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New book Blown for Good reveals details inside Scientology headquarters

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A new book released today by author Marc Headley, Blown for Good, reveals details inside Scientology headquarters at the organization's "Gold Base", located near Hemet, California. Headley joined the organization at age seven when his mother became a member, and worked at Scientology's International Management Headquarters for several years before leaving in 2005.

Blown for Good by Marc Headley
Image: blownforgood.com.

While an employee of the Scientology headquarters located in Riverside County, California, Headley had the experience of practicing Scientology counseling services called "auditing" with Scientologist Tom Cruise, shortly after the actor had completed work on the film Days of Thunder. In 1990, Cruise was training to become proficient in the Scientology auditing techniques, and Headley was selected to become the actor's auditing partner. Though a young actor at the age of 28, Cruise was already known for his work on films including Top Gun and Born on the Fourth of July. Headley writes in the book that he was chosen to work with Cruise because he had not yet progressed in Scientology levels, and because he was seen as a low security risk due to his young age at the time. Headley writes that he worked with Cruise for hours and hours each day, for a period of three weeks, on Scientology techniques called "Training Routines".

The book provides details of what life was like for the author inside the organization's headquarters. The inner flap of the book includes a map of the "International Headquarters of Scientology; Gilman Hot Springs, California". Headley writes that under the direction of Scientology leader David Miscavige, employees who signed billion-year contracts routinely put in 100-hour weeks of work for minimal pay. According to Headley, possible discipline faced by the Scientology employees for perceived mistakes included being separated from family as part of the Scientology policy of "disconnection", being declared a "suppressive person", or being sent to the "Rehabilitation Project Force", a program where Scientologists were assigned harsh labor.

Headley's tasks while working at the Scientology compound Gold Base included dealing with audiovisual equipment used for organization presentations and speeches by Miscavige, and supervising production of thousands of audiotapes of lectures given by Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard. From 1989 to 2005 Headley worked at the Scientology film production studio on scripts for movies which would be used to instruct new members of the organization on its practices. He faced repercussions from Miscavige if he could not meet production quotas. Headley asserts that he was physically abused by Miscavige, a claim made previously by other former Scientology officials in a series of investigative articles published in the St. Petersburg Times.

The book gives background on a 9-minute long video of Tom Cruise, leaked to the Internet in January 2008, that featured the actor discussing his views on Scientology. The Church of Scientology's attempts to remove the leaked video from the Internet motivated the group Anonymous to focus its efforts against the organization. Headley writes that initially the promotional video about Cruise was supposed to feature celebrities including Will Smith speaking about the actor, but Miscavige instead insisted Cruise should simply talk about himself.

Headley describes a form of Miscavige's management previously related in the St. Petersburg Times, where the Scientology leader made his staff play musical chairs to the Queen song "Bohemian Rhapsody". Miscavige told 70 Scientology executives that they were to compete for chairs, and that only the last individual left after several rounds would remain at the compound, while the other executives would be assigned to remote locations. After a dramatic competition with multiple staffers in tears that they would be separated from their families, Miscavige stated no one would be removed from the compound.

In 2005, Headley left the Scientology compound in Hemet on a motorcycle, and fell off his vehicle after being chased by Scientology security guards. Riverside County police helped Headley escape from the Scientology security. Headley traveled to Kansas City to meet his father. He was later joined by his wife Claire who had also worked at the Gold Base compound.

Cquote1.svg I have never read about behavior like this in my life, I can't imagine it. It's really weird. Cquote2.svg

The John and Ken Show

Headley filed suit against Scientology in January 2009. In the legal case, he asserts that Scientology violated United States labor law with regard to his treatment while an employee of the organization. Headley and his lawyer Barry Van Sickle succeeded against attempts by the organization to get the suit dismissed. Headley's lawsuit is set to begin in U.S. federal court in November 2010.

Cquote1.svg Headley's story provides a damning account of life working for Scientology leader David Miscavige at the secretive desert base. Cquote2.svg

The Village Voice

American talk radio hosts John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou discussed the book Wednesday on their program The John and Ken Show on KFI. "This is, the Scientology cult, is I guarantee you, a thousand times more bizarre than you could have ever imagined. And what these celebrities do, like Tom Cruise, is a thousand times more strange than you could ever imagine. I have never read about behavior like this in my life, I can't imagine it. It's really weird," commented one of the hosts about material revealed by Headley in the book. Headley writes in the book that he started to question his involvement in Scientology when secretly listening to The John and Ken Show and watching Conan O'Brien make fun of Scientology celebrities. The National Enquirer reported on the release of Blown for Good, calling it an "explosive new book".

The book was reviewed Wednesday by the Editor in chief of The Village Voice, Tony Ortega, who characterized it as a "remarkable account". "Headley's book also provides stunning material that has rarely been collected in one place, even with the Internet's deep resources on L. Ron Hubbard's strange creation. Headley's story provides a damning account of life working for Scientology leader David Miscavige at the secretive desert base", wrote Ortega in the review. He commented, "Perhaps the best service that Headley provides with Blown for Good is giving non-Scientologists the sense of what it's really like to work, day in and day out, in such a strange organization, from the lowliest laborer mucking out excrement in a Gold Base pond (Headley says shit was coming out of his ears and pores for days) to what kind of luxuries the celebrities and high-ranking members enjoy."


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Sources

  Learn more about Scientology and celebrities and Scientology controversies on Wikipedia.
Wikimedia Commons has media about Marc Headley.