Several days ago, someone sent us some photographs from a wedding and asked us to forward them to a regular figure here at the Underground Bunker, a young man named Derek Bloch. We sent those images to Derek, and they hit him hard. We suggested that he deal with that emotion by writing something, and that's just what he did. So fasten your seat belts.
I often think back fondly to the days before Scientology, or at least what I can remember from those days. My parents joined when I was just a few years old. I was originally raised Catholic. I think I made it to my First Communion. My parents were very strict when I was a kid. My sister and I would talk to each other after bedtime, for example. My parents didn't like that, even when we were whispering. I never understood why it bothered them so much and even as an adult I still can't fathom hitting children because they are talking to each other. But that was my parents' response — my dad with the belt and my mom with the wooden spoon (or hanger). One time, I remember that my mom was hitting my ass through the blankets when I was laying in bed. It didn't hurt me at all, but she took that as a challenge.
So, she made me pull the covers off and she hit me so hard it broke the spoon. When they took me to stay with my aunts or grandparents, it was always a reprieve from the constant fear of crossing my parents when I was home.
Mike posted this at his blog and we are reposting here to help in this research project about Scientology and Money:
NOTICE FROM MIKE RINDER
I am interested in hearing from anyone who has given money to scientology and suffered financial hardship/crises as a result, and especially if you then tried to get to get your money back and were unable to do so.
2018-07-12, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This week seems to have a lot of "Why I donated" items. Maybe stats are down on the ideal org/IAS front? In that regard, I repeat the notice I first posted yesterday:
I am interested in hearing from anyone who has given money to scientology and suffered financial hardship/crises as a result, and especially if you then tried to get to get your money back and were unable to do so.
2017-07-12, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Another article from Brian Lambert. While I am so busy working on Season 2 I appreciate those who forward me relevant, on topic articles to publish. It is a day I do not have to write something myself. (Thanks especially to Regraded Being and Terra Cognita who have been stallwarts in this regard). I try not to use too many of them in a row, but I feel it is better for continuity to have something every day if possible. Though there may be days in the upcoming weeks where it just isn't possible.
Battlefields: Scientologists vs. Critics; Can Decency Win?
"We are hypnotized by our surroundings and can't see anything beyond the horizon of our experience". Sri Yukteswar
Critical thinking is an important subject, but has been discredited by people who are not critical thinkers claiming to use skepticism and reason to assert utter nonsense. They fool themselves and others with their pseudoscientific and ridiculous claims. In this video, I break down what this is all about and why what they are doing is not based on critical thinking at all.
We have a pretty remarkable document for you today, which was sent to us by a member of the Church of Scientology who recently attended a Maiden Voyage event at their local org.
Each summer, Scientologists are expected to come down to their org in order to watch video presentations of what happened a few weeks earlier aboard Scientology's private cruise ship, the Freewinds, where a celebration is held each June to mark the anniversary of the ship's launching under church ownership in 1988.
During that weeklong celebration in the Caribbean, church leader David Miscavige gives numerous presentations to a select number of wealthy Scientologists about the organization's new initiatives and past successes. Then, after the shipboard event, the rest of the Scientology world is expected to watch video of Maiden Voyage at their local church. And at one of those orgs, which we are not going to identify, a church member decided to photograph and send to us the opening and closing statements that were included in a pamphlet that every attendee was given.
In a letter that Pastor Willy Rice sent to his congregation, the Clearwater Baptist minister revealed that Leah Remini and Mike Rinder will be filming an episode of their A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath, at the Florida church on July 22 at 12 noon.
The pastor explains that this won't be a church event, or even a Christian event, but it will give Clearwater residents with questions about Scientology and about Remini's show the chance to get some answers in the city where Scientology has its "spiritual mecca."
We confirmed with the Aftermath team that the filming is taking place, and they said they would get back to us soon with an official statement about it. In the meantime, here's the pastor's letter…
CLEARWATER — The same, desperate plea Phil and Willie Jones plastered across a billboard in Los Angeles is scheduled to go up on East Bay Drive next week.
"To my loved one in Scientology … Call me," it will read.
The couple crowdsourced funds to put up the West Coast billboard in April as an attempt to inspire their two adult children, who are members of Scientology in Los Angeles, to reconnect with their parents. Phil Jones said since he and his wife left the religion around 2012, the church forced their children, Mike, 42, and Emily, 38, to cut off contact with their nonbelieving parents, a practice called disconnection.
