Author Sands Hall returns to Nevada County after touring the East Coast to celebrate her new memoir, entitled "Flunk. Start. Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology." The Book Seller will host Hall for a reading and Q&A session at 5:30 p.m. today. Doors open at 5 p.m. The book chronicles Hall's experiences as she becomes interested in, joins, and leaves the church, despite her parents' misgivings. Taking its name from a phrase used in Scientology drills, "Flunk. Start." emphasizes the importance of recognizing what one is doing wrong and starting again, a process not limited to life as a Scientologist. Hall is the author of "Tools of the Writer's Craft" and "Catching Heaven," a WILLA Award finalist, which will be available at The Book Seller during the event.
Dee Findlay ended 2017 with an item from her bucket list: She burned more than $10,000 worth of Scientology materials that she had bought on an impulse back in 2010.
Dee is a well known figure here at the Underground Bunker. She's been celebrated for her memorable address to the Clearwater City Council regarding a controversial land purchase that the Church of Scientology wanted to get its mitts on. She's been outspoken about her work as an OSA volunteer in the 1980s, helping the church spy on local officials, and she regrets being pulled back into the organization temporarily in 2010.
But she still had a huge pile of books and lectures sitting around from that brief return, and she wanted to get rid of it.
2018-05-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This may be one of the best ever admissions to leak from the bubble.
Not only is the SuMP doing phony photoshoots, they are PAYING people to show up to try to get enough of a crowd that it doesn't look like the few lonely losers that are the backbone of the "Santa Barbara" "ideal org."
This call to arms says so much — they staged a beach event in Santa Barbara, but it looked measly.
(Professor Hugh B. Urban of the Ohio State University)
On Friday, we expressed our disappointment with Ohio State University professor Hugh Urban's newest paper, this time about Scientology's original OT 8 material, which we have also written about. We titled the piece "With Scientology at war in Clearwater, religious studies types still seeking its warm & fuzzy side." Hugh asked to send a response to our critical review, and we're glad to present it today, along with our own answer.
I guess I should be flattered that Tony Ortega has taken the time to read and comment on my work. However, I also found many parts of this piece problematic, and I would like to respond briefly to several points that are inaccurate and misleading. For the sake of space, I will limit my comments to the following three.
2017-05-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Over the past couple of weeks we have watched Miscavige go to war with Winter the dophin.
What has been amazing is the breathtaking hypocrisy they have put on display for all the world to witness.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA), home to Winter of the Dolphin Tale movies, is a highly regarded, completely transparent non-profit organization that does wonderful work rescuing marine wildlife (like Winter), but also supports children and other programs. The CMA is the single biggest draw for tourists to Clearwater outside of "the beach."
2017-05-01, Miss Fortune, Glistening, Quivering Underbelly
NEVADA CORPORATION CONDUCTING BUSINESS WITHOUT MICHIGAN CERTIFICATE OF AUTHORITY; SCIENTOLOGY FRONT GROUP CREEPS INTO MANISTEE!
When the Manistee Planning Commission voted 5-0 on January 7, 2016 to grant a Special Use Permit to Per Wickstrom's TIA Corporation to use 900 Vine Street as a "location for recovery meetings" and "intensive outpatient services", I'm betting it never imagined the site would become the new home of the Church of Scientology's education front, Applied Scholastics.
But it has, and it's not the only Wickstrom-related site in Michigan promoting L. Ron Hubbard's Study Tech.
2016-05-01, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer your questions left for me in the comments section of my Q&A videos or sent by email to AskChrisShelton@gmail.com. This week, the questions I answer are:
(1) I have been seeing some people out there believing in opinions of an "us verses them" kind of mentality, or just that "black and white" view of the world, those who start following cults and become bigots and aggressive exstremist activist where they were not beforehand. Why do so many people believe in stereotypes, have prejudices and agree with things in trust without seemingly giving any effort in critical thinking? Why would people stop thinking and stop using a higher moral ground ... or at least how does that happen in the first place?
