013
Wright's book talks about the cross. It was added in their logo in order to be less scary and more acceptable...
written by theo, February 22, 2013
Scientology and Christian Science have absolutely nothing in common with each other, and the Christian Science church is not a dangerous, controlling organization like Scientology. Christian Scientists believe in spiritual healing and don't believe in doctors (unless something really urgent happens), and are very benign and non-controlling as an organization. It's all voluntary, no weird beliefs or mind control like with Scientology. I spent some time in the Christian Science church before I became a Catholic, as I have family members who are Christian Scientists. They're nice normal people, with the exception that they do tend to avoid doctors. The biggest difference with traditional Christianity is they don't believe Jesus is literally God, rather that he came to teach us about God and spiritual healing. But they are very prayerful and loving people.
written by Linda, February 22, 2013
If you really want to know more about Scientology, read Jenna McCavige's book. She left them and describes what it's really like (She is the niece of David McCavige). It is both fascinating and scary! She says the celebrities are treated differently and don't see the abuses that go on. Amazon has it - also Kindle edition. I am no relation.
written by Mariusz, February 22, 2013
"...Scientology teaches, “that we are all trapped in this universe; that we used to be ‘free’ and powerful but we have gone down a ‘dwindling spiral’ of degradation..." This is one of the core beliefs of ancient Gnostics and Scientology can be considered Gnosticism dressed in a sci-fi garb.
written by Austin Ruse, February 23, 2013
Jenna Miscavige's book is quite good. I highly recommend it.
written by Graham Combs, February 24, 2013
I don't read the New Yorker much anymore (I enjoyed James Wood's recent "review" of the Book of Common Prayer's on its 350th anniversary) but they published a very interesting article about the screenwriter and director Paul Haggis who was a Scientologist for years. Not least because it helped him make Hollywood connnections in his early career. He himself is somewhat unclear or confused as to why he stayed so long in Loon-Now-Pay-Later cult as he explains spending time in a special room reading the back story of the "religion." But doesn't it explain in part the incoherence and even hysteria of so much of the Hollywood product in recent decades? Unwatchable stuff and hostile to decency and reason and common sense and tradition. In college a friend went to a Scientology "church" located in a house in our neighborood. On a lark he took the test and then tried to leave. They weren't going to let him. He did of course. He's not stupid. I do wonder if a mispent boyhood reading science fiction has innoculated me against such foolishness. One story is that the highly regarded science fiction editor John W. Campbell (Astounding Stories in the forties and fifties and the even better Analog in the sixties and early seventies) bet Hubbard that the writer couldn't invent a religion that people would actually follow. Perhaps Wright investigated this rumor. There is a strain of eccentricity and gullibility among sci fi writers -- Hubbard, Heinlein, and Ellison among them. They seem to go off the deep end in some way, either regarding sex or militant atheism or looking for some Grand Political Solution or Utopian silver bullet that has nothing to do with Christianity and every liability against success. And increasingly rather than questioning the assumptions of the establishment -- big govt, extreme climate change, radical social engineering, equality absolutionism -- they propagandize for it. It's painful to witness this in some of them. Of course C.S. Lewis is an exception. I can't imagine any prominent and institutionally-embraced sci fi writer today producing something like Kurt Vonnegut's short story HARRISON BERGERON or Walter Miller's CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ. It recalls that phrase from Samuel Beckett, "imagination dead imagine..."
written by morning myrn, May 12, 2013
Hmm sorry, but I have been involved with this religion for over 30 years and know just about everyone on the side of for and against Scientology in these stories you read and write about. The ones who defected from Scientology I did NOT like, even when they were in good standing. As an interesting note, all of these guys lived in really nice, luxurious quarters, Jenna Hill was adored by her family and I always saw her being spoiled rotten when she was very young, about 2 or 3 by both her parents AND the uncle she writes against. And she as well as the rest had access to lovely places, got to travel extensively, had great chefs cooking for them, worked with a lot of artists and some were artists in their own right. Yeah, horrible life!
I know a lot more than I will put down, but all I have say is this: to all who are now anti-Scientology, aka Jenna Hill, Marty Rathbun, Jeff Hawkins, etc. thank you. For years you treated me and others like me (lesser staff and church members in rank) like we were nothing and I remember all too well this treatment. For years I thought there was something wrong with me and it bothered me to no end--well not really, a jerk is a jerk and I knew that. But now that I know what you are and the lies you perpetuate it relieves me to no end. I couldn't understand why the majority of the church executives, Mr. Miscavige included, were so wonderful and friendly to me and others who were not high up in the church ranks, yet you weren't.
It's pretty obvious what drives you now: Satan and money.
As for the FBI and IRS being "bought" or whatever is implied here give me a break! This is far-fetched even for a catholic paper and editor, and you should know better than to even publish or hint the church must have super powers or something to sway these organizations. The IRS and FBI are nobody's friend and if they haven't found anything on the church then guess what? There's nothing there because from what I know of those two organizations they always do find stuff out--no hiding anything from them so let's be real here, shall we?
I may not be active in the church anymore but if you did your research like I did, you would discover that Marty Rathbun and actually, everyone who left, contradicts themselves on how they left and why they left. And by the way, Jeff Hawkins and several others of these so-called apostates are members of or associated with the cyber terrorist group of Anonymous. Check out the Anonymous FB page and website will you and get back to me on what you think of these ex church members associating with a blatant satanic group like that one.
I will paraphrase Jesus where he says "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and I think before you do articles like this one you should look at your own church or at least do research. You don't have to like Scientology or believe in it but stop the hating on it, will you. If you are a perfect religion and God has told you to write this then by all means, slag away. If not, use your writing talents for good instead of evil and let's hear something more worthy of those of us who more interested in saving this planet and each other.
written by Guy , August 26, 2013
I would like to mention, coming from Europe, that Germany does not permit the Church of Scientology to exist anywhere there.

They seem to know enough about it to prohibit it for their natives.

(I'm Irish, but I know a lot about Germany and speak the language.)

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