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Cult Tendencies

More and more members have been leaving The Church of Scientology lately, claiming the organization hides the abuse it perpetrates against many of its non-celebrity members. "Fifty-six years after its founding by the science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, the church is fighting off calls by former members for a Reformation. The defectors say Sea Org members were repeatedly beaten by the church’s chairman, David Miscavige, often during planning meetings; pressured to have abortions; forced to work without sleep on little pay; and held incommunicado if they wanted to leave. The church says the defectors are lying. The defectors say that the average Scientology member, known in the church as a public, is largely unaware of the abusive environment experienced by staff members. The church works hard to cultivate public members — especially celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Nancy Cartwright (the voice of the cartoon scoundrel Bart Simpson) — whose money keeps it running. But recently even some celebrities have begun to abandon the church, the most prominent of whom is the director and screenwriter Paul Haggis, who won Oscars for 'Million Dollar Baby' and 'Crash.' Mr. Haggis had been a member for 35 years. His resignation letter, leaked to a defectors’ Web site, recounted his indignation as he came to believe that the defectors’ accusations must be true."
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