Scientology Leader David Miscavige, a.k.a., “The Tiny Tyrant”
While celebrity Scientology members continue to bury their heads (and in Tom Cruise’s case, his lifts) in the sand, things are heating up in the potential civil war within the cult. In early January, Debbie Cook (a former high ranking member of the Scientology’s Sea Org and captain at Flag Service Org in Clearwater, Florida) sent out a mass email critiicizing leader David Miscavige’s fundraising practices to thousands of CO$ members. Cook, who remains a member in good standing, claims that her motivations in sending the email is to speak out against the leadership of Miscavige, whose methods Cook believes are diametrically opposed to the original doctrines of L. Ron Hubbard. If Miscaviage could possibly do so, he’d have had Cook knocked off for her public display of insubordiation. However and with the help of international press on her side, Cook remains physically safe for the time being, and even notorious “apostate” Mark Rathbun wrote that Cook was “not in imminent danger.”
Here’s the thing — circumstances have been never been great for the lowly, non-famous members of the CO$. But thanks to the internet (and the collective power of Anonymous), the general public is more aware of the cult’s moneygrubbing practices, and people are far less likely to fall into this soul-sucking, life-altering trap. So it suffices to say that recruitment numbers are way down and very little revenue is tricking into Miscavige’s clutches. And he is not a happy camper, so punishments have increased over the past several years. Debbie Cook has now moved past the email stage and has now testified in court about how she was imprisoned in an ant-infested trailer for 45 days called “The Hole.” The Mail has the scoop:
A senior Scientologist was locked up, beaten and tortured by the controversial religion’s tyrannical leadership, a court has heard after an attempt by the Church to silence her spectacularly backfired.
Debbie Cook, who was one of the organisation’s most respected executives before she quit in 2007, testified that she was held for 45 days in a crowded, ant-infested trailer in the California desert.
The 50-year-old also claimed to have witnessed Scientology chairman David Miscavige, a friend of celebrity follower Tom Cruise, punch another senior executive in the face before wrestling him to the ground. And she told the court in San Antonio, Texas, that Mr Miscavige ordered his secretary to slap her, sending her tumbling into chairs.
Her testimony is hugely embarrassing for the Church, which took legal action to prevent her from revealing the exact details its lawsuit has now allowed her to expose in court. They claimed breach of a confidentiality agreement she signed when leaving the Church in 2007. The organisation then suddenly withdrew from the legal proceedings after Mrs Cook’s blistering testimony on the stand.
Mrs Cook claimed that in the summer of 2007 she was one of 100 Scientology executives imprisoned in a large trailer known as The Hole. Describing the conditions, she said: “It had bars on the windows and the one entrance was guarded by security 24 hours a day. The place was infested by ants, so ants would crawl on you, and there was a two-week period when the electricity had been shut off, as ordered by Mr Miscavige. This was of course in summer in the desert so the temperature was about 106F.”
Mrs Cook said she was forced to partake in “confession” sessions during which she stood in a dustbin for two hours while water was poured over her head and abuse screamed in her face. One senior executive who upset the Scientology leadership was made to lick a dirty floor for half an hour, she said.
Her court appearance comes after she sent a shock email denouncing Mr Miscavige to 12,000 Scientologists just minutes after midnight on New Year’s Day. She accused him of turning the Church into a tyrannical regime in direct conflict with the doctrine laid down by founder L Ron Hubbard in the 1950s.
Writing under a banner of “Keep Scientology Working,” Mrs Cook called out Mr Miscavige for “hoarding” more than $1billion acquired through fundraising and then spending millions on building unnecessary, lavish facilities that lie empty.
The Church applied for an injunction, claiming this email breached a confidentiality agreement she signed when leaving the organisation with a $50,000 pay-off in 2007.
But Mrs Cook told the court this had been signed under severe emotional duress, so broken was she after her treatment. She said: “I would have signed that I stabbed babies over and over again and loved it. I would have done anything.”
Followed everywhere she went, Mrs Cook said: “I called my mother and told her if I wasn’t out in three days to call the police.”
In her New Year’s email, Mrs Cook confirmed her continued commitment to the Church and called on her fellow worshippers to usher in an era of change.
It is thought that the reason she emailed thousands of worshippers was to get around the “long and harsh” disciplinary action endured by those who question Mr Miscavige’s methods. She claimed it was her conscience that caused her to speak out.
[From Daily Mail]
The Village Voice (always on the forefront of CO$ coverage) has more from Cook, who stated that her testimony thus far was “a very small sample of the physical abuse committed behind the closed doors of the International Scientology Base.” The CO$ asked the court for a temporary injunction (to keep Cook from talking until trial), which was denied. Since then, Cook has sat down for a video interview with the Voice as well. Several other details have emerged, including Cook’s terrifying description of the moment that she was taken prisoner (she was on the phone with Miscavige: “Somebody pried the window open, two big guys came in. Mr. Miscavige said on the phone, ‘Are they there?’ Yes, I said, they are. And he said, ‘Goodbye.’“) Cook also asserts that part of her torture included homophobic hazing as well.
Interestingly enough within the video interview with the Voice, Cook has stated that she still considers herself loyal to the teachings of Scientology that were originally laid out by L. Ron Hubbard. Her main problem is how the church is being run by Miscavige. This is a tricky subject, and if you’re interested in learning more about how Miscavige rose to power, I suggest that you read Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. Among other topics, the book details how Miscavige — who started out as one of many messengers that served L. Ron Hubbard — managed to isolate the cult’s founder during a period of extended illness that led to his death. Through a series of convoluted, complex maneuvers, Miscavige managed to extract overriding authority from Hubbard to the point where he was allowed to assume leadership after Hubbard’s death. And because the CO$ has always been a hotbed of paranoia, nobody fully questioned Hubbard’s apparent decision to replace himself with little Napoleon boy.
Under Miscavige’s direction, treatment of Sea Org members (which were already bad) took a turn for the worse. David’s own niece, Jenna Miscavige, talked to Nightline a few years ago about how she endured a childhood of slave labor (14+ hour days, 7 days per week) and lived in fear every time she caught the sniffles because it resulted in massive interrogation over either being or having an association with a suppressive person. Defection has become an increasingly common occurrence, and high-profile ex-members like Jenna have helped inform the public of what really occurs within the cult. So it comes as no surprise that recruitment is down, which means that revenue has drastically fallen as well.
Meanwhile, The Voice has called out Tom Cruise in spectacular fashion in an Open Letter that’s well worth reading. I agree wholeheartedly, and it’s time for Tom to take the blinders off and face that his “religion” is really a cult. If Tom (and John Travolta) walked away from the CO$, that would truly set the wheels in motion for it to irrevocably crumble. It’s too bad that they’re too chickens-hit to leave their comfy roosts and do so.
Photos courtesy of Freedom Magazine