2018-01-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
To everyone who visits this blog, I wish you all a wonderful 2018 and thank you for your support in 2017. It has been a year filled with accomplishments we might never have thought possible a year ago today.
I am expecting the same in 2018...
May each of your hopes and aspirations meet with success in the coming year.
It's awfully cold here in New York for the new year, but we want you to start thinking about the summer solstice and consider joining us for our annual meet-up!
In 2016, we held our first "HowdyCon" meeting, and this June we'll be going for convention number three in one of our favorite cities on the planet — Chicago!
But let's back up, for those not sure what we're talking about. At some point during our book tour for The Unbreakable Miss Lovely in the summer of 2015, one of our readers said she was surprised how many cities we were visiting. We joked that it was the only way we'd figure out where to have our first convention. Readers then ran with the idea, and decided to hold a vote about where such an the event should be held. Cleveland won out, and that was the last time we let readers make that decision. Ha!
2017-01-01, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer questions from viewers left in the comments section of my Q&A shows or sent to me by email at AskChrisShelton@gmail.com. This week, the questions I answer are:
(1) I know Scientology targets professionals such as chiropractors and veterinarians with their business and admin "tech". How do these small business people, who are also Scientologists, deal with patients, customers, or even business partners who are reading your blog, watching Leah Remini's "Aftermath" or who are simply exposed to what is becoming more and more common knowledge about Hubbard's cult of broken dreams? Surely they can't disconnect from all of them? What if a business partner or patient is one degree removed from a Facebook friend who is an open critic? What if a customer's husband watched "Going Clear"? It's insane to even think it's possible to exert this level of control. I have to believe if this policy were strictly enforced everyone would be declared.
(2) Is everyone in charge of PR at $cientology, aka the Office of Special Affairs, ignorant of the reverse effect, when they bash former members? To name just a few: Tory "Magoo" Christman, Jason Beghe, and Karen De La Carrier, and the more recent attacks aimed at Mike Rinder, Leah Remini, Ron Miscavige and yourself. You all have an average of 30 years of participation. The "COS" in it's infinite wisdom has decided to label all you as losers, immoral, selfish, criminal, the "slime of the earth", and so on, and so on. I extract and interpret from this practice, that 30 years of participation and reaching the highest levels in the various member areas of the organization, along with studying the "scriptures/tech", has been ineffective, and therefore $cientology simply, does NOT work. It seems like they are testifying, to the failure of their own system and structure. Another foot bullet? Is this their admission or am I getting it wrong? I would love to hear you elaborate on this topic.
Five years ago, a little after midnight as 2012 had just begun, we started to get emails.
Later that morning, we realized that what was happening was significant enough to write a story about it. A woman named Debbie Cook had sent her fellow Scientologists a message for the new year, and it was hitting Scientology like a tidal wave.
For 17 years, Debbie had been "Captain FSO," the Sea Org official who ran the Flag Service Organization, the outfit that oversees Scientology's spiritual mecca, the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida. The Captain FSO has to be a hard-as-nails Sea Org commander who runs a small army of similarly dedicated fanatics, but also serves and interacts with the wealthy "publics" who come to Flag for its high-priced counseling. And to have that position for 17 years made Debbie almost legendary. But by the end of 2011, she had been moved from that position and then had quietly left the Sea Org itself, although she was still a Scientologist in good standing. Other church members may have not seen or heard from Debbie in some time, but her name was still one that carried weight. Here's how Jefferson Hawkins explained to us what Debbie meant to most people in the church...
2017-01-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
2106 is done and we embark on a new year.
A lot happened over the past year in the scientology world — and as always, Tony Ortega has diligently documented it at his excellent blog. Nothing significant happened in the scientology sphere that he has not comprehensively covered. He saved me a lot of work by reviewing it month by month and I don't have to look back to try and summarize the year. For that I am thankful.
But I will say there were some massive upheavals that have changed things forever.
