2018-03-01, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
This week I had the honor of interviewing cult expert, author and academic Dr. Janja Lalich about the subject of destructive cults and her latest book, Escaping Utopia, about second generation survivors of many different destructive cults, from The Family to Exclusive Brethren to FLDS to Scientology.
Janja's website: http://cultresearch.org.
ICSA website: http://ICSAhome.org
We want to thank our tipster who forwarded to us this gem from the International Association of Scientologists, bragging on the success of Scientology's Super Bowl ad this year.
Scientology has been airing slick ads during Super Bowl broadcasts since 2013. This year's commercial was unusual for several reasons, as we pointed out when it first showed up. As in past years, Scientology aired the ad during local spots in some markets during the big football game, but then in national spots during prime time in the weeks following. In particular, this year the church bought national spots during Olympics coverage on NBC.
The social media response, as always, was derisive. People are generally stunned to see a Scientology ad on their TV, and Scientology's reputation has never been worse.
Contributor Jeffrey Augustine has put a fun collection together for us today. Just for fun, here are fifteen of the strangest things ever said by Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and his successor, current leader David Miscavige.
1. "A thetan doesn't look through his eyeballs. He has two little gold discs, one in front of each eye lens. These are not the lenses of the eyes, but, as you might say, mocked-up energy." L. Ron Hubbard. "Eyesight and Glasses." Professional Auditor's Bulletin #111, 1 May 1957.
2. "At the time I don't think it was really thought to be that significant an issue. She died. People die." – David Miscavige responding to a question about Lisa McPherson, St. Petersburg Times.
I have been asked many times whether Mormonism is a destructive cult. I have a couple of Mormon friends, watched the South Park episode about it and have read a few articles but never really dug in to deeply but I've been wanting to interview an ex-Mormon to find out more about it. The opportunity finally afforded itself and here is the result. Jonathan Streeter does ex-Mormon advocacy like I do ex-Scientology work and we had a great chat about both subjects. I think anyone who is curious about this will find this interesting.
Jonathan's YouTube channel: https://goo.gl/wOjqap
CRITICAL MERCHANDISE AVAILABLE AT:
2017-03-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Scientology launched a new website on 26 February 2017.
Obviously it is a reaction to the tsunami of negative press they have been getting. Scientology has become the butt of so many jokes there is no way of keeping track of them all. But it was perfect timing for this to appear the same day as Jimmy Kimmel's crack in his opening monologue at the Academy Awards.
Frankly, the new site is just a gussied up version of Freedom Mag. Much the same content and similar lofty sounding objectives rehashed to somehow look different:
2016-03-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
People send me information routinely on their visits to orgs, and I happened to get several recently from people who were in LA and also at Flag. I accumulate these because individually each one is not worth a whole post, but when there are a few they tell a story. In this case, apparently the rudderless ship is all but abandoned.
And it is interesting how the stories from different people in different orgs are all pretty much the same. And align so well with the information being imparted on the "Oh No Ross and Carrie" podcasts about their investigation of scientology at Los Angeles org (well worth listening to - humorous, insightful and honest).
There is no significance to the sequence of the orgs discussed and I have combined information from a number of people. The single overriding observation: The buildings are gorgeous but are uniformly empty except for Sea Org members.
Two former Church of Scientology members who grew up in the church but in different eras, Aaron Smith-Levin and former church spokesman Mike Rinder, are back with more from their recent conversation which Aaron recorded as part of his series, "Growing Up in Scientology."
Here's what Aaron says was discussed in this episode...
In this interview Mike and I take turns discussing what we were taught while growing up in Scientology. We answer the following questions:
Brent Jones disagrees. The CEO of Affinity Lifestyles, Real Water's parent, argues that his company is creating jobs — 40 to 60, he estimates — by providing a good product that consumers are clamoring for. He pays the standard commercial water rate, just like the casinos and hotels whose myriad customers run countless gallons down the drain each day. And, notes Jones, who's also the state assemblyman for District 35 in Enterprise, he's not doing anything illegal.
2015-03-01, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Any teacher or prophet who does not genuinely wish, encourage and enable students or adherents to ultimately learn and discover beyond what he has to impart is really no teacher or prophet at all.
False teachers and prophets use the learning process as a means to control or enslave rather than to empower or free.
No matter how eloquent or compelling a teacher or prophet may appear to be, whether he is leading one to heaven, purgatory, perdition or ignorance can be predicted by applying this simple standard.
