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Scientology's Prisons and Slave Labor
June 24, 2005 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Here's an account of conditions and abuse in a Scientology prison camp. Considering Scientology's philosophy, the use of prisons and slave labor (often used for the benefit of celebrities) shouldn't be surprising. (for these links, you may need a good dictionary)
posted by pandaharma (55 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I've read a bit on Scientology over the past few years but ran across the prison accounts today and was quite surprised.

I knew the organization was an abusive scam with a very silly philosophy, but I was surprised to find out they're running a mini-prison and work camp in the middle of LA.

On a silly note, here's Tom Cruise receiving the Freedom Medal of Valor from Scientology's leader: David Miscavige. I had no idea Tom assisted in the destruction of the Death Star.
posted by pandaharma at 10:26 AM on June 24, 2005


i don't want to discredit this story, and i hate the sect like the next sane person, but the guy's got his maths wrong: from the "prison camp" link:

"RPF pay was standardly $5 per week, per Hubbard’s orders. And it was not unusual to be on the RPF for more than a year. I was on it for 16 months, which meant my income was $80 for 16 months of labor."

if it's $5 per week, and he was there for 16 months, wouldn't that be 320 dollars?
posted by slater at 10:42 AM on June 24, 2005


slater, you would be using the non-Scientologist math to arrive at that figure of $320. In Scientology math, 1 + 1 equals any damned thing the leaders say it does.

Scientologists used to irritate me but now they're actually holding their members captive? How is this legal? Why would anyone willingly get involved with these absolute jabbering nutjobs?

I think I'm done supporting any freak who supports these cultists. Tom Cruise, John Travolta, who else? Fuck them all for being the happy public face on these insane cult monkey fucks.
posted by fenriq at 10:49 AM on June 24, 2005


dictionary? i just skip past words i don't know.

*facial tic*
posted by quonsar at 10:50 AM on June 24, 2005


I wonder if this thread will produce a letter from their lawyers?
posted by srboisvert at 10:58 AM on June 24, 2005


Why have the big papers and televisions shows been so lax on the scientology beat lately? It seems that it's been in the news more then ever lately, with nary a hint of criticism.
posted by chaz at 11:03 AM on June 24, 2005


Speaking of math, in the first link, the writer notes that the inmates were forbidden from having more than 20 dollars on hand.

Some inmates would attempt to hoard their meagre income but if they were caught, the extra money would be taken away from them.

So perhaps that explains this guy's incorrect calculation.
posted by pandaharma at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2005


Maybe this explains the disappearance of Katie Holmes!?!?!!!!!!!!!! via waxy
posted by dobbs at 11:11 AM on June 24, 2005


Scientology Center Los Angeles: The gulag of our times?
posted by billysumday at 11:27 AM on June 24, 2005


Why have the big papers and televisions shows been so lax on the scientology beat lately? It seems that it's been in the news more then ever lately, with nary a hint of criticism.
The Church of Scientology was the pioneer in beating the press into submission with obstructionism, lies, nuisance lawsuits and general abuse. Has anyone ever asked if Karl Rove is a Scientologist?
posted by wendell at 11:30 AM on June 24, 2005


Scientology Center Los Angeles: The gulag of our times?
At least we know who'll take over the Gitmo facility if we close it down...
posted by wendell at 11:31 AM on June 24, 2005


At least Scarlett Johansson managed to get away.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:37 AM on June 24, 2005


Tom Cruise went nutjob crazy again this morning on The Today Show (text has been redacted a bit, makes Matt Lauer look a little better than he actually came off). I don't think this what Hubbard had in mind with his celebrity recruitment strategy....
posted by gurple at 11:45 AM on June 24, 2005


Scientologists used to irritate me but now they're actually holding their members captive? How is this legal?

well, I'm assuming it's voluntary, but I'd also be interested to see how it's presented from the other side, since you can't volunteer to work for less than minimum wage, e.g., but you can volunteer to 'work' for nothing (i.e., to volunteer). So is it presented as a getaway camp, and the work is considered part of the character building benefit, type of thing?

