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Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees © kobbydagan, used under license

Tyler Glenn of Neon Trees performs on stage at the 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival Village on September 20 in Las Vegas. Photo © 2014 by kobbydagan and used under license.

Tyler Glenn just released a new song and video, “Trash.” Tyler’s a gay Mormon who had a faith crisis after the LGBT policy change last November. One of the things that most fascinates me is why people leave faiths, and the process people go through, as it’s usually a difficult change that upends a significant part of their lives.

An excerpt from the Rolling Stone piece by Brittany Spanos about his new song and recent life:

At the time Glenn came out in 2014, he was still a believer in the Mormon church, having been raised in the faith, gone on a mission and continued to be a member of the community in Salt Lake City, where he remains. “I always tried to make being gay and being Mormon work,” he says. Glenn had hoped he’d become an ambassador to his church on behalf of more progressive views, until the church confirmed that they would excommunicate members who participated in same-sex relationships. Now, he sees himself as a different kind of ambassador.

“The big problem here is that they claim it’s the only truth,” he says. “There have been over 40 suicides within the church as a result of this policy. These aren’t just grown men and women. Many are children. It’s backwards. It’s not of God. I needed to make this statement to artfully show the pain of a faith crisis and the darkness of doubt, but also that there’s ways to reclaim what is yours.”

One commenter said, “I haven’t witnessed this much righteous anger and passion in a song since Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church.’

Part of Tyler’s situation is that several months ago, a fifth definition of apostasy was added to the LDS Handbook of Instructions, section 6.7.3. Note that it’s numbered item 4 even though it was added fifth:

LDS apostasy definitions

…[A]postasy refers to members who:
4) Are in a same-gender marriage.
Priesthood leaders must take disciplinary action against apostates to protect Church members. […]

Tyler hasn’t resigned, and he’s likely to be excommunicated for a combination of his song and his recent Mormon Stories podcast (linked below). As an example of recent LDS church actions, Bruce Holt was reportedly excommunicated for this single FB post. (more context here)

Tyler said in this interview:

“No, and I won’t resign,” he said. “I think it’s important if they decide to excommunicate me, that they do it in the proper way… I want to see change. I don’t hate the Mormon church, I’m really upset with the system and the idea that they claim it’s from God.”

Trash Video

Video’s here in the Rolling Stone Interview.

For those of you who are LDS and who may be offended by the above video, you may also watch David A. Bednar’s “Choose Not To Be Offended talk on

Purchase/Streaming Links

Tyler Glenn’s Mormon Stories Podcast Episodes

John Dehlin, founder of the Mormon Stories podcast, did a several hour episode (in three parts) with Tyler Glenn recently.

It’s one of the few episodes I’ve listened to in full, and it really talks about what it’s like to be fully in and then have the door slammed in your face like Tyler did last November.

My Interest in Tyler’s Story

As a Californian, one of the things that’s angered me since 2008 is the participation from Mormons in Utah (and the LDS church itself) in passing Prop 8. Back then, Rick wrote an essay on why—even if you agreed that gays shouldn’t marry—it was so difficult to clearly define “male” and “female.” Sex biology is far more complex than most people realize.

Those of us who are LGBT/QUILTBAG or allies are quite horrified about some of the stories coming out about LGBT Mormons and the struggles they face. Earlier this month, 22-year-old Lincoln Parkin took his life. I was heartened to discover people like Virginia, a commenter on the above story:

We are mormons too and I have two gay children who are one of the most wonderful people I know. I thank God everyday for giving them to me. We are 100% behind them for support and love. They are God’s children too. I hope that people can give unconditional love like Jesus did.

If you know LGBT Mormons, or Mormons who have LGBT family, it’s a good time to help ensure that those in faith crises know there are people there who care. People growing up, especially in the Morridor where Mormons are a high percentage of the population and therefore, given LDS values about LGBT people, may not have adequate support systems in place.

Other LGBT Mormon Stories Episodes

Other Mormon Stories podcast episodes featuring other LGBT Mormons and their stories. Note: some of these have some truly dark times in them, and several discuss suicide ideation or attempts.)

There is also the Gay Mormon Stories podcast.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

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Marriage Hats was a thin booklet written by L. Ron Hubbard’s last wife, Mary Sue Hubbard. It was published in 1974 by Scientology, a white volume with black uncial type on the cover. Later, they’d pull all Scientology-related books that weren’t written by LRH, and this would be one of items pulled.

