By Ben Cohen
I live in West Hollywood, a city in the Los Angeles area, and routinely drive past several Scientology buildings. One poses cynically as a human rights organization named the 'Citizens Commission on Human Rights', and the other is an ominous building named the 'International Building' in the heart of Hollywood. There are several other outposts around the city, and I find them to be genuinely creepy and reminder that I live in a city full of make believe and ruthless exploitation.
I've met a few Scientologists in my adopted city, and found them to be fake, strange people with scripted responses to everyday interaction, and little independent thought.
Most reports on the ubiquitous organization point to a culture of deceit, corruption and sometimes violence. Ex members speak of ruthless manipulation, greed and cult like worship that has broken them spiritually and mentally. The church has embarked on a wars against psychiatry, wars against ex members who dare to speak out about the organization, and wars against anyone attempting to ask serious questions about the churches inner workings.
It's a strange religion built by even stranger people, and it seems that it is struggling to keep a lid on the bizarre culture it has spawned amongst its high ranking members.
Kim Masters has written a fascinating article in The Daily Beast on the crumbling power structure within the church and the recent departure of a high ranking official, and hints that one of its highest ranking celebrity members, John Travolta, may be the next to leave.
It will be huge news if he does, and a massive blow to the already battered image of the 'church'. But they will fight back, and as we've seen before, it won't be pretty.