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Scientology is currently a nationally-recognized religion with a 503(c) tax designation from the IRS. It also happens to be the choice religion of Hollywood movie stars like John Travolta, Tom Cruise, and Beck. Some celebrity members, such as Leah Remini, have even accused the church of trying to force them to recruit other celebrities. With churches and books aplenty, this religion founded by L. Ron Hubbard has a wonderful (if not a bit strange) veneer.
However, don't let all the Hollywood approval blind you; it's a dangerous religion that believes we're all possessed by aliens called Thetans. It's a religion that has been connected to murders, extortion, cult-like practices, and one really bad PR stunt.
Most people who have heard about this religion are rightfully wary of it—and to a point, they also want to warn others about it. Though a lot of their practices have gotten into the realm of common knowledge, many of the facts about Scientology still remain obscured by a thorough PR campaign.
With all the media attention Scientology received, it's not surprising that many people want to see the group investigated. This article will take a look at the history of scientology to expose the sordid underbelly of Hollywood's most terrifying cult.
Scientologist bigwig David Miscavige has a lot of suspicious disappearances in his family.
David Miscavige is one of the biggest names in The Church of Scientology, and currently operates as the cult's leader since the death of L. Ron Hubbard. At first glance, Miscavige seems like a strict, albeit honest, religious leader.
For decades, his life was one that involved rumors of domestic violence and controlling behavior. Among high-ranking Scientologists, his name is one that strikes both fear and respect. The respect comes from his rank in the religion; the fear from what happened to women around him.
You see, David Miscavige married a woman named Shelly. Their relationship is one that was known for being strained, icy, and, to a point, riddled with domestic violence. It's often said that David had blood on his hands, and his marriage definitely illustrates that.
Shelly's mother, Flo Barnett, was found dead with three gunshot wounds to the chest and one to the head. The gun in question was a rifle, which would not really be possible to use on yourself, without a lot of dexterity.
Now, shooting yourself three times in the chest is very difficult. Shooting yourself three times in the chest and once in the head is downright impossible. Despite this, coroners ruled Flo's death a suicide at the behest of Scientologists.
It seems like Flo may have been trying to get Shelly out of the church. Shelly Miscavige definitely appears to be in danger, if she's not already dead too. She has not been seen in public since 2007.
Shelly's whereabouts are currently being hidden by the Church of Scientology, presumably by the orders of her husband. To date, no one has been able to get any viable updates on her existence.
The Church of Scientology has been tied to enslavement.
If you have read up on facts about Scientology before, you probably heard of Sea Org—the church's elite personal navy. What you might not realize is that the majority of Sea Org workers are teenagers, children, and unpaid volunteers who are expected to work for 12 to 14 hours a day.
Children who are recruited for Sea Org will have their parents sign over their rights to a Sea Org member. The children themselves are also expected to sign a billion-year contract that pretty much states that they are property of the Church of Scientology.
Each member is given a total stipend of $20 a week. A former Sea Org member explained what the problem with this was as follows:
"Well, by claiming to be a religious organization, Scientology does not have to pay their employees. They do give you $20 a week as what they call a stipend, but when you realize that $20 a week is all you get for underwear, socks, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, detergent, soap, wash rags, towels, bath slippers, shoes, socks, and everything else, it's clear that the difference between you and an actual slave isn't nearly as wide as it should be. Theft of personal belongings was rampant across the Sea Org; deodorant and floss were to us what cigarettes are to prison inmates."
Due to the dodgy practices that Sea Org has, the FBI has been surveilling them under concerns of human trafficking for years. They have yet to make an arrest.
If you are a member of the Church, then you're constantly spied on.
It's no secret that Scientology has regularly been tied to extortion and blackmail, but did you ever wonder how they get all that material? Former members point out that it's pretty obvious: They record everything.
Every time a Scientology member has gone in for an "audit," where they are told to confess to problems they have, Scientologists record it. Every time they have a self-help session with a counselor, it is recorded.
Many auditing sessions are spent focusing on the members' sex lives, primarily because it is an easy way to get blackmail fodder. Needless to say, people who have serious skeletons in the closet probably won't be able to leave the church.
It's often assumed that part of the reason why Scientology has IRS tax exempt status is because they were able to infiltrate the US government and blackmail people into making the IRS kowtow to their demand.
