Scientologists have special words for the people gathered at a sleek Airbnb townhouse on a mild day in September. They're irrational, or "banky." They're putting off bad vibes, or being "downtone." They're full of negative energy, or "chargey," and they won't contain it — they won't "get their TRs in." But the people sprawling on the living room's vinyl wraparound couch don't use those words to describe themselves anymore. Growing up in Scientology, they say they were constantly told to be stoic. Now that they've left, they're tired of jargon about repressing emotion. Instead, they're looking for new words to describe themselves—new ways to express the psychological consequences of their upbringing—and they've traveled all the way to Brooklyn to tell their stories. They've already landed on one new way to think about themselves—a phrase that helps illuminate why it's so hard for them feel things. They call themselves the Children of Scientology. Psychologists call them SGAs, or Second Generation Adults.
Christi Gordon is an SGA, meaning that she — like everyone she's invited today — grew up immersed in Scientology before eventually cutting ties. SGAs aren't like people who join and leave cults as adults. "Many first gens choose to leave their families," Gordon explains, "but ours were stolen from us. Scientology hijacked our parents' hearts, minds and time, and it hijacked our childhoods." Gordon was never taught how to be a kid. Instead, she was expected to be what Scientologists like to call an "adult in a small body," taking care of herself, by herself, and repressing the fear, grief and loneliness that came with that. She says the experience is like bending over your whole life, trying to avoid hitting a ceiling someone assures you is there. And once you realize there is no ceiling, you've already grown up crooked. Gordon believes that people transitioning out of Scientology don't just need a home, or a job—although they often need that. They also need a support group, a community where people can put new words to real emotions and experiences. And that's what the meetup today is all about.
As more people leave Scientology, more people like Gordon are speaking out. They call the church a cult, and claim that it uses the promise of self-improvement to control and abuse its members. They also accuse the Sea Org — an elite group of the religion's most dedicated members — of being a front for forced labor and surveillance, and criticize the church for tearing apart families, demanding that parents disconnect from children who oppose the religion. As these accusations have snowballed, the church has held its ground, continuing to deny that the church has anything to do with forced labor and family separations. It claims that its beliefs and practices help members to "freely experience their emotions and live life to the fullest." It calls the Children of Scientology an "anti-religious hate group," full of people that they say have a vendetta against the church, and accuses this magazine of "pandering to anti-Scientology propaganda" by publishing the group's claims. But for Gordon, Children of Scientology isn't about hate, or vengeance. After a lifetime of bending over, Gordon is trying to show others — and herself — that it's possible to unkink what's crooked so they can finally stand up straight.
Right-wing student organization Turning Point USA (TPUSA) accepted $50,000 from the foundation of the nation's largest private prison company in 2017, a Sludge investigation of tax documents has found. The GEO Group Foundation gave two donations of $25,000 on March 24 and October 23, each listed as "part of (its) annual contribution."
GEO Group rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars each year in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) contracts, which have increased sharply under President Donald Trump's harsh immigration policies. TPUSA, which openly supports Trump and regularly has Trump administration officials and family members, such as Mike Pence and Donald Trump Jr., speak at its events, frequently sides with ICE, the division of the Department of Homeland Security that detains undocumented immigrants and contracts with private prison giants including GEO Group and CoreCivic. TPUSA Pres. Charlie Kirk often tweets in favor of ICE.
TPUSA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded by Charlie Kirk in 2012 to "identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of freedom, free markets, and limited government." The group bills itself as a "grassroots activist network," yet it receives funding from Republican politicians and GOP megadonors, including Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, former Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, and shipping supplies magnate Richard Uihlein.
2019-06-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The question scientologists all over the world are asking — at least if you ask Sea Org Recruitment Officer Jett Lahde...
There are so many oddities in this — it is an interesting look into the mind of a young Sea Org member.
He has probably never clicked on the tv or turned a page in a newspaper (this is not part of Sea Org life) — but he knows what he has been told.
A researcher who goes by the moniker Independent Scientology News has learned that YouTube rejected his appeal and permanently shut down his channel for posting videos that were "severe violations of our
Community Guidelines on Hate Speech."
