December 20, 1998
it a religion like other mainstream religions...or
is it, as critics charge, a secretive and
of video is in italics. VO = VOICEOVER
From ABC News, around the world and into your
home, the stories that touch your life. This is
"20/20 Sunday" with Barbara Walters,
Diane Sawyer, Sam Donaldson, Connie Chung, Charles
Gibson, and Hugh Downs--
from Scn event at the Shrine Auditorium in Los
Angeles; picture of L. Ron Hubbard
Tonight--a ground-breaking investigation. "20/20"
goes deep inside the Church of Scientology to
show you the raging controversy.
segment from German film crew documentary footage
at Castile Canyon School
BROCKMANN (from video): What's so secret of this
organization? What's so secret of this area?
shot of Scn church
You'll meet the critics.
WHITFIELD: As the door was closing behind me,
I didn't know it was a trap.
of Scienos walking; footage of doors opening to
reveal a big picture of LRH
And the converted.
TRAVOLTA: I took a course and my life has never
been the same.
of footage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Jenna
Elfman, and John Travolta; footage of Stacy Young
A movement that's attracted some of the biggest
stars in Hollywood but left some people devastated.
YOUNG (crying): I felt that my husband should
have rescued me.
footage from auditing session
For the first time you'll see how disciples reach
a higher state with a device called an e-meter.
AUDITOR (from video): Thank you very much. Your
needle is floating.
PC (smiling): Thank you.
of Scn gala party
CARTHY WEINAN (voice of and on camera): What if
we have found something that works? Isn't that
worth a look?
footage of Castile Canyon School; diagram of the
Fort Harrison hotel; outside Scn church; Larry
But you'll hear what some say happens to those
who stray. Claims of being locked away in prison
WOLLERSHEIM: There was no way for anyone to reach
Oliver; outside of Hana Whitfields house;
Scn HCOPL with the phrase "The purpose of
a (law)suit is to harass and discourage rather
than win." enlarged
And listen to what this man says about the dirty
tricks campaign he waged against defectors.
HCOPL with the phrase "A church enemy May
be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed."
OLIVER (voice of and on camera): These were enemies
of the church. You find their weak spot and you
expose it. You literally destroy them.
footage of Lisa McPherson dancing; picture of
Plus, disturbing accusations about the mysterious
death of a young believer.
DANDAR: They chose to keep her inside the hotel
and watch her die.
of Big Blue Scn building in Los Angeles, split
screen with bust of LRH and the title L. RON HUBBARD
Scientology. One of the most controversial religions
of our times.
TRAVOLTA: You can look at the origins of almost
every religion and the first so many years are,
JARRIEL: Do you feel the need to defend Scientology?
TRAVOLTA AND KIRSTIE ALLEY (in unison): No.
Jarriel walking down steps outside with John Travolta
and Kirstie Alley; picketers--some of the signs
include "(top of sign clipped off) Camps
in L.A.! Close the RPF!!", "Scientology
vs. The Internet: www.xenu.net ", "Scientology:
First Amendment Enemy", sign with picture
of Lisa McPherson; cover of Time magazine "Scientology:
The cult of greed" issue; aerial footage
outside church compound; "20/20" logo
Tom Jarriel with a rare, inside look at Scientology.
Persecuted religion or paranoid, secretive cult?
You decide. The Church of Scientology. That story
tonight, Sunday, December 20th, 1998 after this
From ABC News in New York, Barbara Walters and
SAWYER: Good evening and welcome to "20/20
Sunday." Tonight, in a special hour, we pull
back the veil on the Church of Scientology. It
is certainly one of the most controversial religions
in this country, and perhaps the world. Few people
outside the church know what goes on within its
walls. It's a secret, carefully protected by those
who believe fervently in its work.
WALTERS: And it is unlike almost any other church.
There is no worship of God. There is no bible
of God's words. But those who believe say that
it has changed their lives forever, for the better.
Tonight, you'll hear from John Travolta and others
who credit the church with helping them achieve
happiness. But critics claim that Scientology
is not a religion. They say it's a dangerous and
SAWYER: And what exactly do they believe? Its
always a question. Well, one thing, that you're
born with the memory of painful experiences from
past lives. Erase them and you can be happy. Tom
Jarriel has finished a year-long investigation
into the Church of Scientology. Is it a misunderstood
religion or a predatory cult?
footage of Scn compound in New Mexico (opening
credits listing names of people who worked on
the segment; metal titanium storage containers;
metal recording disks; closeup of record player
and needle playing a segment of LRH reading one
of his works
Buried deep in these New Mexico hills in steel-lined
tunnels, said to be able to survive a nuclear
blast, is what Scientology considers the future
of mankind. Seen here for the first time, thousands
of metal records, stored in heat-resistant titanium
boxes and playable on a solar-powered turntable,
all containing the beliefs of Scientologys
founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
RON HUBBARD (voice of, from a recorded disk):
And man can achieve these goals today of freedom
for himself, for his people, through Scientology.
aerial shot of Scn compound in New Mexico
Clearly Scientology believes its here to
MISCAVIGE (from Scn event, caption, "Church
of Scientology video"): Never before have
we embarked on such massive expansion, and yet
it will soon be reality. And we will be moving
into the new millennium with authority. (crowd
footage from the Scn event; footage of Tom Cruise
and Nicole Kidman; Lisa Marie and Priscilla Presley;
Kirstie Alley and James Wilder; Jenna Elfman and
her husband Bodhi; footage from Barbara Walters
special from 5/20/98 with Jenna Elfman
Scientology is on the march. It has powerful political
friends and a group of glittering celebrities:
Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, Lisa Marie Presley,
Kirstie Alley, Jenna Elfman. These celebrities
have become Scientologys best salespeople.