This was published well after the concept of equal opportunity for women was embodied in law (though not in practice) in the United States.

So, let’s look at how enlightened Scientology was in 1974, shall we? Let’s look at five (of 23) directives for women are in marriage:

9. To support your husband in life by providing him with a clean, calm, happy home in which he can have the rest and peace necessary to fortify him in the battles of winning a living. [::facepalm::]

11. To keep an active interest in your husband’s work and to offer him encouragement and moral support. [Encouragement and support I agree with, but I'm not my husband, nor should I feel obligated to be interested in his work.]

12. To submit to the decision of your husband if agreement cannot be reached: he is the leader of the family. [No.]

14. To care for birth control and to be responsible.There can be nothing more upsetting to married life than an unwanted pregnancy or too many children. So don’t make mistakes; such surprises can be most disruptive. [So it's always the woman's fault.]

15. To keep yourself clean, attractive and womanly. A wife should always look the best she can for her husband – this doesn’t mean that you have to appear glamorous when you’re in the middle of scrubbing a dirty floor, but it does mean that a wife should care enough about her appearance not to come before her husband in the morning with cream on her face and rollers in her hair. It’s wise to do those beauty actions when your husband is not around, so you can be beautiful when he is present. [For L. Ron Hubbard. I don't even.]

And how well did that work for MSH, as she was known?

She was the primary defendant in Operation Snow White, the largest civilian infiltration into US Government systems in history. She was sentenced to five years in prison.

Meanwhile, L. Ron Hubbard remained on the run throughout the remainder of his life and never rose above the level of unindicted co-conspirator.

I guess she supported him, all right.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

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That’s what a Church of Scientology official said when explaining why the President of the Church of Scientology’s ex-wife Karen (de la Carriere) would not be permitted to attend her 27-year-old son’s memorial.

Story here.

I’m glad that Heber (said president) will be permitted out of The Hole for the memorial, though. It shows a very small amount of humanity.

Karen will be holding her own memorial for her son in a few days.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

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I keep hearing about people who want to have religious exemptions for contraception in medical policies. Few people realize there’s another side to that coin: a religious exemption for coerced abortions.

Well, right, but who would do such a thing you ask?

The Church of Scientology, of course.

I’d previously mentioned Claire Headley’s case, but she wasn’t speaking at the Human Trafficking in Scientology Press Conference I went to two years ago because of that case. There was, however, a similar story.

Laura Decrescenzo talks about joining the Sea Org at 12, being coerced into an abortion despite wanting kids, and how she attempted suicide to get out of the Sea Org:

Maureen Bolstad was camera crew for Gold, here’s some of her story (including some of the conditions she did camera work under). Note that she did what some of the other Gold crew have done for Writers of the Future. Note in particular the circumstances in the second video when she talks about some of the conditions she worked under while severely injured. She is a representative sample of the Gold camera crew filming the Writers of the Future events.

Here’s part of the ruling (currently under appeal) in Claire Headley’s case:

Even so, she [Claire Headley] argues that she is a victim under the TVPA [Trafficking and Violence Prevention Act] because: (1) Defendants coerced her into having two abortions; (2) Defendants placed restrictions on Sea Org members’ ability to leave; (3) Defendants pursue Sea Org members who leave without routing out and attempt to dissuade them from their decision; (4) Defendants discipline Sea Org members who even express a desire to leave; (5) Defendants censor Sea Org members’ communications; (6) Defendants’ discipline of Sea Org members includes sleep and eating deprivation and heavy manual labor; and (7) Defendants attempted to force Plaintiff to divorce her husband. (Pl.’s Opp’n 17-18.)

In contrast to Bollard and Elvig, Defendants here represent that the challenged conduct was doctrinally motivated. (E.g., Defs.’ Reply 10-11, 15-18.) Therefore, inquiry into these allegations would entangle the Court in the religious doctrine of Scientology and the doctrinally-motivated practices of the Sea Org. It would also require the Court to analyze the criteria Defendants use to choose their ministers and the reasonableness of the methods used to enforce church policy and encourage members to remain with the organization and the religion itself. For example, inquiry concerning the pressure Plaintiff allegedly faced after becoming pregnant would require review of Scientology’s doctrine prohibiting Sea Org members from raising children. In order to determine whether Defendants’ means of persuading members to remain with the Sea Org, etc. fall within the purview of the TVPA, a trier of fact must inquire into Scientology’s policies,practices, and scriptures.

