CLEARWATER — In an unprecedented public condemnation by a local religious organization about the Church of Scientology, Calvary Baptist Church Pastor Willy Rice declared Wednesday that the "community has been tormented by this Goliath for far too long."
"Someone has to pick up a rock and a slingshot and trust God with the results," Rice wrote in a blog post that has since been removed from the Calvary website. "We believe we are in a unique position in this community and should try to help."
To expose "the cult's dangerous, deceptive and abusive practices," Calvary Baptist had committed to allow A&E's Emmy-nominated Scientology and the Aftermath series to film a public forum in its worship center July 22. However, on Thursday, A&E senior vice president Dan Silberman said the network never arranged for such a town hall and none will be held.
There is more tea to spill about Marty Rathbun. I have uncovered that Marty Rathbun has been purchasing YouTube viewers on his expose of ex-Scientologists & Leah Remini's show. I explain why he has been doing so in order to boost himself on the top of the YouTube search engine. In addition, Marty's videos have been appearing on Scientology run hate websites. Marty Rathbun is back working on behalf of the Church of Scientology. Here is all you need to know about what's been going on with Marty.
Revealing Marty Rathbun's Secrets & Scientology
You might have heard yesterday that Leah Remini's A&E series Scientology and the Aftermath has been nominated for an Emmy award. Two nominations, actually. It's up for "Best Informational Series or Special," and for sound editing.
It was interesting yesterday to see all of the congratulations going around for Leah Remini and Mike Rinder, and the assumptions about what kind of heartburn Scientology leader David Miscavige must have been experiencing. But we also couldn't help wondering about Leah's fellow nominees.
Her series will be competing against Bravo's Inside the Actors Studio, CNN's Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, HBO's Vice, and, Neil deGrasse Tyson's new National Geographic late-night talk show, StarTalk.
2016-07-14, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
"A disaster of epic proportions" - Ian Nathan, Empire
"A million monkeys with a million crayons would be hard-pressed in a million years to create anything as cretinous...." - Rita Kempley, The Washington Post
"Clumsy polot, misplaced satire, unbelievable coincidences and a leaden pace." - Leonard Malton's Movie Guide
(Phil and Willie Jones and their children Mike and Emily, before disconnection)
Earlier this year, Phil and Willie Jones came to us when they wanted to raise money for a billboard in Los Angeles that would urge Scientologists disconnected from their families to pick up the phone and call their loved ones. Our readers came through in a big way, helping to raise enough money for that "Call Me" billboard to appear in the Echo Park neighborhood, garnering a huge amount of media attention.
Phil and Willie are separated from their two grown children, Mike and Emily, who work for Scientology's "Sea Organization" in L.A., and who have cut off all ties from their parents since Phil's sister, another longtime Scientologist, turned the couple in for expressing doubts about the organization.
So this foray into motorsports sponsorship isn't as bizarre as it might at first seem, somehow.
The result was a string of endurance racing prototypes, a 1988 Indy 500 car, a short-lived "Dianetics Racing Team" NASCAR effort (its motto? "Ignite your potential") and possibly some racing motorcycles. Outside of the big series, it's all a bit sketchy, and even in the case of the NASCAR run, we're having a tough time figuring out how exactly things played out. Given Scientology's penchant for self-promotion, our guess would be not well, as we'd have all heard about it otherwise.
After a Church of Scientology-backed group helped organize a campaign against it, Gov. Greg Abbott vetoed legislation that would have given Texas doctors more power to detain mentally ill and potentially dangerous patients, according to records obtained by The Texas Tribune.
The governor's early June veto of Senate Bill 359 caught many of the measure's proponents off-guard. The legislation had sailed through the House and Senate with little debate and only a handful of negative votes — and during committee hearings in both chambers, a range of mental health advocates, medical groups and law enforcement officials showed up to testify in its favor.
