We’ve written several times about Jason Beghe, the veteran television and film actor (he shared a bubble bath with Demi Moore in G.I. Jane and killed a capuchin monkey with his bare teeth in Monkey Shines) who became the first of Scientology’s pampered celebrity members to defect and then denounce the wacky pay-as-you-go sci-fi cabal so publicly. In April, Beghe posted a video interview about his decision to leave Scientology on YouTube, and also spoke extensively to the Voice about his reasons for spurning L. Ron Hubbard’s fantasy camp.
Two weeks ago, Beghe gave similar warnings about Scientology to some German government officials in Hamburg, and videotapes of his presentation have been posted to the Internet in various places.
German officials are sensitive to the rise of tyrannical movements, for obvious reasons, so the German government has long been suspicious of Scientology and its notorious methods of coercion, which have been exposed in so many U.S. court cases going back decades. And since Germany and other European countries don’t share with the U.S. a squeamishness about all things religious, Scientology hasn’t been able to shield itself, as it has here, by claiming to be a “church” whose beliefs are off-limits to government scrutiny.
That doesn’t work in Europe, where Scientology has been labeled a “sect” (read: money-grubbing mind-control scam) in France, and has long been on the German government’s shit list.
Beghe says he spent five days in Germany, and was trailed by employees of Scientology, even in his flights to Europe. “Private eyes were watching us all the way,” he says. Scientology also deployed several attorneys and high-level spokespeople, including Tommy Davis, a former close friend of Beghe and the son of actress Anne Archer. The attorneys, Beghe says, tried to shut down the symposium, unsuccesfully.
“I did a lot of interviews, all over Europe. We met with government officials. Belgium has a lawsuit against Scientology. France has a suit. It’s getting shut down in Russia,” he says.
At the end of his presentation, Beghe suggested that what governments could do was warn the public about Scientology the way they do about tobacco. If cigarettes are harmful, you put a warning label on the box. Why shouldn’t government do the same for Scientology? he asked.
“The next day, they had put up a sign warning about the dangers of Scientology,” Beghe says. An official with Germany’s Interior Department told him that a sign had immediately been placed in front of a church in Berlin. “The speech really had an effect,” Beghe says.
After Beghe left Scientology, and before he went public with his defection, the organization followed a well-known Hubbard policy of “disconnection.” People like Davis, who was once close to Beghe and had helped him recover from a serious car accident, suddenly cut off all communication with him. But now, after his trip to Germany, Beghe says, something has changed.
“Now Tommy Davis is calling, wanting to meet. They don’t know what to do with me.”
Image via mlpoulter (cc)