Is Scientology's Wall Cracking? - 2009-06-28
The St. Petersburg Times ran an extraordinary three-part series on Scientology last week featuring interviews with some very high-level defectors. Among the claims: that 49-year-old Scientology leader David Miscavige, a close associate of the church's biggest star Tom Cruise, dished out constant physical abuse to his associates.
One of the key sources in the articles, Mike Rinder, was assigned to deal with me when I wrote a 2005 magazine article about Cruise. A fallen-away Rinder speaking on the record is a big get, as any journalist who has covered Scientology knows. Marty Rathbun is a big name in Scientology circles, too. Both were high-ranking members of the Sea Organization, Scientology's upper-level staff. Sea Org members commit to the job for one billion years (with breaks provided to accommodate childhood at the beginning of each new incarnation). They live in dorms and are not permitted to have children.
"Celebrities only talk to people who have a certain level of 'clearance,' " says Nancy Many, an ex-Scientologist who served as president of the group's Celebrity Centre. "The Scientology they get is not the Scientology that an ordinary person gets."