ELFMAN (from Barbara Walters special from 5/20/98):
Whats great about Scientology is, theres
you, right? And youre always you. But as
you go through life, you know, you have the [mock-stern,
serious voice] betrayals and the losses [normal
voice] and the things that start clouding up.
And what Scientology does is it helps take away
all that stuff so that you can just be you.
from "Pulp Fiction"--John Travolta and
Uma Thurman in dance contest at nightclub; scene
from "Welcome Back, Kotter"; Tom Jarriel
walking down steps outside with John Travolta
and Kirstie Alley
Superstar John Travolta credits the church with
his success in films like "Pulp Fiction".
He joined the church around the time he made his
first television appearance in "Welcome Back,
Kotter". He and actress Kirstie Alley agreed
to sit down with "20/20" for a rare
interview about their religion.
JARRIEL: Why did you turn to Scientology? Why
have you chosen Scientology?
TRAVOLTA: I was 21 when, um, I first heard about
it, and, um, someone introduced it to me, and
they were so certain and happy. And I wasnt
used to be--people being certain and happy, I
was used to (chuckles) people being insecure and
unhappy. Um, I took a course, and my life has
never been the same.
clip of Kirstie Alley on "Cheers"
Years before Kirstie Alley joined the cast of
"Cheers", she was a struggling actress
hooked on drugs.
ALLEY: I didnt want to do drugs anymore;
but I didnt want to live life without doing
drugs. And the life was just being squelched out
of me; it was a slow death. I had one auditing
session, uh, in Scientology, and I never did drugs
again and never had the urge to do drugs again.
JARRIEL: Is there any stigma to it professionally
TRAVOLTA: I think its a--its, its
been, you know, not only an asset but most of
the reason Im still here.
Big Blue building in Los Angeles; front page of
New York Times with article about Lisa McPherson
titled, "Death of a Scientologist Heightens
Suspicions in a Florida Town"; aerial shot
of Castile Canyon School from German film crew
But there is another side to the Scientology story:
Front-page reports of the mysterious death of
a Scientologist in Florida; allegations of virtual
BROCKMANN (from video footage): Whats so
secret of this organization? Whats so secret
of this area?
of the signs include "(top of sign clipped
off) Camps in L.A.! Close the RPF!!", "Scientology
vs. The Internet: www.xenu.net", "Scientology:
First Amendment Enemy", sign with picture
of Lisa McPherson
And charges by former members of mistreatment
YOUNG (crying): All I know is that the things
you hope for and the--the group that you invested
your life in is a fraud, and--and a dangerous,
horrifying, terrifying fraud, a nightmare.
JARRIEL (outside Big Blue church building in Los
Angeles): Again and again while reporting this
story, we were confronted by Scientologys
split personality. On one hand, we were introduced
to numbers of devoted followers who told us the
church had turned their lives around. On the other
hand, we met many former members who described
Scientology as a dangerous and deeply paranoid
organization. The root of this contradiction,
many told us, lies in the peculiar personality
of Scientologys founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
footage from "The Shrinking World of L. Ron
(from video): Do you ever think that you might
be quite mad?
RON HUBBARD (from video): Oh, yes. The one man
in the world who never believes hes mad
is the madman.
JARRIEL: L. Ron Hubbard has been described by
his supporters as a genius, by his critics as
RINDER: If I took one word to describe L. Ron
Hubbard, it would be "friend".
Jarriel and Mike Rinder walking around outside
Mike Rinder is one of Scientologys top leaders.
RINDER (voice of and on camera): Every few thousand
years, a man comes along who is so extraordinary
that he changes the course of history. And L.
Ron Hubbard is one of those men.
pulling open to reveal a big picture of LRH; photographs
Where did this prophet of Scientology come from?
L. Ron Hubbard was a modestly successful pulp-fiction
writer from the 1930s and 40s.
In a letter to his wife, he predicted, "I
will smash my name into history so violently,
it will take a legendary form."
of first edition of "Dianetics"
In 1950, at age 39, he published a book that would
make him famous: "Dianetics: The Modern Science
of Mental Health". In it, he claimed to have
found nothing less than the secret to the human
footage of L. Ron Hubbard giving a lecture
RON HUBBARD (from video): There was a chasm between
this existence where we are now and a higher plateau
of LRH giving a demonstration of auditing
Hubbard promised that he could make a person into
a kind of superman, raise IQs, cure sicknesses,
and enable people to leave their bodies and travel
through time and space. Tens of thousands of Hubbards
followers take this as the gospel truth.
WEINAN: What if we have found something that does
work? Just that. What if thats true? Isnt
that worth a look?
Weinan playing soccer; Carthy Weinan at his computer
Carthy Weinan joined the church at age 14. Today
hes a scriptwriter in Los Angeles. He credits
Scientology with his success.
WEINAN (on cell phone at his home): OK, thats
kind of the payoff that we wanted to get at the,
at the end.
WEINAN (on camera): This is real. It works. The
effect that its gonna have in a broad way
on every thing in your life--you know, you cant
calculate the work of that.
Hilton and woman PC in an auditing session
What Weinan and others say has transformed their
lives is the mysterious practice Scientologists
call auditing. At the center of an auditing session
is a device called an E-meter. It sends a small
electrical current through a persons body,
registering minute physical changes in the skin.
Scientologists believe it can also literally measure
of Scientology video of an auditing session
AUDITOR (from video): Any reason not to begin
PC (from video): None at all.
The church would not allow "20/20" to
videotape auditing. But for the first time, they
released these pictures of what they say is an
actual auditing session.
(from video): Locate an incident when you took
the emotion of sorrow.
(from video): I believe it was 1949.
