Exclusive: 'The Scientology Reformation' author examines Tom Cruise and David Miscavige

Friday, October 19, 2012

Wikinews held an exclusive interview with former high-ranking Scientology executive Mark Rathbun on his new book The Scientology Reformation: What Every Scientologist Should Know. Rathbun examined the close association between actor Tom Cruise and Scientology leader David Miscavige. Before leaving the organization led by Miscavige, Rathbun served as Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center within Scientology. He currently practices the teachings of Scientology and its founder L. Ron Hubbard independently of the organization managed by David Miscavige.


Mark Rathbun in 2010
Image: Mark Rathbun.

Mark Rathbun — also known as Marty — left the Scientology organization in 2004 after having been involved for 27 years. Throughout the majority of his tenure as a member of the organization, Rathbun held high-ranking executive posts and was involved with managing multiple litigation issues.

  I had the No. 2 position from 1998 until I left.  

Mark Rathbun

He was raised in Laguna Beach, California. He first joined the Scientology organization in 1977 at age 20 after being introduced to a communications course in Portland, Oregon. He subsequently joined the elite Scientology group known as the Sea Org and was assigned to Los Angeles, California. He rose in the ranks and reported to Scientology leader David Miscavige in the 1980s as his lieutenant.

Rathbun attained the high-level position of Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center, the division which manages trademarks and copyright over works by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard relating to Scientology and Dianetics.

He served as director of external legal affairs for the organization. He described his role within the organization to the San Antonio Express-News, "I had the No. 2 position from 1998 until I left. I answered to no one but David Miscavige, who was chairman of the board. I was the personal counselor for Tom Cruise, Lisa Marie Presley, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley."

  I was concerned there might be some type of Waco or Jonestown event.  

Mark Rathbun

He helped manage multiple key hurdles for Scientology, including its 1993 success at attaining tax exemption in the United States, and dealing with the aftermath of the 1995 death of Scientology member Lisa McPherson. He assisted in the Scientology defamation claim against Time magazine over its 1991 article "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power".

Rathbun left the Scientology organization led by Miscavige on December 12, 2004, leaving on a motorcycle. Rathbun has stated he left due to physical abuse witnessed at the Scientology international headquarters known as Gold Base, located in Riverside, California. He later took up residence in Texas.

In 2009, he began speaking out critically about the organization as managed by Miscavige, with coverage from CNN, The New Yorker, and the St. Petersburg Times of Florida. Rathbun explained to the San Antonio Express-News his motivation for coming forward publicly with criticism of the Scientology organization, "I did a lot of soul-searching before going public. I was concerned there might be some type of Waco or Jonestown event."

Request for comment

Wikinews reached out to Church of Scientology International for a comment about Scientology or David Miscavige, and to representatives of Tom Cruise for a comment related to Mark Rathbun. As of this article's original publication no response was received. A subsequent response if received within 24 hours of this article's publication would be appended to this article as an addendum.

Update: 24 hours from time of article publication, Wikinews had not received a response from representatives for Church of Scientology International, David Miscavige, or Tom Cruise.


 ((Wikinews )) If David Miscavige were to leave the Scientology organization, what would happen to the leadership structure of the organization?

Mark Rathbun: "Nothing. It would just fade away under the do-less bureaucracy Miscavige created."

 ((WN )) Who would take over the way things are set up at the present time? Is there a succession plan in place?

MR: "Who knows? For the past twenty years it has been organized under the principles of The Lord of the Flies — whoever the collective, bee hive, stimulus response mentality collective that is left will do as they will. Might as well flip coins."

  I have no interest in organized religion.  

Mark Rathbun

 ((WN )) If you could be plopped into the Scientology organization position of Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center (COB RTC) and replace David Miscavige, right now, would you do it, or who else would you suggest who would be capable in that role?

MR: "No, I have no interest in organized religion. Because of that I am the last person qualified to answer the second question."

 ((WN )) What are your thoughts on the "disconnection" policy in organized Scientology? Do you think it should be discontinued?

MR: "Yes. But it never will because Scientology management has correspondence from Hubbard from 1983 re-instating; making it impossible for such literalists to cancel it."

 ((WN )) In your view, what top 5 things would you change from the leadership policies of David Miscavige, and why?

MR: "There are no five single things. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of arbitrary whims of Miscavige effectively chiseled in their minds as 'policy'. That is why I say 'Scientology Inc is dead', way past the point of possible rehabilitation."

