We're fortunate that one of our loyal tipsters lives in Italy, where for some reason Scientology publications reveal some things that the magazines here don't. In this case, we're talking about an issue of Impact magazine which shows that David Miscavige handed out more trophies to wealthy Scientology donors at the New Year's event in Los Angeles, something we associate more with the big IAS gala that takes place in England in October.
We have photos of all the "whales" who got trophies at the event, but naturally what really caught our eye was seeing actress Erika Christensen with her family picking up a Silver Meritorious trophy. Now let's be clear, because the rest of the press always seems to get this wrong. An IAS trophy is not for a single donation but for cumulative giving — so this means Erika's family has ponied up $500,000 over what might be a long period of time.
The IAS is only one way that Scientologists give donations, but we'll leave it up to you to decide whether half a million is a lot of money in lifetime donations from a Hollywood actress and her family.
The anonymous photographer who captured images of Scientology body routers for us recently was shocked by the story we wrote Tuesday. We discovered that one of the people in his photos was Irving Sorrentini, the 68-year-old father who "disconnected" from his daughter Jamie Sorrentini Lugli in 2010.
The last time Jamie had seen her father was in Florida that summer. But because she had developed doubts about the church and went to visit Scientology's former official, Mark "Marty" Rathbun in Texas, she was labeled an enemy of the organization and her father was forced to cut off all ties from her. He's never seen her 6-year-old daughter, Veda, and she had lost all track of him. Jamie was stunned to see that our photographer had captured him outside a Los Angeles metro station, working as a "body router."
That's Scientology language for the staff members who work city streets looking for new recruits, handing out invitations to see a Scientology movie or take a personality test. Jamie's father is OT, meaning he's high on Scientology's expensive "Bridge to Total Freedom," but Jamie said she wasn't entirely surprised to see him working such a basic job for the church. "All he wants to do is Scientology. All he ever wanted was to be on the Bridge all the time, so if he could join staff or the Sea Org and have no other job, he would," she told us.
Where did Dianetics and Scientology come from? What is the broad overview of this subject and of how L. Ron Hubbard came up with the materials and ideas of his destructive cult? In this video, I give a brief overview of the timeline with some commentary on what Scientologists think of this stuff now.
CRITICAL MERCHANDISE AVAILABLE AT:
2017-05-25, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
I'll be doing a series to breakdown the various fundamental beliefs and techniques of Dianetics and Scientology but it occurred to me that before I do that, it might help to first break down some even more basic points about how Dianetics and Scientology work, so this is the first of the videos I'll make to do that. Here, we're going to look at the basic and key materials of Dianetics and Scientology, the books and lectures that make up the body of work that is Scientology.
L. Ron Hubbard was a lot of things, many of them not very good, but one thing that cannot be denied is the man was prolific. The entire body of Dianetics and Scientology is huge and it took Hubbard decades to create it all.
I have been doing some study of other destructive cults and with one in particular which you'll be hearing more about soon, I was overwhelmed by the amount of material that cult had put out over the years. It was very hard to figure out where to start, what was important and what wasn't. Then I realized no one has ever really broken all this down for Scientology before, that it's not clear to a lot of people what came first and what Scientologists think is important and why. So what we're going to do is chronologically walk through the development of this subject and I'll explain what came out and what Scientologists think of that now. This video will not pretend to cover all of it, just some highlights along the way which I think are particularly important milestones.
Initially, it seemed like Monique Rathbun would fight Church of Scientology lawyers all the way to the Texas Supreme Court over harassment she claims she endured at the hands of church members. But despite allegations that church operatives chased Rathbun and her husband from the Texas Gulf Coast to the Hill Country, Rathbun's case recently came to a sudden end.
Rathbun was never a Scientologist, but she got the church's attention when she married Marty Rathbun, who'd broken with the church in 2005. He'd been on the inside for 27 years, an executive second only to church leader David Miscavige, and after leaving, he spoke against Scientology — he appeared in HBO's Going Clear in 2015. Then Scientology members started coming after his wife, according to court records.
The Church of Scientology's new Los Angeles television studios on Sunset Boulevard suddenly became a hive of activity yesterday as preparations got underway for Saturday's big grand opening. Scientology purchased the old KCET studios in 2011, and has been fundraising ever since to open what it's calling "Scientology Media Productions," a complex of TV and radio studios that the church says will help it get its message out.
But one move by the church took locals by surprise. Cranes lifted a sign to the top of the facility's 15-story antenna yesterday evening, and on local websites residents were buzzing about whether this was the neon sign the church had been told it couldn't put on the tower.
One of our readers lives in the neighborhood, and he tells us he's pretty shocked to see the sign go up. Two of the people on his block are on the neighborhood council. "They said that the [church's] application was rescinded based on advice from the council, but we're gonna have to find out what really happened," he says.
