Scientology Leader Gave ABC First-Ever Interview


Sawyer: As this film depicts, the spirits' bodies were destroyed by hydrogen bombs, and today their troubled spirits are attached to human bodies by the thousands. Called "body thetans," they cause endless problems. Only Scientology knows how to shake them loose.

Friend: You talk to them, and when you find out who they are and what they are, what they're doing and what's making them stick around you, then they blow. And so you pay a lot of money. I mean, you have lots of body thetans, so this process takes lots of time.

Sawyer: Scientologists today consider these sacred writings, the story of how mankind's problems evolved millions of years ago on other planets, and so they need to be kept secret. Defectors claim there is another reason for secrecy.

Rose: I really think that instead of handing out personality tests on the street, they handed out a story that said, you know, "What's really plaguing you is that you're encrusted with little spirits and these spirits are suffering from an incident that took place 75 million years ago, and if you come on into our church we'll cure you of this," I think that there would be a high rate of people saying, "No thanks."

Sawyer: L. Ron Hubbard died in 1985, leaving behind a church embroiled in controversy. The IRS has been in hot pursuit for years, defectors are suing for millions of dollars in damages, and critics are loudly claiming the church is running a huge con game. Once again, the church is fighting back.

Behar: I've done a lot of investigative stories in my career, and this thing, this thing takes the cake.

Sawyer: When Richard Behar published a critical story in Time magazine in May, the church mounted a $3-million campaign in USA Today, accusing the magazine of being manipulated by drug companies the church opposes. Behar claims they went even further.

Behar: I have evidence that they've gotten hold of my personal phone records. They've called up friends, neighbors, a former colleague. I've gotten a visit to my apartment building which I believe is connected to the story.

Sawyer: It is, critics claim, part of a policy called "fair game," in which enemies "May be tricked sued, or lied to, or destroyed." The church acknowledges some of its officials, including Hubbard's own wife, did harass people years ago, but they were convicted, and the practice has stopped. Defectors say it still goes on.

Vicki Aznaran: They hire private detectives to harass people. They run covert operations. You name it, they have never quit doing it. It would like-- They would have to quit being Scientology if they quit doing that.

Sawyer: Vicki Aznaran is a former high-ranking church official who lost a power struggle with David Miscavige over control of the church after Hubbard's death. She is presently suing the church and claims she heard Miscavige order attacks on troublemakers.

Aznaran: He said that we will use public people, we'll send them out to the dissidents' homes, have them, their homes, broken into, have them beaten, have things stolen from them, slash their tires, break their car windows, whatever. And this was carried out and was being carried out at the time I left.

Sawyer: Church officials vigorously deny all the charges, and call these critics nothing more than guppies trying to annoy a whale.

Jentzsch: You look at this. We get hit, we expand, we get hit, we expand, we get hit, we expand, we get hit, we expand. I mean, I don't want to say the obvious. You hit us, we'll grow.

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