According to Hubbard, the mind is an archive of
physical and emotional traumas. During auditing,
a person is asked to re-experience these painful
events, sometimes from previous lives, hundreds
or even thousands of years ago.
(from video): Is there an earlier incident when
you took the emotion of sorrow?
(from video): 1814.
(from video): What happened?
(from video): I was just walking out across this
battlefield after the firings had ceased. There
were just dead and mutilated bodies.
Once relived, Scientologists believe, the painful
memory is erased and replaced by understanding
and a blissful feeling of relief.
(from video): Thank you very much. Your needle
(from video, smiling): Thank you.
ALLEY (voice of and on camera): I know the way
I feel when I come out of a session. I feel happy
and, and outgoing and exuberant. Thats how
it makes me feel, because I solved something.
chart of "The Bridge"
Auditing is arranged in a progression of levels
that Hubbard called "The Bridge to Total
Freedom". The first significant goal on the
Bridge, Hubbard told his followers, is the State
event, with picture of LRH hanging up on stage
MAN ON STAGE: Hi, everybody.
(in unison): Hi!
Once this goal is reached, Scientologists declare
ON STAGE: And Ive never, ever, felt so wonderful
, Ive never been so aware, and that nothing
is gonna hold me back.
gives standing ovation
lobby of Scn church with people waiting to get
But some critics have called auditing a money-making
(talking to PC): As soon as your auditor comes
out, youll go in session
footage of lobby of Scn church; woman reading
"Dianetics" while shes waiting;
Sea Org member escorting PC
Sessions start at less than $100 an hour, but
can rise steeply to more than $600 an hour. To
reach the State of Clear can cost tens of thousands.
MAN (not identified): If it wasnt worth
its money I wouldnt be paying for it. If
it was 10 times the amount that I had to pay for
it, Id find the money to do it; and if it
was a hundred times more, then Id pay that,
of e-meter and hands holding the cans; footage
of LRH from "The Shrinking World of L. Ron
Hubbard"; Scienos in church lobby walking
by a bronze bust of LRH; close-up of bronze bust
of LRH under title L. RON HUBBARD
In fact, the most dedicated Scientologist will
spend tens of thousands more to follow Hubbards
bridge to its mysterious upper levels. This is
where Hubbard reveals his final secret. Scientologists
are now told only one thing stands between them
and absolute spiritual freedom. It involves an
intergalactic incident that took place 75 million
years ago. Only through more auditing, Hubbard
says, can they be liberated at last.
through window of a Scn classroom
The church considers these secret levels sacred.
We agreed not to divulge their precise contents
in return for access to the church and its members.
footage of the raid on Dennis Erlichs house
ERLICH (from video, talking to official): Please
dont let them take that stuff out.
footage from the video of the Erlich raid, showing
close-up of computer disks, officials carrying
This is what happened when former church member
Dennis Erlich posted the secret levels on the
Internet back in 1995. Armed with a court order
obtained under copyright laws, Scientology officials
staged a surprise raid on Erlichs home.
Accompanied by local police, church officials
carted away computers, disk drives, and, Erlich
says, personal files.
ERLICH (from video, talking to official): I have
not yet seen anything and I havent got a--I
havent got an inventory of anything--
footage from the video of the Erlich raid
ERLICH (voice of and on camera): The idea that
any court would open up my house to my enemies
in that manner to go through my personal belongings
in that way for seven hours and, and--it was just
picture of Dennis; recruitment poster for the
Sea Org with picture of a Sea Org member and the
message "You can dream of a cleared planet
or you can go through hell and high water to make
one--The Sea Org"; footage of Sea Org members
Before becoming a leading church critic, Dennis
Erlich was a member of its elite priesthood, the
so-called Sea Organization. Todays Sea Org
members dress in naval style uniforms, live and
eat communally, and sign billion year contracts
with the organization to achieve a goal they describe
as "freeing the planet".
from "The Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard"
of Sea Org members on the Apollo; picture of LRH
aboard the Apollo; more footage from "The
Shrinking World of L. Ron Hubbard"
The Sea Organization is named for a group of zealous
Scientologists who took to the seas with L. Ron
Hubbard aboard a ship he named the Apollo. The
year was 1967. Scientology was under investigation
from Africa to the United States. In Australia
it was outlawed as a threat to the community,
medically, morally and socially. With nowhere
else to go, Hubbard began to wander the Mediterranean,
like Moses in the desert, searching for a Promised
Land for Scientology.
WHITFIELD: I became willing to follow him through
hell and high water.
picture of Hana Whitfield; picture of LRH
A young nurse named Hana Whitfield was one of
Hubbards original Sea Org members. But instead
of a magnanimous leader, Whitfield says she found
in Hubbard a man increasingly prone to violent
fits of temper.
WHITFIELD: He would whine and cry out and, and
express outrage at this or that or the other.
Um, that would go on for days.
from "The Shrinking
World of L. Ron Hubbard"; picture from
Scn magazine of Sea Org member being lifted up
by other members and held over the railing of
the ship, close-up of caption saying,"Students
are thrown overboard for gross out tech and bequeathed
in the deep!"
According to Whitfield and others, Hubbard ordered
rule-breakers confined to the ships chain
locker for days at a time, including once a 4-year-old
boy. On another occasion, witnesses say, Hubbard
ordered wayward crew members to be shoved overboard
while the Apollo was docked in port. A Scientology
magazine at the time depicted the ceremony.
WHITFIELD: And those who were wailing or prostrate
with fear were just grabbed and shoved over the
ship into the harbor.
RINDER: There was a, like a, a little ceremony
that grew up that was like a, um,--I dunno, a
joke, like a fun thing--"OK, I commit my
sins to the deep and I arise a better man!"
and he would jump off the side.
of Mike Rinder sitting at a desk
Mike Rinder, now a senior church official, joined
the Sea Organization when he was just a teenager.
