Our man in Australia, TV journalist Bryan Seymour, sent us a dispatch from one of our favorite places on earth, and we're happy to share it with you.
Perhaps the best thing about the decade I've spent reporting on Scientology is the people I've met, many who have become friends.
My wife Dianne and I are traveling through Europe on our honeymoon. A few weeks ago I received an email from Claudio Lugli, congratulating me on my marriage and asking if we'd like to catch up while we were in Italy.
Janis Grady was born into the Church of Scientology. She joined the Sea Org at age 11 and was one of the first four original messengers in L. Ron Hubbard's Commodore's Messenger's Organization (CMO). Janis' mother was Yvonne Gillham Jentzsch who founded the Scientology Celebrity Centre. Janis' book is available in print or on Kindle at: https://www.amazon.com/Commodores-Mes...
For the 100th episode of the Sensibly Speaking Podcast, we are going live. I will be making some announcements, talking about a few topics and, of course, interacting with my viewers.
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Thanks to one of our researchers, we noticed something odd about the docket in the wrongful death lawsuit that Stacy Murphy's family is pursuing against Scientology's drug rehab center in Oklahoma, Narconon Arrowhead. And when we looked into it, we learned something pretty surprising.
Four years ago this month, Stacy, 20, was found dead in the withdrawal unit at Arrowhead, the victim of an overdose in a drug rehab facility that had no medical personnel on hand. The eastern Oklahoma rehab center was supposed to be the flagship of Scientology's Narconon network, but Stacy's was the third patient death there in nine months, which led to national media and local official investigations. The lawsuits over the previous deaths, of Gabriel Graves and Hillary Holten, have been settled. But we reported last month that the defendants in the lawsuit filed by Stacy's parents had filed a motion for summary judgment, hoping to get the lawsuit kicked out of court.
One of our crack researchers noticed that there were two dates for a hearing on the motion, set for both August 3 and August 17. That didn't seem possible, so we called up Gary Richardson, the former federal prosecutor who is representing Stacy's parents — Robert Murphy and Tonya White — in the lawsuit.
In this new video series, I'm taking on Scientology academic apologists by deconstructing the book Scientology by James R. Lewis, chapter by chapter. In this first video, I look at the book's introduction.
2016-07-28, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Hey everyone. So this is a new video series I'm doing, focusing on this book, compiled and edited by James R. Lewis, a PhD on Religious Studies from England. It's simply called Scientology and was published by the Oxford University Press in 2009. I got it on amazon for about 10 cents.
This is not a book published or produced by the Church of Scientology, but is a work of apologetics by academic scholars and university religious professionals who feel as non-Scientologists that they have something to contribute to the understanding of cults (or as they like to refer to them, new religious movements) and to Scientology in particular. Lewis has gone on record as stating that this book is not a work of apologetics and that it would not please anyone one in the pro- or anti-Scientology circles and that the Church actually stopped all communications with him because of the "blasphemy" contained in the chapter on Xenu. He says he has re-evaluated his former postive stance on Scientology due to more recent events exposed in the media and all I can say is, "it's about time dude." All of the information he needed to form that conclusion was there right in front of him the entire time, he just chose not to look at it and he has gone on record as still supporting the statements he makes in this book. So, I'll be holding his feet to the fire here as much as everyone else who contributed chapters to this book.
But this video series is not about my views versus James Lewis's views. In the time since I have left Scientology, I have found few allies in the academic world and enough "objective scholars" who forward utter nonsense about Scientology that I felt I should say something about it. The purpose of this series is to analyze Scientology apologetics from the viewpoint of someone who was actually deeply involved in the Church, became disaffected with it and is now speaking out against it. This book brings together a number of different authors and scholars and is a sort of compendium of articles written by non-Scientologists which are in the main favorable towards Scientology, so I think this is going to be a very interesting read.
Kate Bornstein once sailed around the globe as a captain in the sea organization of Scientology Church. She was later exiled and became an underground queer artist, a transsexual icon, and one of the most important gender theorists in the world.
Stonehenge Stoners & Worshipping Wizards: 12 Hours at the World's Biggest Pagan Party: http://bit.ly/2atfFnw
Scientology around the world is in broad retreat, but to be in Taiwan you would never know that. In an area slightly smaller than the combined size of Delaware and Maryland, with a total population of 23.4 million—roughly the same as that of the New York metropolitan area—Taiwan has 15 Scientology missions and churches. Per capita, it's one of the most Scientology-friendly countries on earth. The island serves as a major source of donations and new members for the church, which has capitalized on L. Ron Hubbard's early suggestions that he was a new Buddha. In a sign of Taiwan's importance to the church, Scientology chief David Miscavige also attended the 2013Kaohsiung reopening of the hotel as a Scientology megachurch.
