Scientology’s Family Values

Bryan Seymour

The Church of Scientology is run by a "sociopath" who physically and verbally abuses those around him. So says his father, who has written a book about his son and what really goes on inside the secretive group.

In Australia, it's sparked calls for them to pay tax and to stop tearing apart families.

Ron Miscavige joined Scientology in the 1960s, never dreaming his son David would one day run it.

“I think he saw a chance to seize power and being the aggressive individual that he is, he did it,” Ron said.

He adds that he believes Scientology a cult.

“It's brutal, it's inhumane, its nuts,” he said.

The 80 year old escaped four years ago and has written a book about his son titled Ruthless, in which he describes his son physically and verbally abusing the people around him.

“He's turned into that, I'm sorry buddy, it's something I cannot deny and I observed that,” Ron said.

Bryan Seymour with Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology leader David Miscavige, last week in New York.

“In my opinion, I don't know how you could call it a church,” he said.

He says Scientology's stars - including Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kate Ceberano - have to take responsibility for promoting a group that abuses people.

“There's no question about it that they should."

One of three children, David was nine years old, suffering acute asthma when his father took him to a Scientologist who did a session of ‘auditing’, or therapy, which he believed cured him.

“Forty five minutes later David walks out cheery, bright, I said, 'David?' He says, 'Man, I'm handled!' And that moment as far as I'm concerned was kind of an epiphany for him, I think he figured then I want to do this,” Ron said.

David Miscavige seized control of Scientology when it’s founder L Ron Hubbard died in 1986.

The Miscavige family joined up. Ron played trumpet and composed music for Scientology events and videos.

He remembers his young son as a "happy and lovable kid" who, by age 16 was assisting then leader and founder of Scientology, L Ron Hubbard.

Almost immediately, Ron noticed changes in his son.

“You know I think he just enjoyed nullifying people... he would dominate people by nullifying them… making nothing of them, nothing of them,” said Ron who recalls a verbal lashing at a Scientology Gala Even from his son in front of stunned guests and colleagues that lasted 55 minutes.

In the book, he claims his son’s personality change was like “Jekyll and Hyde” and that he is a "sociopath".

“Yes he dramatises those traits, there's no two ways about it.”

Shortly after joining Scientology, the Miscavige family moved to the group’s base in England. There they met their first Australians, Noel and Marion Barton and their children.

“I know, we lived next door to them when I took my family to England in 1972, they're lovely people, lovely,” Ron said.

Now living in Perth, these former Scientologists haven't seen their children in 35 years due to the policy of ‘Disconnection’ from family who leave.

“We would love to see you come to us, just arrive, just be here no matter how you felt,” said Marion, crying as she spoke.

Noel and Marion were initially happy in Scientology, but things got worse.

“Being almost forced to be very dedicated to what you were doing and any sort of trauma you experienced was considered just part of what you were doing,” said Noel.

“The way it's operating now, I would like to see that come to an end for sure,” he said.

Marion and Noel Barton have not seen their children since leaving Scientology 35 years ago.

They left in the early 1980's, but their children stayed and soon were forced to ‘Disconnect’ - the Scientology term to cut off anyone who leaves or criticises the group.

Now in their 80's they hope to see their family one last time before they die.

“You wonder why you could be so naïve,” Marion said through tears.

Asked what chance the Bartons have of seeing their children while David Miscavige is leader, Ron said: “Boy I hate to say this, not much of a chance.”

“And that really is the reason I wrote the book to maybe strike a body blow against that policy and maybe get people together again,” he said.

In his book Ron reveals after three decades life living under son's rule, it was becoming unbearable with appalling food and bizarre rituals.

“The food allocation was one dollar, per meal, per day.”

“You would go to the lake, there was a lake at the base, and you were allowed to take off your shoes, your wristwatch, maybe your wallet but you had to keep your full clothes on... and then you'd be thrown into the water."

“You're trying to make sense out of this? Let me tell you something, don't try, it's insane, if you realise it's insane, you’ve made sense out of it."

He claims he and others saw David hit, punch, slap and abuse people working for him and that they were often forced to work for days on end to finish major projects.

It's the religion that never sleeps, Ron says, and Scientology has been working overtime to discredit him. They've released a written statement and scores of video interviews with current Scientologists claiming that Ron violently beat his wife and children, that he's a racist and that he only wrote this book for the money. You can see a link to their statement below.

“Flat out lies, this is their modus operandi, this is how they operate,” Ron said.

It seems even the leader's father is ‘Fair Game’ - the term Scientology uses to describe its policy of destroying its critics reputations.

“They’ll say anything about me, I mean I can show you church policy where it says get evidence and if you can't get it, manufacture it… make it up!"

Ron and his wife Becky made a desperate escape from the sprawling California base his son commanded in 2012.

