It was one of the most popular scenes from Leah Remini's three seasons of 'Scientology and the Aftermath' on the A&E network. She and Mike Rinder had accompanied Mark Bunker to a small park owned by the Church of Scientology in the downtown of Clearwater, Florida.
Bunker wanted to demonstrate to Leah how much the city of Clearwater itself was in Scientology's pocket.
And sure enough, within moments of the three of them stepping foot in the park, Cleawater Police Department cruisers started showing up as officers approached the trio and began questioning them about what they were doing on Scientology's property.
Scientology's Ideal Org drought continues as they have opened none so far this year. It's been speculated that leader David Miscavige has postponed openings to avoid being served legal papers in Scientology's court cases. Miscavige has never attended the opening ceremonies of 'Ideal Missions,' and this week saw the opening of one in Panama city.
It's on Calle 50 in the heart of Panama City across the street from the 57-story Tower Financial Center. At nearly half a million in population, Panama City is the second largest city in Central America and has a large modern downtown area. The country holds a special status as Scientology's ship, the Freewinds, is registered in Panama.
Ideal Orgs go back to the 2003 opening of the Johannesburg Ideal Org, but Ideal Missions are more recent. 2015 saw the grand openings of the Lake Oswego, Oregon Ideal Mission and the Belleair Ideal Mission near Clearwater. Lake Oswego lasted less than a year before closing, but Belleair was joined by Los Feliz in Los Angeles in 2013, Valencia, Spain in 2015, South Coast, California in 2016, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Taichung, Taiwan and Senigallia, Italy in 2017, Košice, Slovakia and Como, Italy in 2018, Houston, Texas and now Panama in 2019. The Ocala, Florida mission was declared "Ideal" years after its 2011 opening featuring patron John Travolta.
2019-10-13, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
They are promoting "Season 4" of scientology.tv.
Of course, their "seasons" consist of a few episodes of the same shows they have been airing since the launch of the "network". Meet a scientologist. Visit a city where a scientology org is. Wisdom from Ron.
There are no audience figures available as the "network" has no advertisers and is not monitored by any normal tv audience monitoring system. So they claim it's a roaring success. Like they know what the actual statistics of every ideal org is but because they keep those stats secret they simply claim they are all "expanding 10X" and "clearing their zones."
I have seen that profile up close. Over 40 years ago, while a junior in college, I was recruited into a destructive mind control cult, the Unification Church, popularly known as the Moonies after its leader, Sun Myung Moon. I rose rapidly through the ranks and was invited to attend meetings with Moon and his top aides, where we knelt and bowed to our leader Moon. Two years later, after three days straight of leading a fundraising team—selling flowers on street corners—I fell asleep at the wheel and woke up as I plowed into the back of an 18 wheeler. Fortunately, I survived. My family hired deprogrammers and, after five days, I realized I had been brainwashed.
Since then, I have devoted myself to studying mind control cults and helping families rescue loved ones from their clutches. I have learned that mind control is not a vague, mystical process but, instead, is the result of a concrete and specific and systematic set of methods and techniques. Cult leaders may seem crazy, but they are cunning masters of manipulation, employing an arsenal of these techniques to render their followers dependent and obedient. It's what I call the cult leader's playbook.
As I argue in my upcoming book, The Cult of Trump: A Leading Cult Expert Explains How The President Uses Mind Control (Simon & Schuster), Trump has gotten where he is today in large part because he has exploited tactics straight out of that playbook. These include his grandiose claims, his practice of sowing confusion, his demand for absolute loyalty, his tendency to lie and create alternative "facts" and realities, his shunning and belittling of critics and ex-believers, and his cultivating of an "us versus them" mindset. These are the same methods used by Moon, Jones, and other cult leaders such as L. Ron Hubbard (Scientology), David Koresh (Branch Davidians), Lyndon LaRouche (LaRouche PAC), and, most recently, convicted trafficking felon Keith Raniere (NXVIM).