He remembers life aboard the Apollo very differently.
JARRIEL: Did you ever see him punish anyone, for
example, by putting them in solitary confinement
in a chain locker?
RINDER: No, never, never (shakes his head). So
it--how do you now prove that never took place?
All I can do is tell you, "No, it didnt
JARRIEL: You were caught in a huge contradiction,
then. A man you admired, a man you had serious
picture of Hana Whitfield
WHITFIELD (voice of and on camera): It was a very
unique trap. As the door was closing behind me,
I didnt know it was a trap. A small percentage
of people left; the rest of us stayed.
WALTERS: And wait until you see what Hana Whitfield
says happened next. Tom Jarriel will be back with
more in a moment.
footage of the Castile Canyon School
The so-called rehabilitation camps where the Church
of Scientology sends those who stray.
WHITFIELD: I was locked in this room in the dark
for however long it was.
Harrison Hotel including the garage; outside Big
Blue building; "20/20" logo
Accusations of being held captive, mistreated,
interrogated for disloyalty to the church when
"20/20 Sunday" continues.
Walters, in front of screen showing picture of
Big Blue building; picture of LRH
WALTERS: Tom Jarriel continues now with his investigation
into the Church of Scientology. Is it a religion
like other mainstream religions? Or is it, as
critics charge, a secretive and destructive cult?
We go back now to 1975. Scientology and its founder,
L. Ron Hubbard, are already being investigated
around the world. And after years of self-imposed
exile aboard his ship the Apollo, Hubbard has
decided to drop anchor in the United States.
JARRIEL (on the shore of beach at Clearwater,
FL): After wandering the seas for more than five
years, Hubbard finally came ashore here, in the
sleepy retirement town of Clearwater, Florida.
His goal was to establish an international mecca
for Scientology. But according to many insiders,
Hubbard was growing more and more vindictive toward
those who stood in his way. He created what he
called "The Rehabilitation Project Force."
WHITFIELD: The people who are assigned to this
camp are the worst of the worst. They're the--theyre
criminals in Scientology.
picture of Hana Whitfield
Hana Whitfield says the RPF was, in effect, a
work camp to rehabilitate Sea Organization members
accused of insubordination. In May 1978, she says,
it was her turn.
WHITFIELD: I had two big men on either side of
me who pretty much manhandled me into this room
with no windows. And there was justa mattress
on the floor. And I was locked in this room in
the dark for however long it was.
Harrison Hotel including garage; older picture
of Hana Whitfield
Whitfield says that while she was in the RPF,
she lived in the garage of the church-owned Fort
Harrison Hotel, ate scraps and worked at hard
labor up to 12 hours a day.
JARRIEL (voice of): What was your crime to have
been put into this, this harsh program to begin
WHITFIELD: My crime was, in a Scientology sense,
a very serious one. I was accused of having negative
thoughts about Mr. Hubbard.
RINDER: The Rehabilitation Project Force is a
part within the Sea Organization where people
who have, you know, been goofing up, they can
go to rehabilitate themselves.
JARRIEL (on camera, sitting at desk holding copies
of letters): After our interview, the church apparently
launched a letter-writing campaign. Rinder sent
us scores of letters from current and former Sea
Org members, all addressed to ABC and all extolling
the benefits of the RPF. (reading from first letter)
"While on the RPF, I learned how to work
hard and be a productive person." (reading
from second letter)"I came out of it extroverted,
ethical and more willing to confront life."
(reading from third letter) "What I handled
was getting to the root of why i was so bad in
my transgressions against others."
Erlich walking down sidewalk
But some former members we talked to describe
their experience as physically and psychologically
punishing, and anything but voluntary.
ERLICH: I was certainly completely at their mercy.
picture of Dennis Erlich; diagram of Fort Harrison
Dennis Erlich claims that for one 10-day period,
he was actually put under lock and key in the
boiler room of the Fort Harrison Hotel.
ERLICH: In the middle of one of the rooms was
a chicken wire enclosure with a door that, that
had a lock on it. And I was placed in there and
the lock was put on the door.
and Stacy Young walking outside their home with
At the time, Vaughn and Stacy Young were high-level
public relations officials in the church.
YOUNG: At 4:00 in the morning one night, Vaughn
and I were asleep and there was a knock on the
door. And two security guards were there, and
they took me away into the prison camp.
picture of Stacy Young; outside Big Blue building
Stacy Young says she was assigned to the RPF for
disobeying an order to interrogate a fellow staff
member. For part of the time, Young says she was
in a room on the seventh floor of the Los Angeles
church. Her husband admits he stood by and did
nothing to try to get her out.
YOUNG: You're being challenged that, you know,
"What are you? Are you disloyal? "Do
you," you know, "you love your wife
more than freedom for the planet? You're going
to let people suffer." You know, all this,
all this crap is dumped on you. And what are you
supposed to say?
YOUNG: I didn't see Vaughn for several months.
I didn't hear from him. I didn't have any correspondence
with him whatsoever. He did nothing to try and
rescue me. (starts crying) I felt that my husband
should have rescued me.
YOUNG: I didn't take her out. I look back at that--thats--I
should have just picked her up. I should have
just picked her up. And I should have just said,
"If anybody touches me, you're dead."
of Scientology sign; older picture of Vaughn Young
Even after Stacy's release from the RPF, the Youngs
remained loyal. But in 1988, Vaughn Young says,
the church turned on him, too, and he began his
own 13-month stint in the RPF.
YOUNG: You go through interrogations hour after
hour, day after day, week after week, month after
month. Breaking you down, breaking you down, breaking
JARRIEL: Travel between buildings is accompanied
by a security guard. An RPF member may not speak
unless spoken to. If dismissed, must sign a confession
of his crimes. These are acceptable, I take it?
