Late last year, we told you about Scientology's latest and rather desperate attempt to derail Laura DeCrescenzo's nine-year odyssey to seek justice after being forced to have an abortion as a 17-year-old Sea Org worker.
Laura first filed her lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court in 2009, but its history since then has been tortuous. It was removed to federal court by Scientology, where one of its claims (under a federal law) was knocked down, but then the federal court sent the remaining case back to the LA state court. Judge Ronald Sohigian then dismissed the case, agreeing with Scientology that Laura should have filed in 2008, within four years after leaving her Sea Org position. But an appeals court revived the case, agreeing with the argument that since Laura had remained in the church after leaving the Sea Org, she had been intimidated by the church from filing sooner. Her case has also survived two motions for summary judgment (we were there both times!), and she also got her folders of data after the church appealed all the way to US Supreme Court to keep them out of her hands.
Now, she finally has a firm trial date set for August 13 of this year, but Scientology is trying a pretty wild new tactic: It filed a new federal lawsuit against Laura, claiming that when her case was previously in federal court, it should have been thrown out entirely. That's after the church has spent years litigating the case in state court, including its two defeated motions for summary judgment.
Quailynn McDaniel was exactly what Scientology was looking for. The yoga instructor was fit and pretty, and her husband worked for a major software firm.
They had children. They were well liked. And they had money.
And that's how she became one of the people chosen for a special role in the odd church that caters to the wealthy and famous.
A Priority Teletype from the FBI's Legat in London to the Director outlined an interesting problem - the Bureau had been asked to help with a case involving Stig Bergling, a Swede who had apparently been spying for the Soviets, and a woman in the Tampa area might have information as to his whereabouts.
There was just one snag - they were afraid it might lead to a confrontation with the Church of Scientology.
Despite the concerns, the interview went forward. The details of this woman's involvement are mostly redacted. In a subsequent interview, the mystery woman explained that she had only ever spoken to Stig Bergling AKA Stig Sandberg once, and that was on the phone.
2017-02-23, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
In the never-ending war between conservatives and liberals, which is really no different than the war between Tories vs the Whigs, the Blues vs the Grays or Mounds vs Almond Joy, there is one argument that crops up all the time which I want to put an end to right here and now.
People get into arguments over their positions and try to come up with ways to prove the opposing side wrong. The most effective way of doing this is calmly and rationally pointing to facts and evidence which support their position and which cannot be refuted or disproven by their opponent. This doesn't always work for any number of reasons, but it is still the best way to go about it. There are other things people do too and one of those is to say "Well you're just biased" as though they are making some radical and important point that invalidates everything you had to say. Yeah...not so much. In fact, they might as well be saying that you're wrong because you have skin or because you breathe.
Bias is a prejudice in favor or against some thing, person, group or idea compared with another, usually in a way considered to be unfair. Basically it's an idea that for whatever reason, a person or thing is different from others in some way and that difference matters, usually in such a way as to create distrust, fear and anxiety. The bias may or may not be true or provable or valid; that doesn't matter too much. Biases are based on emotion as often as on facts or reason. Studies have shown that when someone can see that the differences they believe to exist aren't real or don't have to be a deciding factor in relations with others, trust can increase and reduce the anxiety that underlies bias. So education, social training and tolerance are key factors in reducing bias of all kinds.
2016-02-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Hey presto, it's a rabbit out of a hat.
Suddenly, Orlando is the "next milestone done."
It's pretty clear that nobody raised the funds for Orlando — they are barely even an org and probably have less than 50 public and staff all told. "International management" paid for it (of course, there is no such thing as "international management" these days, it is David Miscavige and "helpers in favor at the moment.")
(Chrissie and Shane Weightman)
Former Sea Org worker Chris Shelton has been a regular contributor here at the Bunker and he's made a name for himself with his video interviews of fellow former church members. Often, he premieres those videos here. But recently, he posted a "bonus" interview series at his YouTube channel, and now it's blown up into a bigger story.
Shelton interviewed Shane Weightman more than a year ago, but for several reasons the two of them decided to sit on it, waiting for the right time to make it public. Shane grew up in Scientology, met his wife Chrissie Weightman in England, and then the two of them became disillusioned and left the organization in 2010, announcing that they had left the church on Marty Rathbun's blog. They now live in the Denver area, where Shelton also resides.
In order to provide more points of view and experience on my channel, I'm interviewing people involved in Scientology and other destructive cults and getting their stories. This is Part 5 of Shane Weightman's story, a 2nd generation Scientologist from Europe who was on staff at the Church of Scientology of London.