And now, the event you've all been waiting for. You probably know that reader Miss Tia recently called for entries in a contest to decide the logo for this year's inaugural convention of Underground Bunker readers.
She intended to reveal the winner some time ago, but we asked her to wait. We thought it would be a special way to bring in the new year and get everyone thinking ahead about the meet-up if we saved the winning entry for today.
But let's back up, for those not sure what we're talking about. At some point during our book tour this summer, one of our readers said she was surprised how many cities we were visiting. We joked that it was the only way we'd figure out where to have our first convention. Readers then ran with the idea, and decided to hold a vote about where such an the event should be held. Cleveland won out, and our point person there, Miss Tia, took over.
2015-01-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
A Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to everyone who gathers around this internet water cooler.
Tony Ortega has been summarizing the events of 2014 over the past 10 days or so on his blog. It has been a seismic year in the scientology world.
But I believe it is just a warm up for what is to come in 2015.
Our own TheHoleDoesNotExist, a longtime contributor to the Bunker community, hostess to a special 2013 party in Clearwater, and also the impresario behind the Bunker's theme song, surprised us by sending in a story she hasn't shared publicly in its entirety before.
THDNE was interviewed by Lawrence Wright for his epic 2013 history of Scientology, Going Clear, for what turned out to be a very brief mention in the book. Over pages 128 to 134, Wright describes the troubled life of Quentin Hubbard, son of Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard. Wright explains that Hubbard wanted his son to help take over management of the church from him, but Quentin himself had dreams of being a pilot.
In 1974, Quentin had attempted suicide and then had served a stint in Scientology's prison detail, the RPF. In 1976, Quentin made a break for freedom, leaving behind a note about UFOs and saying he was headed for Nevada's Area 51 after "blowing" from Scientology's Clearwater, Florida base. His mother, Mary Sue, sent out hundreds of Guardian's Office operatives to look for him. But Quentin, on his way west, stopped in St. Louis to have a memorable lunch to talk about flying with someone who shared his passion. THDNE was at that lunch. We'll let her pick up the tale. (She has changed the names of her husband and father-in-law for this telling.)
And so 2015 begins here in the Underground Bunker. We want to thank our great commenter community for a wild build-up to this moment. And now, we'd like to take a moment to celebrate what we think is going to be a really exciting month of January.
The big event, of course, will take place in Utah on January 25. We're starting a countdown to that big day when Alex Gibney's HBO documentary, Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Faith, opens at the Sundance Film Festival.
We'll be at the premiere, along with several of the people who appear in the film. Of course we'll be providing detailed dispatches of the event only for Bunker readers. We'll do our best to make you feel like you're right there for the festivities.
We're starting off the new year with a special treat. One of the all-time most important scholars of Scientology is Carnegie Mellon University professor David Touretzky, who, among other things, provided crucial support for early users of the Internet who wanted to post and maintain information about the church and its alleged abuses.
We've mentioned Professor Touretzky often in these pages, and now we're thrilled that he has written for us a piece that examines the way that decades before L. Ron Hubbard came along, another church leader had figured out an effective method of control that Hubbard himself would adopt. And what's more, one person who sussed out this technique was none other than author Mark Twain. Take it away, Dave...
People unfamiliar with cults are apt to confuse Scientology with Christian Science, the religious healing movement founded by Mary Baker Eddy. In 1899 Mark Twain published a critical examination of Christian Science, and this and several other essays on the topic were collected in his 1907 book of the same name. As Twain was the original gonzo journalist, his takedown of Mrs. Eddy's "cult" (his term) remains an amusing read.
2014-01-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
To everyone that is part of the extended family that gathers here to share views, to see what's going on or are just a little curious — Happy New Year.
2013 has been an adventure. I sincerely appreciate the encouragement and support I have received from so many of you.
Over the past few days, Tony Ortega has recapped the year and if you haven't caught up with it, do so at his blog.