I went to boarding school, where we had some number of hours per week of what were redundantly titled "work-jobs", which included working in the kitchen or laundry, etc. Anyway, the point is, if you wanted to make the experience sound bad, you could say you were imprisoned in the middle of nowhere, without trips to town, and forced to wash dishes for no pay, etc. But really, you lived on a campus in the country and had a pretty normal amount of chores to fulfill. I mean, I had a lot of negative feelings about the experience, but it definitely wasn't a prison camp. I can't tell if this is seriously fucked up or if people are distorting the tales.

The problem is that the people who are nutty enough to become scientologists to start with, are less reliable as witnesses to the injustice...
posted by mdn at 11:51 AM on June 24, 2005


I think I'm done supporting any freak who supports these cultists. Tom Cruise, John Travolta, who else?
The Scientology Celebrity FAQ

Condensed version (well worth taking with a grain of salt):

Notable: Kirstie Alley (why'd they let her gain so much weight?), Beck (born to Sci parents), Linda Blair (insert Exorcism joke here), Nancy Cartwright (NO, Bart, NO!!!!), Chick Corea, Tom Cruise, Eddie Deezen (the ubergeek!), Jenna Elfman (all that "Dharma" openmindedness was just an act), Isaac Hayes (NO, Chef, NO!!!), Danny Masterson (NO, Hyde, NO!!! - okay, now this is getting old), Priscilla and Lisa Marie Presley, Laura Prepon (blame Hyde), Leah Remini (is there a sitcom without a Scientologist?), Mimi Rogers, Greta van Susteren, John Travolta, Edgar Winter.

Notable Suspected (well worth taking with a tablespoon of salt): Mary Bono, Neil Gaiman, Amy Heckerling, Chaka Kahn, Jerry Seinfeld ("took a couple courses and felt good about it" - not that there's anything wrong with that)

Notable Former Scientologists: Candice Bergen, William Burroughs (wrote book "Naked Scientology" - out of print), Leonard Cohen, Stanley Clarke, Emilio Estevez (won't discuss it. "I don't want my phones tapped"), Al Jarreau, Nicole Kidman (but not sure), Charles Manson (got out before the murders - now I'm really beginning to wonder about this list), Demi Moore, producer Don Simpson (quote: "I've now almost gone clear, why ain't I happier ?")

After the main list are allegations that everybody from Rock Hudson to Christopher Reeve was at least "Audited" at one time. Again, don't follow if you're on a low-sodium diet.
posted by wendell at 12:15 PM on June 24, 2005


One outspoken former Scientologist has pointed out a connection between Hubbard and Aleister Crowley in his history of Dianetics and the cult of Scientology. Interesting reading, though I hope it is partly fictional.
posted by dontrockwobble at 12:16 PM on June 24, 2005


I've read some good things about Scientology... I think auditing and clearing is a huge step up from, say, the Pentecostal church's interpretation of the bible and Sunday services. Scientolgoy texts are way better than people being turned into pillars of salt, stoned for adultery, and forced to knife their underage children to death.

Tom Cruise was talking to Matt Lauer (the interview live was much better than this transcript) today, and they got into a little fracas over psychiatric drugs, which Scientology opposes. Interestingly enough, so do I. And Tom gave the same reasons.

If I was crazy enough to need church, why not Scientology? While there are many weird stories from many unreliable people, it certain has a leg up on a) witch burners; b) pedophile enables; and c) the religious right.
posted by ewkpates at 12:37 PM on June 24, 2005


ewkpates, you can think as you wish, as I am sure you came by your opinions independently, but I dang sure ain'g gonna listen to an ACTOR who is daft enough to be a member of a church that was founded simply to be a moneymaking scam. And who is arrogant enough to not even consider that he MIGHT BE WRONG.