(2) I am also interested in anachronisms in the CoS. Due to LRH's written specifications, Scientologists use newspaper to clean glass, send telexes, and use a mimeograph to make more than 10 photocopies of any document. I wonder if you have any interesting anecdotes of anachronisms in Scientology daily life? Also, I have often thought that the CoS presence on the internet is very muted; most of it is either church service and contact information, or else digital editions of their print magazines. I think they could enhance their interaction with the public with much slicker videos and multimedia and other attractants. Their Social Media presence is minimal at best, and the number of pro-Scientology websites are overwhelmed by the anti websites. Do you think that the CoS has not not really taken full advantage of the internet because LRH never envisioned it, so the Church is stuck in a print world?
2016-05-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Been a few interesting days leading up to Miscavige's birthday bash.
Though they apparently sent out decoy messages that the event was canceled (maybe it was and then changed to being back on again which would not be unusual for one of these things) it seems this was the "gift of expansion" that Dave wanted for his birthday, so he went ahead and yanked his ribbon as planned to commemorate the occasion. Apparently there were dozens of security people surrounding the place yesterday at lunch time and crowds milling awaiting the arrival of the Grand Ribbon Yanker, the stage was built and the anticipation was high. I don't have confirmation of anyone SEEING the ribbon yanked, but it was up on the building on Friday and I suspect it isn't there today.
Earlier someone had posted their views on the purpose of the SuMP and I saved it to publish in recognition of the occasion.
Time again for Rod Keller's Scientology Social Media Review! Rod has made a specialty of hunting down the odd and wonderful things Scientologists post to social media. He's a chronicler who piece by piece builds a highly detailed assessment of what Scientology is doing around the world, and this is what he found for us this week…
John Alex Wood, Gemma Harris and other Scientologists provided free "nerve assists" to runners following the London Marathon this week.
Wood also sparred with doubters on Twitter during Friday night's ABC20/20 special, pointing out that Ron Miscavige said that Scientology had helped his son, church leader David Miscavige, with his asthma problem...
In a significant setback for Tampa Bay's third-largest city, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium has decided not to move downtown after all.
The small aquarium near Clearwater Beach had proposed relocating to a significantly larger, modern $68 million facility that it intended to build on the bluff overlooking Clearwater Harbor. City officials had hoped the move would help revive Clearwater's sleepy downtown.
However, the aquarium is now abandoning that plan. Instead, it has decided to stay put and expand and upgrade its cramped quarters on Island Estates, a largely residential island in the Intracoastal Waterway.
Once again we're featuring Chris Shelton today. He's one of the more recent defectors from Scientology's Sea Org, and he's been doing a great service explaining his experience, and Scientology itself, in a series of videos.
He sent us a new video that addresses an issue we've also talked about with Jefferson Hawkins and Jon Atack. After finally deciding to leave Scientology's "matrix of thought" (as Jason Beghe put it in Going Clear), how long does it take to recover from L. Ron Hubbard's mental implants?
We think you'll enjoy hearing from Shelton on this issue. As he points out, when you get in as deep as a Sea Org member does, you may be recovering from Scientology for the rest of your life. But that doesn't mean it has to be a burden. As he's found out (and many others we've spoken to), life can be grand when you start over again from scratch. Give Chris's talk a listen and let us know what you think of it...
2015-05-01, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Well, it's been roughly two years now that I've been fully out of Scientology. I started speaking out and making videos just over a year ago, with my first series covering What Is Wrong with Scientology (here). I explained why it is in its very DNA to destroy itself. Everything I said in those videos is turning out to be more true than even I realized at the time, but there were many other things I also didn't realize when I was making those videos. Because of the articles I've done since then, I've spent quite a bit of time researching not just Scientology but cults in general. I've gradually been recovering from what was a lifetime of indoctrination and abuse in what I've come to realize is a tiny, insignificant cult that has less and less relevance with each passing day.
The official Church of Scientology may or may not last for years to come. It really depends on how long its current leader, David Miscavige, can continue to re-package and re-market L. Ron Hubbard's nonsense to a purposefully ignorant audience who seem all to willing to overlook the obvious and blatant human rights violations, abuses and authoritarianism that are Scientology's core practices. The members of Scientology can't be blamed fully though, because they are victims of a masterfully crafted deceit machine that L. Ron Hubbard built and David Miscavige has only added to.
