Yesterday, Chris Shelton gave us another interesting look at what "new religious movement" academics are up to in regards to Scientology. And this time, he looked at a professor who, according to his own bio, has made a bit of a name for himself examining the "freezone."
Readers know that we also have an interest in the freezone, which generally describes former Church of Scientology members who have left the organization and are practicing Scientology independently.
There have always been splinter groups and indie practitioners since the dawn of the Dianetics movement in the early 1950s, of course, but for some reason the freezone gets "rediscovered" every few years and tends to be painted as a revelation. Perhaps the biggest publicity the freezone received was Reza Aslan's short-lived "Believer" series on CNN, when he claimed that independent Scientology could some day become a major world religion.
2020-10-26, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
We have another episode of listener questions this week.
I will add the link as soon as the episode is available.
The topics this week include: Why is scientology popular with dentists? What happened to Pat and Annie Broeker? And much more.
Back in 2013 we dove into the incredible legal odyssey of Gerry Armstrong in a two-part series [part 1, part 2] with the help of Jon Atack and Gerry himself. It's nearly unbelievable what Scientology subjected Gerry to over the years in multiple lawsuits that to this day prevent him from coming back into the United States.
Gerry's crime, of course, was that while working in Scientology's Sea Org he had stumbled upon and helped preserve a trove of L. Ron Hubbard's original papers that documented Hubbard's life in minute detail going back to his childhood. A substantial portion of that trove eventually made its way into the hands of Hubbard biographers like Atack and Russell Miller and Lawrence Wright, and it forms the basis for much of what we know about Hubbard today.
Scientology will never forgive Gerry Armstrong for playing a part in getting out the truth about Hubbard's life, which undercuts the many myths and legends that Scientology and Hubbard himself had built up over the years.
2019-10-26, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Earlier today I chatted briefly with Michael Smerconish on CNN. Unfortunately, there is no embed code for the video so you have to click HERE to watch it.
It was a VERY short piece, not really enough time to explain such complex issues, but it is good to see national media paying some attention to this issue. Hopefully more media outlets than just the Tampa Bay Times will want to dig in to this.
Tracey McManus also published a new story concerning community reaction to middle-of-the-night distribution of Freedom magazines. As usual, the glossy hype of scientology's PR effort does nothing but worsen the public perception of scientology. It is reminiscent of the Freedom they put out after the Truth Rundown series that caused many scientologists at the time to jump ship.
What a few weeks it's been here in the Bunker for coverage of Scientology legal matters. Jeffrey Augustine was in court for us again yesterday, and so we thought we'd catch up with him and all that he's been doing for us lately.
The Bunker: So Jeffrey, we are grateful for the on-the-scene reporting you've been doing. Just great work. And yesterday, we were looking forward to another day in court. It was scheduled to be the first actual hearing of any kind in the Valerie Haney lawsuit — just a procedural hearing so Valerie's out-of-state attorneys could be admitted in the local court. But that's not what happened, is it?
Jeffrey: No. What happened is that the lawsuit was apparently filed in the wrong department. It was moved to another department and will be assigned to another courtroom. This was simply a procedural error.
In the first of a three-part series of special livestreams, ExJW Fifth (Cliff Henderson) joins me to discuss the judicial material found in the latest edition of the 2019 "Shepherd the Flock of God" elder's manual, which regular Jehovah's Witnesses are forbidden from reading.
12 - Determining Whether a Judicial Committee Should Be Formed (3:52)
The story of former SEC official Michael Cohn having leaked information on the US Government's criminal investigation into GPB Capital to GPB officials in the weeks before he took a $400,000 job at GPB has received extensive coverage. Cohn's alleged crimes are high profile and egregious because he committed them as an SEC official and thereby abused the trust placed in him by the people of the United States of America.
The New York Law Journal today published an article with crucial and heretofore unknown details about Micheal Cohn. The first detail is significant:
Cohn was indicted in February, but documents related to the case had been sealed until Wednesday.
2019-10-26, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
After Tracey McManus' bombshell article dropped on 20 October, scientology immediately began their efforts to revise history. The next day, Freedom magazines started popping up all over the city. I wrote an article addressing some of the falsehoods Scientology BS Grows Deeper
Then they began trying to make a dent in the social media world to cast the article as a bigoted assault on scientology and highlight the wonderful contributions they make to Clearwater. Freedom magazine has a twitter account @Freedommag and on October 21 they began sending out tweets.