The Court rejects Plaintiff’s argument that the challenged conduct was not doctrinally motivated.

The judge is, essentially, full of it. In fact, L. Ron Hubbard’s writings are very much anti-abortion, so you could argue that the theology of Scn is anti-abortion but the current practice, at least for Sea Org members is exactly the opposite, and therefore it is a triable matter of fact as it can’t possibly be doctrinally motivated.

Here’s the background for how Scn prevented Sea Org members from leaving Gold base, including coercion and motion sensors. Here’s the judge’s statement in a hearing (pacer link, which requires a fee):

You submitted evidence that they did believe that the Church did not want them to leave the property, and if they did, that they couldn’t be members of the Church anymore. That’s an entirely different thing from being held against one’s will and being forced to work.

I can’t lather up enough rage for the judge’s complete inability to consider testimony.

A longer history of Scientology and abortion can be found in the Wikipedia article. Possibly the best reference on the change from anti-abortion to the coerced abortion situation, though, is this post about the institution of the “no kids” in the Sea Org when one of L. Ron Hubbard’s kids, Suzette, was pregnant. However, it should be noted that there were coerced abortions before, too, including time in the 60s on the ships with L. Ron Hubbard at the head of the church, but it was not as widespread or among as many people as it later became. So, really, the implied policy has always been more about serving the church’s goals and needs than about the actual theoretical doctrine.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

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I have been following the contest (and some of the people involved in its administration) since 1984 when I first worked the combined Battlefield Earth / Writers of the Future booth at the World Science Fiction convention in Anaheim.

All Scientology organizations are legally separate from one another. This is a manifestation of L. Ron Hubbard’s paranoia about Scientology being taken over (by your paranoid theory of choice). Nevertheless, all things are micromanaged from the top down.

  • At the start, WotF was administered by Author Services, which is apparently completely controlled by the Church of Spiritual Technology, both of which are part of Scientology.
  • Author Services is also the corporation David Miscavige (current leader of the church) came up through the ranks out of (his wikipedia page is a little bit out of order here; Author Services existed before L. Ron Hubbard died in 1986 and Miscavige overthrew the Broekers around 1987 and took over; before then, Miscavige was the head of Author Services). If there were no relationship between Scientology and Author Services, how could that possibly happen?
  • There is very little money separate in Scientology. It’s always an upward pull week-by-week. I was on the financial planning committee of Tustin for several years. We’d send $5,000 up even when we couldn’t afford toilet paper. I’ve been science fiction convention staff at several conventions involving WotF and I see the same Scientology fingerprints all over: not having the budget to buy a dealer’s table until the end, pleading with the staff, and wanting programming to accommodate them at the last minute. There was a commitment to Westercon last year — and then, nothing. If their money was *really* separate, I’d think they’d be more consistent with their planning and not act like everything’s a last-minute emergency the way Scientology does every frakkin’ week. As for budget specifics, obviously none of us have seen them.
  • When I went to the Athenaeum at CalTech in 2007 for the WotF event, they checked the column marked “Wog.” The other column was marked, “Scn.” I said, “Oh, I’m a Scientologist.” (partly to see what they’d do) They changed what box they checked. Why use a racist slur (also commonly used to mean non-Scn) if they were not affiliated? Why track Scientologists separately?
  • The camera crew at the events are Gold Sea Org (Scn’s religious order) members. This means they normally reside and work at the same location where Debbie Cook was tortured and Marc Headley was run off the road trying to leave. I’ve actually point-blank asked a few of them, “Oh, are you from Gold base? I always thought that would be so cool!” (Because of my film background, people were pressuring me to go there when I was in, but now I’m super-glad I did not.)
  • In 2008, the event was held at the Author Services building in Hollywood. Canapes were served by Sea Org staff.
  • I’ve never met a WotF staffer who wasn’t a Scientologist (more specifically, a Sea Org member). Galaxy Press is a secular organization, so in theory they can’t discriminate on the basis of religion, disability, color, and (most especially in California) sexual orientation. So where are the people of color? The disabled? The queer? The people of other faiths? If the contest administration is truly separate, is it also a secular organization? If so, same question.
  • I seem to recall Will Fry talking about some of the aspects of fiction publishing when WotF books were still published by Bridge Publications (where he was Sea Org), but I will need to look that up. He did talk specifically about gaming the NY Times bestseller list, though.

