James Kirchick's recent op-ed in the Los Angeles Times asks, "In the world of religious tax exemptions, does Scientology measure up?"
Kirchick incisively cuts right to the bone:
Today, America's recognition of Scientology as a religion stands as an anomaly in the Western world, the result not of impartial jurisprudence but of harassment. Four years ago, France's highest court upheld a fraud conviction against the church, ruling that, "Far from being a violation of freedom of religion, as this American organization contends, this decision lifts the veil on the illegal and highly detrimental practices."
2017-11-19, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer viewer questions. This week, the questions taken up are:
(1) Are you able to explain what L. Ron Hubbard meant by making a "Perfect Duplicate"?
(2) I had a question regarding how children are raised in Scientology. I was raised in the Mormon faith, and distinctly remember a strong emphasis being placed on having ample child-friendly materials. Though there was still plenty of studying plain scripture, much of the doctrine / stories / church history were delivered to kids through things like cartoons and activity pages. Many of these were contained in their own magazine just for young children called The Friend, whose soft edges and simple language contrasted starkly with the boring repetitive slag that was The Ensign. Things like "connect the dots to form the golden plates" and "color in the prophets from the Book of Mormon" were common sights.
Rod Keller keeps an eye on Scientology's "Ideal Org" program, and he has a great update for us on what's happening Down Under.
Perth Org is going Ideal. That's the message the staff of the Scientology org there want everybody to know. They will join Melbourne, Sydney, Auckland, Kaohsiung and Tokyo as an Ideal Org in the ANZO "continent."
The city of Perth is isolated on the Western coast of Australia, more than 2,600 Km away from the nearest population center in Adelaide, South Australia. For years Scientology maintained a small office on Murray Street in the Central Business District. The Scientology sign on that building was removed in 2016 and the org has been operating out of the new facility in a warehouse district in the Rivervale neighborhood. It continues a trend we have seen for some orgs to relocate from neighborhoods with high foot traffic to more peripheral areas where they can afford the required 50,000 sq.ft. building, such as in Boston, Seattle, Dallas, Orlando, Birmingham and Dublin.
2017-11-19, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Recovering from Scientology has been no easy task. However my husband and I did it, together.
What broke me from the church initially was this: I was on the ship to do OTVIII, I had cleared every hurdle placed infront of me. As most of you know they are many and extremely difficult — tailored to break you in every possible way. I was on the ship in Cartagena, Columbia. They had taken my passport and the staff had locked me in a room in a room for three days and had me read my husbands confidential confessionals detailing why he was a horrible human worthy of betrayal. This was an attempt to destroy his character with me. After another week of waiting I was asked to turn over his 401K. Somehow they knew the exact amount of money in his account.
Suddenly everything snapped into clear view. They set me up to betray my husband. To betray family would break me. I refused. I had two choices of retreat given the circumstances. I could throw my little pink suitcase overboard and swim for shore hoping port authorities would take me to the US embassy or I could lie my way off the ship. Which is what I did. I told them I would have to go home to get the money. After a week of convincing I was released on the promise I would bring back the money, my husband and all four of our daughters.
I listen, trying to reconcile the conflicting opinions of Swan that surfaced during my research. "I am a better person because of Teal," Margie Rasmussen, a self-described Teal Triber, told me. "She quite literally held my hand as she took me through my very first completion process session ever. Because of Teal I have integrated my deepest core wound of never feeling safe." Others are downright vitriolic, labeling her a toxic cult leader. One blogger, LaVaughn of CelestialHealing.com, warns that Swan will sic her followers on anyone who dares to speak out against her. "Much like Scientology," she says, "it's politics of personal destruction" directed at any and all critics.
To ask Rick Ross, executive director of the Cult Education Institute, is to learn that Swan has a familiar M.O. "In my opinion, Teal Swan fits the pattern of a [cult leader]," he tells me. "She has apparently become an object of worship, and it seems that her charisma and supernatural claims are the driving force of her school of healing and workshops."
Criticism, then, is par for the course, but Swan comes in for an extra helping because of her stance on suicide, which she has referred to as "the best option" for some people, saying it's like hitting the "reset button" on life. I take this to Ross, who calls Swan's comments about suicide "deeply disturbing" and adds that "this is the difference between receiving counseling from a licensed professional and a self-help guru without meaningful credentials."
Just ten days now until Leah Remini's A&E series about Scientology debuts, and we are getting pretty excited. Last night, Leah made public a short spot of herself reading some of the things Scientology said about her in a letter to A&E's producers, trying to frighten the network out of airing the show.
We can tell you this is always the way Scientology handles things. They send letters from church officials or high-priced attorneys, trying to derail programs by claiming that it will be unfair to them, or that their side is being ignored. But with Leah, the strategy in part seems to be to smear her by calling her motives into question. And it's especially nutty when Leah reads from it herself...