Those videos were recordings from lectures by Nation of Islam and Scientology figure Abdul Malik Sayyid (Tony) Muhammad, who regularly expresses bigoted ideas, particularly about Jewish people.
As we pointed out previously, ISN was caught up in a wave of channel suspensions resulting from a recent crackdown by YouTube on extremist speech. The online giant was making a long overdue clean up, but because it relied on automated software, it had caught whistleblowers in its nets along with the extremists it was trying to fumigate.
2018-06-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Leah and I were speaking with our old friend Mark Bunker, who was telling us about the injunction scientology obtained against him and other members of the Lisa McPherson Trust back in 1998.
Amazingly, scientology still seeks to enforce this injunction against him to this day – its language prevents him from protesting in front of some specified scientology buildings and from coming within 10 feet of any scientologist (it's a mystery how he is supposed to know who is or isn't a scientologist…) but they tried to get him thrown out of his condo because a scientologist lived next door, and pull it out any time they feel they can persuade the police to give him a hard time.
We were also discussing the land scientology keeps buying in downtown Clearwater — land they have absolutely no use for. They have turned some into parking lots and others into "parks."
During the main event at HowdyCon in Chicago, we revealed there's a new book coming soon which we're pretty excited about.
The last time we were in Chicago, in 2015, we were there to promote our 2015 book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, our history of Paulette Cooper and how the Church of Scientology, which called her "Miss Lovely" in spy documents, tried to destroy her.
A few months ago, Paulette approached us with an idea — shouldn't there be a book of the best of the Underground Bunker? And could she edit and publish such a thing?
2018-06-24, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer viewer questions left for me in the comments section of my Q&A shows or sent to me by email at AskChrisShelton@gmail.com. This week, the questions I answer are:
(1) Can you give a few quick examples of things you once believed or did as a Scientologist that you now shake your head at and think....I can't believe I thought or did that?
(2) It seems a bit hypocritical that LRH was into sex-magik rituals and Aleister Crowley when Scientology is so puritanical. What do you think caused such a change of mind?
(Pete Griffiths helps Cathy Schenkelberg market her one-woman play, Squeeze My Cans)
We're exhausted after another full day here at HowdyCon 2017. So we're going to post some of the photos taken by Observer and Eivol Ekdal and try to recuperate for the big show tonight.
2017-06-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
A code of honor sounds like a good thing to carry around in a wallet; a concise set of moral guidelines; principles on which to build a solid foundation. And yet…not all codes are equal. Some justify acts of unethical behavior in individuals. Some justify unethical conduct by organizations.
Let's see how L. Ron Hubbard's Code of Honor stacks up.
(Having just read Marty Rathbun's latest diatribe, I couldn't help but think how parts of this code might relate to him.)
"Goes to show you that Ontarians are really fed up with the status quo, and they want change," said Ontario Proud's founder, Jeff Ballingall.
"I'm trying to showcase that people have a right to feel grievance and outrage that they're essentially being trampled on by this government that's so out of touch," Ballingall said Friday in an interview with CBCToronto.
Ontario's Proud's Facebook page is a mix of mainstream media news stories, anti-Liberal memes and shareable videos made by Ballingall. The posts primarily target Wynne, but include regular smackdowns of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, with an overarching theme against government waste, tax hikes and mismanagement.
(Laura DeCrescenzo in the Sea Org, circa 1996)
Laura DeCrescenzo's seven-year forced abortion lawsuit against the Church of Scientology now has a new judge, and a new appeal submitted by the defendant.
You'll remember that we were dealing with a bit of a shock in the case recently: After denying Scientology's most recent motion for summary judgment and clearing away the path to a trial, Judge John P. Doyle surprised everyone by announcing that he had cousins who were dedicated Scientologists. Doyle said this had no effect on his decision to deny Scientology's motion, but it made him vulnerable to a conflict if any of his family members were called as witnesses.
The Church of Scientology is planning its own media company that will spread its message around the world. Ben Mankiewicz (What The Flick?), Ana Kasparian, and Francis Maxwell (TYT Sports), hosts of The Young Turks, break it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.
"Tom Cruise and the Church of Scientology are getting into the "propaganda machine" business by launching their very own 24-hour news network and movie studio.