They have entire schools devoted to brainwashing kids.
Like many other famous cults, the Church of Scientology stays strong by recruiting the youngest people they can. It's one of the more obvious facts about Scientology on this list. Their recruiting is done in hopes that they will stay lifelong members.
Parents who decide to join Scientology are expected to send their kids to specialty private schools if they can afford it. These private schools don't openly advocate they are tied to the church, but lowkey mention L. Ron Hubbard as an "educator."
People who attended Scientology-run schools noted that the schools were oddly silent, heavily patrolled by others, and would regularly punish children for any form of creativity.
Other cult leaders took notes from Scientology.
If you've been paying attention to the news, it appears that another major cult called NXIVM has been put on the spotlight, after founder Keith Rainere was caught starting a sex trafficking ring using Hollywood starlets.
According to many legal experts, Raniere watched how L. Ron Hubbard was able to get away with all the crimes he committed. He then used similar tactics to try to skirt the legal process from getting them.
The similarities between L. Ron Hubbard and Keith Raniere are very difficult to deny. It seems like Hubbard may have laid out the groundwork for legal loopholes in the cult world.
The cult has a system of revenge known as "Fair Game."
Did you ever have someone that you wanted to enact revenge on, simply because you feel that you would be justified in hurting them? If you're a Scientologist, you would be happy to know that founder Hubbard would probably let you get revenge.
The Church of Scientology has a policy called "Fair Game," which lets members of the cult attack those who are deemed dangerous by cult leaders. The attacks can be legal, emotional, financial, or physical. The entire idea is that the church can harass you by any means necessary.
Officially, the practice of Fair Game has been discontinued since 1968. However, it's very clearly in effect today, and remains a core tenet of the religion's practices.
Charles Manson once tried Scientology.
It seems like a lot of dangerous cult leaders seem to flock together, doesn't it? You might recognize Manson as the crazed cult leader who ordered the murder of Sharon Tate.
You're probably wondering what Charles Manson has to do with a list on facts about Scientology. Well, as luck has it, he once tried Scientology, purely out of interest.
One has to wonder what a man known for being crazy would have to say about the Church of Scientology. Manson actually panned it, citing it as "too crazy."
Yep. The crazy guy called it too crazy for his taste. That says it all, doesn't it?
They operate a drug rehab program called "Narconon," which is designed to recruit new members.
A lot of the facts about Scientology that people should know, but don't, deal with their underhanded recruitment practices. One of their more successful tactics is to use a drug rehabilitation program to find new ways to gain access to vulnerable people.
The program itself often uses very risky practices to get people off drugs, and deaths have been reported. Though the risks are there, celebrity Scientologists like Kirstie Alley have claimed to be helped by them.
A major problem that medical experts have with Narconon, and Scientology in general, deals with their attitude towards mental health. Simply put, Scientologists believe mental illness doesn't exist, and bans the use of medication for it.
South Park lost a major character due to their beef with Scientology.
Fans of South Park's celebrity impersonations already know this one well; but if there was ever a show that was known for no-holds barred punches, it's this one. They love celebrity impersonations, including one about Tom Cruise being "trapped in the closet," mocking his sexuality and his membership within The Church of Scientology.
One would expect staffers to be pretty chill with it, but you'd be wrong. Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef, took offense to it, and quit the show on principle alone.
That's not all that celebrity members did, though. Tom Cruise also made an effort to muzzle the episode, and went to court to ensure it would be a difficult episode to watch around the world.
The upper members of the Church have been known to carry out brutal punishments to those who disobey them.
With all the control the Church of Scientology have over members, it's hard to imagine what kind of balls people must have to disobey high-ranking officials. Rumors (and evidence) of extremely abusive practices, however, regularly float to the surface.
L. Ron Hubbard, for example, was known for beating his followers. His cohort, David Miscavige, has allegedly forced disobeying members to perform humiliating acts like cleaning a bathroom using their tongues.
The Sea Org members who make the mistake of stepping out of line have it even worse. In one shocking allegation, Hubbard allegedly threw them overboard from the ship. Other former members claim that Scientology has a "prison camp" for re-indoctrination.
You know, just in case you might want to run for your life.