In New Year's message, former Scientology executive blasts 'extreme' fundraising - 2012-01-01
The new year brought a big surprise for the Church of Scientology: One of its most respected and widely known figures went public in dramatic fashion, calling for internal reforms and decrying heavy-handed fundraising practices she says have allowed the church to amass reserves of more than $1 billion.
With an email blast to thousands of current and former Scientologists late Saturday, Debra J. Cook quickly emerged from a quiet private life in San Antonio, Texas. Her message contained a bombshell of a letter urging parishioners to start pushing back against the church's aggressive money demands.
Cook was a prominent figure in the church's Clearwater operation for 17 years. Her strong reputation within Scientology brings new credibility to a growing movement, now more than two years old, to reform the church.