Screenwriter-Director Paul Haggis Speaks Out for First Time Since Leaving Church of Scientology

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The New Yorker says FBI agents who worked on a human trafficking task force went to Clearwater, Fla., to interview former members about allegations that members of the Scientology staff, or "Sea Org," could be subjected to what some defectors have called "punitive Reeducation" during sometimes years-long "confinement" at so-called rehabilitation project force locations involving "manual labor and extensive spiritual work."

A spokesman told the New Yorker that stays at the rehabilitation project force locations were "entirely voluntary" and that members could leave the facilities at any time.

Contacted by ABC News, the FBI declined to comment, saying that "by policy we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation."

The church, in the statement to ABC News, also wrote, "Moreover, the subject of the alleged investigation was recently raised in a lawsuit by the same individuals who are the sources for the article and the complaint was resoundingly dismissed by a Federal District Court Judge. The New Yorker was aware of this fact but irresponsibly sought to use the claim of an "investigation" to garner headlines for an otherwise stale article containing nothing but rehashed unfounded allegations."

Church's Full Response

"It is unfortunate that The New Yorker chose to introduce its readers to Scientology through the eyes of an apostate, someone religious scholars unanimously denounce as unreliable, rather than take advantage of the Church's invitation to experience its practices and humanitarian works firsthand. The New Yorker doesn't mention Scientology's global human rights initiative, which has educated millions on human rights. Or its "Truth About Drug" crusade, teaching millions how to live drug-free. Or its global Volunteer Ministers program, whose work in Haiti alone has been hailed by the international community. Or its dozens of new Churches bringing Scientology's life saving technology to communities around the world. Indeed the newest Church opened just this last week in Melbourne, Australia.

"The one grain of truth in the article is its acknowledgement of the positive effect Scientology has had on the lives of its adherents and the world at large—that is the message of Scientology.

"The article is little more than a regurgitation of old allegations that have long been disproved. It is disappointing that a magazine with the reputation of The New Yorker chose to reprint these sensationalist claims from disaffected former members hardly worthy of a tabloid. As for the claim that the Church is the subject of a federal investigation, the Church has never been advised of any government investigation, a fact The New Yorker knew before it went to print. Moreover, the subject of the alleged investigation was recently raised in a lawsuit by the same individuals who are the sources for the article and the complaint was resoundingly dismissed by a Federal District Court Judge. The New Yorker was aware of

this fact but irresponsibly sought to use the claim of an "investigation" to garner headlines for an otherwise stale article containing nothing but rehashed unfounded allegations.

"Anyone who wants to know the true story of Scientology should find out for themselves by coming to a Church of Scientology, whose doors are always open, or going to the Church's website, www.Scientology.org.

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