The Edge, June 2010 - Tom Smith interviews Bill Franks who was the first Executive Director International and Chairman of the Board of the Church. Among the topics discussed are Fair Game, Paulette Cooper, the framing of Mary Sue, orders issued against elected officials of a major Western government, Miscavige's psychopathy, Hubbard's psychopathy, etc.
The way Bill explains the story of the Hubbard dispatch that admitted people blow due to ARC Breaks (upsets) rather than transgressions, and giving that story the full context, is very good.
Take a visit to Scientology's version of the Twilight Zone.
The story about Bill Franks is a story about another highly trained Sea Org executive who served directly under LRH, and was later busted by David Miscavige and his team. It is worth noticing that most of the highest Sea Org Executives who was appointed and trained directly by LRH have been SP declared or removed by the current management: David Mayo (Snr C/S Int), Bill Franks (ED Int), Mary Sue Hubbard (Captain and chief of Guardian Office), Bill Robertson (Captain and special missionaire for LRH).
Bill Franks joined Scientology in 1968 studying the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course at Saint Hill UK, directly under LRH. He joined staff and went up the Org Board. He was CO AOLA and ended up as ED Int, appointed for life personally by LRH. He was also the Chairmann of the Board of Directors, Church of Scientology International.
He was Class IX auditor, OT VII and OEC FEBC graduate. He reached the highest level of administrative training, doing the FEBC directly under LRH on the Flag ship.
In December 1981 he was voted out by the Board of Directors, David Miscavige was on the Board. On 12th August 1982 he was SP declared by Watchdog Committee (also David Miscavige).
The toxicology report was a disappointment. If it wasn't drugs, what drove Johnny Lewis to murder? Critics of Scientology have pointed to the church's resistance to psychiatry as a possible reason why Lewis's early behavioral issues may have been untreated. Lewis's father discounts that assumption, claiming that he pursued and encouraged psychiatric treatment for his son. It was Johnny who refused to comply.
Simi Valley sent us a remarkable e-mail a couple of weeks ago. She wanted us to know that she's no longer an "independent Scientologist" — she's out all the way.
"It was a year ago that Debbie Cook sent out her e-mail and I finally woke up. But now a year later I've really woken up all the way," she said in a phone conversation we had a few days ago.
We thought we'd start off 2013 by writing about Simi's journey, which reflects a trend we've been watching for the last couple of years.
...this is how you send a message to Dear Leader out in front of the Scientology building in Los Angeles.
Comedy writer Seth Madej snapped this photo on Monday afternoon and posted it to his Twitter feed with this message...
I made an illegal U-turn just to get a pic of this Scientology weirdness. They tried to stop me from photographing it!
The new year brought a big surprise for the Church of Scientology: One of its most respected and widely known figures went public in dramatic fashion, calling for internal reforms and decrying heavy-handed fundraising practices she says have allowed the church to amass reserves of more than $1 billion.
With an email blast to thousands of current and former Scientologists late Saturday, Debra J. Cook quickly emerged from a quiet private life in San Antonio, Texas. Her message contained a bombshell of a letter urging parishioners to start pushing back against the church's aggressive money demands.
Cook was a prominent figure in the church's Clearwater operation for 17 years. Her strong reputation within Scientology brings new credibility to a growing movement, now more than two years old, to reform the church.
The Squirrel Busters film crew trying to make a movie about Church of Scientology defector Mark Rathbun topped the Caller.com online reader poll of 2011's biggest stories.
"Squirrel," it should be noted, is Scientologist jargon for a heretic.
2012-01-01, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Wonder if the times are really changing? On the first day of 2012 a very prominent self-professed corporate Scientologist in good standing has overtly announced a clear division within the ranks.
Former Captain Flag Service OrganizationDebbie Cook, who avows to abide by the disconnect policy as administered and adjudicated by David Miscavige, has announced to fellow corporate Scientologists that as far as certain policy violations go, enough is enough.
