Scientology: The Truth Rundown, Part 1 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology
Part ONE of THREE
The leader of the Church of Scientology strode into the room with a boom box and an announcement: Time for a game of musical chairs.
David Miscavige had kept more than 30 members of his church’s executive staff cooped up for weeks in a small office building outside Los Angeles, not letting them leave except to grab a shower. They slept on the floor, their food carted in.
Their assignment was to develop strategic plans for the church. But the leader trashed their every idea and berated them as incompetents and enemies, of him and the church.
Prove your devotion, Miscavige told them, by winning at musical chairs. Everyone else — losers, all of you — will be banished to Scientology outposts around the world. If families are split up, too bad.
To the music of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody they played through the night, parading around a conference room in their Navy-style uniforms, grown men and women wrestling over chairs.
The next evening, early in 2004, Miscavige gathered the group and out of nowhere slapped a manager named Tom De Vocht, threw him to the ground and delivered more blows. De Vocht took the beating and the humiliation in silence — the way other executives always took the leader’s attacks.
This account comes from executives who for decades were key figures in Scientology’s powerful inner circle. Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest-ranking executives to leave the church, are speaking out for the first time.
Two other former executives who defected also agreed to interviews with the St. Petersburg Times: De Vocht, who for years oversaw the church’s spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, and Amy Scobee, who helped create Scientology’s celebrity network, which caters to the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise.
One by one, the four defectors walked away from the only life they knew. That Rathbun and Rinder are speaking out is a stunning reversal because they were among Miscavige’s closest associates, Haldeman and Ehrlichman to his Nixon.
Now they provide an unprecedented look inside the upper reaches of the tightly controlled organization. They reveal:
• Physical violence permeated Scientology’s international management team. Miscavige set the tone, routinely attacking his lieutenants. Rinder says the leader attacked him some 50 times.
Rathbun, Rinder and De Vocht admit that they, too, attacked their colleagues, to demonstrate loyalty to Miscavige and prove their mettle.
You can also access the paper’s Special Report page for more info.
Tip of the Skepticap to PZ Meyers.