2015-03-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
There have been some magnificent flops in the ideal org strategy (Malmo anyone? Cambridge? Berlin? Phoenix? Pretoria?) but I don't think any have been such a fail as Inglewood.
Hyped to the hilt by Miscavige as one of the two orgs (along with Harlem) that was going to "bring scientology to the black cultural centers," it has done nothing and become a white elephant sitting in the middle of South Central LA.
And here is the latest proof.
Hey, it's nice to get to our weekly feature, Sunday Funnies, when we can sit back and watch our great commenters take apart the latest fundraising fliers put out by Scientology.
Our tipsters have another fun collection for us this week, and as always we'll be looking for interesting patterns or wacky new theme-party ideas.
We're going to start with another example of successful "safepointing" of a local figure with an event put on by a Scientology front group. In this case, it's the "Volunteer Ministers" — the yellow-jacketed folks Scientology flies in to disaster areas to hand out recruitment literature and get in the way of first responders with their faith-healing juju.
2014-03-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The farce continues.
Most of the idiocy has been documented here as they have bounced around between "it's happening and you had better be there" to "we handled the drought and you had better be there, time to be announced" to "we parted the clouds and you had better be there" to "we have delayed it, but you had still better be there" to "the final time is 3:30 Sunday and you had better be there" to "let's try it again next weekend."
Of course, this could all change again in the next hour, once Pam Lancaster awakens from her beauty sleep and postulates some clear sky. Or it could all be a clever plot to keep the "unwashed undesirables" away by confusing them about when the actual great moment is going to be. But they are confusing everyone else in the process though it would match bubblethink where they will cut off their noses in spite of their face to try and outwit "the SP's on the fringes of the internet.".
Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and on Saturdays he's helping us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet.
This week, Jon is taking on an interesting point that we want to set up a little. In recent years, one of the biggest crises Scientology has faced has been an exodus of longtime, loyal members fed up with leader David Miscavige and his focus on fundraising and internal security. These members have been leaving, even though they still admire Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and they plan to continue doing the processes of Scientology itself. Some of these 'independent Scientologists' — even some who have not been particularly outspoken — have found themselves to be targets of the church's legendary retaliation schemes. But Jon wanted to put that harassment in some larger context.
JON: Recently I received an inquiry from a Free Zoner as to when the harassment of the Independents began. He probably found my response a little intemperate, because I still cannot fathom the way that Independents compartmentalize the Tech and the Policy, as if Hubbard were good in daylight and only evil at night. Dr Jekyll in red ink and Mr Hyde in green, as it were. For me, the Tech and the Policy are inextricably bound by their creator.
2014-03-01, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
They say that change is the one constant in the universe. I think life is all about change.
Most people are open to change of one kind or another, but don't stop and give themselves the opportunity to do so. It's so much easier, it seems, to do what we've always done and think how we've always thought.
I think it is absolutely crucial for everyone to take a moment every now and again and review what they believe or what truths they are clinging to and see if they are still true or still hold up. This is not a sign of uncertainty or doubt, but actually the path to great wisdom. "I claim to be a simple individual liable to err like any other fellow mortal. I own, however, that I have humility enough to confess my errors and to retrace my steps." - Mahatma Gandhi
In time, a handful of journalists concluded that Shelly was being housed at one of the church's secretive and tightly controlled outer bases. Most Sea Org members are never told about these outposts, which serve to protect the church's most precious possessions and operations, and which can be found in California and New Mexico; a base in Wyoming is still under construction. For example, Trementina Base, in northeastern New Mexico, serves as a repository for Hubbard's writings and films; the former are engraved on steel tablets, entombed in titanium casings, and buried in underground vaults, according to several former church members.
But most reports about Shelly's whereabouts focused on a base outside Los Angeles. Located near Lake Arrowhead, about 90 minutes from the city, the roughly 500-acre site is known variously as Twin Peaks, Rimforest, or C.S.T. The first two are nearby towns; the third is an abbreviation for Church of Spiritual Technology-the wing in charge of Scientology's copyrights and archival work. According to Dylan Gill, a former Sea Org member who oversaw much of its construction, the base includes, in addition to a luxurious "log cabin" primed for Hubbard's return, a second structure designed to protect church V.I.P.'s such as Miscavige and Tom Cruise in the event of a nuclear Armageddon.