In a skilled use of the Public Relations series, Debbie characterizes abuses in a euphemistic manner so that corporate Scientologists might read and think about the gaping holes in the side of the corporate Scientology ship. Note the Monique-Yiglingesque disavowal of the outside world having any role in correcting the beast; for many this letter will be somewhat safe to read. For the unvarnished truth of what Debbie Cook experienced, please see:
2012-01-01, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
A woman named Debbie Cook dropped something of an atom bomb on the membership of the Church of Scientology last night, and as of this minute -- about noon on New Year's Day -- her Facebook page is still going a bit crazy as her fellow church members deal with the fallout.
Cook was once a very high ranking executive in Scientology's Sea Org. She led the Flag Service Organization in Clearwater, Florida, which made her one of the most important executives at the spiritual headquarters of the worldwide organization. Several years ago, she left that position and the Sea Org, but she is still a member of the church in good standing.
2012-01-01, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Although we've written hundreds of articles about Scientology over the years, and other news organizations have contributed hundreds more -- not to mention the numerous books, television programs, and countless websites dedicated to the subject -- without fail we regularly run into people who ask us, "Yeah, but what is Scientology?"
We can't blame them. One of Scientology's appeals is its complexity and secrecy, and it can take years to fully absorb some of its arcane concepts. So for those coming to the subject for the first time, as well as those who want a deeper understanding, we're starting off the new year with this handy guide to L. Ron Hubbard's creation. We'll introduce concepts at a basic level, and provide links to further reading. With the help of our amazing commenting community -- which includes former Scientology executives with decades of experience -- we'll all learn more about an enigmatic organization that begins another crucial year of transition.
Xenophon has promised to take the enquiry request to a vote in February but meanwhile questions surrounding the death of Edward McBride remain largely unanswered.
About a week ago now news broke that Edward McBride's auditor, Lise O'Kane had resigned from the church. O'Kane was one of the members of the church of Scientology who frantically attempted to contact McBride by phone multiple times in the hours leading up to his death.
According to the affidavit, one of the first things Fowler's wife told investigators after the shooting, was that she needed Fowler's briefcase because it had very important religious documents in it.
"One thing I need is his briefcase," Jan Fowler said in the affidavit. "It was taken out of his office. It is important to me, my church, and it is religious material and I want it now!"
Detectives had not reviewed the briefcase yet, so they told her she could not have it.
"Even if you looked at it and read it, you would not understand anything in it. Because it is way above a normal person and you would not know what it meant," she responded.
2010-01-01, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
A must-read - this recent article in the St. Petersburg Times.
"They advanced to the Church of Scientology's highest spiritual level, to 'Operating Thetan VIII,' a vaunted realm said to endow extraordinary powers of perception and force of will.
"But Geir Isene of Norway and Americans Mary Jo Leavitt and Sherry Katz recently announced they were leaving the church, citing strong disagreements with its management practices."
2010-01-01, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
Enabling, in a negative sense, refers to actions which are intended to help a person with dysfunctional behavior, but in fact only serve to perpetuate the problem. For example, one attempts to "help" an alcoholic by buying them liquor, making excuses for them, or helping them hide their addiction.
The Church of Scientology is on a very self-destructive path, as is becoming more and more evident. Its addiction to power and money has perverted the Church to the point where it is unrecognizable to old timers. Instead of being encouraged to get up the Bridge, help others, or get involved in community activities, Scientologists are pressured to give more and more money to things like the IAS, the Superpower Building, and "Ideal" Orgs. These days, it's all about money and buildings.
Add to this the increasing reports of staff abuse and mistreatment, policy and tech alterations and violations, and outright lies, and you have a seriously dysfunctional organization that has nothing to do with the Aims of Scientology.
