As we promised yesterday, we have for you today the donors that Scientology leader David Miscavige has chosen to celebrate in Impact magazine even though the annual October gala of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) was not held this year.
Miscavige hands out trophies to his big givers — we call them whales — up to four times a year, but the IAS event in October is the main event, and these richies usually get all gussied up for it. This time, Miscavige decided to recognize them by having them photographed at home and dressed how they liked. And no trophies this time.
The other difference we noticed was that most of the donors had not moved up in status, which is the usual custom to qualify for being included in Impact magazine. Perhaps Dave was feeling generous and recognized that most of his big leviathans weren't going to be making significant donations during a pandemic. (Where possible, we've noted the previous appearance by a donor so you can see whether they moved up or not.)
The seals on the gates of the Palmas Plaza have been removed and work has started again to renovate the former shopping mall into Scientology's Advanced Org for Latin America. Scientology purchased the building in 2008 and began renovating without permits in 2017. How Scientology convinced officials to issue a permit and remove the seals is unknown. Enrique Vargas del Villar, the Constitutional President of the Municipality of Huixquilucan did not respond to our questions about the permit status.
Don't expect a grand opening ceremony for this Sea Org base this year or next. This is a site in total disrepair and work is just starting after a two year hiatus. Scientology has a story to tell their members about that. Organización Desarrollo Dianética (ODD) is a Class V org in Mexico City that has been renovating for years to become an Ideal Org. It's now being sold as the gateway org; once ODD goes ideal then the Advanced Org in Palmas Plaza can go ahead. A similar tactic was used in South Africa where members were told all their orgs had to go ideal before the Kyalami Castle would open as the new AO. They fell short as Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth are still very far from opening Ideal Orgs, but Kyalami opened anyway in January 2019.
It may be years away, but Scientologists are rearranging their lives around this building. 21-year old Ioanna is a Scientologist from Mexico who decided to join the Sea Org during a recent visit to Saint Hill. She describes how she will give away her business when she activates her billion year contract at Flag Land Base, Clearwater. She will return to Mexico to be an auditor when the AO opens. She had dreams of a family with five children, but that's no longer possible.
2020-01-05, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
They claim it is a 4 star hotel.
This is the peak season in Florida.
Yet while every other hotel is charging the highest prices of the year, they are trying to attract people with special discounts — $113 for a 4 star hotel in Florida in January? Absurd. And breakfast thrown in and chocolate covered strawberries. At this time of year you would be lucky to get into a 2 star hotel for that price.
We still have a lot of questions about the murder of Chih-Jen Yeh, 24, a Scientologist at the 'Advanced Org' in the north suburbs of Sydney that happened on Thursday afternoon there. The Australian press is doing its best to gather details about the event, but it's clear that they don't really seem to understand what an Advanced Org is or what happens at one.
We've seen it referred to as a "megachurch," for example, which is about as incorrect as is possible to describe an AO. But over the last few days, a clearer picture has begun to emerge. If the press reports are correct, a 16-year-old boy had some kind of conflict with his Scientologist mother about her going through Scientology's Purification Rundown or "Purif." He apparently didn't want her to undergo the procedure, which is an intense regimen of extended time in a sauna combined with radical vitamin intake and exercise that can take one to three months, and costs around $2,500. It's an unscientific, quack remedy that is supposed to purify the body and soul, and Scientologists usually undergo it very early in their careers — and they can also repeat the procedure numerous times as they go up Scientology's "Bridge to Total Freedom" of courses.
Only when a Scientologist has spent a considerable amount of time and money can they attain the state of "Clear," and then begin to ascend what are known as the "Operating Thetan" or OT levels. At that point, for OT levels 1 through 5, they must go to an Advanced Org.
The show where I answer your questions. Please leave any comments or feedback in the comments section here below. I see everything and want to hear from you.
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2019-01-05, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Scientology has come up with a new attack line — the "Mike Rinder Problem." It is quite an honor to be singled out so specifically, especially as I am according to them merely a "bobblehead" (though a "wife-beating" one so that is apparently a bigger deal).
