This week in our 'Scientology Lit' series we're looking back at a real classic and one of the most fun reads in the genre, 1971's The Mind Benders by Cyril Vosper (1934-2004). It was the first book by a former Scientologist to expose the organization, beating Robert Kaufman's Inside Scientology, which came out the next year. Long out of print, Vosper's book is worth tracking down for its sense of humor as well as its cutting insights into L. Ron Hubbard and his ideas. (Prof. Touretzky at Carnegie Mellon maintains a page with the entire text.) We've chosen Vosper's excellent chapter on Scientology's secret upper levels, which, keep in mind, the outside world truly knew nothing about at the time. We think you'll enjoy it.
One might think that with the production in 1966 of the first true Clear—a never-before imagined state of ability—and with the systematic output of some 3,000 more by mid-1970, Hubbard would rest on his laurels.
This masterly gift to the human race is surely as much as can be expected of any one man. Surely, he would be justified to put down the reins of high office—there can be no higher office imaginable than to be the saviour of the human race—and leave the rest of we poor shuddering humans to make what we will of our destiny.
(Cedars' vlog no. 240) While still trying to process the incredible reception to the airing of Leah Remini's special "Scientology and the Aftermath" episode on Jehovah's Witnesses, I share my reflections on the production and what it was like to be involved.
Please check out my new blog article for more information: http://reluctantapostate.co/after-the-aftermath-my-thoughts-on-leah-reminis-jw-special/
Support me on Patreon: https://patreon.com/cedars
2018-11-17, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Of course, with the tragic fires in northern and southern California, David Miscavige's self-proclaimed "largest independent relief force in the world" has sprung into immediate action...
In August, Brad Bufanda, a 34-year-old actor and chiseled gym instructor, showed up for an initial table reading of an independent film he'd landed a role for.
Bufanda is primarily remembered for appearing as the biker gang character "Felix Toombs" in two seasons of the 2004-2006 UPN/CW teen mystery series, Veronica Mars. But his career had been in a bit of a slump since then, and this year he was trying a comeback.
In February, he acted in a forthcoming Vivica Fox and Michael Madsen end-of-the-world mob comedy. That film, Garlic and Gunpowder, was based on an original story by a man named Steven Chase, who also had an acting role in it. And now, in August, Chase was directing a romantic comedy titled Stan the Man, and he'd given two of the lead roles to actors who had played smaller parts in the February movie.
University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson was in the news this week—and one imagines this makes the university sad. Peterson first made the news and became a belle of the alt-right when, in September 2016, he announced that he would not use a student's preferred pronoun if he were asked to, except that he might if he felt the request was "genuine," and no one had asked him that anyway.
What that poor man has been through.
Needless to say, in an economy as desperately short of leadership and ideas as the alt-right's is, Peterson's stock went through the roof. He currently has legions of fans hanging on his every YouTubed word; he's now hauling in around USD $50,000 a month through crowdfunding.
2017-11-17, Miss Fortune, Glistening, Quivering Underbelly
"A licensed substance use disorder (SUD) facility is not required to report incidents or submit an Incident Report to the Bureau of Community and Health Systems (BCHS) within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). "
Battle Creek's A Forever Recovery is not required to report last week's serious carbon monoxide incident to Michigan's Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
According to a LARA media representative, responding to my November 16 inquiry regarding "Unusual Incident" and other mandatory reporting requirements stemming from the undetected carbon monoxide leak that sent 26 people to the hospital, a "licensed substance use disorder (SUD) facility is not required to report incidents or submit an Incident Report to the Bureau of Community and Health Systems (BCHS) within the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA).
2016-11-17, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Hey everyone, we are picking back up on our reading and deconstruction of this book, Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and featuring essays from a number of different academics and religious scholars on the subject of Scientology. We've covered the first 10 chapters and so far it's been a slugfest of Scientology apologetics to one degree or another, with these scholars almost one-for-one refusing to take a critical view of the subject and many of them simply repeating the content of Scientology's own promotional materials or Hubbard's words verbatim and calling it religious scholarship. But this week, we finally have something new.