I put it to Headley that Miscavige appears to fit the mould of the typical cult leader, in that the entire operation with which he surrounds himself seems to exist entirely to please him. Certainly nobody else on the base appears to get anything out of being there. "I think that's a very good observation," says Headley. "He has this many cars, he's living in this nice place and he has people waiting on him hand and foot. Meanwhile, we're working 100 hours a week and getting paid if we're lucky. Whatever he says, that's what you do. It's very scary now to see how controlled I was. He can definitely be compared to any of the major cult leaders."
Joy Westrum, president of the soon-to-be evicted Second Chance rehabilitation program, is trying to drum up legislative support to save her program.
On Wednesday, Westrum sent out an e-mail to several state senators and representatives asking them to "encourage the mayor and the city of Albuquerque to do everything possible to resolve any legitimate concerns regarding the lease with Second Chance" for the old West Side jail building.
How well do we really know anyone? How well do we really know ourselves? Are those who commit atrocities people with serious character defects or psychopathology, or are they ordinary people responding to an extraordinary situation? How many times, in the course of our ordinary lives, have we been surprised to learn about the actions of someone we thought we knew well? The Lucifer Effect provides some possible explanations for this phenomenon, as well as for those of us who have been involved in cultic groups or other situations in which we were, in retrospect, baffled by our own actions, which contradicted our previous notions of our identities. The author, eminent social psychologist Philip Zimbardo, elaborates in-depth on a lifetime he has dedicated, as a professor at Stanford University, to research and exploration of these issues.
Blake wrote of how he and Duncan had been "harassed here to the point of absurdity" by people who were so "paranoid" that it made him "laugh." He said that they had been "defamed by crazy Scientologists," threatened and followed by "their thugs." (The Church of Scientology has denied any knowledge of the couple.) He wrote of how New York was starting to seem like the place for them to be, a place where they could speak "freely" to "exceptional people" and get their projects started.
"I have no regrets, nor do I have any reservations about the cases that we investigated," Klein said. "The recurring theme, when we had legitimate evidence of a crime, was that ultimately the victim or victims would disappear or restitution was made and prosecutions did not happen."
The CHKRC prepared the NDAP evaluation report with input from written independent evaluations from medical, scientific, and health education exerts. The outside evaluations were advisory to the CHKRC. Narconon program materials were independently reviewed by fourteen reviewers and three CHKRC staff. Reviewers included five doctors (M.D.s), four board certified in pediatrics and adolescent medicine and/or with specific expertise in addiction and substance abuse; two doctors (Ph.Ds) with expertise in child and adolescent development; one doctor (Ph.D.) with expertise in prevention research and program evaluation of substance abuse programs. Reviewers also included nine school health education specialists (with teaching credentials and/or masters level health or education degrees) including elementary, middle, and high school teachers, university faculty, and school district/county office of education tobacco, alcohol, and other drug abuse prevention education coordinators.
2003-01-01, Rick Weiss, Washington Post, Seattle Times
Indeed, when representatives of the Raelians, an extraterrestrial-worshipping religious group, announced last week that they had created the world's first human clone, their claim was itself a clone of a similar claim made a quarter-century ago that proved to be a hoax.
It took three months in 1978 for researchers to pick apart the science behind that purported achievement, and three years before a court definitively declared the claim fraudulent.
Brainwashing has been by far the most controversial topic among scholars studying new religious movements. It is not my purpose here today to convince you that brainwashing happens in New Religious Movements but merely that there exists a theory that we can use to determine empirically whether or not it does.
In a recent book called Misunderstanding Cults (Zablocki & Robbins, 2001), I attempted to lay out such a clearly stated, well-formed, empirically testable, and epistemologically falsifiable sociological theory that would locate the concept within the field of social psychology as an ordinary (albeit extremely powerful) process of social influence. Dick Anthony (2001) replied, in the same book, with a massive 103-page critique of this effort, arguing that I had failed miserably in the attempt. He argued that what I thought of as my little theory was not merely empirically false but bogus science, as well—that is, it was not really a theory at all, but a bunch of double-talk masquerading as a theory.