Trying to capture the success of Rupert Murdoch, Vladimir Putin (redacted) and Queen Elizabeth II before them, the Los Angeles-based $50 million project will feature a 24-hour network to broadcast its messages to the masses - and film production facilities the "religious movement" claims is bigger and better than Paramount.
(The West Coast Building on Fort Harrison Ave.)
Scientology leader David Miscavige is getting more and more sneaky about his grand openings, and this time we caught him just in time.
For some reason, Miscavige has been waiting until the last minute to give his followers information about specific dates and times in a couple of big recent openings, including the new television studios in Los Angeles that opened on May 28. Plans for the Ideal Org opening in Atlanta were also conducted on a need-to-know basis is well.
It was a real highlight for us to meet for the first time a frequent contributor to the Underground Bunker, former Sea Org worker Chris Shelton. We asked him to give us a report about his first day speaking at the Toronto conference yesterday. Here's what he sent us.
Attending the Getting Clear conference here in Toronto has been a bit of a dream come true for me. I've finally met some of the real stars in the ex-Scientology community who have been kind of like legends to me for the past two years: Hana Eltringham Whitfield, Paulette Cooper, Nancy Many, Gerry Armstrong, Spanky Taylor, Jesse Prince, Jon Atack and our proprietor.
In the years I was in Scientology, I always made it a point to ask those who had worked with L. Ron Hubbard what he was really like in person. This probably happened with about 15 or so people throughout that time and one-for-one, without fail, I would be regaled with tales of wonder and delight at what presence and intention and charisma LRH exuded. They would describe to me how he was the most powerful being they'd ever met, but at the same time how he always took such pains to "grant beingness" to us lesser mortals and go out of his way to make people he spoke with feel safe and appreciated. It never ceased to amaze me what an impression he made and what an obviously intense and amazing individual he must have been. They never failed to comment on his compassion and how nice he was and how he went so far out of his way to see to the welfare of his staff.
Boy Scout Troop 313, chartered to the Church of Scientology, Flag Service Organization, held its Court of Honor Ceremony at Delphi Academy this week. Six Scouts advanced in rank and 13 merit badges were awarded.
The ceremony, led by newly advanced Boy Scout Cole Sherman, was highlighted by the announcement that Life Scout William Harris had fulfilled all of his Eagle Scout requirements and was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout.
In addition to completing 21 merit badges, Harris created planter boxes at Washburn Academy, where he attends high school.
2014-06-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This is filed under the category unabashed hypocrisy.
Also known as the the gospel of the church of scientology.
Tony Ortega had this in his Sunday Funnies column, but it was sort of buried among all the other nuttiness that is rounded up each week.
The charity status of a north coast-based alternative medicine college is being investigated.
But a Bangalow man who lodged the complaint about the College of Universal Health says legislation on the issue has too many grey areas.
George White on the Freewinds to do OT 8 in July 1988
More than a year ago, we started a project — 'Up the Bridge' — which we thought would be very useful for our readers, particularly those who had never been members of Scientology. With the help of experts — Claire Headley, Bruce Hines, and others — we ventured step by step up Scientology's legendary "Bridge to Total Freedom."
Even members of the public with only a vague understanding of Scientology seem to realize that the church is unique in that it involves a series of ever more expensive courses or levels that members go through to reach higher states of spiritual enlightenment. But what were these steps, and how much did they cost? With Claire's help, we started at the very bottom, learning how something like "Study Tech," for example — a course about how to use a dictionary to look up or "word-clear" concepts — contributes to the organization's layers of control. Some of these lower level courses cost very little.
2013-06-24, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
I tried to walk in your shoes on Saturday.
The honor of acting as the father of Christie at her wedding was bestowed upon me.
Christie may have chosen me for this privilege because I remind her so much of you. She has told me as much on many occasions over the past four years that I have known her. Just about every time I flip a song, she says with her inimitable smile, 'my dad and I used to listen to that.' From Bob Marley to Van Morrison, it seems you and I ride to a similar rhythm.
Laura DeCrescenzo's attorneys have answered the Church of Scientology's latest attempt to derail her forced-abortion lawsuit, and they've done it in only two pages.