They shifted their attacks from Nancy Dubuc to Paul Buccieri in a deft strategic move. Their clever PR maneuvers are a sight to behold.
According to scientology, the "Mike Rinder Problem" is this:
Your proprietor is under the weather, but before the cats quarantine us in the Bunker's airlock, we wanted to make a brief note about a remarkable photograph that was sent to us by one of our great tipsters.
It's from the new issue of Scientology's Freewinds magazine, which is intended to entice Scientologists to spend a lot of money to come to the church's private cruise ship and finish their "Bridge to Total Freedom" by attesting to "OT 8."
This is the auditing level that all Scientologists are trying to attain, which bestows legendary "Operating Thetan" status on the long-suffering church member, who may have spent many years and anywhere between $500,000 and $2 million in course costs, auditing intensives, accommodations, and lots of donations along the way. But it's all worth it: At OT 8, the superhuman powers every Scientologist is chasing finally arrive. After finishing the level, you should be able to leave your body at will with full perception, affect matter just with your thoughts, and be able to "mock up" a new reality — literally create miraculous effects simply by thinking of them.
This is a Facebook Livestream that Marc and I did in the Supporters of Leah Remini Facebook group.
Marc & Claire Headley were featured in Season 1 Episode 5 of "Leah Remini: Scientology & the Aftermath".
Aaron Smith-Levin was featured in Season 1 Episode 6 of "Leah Remini: Scientology The Aftermath".
The pitch proved enticing: Investors from New York, California and Florida gave Favrow's Clearwater-based firm hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy, rehab and resell homes at a profit. But they say they never go their money back.
In the meantime, Favrow donated $278,158 to the Church of Scientology.
Did Favrow use her investors' funds to make those donations? The investors don't allege that directly but in an unusual case, the church says it doesn't want the money because of concerns it might have been "ill-gotten" and "misappropriated."
The church, which has its spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, has put the $278,158 in escrow and filed a lawsuit in Pinellas County Circuit Court asking to be relieved from "any further responsibility" for the funds while Favrow and the investors battle it out among themselves over who is legally entitled to it.
Russia has lots of experience in media censorship. So perhaps it is logical that Rep Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) hires an agent of the Russian government as a 'consultant' to keep Hawaii media under control.
But Gabbard's consultant, Chris Cooper of the Potomac Square Group, is no ordinary Russian agent. Cooper is allegedly one of seven identified as being at the center of illegal Russian lobbying efforts reaching into the Trump campaign and Congress.
Inquiries with Gabbard's DC office last June by reporter Christine Gralow—then stringing an article for Honolulu Magazine -- must have piqued the attentions of the numerous Hare Krishna cultists employed there. Within 24 hours a letter from Cooper, identifying himself as "a consultant to Rep. Tulsi Gabbard," riddled with misspellings and inaccuracies, landed in the in-box of Honolulu Magazine's editors.
2017-01-05, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Hello again and welcome to the next installment in my on-going series deconstructing this book, Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and featuring essays and articles by religious scholars, academics and the like about, you guessed it, Scientology. So far, almost all of these have been purely Scientology apologetics as these scholars rush to defend Scientology from its critics, which is what attracted me to this in the first place.
This week it's "The Church of Scientology in Sweden" by Henrik Bogdan. He is a professor of Religious Studies and Senior Lecturer at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. His main areas of research are western esotericism and new religious movements. He's written numerous books about Aleister Crowley, the Freemasons and the occult and appears to be an advocate for new religious movements in his country. However, I have to say that this essay was a real disappointment. Here's someone who is intimately familiar with occult practices that shaped much of Scientology's structure and framework, yet there is not one word here about any of that.
Truth be told, Bogdan's essay reads like a book report that a Swedish middle schooler may have written. I appreciated that Bogdan for the most part kept apologetics out of this, but I was really hoping for a bit more meat. I'll cover some of the more interesting aspects of what he said just to give you an overview of religion and Scientology in Sweden, and comment on a couple of points I differed with Bogdan on. And unlike my tragic foray into French in my earlier videos, this time I'll minimize any attempts to talk Swedish.