RINDER: If a, a priest or a monk or a nun was
to leave one of those religious orders and come
out and say, "Wow, you know, I had to sleep
on straw and I lived in a cell and I couldn't
talk to anybody and I had to be celibate."
And people would go, "But, you walked in
there knowing that and you were a part of it."
So, fine that you leave. Don't complain about
and Stacy Young outside their home with their
A year after Vaughn's release from the RPF, the
Youngs say they had had enough. They threw some
clothes in the back of their car and fled.
YOUNG: Hubbard's policy was, "As long as
you're with us, we'll leave you alone. But if
you speak out against us, we're gonna dog you
and ruin you and destroy you." And that's
exactly what they keep trying to do.
of Scn church and title "Hubbard Dianetics
Foundation"; typewritten copy of Stacy Youngs
"Success Story" with her name and "Action
Completed: RPF Auditing"; handwritten copy
of Vaughn Youngs "Success Story"
of 12/10/88 with his name and title "RPF
Auditing Completion"; close-up of signature.
The church denies having mistreated the Youngs.
They provided "20/20" with these documents
in which both of the Youngs writes fondly of their
experience in the RPF. Vaughn Young says they
YOUNG: They want it in your own handwriting. So
that when, when your handwriting's done, they
say, "See, we have it in his handwriting.
He confessed to this. He did this."
JARRIEL: Vaughn Young says he was forced to sign
a statement he did not believe in, and it was
a prerequisite to get out of what he wanted to
get away from.
RINDER: Well, you know, what do you want to believe?
Do you want to believe what Vaughn young wrote
at the time and signed, or do you want to believe
him now saying, "Well, I didn't mean to write
JARRIEL: Many of their stories, though, about
RPF are corroborated in sworn court testimony
by up to a dozen other people. Are they all lying?
RINDER: They sat in a room. They figured out what
they were gonna say. They wrote their bits. They
passed them around. They made sure that they were
consistent. And yes, they were paid for that.
document from "Church of Scientology, International
vs. Steven Fishman and Uwe Geertz" with section
"Bill of Costs" and list ofwitness names,
including Vaughn and Stacy Youngs names,
with list of dollar amounts for the witnesses
services; Vaughn Young at his computer, with cat
jumping up on the desk; older picture of Larry
Wollersheim, with magazine article title "Wollersheim
wins another round against Scientology" superimposed
over the picture on bottom of screen; court papers
with phrases "forced to undergo a strenuous
regime--" "Several Scientology members
seized Wollersheim and held him captive.",
Rinder provided "20/20" with this court
document which shows that the Youngs since 1993
had been paid some $50,000 as expert witnesses
in civil suits against the church. But the Youngs,
who have separated since our interview, vehemently
deny that they are fabricating their stories.
In fact, they point out, similar accounts have
been credited by judges and juries in a number
of court cases. In one example former Sea Org
member Lawrence Wollersheim won a multimillion-dollar
judgment against the church. An appeals court
judge wrote that while in the RPF Wollersheim
had -- "been forced to undergo a strenuous
regime" that lasted 19 hours a day. When
he tried to escape the RPF, the judge wrote --
"Several Scientology members seized Wollersheim
and held him captive.
WOLLERSHEIM: They censor the phone calls. You're
not allowed to speak to anyone who's critical.
There was no way for anyone to reach me.
of Scienos at party; aerial footage of Castile
Scientology has projected a kinder, gentler, more
understanding image in recent years. But critics
insist that RPF camps continue to exist today.
Sworn affidavits point to one at this site, a
multi-acre spread near Palm Springs, which the
church calls the Castile Canyon School.
JARRIEL (voice of): What is the Castile Canyon
RINDER: It's a school for the children of Sea
JARRIEL: We have seen sworn statements this is
also an RPF camp. Is that true?
RINDER: There are RPF people there, yeah.
footage of Castile Canyon School
ABC asked Mike Rinder if we could take our cameras
and go to the school to talk to those inside,
but he refused.
footage of German film crew at Castile Canyon
HODEN (from video): See the helicopter?
video footage of German film crew at Castile Canyon
School, with Hoden standing in front of the car
the crew was driving so they couldnt get
Earlier, when German film maker Peter Reichelt
and his crew set out to see what they could find,
this is what happened.
OF GERMAN FILM CREW MEMBER: You are blocking us.
You are harassing us. You are not allowed to do
footage from the video of the German film crew
at Castile Canyon School, with Scienos with video
camera and driver of the German crews car
with video camera
A mile from the school, the Germans way
was blocked by carloads of Scientologists. According
to the German film makers, senior church official
Ken Hoden detained them for more than two hours.
HODEN (from video): I'm giving you one last warning.
Are you oing to leave? Yes or no? Fine! I am placing
you under citizen's arrest right now!
BROCKMANN (from video): What's so secret with
this organization? What's so secret with this
area? What happened here?
SAWYER: What is all the secrecy about? What else
goes on behind the walls of church compounds?
Tom Jarriel will have more in a moment.
Blue building; picket sign saying "Scientology:
First Amendment Enemy"; clip from the Erlich
raid video with close-up of computer disks; Richard
Behar walking down street; outside of Hana Whitfields
house; HCOPL with picture of LRH transposed and
the phrase "A church enemy May be tricked,
sued or lied to or destroyed.", enlarged
The Church of Scientology takes on its critics,
fighting the IRS, investigating journalists and
going after former followers.
OLIVER: You find your weak spot and you expose
it. You literally destroy them.
Travolta and Kirstie Alley; aerial shot of Scn
church; "20/20" logo
But John Travolta and Kirstie Alley speak out
for the religion that changed their lives.