Scientology: A to Xenu, is available here:
The Church of Scientology has long been shrouded in mystery, but several documents released by its Australia operation provide a glimpse of the secretive religion's balance sheet.
In 2011, the Church of Scientology in Australia reorganized itself as a type of nonprofit. The change in corporate structure required the church to make its finances available to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Now the Australian press has republished the reports—and they're enlightening. The church brought in a staggering $33.1 million in revenue over the course of 2011 and 2012, but still lost money during those years, according to the financial statements. In 2012, the church lost $169,156, up from $136,375 in 2011.
The Australian arm of the Church of Scientology collected more than $30 million in income from merchandising sales and donations following the launch of its Melbourne centre in 2011 despite having only 2163 members.
The normally secretive organisation had to open its books for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission after it changed its corporate structure in 2011.
The church's figures show a large flood of income into the organisation in 2011 and 2012, including $4.3 million in donations and $2.9 million in interest collected from $28 million in investments, News Corp reports.
2015-02-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This is an ideal org?
I thought they were supposed to go into instant "straight up vertical" expansion? Phoenix was opened in June 2012. More than 2.5 YEARS ago.
The org is empty, we have had a number of people report on the empty org, here is a report from 2013. Now there is more proof of what a failure this "ideal org" is.
2015-02-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
In the most recent edition of its 'Freedom' magazine, Scientology may demonstrate why the people of France and their institutions constitute one of the few remaining bastions of resistance against abuses of the cult. Freedom's article entitled 'Get Religion?' is at first blush a level-headed plea for 'freedom of religion.' Clearly it is scientology's latest effort to hide behind the cloak of religion in response to unprecedented media coverage of its abuses. In that regard, Freedom espouses a number of 'religious freedom' arguments that are the epitome of hypocrisy. They rail against censorship and alleged attacks upon conscience while carrying on operations as perhaps the most censorious and violent usurper of expressions of religion and conscience. Its aims to dominate and silence opposition are so strong that even within its best efforts to convince the world it is reasonable, scientology cannot restrain nor well-disguise its overriding intentions. Scientology's stripes appear loud and clear to the attentive reader in the following Freedom passage on the recent, highly publicized terror attack on and murder of French journalists and artists:
"The editors at Charlie Hebdo appeared to go to great lengths to antagonize extremists and some might even say provoke the deadly terrorist response with its publishing of sacrilegious depictions of the Prophet Muhammad they knew to be deeply offensive to Muslims. Is the freedom to publish also the freedom not to publish?"
'Some might even say' is textbook scientology code for 'everybody knows'; a generalization technique deftly developed by its founder L. Ron Hubbard to mean 'we say, but the hell if we are going to take responsibility for saying it.'
For several years, one of Australia's crusading senators, covered closely by one of the country's most dogged television reporters, put pressure on the Church of Scientology to face more regulation with the creation of a national charities commission.
That effort paid off yesterday in a big way when Scientology's internal financial reports were revealed for the first time by the Australian press, providing a rare look at how the organization is faring in that country.
We have those reports for you to go through, as well as some help understanding them from former Scientology spokesman (and native Australian) Mike Rinder.
THE Church of Scientology netted close to $30 million from religious audits, book sales and donations in the two years following the launch of a major new base in Melbourne.
The opening of the multi-million dollar facility in Ascot Vale at the start of 2011 also lead to a 35 per cent surge in people completing Scientology courses but interest has since tempered, financial records show.
The rare insight into the finances of the highly secretive organisation came as it filed annual reports with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
2014-02-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Chris Shelton, who has posted here as Galactic Patrol for some time, sent me this article for publication.
It provides an interesting perspective on being a staff member and being in the SO. It may not be everyone's view, but it certainly aligns with much of what I experienced.
And I think it is a helpful addition to multiple viewpoints that are expressed here in an effort to make all data available to those who are interested.
The judges' ruling in December said that the chapel should be registered as a place where marriages could take place because "Scientology comes within the meaning of a religion" – a decision that could have significant ramifications as religions can seek charitable status and tax exemptions.
A government source said at the time that the ruling could "open the floodgates" to other groups claiming to be religions for tax purposes.
The Church of Scientology is naturally very excited that Alessandro Calcioli and Louisa Hodkin (pictured right) will marry today after winning a landmark court victory allowing Scientology "religious" weddings to be held in England for the first time.
Scientology may be dwindling, but it can use every bit of good publicity it can get, so today's wedding will be streamed live on the Internet at 11 am Eastern, and we wouldn't miss it.
But coverage of the impending nuptials has been uninformed and even embarrassing. Despite decades of revelations in books, magazine articles, and newspaper stories that have laid bare most of Scientology's secrets, the church still seems to be something of a mystery for most reporters and many in the public.
