The Church of Scientology is facing growing scrutiny. Russia Today (RT) visited with former members who had horror stories to report.
From Los Angeles, Karen de la Carriere told RT, "Little did I know how the Church of Scientology would destroy my family, turn my son against me, let his body lie in a morgue, deny me a last look." She told RT that when she left the Church of Scientology two years ago, the church forced her son, Alexander Jentzsch, to cut off ties with her. "To deny me one last look, 15 seconds I begged of the funeral director. I said eyes only, I won't tell the media, let me just have 15 private seconds with my son."
The Village Voice reports that the 27-year-old son of Heber Jentzsch, the Church of Scientology's president, died on July 3.
As to Heber Jentzsch, Jentzsch reportedly fell out of favor with the Church's leader and has been kept at "The Hole," according to reports from ex-Scientology members given to RT. RT reports that he had not been seen since 2004, but he was seen at the Church's memorial service for his son Alexander.
Describing "The Hole," Steve Hall told RT, "That place was actually turned into an actual lock down prison." Hall worked at the Church's international headquarters alongside Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige. A former senior writer for the Church of Scientology International, Hall told RT, "I decided to leave in December of 2003 after being assaulted and battered by David Miscavige and also witnessing him physically beating his staff, among other criminal actions."
"He was brutal," de la Carriere confirmed to RT. "He hit people every day and people were electrified."
Hall said he was forbidden to leave Church grounds. "There was a fence going all the way around the property with razor wire so you can't climb over, and if you do, there are motion sensors and security lights that come on."
The Church of Scientology vehemently denies the claims of abuse. As to Alex Jentzsch, the Church issued a letter to RT that stated,
Ms. de la Carriere chose to leave the Church voluntarily. She became an apostate. For two or more years she has been a part of a small group of anti-Scientologists who methodically generate false and disparaging statements about the Church of Scientology. The allegation that the Church prohibited Ms. de la Carriere from contacting Alex is false. Any decision which Alex made not to communicate with his mother was made by Alex -- not the Church.
The Church has faced increased scrutiny after the divorce of high-profile Scientologist Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. It is rumored that Holmes wanted out of the marriage, in part, to get her and her daughter away from Scientology. The Church of Scientology caters to celebrities like Cruise and John Travolta. It has a Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles.
"Tom Cruise and John Travolta were treated like royalty, like Saudi kings," de la Carriere says. "They never saw the darker side. They were pampered."
The activist group Anonymous has been protesting the Church of Scientology for years.
Despite the controversy surrounding it, the Church of Scientology claims that the religion is "growing faster today than at any other time in history" and "welcomes 4.4 million new people each year." Claiming that "there is an unprecedented worldwide demand for the knowledge of Dianetics and Scientology," it operates a gigantic state of the art publishing center that spans an entire city block in Los Angeles and produces millions of books and CDs each year.
Former Scientologists find the huge growth of membership in the church hard to believe.