The church has until July 2 to turn over DeCrescenzo's "pc files" — thousands of pages of confessional material compiled while she was an employee of the church starting at only nine years of age. DeCrescenzo believes that the documents will bolster her claim that she was abused as a member of Scientology's "Sea Org," including her assertion that she was forced to have an abortion at 17. Scientology has already lost two appeals fighting the court order, and have now asked LA Superior Court Judge Ronald Sohigian for a protective order to keep the documents from being seen by the public.
Her answer to that request is short and sweet.
2013-06-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here are some photos taken by our good friend Terry Brawley. He is not just a talented stained glass artist and wildlife guide and kayak explorer, he is also a great photographer. He is one of many we have to thank for making this such a wonderful day.
2012-06-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Denver's police honcho, Robert White We recently brought you footage of Sacramento's mayor, former NBA player Kevin Johnson, gushing about Scientology at the opening of an "Ideal Org" in that city.
Since that fancy new building opened in California's capital, additional celebrations have occurred in places like Orange County and Denver, Colorado.
We've written extensively about the Ideal Org program, which is Scientology's cynical way of trying to convince the public that it's thriving and expanding -- by opening unneeded large facilities when it's actually been losing membership for years. A key component of this scheme is roping in local politicians for the grand opening events to help contribute to the illusion that the church is actually a benefit to the local community.
2011-06-24, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
The following is the conclusion of the interview that Editor in Chief of the Village Voice conducted with Janet Reitman, author of the new book Inside Scientology:
If the celebrities are being more cautious, it's fascinating to see the new "Independent Scientology" movement flourishing as former high-level members like Marty Rathbun rebel against Miscavige's rule.
"Scientology is a very doctrinaire church, way beyond Catholicism. I mean a really all-encompassing, all-demanding, highly judgmental, cripplingly controlling, organization. And these Independents are saying, 'Fuck the organization, we're just going to go do this on our own, we're going to pay a lot less money for it because really, this stuff should be free. And we're going to live better lives.
2011-06-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Janet Reitman On Tuesday, we sat down with Janet Reitman, author of the terrific new book Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion, which is just hitting bookstores and will be released officially in July.
Inside Scientology is a masterful telling of Scientology's history, from L. Ron Hubbard's pulp fiction career in the 1930s to events happening just last year as an Independence movement splits with current Scientology leader David Miscavige. Along the way, Reitman brilliantly focuses on individuals like Jeff Hawkins and Nancy Many and Lisa McPherson to help us understand the appeal of Hubbard and his "technology," as well as the controversies that have rocked the organization over many decades.
We wanted to know: who is Janet Reitman, and how did she put together such an amazing book?
2011-06-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Continued from page 1
"Abuse to me is psychological abuse. The abuse of always feeling that Big Brother is watching you. Of not knowing who to trust. That your thoughts could be used against you," she says.
On the one hand, Reitman is somewhat skeptical that Scientology leader David Miscavige has been physically abusive with his employees. "I can't tell you whether he hit people or not. I don't know. I don't know the man. To me he sounds like the worst CEO ever."
2011-06-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
What the show didn't say was that Cardone is a wealthy and high-level Scientologist with cozy ties to Scientology leader David Miscavige. In 2007, Cardone sent an e-mail to fellow Scientologists attacking Milton Katselas, a well known and admired acting coach who had, in the view of the church, not kept up his duties as a compliant Scientologist.
Now we have more detail about that, with an additional letter that Cardone sent directly to Katselas, the acting teacher's reply to Scientology, and also Cardone's public responses since we outed him as someone willing to do Scientology's dirty work.
2011-06-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Knowledge Report: RPF and Other Abuses from Mark Bunker on Vimeo.
One of the people who made the Scientology's Enemies List, which we wrote about yesterday, is Mark Bunker, dubbed "Wise Beard Man" by the Anonymous movement. I sent him an e-mail to make sure he saw it.
Today, I received this reply from him: "What a day. You send me this news and then an hour or so later I hear that my mom has died. I'm cutting my road trip short to go back for
In recent years the Church of Scientology worked hard to present a kinder, gentler image to the public, claiming it had cast aside the criminal activities, dirty tricks and abusive behavior of the past that brought it widespread condemnation and sent some of its former leaders to prison. But a St. Petersburg Times special report this week revealed the reality behind the new facade: At its core, the Church of Scientology has not changed. It is an organization that uses intimidation and brutality to control its employees, places financial ambition above spiritual service to its members and stops at nothing to undermine its critics.
