May 2, 2016

Scientology's attempt to silence dad of 'ruthless' David Miscavige has only made his new book more popular

Harriet Alexander,
National Post
The Telegraph
May 2, 2016

Church of Scientology
For an organization that so doggedly defends its reputation, Humfrey Hunter says, the Church of Scientology seems to have made a mistake.

Hunter was preparing to publish a book about the church – an expose written by the father of its leader – when, last week, he received a legal letter from the California-based group, threatening to sue if he released the work as planned this Tuesday. Yet, the church’s attempt to silence Hunter has backfired spectacularly, he says.

“My phone has been ringing off the hook,” said the former literary agent, who runs a one-man publishing house in London. “People can’t wait to see what has got the church so angry.”

The book is written by Ron Miscavige, 80, the father of Scientology leader David. Entitled Ruthless: Scientology, my son David Miscavige, and me, it promises to lift the lid on the inner workings of a religion to which he introduced his son. The son rose to the very top, while Miscavige became disillusioned, and left in 2012.

In the book he claims the young Miscavige soon learnt to enjoy the trappings of wealth – while his staff live in poverty, like “indentured servants” – and details how his son went to great lengths to recruit Tom Cruise, the most high-profile celebrity Scientologist.

To impress Cruise, “David orchestrated every detail” of an elaborate welcoming celebration at the Scientology base, Ron writes, according to Radar Online. He arranged for late Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard’s personal chef to prepare dinner beside the pool. But Cruise turned up four hours late and decided he was not hungry, which infuriated David.

The pair restored their bonds and the younger Miscavige was best man at two of Cruise’s weddings – to Nicole Kidman, and Katie Holmes. Cruise remains a devotee, although after a series of widely mocked defences of the church, he now keeps his faith quiet.

And, despite the book being kept under lock and key until Tuesday, lawyers for the church have lashed out at what they say are its “lies”. They deny that David Miscavige has an “erratic and abusive” management style, and that he seized power on the death of L Ron Hubbard, in 1986, by outmanoeuvring his rivals. They say it is not true that rebellious members of the church are put in “the Hole” and subject to “violence and depravity”, and they deny that Gold Base – the Scientology base 100 miles out of Los Angeles, where senior church figures live – is surrounded by a spiked fence pointing inwards.

They also deny that David Miscavige hired private detectives to follow his father after he left the California site.

In 2013, two men gave taped confessions to the police alleging the church leader had paid them $10,000 (pounds 6,800) a week to watch his father. When they saw Ron Miscavige stumble and clutch at his heart, they reportedly rang their handlers in a panic. David Miscavige telephoned them back, and allegedly told them: “If he dies, he dies.”

In a statement, the church said: “Ronald Miscavige is seeking to make money on the name of his famous son. David Miscavige has taken care of his father throughout his life, both financially and by helping him in even the most dire circumstances.”

Hunter said that Miscavige was motivated to write the book by the sadness of losing his family. Three of his four children are devoted Scientologists and only his elder son, also named Ron, has left the church.

Tony Ortega, an expert on Scientology, said that the book was likely to hit the church hard because Miscavige was dearly loved in the organisation. “Ron’s book is dangerous, because he was very popular,” he said.

Monique Yingling, a lawyer for the group, called the book “a literary forgery”, and added: “The title of the book, Ruthless, couldn’t be a falser description of David Miscavige. He’s a very compassionate, kind person.”

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