Jason Lee’s ex-wife wrote a haunting essay called ‘why I left Scientology’

Carmen Llywelyn was married to Jason Lee from 1995-2001. They dated for about a year before tying the knot in a ceremony officiated by Bodhi Elfman, a Scientologist buddy of Jason. Soon enough, she was pulled into the cult. Carmen previously spoke out about how Jason allegedly abused her during their marriage. She now lives in Atlanta with her partner and their twin children. She keeps a very low profile but is still haunted by her cult experience. Her Instagram page indicates that she’s struggling to deprogram herself after more than a decade away from the cult.

Carmen wrote a very lengthy essay for Gawker. I’m only including a few excerpts due to space considerations, but you can read the whole essay here. Carmen talks about the cult seduction process and how she was eventually declared a Suppressive Person. The disconnection process she describes sounds so cruel. Carmen read an anti-Scientology book, and she told her manager (also a CO$ member) about it. Within a few days, she received a paragraph-long dismissal letter from Jason. Her talent agency dropped her from its rolls. She lost her career, and her marriage was over. Her story reveals how things grew even worse:

I was a Scientologist for eight years. Although I identified as one I didn’t really understand what actually being a Scientologist fully entailed until after a couple of years of being heavily indoctrinated. The reality of Scientology is deceptively hidden and cleverly disguised. When I look at Scientology today, I have to forgive myself for not seeing through the manipulation sooner. I’ve spent the last 13 years keeping Scientology out of my life. It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve realized that the religion is built on a foundation of violence. I’m proud to add my voice to the many who, despite fear of retribution and humiliation, have come forward to tell of our experiences.
….
When I first started Scientology, I figured I’d likely have to do something pretty bad in the religion’s eyes to earn the Suppressive Person label. Something horrible like killing someone or printing fake money, I don’t know, something truly criminal. I wouldn’t have ever dreamed that I would one day earn this distinction because I read a book (A Piece of Blue Sky, by former Scientologist Jon Atack, which forever changed my life) that opposed the church’s beliefs. Most people know the only view you’ll see of any Scientologist once they disconnect from you will be their backs. Before I was disconnected with him, I still got along with Jason as long as I agreed with his and the church’s demands. But when I revealed over the telephone to my talent manager, Gay Ribisi, that I’d read an anti-Scientology book, it started the chain of events that led to me being disconnected with everyone I had known.

Suddenly, my entire life got stolen out from under me. My entire support structure shattered. Nothing that I knew was ever the same. I lost Gay, Jason, and every friend and source of love I knew besides my family in Georgia, 3,000 miles away. I was completely on my own and not one of them cared. What I didn’t expect to happen was that Gay would get my agent at United Talent Agency to drop me. Or at least that’s what she told me in her disconnection letter I received two days after our phone call. So I had no way of even getting work. I was supposed to start over.
….
I always joke that for people to understand what ex-Scientologists go through, they’d have to take a class on it. One thing they would learn about is something called “Fair Game” — a practice Scientology uses to target its enemies. This is what happened to me after I divorced Jason and was disconnected from Scientology.

Scientology has a sophisticated intelligence agency known as the Office of Special Affairs, which is essentially a complex system dedicated to ruining the lives of those it sees as enemies in any way possible. Those who work for the OSA do not follow the law. I didn’t believe any of this was real until I left and started to research it in the attempt to figure out the strange things that were happening to me and my family — like how and why my former best friend suddenly knew about everything about my personal life, and why she felt compelled to involve herself in it.

There was more. Vicious rumors were being spread about things I had said only while in session, which I was made to believe were private. Some rumors I knew could only come from certain people, like Jason. I got followed all the time. People in public would loudly discuss a conversation I had just had in private, word for word. Similar things occurred on social media.

No one imagines themselves as so fragile to ever let something as sinister as a cult take control of their minds. I didn’t think anyone would ever tell me how to think and when to think it. We all believe we’re above such things and only stupid people could fall for that.

[From Gawker]

Carmen puts the whole Celebrity Centre on blast, which is one of Scientology’s methods to lure members. L. Ron Hubbard organized his cult this way from the very beginning. He wanted to use celebs to recruit the general public, who would all believe they would become successful entertainers too.

I’m glad Carmen is speaking out, especially when she discusses how easy it is to be swindled by the cult. Lots of people don’t understand how anyone would fall for the Xenu stories. But that information isn’t revealed to members until much further down the line than the love-bombing period. Paul Haggis wrote about how he remained blind for most of his CO$ tenure. At a certain point, members have wasted so much time and money that it’s hard to admit falling for L. Ron Hubbard’s science-fiction nonsense. Even Tom Cruise grew ragey when he learned the Xenu story, but he got pulled back into the cult too. There are no easy solutions to the CO$ problem, but the Going Clear documentary has helped open the public’s eyes. I hope ex-members like Carmen keep talking.

It will happen It already has I've gained momentum from the bad intentions of all your bitching I didn't want this- but its your system Or rather a religion that doesn't welcome individual thought The artists I knew who acted like that got made examples of And the high pressure salesman tactics don't do you any favors Which makes you pander mostly to paper chasers Still trying to figure out what money's got to do spirituality I definitely don't buy that mentality And I won't let go until you learn some humility And respect for every human Allowing everyone the same rights to exist You don't decide who is subhuman and who isn't You are not divine My life is mine and you don't define me I am finally still Knowing I was built for this Heart and hands in tandem Words come in for a landing With reckless abandon I'm still standing.

