The revelations in last night’s premiere of Alex Gibney’s doc Going Clear left plenty of mouths agape — from abuse allegations at Sea Org to charges that John Travolta is being blackmailed — but 119 minutes wasn’t nearly long enough to cover every Scientology scandal. What about Katie Holmes? And David Miscavige’s “missing” wife, Shelly? We’ve rounded a few of the craziest stories that didn’t make the final cut of Going Clear. (Did someone say “sequel”?)
No, you didn’t miss the part where they talked about Katie Holmes, because they never talked about Katie Holmes. Going Clear skipped straight from Nicole Kidman to the Nazanin Boniadi incident, a.k.a. when they tried to cast Tom Cruise’s new girlfriend. But what about his six-year marriage to Holmes? How Katie broke off her engagement to fellow actor Chris Klein and flew to Los Angeles to meet the star she told Seventeen magazine she had crushed on as a teen? She was the woman who made Tom famously jump all over Oprah’s couch. Then there was the time Katie — and daughter Suri, whom she had filed for sole custody of — escaped Scientology using a disposable cell phone given to her by a friend to plan with divorce lawyers, hiring three law firms in three states, and renting a secret apartment in New York.
The actress grew up in the Church. When she was 10, her mother moved the family from Brooklyn to the Scientology center in Clearwater, Florida. Thirty years later, she would quit the Church after problems with its leadership: “I don’t want to be known as this bitter, ex-Scientologist,” she told BuzzFeed last year. “I’m not trying to bash anybody and I’m not trying to be controversial. I just want people to know the truth.”
Church leader David Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, hasn’t been seen in public in over five years. When Leah Remini left Scientology, she filed a missing-persons report with the Los Angeles Police Department on Miscavige. The LAPD called Remini’s claims “unfounded,” and a Scientology rep released a statement: “The entire episode was nothing more than a publicity stunt for Ms. Remini, cooked up with unemployed, anti-religious zealots who blog on the fringe of the Internet.” Despite that, Miscavige is still nowhere to be found. Vanity Fair wrote this month: “… Most reports about Shelly’s whereabouts focused on a base outside Los Angeles. Located near Lake Arrowhead, about 90 minutes from the city, the roughly 500-acre site is known variously as Twin Peaks, Rimforest, or C.S.T. The first two are nearby towns; the third is an abbreviation for Church of Spiritual Technology — the wing in charge of Scientology’s copyrights and archival work … Sources who knew her well, say she’ll most likely stay at Twin Peaks for as long as is required of her — not because she has to, but because she wants to.”
Jenna Miscavige Hill
David Miscavige’s niece left Scientology at the age of 21, after growing up in the Church. She wrote a tell-all memoir in 2013, detailing her experience in Sea Org (she signed a billion-year contract at age 7). When she was 13, she was required to fill out a life history form, detailing “every single sexual experience, including masturbating, that I ever had.” She writes: “I knew I had to do it, but it was hard to understand why the church needed this information … Even though I had nothing to hide, I felt like the church was asking me for information just for the sake of having it, almost asking for material they might blackmail me with that served no Scientologic purpose.”
Tom Cruise vs. Brooke Shields
Going Clear didn’t really get into Cruise’s public battle with psychology, calling actress Brooke Shields “irresponsible” for saying that antidepressants helped cure her postpartum depression. “When someone says [medication] has helped them, it is to cope, it didn’t cure anything. There is no science. There is nothing that can cure them whatsoever.” She responded: “Tom should stick to saving the world from aliens and let women who are experiencing postpartum depression decide what treatment options are best for them.”
One of the ways that Scientology attempts to get future members in the door is through its Narconon program — a drug-rehabilitation program that claims an 85 percent success rate through cold-turkey withdrawal, “Therapeutic Training Routines,” a “New Life Detoxification Program,” and “Life Improvement Courses.” In 2009, officials investigated the deaths of 21-year-old Hillary Ann Holten, 32-year-old Gabriel W. Graves, and 28-year-old Kaysie Dianne Werninck — three patients who died while under the care of Narconon. Werninck’s parents sued, alleging Narconon Arrowhead (an Oklahoma facility) “gave [Werninck] the wrong medication and failed to get her proper care after she developed an upper respiratory infection.” The family and the center settled the case in 2013.
