A former high ranking executive in the Church of Scientology has made waves after an email sent to 12,000 fellow Scientologists on New Year's Day was leaked to the press.
In the email, Debbie Cook described herself as "dedicated to the technology of Dianetics and Scientology" but blasted the church's "age of continuous fundraising" under the leadership of David Miscavige.
Cook was the top executive at the church's global headquarters in Clearwater, FL, according to the Village Voice, which first broke the story.
"The Church deliberately built her up as an 'opinion leader' for Scientologists," Jefferson Hawkins, a former Scientology executive, told the Village Voice. "There was a lot of work that went into establishing her as a high-profile opinion leader for the top Scientologists.
Cook said she "absolutely" knew it was worth fighting to keep the religion founded by the former science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950s "pure and unadulterated."
She accused the church of hoarding "well in excess of a billion dollars" and urged Scientologists to reject fundraising drives not based on Hubbard's teachings.
"Next time you are asked to donate outside of services, realize that you are engaged in fundraising and ask to see something in writing from L. Ron Hubbard that this is something he expects from you as a Scientologist," she wrote.
The email criticizes the fundraising strategies and leadership style of Miscavige, who has overseen the church as the Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center since the 1980s.
"David Miscavige has now become the 'leader' of the Scientology religion. Yet what [L Ron Hubbard] left behind was a huge structure to properly manage all aspects of the Scientology religion. He put a complete and brilliant organizational structure there, not one individual. There never was supposed to be a 'leader' other than [L Ron Hubbard] himself as the goal maker for our group."
The Church of Scientology has responded to the unwanted negative publicity by describing Cook as "a disgruntled defector" who has not held a prominent position within the church for several years.
"Ms. Cook's opinions reflect a small, ignorant and unenlightened view of the world of Scientology today," the church said in a statement. "They are not shared by the thousands of Scientologists who are overjoyed by our 27 new Churches and what they mean to the communities they serve."