 ((WN )) Your first book on this subject, What is Wrong with Scientology?, displayed on its cover the "Squirrel Busters" group who showed up on your doorstep in Texas. In a statement to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, they admitted that their goal was to make your life "a living hell". What are your thoughts on using Scientologists and private investigators in this manner?

MR: "It is reprehensible and unjustifiable in the twenty-first century."

 ((WN )) Do you think there is any situation which would justify using Office of Special Affairs (OSA) intelligence operatives, private investigators hired by the Scientology organization, high-ranking Scientologists, or some combination thereof, surveil, monitor, or gather information on former members of Scientology or critics of the organization? If so, can you describe what situations would warrant this type of response?

MR: "No. The tactics are anachronistic. They were conceived during the Cold War to deal with a cold war era attack."

 ((WN )) What are your thoughts on the response of the precursor to the Office of Special Affairs (OSA), the Guardian's Office (GO), to journalist and author of the book The Scandal of Scientology, Paulette Cooper? Is there any inside information or backstory you can share with us, regarding what happened to her? Is there anything else that you know, that hasn’t yet been exposed, about what happened to Paulette Cooper?

MR: "Reprehensible. I have no other data to share — it is quite graphically spelled out in the GO's own documents that were put on the public record in the D.C. Federal Court in 1978."

 ((WN )) Other high-ranking executives within the Scientology organization have left before you, and tried to form groups which practiced a similar philosophy. For example, David Mayo formed the Advanced Ability Center in Santa Barbara, California, which (according to Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman) after a few years of operating by 1986 was "bankrupt after several years of litigation and harassment, shut down." Another group was called the "Free Zone", similarly formed over disagreements with David Miscavige and the RTC, which was influenced by former Sea Org member William "Captain Bill" Robertson. How and why will the current "Independent Scientology" movement succeed, where others have failed?

MR: "The main difference is that David Mayo and Bill Robertson tried to become the new L. Ron Hubbard and set up another version of what Hubbard created. That creation — the organization structure served the organization well for its first several decades, but became outdated and obsolete around the time of Hubbard's death, 1986. The current independent movement is predicated on the idea that Scientology was destroyed by being monopolized — and if it survives it will because enough people appreciate that was the core reason for the demise of the original organizations."

  [Scientology executives] were long ago overwhelmed with cognitive dissonance to the point where they have created a bizarre, anachronistic universe that is destined for extinction.  

Mark Rathbun

 ((WN )) Since leaving organized Scientology under David Miscavige have you read much about the theory of cognitive dissonance?

MR: "Yes."

 ((WN )) How do you think cognitive dissonance applies to those high-ranking executives still under the authority of David Miscavige?

MR: "They were long ago overwhelmed with cognitive dissonance to the point where they have created a bizarre, anachronistic universe that is destined for extinction. They are clueless and they are so unreal and stuck to literally following outdated policies that it is hardwired for dissolution."

 ((WN )) Could you reflect on and describe your own period of mental growth and cognitive dissonance since leaving organized Scientology under David Miscavige?

MR: "I had a long three years with no contact whatsoever with any semblance of the subject or any Scientologist. I spent three years walking through my own valley of the shadow of death reflecting on my participation in abuses within that were anathema to the philosophy the organization was created to propagate. I studied far and wide outside of Scientology — including from the sources (Eastern thought and Quantum mechanics) that Scientology was derived from. Only with that distance and education could I begin to change my thought patterns and evaluate the organization's history and future sanely."

 ((WN )) Do you think that public and Sea Org members of the Scientology organization that believed the recent articles in Scientology's Freedom Magazine which try to explain away criticism of David Miscavige from former executives such as yourself by calling you, a "posse of lunatics", are suffering from a form of confirmation bias ? If not, why do you think those who read the 2009 series on the Scientology organization as led by David Miscavige in the newspaper St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) are still actively "in" the Scientology organization?

MR: "Those still in are suffering from heavy cognitive dissonance, and consequent thought stopping. Dozens of veterans have told me they woke up to what I was saying by first reading Scientology Inc's propaganda on me. It led them to check out my videos (three and one half hours worth) on the Tampa Times website — and then they really began waking up."

 ((WN )) What are your thoughts on the L. Ron Hubbard biography, Bare-faced Messiah, by Russell Miller? Have you read the book? Do you think it is accurate?

MR: "Miller's biography is a cheap propaganda assault on Hubbard. Miller was a hater. Hubbard was no saint, but Miller only put things in the worst possible light."