A photo posted by Carmen Llywelyn (@carmenllywelyn) on

Photos courtesy of Carmen Llywelyn & Getty

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122 Responses to “Jason Lee’s ex-wife wrote a haunting essay called ‘why I left Scientology’”

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  1. Elfie says:

    What a brave woman. The more people who come forward the better, thankfully we have the internet nowadays, Scientology can’t intimidate and silence social media!!!!!!! I don’t understand how this cult doesn’t face criminal charges for their use of slavery, hostage taking, violence, harassment, intimidation and all the abuses they commit. She got away very easily compared to other horror stories I’ve read.

    • Pinky says:

      What I need is for all the SPs and defectors to come together for one huge gathering in order to form a public support group and flout the “Church.” I think it would send Miscavige into a psychological tailspin. I want Nicole Kidman and Katie Holmes to get together for multiple sit-downs. Why hasn’t Rathburn reached out to and publicly apologized to Kidman for destroying her life? Paging Andy Cohen: we need an Church Ex-Wives Club television show. THAT I would watch!

    • BangersandMash says:

      I know, you’re right. She got off lightly.

      And it explains why Katie Holms was everywhere the paparazzi were for MONTHS after the split. They can’t try and snatch you or pull some sh*t with cameras hovering all around you…
      Smart move, Katie.

      Do tell, what happened to Nicole Kidman??

      • Elfie says:

        Katie was smart, she used the paps and their constant presence saved her. They couldn’t do anything in front of the worlds media in the internet age of 24/7 news, blogs and social media looking for anything that will attract hits and immune to the intimidation that silenced the traditional media for years. Their power is rapidly disappearing.

        They turned Nicole Kidmans kids against her because she was a suppressive person.

      • FLORC says:

        Katie also planned her escape with many secret messages, burner phones, and a team on the outside guiding her along.
        She had something huge that allowed her to get custody of her daughter and keep the religion away from her.

        Poor Kidman. To have your kids turned against you and have you known to them as the worst type of person.. And how she was in constant fear from the intimidation factor. Spies on her making sure she didn’t talk. It was no secret she was living in fear for years. That woman can use all the botox in the world if it helps her deal with that.

      • BangersandMash says:

        FLORC, Elfie… Let’s talk…

        Imagine someone turning your children against you, making them fear and loathe you!!! *shaking my head* Just imagine the level of pain and trauma you’d experience.

        I even heard that TC forced Nicole to have an abortion or something during the divorce times….

        I’m surprised she’s still alive and smiling and living, I would have either crawled in a bottle and never looked back, or went of a rampage ala Denzel in “Man on Fire”

        She can have as much botox in the world that she wants. The woman deserves her peace, and her respect.

        How katie got to keep Suri is a wonder. But apparently Tom turned his back on that girl for Xenu!

      • FLORC says:

        BangersandMash

        I can only try to imagine that. It would be a nightmare.
        Add in the total and complete fear for you life, the life of your love ones and even your children. That they’re not above harming them on top of everything else just to get to you. Because that’s known practice for them as accounted by other former members.
        Ugh. Nicole has been to hell and back imo. That she can still function at all is amazing.

    • annaloo. says:

      How do we say this is such a brave woman, when any given week on Celebitchy, there might be a story with plenty of comments loving on Beck, or Peggy Olsen from Madmen or Juliette Lewis and how cool they are? How do we reconcile talking about of both mouths like this?

      Are we for Scientology, or are we against it?

      • Denise says:

        I don’t shower love on any CoS member for this very reason. I am always so disappointed when I hear that someone I admire is part of this cult that delights in destroying lives, no matter the age. From that point I cannot separate their name from this fact.

      • Cali says:

        I watched the first season of OITNB not realizing that Laura Prepon is part of it. But now I want to see season 2 and 3, but feel conflicted. I love Ashton Kutcher but now he’s joining up with Danny Masterson for a new sitcom and he’s part of a COS, too. And it’s sucky because Juliette Lewis is in my favorite Jennifer Garner movie and a few others. It’s hard when there are so many of them out there. I do steer clear of all Tom Cruise movies. I wanted to see the new American Crime series, but refuse to support John Travolta. I would love to know more of which celebs are involved so I can boycott movies/tv shows, etc. But I admit it’s HARD. I do check some of the sites that list who’s in and who’s out.

      • Michelle says:

        You can still enjoy a person’s art (acting), comment on their clothing, etc. Doing so does not mean that you support Scientology. Should we all have been against Carmen when she was a Scientologist, and refused to have supported her? Anyone of these current Scientology celebrities could at any time leave the cult and possibly also speak out against it. We have no way of knowing, but some of them may even be considering it right now. There is no reason to condemn the person, they aren’t at fault. There are a few notable exceptions, like Tom Cruise, who clearly has taken advantage of the slave labor in Scientology. But the everyday celebrity Scientologist, they don’t deserve derision. They deserve our sympathy, and they deserve support to get out of the cult. You can’t achieve that when you demean them. Someone can still be cool, you can still love them, etc. If it were a family member, how would you react and feel? You would still care for the person just the same.

    • beautifulDay says:

      It’s a good era when cults of hatred (CO$) and symbols of hatred (confederate flag) are revealed and taken down. I was in a yoga cult of sorts, and the de-programming phase is unbelievably gradual. The self-shaming phase goes in and out; how can I have been so stupid?? May we all have compassion for those in ignorance and commend people like Llwelyn who are brave enough to extricate and speak out! She’s helped me have faith and hope today.

  2. NewWester says:

    With all the other major religions, I can recall members/hierarchy talking about the positive aspects( brings peace to a person, love, community etc)
    Has any member of the Cof$ ever mention the positive aspects of the church? I never hear Kristie Alley, Tom Cruise etc say things like it is a close community, great people etc . They talk a lot about what they believe( don’t agree in taking anti depressants for example) but not a lot about what a person gets out of joining the church. For such high profile members I find that rather interesting.

