As we slide into this subject, we thought we'd take a look at how the JW ruling body engages in social media.
We're used to seeing Jehovah's Witnesses handing out literature in the New York subway (or, more accurately, standing around their literature stands while being ignored). But in this age of instantaneous electronic ubiquity, how is the organization talking advantage of the web's reach?
At Facebook, we were actually kind of charmed that an official JW account is posting items featuring art that definitely has that old-timey feel. Hey, stick with what works, right?
We noted yesterday that Scientology posted images from its L. Ron Hubbard Birthday Event which was held Saturday at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida. And now we've had a closer look at those images and found some surprises.
Tom Cruise and John Travolta were in the front row, for example, along with the usual group of enthusiastic donors and Freedom Medal winners.
The involvement of both Cruise and Travolta is really a surprise. We haven't seen either of them at a Miscavige event in many years.
How do we know they were there? We blew up a shot of the crowd that Scientology itself had posted…
We jumped right into things with this new blog, and the Nxivm story is moving fast as one defendant, Nancy Salzman, pleaded guilty on Wednesday and trial for the other five defendants is still scheduled for April 29.
Repeatedly, however, we've heard from people who are new to the story and would like a basic description of Nxivm and its background. One of our helpers pointed out that the government's original complaint against Nxivm leader Keith Raniere is actually pretty good as an overall summary of the situation. After taking a closer look at it, we agree.
Give it a look and let us know if you think it summarizes the story well...
Her lovely face revealing nothing about the purpose or mood of our meeting, Jessica ushered me into her office and closed the door. On her desk lay a large red book embossed with gold letters. I recognized it. It was one of a dozen volumes that contained, in chronological order, all the policy letters and bulletins that L. Ron Hubbard had written regarding auditing, Scientology's form of counseling. A bookcase behind Jessica's desk held the entire set, bound in red leather, with an inch-and-a-half gap where this one had been removed. Another bookcase held the equally large set of "admin" volumes, bound in green, which contained everything Hubbard had ever written about how to found and run an organization. Of course Jessica kept these books close to hand. As head of a Scientology mission—the "mission holder"—she would refer to them often.
The Church of Scientology has launched its cable channel. It has done so by purchasing time on a 24/7/365 basis on channel 320 on Direct TV. However, for all intents and purposes Scientology Television appears to be depending upon being live-streamed on YouTube.
Thus, we can use existing YouTube statistics to predict Scientology Television's potential for success on YouTube.
Our only caveat is that Scientology's published numbers are notoriously unreliable and often completely false. For example, Scientology has variously claimed it has eight million members, twelve million members, or simply millions of members.
2018-03-15, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Not surprisingly, this week's funnies are dominated by an apparently endless stream of hype for the "milestone of milestones" - the HSN of cults. Scientology TV
A spiritual awakening?
They actually think canned Infomercial matter could awaken anyone spiritually?
So the news became official yesterday and there will be a third season later this year for A&E's Emmy-winning docu-series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.
And judging by what we've heard behind the scenes, there's still time to develop the specific subjects of the upcoming episodes. Since that's the case, this could be your chance to influence Leah Remini and Mike Rinder about what to include in the new season.
Leah's first season was characterized by bringing to television the stories of individual former Scientologists who had been harmed by Scientology's harsh and exploitative policies. The world got to know people like Mary Kahn and Brandon Reisdorf, and couples like Amy Scobee and Mat Pesch in Washington and Claire and Marc Headley in Colorado.
Leah Remini isn't backing down. Nearly four years after leaving the Church of Scientology, the controversial religion's most high-profile defector is ramping up her effort to blow the whistle on stories of abuse, misconduct and retribution — locking in a renewal deal for an expanded second season for her A&E exposé, Scientology and the Aftermath.
