Michelle LeClair's book Perfectly Clear: Escaping Scientology and Fighting for the Woman I Love got a nice boost this week as it was featured on the cover of People magazine ahead of its September 11 publication date, and we expect it's going to continue to get a major media push. But now that we've read the book, we're having some mixed feelings about that.
The basic outline of LeClair's story, which emerged in press accounts over several years when she was known as Michelle Seward, is that she was a wealthy public Scientologist who made money selling expensive insurance policies, and she convinced some of her clients to invest their money in a failed movie project directed by another Scientologist, Israeli filmmaker Dror Soref.
The film, Not Forgotten, starred Simon Baker and actually got fairly good reviews when it came out in 2009, but somehow it made only $142,000 worldwide and the people who backed it lost millions.
2018-09-08, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The STAAD League continues to froth and rant about the strangest things.
While they try to maintain a pretense that they care about anything OTHER than scientology's right to abuse people without censure, they fail routinely.
Here is their latest "cause" — my reference to Michael Chan as Chan Man in the Thursday Funnies. Apparently a rhyming nickname calling him a "Man" is a "racial slur," "bigotry" and even "homophobic"(?) and I should not be employed by anyone associated with Disney (the parent company of A&E).
We continue to be amazed at the effect Leah Remini is producing with her A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath. As her second season progresses, we're seeing more and more people speak up about their experiences in Scientology.
One declaration we noticed on Facebook really caught our eye, and we want to thank Aaron Smith-Levin for helping put us in touch with the person who made it.
Her name is Clarissa Adams. She and her husband Ethan both spoke up at Facebook about how they could corroborate what Mirriam Francis and Saina Kamula were saying about the primitive conditions at Canyon Oaks Ranch, a school for Scientology children in the 1980s and early 1990s.
2017-09-08, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
RB has been forestalled by Irma. The RB family are fine. So we have a repeat installment this week (and for good measure I have added a bonus). But it says a lot about how timeless RB's strips are and how scientology cannot change that this could have been penned today.
Insanity In Plain View
Check this out.
2016-09-08, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Hello everyone. In this video we are continuing in my ongoing series of deconstructing chapter-by-chapter the book Scientology, an academic compendium of essays edited by James R. Lewis, all focusing on different aspects of Scientology.
This week we are back to James R. Lewis as author. You may recall the first video in this series where I basically took apart his introduction to this book. Lewis has a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Wales in the UK and leans heavily in the direction of apologetics for destructive cults, meaning he publishes papers sympathetic to their cause and giving them justification for their activities by validating their religious status.
As you can imagine, as a former Scientologist turned critic, I have a biased but very intellectually justified view that Lewis has no idea what he is talking about, but I want to give his work a fair shake and so I am going over these academic papers with a fine-tooth comb and seeing what rational and/or logical arguments they have to make.
(DJI Phantom 4 drone, like the one that took images of Int Base)
It's been 24 hours since we posted stunning drone footage of Scientology's secretive Int Base near Hemet, California, and those videos, made by an anonymous drone pilot, are still up at YouTube where you can view them for yourself or even download them, with the blessing of the filmmaker. [Int Base flyover 1 and flyover 2]
We've been talking to former Int Base residents who were blown away by the quality of the footage, as well as what they noticed were numerous changes at the site since they were last there.
Federal prosecutors should investigate whether there is any connection between the decision by Attorney General Pam Bondi's office not to pursue fraud allegations against Trump University and a $25,000 campaign contribution he gave her. Since Florida prosecutors will not touch this mess, the Justice Department is the only option. The appearance of something more than a coincidence is too serious and the unresolved questions are too numerous to accept blanket denials by Bondi and Trump without more digging and an independent review.
Scrutiny of the Trump check and the decision by Bondi's office not to investigate complaints about Trump University has intensified in recent days as the presidential campaign has heated up. The Washington Post reported that Trump paid a $2,500 penalty this year to the Internal Revenue Service and refunded his foundation $25,000 because the contribution violated tax laws. The check came from the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which is a tax-exempt nonprofit prohibited from contributing to political campaigns. But the violation was undetected for years because of what the Trump campaign characterizes as a clerical error in listing the contribution as given to another group in Kansas with a similar name to Bondi's campaign effort.
Even more important is the sequence of events in 2013. The Orlando Sentinel reported on Sept. 14, 2013, that a spokeswoman for Bondi's office said it was "currently reviewing the allegations" in a New York lawsuit involving Trump University. Three days later, Trump's foundation wrote a $25,000 check to Bondi's campaign committee. After the check was received, Bondi's office decided not to launch its own investigation or to join a lawsuit filed by New York's attorney general. That timing simply does not look right and deserves an independent look to reassure Floridians that the state's top legal officer did nothing wrong.
2016-09-08, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Someone commented last week that this would be the 100th edition of Thursday Funnies.... And I think that is correct based on the numbering of the link. \
Quite a centenary. And we have a lot of funnies for today.
It must be noted that these weekly funnies would not be possible without the support of many who forward the information to me each week.