    • Snazzy says:

      That’s a very good point actually! The other thing you don’t see with CO$ that you see with other religions is the idea of charity – churches, mosques, temples, synagogues all have a sense of charity, helping others etc that is usually a beautiful thing outside of the other more questionable practices. With Scientology all you see or hear about is beliefs and behaviour, focus on pushing ideals, and none of the positive things

    • jwq says:

      Lots of them say that the first tests they take with the e-meter make them feel great. It’ s like talking to a psychiatrist, I guess. But that’ s pretty much the only positive thing I have heard.

      • FLORC says:

        They’re the most charasmatic salespeople for that 1st test.
        You never get that treatment again.

    • Don't kill me I'm French says:

      Juliette
      Lewis and Kristie Alley says that Scientology saved them of drug.Cruise says they treated his dyslexia

      • Lola says:

        ^This.
        They “say” they have charity work, but it’s all a “pretend” thing, like they go to places to give massages to people, not really do any charity. There are good documentaries and/or videos on youtube that explain this.

    • Jayna says:

      They carry on a lot about what it has done for them, or did back in the day. That was how they were drawing people in.

    • feebee says:

      Would it be too obvious to suggest it’s not a religion? Not in the way we have come to accept that religions work in and for the greater society. Just because the IRS has given it protected status doesn’t mean anything for me except wondering who or what it has on whom working at the IRS.

      • belle de jour says:

        “Would it be too obvious to suggest it’s not a religion?”
        I’d go a step further to suggest one could say that about many so-called ‘organized religions.’

      • Bridget says:

        belle de jour – you know that’s part of how $cientologists re-direct the conversation away from them, right? They just try to deflect about other organized religions. So in this context, when you make a comment like that you’re actually helping to make their argument for them.

      • belle de jour says:

        @Bridget: I am helping them do nothing – either voluntarily or involuntarily. I am pointing to the fact that vile tactics and social ostracism and professional harm and threats concerning a person’s emotional and spiritual well-being – not to mention tax evasion and a cozy relationship to government policies, immunity via corrupt officials, etc. – are *also* quite common to ‘organized’ religions as well.

        Identifying and discussing similarities between two seemingly disparate elements or factors in an argument is not the same thing as excusing the nature of the perfidy itself, nor is it a ‘get out of cult status free’ card in this instance. They are exonerated of nothing merely because they are in bad & plentiful company.

        Another way of thinking about it: it does nothing to mitigate their offenses, but keeps the shade and disgust going… aimed right at many tactics & practices of other ‘organized religions’ *as well.*

      • Bridget says:

        When you’re making a cult’s argument for them, you’re helping them. Obviously you’re free to think whatever you want about organized religions and I’m not even trying to make any commentary on your point, but perhaps consider the forum. Because again: you are using one of CO$’s favorite talking points. This is how they deflect.

      • Kitten says:

        I actually agree with Belle de Jour on this one.

        Scientology is abhorrent and the devastation it causes to the lives of existing and former members is horrific. It should be illegal, really. But on a social level the damage is far less pervasive than say, Westboro Baptist Church, or even Evangelical Christianity.

        I just sincerely hope that we never see the day where Co$$$ has their hands in the political system like some major religions, because the results could be quite frightening.

      • Bridget says:

        Consider the $ci talking points to deflect against criticism:
        *it’s okay that they bleed their members dry because Catholics tithe
        *Sea Org sounds sketch, but you know what’s really sketch? That Catholic molestation scandal
        *Yeah, those $ci beliefs are pretty wacky, but really don’t all organized religions have some pretty wacky sounding beliefs when you think about it?

        They are pretty notorious for employing people who’s job it is to troll the internet for articles about them and their adherents and to comment on them, and these are literally the talking points they use. You can also include stuff along the lines of “I’m not a fan of Tom Cruise/John Travolta’s beliefs, but (religious freedom/enjoy their movies/etc). They are insidious. And so my point isn’t at all about the validity of Belle’s statement, rather the fact that when we try to open up the discussion about $ci within the context of the larger place of organized religion, we’re using one of CO$’s own favorite deflections.

      • Kitten says:

        @Bridget-But Belle de Jour comments here all the time. I get your point about deflection, but I just didn’t think that she was doing that. I didn’t get that from her comment at all.

        *shrugs*

        I think that we can discuss CO$ within the greater context of cults and religions without effectively derailing the conversation. To me, it’s interesting to draw parallels between Quiverfull (which is actually NEWER than COS) and CO$ in terms of how they dehumanize people. I think you can compare/contrast the two without minimizing the damage caused by one or the other.

        Anyway, I hear what you’re saying, Bridge. I just respectfully disagree.

      • belle de jour says:

        “…the fact that when we try to open up the discussion about $ci within the context of the larger place of organized religion, we’re using one of CO$’s own favorite deflections.”

        Better for us, then, that we are able to discuss the similarities to be found here – as well as see their part in the general fabric of the whole – without forgetting the tactics and deeds that seem particular to them as well.

        I don’t know how to say this to be any more clear (also one of their favorite words & ways of being, yet it doesn’t make me one of them): I am deflecting nothing. We are deflecting nothing by noting that there is a grain of truth in one of their deflections. Acknowledging the fact that they are not the only dubious cult in the room does not lessen or deflect from their own culpability or turpitude; it means that they are not alone in their dubiousness in the room.

      • Bridget says:

        I’m not actually trying to imply that Belle is a $ci bot. Merely that when WE (real, normal people) make these comments, we’re doing the $ci work for them because we take away the focus where it should be.

