Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Scientology Expose on the Way

L. Ron Hubbard's Church of Scientology has been the target of critics for a long time. Last year, HBO released a documentary critical of the church and leaders of the Belgian branch of the organization were charged with fraud and extortion.

Now Lisa Marie Presley, the daughter of Elvis Presley and a longtime Scientologist, is believed to be behind the promotion of a memoir written by Ron Miscavige, father of Scientology leader David Miscavige. Ron will be appearing on ABC's 20/20 on April 29th to discuss his experiences in the church, and the book is slated to be released next week.

Lisa Marie is using her media savvy and connections with other celebrities and other important figures inside Scientology to release explosive revelations about Miscavige, while keeping her own role quiet. The result, so far, has been the skillfully timed release of media stories that have damaged Miscavige at the same time that Scientology is in a long term decline.

In Lisa Marie Presley, David Miscavige has cultivated a powerful enemy. And in this story, we explain how things got to that point.

Yesterday, we described how David Miscavige’s family has been ripped apart by Scientology’s toxic policy of “disconnection,” which has left David and his twin sister, Denise Gentile, cut off from other members of the family, including their father, Ron Miscavige.

On May 3, Ron will release a memoir titled Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me. On April 29, he will be interviewed by ABC’s Dan Harris as part of a full hour 20/20 is dedicating to Scientology. The book and interview come as the result of series of events that began with Ron’s escape from Scientology’s International Base near Hemet, California in March 2012.

Ron had been a Scientologist for about 40 years, and was a well liked and popular member as the Sea Org’s musical director. But by 2012, he could no longer take the deprivations of Sea Org life under his dictatorial son, and with his wife Becky Bigelow, he “blew” from the base, as Scientologists say. We’re looking forward to reading in his book just how he managed that escape.

It's not clear whether Presley's goal is to bring down the church or simply to damage Miscavige, with whom she's been engaged in a long-running feud. It's hard to deny, though, that Miscavige is largely responsible for much of the cultish behavior reported with regard to the group. At the very least, he continued all of Hubbard's most paranoid policies and jacked up fees to ridiculous levels during his tenure.

As I've mentioned before, Scientology does have some beliefs I consider weird, but then so do most religions. My problem with the group has nothing to do with what it teaches, but rather with how it goes about suppressing dissent, threatens legal action and engages in outright harassment against anyone who tries to leave, and soaks its members for huge sums of money that are really out of line compared to every other initiatory religious organization.

Maybe new leadership is just what the church needs. On the other hand, if Miscavige is pressured into stepping down and the new boss is the same as the old one, the criticism of the church is probably going to continue.

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