There's no debate that the Church of Scientology's international spiritual headquarters is downtown's most dominating presence.
It's become the largest landowner with at least $245 million worth of property. Its seven story, 300,000 square-foot Flag Building towers over Fort Harrison Avenue and uniformed Sea Org staff members hustle daily between buildings and off buses.
But on Tuesday evening, worldwide viewers of A&E's Emmy Award winning show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath got the darkest analysis of what that legacy and presence means for the city.
We know that if you read this website and watch Leah Remini's A&E series, sooner or later the advertising algorithms are going to track you down and swamp you with a lot of Scientology propaganda on your social media feeds or in the form of web ads. You might also end up seeing some of Scientology's smear websites, most of which operate anonymously, but at least one, aimed at Leah's show, that doesn't hide that the Church of Scientology itself operates it.
And once you do get hit with all of that Scientology shouting, what you'll most often hear is that the people who have left the church and spoken out about its abuses are, to the man or woman, a liar.
That's it. That's Scientology's number one assertion. That anyone who has ever had anything critical to say about its practices, its controversies, or its toxic policies, is simply not telling the truth.
2019-01-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
I tweeted the other day that law enforcement needs to empanel Grand Juries to get the facts about scientology. More effective would be a raid to seize their files, but that is a much harder process especially when dealing with an organization that hides behind the cloak of religion.
What is a Grand Jury and why would it be effective?
A grand jury is a jury – a group of citizens – empowered by law to conduct legal proceedings and investigate potential criminal conduct, and determine whether criminal charges should be brought. A grand jury may subpoena physical evidence or a person to testify. A grand jury is separate from the courts, which do not preside over its functioning.
The Church of Scientology has applied for planning permission to build a playground at its centre in south Dublin.
The application was made on January 16 of this year and outlines plans for a 17sqm internal playground at its community centre in Firhouse.
It follows the opening of a "Winter Wonderland" at the centre over the Christmas period.
You've probably seen some of the reporting coming out of Budapest this weekend as Scientology put on a big show Saturday to protest Hungary's crackdown on its "Ideal Org" there.
We've been gathering a few different reports on the event, and we asked for some help from our correspondents on the scene as the church seems to be going for some of that old Portland "Religious Freedom Crusade" magic that it put on in 1985.
In that case, a former church member was suing the church and had won a $39 million judgment, and the church mobilized thousands of members — mostly bused up from Los Angeles — to surround the courtroom and put pressure on the judge, who eventually caved and vacated the jury award.
2018-01-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Another "out of the mouths of babes" admission from the highest levels of the crumbling scientology empire.
They have been trying to get 10,000 "onto or through" Solo NOTs since it was released 35 years ago.
Realize, this is a CUMULATIVE number. Everyone who has ever finished is counted. Along with everyone who is now "on the level"... And that certainly includes all those who have been declared or "blown off" the level without completing it. Really this is a measure of "all time number of people who STARTED OT VII regardless of what happened to them subsequently."
2017-01-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Denver "ideal org" parking lot
Here is the REAL story about an "Ideal Org." These buildings are what scientology inform the world is "proof" of their massive international expansion.
The hype is that "ideal orgs" "expand 10X".
A local businesswoman is under fire for alleged religious discrimination and unlawful retaliation, wrongful discharge, and breach of contract in her dealings with two former employees.
Those allegations are the basis of a lawsuit filed against Judy Nagengast last week in the Darke County (Ohio) Court of Common Pleas Civil Division by Paul and Chelsea Wysong, of Palestine, Ohio.
Nagengast is the president and chief executive officer of Anderson-based Continental Design Co. Inc., which operates several business divisions including staffing, quality control, and specialty LED lighting.
(Then-candidate Donald Trump and Trish Duggan, during the campaign)
Back in August, we pointed out that while many people have noted similarities between Donald Trump and L. Ron Hubbard, at least in their personal styles (something we've acknowledged as well), we hadn't really seen any substantial connections between the Republican candidate and the Church of Scientology itself.
But now that he's president, we're very curious to find out what Trump thinks about Scientology, which increasingly faces calls from the public to be investigated by federal agencies like the FBI and IRS.
2016-01-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The Super Bowl - a wondrous opportunity to soak some more money out of the sheeple.
Not only will they be hit up to pay for ads to appear "the greatest dissemination effort in history" - it will be epic, milestone and watershed - they are also hitting everyone up to donate for drug booklets. Those things cost about 20 cents (being VERY generous). If they gave one to EVERY person who attended (68,500 seats) they could accomplish that with $13,700. That isn't even a tiny fraction of the weekly income of the IAS. Not even 10% of the daily income of the IAS. But they are not going to PAY for it , they are going to use it as a fundraising tool.