2014-03-01, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
The following is a firm corporate policy of all Scientology entities. It is applied invariably to those who criticize Scientology, its organization, or even its executives and staff who engage in unconscionable and even criminal behavior. It has been applied in this wise since the day it was issued in the year 1968 all the way to the present. Note the requirement for regular, detailed reports. A plethora of Scientology policy mandates that those reports are filed - and as noted in this one, cross-indexed - and retained for posterity (including for potential use in blackmail, see Scientology Literacy and Blackmail.) There is no document destruction policy in Scientology, except unwritten (but firmly enforced) policy to destroy potential evidence when courts or law enforcement agencies indicate they might be interested in such evidence.
OSA Network Order 16 October 1988
In 1983, the Ontario Provincial Police obtained a search warrant and searched premises occupied by Scientology. Approximately 250,000 documents in 900 boxes – over two million pages of material – were seized. Scientology promptly sought to invalidate the search warrant and secure the return of the seized documents. One and a half years later, a judge ordered 232 of the documents to remain sealed.
On Sunday February 17, a man named Damian Kevitt, 36, was nearly killed in a gruesome hit-and-run incident that left him with what one doctor called the worst non-fatal injuries he's ever seen.
Kevitt was riding a bicycle near LA's Griffith Park when a person driving a van hit him, then dragged him onto the middle of a freeway. Conscientious drivers stopped to protect Damian from getting run over by other cars, but his injuries were terrible: he's already lost one leg and may lose another. Both of his arms are broken, a shoulder needs replacing, and he was so scraped up, an infection might come at any time that could kill him.
And without health insurance, the costs for his care are going into the millions, his uncle tells us. His uncle also confirmed for us that his nephew is the Damian Kevitt who is listed as a Scientology Sea Org worker in a 2005 document online. We have asked the church for a comment, but we don't expect a reply. So we're asking our correspondents to help us find out: Was Damian Kevitt still a Sea Org worker when he was injured, and is that why he has no health insurance when he needs it most?
2013-03-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is coverage of Mike Rinder's trip to Ireland to represent Scientology in a debate at Trinity College. The focus of the debate was "Is Scientology a Religion?"
For whatever reason the incorporated Church of Scientology declined to send a representative so he went himself to make sure that his religion was represented.
Mike Rinder was ideally suited to this debate having served with L Ron Hubbard personally and having been a part of the Scientology religion since an early age. For more information on Mike and his history with the Scientology religion, click here to see his bio - Mike Rinder
(Illustration by Ellis Rosen)
Our readers were so stunned in January by the publicity surrounding the publication of books about Scientology by John Sweeney and Lawrence Wright, they renamed the month "BLAMuary." And then came FLAPuary, when Jenna Miscavige Hill's book only made things bumpier.
How could March possibly keep up? With brackets, of course! After the jump, check out the seedings as we begin a tournament that asks you to determine the ultimate arch-enemy of the Church of Scientology!
2013-03-01, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
I just received another volley from an irate, prominent self-anointed 'with Ron' type of 'Independent Scientologist'. It was actually an attempt to control through command, assigning me a Treason condition with instructions – after lengthy evaluations – to first apply the Confusion formula.
I only raise the matter here because it is live evidence of two of the most insidious elements of Scientology that in my estimation are at the root of its demise. It is a great learning opportunity.
The first I will address here, blame. The propensity to find and assign blame is woven into the woof and warp of Scientology, making it perhaps one of the most difficult character deficiencies to remedy in a veteran member.
Did Scientology's dogmatic hatred of psychiatry contribute to the death of a vulnerable, 20-year-old? That is the central question in a lawsuit filed to the Florida appeal court last month.
Five years after the death of a mentally troubled 20-year-old student while visiting his Scientologist father, a wrongful death lawsuit brought by his mother is back in court.
Kyle Brennan was found dead, shot in the head with a bullet from his father's 357 Magnum pistol. He died at his father's apartment in Clearwater Florida, on or around February 16, 2007.
A senior Scientologist, who says she was imprisoned and tortured by the controversial religion's tyrannical leadership, has reiterated her testimony in a damaging TV interview.
Debbie Cook, who was one of Scientology's top brass executives before she quit in 2007, is involved in a legal wrangle with the Church, after sending a shock email denouncing the Chairman, David Miscavige. The message, which accused the chairman of hoarding and mismanaging funds, went out to 12,000 members just minutes after midnight on New Year's Day.
A memo by Pinellas County schools superintendent John Stewart urges the School Board to issue a 90-day notice of termination to Life Force and criticizes its budget, discipline system and leadership.
