Southern Religion

Scientology schism (over management)

Scientology blundered toward the new year with a pugilistic response to questions about why three of its top spiritual achievers publicly left the cult, er, church.

Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin of the St. Petersburg Times wrote that “Geir Isene of Norway and Americans Mary Jo Leavitt and Sherry Katz” announced their split with Scientology:

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.

All three stressed their ongoing belief in Scientology and say they remain grateful for how it helped them. Yet they took to the Internet — an act strongly discouraged by church leaders, who decry public airing of problems — to share their reasons for leaving. They said they hoped it would resonate within the Scientology community.

Scientology’s response was similar in assaultive tone to the reaction to Catholic Online [here]. Tommy Davis of Scientology wrote in a letter to the Times:

Your biased approach to stories regarding my religion is by now well documented. You, Joe Childs in particular, actively seek out only those individuals who have something negative to say about the Church; if they do not fit your agenda then you attempt to coach them and coax them into doing so by “educating” them about Scientology until you have “adjusted” their viewpoint accordingly and when that does not work you simply put words in their mouth. This is your pattern, which was unknown to the Church until recently, and has been your modus operandi for the better part of two decades.

All this habitually fists-up rhetoric from an organization whose evangelism is so slickly finished it puts most of the competition to shame. Consider this leaked, internal push for their Ideal Org program. Maybe it is a little too long. And doesn’t mention the V-like Ideal Org uniforms. But consider pitch:

Okey-dokey. You too can help convert your friends to a money-sucking program that promises mastery of immortality. A program where outcomes can be a lot worse than denial of communion.


December 31, 2009 - Posted by | Cults, WWW | , , , ,


  1. Thanks for the video. As a back-sliding Baptist, ideal org and the SBC seem frighteningly similar in their intent. Add in some good old Catholic guilt and you have something approaching three-way crazy. One keeps you on track through personal intimidation, one uses the threat of eternal damnation, and one says you’ll lose your communion privileges if you don’t sing the party line.

    Different degrees of absurdity? Maybe, but it’s hard to see.

    Comment by James | December 31, 2009

  2. Thanks for covering Scientology! It is probably the only organization in the US that gets away with using kids as slave laborers. Or at least, there’s a couple of dozen young adults on the internets claiming that this happened to them. Most of them are from Eastern Europe, but a few of the American ones are now suing them. There are similar stories from Canada, UK and Australia, where a television crew filmed working kids through the windows of one of their churches during school hours.

    Unfortunately, it appears that government agencies won’t step in until they are forced to by public outrage. In Australia it took a Senator reading letters from ex-members in Parliament, and I’m afraid something similar is needed in the US.

    Hopefully a few of your readers will decide to do some more research into this vile organization. I can assure you, they will be utterly shocked and horrified. There’s literally hundreds of stories about forced abortions, slave labor, imprisonment and sadistic punishments out there – everything you ever imagined took place in Jonestown exists in Scientology.

    Comment by dave | January 1, 2010

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