One of our favorite stories at the Village Voice was the chance we got to write about Kate Bornstein's unique journey in Scientology and later as a well-known New York transgender performance artist, captured in the 2012 memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger. Kate has had an amazing year with a run on Broadway and ever-increasing fame as a gender theorist. We're thrilled to get the chance to run this lengthy excerpt from Kate's deliciously-written book. This is chapter 11, "All Good Things," and we're in the 1970s as Al Bornstein, the former first mate of the flagship Apollo, had been through one marriage, to Molly, which had produced a daughter, Jessica. But now Al was alone and working around the clock for the Sea Org in New York…
Fighting the good fight in the Sea Org had made me the good guy I'd always longed to be. After a decade of 24-7 loyal active duty, I was at the top of my game. I was a full Lieutenant. Only fifty people in all of Scientology outranked me. I'd been First Mate of the Flagship; and a few years later, I was working directly with the Commodore, planning public relations strategies for Scientology worldwide. I managed an entire fucking continent for them. Then I crashed and burned on Southern Comfort and Coca-Cola, sex, junk food, and tranny porn—it's what got me through my months-long bone-deep loneliness after Jessica left. My job performance took a nosedive and I was summarily removed from my post in middle management and demoted to sales, where, phoenix-like, I rose from my own ashes brighter and stronger than ever.
I was a terrific salesman, a natural. I'd spent my life trying to make people happy with me, and there's nothing more happy-making than selling someone their dreams-come-true. In Scientology sales, we were taught to find a person's "ruin"—whatever it was that was making a person's life miserable and keeping them from achieving their goals. I could find anyone's ruin in minutes—and in less than an hour, I'd've sold them thousands of dollars worth of Scientology services to handle it. I put together a crack staff, and together the six of us pulled in close to a quarter of a million dollars a week. I was a real man in every aspect of my life—and it all came down to money money money. After all, what are your dreams worth to you? How much money would you spend if that's all it took to make your dreams come true? You needed what we had, and we needed your money—most, if not all, of it.
2018-10-13, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Dave Richards was one of a kind, and a giant among friends.
Tony Ortega did a post about him on Thursday thanks to Dave's great friend Ron Miscavige Snr.
I could not process the grief and bring myself to write anything coherent, so I am a couple of days late. But the delay only represents the shattering of my world when I heard the news of his passing. The only small saving grace was that he died peacefully in his sleep. But that made it even more shocking as there was no warning.
(Cedars' vlog no. 232) In the October 2018 JW Broadcasting episode, Jehovah's Witnesses are whisked away on an exciting adventure to investigate a "crime" that almost certainly happened 1,700 years ago. Geoffrey Jackson explains that evil apostate Christians orchestrated a conspiracy to remove God's name from their writings, but thankfully Jehovah's modern-day organization, armed with a number of "clues," have come to the rescue to restore the name "Jehovah" 237 times in their rendering of the New Testament.
Support me on Patreon: https://patreon.com/cedars
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cedarsjwsurvey
Ontario Proud, the largest digital political advocacy group in the country — and self-described anti-Liberal advocacy group — seems to have taken an interest in the City of Kawartha Lakes' election.
The Lindsay Advocate has confirmed with Joel Watts, deputy returning officer of the City of Kawartha Lakes that Ontario Proud is not registered as a third party advertiser in this election. The only registered third party advertiser is Bill Denby, who seems to take credit for the ad in the comments section of the second CKL-related video posted so far this election.
Every week when there's a new episode of A&E's Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, we look to see how the Church of Scientology is going to react on its website dedicated to attacking Leah and the people who show up as her guests.
Usually just before the episode airs, the church posts a vicious attack, often with videos of people close to the guests denouncing them in a robotic manner. This week, for example, an aunt and an uncle of Tara Reile trashed her as "pure hell," even though, she pointed out, she had never lived with them. And family members of the other guest, Nathan Rich, claimed that he was sent to the Mace-Kingsley ranch run by Scientologists because the alternative would have been jail. Both Tara and Nathan chose to respond right away — Nathan, for example, pointed out that jail was hardly an option when he was first sent to the ranch when he was eight years old.
Other people choose not to respond to Scientology's attacks. But today, we're hearing from Marie Bilheimer, who has chosen to respond after taking some time to reflect.
This week Chris Shelton finishes his series about Larisa Smith with a disturbing conclusion — so prepare yourself. Here's how Chris has chosen to introduce this final episode in his series...
