Australian TV has been taking a close look at all things Scientology for a few years now. This time, they examined the e-meter so closely that they had to disassemble it to look at its component parts. Paul Schofield is interviewed along with an electrical engineer and an evil psych in this report from A Current Affair.
Inside Edition did a similar story a couple weeks earlier with input from Karen de la Carierre and others.
For a more detailed deconstruction take a look at these:
Here’s a 90 minute show broadcast on both German and French TV. It’s a very compelling look at Scientology’s intelligence division featuring interviews with Gerry Armstrong, Marc Headley, Ursula Caberta and Mike Rinder, among others. Tony Ortega wrote about it at the Village Voice.
I haven’t updated the site in awhile. A lot of important stories popped up while I’ve been working on my documentary, Knowledge Report. It’s time I catch up with some of the amazing coverage, starting with this Lateline report from Australia about Valeska Paris Guider who says she was held against her will on the Scientology cruise ship Freewinds for 6 years and made to do hard labour.
Tony Ortega followed up with a lengthy interview with Valeska.
Valeska alleges that church leader David Miscavige, in order to keep her away from her mother, had Valeska kept in isolation away from her mother at Flag Land Base, in Clearwater, Florida while she was only 17 years old. The next year, in September 1996, after she had turned 18, she was then moved to the Freewinds, the cruise ship that sails the Caribbean and caters to wealthy Scientologists paying for the highest level of spiritual training, Operating Thetan level eight, or “OT VIII.” Valeska joined the Sea Org that works on the ship. She says she was told her stay would only be two weeks. Instead, she spent the next twelve years there, unable to leave. For several months, she alleges, she was punished with an assignment in the ship’s engine room, where at one point she passed out from the noise and heat.
For the first six years of her imprisonment, she had an escort assigned to her whenever she left the ship. But even after that, she says, she was conditioned to believe there was no escaping the Freewinds.
“When I first went there, I hated being there, and I wanted to leave,” she says. “I knew that wasn’t going to happen, so I began to accept that that was the way it was going to be,” she says.
She compares it to the experience of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the girl who was held for 18 years in a California backyard and despite the ability to escape, felt completely resigned to being held captive.
“You’re so resigned to it,” she says. “I had grown up in Sea Org. I never had a bank account. You get 50 dollars a week. You don’t have a passport. If you want to leave the ship, you have to go down the gangway, and there’s a security guard there 24 hours a day.” (Valeska’s passport had been taken from her when she boarded the ship; the church says that was just maritime procedure.)
“You were taught that Scientology was the only answer. You think you’re doing the right thing,” she says, adding that Sea Org members are constantly made to feel that they haven’t done enough to “clear the planet” for Scientology’s advancement. “They make you feel that you could always do more. I never really took any days off. That’s your whole life, basically.”
Valeska was put aboard the Freewinds in 1996. For her first six years, she worked as a waitress in one of the ship’s restaurants. In 2002, she spent a short time as a “word clearer,” a technical position that had her helping Scientologists understand the arcane terms of L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology.” She then supervised cases, and then became an auditor and an instructor of courses.
I had to ask her: some people might not find that so bad, working in a restaurant and then giving classes while sailing around the Caribbean.
“Well, the schedule in the Sea Org is very different than in the real world. You’d get up at 6 and go to work, and you’d work until midnight. In 1997 and 1998, after our regular jobs we were up every night until 4 am cleaning up asbestos,” she says. “There was rubble on the deck. We’d have to go behind the guys doing renovations, vacuuming up dirt until 4 in the morning.”
Read Tony’s full interview with Valeska. which lead to legal threats against her from Scientology. Tony also conducted a corroborating interview with Ramana Dienes-Browning. All are well worth reading. After this followup story from A Current Affair, you’ll find Scientology’s feeble response.
Today Tonight continues to takes on Scientology in Australia and abroad. Senator Nick Xenophon speaks out about Scientology using his district as a tax shelter for churches in the UK and other countries. It’s a story Bryan Seymour first covered 13 months ago and is finally getting some traction. Read more
Yesterday was a lot of fun. I appeared live on a newscast called Russia Today to discuss the recent ban on some of Hubbard’s literature in that country and followed that up by visiting Mike Rinder and conducting an extensive interview with him and an interview with Christie Collbran for my film Knowledge Report. I’ll have some clips from those interviews up as soon as I can. In the meantime, here’s my appearance on Russia Today:
By the way, I mentioned my interview with Rinder on Fcebook last night. Today I went to downtown Clearwater to find that Scientology had hired a police officer to hang out with security guard Antonio on Watterson Street. The officer told me that they knew I was coming and he was hired because of my presence. Sweet, little old me. I shot some footage and left with not a single soul harmed. Sorry to have cost you that expense, Slappy.
Bryan Seymour of Today Tonight covers Scientology’s widespread use of child labor to keep the organization running. A recently departed Scientologist identifies teen members and the posts they worked at full time in Australia while their educations get neglected. I’m pleased to see that they used some of my footage of the Astra Woodcraft interview for their report.
Senator Xenophon’s Charities Commission has been passed which means groups like Scientology will have to prove they are providing a public benefit in order to maintain their tax exempt status. Today/Tonight takes a victory lap for their coverage of Scientology over the past many years, which the Senator describes as a crucial component in getting the commission approved.
Here’s a show that aired throughout France in late April. Nancy Many, Amy Scobee and I talk about Scientology’s use of celebrities as recruiting tools and how the stars are treated differently from rank and file members. Although this show focused primarily on movie stars, we managed to talk about some of the abuses members face. A big thanks to Anonymous for adding English subtitles!
Scientologists John and Irina Mappin and their artist buddy Ted Stourton managed to take a historic castle, rename it Camelot and turn it into a tourist trap that promotes Scientology. The BBC’s Inside Out South West took a look at the many complaints visitors and locals have made about the hotel.
Here’s the hotel’s promotional video, supposedly from a British TV crew. My favorite moment comes about four minutes in when they sing happy birthday to President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan who clearly is not in attendance for his gala party.
John Sweeney’s follow-up to “Scientology and Me” features the involvement of Marty Rathbun, Mike Rinder, Larry Anderson, Jason Beghe, Amy Scobee and Marc & Claire Headley. Sweeney gets a full hour to put together one of the best broadcasts on the subject in years.
The audience for the broadcast was huge. Nearly 5 million people watched the show as it aired live on the BBC. Millions more will see it online. The New Statesmen called it “a bad day for Scientology.” Anons are buzzing about it over at Why We Protest.