I said that Scientology is tiny and insignificant not because I am trying to devalue the damage that Scientology does, but instead to put it into its proper perspective. L. Ron Hubbard, whether he meant to or not, created a mind controlling, authoritarian system of belief which damages people psychologically, emotionally and spiritually. And just for the record, I happen to think that he knew exactly what he was doing.
Recovering from Scientology and other destructive cults is no easy task. I've had some degree of personal success with this and thought I'd share some of what has helped me so that maybe it can help others too.
In this video, I mention that there are many resources available to help people break free of the constraints from an enforced belief system like Scientology. This is by no means a complete list but here are some of those resources:
The Underground Bunker - http://www.tonyortega.org
2014-05-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
To give you some idea how badly these people buy their own bs, here is a promo piece exhorting everyone to give money so Kansas City can achieve the roaring success just like Portland.
See here for pix of what they are shooting for....
Then read below what they THINK they are shooting for. But before that, you can read about how GAG II is now making "planetary clearing" a reality and that for the first time things are really standard. I spose they really don't know what it is they are saying — it is fed to them like soylent green and they just lap it up and obediently announce how wonderful it is.
Last month we told you about Jillian Schlesinger, a young woman who escaped from Scientology's "Sea Organization" and then, just weeks later, began telling her story for publication. We wondered if that short period between her dash for freedom and speaking out might be a sign of Scientology's deepening crisis that is driving so many members away.
And now another longtime member has decided to tell his story just weeks after walking away from the church.
Lee Shewmaker, 71, is a veterinarian. Originally, he's from Kentucky, and he speaks with a pleasant twang. He operates his animal clinic in the Florida town of LaBelle, on the Caloosahatchee River, about halfway between Ft. Myers and Lake Okeechobee. Lee serves the local community not only with his clinic, but also with a converted RV so he can take his practice on the road for large animal care.
2013-05-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Paul Cocovinis posted a report about the number of Dianetics and Scientology library books in the libraries of London. This is an on-the-ground, in person account of the state of affairs. It is not too surprising, the only thing that is amazing is that like the IAS and so many other arms of the Vulture Culture — they roll forward promoting the lie that the money they suck out of you is actually accomplishing some useful purpose. The church KNOWS the reality of this. People pay FULL PRICE for sets of books that are supposedly "now in every library in xxxxxx." They KNOW how many returns they get. They can easily have staff in orgs in cities around the world go into their local library and verify what books are actually in the system. They KNOW its a LIE.
Here is Paul's report.
Had a real eye-opener today. Thought I'd pop into my local library and ascertain how many of LRH's books were actually available there.
Stacy Dawn Murphy Oklahoma's State Senate today passed SB 295 with a unanimous vote of 43 to 0, and now the bill — aimed at tightening regulation of drug rehab facilities in the state — will go to Governor Mary Fallin, who is expected to sign it into law.
The new statute is a direct result of recent deaths at Scientology's flagship drug rehab center, Narconon Arrowhead, which is in the eastern part of the state. Three patients at the facility died between October 2011 and July 2012, resulting in multiple state and county investigations and numerous lawsuits, all of which are still pending.
Last summer, Sen. Tom Ivester announced that he wanted to pass legislation that would increase state oversight of the controversial facility. The Democratic senator teamed up with a conservative Republican in Oklahoma's House, Rep. Jason Murphey, and today SB 295 passed its final hurdle in the legislature.
2013-05-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This is SICK.
I doubt Heber — who the church still promotes as its "President" — will be in attendance for the opening of the "Ideal Org" in the "First Scientology City" (huh)?
The gall of these people to put a picture of Heber on their poster — when he is locked up and only allowed out for the funeral of his son (and only after Karen DelaCarriere shamed the church into it). He doesn't have another son, so I guess he isn't ever getting out again until its his funeral. Update: I did not inspect this poster closely enough and several have pointed out that the shot is in fact Leo Champion. I used something that had been sent to me without inspecting it closely enough. I look like an idiot — not for the first time in my life. Nevertheless, it is still true that Heber was a VERY prominent part of the "Portland Crusade" and the RCS is trying to capitalize on the memory of that, while pretending Heber, the PRESIDENT of the church, no longer exists.