Andreas Grunschloss is the author on deck. He is a German scholar and according to Wikipedia, is the current Professor of Religious Studies at Gottingen University in Germany. He is an ordained Protestant pastor, has written three books and is the co-editor of the Marburg Journal of Religion, an English language peer-reviewed academic internet journal.
I was impressed in reading about some of his other works as how he manages to maintain what looks to me like an actually objective view of the subjects he studies, yet does drill down into their details to get at what is really going on in the heads of the believers. This is not as easy as it sounds. Not to stereotype Grunschloss, but perhaps because he is German, it was easier for him to maintain neutrality towards Scientology. Germany has had a long and epic history with Scientology because the government there never bought into the idea that Scientology was a religion and in fact, has had its eyes on them for quite some time. This is more due to the fact that the German government is not at all interested in anything like the Nazi Party rising again than they are in suppressing freedom of religion and it's telling that they view Scientology with such potential. Given its rapacious appetite for money at the cost of broken lives and broken families, hardsell sales tactics, seemly inexhaustible legal fund and the anti-government sentiments Hubbard espoused over the years, it's not hard to see why Germany would have reason for concern.
In this video series, I'm taking on Scientology academic apologists by deconstructing the book Scientology by James R. Lewis, chapter by chapter. In this video, I look at Chapter 11, written by Andreas Grunschloss and titled "Scientology, A 'New Age' Religion?"
The introduction to this series is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3-lW...
CRITICAL MERCHANDISE AVAILABLE AT:
(Coming soon to San Diego?)
This summer, we covered the opening of Scientology's newest Ideal Org in this country, its two new buildings in Harlem. We wrote at some length about the methods that Scientology used to try to keep us from reporting that event, and what fun we had. So which will be the next Scientology "Ideal Org" opened in the U.S.? After a photo we received from a couple of tipsters this week, we think the next David Miscavige grand opening event might happen in San Diego.
The path to an Ideal Org in San Diego has been a difficult one. Way back in 2006, wealthy San Diego Scientologists Kurt and Jenny Listug paid $13.08 million for the Chicago Title Insurance Co. building downtown, which had a pretty funky look to it. Our sources told us that the Listugs offered it to the church to use as an Ideal Org and replace the longtime home of Scientology in San Diego, a building on 4th Avenue just south of Ash Street. The national office turned their noses up at the Listugs' offer, and so the couple sold it for $13.6 million.
(Claire Headley and Sunny Pereira)
Twenty years ago today, at three in the morning, Brenda Hubert woke up in her Orlando hotel room to find her roommate, Lisa McPherson, sitting on her, holding her arms down.
Two days earlier, Brenda and Lisa had traveled together by car from Clearwater to attend a business conference. They were co-workers at AMC Publishing, and the National Association of Independent Life Brokerage Agencies annual meeting was the biggest convention of the year for AMC. During the first two days of the conference, Brenda watched as Lisa had acted increasingly strangely. But late on the second day, a Thursday night, Lisa had managed to get through the company's hosting of a hospitality suite without trouble and she had returned to their room at about midnight. Brenda herself got to the room at about 1 am and saw that Lisa was sleeping soundly.
2015-11-17, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Scientology is busily engaged in one of their favorite pass-times.
Using a tragedy to squeeze money out of people. And you can bet the below example is just one of many pitches being made. The IAS is no doubt having a great week.
As I commented earlier today, the scientology fundraisers motto is: The best type of fundraising event is a front-page-headline tragedy.
2014-11-17, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This is the completions page from the latest Advance Magazine.
Though this is the IDEAL PACIFICA BRIDGE and David Miscavige made much of how people are "flooding up the bridge in record numbers", you can see for yourself what is really going on in this "ideal" AO.
Of course, they never make clear what period these stats cover, but based on other mags, this is likely 3 months worth at least.
2014-11-17, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
First, A Personal Update
I know it's been a little while since I've posted anything and before I get into the main subject of my article, I thought I'd give a little personal perspective on what I've been up to that's kept me away.
Like TV shows in each new season, characters come back a little older and a little wiser from the lessons of the previous season and are usually refreshed and ready to take on the new challenges offered by the show's writers.
