Scientology Defectors ‘Hunted Down’

Interrogation, intimidation, humiliation, spying, and manual labor are what awaits defectors from Scientology, reports The St. Petersburg Times in a fascinating investigation into the church’s inner workings. The article quotes interviews with several former high-ranking church officers and a husband and wife who tried to escape the grips of the controversial faith multiple times over nearly two decades. When members of the church of Scientology want to leave, they endure a process known as "routing out," a harrowing routine of manual labor and interrogations that can take up to months, according to former high-ranking Scientology officials. The other option, to "blow," or secretly escape, triggers a paranoid chase by church officials, wherein deserters are tracked down and coerced into returning when found. The obsessive nature of these searches began when current church leader David Miscavige took over for founder L. Ron Hubbard. Officials say Miscavige became concerned that former members would reveal secrets about the church. One member tried to escape by jumping into a truck only to be chased "for three hours, at speeds of up to 100 mph," according to one official. That member was eventually found and returned to the church.