Things have really heated up in Laura DeCrescenzo's forced-abortion lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. As we reported earlier, the church has been ordered to turn over more than a hundred of DeCrescenzo's "pc folders" — which contain notes taken while she underwent intense interrogations at the hands of church officials, and which should yield thousands of pages of supporting evidence for her allegations of abuse in Scientology's "Sea Org." But with only days to go, the church is fighting mightily not to release that material.
We have learned that a petition filed by Scientology was denied by California's Appeals Court, and on Monday the church then filed a petition with the state's Supreme Court.
If that petition is denied, Scientology may even petition the US Supreme Court. The church claims that it should not be forced to turn over what it says are confidential confessionals protected by clergy-penitent privilege — even though it's the penitent, DeCrescenzo, who wants access to the documents.
2013-05-01, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Coming this month.
Preface to The Enemy Formula:
"Use the shotgun", Kerry Riley advised in his thick Oklahoman drawl, "it's better they be picking shards of glass out of their foreheads for a spell till the Sheriff arrives than to have corpses on your hands." Kerry preferred that I use my double-barrel, over-under shot gun - "use the heavier buckshot, not that chicken-shit bird shot" - when the Mexican Mafia started surveiling my home in preparation for a drive by shooting. One of their offshoots had tagged my car port with their death sentence – three pitch fork prongs up, with stars above each one, signifying I am soon to arrive in one of three places: jail, the hospital or the morgue. That is how the lead investigator for the San Patricio County District Attorney's Office interpreted it anyhow. Until I helped deliver some hoods to jail, I would continue to guard my wife's slumber at night, sitting in our carport with my shotgun across my knee.
2013-05-01, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Following is an exact quote from a new promotional email being circulated in Australia.
"The Continental Commanding Officer briefed on where the SydneyIdeal Org is at on completion. And the latest news – the scaffolding has been erected on 201 Castlereagh Street!! We are all ready to go. Just need to very rapidly complete the funding so that we can actually start and be on target for renovation completion in December and Grand Opening in January."
This just keeps getting more bizarre. Can you imagine that after 10 YEARS of fundraising for Sydney "Ideal Org" (which like Toronto is a building the church has owned for decades) they have gotten enough money to erect scaffolding, but they don't have money to start construction?
A FORMER member of Britain's Got Talent stars Jive Aces claims the band tried to "brainwash" him into becoming a Scientologist.
Guitarist Johnny Gunner says the other members tried to control his behaviour after they joined the religion - and he felt relieved to leave the band.
2012-05-01, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
I've read them all, interviewed the authors, and talked to many other former members about their lives in the church as I've covered Scientology closely on the Voice's news blog.
And that's why I can say with some confidence that none of these recent narratives captures and conveys the hardcore Scientology experience quite like Bornstein's book.
Kate describes, perhaps better than anyone has before, what it was like to become a dedicated Sea Org member during Scientology's more freewheeling heyday.
Lioce was a couple of years ahead of Al at college, but there was just something about the younger man. For the members of Brown University's theater scene in the late 1960s, such as actress JoBeth Williams-who would go on to gain fame in movies like Poltergeist and The Big Chill-Al was a transfixing figure. Someone you naturally looked up to, Lioce tells me.
2012-05-01, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
There are a number of ways in which David Miscavige has reversed L Ron Hubbard technology for purposes of creation of stupidity and tractability. I was reminded of another example while reading a section of Viktor Frankl's Man's Search For Meaning. The Scientology Life Orientation course was designed by Hubbard to help people sort out the meaning of their individual lives - or as he put it to find his or her 'hat' (function) in life. Miscavige of course could not leave simple and workable alone and interjected arbitraries with resultant recalls (retreads in Scientology terminology) and a mass of confusions for students. Miscavige insisted that a person decide upon the post title he was currently assigned to as his function in life (which really equates to the purpose or the meaning of a person's life), then canceled that with another arbitrary, then re-implemented the "post is hat in life" arbitrary - and who knows what else since. With the perpetual 'musical chairs' Miscavige plays with personnel - very few staff ever staying on any particular post for long - one can imagine the mental, emotional and spiritual havoc his arbitraries have wreaked upon many.