The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the validity of Anthony's critique. My method of evaluation has been to identify all of the propositional statements in Anthony's chapter and to determine which, if any, of them constitute valid scholarly criticisms of my theory as I stated it. After I isolate only those propositions that meet the test of credibility, it should then be possible to determine whether these propositions constitute a complete refutation of my theory, a partial refutation, or no refutation at all.
2001-01-01, Brigitte Schön, Marburg Journal of Religion
"Scientology might be one weird religion, but the German reaction to it is weirder still - not to mention disturbing." This is how Richard Cohen of the Washington Post describes the controversy of Scientology vs. Germany, and he adds, "[...] the treatment of Scientologists is both inexplicable and troubling." The inexplicable or rather as yet unexplained could usually be expected to raise the attention of scholars, especially if there is a troubling thrill to it. However, German scholars have mostly preferred to remain silent on the issue, and the few who spoke out published in German, but not in English.
Mr. Anthony's piece contains several distinct parts. The first, which is an extensive, tendentious, ad hominem exegesis, inveighs against Benjamin Zablocki and Mr. Anthony's formulation of brainwashing theories. I will not critique Mr. Anthony's spate of sound-bytes and quips, since Mr. Zablocki comments on deficiencies in Mr. Anthony's analysis in the same volume.
2001-01-01, Marco Frenschkowski, Marburg Journal of Religion
Now Melton has written a short introduction to the Church of Scientology which is available as a separate booklet. As his major reference books are quite expensive, this smaller item forming part of a new series of similar introductions is welcome indeed. Melton's approach is strictly non-apologetic and non-polemical, endeavouring to give a portrait of Scientology that active Scientologists would not have to consider unfair and biased.
2001-01-01, Stephen A. Kent, Marburg Journal of Religion
This article critically examines the allegations of religious intolerance that United States officials and governmental staff have leveled against France and Germany (along with other European countries) for their policies on, and actions toward, Scientology and other controversial groups. It argues that American officials appear to be poorly informed about the bases for the Europeans' critical positions, and that those officials have been the recipients of selective information provided by Scientology itself along with Scientology's supporters. It concludes by offering a preliminary analysis of this Euro-American debate in the context of 'international social movements' theory within the social sciences.
Controversy continues to rage around Scientology, due mostly to the totalitarian and abusive nature of its practices. The evolution and history of Scientology raises serious and fundamental questions about freedoms and protections of religion and even what or who defines a religion. Scientology is an anomaly on even a diverse religious landscape. It does, in fact, involve religious belief (in what most outsiders would regard as science fiction). But that belief appears to have been built chiefly as a cover for exploitive commercial operations.
Details of the agreement had been kept secret under taxpayer privacy law since it was reached between the tax agency and the church in 1993. But on Tuesday The Wall Street Journal published an article describing the agreement and posted the document on its Internet Web site. The New York Times obtained a copy of the agreement the same day.
Under the agreement, the church paid $12.5 million to the tax agency, created an internal monitoring committee to insure compliance with tax laws and agreed to drop more than 2,000 lawsuits against the tax agency and present and former tax officials.
In exchange, the agency granted tax-exempt status to the church and provided it with a sweeping tax amnesty. The agreement canceled payroll taxes, penalties and tax liens the agency had said were owed by Scientology-related entities and dropped several audits of church organizations.
1997-01-01, Robert Sheaffer, Psychic Vibrations, Skeptical Inquirer
An unnamed friend of Travolta is quoted as saying, "In the realm of Scientology, John is classified as an Operating Thetan, which means he is a spiritual being-someone who's able to control matter, energy, space, and time." What we don't understand is, if Travolta is an Operating Thetan, why doesn't he do his own movie stunts?
