Scientology’s David Miscavige threatens to sue publisher of his father’s book

As we heard last month, the father of Scientology leader David Miscavige has written a tell-all book about his son called Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige and Me. It’s not even out until May 3 and the book is already the number one bestseller in the psychiatry category on Amazon. That’s got to peeve the Scientologists off considering that the cult hates psychiatry with a passion. They also hate anyone talking about them as anything but a persecuted, misunderstood new “religion” and use threats, intimidation and the legal system to harass their detractors. So it’s not surprising to hear that David Miscavige has sent a threatening letter to the publisher of his father’s book. This news comes from Tony Ortega, a journalist who has worked for years to expose Scientology. The publisher is not backing down.

David Miscavige’s father, Ron, is set to go on 20/20 this Friday, after which sales of this book are sure to skyrocket. They’ve released some clips and quotes from Ron’s interview and he’s not an unimpeachable source. Ron admits that “there was some domestic abuse” in his marriage. Of course Scientology goons have latched on to this to try and smear Ron and Ron’s sisters released a statement claiming that “Our father beat our mother senseless in drunken tirades, averaging two violent attacks with his fists per week.” Ron denies this account.

Ron describes the way his son obtained control of Scientology following L. Ron Hubbard’s exit, and he attributes that to David’s authoritarian personality. At least one higher up in Scientology backs Ron’s account, and states that L. Ron Hubbard wanted a committee to run Scientology, not one single person, but that David stepped in and took control, ruling with an iron fist. Here’s that part of Ron’s interview, and you can read much more, including how the family got involved in Scientology, on ABC’s site:

Ex-Scientologist Lois Reisdorf told ABC News she first met David when she was at Flag looking for recruits to join Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s personal elite Sea Org unit called the Commodore’s Messenger Organization…

Before long, David Miscavige was in Hubbard’s circle and moved West without his family where Hubbard, who was also known by his initials LRH, was building new secret bases and shooting Scientology training films…

The Church says Hubbard decided early that Miscavige would eventually succeed him.

“Mr. Hubbard viewed David Miscavige as one of his closest and trusted aides, and he essentially groomed him to become the leader of the Church,” said Church lawyer Monique Yingling. “So really while there wasn’t an anointment or anything like that, it was clear to everyone… that David was the person that Mr. Hubbard would want to take the Church forward.”

But that claim is intensely disputed by Church critics. Reisdorf said originally Hubbard wanted the Church to be run by a committee after he died, not one person. But she said that after Hubbard went into seclusion in 1980, David Miscavige’s influence and power grew as he evolved from the Commodore’s Messenger Organization into a Gatekeeper.

“He started to get power and started to pull in people … onto his side, and it ended up being like a coup, where you had half of the management took over and kicked out the other half,” Reisdorf said.

Reisdorf claims she was part of the “other half” and that she was relieved of her executive duties.

“It was a betrayal,” she said.

In a statement to ABC News, the Church said, “Lois Reisdorf was removed from Church staff and expelled in 1982…

“Her claims regarding Mr. Hubbard’s plans and intentions for the future of Scientology are lies,” the statement said. “She has no knowledge of them, because she had long since been removed.”

Ron Miscavige joined Sea Org in 1985 when his son David, then in his mid-20s, was already established in the Church’s leadership. His father said he learned shortly after he arrived at Sea Org that things were different between them.

“I saw him walking, oh about 20 yards from me,” Ron Miscavige told ABC News “20/20.” “I says, ‘Hey Dave.’ And he turned to me and he looked at me like, ‘Who are you talking to?’ No words were said but that glance told me those days were over. I would never, I could never do that as a father to a son.”

[From ABC News]

Ron goes on to describe an incident in which David yelled at him, in public, for an hour. He also says that David was allowed to lead Scientology because “there were no checks and balances on him.” This account is consistent with what we’ve heard about David Miscavige’s management style, particularly in the brave expose that the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersberg Times) did in 2009, back when hardly any mainstream news outlets dared to take on the cult. They had multiple ex-Scientologists who witnessed tirades, dirty tricks, isolation and physical abuse of parishioners, sometimes directly by Miscavige. Now with so many books published on Scientology, celebrity defectors and the HBO documentary Going Clear, it’s not as dangerous to expose Scientology. The more we hear the more sinister it sounds, particularly when the leader’s own father is willing to speak out against him. Of course Ron is no angel, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.