(Tom DeVocht, in a scene from Going Clear)
The Underground Bunker has a pretty great record when it comes to helping people raise money.
Even before this place opened, over at the Village Voice, our readers came through in 2012 with an amazing display of generosity and helped Marc and Claire Headley raise about $40,000 in just a couple of days. The Headleys had spent their savings, borrowed from friends, sold an automobile and even a swing set so they could pay off attorney's fees that the Church of Scientology was holding over their heads. (The church offered to forgive the debt if the Headleys would agree to spy on other ex-church members. Turning down that offer, the Headleys paid the money and then shared with us the letter from the church spelling out that offer.) After paying the church its fees, the Headleys put up a fundraising page and we publicized it. Soon, our readers helped make them whole, and we had established a precedent.
Schools associated with the Church of Scientology are receiving more government funding per student than hundreds of Australian public schools, new data has revealed, despite benefiting from generous private donations and hundreds of thousands of dollars in school fees.
The Athena and Yarralinda schools receive a combined amount of up to $475,000 in recurrent public funding every year to educate fewer than 60 students.
The schools follow the "Way to Happiness" philosophy of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, but maintain they are a secular part of the tax-exempt Applied Scholastics group of schools worldwide, which has strong public links to the church.
2016-07-12, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Someone sent me a new promotion for the "L. Ron Hubbard Series" which prompted this post.
Dan Sherman has been working on the "L. Ron Hubbard biography" for more than 25 years.
Imagine anyone else getting away with no product for that long? And being paid handsomely to boot....
2015-07-12, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
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 this week:
(1) What would the world look like if Scientology succeeded in "clearing" the planet? What kind of reality could that possibly be and how does it compare to their stated goals for a "cleared" planet? What do they claim they're going for and what would really happen? What is the payoff? What happens if everyone alive is a Scientologist?
(2) The late Christopher Hitchens (a personal hero of mine) often stated that one of the reasons why he became an American citizen was that the USA is the only western democracy that has a separation of church and state in its very constitution. He was however, also one of the first to notice and comment upon the paradox that religion seems to saturate everything in America. This includes, but is not limited to the news, politics, legislation etc. As a former cult member, you more than most I would suspect, know that people are motivated by beliefs and ideas. Therefore the fact that religion seemingly saturates everything, including your highest public office, does this concern you?
(Authored by Jeffrey Augustine, this essay was originally published by Tony Ortega at the Underground Bunker and is reprinted here for archival purposes)
July 8, 1977: The FBI conducts a massive raid on the Church of Scientology to find evidence relating to its "Snow White Program." The raid eventually leads to eleven top Scientology leaders being criminally charged and convicted for their role in the conspiracy to burglarize federal offices.
These Scientology defendants, including Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Scientology's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, needed a great deal of money for legal defense. So in 1978 Scientology's notorious Guardian's Office created the "Safe Environment Fund" (SEF) to pay for the significant legal expenses of the GO members who had been indicted. Essentially, the SEF was a GO legal slush fund that generated a significant amount of unrestricted donations.
Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than a year on Saturdays he helped 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. He was kind enough to send us a new post.
Jon, we were talking the other day, and one of us mentioned an ex-church member who seemed to have a difficult time with personal boundaries. You told us how that was a product of Scientology itself, and now we're glad to see you've decided to expand on that. We're all ears.
JON: I was shocked when I received my first Knowledge Report. I had been involved in Scientology for about eight months and had just finished giving my fifth two-hour session of "book and bottle" to a reluctant preclear. This "process," also labelled "opening procedure by duplication" consists of moving the poor preclear between two card tables at either end of a room, and asking said preclear to lift the book on one and the bottle on the other and answer the same questions about weight, color, or temperature, each time.
2015-07-12, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
You heard it here first — there is a new DCSI/Clear Certainty Rundown that was released in a special "closed door" briefing by He Who Shall Not Be Named. And it now being spread to the general populace in a vain effort to recruit new staff for this "rare opportunity."
Of course, to try to fill up some of the empty space at Flag, all orgs are being ordered to send trainees to learn the "new" tech of verifying whether someone is Clear or not. Couldn't just send it out to the orgs to USE IT, this incredible new breakthrough is too important for that. Hell, they might mess it up!! And everyone knows that anything that is trained in at Flag is absolute perfection (unless of course it was the original DCSI training program or the Clear Certainty training program, or GAT 1 or GAT II....)