Aaron Smith-Levin interviews Nick Lister whose mother, Sarah Goldberg, was featured in the documentary GOING CLEAR. Nick discusses his experience in Scientology. In this clip Nick discusses a period when he was working to get back into the good graces of the Church of Scientology so he wouldn't have to disconnect from his mom. Kathy True (Office of Special Affiars, Church of Scientology) calls Nick during this time and asks him to fly from Chicago to Clearwater to seduce Mike Rinder's girlfriend (now wife) while Mike is out of town for a few days.
A group associated with the Church of Scientology lobbied against a vetoed Texas bill that would have allowed doctors in the state to detain dangerous and mentally ill patients, The Texas Tribune reports.
Alex Gibney on Scientology: 'It's Time to Look Closer'
2015-07-14, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Line after line plucked from the imaginary world of ideal orgs...
The first para seems almost normal, and it falls to pieces immediately thereafter.
I think the Idea Org strategy is the smartest, most intelligent strategy possible.
We asked Mark Bunker to mosey on down to Fort Harrison Avenue yesterday to get a gander at the new storefronts Scientology opened up this week.
They're a series of cute little shops extending north of the Clearwater Bank building, an area that's always been of some interest in Scientology's "mecca" of downtown Clearwater. It was in the Clearwater Bank building that church executives Mark "Marty" Rathbun and Mike Rinder spent four years plotting strategy as the organization dealt with the legal fallout after the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson. Meanwhile, at 33 N. Fort Harrison, a little north of the bank, the church critics who operated the Lisa McPherson Trust kept her name in the press and gave Scientology leader David Miscavige heartburn. More recently, we've seen lots of footage as Alex Hageli ("Darth Xander") made a specialty of filming Sea Org workers coming and going in the alley behind the building from their mess hall to their course rooms or quarters.
But then more recently, the entire block was put under wraps and fumigated as it went through a facelift. And finally, this week, we got to see what Scientology is doing with the property: It's opened up its own version of Disneyland Main Street!
Hey, kids, welcome to summer camp! This is supposed to be a time when things slow down, but we're more slammed than ever — and we have big stories coming, we promise.
But today, we thought we'd latch on to the seasonal fun over at the Dallas Morning News, where the editorial board decided that for the dog days of summer, they'd read Lawrence Wright's 2013 book about Scientology, Going Clear. (Here's our piece back when the book first came out.)
Today's discussion over at the DMN is a question that we usually avoid here, because it tends to send people in circles. The newspaper asks, "What makes a religion a religion, and should Scientology qualify?"
2014-07-14, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Mountain View is apparently doing the same thing as Valley and publishing a lit of names of hoped-for attendees at their Maiden Voyage events. It's a rather bizarre thing to do, but it affords an interesting insight into the state of the "ideal orhg" (or at least it would be if they had the money to renovate the building they bought at the end of the culd-de-sac in the industrial park behind the 15 wall adjacent to the 101 Freeway).
Really, 150 people. This is not even the size of a decent mission.
Why invest $20 million in getting a building for this tiny group of people?
2013-07-14, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This is the email being urgently sent around to "handle" the entheta "that comes up in your life" (ie if you have been anywhere near the internet, TV or print media over the last week).
The "positioning" game is going full roar.
By their very actions the church are PROVING exactly what Leah said. When she asked "Where's Shelly" Tommy Davis told her its "above her fucking pay grade" to even ask and she ended up being sec checked.... For expressing concern over the whereabouts of someone she had known for MANY years. Of course, such a question is only "entheta" if it misses the withholds of the person who is asked. It is a VERY normal question under the circumstances. Wife of Tom's "best man" and someone who had spent a good deal of time at Tom's homes in LA and Telluride and had been flown around on his plane. Suddenly not in attendance at his wedding? Maybe she was ill? Maybe she broke her leg? Maybe her sister died? In which case the answer would have been simple. But because she had been "disappeared" it was an "inappropriate" question.
On Monday morning, we broke the news that Leah Remini was leaving the Church of Scientology over David Miscavige's "corrupt management" of the organization.
It wasn't until Thursday morning that the New York Post picked up the news and made it catch fire with the rest of the media.
But well before the Post printed its story, celebrities in Scientology were scrambling to figure out how to deal with Remini's departure.
