2016-08-07, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer questions from viewers from either the comments to my Q&A videos or sent to me by email at AskChrisShelton@gmail.com.
(1) Listening to Lawrence Woodcraft's account of his life as a Scientologist, I noticed that Scientology had to do a serious run around the immigration rules to get him to come to Clearwater from his native England and stay there. Elsewhere, Jason Beghe stated that on several occasions, his calls to Clearwater had been answered by people who seemed to have limited command of the English language and accents that he thought to be Eastern European. It is also widely known that Mike Rinder is from Australia and Hana Eltringham-Whitfield is from South Africa. So, if we assume that the Eastern Europeans encountered by Beghe, along with the Australians, Brits, and South Africans he didn't peg as such, had to jump through the same hoops Lawrence Woodcraft did, it would appear that there are at least a few people in the Sea Org who, due to the Sea Org's policies, are technically in violation of immigration rules, as is the Sea Org itself. Hence, a three-part question: (a) have you encountered non-U.S. Sea Org personnel during your time as a Scientologist and if so, how often?, (b) has Scientology ever butted heads with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) over the status of Sea Org members who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents?, and (c) how likely, in your opinion, is this kind of head-butting to happen in the near future?
(2) I have an odd question: You have said, and Scientology has said, that the RPF and/or the Hole was "voluntary." Has anyone, to the best of YOUR knowledge, ever politely declined or flat-out refused to go? If so, what was the result? Were they eventually broken down so that they recanted their decision, or did they get some sort of sanction (i.e. extra courses, having to hand out booklets, etc.) or were they booted straight to the curb? Any insight you can give will help. Thank you for your answer.
It's time again for Rod Keller's Scientology Social Media Review. He's made a specialty of hunting down the odd and wonderful things Scientologists post to the 'net. He's a chronicler who piece by piece builds a highly detailed assessment of what Scientology is doing around the world, and this is what he found for us this week...
Scientology has a new web site and a new initiative to oppose Florida Statute Title XXIX Chapter 394.463 "Involuntary examination." The statute is commonly known as the "Baker Act," named after former Miami State Representative Maxine Baker, who sponsored the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971.
The website, BakerActRights.org urges parents to download, complete and send to their child's school a copy of a "non-consent" form, which is supposed to counteract the usual school consent forms.
2016-08-07, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
A Special Correspondent recently sent this to me. I thought it worth publishing as documentation of a published Sea Org schedule.
As almost any SO member will confirm, a schedule like this is merely an ideal scenario. In practice three items are rarely adhered to: "study," "exercise time" and "securing time."
Note also this issue is from 1987. Things degenerated significantly after this time. In many places (most notably the Int base) meal breaks were reduced to 15 minutes much of the time. Exercise time was canceled. And it was VERY rare after the 90's to even theoretically get 7 hours of sleep. I think in my time at the Int Base my average nightly sleep over 20 years was probably 5 hours a night.
We've provided a lot of detailed, step-by-step coverage of numerous lawsuits involving the Church of Scientology in recent years. They tend to involve large dollar amounts (as in the case of the Garcias, who say they were defrauded of about $440,000), or years of abuse (as in the case of Laura DeCrescenzo), or major legal maneuvers from Scientology's top officials and lawyers (as in the case of Monique Rathbun's harassment suit in Texas).
But today we have something on the other end of the scale. A legal action involving a modest request for a refund that took place this week in a Phoenix small claims court, and which once again proved how Scientology has US courts tied up in knots because of the draconian nature of the contracts it makes members sign.
We heard about the case from the plaintiff, Ann Ashley, whose involvement in Scientology was brief and recent. In October, she began paying for Scientology services at the Church of Scientology of Arizona, which is the "Ideal Org" that was opened in Scottsdale on June 23, 2012. (And we'll never forget a certain fundraising video for that facility.)
Tom Cruise, KSW! Karen de la Carriere continues her series of interviews with Camilla Andersson, a longtime Scientology Sea Org member who only left the organization in the last two years.
Last time, we told you that Camilla had been put on a round-the-clock project to put together a wedding photo album for Tom Cruise when he married Nicole Kidman. Camilla provides more details in this segment.
The job meant sleepless nights, and the excuse was that having the work done on the Scientology base was for "security" reasons.
2014-08-07, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Below is the real "ideal org" in the "first clear city", Portland.
We have earlier reported on the sad state of this org (see here, here and here) — even though it is used as an "example" of how things "boom" in ALL "ideal orgs" the minute their doors swing open. A fairy tale to match the Wizard of Oz, and in many ways the analogy is apt.
What you see is their OWN promotion. Proudly announcing that ALL their "most Dauntless, Defiant and Resolute IAS Supporters" were in attendance. It's THEIR shots, the best they have, not someone sneaking in for a "gotcha moment" that was taken during a break in the proceedings and the majority of attendees were outside smoking.