2017-01-05, Benedict Moore-Bridger, Evening Standard
Tens of thousands of schoolchildren have been exposed to a Scientology organisation through drugs education presentations, the Standard has learned.
An investigation found increasing numbers of pupils, some as young as 10, at primary and secondary schools have sat through lectures inspired by Scientology and its leader L Ron Hubbard.
In the past year alone 35,000 children have taken part in the Narconon anti-drugs programme, including more than 16,000 in London.
The court was told he was concerned at the potential closure of Solace Centre, an out of hours mental health centre, and had protested the closure outside Ealing Town Hall.
It was said Mr Docherty's mood was affected by the potential closure of the centre and that he had been to demonstrations outside Ealing Town Hall.
Mr Docherty was heavily interested in Scientology, giving money and working for them for free, the court was told.
WashingtonDC tax attorney Monique Yingling continues her star-turn as Scientology's top legal mercenary after she totally stole the show during Ron Miscavige's 20/20 appearance in April, and now she's set to cash in handsomely after years of high-paid work for Scientology leader David Miscavige.
She recently put her sweet little Delaware beach hideway on the market. And for a cool $2.4 million, you'll get a five-bedroom, four-bathroom, 3,760-square-foot party pad on the Lewes Rehoboth Canal and just a short stroll from the Atlantic Ocean.
And don't go feeling bad about taking Monique's beach villa off of her hands. She still has a lovely 5-bedroom, 4-bathroom, 2,638-square-foot house in DC that Zillow prices at $1.6 million. And here's the best part about it: her neighbors just down the block are Scientology's party pair, television journalist Greta Van Susteren and her husband, retired attorney John P. Coale!
2017-01-05, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
As I have mentioned in a number of posts recently, there has been a remarkable groundswell of response to Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
It goes beyond the show trending on Twitter every week, many, many emails and messages on Facebook and handshakes in the supermarket from complete strangers. Most heartening is the number of people who are reaching out to tell their stories. Many have not been heard from before, and the stories are utterly devastating. Perhaps it is a measure of the level of devastation inflicted on people how long it takes for them to be able to talk about it. It is both heartening and heartbreaking to see how many have come forward, and continue to come forward. And it is my hope that many more will come forward.
It got me to thinking Why Now? Why have so many stepped into the light and why should everyone take the opportunity to do so now.
Anonymous vs. Scientology Documentary: Project Chanology
Project Chanology (also called Operation Chanology) was a protest movement against the practices of the Church of Scientology by members of Anonymous, a leaderless Internet-based group that defines itself as ubiquitous. The project was started in response to the Church of Scientology's attempts to remove material from a highly publicized interview with Scientologist Tom Cruise from the Internet in January 2008.
The project was publicly launched in the form of a video posted to YouTube, "Message to Scientology", on January 21, 2008. The video states that Anonymous views Scientology's actions as Internet censorship, and asserts the group's intent to "expel the church from the Internet". This was followed by distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), and soon after, black faxes, prank calls, and other measures intended to disrupt the Church of Scientology's operations. In February 2008, the focus of the protest shifted to legal methods, including nonviolent protests and an attempt to get the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the Church of Scientology's tax exempt status in the United States.
The new ad that Scientology uploaded to its website right around midnight on New Year's Eve is now on Scientology's YouTube page, and so we can embed it, below.
As we said on Jan 1, we assume that this is new ad, which we now learn carries the title "Who Am I?", will probably be the one that Scientology airs during the Super Bowl this year.
In the last few years, Scientology has purchased the local ad spots in some cities in order to air one of its Apple Computer-like commercials during the big game. This enables Scientology to avoid the huge cost of a national spot, which this year is nearing $5 million for a 30-second ad. The Scientology spot tends to come up right at the end of the first half of play, and, as in past years, we'll be checking for Twitter reactions to find out which cities get to see it.
2016-01-05, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Scientology has embarked on a self-promotional PR offensive (or perhaps it is merely some offensive "PR") for the new year.