"The way the organization has responded without taking responsibility for what they do to people, I need to continue," Remini tells THR. "It would be another [scenario] if they stopped trying to discredit everyone's stories and said, 'If you don't like it, don't be part of Scientology.' "
Though there has been no formal action taken by the notoriously litigious organization, Scientology reps continue to dismiss A&E, Remini and the other former members who have appeared on the series thus far. The attention only has been a win for the cable network. Drawing strong ratings, with an average of 3 million viewers (1.5 million of them adults 18-to-49), Scientology and the Aftermath has done one better in bringing some prestige back to A&E. Head of programming Elaine Frontain Bryant says the breakout fits in with the current push for "authentic and distinctive storytelling." An aggressive Emmy campaign is said to be in the works as well. The network is submitting the show to compete in the Informational Series or Special category, where it will go head-to-head with the perennial favorite, CNN's Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, the actress' A&E exposé into the controversial religion she defected from, has been renewed for a second 10-episode season.
"It became clear to us that although we were telling painful stories of former members of the Church of Scientology, this show was resonating strongly with people everywhere," Remini said in a statement Wednesday. "The show is really about standing up for what is right and not letting bullies have their way. I feel it is important for people to know that you can take action to bring about change, both for yourself and for others."
Scientology and the Aftermath follows Remini and other former high level Scientologists as they adjust to life outside the church, as well as share ex-members' accounts of the alleged abuse they suffered as Scientologists and the harassment they faced after leaving.
Logic can be hard! What is truth really? How do you know when you have it? How do you prove it? What makes up actual proof? If you don't know what good arguments are and what logical fallacies are, you can make some really big mistakes in thinking. I explore what this is all about and explain a few logical fallacies.
Full transcript available on my blog:
I have the proof of Marty Rathbun lying about My Scientology Movie and his directorial involvement within the film. After the large response from viewers demanding to see the receipts, I put together this informative video to showcase the contradictions between what Marty said and what actually happened.
If you are watching this, Marty, I challenge you to respond. Your radio silence speaks volumes. Why aren't you able to address my claims?
This here is an encounter that Nasty Nathanial and the California Guardian had with local law enforcement while conducting a First Amendment Audit of Scientology's infamous Gold Base. It has long been said that the Church Of Scientology has gotten quite cozy with the authorities in Riverside County. But the statements maid by this deputy sheriff pretty much prove that this is exactly the case. This deputy not only defends Scientology, but goes on to say that he doesn't care what goes on behind the gates at Gold Base. I guess that means he doesn't care about the abuse that has taken places beyond those gates or the people there who are being held there against their will.
Perhaps the number one question we get from people who are new to our website or on Twitter is, with all of the evidence and history of Scientology abuses over so many years, why doesn't law enforcement do something about it?
There are various ways to respond to that question. Lawrence Wright gave one of the best answers during the movie Going Clear when he talked about how Scientology's tax exempt status, granted in 1993, gives it enormous First Amendment protection as a religious organization.
But we also know that church leader David Miscavige spends significant resources "safe pointing" law enforcement agencies, a policy laid down by L. Ron Hubbard which has the church presenting a positive face to "opinion leaders" through the use of its "social betterment" front groups. By cultivating friendly relationships with agencies located near their major facilities, Scientology has been very effective.
2017-03-15, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This concept of St Hill size is often talked about.
Here we have the CO of the Flag Ship Service Org, the most expensive failed org in the history of scientology, telling people that she is sending someone to explain to them how they are going to go Saint Hill size RIGHT NOW.
(Brian Kennedy of Regency Outdoor)
Another billboard company has caved from the pressure applied by the Church of Scientology. Phil Jones learned this afternoon that Regency Outdoor Advertising, which had planned to put up Phil's billboard this weekend for Tuesday's unveiling, has now cancelled on him.
We talked to Phil's sales rep at Regency, who told us that the decision was made by owner Brian Kennedy. Why did he change his mind? we asked. "I have no idea. He's not disclosing it," she said, sounding defeated.
(Ramana Dienes-Browning and her daughter, Iyana)
We recently received a message from Ramana Dienes-Browning that, sadly, was all too familiar.
"Well, it finally happened," she said to us over Facebook. "My mum has disconnected from me so she can continue Scientology."
Today we found out the Billboard just asking loved ones "in" $cientology to "CALL ME" was shut down, for the second time.