They will milk this for every penny and collect a few hundred thousand at least. One of the advantages of being secret about how much you collect and what you spend it on is that you can "oversubscribe" for everything. Like 20 DIFFERENT people each paid for the cross on top of the SP Building. The call went out "we need money to put up the cross" and 500 different people were regged. Not to give "a bit" but to cover the whole expense. As if they were the only person being asked. All 20 of them who ended up paying thought their money alone was what bought the cross. In fact, it was just a gimmick in the first place.
One of our very helpful readers let us know that he had the new Impact magazine and wanted to let us in on this year's parade of whales that we look forward to each year.
You know the score: Each October, the International Association of Scientologists holds its annual gala under a big tent in East Grinstead, England (usually, although in 2013 they held it in Clearwater, Florida), and besides sitting for a three-hour stemwinder by church leader David Miscavige, the year's big donors are also celebrated.
A few months later, photos from the event show up in Impact, and we get to learn which of the super-rich Scientology families "upped their status" in the past year.
2015-01-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
I have seen a lot of bs hype in my time, but this would make Jon Lovitz's character on SNL blush.
I am certain nobody will ever top this, but I have been wrong before about the insanity inside the bubble. But there is no question it will take some doing to out-hype this baby.
And who IS this guy and what is this uniform he is wearing? He looks the part of a South American toy soldier... He is building his lapel pin collection.
Our source has made available another portion of Mark "Marty" Rathbun's December 22 deposition; the first portion we published on Sunday.
As we pointed out then, this is the first time that Rathbun has been deposed since he emerged as a critic of his former employer, the Church of Scientology, in 2009. He had left the organization five years earlier after a career as one of its highest-ranking executives. But he's now a severe critic of David Miscavige, the man who runs Scientology.
The deposition was taken as part of Luis and Rocio Garcia's federal fraud lawsuit, but as we pointed out last time, Scientology attorney Bert Deixler seems less interested in the issue pending in that lawsuit - the nature of Scientology's arbitration scheme - and instead is focusing on Rathbun's relationship with Miscavige.
Jefferson Hawkins was once the top marketing executive for the Church of Scientology and helped it reach its greatest extent with the famous "volcano" TV ads in the 1980s. He's told his tale of getting into and out of the church with his excellent books Counterfeit Dreams and Leaving Scientology, and he's helping us understand the upside-down world of Scientology "ethics."
We're nearing the end of this series, Jeff, but you've saved one of the best for almost last. We've always wanted to know more about Scientology's brand of court justice. Tell us about it.
JEFFERSON: We're now on Chapter 12 of Introduction to Scientology Ethics, and we're going to be taking up every Scientologist's favorite subject — Comm Evs! Of course, I'm being facetious — I think every Scientologist, and certainly every staff member, has their own horror stories about Comm Evs. It's a system that is particularly prone to abuse and misuse.
We had a chance to talk with Monique Rathbun's attorney Ray Jeffrey about Wednesday's court hearing in Monique's harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige.
The most important result of the hearing is that Scientology's attempt to quash a deposition of Miscavige was unsuccessful. Comal CountyJudge Dib Waldrip said that he could see more reason than ever why Monique's legal team should get the opportunity to question Miscavige, and he even suggested it might take place in his courtroom because he anticipated that Scientology's attorneys would object to virtually every question.
"He didn't order that, but he indicated that he would consider that," Jeffrey tells us.
Monique Rathbun is back in court today in New Braunfels, Texas for her harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige. Several different issues may come up for discussion today. Monique filed a notice to depose David Miscavige on January 29, and Scientology responded with a motion to quash the deposition. Scientology also asked Judge Dib Waldrip to reconsider his order allowing Monique to depose Miscavige. But the main action today may be Monique's motion for sanctions. She's asking Judge Waldrip to punish Scientology because its employees, she says, have been dishonest in depositions and because Scientology has not turned over evidence.
For complete coverage check out Tony Ortega's Underground Bunker:
2014-01-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
From Chapter 12, Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior:
The seventh lesson was explained and memorialized by L. Ron Hubbard in a thirteen-page policy letter entitled "The Responsibilities of Leaders." It begins with a several-page essay summarizing the rise and fall of nineteenth-century South American liberator Simon Bolivar. Hubbard speaks of Bolivar in glowing terms: brave, dashing, and cunning. He recounts how one of Bolivar's many mistresses, Manuela Saenz, stood above all the rest. Hubbard then analyzes Bolivar's failure to empower Saenz to use any means she deemed necessary to keep his enemies at bay, and how Saenz failed to demand or utilize such power. That, per Hubbard, was the reason that Bolivar and Saenz wound up dying in a ditch, penniless.
