2017-10-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
First things first, the blog...
Nathan Rich provided a layman's explanation of what happened to the blog over the weekend – I asked him to make it so even I could understand it:
Here's how it works and what the evidence is.
Tonight, at 10 pm A&E airs the second "special" episode in the second season of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, an episode which tries to come to grips with Scientology's rapacious business model and how people get caught up in it.
To help explain how Scientology operates as a business (which calls itself a church) Mike and Leah bring out Mat Pesch, who was also featured in the first episode of the first season. In that episode, Mat helped his wife Amy Scobee tell her story of disconnection from her mother, Bonny Elliott.
But Mat appears this time because he himself was an executive in the finances division at the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida, the revenue engine that drives the entire worldwide enterprise. Mat says that Flag was bringing in $2 million a week, and had $450 million just sitting on account from church members toward future courses that they might never take.
Last year, when Alex Gibney's documentary Going Clear opened at theaters and then aired on HBO, Scientology leader David Miscavige struck back in a very characteristic way — with websites and videos denouncing Gibney and the people who appeared in the film.
Chief among them was Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning writer and director who had left Scientology after 30 years and was the subject of Lawrence Wright's 2011New Yorker profile and then the book that the film was based on. Haggis was singled out for one of the harshest acts of retaliation. His sister, television writer and producer Kathy Slevin, appeared in a video at one of Scientology's websites, accusing her brother of being a lifelong "con man" who was taking advantage of Wright and Gibney by pretending to be more involved in Scientology than he actually had been. She also said Haggis had only agreed to be interviewed by Wright as a cunning way to get himself profiled in the New Yorker.
We remember seeing the video when it first appeared, and how uncomfortable it was to watch. What Slevin said about her brother wasn't credible in the slightest, and it was disturbing to see the way Scientology was using her to try and harm Haggis's reputation.
The Canadian branch of Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a non-profit anti-psychiatry organization founded by the Church of Scientology in 1969, praised the scholarship on its Facebook page, calling it "very, very good news" and Burstow "a rock star."
When asked about its endorsement of the scholarship, the CCHR echoed many of Burstow's sentiments on a supposed lack of medical validity for psychiatry.
Burstow emphasized that she has no affiliation with the CCHR: "I'm an activist and there are no Scientology organizations that I belong to." Dr. Burstow advocates for a future in the psychiatric industry that provides "non-medical, non-coercive help for people who want it."
2016-10-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Our old friend, photographer extraordinaire Andy Porter sent me this piece of sarcastic humor. As we see so often, when poking fun at scientology, it is sometimes difficult to separate fact from farce. Hope this will lighten your Monday.
Scientology Customer Service
Here are three words you don't often see used together. Sort of like Napalm Skin Cream. They just don't fit!
Our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, fills us in on some details about this week's decision by a Dutch appeals court that Scientology should not get tax exemption in that country because of the prices it charges...
A Dutch tax court on Wednesday denied Scientology the tax-exempt status of a public benefit organisation, ruling that it was clearly a commercial enterprise.
This decision comes after last December's Supreme Court ruling overturning an appeal court decision that had gone in Scientology's favour, as we reported here at the time.
2015-10-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
An artist's rendition of the planned "ideal org" - the artist is not a big fan of the ideal org strategy.
These bubbledwellers are so condescending. And I doubt they are even faintly aware of it. "There is not one Puerto Rican who does not have a desire to do better..." Among other statements.
And her grammar, vocabulary and understanding of geography is about 5th grade level. Puerto Rico is "off the cuff" of the US? An ideal org in Puerto Rico is "our way to really create a huge WTH movement across all the Western Hemisphere"
2014-10-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
An eagle eyed Special Correspondent spotted something in Tony Ortega's Sunday Funnies on 19 Oct.
From there he dug a little more and some interesting things emerged.
It is well known that Scientology is notoriously homophobic. L. Ron Hubbard was extremely anti-gay in his early writings, most notably in his 1951 book Science Of Survival. Unfortunately, it is fundamental and unalterable dogma in scientology that the words of L. Ron Hubbard must be followed to the letter and without deviation. So, things change VERY slowly, if at all.