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57 Responses to “Scientology’s David Miscavige threatens to sue publisher of his father’s book”

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  1. mollie says:

    David Miscavige the tiny tyrant.
    Why he is allowed to shake his little fist and stomp his petite feet with no consequences is beyond me. Get him out, scientologists. Then get out yourselves. Oh and Dave, where’s Shelly?

    • Goats on the Roof says:

      You better watch it with the Shelly questions. Those nutters will ship your ass off to the desert to do forced labor.

      In all seriousness, WHY is this allowed to continue? There have been far too many accounts of abuse and kidnapping over the years. Scientology must be holding something over the head of someone mighty important for the “church” to be allowed to operate as it does.

      • Tifygodess24 says:

        @goats – money. The government will allow it as long as the checks keep cashing.

      • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

        @Tify- the problem lies with whoever/however the cult was permitted to classify itself as a religion, thus paying no taxes to the government. Thanks, Fred T. Goldberg, Jr.

        Finally, though, the Supreme Court recently revoked the tax free status the Co$ had for 25 years-

    • Mumzy says:

      @ NotSoSocialButterfly– Snopes shows this is not the case — this was based on fake news reports.

    • holly hobby says:

      I think either in Lawrence Wright’s book or Janet Reitman’s (yeah I pretty much read them all at this point), there was a husband and wife team vying for top dog position (I refuse to use the term that the $ci’s call their “leader”. Dog sounds apropos) along with Miss. Cabbage. I don’t remember the specifics but there was some confusion over who will helm after LRH died. The other couple obviously got the shaft and Miss. Cabbage is the new Mao.

      It is interesting that $ci’s don’t believe in psychology but this psychologists can study these nuts for blindly following a nut and looking the other way when abuse occur. Mao and the Red Guards and Hitler and the entire Nazi thing are very simiiliar to this.

    • Goodnight says:

      The good news is Shelly isn’t missing. She’s at Int. Base. People are sure that she’s there, but she’s apparently RPF.

      Scientology continues because of their brainwashing and intimidation techniques. To prove all these human rights abuses you have to actively document it, and if you’re tolling away in RPF (which is incidentally something everyone who enters has to legally state is a voluntary religious retreat) you’re not going to have the chance to record footage or take pictures.

      It takes a remarkable person to speak out, and most need years of healing before they can begin to think of telling their story. By then it’s almost impossible to prove abuse.

      Eventually they’ll go down. There are too many people blowing and telling their story and the proliferation of technology will mean that one day someone will be in a position to document their abuse, no matter how hard COS tries to keep technology away from RPF members.

  2. paolanqar says:

    All those creepy people in just one room.

  3. EM says:

    Miscavige is a psychopath. There is no difference between him and Jim Jones.

    • Mia V. says:

      Or Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler.

      • Myrna says:

        After reading about the domestic abuse at the hands of this tyrant’s dad, I wonder if that upbringing contributed to the abuser he has become.

        Looking down post, I’d LOVE to see a journalist pose a question re Scientology of Trump.
        Curious to know how he’d respond.
        But it would be tricky for a journalist to pose the question.
        Perhaps the upcoming 20/20 interview would make it a relevant question for the candidate?

    • holly hobby says:

      Or Mao Tse Tung

    • JenYfromTheBlok says:

      More of a sociopath – who recruits others into control and abuse under a “moral” guise and for a “cause”. A sociopath has a moral agenda, while a psychopath is abusive due to simply missing the “feelings” or “compassion” chip. Both commit atrocities, albeit a sociopath usually recruits others to do the dirty work.

  4. Insomniac says:

    I swear that if Donald Trump vows that his first act as President will be to shut down the Scientology compounds, revoke its status as a religion, and chuck all the higher-ups in this cult in prison for life, I will vote for him. (And I really, really hate Donald Trump.)

    • Liane says:

      Whoah! That’s an interesting philosophical scenario! I think, wow, I think I’d be tempted too.

    • NotSoSocialButterfly says:

      The Supreme Court just revoked its status as tax- free last month, so it can no longer operate a a non-profit religious organization. It remains free to operate as a business, though, so we can hope that with time the cult will crumble as it loses money.

