Several former Scientologists have come forward, both in an epic report in the New Yorker that Kaiser mentioned yesterday and individually, to confirm that low-level employees of the church of Scientology did free work for cult member Tom Cruise. These workers were essentially slaves considering that they were paid just $50 a week (often less) and were regularly coerced, threatened, pursued and even physically detained when they tried to leave the cult. It’s common practice in Scientology to track down members trying to leave and to put them in forced work camps where their every move is controlled and monitored. It sounds unbelievable, but several former Scientologists spoke on the record to the New Yorker about their experiences with the cult and others are suing the organization for the abuses they suffered, usually for years. (The article is very long and may seem daunting to read. To get to the part about the forced labor camps, go to this page and start reading at the big “A” a few paragraphs down.)
The New Yorker story, by Pulitzer prize winning journalist Lawrence Wright, claims that the FBI is investigating Scientology for human trafficking. They even gave details of their investigation including the names of the agents on the case and the people they’d interviewed. Scientology of course denies this, just as they deny everything.
Here are the relevant parts about how Cruise received free slave labor. You may have already heard about this, but there are some new details we’ll add in a moment:
In 2005, [cult leader] Miscavige showed Cruise a Harley-Davidson motorcycle he owned. At Miscavige’s request, [former cult member] Brousseau had had the vehicle’s parts plated with brushed nickel and painted candy-apple red. Brousseau recalls, “Cruise asked me, ‘God, could you paint my bike like that?’ I looked at Miscavige, and Miscavige agreed.” Cruise brought in two motorcycles to be painted, a Triumph and a Honda Rune; the Honda had been given to him by Spielberg after the filming of “War of the Worlds.” “The Honda already had a custom paint job by the set designer,” Brousseau recalls. Each motorcycle had to be taken apart completely, and all the parts nickel-plated, before it was painted. (The church denies Brousseau’s account.)
Brousseau also says that he helped customize a Ford Excursion S.U.V. that Cruise owned, installing features such as handmade eucalyptus panelling. The customization job was presented to Tom Cruise as a gift from David Miscavige, he said. “I was getting paid fifty dollars a week,” he recalls. “And I’m supposed to be working for the betterment of mankind.” Several years ago, Brousseau says, he worked on the renovation of an airport hangar that Cruise maintains in Burbank. Sea Org members installed faux scaffolding, giant banners bearing the emblems of aircraft manufacturers, and a luxurious office that was fabricated at church facilities, then reassembled inside the hangar. Brousseau showed me dozens of photographs documenting his work for Cruise.
Both Cruise’s attorney and the church deny Brousseau’s account. Cruise’s attorney says that “the Church of Scientology has never expended any funds to the personal benefit of Mr. Cruise or provided him with free services.”
[From The New Yorker]
In a new story in Radar, former high ranking church member Mark Rathbun, who personally “audited” Tom Cruise, states that he has internal emails showing that a whopping 9,000 man hours of slave labor were provided to Cruise to customize yet another vehicle, a bus.
This begs the question – how much of Cruise’s help is made up of Scientologists, and what are they getting paid for their servitude? How much of the Cruise empire does he owe to the poor grunts of Scientology? Cruise has donated millions to the organization but the people who do all the work are essentially slaves. This quote from former Scientologist Amy Scobee pretty much sums it up: “You don’t have any money. You don’t have job experience. You don’t have anything. And he [cult head David Miscavige] could put you on the streets and ruin you.” Compared to that, doing unpaid labor for a multimillionaire seems like a decent alternative.
After I wrote all that, Radar put up another story about how that custom bus that church slaves built for Tom Cruise, which was completed in July, 2005, was used “as a base for lover Katie Holmes to begin her ‘Purification Rundown Program‘.” Holmes is neck deep in this cult and she stands to lose much more than her generous clothing allowance if she tries to leave.
*Note that in this article on Radar they state that the pay for Sea Org slave laborers can be “as low as $50 a week.” According to the article in the New Yorker, $50 is the base pay and can be cut for very minor infractions.
Tom Cruise is shown filming Mission Impossible IV in Prague this October. Credit: WENN.com