This is Cierra Westerman. She sent us this photo of herself with her then boyfriend, Dwayne Powell.
She first reached out to us last month saying that she wanted to come forward about the time she spent working for Powell and the Church of Scientology, spying on its former members.
Since then, she's been sending us photos and documents to prove she is who she says she is.
2018-01-30, John P. Capitalist, John P. Capitalist
A few months ago, Scientology "targeted" a few national advertisers whose ads appeared on Leah Remini's hit A&E show "Scientology and the Aftermath," implying a boycott might be lurking. Earlier in 2017, Scientology announced a boycott of Clearwater businesses to show their economic impact on the city after losing the land deal they wanted.
What kind of pressure could Scientology bring to bear on an advertiser, to bend them to its will? How rapidly can their ire affect a big company and show Corporate America who's boss? We analyze the effectiveness of consumer boycotts in general and Scientology's whine-fest in particular.
Scientology's Failed Attempts to Boycott Clearwater Businesses
2017-01-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Another provocative essay from our old friend Terra Cognita.
Love and Compassion in Scientology
Love and compassion have always been given short shrift within the walls of Scientology. In fact, they're rarely exhibited, almost as if they're signs of weakness and not worthy of expression.
(Claudio Lugli and his son Flavio, in 1990)
On Thursday, we told you about what appeared to be a new development in Scientology's "disconnection" policy that rips apart families. Like so many other parents, Claudio and Renata Lugli have not heard from their son Flavio in years because they chose to leave the Church of Scientology and he did not. But after not hearing from him for six years, Flavio suddenly started a blog.
In his blog, Flavio accused his parents of disconnecting from him and not the other way around, and of hiding "sins" that they would have to atone for. Flavio's brother, Tiziano Lugli, told us the language in Flavio's blog didn't sound like him, and that he suspected it was the work of a Scientology Office of Special Affairs operative in Brescia, Italy, who has targeted Claudio and Renata with other online attacks.
The Church of Scientology might be one of the most secretive organizations in the country, but there's one thing it can't seem to keep quiet: defections. Since its creation in 1953, a string of celebrities and higher-ups have left the church. For years, those who defected largely kept quiet about what they'd seen on the inside – but increasingly, that's changed.
In 2009, a St. Petersburg Times series revealed a host of former high-level executives who shared their stories. Then, in 2015, an HBO documentary called Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – based on a 2013 book by journalist and screenwriter Lawrence Wright – told the stories of many of these defectors. Just months after that film was released, sitcom star and former Scientologist Leah Remini wrote a book about her 30 years in the church, and this year, followed it up with her A&E show Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, in which she tells her story and interviews fellow defectors.
Now, it seems, Scientology's greatest blessings – its celebrity followers and devoted lifers – have become their biggest liability. But how far back do the defections go? Here, 10 people whose lives revolved around Scientology –then made the conscious decision to leave.
Our video source has come through again, and we have something for you today that hasn't previously been online. It's the 2007 LRH Birthday Event, held in Clearwater, Florida, the holiest day on the Scientology calendar (March 13), when church leader David Miscavige throws a celebration of L. Ron Hubbard on the anniversary of his 1911 birth.
Of all the annual Scientology blowouts, we especially enjoy the Birthday Event because it means that Miscavige will trot out the Silver Mullet, Scientology's official Hubbard biographer and writer of Miscavige's speeches, the man with creative ideas about English sentence structure and who always tells the biggest whoppers about Hubbard's history. We're talking, of course, of Dan Sherman.
Dan is in fine form at this event, and as we watched him recount the early days of Dianetics and Scientology, 1948-1954, we realized we were watching Scientology's own course in miracles. Scientologists will deny that they consider founder L. Ron Hubbard a god, or that they worship him. But it's hard to conclude otherwise after watching this vid.
2016-01-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Things are not going too well with the big plans for the Super Bowl.
Though there are 3 ideal orgs and another "almost" in the Bay area SFO (actually two — Day and Fdn), Stevens Creek, Mountain View and Los Gatos; and with the "massive international expansion" scientology has been experiencing since David Miscavige took the helm, rocketed with the advent of the Golden Age of Tech, after-burnered with the Basics, shot skywards with the Golden Age of Knowledge, exploded into hyperdrive with the Golden Age of Knowledge II and Super Power and launched to the stratosphere with the Golden Age of Tech for OT's, not to mention the magnificence of the ideal org strategy — they don't seem to be able to round up a few people to hand out Truth Abour [sic] Drugs booklets guaranteed to save the world.
What is going wrong?
While we've been bowled over by the response to Alex Gibney's film 'Going Clear' — and it's only going to get more intense as its HBO air date of March 16 nears — we're still in the process here at the Underground Bunker of releasing rare video from another Scientology documentary altogether.