Regardless of the nitty-gritty details of any separation between WotF and the church, you’ve still got the problem of putting the name of a guy who put kids in chain lockers on the cover. This should not be forgotten about.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

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Trigger warning for those of you who need such, especially about bullying.

For a long time, I supported Scientology’s “Writers of the Future” contest. A couple of years ago, I quietly dropped my support for it as my views on the current state of the organization changed. (Note: I am a former CofS member and staff member.)

There have been tales going on for years about some of the bad stuff the Church of Scientology has been into, including the largest known infiltration of the US Government in history, and a secret IRS agreement that gives Scientology preferential tax treatment over all other faiths despite having lost a US Supreme Court case.

But that’s old news.

Why I’m posting about this now? On Feb 9, 2012, for the first time, a senior insider to the organization documented inhuman behavior at the highest levels under oath.

Cook: We were made to do these confessions…one time in front of 100 people, yelling at you. I was put in a trash can, cold water poured over me, slapped. One time it went on for 12 hours…There were times I was accused of being a homosexual, a lesbian.

The same story from another POV:

For the next twelve hours Debbie was made to stand in a large garbage can and face one hundred people screaming at her demanding a confession as to her “homosexual tendancies”. While this was going on water was poured over her head. Signs were put around Debbie’s neck, one marked in magic marker “LESBO” while this torture proceeded. Debbie was repeatedly slapped across the face by other women in the room during the interrogation. Debbie never did break. And fittingly she was rewarded with what turned out to be a break in another sense of the word.

Debbie Cook is also saying that she would have been unable to leave, and that is why she signed the document she did. Some people find that difficult to believe, but I challenge any of you to read the first chapter of Marc Headley’s book Blown for Good, where Scientology staffers from the same base came after him in an SUV to run his motorcycle off the road so he could not escape. You can read the opening on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or download a sample from iBooks. There is contemporary evidence; here’s the sheriff’s report. Here are spikes that would have kept both Debbie and Marc from escaping, along with inward-facing motion sensors, cameras, and guards (some of which are documented here).

It’s all very nice to dangle a few dollars in front of talented sf/f writers and illustrators so new blood can give new cred to L. Ron Hubbard, but please remember there are people’s lives being destroyed by the surrounding organization.

If that’s okay with you, feel free to continue to support the contest. (Look, past winners are past as far as I’m concerned. I’m more interested in people’s actions from this point forward.)

If it’s not, I ask that you link to or repost this (but please include the trigger warning at the top).

I have never spoken out in this context about my own harassment. In February, 1995, Scientology goons came to visit me in rural Vermont. However, I lived on a rural route and they couldn’t find me, so they harassed my friends they could find, sending private investigators around. I was the first ex-member to have a personal bully on the ‘net. One of the things I was accused of (to give you an idea of the truth level): marrying a post-op transsexual. At that point, I’d never been married. I do have an ex who transitioned, but our romantic relationship was before, not after.

Not even that was enough to make me speak out against the contest (having rationalized that the contest was good and only tenuously connected to the organization at large). In the larger sense of things, my own experience was small potatoes. Thankfully.

Cook said she was held there seven weeks with more than 100 other Scientology executives. They spent their nights in sleeping bags on ant-infested floors, ate a soupy “slop” of reheated leftovers and screamed at each other in confessionals that often turned violent. For two weeks, she said, Miscavige had the electricity turned off as daytime temperatures in the desert east of Los Angeles topped 100 degrees.

Cook testified Thursday that the experience in the summer of 2007 gave her nightmares and was part of the reason she was so eager to leave the Scientology staff later that year and sign a severance agreement never to speak ill of the church. (source)

Just keep that in mind.


Originally published at You can comment here or there.

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Just as the year changed, Debbie Cook sent an email to 12,000 people that rocked their world.

It was a letter to active Scientologists. Debbie was the head of the largest public-facing Scientology church in the world (in Clearwater Florida) for 17 years. In the four years she’s been off their staff, she’s been busy accumulating information.

