Belief Beat

The Church of Scientology is getting more unwanted publicity this week, as reporters look into claims made by former members accusing high-ranking officials — including church leader David Miscavige, who also served as best man in Tom Cruise’s wedding to Katie Holmes — of physical and psychological abuse.

From the Associated Press:

The church says its 5,000 so-called Sea Organization members are religious devotees akin to monks who are exempt from wage requirements and overtime. But two lawsuits filed by two former Sea Org members, as they are known, allege the workers are little more than slave laborers, forced to work 100-hour weeks for pennies and threatened with manual labor if they cause trouble.

Along with the AP story and other continuing press coverage, you can tune into CNN this week to see Anderson Cooper’s four-part investigation into the ex-Scientologist abuse allegations. (Before the series began last night, Cooper said he had received what appeared to be the result of an organized email campaign against the coverage — not surprising, given the church’s recent campaign against the St. Petersburg Times.)

I caught the first part of the AC360 series last night, which looks to be quite thorough, except that Miscavige sent over a church spokesman instead of agreeing to be interviewed personally. (The piece also aired a bit later than expected, because Cooper had to cut to the breaking news about the arrests of the Hutaree Christian militia members allegedly plotting to kill police officers.) Anyone else checking it out? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below. 

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