Interesting Scientology news coming out of Australia in this piece which aired during what were the wee hours here for us this morning.
Australia’s Bryan Seymour has produced some of that country’s biggest scoops about Scientology in recent years, and he has a diverting item in this Today Tonight piece about Lana Mitchell, who helped to lavish gourmet meals on Scientology leader David Miscavige at the church’s secretive desert headquarters in California — until, that is, she was accused of feeding a bad shrimp to Tom Cruise, and as a result lost her job, lost her family, and lost her friends.
Mitchell was a Sea Org member for 15 years, one of the hardcore Scientologists who sign contracts promising to work for the church for a billion years, lifetime after lifetime.
After working at several different posts, by 2003 she had become a cook at “Int,” the sprawling, 700-acre international headquarters of the church in the California desert Scientology leader David Miscavige calls home.
Last year, Mitchell first surfaced to tell publicly some of her story at Marty Rathbun’s blog, where many other longtime church members are making public their own stories of disaffection with Miscavige and the official church.
Mitchell explained that she had left the church in 2004 and was now part of the growing independent Scientology movement. But in that blog item, she didn’t go into detail about what caused her fall from grace at the Int headquarters: “I will not at this time include a long account of how I came to be declared,” she wrote.
Now, she’s apparently changed her mind. In her interview with Seymour, she explains that as Miscavige’s cook, it was her job to lavish on the church leader gourmet meals every few hours, and especially when Miscavige’s good friend Tom Cruise showed up.
But when Cruise got food poisoning from a bad shrimp, Mitchell says she was unfairly blamed, and found herself cut off not only from her job, but also from her friends and family.
From the Today Tonight web version of the story:
“I was given no opportunity to defend myself. They needed a head on a pike, as they call it, they needed someone to shoot. Tom Cruise got food poisoning, somebody needed to go so … that was the end of me at the International Headquarters of Scientology. “I was sent to hard labour,” Mitchell said.
Seymour points out that Mitchell’s punishment for supposedly poisoning Cruise happened about the time, 2004, that Cruise was receiving a “medal of valor” from Miscavige for his contributions to Scientology. (A video interview of Cruise, produced for the ceremony when he received the International Association of Scientologists’ Freedom Medal of Valor, would go on, in 2008, to be leaked and create a sensation on the Internet.)
While Cruise was being feted, Mitchell was cut off from everything she had known for 15 years.
“Every phone call is listened to, every letter is read, in and out — it gets to a point that people really have nobody left to go to in many cases. In my view it’s a violation of human rights,” she told Seymour.
Seymour also heard from Australian Senator Nick Xenophon about the matter:
“Not only was Lana’s treatment bizarre, it was shocking and unacceptable,” said Independent Federal Senator Nick Xenophon, who has long campaigned against Scientology’s abuses. Even he has been appalled by its leader’s lavish lifestyle. “How is it that these cult leaders can live in absolute luxury whereas their followers live in poverty?” Xenophon asked.
Seymour also asked your humble narrator to contribute to the piece, and yours truly pointed out that Katie Holmes has a reason to be concerned that her husband’s church has so consistently retaliated in extreme ways not only with people like Lana Mitchell, but also to people outside the church — the South Park revelations being a salient example of that.
Seymour also quoted me saying that Scientology workers “expect to be abused,” and I wanted to put a little context to that: I was referring to basic Scientology training, which includes subjecting new recruits to routines which have them attempting not to flinch as they are screamed at. This “bull baiting” is intended to instill in Scientologists a flat affect, so that they can endure heaps of abuse without reacting. And from the testimony we are hearing from many ex-Scientologists who reached the church’s highest levels, Scientology executives get plenty of verbal and even physical abuse in their jobs.
As I put it in a recent story about Miscavige:
When you take into consideration that Scientologists are indoctrinated, practically from the first day, to accept verbal abuse as a normal consequence of their spiritual enlightenment, you begin to understand just how intolerable Miscavige must be: he’s chasing off people who had resigned themselves to being poorly fed, paid almost nothing, housed with no privacy, punished like prison inmates, and screamed at constantly over the lives of their billion-year contracts. When these people tell you their boss is an asshole, it really means something!
So here, from Australia, another voice is added to that chorus. Mitchell says Miscavige was treated “like royalty,” fed lavish meals around the clock, and when something upset the tummy of Tom Cruise, someone had to pay.
Your tax dollars at work.
UPDATE: Seymour has put the entire transcript of his interview with Mitchell online.
Feast on this highlight, in which Mitchell describes what it was like to feed Scientology’s diminutive leader:
“I was put into the kitchens to work and for several
years, some three years. I worked in the unit that serviced, that cooked for David Misgavige, his wife and his entourage as well as his guests.”
“We used to cook meals for him every two and a half hours. there was to be a meal prepared and served and ready every two and half hours, fitting to a specific calorie intake, certain amount of fat, certain amount of carbohydrate, certain amount of protein, all very highly regulated but it had to be the best of the best.”
“We‟re talking organic chicken breast, we‟re talking Atlantic Salmon flown in fresh, we‟re talking the best materials that are available. The only lamb we ever got was the corn fed lamb from New Zealand.”
“We used to spend over a thousand dollars, this is in early two thousand, we spend over $1000 a week just on the food order to service this handful of individuals.”
“(at the same time staff were getting paid) $50 a week, but often not that because often we‟d already be on reduced pay or some of our pay would be taken to for gifts for Executives or for Christmas or whatever.”
Oh, almost forgot. Here is Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw’s response, with the usual stuff about unprecedented expansion, yadda yadda yadda.
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church’s HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church’s other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin’ Scared
SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE
[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing “disconnection”]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The “Fair Game” operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]
MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS
[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun’s open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun’s cause] | [Squirrel Buster’s claim to be making a “documentary”] | [VIDEO: “On a Boat”] | [“Anna” sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology’s highest levels]
SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND “FAIR GAME”
[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology’s West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology’s enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard’s remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to “handle” the Voice]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: “No one’s going to take my eternity away”]
SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES
[“Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | [“Tom Cruise not a kook!”] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his “suppressive person” declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology’s retaliation is “scary and pathetic”]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo’s “Turnaround King”: [Doing Scientology’s dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone’s smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips “the business that is Scientology”]
JANET REITMAN’S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman’s first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn’t like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman’s print reviews, and why isn’t she on television more?]
HUGH URBAN’S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT
[Marc Headley: “Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman’s Story] | [Jeff Hawkins’ Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]
[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige “toxic” and “violent”]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]
ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS
[Scientology singalong, “We Stand Tall”] | [Captain Bill Robertson and “Galactic Patrol”]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The “Ideal” dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York “org”]
THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE
[A scientologist’s letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]
[Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]