So I am making this video to SHOW You actually how I did this,
while a member. I'm not proud of it, but I do think it's time people HEAR WTF do they do? Here ya go. Love to all :)
2016-03-15, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Captain Miscavige presents the last org to be awarded SH Size — Joburg Day, March 2005
In March 1982, with great fanfare, L. Ron Hubbard issued a "game" to all scientology orgs. They were to 5.4X their stats and "achieve the size of old St Hill." When this was accomplished, Hubbard promised the staff would not only be well paid, "International Management" would send them a "Universe Corps" team so all staff could "go OT" in their local org. This was a really big deal — these were the "buttons" of staff. It was impossible to live as a staff member without additional income and it was even more impossible to save enough money to travel to an AO and partake in OT levels. Life as a staff member in a scientology organization was a bleak proposition. Poverty and no hope of going up the Bridge. Here was a solution, all they had to do (according to Hubbard) was to get "on purpose" and "think big" and all would be well.
Management (it still existed at the time) pored through old files and determined "the size of old St Hill." It was initially issued as 200 full time students in the Academy, 1000 WDAHs per week and Gross Income of $100,000 (and other stats considered to be commensurate with achieving those quotas). There were other versions of the quotas at different times, but this is generally the range considered to be "SH Size."
The HBO documentary Going Clear, an investigation inside the Church of Scientology, premieres on March 29. Unsurprisingly, the organization refused to cooperate with the film's directors. Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films told the Hollywood Reporter that the network had 160 lawyers look at the film due to fears of backlash from the church (which some consider a cult). Her concern is well-founded given that Scientology has always used fear tactics to squash critics.
The Church's modus operandi stems from a policy called "fair game," which states: An enemy of Scientology, referred to as a suppressive person (SP), "may be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed."
Back in the day before the Internet publicized the secrets of Planet Xenu, Scientology relied on lawsuits to intimidate its detractors. Between 1991 and 1996, John Travolta's religion filed more than 50 lawsuits against the Cult Awareness Network (CAN),eventually forcing it into bankruptcy. The Church then bought its name and assets in bankruptcy proceedings and used CAN as the title of an unrelated organization.
BART: Tom Cruise usually casts himself as the hero in his films, but he's definitely the "heavy" in a new documentary on Scientology to be broadcast in two weeks on HBO. And his depiction may affect the international box office returns of his new Mission: Impossible sequel, which opens July 31. Paramount, the distributor of this $100 million-plus blockbuster, knows that Scientology is an incendiary issue in Germany and a few other European countries. Will the studio need a strategy to deal with Cruise's cause, or will it totally ignore the issue?
It might seem like just another spiritual movement preaching 'natural' remedies, but Universal Medicine is different. It has the endorsement of one of Sydney's leading paediatricians, Howard Chilton, and promotes itself as a complementary health provider presenting wellness workshops, presentations and one-on-one sessions.
Universal Medicine states it offers services it describes as beneficial to some people, including those with autism and cancer.
The group, based in the northern NSW town of Goonellabah, closely guards its reputation, employing an internet reputation manager to have some critical blogs and media stories wiped from the internet and mount personal attacks on others who report on or complain about the group.
In the beginning, Serge Benhayon was a tennis coach, and a bankrupt, when he had what he calls 'an energetic impress' while sitting on the toilet in 1999.
2015-03-15, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Like a 6 year old, David Miscavige is obsessed with name calling as an effective means of prevailing in an argument.
It has certainly not escaped attention that he comes up with names to call everyone — Lady Killer is the name he picked for me (illiterate boob that he is....).
But there are plenty of others. This is a selection of a few of his recent monikers:
Tom DeVocht We've been telling you that Scientology's reaction to Alex Gibney's film Going Clear has been a burst of "Fair Game" activity that's affecting numerous people involved with the film. This is behind-the-scenes stuff that isn't obvious from what's getting more attention from the press — the silly letters and videos Scientology has been posting to its Freedom magazine website.