        Seriously, I’ve never seen people miss my point so hard. “A grain of truth in one of their deflections”? Congrats. You want to make your point about religion as a whole so badly that you’re okay with taking the same angle as the $cientologists. I personally prefer to keep the focus on the fact that this is a cult, no matter how they try to deflect, confuse, and talk circles.

      • belle de jour says:

        @Kitten “To me, it’s interesting to draw parallels between Quiverfull (which is actually NEWER than COS) and CO$ in terms of how they dehumanize people.”

        I was thinking along similar lines… and then – on perhaps the other end of the spectrum – I remembered a bizarrely personal & combative job interview conducted many years ago in a terribly groovy non-office near Big Sur. I was young at the time, and it took some years later for me to recognize the same exact tactics employed (in this case, by Esalen) as could be found in several other organizations and religions and cults. Especially for recruitment and retention purposes – the two most lucrative parts of the equation.

        (Thank you for your other comments; I don’t think there’s a deflective bone in my body – much to my proper parents’ chagrin.)

      • belle de jour says:

        @Bridget: “…we’re doing the $ci work for them because we take away the focus where it should be.”

        My sincere question for you: for *whom* are ‘we’ taking away the focus? I trust that the very smart people in this forum continuously manage to entertain and consider several conflicting ideas and foci, simultaneously.

        As for the point you think people are ‘not getting’: I well understand the point you are trying to make; I would argue instead the impact of the point itself, and just don’t think the point precludes discussion. Discussion is not necessarily deflection.

        I’ll take your sarcastic ‘Congrats’ with a wry smile. If you will check my comments above, I think you will see that I refer to ‘cults’ many times in this CO$ conversation – so no deflection there, either. And I assure you that I have no other agenda or desire to ‘make my point about religion as a whole so badly’ – or not nearly as badly as some other points have been made, certainly. My initial comment was in response to another questioning the self-identification of CO$ as a ‘religion’ – which begs thought about what constitutes a religion, as well as the practices that entails.

      • LAK says:

        Belle de Jour: I quite agree with what Bridget is saying. You are completely missing the point she’s making.

        Bridget isn’t disagreeing with the larger context of religion that Belle de Jour is making.

        She is pointing out, perhaps cautioning Belle, that C0$ uses the Belle points as a strategem. It’s their standard practise.

        Honestly, when I read the first paragraph of Belle’s first comment, my first thought was disappointment that Belle was a C0$ given her usually wonderful comments on lots of different posts in the past. She can deny that she is a C0$, but there it is…..the C0$ strategem.

        And that is the point that Bridget is making, nee pointing out.

        When C0$ people comment on C0$ posts, they always bring up the other religions. Honestly, we can discuss Christianity, Islam, Hinduism ad nauseum without bringing up other religions whereas C0$ prevents any type of discussion because they derail the conversation to other religions. Immediately. And continue to bring up the other religions even when others tell them to stop.

        So many of us have come to realise this tactic and whilst we may draw parallels with other religions, we tend to refrain from bringing those points in a C0$ discussion because whoever does red flagged as a C0$.

        It’s not a censorship thing nor does it mean we don’t want to have that discussion. You could say this is one of the ways C0$ attacks and we’d rather not indulge them.

      • belle de jour says:

        Thank you for your observations, LAK. But I feel as though I’ve suddenly fallen through some rabbit hole in a void of logical discussion, supported debate or, indeed, rational freedom of thought and speech.

        Ironically, much like someone who does not agree to the suppressive tactics of CO$ might similarly feel.

        I assure you that I ‘get’ the point Bridget is attempting to make. I simply don’t agree with it; nor do I think she made her point convincingly; and I most certainly do see both her and your chiding me for noticing and vocalizing what I did as censorship.

        By contrast, I won’t allow CO$ the power to deny me an outsider’s observation of similarity and truth simply because they employ the same observation as one of their own tactics of deflection. And I believe it would be insulting the intelligence of many posters to this site to genteelly ‘protect’ them from that, or to ban it from a thoughtful debate.

        So if you do not wish to have that discussion, then don’t. But unless you speak for every ‘we’ on this site (which you do not) – or unless your last comment is meant from the perspective of some royal ‘we’ (“It’s not a censorship thing nor does it mean we don’t want to have that discussion. You could say this is one of the ways C0$ attacks and we’d rather not indulge them.”) – your ‘we’ – even if only for Bridget & yourself – does not speak for me.

        All of the above is a very different matter than not ‘getting’ what she – or you – are getting at.

      • holly hobby says:

        From what I recall, the IRS was going after them with a hammer until the Short Midget’s minions started harrassing IRS agents. The tax exempt thing was a truce so that the minions will back off on people who were just doing their jobs on behalf of the Feds. So sad.

      • beautifulDay says:

        Supposedly L Ron Hubbard decided to claim it was a religion purely for tax credits. I read somewhere that he ran his business of mind f&*k on a ship at sea to evade any national jurisdiction. Back in the day he had underage female “crew members” who were scantily clad. If social media had been active then, this cult would never have survived all of the questionable shinanigans.

    • littlemissnaughty says:

      It’s all very self-centered, there doesn’t seem to be any focus on community or giving back after – as they claim – reaching that state of contentment or happiness or whatever they call it. I don’t doubt that as long as you’re a celebrity and you play by the rules and you pay, people with severe issues like drug addiction can benefit from this ridiculous system. But only because they can cling to rules and a structure that tells them exactly what to do and how to live their lives. Which is really just a crutch for a select few and any other support system would work just as well. But no other system strokes these people’s ego as much as CO$ does. I’m SO happy that my government considers it a cult. Religion my a**.