This is the tweet that is pinned to their page:
CLEARWATER — Gertrude Zullinger woke up on Monday morning to about 10 calls from concerned neighbors.
Somebody had entered the three buildings of the 55-and-older Imperial Pines complex — where Zullinger is president of the condo association — and hung copies of the Church of Scientology's Freedom Magazine on all 168 doorknobs.
"We have gates. Each building has a lobby that's locked," Zullinger said. "They felt violated. They were very upset about it."
2018-10-26, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Hey everyone, so with Halloween right around the corner, I thought it might be timely to talk about ghosts in Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard had a few things to say over the years about ghosts, or spiritual entities he referred to as thetans. In the world of Scientology, we are all not really our bodies but we are actually thetans who just inhabit and use bodies the same way that we put on and take off clothing, except of course that our bodies last for decades instead of just a day or two.
When I was in Scientology, I never had an out-of-body experience where I could see myself from the corner of the room and I never floated off and traveled around the city or country, as some Scientologists told me they had done. I was raised with the idea that we have a spiritual existence outside the realm of the physical universe and I just never even questioned Hubbard's statements about it. Had I done so, I might have seen that some of his claims about it are a little far-fetched.
Now none of these ghost stories are particularly scary. What they really show is how you can build an entire philosophy and religion around nothing more than an assumption. Just look at how much time and effort and trouble has been experienced by Scientologists and former Scientologists over the years, and how all of it basically sprang from a simple but wholly unprovable assumption. But don't take my word for that. Here's Hubbard:
You may have been seeing stories out of Australia about actor Tom Cruise and an Australian billionaire named James Packer. These stories caught us by surprise for two reasons.
1: Most of what's in them was already covered by Steve Cannane in his excellent 2016 book Fair Game.
And 2: All of the stories are missing the single most interesting thing about the Packer-Cruise friendship, in part because of Australian law.
We're not bound by that law, so we're going to tell you that piece they're leaving out, but first we need to set the table a bit.
Leaving A World In A Bubble Isn't Easy
In case you never read my previous posts, I spent 20 years in Scientology's top level restricted "religious order", the Sea Organization.
I know this post will probably be shared in other areas and therefore it is written in such a language that anyone will understand.
Leah Remini's second season of Scientology and the Aftermath started off with a hammer blow to the church — a devastating episode about child molestation in Scientology that was condoned and covered up.
One of the women featured in that episode, Mirriam Francis, described what it was like to have a mother so dedicated to Scientology that even in 2013 she would not lift a finger to help Mirriam try to get justice after being assaulted for years by her own father.
Mirriam reached out to us this week to tell us that she has an awful coda to that story. She found a photograph, and it tells her even more about how she was victimized. Here's what she sent us.
2017-10-26, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
In my recent trip to Australia, I learned a few things about what is going on in the world of Scientology and the Sea Org. In this video, former Scientologist Aaron Smith-Levin and I discuss these changes, why we believe they are being made and what consequences these could have on the future of the Church and our activism.
2016-10-26, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Yowza — they actually picked this quote out to publish it?
This isn't very complimentary about children and frankly, does not make a whole lot of sense. If the cause of all this terribleness is their reactive mind, why should it be worse when they are children? How does your reactive mind alleviate itself as you grow older if you don't have auditing?
Whether L. Ron Hubbard loved or hated children (he certainly fathered plenty - but didn't seem to fare too well raising them...) this yet again demonstrates the mindless robotism prevalent in scientology. Because L. Ron Hubbard said something it must be good. And should be promoted and presented as if everyone should think it is wonderful.
(Katherine Feigin and Trump Winery manager Kerry Hannon Woolard working at Trump Tower)
"I'm not a Scientologist. I don't have a gun. I'm a Democrat. I'm not part of this craziness at all," Katherine Feigin told us tonight after we discovered that she had worked for Donald Trump Jr as his executive and personal assistant from 2014 to 2015.
Katherine's brother, Mark Feigin, is a Los Angeles Scientologist who was arrested on October 19 by the LAPD for calling in death threats to the Islamic Center of Southern California, threats that were all the more serious because in his home he had a large arsenal of firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Mark Feigin is facing charges of criminal threats and committing a hate crime, and his arsenal, combined with his hateful online messages about engaging in a civil war if Hillary Clinton wins next month's election, suggested to many observers that a potential disaster had been averted.
The Los AngelesPolice Department revealed yesterday that it had arrested a 40-year-old man named Mark Lucian Feigin on October 19 for making two calls to the Islamic Center of Southern California and threatening to kill people there. A search at Feigin's home turned up a large arsenal of rifles and ammunition, and police also released tweets and Facebook posts by Feigin that contained disturbing threats against Muslims.