From ABC News, "20/20 Sunday" continues
after this from our ABC stations.
from ABC News, "20/20 Sunday" continues.
And now Diane Sawyer.
SAWYER: And now, Tom Jarriel picks up his report
at a turning point for the Church of Scientology.
For 25 years, the church has been at war with
the Internal Revenue Service over its tax status
as a religious organization. In the mid-'70s,
11 top leaders were sent to prison for breaking
into the IRS, stealing documents, bugging offices.
But after the death of L. Ron Hubbard, the new
church leaders renounced the illegal tactics and
instead brought scores of lawsuits against the
IRS, apparently in an effort to bring the agency
to its knees.
footage of Scn event at Shrine Auditorium in Los
Angeles with people on stage carrying flags and
October 1993. You are watching scenes of an extraordinary
event. More than 10,000 Scientologists gather
at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles for whats
promised to be the most significant announcement
in Scientology's history.
MISCAVIGE (from video, on stage): On October 1st,
1993, the IRS issued letters recognizing Scientology
and every one of its organizations as fully tax
footage of event with audience cheering and laser
lights and spotlights circling throughout the
auditorium; footage of different Scn churches;
Scieno walking up steps of Celebrity Centre in
Los Angeles; outside of Celebrity Centre; in lobby
of Celebrity Centre with person playing a piano;
footage of Celebrity Centre restaurant, theater
and sauna; outside Celebrity Centre; classroom
inside Celebrity Centre
The war with the IRS was over and Scientology
had won. The IRS decision was a financial boon
for a group that already claimed to be worth in
excess of $1 billion. With the tax advantages
enjoyed by the other mainstream religions, Scientology
has gone on an international expansion. They own
valuable properties around the world and claim
a membership of 8 million, though others outside
the church put the number as low as 150,000. Their
religious practices are unconventional. No worship
services take place inside the buildings they
call churches. In fact, some resemble resorts
more than places of worship. In Los Angeles, this
church contains a first-class restaurant, a private
theater and saunas. Scientologists stay in luxury
hotel rooms upstairs while attending auditing
and other courses downstairs.
footage at Scn event
DAVIS (from video, on stage): Hello.
(in unison): Hi!
video footage from Scn event of Tom Davis speaking
The so-called Celebrity Centre is run by Tom Davis.
He's the son of actress Anne Archer, herself a
devoted Scientologist for some 20 years. Davis
is the face of the new church.
DAVIS: My involvement in Scientology is for my
life. This is my life's devotion.
of LRH bronze bust, camera panning to Tom Davis
and his wife Nadine sitting at table outside church
Davis dropped out of Columbia University as a
freshman to join the Sea Organization, where he
met his Belgian wife, Nadine.
DAVIS: For us, it's a crusade. We're like crusaders.
We're like knights in knighthood. (laughs) You
know, we're like, um, yeah, and it's fun. I mean,
it's a fun activity to set men free.
footage of Tom and Nadine Davis at literacy class
walking down hall with other members; close-up
of young child reading book, Nadine and another
teacher at table with young child
The Davises, who work an average of 15 hours a
day for around $50 a week, spend much of their
time disseminating L. Ron Hubbard's teachings,
on this day, at a literacy project in the inner-city
neighborhood of Compton.
DAVIS: I made the decision to forward the aims
of Scientology. I actually compare it a little
bit like Mother Teresa, you know, who just kind
of gives her life to the dedication of setting,
you know, helping people, helping the poor and
Jarriel walking down steps outside with John Travolta
and Kirstie Alley
Scientologists believe this and not scandal is
the real essence of their religion.
TRAVOLTA: You can look at the beg--origins of
almost every religion and the first so many years
are, they're attacked. Take a look at every program
we've instilled in either local communities, prisons,
drug rehabs, I mean, our statistics are through
JARRIEL (outside AOLA building in Los Angeles):
But critics say the church may never be able to
gain the mainstream acceptance it seeks as long
as it remains tethered to the words and ideas
of its controversial founder. L. Ron Hubbard left
Scientology not only his religious writings, but
a series of controversial directives that appear
to advocate threats, intimidation, and even attacks
against those he regarded as enemies.
with picture of LRH transposed, with the phrases
"Dont ever defend. Always attack."
"The purpose of a (law)suit is to harass
and discourage rather than to win." "A
church enemy May be tricked, sued or lied
to or destroyed."
Some of Hubbard's writings: "Don't ever defend.
Always attack." "The purpose of the
lawsuit is to harass and discourage rather than
win." A church enemy "may be tricked,
sued or lied to or destroyed."
OLIVER: They can send private investigators out
to your home or to your place of work, talk to
your neighbors. They will illicitly try and obtain
copies of your phone bills or credit rating. They
will try and create problems for you at your place
of employment.They will try and sue you. They'll
do everything they can try and do to stop you
or to silence you.
JARRIEL: How do you know?
OLIVER: I know because that's what I used to do.
Oliver at his business
Frank Oliver runs a digital graphics firm in Miami,
but for four years, he says, he was a member of
the church's internal security apparatus.
of Frank Oliver's International Association of
Scientologists membership card
OLIVER (voice of and on camera): I remember having
to make the phone calls to all the phone numbers
on someone's phone bill to find out where they
had called. These were enemies of the church.
You shut them down. You find out what you can
about them. You find their weak spot and you expose
it. You make it so that they cannot survive or
exist. You literally destroy them.
Whitfield and Tom Jarriel walking outside
Hana Whitfield says that since she became a paid
consultant to families trying to get loved ones
to leave Scientology, she has been the target
of intense harassment.
DA flyer about Hana Whitfield with the title "Hana
Whitfield: A Threat to Family Unity" and
picture of her with the caption "Hana Whitfield
has a long history of mental problems for which
she has received psychological" (rest cut
WHITFIELD (voice of and on camera): We've had
demonstrate--people demonstrate outside our home.
