These days, accusations against the Church of Scientology are rolling in faster than Xenu's spaceship strapped to a jet pack. The latest accusations are coming out of Australia, where former church members have accused the organization of using slave labor as a punishment, exploiting children in their offices, and forcing some members to have abortions against their will. These are by no means the first accusations that the Church of Scientology is guilty of human trafficking and related crimes. The question is, how many more former church members will need to step forward before someone launches an investigation?
Liz and James Anderson recently came forward with their story of how Scientology tore apart and abused their family. Their daughter, Jordan, worked as an administrator for the church when she was 15. While she worked there, she was once forced to work for 72 hours straight with no sleep. And for a minor on-the-job error, this young girl was forced to scrub a Sydney dumpster as a punishment. Such inhumane hours and dangerous and degrading punishment for a 15-year-old worker is hardly the treatment you'd expect from a religious organization. The Andersons and Jordan left the church, and have now been severed from their one daughter who remains a member.
Others in Australia have recently come forward to accuse the Church of operating slave labor camps. The camps, they claim, are set up as a punishment for members. They are allegedly run by the church and sanctioned by church officials. Also, individual members have complained of being imprisoned and enslaved in their own homes due to rule-breaking within the church. Several female church staff have also reported being forced or coerced into having abortions against their will. They claim that upon their pregnancy being discovered, they were taken into an office and threatened with expulsion from the church and being alienated from their families if they didn't end their pregnancies. One woman was so frightened of the church she reportedly used a coat hanger to give herself the abortion the church required. The paperwork from that incident was apparently destroyed.
Church officials, obviously, deny all these charges and claim they are just attempts by former members to discredit the church. Spokesmen for Scientology have said that ex-members are about as reliable in their accusations of the church as ex-spouses are of their former partner. The Australian government is considering launching an investigation into these charges, which the Church of Scientology claims it will cooperate with.
The burning question behind these reports is not just whether or not the incidences reported are true (which would be serious enough hot water for a religious group), but how many reports take this behavior from a few isolated incidences of abuse to an organization-wide pattern of exploitation and slavery. At a minimum, the Church should take responsibility for the coercion and abuse against its members and former members in its name, but some of the reports against Scientology suggest that these human trafficking-like practices go deeper than just a few bad apples.