But Feigin has another secret that the police and the media hasn't talked about yet: He's been a Scientologist since 2004.
We received tips from two readers, one of whom knows Feigin personally, that Mark Feigin is the same man who is listed in Scientology's publications as taking courses in 2004, and who has posted online statements about his involvement in the church in the years since then.
Fast forward to this summer. In the wake of the Disneyland measles outbreak, California was on the way towards passing SB 277, a bill (now law) that eliminated nonmedical exemptions to school and day care vaccine mandates. It was at this time that the antivaccine movement in California and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. cozied up with the Nation of Islam to help oppose SB 277 by using images of the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and invoking the "CDC whistleblower" to convince Minister Tony Muhammed and Minister Louis Farrakhan that the CDC was covering up a link between MMR vaccination and autism in African American boys. Brian Hooker and RFK, Jr. even spoke at a Nation of Islam event held at a Church of Scientology public center. (In recent years, the Nation of Islam has more or less become a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Church of Scientology. At the very least, there is a close relationship now.)
Fast forward to this weekend. The "fruits" (if you can call them that) of the alliance between RFK, Jr. (and other antivaccine groups) and the Nation of Islam were on display in Atlanta for all to see.
In June, Scientology suffered an embarrassing defeat courtesy of the Frederick County Council in Maryland. You probably remember the drama as the council denied Scientology's request that a 40-acre parcel of land it had purchased in 2013, known as "Trout Run," be put on the county's list of historic places. Why did Scientology care that a decrepit fish camp in rural Maryland be designated a historic site? Because it wants to turn the place into a tiny, 20-bed drug rehab group home for its Narconon network, and the only way it can get the zoning it needs is through the parcel being put on the list of historic locations.
But in a 6-1 vote, the council decided that Trout Run wasn't so historic, and left it off the list.
Scientology notified the county that it was going to appeal the decision by petitioning for a judicial review of that shellacking by the county council, and now we have the appeal brief that Scientology's attorneys recently submitted. We're looking forward to you giving us your thoughts on this intriguing document.
2015-10-26, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
These emails get stranger and stranger.
Don't these people ever notice the contradictions in their statements?
Call on me, so that I can help you convert that money into something really valuable and long-lasting...
Two years after Leah Remini cut ties with the Church of Scientology, the "King of Queens" actress has revealed that Tom Cruise was at the root of her decision.
Remini initially cited wanting more time with her daughter, Sofia, as one reason for leaving the church, but never elaborated on the "dozens" of other reasons that prompted her 2013 departure. Cruise, the church's highest profile believer and "Mission Impossible" actor, was apparently one of those reasons.
"Being critical of Tom Cruise is being critical of Scientology itself ... you are evil," Remini told ABC New 20/20.
2014-10-26, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Another in what will be an ongoing, if sporadic, series of reposting earlier important posts.
I originally wrote this for Marty's blog way back in January 2010 and then republished on my blog on April 6, 2013. My perspective on things has changed a lot since then, and I would add that today, I consider David Miscavige to be even more accurately described in Martha Stout's book The Sociopath Next Door.
However, this was originally written against the criteria described by L. Ron Hubbard in 1953. I still find the analysis useful, and for those who like to use the words of L. Ron Hubbard to gauge the world, it is a useful framework through which to observe the leader of scientology.
It's time for another installment of Sunday Funnies, as we turn over to our readers the Scientology fundraising fliers that we've been forwarded by our great tipsters during the week.
We're always amazed to see how many interesting things our sharp readers are able to pull out of these church mailers. They've provided us a pretty detailed record of Scientology's fortunes over the past few years.
We'll start this week with more evidence of a trend we mentioned recently. We had noticed that increasingly, Scientology events are charging pretty stiff prices up front, something we rarely saw them do in the past.
2013-10-26, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
I don't normally follow statistics concerning this blog, as I am not trying to generate ad revenue (there are no ads:)). I provide this forum as a public service that I hope gets out information that might otherwise not see the light of day from within the bowels of the bubble.
But the irrepressible Karen De La Carriere sent this to me yesterday and called me up and told me it was good news that people should know.
I felt it was worth noting, not to beat my own drum, but to give hope to those of you who await the day when you may be reunited with friends or family who have been victim of the non-existent disconnection policy. Or to those who still have friends or family who are turning over hard earned income that would be better used for their children's education. Or those of you who just want to see people able to think for themselves instead of being inculcated into the idea that by thinking what they are told by the church they ARE thinking.
