It is unusual for a member of the Church of Scientology to break ranks and criticise practices and church leaders. This week one of its most senior members sent out a mass email to members, later leaked to the media, accusing Scientology leader David Miscavige of amassing more than $1-billion by forcing members to raise funds in the church’s name. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Debbie Cook is no longer a member of the Scientology executive, but for many years headed up the church in Clearwater, Florida. In an email sent out on 1 January to 12,000 Scientology members, Cook accused controversial Scientology head David Miscavige of twisting L Ron Hubbard’s teachings to force members to raise money not used for any church programmes. She also criticised Scientology’s lavish headquarters and pointed out that the vast sums members are required to pay to progress within the organisation are at odds with Hubbard’s original decree that no Scientologist should have to pay more than a lifetime fee of $75.
The email was originally leaked to the Village Voice, but subsequently removed at Cook’s request, though it is still available on a disillusioned ex-Scientologist’s blog.
The church has dismissed Cook’s concerns as reflecting “a small, ignorant and unenlightened view of the world of Scientology today”. Spokeswoman Karin Pouw also referred to Cook as a “squirrel”, explaining “a squirrel is someone who alters the Scripture”.
The spat looks set to have an impact that may extend beyond Scientology’s internal structures. On Tuesday night the Tamba Bay Times published an editorial calling for the US Internal Revenue Service to investigate the church. It also suggested that congress consider “more openness about the finances of religious organisations”. Debbie Cook might want to start sleeping with one eye open. DM
- Scientologist rallies followers against leader in leaked email at Guardian.
Photo: Scientology Church head David Miscavige. (Reuters)