Plus I am back on meds now and could not be happier. No side effects neither. Frankly, judging from Tom's latest antics, he needs to borrow a few.
posted by konolia at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2005


I'm with srboisvert. Once the Scientologist attack-dogs get wind of this thread, someone's gonna be saawwy.
posted by juggernautco at 12:52 PM on June 24, 2005


If Clearwater could beat em back, so can Mefi.
posted by konolia at 12:54 PM on June 24, 2005


Neil Gaiman

I asked about this in AskMe awhile back, and there appears to be absolutely zero evidence for a connection, other than the fact that someone named David Gaiman who may or may not be related to Neil was involved with the London branch at one time.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:02 PM on June 24, 2005


I can not take Scientology seriously. There are a number of stories about how Hubbard invented it on a dare, or as a scheme to make money or some such. A religion made up by someone who doesn't believe in it? Yeah that's sound theological ground.

The rest of it sound like so much Lightforce/LandMark
posted by edgeways at 1:02 PM on June 24, 2005


ewkpates: I would suggest touring a complex where actual members live before making up your mind.

Trust me. Apples and oranges. (Not that both aren't fruits)
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:04 PM on June 24, 2005


ewkpates, while I am somewhat concerned myself that psychiatric drugs are over-prescribed (in NYC practically everyone has been on them at one time or another, and all you have to do to get a script is mention to your doc that you've been feeling sad or anxious...), that transcript makes Cruise sound like a ferkin' looneybin.

Seriously, you can argue that we should be more careful about using chemical treatments for mental issues, but "matt, matt, matt, you don't know what ritalin is. I do. I know the history of psychiatry, matt..." - it don't make him sound so good, yo.
posted by mdn at 1:09 PM on June 24, 2005


More on the Crowley connection. From CREEPY interview with LRH Jr. (who knows if its true? But its pretty imaginative):

"In my father's private circle," Ron Jr explains, "there were lots of mistresses. When I was younger, I participated in private orgies with him and three or four other women. His theory was that one has to open or crack a woman's soul in order for the satanic power to pour through it and into him. It got kind of far out, culminating in a variety of sex acts. Dad also had an incredibly violent temper. He was into S & M and would beat his mistresses and shoot them full of drugs."
posted by Diamornte at 1:12 PM on June 24, 2005


I read an interesting interview with one of my favorite musicians, Beck, where he criticised people like us, who mock and openly denigrate Scientology. He said that we have no right to criticise something that makes people happy. I grudgingly conceded the point. Apparantly, I had forgotten that the only scientologists I know first hand are INCREDIBLY insane. This just confirms it.

If I was crazy enough to need church, why not Scientology?
1) It's not a church, really. Even scientologists will say that. You can be "any other religion, or even athiest" and still be a scientologist. 2) I grew up in a Christian household (still am, in fact), and there's a big difference between religious indoctrination and brainwashing ala Landmark or scientology. Last time I checked, Christian church services aren't 12-hr/day, weekend-long events with supervised bathroom breaks and hard sells when you try to leave. Yes, christianity/judaism/islam/hinduism have shady pasts, but so does humanity,
posted by muddgirl at 1:14 PM on June 24, 2005


I can't attest to the veracity of the links as I've never been a member of the church, nor do I know anyone who has. I'm just an interested outsider.

But, the various stories I've linked, as well as what you can find on Google, are very consistent. You can find these stories repeated in several court cases by many different people under oath. If this is just some conspiracy to smear Scientology, they would put the Illuminati to shame.

And the comparisons to other religions: are you a Scientologist? If you're not, I can't believe you would compare Scientology to the Pentacostals. Go to any Pentacostal church, and you can join without paying a dime. Ask the minister and he'll give you as much religious instruction as you can stand, again for free. You can even receive all their religious documents (the Bible, sunday school booklets, etc.) for free. No secrets, no need to pay to practice this faith, no abusive structures of "volunteer work" (unless you want to count Sunday potlucks as forced labor).

Do a google search on Scientology and child abuse. The RC, even with their policy of allowing pedophile priests to work, looks quite saintly by comparison.