Wise, Beard Man? Claire Headley is taking us on our journey to train as Scientologists. She and her husband Marc were Sea Org workers who escaped from Scientology's International Base in 2005. She spent years working with Scientology's "tech," and was trusted to oversee the auditing of Tom Cruise. Go here to see the first part in this series.
We're excited about this next step on the bridge, Claire. It's time for some auditing.
CLAIRE: The next stop on the processing side of the Bridge is the first of the "expanded grades" and is called "ARC Straightwire."
2013-08-07, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is a recent item that came in from one of our correspondents.
What is interesting is the double standard it presents without any apparent irony.
It is promoting the wonders of the internet and spewing out a bunch of meaningless statistics — for all the massive advertising and hundreds of linked sites and millions spent to make their internet presence so "powerful" my blog — which has NO budget, no team working on it and no massive advertising is consistently ranked HIGHER than Scientology.org by Alexa! But set aside the stat mumbo jumbo and the feeble "successes" (this is seriously the best they could come up with out of millions of supposed visitors clamoring for information about Scientology on the internet?) this is saying we are spending your money to create a presence on the internet.
Next month, Scientology's petition to the U.S. Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari will fight for survival during a conference with more than 850 other petitions being considered that day. The Church of Scientology is asking the Supremes to consider its assertion that California's priest-penitent law is unconstitutional. Last month, Scientology was forced by a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to turn over 18,000 pages of evidence to Laura DeCrescenzo in her lawsuit against the church alleging abuse, including being forced to have an abortion at only 17.
Scientology has argued time and again that those pages of evidence should be protected under priest-penitent privilege, even though DeCrescenzo is the "penitent" and has demanded the evidence so she can bolster her position in the lawsuit. Scientology has already lost appeals to the California's appellate and supreme courts on the matter, and Justice Anthony Kennedy denied the church's request for an emergency stay.
And on the day of the September 30 conference, Scientology faces daunting odds to get its petition to the next level. But now, it has a little more support, and it's coming from an interesting source.
The district attorney's office has confirmed that an investigation into four deaths at Narconon Arrowhead now involves the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health while a sheriff's inquiry has expanded with a request for more records.
"The Inspector General is looking into the consumer aspect of compliance with the Department of Mental Health," said District 18 Assistant District Attorney Richard Hull said Monday.
2012-08-07, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
On Sunday, we wrote about our trip to Scientology's New York "org." We were invited inside to see a short movie about the origin of L. Ron Hubbard's 1950 book, Dianetics.
An alert reader noticed that a film fitting our description could be found on YouTube and brought it to our attention. Yes! This is the opening of the movie we saw, with one very important difference -- this is an older version starring Michael Fairman, who defected from Scientology last year. In the movie we saw, Fairman had been edited out and replaced with another actor, but everything else looked the same. By magic, Fairman had been made an un-person, just like in those old Soviet newspapers!
2011-08-07, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
The truth outs:
"Dave flat-out said our goal is to make Marty's life a living hell," Leahy said. "That's a quote. He never said 'stalk,' but he said make Marty's life a living hell with every means possible of impeding his everyday living, and make it so miserable for him and his neighbors that his neighbors will want him to move."
Read the whole thing:
A continuation of Arnie Lerma's story about what happened during and after he was Raided by the organization known as the "church" of $cientology. In this he describes how he was drugged by the top dogs in Scientology, in Aug 1995.
Dr. Joan Wood, former district (chief) medical examiner in St. Petersburg, Fla., died last month at 67. In the years after she resigned under pressure, Dr. Wood became a recluse. Neighbors rarely saw her, and they say she didn't even go out of the house to walk her dog.
2010-08-07, Thomas C. Tobin, St. Petersburg Times, STLtoday
The Church of Scientology won an important victory in federal court this week when a judge dismissed two lawsuits that accused the church of labor law violations, human trafficking and forced abortions.
Claire and Marc Headley, who left Scientology in 2005, said the church controlled them with threats of harsh punishment and other tactics that prevented them from leaving the Sea Organization, Scientology's religious order.
But U.S. District Judge Dale S. Fischer ruled Thursday that the Sea Org is protected by the First Amendment's guarantee of free exercise of religion.
2010-08-07, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
Don't get me wrong – I love magic as much as the next person. I loved the Harry Potter books and films. As a kid, I loved magic shops where I could check out the latest sleight-of-hand paraphernalia.
But I try not to let it influence my thinking.