Irony of ironies, a psychiatrist gets what David Miscavige apparently won't get. Further, Viktor Frankl so much gets it, I think the following passage from Man's Search for Meaning serves to effectively repair the Black Dianetics reversal Miscavige has implemented.
Church members purchased the property around 2005. The congregation plans to renovate the 46,000-square-foot structure and must seek rezoning because current conditions limit the site to office and professional use.
"We really aren't asking for a significant change - just the right to have a religious institution on the property," said Woody Galloway of Dillard & Galloway, the attorney for the church.
He said the church will spend more than $3 million to convert the interior of the building. "The existing perimeter will not change."
Millionaire Scientology critic Robert Minton has expanded his criticism of the lawyer fighting the Church of Scientology over the death of Lisa McPherson.
In a 26-page affidavit, Minton elaborated on his earlier testimony in the case, arguing that Tampa attorney Ken Dandar asked him to lie, drew up false court records for him to sign and urged him to generate bad publicity for Scientology to prejudice potential jurors in the McPherson wrongful death case.
Fighting in the cult wars may have reached a peak three years ago, when lawyers and other individuals linked to the Church of Scientology, one of the nation's most controversial and powerful new religious movements, sued the Cult Awareness Network into bankruptcy.
The network, which had been one of the most outspoken anti-cult groups, eventually had its name, files and hotline taken over in a campaign dominated by members of the Church of Scientology.
This was not true according to Ruth McKenna, chief deputy superintendent of the California state board. She responded, "It is not appropriate to imply that the department of education or the screening committee has approved the content.... Our concern is that they [ABLE/Scientology] are using us and the process to imply impending approval" (Education Week, op. cit.).
This appears to be characteristic of Scientology's Applied Scholastics as they also made "unsubstantiated" claims about an earlier foray into California's public schools in the Compton district. Applied Scholastics' promotional material "made claims of remarkable success" but actually the school district officials canceled the programs (Los Angeles Times, June 27, 1990, p. A18).
1995-05-01, Martin Gardner, Notes of a Fringe-Watcher, Skeptical Inquirer
First, some words about TM. Based on ancient Veda teachings that Maharishi learned from a Himalayan holy man, it stresses a form of meditation linked to the recitation of a Sanskrit word called a mantra. The technique is said to relieve stress, slow aging, and promote what TMers call "pure bliss." Moreover, TM instructors promise to teach you, after you fork over thousands of dollars for advanced courses, a variety of awesome supernormal powers known as sidhis. They include the ability to become invisible, to see hidden things, to walk through walls, and to fly through the air like Peter Pan and Wendy. Doug's conjuring was fake magic. TM teaches real magic.
1991-05-01, Louis Jolyon West, Southern California Psychiatrist
In a previous article (SCPS Newsletter, July, 1990) I provided an historical account of the Church of Scientology. It is a pseudo-scientific healing cult that was formed in the 1950s, and has grown, with the help of extravagant lies and deliberate deception, into a multimillion dollar, international enterprise. Through its many publications, but especially through its newspaper "Freedom," Scientology regularly defames its critics (such as myself) and praises its friends (such as Thomas Szasz).
As history demonstrates, when a fanatical individual employing powerful communication skills gathers an entourage of followers, infects them with his own delusion, persuades them that the outside world is hostile and they alone can save the world, and exacts blind obedience, the collective may break the fabric of civilized restraints and descend into terrifying crimes. Convictions, seized church documents, stipulated evidence and defectors' affidavits demonstrate that Scientologists have already indulged in burglary, espionage, blackmail, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and conspiracies to steal government documents and to obstruct justice; some have committed suicide. The parents of a teen-age girl, after following her into Hubbard's entourage for several weeks, issued an urgent appeal last January to help prevent "what we believe could be another mass murder or suicide."