Today, we have our third leak of original, raw footage from Channel 4's excellent 1997 program, Secret Lives — L. Ron Hubbard.
The movie contains short clips from numerous people who knew Hubbard, but now a source is releasing to us the full interviews with these participants for the first time. We've already heard from Hubbard's literary agent, Forrest Ackerman, and his press assistant and lover, Barbara Klowden, and today we hear from one of Hubbard's fellow science fiction colleagues, Arthur Jean Cox.
2015-01-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
What a strange fellow.
I guess he thinks, sort of like Idi Amin or Moammar Qaddaffi, that if he pins enough shit on himself everyone will know what an accomplished individual he is.
And THIS is who the church uses to promote the March 13 event?
The Scientology-backed nonprofit "Foundation for a Drug Free World" teaches teens that marijuana triggers birth defects and heroin causes spontaneous abortion. With blatant falsities and wild exaggerations, it aims to terrify students into abstinence for life.
But while the foundation-which claims to have reached more than 50 million worldwide-may have more resources, its curriculum of fear is not unique.
2014-01-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is an interesting tidbit sent in by one of our Special Correspondents.
They report that there is a "new issue" from "International Management" (interesting as this has long since ceased to exist, wonder why Dear Leader did not affix his name to it as he has assume the position of "Source of Lost Tech"?) regarding dictionaries.
The only way to see a copy of this issue is to go into a local org. It seems that copies are not available for the public, but they are shown to people in the org who are going on course. Now that is bizarre, what can they possibly be afraid of? Someone making fun of them?
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."
Jeff, you've really done a great job educating us about Scientology's system of ethics in this series. We hate to see it wind down.
JEFFERSON: Well, at last we have come to the end of the Introduction to Scientology Ethics book. The last chapter is called "Conduct of Justice and Forms of Redress." It's all about the forms of recourse that Scientologists have if faced with any injustice in Scientology. I imagine these things were written when Hubbard was in a benign mood or when there had been an obvious miscarriage of justice.
2013-01-30, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
The circumstances I was afforded in my training in Scientology technology were auspicious.
I summarized them in an earlier post, Training Outside the Walls. .
There is more context to the story that I believe sheds light on the thoughts behind recent posts here that have apparently created consternation, strife, chaos, and even declared enemies.
But, after reading Lawrence Wright's searing new investigative book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, my usual indifference has given way to concern.
On second thought, make that fright. And not just about L. Ron Hubbard's secretive army of adherents.
Because Wright's book demonstrates in granular detail what an organization with enough money and zealous acolytes can do once it has wrapped itself in a religious cloak: assault, conspire, burgle, forge, perjure, spy, bully and intimidate anyone who gets in its way.
Convince your flock that they are above earthly laws, and they go about their task with, well, religious ferocity.
We've commented in the past how remarkable it is that some of Atlanta's local news outlets have banded together to keep a close watch on one of Scientology's more intriguing messes going on there.
Pete Combs of WSB Radio, Jodie Fleischer of WSB-TV, and Christian Boone of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution have coordinated their coverage as a wrongful death and civil racketeering lawsuit has exposed shocking improprieties at Scientology's drug rehab center in Atlanta, known as Narconon Georgia.
With a trial looming, the case has been going terribly for Scientology, and the state has announced its intention to revoke the facility's license and shut the place down.
The Church of Scientology has sued its longtime Clearwater leader Debbie Cook after she publicly questioned the church's aggressive fundraising tactics and other practices.
The lawsuit — filed Friday in San Antonio, Texas, where Cook lives — reveals that the church paid Cook and her husband, Wayne Baumgarten, $50,000 each to remain silent about their time on church staff.
Cook, 50, worked 17 years as the church's top official in Clearwater, Scientology's worldwide spiritual headquarters. Serving in the post of "captain," she presided over an operation that brought in more than $1.7 billion for the church during that time.
For those not in the church, or among its ex-members, Tidman's name may mean little, and her death will probably not be noticed by the mainstream press. But to Scientologists, who tend to call her by another name -- Annie Broeker -- she was a powerful symbol for where their movement had been and where it was going.
On January 14, former Scientology executiveMarty Rathbun announced on his blog that a record of Tidman's death had been found online. Then, yesterday, he published her death certificate, along with an analysis of its details. Since his first announcement, we've been verifying information about her final years as well as interviewing people who knew her. [Go here for our primer, "What is Scientology?"]
Scientology's lawyers took three hours to attack counter-cult group UNADFI's bid to be admitted as a plaintiff in the Paris appeal trial. Ten minutes into their lawyer's response, the proceedings degenerated into a shouting match.
The first three days of Scientology's trial on appeal had been taken up with a flurry of defence motions trying to get the case abandoned or at least postponed: all to no avail.
Judge Claudine Forkel rejected them all, describing at least one of them "devoid of any serious character".