"Magical thinking" is, in simple terms, seeking a causal relationship between things that may not be related or connected at all. Superstitions fall into this type of thinking: "step on a crack and break your Mother's back." Sports is rife with these: for example, Michael Jordan (a graduate of North Carolina) always wore his blue North Carolina shorts under his Bulls uniform for good luck. Some sports fans always wear a certain article of clothing on game day to ensure their team wins.
2009-08-07, Letters to the Editor, Tampa Bay Times
Strength in their numbers | Aug. 2
Don't overlook the good Scientology does
I think it is disgusting that you chose to tear apart Scientology and Scientologists. You discriminate against and attack a religion that has much to praise and respect. Have you actually taken a look at what local Scientologists do for their communities?
2009-08-07, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
In the latest edition of International Scientology News are photographs of new designs for Ideal Org staff uniforms. Let's set aside the differing opinions about these black and red outfits for the moment (some find them classy, some think they look like vampire costumes, and one fashion website, Refinery29, said they looked like "magician flight attendants"). And let's set aside questions of practicality (Wool? Really? In LA or Florida? And heels for female staff?).
The real question is David Miscavige's priorities.
The outfits were designed by Hollywood celebrity fashion designer and Project Runway guest judge Richard Tyler. Outside of dressing a number of celebrity wives at this year's Oscars, Tyler is maybe best known for outfitting Northwest/Delta flight attendants, a job that ended in controversy, with Delta's heavier attendants complaining that his signature sexy red dresses had not been provided in plus sizes.
British diplomats investigating the qualifications of L Ron Hubbard exposed the Scientology founder as a fraud 30 years ago.
The science-fiction writer, who invented the religion now followed by celebrities including Tom Cruise and John Travolta, awarded himself a PhD from a sham 'diploma mill' college he had acquired in California.
[Factual error in the 1968 report, see Bare-Faced Messiah]
The actor and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, have axed Jacqueline Olivier from her $200,000-a-year position at The New Village Leadership Academy after reportedly clashing over the school's curriculum, which is based on the teachings of the bizarre sci-fi cult's founder L. Ron Hubbard.
A source told website RadarOnline: "Jada phoned Jaqueline and told her that they had 'decided to go in another direction' with the school. As head of the campus her position was becoming untenable as she did not agree with Study Tech and felt uncomfortable with it."
Before L. Ron Hubbard published Dianetics in 1950 and founded Scientology two years later he penned adventure, mystery and sci-fi stories for pulp magazines. Now, Galaxy Press, a for-profit publisher that is owned by the Church of Scientology International in Los Angeles, is releasing those "Stories from the Golden Age" in a series of 80 paperback books -- accompanied by a $1.9 million marketing blitz aimed partly at middle-schoolers.
Despite having no experience in condo development, Triangle Development partners Ben Kugler and Ron Pollack hoped to ride the condo boom that played out in the first part of this decade. They put forth fanciful plans for 325 water-view luxury units and a row of tony retail shops along busy Fort Harrison Avenue.
But like so many condo plans, the project sputtered in a weak real estate market. After defaulting on terms of an $18-million loan from Mercantile Bank, Triangle asked earlier this year for yet another extension, and to renegotiate.
By 1982, Hawkins says he had already shot his fair share of attention-grabbing ads for the religion -- whether they involved complex fly-by shots filmed from airplanes or interviewing celebrity Scientologists like former San Francisco 49ers quarterback John Brodie.
Hubbard's philosophy, says Hawkins, was to use ads to "splash the volcano" at the general public. This was linked to Scientology's belief that the image of a volcano has been embedded in people's minds from an experience in a former lifetime. Hubbard is reported to have said that 75 million years ago, Earth's population was massacred by Xenu, the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, who stacked us all around a volcano and killed us using nuclear bombs -- Hubbard's 1968 lecture on the "Xenu theory" is now publicly available on the Wikileaks website.
"Splashing the volcano at them was supposed to hypnotize people back, or what they call 'key them in' to the whole Xenu incident," says Hawkins. "And then they would be somehow hypnotized to go and buy the book."
The church bought the 107-unit complex in 1999 for $4-million, anticipating the need for future staff housing. It continued to rent many of the apartments until the last couple of years, when tenants were notified leases would not be renewed. The final tenant moved out this year.
Now, the apartments are being readied for the additional staffers the church will bring in when its massive building downtown is completed, said spokesman Ben Shaw.
Construction on the Flag Building, also called the Super Power Building, has stalled for years, but Shaw announced in April that it will be finished and open by the end of 2007.
2000-08-07, Duncan Campbell, Technology, The Guardian
While it is mainly big companies that seek to save themselves from embarrassment by buying up potentially rude sites, the Church of Scientology has also been unhappy about the use of its name in derogatory sites.
The ACLU is anxious to fight on behalf of the threatened sites so that they can create a new American adage: always giving a sucks an even break.