A brutal labor camp belonging to the Church of Scientology was discovered by journalists in Dundas, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. 21-year-old escapee Shane Kelsey describes a horrible childhood that began when his parents, then both devoted Scientologists, signed him up for the most intense, high-level corps offered by the church when he was six years old. He moved into a small room with eleven other children, and was “home-schooled” in church propaganda. The heavy brainwashing continued, and he was forced to work a 35-hour week from the age of eight. Children in this institution, run by the church’s Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), were required to run everywhere instead of walking, and were fed only what was left over after the adults ate a meal that consisted mostly of beans and rice, and Kelsey stated that the supply often wasn’t sufficient. He also described a military-style routine that was required every morning; there was “marching and saluting to the cause of saving mankind from the intergalactic ravages” that were invented by church founder L. Ron Hubbard. Scientologists believe–or pretend to believe, lest they be punished–that Hubbard was a prophet, and that he will be reincarnated and return to them.
When Kelsey turned fifteen, his schooling was abruptly ended. His hard labor, which had been changed to kitchen work the previous year, reached almost 100 hours a week–seven fourteen-hour days. Kelsey stated that his pay fluctuated anywhere from $4.00 AUD to $35.00 AUD per week, and part of his job was to prepare meals for wealthy church members like billionaire James Packer (who has since left the bizarre religion), who visited for “auditing” sessions and likely had no idea they were being fed through the use of child labor. Kelsey’s father, Adrian Kelsey, who separated from his wife and left the church years ago, attempted to rescue his son in 2010 but was thwarted by security enforcers. To his father’s delight, Shane Kelsey managed to escape on his own a week later. It took fourteen months for him to be successfully deprogrammed. Kelsey’s claims have been corroborated by Peta O’Brien, who lived at the RPF base from 1997 to 2000, and other victims in multiple countries. Allegations include the victims having fingers broken, cold water poured over their heads, being slapped for twenty hours at a stretch, and more physical and emotional torture.
The Church of Scientology’s brainwashing is truly inhumane, and their desperate clinging to the tenets that were invented by a mediocre science-fiction writer has led to desperate measures to keep people quiet or to keep them from fleeing. Sometimes it includes the mistreatment and abuse of children like Shane Kelsey; sometimes it results in premature death. The church is also guilty of promoting pseudoscience and spreading damaging misinformation about psychiatry and psychology, and members have gone as far as lobbying Congress to deny children their medication. The public must be made aware of their horrendous practices and human rights violations.