The Church of Scientology has been accused of locking up workers in a Californian "slave labor" camp. The 5,000 members of the church's Sea Organization live communally, vow to forego having children, and sign a billion-year loyalty pledge. But a new lawsuit from two former "Sea Org" members claims they were treated like prisoners, held against their will, and forced to work 100 hours a week compiling Scientology literature for almost no pay. The church says that the Sea Org followers are members of a religious order, like monks, and thus exempt from wage and overtime laws. Is Scientology running an illegal sweatshop outside Los Angeles?
All this evidence points to the truth: Well, now we know where "all those crappy pamphlets and all that L. Ron Hubbard literature" comes from, says Ravi Somaiya in Gawker. Predictably, Scientology's leadership was "outraged and denied the allegations vehemently," but this lawsuit isn't the first to suggest this kind of abuse. When "so many 'liars' come out of Scientology saying very similar bad stuff about the 'church,'" why should we believe what the leaders say?
"More on Scientology's brutal sweatshops"
Volunteers aren't slaves: "When you sign up as a Sea Org member, you're signing up as a member of a religious order," says Scientology spokeswoman Jessica Feshbach, quoted in the AP, so you basically know what you're getting into. "You're a volunteer. You sign a contract that says, 'I'm not going to be paid minimum wage and I know that.'" Those who say they were treated badly are "liars looking for money."
"Ex-Scientology lawsuits reveal elite Sea Org group"
Slave labor, but paid for by U.S. taxes: We now know that Sea Org members "work for almost no pay and are generally treated like animals," says Tony Ortega in The Village Voice. But at least they signed up for it. Scientologists have "manipulated" the government into allowing them to operate as a tax-exempt religion. Why does no-one seem to care that U.S. taxpayers are "subsidizing their mafia scheme," too?
"Anderson Cooper plans latest misguided slam on Scientology"
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