We talked to someone who grew up “a normal, working class Scientologist.” Turns out “normal” is a terrifyingly flexible word.

5 Ways Growing Up Inside Scientology Was a Nightmare

#5. The Church Ignores Children (At Best)

My friends would be playing outside, but my parents kept taking me to these meetings. They’d go off to do whatever adult Scientologists do, and us kids would be shuffled off to an empty room to play, but without any distracting “toys,” “books,” or “supervising adults” to get in the way. Yes, Scientology’s answer to Sunday school is to lock all the kids up together. … Only the barest amount of natural light graced us through the tiny windows, and the teenagers they left in charge weren’t exactly child-care pros. They wouldn’t even let my baby sister go to the bathroom. Also? No food. My mom had to hide food in our pockets so we didn’t starve while she spent hours in their meeting.

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The Church of Scientology Had Their Own Teen Pop Band (and They Were Amazing)

For 20 years, the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Center in Hollywood, California, had its own all-singing, all-dancing children’s pop group called Kids on Stage for a Better World.

The group existed with a revolving cast of members from 1992 to 2012. Obviously their videos are quite old now, and I’m not their target demographic, so it’s difficult for me to judge whether or not they were on-trend at the time—but like all things created by a religion and aimed at young people, they appear to be almost overwhelmingly uncool. 

The group’s matching outfits, choreographed dance routines, and wholesome rap breakdowns seem to be the work of adults trying to emulate inoffensive, family-friendly (i.e., boring) kids’ stuff like High School Musical and the Mickey Mouse Club.

About 90 percent of the group’s lyrics relate to how they are (A) young and (B) going to be the leaders of the future. The remaining 10 percent is made up of references to Scientology. The band also filmed a couple of episodes of a series based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. 

Click here for some of my favorite Kids on Stage for a Better World cuts. Think of it as a greatest-hits collection.

Scientology in Germany

The Church of Scientology has been active in Germany since 1970.It currently has 4,000 adherents (according to the German government) and 12,000 (according to the Church of Scientology). However, Scientology occupies a precarious legal and social position. The German government considers it an “abusive business masquerading as a religion.” The domestic intelligence agency monitors it, and officially it is not a religion. However, various courts have been at odds on whether it should be accorded the status of a religious or worldview community. 

Scientologists in Germany face specific political and economic restrictions. They are barred from membership in some major political parties, and businesses and other employers use so-called “sect filters” to expose a prospective business partner’s or employee’s association with the organization. Polls indicate that the majority of Germans favor banning Scientology altogether.

If you suddenly stop hearing from us, this article is why.

How to Escape from Scientology

Former star of hilarious sitcom Living Dolls Leah Remini had been an ardent supporter and member of the church for years until she one day questioned why no one had seen Shelly Miscavige, wife of church leader David Miscavige, in years. She was told to shut her filthy Kevin James-kissing mouth. Not content with that, Remini eventually left the church and filed a missing persons report on Shelly, who, I can’t stress this enough, has not been seen in almost 10 years. The LAPD promptly assured the world via press release that Shelly was fine and the case was closed. Where was she? Shut your filthy Kevin James-kissing mouth. No one’s required to answer that.

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this is l. ron hubbard’s great-grandson, jamie dewolf, performing a poem about what it was like being one of his descendants and growing up sharing that legacy

it’s really haunting, personal, and somewhat disturbing. the experiences that his family had at a cost to their connections to l. ron hubbard, especially his grandfather, were awful and almost torturous. it’s very revealing about not only the true roots of scientology but also the cult-like measures taken to preserve memberships