A former rugby league star has attacked the head of the church of Scientology, David Miscavige, describing him as a “violent man” who sent him to a re-education camp for 2 1/2-years where he was paid as little as $2 a week and stripped of his passport.
Chris Guider was a former hooker for the St George rugby league team, but left the sport at 24 after being encouraged to devote more time to the church.
After spending 2 1/2-years working full-time for the church in Sydney, Mr Guider travelled to the US, where he worked closely with Mr Miscavige.
The former player told the ABC’s Lateline yesterday he saw Mr Miscavige beat a former staff member, Mark Fisher, who worked at the Religious Technology Center.
“He’s a violent individual,” said Mr Guider.
The church has denied the accusation, and sent Lateline two sworn declarations from church members claiming Mr Miscavige did not hit Mr Fisher.
This is despite evidence from Mr Fisher to the St Petersburg Times that he was beaten by Mr Miscavige and statements from at least four other former members of the church.
The following is quoted from a transcript of the Lateline program:
STEVE CANNANE: In the Church of Scientology’s internal justice system, making a public statement against Scientology or Scientologists is considered the worst of all crimes.
CHRIS GUIDER: That’s church policy. They’re not supposed to admit to anything. So, anybody you interview, they won’t admit that they’ve done something wrong or it’s not that way. They’ll go after you, the reporter, they’ll go after whoever’s putting the program together, they’ll go after the individual – that’s how it works.
STEVE CANNANE: And you saw that happening when you were working in David Miscavige’s office?
CHRIS GUIDER: Oh, yeah. Yeah, RTC would run that. There were executives in RTC that were on the phones to attorneys telling them what to do and how to handle former members of the church.
STEVE CANNANE: Chris Guider says he was eventually punished for the incident in the edit suite by being sent here, to the Rehabilitation Project Force, or RPF, in Dundas in suburban Sydney.
The Church of Scientology in the US disputes this, saying he went voluntarily to the RPF for, “… long-term negligence in fulfilling his religious duties and his repeated violations of Church scriptures.”
The Church of Scientology says the RPF is a voluntary religious retreat. Defectors describe it as a punitive re-education camp.
CHRIS GUIDER: It’s like prison, except it’s worse because you don’t have television, you don’t have visitor rights, you can’t read the newspaper, you can’t read books, you can’t listen to music.
STEVE CANNANE: Former Scientologists say those sent to the RPF are forced to wear black, do hard labour and eat basic meals like rice and beans. They say they’re not allowed to talk to others except those on the RPF.
Chris Guider says he did two and a half years at the RPF in Dundas. He says the church seized his passport and his credit card and paid him as little as $2 a week. He has made a formal complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The Church of Scientology in Sydney refused Lateline’s request for an interview about the RPF in Dundas. In a statement they said, “The Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) is a voluntary religious program of spiritual rehabilitation offered to provide a “second chance” to those who have failed to fulfil their ecclesiastical responsibilities.
Also watch Scientology, a History of Violence, broadcast by CNN in April, 2010.