The ultra-secret world of the Church of Scientology has been rocked by a rare internal dissent — gone public by an even more rare decision to leak internal communications to the media. The dispute focuses on an email by long-standing Scientologist Debbie Cook calling on 12,000 fellow members to withhold contributions to the church as violative of the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard.
Cook is a member of the secret internal organization called Sea Org. Her email reveals that the Church as amassed an alleged $1 billion in foreign accounts and objects that the relentless drive to force contributions from members contradicts the teachings of Hubbard. She also alleges that David Miscavige, who has led the Church of Scientology for 26 years, has dismantled the structure left by Hubbard for the organization in amassing power. Miscavige is often mentioned by dissidents as an autocrat who showers celebrities like Tom Cruise with gifts and adoring servants on visits.
The alleged amassing of wealth stand in sharp contrast to claims of former members that they lived in virtual slave conditions.
Cook alleges that “[c]urrently, membership monies are held as Int reserves and have grown to well in excess of a billion dollars. Only a tiny fraction has ever been spent, in violation of the policy above. Only the interest earned from the holdings have been used very sparingly to fund projects through grants.” In response, the Church sent out a statement “Ms Cook’s opinions reflect a small, ignorant and unenlightened view of the world today. They are not shared by the thousands of Scientologists who are overjoyed by our 27 new churches and what they mean to the communities they serve.”
What is most striking about this dispute is that Cook remains part of the Church as opposed to the former members who have sued the Church or denounced it as a cult. It is also notable in the details since the Church continues to have problems in Europe with countries that view it as a commercial or even a criminal enterprise designed to extract fees from members who pay to go to higher and higher levels of consciousness or awareness as Scientologists.