William S. Burroughs
“Burroughs took Scientology quite seriously indeed for the better part of a decade — during what was arguably his most artistically fertile period,” writes Lee Konstantinou at io9. “Today, where so much attention focuses on the science fictional origins of Scientology, it is easy to forget how seemingly in harmony the Church was with a whole range of countercultural, ‘New Age,’ and anti-psychiatric practices in the Sixties.” Burroughs even reached out to friends to encourage them to get their audit on, writing in a 1959 letter to Allen Ginsberg, “I have a new method of writing and do not want to publish anything that has not been inspected and processed. I cannot explain this method to you until you have necessary training. So once again and most urgently (believe me there is not much time) — I tell you: ‘Find a Scientology Auditor and have yourself run.’” Later in his life, he would denounce “the fascist policies of Hubbard and his organization,” and was subsequently rejected from the religion after he wrote critical “bulletins” about Scientology for London-based magazine Mayfair: “No body of knowledge needs an organizational policy. Organizational policy can only impede the advancement of knowledge.”
A response to the Church’s legal fight to remove from the internet that infamous leaked interview of Tom Cruise, Project Chanology was run by members of Anonymous and accused the organization of practicing internet censorship. The group used DDoS attacks, prank calls, and IRL protests, plus a campaign to get the IRS to investigate the Church’s tax-exempt status.
Fraud in France
In 2013, a French court rejected Scientology’s request to overturn a 2009 conviction for “organized fraud.” It claimed religious freedoms; the Cour de Cassation ordered it to pay “600,000 euros ($812,000) in fines for preying financially on followers in the 1990s.”
Kids on Stage for a Better World
A teen pop group created by Scientology to entice the youngs. They sang lyrics like, “A being causes his own feelings,” which also happens to be a line from an L. Ron Hubbard poem.
Lisa Marie Presley
Elvis’s daughter spoke out against Scientology after she left the organization in 2012, supposedly disguising her criticism in a song called “So Long”: “Religion so corrupt and running lives / Farewell, fair-weathered friends.” She explained to omg! Insider the story behind the song, but didn’t mention the organization by name: “There was a point in my life where no one would ever tell me anything bad. No one was telling me what was happening or what was going on, really. So I had a very obscure and actually completely blocked view of reality for a very long time. So, when I got rid of all these nuts in my life and these, whatever they’re crazy criminal people, away, that I was like, OK, I’m going to go find out what’s really going on out there.”
This Insane Scientology Christmas catalogue
Including perfect gifts like a $5,000 Hubbard Professional Mark Ultra VIII™ E-Meter and a 3,653-page biographical encyclopedia of L. Ron Hubbard.
Hubbard’s biological great-grandson is a slam poet and very outspoken critic of Scientology.
Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake
Video-game designer Theresa Duncan and her boyfriend Jeremy Blake committed suicide days apart — she in her New York City apartment, and he, a week later, by walking into the water at Rockaway Beach. According to New York, the couple feared that they were being harassed by Scientologists.
L. Ron Hubbard’s Space-Jazz Album
Scientology’s Wikipedia-Editing Scandal
In 2009, Wikipedia banned all Church of Scientology–owned networks from making edits on articles relating to Scientology after it found that the organization had a campaign in place to “manipulate material and remove information critical of itself from the web.”
In 1995, a woman named Lisa McPherson “went clear,” reaching Scientology’s top realm after years of auditing. Two months later, after being injured in a car accident, she was taken to Scientology’s Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida, and died 17 days later. Two felonies were dropped after a medical examiner found the death to be accidental, but the civil case (which contended that “church staff members let McPherson become severely dehydrated”) was settled out of court in 2004.
A Scientologist who was murdered by her schizophrenic son after she kept him from getting psychiatric care.
An article originally printed in Time magazine tells the story of 24-year-old Noah Lottick, who, after spending $5,000 on auditing classes, became paranoid and jumped from a tenth-floor window of a New York City hotel — “his fingers were still clutching $171 in cash, virtually the only money he hadn’t yet turned over to the Scientologists.” After the cover story came out, the organization sued writer Richard Behar and Time for $416 million. Their case was quickly dismissed.
Did Scientology kill John Travolta’s son? After TMZ reported that Travolta had taken his 16-year-old son off anti-seizure medication right before his death, critics of the Church claimed that Scientology laws could have been to blame for his death in 2009.
South Park’s “Trapped in the Closet”
After a 2005 episode of South Park mocked the Church (as well as Travolta and Cruise), Isaac Hayes (a Scientologist who played Chef) quit the show in protest. Later, a rerun of the episode was pulled, prompting accusations that Viacom (Comedy Central and Paramount’s parent company) had done so because it was concurrently promoting Cruise’s Mission: Impossible III. (They denied it.)
For more on Going Clear: a review of the documentary, an interview with the film’s director, Alex Gibney, and a list of the supposed miracles claimed by the organization.