As for literary value of the sacred texts, hmmm. Cage fight between the KJV and Dianetics! Wouldn't even be close. Even if you handicap the fight by substituting the NIV, there's no contest.
posted by pandaharma at 1:21 PM on June 24, 2005


Well, if the Scientologists show up en masse to attack, at least it should be a windfall for Matt, at five bucks per fighting weasel.
posted by pandaharma at 1:23 PM on June 24, 2005


a) witch burners; b) pedophile enables; and c) the religious right.

Those are kind of odd choices for a comparison, wouldn't you say?
a) witch burners - Ummmm? What witch burners? Who burns witches anymore? What the hell are you talking about?
b) pedophile enables - I'm not quite sure exactly what you meant here other than to get everyone's dander up by using the word "pedophile".
c) the religious right - Now... I really don't like to defend folks that take their religion that seriously... and some of their practices leave a nasty taste in my mouth... but you can walk away. With a good idea that no harm will come to you and you will not be harassed.

And the interview between Tom Cruise and Matt Lauer was quite strange. Tom kept talking about all of these facts that he knows, but not really saying how he came by these facts or where the average person could find the same facts. It kind of reminded me of a bad argument on the internet.
posted by newgrl at 1:24 PM on June 24, 2005


Hubbard was also involved (intimately) in the BABALON Working of Jack Parsons and Marjorie Cameron mentioned over in the Kenneth Anger thread. Google them up, it's stranger than fiction.

And then follow the trail from BABALON to the (aforementioned) Manson murders and Polanski, etc...
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:30 PM on June 24, 2005


I lost a friend to Scientology. He fell head-over-heels with a girl who was in the church, and he ended up joining too. After that he couldn't play with us any more, as we all listened to the nasty punk rock music. We tried to visit him a few times, get him to come out, but he was never left alone with us - there was always someone else (he had 3 roommates) watching or sitting in the room listening to us.

Before he moved in, he'd mentioned that he'd donated money, and occasionally his mixing board to various functions the church was having, so donating more and more time because of this followed naturally.

I suppose that if they were to keep telling you you're having fun, and you believe it, who could tell if it's a work camp or just helping the church out with friends? A lot?
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:44 PM on June 24, 2005


ewkpates: Have you ever heard of Lisa McPherson? McPherson, a scientologist, was taken to a psychiatric hospital for treatment after displaying signs of mental illness in public, until the Church of Scientology removed her from the hospital and took her to one of their centers for psychiatric treatment, C.O.S. style. Long story short, the "treatments" she endured killed her through severe dehydration within several days. C.O.S. ended up settling in court with McPhersons family, had to pay quite a hefty sum for killing her. I guess since she had legally signed her life away to Scientology, it was hard to stick them with murder or manslaughter charges. Lisa McPherson is not the only person Scientology has killed, and they are known for stalking and harassing ex members.

Also:
Scientology texts are way better than people being turned into pillars of salt, stoned for adultery, and forced to knife their underage children to death.

Fuck no they aren't. Besides the fact that to actually believe in Scientology you have to believe that humans evolved from clams, the Scientologist version of a creation (causation?) story is fucking nuts. I mean, an alien overlord (named Xenu) who is concerned with galactic overpopulation so he takes millions of his citizens and ties them in circles around the bases of volcanoes on earth and detonates nuclear weaponry in the volcanoes, freeing the souls of his murdered subjects to inhabit different body parts of humans on earth. That's why you get e-meter treatment as a scientologist, to locate souls trapped in different parts of your body and then remove them. Hence the term clear. Also, Scientology suscribes to the everyone's-out-to-get-us mentality of so many cults, and members are indoctrinated to view non-Scientologists as sub-humans. All of this is in their "religious" texts.

Here: clambake.org
posted by Derive the Hamiltonian of... at 1:45 PM on June 24, 2005


"[Beck] said that we have no right to criticise something that makes people happy."

There are approximately one bazillion things wrong with this statement. It's a metric bazillion, but still.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:49 PM on June 24, 2005


Does anyone here know a scientologist? I live in a large city where scientology has a large storefront, a celebrity center and had rented the public square to have recuiting events, but I've never met anyone who admited to being a scientologist. This is partly what makes it seem so creepy - they have a huge presence, but I've never met one, I've never even heard anyone defend it on the internet - it's like they hide (unless they're famous.)
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:52 PM on June 24, 2005


Joe Lisboa, like exchanging the word "Scientology" for "Stabbing Kittens"? Hey, man, it makes me happy, leave me alone.