Mark Fisher was spied on for 22 years by David Miscavige and his henchmen. He tells the story in Part one and Part 2.
This is how the public's money is spent.
The Church of Scientology has a 501C3 "religious" tax exemption to act out with malice and retaliation, to hound and spy on past members.
These spy operations are run by the "Office of Special Affairs" a division of "church" of Scientology International.
It's religious! It's ecclesiastical!
On Sundays we enjoy showing you the Scientology mailers and fliers that our tipsters have forwarded to us. And this week, we have a real treat.
Besides a nice collection of fundraising come-ons from around the world, we also received an e-mail from a tipster who tells us that he was a member of org staff. Not Sea Org, but staff, the folks who work at your local Scientology church.
Although Scientology staff aren't required to sign billion-year contracts like Sea Org workers, they do make serious commitments and usually work long hours for modest pay.
ALSO IN TODAY'S POST: Is there a subliminal message from Lisa Marie Presley on the back of this T-Shirt? See below! In 1990, author Jon Atack published what is still one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, A Piece of Blue Sky. Atack now has a new edition of the book out, and it reminded us what an encyclopedic resource he is. So we had an idea. In the world of Scientology watching, we noticed that there seem to be some legends, myths, and contested facts that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet. With Atack's help, we're going to tackle these issues one by one, drawing on Jon's deep knowledge and sharp sense of humor.
Jon, this week we wanted to ask you about one of Scientology's most hurtful and notorious legacies — its history of going after people with what it calls "Fair Game."
For decades, there is quite a well documented pattern of Scientology hiring thugs to harass, intimidate, and attempt to destroy people for so much as criticizing the church publicly. Where did this ruthless, cloak-and-dagger practice originate in Scientology?
SCIENTOLOGISTS have asked the federal government for an exemption to the Fair Work Act so they do not have to pay workers the minimum wage.
In a submission to the Fair Work review, public affairs director Reverend Mary Anderson said the Church of Scientology, which believes Earth was founded 75 million years ago by an alien tyrant called Xenu, should be exempt from workplace law because it was a legitimate religion.
"The Fair Work Act review process should not be treated as an opportunity to air extremist and farcical viewpoints devoid of facts.
"This attitude that an employer should have complete free rein to pay and treat their staff however they want has no place in the modern Australia."
2012-02-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Kristina has been a Scientologist during six decades. Thus, she provides a broad view that few can share. Read and learn.
These are my reasons for no longer wanting to participate with the Church of Scientology and why I have disconnected from it. To begin with, here is a quote by LRH on the aims of Scientology, which I fully support.
The Aims of Scientology, by L. Ron Hubbard
2012-02-23, Tony Ortega, Runnin Scared, Village Voice
Still waiting to hear from you, Tom: your church is arguing on your behalf for slave wages for Sea Org members, man. Nice naval hat, though. On Thursdays, Scientologists race to get their weekly stats in, so we like to do the same by totaling up how the church fared internationally in the past seven days. This week, in particular, we saw a wild divergence in the way Scientology got treated by the press, and so we're going to share that with you in this Thursday Stats Roundup.
We're starting in Australia, where we reported last year that the country's Fair Work Ombudsman has been looking into the way Scientology works people incredibly long hours for almost no pay. That investigation ended up in the church's favor, as the Ombudsman found that several former church members complaining about how they were treated had either been out of Scientology too long, or had volunteered their time.
But now, the Daily Telegraph in Sydney has reported, a local representative for the church sent the Fair Work review a letter telling the government to keep its mitts off of Scientology's holy (and wholly unpaid) laborers.
Fowler, 58, had "hit rock bottom" as the company he had nurtured for 25 years suffered financial problems, in part because he made an unauthorized "large donation of company's funds to an organization," defense attorney Sara Strufing said during opening statements in Fowler's week-long murder trial.
Unspoken in the trial is that Fowler diverted an estimated $175,000 to the Church of Scientology, in which he was a long-time member and minister.
2011-02-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
I have had the privilege of meeting these fine folks. Their write up may be the most damning indictment to date on Scientology Inc's disregard and disdain for those who empower it. Btw, Seattle is rocking.
Bert Schippers and Lynne Hoverson hereby announce that we no longer support, and are no longer part of, the squirrel organization called the Church of Scientology.
So much has been written by others before us, that expressed exactly what we wanted to say when we could not. For that we thank you all very much! The histories posted helped us see that we were not alone, that the outpoints we saw weren't just "something wrong with us."
This is the FOLLOW-UP to yesterday's major story, where reporters from the Australian political show, Today Tonight, travel to Los Angeles after getting a surprise acceptance of Interview from Tommy Davis.