One of the people feeling the heat has been Tom DeVocht, who is featured prominently in the film. Sure, he's getting smeared at the Freedom website, but they're the same old slanders that have been thrown at him for years, some of it aimed at him previously on anonymous attack websites that we always assumed the church was secretly running.
What isn't so obvious is that he's been dealing with an increase in the usual private eye nonsense that he and Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder and the other former high-ranking church executives regularly put up with. DeVocht told us details about that harassment that we agreed not to share for privacy reasons, but it's mostly the stuff you'd expect from Scientology — attempts to disrupt DeVocht's livelihood and relationships, a constant reminder that he's still a target merely for speaking out.
Mr Benhayon also denied any involvement in the blogs written by The Facts team saying "they are not 'written on direction' by me" he said, before defending the group's right to do so.
"Exposing credibility is the right of every human being when lies are being written about one's business, about them as a person along with many others who are targeted and, in this particular case, when the journalist who is supporting these lies refuses to correct them even when provided with the fact that the complaint YOU based your story on was baseless," Mr Benhayon said.
Although Serge Benhayon denies he directs his 'Facts Team' on what to write, the Sunday Telegraph's email sent directly to his address on Thursday March 5 was posted on "The Facts" site shortly after with six more blogs including "Jane Hansen Revenge Trail" and "Jane Hansen and Junk Food Journalism" complete with over 600 comments on my lack of integrity and professionalism.
The editor of this paper also received dozens of emails accusing us of being liars.
The church of Scientology delivered a closing argument against "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" on Friday, the day the documentary premiered in theaters.
A five-page letter from the church to The Hollywood Reporter says director Alex Gibney made a "bigoted propaganda piece" that has "at least one major error every two minutes."
Gibney says the letter is "frankly ridiculous."
I gave a public talk on the subject of Scientology, my personal history and experience with it, how I got into it in the first place and why I now view it as a cult. I then answered a lot of questions from the audience on various aspects of the cult including what The Bridge is all about, what the story is with "space aliens" and why celebrities are so important to Scientology's success. This is ridiculously long for a YouTube video but I'm posting it for anyone interested in the whole story.
We've reported previously about the two federal fraud lawsuits the Las Vegas attorney has filed against Scientology's drug rehab facility in Nevada. Now he's filed two more - against a Scientology facility in San Diego County, California.
Angelo Amato of Illinois is suing the Narconon Fresh Start of Warner Springs after he went there for an addiction to Vicodin. He's a mixed martial artist who became addicted to the pain pills and in December 2013 he searched the Internet for a rehab center. He found a site that had an 800 number and he called. The site claimed to be an "independent consultant."
2014-03-15, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The Tampa Bay Times has just put on their website the latest story on human rights and disconnection written by Joe Childs.
This is a must read for anyone interested in the subject of Scientology that puts the lie to the church PR that there is no such thing as enforced disconnection.
It will appear as the feature story in the Sunday print edition, but went online just as the sheeple were filing into Ruth Eckerd Hall.
2013-03-15, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
I finally got around to watching several of the interviews of Phil Spickler that are posted on You Tube. What a breath of fresh air. A wise man who evolved through Scientology and lived long enough to speak about it with measure, intelligence, compassion and hard won experience. Clearly, Phil doesn't have a horse in the race nor any agenda other than sharing his experience and what he took from it for the purpose of helping others. I am including one video in particular here where he and I share some observations. I am going to tell a back story to demonstrate why I think it speaks to Phil's credibility and teaches an important lesson about Scientology. Phil and I have never met, spoken nor corresponded.
For the past several months I have been studying sources that L. Ron Hubbard once credited as being influential on his thinking. Several of the critical ones he later eschewed and effectively denied had any connection or relationship to the development of Dianetics and Scientology. From my reading, it appeared to me that some indeed had little influence. That was particularly true for some of the more sensational ones that certain journalists have obsessed with because it made good copy, such as Aleister Crowley (note: in my final analysis though, Crowley's influence was a dastardly one). However, after reading Alfred Korzybski, the founder of General Semantics, I found far more influence than Ron ever let onto, even if he consistently made more references to Korzybski than just about anyone else.