Here’s a layman’s translation of her letter:

  1. She’s highly trained, and spent 29 years in Scientology’s religious order, and isn’t connected with anyone who is a critic of Scientology. She’s a dedicated Scientologist in good standing (as of the time she wrote this letter; that has undoubtedly changed). ALl of the above is basically “why you should listen to me,” even though most Scientologists are such sheep that they probably won’t.
  2. She’s trying to use the words of L. Ron Hubbard to point out that the organization has gone off the rails in several areas, specifically:
    1. You know the organization’s supposed to follow LRH’s policies.
    2. Despite this, current leadership created the International Association of Scientologists (IAS), Scientology’s membership organization, in 1984, and has since pressured Scientologists to fund a ton of money into it. As of the time she had the information, the IAS controlled one billion dollars in reserves. (As an example, Nancy Cartwright donated $10 million. Per Hubbard, a lifetime membership should cost $75, and the money should be made available to local organizations instead of sucked into the black hole center.)
    3. There is no advertising of Scientology or Dianetics. (There used to be, in a campaign designed by Jefferson Hawkins.) In other words, money gathered to help expand Scientology — isn’t being used for that purpose.
    4. There has been a multi-year campaign to buy new buildings for Scientology churches, and this has meant hundreds of millions of dollars. The money has been raised by direct fundraising for that purpose, including bingo nights and so on, which is in direct conflict with Hubbard’s policies prohibiting fundraising. Hubbard’s philosophy was, “Solve it with Scientology.” In other words, Scientology services alone should be able to fund the buildings said services are delivered in. Instead, currently, Scientology organizations are focused on money raising for new buildings and for the IAS and are not focused on Scientology services.
    5. When services are delivered, they are being mis-delivered. Specifically, upper-level Scientologists keep getting kicked down to below the middle grade of Clear (originally mentioned in the first book, Dianetics), (and some have been forced to re-do the level more than once). Then there are the people who’ve been kicked all the way back down to the bottom, forced to start over from the beginning. Why? Money. Specifically, “many millions of dollars.”
    6. Hubbard left a team of people at the head to run the organization. They have all been disappeared over the years, occasionally trotted out at events. (One in particular, Heber Jentzsch, the ostensible President of the church, has not been seen in public in years.)
  3. Debbie suggests that Scientologists refuse to donate for anything other than their services, in particular, to stop donating for the IAS war chest and for the buildings.

So here’s my take on this: the fallout’s going to be interesting. For the most part, Debbie’s email has reached “new blood,” people who were so far in they don’t know about the Internet, Anonymous, the various blogs and sites full of ex-members — or any such thing. They still think Scientology’s expanding like gangbusters (present evidence to the contrary).

There will be pressure to pull in each of the 12,000 people for debriefing and forced loyalty testing (no doubt in the form of pushing them to donate to the things that are against Hubbard’s policies). That will push some people who hadn’t considered Debbie’s email to realize that it really is a problem, and then they’ll have to figure out how to respond.

Right now, though, there’s a lot of disavowal of Debbie, so it’ll be interesting to see how many waves she’s actually caused.

Originally published at You can comment here or there.

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"Every family has their black sheep. On my mother's side, our black sheep was a shepherd who enslaved his own flock. The king of the cons, a man who made himself a messiah even though he never called himself a god. Even tonight, his words are written in steel and titanium capsules in a nuclear reinforced bunker miles underground so if our whole species goes extinct, his words will still survive."

Now that's what I call an opening. And that last part? Absolutely true. (so far as I know)

"I never met the man who gave me my red hair, the manic depression still twisted in the strands of my DNA and the first time I saw a psychiatrist when he asked me if mental illness runs in my family, all I could say was "yes, yes, yes it does." When I told him my great grandfather was a cult leader that enslaved the minds of millions, he accused me of having delusions of grandeur. What can I say? It runs in my veins."

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This is a remarkable story of forgiveness and a change of heart.

It’s the kind of story that Susan Sarandon could direct, and it needs to be told and retold.

“It is due to Rais’ message of forgiveness that I am more content now than I have ever been,” Stroman said in the interview with the documentary filmmaker. “If I don’t make it I want Rais to carry on his work teaching people not to be prejudiced.”

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This is a remarkable story of forgiveness and a change of heart.