Our thanks to a sharp-eyed reader who brought to our attention an interesting page at the website of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The page contains an eclectic rundown of all the religious symbols the VA recognizes and will put on grave markers in our national cemeteries. If you've ever been in one of our national cemeteries, you may remember that some headstones carry symbols, some don't, and you'll see a lot of Christian crosses and Stars of David, and a few other types.
We didn't realize that there's an official list of such symbols. And it's interesting to see that the VA is rather catholic about it (lower-case "c"), with everything from Eckankar to Wicca to atheism (see photo, right) to the Hammer of Thor available for our fallen heroes of minority faiths (or no faith at all).
2012-07-14, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Alexander with his father Heber Jentzsch
In spite of Alexander being coerced economically and emotionally to turn on his mother and act as an Office of Special Affairs (OSA) spy against her and the independent movement (see Karen De La Carriere), it appears that at the end of his life Alexander's only friends were Karen De La Carriere and her friends. Karen organized and conducted a funeral ceremony aboard a boat sailing out of Los Angeles on 13 July. Photos below are from that event. The following is a spontaneous, real remembrance of Alexander written by Karen one night after receiving news of his death. I asked Karen for permission to publish this to serve as the In Memoriam for Alexander on this forum because it says so much in so few words, and with such great impact. She gracefully agreed.
Alexander Jentzsch by Karen De La Carriere
2012-07-14, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Yesterday, Karen de la Carriere memorialized her son, Alexander Jentzsch, who was found dead at a home in Los Angeles on the morning of July 3. He was only 27 years old.
Because the Church of Scientology would not give her access to her son's ashes, Karen had rose petals cast on the Pacific Ocean as other former members of the church and friends took part in a moving ceremony.
2012-07-14, Elizabeth Leonard and Alison Schwartz, People
From buzz that Katie Holmes was being followed by the Church to speculation over the influence Tom Cruise's controversial religion had during the settlement negotiations, the role of Scientology in the couple's split has been followed just as closely as the beginnings of their separate new lives.
But according to Cruise lawyer Bert Fields, who flew to New York to negotiate their divorce settlement (which granted Holmes, 33, primary custody and Cruise, 50, generous visitation rights), the main concern was 6-year-old daughter Suri.
"Tom was always most interested in his child," Fields tells PEOPLE. "His concern was for Suri."
2011-07-14, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
(Update: The Phoenix folks who put up this video apparently don't want to share their awesome OT fundraising powers with us anymore, and have taken down the video. However you can still see it on YouTube at another location.)
And we thought yesterday's video by Scientologists was jaw-dropping. This is getting ridiculous.
Thank you, Mark Bunker (a/k/a Wise Beard Man) for finding a copy of this inspirational video made by Scientologists at the Phoenix "org" who are in a big push to extract even more money from parishioners (who are already constantly hit up for more cash in a process known as "regging," by registrars). In this case, it's to raise money for the launch of a new "Ideal Org" in Phoenix, one of a wave of new buildings Scientology has been erecting for God knows what.
2011-07-14, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
In both of the two major books about Scientology coming out this summer, Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology, and Hugh Urban's academic history, The Church of Scientology, we noticed that Nancy Many shows up multiple times. And no wonder: the former Scientologist has lived an amazing life. She happened to be in the right place to take part in or witness some of Scientology's most interesting moments, from working directly with L. Ron Hubbard, to spending time (while five months pregnant) assigned to the prison-detail RPF, to spying for both the Guardian's Office and its successor the Office of Special Affairs, to, years later, testifying in the Lisa McPherson civil trial.
Many put out her own book a couple of years ago, My Billion Year Contract: Memoir of a Scientologist that documents her career. We devoured it recently and then talked to Many about her crazy life.
You were in so many notable places and times. No wonder you show up in both Urban and Reitman's books.
2010-07-14, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
Another must-read posted on Marty's blog, a copy of the declaration he drafted in support of Marc and Claire Headley's legal case. While much of what is in this declaration has been revealed before, it presents a comprehensive picture of David Miscavige's warped world. Among the revelations:
1. How Miscavige took over RTC and subverted its purpose into protecting him personally and safeguarding his extravagant lifestyle.
