Last week, John Roberts of CNN grilled Tommy Davis, a Scientology spokesman, who was predictably evasive about what L. Ron Hubbard's wacky minions are up to. 'Disconnection,' the church policy of splitting up families in order to shun critics of the church? Never happens, Davis claimed. And as for that high-priced stuff about removing alien souls with lie detector machines? "It's unrecognizable to me," Davis told Roberts.
But it was Davis himself who was practically unrecognizable, Jason Beghe tells the Voice.
Beghe is Scientology's most notorious recent defector, a veteran film and television actor who, after twelve years and approximately $1 million spent on the religion, defected in spectacular manner with a web video in which he denounced Scientology as "destructive and a rip-off."
Davis, meanwhile, is the son of another Scientology celebrity, actress Anne Archer. He's a longtime Hubbardite himself, and helped to run the Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles. Davis told Rolling Stone in 2006 that L. Ron Hubbard was "the coolest guy ever." Davis is also well known for provoking BBC journalist John Sweeney into a temper tantrum that became a YouTube hit last year.
Beghe, however, has more personal memories of the man.
"On the day I was getting married, I was waiting in my house with David Duchovny, my best man, and everything was fine. Then about an hour before I had to go, I started to get nervous. I don't drink much, so I don't have much to drink in the house. So I called Tommy Davis and he brought me a cold six-pack."
And there was also this: "I had a terrible car accident," Beghe says. "I was in a coma for three and a half weeks. Either Tommy or someone else from Celebrity Centre was with me for that entire time."
"I know this guy," Beghe says.
And that's why Davis's appearance on CNN was so troubling, Beghe explains.
"He was saying there's no Disconnection. That's a fucking lie. I'm not even a declared suppressive person, and they've all disconnected from me," Beghe says about his former friends in the church. "They kicked my four-year-old son out of a fucking Scientology school. There's your church."
Davis, however, looked terrible as he tried to spin Roberts. "He's lying, and it shows. What really saddened me, this was one of the most handsome, beautiful kids I'd seen in my life. And he's starting to look like a hardcore Scientologist. He's no longer beautiful. You see the eyes, the lying that he's doing. Anybody can see that this guy is not clean. It's clear as day," Beghe says.
"I felt sorry for Tommy. If he's reading this, I want to tell him: you're losing your soul. Look in the mirror. You look like a liar. And remember what happened to Mike Rinder. You're starting to look like that," Beghe adds, referring to a former high-level official who recently "blew," or left the organization. "They used Rinder as a spokesman, when he was the kind of person you'd cast in a movie as the villain. It was chilling. And Tommy is getting that look."
Beghe says that he's heard the reports that after the Sweeney matter, Davis was put on "RPF"-Rehabilitation Project Force-a notorious program of manual labor that Hubbard created to "redeem" wayward Scientologists.
"The RPF is there to suppress you, to make you toe the line. They pull all your hidden data [make people confess to wrongdoings in intense therapy sessions], they make you do menial, repetitive labor. And there's sleep deprivation. This is bad shit," Beghe says.
After watching last week, Beghe says Davis looks like he'd been through that kind of program.
"When I saw him on CNN, I thought, 'Oh my God, what have they done to this guy.'"
Beghe, who had reached 'OT V', one of the highest levels in the church, which charges increasingly substantial amounts of money to learn its secrets, acknowledges that Davis may not yet have attained OT III. At that level, which costs about $100,000 to attain, parishioners are finally told Scientology's origin story-that a galactic overlord named Xenu brought surplus aliens to Earth and destroyed them, but the disembodied souls of those aliens are still among us, attached to people, and only Hubbard's "technology"-a talking cure-can remove them.
If Davis hasn't reached OT III, Beghe points out, it's possible that he's telling the truth when Roberts asked him about the alien souls and Davis responded that it was "unrecognizable." But as a church spokesman, it's hard to believe that he isn't aware how much Scientology's secrets are now part of popular culture.
Either way, Beghe says, Davis is well aware of the way Scientology splits up families, goes after critics, and charges people higher and higher amounts for superpowers that never materialize.
"You stand up there and lie and cover up something that is evil, that is going to take its toll," Beghe says.