2016-07-28, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Harlem Ribbon Yanking
First announcements - no date and time... You had to call to find out. Wouldn't want to actually TELL anyone where to be. What if some SP's were to show up? No, best to keep the date and time a secret.
Come one, come all. Please.
Rep. David Jolly took to the House floor today to honor Betty Sembler, who on July 23 stepped down as founder and chair of Drug Free America Foundation. Sembler and her husband, Mel, have long been associated with the anti-drug movement in the U.S. The new chair is Jim Holton.
When Joe Reaichie sees his four children on television he feels a surge of pride, like any father would.
Little wonder perhaps; all four are on their way to the top in Hollywood, with roles in shows including The Walking Dead, That '80s Show, and Still Standing.
But unlike other proud parents, he cannot pick up the phone or send his three sons or his daughter a text - because they have been told by their church not to contact him.
Nora Crest dazzled attendees at the Toronto Scientology conference organized by Jon Atack last month, and now you're going to get a taste of her storytelling talents with the video she's allowing us to debut here today.
We told you earlier that Nora was starting a series of her own about what it's like to grow up in Scientology and work in its restrictive Sea Org. Today, she's launching her series, "Growing Up Scientology: From Cradle to Slave," with a piece about her own experiences learning about the organization's attitudes about sex.
As Nora explains, Sea Org members are taught that there's a hierarchy of sexual transgressions in Scientology, and that only heterosexual sex — in the missionary position, and between married adults — is actually permitted. But as for everything else, there's a descending scale of venality, and she lays out those rules here and has a lot of fun doing it. give it a look!
2015-07-28, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
After a quick venture into the world of Hubbard Envoy Extraordinaires yesterday, today we turn to another of the great fairytales of planetary clearing.
This one is a bit different as it has been moving forward WITHOUT the need for all money to be raised from suckers donors first. Miscavige decided to go ahead with this boondoggle as part of his tireless efforts to show the world how fast his empire is expanding, and as an afterthought it became yet another fundraising gimmick. As if they needed another one.
In reality, only the L. Ron Hubbard Hall is less necessary than this white elephant. At least there is some justification for an org building. Even the IAS spends money to fly a VM or two out to disaster zones for a photo op, and they do buy some of the Tom Cruise ideal orgs that Miscavige wants done as priority.
Which is the worst offender? One would think it would be the Mormons, since the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has underwritten a global effort to harvest genealogical history for every race and creed, with 3 billion names stored at FamilySearch.org. Yet Disconnect.me shows a mere nine trackers on the Church's main web portal. Nope, the worst offender is the Church of Scientology, which had 47 or 48 trackers (the number differed over two days), the most of the religious sites I checked.
The Obama administration said Monday it would nominate Rabbi David Saperstein as the next Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, as the state department issued its annual analysis of the state of religious freedom across the globe.
President Obama said he would nominate Saperstein to a position that has been vacant since October, when Rev. Suzan Johnson Cook resigned. The current director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism would, if confirmed, be the first non-Christian to hold the job.
One of Saperstein's projects as head of the State Department's Office for International Religious Freedom would be to help compile the International Religious Freedom Report — the 2013 edition of which was also published on Monday.
And then, seemingly out of nowhere, came Ryan Hamilton. Since January the Las Vegas attorney has filed 18 lawsuits - 17 of them in federal court - against Scientology's rehab network, Narconon. We reported on Saturday that two of Scientology's entities (Narconon International and ABLE, the Association for Better Living and Education) have already thrown in the towel on seven of those suits, settling to get out of them.
Each of the lawsuits also names a local Narconon facility, so all 18 suits are still active, and Scientology is fighting back.
2014-07-28, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Wow, if this is all they have to show for 15+ years, hundreds of millions invested in this building, and virtually unparalleled hype, its pretty tragic.
And what is so amazing to me is how they keep giving actual stats as if they are worth shouting about?
15 Super Power Completions in a week? At the ONLY place on earth that can deliver it? So EVERY scientologist on planet earth that wants the most hyped service ever MUST come to Flag? And they are completing 15 per week and there have now been over 800 completions since release??
2013-07-28, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Lauri "We Are Opening This Year For Sure" Webster is leading the cheering section to get everyone routed onto Purif and Objectives "NOW" so they are "ready for Super Power."