2013-10-26, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
An alternate route to graduation from Scientology:
If you want to know what is wrong with Scientology, read What is Wrong With Scientology? (2012, Amazon Books)
If you want to know how that which is wrong with Scientology came about and why, read Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior (2013, Amazon Books)
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 on Saturdays he's helping 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.
Jon, you've previously made some references to L. Ron Hubbard and drug use. But this week you wanted to take a closer look at what the man had to say about mind-altering substances and relate it to his development of Scientology. We figure we're in for another wild ride, so take it away.
JON: Scientology promotes itself as utterly anti-drug, yet this was by no means the attitude of the Founder, who was much more in line with current, progressive "harm reduction" ideas. In 2010, the prestigious medical journal The Lancet published the largest survey of the social and individual harms of drugs to date, which concluded that the most dangerous drug in our society is alcohol. No one at Narconon or Say No to Drugs jumped up to point out that this reflected their own ideologue's policy, but here it is, as stated in his 1950 work, Dianetics: the Modern Science of Mental Health:
2012-10-26, Christopher Zara, International Business Times
Attorneys for Shirley Gilliam, whose son died at the Narconon Arrowhead center in eastern Oklahoma last October, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Wednesday. According to the lawsuit, her 32-year-old son, Gabriel Graves, was a patient at the facility when he was found face down and unresponsive in his bed. A heroin addict suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, he had complained of headaches and vomiting but was denied pain medicine or access to a doctor before he died, according to the suit.
Friday mornings is when we look back at Scientology history, and we're now winding down with our last couple of weeks of dispatches from the yacht Apollo.
From 1967 to 1975, L. Ron Hubbard ran Scientology from a small armada of ships that sailed the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. Each day, he'd send out a report to his crew which were known as "Orders of the Day." We have a mostly complete set of them from late 1968 through 1971 that we've been sampling, week after week since last November.
So join us as we take a look at what the Commodore was raving about during that time the week of October 21 to 27...
After a month-long silence, the self-professed Scientology member who spoke with the SF Weekly about deciding the church was a cult has posted a new message online -- virtually taunting the church for its inability to figure out the identity of the apostate in its ranks.
"I have proven your inability to just find one mole. You trust me like you trust that most of the staff is not Ethics Trouble," wrote the apostate on a messageboard of the local Anonymous group, the masked protesters who stage regular protests against the San Francisco church. "This has played out better than I postulated. It's so perfect, I love it."
2011-10-26, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Kaufman (Credit: Gerald Lerner) UPDATE: Mark Ebner adds his own confirmation of OSA activity with a similar leaked Scientology document. Also, a private investigator describes sifting trash for the Church of Scientology.
Just got off the phone with Troma Studios founder Lloyd Kaufman, who says he's been getting a lot of calls since we reported this weekend that he is mentioned in Scientology documents which detail a retaliatory investigation of South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
In 2005, Parker and Stone aired "Trapped in the Closet," an episode of South Park that deeply embarrassed Scientology by mocking its upper-level teachings. By the spring of 2006, the formerly secret documents suggest, Scientology's Office of Special Affairs was overseeing a multi-pronged effort to retaliate against the animators by researching their public records, digging through their trash, and doing the same to their close friends and employees. In two different documents, mention is also made that Kaufman was pumped for information with the use of a longtime Scientologist and filmmaker named Eric Sherman.
2011-10-26, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
references: South Park Part I, South Park Part II, South Park Part III
Thanks to the last investigative reporter in New York, confirmation that the actions outlined in the OSA (Corporate Scientology's terror and harassment arm the Office of Special Affairs) memoranda I published in the above referenced posts have been confirmed by an independent witness.
Tony "the last investigative reporter in NY" Ortega of the Village Voice followed up on this particular OSA memorandum posted here three days ago:
2010-10-26, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
By way of background, I refer to my post of 19 August on this blog: https://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2010/08/19/lying-in-miscaviges-70-million-bunker/
In that post I quoted excerpts from the July 2 deposition of Tommy Davis that were lodged in the court file in the Headley cases. Since then I received a copy of the entire transcript of the deposition. The transcript reveals that Davis' prevaricating was far more blatant than what was demonstrated by the then-available excerpts in the 19 August post.
On July 2 of this year Thomas "Tommy" Davis swore under the pains and penalties of perjury to tell Marc and Claire Headley's lawyers the truth, and nothing but the truth.
