We're still buzzing over a video that Lloyd Evans posted of Jehovah's Witnesses Governing Body member Anthony Morris III buying a cartload of expensive hooch.
And now Lloyd, Mark O'Donnell, and other ex-JW activists have had a chance to talk about Tony's March 31 trip to the liquor store in a group video chat that we found fascinating and thought you would too.
About 15 minutes in, Mark reads from a letter that a Witness received when they asked a Governing Body "Helper" for some help understanding what Tony was doing buying about $850 of Macallans Scotch (and throwing away the gift boxes) at 11 am on a Sunday morning in the New Jersey town of Ramsey about 25 miles from JW world headquarters in Warwick, New York. (Not only was it a large purchase of expensive Scotch, but Governing Body members like Morris take a poverty vow and wouldn't normally have $850 to spend on whisky. Also, Morris in particular is known for his imperious and judgmental stands on the way Witnesses should comport themselves and even what they should wear, so whatever he wanted the alcohol for, it's just not a good look.)
The Duran Quick Take: Episode 129.
The Duran's Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss what's behind Russian security forces raiding Russian Scientology churches in St. Petersburg, as a widening fraud investigation against the controversial "religion" gains momentum.
We love a good appeal brief. If you read a lot of legal documents like we do, you get used to a lot of turgid stuff that, while highly important to a case, is a slog to get through.
But appeal briefs are great because they are written to persuade a higher court that a lower court has screwed up. And in order to do that, an appeal brief usually includes a beautifully written summation of how the case evolved. And the appeal brief submitted by Luis and Rocio Garcia that we got our hands on last night is no exception.
Many of you have been with us for the six years since we first started reporting on the Garcia lawsuit and its allegations that a wealthy Orange County, California couple were fleeced by the Church of Scientology. And you know the case had some crazy twists and turns as Scientology tried its usual outrageous tricks, like trying to disqualify the other side's attorneys.
2019-04-04, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Come up to present time...
You can't even be a cause point to get your derelict building renovated after a decade?
So you are going to rely on the fact that some ships sailed from your harbor hundreds of years ago to cross the Atlantic with people fleeing religious oppression to explain how you "are doing it" now?
News over the last week or so on the cult front has featured multiple cults who seem to focus on sexual abuse of women members. We wrote extensively a week ago about the arrest of Keith Raniere, founder of Albany, New York-based Nxivm (pronounced "Nexium"). The indictment alleges that Raniere headed a secret "master/slave" group where the all-female membership were branded with his initials in their pubic region. Be Scofield, a journalist specializing in new-generation Internet gurus, recently published an article on yet another abusive group. Scofield looks at the followers of Padma Aon Prakasha, who leads various workshops in the US; 15 women and 2 men have accused Prakasha of physical and emotional abuse and other things. And the well-received Netflix documentary Wild, Wild Country about the 1980s Rajneeshee cult in Oregon recounts stories of physical abuse aimed at women.
We are writing to start a discussion about treatment of women in cults, including in Scientology. For those of you who are ex's, we would be interested in understanding what happened to you, for both former staff/Sea Org and for rank-and-file members. And we're particularly interested in whether high-control groups always end up committing abuse of women (and, probably equally of children). What general inferences can we draw and what can we do about it?
Summary of Padma Aon Prakasha Sexual Accusations
Last week, we told you that Leah Remini has come under a new round of what appears to be a Scientology "noisy" investigation. Since then, we are learning that the operation has kicked into high gear.
Following the playboook Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard set down decades ago, the church targets people it considers enemies by sending private investigators to pretend that they are law enforcement officers or reporters seeking information in order to spread rumors about a target.
On March 26, we revealed that a former NYPD detective had boasted about being hired to tail Remini while she was filming a movie with Jennifer Lopez in Manhattan and Brooklyn. We also learned that a woman who called herself Valerie Morgan had showed up at the home of one of the sons of Angelo Pagan to ask if the young man had been mistreated by his stepmother, Remini.
2018-04-04, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Someone recently included some quotes from L. Ron Hubbard in a comment (I don't recall where exactly and sorry for not attributing) and it prompted some thoughts... Always a dangerous thing.
And that was reinforced when I read the article on Tony Ortega's blog with new documents uncovered by Chris Owen disclosing that Mr. Hubbard, after failing to ingratiate himself with the apartheid governments of South Africa and Rhodesia, had sought to buy his way into Malawi by offering them hundreds of millions in today's dollars. (Interesting to note his liberal recounting of the "facts" about who he was and what he was doing - a common thread throughout his entire life).
Hubbard literally wanted to take over the world. He believe this was what he had been sent to earth to accomplish (see earlier post addressing his assertion that he was "not from this planet").