You can read some of her recent emails below starting with the most recent. While they really speak for themselves, I have noted some significant things after each:
Date: Tue, 23 Jul 2013 From: Lauri Webster <firstname.lastname@example.org>Subject: Important: Grand Opening Data Needed
2013-07-28, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
For some orientation to what I would like to over in this essay I begin with a passage from Chapter 25 Epilogue from Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (Amazon Books, 2013):
As has been ably reported by Janet Reitman in her book Inside Scientology (Houghton Mifflin, 2011) and by Lawrence Wright in his book Going Clear (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013), L. Ron Hubbard was a very capable marketing man. What they did not acknowledge as much, but did not totally discount, was Ron's ability to solve problems – including those of the mind and spirit. Ron had a knack for finding out what was bothering people, putting together methods to address those things, and then selling those methods as services – the end-all that people just had to get their hands on.
The Reitman and Wright books detailed how Ron was continually creating new rundowns, new levels and new packaging to keep the Scientology public enthused over the latest in the mind and spirit. It was the formula that created continuing expansion of the Scientology empire during L. Ron Hubbard's life. A strong customer base was established and continually kept interested and buying as new, essential route-to-total-freedom items were rolled out.
For several days after the news of Leah Remini's departure from Scientology broke, we watched other Scientology celebrities use Twitter to go on the attack.
But then, we noticed that another member of Hollywood was going against the grain. Christian Stolte is a familiar face for fans of Prison Break and Chicago Fire, and over several days, the clever actor skewered Scientology and the people who have been criticizing Remini.
And now that we've talked to him, we've learned he's a complete riot.
2012-07-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Best buds I've spoken to John Brousseau numerous times over the past couple of years. In 2011, I reported about the photographs he smuggled out of Scientology's International Base east of Los Angeles which documented the work he did customizing a motorcycle, a Ford Excursion, and an airplane hangar for Tom Cruise while working for pennies an hour as a member of Scientology's "Sea Org."
More recently, it was Brousseau who helped me understand why Sea Org members believe that Scientology leader David Miscavige's wife Shelly was "disappeared" to a secret base in the mountains above Los Angeles.
But until now, I've never told Brousseau's entire story as a 32-year member of Scientology and the last person to escape from the International Base who is talking publicly about it.
2012-07-28, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Tony Ortega at the Village Voice has published a comprehensive interview with John "JB" Brousseau, see JB VV interview, part one, and part two. JB told me that he was impressed with Tony's ability to get all that level of detail out of JB and communicate it in such an un-embellished fashion. It is quite a story.
For those who were not following the blog in mid 2010, we covered JB's escape from the Int base directly to my home in Texas. We also covered the extraordinary measures Miscavige took in hunting down and attempting to apprehend JB for re-imprisonment before he could speak:
Mission to re-capture JB fails
The real estate lawyer is being tried for allegedly hiring hitmen to kill his ex-wife, her boyfriend, and a Tel Aviv city official, as well as to blow up a mosque and the Scientologist church in Jaffa.
A physiotherapist in Shawinigan has been disciplined by his professional order for promoting Scientology to his clients. Raymond Soucy was fined three-thousand dollars for displaying Scientology pamphlets in his waiting room and selling the group's books to his patients.
The physiotherapists' code of conduct prohibits promotional activities which might prey on vulnerable people.
2011-07-28, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Having noticed certain shortcomings in my own conduct of late, I turned to the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu as I often do. I am noting some passages below that particularly rang applicable given current events. Maybe they'll also provide some food for thought for others too. For those folk who are still so programmed to believe any wisdom outside of Scientology is deleterious, a few words by L Ron Hubbard on the Tao Te Ching:
"It says that man could seek his Tao-hood in various ways, but he would have to practice and live in a certain way in order to achieve Tao-hood. Now, there's no reason to belabor this any further, but it would amaze you that this book is a very civilized piece of work. It would be the kind of civilized work which you would expect maybe to appear from a very, very educated, extremely compassionate, pleasant people of a higher intellectual order than we are accustomed to read. It is a very fine book. It's sort of simple, it's sort of naive and it tells you that you should be simple and economical and should do this and that. And that is, by the way, about the only flaw there is in it from a Scientological point of view: that you must be economical. [laughter] That one is a little off the groove. But the rest of "The Way", who knows but what if we took the Tao just as written and knowing what we already know about Scientology, we simply set out to practice the Tao. I don't know but what we wouldn't get a Theta Clear." - lecture Scientology, Its General Background, Part II, the Phoenix lectures.
Selected passages from Tao Te Ching:
2011-07-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
"I was at the monthly protest since March 2008," AnonOrange told me this morning by telephone. "My approach is to dress up in something funny. I try to ridicule them. I make serious speeches at the Board of Supervisors, I write letters, I meet with reporters. But then I do silly stuff."
The reason? "Scientology can't fight funny. Because they aren't funny. They're the most unfunny group in the world."
