WASHINGTON – Scientology is all over the media, again, with the debut of the church’s first TV network launching and the airing of an explosive documentary examining the mysterious disappearance of the wife of the group’s supreme leader.
The church launched its TV network on DirecTV, Apple TV and Roku last week, and “Scientology’s Vanished Queen” came out days ago.
The documentary explores the possible whereabouts of Michele “Shelly” Miscavige, wife of Scientology leader David Miscavige. She vanished in bizarre circumstances 11 years ago. It also looks at the mysterious death of longtime member Lisa McPherson in 1995.
The film is based on a 2014 exposé by Vanity Fair.
McPherson joined the church in her late teens, and, when she was 35 when she suffered a fatal pulmonary embolism after undergoing a 17-day Scientology auditing process designed to treat her psychological instability. Two weeks earlier she had been checked into a psychiatric ward after having been discovered naked and disoriented after a car crash in Clearwater, Florida.
According to the documentary, David Miscavige spent $30 million fighting a wrongful-death suit brought against the church by McPherson’s family and the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. The church denied all claims of wrongdoing against McPherson.
Meanwhile, Shelly Miscavige, the wife of the group’s leader, has not been seen in public since 2007. The last people to see her alive agree that she vanished in disturbing circumstances. They include Jefferson Hawkins, Scientology’s chief marketing executive of 30 years, and Mike Rinder, the church’s former special affairs director, and former executive Tom DeVocht.
Because of his concerns about Mrs. Miscavige, Rinder alleges that he was placed into the church’s camp “The Hole” for more than a year as a prisoner, enduring beatings and torture before finally leaving Scientology during a 2007 trip to London.
The church has insisted Mrs. Miscavige is alive and well and “working non-stop for the church out of the public eye.”
The new TV network by Scientology is not the first time the church as used TV to recruit. The church annually drops millions on a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl, something it ran for the sixth consecutive year last month. The group used the tagline “Curious?” for both the new network and the ads.