For a few years now, we have been trying to warn parents with toddlers that if they subscribe to the educational software service ABCMouse, they are helping make one of Scientology's biggest donors wealthy enough to give the church huge amounts of money.
ABCMouse is run by a company called Age of Learning, which is the brainchild of a man named Doug Dohring. Previously, he had made a fortune on the 1990s hit Neopets.
And we want to be clear about this because it always comes up: No, there is no Scientology content in either Neopets or ABCMouse.
DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read is your proprietor's speculation, and nothing more than that. We're trying to read the tea leaves here, and we reserve the right to be completely and utterly wrong about everything in this post. So, with that said, we beg your patience as we spin a yarn about what we think might — and we stress might — be happening in Scientology's highest reaches…
Recently, Scientology made some last-minute changes that might have gone overlooked. But the Bunker community includes some super sleuths who rarely miss anything. Two of our correspondents duly noted that the changes were very sudden and out of character.
First, a Los Angeles helper reported last month that there had been an unusual alteration in the Maiden Voyage celebration there, and out of nowhere a couple of "conventions" had been scheduled, seemingly overnight.
His commentary, however, is as predictable as it is banal, with his tweets and Facebook posts deliberately manufactured to earn likes, shares and retweets from a specific audience in mind – those who hate Muslims.
His biggest cheerleaders include the Western far-right, Hindu nationalists, ultra-Zionists, and New Atheists, which explains why his every comment reads as an endorsement for US President Trump, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the state of Israel, and notorious anti-Muslim bigots such as the now imprisoned Tommy Robinson.
Islamophobia continues to provide a rag-to-riches opportunity for every con-artist and charlatan, and Tawhidi is cashing in – and at the same time the media continues to cash in on Islamophobia. It's one of those tragic circle of life things, unfortunately.
One of the biggest perks of being really rich is having your own plane, but not many people get to park that thing right outside their front door. Jumbolair, the fly-in aviation community in central Florida where everyone has airplane hangars that match their houses, and home of John Travolta, has just been listed for $10.4 million.
Unfortunately you don't get Travolta's place, which is designed to look like an airport, in the deal. But he'll be your neighbor. The movie star and practicing scientologist was one of the first buyers of a plot at Jumbolair Aviation Estates, where he built his 6,600 square foot house, complete with its own air-traffic-control-style tower.
Jumbolair is close to Clewiston, Florida, the headquarters of the secretive and eccentric religion known as Scientology, of which Travolta is a prominent member. At least as recently as 2009, Travolta would fly over there every day. So, that's convenient, right Big T?
2019-08-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Follow up to post a few days ago OT IX & X: Promises, Promises, Promises where I covered the announcement from Captain Miscavige in 1995 of the requirements for the "release" of the non-existent OT IX and X.
That prompted a reader to send me this letter from 1993 where he had earlier laid out the prerequisites for OT IX.
Class VI or Class V Grad
It was only a matter of time before cuts to municipalities were back on the table.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at the annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference in Ottawa that there will be 'transitional funding' available when municipal cuts come January 1, 2020. These cuts were originally scheduled retroactively for this year, but were held off after strong blowback from municipal leaders.
The measure will see all municipalities, including Toronto, pay 30 per cent of the public health-care costs and 20 per cent of the cost of creating new child-care spaces by January 1, a service previously fully funded by the province. Officials from Toronto said that number in their city is as high as 50 per cent.
Far-right blogger Robert Spencer logged into fundraising site Patreon last week expecting to see how much money he had raised in a new bid to build a studio for his YouTube videos. Instead, Spencer found out his nascent funding campaign was over about as soon as it had started: at Mastercard's request, Patreon was kicking him off the platform.
"Mastercard has a stricter set of rules and regulations than Patreon, and they reserve the right to not offer their services to accounts of their choosing," Patreon wrote in an email to Spencer, a leader in the "counter-jihad" movement. "This is in line with their terms of service, which means it's something we have to comply by."
Mastercard doesn't own Patreon, and both companies were vague about what had prompted Mastercard to flag Patreon payments to Spencer.
But a new report in the Daily Beast claims that many rank-and-file members partook in less glamorous industries. The Daily Beast discovered that because Scientology courses were so expensive, many members participated in Scientology-linked enterprises ranging from selling weight-loss supplements to hawking meat to the poor.
