New York Times: Scientology Defectors Report Coercion, Beatings, and Threats After Seeking To Leave Church

The New York Times has a striking account today of Scientologists who allegedly faced threats and coercion in seeking to leave the church. Christie King Collbran and her husband, Chris, gave a detailed account of they were effectively raised to serve the ultra-secret Sea Organization, or Sea Org in the Church. After signing a “billion year contract,” they say that they were faced with fines and forced confessions in seeking to break free from the Church.

Defectors tell the Times that Sea Org members “were repeatedly beaten by the church’s chairman, David Miscavige, often during planning meetings; pressured to have abortions; forced to work without sleep on little pay; and held incommunicado if they wanted to leave.” This is not the first time that Miscavige has been accused of physical violence against members, here.

The defectors also give accounts that say that celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Greta Van Susteren, and Nancy Cartwright (the voice of the cartoon scoundrel Bart Simpson) are given special attention and treatment while other members are subject to coercion and threats.

What is most interesting is the degree that the defectors report that members are insulated from the accounts of defectors, but that more is getting through — as in the recent defection of director and screenwriter Paul Haggis, who won Oscars for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash.” It is also clear why Sceintology has spent so much time attacking Internet sites of defectors. The Internet was the only source of information for these defectors who found anti-Scientology sites and reached out to former members.

The article recounts that Scientology spokespeople seemed to struggle to give figures for membership, which defectors say is falling. The Church claims millions of followers around the world, but American Religious Identification Survey found that the the number of Scientologists in the United States fell from 55,000 in 2001 to 25,000 in 2008.

The story also gives the account of Marc Headley, who is suing the Church for back wages. He says that he worked for virtual slave wages of 39 cents an hour.

For the full story, click here.

16 thoughts on “New York Times: Scientology Defectors Report Coercion, Beatings, and Threats After Seeking To Leave Church”

  1. They have lots of money. They own one very historial and luxurious building (old home) in Washington, DC on prime property just off Connecticut Ave near Dupont Circle. They also own a small office/apartment building on 16th St about 15 blocks north of the White House. Both are usually kept in excellent shape. No wonder they have a lot of money, if they don’t pay volunteers.

  2. Christie King Collbran was on NBC this morning and had some rather flattering and unflattering things to say about this religion. I think I heard her say that the basic philosophy is good and that the leaders have gotten away from it and that the leaders are wrong.

  3. The difference between ElRon and Miscavage seemed to be that while ElRon understood that the operation was a scam, Miscavage seems to be a true believer. The consequence of having true believers running a scam would always seem to be the inevitable implosion of the scam. Perhaps that is finally happening – the rabid, absurd lawsuits, the dependence on lawsuit induced fear/intimidation to prevent press coverage of the organization, the looney-tune couch jumping, and so on, are priming the general public to at least have some skepticism about the organization.

  4. I will give a Turd for the cause. This sounds Kinky to me.

  5. It’s time to take a long hard look at the Non Minister Religious Worker visa status that the Sea Org takes advantage of, as well as the tax status of Scientology in this country. This is an atrocity.

  6. Slave wages, beatings, inhumane work hours, seizing passports, extreme pressure and coercion not to leave? Sounds like Scientology is engaging in human trafficking.

  7. AY – re: What Would Ron Do?

    I would have thought your motto was WWNYD?

  8. Somewhere, seamus is thinking, “Xenu is not amused!”

    I think that’s a fairly accurate prediction. Both mine and his. The Scientology accountants must be freaking out over those enrollment numbers.

  9. mespo,

    I was thinking proletariat is the most apt word to describe this story.

  10. Well when you play act as totalitarians sometimes your playmates forget its a game. Do they get a planet to keep too?

  11. Not church related,but rights in general realated to abusive treatment:

    Torture memos resemble Clarence Thomas’ way of thinking
    The Supreme Court justice has a history of dismissing prisoner brutality. And it’s his former law clerk who was investigated for authorizing harsh interrogation tactics as a Justice Department lawyer.

    Reporting from Washington – According to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a prisoner who was slammed to a concrete floor and punched and kicked by a guard after asking for a grievance form — but suffered neither serious nor permanent harm — has no claim that his constitutional rights were violated.,0,3374402.story?track=rss&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fnews+(L.A.+Times+-+Top+News)

  12. Well duh, he was a volunteer, not an employee, so of course he didn’t get paid for most of his work. What an idiot. No one can save him from his own stupidity.

  13. Do you have to pay taxes on .39 cents and hour? Seems to me that is a tad bit below minimum wage. What Would Ron Do?

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