We've had leaflets with terrible accusations in
them, you know, distributed around our neighborhood,
that I'm a murderer, that we're deprogrammers,
we torture people, we kidnap them. None of this
is true, but it's beside the point.
OLIVER: I think that when we were chasing around
Hana Whitfield that she was very intimidated by
this, very disturbed by it.
Hana Whitfields house
Frank Oliver says he spent three days on a stakeout
of the Whitfields in Los Angeles.
OLIVER: We followed this woman out of her house.
We chased her around. We followed her to the airport.
JARRIEL: Do you know Frank Oliver?
RINDER: No. I don't know Frank Oliver.
JARRIEL: He's told us that while working for the
church, he personally went through phone records
of church people, critics, without their knowledge.
He searched their garbage. He followed them.
RINDER: Well, if Frank Oliver claims that, then
Frank Oliver was operating completely outside
of directives and policies of the church and that's
probably why he left.
Oliver driving in his car
But Frank Oliver says that he left the church
in 1992 after six years for very different reasons.
OLIVER (voice of and on camera): The lies just
permeated everything. At that point, it was just
lies upon lies upon lies. They might feel I betrayed
them, but the truth is they betrayed me.
Oliver at his business; Cult Awareness Network
Oliver says what finally drove him out of Scientology
was the church's request that he participate in
a campaign to bring down one of the church's most
bitter enemies. The Cult Awareness Network, CAN,
issued warnings about Scientology and other groups
calling them "dangerous cults." Beginning
in 1991, CAN faced a barrage of more than 50 lawsuits
brought by Scientologists.
JARRIEL: Did Scientology, through a large number
of lawsuits, set out to destroy the Cult Awareness
Network as an organization?
RINDER: No. There were a number of Scientologists
who decided to join the Cult Awareness Network
to bring some balance to the information that
they were providing to people. They were denied
papers involving CAN with Kendrick Moxons
name; newspaper article with title "Lawyer
Buys Rights to Anti-Cult Organization"
The Scientologists sued. Nearly all of them were
represented by an attorney named Kendrick Moxon,
also a Scientologist. Eventually, CAN was forced
into bankruptcy and another Scientologist bought
up its name and telephone numbers.
AT CAN, ANSWERING PHONE: Good afternoon, Cult
article titled, "Anti-Cult Group Dismembered
As Former Foes Buy Its Assets"
Today, when you call the Cult Awareness Network,
a Scientologist answers the phone.
Scn church; cover of Time magazine "Scientology:
The Cult of Greed" issue; first page of Time
magazine Scn article; Richard Behar walking outside
CAN is not the only outside institution that has
taken on the church only to face its wrath. In
1991 Time magazine published this cover story
written by Richard Behar, which remains one of
the most scathing pieces ever published about
Scientology. In the aftermath, the church brought
a $415 million libel suit, and, according to Behar,
dispatched as many as ten private investigators
to follow him, contact his family and friends
and illegally obtain his credit report.
BEHAR: It's been a chilling effect for the media.
I know that when reporters and media companies
consider writing about this subject, they're often
afraid to do it in an in-depth way.
Behar walking down street
Scientology's lawsuit against Time was dismissed.
While the church denies most of Behar's allegations,
they do not deny investigating him.
RINDER: There were certainly investigators looking
into what was it that motivated his--um, what
was it that motivated his campaign.
JARRIEL: Were the investigators authorized to
trail him, to phone him, to spread literature
in the building where he worked, to dig through
his garbage and that type of thing?
RINDER: The investigators were authorized to do
whatever was within the law to investigate and
find the motives behind Richard Behar.
JARRIEL (outside Fort Harrison Hotel): But no
amount of effort by the church has been able to
slow a torrent of sensational news stories about
the recent mysterious death of a young Scientologist.
She spent the last 17 days of her life here at
the Fort Harrison Hotel. And once again, the church's
strict adherence to Hubbard's teachings may have
played into the hands of the church's harshest
footage of Lisa McPherson dancing; picture of
Lisa; footage of hospital emergency room; picture
of LRH; footage of hallway at hospital
Lisa McPherson was a vibrant and devout Scientologist
for 18 years. In the last year of her life, she
turned over nearly $60,000 of her income to the
church. But in 1996*, friends say, McPherson began
to display odd behavior. On November 11th*, after
a minor traffic accident in Clearwater, Florida,
she stripped off her clothes and began to walk
naked down the street. McPherson was taken to
a local hospital for a psychiatric exam, but she
refused treatment. In this she was following the
dictates of L. Ron Hubbard, who despised psychiatrists
and believed he knew best how to treat mental
illness. Hours later, she was released to a group
of Scientologists who had come for her.
Fort Harrison Hotel, camera slowly doing close-up
of window of one of the rooms; babywatch logs
In the final weeks of her life, while she lived
in a room in the church-owned Fort Harrison Hotel,
McPherson's Scientologist caretakers took detailed
handwritten notes which describe her mental and
physical decline. November 19th--"If she
starts talking, she talks and talks, then she
stares at a spot." November 22nd--"She
refused to eat and spit out everything she took.
Her breath was foul. She went violent and hit
me a few times, telling me in a rage she was to
kill me. I called in the guard."
DANDAR: She's spitting. She's yelling. She's screaming,
and they're restraining her.
Ken Dandar is representing the McPherson family
in a lawsuit against the church.
DANDAR (voice of): The notes show she was so weak
from malnutrition and dehydration that she couldn't
even walk anymore.
RINDER: Those people loved Lisa McPherson. Those
people did everything that they possibly could
to assist her when she needed help. She came to
them for assistance and they provided it.
