When she served as the Attorney General for the State of California, Democratic Vice-Presidential Nominee and Senator Kamala Harris filed felony criminal charges against a group of Scientologists who operated a fraudulent Scientology front group called the American Health and Education Clinics (AHEC). This group was part of another Scientology front group called the World Literacy Crusade.
Then Attorney General Harris' action stands in stark contrast to Congressperson Karen Bass who spoke in support of Scientology at a Scientology event in 2010. The story of Bass' support of Scientology went viral. That Bass' association with Scientology greatly harmed her political career and reputation shows just how horribly the Church of Scientology is viewed in America. As has been said before, Scientology is career suicide.
As covered on Tony Ortega's blog and this blog, the criminal charges Kamala Harris filed against the Scientology defendants arose from a $3.8 million MediCal fraud. Essentially, the Scientology defendants conspired with two Compton high school coaches and a principal to put high school students through an unnecessary program based upon Scientology's pseudo-scientific Narconon treatment program. The defendants then fraudulently billed the State of California for the bogus services. The pretrial conference for the defendants is set for January 12, 2021 at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center in Downtown Los Angeles.
2020-08-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
We were very fortunate to speak with Richard Behar on this week's episode of the Fair Game podcast.
Rich, along with Pauletter Cooper (who will feature in an upcoming episode) is a poster child for scientology Fair Game against journalists.
He is an award-winning investigative journalist who first wrote about scientology in 1986 for Forbes magazine in an article entitled The Prophet and Profits of Scientology.
What a treat for us this week as Leah Remini and Mike Rinder spoke with journalist Rich Behar for their podcast. Rich, of course, wrote perhaps the single most important investigation of Scientology of all time with his May 1991Time magazine article that called Scientology the "Thriving cult of greed and power," and which proved to be a watershed in church history: Scientology has been shrinking ever since.
And Rich was back last week with a new piece in Forbes about potential Biden VP choice Karen Bass, expressing his dismay that she could claim that Scientology was only exposed after she made a 2010 speech in support of Scientology at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Los Angeles.
We go way back with Behar, who has been very supportive of the Underground Bunker and our book about Paulette Cooper, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, and as always he was funny and sharp on the podcast with Mike and Leah as they talked about the Fair Game retaliation campaign he experienced in 1991, and about Karen Bass.
An anti-cult activist has criticised the presence of the Scientology organisation at a comic convention in Dublin.
The Scientology community centre in Firhouse had a stand at the Dublin Comic Con: Summer Edition in the Convention Centre Dublin over the weekend.
Two volunteers from the centre handed out leaflets about a comic art competition the Scientologists are running.
Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard called them Opinion Leaders (OLs) and directed his followers to develop them as allies. He wrote that these allies would come to Scientology's aid when governments come to tax, regulate or prosecute the church. We previously reported that Greg Mitchell, a lobbyist for Scientology, met with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. We now have the White House photo of that meeting. Mitchell is seen just over Pence's left shoulder.
In addition to Pence and Mitchell, the meeting included Omer Kanat from the Uyghur Human Rights Project, Jeff Chen from Falun Gong, Dr. Yang Jianli from Citizen Power Initiatives for China, Southern Baptist official Russell Moore, Randel Everett from the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, Bob Fu from China Aid, David Curry of Open Doors USA, and the U.S. Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.
The topic was religious freedom in China and one report says that Mitchell "suggested that the U.S. government openly request that specific prisoners of conscience in China be released." His main interest is not China, but developing a relationship with two OLs, Pence and Brownback, that Scientology can use in the future.
2019-08-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
For many years in the early 2000's, the "face" of the Freewinds was Carol Miles, the "Executive Officer"/"Public Officer."
She was the face and voice (with a wonderfully genteel english accent) of Freewinds promotional videos. She narrated tours of the ship and appeared at the end of each Freewinds video with a pitch for people to come and partake in the Freewinds experience.
There has been some earlier commentary on the internet that mentioned Carol. She disappeared from public view around 2007 (like me), and as with Heber, Ray Mithoff, Guillaume Lesevre and so many others, nobody dared to ask where she was and eventually she was forgotten. Mention of her has been erased. Videos she appeared in have been destroyed. She, like the others, became a "non-entity."
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2018-08-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Something needs to be done about this.