June 17: The Celebrity Centre should not be convicted on the basis of prejudice and preconceptions against Scientology, lawyer Patrick Maisonneuve argued, as the trial drew to a close.
When Maître Patrick Maisonneuve rose to speak for the Paris Celebrity Centre (Association spirituelle de l'Eglise de Scientologie, ASES), there was a certain expectation in the court.
Maître Maisonneuve is what they call a tenor du barreau in France: a star performer in court - and he has never been afraid of defending controversial clients in high-profile cases.
A well-known Hollywood director has severed ties with the Church of Scientology, citing in part the church's support for Proposition 8, the ballot measure last year that banned same-sex marriage in California.
Haggis, whose 2005 film Crash won two Oscars, said that he could no longer remain part "of an organisation where gay-bashing was tolerated".
In a lengthy resignation letter leaked to the press, Haggis attacked the church's support for Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.
The letter was addressed to the church's official spokesman Tommy Davis, accusing him of failing to act on promises to distance the organisation from homophobic statements made by its San Diego branch during debates over Proposition 8 last year.
Haggis also said he was "shocked" that the Church of Scientology was publicly denying that it adheres to a policy of disconnection -- of severing ties with a friend or family member who's antagonistic toward Scientology. Haggis said that his wife, Deborah Rennard, was given precisely those orders and didn't speak to her parents for more than a year.
Davis again disagreed with Haggis and said the church doesn't mandate disconnection with anybody and that it was an entirely "self-determined decision."
"The great majority of Scientologists I know are good people who are genuinely interested in improving conditions on this planet and helping others," Haggis wrote. "I have to believe that if they knew what I now know, they too would be horrified."
2009-10-26, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
Well, the first completion from Flag's Grades program has rolled off the line, and is being touted all over LA as the poster child for David Miscavige's new, faster-than-ever Grades. As you may have heard, all OT Ambassadors have been given "mandatory" orders to select people to Flag for their Grades. They have stiff quotas, and are being pounded to get more people to Flag.
Never mind that this takes preclears from their local orgs, who are already struggling to get by, with their course rooms and HGCs empty. Never mind that it is the Orgs who are supposed to deliver Grades, and then select them to the AOs and then to Flag. Never mind such a minor thing as Bridge flow. No, don't think about those things - they have to be gotten to Flag fast so they can be signed up fast, so they can get through their Grades fast.
And exactly how are they getting them through their Grades so fast? Well, because they are delivering Quad Grades, not Expanded Grades. Yes, that's right, Quad Grades.
While many of Hollywood's elite have long adhered to Scientology, last week, Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis broke rank, resigning from the church in a scathing letter to Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis.
In his interim findings last week, Coroner John Lock said the Scientology "audit" and "ethics" files sent to America "may very well have had some information which could give the inquest some assistance in determining what happened". But Ms Dunstan said Queensland police had not sought the files until after the "mother church" in the US had requested them. "The files were not sent to America for some 18 months after Mr McBride's death and were freely available before then but hadn't been requested," she said.
"Having been sent to America they were outside the jurisdiction of the Queensland Coroner's Court and also outside the jurisdiction of the Australian church.
(partial interview uploaded from AnonForTruth)
Richard Woods speaks about the libel case he and Bonnie fought against the Church of Scientology. They won, after a six year court battle.
For more information see: http://www.escapeint.org
In July 2003, a nonprofit called Applied Scholastics International opened a spanking-new headquarters on 55 acres in Spanish Lake. Among those who attended the festivities were U.S. Congressman William "Lacy" Clay and actors Tom Cruise and Anne Archer.
Toronto-area MP Derek Lee appears in a recruiting video used by the Church of Scientology to attract new members in the United States.
Some critics have denounced Scientology as a brainwashing cult that harasses its opponents and exploits the vulnerable for financial gain. But Mr. Lee says he supports some of the group's programs and is particularly impressed by its approach to rehabilitating drug addicts.
"I'm way past the point of viewing them as just a cult," said Mr. Lee, who is Roman Catholic and not a member of the Church of Scientology. "My judgment is there are just too many good people in that faith doing too many good things."
Church of Scientology spies committed scores of break-ins at government offices -- including those of the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service -- in Washington and elsewhere to obtain secret files containing information about the church, according to evidence in federal court here yesterday.
Church operatives also infiltrated governmnet agencies, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Coast Guard intelligence service, to conduct their burglary, bugging and spying operation, the evidence said.
The Scientologist burglars would be given awards for their performances by the church, the evidence asserted.