We have a follow-up to our story Wednesday about Scientology doing what it can to erase L. Ron Hubbard's second wife, Sara Northrup, from the historical record.
We had some help from Lauren Wolf, who worked as research assistant to author and New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright on his 2013 book, Going Clear. It was Lauren who had spotted a photograph in a Scientology publication that erased Sara Northrup from a 1946 photo with Hubbard. She told us she had found it too late for Wright's book, and we were grateful that she brought it to the Underground Bunker.
We told her we'd be happy to take any other tips from her — her knowledge and research into Hubbard's life is top notch. And sure enough, she took us up on it!
The church did make a recent public relations push. At an October meeting of the Clearwater Neighborhoods Coalition, church spokeswoman Pat Harney said the church pays more than $2 million each year in property and hotel bed taxes. It owns nearly 70 parcels in Pinellas County, mostly in Clearwater, valued by the county property appraiser at more than $139 million - about 80 percent of it exempt from taxation, according to county records.
Our Interview Subject
Programming note: Even just two weeks in to this adventure, I am beginning to discover that the new blog is attracting sources who have interesting perspective to contribute, but whose voice wouldn't fit in a standard news story. This is the first example of a source with a unique perspective on Scientology that I'm writing up as part of my "useful anecdotes" series. Recall my article last week about the importance of anecdotes in the research process.
Background: I received an e-mail last week from MidwestMom, a much-adored commenter in our little community who has been scarce for a while. She announced that she would be in New York this weekend to see some plays and to hit some of the sales in the "Mecca of Shopping Perfection," an endless row of trendy boutiques on upper Madison Avenue. Apparently, winter has already set in in her bucolic paradise in the far north of the Midwest (further north, even, than parts of "Canada," that rural enclave of upstate New York) and "the boys" were out doing their thing on the first days of deer hunting season, so it was time for a getaway.
A helicopter just lifted off carrying former Church of Scientology members Mike Bennitt and Mike Rinder, who are headed for downtown Clearwater to film and report on Scientology's big Super Power Building opening today.
Bennitt's carrying a couple of different cameras for filming and still shots, and after they touch down in a couple of hours, we'll start posting images here that he brings back.
In the mean time, we've asked Rinder to send us live updates of how the shoot is going, and give us his impression of how many Scientologists are actually in the streets for this event. This should be fun!
The big day is finally here, and we can hardly stand it. This afternoon, Scientology's $200 million white elephant epic cathedral is going to open for tours (Scientologists only), and before long, one assumes, wealthy church members will be making their way to the fifth floor for their Super Power Rundowns.
All weekend, the parties have been going on at Scientology's spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, and it looks like these folks are having a helluva time.
But for this installment of Scientology Sunday Funnies, we're actually going to start in Los Angeles, where a very different celebration of the church has been going on!
2013-11-17, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here is an update of the goings-on in Clearwater.
I took a drive through downtown this afternoon. The only thing of note was the number of people with earpieces, walkie-talkies and guns. More Security, OSA, PIs and cops than I have ever seen in one place. It was like a walled off fortress defending against imaginary hordes of attackers. I am sure the citizens of Clearwater were reassured that such a wonderful humanitarian organization had chosen their city to make its presence felt.
But what was going on behind the gates, fences and phalanx of security?
2012-11-17, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Apparently a simple, hour-long deposition taken of me last week is beginning to create quite the tempest in Tampa, Florida. Click headline below for link:
Federal suit: Scientologist spent $30 mil to cover up death of Lisa McPherson
FULL DEPOSITION TRANSCRIPT OF MARK 'MARTY' RATHBUN:
Last night, the St. Petersburg, Florida CBS affiliate, WTSP, broke news that Marty Rathbun has made blockbuster allegations in sworn testimony that the Church of Scientology spent millions in an attempt to influence Florida judges as it was fighting the criminal investigation and then civil litigation following the 1995 death of church member Lisa McPherson.
We've talked to Rathbun about his testimony, we have a copy of his deposition, and we've also asked our legal department — Manhattan attorney Scott Pilutik — to give us his thoughts about these stunning new allegations that Scientology spent freely to influence judges in Florida.