This is the third and final part of my interview with Larisa Smith and her family. All of what was gone over in the first two parts has been leading up to this. I think you'll see why we wanted to cover her early life and experiences in such detail, so as to put everything that she describes here into a full context. For most of its members, Scientology is a series of misadventures and sometimes horrifying traumas which never end up with them experiencing the full promises or gains that L. Ron Hubbard talked about in his books and lectures. Sure, some people feel like they benefited from some of their auditing or training, but when you compare those gains to the cost in human misery, broken lives, and outright criminal activities, there is really no question whether or not the Church of Scientology is a beneficial organization. For those raised in it, they never had any choice as to whether they wanted to participate or not. By the very fact of being raised in a household of Scientologists, they were indoctrinated with L. Ron Hubbard's philosophy. As Larisa described earlier, they often received little more than a passing knowledge of the subject and were told by their parents that Scientology was the one and only true path to spiritual salvation and happiness. The culture of Scientology permeates every aspect of their lives and its influence cannot be easily discounted.
Now consider for a moment what it must have been like for the children of Sea Org members. All but taken away from or abandoned entirely by their parents for most of their upbringing, taken care of by overworked and indifferent adult supervisors who themselves were castoffs and "those who could be spared," the children raised at the Canyon Oaks Ranch in Los Angeles or the International Gold Base in Hemet, California were given short shrift, hardly any education to speak of, and were mostly left to fend for themselves. These children were victims of Scientology in ways that most of us cannot imagine and which I hope in the future to expose in much more detail. In this video, you will see the the results of this upbringing. I am in no way justifying or apologizing for the evil behavior described here, but I am saying that by understanding where it comes from, it makes the tragedy of Scientology that much deeper. There is an entire generation of these kids, mainly living around the Sea Org bases around the world, who will never be able to lead what anyone would consider a normal life because they were cut off at the knees before they were able to walk.
2016-10-13, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
This is the third and final part of my interview with Larisa Smith and her family about growing up with and in Scientology. All of what was gone over in the first two parts has been leading up to this. I think you'll see why we wanted to cover her early life and experiences in such detail, so as to put everything that she describes here into a full context.
For most of its members, Scientology is a series of misadventures and sometimes horrifying traumas which never end up with them experiencing the full promises or gains that L. Ron Hubbard talked about in his books and lectures. Sure, some people feel like they benefited from some of their auditing or training, but when you compare those gains to the cost in human misery, broken lives and outright criminal activities, there is really no question whether or not the Church of Scientology is a beneficial organization. For those raised in it, they never had any choice as to whether they wanted to participate or not. By the very fact of being raised in a household of Scientologists, they were indoctrinated with L. Ron Hubbard's philosophy. As Larisa described earlier, they often received much more than a passing knowledge of the subject and were told by their parents that Scientology was the one and only true path to spiritual salvation and happiness. The culture of Scientology permeates every aspect of their lives and its influence cannot be easily discounted.
Now consider for a moment what it must have been like for the children of Sea Org members. All but taken away from or abandoned entirely by their parents for most of their upbringing, taken care of by overworked and indifferent adult supervisors who themselves were castoffs and "those who could be spared," the children raised at the Canyon Oaks Ranch in Los Angeles or the International Gold Base in Hemet, California were given short shrift, hardly any education to speak of and mostly left to fend for themselves. These children were victims of Scientology in ways that most of us cannot imagine and which I hope in the future to expose in much more detail. In this video, you will see the the results of this upbringing. I am in no way justifying or apologizing for the evil behavior described here, but I am saying that by understanding where it comes from, it makes the tragedy of Scientology that much deeper. There is an entire generation of these kids, mainly living around the Sea Org bases around the world, who will never be able to lead what anyone would consider a normal life because they were cut off at the knees before they were able to walk.
2016-10-13, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
It's IAS Event week
So the overhype is spectacular in it's epicness. I have spared you all the trash they sent out this past week. Monumental in volume. Miniscule in content.
They keep coming up with these silly phrases — Shaping a renaissance for freedom... It's Huge!
He's a well-known face in the U.K. after hosting quirky BBC documentaries for almost two decades, but Louis Theroux's U.S. profile could be on the rise following his first feature doc, about the Church of Scientology.
Speaking at an event at the BFI London Film Festival, where the BBC Films- and BBC Worldwide-backed My Scientology Movie, directed by John Dower and produced by Simon Chinn (Searching for Sugar Man, Man on Wire), is having its world premiere on Wednesday, Theroux described the trouble with making a documentary about an organization that had no intention of letting him anywhere near its members.
"I remember thinking, 'They're not going to want us to cover them. Are we just going to be running up and kicking them in the goolies [private parts] – figuratively – and then seeing how they react?' " he joked. "I really had to spend a long time thinking about why it was an important story to tell, why is it OK."
