mother joined the Sea Org while doing services at the Flag Land
Base in Clearwater, Florida, and moved the entire family from England
to the Scientology headquarters in Clearwater. Thus Zoe, her seven-year-old
sister Astra and 15-year-old brother (who also joined the Sea Org
at this time) were thrust into the regimented, controlled environment
of Scientology's paramilitary Sea Organization.
an affidavit through
which we learn what it is really like for children raised in the
Sea Org. Zoe was raised by other Sea Org members who were assigned
to be nannies. Often these "nannies" were children not
much older than she. Zoe was housed far from her parents in sometimes
filthy, cockroach-ridden and dilapidated buildings. Her only education
was from Scientology "course supervisors" with no educational
qualifications other than training in the Scientology method of
learning. For years she was housed at the "Cadet Org"
on a remote ranch in California, where the children were completely
cut off from the outside world. As Zoe put it, "This ranch
was hours away from normal civilization. In the year plus that I
lived there we never went into town for a field trip; never went
to a movie, shopping or anything. We were totally isolated."
Zoe grew older she was pressed by Sea Org personnel to sign her
own billion-year contract and dedicate her entire life to the Sea
Org. The inducements were many -- a few dollars more a week in pay,
better living quarters, more time off. Zoe, however, was not persuaded,
thanks in part to the influence of her father and her sister Astra,
who were by that time both out of the Sea Org. As the quality of
her life in the Sea Org continued to decline, Zoe finally requested
permission to leave so she could join her father and sister, who
were living in California.
Zoe made known her desire to leave, she was subjected to nearly
a year of punishment and repeated attempts to persuade or coerce
her into staying. She was kicked out of her dorm and forced to sleep
on the floor in her mother's bedroom. She was told she was "out
ethics" and forced to do "ethics handlings." Her
handlers showed Zoe newspaper articles about gruesome crimes and
warned her that the outside world was a horrible and dangerous place
in which to live. Her motives were continually questioned. Didn't
she want to "save the planet through Scientology?" Those
who had been her comrades for years shunned her and Sea Org officials
placed her on a treadmill of endless assignments that had to be
completed before they would allow her to leave.
early 2000, Zoe's father flew from California to Clearwater, Florida
to help his daughter escape. Since that time, Zoe has struggled
to overcome her experiences in Scientology and to make up for the
years of sub-standard education she was subjected to in the Sea
Org. She attends a public high school in California and is quickly
catching up with her new friends. She and Astra have both had to
learn to live without their mother, grandmother and brother, all
Sea Org members who now refuse to communicate with them.