  5. Naya says:

    Davids ascendancy reminds me of Stalins, taking out the opposition, forcing members to tattle on each other and establishing his reign built on fear. Anyways, its going to be a rough few months for him;.in addition to his fathers tell all, Louis Therouxs documentary film is also on its way.

    • JenniferJustice says:

      Sounds like military tactics – divide and conquer, once taken over – isolate, and brainwash.

  6. ReineDidon says:

    I still can’t comprehend how a person willingly gets into a cult. Aren’t they enough religions out there already ?

    • Naya says:

      The same psychology that drives people into religions and allows them to overlook all the inconsistencies and injustices, is what would drive them into a cult. I know many people who disagree with the Churches position on LGBT for example but still maintain Church memberships. Why? They were searching for meaning and are convinced that their choice of religion provides it. They likely had an emotional experience (that they consider spiritual) and associate that “revelation” with their specific religion or in this case cult. Thats a powerful motivator to turn a blind eye even when you are being abused.

      Theres also the fact that religious communities and cults provide a sense of family that appeals to people who are otherwise isolated. Once you join, leaving can mean losing all the relationships you have on the planet.

    • Wren says:

      Because nobody ever sets out to join a cult. Who would? It’s crazy and ridiculous. But people want friends, a sense of purpose, and some sort of belief structure to help guide them and to explain the things man cannot explain.

      Cults provide all that. They are friendly and welcoming, you fit in, you belong. All your social and spiritual needs are met, and for someone who is lonely and uncertain, that is a powerful drug. Then, little by little you go down the rabbit hole. By the time you start questioning wtf is really going on it’s much too late. The more they’ve extracted from you, the more invested you feel and thus the harder it is to leave. Not to mention the fact that they employ every method in the book to get you to stay.

      Don’t be flippant about how powerful psychological techniques can be. “I’ll never fall for that!” Oh really? When you were a kid, did you ever go along with something your friends wanted but you were unsure? We all did at one time or another; the social needs of humans are strong. Now amplify that times a thousand and tell me you’d be completely immune.

      • Sarah01 says:

        Wren think you for that, I didn’t think of it that way.

      • JenYfromTheBlok says:

        Plus if a cult gets you to reveal personal things and either overtly or covertly tell you they will black mail you or shame you for what you share, you become afraid to leave or displease the leader(s).

    • JenniferJustice says:

      Cult followers tend to have the following traits:

      1. Blind follower
      2. Lonely
      3. Rule Abider
      4. A need to belong
      5. Low self-esteem
      6. Lack of critical thinking
      7. Performance orientation opportunities to measure up

      The only ones that need explaining are:

      Rule abiding – people who do not question rules, but follow them w/out question no matter what. Like people who stand at red lights to cross the street but won’t cross even though there is no traffic coming if the hand sign is red. It’s not in them to break a rule.

      Performance Orientation Opportunies – Say you’re looked over in school – a nobody – becuase you dont’ excel at anything, but in a cult, anyone can excel. All they need to do is believe, donate time and money, and they can be somebody. The more time and money and devotion they offer, the higher up they can become in a cult. For some people, a cult is the only place they can measure up. This also applies to the low self-esteem trait.

      Although many people join a church or religion becuase they seek belonging or are lonely, the big difference is most church-goers do not lack critical thinking and will question rules and teachings that don’t make sense or require somethinig of them they know to be wrong or bad. Cult followers lack critical thinking and the ability to questions rules and authority. They are sheep. Regular religion followers do not follow blindly – most don’t. They have the confidence and analytical thought to not only question things but even move to make change. Many churches and religions are embracing the LGBT community. Many are evolving to be more accepting of things that were once deemed unacceptable. Members and leaders take into consideration the times the books were written and the context they were written which do not apply to today’s society or how they want their church to be in today’s society, so they rewrite tenets. Cult’s don’t give a crap what their members think and their members don’t really think about things they know to be wrong too deeply because there is nothing they can do about it but leave, and they dont’ want to leave their family as the cult does become their family.

      • sauvage says:

        As someone who was mind-controlled herself over the course of twelve years, I disagree.

        While cults tend to recruit people at challenging times in their lives – divorce, just finished college and doesn’t know what to do with his/her life, death of someone close to them, moved to another city and doesn’s know anyone there, just to provide a few examples – those are times where everybody is vulnerable, regardless of character.