Korzybski's 1933 opus Science and Sanity is as close to a template for Dianetics as exists anywhere. Science and Sanity is a 900 page foundation for the creation of a "Science of Man." Korzybski finds the underlying principle aberration of the human mind is 'identification.' He isolates one of the most important foundational skills to develop as that of differentiation, which he calls 'to distinguish.' He begins by establishing the need for the use of infinity logic, and to eliminate two-valued logic and the belief in absolutes. Being the first general semanticist he puts extreme importance on knowing all definitions of words, and emphasizes the importance of creating an entirely new nomenclature. Central to a 'science of man' is revolutionizing the science of communication. He is the one writer I have ever read whose tone and voice closely resembles Ron's. He repeatedly emphasizes, with unrestrained vehemence, the need to reject much of what has come before: scholarship, institutional education, mental health profession givens, politics. He even preaches a heavy disdain for 'democracy.' That was the extent of my comparison by the time I ran into Phil's talk below. He identifies another parallel between Korsybski and LRH that is probably more important than any of those I have noted.
In December, we debuted two videos by Tiziano Lugli, a Los Angeles music producer and filmmaker. They were short, witty looks at Scientology's funny language as spoken by numerous ex-church members and a few actors.
There are no actors in Tiziano's new video, which he is allowing us to premiere today.
In "The Losing Game," Lugli has asked ex-Scientologists to talk about what they lost after spending years in the church. You should recognize most of them, including Marc Headley (pictured, right), Jenna Miscavige Hill, Karen de la Carriere, Tory Christman, Michael Fairman, and Mike Rinder.
The roughly 37-minute film was produced by local college students for a class project, and focuses on protests at the church's Los Angeles headquarters.
People wearing Guy Fawkes masks, others dancing to Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up", and a woman with a sign on her that reads: 'not fat...I still have dead thetans stuck on my ass' -- it's all there!
But it's not here, on your infernal rag's website. Yet. The filmmakers want to blur out the faces of Anonymous members.
2012-03-15, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
On Thursdays, Scientologists race to turn in their weekly stats, and we like to do the same, looking at how the church has fared around the world.
This week, before we get to a couple of press items, we're going to start with something special.
One of our tipsters sent us something that we always get a kick out of -- a vision of the future written in the past.
2012-03-15, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
A little story from L Ron Hubbard:
There was a wonderful book written one time called - I think it was The Case of Seargent Grescha or Grischa. It had to do with the fall of the German Empire. The fall of the German Empire was postulated to have occurred with the German army's arbitrary execution of a Russian soldier by the name of Grischa. He had not sinned against the German state in any way. It was totally unjust that he was executed through the indolence, incompetence of various German officers, so forth. And it builds this whole thing up into the whole rhyme, "For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost, for want of a horse the rider was lost, for want of the rider the battle was lost and all for the want of a horseshoe nail."
Well, interesting example of the state forgetting or overriding the rights of one human being with terrific consequences because the death of Grischa, by the way, was historic - World War I - it evidently actually occurred — and I know that it did cause riots, not amongst the Russian soldiers, but caused riots amongst the German troops. And a lot of smoke occurred through the death of one person who was wronged.
2012-03-15, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
There has truly been a river of warmth, kindness and support!
I just want to say thank you for your caring communications in answer to my post as well as through emails and Facebook messages. I have been quite amazed to receive literally thousands of such emails and messages.
I would like to make a point about all of this - if it wasn't for the unbelievable support we have gotten from so many this entire quest for truth and justice might already have been squashed. What has given us strength and resource has been the fact that so many people have come with support - information, brilliant ideas and funds to help with the legal defense. We have even had some help in getting more clients for our marketing business after losing many of ours. All of this has served to give us the strength and organization to be able to present the truth. And it is the truth that can pierce through 16 inch thick armor. And remember "truth is the only thing that can go through 16 inch armor plate steel."