Among other things, Hubbard criticizes Saenz for the following faults:
SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- A Texas judge has ordered Scientology leader David Miscavage to appear at a deposition in a harassment case filed by the wife of a former figure in the church.
The suit filed last year by Monique Rathbun, a non-Scientologist, whose husband, Mark Rathbun, a former first lieutenant to Miscavage, began speaking out against the church after he left in 2004, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
The lawsuit alleges that the Rathbuns were harassed by church unit called the Squirrel Busters starting in 2009 when they lived in Ingleside on the Bay and has been ongoing, even after their move to Comal County last year.
2014-01-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The Miscavige Hype disease is extremely contagious inside the bubble.
The GAG II is not only the most monumental breakthrough in the history of history, the GAG II Student Hat is "Truth Revealed" and "like an OT level."
I swear that Miscavige could feed clubbed seals dogshit and tell them it was foie gras he had discovered in a long-lost storage room and how it is "exactly what LRH intended all Scientologists should eat for maximum speed of progress up the Bridge" and they would start writing success stories: "I thought I had tasted real foie gras before, but until I tried this 100% on Source foie gras, I had no idea. Everything that has gone before this is like dogshit. This is the most amazing, incredible, life changing food on the whole track."
2014-01-23, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
What is the purpose of critical thinking and skepticism? Why bother to engage in all this mental exercise and hard work?
"If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking." -Benjamin Franklin
Plaintiffs Luis and Rocio Garcia of Irvine, Calif., name five Scientology corporations as defendants, including the church's main entity in Clearwater. The former church members say they gave Scientology more than $420,000 for the massive "Super Power" building in Clearwater that has never opened, church services they never received and humanitarian projects that never materialized.
The deception went as far as producing phony videos of church earthquake relief efforts to induce parishioners to give, said the Garcias' attorney, Theodore Babbitt of West Palm Beach.
Luis Garcia, seen in a recent video by Tiziano Lugli In what appears to be the most serious legal challenge to Scientology in several years, former high-level Scientologists Luis Garcia and his wife Rocio of Irvine, California today filed a federal lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, alleging fraud over the way their contributions to the church — more than $400,000 — were misspent. The suit was filed in Florida's Middle District with the help of the prestigious law firm Babbitt Johnson Osborne & Le Clainche, which says it plans to file additional lawsuits by other former church members.
UPDATE: See attorney Scott Pilutik's thoughts on the lawsuit, below.
In 1993, the Internal Revenue Service granted Scientology tax exempt status, but the church was still beholden to an earlier Supreme Court decision that required it, as in a business, to give members refunds when they requested them.
Maybe he was just imagining things. John H. Richardson, my former colleague at Premiere magazine, says curious incidents began happening after he started reporting on the Church of Scientology in 1993. It didn't seem coincidental to him: People knocking on his neighbors' doors, saying he was under investigation. A phone call telling his wife he had sent her some kind of sex-gram that the caller would read aloud.
2012-01-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
I have received credible inside information from corporate Scientology sources who have been right on the money in the past. Here is the word. Miscavige's larger firms, with reputations to protect, flat out refused to go after Debbie Cook on David Miscavige's direct orders to bury her for alleged gag order violations. Hence, Miscavige was reduced to using his safety valve in such circumstances; the perpetually Kool Aid drunk Kendrick (unindicted co-conspirator in US v Mary Sue Hubbard, et al) Moxon.
Moxon has enlisted his 'arm's length' litigation attack dog Gary Soter of Woodland Hills, California. Soter has been representing a couple of process servers in a suit against Jason Beghe. Soter has shamelessly been defrauding the court by acting as if he is in there pitching for a couple of hapless, penniless victims who were devastated by some big shot celebrity. And he is in there pitching every single abusive, expensive legal maneuver known to shysters in an effort to destroy Jason financially. Of course, Soter does not let the court know that he is taking daily orders from Kendrick (unindicted co-conspirator) Moxon and being paid wheelbarrows of cash to make Jason's life a living hell.
Now, Soter is being used to threaten Debbie Cook Baumgarten and her husband Wayne into shivering silence. David Miscavige, who pulls Moxon's chain, figures he can shudder them into silence by the sheer financial strain of threat of litigation.
2012-01-23, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Scientology's aggressive network TV ad campaign continued last night with another 2-minute commercial that aired on Fox's American Idol right after the New York Giants defeated the San Francisco 49ers to win the NFC championship and earn a spot in the Super Bowl.
Poughkeepsie's Michael Farrell was one of the first to react, and we've collected dozens of additional tweets that popped up within a few minutes of last night's ad. They're a hoot!
If Scientology was looking to provoke a reaction, they got it. But is this the one they wanted? What we saw were a lot of young people either laughing or mocking the ad...