It’s the kind of story that Susan Sarandon could direct, and it needs to be told and retold.

“It is due to Rais’ message of forgiveness that I am more content now than I have ever been,” Stroman said in the interview with the documentary filmmaker. “If I don’t make it I want Rais to carry on his work teaching people not to be prejudiced.”

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Story of Janet Reitman's first reading and signing for "Inside Scientology" here.

Of course there was a Scientologist in the audience to discuss Scientology.

The watershed moment: he wasn't a member of the CofS.

The Scientologist then responded that auditing could be very helpful. But, he added, "You shouldn't go to a church to get it. You should find an independent auditor." [Reitman reminds me that the man also then looked around the room, saying that he was worried someone else from Scientology might be there.]

Reitman's reaction after the event, when speaking to the Village Voice:

"The fact that the guy said what he did, and then he was looking around, expressed paranoia that someone in the room was after him -- that was such a confirmation of everything that I've been reporting and writing about. Just that alone should have answered a lot of questions for the people in the room."


For some reason, I'd gotten it in my head that Reitman's book would be out in August, so I've only read the intro excerpt. Even that really sheds some light into the evolution of Scientology. Unlike the most excellent book "Blown for Good," I think this one is a lot more accessible for those who've never been in.
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Marty Rathbun documents the harassment he's experienced since he's started posting about his experiences inside Scientology. He's been helping people extract themselves out as well as offering a platform for others to come out about their own leaving.

It. Is. Chilling.
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A self-selected exit survey of Scientologists who'd done more than the minimal number of services. Basically, the higher up you go, the less happy you are with the result.

Just thought I'd finally put the data up on a web page.
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I made the summary charts, here's the first:

Wait, you might say, that seems high.

Well, the lowest service surveyed was the "grades" -- and in order to complete those, it's generally a $10k-20k proposition, so people have had to buy in for an extended period to answer anything on this at all. Further, it doesn't exclude actual current CofS members from answering. Also, it doesn't say whether the person got the levels inside or outside the CofS. (In general, satisfaction rates tend to be higher outside because of the lack of attempt to control the person.) This is the first survey I've heard of, even self-selected, that specifically targets satisfaction with the upper levels.

At each point going up, the result is considered less valuable until finally it's at 9% satisfied with OT VIII (the highest level of Scientology currently).

The rest of my summary charts are here.
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Child labor laws were intended to prevent the abuse of children by industry; union efforts to improve working standards and prohibit exploit of children were often intertwined. Here's a brief timeline.

So when I post the following quotations, which have context removed, when do you think these abusive practices against a teenager happened?

• Was permitted to attend school about one day a week because working for [company] took priority.

• Spent his childhood working at least 40 hours a week, and often more than 100 hours a week for pay that ranged from $35 to $50 a week.

• Had no work permits required of minors.

• Was made to work back-to-back 12-hour days in the fall, when the [company] was pushing its staff to produce and sell a new book release.

• From [year] to [year], was punished along with other workers for lack of production. He was made to run laps wearing a jacket and tie, clean grease traps and do push ups.

• Worked past midnight for two months in [year] after rising at 6 a.m. each day, and was made to do push ups and dig ditches for lack of production.

• Suffered an accident at age 16 while cleaning a "notching" machine at the printing unit. Half of his right index finger was cut off and no ambulance was called, the lawsuit asserts. It says [minor] was taken to the hospital but told by the [company] to tell doctors he was a volunteer.

...would you expect that this happened in the last few years? In California?

It did. It's still happening.

Context here.

Now, in California, Human Trafficking law says:

[T]he peace officer shall consider whether the following indicators of human trafficking are present:
(a) Signs of trauma, fatigue, injury, or other evidence of poor
(b) The person is withdrawn, afraid to talk, or his or her communication is censored by another person.
(c) The person does not have freedom of movement.
(d) The person lives and works in one place.
(e) The person owes a debt to his or her employer.
(f) Security measures are used to control who has contact with the person.
(g) The person does not have control over his or her own government-issued identification or over his or her worker immigration documents.

All of the above are true within the context mentioned.

Why is it not being prosecuted when it is known about and has been being documented for years?

Because it's a church.