Scientology didn't appreciate AnonOrange's sense of humor. it wanted to gather more information about him -- like where he lived. And that involved a pretty elaborate mission which included luring AnonOrange to a supposed magazine interview that didn't happen, and then following him for 11 hours until he finally went home late at night.
The Church of Scientology in Malmö began ringing the family around two weeks ago as part of a drive to update their contact information over current and former members.
The religious sect first rang asking to talk to a woman that, according to their records, had attended a self-realization course in the 1980s.
But it turned out to be case of mistaken identity and the church was duly informed.
However since that initial contact the sect has called the family's phones on more than 70 occasions.
Despite repeated requests to stop harassing them, the calls have continued unabated.
Proponents said they have plenty of State House support and are hopeful.
"We have every reason to believe the bill will come out," said Matt Noyes of the non-profit Health Care for All.
The only opponents, Noyes said, have been the Church of Scientology, which does not believe in mental health care, and insurance companies.
The allegations come as more and more children attend Steiner schools, with the education movement celebrating 50 years since the first school was set up in Australia. There are now more than 44 private Steiner schools across the country, 10 programs in government-run schools and it is one of the fastest-growing education movements in the world.
But as Steiner moves into the state education system in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, questions are being raised about the alternative approach.
Critics say that its philosophical basis is too religious -- even comparing it to Scientology -- to be in the secular public system.
Anderson, 45, hopes the sequel and its original will introduce a new generation of readers to van Vogt, a former giant in the world of pulp novels and serial magazines who fell into obscurity.
Van Vogt's work fell out of style after he took a writing break to pitch the 1950 book "Dianetics," written by his friend and fellow science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who created Scientology. He later became disillusioned and when he returned to writing, he didn't have the same zip.
Last summer the church wrapped up $9-million of renovations to the Sandcastle retreat and the Osceola Inn, growing its hotel space to 565 rooms around downtown. When the new building is completed, 48 more hotel rooms will be available in the Fort Harrison. The church plans to convert rooms now used for religious counseling back to hotel rooms. The rooms are used by thousands of Scientologists from around the world who visit the Clearwater church.
Once those rooms are converted back to hotel units, the full Fort Harrison will be back on the property tax rolls. The new building, however, will likely be tax exempt because it will be used exclusively for religious purposes.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ At least three public school teachers are using Scientology teachings in their classrooms and one of them is hoping to establish a separate tax-funded "charter school" using the same methods.
District officials say they want to make sure using texts by the late L. Ron Hubbard, the controversial founder of the Church of Scientology, wouldn't violate the city's policy on religion in schools.
"I think we need to get more information on what this educational philosophy is so that we feel comfortable that it doesn't have religious overtones," said board president Julie Korenstein.
A Florida-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation program that plans to open a branch in the Washington metropolitan area this fall has been criticized heavily in other cities where it operates for its methods of treating youths.
Straight Inc. programs in St. Petersburg, Atlanta and Cincinnati have been subjects of legal action and strong criticism that treatment procedures are too harsh. The program's center in Sarasota also has drawn fire.
Officials of Straight Inc. acknowledge that their program is "very intense," but brush off the criticism as "nonsense" and point to what they consider a high success rate. They say that about 57 percent of the youths who graduated from the program during the past six years have broken their drug and alcohol habits. But dropout rates are high, officials add, and the success rate may represent only about one-fourth of the youths who actually enroll in the program.
On an October afternoon in 1978, Lawyer Paul Morantz reached into the mailbox of his Los Angeles home and suddenly felt a sharp pain. He pulled back his hand -- and with it a 4½-ft. diamond-back rattlesnake, its fangs embedded near his thumb. A tourniquet applied by a quick-thinking neighbor saved the lawyer's life.
Arrested were Charles (Chuck) Dederich, 67, founder of the Synanon Foundation, and two of his "Imperial Marines," Lance Kenton, 22 (son of Bandleader Stan Kenton), and Joseph Musico, 30. Three weeks before the snake attack, Morantz had won a $300,000 judgment against the controversial drug rehabilitation organization on behalf of a married couple who claimed the wife had been held captive by Synanon members.
A U.S. judge ruled yesterday that the government must return documents seized in an FBI raid on the Foundation Church of Scientology here July 8 because the search warrant used was unconstitutionally broad.
The raid on the church offices at 2125 S St. NW and a similar operation against Scientology offices in Los Angeles were made in connection with an investigation of alleged conspiracies by church officials. The purpose of the alleged conspiracies was to burglarize government offices, steal government property, and obstruct criminal investigations, according to court documents.
Chief Judge William B. Bryant of U.S. District Court ordered that all the materials seized here, and all copies and records of such materials, be impounded by the clerk of the court. He said the material would be returned to church officials unless the government appeals his ruling within 10 days.