Broadcast date: February 23, 2010
Among the many former adherents of Scientology is convicted mass slayer Charles Manson. Found guilty in leading the murders against nine individuals, later called the Tate-La Bianca massacre, Manson once proudly proclaimed Scientology as his religion of choice
The reporters in the project were Russell Carollo, who won a Pulitzer for investigative journalism at Dayton's Daily News in 1998, and Christopher Szechenyi, formerly a producer at 60 Minutes. The product's editor was Steve Weinberg, former executive director of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a longtime faculty member of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.
Weinberg told Kurtz he was paid $5,000 for his work, which was "kind of like editing a Columbia Journalism Review piece." The project was an "unusual situation" and "certainly [not] something just any reporter would do." But "my role was more limited, and I can certainly use the money these days." He said the Scientologists can put the report "in a drawer" if they wish, but if they publish it they must publish it in full.
Riverside County supervisors will reconsider today residential picketing restrictions that they suspended and sent back for revisions last month.
The amended picketing ordinance set to be introduced today differs from the earlier one in that it would limit protests targeting residences in unincorporated Riverside County to 30 feet from the property line instead of 50 feet from the property line.
Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis, all well known devotees of Scientology. But what exactly is it? Celebrity fad? Self help therapy? Sci-fi wierdness? religion? Business club?
With a peek inside the Sussex headquarters, Nihal attempts to uncover the truth about aliens, alternative therapies and hard cash. Featuring an exclusive interview with actress, musician and Scientologist Juliette Lewis.
Rinder has fielded questions on Scientology's beliefs for years. When I ask him whether there is any validity to the Xenu story, he gets red-faced, almost going into a tirade. "It is not a story, it is an auditing level," he says, neither confirming nor denying that this theology exists. He says that OT material -- and specifically the material on OT III -- comprises "a small percent" of what Scientology is all about. But it is carefully guarded. Scientologists on the OT levels often carry their materials in locked briefcases and are told to store them in special secure locations in their homes. They are also strictly forbidden from discussing any facet of the materials, even with their families. "I'm not explaining it to you, and I could not explain it to you," says Rinder heatedly. "You don't have a hope of understanding it."
2006-02-23, Anderson Cooper, Anderson Cooper 360°, CNN
JANET REITMAN, "ROLLING STONE" MAGAZINE: What surprised me most was that they live in a kind of alternate universe to our own, or that they sort of exist in one. I wouldn't say that everybody sort of lives in one, because I think the vast number of, you know, scientologists who are not celebrities live by their own code. They have a language that they speak that was created by L. Ron Hubbard. [Transcript]
2005-02-23, Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle
State Superintendent Jack O'Connell urged all California schools on Tuesday to drop the Narconon antidrug education program after a new state evaluation concluded that its curriculum offers inaccurate and unscientific information.
"We'll get a letter out to every school district today, saying this program is filled with inaccuracies and does not reflect widespread medical and factual evidence," O'Connell said of Narconon Drug Prevention & Education, a free program with ties to the Church of Scientology.
The public prosecutor in France has accused the Church of Scientology of engaging in "mental manipulation" and called for it to be shut down in Paris.
The religious group, whose membership includes Hollywood stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta, is currently on trial for attempted fraud and false advertising in its efforts to recruit and keep members.
Medical examiner Joan Wood now is calling the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson an "accident," a change that is causing prosecutors to rethink their case against the Church of Scientology.
Wood's original ruling called the manner of death "undetermined."
Scientology's top executives, clearly pleased Tuesday, called the switch "extremely significant and a huge development that dramatically affects the state's case."
Only some Scientologists are obvious in Clearwater. One shop owner called them The Red People and The Blue People, for the plain uniforms they wear to signify they work for the church. They telegraphed a remarkable fixedness as they passed, alone or in groups, on Friday. They looked straight ahead. Their faces were expressionless. They did not acknowledge one another. They walked briskly. When they approach on foot, one downtown office worker said, you tend to think you'd better get out of the way.
The head of the Chilocco Development Authority on Friday called for an IRS audit of Narconon, which unexpectedly paid $10,000 to the CDA two days before it was to discuss ending Narconon's lease for a drug treatment center on Indian land.
"You don't just make a $10,000 mistake. This check really deepens our suspicions if we're receiving our proper share in this venture from Narconon," CDA chairman Robert Chapman said Friday.
The CDA - composed of the leaders of five Indian tribes and two at-large members - was to meet here Friday to consider the Kaw Nation's call for an end to Narconon's lease on seven grounds, including suspected fraud by Narconon in reporting the number of patients served.