The article profiles a former member, Conrad Romo, who said he was assigned the job of driving around poor neighborhoods in Los Angeles and trying to sell wholesale pork chops, burger patties and beef byproducts.
The meat was highly perishable and marked up from store prices. They allegedly targeted poor people, especially people they assumed used food stamps. "You weren't going to sell meat in Beverly Hills," Romo explained to the Daily Beast.
We seem to catch people by surprise every time we point this out, but ABCMouse is not only a hugely successful digital educational enterprise, it's also helping its owner, Age of Learning founder Doug Dohring, funnel millions of dollars in donations to the Church of Scientology.
Last October, Doug and his wife Laurie were celebrated with their new trophy at Scientology's annual IAS gala in England after their cumulative giving had reached $20 million. That puts the Dohrings in the very top of wealthy Scientology donors, and there's no question that they are helping to keep the organization going despite declining membership.
It's simply not a stretch to say that Doug's fabulously successful ABCMouse is helping to keep Scientology afloat, one toddler mouse-click at a time.
2017-08-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
It is as predictable as night following day.
A disaster, man-made or natural, hits the media and scientology hits the "give us your money now" button.
I have pointed it out many times in the past — this is EXACTLY what the IAS says they use people's donations for. The IAS proudly proclaims it is they who see that Volunteer Ministers ("the largest private relief force on earth") are on the scene "of every major disaster no matter where it occurs on earth" to bring the help that ONLY scientologists can (as Tom Cruise famously said — ONLY a scientologist can help people injured in a car accident).
Several weeks ago, we got access to the FBI's file on its 2009-2010 human trafficking investigation of the Church of Scientology when Melissa Cronin of RadarOnline shared her copy with us, with certain restrictions.
Now we've received an additional copy of the file thanks to journalist Emma Best, who is suing the FBI over numerous document requests she has made. Our new copy comes without restrictions, and so today we're making the entire file available for you to go through, page by page. (The Bunker's own request, made more than two years ago, is taking longer and we are hoping that it means the release will be more comprehensive.)
Lawrence Wright first revealed in his 2011New Yorker article about Paul Haggis that the FBI was investigating Scientology for the way it treated its Sea Org workers. But as we explained later, by the time Wright made that public, the FBI had already ended its probe.
But the white nationalist problem at Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller, a conservative political outlet launched in 2010 as a "response" to the Huffington Post, is bigger than just Kessler. Throughout the 2016 election and since, the Daily Caller has not only published the work of white nationalists, but some of its writers have routinely whitewashed the Alt-Right, while one editor there is an associate of key Alt-Right figures. Two Daily Caller contributors, including a senior investigative reporter, were recently announced as speakers at the upcoming white nationalist H.L. Mencken Clubconference organized by Paul Gottfried, a godfather of the Alt-Right.
As for recent Daily Caller contributors, take Peter Brimelow; the English white nationalist is the founder of the website VDARE, named after Virginia Dare, the supposed first white child born in the new world. VDARE is a major hub for white nationalists and anti-Semites. Brimelow is a leading figure on the Alt-Right and has been published three times in the Daily Caller in recent months, with his firstpiece coming in March defending Rep. Steve King, a hero to white nationalists, who recently tweeted, "Geert Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can't restore our civilization with somebody else's babies."
A few years ago, the Daily Caller publishing the work of an established white nationalist would be unthinkable. Take the response from Washington, D.C., senior contributor Matt K. Lewis following the firing of white nationalist John Derbyshire from National Review in 2012 for writing a racist screed regarding the Trayvon Martin shooting titled, "The Talk: Nonblack Version." The article, presented as conversation between a white parent and their child included lines like, "A small cohort of blacks — in my experience, around five percent — is ferociously hostile to whites and will go to great lengths to inconvenience or harm us." It also included tips like, "If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date." Lewis' response in the Daily Caller to Derbyshire's 2012 firing was, "Some people aren't worth the [sic] fighting for. Some things are indefensible. This is one of those cases."
On Saturday hundreds of white nationalists, alt-righters, and neo-Nazis traveled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to participate in the "Unite the Right" rally. By Saturday evening three people were dead – one protester and two police officers – and many more injured.
"VICE News Tonight" correspondent Elle Reeve went behind the scenes with white nationalist leaders, including Christopher Cantwell, Robert Ray, David Duke, and Matthew Heimbach — as well as counterprotesters. VICE News Tonight also spoke with residents of Charlottesville, members of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Charlottesville Police.