2008-06-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Even before it started, the 1986 trial of Lawrence Wollersheim v. the Church of Scientology of California caused a mob scene at L.A.'s downtown superior court.
When a judge decided during pretrial motions that documents describing confidential Scientology beliefs should be put in a file open to the public, 1,500 Scientologists swamped the court clerk's office to keep anyone else from requesting them. The next day, the judge resealed those records. But an L.A. Times reporter managed to get past the crush of Scientologists and copy the file. Newspapers around the country had a field day with what the Times reported: the documents showed that high-level Scientologists are taught that each human contains the souls of alien creatures banished to Earth 75 million years ago by a galactic overlord named Xenu.
2008-06-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Maisonneuve, a magazine which likes people to think of it as Canada's New Yorker, uncorked a nice piece this week about a British Columbia man named Gerry Armstrong.
To the folks who write about L. Ron Hubbard and the prank he played on the world—Scientology—Armstrong's name is very familiar, although you usually hear it uttered in a certain way. As in, "Poor Gerry Armstrong," with a solemn shake of the head.
Read Bruce Livesey's entertaining piece to learn how Gerry went from a man so trusted by Hubbard the old coot authorized Armstrong to write his official biography, to a bankrupt, hounded target of Scientology harrassment who risks being arrested if he ever steps foot in the United States.
The extent of the feud might stem from the immediate backlash that Hubbard received from mainstream mental health organizations. Dianetics was published in May 1950; by September, the American Psychological Association had advised therapists to avoid it. Not long after, the board of medical examiners in Hubbard's home state of New Jersey pursued legal action against him for practicing phony medicine.
Los Angeles school officials are warning campuses not to use a drug prevention program linked to the Church of Scientology while California's schools chief has ordered an investigation to determine whether the anti-drug presentations are scientifically sound and free from the religion's influence.
Mrs Nallathambi, a Hindu, was unaware that The Athena School is Sydney's only Scientologist school. But she liked what she saw, and enrolled Raja at the beginning of last year. "Now he's more confident, there's no more tears," she said. "At the other school he had no friends, now I can't get him to come home at the end of the day.".
The Athena School has 90 pupils, from pre-school to year 10, and eight teachers, who have reportedly completed six months training in L. Ron Hubbard teaching techniques, rather than holding formal qualifications. Fees are about $1500 a term.
Snow White began in 1973 as an effort by Scientology through Freedom of Information proceedings to purge government files of what Hubbard thought was false information being circulated worldwide to discredit him and the church. But the operation soon mushroomed into a massive criminal conspiracy, executed by the church's legal and investigative arm, the Guardian Office.
Scientology is determined that the words of L. Ron Hubbard shall live forever.
Using state-of-the art technology, the movement has spent more than $15 million to protect Hubbard's original writings, tape-recorded lectures and filmed treatises from natural and man-made calamities, including nuclear holocaust.
What is Scientology?
Not even the vast majority of Scientologists can fully answer the question. In the Church of Scientology, there is no one book that comprehensively sets forth the religion's beliefs in the fashion of, say, the Bible or the Koran.
Rather, Scientology's theology is scattered among the voluminous writings and tape-recorded discourses of the late science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who founded the religion in the early 1950s.
1990-06-24, The Scientology Story, Los Angeles Times
Typed on Blackfeet Nation stationery, it states: "To commemorate the seventieth anniversary of L. Ron Hubbard becoming a blood brother of the Blackfeet Nation. Tree Manyfeathers in a ceremony re-established L. Ron Hubbard as a blood brother to the Blackfeet Tribe."
The document actually is meaningless because none of the three men who signed it were authorized to take any action on the tribe's behalf, according to Blackfeet Nation officials.
The document was created by Richard Mataisz, a Scientologist of fractional Indian descent. Mataisz said in an interview he tried to prove that Hubbard was a Blackfeet blood brother but came up empty-handed.
From a life haunted by emotional and financial troubles, L. Ron Hubbard brought forth Scientology. He achieved godlike status among his followers, and his death has not deterred the church's efforts to reach deeper into society.