2. How staff are obsessively guarded, watched, interrogated, imprisoned and harassed, at Miscavige's orders, to prevent them from ever leaving and speaking out about what they have witnessed.
In a two-part expose, the Times reported more than a dozen women told the newspaper that supervisors in the Sea Organization -- Scientology's 6,000-member, military-like order that runs the religious cult's international operations -- pressured them or other women to abort their unborn children. In a federal suit filed by one of the women, 36 former or current staff members were named as having abortions while working for the Sea Org, as it is commonly known.
The first one was taken outside the Battlecreek, Michigan Org this past Saturday and shows a Scientology member approaching, assailing and destroying property of two protesters ACROSS the street from the Org. The second, shows a disabled woman who is being prevented from getting home because of barricades set up by the LA Scientology Org used to keep protesters away from their "store fronts." Fortunately, the woman, a local resident, was no stranger to Scientology's presence in her neighborhood and refused to be bullied by the Org. Still, it's a sad day when elderly folks are being mistreated while able-bodied "religious" people, stand by and refuse to be helpful and charitable in their actions.
"We're the ones who are getting the phone calls," Mayor Frank Hibbard said during Monday's City Council work session.
Added Vice Mayor George Cretekos: "If the title were something different, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
The artwork will be displayed until July 2009. Then three more pieces of public art will be chosen for one-year showings. It's part of a project funded through a partnership with the Downtown Development Board and the Clearwater Downtown Partnership. No city tax dollars are paying for the art.
This weekend marked yet another protest on Westheimer by a nationwide anti-Scientology group. Once again, the group, who call themselves Anonymous, gathered outside the Houston branch of the Church of Scientology (which happens to be the oldest Scientology mission in the United States), located at Fondren and Westheimer, on the evening of July 12th to protest against what they perceive as a "dangerous cult" with a non-legitimate tax exempt status.
Attorney Keith Greer said, "That's what happened here. Piazza took other people's money for investment capital to start his operation and when he got it up and running he hung them out to dry. There's been no water, no roads, no grating, no electricity."
In November 2005, Greer filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Haag and two other members. In it he charged fraud, racketeering and misappropriation of funds by Piazza and the organization.
PASADENA, Calif., July 13
Viacom suits want to promote the upcoming DVD of the creators' favorite 10 episodes to coincide with the 10th anniversary of "South Park." Viacom wants to make sure it sells like gangbusters.
So Viacom's Comedy Central cable network schedules "South Park" creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker to plug the 10th anniversary and DVD before a couple hundred TV critics and reporters at Summer TV Press Tour 2006 here on Thursday.
The new "intakes" stand nervously before the sea of parents and peers in the Straight auditorium in St. Petersburg, Fla. They are druggies and alcoholics. They are bad kids and scared kids and confused kids.
The confessions pour out: the tales of cocaine, acid, pot, uppers, downers, vodka and gin. If they hold back, the crowd presses for more, and out come the gut-wrenching stories of shattered lives and devastated families.
In private sessions, the intensity creates a therapeutic pressure-cooker. Endless counseling and rap sessions. Monotonous meals. Constant confrontation, verbal poking and prodding. They are told how to dress, how to act and, frequently, how to think.
FBI agents who searched the Los Angeles headquarters of the Church of Scientology last Friday recovered electronic eavesdropping equipment and items described by the agents as "burglary tools" from a safe there, according to several sources familiar with the search.
The items were among those listed in a 459-page inventory of the search prepared by the FBI, the sources said. The agents reportedly confiscated as many as 200,000 documents in the search, so many that it took a truck to haul the materials away.
A church spokesman in Los Angeles, the Rev. Vaughan Young, said he could not comment on the alleged results of the search on the advice of the church's attorneys. Instead, he released a statement similar to others issued by church spokesmen since the raid, questioning the FBI's motives in the search, and saying it was in illegal seizure of church property.