What's the Church of Scientology so afraid of?
2016-11-19, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
PART 3 – LRH MOVES TO THE US 1975 to end of 1976
One of the things that really surprised me while writing this part is everything happened in such a short amount of time. While living it, it seemed to take forever, but now being older…boy it all went so fast. It was just over a year.
I started writing quite prolifically to my mother once we moved to the US. I had more time due to the circumstances and I wrote all the way from 1975 until the middle of 1981. I have only recently been able to read these letters and the one underlying theme throughout, with every letter, was how much I desperately loved my family and missed them so much. All of these letters were "security checked" so there was no info about where I was (other than Florida), and no "secret" info about LRH, but I alluded to things and was therefore able to remember what was going on at that time. Here are a few quotes from the end of my letters. Reading these letters brought me to tears.
2015-11-19, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The Church of Scientology is not all that it seems.
It's always worse than you think.
With the recent tragedy in Paris, Scientology has hit an all new low in their money grubbing activities by trying to get Scientologists to donate yet again for mass printing and distribution of Scientology's Way to Happiness booklets. They want to pass out thousands of these booklets in Paris because Scientologists credit the moral precepts this book contains with helping to calm social unrest and restore peace to hotspots in the world, a claim that has absolutely no proof behind it whatsoever.
(The cabanas of the Fort Harrison Hotel facing Osceola Avenue)
After spending several hours at Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater, Florida, Lisa McPherson arrived at the Fort Harrison Hotel late on a Saturday night, and already some questionable decisions were being made about her care.
At the hospital, following Lisa's bizarre behavior of taking her clothes off and walking down the middle of the road after a minor car accident, psychiatric nurse Joe Price had questioned Lisa about her state of mind. He found that although she spoke with an odd cadence, her answers were lucid, and she didn't appear to be a danger to herself or others. He decided that she didn't meet the criteria for being "Baker Acted" and held, with or without her consent, for a full psychiatric evaluation.
The Church of Scientology does not just draw people in through its various churches and missions, but also has a worldwide network of front groups. The "social betterment groups" are not obviously connected to Scientology and even deny any direct connection, yet do nothing but use 100% Scientology methods. This is the first of a series of videos I'm making to expose these front groups so people are not fooled by them.
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Over the past week we've made a couple of interesting dives into L. Ron Hubbard's past, and it's prompted tipsters to send us some really great items.
Today, we have another key document from Hubbard's life, and we believe it's the first time an image of the document itself has been posted online.
It's an affidavit that Hubbard's first wife, Margaret Louise "Polly" Grubb, filed after Hubbard failed to pay child support.
2014-11-19, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This is the page listing the scientology orgs in the August 1976 reprint of Scientology A New Slant On Life.
This presents the perfect opportunity to make a comparison to the list published in What Is Scientology? in 1992 and then the CURRENT list on scientology.org. This is convenient breakdown into three periods.
I. From 1954 (the first church in Los Angeles) to 1976 (22 years).
"I'm going to push you to work on this," said Superior Court Judge Lesley C. Green, who denied Julie Kasem's request for temporary legal control of her father's healthcare, saying there was no evidence he was being mistreated.
"He's receiving either good to excellent care," Judge Green stated. "I find no good cause for a temporary conservatorship."
2013-11-19, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
A new friend of mine handed me a copy of a remarkable little book on Sunday. It is called As a Man Thinketh, by James Allen. The book contain this little, precious pearl on freedom from slavery:
It has been usual for men to think and to say, 'Many men are slaves because one is an oppressor; let us hate the oppressor.' Now, however, there is among an increasing few a tendency to reverse this judgment, and to say, 'One man is an oppressor because many are slaves; let us despise the slaves.' The truth is that oppressor and slave are cooperators in ignorance, and, while seeming to afflict each other, are in reality afflicting themselves. A perfect Knowledge perceives the action of law in the weakness of the oppressed and the misapplied power of the oppressor; a perfect Love, seeing the suffering that both states entail, condemns neither; a perfect Compassion embraces both oppressor and oppressed.
He who has conquered weakness, and has put away all selfish thoughts, belongs neither to oppressor nor oppressed. He is free.
Our thanks to the eagle-eyed researchers over at WhyWeProtest.net, who have been scouring Facebook to find photos taken by Scientologists who were at this weekend's festivities in Clearwater, Florida.
We've been posting some images taken by church members of the parties that began on Friday. And now, one Scientologist in particular appears to have broken the rules and took a series of shots on the Super Power Building's already legendary space-aged fifth floor, where the "Perceptics" contraptions are housed. (Or, looks more likely, took snapshots of a brochure of these items.)
