Church of Scientology sues longtime leader over critical email

The Church of Scientology has sued its longtime Clearwater leader Debbie Cook after she publicly questioned the church’s aggressive fundraising tactics and other practices.

The Tampa Bay Times reports

The lawsuit — filed Friday in San Antonio, Texas, where Cook lives — reveals that the church paid Cook and her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, $50,000 each to remain silent about their time on church staff.

Cook, 50, worked 17 years as the church’s top official in Clearwater, Scientology’s worldwide spiritual headquarters. Serving in the post of “captain,” she presided over an operation that brought in more than $1.7 billion for the church during that time.

Cook and Baumgarten each signed nondisclosure agreements as they left the staff in October 2007. All told, Cook had worked in the church’s religious order, the Sea Org, for 29 years.

The church alleges that the couple violated the agreements when Cook circulated a New Year’s Eve letter urging Scientologists to work internally to reform the church. The letter reached thousands of church members via email.


Arguing that it faced “substantial risk of imminent harm and irreparable injury,” the church asked for and received an order temporarily restraining Cook and Baumgarten from saying anything more until a court hearing Feb. 9. […more…]

The paper says the lawsuit seeks at least $300,000 in damages.

Jan. 6, 2012 ABC News item about Debra Cook’s email

In a New Year’s Eve email sent to 12,000 Church members, Mrs. Cook accused David Miscavige, current chairman of the Church of Scientology, of turning the ‘religion’ into a fund-raising machine and dismantling the mechanisms in place to prevent too much individual control. She also accused Mr. Miscavige of straying away from what she termed the principles of L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction author who founded the Church in the 1950s.

Critics of the Scientology movement have always highlighted the apparent commercial nature of the ‘church.’

Last November the St. Petersburg Times, since then renamed the Tampa Bay Times, ran a series of investigative reports titled, “Inside Scientology: The Money Machine.”

Video from the investigative report, Inside Scientology: The Money Machine

The series included information from former Scientology insiders who say the church uses coercive fundraising tactics to feed its voracious appetite for cash.

Suing people has always been part and parcel of Scientology’s lengthy history of hate- and harassment activities. The practice is based on the ‘principles’ developed by the cult’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who wrote:

The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.
– L. Ron Hubbard, A Manual on the Dissemination of Material, 1955 (See: The Purpose of a Lawsuit is to Harass)

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014