Wendell, nice list. I would be very interested to hear some of the stories of the ones who have gotten off the L.Ron mailing lists. And its kind of eye opening to hear Estevez refusing to discuss them because he's kind of scared of them.

elwoodwiles, yes, I do and they are very quiet about it. Half the family is "in" and half has escaped. It makes for a fairly interesting dynamic as each side tries to pull the other either out or in.

All I keep thinking about was reading letters written by people with crayons telling my housemate that they were worried about him and that he should come back to them. In crayon? Sorry, that's just way too One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest for me.
posted by fenriq at 2:18 PM on June 24, 2005


Derive summed up the core beliefs of Scientology better than I could. (Here's another good source on an .edu server) It's a fuckin' sci-fi story, and not a very good one... They are worshipping space aliens, and if they're against psychiatric drugs, it's because they help people to realize how batshit crazy it is. Anybody who hasn't been let in on the secrets just hasn't been adequately brainwashed to accept it yet. THESE are the "facts" Tom Cruise told Matt Lauer he "knows".
posted by wendell at 2:19 PM on June 24, 2005


Does anyone here know a scientologist?

I do, and he's a nice guy for the most part. I met him because a friend started dating him. Turned out to be a twisted version of "Date To Save" when he agreed, in principle, with the idea of getting married after 1year+ of dating but only if she were to convert. So, uh, we (the CoS guy and I) don't hang out so much any more.

He is always positive but it often comes off as manufactured--sort of like the "We are doing great things here! Let's clear the world!" rhetoric in CoS literature/recruitment. He is unusually open and frank which is great, unless it comes to matters of CoS and then he becomes evasive. He jumps into projects without doing a whole lot of research or having any background (programming and major home-improvement projects to name two) and then kind of muddles through with half-assed results accruing mostly from the efforts of acquaintences.

All of these things, in and of themselves, are not unusual or deal-breakers when it comes to how I evaluate someone as a friend. It's just that based on my own research and talking with the my friend about her own reading, the guy is basically a CoSbot. The word I think I'm reaching for here is orthodoxy and he exudes it. Maybe it is confirmation bias, but these traits in the last paragraph all seem like CoS archetypes.

Anyway, this is a sample size of 1. YMMV...
posted by Fezboy! at 2:28 PM on June 24, 2005


edgeways: A religion made up by someone who doesn't believe in it? Yeah that's sound theological ground.

Hey, it worked for Mormonism! Fastest growing religion in the USA, completely made up by a con man.
posted by Justinian at 2:38 PM on June 24, 2005


I could almost take this seriously if there was even one famous scientologist I had a shred of respect for. Quite frankly, Tommy telling Matt Lauer that he had studied psychiatry just makes me laugh out loud.
posted by tommasz at 2:39 PM on June 24, 2005


Justinian: You got anything to back that up?
posted by Snyder at 3:22 PM on June 24, 2005


Mormonism! Fastest growing religion in the USA, completely made up by a con man.

Now come on, that's patently unfair, Justinian.

Conmen. Plural.

The parallels between the two are nice, though: something about being promised dominion over your own planet is pretty attractive, that's for sure. If you're into Mormonism and/or Scientology, I highly recommend The Aetherius Society. They jump right to the flying saucers bit without all the psychobabble.
posted by joe lisboa at 4:04 PM on June 24, 2005


(Well, with their own brand of psychobabble, I should point out.)
posted by joe lisboa at 4:05 PM on June 24, 2005


Snyder: Anything to back what up? That Joseph Smith was a con man? How about his utterly absurd and ridiculous claims about translating ancient golden plates? If you're really interested I could provide some links to critical examinations of the founders of Mormonism, but you could just as easily google for them yourself.
posted by Justinian at 4:14 PM on June 24, 2005


A Piece of Blue Sky

If anyone here has ANY interest at all in Scientology, this is a must-read book. It is available online, and is also published on paper.