Apparently Danish schools believe their children are going to be educated by hearing a lecture from the DSA and watching "An Introduction to Scientology"... This would be like "educating" children about child sex abuse by having them attend a briefing by a representative of NAMBLA.
If you are in Denmark, perhaps you can do something about this. Unless these kids are provided a balanced perspective with all the information, this may result in them being lured into scientology sometime in the future.
As the start of the second season of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath approaches on Tuesday, media and public interest is ramping way up. Leah has promised that the second season will focus on "the abusive practices of Scientology — sexual abuse and physical abuse," she told The Hollywood Reporter.
Leah also said her goal is not just to spread awareness of Scientology's mistreatment of its members but also to inspire a federal investigation. "I'm talking about the FBI, the police, the Department of Justice, the IRS," she said.
The FBI did investigate Scientology for allegations of human trafficking in 2009-2010, but that investigation didn't result in charges, and we think that probe ended for complex reasons.
Note: This is a companion piece to the question and answer article Tony Ortega and I had at the Underground Bunker.
What would it take to get the IRS to commence an investigation into the revocation of the Church of Scientology's 1993 tax exemption?
2016-08-11, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Hey everyone. This video continues my critical analysis of the book Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis with chapters contributed by various religious scholars, psychologists, sociologists and the like. Thanks for joining me on this.
If you haven't yet watched my first couple videos in this series, I recommend you do although this video can stand alone. There is a link in the notes section below to the first part which gives the introduction and context of this series. I also want to reiterate just in case you didn't see those earlier videos that I am not making any claims to be unbiased or objective in my views on Scientology.
Here we will be taking up Chapter Two of this book, written by William Sims Bainbridge. According to Wikipedia, he is an American sociologist in Viriginia and is the co-director of Cyber-Human Systems at the National Science Foundation, which is the official government agency that issues grants for research and education in all non-medical fields of science and engineering. So he's kind of a big deal. He's got a Harvard Ph.D. in sociology and has written a number of books on religion including The Sociology of Religious Movements and The Secular Abyss as well as works on specific cult groups such as Satan's Power: A Deviant Psychotherapy Cult in 1976 about a group called The Process and The Endtime Family: Children of God in 2002.
This has been a great week for tipsters here at the Underground Bunker. We're very fortunate that so many people think of us when they find interesting news and documents about Scientology. In today's case, however, it was something a photographer had been holding on to for more than 30 years.
He goes by the handle Ronnos, and he lives in the Netherlands. And it was at a Scientology event in Amsterdam on June 6, 1982, when he captured an image of Diana while she was sitting at a piano, preparing to perform. Ronnos tells us that he left Scientology in 1986, and it was only a few weeks ago when he was digging through some of his things that he found the photograph again. He wanted the readers of the Underground Bunker to see it, and we're grateful.
Diana Hubbard, 64, is the last member of founder L. Ron Hubbard's family who is still involved with the Church of Scientology. She's a member of the Sea Organization, and spends most of her time at Scientology's International Base, near Hemet, California. But our sources who know her tell us that she does have more freedom than a typical Sea Org member, and can come and go on occasion. When she would come into Los Angeles, she would sometimes stay at her mother's former house on Chislehurst Drive in Los Feliz, until it was sold in 2014.
2015-08-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The relationship between the Nation of Islam and scientology is becoming stranger and stranger.
Whether anyone likes it or not, scientology membership is disproportionately white. Massively so. And Louis Farrakhan is militantly anti-white.
So, what the hell are they doing in bed with one another?
Once again, Jonny Jacobsen is our man on the scene in Europe, where news of Scientology's infiltration of a Swiss national organization broke in the local press. Give us the details, Jonny...
A Scientology anti-drugs group is using a Swiss umbrella association presided over by a politician as cover for its own activities, the German-language daily Tages Anzeiger reported Monday.
Sag Nein Zu Drogen, the Swiss branch of Scientology's "The Truth About Drugs" campaign, is part of a Swiss anti-drugs alliance, the DDS, the paper reported. (DDS stands for Dachverband Drogenabstinenz Schweiz: which translates roughly as the Swiss Association for Abstinence from Drugs.)
2014-08-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Apparently these "ideal" orgs don't have anyone actually completing anything to give "success stories" so they resort to getting (and publishing) "successes" from people "in progress" on services.