Every now and then one of these "send trainees from all orgs" evolutions happens. The last time was GAT II itself. All those people that would complete the "full training" line up in 6 weeks ended up being there for 6 months or more. Some are STILL there. GAT 1 was a similar story. The pitch is that NOW everyone is going to be able to deliver standard tech. And of course, no org would want to be accused of NOT delivering standard tech...
2014-07-12, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
She who shall not be named coughs up another $350,000 for the Valley Ideal Org.
You gotta admit, this is a pretty good thing they have going. Bart Simpson doesn't realize he is the biggest sucker in Springfield.... HE is turning over bucketloads of cash so someone else can invest it in THEIR real estate scheme based on the false promise that this "ideal org" is somehow going to do something that the current non-ideal org is not capable of doing because it is located in an expensive building.
Apparently the approbation of titles like VALLEY SUPER ROCKSTAR OT GODDESS , is worth a chunk of change it seems.
In April, we told you the story of how Scientology had found itself tangled up in one of the most remarkable human slavery lawsuits ever adjudicated in the United States.
In 2008, three Cuban men won an $80 million judgment against the Curaçao Drydock Company after they escaped years of what they said were harrowing conditions of 112-hour work weeks, pay of a few cents an hour, and the inability to leave. After they finally got away, they ended up in Florida, where they sued the drydock — whose major shareholder was Curaçao's government. After winning the huge award, the attorneys for the men then set out trying to collect it, which hasn't been easy.
One way they have pursued the damages award is by filing writs of garnishment against a couple of Scientology entities which operate the church's private cruise ship, the Freewinds. Since 1988, Scientology has used the ship as a place for its wealthier members to receive the highest level of spiritual training, "OT 8." Church members can also stay on the ship for a variety of other seminars and training sessions, and it typically cruises between several different destinations in the Caribbean, including Curaçao. The church has used the drydock there for repairs on the ship as recently as last September.
Brian Culkin gave $350,000 to the Church of Scientology over the course of one year. After leaving the group he asked for his money back. Eventually he got a refund but only after signing a declaration that Scientology is using in a court case to deprive other former members of getting their money back.
Now that "Pharyngula" author PZ Myers has spilled the beans, we can reveal that the University of Minnesota Morris biology professor will be joining us here as we read through L. Ron Hubbard's epic 1952 work, A History of Man.
As we were nearing the end of our series with Vance Woodward blogging Hubbard's 1950 masterpiece Dianetics, we looked ahead and thought it might be fun to give A History of Man similar treatment. And who, we wondered, would be best to help us analyze what Myers correctly characterizes as "Scientology's version of evolution"? Why, an evolutionary biologist, of course! So we reached out to Myers, who was good enough to accept. As soon as we have a firmer idea for when our conversation on the book will appear, we'll let you know.
We have a feeling this is going to be a lot of fun.
It's been more than a year since our last open letter to you.
In February 2012, we suggested that it was time you started speaking publicly about Scientology again. At that time, court testimony and press reports revealed some of the shocking and degrading ways your church treats employees — some of them children — and we warned you that increasingly, your position as the celebrity symbol of Scientology would become a liability.
2013-07-12, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
For anyone who has just emerged from an isolation chamber, or if you don't read ANY media or look at Facebook or Twitter and rely on finding out what is happening in the world here (you really need to do something about that...) I republish the statement Leah gave to the press last night.
It is to the point, sweet and classy — just like her.
"I wish to share my sincere and heartfelt appreciation for the overwhelming positive response I have received from the media, my colleagues, and from fans around the world. I am truly grateful and thankful for all your support."
2013-07-12, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
From the outset we have represented that at Casablanca we are about the practice of repair, remediation, reconciliation, sane and integrated Scientology progress, graduation and transcendence of and beyond the Scientology experience.
We don't solicit 'success stories' at Casablanca. My view is that they have been used in the past as a cult positive reinforcement mechanism. When you audit and coach toward ability – rather than simply release – folks attain abilities through applying what they gain in auditing toward life. To pin someone down to a statement of result after only subjective, contemplative practice in some ways can act to constrain and limit the potential gains. In some cases it can set them up for losses since their immediate seemingly miraculous releases don't seem translatable into abilities in life (in a stat push environment that is often enforced).