They are churning out paid press releases at an unprecedented rate. Straight up and vertical. Epic. And greater in the last 5 days than in the 247.5 days previously by a factor of 9.24X.
Of course, these releases are of dubious value, but they look good on their stats.
The City of Clearwater may be about to witness a turf war. The two sides? Scientology vs. Winter the Dolphin.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the Church of Scientology has "questions" concerning expansion plans for the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Last year the Aquarium -- which has gained nationwide fame thanks to Winter and the Hollywood hit "Dolphin Tale" movies -- announced plans for a huge new facility in downtown Clearwater.
2015-01-05, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Do these people even realize what they are saying?
Do they have ANY concept of the orders of magnitude they are dealing with when they keep saying they are "making planetary clearing a reality?"
I guess they think this will convince people they need a LOT of money because the number is so big, rather than make them realize they should just give up and come up with some other plan for clearing the planet as this one they are operating on is nothing but pure fail.
Over the past year and a half, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder has made himself into the best expert on the current health of the organization. At his great blog, Mike leaks internal data (some of it very arcane and inside) in order to document what many of us have been saying for several years - Scientology is dying, and fast.
With a new year starting, Jeffrey Augustine asked Rinder to sit down for another Surviving Scientology podcast, which we're premiering here.
Jeff starts out by asking about how 2014 started out - with Scientology spending money to get an ad in yet another Super Bowl. This particular ad featured an E-meter, making the pitch that Scientology is a marriage of spirituality and technology. But Rinder explains what a disaster that is. Showing an E-meter on an ad was a ludicrous way to bring in new people, Rinder points out, but the ads are really aimed at Scientology's membership, in order to convince them to keep giving money.
Mike Rinder looks back on the Church of Scientology in 2014 and looks ahead to 2015. Topics includes the Church's serious legal problems in France and with Narconon.
For example using Super Bowl for a PR image but in Reality, using freebies on Craig's list for solicitation into the Cult.
In this interview, Jeffrey Augustine mentions that Narconon brings in about $100,0000,000 per year for the Church of Scientology. The IRS 990's showing ~$63,000,000 in Narconon gross receipts are posted here at the Scientology Money Project:
2014-01-05, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
I have often made comparisons between the cult of the RCS and North Korea.
I have been reading John Sweeney's excellent book North Korea Undercover (this is a link to order the book on Amazon, I recommend it as an informative and enjoyable read filled with typical Sweeney wit). The parallels that come to mind while reading the book are eerie.
Someone also recently alerted me to a link to the official english language version of the The Pyongyang Times.
What a few days we've had here at the Bunker. We posted Tommy Davis's deposition on Thursday, and yesterday we wrote about Monique Rathbun's motion for sanctions, which included an amazing set of 2007 text messages sent between Scientology leader David Miscvaige, Mike Rinder, and Tommy Davis.
And we have even more surprises coming soon. But for today, we wanted to relax with some Sunday Funnies!
Each week, we reveal the new Scientology mailers and fliers that our tipsters have sent us. It helps us keep an eye on how the church is keeping its members coming back for more. So let's dive in!
January 6, 2013 - Part One of Two - Canada President of Scientology and Director of Special Affairs (OSA), Yvette Shank interviewed on radio show, with very interesting questions asked and answered. Contradicts L. Ron Hubbard about Christ, says people enjoy the RPF and denies knowing about Xenu.
From the Rainbow Canyon website Scientology's drug rehab facilities have been much in the news lately for several lawsuits that have questioned the way these "Narconon" programs treat adults who go to them seeking treatment for their addictions. Now, a Narconon center in Nevada is being sued by a family over the experiences of their fifteen-year-old.
On March 8, Mark and Nicole Peet, residents of upstate New York, sent their son to the Rainbow Canyon Retreat, a Narconon drug rehab center that relies on the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. The young man was back home by May 13. In the lawsuit they filed in Nevada on November 21, the Peets allege that their son (whose name we're withholding because of his age) went through disturbing mistreatment at the hands of older patients, including "branding" him with a hot iron.