From the neo-Nazi protests at Emancipation Park to Cantwell's hideaway outside Virginia, "VICE News Tonight" provides viewers with exclusive, up-close and personal access inside the unrest.
2016-08-21, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The show where I answer your questions based on comments left on my Q&A videos or sent to me by email at AskChrisShelton@gmail.com. This week, the questions I answer are:
(1) LRH died in 1986, before paperless offices were practical. Did LRH require orgs to maintain their records on paper in Central Files because decades ago he couldn't conceive of a large organization maintaining notes and records electronically? Have any orgs gone paperless? Would LRHs "admin tech" even permit an org to go paperless?
(2) During your time in Scientology did you ever see anybody who was specifically targeted for an expectation of future windfall? For example did anybody who looked like they might be in line to inherit money ever receive any special treatment from the church, or were these people just expected to take the regular routes like everybody else until their net worth was bolstered?
2016-08-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Next in the ongoing series of essays by Terra Cognita. See earlier posts here: Integrity, The Almighty Stat, The Reg, The Horrors of Wordclearing, Why Scientologists Don't FSM, Respect, The Survival Rundown - The Latest Scam, Communication in Scientology... Or Not, Am I Still A Thetan?, To Be Or Not To Be, An Evaluation of Scientology, Fear: That Which Drives Scientology and Justification and Rationalization.
The Knowledge Report
One of the most abused policies in Scientology is the knowledge report—KR for short. Anyone who's been in the church and "stepped out of line" has received one. For many, nothing causes more charge (really pisses one off) than getting one of these. Most staff and public have written KR's. Many have thick ethics folders filled with these jewels.
Rod Keller keeps an eye on Scientology social media for us, and this week he spotted something he decided to dive into in more depth. Take it away, Rod...
On August 3rd and August 10th, Scientology held interfaith conferences at the Los AngelesIdeal Org under the guise of Youth For Human Rights, a "social betterment" front group similar to The Way to Happiness Foundation and the Foundation for a Drug-Free World. The group was founded in 2001 by Dr. Mary Shuttleworth, a South African Scientologist. For events without any youth participation, the group goes by the name United for Human Rights.
As with all Scientology activities that deal with non-Scientologists, Youth for Human Rights is directed by the Office of Special Affairs. OSA is known as the secret police of Scientology for its work to investigate, attack, and discredit former members and critics, often with the use of private investigators. But OSA is charged with all of Scientology's public relations work as well, and interfaith activities are important to fulfill L. Ron Hubbard's design to "safepoint" Scientology - to develop a network of non-Scientologist allies who are Opinion Leaders in the community and who could be called upon for assistance when Scientology comes under attack. They are considered "celebrities" in the same category as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and they count towards OSA's stat, "celebrity bodies in shop."
The site of the golf course was originally part of the Gilman Hot Springs Resort, founded in 1913 by the Earl Gilman family. The Gilmans developed the Foothills 9 – the first all-grass golf course on this side of Riverside County – which opened in 1931. During the following three decades, the family added two more courses and other features to the resort.
In 1978, the family sold the resort to the Church of Scientology International, which established its film and sound studios on the site.
The original golf courses were destroyed in the San Jacinto flood of 1980 before Golden Era reopened nine holes in the 1990s as a public course. In 2007, the church's board of directors decided to turn it into a private venue for exclusive use, free of charge, by nonprofit and charitable groups.
After our story on Tuesday about the death of Amber Bullins at one of Per Wickstrom's rehab facilities in Michigan, we received numerous tips from readers about the Narconon-style network Wickstrom runs. (Some of Wickstrom's businesses are licensed by Scientology's Narconon network, others just make use of Narconon materials.)
The most interesting thing we received was a video that our tipster tells us was made in 2012. It features some employees for an outfit called Life Solutions, in Battle Creek. Part of the Wickstrom empire, it's a referral outfit that takes inquiries from members of the public who are desperately trying to find a rehab center for a loved one.
Two years ago, we showed you the kind of scripts that such boiler-room operations use to direct people to Narconon centers. They convince distraught parents or prospective patients that Narconon is their only solution. Such recruiters are also known to keep quiet that Narconon centers don't actually deliver drug counseling but instead put patients through Scientology training. Their job is to push people to Narconon, and they typically get paid a ten percent commission on the price of rehab, which is around $30,000.
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're tickled that your column this time was prompted by a response one of our readers made to a previous piece. We really do have a great commenting community here. So please take us on another exploration of Scientology lore...