First, some background: on October 31, Florida attorney Ken Dandar, who represented McPherson's family in the wrongful death civil litigation, filed a federal lawsuit against the Church of Scientology and two of its attorneys, alleging that his civil rights were being trampled by Scientology through its manipulation of the state court system. Dandar claims that in a closed hearing scheduled for November 26, a Florida state judge will saddle Dandar with $1 million in court fees the church is asking for. In his federal lawsuit, Dandar is asking for a court injunction to stop the November 26 closed hearing.
2011-11-17, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
UPDATE: We take a look at the curious career of Chill EB, Scientology's in-house rapper, whose song was used for this video. And we also had a late night Direct Message conversation with him that should not be missed.
Oh my. Another jaw-dropping video produced by Scientologists for internal use has made its way to the outside world.
Take a look, and after the jump we'll tell you what we've been able to find out about this latest testament to Scientology hipness.
2011-11-17, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Mark Bunker sent over to us another tease from his upcoming Scientology documentary, Knowledge Report, and this one is a real treat.
We've written here several times that few former Scientologists ever endured as much legal persecution and really unbelievable levels of harassment as Gerry Armstrong. But how did it all start? In this video, Gerry describes that his unpardonable sin, as a Scientologist, was an earnest desire to eliminate L. Ron Hubbard's lies about his past from church propaganda -- which he felt would benefit Scientology.
Watch Gerry describe his attempt at a good deed as we begin this week's Thursday Stats Roundup, taking a look at Scientology news from around the world. Each Thursday at 2 pm, Scientologists race to get their statistics up for a weekly measuring. And we like to do the same here at Runnin' Scared!
2011-11-17, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Miscavige's maniacal greed meltdown has reached out to and apparently destroyed the Mission network (the smaller "churches" that once provided introductory Scientology services to many people in just about every city of 1/2 million people or more). A very recent defector who was in a position to witness it all has risked his future relations with family and prospects for business to provide us with the facts. Meet my man Gabriel and be sure to let him know how you appreciate his courage.
I have served as a staff member in the mission network for a number of years. I have very current data in the SMI Network that corroborates what Mr. Rathbun, Mr. Rinder and so many others are reporting.
Currently the mission network is on the verge of collapse. In terms of management it has been completely unmocked. I know of three missions that have closed in the past year or so: Lake Charles, Lafayette, and Gulfport. Lafayette has been open for a decade and used to be pretty strong - until one of its Mission Holders (an OT) died of cancer. The other MH got a "handling" at Flag and came back saying that her SP was the MH Lake Charles. Need I say more?
2010-11-17, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Shortly I will be exposing some documentation of fairly recent OSA intelligence operations directed against former members and members of the media. I believe an introduction to this subject is appropriate.
One major problem with the Guardian's Office (and its successor the Office of Special Affairs) is that they adopted the winning valence of J Edgar Hoover's corrupt FBI. In particular OSA has adopted the Black Ops techniques Hoover's FBI called Cointelpro (Counter Intelligence Program).
Cointelpro was Hoover's answer to a wave of social activism in America in the 1960s. The FBI deployed agents to infiltrate an array of anti-war and civil rights groups. The agents actively worked to sow seeds of dissent within those groups, and encouraged group members to commit illegal acts that they could be prosecuted for and discredited with. One major purpose of Cointelpro was to prevent alliances being formed among like-purposed civil rights and anti-war groups. You can get a fairly accurate summation of what Cointelpro was at this link, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COINTELPRO
2009-11-17, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
And that's not me saying it, that's the MAA of one of the Sea Org Orgs in LA.
This same MAA reported that the majority of OT VIIs and VIIIs have now stopped supporting David Miscavige's "Ideal Org" program.
A special unit has now been set up at the CLO specifically to handle disaffected public. And that's a major undertaking as it is, according to their own reports, virtually the entire field.
No cause of death has been determined.
It was found south of Gilman Springs Road approximately a half mile east of Highway 79, or Sanderson Avenue, which puts it just to the west of the Scientology complex.
BRACCIANO, Italy, Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Guests at the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in Bracciano, Italy, will see a fairly traditional ceremony, a Scientology clergyman says.