2015-10-13, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Part of the real estate empire being amassed by the tax exempt church of scientology is a rash of "public accommodations."
The latest two are in Los Angeles.
This one, right alongside CC Int. And of course "The Fountain" opened last week alongside AOLA.
2014-10-13, Nomahlubi Jordaan, Times (South Africa)
Wealthy Johannesburg couple Gaye, 66 and Ernest Corbett, 70, are behind one of the country's top residential and commercial property development companies, Century Property Developments, whose portfolio includes the luxurious Waterfall Estate in Gauteng and the five-star Tintswalo Safari Lodge bordering the Kruger National Park.
The couple, who live in Midrand, has taken their former church to the high court in Johannesburg demanding it repay R 5 850 000 they claim they loaned it seven years ago. They also want interest, which will bring the figure closer to R 16-million. The amount, they say, was to allow the church to buy a former Durban hotel for its activities.
"I was a little surprised that he would have written that without at least alerting me," said Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos, who counts Greco as "a friend and an outstanding leader in the Tampa Bay area."
But on Monday, Greco said he didn't write the column, a first-person essay that talks about "my years as mayor" and "what I'd tell any city."
"No, no, no, John Sugg wrote it," said Greco, 81, Tampa's mayor from 1967 to 1974, and 1995 to 2003. "I can't write."
We've heard from multiple sources that at Friday night's weekly graduation celebration at Flag - Scientology's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida - Kelly Preston celebrated her completion of Operating Thetan Level Seven.
OT 7 is known for being one of the toughest levels to complete on the "Bridge to Total Freedom." We've heard stories of church members being stuck for years while they're "on the level," and during that time they have to report to Clearwater every six months for expensive interrogations known as "sec checks" (short for "security checks"). And it's a big relief to finally finish the level not only because it takes so long, but also because finally, you are done removing "body thetans" - unseen alien entities that hover around you - which takes up all of levels OT 3 to 7.
Members of the Church of Scientology are speaking about drug abuse to students in Tennessee public and Christian schools under the umbrella of an organization that does not link them to their religion.
They have spoken to students at schools in Davidson, Rutherford, Wilson, Cheatham and Dickson counties where officials have written them letters of recommendation.
But some schools may not know about the connection. At least one principal in Smyrna did not know that the church supported the anti-drug events.
Life Center for a New Tomorrow LLC in Woodbury, Tenn., is "the only licensed facility of its kind in the U.S.A. that does not use psych drugs to help people," according to the LinkedIn profile of Vallieres, who identifies himself as the center's owner. That practice is in line with the Church of Scientology's stand against psychiatrists prescribing drugs for mental illnesses.
Records show the center, which was originally licensed by the state agency in 2010, was flagged for 21 deficiencies.
2014-10-13, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
From one of our Swedish Special Correspondents. He took a trip to the hinterlands of Stockholm on Saturday afternoon to check out the 47X expansion in his area of the world.
I will try to tell you my observations of Scientology's unprecedented expansion in my corner of the World.
When I studied medicine in the early 80s you could always see Scientologists selling Dianetics or that Protection-against-radiation-book at Stockholm Central Station. The Church of Scientology had an Org in Central Stockholm. Than they dissappeared, I don't know when but it was many years ago I think.
The last couple of weeks have been very intense here at the Underground Bunker — culminating in Friday's devastating release of Laura DeCrescenzo's "pc files" and the picture of Sea Org slavery that they portray.
On Sundays, we like to relax a bit by enjoying the wacky Scientology mailers that our tipsters have forwarded during the week. This time, however, we have something a little different for you.
We asked Observer, our shoop expert, to put together an image that came to us recently as the comments section here at the Bunker went through a few days with more agita than usual. We are very fortunate to have such an intelligent discussion happening here, with many great regulars. But like any Internet forum, things can get a bit wild and woolly. For some reason, as things got heated, an image came into focus of the folks who might be keeping a close watch on the news we break here at the Bunker, as well as the many great contributions by our readers. And here's what we asked Observer to create for us.
2013-10-13, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
You may recall from my post last week "Voldemort News" that the ironclad promise was that the date of "The Events" would absolutely be announced at this week's graduation — "make sure not to miss it."
I guess everyone took heed except Voldemort himself.
He was a no show at graduation.
2012-10-13, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Steve Hall has done it again, and even bigger and better than ever before.