We have, however, maintained a book in our guest apartment where visiting former church members – and those new to Scientology - stay when they visit. The book serves the purpose of giving folks a completely voluntary feedback communication line. I have never published words from the book because for the past several years the church of Scientology has run a propaganda operation against anyone who has expressed success or equanimity restored at Casablanca. Since we moved into our new quarters near San Antonio that is not of concern because the church has no means for determining who visits us.
The centre, located near the church's West Coast headquarters in Hollywood, would occupy the nearly five-acre studio property the church bought last year from Los Angeles public TV station KCET for $42 million (£27 million).
The station would elevate the public profile of a religion that has mostly relied on pamphlets and books by its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, to proselytise for new members.
"The church plans to establish a central media hub for our growing world network of churches and to move into the production of religious television and radio broadcasting," said Karin Pouw, a spokeswoman for Church of Scientology International, in an email.
She said there is no timetable for when operations would begin.
Mr Rathbun also insisted that the Church of Scientology closely monitors the communication of high profile members and orders members to sever ties with suppressive people, particularly those who are critical of the church.
He said: 'That person could be your son, it could be your daughter, it could be your father, it could be your mother. It doesn't matter.'
Speaking about the Cruise children, he said: 'They were being steered toward and indoctrinated toward coming to the conclusion that Nicole was a suppressive person.
A former Scientology chief has sensationally claimed the church brainwashed Tom Cruise's children and turned them against the star's ex-wife Nicole Kidman.
Marty Rathbun, who worked at the secretive church for 27 years before leaving in 2004, said he believed officials used Scientology doctrine to turn the Oscar winner's adopted children against her after she divorced Cruise in 2001.
His comments could shed more light on Scientology - and just why Katie Holmes was so keen to win sole custody of her young daughter as she filed for divorce from Cruise recently.
2012-07-12, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
For the last two weeks, we've been asked one thing more than any other: what was Suri facing as a six-year-old in Scientology if she hadn't been taken out of it by her mother, Katie Holmes? Does indoctrination in the church start at such a young age?
As we reported earlier, in 1961 Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard created a "security check" for children aged 6 to 12. This list of 99 questions was designed to be used to interrogate a child holding the sensors of an e-meter by an ethics officer outside of the presence of the child's parents. Claire Headley told us she was "sec checked" at only 7 years of age, and she knew of other kids who went through it as well.
If sec checking is the dark side of auditing, we wondered about auditing itself -- the counseling that Scientologists go through as they clear their minds of clutter in order to discover their true, immortal selves. How common is it for small children to go through auditing, we wondered, and we wanted to get evidence of it today, not from some policy Hubbard might have written years ago.
2012-07-12, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
A preview of tonight's Rock Center on NBC features Mike Rinder, see Ex-Scientology Spokesman on Rock Center.
Amazing how much better he looks fourteen years after appearing on NBC Dateline under the suppresvision of David Miscavige (footage included in preview). Reversal of the aging process, or proof that effectively dealing with suppression gives a new lease on life?
Tune in tonight and learn all about Disconnection from someone who knows a little something about it.
So maybe it wasn't as bad as all that, but it was bad enough that People and the L.A. Times report Holmes was sneaking around behind Tom, making plans and using disposable cell phones until she dropped the bomb that she was moving out and asking for a divorce. Tom was apparently caught of guard by this, with a source saying he "was a happy man and thought he had a happy life. He keeps asking, 'What's happening?' "
He should ask ex-wife Kidman, whom Holmes enlisted for advice near the end. Us Weekly reveals Katie had been calling Nicole for support. "They've spoken over the last few weeks," a source told the glossy. "Nicole has been supportive, saying she's been through it too and to hang in there. She has been a private friend not many people know about."
2011-07-12, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
After eleven years out of the church, my son brought me back into the Seattle org in 2003. I had several amazing years to follow. But by the Summer of 2007, I began to see things going wrong. Fewer people in the courseroom, more pressure to donate to more things, all events ending in fundraising, students trying to avoid regging on their way to course, apparently "awesome" cycles such as completeing The Basics (adding months or years to Auditor training), repeated false promises about the opening date of the new Ideal Org, high-pressure recruiting sessions to join staff with "ethics" overtones, and more.