      • Bridget says:

        It’s incredibly self-centered, especially for the celebrity members. It’s all about making them feel special and amazing.

    • Kiddo says:

      belle de jour, +1

  3. Shauna says:

    I read the article the other day. It’s amazing how quickly Scientology cuts off your entire life once you’re declared a suppressive person. Family, friends, business – it’s all or nothing. I’m glad she’s getting her freedom back.

  4. sensible says:

    I saw going clear yesterday, it was a really interesting documentary, and I noticed a lot of similarities in the process of E-meter sessions to many of the new age activities my mum has been involved with through the years. I felt very grateful she never got involved with Scientology, but in the end I think she was too much of a rebel to get too hooked into anything. A specific personality type that is empathetic yet self flagellating also, would, I think be very attracted and susceptible to it. Laughed myself stupid at all the neo-nazi style awards propaganda with Tom Cruise being honoured multiple times, it is such a farce.

    • Tiny Martian says:

      You’re right, Sensible. Scientology doesn’t suit the rebels of the world!

      When I was about 20 years old, I attended a lecture on reincarnation that was advertised in our local paper. There was no mention whatsoever of Scientology in the ad. The class was held in a sizable office building, with no Scientology signage anywhere. The lecture involved a guided meditation, and afterwards we all were told to relay what we “saw”. I knew that everything that I “saw” was just my imagination, and had no sense whatsoever that I was reliving a past life. But after I told my story, the lecturer paid very intense attention to me, and suggested that I see one of the “auditors”. I had no idea what auditing was, but the lecturer made me feel special and seemed to feel very strongly that my past life story was filled with importance. So I was ushered into a tiny office, where the auditor described the process to me. I was given a little pamphlet with a cartoon depicting a depressed man who gets hooked up to an e-meter and afterwards is carefree and glowing. That pamphlet alone was enough to make me want to laugh out loud, but when I saw the e-meter, I was ready to run for the hills! It all just seemed completely ludicrous to me, and there was no way I was going to let these loonies hook me up to that thing. But as I tried to politely extricate myself from the situation, I had a strong sense of foreboding. The auditor called the lecturer back in and both of these middle aged people were very forcefully trying to get me to stay. The whole thing was very strange and intimidating, and I suddenly felt like I was being held captive, and realized that no one knew of my whereabouts. It was only when I looked at my watch, stood up and said forcefully that I really needed to leave, as my boyfriend was supposed to meet me outside(which was a complete fabrication), that they finally stopped blocking the door. As soon as I said that someone knew the address of where I was, their expressions changed and they backed off.

      Anyway, a long-winded story to say that later I of course found out that this was Scientology. I’m so glad that I have been blessed with a rebellious spirit!

      • Elizabeth says:

        @ Tiny, how scary! Glad you made it out safely

      • sensible says:

        Wow TM that sounds so intimidating! Thank God for gut reaction s eh?. They are rarely wrong.

      • vavavoom says:

        Wow, that’s scary! Good for you for saying that, and getting the He!! out of there!!

      • LadyoftheLoch says:

        Had a similar experience myself Tiny, years ago in London when a group of American girls around my age approached me with pamphlets outside a community centre and asked would I care to take a survey on “spiritual and higher matters.” Having 20 minutes to kill before an appointment, I thought to myself sure, what the heck, and went in. They handed me a clipboard with forms containing what seemed like a gazillion questions, none of them of a spiritual nature, and I quickly realized I wasn’t going to have enough time to answer them all. When I stood up to leave, the girls seemed to become really anxious and begged me stay for “just a couple more minutes.” I should have bolted for the door right then, but I was slightly curious because I couldn’t figure out why these girls had become so nervous all of a sudden, when they’d seemed fine just a few minutes before.

        I was ushered into a cubicle and invited to sit opposite an imposing looking male, who also happened to be American, who immediately began to irritate the crap out of me by flat-out insisting that I had refused to answer all the questions because I was arrogant. No introduction, no niceties. Helloooo?! I wanted to laugh. His attitude, demeanour, tone, body language, everything about HIM screamed arrogant, not to mention utterly rude. I got up to leave and he blocked the cubicle exit with his arm! I had to physically barrel past him to get out, it was ridiculous and quite scary. I felt like I’d been assaulted, and had the overwhelming sense that this person, auditor or whatever he was, operated as a low level corporate thug, with no scruples and zero respect.

        It wasn’t until later that I realized I’d been accosted by a cult of some kind, and sure enough, the pamphlets were peppered with L. Ron Hubbard quotes, whom I’d never even heard of, being only 20 at the time. Thank goodness for the rebel genes, though. They definitely kicked in that day. :)

  5. MonicaQ says:

    Getting tossed back into the world after being declared an SP is petrifying. A friend from middle school had that happen (grew up in the church, was in SeaOrg, whole bit, but once he turned 22 he had the *gall* to use the internet). He was homeless here in Clearwater and my grandma and I took him in for about a year until he got on his feet. It’s such a damn shame–how can you be so heartless to people you supposedly care about??

    I’m not usually one to say “nothing good comes out of x” but seriously, nothing good comes out of Scientology. All I’ve done is seen it wreak havoc in people’s lives and in my city.

    • belle de jour says:

      It makes me wish that everyone could wear a “Suppressive Person” t-shirt for a day – like some old episode of the Twilight Zone, or that Magritte scene in The Thomas Crown Affair – in support of ‘disconnected’ and ‘ex-communicated’ and ‘disaffiliated’ cult survivors everywhere.

  6. Hautie says:

    I want to know where Leah Remini’s book is at… about her personal insight to the Cult.