Currently, we exempt churches from many of employment laws. It's in the law that churches are allowed to practice bigotry in hiring and employment that we do not permit the society at large (e.g., sexism in the hiring of clergy; I do have to concede that permitting churches to require that one be a member to work there in certain positions doesn't seem odious in context).

Churches did get exemptions on taxes, too. Originally, that was granted because churches were the safety net: the unwed mothers' home was often on church property as were orphanages. Feeding of the underprivileged was a church function.

Now, with so many denominations, many of which own no land at all (in the case of very small denominations that meet at community centers or hotel conference rooms), and many do no works of public benefit -- but still receive a pass on labor laws and taxes.

Current law in the US about trafficking in church cases was set by the Claire Headley ruling last year. I quote:

The Ministerial Exception Applies to Plaintiff's Trafficking Victims Protection Act Claim.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act ("TVPA") prohibits, inter alia, knowingly obtaining the labor or services of a person by means of force, threats of force, physical restraint or threats of physical restraint to that person or another person. 18 U.S.C. § 1589(a)(1). A victim of a violation of the TVPA may bring a civil action against the perpetrator.

Defendants [Scientology, in this case] argue that this claim fails because of the First Amendment's ministerial exception. The Court agrees.


Determining whether Scientology's practices of routing out, censorship, or heavy manual labor as a form of discipline, for example, constitute involuntary servitude within the meaning of the TVPA is precisely the type of entanglement that the Religion Clauses prohibit.

Claire was sixteen when she started in the Sea Org.

All sex traffickers need to do is become a "religion" and exploitation becomes, per that ruling, constitutionally protected.
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If one is going to pay clergy out of donations, it's okay for said clergy to have an appropriate means of transport. At what point, though, does it become too much? And who should pay?

There have been revelations about Miscavige's vehicle fetish before, but this one is completely over the top. Much as I understand the fascination with fine Italian crafts, does one really need the most powerful road bike in the world if one heads up a religion?

I'm reminded of Rajneesh's fascination with Rolls Royces.

I think I'm more offended by how the money for the motorcycle was purportedly raised: forcing people who were already making at most $50 a week (out of which they needed to buy all personal care items and shoes) to contribute under significant pressure of consequences if they did not.

When I worked for Scn in Tustin, we'd be asked to buy a birthday or Christmas present for our local head, John Woodruff (who has since gotten himself into legal trouble after leaving staff) every year, but there were no consequences if we didn't contribute.
deirdre: (Default)
Well, that was fast. Story here. Jury deliberated two hours.

"We're not trying to justify it. (Ciancio's) death is a tragedy but it is not first-degree murder," said Sarah Quinn, one of Fowler's two defense attorneys. "(Fowler's) only plan was to take his own life. No intent. No deliberation. It was just a tragic reaction by Mr. Fowler."

If you're going to commit suicide and not pay severance to a former employee, you can go to your favorite place (like maybe the Rockies so you don't endanger a whole bunch of other people) and just off yourself rather than take a gun to the office when you've got an appointment with the person asking for a check and killing them instead.

Not that any of this makes any rational sense anyway but I had to vent.
deirdre: (Default)
Executive summary: William Rex Fowler, a prominent Scientologist, shot and killed a former employee coming in for a severance check of < $10k. Fowler's business was desperate for cash after Fowler gave ~$175k to Scientology. After shooting Ciancio, Fowler then attempted suicide, but lived.

It's clear that Fowler was intending to attempt suicide given his preparations, but less clear to me that he intended to kill Ciancio from the outset. Ciancio was a father of four who had been married to his high school sweetheart for nearly half his life.

Story here. Short version: two days of hearings, on the third morning, defense rested without calling a single defense witness.

I already linked to day 1 of the trial previously, here's the link to day two.

Most interesting bit: they had Fowler's son testify about giving the gun to his father as a Christmas present. Fowler's son was a member of Scientology's religious order, the Sea Org at the time. It's not clear if he still is; his claimed address is in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is near Scientology's Trementina Base. (Even if you don't care about the trial, that link is interesting; you can see it from the air.)

ETA: Here's a short guide to a criminal case that'll say where the case is in progress. Because defense comes after prosecution for witnesses and evidence, that also means prosecution has rested. Since there were no witnesses, there was no defense evidence (because evidence is hearsay without witnesses), so there's no rebuttal, so I think we're up to jury instructions.


deirdre: (Default)

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