Last week, one of our tipsters found evidence that the Church of Scientology has convinced the country's second-largest cable television system, Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable), to make room for SCNTV, a channel that will carry Scientology's programming.
Our tipster also attended the LRH Birthday Event, and told us what church leader David Miscavige said about the upcoming Scientology channel. And now, that same tipster has done us another solid: They passed on to us pages from the new International Scientology News (ISN) magazine, which reports on that speech by Miscavige and gives us some new details.
Most importantly, we can set a firmer date on the channel going live: In his speech, Miscavige claimed that programming would begin airing "by the time we reach the summer solstice," which falls on June 21.
Australian K9 Detection Unit is seeking $158,767.75 that it claims is still outstanding, plus late fees. Small weekly payments of between $500 and $2000 were still being made by the centre when the action was lodged, the writ said.
The writ was filed against the Association for Better Living and Education, an offshoot of the Church of Scientology, as well as the previous secretary and executive directors of Get Off Drugs Naturally.
The program was investigated by Consumer Affairs Victoria in 2015 and subsequently fined after claiming on its website that it had a high success rate of curing drug addiction with detox treatments.
Former Scientology members Phil and Willie Jones' anti-church billboards finally went up Monday morning in LA, after two outdoor-ad companies allegedly booked, then canceled the ads due to pressure from the church.
Lamar Advertising put up one sign in Echo Park and is cutting nearby trees for greater visibility, says Scientology blogger Tony Ortega. The Joneses plan a "dedication ceremony" on Wednesday.
Their ad criticizing Scientology's alleged practice of "disconnection" from family members reads, "To my loved one in Scientology .?.?. Call me."
2016-04-04, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Scientology wasted no time putting this photo (and a bunch of others) onto their website.
After all, this is the pinnacle of David Miscavige's (and thus scientology's) accomplishment. A "new org" is opened. This of course is not true, it is just a new building for the same old org as they all are. Scientology has not opened an actual new org in the last decade. Not a single one. I think Kaohsuing in Taiwan might have been the last one — but that was long before the "new building" was opened.
This is the big lie scientology tells its sheeple and the world. Their new buildings "prove" they are in an era of "massive international expansion" under the "guidance of David Miscavige, the ecclesiastical leader of the scientology religion." The flowery bs on their website about the "grand opening" of Atlanta reads like the others that have come before. Shermanspeak and fawning praise for "Mr. Miscavige" and his brilliant leadership obscuring and real substance.
After two previous companies turned them down, Phil and Willie Jones were successful today in Los Angeles with their plan to protest Scientology's disconnection policy with a billboard asking Scientologists to call their loved ones.
Phil and Willie Jones are former Scientology members who can no longer communicate with their two grown children, Mike and Emily Jones, who are employees of Scientology's inner "Sea Organization," which requires them to sign billion-year contracts and work nearly around the clock for pennies an hour. Because Phil and Willie are no longer in the church and have criticized it, their kids have been told to cut off all ties with them as part of "disconnection."
The Las Vegas couple has kicked up a row with Scientology since they arrived with a television film crew in Hollywood, trying to see their kids. Then, Phil came up with the idea of the billboard, which simply asks Scientologists to call their loved ones, with a link to a website they've put up about the disconnection policy. With the help of readers from this website, they raised more than $10,000 in a single day with a GoFundMe site to pay for a billboard.
Thanks to smart planning by a couple of our readers, we have a complete video of Scientology leader David Miscavige's speech Saturday as he opened the organization's new "Ideal Org" in an Atlanta suburb.
The Atlanta facility is the first Ideal Org Scientology has opened in the US in nearly three years, but photos from the event show a crowd of only about 500 people gathered at the building in Sandy Springs, Georgia. As usual, Miscavige presided over the ceremony while an image of him was projected on a large screen nearby.
Scientology goes to great lengths to keep non-Scientologists far away from these events by blocking streets, sidewalks, and with the use of security personnel, so that we get only partial views of what's going on.
2015-04-04, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Someone sent me this email that was circulated after the original Truth Rundown series in the St Petersburg Times in 2009.
That series was a massive expose — the first major media to lay out the story of the physical and mental abuse meted out by David Miscavige, the existence of The Hole and much more.
It was carefully researched and meticulously fact checked and documented. It has stood the test of time as much of what is contained in this series has been subsequently reconfirmed, especially in the court testimony of Debbie Cook, but also in numerous other stories.
We've been reporting that some of the ex-Scientologists who took part in Alex Gibney's film Going Clear have been experiencing a sharp increase in the amount of surveillance and harassment they normally have to put up with.