The school's curriculum, Stewart notes, was changed "without permission" from district officials. He adds that the school also has been operating under an unauthorized new name, the SMART Academy, since last month.
The Tampa Bay Times reported Sunday that Life Force administrators forced students to learn "study technology," a teaching methodology devised by the Church of Scientology's late founder, L. Ron Hubbard.
2012-03-01, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
I felt precious IQ draining away as I watched this video a few times, and I may not actually be doing our readers a service by subjecting them to it.
But sometimes, it's important to counter Scientology's preferred public image -- as a somewhat vague and possibly glamorous undertaking that appeals to beautiful people like Tom Cruise -- with the reality of what Scientologists actually say to each other when they try to convince each other to fork over large amounts of cash to "move up the Bridge to Total Freedom."
I know it's difficult, but please stick with this video so you can see the testimonials that start showing up about the 5-minute mark. And keep in mind -- these are people getting into the higher levels of a spiritual journey that promises to make them among the most brilliant and unhindered beings on the planet, and well on their way to superhuman status...
The manslaughter trial for snake oil salesman James Arthur Ray is set to kick off in Yavapai County courtroom today, and it will be televised live on the In Session network thanks to a ruling from Judge Warren Darrow.
Ray's been charged with three counts of manslaughter for the October 2009 deaths of three participants of a sweat lodge ceremony in Sedona.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, Ray discouraged participants from leaving the sweat lodge, even as some were throwing up and passing out.
2011-03-01, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
An interesting article appeared today in the New York Observer. http://www.observer.com/2011/media/was-vanity-fair-writer-reporting-church-scientology-or-its-payroll
It addresses a posting I made on this blog a couple weeks ago concerning a Scientology Inc informant by the name of John Connolly, https://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2011/02/15/journalists-beware-of-scientology-inc-spy/
The author John Cook did quite a bit of nifty string pulling. He provides an unique view of the murky underworld of spy work where much of Scientology Inc public's money winds up.
A self-employed meat-and-seafood salesman from Sacramento, Calif., tried to deduct a class taught by the Church of Scientology as a business expense, saying it was necessary for his career.
He said that, in total, the 20-day class cost him nearly $1,500 between fees and travel.
The court held that the meat man could have read the same book at home and that that particular class was not absolutely necessary for his work.
He's a mischievous tipster, an inveterate gossip, and an information broker of the highest order. He speaks with a cartoonish New York accent and knows literally everybody. And according to the two highest ranking Scientology officials to ever leave the church, he's been a paid informant for the cult for two decades.
But the reason they are at war is an economic one. Anderson said that he prepaid for about $120,000 of religious services that he never received and doesn't want. He wants his donations back.
Scientology actually has two written refund policies. If you pay for a service and are dissatisfied, you can request a refund within 90 days. These refunds would be discretionary (presumably like they are at Macy's, when it appears that you wore the prom dress and spilled soda on it, before claiming it didn't fit).
But if you prepay for services and don't receive them, you are supposed to be able to claim a refund at any time, Anderson said.
Scientology spokesperson Tommy Davis stated Scientology plans additional investigative inquires into what they perceive as "naked bias" by the SPTimes, but refused to say if they would make the most recent report public.
Again, SPT's Neil Brown doesn't seem phased, "I counted up something like six or seven journalists the church has hired to look into the St. Petersburg Times," Brown says. "I've just got two looking into the Church of Scientology."
Riverside County sheriff's deputies cited a protestor on suspicion of vandalism after he was placed under citizen's arrest Saturday when flowers were trampled at the Church's of Scientology's Golden Era Productions compound outside San Jacinto.
Police cited and released Donald Myers, of West Hollywood, on misdemeanor vandalism for destroying about 100 plants, sheriff's Sgt. Lee Coffey said.
Martine Boublil, who was found half naked on a mattress infested with insects and worms in a room full of rubbish on January 21, is still recovering in hospital from the ordeal but will return to France "sometime next week," the spokesman told AFP from the northern Sardinian town of Nuoro.
Actor Jeff Conaway of "Celebrity Rehab" claims he's clean of drugs. Jeff told Inside Edition that John Travolta and Scientology have helped him.
Conaway said, "I've been doing Scientology…My doctor was like holy cow, he says whatever you've been doing keep doing it because it's really working. John and I stayed friends but he couldn't watch me going down the tubes…He gave me a whole library of Scientology books and he's given me an auditor who comes almost every day."
