Actress Leah Remini has continued her mission to expose the Church of Scientology and the horrors that allegedly occur within its institutions, this time showcasing a former high-ranking employee who says the church leadership forced her to have an abortion against her will.
In the latest episode of the A&E network docuseries titled Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, Remini, most famous for her leading role on the CBS sitcom The King of Queens, spoke with Marc and Claire Headley who used to work full-time for the Church of Scientology's elite Sea Organization. As the Federalist noted Tuesday, viewers unfamiliar with Scientology will quickly see that the COS resembles a North Korea-like prison camp, complete with security protocols to retrieve and imprison those who dare to escape its clutches.
The Christian Post spoke with Charles Self, who himself came to Christ after some months in a transcendental meditation cult of the 1970s and is now a professor of Church History at the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. Self told CP in a Monday phone interview that four things distinguish cults apart from major religious systems. And Scientology meets all four criteria.
"One thing [cults] claim is new or special revelation that supercedes or improves upon previous revelation if they are coming out of a particular religion. Secondly, they almost always have a very personable, charismatic founder," Self explained.
"Thirdly, they claim special knowledge for themselves. Not only do they have improved revelation but if you participate and you go deeper into the mysteries of the cult you will have revelation or knowledge or experiences that no one else will have. And then fourthly, they are very generous to their members but also very controlling of their members. So you are in or you are out in a much more dramatic way than you would be in most streams of Christianity, Judaism, or other world religions," he continued.
And indeed the control the COS exerts is so extensive that when Claire Headley became pregnant she was forced to obtain an abortion against her will in keeping with the "mission" of the Sea Organization to better the planet.
As The Federalist recounted her remarks to Remini on the A&E show:
"I absolutely swore that I would never have an abortion. I wanted kids. But next thing I know, I missed a period so I had to see the medical officer ... And sure enough, it was positive and she said, 'Well you're going to need to get an abortion.' ... And meanwhile I'm dying. It's a worst fear come true. Some wounds you can't heal. Of course, now I have three beautiful children who are my life. But it doesn't make it easier to deal with it. It doesn't make it any easier, ever. It doesn't make me feel better about not being strong enough to tell them to go f— themselves." Headley said.
Founded by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1955 with its headquarters in Los Angeles, the Church of Scientology states on its website that it "has no set dogma concerning God that it imposes on its members. As with all its tenets, Scientology does not ask individuals to accept anything on faith alone. Rather, as one's level of spiritual awareness increases through participation in Scientology auditing and training, one attains his own certainty of every dynamic."
Such statements mask what was happening In the 1950s because "Hubbard created something out of whole cloth at precisely the moment when the economic, social, and global conditions were ripe for people to be attracted to this kind of special knowledge," Self told CP.
Spiritually hungry people are often enticed by these counterfeits when three areas are lacking in a particular expression of faith, he added.
"In order for someone's faith to be strong it must touch the head, the heart, and the hands, and cults take off when one or more of those are deficient in particular tradition. When there is intellectualism but a sterile affective reality, then experiential cults will say, 'Look what that sterile orthodoxy got you, we can give you experiences you've never had before.'
"Scientology engages the hands in that there are rewards, networking opportunities, and benefits as you invest in the cult, you get benefits from the cult or people wouldn't stay in it."
Moreover, he continued, "in a post-truth era that we have been in for a while, where capital T truth is replaced by your personal truth, then experience becomes the norm as opposed to objective doctrine," he said.
"When sound doctrine is joined with genuine, affective experience, as Jonathan Edwards said, true religion, meaning the Christian faith in its depths, it is found in the deepest place of the affections, not just the emotions but the deepest place of the heart's inclinations; when you join the head, the hands and the heart together you have effective Christianity."
Because Scientology is wrapped around mystery, money, and success, Self further contended, "there's a lot of mutual self-interest that keeps the thing going even though people know it is rotten at the core."
Writing on Father Frank Pavone's Priests for Life website Thursday, author and Catholic Stand writer Victoria Gisondi noted that Headley's experience is not an anomaly. Coercing women to undergo abortions against their will has happened many times before.
"A Google search for 'scientology' and 'abortion' will pull many results," Gisondi noted.
"In fact, The Tampa Bay Times ran a story in June of 2010 featuring similar accounts. A woman named Laura Dieckman, who testified in a deposition for a court case the Headleys brought against the church of Scientology, felt pressured as well. Laura DeCrescenzo, Sunny Pereira, and Samantha Domingo also claim they were pushed into abortions they didn't want. The St. Petersburg Times alleged more than a dozen more women who were forced into abortion," she continued.