Finally, after looking at renderings of this floor for years, we're getting to see the real thing.
2013-11-19, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
A new update from inside the bubble from a Special Correspondent.
Tours started right away after the ribbon was cut. Tours started every 10 minutes in groups of 75. It was very hot outside under the sun and many people just left instead of waiting around for a tour.
2013-11-19, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The idiocy from those who have not even seen the events, but probably read the hype on Facebook (but doesnt seem to have gotten the memo on only IAS members with cards being let in).
Rob Ford does not have a monopoly on Crazy in Canada. But then again I doubt Canada has a monopoly on Scientology Crazy!
He really comes up with some pretty unique lines.
A Bend dentist has asked the Oregon Court of Appeals to review a $348,000 penalty stemming from allegations that he required employees to attend a Scientology-related training session.
The Bureau of Labor and Industries imposed the fine in September to settle charges of religious discrimination at Dr. Andrew W. Engel's practice, Awe Dental Spa.
2012-11-19, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Reference: Miscavige's Hot Smoking Gun
A Federal Court judge today denied attorney Ken Dandar's motion to enjoin Pinellas County state court judge Crocket Farnell from proceeding with a closed-to-the-public proceeding to assess fines against Dandar. F. Wallace Pope's motion to strike my testimony from the record apparently was denied.
Here is the court's official minutes:
Dandar is talking about how the Church settled the Lisa McPherson case. A former top-ranking Scientologist- Marty Rathbun says the Pinellas County Judge handling the McPherson case, Judge Robert Beach, should never have met with Church attorney Lee Fugate about the case.
According to Rathbun "Fugate was convincing Beach this case had nothing to do with justice; it had nothing to do with recompense; it was a bunch of money hungry relatives that didn't care about McPherson."
However Judge Robert Beach says, "I have never had any conversations with Scientologists outside of the courtroom
Ken Dandar called us after he got out of the hearing on his federal lawsuit in Tampa, Florida today.
He said he was unable to convince Judge Virginia Hernandez Covington to grant him an injunction that would prevent a state court from saddling him with huge fees demanded by the Church of Scientology.
Next Monday, November 26, in a hearing that will be closed to the public or press, retired state Judge Crockett Farnell will decide what to award Scientology, and Dandar has said he expects that amount to be more than a million dollars.
While Scientology's private eyes were tailing us around a different part of Los Angeles yesterday, one of our tipsters kept an eye on Sheriff Lee Baca's appearance in Inglewood to promote L. Ron Hubbard's 1980 booklet, The Way to Happiness.
We have a couple of photographs of the event, as well as some notes about who attended — which included the voice of Bart Simpson, actress and Scientologist Nancy Cartwright!
As you can see above, Baca showed up to the event not wearing his uniform. County Sheriff is an elected position in California, and Baca can make this kind of political appearance all he wants.
Scientology critics allege in recently filed court papers that the church hired local lawyers to schmooze Pinellas judges and gave gifts to a prominent attorney trying to gain influence during the legal saga that followed the 1995 death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson.
High-profile defector Marty Rathbun says in a 57-page sworn statement that Scientology provided Super Bowl tickets to the lawyer for former Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan Wood, whose surprise decision to change her ruling in the cause of McPherson's death torpedoed the state's criminal case against the church.
Rathbun and longtime church antagonist Ken Dandar, a Tampa lawyer, both say the church hired former assistant Pinellas prosecutor Lee Fugate and Clearwater lawyer F. Wallace Pope Jr. to pal around with Pinellas lawyers and judges involved in both the criminal case and a wrongful-death suit filed by Dandar on behalf of McPherson's family. The thrust of the conversations: to demonize Dandar and talk up Scientology, Rathbun said.
2011-11-19, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
There's a lot to absorb in this new installment in the series, which focuses on the IAS's hard-sell tactics, as well as the "Ideal Org" building boom.
And here's another unsavory detail: If Scientology has always been money-mad, the pressures of the last decade have been off the charts as church leader David Miscavige decided to use the 9/11 attacks as a new call to action.
Church of Scientology fundraisers tell followers that it's worth it to stretch their finances for the good of the church and the future of the planet. But some parishioners stretch too far. • Bankruptcy filings and other court records from around the country reveal how some Scientologists donated heavily and fell on hard financial times. • The church said that contrary to the statements of numerous former members, Scientology "fundraisers do not persuade or pressure parishioners to take on debt."
Hector M. Guevara
By the time the New York entrepreneur landed in Clearwater in 2001, church staffers knew all about him.