Ryan Hamilton Since January, we've been reporting on the 24 lawsuits filed by Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton against Scientology's drug rehab network, Narconon. And in that time, Hamilton's batting average has been remarkably high — in some cases, defendants Narconon International and the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) have thrown in the towel, settling to get out of the lawsuits as Hamilton has fended off the usual tactics by Scientology's attorneys.
Hamilton's suits focus on Narconon's deceptive practices, which are well established. Narconon makes a lot of promises to prospective clients about drug counseling, medical personnel, and effectiveness, but as Hamilton demonstrates in his pleadings, each of those promises are broken. Narconon patients actually get Scientology training rather than drug counseling, staff is made up of former patients not medical personnel, and the advertised rates of success can't be backed up with any scientific evidence.
But now, one of the early lawsuits has hit a snag. Federal District Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel has granted some parts of a motion to dismiss against one of the early suits that Hamilton filed in March on behalf of Angelo Amato.
Jonny Jacobsen Remember when Scientology's fraud conviction in France was upheld by that country's highest court just over a year ago? Our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, worked feverishly that day to bring us several dispatches about it.
Jonny had been covering the fraud prosecution for years, and he helped us understand just how important it was that the Cour de Cassation upheld the 2009 convictions. As one French legislator explained to him, another conviction could result in Scientology getting kicked out of the country.
Scientology's attorneys, meanwhile, announced that they would be taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, where they would complain that they didn't receive justice from France's courts.
Jefferson Hawkins was once the top marketing executive for the Church of Scientology and helped it reach its greatest extent with the famous "volcano" TV ads in the 1980s. He's told his tale of getting into and out of the church with his excellent books Counterfeit Dreams and Leaving Scientology, and he's helping us understand the upside-down world of Scientology "ethics."
Last week you really started this series off with a bang, Jefferson. We can't wait to see what you have for us in this second installment as we read Introduction to Scientology Ethics.
JEFFERSON: This week, I thought we'd take up the next three sections of the book, up to the end of Chapter One. These all kind of hang together and serve to introduce a major lynchpin of Hubbard's ethics system, "the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics."
Scientology is on trial with former member Laura Ann Decrescenzo alleging forced abortion and slavery against David Miscavige and the church, and we discuss the details with Scientology investigators Tony Ortega and Mark Ebner. Speaking about the misdeeds and abuses of Scientology, the homophobia of L. Ron Hubbard and Dianetics, freeloader debts and the brainwashing and intimidation used by the Scientology and the Sea Org, and what PT Anderson "got wrong," with The Master-it is another look at the controversial group on Media Mayhem hosted by Allison Hope Weiner.
Tony Ortega is a former editor of The Village Voice who is working on a book on Scientology and blogs at tonyortega.org. He lives in New York.
2013-10-24, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
It's getting wackier. If that's possible.
Now anyone's crazy scheme is being tagged onto the crazy scheme of "Ideal Orgs." And the orgs are even promoting it.
It used to just be the blind leading the blind.
Shirley Gilliam, the mother of Gabriel Graves - found dead at the facility in 2011, filed the wrongful death lawsuit today in PIttsburg County Court.
This is second wrongful death suit filed against facility this month. Earlier this month another wrongful death lawsuit against Narconon Arrowhead was filed on behalf of Robert Murphy and Tonya White, parents of Stacy Dawn Murphy, 20, of Owasso, who was found dead in the facility's withdrawal unit in July.
2012-10-24, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Please pass along to all Kool Aid drinkers you might still have on your email lists. Here is hard, current evidence as to how their donations are being spent by Scientology Inc. supreme ruler David Miscavige.
Tommy, where are you? One of our eagle-eyed commenters pointed out something yesterday: Tommy Davis has suddenly vanished from Scientology's media relations web page.
Sure enough, it's true. The church's website which lists its official spokespersons is now bereft of Davis and his wife, Jessica Feshbach. The two people who were behind them, Karin Pouw and Bob Adams, have been moved to the top tier. Pouw is now listed as the "international spokesperson."
