Three of Scientology's elite parishioners keep faith, but leave the church - 2009-12-31
They advanced to the Church of Scientology's highest spiritual level, to "Operating Thetan VIII," a vaunted realm said to endow extraordinary powers of perception and force of will.
Isene left first, a decision that emboldened Leavitt, who inspired Katz. Such departures are rare among the church's elite group of OT VIIIs, who are held up as role models in Scientology. The three each told the St. Petersburg Times that they had spent decades and hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach the church's spiritual pinnacle.