On Saturday, the Daily News published what was, for the tab, a lengthy story about Marc Headley and his lawsuit against his former employer, Scientology.
Headley, you might remember from our own story in November, wrote a gripping account of his escape after years of menial labor at the secretive Scientology HQ in the California desert. Naturally, the dull News left out the best part of the Headley saga, which involves Tom Cruise and talking to ashtrays.
There are many parts to the Headley story, some parts more exciting than others. We weren’t as intrigued about Headley’s subsequent lawsuit, for example, as the News is. Headley told us that after working for 16 years for Scientology for almost no pay, he was suing the organization in federal court for violating minimum wage laws.
Well, we can see why the Anonymous folks and other critics might get excited by such a lawsuit — they get excited by anything critical of Scientology. But really, when former hard-core members of wacky religious orders start suing over pay and conditions, it makes you wonder what they thought they were getting into to begin with.
The News rightfully quotes longtime Scientology apologist J. Gordon Melton, who pointed out that similar lawsuits against other religions haven’t been successful: “The lawsuits are similar to unsuccessful claims filed by an ex-seminarian who left the Roman Catholic church and sued for minimum wage over menial labor, said Melton, the Scientology expert. A federal appeals court last week upheld a finding that minimum wage law did not apply.”
Good point by the News. On the other hand, the paper missed the best part of the Headley story: when Tom Cruise taught him to talk to bottles and ashtrays.
As we reported in November, Headley’s book recounts Marc’s excitement when a young Tom Cruise was assigned to practice some of L. Ron Hubbard’s genius “tech” on Headley, in order for the actor to get his first taste of “auditing.”
Here’s how Headley says it went:
“You do a lot of things with a book and a bottle,” Headley says. “It’s known as the book-and-bottle routine.” Cruise, he says, would instruct Headley to speak to a book, telling it to stand up, or to sit down, or otherwise to move somewhere.
“You do the same with the bottle. You talk to it. You do it with an ashtray too,” he says. “You tell the ashtray, ‘Sit in that chair.’ Then you actually go over and put the ashtray on the chair. Then you tell the ashtray, ‘Thank you.’ Then you do the same thing with the bottle, and the book. And you do this for hours and hours.”
Let us get this straight. Tom Cruise, who had already starred in Risky Business and Top Gun and Born on the Fourth of July and Days of Thunder, the man who, at the time, was 28 years old and perhaps the biggest movie star in the world, spent hours and hours of each day, for three straight weeks, instructing Headley to speak to inanimate objects, requesting that they get up and move on their own, and when they didn’t, told Headley to move them anyway, and then thank them?
“For hours and hours,” Headley says.
In God’s name, why?
“It was to get your intention over to the bottle.”
“It was supposed to rehabilitate your ability to control things. And to be controlled,” he says.
And there was more, involving doorknobs. Read more about it here.
And the News missed another bombshell from Headley in that interview: One of the most intriguing pieces of evidence for how tiny the “religion” of Scientology really is.
In the book, Headley writes about the time Scientology’s diminutive leader, David Miscavige, demanded that Headley and others produce 30,000 new “e-meters,” the Star Trek-looking devices Scientologists are led to believe do something more than just check the galvanism of their skin. Headley claims that the devices cost only about $40 to put together, but are sold to Scientologists for thousands of dollars each.
But what really caught our eye was the statement by Headley that Miscavige ordered 30,000 of the machines so that there were enough for two devices for every active Scientologist in the world:
We asked Headley, doesn’t that imply that there are only 15,000 Scientologists in the world?
“The actual number is more like 10,000. You had to make more than that because various orgs [facilities] needed to have extra on hand,” he says. “That figure can be cross-checked so many ways.”
Indeed. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported: “[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis] said he did not know how to account for the findings in the American Religious Identification Survey that the number of Scientologists in the United States fell from 55,000 in 2001 to 25,000 in 2008.”
Still, despite missing these key points in the Headley saga, the News piece had plenty of other good stuff, and it’s another sign that the mainstream media is finally picking up the drumbeat from Anonymous, Mark Bunker, Andreas Heldal-Lund, and so many others who have worked for years at getting word out about Hubbard’s wacky cabal.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 29, 2010