This is the best they can come up with?
A further indictment of the complete failure of the "ideal org" program and GAG II.
We really like the question Jeff starts off with - he asks Rinder's opinion of the performance by another Scientology mouthpiece, Sylvia Stanard at this summer's Chautauqua, which we featured here.
As Rinder points out, Sylvia may be the best Scientology can do these days, and actually, she's not a terrible speaker. But she's really in an impossible situation when she's in front of a knowledgeable audience who knows when it's being bullshitted.
Mike Rinder discusses the Scientology PR flack Sylvia Stanard's recent speech about Scientology at the Chataqua religious conclave. Stanard lied about Xenu, Disconnection, and other matters of substance. Stanard was evasive and refused to honestly answer questions. Mike Rinder makes the point that no Church of Scientology spokesperson can tell the truth -- and Rinder knows as he was the International Spokesman for the Church of Scientology for over twenty years.
Mike Rinder makes the point that all the Church of Scientology can do is to evade, duck, and deflect the hard questions and does so by focusing on its real estate portfolio as proof of its expansion. "If Scientology were really that bad would we be purchasing and opening all of these new Ideal Orgs?"
News this evening that Robin Williams was found dead in his Marin home is reverberating around the world and we'll be dealing with the shock for some time. Early reports indicate he may have taken his own life after a long battle with depression.
Our readers began posting remembrances of him this afternoon, and we hope that continues. Tell us your favorite Robin Williams memories. Also, we can already see on social media that people are trying to use this moment to raise awareness about the debilitating effects of depression — and that it doesn't care about fame or success.
This blog is about Scientology, and Williams only touched on it briefly. But we want to remember those times. One of our more memorable experiences here was talking with Harlan Ellison about L. Ron Hubbard, and we noted that Ellison had previously told his tale about Hubbard to Robin Williams...
2013-08-11, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
I wanted to give you an update on the Bay Area Scientology scene. As you know there are San Fransisco, Stevens Creek, Los Gatos and Mountain View orgs in this fifty mile area. Recently included to the grouping of the Bay Area orgs is Sacramento — about one hundred miles from most of the Bay Area. All Bay Area orgs sit empty. Just to be clear, there are probably half a dozen veteran public that appear for course once a week to keep their PR in.
It's a sad state of affairs that while each org sits empty of public, some of the most well-intended (and misguided) staff you ever care to meet continue to hope for a better day when the miracle program from uplines will flood the orgs with public. It's a hurry up and wait mentality. All faith based.
Friday afternoon, we shared with you the comedy stylings of The Good Liars, who handed out fliers in Times Square asking people please to stop searching for Shelly Miscavige, who is not missing.
In a similar spirit, we wanted to jump on that theme with both feet, and offer David Miscavige's outfit even more succor. After all, not everyone is thrilled that the Church of Scientology perennially finds itself the subject of government investigations, complex lawsuits, denunciations by defectors, and constant pestering by nattering nabobs of negativism (i.e., reporters).
Well, it's time to atone. And boy, do we have some righteous payback!
2012-08-11, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
For those unfamiliar with how the IAS was hijacked by Miscavige and converted into a crush regging machine that overshadowed all previous corporate Scientology regging abuses in a matter of a few short years, please see this discussion between Mike Rinder and me:
The Hijacking of the International Association of Scientologists
Since that very accurate report on the depowering and imprisoning of Janet (Light) and Colm Mclaughlin, I have learned that they are alive and well and outside of Miscavige's physical prison system. They are living relatively free in Southern California. Proof of life:
2012-08-11, Tony Ortega, Runnin Scared, Village Voice
"All these Narconon centers are run on the same principles. They use deception to get people in, they make false claims about their effectiveness, and the person sending patients there is actually a salesman working on commission," says Carnegie Mellon professor Dave Touretzky, who has been studying Narconon for years and maintains an extensive online archive of information about the drug treatment program's many controversies.
Now, with unprecedented attention drawn to it, Narconon's vulnerability comes into sharp focus: If Scientology itself often gets a pass because it calls itself a church, Narconon cannot claim that privilege. If Scientology is made up of people who have voluntarily joined to explore their past lives, Narconon patients -- and the parents or court officers who send them there -- often have no idea of the program's connection to the controversial church. Although it is endorsed by celebrities, Narconon's less glamorous reality puts very vulnerable people in risky settings. And, increasingly, public officials are beginning to question how such an unusual program could be licensed to do business in their jurisdictions.