2015-05-25, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
I apologize for having been away for a few weeks longer than usual. I had some personal issues to deal with which kept me off the camera. Here now is the sixth installment of my question-and-answer video show, where I take up questions subscribers and commenters have asked me in my videos and answer them as best I can. Questions in this video:
(1) You talked about what parts of Co$ would need to go and you talked about Xenu in this episode (Critical Q&A #1). I just wondered if you think the Scientology genesis myth would also need to go. Because, among all the atrocities the "church" commits I find that story mostly harmless (ironically) and even kinda cute. As far as genesis myths go it's not even in bad company. All of those are kinda out there.
(2) One thought has occurred to me as I watch your and others' videos. "Scientologists" are referred to often without distinguishing whether they're public Scientologists or Sea Org members. Clearing this up is most helpful to those of us who were never in Scientology and have learned the culture from the internet. For example, as you answer the question about being trolled, it would be interesting to know whether they're Sea Org directed by their superiors, if they're public members that feel the need to engage you even though they're not supposed to read entheta on the internet, or if they're 'hired guns' like the PI's and lawyers they use to go after apostates. It's possible you don't know, but it would be interesting to have your opinion.
2015-05-25, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This is a Go Fund Me page asking for money to treat Andrik Schapers cancer.
Andrik Schapers was one of the FIRST IAS Freedom Medal Winners. He was at every "crusade" that was ever held anywhere. The IAS used him as a poster child. Marching in his goofy boots, singing songs — he was long the most visible "IAS Crusader" all over the world. And what has that earned him — having to beg the general public for help.
For an organization that loudly proclaims its humanitarian good works, how can they allow something like this to happen?
Recently, we heard from Chris Owen, the preeminent historian of L. Ron Hubbard's war record. We had contacted Chris after a news story appeared that had a hard time making heads or tails of Hubbard's convoluted war record, and ended up making some conclusions that were a bit off.
Chris helped us set the record straight on that, and we're grateful to him for it. He acknowledged that Hubbard's war record is complex, but it really isn't "mysterious," as the press account had it, and it is possible to draw some solid conclusions about Hubbard's war service based on a 1979 review that was compiled.
Right after we had that exchange with Chris, one of our researchers noticed that there was yet another set of documents about Hubbard's war service that had never been posted online before. They had been compiled by the Food and Drug Administration in 1963, much earlier than the 1979 review. Did that earlier assessment jibe with what was put together later?
The Sea Org is Scientology's answer to Navy SEALs, only with less focus on special ops and more on fleecing children and the gullible. They were originally created to crew L. Ron Hubbard's private fleet, but over the years they morphed from "religious Marine Corps" into something between a cult, the Mickey Mouse Club, and a time-share scam. My name is Derek Bloch, and I spent three years in Scientology's creepy space navy before abandoning ship. Here's what I learned:
2014-05-25, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
They say a picture is worth a thousand words....
This is today's topsy turvy world of scientology — what is up (the Bridge) is down. What is down (stat) is straight up and vertical.
Progress in Scientology these days is going back and starting it all over again. You didn't make it. Back down the snake you go. And now you can buy a new ladder from us. Only problem is, we keep adding more snakes.
2014-05-25, Nanette Asimov, San Francisco Chronicle
Narconon is back in California public schools.
The Scientology-linked antidrug program visited classrooms freely for years until 2005, when medical experts and the state Department of Education determined it was promoting bogus science. The alarm went up a decade ago after The Chronicle revealed that Narconon's antidrug messages to students were based not on medical evidence, according to the experts, but on the practices of Scientology.
Narconon officials say the program is secular and that a firewall exists between it and the Church of Scientology. In fact, the connection to the religion was not readily apparent, a public school teacher told The Chronicle.
It's time for Sunday Funnies and another round of Scientology's latest mailers and fliers sent in to us by our great tipsters.
We love these weekly snapshots of Scientology's fundraising fever. They give us a real sense of how leader David Miscavige is trying to get more and more money from fewer and fewer people. The desperation is palpable.
Let's start with another annual event for the church. Each summer, Scientology holds a celebration it calls 'Maiden Voyage,' when it invites its 'whales' — big donors — to fly to the Caribbean and celebrate the anniversary of the cruise ship Freewinds, and learn about upcoming church initiatives. In this flier for Australian and New Zealand Scientologists, however, the celebration is spread out over several Saturdays. Perhaps some oldtimers could explain that one to us.
Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He now has a new edition of the book out, 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.
We're taking a slight departure from our usual Saturday conversation with Jon. He's headed for Denmark this week for a meeting of FECRIS, the Fédération Européenne des Centres de Recherche et d'Information sur le Sectarisme, which in English becomes the European Federation of Centers of Research and Information on Sectarianism.
For the convention, Jon has written a brief overview of Scientology that we found powerful. If you've been keeping up with our Saturday conversations, you've seen us dive into quite a few different subjects in church history. But in this piece, Jon does his best to distill into one relatively short document what sets Scientology apart.
2013-05-25, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is some feedback from the adoring crowds at the FH Auditorium last night who turned out to see the great man in person.
Absolutely, without doubt, the greatest event EVER!!!!!
Thousands of trainees!