Scientology had vowed to expose the case against them as empty. In court however, the procedural motions launched by their lawyers' delayed any examination of the facts of the case.
Scientology had vowed to expose the hollowness of the case against it.
When the battle returned to the courtroom however, the movement's lawyers seemed determined to avoid returning to the facts of the case, on that day and - if at all possible - on any other.
MELBOURNE lord mayor Robert Doyle was a guest speaker at the opening of the Church of Scientology's multimillion-dollar headquarters in Ascot Vale yesterday, which drew more than 50 protesters.
Mounted police supervised the private function in the Mount Alexander Road building as Mr Doyle and guests including Kate and Phil Ceberano were ferried in a back entrance.
2011-01-30, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
The St Pete Times has just published an article on Nationwide Title Clearing. It is a World Institute of Scientology Enterprises company right in the thick of the criminal robo-signing scandal.
I am disappointed that the Times took the lazy, low road on this "investigation." Outpoints abound. Dropped out time is the biggest outpoint. They place a bunch of emphasis on the founders of the company and statements they made about its success twenty-years ago. They take a couple of LRH quotes out of context and position them as the why for the criminality. And they conclude, infer/imply/insinuate, a contrary fact wrong why in the process.
If the LRH quotes that Novitsky and his easy to attack (since deceased) partner allegedly had any bearing on the company's criminality (ALL RECENT) then where was the Times twenty years ago? They weren't even in the neighborhood, because the robo signing and the over the top pressure are current affairs. They are the product of Miscavige's Brave New Breed of Bot. The new "greed is great" era of Radical Scientology.
Nationwide Title Clearing, a Palm Harbor company that processes documents for the residential mortgage industry, is owned by members of the Church of Scientology and some of its top managers are Scientologists.
Norm Novitsky: Novitsky started Nationwide Title Clearing in 1992. Now retired, but still listed as an officer, he lives in California, where his BluNile film company is producing a horror movie, Pray for Morning. In October, Novitsky filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy listing $1.63 million in debts, some from soured real estate ventures. He owes $100,000 to the IRS. The Novitskys, along with the families of other Nationwide Title Clearing owners (Hillman, Marsh, Kezsbom, Kugler, and Turbin), collectively donated at least $1 million to Scientology's Super Power building in Clearwater.
Edward E. Marsh III: An owner of Nationwide Title Clearing since its early days, Marsh had a company, Charter Financial, that made loans to several Scientologists in the Clearwater area from 2002 to 2004, public records show. Marsh and his wife, Kathy, live in California.
Les scientologues ont inauguré en grande pompe samedi leur lieu de culte nouvellement redessiné dans le quartier Saint-Roch pour rencontrer tous les besoins de leur religion, un projet de six millions de dollars qui sera ouvert au public à compter de dimanche.
La mystérieuse église à 6 millions $ que les scientologues inaugurent aujourd'hui dans la rue Saint-Joseph n'est pas seulement un lieu de culte. Elle renferme aussi un bureau fantôme, une salle où on vous sonde l'esprit à l'aide d'un «électromètre», et même un sauna. Aperçu du nouveau chef-lieu de la scientologie au Québec.
Longtime Scientologist Nancy Cartwright -- best known as the voice of Bart Simpson -- last year gave the church $10 million to help spread the word of founder L. Ron Hubbard into other galaxies.
It was all part of Scientology's Global Salvage effort, which aims to "de-aberrate" Earth -- meaning to rid mankind of psychology ills and other "aberrant" behavior.
Surprisingly, Nancy, 50, forked over twice as much as the Scientology's most prominent member, Tom Cruise, who only gave $5 million in an installment plan.
The building has been bought by the Church of Scientology, which wants to turn it into its regional headquarters, for about R8-million.
Recently approved by the commissioner of revenue as a public benefit organisation, and also tax- exempted, the church has also recently acquired new property in Pretoria, Durban and Cape Town.
The Church of Scientology of Boston Inc. has bought the historic Alexandra Hotel building at Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue in the South End and plans to relocate its local headquarters from the Back Bay, following extensive renovations.
Two days before Jeremy's attack, Elli Perkins called the church seeking help for him, said Anne-Marie Dunning, then the church's "ethics officer." She said Carlson, Jeremy's brother-in-law and the executive director, told her to tell Elli to keep him busy.
Jeremy had been classified by the Buffalo church as a Potential Trouble Source Type III, Dunning said. Hubbard had stated that was a person who is "entirely psychotic" and for whom there was "no treatment of a mental nature."
Reger at first denied to The Buffalo News that Perkins had ever been a Scientologist or taken Scientology classes. Later, she admitted he had been a member.
In fact, Perkins had taken Scientology courses in Buffalo as late as 2002, according to Dunning.