2015-09-08, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
One of the craziest things about scientology is the use of "success stories." These things are a strange mixture of self-affirmation, peer pressure and fear.
People write them to accomplish one or all of the following at the completion of a scientology service:
a. To ensure they are allowed to complete and be presented with a certificate, they write what they think they are supposed to say
b. To affirm for themselves that they have in fact gotten something for the time and money they have invested
c. To gain recognition from others for their "wins."
We hope you had a relaxing Labor Day weekend. We combined our holiday with a little work, and the whole thing left us exhausted. But thankfully, our friend Karen de la Carriere came through for us yet again.
She let us know that she received the newest copy of Advance! magazine, and she thought we might want to help the Church of Scientology get the word out about all the expansion that is happening for the organization. We've decided to share with you just one success story from the magazine, about the booming business Scientology is doing in Los Angeles. This church is on fire!
You know, it's a funny thing. As more and more evidence emerges that Scientology is actually shrinking (take a look at Mike Rinder's blog on a regular basis, for example), Scientology's claims for how fast it's growing have never been more grandiose.
We received confirmation that Lyman Spurlock, a longtime and high-ranking official in the Church of Scientology, died last month after a battle with cancer. He was 69.
Spurlock had worked directly with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and was a key figure in Hubbard's scheme to reorganize Scientology while he was in hiding in the early 1980s. In more recent years, eyewitnesses say Spurlock quietly and without complaint suffered verbal and physical abuse at the hands of current Scientology leader David Miscavige. He spent much of his life at Scientology's secretive International Base east of Los Angeles, but left it recently for Scientology's spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida, loyal to the organization to the end.
Spurlock was born on February 19, 1945 to a military family that moved regularly during his early years. His father, a Marine, retired in San Diego in 1959.
2014-09-08, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Peter Bonyai sent me a copy of a Hungarian facebook posting that lists the prices the FSO is charging for Super Power.
It is interesting to see how much they are gouging public for the privilege of receiving this rundown designed for staff.
Here is a translation:
Never forget In 1979, the full extent of Scientology's dirty tricks campaigns, illegal break-ins, and smear attempts had been revealed in documents seized by the FBI two years earlier.
One of the targets of Scientology's destructive schemes was the Clearwater Sun, a daily newspaper that served the town Scientology had stealthily taken over in 1975. Documents seized by the FBI showed that the Sun's publisher, editors, and reporters had been targeted with surveillance and smear schemes. Church spies were planted in the newsroom and advertising departments, plans were made to lie to advertisers to get them to drop the paper, and other plans were hatched to devalue the paper until the church could buy it and take control. The church also investigated letter writers who spoke critically of the church.
The editors of the Sun decided that they'd seen enough. We ran across this editorial the paper published on November 27, 1979, and we couldn't help thinking of the recent outrage from folks in Clearwater when the church cut down a couple of healthy live-oak trees for an upcoming event after the city told it not to. The church was fined $2,000.
2012-09-08, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
When someone recommended Tom Martiniano's (#119 on the Indie 500 list) book Vietnam - The Teenage Wasteland: A Hippie In A War Zone, I wasn't real anxious to read it. I felt like I had had my share of woe-be-me remembrances of a pointless and desctructive conflict that I was fortunate enough by virtue of my age to have avoided. But, once I started reading, it was difficult to put it down.
Tom writes the book in speaking English. It is familiar, it is real, and it puts you right into his head as he's being showered by AK-47 bullets, shooting dozens of combatants who are attempting to kill him, doing involuntary backflips in reaction to bomb strikes, and starving for three days while helping to lead a small, battered platoon out of a valley encircled by thousands of North Vietnamese troops closing in from all sides. Tom paints with his words a multi-dimensional moving picture of the action that in my view is far more authentic than any movie I have seen on Vietnam, drama or documentary.
This is anything but a pro-war memoir or patriotic plug. Nor is it an apologia for having had to kill fellow human beings or an anti-war rant. Tom was not in Vietnam by choice, he was drafted. Tom has viewpoints - and they are fascinating and shared - but he does not let them get in the way of putting you through what he - and presumably thousands like him - experienced. He took no satisifaction in killing others. But he had enough sense and will to survive to become better at killing than those who were there to kill him. You cannot help but feel the compassion that drove him to defend himself and his fellows who were similarly thrown into the purposeless killing fields. In the end, Vietnam - The Teenage Wasteland is an incredible commentary on human nature and character.
But for being just plain pendeja, I don't think anything can top what she did in August: not only visit the Orange County Church of Scientology Ideal Org (the mothership, for us non-Xenuans), but reward the place with a certificate of congressional recognition.
AN alleged new-age cult, run by a former bankrupt who claims to be Leonardo da Vinci reincarnated, is expanding its multimillion-dollar enterprise with the help of Brisbane's medical mainstream.
Universal Medicine, whose practitioners offer controversial treatments to ward off cancer including "esoteric breast massage", is drawing a growing number of clients to its Brisbane clinic via referrals from eye and lung surgeons, rheumatologists and GPs.
UniMed Brisbane is based in a historic $1.75 million, 10-room former Fairfield homestead from the 1860s, now co-owned by Universal Medicine founder Serge Benhayon.
