Tales of “The Hole” have formed one of the most frightening narratives about Scientology to see the light of day.
Between the “Going Clear” book and movie, Leah Remini’s hit A&E docuseries, articles, and memoirs from former members, we’ve learned a lot about what ex-members say is Scientology’s alleged prison for executives who have fallen out of favor with the organization’s leader, David Miscavige.
“It was a poisonous environment,” “Going Clear” author Lawrence Wright said of “The Hole” on the HBO documentary. “People were really frightened. And this went on for years. This wasn’t a couple of days.”
“He literally created this prison camp,” Marty Rathbun, a former executice who left Scientology in 2004, said in “Going Clear” of his time in the Hole. “It was inevitable that I wasn’t going to last there.”
Here’s everything we know about Scientology’s alleged “prison” known as the Hole:
The Hole started as a power grab by David Miscavige, according to former Scientology members.
Former Scientologists say David Miscavige sent dozens of senior executives to the organization’s Gold Base near Hemet, California. Leading up to the order, former members said they noticed Miscavige was extremely agitated and paranoid that there was a plot to overthrow him.
“[Miscavige] very definitely wiped out that organizational pattern in order to be able to have ultimate power,” former Scientology executive Tom DeVocht said in “Going Clear.”
The Hole previously served as the office for the International wing of Scientology, the team David Miscavige allegedly wanted gone.
The executives were reportedly corralled into two double-wide trailers, which then served as the office space for the International wing of Scientology. International President Heber Jentzsch was among them. Many ended up spending months to years living in those trailers, according to accounts. Several people who were held there say the Hole’s numbers swelled to as many as 100 people.
The trailer space morphed from being known as the International office to the “A to E Room,” named after the church’s confessional process, the A to E steps. It was then the “SP Hole.” “SP” refers to “suppressive persons,” members who are believed to have broken church rules and to be bad influences on other members. Ultimately “SP Hole” was shortened to “the Hole.”
It didn’t take much to anger Miscavige and find oneself in the Hole, according to insiders.
The Hole quickly grew into a detention center for high-ranking members who displeased David Miscavige, former members have said.
“Honestly, the reasons for that could be anything from answering a question wrongly, not answering a question, a facial expression that was inappropriate, falling asleep after being up for a couple of days — I mean anything, you’re in the Hole,” ex-Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder said on A&E’s “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.”