        There is no such thing as a “typical cult member” character. EVERYBODY can be recruited, you just need to apply the right tactic. Cults WANT people who can withstand a lot of pressure, have work ethic, are healthy. Many, many people have been sucked into cults because they thought “they would notice if anything were fishy about it”.

        As scary as it is, yes, it can happen to everybody, provided there is somebody ruthless enough to manipulate you into it.

        I don’t want to go into too many details regarding my own story, let’s just state that in my case, it was therapist abuse. I am highly intelligent, vigorously independent, and an idealist. All of this was used against me, all it took was one ruthless person without any regard for fellow humans. So forgive me if this one hits close to home for me. I’m sure you did not mean to attack anyone, JenniferJustice. In this case, it is personal to me.

        Denouncing cult members as “blind followers” does nothing to help the cause, or the survivors. It’s victim blaming at its finest. Mind control is on those who apply it, and on nobody else.

        I keep recommending it on this site; if you want to educate yourself on the subject of cults and mind control, I suggest you read: Steve Hassan: “Combating Cult Mind Control”.

      • JenYfromTheBlok says:

        Thank you, Sauvage. Many people are sick or ill and have been advised by physicians to “meditate” or find “mindfulness” or even do yoga. Yes. Sadly even these benign activities can be a way to suck people into mind control. I’m an educated world traveler, and I was physically sick and was “gifted” a “nutritional consult” that was became a cult. (raw food community in an isolated place, etc). So I wouldn’t say I was a blind follower or have low self esteem. I was ill and those characteristics were situational and I got sucked in. Evil exists in the world- a certain percentage of our population are sociopaths- they prey on people for money or power with zero remorse or compassion. Today the meditation/yoga cults are all the rage- an huge black hole just waiting for people who actually need eastern philosophy and alternative health. Sad.

      • sauvage says:

        @JenYfromTheBlok: High-five to you, my fellow survivor! I’m glad you got out.

      • Katie says:

        “Performance Orientation Opportunies”–That whole paragraph screams Tom Cruise and his status within CO$

    • AmyB says:

      HBO’s Going Clear addresses that very question in the beginning of the documentary. People are looking for answers to the problems in their lives — and Scientology is not upfront with their core belief system for a very long time. You have to spend tons of money and auditing sessions before those things are revealed. They suck people in who are truly looking to make their lives better, and then the brainwashing begins. I am very glad to see more and more people speak out about the horrors of this organization, and I look forward to learn what Ron Miscavige has to say. After watching Going Clear, I was horrified to learn about the realities of this horrible cult. And that is exactly what it is: a CULT!

      • sauvage says:

        One of the most important things to remember when talking about cults of any kind: You don’t join a cult. You are recruited into a cult.

        There is always deception involved. They break your barriers down piece by piece.

    • Kate says:

      I understand it in general, but Scientology I don’t get. Most cults start out by drawing you in with some larger purpose you care about. Scientology begins being just about yourself, and you aren’t really connecting with a group or an individual leader at the start, you have to take a bunch of ‘classes’ before you’re not just one of a crowd being talked at.

      The people who recruit others are weird. Overly friendly, but not at all warm or kind. Not charismatic, just over-eager. They’re the kind of people who everyone hides from at a party, not your typical engaging, hypnotic cult recruiters.

      The auditing is cray-cray from the start, and even the basic self-help stuff is off. All the signs of weirdness are there in the first encounter.

      I completely get how they manage to ensnare addicts coming out of meetings and other vulnerable people, but a lot of very smart, accomplished, rational people have gotten involved, and that I just don’t get. Scientology starts out boring and weird and doesn’t give you a sense of community or belonging until you’re quite far along.

  7. Margo S. says:

    This cult is so bat sh!t crazy. It’s actually hilarious. Everything out of the members mouths are brainwashed lies.

  8. Hejhej says:

    Michael Peña is one of them?? Nooooooo! 🙁

  9. Jen says:

    Ugh, Michael Peña is a Scientologist?! I really liked him!

    The fact that nothing within their leadership structure has changed despite the mountains of bad publicity Miscavige has brought upon the “church” just goes to show you how brainwashed people must be and how much he must intimidate and scare the organization.