2011-11-19, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Here is the White House Petition response sent to my email address, the same response that was apparently sent to all who signed the peitition to EXAMINE THE GOVERNMENT'S FAILURE TO INVESTIGATE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY CRIME, FRAUD AND ABUSE:
From: The White House <firstname.lastname@example.org>
2011-11-19, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
A wail was heard across the land tonight.
Just as we were leaving the office for the evening, we were notified that thousands of people who recently signed a White House petition about Scientology had received e-mail notices that the Obama administration would not, in fact, respond to the petition.
The petition, started by attorney Graham Berry, did meet its minimum required number of signatures. But you can see here why the White House says it can't respond:
The Church of Scientology has been offering alcohol-dependent Aborigines a drug bomb therapy, which it has been told could kill people with kidney problems.
The Scientologists this week responded to a warning by the Northern Territory Health Department and stopped distributing literature which promotes a dangerous drug detoxification therapy.
In a speech this week to the Australian Parliament, Independent Sen. Nick Xenophon said he has letters from former members of the church, detailing abuses such as false imprisonment, physical violence and blackmail, according to a report on the Australian Broadcast Co.'s Web site.
"These victims of Scientology claim it is an abusive manipulative and violent organization," he said, according to the Australian network. He said he gave the letters to police and called for a Senate investigation into the religion's tax-exempt status.
The Church of Scientology faces the prospect of a police investigation in Australia after being accused of torture and embezzlement and of forcing employees to have abortions.
Nick Xenophon, an independent senator, presented letters to the Australian Parliament from seven former Scientologists which he said showed that the secretive church was a front for physical violence, intimidation and blackmail.
The Prime Minister said he intended to examine allegations against the church before deciding whether to back independent senator Nick Xenophon's demand for a Senate inquiry.
Senator Xenophon told parliament on Tuesday that Scientology was a "criminal organisation" hiding behind religion.
In response to that statement, Mr Rudd said the senator was making "grave allegations".
"Many people in Australia have real concerns about Scientology," he told reporters in Bungendore yesterday. "I share some of those concerns. But let us proceed carefully, and look carefully at the material which he has provided, before we make a decision on further parliamentary action."
In the eight letters tabled by Senator Xenophon, former Scientologists talk about paying, or extorting from others, hundreds of thousands of dollars to remain in the church. Those working for the church were routinely denied money for medical treatment, the letters claim. The exception was for abortions.
Carmel Underwood, who worked for the church for 11 years, said she was put under "extreme pressure" to have an abortion, because having a child would impede her work. Another letter writer, Aaron Saxton, talks about "forced abortions".
Mr Saxton said he assisted in the "forced confinement and torture" of a female Scientologist who had been removed to a farm in western NSW.
Independent senator Nick Xenophon has described as a "cop out" coalition reluctance to back his call for a Senate inquiry into the Church of Scientology.
The senator, in a scathing parliamentary attack on Tuesday, labelled the church a criminal organisation hiding behind so-called religious beliefs.
He called for a Senate inquiry into the church's tax-exempt status and a police investigation of criminal allegations.
Please copy this video and upload it.
Anyone that has been on Scientology's Freewinds Crusie Ship as a cruise passenger, a worker, a performer, a visitng performer or artist from any of the islands, or as a guest that just visited for the day, should call their doctor, as you have been exposed to blue asbestos.
Raw blue asbestos is the most hazardous form of asbestos, and has been banned in the United Kingdom since 1970.
The review board determined that LifeWorks' president, physician David Minkoff, had failed to properly report the deaths.
The delays -- one of them five weeks -- made it difficult to determine if the treatments had caused or contributed to the deaths. The review board, as required, alerted the FDA about the lapse.
In a letter to the review board, Minkoff wrote that the "treatments had nothing to do with their demises."
During the study, Florida health officials suspended Minkoff's medical license. They determined that he had prescribed medications inappropriately to a woman in 1995, according to the FDA and the Florida Board of Medicine.
It will be the first established Scientology church in Richmond.
The church could open by December and will offer introductory lectures, meetings and a book store, said Sylvia Standard, director of external affairs for the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C.
The ceremony was led by David Miscavige, who took over the Scientology Church as successor to its founder, the sci-fi writer L Ron Hubbard.
The church's wedding ceremony involves traditional vows and rings, which are held up by the minister in front of the couple. They are asked to imagine affinity, reality and communication, the points of a triangle that will ensure a long-lasting relationship.
Scientology fundamentals include never going to bed without communicating about any differences.
But, strangely, you"ll find it darn hard to find the anti-scientology site Xenu.net, using a "scientology" search under google.com. That's ever since Google took down a large number of references to Xenu after it received a copyright-infringement complaint from the Church of Scientology. Which goes to show that even in the US, rights to free speech can be compromised by intellectual property laws and censor ideas in much the same way as the Council of Europe's new protocol.