Drinking: Earl Grey, Bigelow
One of the creepier aspects of Hubbard is his penchant for women, especially young women. When the church first started out and was exiled to the sea, he gathered a group of preteen girls that he called Messengers to be his personal servants and, well, messengers. It reminded me a lot of the allegations against another alleged cult leader, Bill Gothard. The cover-up of alleged physical and sexual abuse reminded me of the recent child sexual abuse cover up allegations against Sovereign Grace Ministries. Keeping things within the community, suspicion of outside law enforcement, internal punishments, and the threat of cut-off and exile if they leave the church – never again to see family, friends, and in many cases everyone they know. These are all signs of a cult. Even those who are placed in hard labor, the Rehabilitation Project Force, still remain in the church after their sentence is up.
Once Hubbard died and David Miscavige, the current head of Scientology, took over, the church became an even stronger cult. Miscavige allegedly abuses men and women at the highest levels. He fought for the church’s tax-exempt status, which means it has a veneer of legitimacy – and saves millions in taxes each year.
HBO produced a documentary based on the book that includes interviews with former Scientology members. The church brushes off abuse allegations by saying they are from disgruntled former members. I am looking forward to watching it and finding out more about this cult derived from nothing more than a smattering of psychology, marketing, and the delusions of a charismatic bully.