    Did she get talked out of publishing it?

  7. Shambles says:

    I didn’t know Jason Lee was a Scientologist– how depressing.

    The way she shared her experience is amazing. You could tell it was from her soul, and she made it so real. It really brings home how scary this cult is… Your entire life can be ripped out beneath you for admitting you read a book. Can you even imagine? And the things they did to her after she was disconnected… It sounds like the worst acid trip you’ve ever been on in your life, to be frank. It would make me paranoid to the point that my anxiety alone would kill me.

    I really feel for her, I’m grateful to her for choosing to share something so raw and personal, and I wish her healing on the road to peace.

    • Kitten says:

      +1. I only wish the best for her.

      Also, isn’t it crazy how you can be a member of a cult like Scientology and STILL think that some of the rumors aren’t real? Some of the things happening inside that cult are so outlandish, so unbelievable, that even some members of the cult think that it’s made-up, until they find out it’s real.

      It’s just amazing to me how powerful this cult is, how gangster-like CO$ is in how they treat their members.

      • Bridget says:

        The celebrities especially. They shield them from a lot of the unpleasantness, and of course the Celebrity Center is there specifically to make them feel super special. I mean, I’d probably be in denial too if the other option was to realize that I’d spent most of my money on progressing through a fake religion that enslaves people.

      • Kitten says:

        Right, it seems that the celebs are in their own Special Bubble with all the luxurious amenities and perks, not to mention fawning and coddling.
        Compare that with the Sea Org slaves working 100 plus hours a week.

      • beautifulDay says:

        Being in the cult is like realizing you married a sociopath. There is really no way out. You leave with nothing. Katie Holmes left with Suri because her father was a custody attorney. She’s the exception to the rule of leaving and finding yourself in the bottom of a well.

  8. Lucy2 says:

    Good for her, that’s brave and inspiring. The more people tell the truth about it, the harder and harder it’s going to be for them to swindle new people.
    CO$ always denies that they disconnect people, but apparently they put in writing!

    • Lola says:

      Don’t know about the harder and harder to get people in, although their numbers or more to the point their true numbers -in terms of membership- are falling. But, I do wonder, there is a documentary about this young actor that explains how CO$ gets new members for the Celebrity Center still and it is scary. Cause like some have written, at first they don’t tell you is CO$

  9. Kym says:

    …and we never saw or heard from Carmen again :/

  10. Cannibell says:

    Echo the posters above me – bless her for this beautifully written and heartfelt piece. The thing that’s different about this than anything I’ve read to date about Scientology (haven’t seen “Going Clear” yet) is how clearly she spells out the reasons smart and logical people get sucked in and why they stay as long (forever, in some cases) as they do.

    • LAK says:

      You should read Paul Haggis’s defection essay in the New Yorker. Perhaps because he is a writer, it’s more eloquently written.

      He talks you through the different stages and rationalises the irrational so that you understand how exactly C0$ gets it’s hooks into you and why you stay.

      I think this lady’s essay talks more about the pressure she felt to join, to belong, to keep etc whilst remaining a skeptic through it all. It was fear that was really keeping her in.

      Paul is someone who was a true believer and his eloquence in explaining that belief makes you realise what a mind twister this cult is.

  11. lisa2 says:

    OT: a bit anyway..Rose McGowan got axed from her agent or management for speaking out about that Casting letter. NO not the same as Scientology.. but people get blacklisted and shut out in Hollywood for a lot of reasons. I would be interested in knowing how many people are blacklisted or shunned for some reason.

    I guess this is why Tom is not really in Suri life visibly. it would send a message to the “Organization” that special treatment is given to others.

  12. Yoohoo says:

    I am officially no longer a fan of Jason Lee.

    Good for her for coming forward.

  13. SK says:

    That’s actually a pretty decent little poem she wrote there.

  14. Barrett says:

    Wow so complicated! I need to read it twice. Nicole Kidman , Katie Holmes suppressive people. It’s like it’s own horror movie.

    • Hautie says:

      Well Katie Holmes went full out Ninja… and kicked everyone’s ass at Cult Central.

      If there is anyone that the Cult seems to avoid, it is Katie. Makes me wonder what she witness during her stay in the Cult. Plus, I will always believe that Cruise ended up giving up a substantial cash gift, to her. For her silence. That had nothing to do with their pre-nup.

      Unfortunately, Nicole got screwed. But she got to keep her career. And manage to find a new home life in Tennessee.

      • Samtha says:

        Nicole lost her kids, though. :(

        I think the paps presence around Katie gives her a layer of protection. It’s hard for scientologists to target her when her movies are being documented so publicly. I remember that when she first filed for divorce, the paparazzi got shots of some men in a dark van following her, but once the pics were posted and attention was called to it, that stopped fast.

      • Jaded says:

        I don’t think it’s what she witnessed, but rather what she knows. She has something BIG on Cruise, something that would ruin his reputation if it were to be made public.

      • beautifulDay says:

        I posted above the Katie Holmes’s father was a custody/family law attorney. He saved her and Suri’s life, apparently! This is something I read, feel free to fact check.

  15. georgia says:

    This is the part of gossip I don’t like. I just wanted to watch the reruns of my name is earl in peace. Now I can’t even look at Jason’s face!

    • NorthernGirl_20 says:

      I know eh? I used to be a fan of his and I loved that show .. now I can’t stand him. Another actor that I used to love is Giovanni Ribisi, I think he’s an amazing actor but I can’t stand him either because of this.

    • Christin says:

      A couple of years ago, I ran across an online list of famous people allegedly associated with it. Several were now lesser known names, but were people I remembered from the 1970s-80s era.

