Scientologists at War investigates the pressure tactics used to discredit and silence members who leave the church. Courtesy of its highest level defector, the documentary provides a rare insider’s view of one of the world’s most mysterious organizations. As the former Inspector General of Ethics, Marty Rathbun worked closely with leader David Miscavige and celebrity follower Tom Cruise. He claims that for many years he was Number 2 to Miscavige and acted as an enforcer, punishing anyone who questioned the church’s leadership.
“I didn’t think twice about quelling opposition, or silencing critics or punishing someone,” Rathbun admits. Now that he’s defected, he says the same tactics he helped devise are being used against him.
For months, Rathbun’s home is besieged by a group of people waving video cameras and shouting at him whenever he steps outside. The church denies any involvement but Rathbun says these are high-level Scientology members “sent down to get in my face and to make my life a living hell.”
“They’ve sent sex toys to my job, they’ve sent PIs (private investigators) to my dad’s house, to my ex-husband, to all my ex co-workers, my ex-boss,” Rathbun’s wife adds. “You name it, they’ve done it.”
Scientologists at War documents how Rathbun’s life has become a daily battle of taunts, insults and surveillance – a battle he now considers as payback for the wrongdoing he carried out in the Church. "In a way it's my karma. I've done it to others and so… you reap what you sow".
The church may contest Rathbun’s status now, but in 1993 Miscavige describes taking on the head of the IRS. Working side by side with Rathbun, they prevailed in Scientology’s greatest victory to date: becoming tax exempt in the US and dodging a billion-dollar tax bill.
In the film, Rathbun also claims that he was the man charged with finding a celebrity poster boy for Scientology and attracting Tom Cruise when his marriage to Nicole Kidman was failing. “Cruise started making some noises about getting some help. Miscavige had me drop everything and that became the number one priority. I helped them on his divorce with Nicole and then I was auditing him and helping him get Penelope audited.”
Rathbun says his close relationship with Cruise became his downfall. “Miscavige had to start undermining me in front of Cruise". Out of favour, Rathbun found himself at the other end of his own methods. He says he was sent to a Scientology behavioural modification facility, then escaped and went into hiding before starting up an independent Scientology movement.
Scientologists at War is directed by Joseph Martin and produced by Danielle Clark and Michael Simkin for Channel Four.
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