Well, it all finally came to a head this Spring. I had said to myself I would give
the new Ideal Org roughly half a year or so to begin displaying what had been so heavily promised. After about eight long months, I could see things weren't getting any better. In fact, it was just the opposite. Early on, I had asked about a few outpoints I'd observed:
For the next 20 minutes the film star was my spiritual shepherd, preaching the teachings of Scientology. I was told the history of Hubbard's religious philosophy and how it could free me of my problems and put me on a path to success and happiness as I ventured through the various stages of enlightenment and understanding of the mind-boggling concept of thetan.
After the film ended, my chaperone took me on a tour that eventually led to the auditing room, where I was offered a free, one-off session (it usually costs about $US500, or $581) with the E-meter.
After the group's teachings were exposed in court this week following a double-slaying in Sydney, cult watchers including Aron see a rare opportunity to conduct a public debate about Scientology's influence on mental health and safety. "The (Scientologists) are probably hoping this will all go away and I'm hoping it won't just go away this time," Aron says. "Governments should be looking closely at this, at least to see if (Scientologists) are breaching a duty of care and if they are complicit in a terrible double tragedy. It is a very significant matter that needs to be looked at laterally and level-headedly. It is just amazing that nothing like this has happened before to force the issue into the public arena."
A Russian court has ordered a center operated by the Scientology movement in St. Petersburg to be shut down, city prosecutors said Thursday, after accusing the organization of unlicensed teaching and other activities.
The St. Petersburg City Court ordered the Scientology center closed after it agreed with prosecutors who said the center's operations were violating its charter.
SCIENTOLOGISTS have been bombarding NSW MPs with letters urging them not to make psychiatric drugs more available as part of an orchestrated campaign to stamp out their use.
But not one of more than 120 letters obtained by the Daily Telegraph identifies the author as a Scientologist despite many coming from its inner-west offices.
This is the second version of the classic "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" music videos I have made. It is way better thean the first version, it does not contain shitty pictures, the intro is better, and the movie is JUS BETTER! I have to thank Bad_CRC for making his version, because I got a few clips from him. I hope he doesn't mind.
Tom Cruise's fiancee isn't the only one checking out Scientology. Fox News reports that his two children with ex-wife Nicole Kidman are being schooled at Cruise's home by his two sisters, with an emphasis on Scientology. And the New York Post reports that daughter Isabella has completed the "Basic Study Manual," an introductory level Scientology course.
In more on the Katie Holmes interview with W magazine (the one in which she donned the wedding dress), it's being described as everything from creepy to zombielike to chilling. Here's an excerpt from W to judge for yourselves:
So here are a few questions that the media ought to have asked Cruise. Tom, if you are so keen to place the Church firmly at the heart of public debate, why is it so anxious to suppress open discussion about its treatment record or finances? Why have defecting members been held to "billion-year" contracts to stay silent? And why have journalists investigating the church so often alleged that they met campaigns of personal intimidation and harassment?
District Attorney Joe Wideman said Wednesday he will try to shut down a controversial drug and alcohol treatment center - operating without state approval on Indian land near here - if a State Health Department investigation concludes Narconon is treating non-Indian patients
"Something is going to have to be done, ranging from temporary shutdown to permanent shutdown," if non-Indians are being treated at the uncertified and unlicensed facility on Indian land, Wideman said.
Clearwater police Lt. Jack Dowling said Peter Ernst Frei, a Swiss citizen, was reported missing to Clearwater police on June 29 by a church acquaintance.
The description of Frei and his clothing matches that of the drowning victim, Dowling said.
Dowling said Frei arrived in Clearwater on June 8 to take classes at the Church of Scientology. He was last seen a day or two before he was reported missing, Dowling said.
The documents seized from the Church of Scientology by the FBI last week, include dossiers on the personal lives of judges handling Scientology lawsuits, files on "bugging devices" and a "locksmith course," and employee directories and organizational charts of several federal agencies, according to court records.
Federal prosecutors want to show these documents to a federal grand jury here, which has begun to hear evidence that Scientologists allegedly infiltrated the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service and stole some of the agencies' files on the religious sect. Five Church of Scientology officials were briefly brought before the grand jury under subpoena yesterday and are scheduled to return later.
At the same time, however, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] for the Scientologists went to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] try to prohibit the government [WORD ILLEGIBLE] showing the grand jury or [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the many cartons of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] by teams of FBI [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Scientology offices [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Angeles Friday. A federal judge will hear arguments in the case today.