2011-08-11, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Last Friday, we started a countdown that will give credit -- or blame -- to the people who have contributed most to the sad current state of Scientology. From its greatest expansion in the 1980s, the church is a shell of what it once was and is mired in countless controversies around the world. Some of that was self-inflicted, and some of it has come from outside. Join us now as we continue on our investigation of those people most responsible...
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
2008-08-11, Roger Friedman, Celebrity Gossip, Fox News
But there are a lot of questions still to be raised about Isaac Hayes' death. Why, for example, was a stroke survivor on a treadmill by himself? What was his condition? What kind of treatment had he had since the stroke? Members of Scientology are required to sign a form promising they will never seek psychiatric or mental assistance. But stroke rehabilitation involves the help of neurologists and often psychiatrists, not to mention psychotropic drugs - exactly the kind Scientology proselytizes against.
Singer Isaac Hayes died on Sunday at the age of 65. Besides being a sex symbol, a soul-music legend, and a beloved voice-over artist, Hayes was also a dedicated Scientologist. According to his religious beliefs, what happens to Hayes now that he's passed away?
Scientology was also integrated into the firm's work, when an organizational consultant who draws on the doctrine was hired to work with the staff, and job candidates were given tests based on Scientology. "Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, wrote many courses on advertising, public relations and marketing, and when I read them I saw they matched what I had learned in practice, my beliefs," Morell relates. Tzur finds this the appropriate time to leave the conference room we are sitting in so he can attend to prior commitments.
State District Judge Kenneth Martinez agreed to let Tapia leave Friday after he completed his stay at the Second Chance treatment project, an inpatient program with roots in Scientology. The judge placed Tapia in the community custody program, which requires him to wear an ankle monitor.
Two weeks ago Kenja placed an advertisement in Sydney papers, including the Herald, proclaiming Dyers' innocence. The campaign has angered at least one of the parents of the alleged victims.
"They are saying my daughter is a liar outside of the court system," he said. "They are saying that the other girls are liars. They've tried to do that through the press and now they're trying to build up a campaign." The lecture is part of Kenja's "Act for Change" campaign, which seems to be trying to make Dyers a martyr to civil liberties. Its website states: "The tragic death of Ken Dyers is an example of what can happen when a person is consistently denied justice."
But by taking his own life, Dyers denied his alleged victims their day in court and any opportunity for justice. The ad for the lecture that ran in the Herald this week was headed "In Australia we are guilty till proven innocent", but Ms Hamilton said it was not an attack on the legal system, it was just about the perceived presumption of guilt in the media.
2007-08-11, Matt Sedensky, Associated Press, Florida Times-Union
Scientologists say their interfaith partnerships show people of all faiths clamor for solutions to real-world problems. Detractors say it amounts to a cloaked effort to burnish the oft-maligned church's image and attract new members by appearing less clandestine and more diverse. And the clergy that have adopted aspects of the Scientologists' outreach say they're simply making use of programs that work.
For the past decade the Church of Scientology has battled with the Charities Commission to gain charitable status. In 1999 the commission ruled that it was not a religion and that there was no "public benefit arising out of the practice of Scientology" and turned down its application.
Undeterred, it waged a separate struggle with the tax authorities to be granted tax-exempt status. In 2000 Revenue & Customs finally agreed that it was a not-for-profit body and was exempt from paying VAT. It had arrived in the UK in 1977.
In the UK it operates as the Church of Scientology Religious Education Incorporated, with assets of £18.9m, including donations, according to the latest accounts filed at Companies House. Its members pay for the church's courses, fuelling an annual income of £9.82m.
2005-08-11, Anderson Cooper, Anderson Cooper 360°, CNN
COOPER: It's no secret that Tom Cruise is a devoted, outspoken member of the Church of Scientology. That has not always been the case. There was a time when the subject of his religion was off limits to reporters and to interviewers. Not so now. Just ask Matt Lauer who got lectured by Cruise weeks ago on what the actors says are the evils of psychiatry.
Now, while some are surprised by the chance in Cruise, former Scientologists insist it's really no mystery, they think it's related to his rise in the ranks of the church. [Transcript]