Oh brother, here we go again...
This isn't the first time that ex-Scientologist Tiziano Lugli has been mistaken for Tom Cruise zipping around Hollywood on his Ducati motorcycle.
But TMZ? You'd think Harvey Levin's outfit would want a bit more confirmation before deciding that a video of Tiziano and his wife Jamie is Tom Cruise and his "Rebound Chick."
2012-05-25, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
THIS IS MY COMING OUT STORY
I got into Scientology in summer of 1971 at the mission in Phoenix, AZ. This was shortly after high school, did a little college in Tucson, AZ, and continued at the mission in Tucson, AZ where I received Standard Dianetics, objectives and ARC Straightwire.
2012-05-25, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Our tipsters continue to funnel us the best Scientology material at a rapid rate. May 9 was Dianetics Day -- 62 years since the day in 1950 when L. Ron Hubbard first published Scientology's Ur-text, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health -- and already we have in our hot little hands the video that the church forced, er, encouraged its members to watch on that day.
Above, a typically over-the-top intro video put out by the wizards at Golden Era Productions, the A/V drones at Scientology's International Base about 90 miles east of Los Angeles. Former top executives tell us church leader David Miscavige obsesses over every detail in these presentations, and he sure loves the dramatic presentation of lettering sweeping over the planet.
What followed next was another short film, this one going on and on about how copies of Dianetics are sweeping over the planet and reshaping the history of mankind, yadda, yadda, yadda. Trust us, you are happier that we spare you having to sit through it.
The Church of Scientology will expand its footprint in downtown Clearwater after Pinellas County commissioners voted 6-0 Tuesday to sell about 2 acres of county property there.
The county's parcels are vacant or being phased out as part of downsizing and budget cuts. The church, whose growth downtown has miffed some critics, was the sole bidder, agreeing to pay $6.7 million.
2010-05-25, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
Okay, I'll admit it, I'm a fan of Lost. And I did watch the finale. One of my favorite scenes is the one where Locke screams at Jack, "Why is it so hard for you to believe?" And Jack fires back, "Why is it so easy for you to believe?" Sounds like some of our discussions.
I've been thinking about the subjects of knowledge, certainty and belief. How do we know something? How can we be certain of something? Where does knowledge end and belief begin?
In an Ability Magazine article, LRH said, "as Scientologists, we are Gnostics, which is to say that we know that we know." The Church website says that "Scientology is a Gnostic faith in that it knows it knows." So what is Gnosticism?
The Church of Scientology has gone on trial in the French capital, Paris, accused of organised fraud.
The case centres on a complaint by a woman who says she was pressured into paying large sums of money after being offered a free personality test.
2007-05-25, Emil Steiner, OFF/beat blog, Washington Post
While the verdict may still be out as to whether Scientology is a brainwashing cult or not, after a recent run-in with the BBC, two things are abundantly clear: Scientologists can't stand being called cult members, and they have the power to drive even seasoned journalists absolutely insane.
The Church of Scientology has always claimed that its goal was not to stifle criticism but to protect its "trade secrets", as it called the L. Ron Hubbard writings that adherents study for many expensive hours. Whether the CoS's claim was true or not doesn't really matter. Copyright maximalism (as Pamela Samuelson calls it) is that it provides a legal structure people can use to stifle critics if that's what they want to do and that remains the core issue no matter what anyone's motives were in a particular case.
2005-05-25, People in the News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
While the focus of Tom Cruise news is his romance with young actress Katie Holmes as well as his upcoming movies -- "War of the Worlds" and "Mission Impossible III" -- the actor took time out of his busy schedule to blast Brooke Shields for taking Paxil.
New York's Daily News reports that Scientology evangelist Cruise told "Access Hollywood" that Shields was misguided when she took the anti-depressant to fight postpartum depression.
Jurors in a misdemeanor marijuana case against a prominent critic of the Church of Scientology were unable to reach a verdict after some on the panel suspected the church had set him up.
A hung jury was declared Thursday in the cases against Jesse Prince, who was charged with growing a marijuana plant in his backyard. The jury deliberated for five hours and was split 4-2 in favor of acquittal, jurors said.
A book removed from Amazon's site because of alleged legal troubles is now among the top150 books sold by the online bookstore.
The book, a controversial exposé of the Church of Scientology, languished deep in Amazon's list of 4.5 million titles before being dropped in February. A Wired News report on that decision prompted Amazon to reinstate the book late last week.
The book jumped to No. 700 before hitting a high of 148 on Tuesday.
A 20-year-old Canadian who was enrolled in the Fairfax County branch of Straight Inc. testified in federal court yesterday that he was tied up in car with nylon ropes by his Straight custodian last month but escaped during a traffic jam on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
Two other former clients of the Florida-based drug rehabilitation agency told the jury that they were kidnaped, both at their parents' instigation, and forcibly returned to the program after escaping.
The witnesses testified yesterday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria on behalf of Fred Collins of Fairfax, who is seeking money damages from Straight for detaining him in the program for more than four months last year.