The Peets are suing to get back the $39,000 they paid Rainbow Canyon, and are also asking for punitive damages, alleging that their son was so affected by his experience at the facility, it led to his attempting suicide on September 5.
2012-01-05, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
This week, the Scientology world was almost all about Debbie Cook, wherever you looked. Stories about her showed up all over the place -- European newspapers in particular were fascinated with her rebellious e-mail. And we want to thank Huffington Post for the shout-out in the video you see here. And just a few weeks after we exposed a HuffPo blogger as a shill for Scientology!
A leading Scientologist is attempting to spark a revolt against chief David Miscavige, who has led the organization since the death of L. Ron Hubbard 26 years ago.
Miscavige has ignored the teaching of L. Ron Hubbard and turned Scientology into a fundraising machine that bleeds wealthy members dry to construct lavish buildings and stockpile more than $1 billion in cash, Debra Cook wrote in an email to more than 12,000 current and former Scientologists. Cook was a top-ranking Scientology executive for decades before leaving the organization's payroll to start an Internet firm in 2008.
2011-01-05, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
A couple years back some Texas big wigs rammed through a deal with a Spanish construction company to build and operate toll roads (with millions in kickbacks,and free interstate travel forever lost) across this great state. In response, more than ten thousand ranchers, farmers and common folk marched on Austin. Didn't take long for the deal to get canceled. A seventy-something year-old sod buster was interviewed at the time. He said words to this effect: people think Texas is run by the New World Order; I got news, when the beginning of the end the New World Order happens, it'll start right here in the heart of Texas.
I'm not sure what that all has to do with this, but it was the first thing that came to my mind when I received the following announcement from a couple of major league O.T.s from Austin.
Yvonne (OT VIII) and Ken (OT VII) Schick are free and clear and independent. Ken was head of the Austin OT Committee and Yvonne was its Exec Sec. The Schicks are IAS Patrons with Honors, Ideal OrgHumanitarians, SuperPower Key Contributors and have donated out the wazoo to library campaigns, planetary dissemination, you name it. Most would consider them among the leading OL's in the area.
After serving six years as a military police officer in Korea he went to work for the police department in Clearwater, Fla., a job that provided more than its share of memorable incidents.
"We had a couple of bad cases. We handled a case involving one of Charles Manson's followers. He went into a church of Scientology and started shooting. When we went to his house his girlfriend was lying on the bed naked with a knife through her chest. He had written 'Helter Skelter' all over the walls. We arrested him and he ended up stabbing the prison minister and later he killed himself."
Woelfel stated that he had received numerous letters in support of Ginsburg, and indicated that most of them came from people in Oklahoma, where Ginsburg attended rehabilitation, who didn't really know that Ginsburg was being charged for selling the drugs that caused young Lauren's death. Also noting, that they also seemed to be unaware of his involvement in the William Herbert case that preceded his move to Oklahoma. Herbert, 48, was found dead in his Milton apartment in January 2006. Ginsburg, who allegedly dealt drugs to him, was given mostly a probated sentence in Northumberland County Court.
Woelfel also said that Ginsburg had plead guilty before the court, and he was going to follow state mandates in sentencing him for the three crimes that he was ultimately charged with — unlawful possession with the intent to deliver cocaine, unlawful possession with the intent to deliver heroin, and misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter.
The expansion is a response to increased demand and to help meet the needs of area church members. Carmichael could not say how many church members there are in Michigan, but he said there are about 3 million members worldwide.
The prosecution of a Solana Beach man accused of neglecting his elderly mother's declining health until she died concluded Wednesday with testimony that undercut the defendant's claims of how he treated the woman.
Leo Dunckley is being tried for a second time on a charge of elder neglect for the Aug. 12, 2002, death of his 90-year-old mother, Eleanor, in the apartment the two shared for about nine years.
Defence counsel Clay Ruby, on behalf of the church and other lawyers representing some of the co-accused, asked Judge Robert Dnieper to impose a ban on the proceedings until the trial of the others is completed. They are scheduled to begin a preliminary hearing tomorrow.