Rinder points out that some of the notes seem
to reflect a genuine concern on the part of McPherson's
Scientology caretakers. December 2nd--"She
is resting now. She originated that she knows
we are trying to help her, although she doesn't
know our names.
New Fort Richey Hospital; doors outside an emergency
room; autopsy photos of Lisa McPherson
Three days later, Scientologists drove McPherson
to a hospital 45 minutes away to see a Scientologist
physician bypassing four closer hospitals. She
was dead on arrival. An autopsy revealed she was
covered in bruises and insect bites and, at 5'11",
weighed only 108 pounds. The medical examiner
concluded her death at age 34 had been caused
by prolonged dehydration, but experts retained
by the church say her death was purely accidental.
RINDER: She died unfortunately of a pulmonary
embolism, something that is both sudden, unpredictable,
and in many cases it is untreatable.
JARRIEL: Why, when it appeared she was physically
deteriorating, wasn't she taken to a hospital?
RINDER: I don't know what happened, Tom, I wasn't
there. I just know what it was that she died of,
and I know what a pulmonary embolism is.
JARRIEL: And do you know the church had no complicity
in her death?
RINDER: Sure, sure.
footage of Lisa McPherson dancing
DANDAR (voice of and on camera): All they had
to do was take her to the local emergency room
where all the Scientologists go, but they chose
to keep her inside the hotel and watch her die.
Is that an accident? That's not an accident. That's
WALTERS: Last month in Florida, criminal charges
were brought against the Church of Scientology
in the death of Lisa McPherson. The church is
accused of abusing or neglecting a disabled adult.
It has pleaded not guilty. Tom Jarriel will be
back in a moment.
Jarriel walking down steps outside with John Travolta
and Kirstie Alley; bust of LRH with title L. RON
HUBBARD; Frank Oliver driving in his car, split
screen with Vaughn and Stacy Young walking outside
John Travolta and Kirstie Alley step up to defend
their beliefs, claiming a handful of defectors
are the source of Scientologys troubles.
ALLEY: If you divorce a woman, and you, she gives
me her version of why she left you, how valid
do you think it is?
When "20/20 Sunday" continues.
Walters in front of screen with picture of John
Travolta and Kirstie Alley
WALTERS: John Travolta and Kirstie Alley in defense
of Scientology. It is partly because of stars
like them that the church has made such great
inroads in the United States. But as Tom Jarriel
tells us, that's not the case everywhere.
street in Munich, Germany; Gunther Beckstein walking
out of building and getting into a car
Munich, Germany. Nowhere have the attacks on Scientology
been stronger than here. Gunther Beckstein is
the Interior Minister of the state of Bavaria.
BECKSTEIN: Scientology is a danger. They want
to have a Scientology society. They want to clear
the planet, and all the others have to obey.
Beckstein giving speech; German document about
Scientology with "Yes/No" boxes to check
In their zeal to contain Scientology, the German
government has raided churches, banned Scientologists
from political parties and openly discriminated
against Scientologists who might apply for government
TRAVOLTA (at Congressional hearing about Religious
Persecution in Germany): --for no other reason
than he is a member of the Church of Scientology--
footage of Congressional hearing about Religious
Persecution in Germany
Typically, Scientology is fighting back. Recently,
John Travolta testified before a congressional
committee on Germany.
JARRIEL: Make your blood boil a little bit?
TRAVOLTA: Well, I mean--its, uh, there's,
theres no--it's beyond blood boiling. We're
talking about, you know, worldwide survival here,
JARRIEL: I sat across from a German minister,
a high official in their government, and he deplored
Scientology in the strongest of terms. He equated
it with the fear of the rise of Nazism, that this
could be another fascist movement.
TRAVOLTA: Well, that's a shame because Scientology
wants a world without war, without criminality,
and without insanity, and I want to be part of
any group that wants those things.
JARRIEL: There's no question that Scientology--that's
a part of Scientology. There also is little question
that there have been people in Scientology who
have run into major problems in their lives as
the result of wanting to leave Scientology.
ALLEY: If you divorce a woman, and you, she gives
me her version of why she left you, how valid
do you think it is? If youve got a group
standing over here of millions of Scientologists
telling you daily the successes that they have,
the wins that they have, the way they're helping
people, and you can examine the statistics for
yourself, and you have a handful of dissatisfied
customers over here, then that's life. You're
never going to have a group of anyone without
some dissatisfied customers. So say, fine, you
don't want to be a Scientologist, go.
outside a poster saying "Declaration of War"
And about the alleged harassment of those who
criticize, including the media --
ALLEY: You know the best way to fight somebody
is to just expose their crimes. If somebody's
attacking me, I'm not going to, like, pop them
in the nose. If somebody's attacking me, Im
just gonna expose their crimes. That's good enough.
JARRIEL: Do you feel that, that you need to defend
TRAVOLTA AND KIRSTIE ALLEY (in unison): No.
ALLEY: Ive never felt the need to defend
anything that was good. I have felt the need to
fight for it. But I would fight for anything that
I believed in.
TRAVOLTA: If you feel there's been an injustice,
um, you fight back. That's just the law of nature.
That's not anything we made up. That's something
you do in order to survive. If we didn't do that,
we wouldn't be here.
SAWYER: Well be right back.
Walters then goes on to promote her upcoming special
on ABC and an upcoming edition of "20/20")
SAWYER: And that's it for "20/20 Sunday"
tonight. Thank you for being with us. I'm Diane
WALTERS: And you are fascinating.
SAWYER: Oh, how you talk.
WALTERS: And I'm Barbara Walters. For all of us
here at "20/20 Sunday," "20/20
Wednesday" and "20/20 Friday,"
have a great week. Good night.
courtesy of Xenubat