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Censorship The Courts Your Rights Online

Scientology Charged With Slavery, Human Trafficking 802

eldavojohn writes "A formal complaint was filed in California (caged PDF) last week by John Lindstein naming David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology International as defendants. Lindstein claims that for sixteen years (from age 8) he was forced to work as a slave at Gold Base, a secret CoS site run by Golden Era Productions with 'razor wire, security guard patrols, surveillance posts, and three roll calls each day.' The pay was $50 a week. The allegations include 'Violations of wage and hour laws as well as unfair/illegal business practices actionable under California B&P 17200 Et. Seq.' and a complaint under the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, which abolished slavery. Members of the group Anonymous praised the summons."
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Scientology Charged With Slavery, Human Trafficking

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  • really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sopssa ( 1498795 ) * <> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:31PM (#30289174) Journal

    Was this a surprise to anyone?

  • About damn time. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NotBornYesterday ( 1093817 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:37PM (#30289250) Journal
    It looks like it's just a civil complaint, though. I'd love to see these guys brought up on criminal charges. If this suit makes any headway, I wonder if criminal charges will eventually follow? I can't imagine the DA would refuse to prosecute for slavery. It will be interesting to see what Scientology goodies come to light in the discovery process.
  • FLSA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:45PM (#30289366) Homepage

    There is no law against working in a compound which has barbed wire. So that sounds like some crap to feed the media.

    The $50/week pay could be grounds for him to sue them for back wages, supposing he has proof that he worked more than 10 hours per week and that they only paid him $50 during such weeks.

    For the slavery charge, he would need to prove that he tried to quit/leave but was forcibly prevented from doing so. Did he call the police on such occasions?

    I'm thinking he may have a hard time proving his case. Accusations alone won't do it; he'll need evidence.

  • Yes... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:53PM (#30289498)

    I'm not fan of scientology, or any cult really - but a mainstream organization with illegal work camps? I just never expected that, at all. You'd think the lid would have come off something that extreme some time ago. And what are they even having them do in these camps, build the theta monitors?

  • Ah My Homeland (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:54PM (#30289526) Homepage Journal
    As a Californian I wonder how much interest this is going to garner in my home state regarding the abuses of Scientology. On the one hand, my state is populated with pipe dreamers, smoked out idealists, flower children, hippy nutjobs, and all sorts of other forms of extreme liberalism. On the other hand, we have very rich communities like Hollywood, the OC, and Roseville. We also, apparently, have enough orthodox, classic right wingers that we voted down legalizing gay marriage recently. We have farmers. We have students. We have programmers. We have ranchers. We have movie stars. We have one of the most diverse culture mixtures in the world I bet. That's part of why I love it here...

    Of course, along with that diversity is an unfathomable tolerance for some particularly poignant cases of our state budget. There is no doubt that the strong and vocal religious groups here in California would raise exception and a helluva kerfuffle over their church being towed to court for slavery. But I wonder if any of those groups see a case regarding Scientology as a threat. After all sometimes the most belligerent opposition to one religion comes from another religion. I have seen folks in Fawkes masks walking around my local famer's market protesting Scientology. However, I have also had Scientologists try to recruit me both in my home town and when I wander the rest of the state. So this will certainly be an interesting case to watch. I hope it garners some attention and noise in this state and, perhaps, even in our country. Exposing Scientology for the cult and crime syndicate it is certainly is, in my opinion, a righteous cause....

    Well if there's one thing we Californians know how to do, its garner attention and make some noise. I'm gonna go pop some popcorn...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:01PM (#30289616)

    Why does it have to be about something online to be of relevance to nerds?

    The war between Scientology vs. The Internet [] has been going on pretty much since there was an Internet.

    The Co$ practically invented the Hipcrime sporgery [] attack technique that still plagues USENET to this day. It was directly responsible for taking down the world's first anonymous remailer [] ( in 1996, and compromised every user of that service. Its shill legislator got his name stamped onto the Mickey Mouse Protection Act [] in 1998.

    It has been a consistent and implacable foe of the free exchange of information on the Internet for the better part of 20 years, and it will not stop until it - either the Cult or the Internet - ceases to exist in its current form. Anything that could deplete the cult's financial reserves is a priori a good thing for Your Rights Online, and anything that the cult wants is a priori a threat to Your Rights Online.

    Asking "What does the Co$ have to do with YRO?" is like asking "What does NSA have to do with surveillance?" Both are threats to your ability to speak freely. NSA may break the law from time to time, but for all we bitch about it, at least it acknowledges the existence of legal restrictions on its ability to carry out its mission. Co$ doesn't even recognize the concept of law, except as a means of filing strategic lawsuits against public participation, or as a means to otherwise harass its critics.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:03PM (#30289644)

    If you learn more about the inquisition and compare it with the other trials of the time (that is, not by today's standards), you'll surely prefer to be judged by the inquisition; and the spanish one which so much bad publicity was better than the anglican one, which burnt the most witches.

  • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:09PM (#30289718)

    Many people would say some organizational structures are better able to resist corruption than others. It's been my perception that (monotheistic) religion is particular vulnerable to corruption since it's trivially easy for the organization to be corrupted from the top down. In most cases the leader is expected to be the holiest of people and thus even questioning the leader can easily be cast as lack of faith in the entire religion.

    Even if everything can be corrupted, but it might useful to look at how easily corrupted different organizational structures are.

  • by Vindicator9000 ( 672761 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:16PM (#30289824)
    Because it's a common tactic used by Scientologists in all negatively-slanted Scientology stories.

    Look around for COS stories on the internet, and read the comments. You'll find some derivation of that exact comment over and over in every single one of them.

  • by reporter ( 666905 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:17PM (#30289838) Homepage
    If you know anyone who is trapped -- physically or mentally -- inside a cult like the Church of Scientology, then please contact Rick Ross []. The life of the victim may depend on your getting Ross' help as soon as possible.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:41PM (#30290186)

    It isn't religion that is the problem, it is organization and trust.

    The Catholic Church has the additional problem that they prohibit their authority figures from engaging in normal heterosexual relationships. To put it bluntly, one of the key criteria they use to select authority figures is abnormal sexuality. Many of the Catholic Church's authority figures are probably just asexual and some are probably homosexual - but there are also obviously quite a few who are pedophiles. That's not to say that people with abnormal sexuality are bad - just that the child molesting by authority figures in the Catholic Church wasn't just random chance (it was a direct result of their celibacy requirements).

  • by macraig ( 621737 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [giarc.a.kram]> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:44PM (#30290232)

    I once had the opportunity to read part of the diary of a teenage girl who had been at a Scientology "Base" in Colorado. I don't recall the name of it, or even whether she mentioned it by name (this was 20 years ago). The disruptive, corruptive effects her involvement with this Base and the CoS had on her state of mind were obvious from what she wrote. While I don't recall whether she described any physical enslavement, the mental enslavement was apparent.

    Why they're still getting away with it mystifies me; pretty much everyone now knows what they're doing and how they're doing it.

  • by Literaphile ( 927079 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:53PM (#30290320)

    A cult by definition is a religious group - it's silly for you to equate a religious activity with a sports activity.

    A cult is a religious group, but a religious group is not necessarily a cult. If all 'A's are 'B's, all 'B's are not necessarily 'A's. As another poster mentioned, Christianity is far from a cult. Yes, it has rituals, as does any religion. But rituals do not make a cult. You're free to leave the Christian church at any time. Blame your parents for keeping you in church as a kid, just as a kid who doesn't like soccer might blame his parents for keeping him in the sport against his will.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:58PM (#30290406)

    People have known about the forced servitude of scientology for a long time. Its just that this is perhaps the first time anyone has had the combination of resources and bravery to stand up against it. And this is an example of bravery, some people that speak out against scientology have found themselves mysteriously dead.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ravenshrike ( 808508 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:01PM (#30290436)
    AFAIK, there was never any sort of actual evidence of this. It was merely rumors without an established source. Of course, the rumors did give the .gov the excuse to attempt to invade the compound during which they killed off most of the Branch Davidians and then managed to lose the 6 separate locations worth of film that was running during the process so that they couldn't be released through FOIA requests.
  • Re:FLSA (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:08PM (#30290518)

    You are missing his age. Slavery becomes much easier to prove if it's a child.

  • Re:really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:27PM (#30290766) how much do I now owe the church of scientology for reading that?

  • Re:I Was Surprised (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:51PM (#30291086)

    There's is nothing bad about that prospect except the possibility of government casualties.

    And all of the Church's slaves. I'm sure there's some "kill all believers" doomsday scenario that L Ron set up for when the Feds come (it would keep the head honchos on their toes).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:52PM (#30291094)

    Here here. I know Rick (personally). While I don't agree with him on all matters, he is a good man and has helped countless people. While he was unable to help my friend (Dawn Ward...she's referred to on his site), I stand by my statements.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:13PM (#30291364)
    I work with a woman who was a neighbor of the Dividians at the time. Her telling of the story is that they were decent neighbors who didn't bother anyone. They did have large stockpiles of guns, but that as far as anyone could tell, they were legal firearms delivered through normal channels, and that having a bunch of guns wasn't all that unusual for that area.

    According to her telling of events, the altercation started when one of the Dividians neighbors complained about the noise from their target practice. The local sheriff went out and asked them to keep it down. She claims the sheriff had already resolved the issue before the Fed decided they had an excuse to assault the church.
  • by nog_lorp ( 896553 ) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:23PM (#30291480)

    And L. Ron Hubbard apparently ordered it used on several occasions by Sea Org on certain individuals!

    I need to look at the refs on this fucking wikipedia article this is unbelievable... []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:14PM (#30292554)

    Oh and don't go to the Cult Awareness Network. It was bought by Scientology after they and Landmark Education sued them into bankruptcy and bought their name and records of people seeking to leave a cult, including Scientology.

