Scientology's First Celebrity Defector Reveals Church Secrets

'I was Miscavige's favorite boy,' says veteran TV actor Jason Beghe

But at the time, he was hooked. He remembers thinking, “Let me do this clear thing,” figuring that it might cost as much as $10,000. Instead, he was asked for $50,000 to start his progress on the Bridge. “I probably had $60,000 to my name. But I plunked it down.”

Over the next year, Beghe says he rocketed through Scientology’s expensive levels like no one else. Along the way, he got plenty of special treatment. “Celebrity Centre. My own private sauna. Everybody kissing my ass, which I was uncomfortable with. But nice people. Couldn’t be nicer,” he says.

His move to clear was so rapid, Beghe was told that diminutive Scientology leader David Miscavige considered him a “poster boy” for the religion.

Jason Beghe

“I was Miscavige’s favorite boy, so they were doing all kinds of things to keep me happy,” he says. “I moved up the Bridge faster than anyone in history. I went at it 24/7 for about a year. I went clear. Got to OT V. I was a trained auditor.” (OT stands for “operating thetan,” and the highest level in the church is said to be OT VIII.)

“I’m farther up the Bridge than Travolta, and he’s been in there a thousand years. He’s not a trained auditor.” To Beghe, some of the celebrities “seemed like dilettantes,” enjoying the perks but not really working hard at being Scientologists.

“I was on a spiritual journey. I wasn’t trying to make money, or influence people. I just wanted to try it.”

His wife also trained as a Scientologist and, like Beghe, reached OT V. Over his twelve years in the church, Beghe estimates that he gave Scientology about a million dollars.

Only about three years after joining, however, he says he started to have major problems. He had reached OT IV and was doing some special auditing, something referred to as “L Rundowns” or “L’s.” Beghe says the rundowns cost $150,000 to $160,000, but the payoff was immense: successfully completing the series would give someone serious juju. “You’re supposed to have the power to like take over a country,” he says.

Beghe says that others also getting the training would be asked what they wanted from the experience, and some would say “ten times my income.”

“I didn’t like that question. I was just experimenting.” Beghe went through daylong sessions in which he was peppered with questions about his ethics and behavior while holding onto an “e-meter,” a device that tests have shown simply measures skin galvanism, but that Scientologists believe reveal deep secrets in the mind. Beghe had used the e-meter many times before. But these sessions were a disaster for him. For six hours at a time, he’d be hit with questions (Is there an upset? Did you commit a crime? Did someone almost find out something you did?). “But I had nothing to say. I wasn’t hiding anything.” His auditors weren’t satisfied. They were waiting for a “floating needle” on the e-meter to show he was in the right state of mind, but it kept spiking.

“I was sitting there for hours, at $1,000 an hour. It went for weeks,” he says. And it cost that much, he says, because L’s required a “class 12 auditor.”

“A class 12 auditor has more training than a brain surgeon. They’re the cream of the crop. They’re the only ones who can deliver the L’s. And they were making the biggest fucking mistakes,” he says.

Beghe says the proof that Scientology was no longer working for him came when he was almost killed in a car accident. After the L’s, he points out, that shouldn’t happen. “A clear isn’t supposed to have a car accident. You’re supposed to be practically immortal.”

To the Scientologists, the accident was an indication that someone was “suppressing” Beghe. So they pulled him in for more interrogation.

“What about this gay person you’re friends with,” Beghe says one official asked him, implying that somehow the gay friend was causing Beghe’s clear state to be sabotaged. When Beghe objected, he says the official responded, “Well, he’s gay.”

His training, meanwhile, continued to go badly. The next step, OT V, he says, was terrible. “OT V should take 3 to 5 weeks, and it took me three to five years.”

Not only were his auditing sessions grinding on him, Beghe says he was also expected to keep quiet about his troubles, and still make many appearances at Scientology events to keep up the fiction that he was doing well.

“My hat [role] was celebrity and model Scientologist…I couldn’t walk around looking hangdog. I had to go to a lot of events. ‘Hey, Jason!’ I didn’t even know these people, and they were always up my ass.”

Courting celebrities is one of the things that Scientology is noted for, but Beghe says it goes beyond simply a PR tool. Hubbard had made it clear that one way to clear the contents of one’s “ethics file”—the record of misdeeds a parishioner admits to in auditing—was to recruit a celebrity to the fold. Bring in a star, and all crimes are forgiven. So the care and feeding of celebrity members is paramount on everyone’s mind.

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