The couple had contended that 55% of the tuition payments - the portion of the school day devoted to religious education - represented charitable contributions to a tax-exempt religious organization.
Michael and Marla Sklar also maintained that they were entitled to the refund because the Internal Revenue Service since 1993 has permitted members of the Church of Scientology to obtain deductions for "auditing," the process Scientology adherents use for spiritual self-examination.
In essence, three judges of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that two wrongs don't make a right, upholding a ruling of a U.S. Tax Court judge denying the refund.
Cruise has long been an outspoken advocate of the religion and wanted to lend his weight to seeing it recognised in Germany.
He met with US ambassador Dan Coats while in the country promoting his new movie Vanilla Sky with co-star and girlfriend Penelope Cruz.
Few people have heard about the church's $4-million purchase of Sherwood Gardens Apartments in 1999 -- the church bought it under a corporate name. No Scientology staff members live there now, but church spokesman Ben Shaw said Sherwood Gardens was purchased with an eye to the future.
In coming years, the Church of Scientology plans to nearly double the number of staff members in Clearwater when the massive "Super Power" building is completed downtown. When the church's expansion is complete, the Clearwater staff will go from its existing 1,300 to at least 2,000 -- and those additional 700 people will need somewhere to live.
The German government contends the church is a moneymaking organization with some traits of organized crime, and as such represents a threat to democracy. In newspaper advertisements and other media, Scientologists have denounced government moves to keep them from public jobs as reminiscent of the persecution of Jews in Germany's Nazi era.
In Bonn, the dispute escalated as the Bavarian Christian Social Union (CSU) blasted the church for comparing the party to the Nazis.
Bernd Protzner, general secretary of the conservative sister party of Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democrats, called the Scientology statement "the most despicable sort of offensive propaganda."
Unlike the U.S. government, the authorities in Germany have decided that the Clearwater-based Church of Scientology isn't really a religion but a subversive organization that threatens German society. Scientology may have a lot of high-profile members such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Lisa Marie Presley, but the Germans aren't impressed. Major political parties in Germany have banned Scientology members from their ranks and are taking steps to keep them out of government jobs too. Many private organizations are following this lead.
For their part, Scientologists are hitting back by accusing German authorities of using Nazi-like tactics and propaganda against them. They say many lives and careers are being ruined, church members are getting beat up and that a spark is being lit that could flare up into another Holocaust.
As the Church of Scientology sees it, Germany today is a repressive and intolerant place, not much different from the Third Reich of more than half a century ago in its hostility toward racial and religious minorities.
As the German government sees it, the Church of Scientology is not a church at all, but rather a dangerous cult that uses religion to cloak its money-making schemes while exploiting gullible members and threatening local communities.
Of such contradictory viewpoints are titanic feuds made, and the bitter quarrel between Scientology and German officials is now approaching Hatfield-McCoy intensity.
A defunct Clearwater rare coin, bullion and currency exchange, along with three former employees, pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal money-laundering charges.
The business, Bernstein, McCaffrey & Lee, was at 601 Cleveland St. in downtown Clearwater, but has been closed since authorities raided the office and confiscated inventory in December 1989.
Ronald W. Bernstein, who founded the business, and former salesmen Grant Boshoff, 20, and Lawrence Spencer, 44, each face a maximum of 20 years in prison, but likely will receive much shorter terms under federal sentencing guidelines.
NEW YORK -- A federal judge Tuesday blocked publication of an unauthorized, critical biography of the late L. Ron Hubbard, the controversial author and founder of the Church of Scientology unless certain copyright-protected passages are deleted.
U.S District Court Judge Louis Stanton granted both preliminary and permanent injunctions in favor of New Era Publications International, a Danish corporation related to the church, which is the exclusive licensee of Hubbard's works.
New Era was authorized to publish a biography of Hubbard, who died in 1986, that will draw on his published and unpublished writings, the judge said.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Church of Scientology leaders say they are angered by suggestions that the reported death of founder L. Ron Hubbard was a hoax designed to end an Internal Revenue Service investigation.
"I am chagrined, I am angered, I am incensed, that an individual, and those backing him, would attempt in any way to denigrate the founder of this church," Heber Jentzsch, president of Church of Scientology International, said Wednesday.
He and Scientology general counsel John Peterson said longtime Scientology foe Michael Flynn had created a controversy over Hubbard's death.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Authorities Wednesday confirmed the death of Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, which the organization had announced Monday.
"Yes, we have verified fingerprints taken from the body" of Hubbard, who had not been seen in public for six years, said San Luis Obispo County Sheriff-Coroner George Whiting.
Hubbard's death occurred in the presence of a physician and "the case is closed," said Whiting. Blood samples provided by Hubbard's doctor were clear of drugs, and there were no signs of bruising or scarring on the body, said Whiting.