After the jump, we'll show you the before and after images of the church's official page, and we'll try to come to grips with this stunning news.
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The mother of a Claremore man found dead last year at an eastern Oklahoma drug rehab center with ties to the Church of Scientology has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the facility.
Attorneys for Shirley Gilliam filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Pittsburg County against the Narconon Arrowhead facility, its California-based parent companies and the facility's medical director.
Gilliam's son — 32-year-old Gabriel Graves — died in his room at the facility in Canadian on October 2011. Two more patients have died since then while receiving treatment there.
The mother of a Claremore man found dead last year at an eastern Oklahoma drug rehab center with ties to the Church of Scientology filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Wednesday against the facility, alleging staff was improperly trained and failed to provide proper medical care.
Attorneys for Shirley Gilliam filed the lawsuit in Pittsburg County against Narconon of Oklahoma, which operates the Narconon Arrowhead facility in Canadian. Also named in the suit are the corporation's California-based parent companies and the facility's medical director.
2012-10-24, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Let us not forget the depths of depravity of the criminal mind that micro manages every move of Scientology Inc. From the testimony of 17-year Captain of the Flag Service Organization (the 'Mecca' of Scientology Inc.) Debbie Cook Baumgarten, given on 9 February, 2012 under oath in the Bexar CountyTexas District Court:
1 Q. (BY MR. JEFFREY) When you were in Los Angeles
2 with Mr. Ginge Nelson, what happened that you observed?
The family of a Claremore man who died while in drug rehab at Narconon Arrowhead filed a lawsuit Wednesday alleging negligence and wrongful death.
The family of Gabriel Graves, a 32-year-old father of two who died in October 2011, is the third to sue the facility, which is located on Lake Eufaula northeast of McAlester.
The grand opening also drew some well-wishers from the political field, most of them happy to see such a large, long-vacant downtown space fully occupied.
Among those well-wishers were St. Paul City Council member Dave Thune, state Sen. Sandra Pappas, state Rep. Rena Moran and V.J. Smith, president of the Minneapolis Chapter of MAD DADS, which hands out the church's "Truth about Drugs" anti-drug abuse pamphlets. Moran praised the church's commitment to volunteerism, and Pappas spoke of its commitment to human rights work around the globe.
A former executive of the Church of Scientology has come out saying the Church had a plan to smear South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian break it down on The Young Turks.
2011-10-24, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
South Park deeply embarrassed Scientology with its 2005 episode, "Trapped in the Closet." UPDATE: Scientology responds to our South Park stories, and we decode that response here.
NEW: FilmmakerLloyd Kaufman confirms that he was asked about Trey Parker and Matt Stone by Scientology's Eric Sherman in 2006. And Mark Ebner adds further confirmation with his own leaked document of OSA activity. Also, a private investigator describes sifting trash for the Church of Scientology.
Yesterday, we reported that former Scientology executiveMarty Rathbun had revealed at his blog that in 2006, Scientology's Office of Special Affairs -- the church's intelligence and covert operations wing -- was actively investigating South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone by looking for vulnerabilities among their close friends.
2011-10-24, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
reference: Corporate Scientology Targets South ParkTony Ortega has provided the second installment of Corporate Scientology's Operation South Park at the Village Voice website: Scientology's South Park Investigation: To Send In A Young Mole
According to an original Corporate Scientology Office of Special Affairs (OSA, terror and harassment arm of Corporate Scientology) memorandum OSA cased the offices of South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone in April 2006.
Amy Scobee was a member of Scientology for 27 years. She was a Church executive who helped expand Scientology's outreach to celebrities. She spoke with "Nightline."
Nightline: ...Presbyterian Church doesn't have a wing that emphasizes reaching celebrities ...Why do you think there was this emphasis on celebrity?
Scobee: ...One of the purposes of Celebrity Centre is to make celebrities walking success stories of Scientology.