 ((WN )) You wrote the foreword to the book Blown for Good by Marc Headley, published in 2009. Why did you agree to write the foreword, seeing as how Headley and yourself have differing views about Scientology?

MR: "As covered in the forward itself."

  Church of Scientology Inc controls every aspect of Narconon.  

Mark Rathbun

 ((WN )) Are you aware of the situation unfolding now with the multiple recent deaths related to the Scientology drug rehab Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma? What do you think of the controversy surrounding these four recent deaths? Should David Miscavige change the way Narconon is run, or promoted to potential patients?

MR: "Yes, I gave Narconon Int President Gary Smith the green light to make medical supervised withdrawal policy. I was Inspector General (Number Two) at the time, 2002. The only one with the authority to cross order that was Miscavige. It is quite apparent he did after my 2004 departure."

[Note: Clark Carr is currently president of Narconon International; Gary Smith is currently CEO of Narconon Arrowhead in Oklahoma and has been active in Narconon in Oklahoma since at least 1989.]

 ((WN )) Soon after the June 11, 2008 death of Patrick W. Desmond, Director of Narconon in Georgia Mary Rieser sent a memo to the Scientology Office of Special Affairs (OSA). Why would OSA have been notified of a death of a former Narconon patient? Is this standard practice?

MR: "Because Church of Scientology Inc controls every aspect of Narconon."

[Note: Per an August 29, 1972 letter by L. Ron Hubbard, subject "Narconon", heading "Sea Organization", "The incomparable Guardian's Office has been running the Narconon (drugs no!) Program over the world."]

 ((WN )) The description of your new book, The Scientology Reformation: What Every Scientologist Should Know, states it will answer questions including, "Why does Tom Cruise continue to support Miscavige despite international media reports of his increasingly sociopathic conduct?". Can you give us a little taste and explain in brief why Tom Cruise still supports David Miscavige after the reporting of controversy in the Scientology organization from news sources including the 2009 St. Petersburg Times "The Truth Rundown" series, and the 2010 Anderson Cooper 360 piece on CNN, "Scientology: A History of Violence"?

MR: "It is covered in excerpts posed on my blog markrathbun.wordpress.com."

 ((WN )) You published an excerpt of The Scientology Reformation on your blog, "Chapter Eight: The Gates of Hell", where you write: "After I had spent more than two years recovering Tom Cruise to the Scientology Bridge, auditing him for dozens of hours, indoctrinating his children to choose him over their mother (his former wife), auditing and guiding him through the entirety of OT V, OT VI, and onto OT VII (three of the highest levels of Scientology spiritual advancement), Miscavige became impatient." What was it that caused Tom Cruise to need to be "recovered" back to the "Scientology Bridge"? How were you able to convince him to come back? Do you now think in the end this result was to his benefit?

MR: "The end result in 2003 was definitely to his benefit. What Miscavige did to him after that will be his undoing."

 ((WN )) In The Scientology Reformation, Chapter Eight, you write, "As much as Miscavige’s head swelled in the Tom Cruise inner circle, he became more and more detached and individuated from the Sea Org members of international management who had built the empire he was profiting from. They slaved on in squalid communal quarters, working long hours with no time off and next to no pay." Is Tom Cruise aware of the real working and living conditions of Sea Org members?

MR: "Yes."

 ((WN )) What did he tell you he thought of this Sea Org lifestyle in the Scientology organization under the leadership of David Miscavige? While you were in the Scientology organization, did Tom Cruise voice his opinions about this to David Miscavige?

MR: "This is really covered in the book. Cruise has been turned into a sociopath by Miscavige's close personal tutoring. They have absolutely no concern or regard for human life other than their own."

 ((WN )) Further, in Chapter Eight of The Scientology Reformation you also state, "Miscavige forbade me from letting Tom get on with his life as a free Scientologist." What do you mean by this?

Scientology international headquarters in Riverside California, known as Gold Base
Image: carmenslade.

MR: "Miscavige ordered Tom come to the International Headquarters and become David's close friend. The rest is covered in my book. Miscavige destroyed him."

 ((WN )) What is the difference between Tom Cruise before this directive of David Miscavige, and afterwards?

MR: "Tom was caring — about his family, about church staff members, about those he worked with. After he cares about nobody but himself and his best man Dave."

 ((WN )) What do you mean by "life as a free Scientologist"? How would Tom Cruise’s life be different today, if he could live life as a "free Scientologist"?

MR: "He would [be] sort of a normal guy."

 ((WN )) Thank you very much for participating in this interview for Wikinews.


This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.