  16. Mia4S says:

    Horrifying. And no all religions are not the same before someone tries that argument. I grew up in a close-knit Catholic Church, chose to leave the faith and…nothing. I still see members when I want, attend weddings and funerals, no problem. Xenu’s bunch are a cult, period.

    As I’ve said before, Tom Cruise movies do not and will not get a cent of my money.

    • Kitten says:

      Yeah Catholicism is such a benign religion though.
      But point taken–most mainstream religions don’t actively try to ruin your life when you reject their belief system or stop going to church or whatever.

  17. Kiddo says:

    I feel bad for her, but also it’s a bummer finding out about Jason Lee. Whatever happened to him, career-wise? I guess it is easy, at times, to mistake roles for the actors’ personalities, even though you don’t intend to mix the two.

  18. qtpi says:

    Don’t you suppose this is why Tom never sees Suri?

  19. kylerandall says:

    There are a few little celebrity connections within that story that I just find fascinating.

    Bohdi Elfman, who married Jason and Carmen, is the husband of Jenna Elfman

    Gay Ribisi, the former manager, is the mother of Marisa Ribisi (who is married to Beck) and Giovanni Ribisi.

    There is definitely something in this cult that appears to appeal to celebrities or those in the entertainment field.

    • Bridget says:

      If you notice it appeals to celebrities who are long past their heyday, but are past their prime now: Anne Archer, Kirstie Alley, Danny Masterson, Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, Kelly Preston… there are a few exceptions of course, but these are folks that are devoted because the Celebrity Center makes them feel special and amazing, and they don’t exactly have the education to look at it critically. And of course the assistance they’re given for their careers is helpful.

      • Kiddo says:

        Bridget, I think it wasn’t always like that. At one point in time, CoS actually had some degree of significant sway in Hollywood, in terms of membership and connections for roles, etc. That hay day in terms of influence has been dying out, especially with the internet. So now, you have the members born into it, or those who were indoctrinated way-back-when who remain committed. I really haven’t heard of any new recruits from any level of star power. I know it was suggested that the Smiths were into it, but I’m not sure if they went all in. It seems like their days are numbered with no new blood from the outside.

      • Samtha says:

        Most of those people are long-time CO$ members, though. They didn’t just turn to it when their careers started to slump. I think the Mastersons were born into it, weren’t they? And the Ribisis.

      • Merritt says:

        But most of them joined either during or before their career high. The thing is now more and more people are coming to understand the true nature of CoS and want to stay far away from it.

      • Lola says:

        @Samtha: That is what I have read too, both Mastersons and Ribisis were born into it, as well as Leah R.

      • Bridget says:

        Yeah, that was kind of a half thought of mine. Kiddo finished it better for me: CO$ had a window where they were able to help along the careers of their members, and it was a big deal. And yet now their influence is waning and their “name” members are losing their luster. No big new recruits even though they try HARD to bring them in, and even those that are rumored to be recruits like the Smiths won’t acknowledge it publicly because they know it’s the kiss of death.

      • claire says:

        Beck also was born into it, wasn’t he?

    • PennyLane says:

      The whole story sounds like Rosemary’s Baby – every single person she was turning for help kept turning out to be just another betrayer; she was totally vulnerable and all alone. Terrifying.

  20. Crumpet says:

    That photo of her with Jason kind to tells all, doesn’t it? I am so glad more and more people are coming out and telling their stories.

    • Kiddo says:

      Wow. I hadn’t paid much attention, but on a second look, holy crap the body language and expressions. you ain’t kidding.

  21. Merritt says:

    I’m glad she came forward with her story. It was brave of her to do. It was just further prove of how terrifying and awful CoS is. The part where she wrote about Jenna Elfman basically screaming in her face, was so creepy but not surprising.

    • Sam says:

      Jenna Elfman seems to be a real pill, if you believe what Going Clear said. She was one of the major people who led the push against Milton Katselas, who was a Scientologist and acting coach. The guy was basically a legend in Hollywood for teaching a huge number of successful actors. At some point, his relationship to the Church started to break down (the book suggests it was because he was not giving them as much money and PR as they would have liked), so a number of Scientologists (that the book says were led by Elfman) basically left him and tried to ruin his business and life. It’s really awful stuff.

      • lucy2 says:

        I always found her very abrasive and disliked her, long before I heard of CO$. I guess my instinct about her was right, unfortunately.

      • holly hobby says:

        I cannot stand Jenna Elfman. This was before I found out she was a $cibot and a complete idiot. I never watched a show with her in it. I find her annoying.

      • beautifulDay says:

        There was a part in that Earl Whatever show with Jenna Elfman and Jason’s character having sex when she had one eye. Ew and infinity ew. I can’t believe that scene, it is my personal hell. Ewwwwww

  22. JoyJoy says:

    Her agent was Gay Ribisi…any relation to Giovann Ribisi? They’re all Scientologists, right? Probably not the best person to tell you’re reading an anti-Scientolgy book…but I’m glad she got up out of there. Good for her.

    • Kitten says:

      Yup. Gay and Al Ribisi are the parents of (twins) Giovanni and Marissa Ribisi.

      That family freaks me out.

      • kanyekardashian says:

        I’m just sad that they pulled Beck into this nonsense. He’s so talented that I have to lie to myself and say it isn’t true so I can still listen to his music.

      • Kiddo says:

        He was born into it, though, wasn’t he? Kids don’t usually pick religions for themselves, the parents do. Some continue with that tradition and others leave.