The last chapter of my book The Scientology Reformation: What Every Scientologist Should Know refers folk to gateways into the Independent Scientology movement. One of the central resources noted is Steve Hall's latest creation, iScientology.org, the Voice of Independent Scientology, guaranteeing Scientology as a force for good.
Here is a brief preview from Steve giving a taste of the breadth of the site as a central resource for Independent Scientologists:
Now safely ensconced in the bunker again, we're going to make good on yesterday's promise and deliver our weekly helping of 'Scientology on the High Seas' a day later than usual.
Nearly a year ago, we started excerpting L. Ron Hubbard's "Orders of the Day," which he mimeographed and distributed to the crew of his yacht, the Apollo, as he ran Scientology from the ship from 1967 to 1975. Our copies of his "OODs" (and yes, Scientologists actually pronounce it that way, "oods") cover the period from late 1968 to the end of 1971. And soon, we'll finish up our year-long project.
The OODs turned out to be very popular with our readers, and we think you're going to find this week's installment pretty interesting. Hubbard, for example, reveals what his own daily "stat" is!
2011-10-13, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Miscavige talks in fits and starts as some of you all have caught on to. It is the oldest implant technique of them all. It is covered, among other places, in Hubbard's St Hill lecture Instant Reads Part One. Basically, you bore someone to death with some monotony, then you slip in your hypnotic command, then carry on with the monotony.
We've broken down some Miscavige speeches on this blog in the past showing how he pulls this stunt at every event. Well, here is a particularly nasty one he's been laying in for several years now.
Over the past several years Miscavige keeps alluding to his having "cracked" the Grades and figured out how to "streamline" them like never before. He never seems to get around to the big announcement and event release he keeps promising on that score. Instead, he has in a nifty fashion gone ahead and implemented his "streamlined" grades over time. But, another new release from Int (Miscavige's words from the 2004OT Ambassador secret briefing - read implant) shows Miscavige laid this in on the field "Opinion Leaders" early on, clearly to condition the public in advance. Miscavige talked to them of things he "can't talk about in a public event, like money,..."
2011-10-13, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
It's that time of the week again -- at 2 pm on Thursdays, Scientology orgs turn in their stats for the week, and so we like to do our own accounting of how things went for the church with our weekly roundup.
After the jump, an eye-opening look inside an "Ideal org" by our sister paper in Phoenix. But first, watch this video segment released by Mark Bunker, in which he interviews Jamie DeWolf for his upcoming documentary, Knowledge Report.
2011-10-13, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
We've seen Lynch work over the years, and it is something to behold. Apparently, he actually had a real career at a legitimate newspaper (and if you worked with Jim back in the day, how about giving me a call to fill me in with the details?), but these days, he's the hired gun for Scientology and its disinformation organ, Freedom.
In August, Freedom was in the news for its hilariously stupid parody of New Yorker magazine, which attempted to slime writer Lawrence Wright and Crash director Paul Haggis.
The church, which plans to turn its newly acquired property at 3845 and 3875 North 44th Street into its temple-like "PhoenixIdeal Org," is booting out his business and livelihood, FitLife, from its current location. He was the final holdout as of early October; the other tenants already had been kicked out by then.
The fitness trainer and former professional athlete, a solidly built 40-year-old, isn't used to getting muscled, and his voice rises in anger as he talks about the situation.
"They're hurting people," Ruth insists. "They have zero compassion or concern about what's going on. It's brutal."
An unusual impasse between two area judges came to a close after a hearing Tuesday in federal court.
U.S. District Judge Steven D. Merryday clarified an order he issued last week, saying he never meant for it to stop Pinellas Senior Circuit Judge Robert E. Beach from withdrawing from a case involving the Church of Scientology.
Merryday said he issued the order only to prevent Beach from fining and suspending attorney Ken Dandar, who Beach determined had defied him.
2010-10-13, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
One of the most widely read posts on this blog was published on 24 April 2010, Miscavige Meltdown. It was Mike Rinder's account of an ambush staged by seven Miscavige flunkies on Mike in the parking lot of a doctor's office where he was waiting for Christie. The seven were Miscavige's deputy Jenny Linsen, ED Int Guialluame Lesevre, David Blumberg, Sue "David Miscavige is Scientology" Wilhere, Cathy Rinder, Taryn Rinder and Andrew Rinder. Here is the the link to that post for those unfamiliar with it:
The BBC broadcast a short sound bite of the ambush. Here is the entire sound recording of the event. It is followed by a transcript. The recording was made in the United Kingdom via a cell phone Mike was holding so it is not the greatest quality. I suggest starting the audio recording and follow along with the transcript. If you can make it all the way through, well done, and pass on your increasing ability to confront evil.