While the effectiveness of Scientology's Narconon treatment program is disputed, a number of celebrities have claimed it was helpful in their own lives.
There are people who've been where you are now, Jenna Miscavige for example. Her uncle, David Miscavige, is the head of the Church of Scientology. Jenna, like many people who've been inside the Church of Scientology, state it is difficult to leave. Scientology has a process which members must go through in order to leave and part of that process is being declared a "suppressive person" or a "potential trouble source." These SP's and PTS have reported being threatened, harassed, disconnected from loved ones still inside the Church, and ultimately cut off completely from their former lives for choosing to leave.
2002-03-01, Stephen A. Kent, Journal of Religion and Popular Culture
Neither Travolta, nor Corea, nor Hayes mentioned (probably because they did not yet know) that earlier (on February 28, 1997) a German Scientologist had "been granted asylum in the United States after telling a judge she would be subjected to religious persecution if she went back home" (The Washington Post 1997). Nearly three years later, however (on June 14, 2000), another actress and Scientologist, Catherine Bell, did bring up the asylum issue before the House Committee on International Relations. Pointing out the former German resident in the hearing room, Bell told that committee that she was "Ms. Antje Victore, who in 1997 became the first German Scientologist to be granted asylum by a U.S. immigration court on the grounds that she faced ruinous persecution if she had to return to Germany" (Bell. 2000, [3-4]). Bell could not have realized that the circumstances under which Victore sought asylum were fraudulent, having been contrived by the Scientology organization itself ostensibly to embarrass the Germans. German media exposed the fraud just two weeks after Bell's introduction of her to the American congressional members (Kruttschnitt, Nuebel, and Schweitzer 2000; see Billerbeck 2000; Kent 2001c, 3).
1998-03-01, Joseph Mallia, Inside the Church of Scientology, Boston Herald
The Church of Scientology's late founder, Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, left behind a $ 640 million fortune, and an estimated 25 million words in books and lectures that form the spiritual core of his controversial religion.
But some of those words are a legacy of exaggerations, half-truths and outright lies, according to Hubbard's son, court records and critics.
1998-03-01, Joseph Mallia, Inside the Church of Scientology, Boston Herald
"They asked me about student loans, bank loans, and they asked me, "What's the limit on your credit cards? What's your overdraft protection?" "Covarrubias said. "They said, "There's always a way to get money." "
It is just such tactics that cause critics to call the church - founded in 1953 - a cult and a money-grabbing machine that separates thousands of ordinary church members like Covarrubias from their free will and their money.
The Church of Scientology is again criticizing medical examiner Joan Wood, accusing her of lying and reaching conclusions "off the top of her head."
The accusations came Friday after the court-ordered release of some of Wood's files in the case of Lisa McPherson, a 36-year-old Scientologist who died in 1995 after a 17-day stay in the church's downtown Clearwater retreat.
The files include photos of what Wood says are likely cockroach bites on McPherson's right wrist and hand.
Post-Soviet Russia is finally getting religion. Surprise -- it's made in America.
At Moscow State University, journalism students gather in the new L. Ron Hubbard Reading Room. It's a khalyava, or freebie, courtesy of the Los Angeles-based Church of Scientology.
THE FEATURES ARE EERILY FAMILIAR—the no-guff gaze, the studied posturing, the full lips whose pout ripens just short of a sneer. Take one look at Lisa Marie Presley and the spirit of her famous father seems almost tangible, even now, 15 years after his death on that August day in Memphis.
Through many of his 42 years, of course, Elvis Presley seemed to inhabit an otherworldly realm of his own. Rich with royalties, he passed out Caddies like corn chips, turned wretched excess into an art form and squandered untold riches on bad business deals and a traveling circus of flunkies and sycophants. By the time he died, in 1977, his fortune had dwindled to $5 million, left in trust to his only child.
This month, on Feb. 1, her 25th birthday, Lisa Marie Presley finally inherited that estate, which, thanks largely to the stewardship of her mother, Priscilla, has grown to an estimated $100 million. She divvied up a cake with a few close friends, but mostly, she says of that milestone day, "I tried to ignore it." In fact, there is little of the daughter—apart from her looks—that mirrors her famous father. A reclusive wife and mother, she has come to her legacy with a steady, un-Elvis-like calm. "I think it's time," she says simply. "I do (have new responsibilities), but it's not like a major new thing, except maybe for people who didn't know my role."