1996-01-01, Stephen A. Kent, Journal of Contemporary Religion
Abstract: Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, frequently made claims that Scientology was related to or shared significant similarities with Hinduism, Theravada Buddhism and Taoism. However, careful examination of Hubbard's claims indicates that he had only a superficial acquaintance with Eastern religions, and most of his attempts to associate Scientology with these faiths are unwarranted. Moreover, social and political pressures against his organisation's alleged healing practices probably provided the catalyst for Hubbard's attempt to portray his creation as a religion with Eastern overtones.
The organization attempted to get financial information from the conference. When the conference refused to supply it, the case wound up in the courts. The trial court and the appeals court found that the Catholic Conference had to turn over the information, but the church group has appealed to the Supreme Court.
Clearwater is interested in the outcome of the case because it is now defending its 1983 charitable solicitations ordinance in court. The ordinance requires financial disclosure by any religious or charitable organization that solicits funds in Clearwater, including the Church of Scientology, which has international headquarters here.
The Scientologists and several other religious groups filed lawsuits challenging the ordinance on constitutional grounds.
A holiday fireworks show sponsored by the Church of Scientology will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The fireworks can be seen from the foot of Drew Street and along the downtown waterfront in Clearwater, said spokesman Richard Haworth. The public is invited.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ More than 400 current and former Scientologists filed a $1 billion suit against the church Wednesday, alleging efforts to compromise or pay off two Florida judges and siphon $100 million to foreign bank accounts.
The class action filed by attorney Lawrence Levy contends church officials or their representatives committed fraud and breached fiduciary duties. It says information obtained during purportedly confidential "auditing" sessions with a lie detector-like device is used "for purposes of blackmail and extortion."
The suit seeks an injunction and $1 billion in punitive damages plus unspecified general damages.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Church of Scientology diverted $100 million to foreign bank accounts and tried to disgrace or bribe two Florida judges, say hundreds of past or present members in a $1 billion fraud suit.
The class-action suit filed Wednesday in Superior Court also alleges the church used information obtained from members during purportedly confidential counseling sessions "for purposes of blackmail and extortion."
Numerous suits have been brought in recent years by Scientologists claiming they were harassed, blackmailed or physically abused by the organization, whose late leader L. Ron Hubbard wrote the bestseller "Dianetics."
LOS ANGELES - More than 400 current and former Scientologists filed a $1-billion suit against the church Wednesday, alleging that the church tried to compromise or pay off two Florida judges and divert $100-million to foreign bank accounts.
The class-action suit, filed by attorney Lawrence Levy, also contends that church officials or their representatives committed fraud and breached fiduciary duties. It alleges further that information obtained from members during purportedly confidential "auditing" sessions with a lie detector-like device is used "for purposes of blackmail and extortion."
The suit seeks an injunction and $1-billion in punitive damages and unspecified general damages.
Testimony before a U.S. District Court in Washington said FBI raids on offices of the Church of Scientology in 1977 were specifically in search of evidence of conspiracies to steal government documents and obstruct justice.
The FBI agents found it, the court was told.
As reported yesterday in the first of this series of accounts of the subsequent court proceedings, much of the evidence was in the reports of the cult's spies planted in jobs in strategic offices, and in the files that they stole.
1979-01-01, Margaret Thaler Singer, Psychology Today
Excerpted from "Coming Out of the Cults," Psychology Today, January, 1979
Most ex-cult members we have seen struggle at one time or another with some or all of the following difficulties and problems. Not all have all of these problems, nor do most have them in severe and extended form.
1979-01-01, Margaret Thaler Singer, International Cultic Studies Association
After exiting a cult, an individual may experience a period of intense and often conflicting emotions. She or he may feel relief to be out of the group, but also may feel grief over the loss of positive elements in the cult, such as friendships, a sense of belonging or the feeling of personal worth generated by the group's stated ideals or mission. The emotional upheaval of the period is often characterized by "post-cult trauma syndrome"