JON: Some months ago, an astute reader pointed to some of Hubbard's comments about games. I copied the note, but not the reader's name, so I apologize for that, because credit is due for pointing out one of the most important Hubbard admissions, in the welter of chatter, contradiction, and misdirection that constitutes the work of Our Founder. I had to hunt out the specific lecture, which deals with the "caste system of games." It is Philadelphia Doctorate Course lecture 39. The astute reader had this to say: "It contains some priceless insight into how Ron viewed other people, structured his organizations, and generally ran Scientology." And he (or she) was so right.
2014-08-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Just to kick things off — here is a recent Facebook posting about the newly formed Clearwater Postulate Guild (I kid you not):
I really think these people need to touch bases with reality. But they had better be careful what they are "postulating" for as a Clearwater government that was "uptone" (ie not in fear) and made sane decisions vis a vis the church may not be to the liking of the "OT's" and their Postulate Guild.
Before they start clearing anything down under, maybe they should start by clearing their MUs? Or at least getting an ideal spell checker. They didn't even make it through the second line. Wonder how the kiwis feel about the name of their country being wrong?
"If you're egocentric, not always confident or insecure because of being in public eye and want to be charitable, Scientology pushes your buttons. That's why someone like Bono would fit the bill perfectly as so many people know him," she said. "I know he was receiving Scientology auditing and was at one of the Celebrity Centre Galas. Why would he need auditing?"
A Texas judge has issued a temporary restraining order against Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige, two church entities and two men alleged to be church operatives — part of a lawsuit that contends they have waged a campaign of surveillance, dirty tricks, intimidation and harassment against the wife of a church critic.
Monique Rathbun, 41, filed the lawsuit last week in Comal County, Texas, near San Antonio. She is married to Marty Rathbun, a former church executive who once worked at Miscavige's side but since 2009 has been a high-profile critic of the leader.
Her complaint says she is not a Scientologist, has never attacked the church and her only involvement is being married to a once-prominent church member.
Monique Rathbun has filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the Church of Scientology's controlling entities and its leader David Miscavige for years of harassment she alleges have caused her serious harm since her husband, Mark "Marty" Rathbun, went public in 2009 with information about his life as a top executive in the church.
On Friday, the Comal County, Texas district court granted Monique a temporary restraining order, calling on Scientology to stop following her and electronically surveilling her. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday whether to convert the restraining order into a temporary injunction, but Monique's attorney, Ray Jeffrey, tells us he thinks the matter will likely be delayed about two weeks.
After four years of intense harassment, Monique is battling back, Jeffrey tells us, and they expect this to be a brutal fight.
We told you recently about Per Wickstrom, who owns a number of drug rehab centers in Michigan. Per's businesses have been associated with Scientology's drug rehab network, Narconon. But we've noticed that in recent years, he's been getting away from the Narconon brand — and can you blame him? With Narconon mired in controversies and investigations and lawsuits in places like Oklahoma and Georgia — and attracting national media attention — word is getting out about the network's shortcomings.
In Battle Creek, Michigan, Per owned a facility called Narconon Stone Hawk, but in 2008 he re-christened the place "A Forever Recovery," and not only dropped the Narconon name, he's doing his best to make it look like he's severed ties with Scientology altogether. At its website, A Forever Recovery says it offers Christian-based, Native American-based, and "holistic" approaches to addiction and calls them "evidence-based, comprehensive, and personalized."
Hey, that ought to appeal to everyone, right? Well, apparently the locals aren't impressed, and have stopped every attempt by Wickstrom to expand the place. So Per's suing!
2013-08-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
In typical Keystone Kops fashion, the world is informed of the planned dates for the "Grand Opening" of "The Mecca Building" and release of Super Power and GAG II and the Mark VIII meter and, and, and... in early October.
BUT, the Chief Super Power Reg sent an email 3 days ago TO GET PEOPLE TO COME TO THE EVENT and she is STILL NOT GIVING A DATE!
In fact, she is telling people to come in September and that the Grand Opening and IAS event will be in September and October. And this is an email telling people to get visas and make their travel and accommodations reservations.