It blows the lid off Scientology.

It goes into all the gory details: the creation of Scientology, the attempt to subvert the IRS, the outright abuse of members and even worse abuse of ex-members, the child abuse, the moneymoneymoney, the overthrow of the old Hubbard regime by the Miscavige group, the lies, the weirdness, the occult links, the endless abuse, the mind-numbing stupidity of Hubbards bizarre writings... and more.

Then go hunt up the old alt.religion.scientology archives, prior to the Scienos figuring out they could spam the group into uselessness. There you will read endless accounts by ex-Scientologists of the weird shit that goes on in the organization, the endless abuse, and the very scary tactics they use to shut ex-members up (up to and including death.)

If there is one thing I am absolutely sure of in this world, it is that Scientology is an evil organization by every definition of the word, is intent on subverting our governments and public institutions to its own ends, and has absolutely no moral limits on its actions as a whole.

While I am certain that individual low-level members can be charming people, the entity itself is thoroughly, unrelentingly, absolutely evil.

It is a mistake to treat them as a mild, mindless, wingnut club of sadsacks.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:19 PM on June 24, 2005


Scientology just stole my afternoon. Dammit.
posted by ddf at 4:29 PM on June 24, 2005


"[Beck] said that we have no right to criticise something that makes people happy."

A thread about $cientlogy requires an obligatory Selfosophy quote:

"So feel free to use your Onan-o-Graph
and your therapies, if that's what it
takes to make you happy. And I truly
mean that; good luck to you, buddy.
But please allow me to wallow in my
own misery in peace. And if I should
look up from my "downbeat abyss" and
find you a fool, that's no right of
you to commit upon me a foolish act."

--"Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense"
posted by archae at 4:38 PM on June 24, 2005


How about his utterly absurd and ridiculous claims about translating ancient golden plates?

Or the fact that if you extrapolate from the King Follett Discourse, Smith was about five months away from declaring himself God on earth, before his murder put a stop to any further developments.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 5:34 PM on June 24, 2005


My day was going fine until I found out that (if true) Beck is a Scientologist. Cruise, Travolta: go crazy on your e-meters and your strange Xenu cosmology. But Beck?

Oh well. I used to be a cultist, too. But...grow up!
posted by kozad at 7:16 PM on June 24, 2005


also: Tom Cruise is going to go batshit crazy within the next year.
posted by exlotuseater at 9:36 PM on June 24, 2005


i hope so much that tom declares himself god on earth this year. c'mon tom!
posted by glenwood at 9:54 PM on June 24, 2005


The standard biography of Joseph Smith is No Man Knows My History. Supposedly, it's great fun to go into bookstores in Salt Lake City and ask for a copy.

And as far as L Ron and Jack Parsons go, here's one version It's funny how many Parsons references have popped up in my reading over the last couple of days.
posted by warbaby at 9:56 PM on June 24, 2005


If I was crazy enough to need church, why not Scientology? While there are many weird stories from many unreliable people, it certain has a leg up on a) witch burners; b) pedophile enables; and c) the religious right.

That is a really ignorant thing to say. On a LOT of levels.
posted by glenwood at 9:57 PM on June 24, 2005


I don't know if I can listen to beck anymore...at least not his post-reconversion shit.
posted by kuatto at 12:08 AM on June 25, 2005


Or the fact that if you extrapolate from the King Follett Discourse

"But meddle not with any man for his religion: and all governments ought to permit every man to enjoy his religion unmolested. No man is authorized to take away life in consequence of difference of religion, which all laws and governments ought to tolerate and protect, right or wrong."

That's some pretty crazy shit right there. If only the Militant Muslims and abortion clinic bombers were so loony.
posted by wildblueyonder at 6:11 PM on July 20, 2005


I've looked at Scientology a number of times, beginning in 1974. They change their book then disclaim any knowledge of those changes. 'Nuff said?
posted by Goofyy at 11:45 PM on July 20, 2005


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