  10. swak says:

    There’s a scientology center where I live (midwest) and went past it the other day. Someone was turning in and I wanted to scream “NOOOOOOO, don’t turn in there”. Guess some people are looking for answers and they give them the right ones and so those people are hooked. Don’t understand it myself.

    • I visited the center in St. Petersburg and couldn’t believe my eyes. We had to be searched before entering and were watched the entire time. Everyone wore khakis with navy blue polo shirts and there were cameras EVERYWHERE inside and outside the facility. It’s a creepy place filled with lost souls but it’s sitting pretty on some prime real estate.

    • Tiffany says:

      Swak. Is it STL. The one in University City is big, ghastly and the first thing you see on the block. And located in the area of a prominent university. I shudder when I have to go past it.

      • swak says:

        Yes, it is. I knew there was one here but had never seen it. I was driving my grandson from Hazelwood via 170 to Delmar to his apprenticeship at St. Louis Art Works and happen to drive by it. Couldn’t really take a good look at it because I had to concentrate on the road.

  11. Greenieweenie says:

    People who grow up in unstable homes are often drawn to the rigidity and absolutism of extreme belief systems–it’s just a way of establishing certainty in the wake of a childhood of uncertainty.

  12. Bridgeport says:

    So does that mean Tom Cruise is the Key Master?

  13. Nia says:

    I still to do this day do not understand how what I thought was a science fiction book when I was kid turned into a religion. Hum, huh, I must be missing something.

  14. NotSoSocialButterfly says:

    I am confused ( and needing a second cuppa)- should the following passage read that David’s sisters ( rather than Ron’s) are speaking out against Ron?
    ‘Of course Scientology goons have latched on to this to try and smear Ron and Ron’s sisters released a statement claiming that “Our father beat our mother senseless in drunken tirades, averaging two violent attacks with his fists per week.” Ron denies this account.’

  15. Jay (the Canadian one) says:

    Doesn’t the big Time story from the 90s count as mainstream news taking it on?

    • tmot says:

      Sure it does. But that was decades ago, and the legal hassles it caused Time scared off others from covering it for a long time.

  16. Harryg says:

    David Miscavige is really scary. He’s like the perfect movie villain.

  17. Marie says:

    Go ahead and sue David, hehehehehehehe it will be the best sales pitch ever. I will buy multiple copies and distribute them to friends.
    Hey David, Where is Shelly?????

  18. Bread and Circuses says:

    If the father was a domestic abuser, it’s not a surprise that the son uses violence to get his way too.

    • sauvage says:

      An awful lot of people grow up in abusive homes, and make the choice later in life to never follow their parents’ path, let alone become the leader of a destructive “self-help” cult.

      • Goldie says:

        People mag had more excerpts from Ron’s interview. Apparently David was 9 years old when his parents indoctrinated him into the cult. Then at age 16 they sent him to the sea org where he was groomed by L Ron Hubbard to be future leader of the cult. When you combine that with violence he witnessed, it’s not that surprising that he ended up becoming an abusive cult leader. I’m not giving David a pass. He’s an evil man who should be in prison. I’m just not very sympathetic torwards his father. He played a large role in creating the monster, imo.
        I am glad that he left and is trying to spread awareness about the horrors of Scientology.

      • sauvage says:

        @Goldie: I wasn’t aware of that. I stand corrected, thank you for that information.

  19. freespirited says:

    Can we talk about how they hold fundraisers for the LAPD Youth Programs (the photo with Laura Prepon and Danny Masterson et al) and how they might impact their ability to be impartial about the claims against the “Church”.

    I’ve long thought the CoS had the police in their back pocket – this just reinforces it.

    • JustCrimmles says:

      Leah Remini’s book briefly discusses the LAPD’s somewhat friendly relationship with the cult. I highly recommend that book.

  20. MB says:

    He will never sue, because if he does it will result in a counter suit and then he will be deposed. That is literally the last thing he wants due to past experience and he has very actively avoided appearing in court or being interviewed (either by legal staff or journalists).

  21. geneva says:

    I am glad people are bravely exposing the cult. There are many others and would love to expose a small one that a family member belongs to – the Sharon Gans Cult. just as weird and controling as all cults but very secretive. They use the same lawyers as CoS to block info. .