NYT Article On Scientology Defectors

Battlefield The New York Times today published a lengthy piece about two former Scientologists, husband and wife, who left the Church due to extensive abuse. Chris and Christie Collbran talk candidly about their experiences with the Church and their employment with its association, Sea Org, whose members are required to sign a contract for a billion years. Yes, a billion years.

From the article:

"When Mr. Collbran decided he wanted to leave the Sea Org, he was sent
to Los Angeles, where potential defectors are assigned to do menial
labor while they reconsider their decision. Ms. Collbran remained in
Johannesburg, and for three months the church refused to allow them to
contact each other, the Collbrans said.

Letters they wrote to each other were intercepted, they said. Finally,
Ms. Collbran was permitted to go to Los Angeles, but husband and wife
were kept separated for another three months, the Collbrans said, while
they went through hours of special auditing sessions called
“confessionals.” The auditors tried to talk them out of leaving, and
the Collbrans wavered.

They could not just up and go. For one, they said, the church had taken
their passports. But even more important, they knew that if they left
the Sea Org without going through the church’s official exit process,
they would be declared “suppressive persons” — antisocial enemies of
Scientology. They would lose the possibility of living for eternity.
Their parents, siblings and friends who are Scientologists would have
to disconnect completely from them, or risk being declared suppressive

'You’re in fear,' Mr. Collbran said. 'You’re so into it, it’s everything you know: your family, your eternity.'”

In related news, the 2000 film "Battlefield Earth," based on L. Ron Hubbard's novel of the same name, was just awarded a Razzie for worst film of the decade.


  1. Bryan says

    As is so often the case in media coverage of religion, the most interesting part is what’s not said.

    For example, the techniques used by dominant Scientologists to control the rank and file are not significantly different from those of any other religion, which are in turn largely borrowed from the military. The distinction between “religion” and “cult” is pure a public relations creation born of cowardice.

    But the Times can’t, after all, remark on weekly meetings where millions of Christians kneel before a torture device to practice mock ritual cannibalism without incurring considerably more than the wrath of a few rich LA Jim Jones wannabees. Even when child abuse is revealed on a massive scale within the Roman Catholic Church, all coverage must focus on a few “gay priests,” and no mention made of the fact that such abuses have been institutionalized for centuries. No one seriously suggests that the organization itself is at fault.

    All religions should be judged by the behavior of those who profess them, none of whom are above the law.

  2. TANK says

    All religions are cults. This one is more forthright about it being a business front than others, however. Its sole purpose is to generate funds through bad science fiction. Fraud.

    I just find it a bit ironic when on the grounds of epistemic absurdity, religious people criticize scientology. Yes, scientology is more transparently rubbish than other religions, and really does deserve ridicule for how it exploits and abuses its marks-er, members, but they all basically make claims to miracles. Oh well, that’s what the religious do…their beliefs about the way the world is are incompatible with others with similar supernatural beliefs claim the world is. It’s just wearying to watch them eat each other. But, no one worships poseidon anymore…and in a few thousand years, probably no one will worship jesus or yahweh or allah anymore. I can tell you now that scientology is going to be out in less than a hundred years…gone. Designed for extinction, like clear pepsi.

  3. patrick nyc says

    If it’s true that the Collbrans were in their teens and were being payed way below minimum wage, shouldn’t the government step in and check on what is clearly child abuse?

    I’m just glad that the more the ex-freaks speak up, more will feel free to and Ms Cruise and Revolta will look more and more the fools they are. This cult will not cure them from being gay.

  4. johnny says

    There are huge psychological and physical differences in standard, church-going christians and scientologists’ lives.

    If you want to leave a standard christian church, you simply stop going. No big deal.

    But try to leave scientology and they get involved in every facet of your life, controlling your finances, taking huge amounts of money, controlling your movement and living spaces, seperating couples, opening your mail, keeping you confined and putting you through bizaare kinds of programming to extort yet more funds.

    IMO, you can’t paint the two with the same brush.

  5. says

    @ WTF who stated,”For example, the techniques used by dominant Scientologists to control the rank and file are not significantly different from those of any other religion, which are in turn largely borrowed from the military. The distinction between “religion” and “cult” is pure a public relations creation born of cowardice.”

    I laugh out loud when I see drivel comparing a 50 year old outer-space cult– created by a science fiction writer who stated he would make a million by creating his own religion– to ancient religions reformed over 2000 years. The difference between a cult and religion is the difference between Jim Jones and Sunday school.

    I’m an atheist, but part of that is acknowledging the obvious truth, rather than allowing notions of moral relativism to turn into insanity.

    So I have a series of questions to ask WTF, given his necessary position that cults do not exist, and that they are really all religions. I will check back for a response, but I don’t think we will get one.

    Does the Pope beat the crap out of his flock whilst playing days long games of musical chairs under threat of exhile? (google “the truth rundown”) Does the Pope force his staff to get abortions? (same).

    Does the Pope personally engage in child labor?

    Does the Pope attempt to frame journalists, drive them insane, and frame them for felonies? (google “operation freakout” “operation snow white”)

    Does the Pope charge $400,000 to even see the bible? This is not a “tithe” the COS charges– it is a fee to even see the alleged “sacred” texts. You are required to pay more and more for while you climb up the “bridge to total freedom.” If you neither pay up, nor sign a billion year contract of slavery (designed for those who can’t pay high fees) you are declared “suppresive” and attacked, seperated from your family.

    My personal problem with this is that it’s a bait and switch lie. They don’t mention the expense, they don’t mention the Xenu outer space soap opera. To the “raw meat” it is simply presented as a self-help group that provides courses for self-improvement at mininal expense.

    Why is it that no ancient religion will deny the content of its holy scriptures, but the COS does? Doesn’t that seem rather convienient, given the outer space nature of the higher levels the ever increasing demands for payment? This is exactly how any conman would structure a con. If the COS is a just like an ancient religion, why is nothing the same?

    Of course, if you had done your homework, you would also know that LRH based Dianetics and Scientology on Crowley’s and Parson’s concepts of Satanic enslavement. I recommend running “guardian’s office” into wikipedia for some fun.

    All told, you may be right that the COS is no worse than another religion– but that other “religion” would be satanism. Counterpoint? Fact that support your position?

  6. TANK says

    I don’t see a compelling distinction between cult and religion made by any poster who seems to want to drive a wedge between them. If it’s a matter of the number of members, what’s the arbitrary cut off point? And does that not imply that all cults could become religions if enough people signed on? If it’s a matter of tradition and time, does that not also imply that a cult could very be a religion, and what’s the arbitrary cut off point there? A thousand years, two thousand years? Doesn’t that strike you as a bit ad hoc? And let’s not get into the historical abuses that have occurred at the hands of christianity…

    Now, christianity and scientology differ by degree. I’m okay with that. They don’t, however, differ in that they’re both cults, or religions, or whatever you’d like to call them to make yourself feel more comfortable. Scientology is so breathtakingly stupid that I find it hard to understand why anyone would subscribe to it. Then again, I have difficulty understanding how anyone could subscribe to any form of supernatural faith.

  7. Pitt says

    My belief in a spiritual presence notwithstanding, it’s challenging enough for me to understand why someone would want to follow the teachings of a possibly mythic messiah, whose own supposedly literal works (e.g. the Bible) are riddled with inconsistencies (perhaps because it was written by man? nevermind); but it’s harder to understand why anyone would want to follow a religion invented by a really, really bad science fiction writer!


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