Perhaps no one has experienced more suspicious activity recently than Tom DeVocht, a former church executive who was close to Scientology leader David Miscavige and who revealed that Miscavige took pleasure in mocking Tom Cruise behind his back. DeVocht says in Going Clear that Miscavige had the actor's auditing session notes sent to him daily, which contained intimate details of Cruise's sex life, and Miscavige would share those secrets with others, including DeVocht, while drinking Scotch and laughing at Cruise.
Perhaps it's those embarrassing disclosures which explain why DeVocht regularly experiences so much interference by private investigators. But then yesterday, things moved into new territory. DeVocht was visited by narcotics division police officers with the BurbankPolice Department who said they had been tipped that DeVocht was dealing drugs in the area.
Owners of the storied Trout Run property are seeking a county historical designation so they can convert the Thurmont retreat into a substance abuse center affiliated with the Church of Scientology.
The 40-acre camp whose stream was once fished by President Herbert Hoover was sold in 2013 to a Los Angeles-based property holdings group. The property's new owners are looking to renovate the rustic Catoctin Mountain lodges for the opening of a drug treatment center run by the Narconon program.
The controversial recovery program grew from rehabilitation methods developed by the Church of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Narconon treatments include nutritional supplements, exercise and time spent in saunas. While there are no staff on-site yet, Narconon Eastern U.S. Executive Director Yvonne Rodgers said, they plan to open the "residential drug rehabilitation center" later this year.
When SNL presents a highly-produced pre-taped video sketch, it's almost a guarantee to be better than the live-action skits. And tonight's Scientology-bashing example was one for the ages.
The scene: A fake '90s-era musical ad for a religion called "Neurotology," replete with nonsense jargon like "Diametrics"; belief in aliens living in your brain; expensive devices that attach to your head; and subtly terrified followers who eventually leave the religion, go "missing," or become outspoken activists against the cult.
There's even a terrifying Miscavige-like leader and goofy black-and-white footage of an L. Ron-Hubbard-like founder.
You could spend two hours watching HBO's Going Clear… or you could just watch this now:
2014-04-04, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Some recent media from Ireland. Still reaping the rewards of making up stories to tell the faithful about how wonderful things are "over there" (everywhere except where you are)....
I bet Dear Leader just loves having his photo in articles like this all over the world. And particularly enjoys being identified as worldwide leader of a cult. Not exactly the positioning he is shooting for. He's got "Pope" in HIS mind, not David Koresh.
Perhaps you should stop telling lies Dave? Nobody is going to bother with stories like this if you don't give them something to write about.
2014-04-04, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
More than thirty years of research has demonstrated rather conclusively that the average human being when connected to a galvanic skin response detection device (generic name for a Hubbard Electro-psychometer) routinely registers presentiment of about five seconds. That is, the meter reads on average 5 second prior to the subject being provided with a concept to respond to. This research has been performed on people taken off the street, with no previous psychic or spiritual training or study. It has been conducted applying exacting scientific standards.
What do you reckon the implications of these findings are to someone who has received hundreds of hours of standard Scientology auditing? That is, a process in which the practitioner is only permitted to address those concepts or incidents that react on the meter only at the precise end of the major thought as expressed in words by the auditor.
A few books off the top of my head where the referred to research is discussed:
2014-04-04, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Dear me. Things are not looking well in the home of the largest concentration of Scientologists on earth, the land of the Ideal Pacifica Bridge, the Ideal LA Org, Ideal Orange County, Ideal Inglewood, Ideal Pasadena and rocking and rolling Valley All Stars.
And in this age of the "Golden Age of Tech II" when everyone is just FLYING up the Bridge.
And in this era of amazing expansion under the brilliant leadership of Dear Leader. Unparalleled growth and unbelievable enthusiasm.
Our video source came through with another gem this week. It's the "quote video" that Scientology created to help sell the Unification Congress, that fateful Phoenix event in December 1954 when L. Ron Hubbard explained how he was going to unify Dianetics (which he had invented in 1950) with Scientology, which he had developed in 1952.
Here's how Bridge Publications describes this set of lectures, which it sells for $225.00...
"The historic Congress announcing the reunification of the subjects of Dianetics and Scientology with the release of Dianetics 55! Until now, each had operated in their own sphere: Dianetics addressed Man as Man — the first four dynamics — while Scientology addressed life itself — the Fifth to Eighth Dynamics. The formula which would serve as the foundation for all future development was contained in a single word: Communication. It was a paramount breakthrough L. Ron Hubbard would later call, 'the great discovery of Dianetics and Scientology.' Here, then, are the lectures, as it happened."