2011-03-15, Toni McAllister, Lake Elsinore-Wildomar Patch
In the face of continued criticism, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone today temporarily tabled his proposal to amend an anti-picketing ordinance to make it less restrictive, leaving the current restrictions in place.
Early last month, the Board of Supervisors tentatively agreed to revise Ordinance 884, which prohibits "targeted residential picketing" closer than 30 feet from a person's home. Stone sought to drop the distance to three feet.
The Church of Scientology is planning to build its national headquarters in a former resort near Orangeville, just outside of Toronto. The church is planning a significant overhaul of the Hockley Highlands Inn and Conference Centre in Mono, which sits on more than 80 hectares of land and will allow Scientologists to establish a campus with five buildings totaling 160,000 square feet.
Hidden behind a thick wall of trees atop the Niagara Escarpment just north of Toronto, the Church of Scientology is building a massive retreat where believers will "journey through the advanced realms" of their faith.
The facility, which includes more than 80 hectares and five buildings that total around 160,000 square feet, will serve as Scientology's national headquarters when it opens next year.
This is not the first time that unproven and worthless medical treatments have been offered to natural disaster victims. In the aftermath of last year's devastating earthquakes in Haiti, many people, including faith healers from the Church of Scientology and homeopathic practitioners, offered ineffective medical "cures" to the sick, wounded and dying.
The Guardian is reporting on the strained relationship that Scientology is having with the German government and the airing of a pesky documentary on Southwest Broadcasting. Until Nothing Remains, a $2.3 million documentary, is slotted to air on German television at the end of this month. It recounts the true story of Heiner von Rönn and his family's suffering when he tried to leave the Church of Scientology. A Scientology spokesperson called the film false and intolerant and also said they are investigating legal means to stop the film from being aired.
2010-03-15, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
When I was a Scientologist, it was a point of pride that we were a tough, combative religion. We used to brag – and the Church still brags – that we were "not a turn-the-other-cheek religion." If you dared to attack us, we'd attack back. "Attack the attacker" was the mantra.
Recently, I had the opportunity to get another viewpoint on this. I came across an interesting open letter written in 1995 by entertainer Steve Allen to the then-President of the Church of Scientology, Heber Jentzsch. Steve Allen, for those too young to remember, was the original Tonight Show host, before Johnny Carson – a very funny and intelligent man.
In his letter, Allen says:
I am not the person, I created it for them at Enturbulation.org
This morning, (3-15) I spot a strange car parked in my neighborsdriveway.
I watch over this For Sale property for the owner, so I know what cars should be there.
This isn't one of them.
Knowing that it is very likely a cult PI staking out my home again, I grab my camera and set out to investigate....
There's no question the city's movers and shakers want to bring more people to their struggling downtown core.
But masked protesters carrying signs and clogging sidewalks, possibly disrupting commerce and keeping some visitors away?
That's what's on tap today when the group Anonymous steps out from the shadows of the Internet to hold a second round of protests against the Church of Scientology.
"I don't think it helps, but obviously people have the right to protest as long as it's peaceful and they're not infringing on someone else's rights," Mayor Frank Hibbard said. "We won't allow that to happen, either."
Timed to coincide with Scientology's celebration of founder L. Ron Hubbard's birthday, it was the second major protest in Clearwater by a loose-knit Internet activist group that goes by the name Anonymous.
2008-03-15, David Sarno, Los Angeles Times, Journal Gazette
"We were born. We grew up. We escaped."
So reads the motto of ExScientologyKids.com , a Web site launched in recent weeks by young women raised in the Church of Scientology who are speaking out against the religion. Their Web site accuses the church of physical abuse, denying some children a proper education and alienating members from family.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ The Church of Scientology on Wednesday hailed a decision upgrading its status in Sweden from nonprofit organization to religious community.
"We are delighted to have our name registered after 30 years in the country," said Tarja Vulto, Scientology spokeswoman in Sweden. "We have now the legal status we think we are entitled to. We have always claimed to be a religion and this is now confirmed."
The change of status came as part of a broader new law to separate the national Lutheran church from state control. The law says all churches that fulfill certain conditions will be considered religious communities with equal status.