2012-08-21, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Ben Herndon (contracting out of Prowler Investigations) of Corpus Christi (5910 Alameda Stree to be precise) is David Miscavige's latest South Texas thug for hire. After much international publicity through 2011 and into 2012 concerning Miscavige's Scientology Inc. thuggery at my home, no Scientology operatives dared rear their ugly heads in our vicinity. Miscavige continued to spend tens of thousands each month for an elaborate surveillance system to identify who came and went. But, they have taken extraordinary measures to be quiet and unseen.
Well, apparently my latest post, Introduction to Training Routines 0-9, struck a nerve. It is one thing I guess to expose Miscavige's crimes, and quite another to attempt to put L. Ron Hubbard into a context in which he might be better appreciated by a wider number of people.
This charming fellow sat across the street in his blacked out vehicle filming my home this afternoon:
Catton says recruiters operate referral websites and those recruiters are paid 10% of the $30,000 tuition fee if someone signs up. He says recruiters are not always honest about the facility's ties to Scientology.
"It really depends on the integrity of the person answering and working the referral process," said Catton. "But I don't doubt that for a second that people may have outright lied to them or misled them completely."
2012-08-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Yesterday, we talked to State Senator Tom Ivester, a Democrat from the western part of Oklahoma. For months, he says, he's been concerned about what goes on at Narconon Arrowhead.
As early as January, he had received complaints from a state resident that the place was a "ripoff" and was delivering strange treatments, but when Stacy Murphy, 20, died at the center on July 19, Ivester said he was motivated to act.
Officials at the Department of Mental Health have told him they are frustrated that they don't have the laws necessary to regulate Scientology's center, he says. And so, he's determined to do something about it.
No drug and alcohol rehabilitation center is perfect. Meeting the needs of clients who come to facilities with a whole lot of baggage, including addiction and other behavioral and emotional issues, is a difficult job requiring close observation by a well-trained staff.
That said, three client deaths in the past year at the Narconon Arrowhead rehab facility on Lake Eufaula demand answers. Why and how did these three people die? Could more have been done to prevent their deaths?
2011-08-21, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
This is a public safety announcement primarily directed at the person micro-managing the South Texas Siege (now it its 120th day), the self annointed Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center, self proclaimed "ecclesiastical leader of Scientology" David Miscavige.
Your hired thug Ralph S Gomez almost ran over my dog Chiquita for the second time today.
You are hereby put on notice (since we know from reliable sources you read this blog multiple times per day, this is the most effective form of notice possible) that by the law of averages, your continued abberant behavior in our humble town of 651 good souls is putting lives at risk.
2011-08-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We shot a few angles of yesterday's Anonymous protest outside the 46th Street Church of Scientology building. We have to hand it to these Anons for their creativity: the beach scene they created stopped quite a few tourists in their tracks -- and they were promptly handed leis that carried anti-Scientology messages.
The Scientologists, for their part, were also clever. Either by design or by accident a large delivery truck pulled in front of the building and shielded its entrance from the protest for about a half hour. And employees came and went without paying much attention to the shouting.
2010-08-21, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
I mentioned recently that I don't believe any of us will truly make it until we travel through the valley of the shadow of death alone. Scott is one of those special individuals who has done so and has greatly enhanced my life by sharing his experience with me. Please read his words carefully and contemplate them. In my opinion they are worthy of our thoughts.
Scott during his early days in the Sea Org
"Death, insanity, aberration, or merely a slavish obedience can be efficiently effected by the use of Black Dianetics." — LRH
2009-08-21, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
So what do you do with an OT VIII?
Particularly if you don't have OT IX and X to deliver. And no release of these levels in sight, 20 years after the release of OT VIII. That's right, twenty years.
And particularly if you are the FSSO, sailing around half empty, desperate for income.
CLEARWATER, Fla. (AP) _ A jury Wednesday ordered a lawyer to pay $4,500 to the Church of Scientology for tactics during a wrongful death lawsuit that allegedly led to a wave of bad publicity.
Church of Scientology attorney Samuel Rosen told jurors lawyer Ken Dandar launched "a frontal attack on an entire religion" as opposing counsel in the lawsuit filed over the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson.
He had asked the jury to award millions in damages to the church, but the jury ordered Dandar only to reimburse the church its legal costs.
CLEARWATER - A tiny smile creased Ken Dandar's face as a clerk read the first count of the jury verdict.
Compensatory damages he owed the Church of Scientology: $4,500.
Dandar knew then he had won.
The grin widened and Dandar began to playfully pat his attorney, Luke Lirot, as the clerk read through the rest of the counts.
The amount he was obligated to pay the church in punitive damages: zero.