In 1987, a French court convicted two Narconon staffers after a woman died at their centre having suffered repeated epileptic seizures. Was it their fault alone, or did their negligence spring from Scientology's teachings?
Jocelyne Dorfmann just wanted to get off her medication.
She had been taking drugs to control her epilepsy, but after eight years she had had enough of them.
Scientologist Peter Dwan, representing drugs charity Narconon, gave anti-drugs presentations to more than 30 schools in the county and is planning more.
But other drugs charities have criticised the methods used by Narconon, and one awareness charity warned schools against involvement with its programmes.
McALESTER -- He says his organization has problem with Senate Bill 295 and its aim to give state oversight of his Narconon Arrowhead facility. But CEO Gary Smith wonders why the Legislature is spending so much attention on the measure when there are so many other issues needing action. Narconon Arrowhead drew attention in recent years because of its drug and alcohol reabilitation methods and because of the deaths of four of its patients in the past four years. The nonprofit facility is among those that would be regulated by the bill, which has been passed by the Senate and by a House committee. It still faces a vote of the House and any amendments would send it back to the Senate.
2013-04-04, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Another idle Ideal Org
In keeping with the Ideal Orgs theme one of our correspondents recently visited NY Org. Last time she was there was 2 years ago.
Another of the first "Ideal Orgs" – its been nearly a decade since David Miscavige grandly cut the ribbon and promised a new era for Scientology in NY. It should be bustling, there is more traffic within 200 feet of its front door than any org on earth.
The ultimate auditor? Welcome to our ongoing project, where we blog a 1950 first edition of Scientology's bible, Dianetics, with the help of ex-Scientologist, Bay Area lawyer, blogger, and author Vance Woodward. Go here for the first post in the series.
[ALSO TODAY: A federal judge tells Narconon to go fish; an update on the Oklahoma drug rehab bill; more American press outrage about Scientology in Vietnam; and Irish protest against Tom Cruise!]
Vance, now we begin Book Three, "Therapy," and switch gears.
2012-04-04, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
"These were your friends, people you had traveled with," Rinder says. "But then, you get in the Hole? You can't trust anybody."
The forced confessions pitted friends against each other. And the conditions only made it worse. "Everyone sleeping with only about six inches on either side. Above you. Below you. Getting up in the middle of the night, you'd disturb everyone," Rinder says, and more than once compares it to the madness of Lord of the Flies...
2012-04-04, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Mike Rinder exposes David Miscavige and his Scientology Inc torture and re-education camp called 'the Hole.' He discusses the mind set of a corporate Scientologist subjected to such treatment. He touches on other subjects of interest to Independent Scientologists, fence-sitters, and under-the-radar folk.
2010-04-04, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
In the midst of all the other news last week, one story didn't get the attention it deserved: the Church of Scientology has put their Portland, Oregon "Idle Org" building up for sale.
The Church bought the historic Stevens Building in downtown Portland, amid much breathless fanfare and hype, in January, 2008. At the time, the Portland Business Journal reported:
"After a years-long search for a building to call its own, The Church of Scientology of Portland has acquired the historic Stevens Building in an all-cash deal for $5.38 million.
Tom Cruise isn't getting any giggles from a new strain of medical marijuana being marketed as "Tom Cruise Purple."
Word is that the actor's lawyers are taking a serious look at the strong brand of bud after we brought it to their attention.
One of Cruise's friends found it "outrageous" that licensed cannabis clubs in Northern California are selling vials of pot featuring a picture of Cruise laughing hysterically.
Silent births, purification programmes, claims that humans are an exiled race from outer space called Thetans... welcome to religion, Scientology style.
The claims made on behalf of the controversial cult have been prolific over the years, not least because its most famous torchbearer, Hollywood star Tom Cruise, is never far from the headlines.
But what exactly is the Church of Scientology? What does it teach and what makes it so popular among the Hollywood jet set as well as 10million people worldwide? We put Scientology in the spotlight to find out.
John Travolta and Tom Cruise have forcefully denied allegations that they turned to Scientology to "cure" them of their supposedly gay urges. But critics continue to claim the religion is rife with homophobia. Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote in his 1950 best seller, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health," that gays were "sexual perverts" and "very ill physically." That apparently went for Hubbard's son, Quentin, who was said to have been confused about his own sexual orientation. "[Ron] thought Quentin was an embarrassment," Laurel Sullivan, Hubbard's former PR officer, told the Los Angeles Times.
Its leading argument for a dismissal: a February ruling by Medical Examiner Joan Wood, who now says McPherson died from an "accident" stemming from a knee bruise that led to a fatal blood clot in her left lung. Wood once blamed McPherson's death on "bed rest and severe dehydration" at Scientology's Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, but has removed those words from the death certificate.