    I'm not going to post a source. Anyone who rose an eyebrow at the headline, you failed.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JumperCable ( 673155 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:06AM (#30293304)

    The cult claims more than 6,000 churches missions & related groups, but I don't see anywhere near that amount listed on their website. And they claim 8-12 million Scientologists, but there are only about 25,000 in the US.> [].

    If you really think there are 8 million Scientologists, then were the heck are they all? Shouldn't those Orgs be packed full? Seriously, how many should be in any major city in the US. They just aren't there. They are lying to you & all you have to do is a little basic research. Start of with the question of 6,000 churches, missions & related groups. That should be simple to verify from the website alone.

  • by JumperCable ( 673155 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @01:37AM (#30293956)

    Monasteries typically don't have:
    * Sniper nests
    * Double bladed razor fences
    * Motion sensors facing inside
    * Armed security guard preventing people from leaving
    * A full arsenal of guns
    * People are allowed to leave
    * Phone calls & mail are not monitored & prefiltered
    * Phone calls from concerned relatives are not coached
    * People inside are not punished when someone leaves
    * Nunneries don't coerce females to have abortions to keep up productivity
    * Emergency calls to the police actually go to the police & not internal security
    * Don't make 'bad' monks clean septic tanks with their hands (no tools, JUST their hands).
    * Don't throw members into a shit pond for not behaving by their standards.
    * Get to see their family
    * Are not physically beat, kicked or strangled by their leader David Miscavige.
    * Are not asked by their leader David Miscavige to beat/attack other members who are not living up to the leader's standards.
    * Are permitted time for personal hygiene when being punished for information leaks.
    * Do not go into lock down when information leaks

  • by Pfhorrest ( 545131 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @02:39AM (#30294302) Homepage Journal
    <quote>It would be easy to respond to such a statement in kind. You don't like any kind of religion, so you fail to discern the differences in your attempt at lumping them all together as worthless and meaningless.</quote>

    Except that he's not, as far as I can tell at least, failing to discern the differences; he's saying the differences are negligible in light of their similarities.

    To borrow the theme of another analogy:
    Say one group of people thinks that all puppies should be brutally tortured to death. Another group used to do that, but now they only advocate that puppies should all just be taken out and shot in the head, quick and (relatively) painless. Clearly there is a difference here, and I'm confident most people would object <em>more</em> to the former group than the latter, but hopefully most people would likewise condemn them both and ask "why would you want to kill puppies to begin with!?"

    The people condemning other religions in the same broad brush as they condemn scientology may very well agree that mainstream religions are generally less harmful today than scientology is, and yet see them both as sharing the same intolerable flaws despite their other differences.
  • by Omestes ( 471991 ) <> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @03:07AM (#30294476) Homepage Journal

    You don't like any kind of religion, so you fail to discern the differences in your attempt at lumping them all together as worthless and meaningless.

    A bit of a strawman there; I never said or implied that I didn't like religion. I think religion, like all human endeavors, is capable of wonderful things, and terrible things alike. My own faith, or lack thereof, doesn't play into this.

    If Scientology isn't a religion, then what is it? This is a simple question. If you claim it is a cult, not a religion, then we run into the problem that there isn't really a good definition for either that excludes the other. If we claim it is a "for profit scam" we still have to include some very popular Christian sects in America (think TV evangelism, and mega churches), not to mention the pre-reformation Catholic church.

    Scientology is a religion. This doesn't say that all religions are bad, or that your particular brand of religion is bad, it just says (barring further evidence) that SOME religions can be bad. This shouldn't be shocking to anyone.

  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @03:32AM (#30294604)
    I am suspicious. I don't think your error was an error at all.

    Wow, you just exude Tom Cruise level craziness.
  • Re:Yes... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mlush ( 620447 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @06:12AM (#30295296)
    its one of those irregular verbs:
    • My Faith
    • Your Religion
    • His Cult
  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @09:24AM (#30296352)

    Why, it's simple: it lets butthurt atheists to put two snipes about religion into a single unit, therefore being twice as effective in making themselves feel superior.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:33AM (#30297000)

    Salute mah dog!! []

    "He got his beagle and he literally had somebody tailor a blue vest sweater for his beagle dog and made up epaulets, these Sea Org ranks in the Sea Organization," said Rathbun [27-years in Scientology & 'Inspector General'], referring to the religious order within the Church. "And he had four stripes put on, captain, for the dog. And he would bring the dog in. And if those guys didn't salute the dog, he would just viciously berate them and invalidate them."

    Amy Scobee gave her account. "[Miscavige] comes with his dog, with a sweater, with commander stripes. And, the dog let out a little bark when she saw me. And, uh, David Miscavige said, you know ... 'You've got somethin' goin' on. Because sh ... she is detecting out ethics. And you have something going on.' I think what the dog was really saying is, you know, 'You look like the only halfway sane person to me. Help me outta this outfit.'"

    Nope, definitely not a nutjob...

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein