Members of an FBI task force on human trafficking have been investigating the Church of Scientology for more than a year according to an article in this week's New Yorker. It's the scientology expose we've been all waiting for.
As expected, New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright's massive profile of ex-Scientologist writer-director Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby, Crash) contains many interesting revelations about the Church of Scientology and the life of a prominent member. Chief among these is the existence of an ongoing FBI investigation into allegations of abuse by Scientology's leader David Miscavige, and the enslavement of members of Scientology's religious order, "Sea Org". (Recently, former Sea Org members claimed to have been forced to have abortions.)
According to the article, agents from an FBI task force on human trafficking have been interviewing former members of Scientology about abuse in the church since at least December, 2009, and the case remains open. Why human trafficking?
The laws regarding traﬃcking were built largely around forced prostitution, but they also pertain to slave labor. Under federal law, slavery is deﬁned, in part, by the use of coercion, torture, starvation, imprisonment, threats, and psychological abuse. The California penal code lists several indicators that someone may be a victim of human traﬃcking: signs of trauma or fatigue; being afraid or unable to talk, because of censorship by others or security measures that prevent communication with others; working in one place without the freedom to move about; owing a debt to one's employer; and not having control over identification documents. Those conditions echo the testimony of many former Sea Org members...
Scientology's financial exploitation of its members and brutal, stalkery retention practices always seemed to barely skirt the edges of legality. Looks like they might have crossed over into outright slavery. How Biblical.
There's a lot more good stuff in the 28-page article that hits the web tonight at midnight. And it's just a fraction of what Wright will be unloading in an upcoming book about Scientology. Plenty of ex-Scientologists have told-all in the past, but Haggis' prominence and Wright's reporting chops should have high-powered Scientologists' E-meters going haywire right now.