2007-10-13, Cecilia M. Vega, San Francisco Chronicle
After a box full of the booklets was delivered to Newsom's City Hall office this week, the city attorney's office promptly sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Southern California group distributing them, saying it was violating city and state laws by using the city seal and the mayor's endorsement without consent.
SAN FRANCISCO – The city of San Francisco has ordered a Scientology group to stop using a picture of Mayor Gavin Newsom on its promotional materials.
A group called the Way to Happiness Foundation International sent a box full of booklets to Newsom's City Hall office describing some of Scientology's core principles.
The pamphlets came emblazoned with the seal of the city of San Francisco and featured a picture of a smiling Newsom with a fictitious letter from him.
The president of the Scientology group says the whole incident was a misunderstanding.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Internal Revenue Service says it has granted tax exempt status to the Church of Scientology, ending a lengthy battle with the organization founded by the late L. Ron Hubbard.
"We're extremely pleased, we're ecstatic, we're thrilled," said Marty Rathbun, president of Religious Technology Center, an arm of the church that holds its trademarks.
The IRS granted the exemptions Oct. 1, IRS spokesman Frank Keith said Tuesday night.
1993-10-13, Jim Newton, Los Angeles Times, St. Petersburg Times, Seattle Times
With that contentious history as a backdrop, Scientology's top official, David Miscavige, called followers together last weekend at the Los Angeles Sports Arena to announce the milestone exemptions. Reporters and other non-Scientologists were barred from attending.
"The war is over!" Miscavige proclaimed at the event, according to a document labeled "Executive Directive No. 750" of the Religious Technology Center. "We have brought to an end 40 years of suppression of Scientology and Scientologists. Any discrimination or biased or unfair treatment of Scientologists by the IRS is over. . . . Our road to infinite expansion is now wide open."
The Internal Revenue Service says the Church of Scientology and its myriad entities don't have to pay federal income taxes, ending a 40-year battle with the controversial church over its purpose and methods of dealing with opponents, which included burglary and intimidation.
In the past week, the Internal Revenue Service issued 30 "determination letters" that exempted 153 Scientology churches, missions and corporations from paying federal corporate income taxes, said Frank Keith, an IRS spokesman.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Church of Scientology has regained tax-exempt status after a 26-year battle with the Internal Revenue Service.
The IRS said it granted tax-exempt status to "various entities within the hierarchy," but essentially the entire church is affected, said Marty Rathbun, president of Religious Technology Center, which holds the church's trademarks.
IRS spokesman Frank Keith said Tuesday that the church entities proved they were "operated exclusively for religious and charitable purposes."
After decades of feuding, the Internal Revenue Service has granted the Church of Scientology and more than 150 of its corporate entities tax-exempt status, ruling that they are charitable, religious organizations entitled to be free from federal income taxes.
Marty Rathbun, president of one of the Scientology organizations that received the tax exemptions, said the government sent 30 exemption letters to Scientology groups earlier this month. All told, the exemptions apply to 153 corporate entities, said Rathbun, who is the president of the Religious Technology Center.
"We're extremely pleased with the tax exemptions," Rathbun said, adding that because of them: "We look forward to our greatest expansion ever."
Hannah Janney, who grew up on a farm in Northern Virginia, remembers feeling amazed the first time she saw The Way International headquarters rising out of the relentlessly flat Midwestern landscape. Amid endless miles of cornfields were meticulous gardens, man-made ponds, gurgling white marble fountains and buildings so freshly painted they gleamed under the summer sun.
Most impressive, Janney recalls, was the sight of 16,000 brothers and sisters who had flocked to this tiny hamlet outside Dayton for an annual week-long festival, called The Rock of Ages. Like Janney, they were devout members of The Way, a little-known fundamentalist Christian sect, which some theologians believe to be the nation's second largest cult.
The Way now has an estimated 40,000 followers -- more than Rev. Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. "Everybody thinks the Moonies are the big cult because they've gotten the lion's share of publicity, but the Way is much bigger and more pervasive," says Lowell Streiker, director of San Francisco's anti-cult Freedom Counseling Center. The only larger cult in the United States, said Streiker, is The Church of Scientology.