Depending on whom you ask, Massachusetts-based protest organizer Gregg Housh had a major victory - or a significant loss - in Boston Municipal Court this Wednesday. As reported in The Phoenix this past week in the feature "Battling Scientology," Housh faced charges of harassment, disturbing the peace, and disturbing religious worship for his involvement with the picket group Anonymous and his actions against the Boston Church of Scientology.
LONDON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- Tom Cruise provided some Hollywood glitter for a gathering of Scientologists in Britain.
The pricing system for a major fundraising banquet in Sussex was simple, The Telegraph reported. Those who donated the most got the choice seats, and since Cruise is a major contributor, he was seated near the stage, along with the other major patrons.
The most expensive seats at Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead cost at least $1,900, the newspaper said.
2006-10-24, Sandra Laville, Special report, The Guardian
A cult information group has complained to a senior police officer about comments he made at the opening of the £24m Church of Scientology centre in London.
It also emerged yesterday that four City of London police officers attended a lavish reception at the headquarters of the Scientology movement in East Grinstead on Saturday night. The officers, who have not been named, registered their attendance according to police rules on hospitality, according to a police spokeswoman.
Google was criticised in March for bowing to a demand from the Church of Scientology to delete critical sites from its index. In a response that won praise, Google replied by pledging to report future legal threats to the ChillingEffects.org site run by law school clinics.
The Church of Scientology is planning its biggest demonstration in Germany on Monday in protest at what it says is discrimination against religious minorities here. The organization's Germany spokesman said half those on the march through Berlin were expected to be from abroad, but it was not certain whether film stars Tom Cruise and John Travolta would be there. Germany does not recognize Scientology as a religion and sees it as a business that exploits its members for financial gain.
1995-10-24, Adam S. Bauman, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times
Especially alarming to some has been the recent use of ex-parte searches by the Church of Scientology. The church has conducted three such searches in a bid to thwart the alleged distribution, via the Internet computer network, of Scientology documents by church critics. The church contends these documents are protected by copyright and trade-secret law.
Tom Kelley, an attorney for ex-Scientologist Lawrence Wollersheim - whose Boulder, Colo., home was searched Aug. 22 by marshals, Scientologists and their attorneys - claimed that "what this permitted was an intelligence operation as opposed to a mere seizure of copyrighted materials. . . . it's like having your sworn enemy going though your underwear drawer."
It might be easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for the IRS to judge the merits of a religion. So when it comes to considering tax exemptions, the agency sticks to what it knows: money.
For the Church of Scientology, which won a series of tax exemptions earlier this month, that meant proving no one was pocketing the millions of dollars in donations the organization collects for religious services.
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Grandpa Elvis would have been proud.
Lisa Marie Presley, the 24-year-old daughter of the late rock 'n' roll king, gave birth Wednesday to her second child - a son who weighed in at 7 pounds, 8 ounces, spokesman Paul Bloch said Friday.
The boy was born at Humana Women's Hospital in Tampa, Fla. Presley's husband, Danny Keough, a 27-year-old musician, was present, Bloch said.
The Lynwood Planning Commission approved the home on Sept. 4, but the council reversed the commission last Friday at the urging of outraged residents.
Genesys, a nonprofit organization, proposed the home, which would accept boys from 11 to 18 years old. The children would have lived, attended school and received spiritual guidance at the home, an alternative to state or county detention centers, said Genesys founder Rev. Alfreddie Johnson Jr., a former Lynwood resident.
The wife of the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, has filed a $5 million suit against Mr. Hubbard's son, charging "massive fraud" in his 1982 effort to have his father declared legally dead or mentally incompetent.
ST. LOUIS -- A federal court jury today began deliberations in the trial of Sen. Thomas Eagleton's niece, who is charged with trying to extort $220,000 from the senator by threatening to start a rumor he is homosexual.
The niece, Elizabeth Weigand, 24, and her former attorney, Stephen Poludniak, 29, were charged with one count each of extortion and conspiracy. Conviction on the two counts carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and fines totaling $10,500.
The case went to the jury at 12:58 p.m. CDT on the eighth day of the trial.