The Church of Scientology, known for attracting celebs such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is being probed by the FBI for human trafficking and enslavement, according to an explosive report.
An article in The New Yorker, quoting heavily from Hollywood director and ex-Scientologist Paul Haggis, details alleged ‘cult’-like activities from the enigmatic religion, founded in 1954 by L. Ron Hubbard.
”I was in a cult for 34 years,” Haggis said.
The allegations include:
— Members who tried to flee “re-education camps” were tracked down and “subjected to further punishment.”
— David Miscavige, the church’s leader, was prone to violent outbursts, and senior executives physically abused members, former Scientologists said. Miscavige is also accused of living large on church money.
— Members were forced to stay in trailers called “The Hole” to perform “group confessions all day and all night.”
The FBI would neither confirm nor deny they are investigating.
The church called the claims “sensationalist” and the piece “is little more than a regurgitation of old allegations that have long been disproved.”
One Scientologist from Millburn, N.J., who was at the Church of Scientology New York in midtown yesterday, said some of the allegations sound “absolutely ridiculous.”
“After searching and reading lots of other things in other pursuits and religions, [Scientology] is about the best thing going,” said Adam, who wouldn’t give his last name.
Frank Flinn, a former professor of religious studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., said Scientology has become the target “cult” that people like to attack.
“It’s easy to make fun of it, but other religions have secret teachings, too,” Flinn said. “If it’s true, it’s their obligation to bring a court case.”
(With Tim Herrera)