      • Kitten says:

        Yeah Beck is a scientologist but he’s always seemed like a less “active” member, if there is such a thing. This is what he’s said about Scientology in the past:

        “Yeah, people in my family do it. I’ve read books, and I’ve learned about it. I mean, what I’m doing — I have a job, raising kids, I have friends, I have my interests, so I think my life is pretty full. I’m not off doing some weirdo stuff.”

        But maybe I’m just looking for excuses for him because I’m such a huge fan..

      • FingerBinger says:

        Beck probably isn’t less active in COS ,just less vocal about it.

      • Kitten says:

        That’s possible, FingerBinger. Although for the most part, I doubt Beck has the kind of fanbase that would be alienated by his SCIO connections.

      • Bob Eckert says:

        Beck is the equivalent of a Christmas-and-Easter-only Catholic. He won’t say anything bad about Scientology because he doesn’t want to ruffle his relationships.

    • Lola says:

      I thought the same thing, not the best person to tell. But, it’s what people that have left explain, we are “friends” with these people and you can’t even have a convo with them because they will betray you and if memory serves they report you to an Ethics Committee or something like that.

  23. kanyekardashian says:

    I have personal experience with this cult. They basically kidnapped me and a friend when we were around 12, asking us to come into the Scientology Center downtown to “watch a movie”. They were like, ‘Come on, it’s like a little party. We have lunch and snacks in here, it’ll be fun.’ Dumb kids, we shrugged and said okay. BAM! The door slammed and locked behind us and we were being glared at by a whole bunch of VERY serious-looking weirdos with clipboards. We got scared and said we wanted to leave. They said, ‘After the movie, you can leave’. We had to start crying to get them to open that door, and still, they wouldn’t let us leave until we gave our phone numbers and addresses, which we did just to get the hell out of there. Next thing we know, they start calling our houses at 7 am on Saturday mornings to talk this horseshit “religion” with our parents. My stepfather was a cop and a mafia dude and when we told him that they held us against our will at this place, he went down and “had a talk” with them. They never called again – me or my friend. They are despicable people.

    • Kiddo says:

      They should have been charged with kidnapping.

    • I Choose Me says:

      Wow. That is scary. So glad you and your friend got out of there okay.

    • beautifulDay says:

      Please tell me that was the 1970s. Crap like that went down all time in the “parents finding themselves” era. That is an horrible story! It should have been reported to the authorities. I had that happen to me in the early 80s, but it was a Christian cult. They had a party for us, so much fun. Then when we were all out of breath from running around and coming down from junk food, they told us we were all sinners. Huh. Last day for me! So these cults do prey on teens. Sick stuff.

    • BettyDraper says:

      It’s so creepy that they try to manipulate kids this way. So creepy.

  24. iheartgossip says:

    Jason Lee has always been ‘off’. And, I’m surprised to hear he is married to a woman, I thought he was gay. Well – then again. SciTology is the craziest group. Dangerous and delusional at the same time.

  25. Lauren says:

    My old professor at the U of A Dr. Stephen Kent who specializes in cult studies was declared an enemy of scientology. He often testified against them in various court cases and in retaliation they decided he was fair game. They threatened his wife and children a lot. It was scary all the stories he told us in lectures.

    Scientology apparently bought a hotline that specialized in assisting people who had left cults just so they could monitor who made reports about scientology and then go after these people. On top of that he knew lawyers who had their brakes cut and houses broken into by these nuts. They also tried to drain law firms financially by taking out lawsuits on them in every state possible. Their fair game policies have tried to destroy Interpol and The US supreme court. These people are unstable and the fact that have such a footing in hollywood is scary since hollywood has so much money and influence. But it is also no surprise since earlier methods of control like operation snow white outlined how scientologists were to infiltrate government agencies for recruitment purposes and to destroy documents unfavourable to the organization

    If anyone is interested they should check out the documentary on Clearwater Florida. It is the spiritual head quarters of Scientology and the amount of control they have over the public officials, police force. They actually had a project called Normandy which extensively outlined their plans for occupation. Scary stuff!

    • beautifulDay says:

      What an amazing person, your professor! He is a true hero. However I’m really depressed about Beck. I’m boycotting anyone who is CO$. There is some power in consumerism. Sigh. I feel like an ineffective coward compared to Dr Kent. I wish I could do something about the evil that is CO$.

  26. Cali says:

    The stuff about Jenna Elfman was creeptastic.

    I had to interview Jason during one of his Alvin movie press junkets. I was crushed to meet him, having been the hugest fangirl of Almost Famous since it came out. He was so awkward and aloof and just blah. He was nearly as un-charismatic as the time I interviewed Zac Efron. Seriously disappointing. lol

    I feel so bad for Nicole Kidman. She has seemed like a shell of a person ever since their split. Like she has so much she has to keep in for fear for her kids and her life.

    Katie is a hero for the way she left Tom and refused to let Scientology win. I would have a lot more respect for Tom if he’d leave the cult and just let them out his secrets – who cares what they are. I think the public would rally around him and help him recover from a life of brainwashing. I just feel like deep down Tom is a truly lovely guy with a big heart who got eyeballs deep with a psychotic cult and just has no choice but to stick with it at this point. But right now he creeps me out so hard and I can’t even watch his movies or interviews.

  27. QoFE says:

    All anyone needs to do to get the total creep factor in full effect is to take a stroll around the Celebrity Center or Big Blue. The cameras, the security guards, the zombie like SO members. One side of my house looks directly at the Celebrity Center. I drink my coffee in the AM looking at it, and close my eyes at night looking at it. I walk around it all the time (yeah, I admit to using their bajillion security cameras for protection at night when I take my dog out). These people are scary. I commend anyone who has the gonads to get out. I’ve met some truly interesting Ex-es, protesting and doing other things around those buildings.