Churches are exempt from employment law requirements regarding their ministers, says the U.S. Supreme Court, in a case that has implications for former Scientologists suing the movement. But key issues still need to be tested.
The U.S. Supreme Court this week backed a church that sacked its minister, confirming that the principle of ministerial exception exempted them from a lawsuit claiming employment discrimination.
The Supreme Court delivered its unanimous opinion in the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v Equal Employment Opportunity Commission et al on Janary 11, overturning an appeal court ruling against the church.
2011-01-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
January 22, 2011
What follows is a series of events, observations and conclusions related to my relationship with officials and parishioners of the Church of Scientology. The events are true as I remember them; the observations and conclusions my own.
When Janet Fowler was interviewed by detectives, she demanded the briefcase.
"It is important to me and my church. It is religious material and I want it now," she said to investigators. "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. I want it back right now."
Janet Fowler also reportedly told investigators that her husband "is a Scientologist and would not have gone without a fight. He would have grabbed a gun in a struggle and would not have let someone shoot him."
2010-01-23, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
The devastation in Haiti has been horrendous, and the world has reached out with compassion to the people of that impoverished island. Most of us have given what we can to charities working to provide medical assistance, food and water. Hundreds of thousands have gone to the island to provide hands-on assistance – Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Paul Haggis' Artists for Peace and Justice, and many others.
One would certainly expect the Church of Scientology to reach out with compassion and generosity.
And individual Scientologists have. Some Volunteer Ministers have gone to Haiti, and are doing their best to assist. Many Scientologists, as individuals, have donated to charities.
Anonymous Anti-Scientology Protest: January 10 2008
The actions of this Clearwater Scientologist are a humiliating failure for the Church of Scientology. Out of the blue, he suddenly started verbally assaulting the Anonymous protesters and then started grabbing at their cameras and pushing them around.
The bull-baiting failed, as the Clearwater police, after witnessing one of the assaults, took him aside and asked a member of Anonymous if assault charges should be pressed against him. The protester said No, its OK.
Supporters of the controversial Second Chance center made a last-ditch plea for the program at Wednesday night's City Council meeting, saying the program had helped them beat their drug and alcohol addictions and asking councilors to let it stay in the old West Side jail.
But when I next decided to expose a then relatively unknown organization called Scientology (and the related Dianetics) I ended up arrested, facing 15 years in jail, had 19 lawsuits filed against me all over the world by Scientology, was the almost victim of a near murder, was the subject of 5 disgusting anonymous smear letters sent to my family and neighbors about me, and endured constant and continual harassment for almost 15 years.
A loose confederation of online troublemakers who call themselves Anonymous have declared war on the Church of Scientology by flooding its servers with fake data requests, describing the attacks as punishment for the Church's alleged abuse of copyright laws and alleged brainwashing of its members.
Laboratory tests indicate that a 36-year-old member of the Church of Scientology went without fluids for five to 10 days and was unconscious for up to two days before her unexplained death in 1995.
Those conclusions by Joan Wood, the Pinellas-Pasco medical examiner, are at odds with the Church of Scientology's version of how Lisa McPherson died after spending 17 days in the organization's downtown Clearwater retreat.
They never broke into church buildings or planted electronic bugs, but for the past 13 years, undercover Clearwater police detectives have investigated the Church of Scientology.
They never developed a case against the church that was prosecuted.
The concept of Scientology had grown out of the financial fiasco of [L. Ron Hubbard]'s Dianetics. He said that the difference between Scientology and Dianetics was that whereas the latter addressed the body, Scientology addressed the soul.
Turning Scientology into a religion made sense financially, for there were substantial tax concessions available to churches, and it made sense pragmatically because Hubbard was convinced that as a religion Scientology would be less vulnerable to attack by the enemies he was convinced were constantly trying to encircle him.
1986-01-23, John McCoy, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Northwest Commodity Exchange and similar warehouse banks have been supported in court briefs and elsewhere by the Church of Scientology, which objects to what it calls IRS harassment of its religious affairs.
Uchida said they spoke in three or four elementary schools, using anti- drug teaching principles advocated by Narconon, a Scientologist drug counseling group.
As reported in the accompanying instalment in a series of accounts of the U.S. court proceedings, 35 Scientologists were alleged to have participated in conspiracies to steal government documents and to obstruct justice. Besides the nine sentenced to jail, 23 people were named as unindicted co-conspirators. Three others have been indicted and investigations are continuing in various parts of the United States by state and federal agencies.
Canadian activities have included the planting of spies with agencies and individuals considered to be barriers to the progress of the wealthy world-wide organization. It recently announced it had purchased $3.5-million worth of property in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Montreal.