His son responded by paying Private investigators $500,000 to spy on Ron for a year. It was reported last year that in 2013 they watched him fumble for his phone at a shopping centre and thought he was having a heart attack.

The private investigators later told police they called Scientology and spoke to David Miscavige, who told them: “If he dies, he dies, don't intervene, don't do anything."

Asked how it feels as a dad to hear your son say that? "Devastating, that was terrible," Ron said.

Former celebrity Scientologists Leah Remini and Lisa Marie Presley have rallied to support Ron since leaving Scientology.

Actress Leah Remini (left) and singer Lisa Marie Presley (right) are among the former Scientologists supporting Ron Miscavige.

In his book, Ron says when he told Presley about his children ‘Disconnecting” from him she drove to Scientology’s HQ in Florida to confront David Miscavige. She couldn’t get in to see him so she delivered her message via a security camera.

“(Lisa told him) ‘Well, how dare you disconnect your father from his own children’ and at the same time they were holding family day at the Clearwater Base, that day!” Ron said.

Ron claims his son then sent his twin sister Denise to confront Presley and her husband.

“Denise was banging her fist on the table and Lisa Marie's husband Michael said it looked like David wearing the wig, popping loose at the seams, blowing a gasket I think he said!

“It’s nuts, its nuts and when you have that much power over people, those people that listen to you don't know it, but they have lost their integrity,” Ron said.

In his book Ron said he believes his son relishes his position of authority and influence.

“And I think once you get it you want to have that, you want to live the high life, you want to hang out with the glitterati and Hollywood, or the Tom Cruise's or whoever, he loves that for him to say ‘I'm wrong and here is a general amnesty, you're forgiven, everybody can talk to your kids’… I can't even imagine that but I can't give up hope of it ever happening and that really is the reason that I did the book,” Ron said.

Since leaving, Ron has researched Scientology and discovered the truth about the groups human rights abuses and the fictional nature of founder L Ron Hubbard’s ‘hero’ status.

“It takes a little while to say you know what? I was duped and of course I came to that conclusion,” he said.

Others have not yet reached that same conclusion.

“Tom Cruise feels that David is the top spiritual being on this planet, he idolises him,” Ron said.

It's a view shared by Scientologists.

“They really believe that we are living on a prison planet an don't know it and that the two most important human beings on Earth are David Miscavige and Tom Cruise,” said Tony Ortega, a journalist and author Tony Ortega who has been exposing abuses in Scientology for two decades.

"It's the way they control people, not just physically control them but control them through fear, through manipulation, Ron really lays that out in detail in a really compelling way in this book,” Ortega said.

Journalist Tony Ortega has been writing about Scientology for 20 years.

“When L Ron Hubbard ran it he was a ruthless dictator as well,” Ortega said.

“The only person who is going to run the Church of Scientology has to be a ruthless dictator, that's just the way an organisation like that works,” Ortega said.

"Scientology itself is definitely facing a day of reckoning."

On Kate Ceberano, Ron said: “Lovely person, yeah, she's a very nice person… she's very effusive, very upfront, great singer… when we'd have events and she'd be there we'd always hang out together and there's nothing not to like about her."

He also liked John Travolta and Isaac Hayes but says all of Scientology’s stars should take responsibility for promoting a group that abuses people.

“Absolutely they should, there's no question about it that they should,” he said.

Taxing Times

"Every Australian taxpayer is subsidising the operations of this cult,’ said Federal Senator Nick Xenophon, who has long campaigned for Scientology to be made to pay tax.

“Of course Scientology should pay tax unlike other religious organisations there isn't evidence of a clear public benefit,” Senator Xenophon said.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon wants to introduce a Public Benefit Test he believes will result in Scientology paying tax.

In the United Kingdom Scientology has to pay tax because they don't provide any public services. Instead, they charge hundreds of thousands of dollars to reveal Hubbard’s stories about the intergalactic overlord Xenu.

“To me this has to be an election issue, we need to have a fair Public Benefits Test based on what the UK has done, it's something that has been tried, proven and works,” Xenophon said.

Where to Now?

"I think it is time for Scientology to end the way it exists right now,” Ron said.

Scientology exists with a fortune of more than three billion dollars, controlled by Ron's son, who has made it clear he's not going anywhere.

"Is he (David Miscavige) beyond salivation? I would say he's pretty close to that state but I can tell you he did change from what I knew him as a young kid, and even as a young man into this person and I do feel that it's that power that you have, I think it's like a drug,” said Ron.

Or a cocktail of the most powerful drugs... money, power and fame.

The very last page of his book contains a surprise message from Ron to his son David… we won’t spoil it for you, except to ask Ron if he really meant it?

“I absolutely meant that, I meant it from the bottom of my heart.”

  • 7 News requested an interview with David Miscavige but this was refused.