Scientology Minister Jeffrey Quiros told CBS TV's "The Early Show" Friday the marriage ceremony will not be that much different from a Christian wedding.
"Much of it is more traditional that you'd think," Quiros said. "The bride's family's on one side, the groom's on the other. There's a processional. The bride's father gives the bride away."
The video Landmark Education does not want you to see
Something odd is going on in Landmark Education's fight against a video documentary that was recently posted online at websites such as YouTube, Google Video and the Internet Archive.
2006-11-17, Kurt Opsahl, Electronic Frontier Foundation
There is a video that international self-help group the Landmark Forum really does not want anyone anywhere in the world to see, and it's misusing copyright law to make sure that happens. The latest target is Australia's Cult Awareness & Information Centre.
In past years, CCHR has undertaken campaigns against fluoxetine (Prozac), electroconvulsive therapy, methylphenidate (Ritalin) and the inclusion of psychiatric care in health care reform, among others. But in recent months, it has made psychiatry itself the direct target, with the publication of Psychiatry -- the Ultimate Betrayal by Bruce Wiseman, CCHR U.S. president, and the publication of the Psychiatry- Education's Ruin booklet.
Asked about the American Psychiatric Association's stance on the booklet, Lynn Schultz-Writsel, associate director in the Division of Public Affairs, said: "We have not responded in any way, shape or form. There has not been a hue and cry from members to respond. And anyway, the publication speaks for itself."
ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ Some marital advice Tom Cruise and his bride-to-be could receive Saturday: Never go to bed angry at each other. Or they may be told that newlywed "girls" expect "frills" and maybe a cat, and young men are prone to "forget" their promises.
It's part of the guidance that Cruise and fiancee Katie Holmes may get from a Church of Scientology minister at their planned wedding in Italy _ a ceremony that's drawn attention to the marriage rituals of the church that counts the groom as one of its most famous and ardent followers.
Scientology nuptials have many familiar elements _ such as a bridal procession, rings and a presiding minister _ while also adding the promise to clear the air before bed. The most traditional vows include "poetic" insights into men and women, including the frills and forgetfulness, that are meant to signify the need to "stand by each other," said a church minister who has performed weddings for 30 years.
2005-11-17, Rachel Abramowitz, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times
With his wildly colorful T-shirts and gargantuan belt buckles that would make a member of World Wrestling Entertainment proud, 66-year-old Paul Bloch doesn't look like your typical celebrity publicist. But when Tom Cruise, America's favorite out-of-control movie star, announced his hiring last week, Hollywood was waiting to see whether the couch-hopping, psychiatry-bashing, Scientology-proselytizing genie could be stuffed back into the bottle.
A councillor in East Sussex has asked for Scientologists in his town to be stopped from working for the council.
Councillor Michael Murphy has had his proposal seconded by councillor Paul Scott, but other members of Crowborough Town Council have raised objections.
He suggests the council "refrains from using the voluntary services of the Scientologists until a full investigation has been carried out".
In other business yesterday, justices ruled unanimously that the Church of Scientology may continue its suit challenging the government's power to demand tape recordings from the church containing lawyer-client conversations.
The dispute began with a 1984 investigation of the tax returns of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology. The church said the tapes contained confidential conversations.
The court reinstated Church of Scientology of California v. United States, which had been dismissed by the 9th Circuit as moot because the government has already obtained the tapes.
Among the techniques are constant repetition of doctrine; application of intense peer pressure; manipulation of diet so that critical faculties are adversely affected; deprivation of sleep; lack of privacy and time for reflection; cutting ties with the recruits' past life; reduction of outside stimulation and influences; skillful use of ritual to heighten mystical experience; and invention of a new vocabulary which narrows the range of experience and constructs a new reality for cult members.
Margaret Singer, a former professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, describes psychological problems that have been attributed to cultic experiences, ranging from the despair that comes from having suddenly abandoned ones previous values, norms and ideals to types of "induced psychopathy." Other psychologists and lay observers list similar mental and emotional problems linked to the indoctrination and rituals of cults.
Sociologist Dick Anthony, author of the book "Spiritual Choices," and former director of the UC Berkeley-affiliated Center for the Study of New Religions, argues the exact opposite position.