2011-09-08, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Who's number one? Tomorrow morning, we begin to reveal the final ten in our big countdown, "The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology."
Today, however, we wanted to provide a programming note and announce some addenda.
As we predicted from the beginning, our readers have been vocal about their own choices for this countdown and its order. We want your choices to count, and here's what we're doing about it: At noon on Monday, September 19, just a few hours after we reveal #6 in our countdown, we will open voting so that you can submit your own lists of 25 people contributing the most to Scientology's nosedive. For one week, until noon on September 26, just after we reveal #3 on our list, you'll have the chance to tell us your own picks.
The Fialkoff Queens Dental Study Club, organized by Dr. Bernard Fialkoff of Bayside, plans to visit the island nation early next year.
"It turns out they actually do have a lot of dentists there," said Meghan Fialkoff, the director of the trip and daughter of Dr. Fialkoff. "They don't have a lot of dental supplies. In the next few months we'll be looking for donations from dentists and dental supply companies to bring with us."
2010-09-08, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Ok, the ante has now been upped.
Here is the vetted transcript of Miscavige's response, internally, to the St Pete Times' 2006 story about the Super Power building delays. Vetted by Miscavige's secretarial pool to delete the long string of foul, abusive language, and to put "[ ]" where MCPHERSON CASE was uttered.
And you thought Mike, Tom, and I were kidding about the groundbreaking being done at Miscavige's order solely for the purpose of diverting attention from the McPherson case?
A French judge on Monday ordered the Spiritual Association of the Church of Scientology (ASES - Celebrity Centre) to appear before the Paris Magistrates Court to face criminal charges. ASES has been unsuccessfully prosecuted in French courts before, and it along with an affiliated bookstore and seven church members must now defend against charges of organized fraud and the illegal practice of pharmacy. Prosecutors had asked the judge to drop the case, which originated in 1998 with a complaint from a woman who had spent about 200,000 francs ($42,600 US) on classes, books, medication and an electrometer after Scientologists stopped her on a Paris street and offered her a free personality test. Another individual and a French pharmacists' association later became involved in the case. AFP has more. Le Monde has local coverage, in French.
A French judge has ordered two departments and seven prominent members of the Church of Scientology in France to stand trial on charges of organized fraud, a judicial source said on Monday.
The case is the latest in a series of legal battles that have pitted the French judicial system against the Scientologists, who could be forced to stop their activities in France if found guilty.
The latest suit centers on a complaint made in 1998 by a woman who said she was enrolled into the Church of Scientology by a group of people she met outside a metro station.
The Court of Appeal in The Hague last week rejected all of the Church of Scientology's claims its action against the Dutch ISP Xs4all, writer Karin Spaink and ten other internet providers for publishing copyrighted material on the web.
As a result, Spaink's website which Scientologists had sought to remove, is entirely legal.
The court also overturned two lower court rulings, one of which stated that linking to material that infringed a copyright was itself actionable. The victory for Xs4all represents a significant narrowing in the ability of copyright claimants to harass ISPs, observers believe.
The case started about nine years ago, when former Scientologist Steven Fishman was brought to court because he had committed several crimes in order to get the money to pay for his courses. When Fishman in Time magazine blamed the Church of Scientology for his crimes, the sect sued him for slander.
On Friday, the Dutch Court of Appeal in The Hague, Netherlands, denied the Scientologists' latest appeal in an online copyright dispute that dates back to 1995. The Church of Scientology has repeatedly pursued legal action in the Netherlands against the writer, Karin Spaink, and her local ISP, Xs4all, over documents first posted in 1995 on the Web site of another customer of the company.
CLEARWATER -- The church marquee faces a busy six-lane highway and announces Sunday's sermon:
"Why Scientology Isn't a Church."
It's the title of the Rev. Raymond Guterman's message at Northwood Presbyterian Church in Countryside. And along with the marquee, the church also promoted the sermon this week in ads in the St. Petersburg Times.
Craig Branch, director of the Apologetics Resource Center in Birmingham, Alabama, has been examining the teaching and practice of Scientology from a Christian perspective since 1989 and has studied new religious movements for more than 15 years. He has also worked with Watchman Fellowship, a ministry focusing on outreach to non-Christian religions. Branch says evangelical scholars criticize Scientology for these reasons:
MARSEILLE, France (AP) _ France's Justice Ministry opened an investigation Wednesday after the discovery that some three tons of evidence to serve in an upcoming trial of Church of Scientology officials was destroyed.
"I will shed light on this malfunction," said Justice Minister Elisabeth Guigou. "Is it a mistake? Is it sabotage? It seems at first glance to have been an error."
The Marseille prosecutor's office said in a statement that the disposal of certain sealed files in late 1998 was the result of "negligence" by a court clerk and not an intentional act.
Kay County District Attorney Joe Wideman had sought an injunction against the Chilocco New Life Center, arguing that it was increasing its patient base without a license from the state Health Department.
Instead, District Judge Neal Beekman approved an agreement Friday that will allow the center to continue operating during the licensing procedure.