2017-11-30, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Hey everyone. I'm so happy to be back here in Minneapolis to talk to you again! I honestly wondered if I was ever going to get the opportunity to return to the scene of my crimes to talk about Scientology and cults in general but thanks to my friend Penny, who went way out of her way to help me out with this, here I am. I'm going to bring this talk around to Scientology but first I thought it might be good to talk about the bigger picture with cults and cultic thinking. So here we go.
I think it's safe to say that we all want to live our lives on our own terms, according to how we feel it should be lived. We want to worship who or what we want, or not worship anything at all. We talk about ideas like "freedom" "equality" and "liberty" but often we don't put a lot of thought into what these words mean or how they manifest in our day to day lives. As a result, these kinds of words and ideas can be used to manipulate or control us.
Simply put, a cult is a group of people, whether two or two million, who are devoted to a common individual or a cause, an object, a movement or a work such as a book or film. It has a religious context as well, of a system of religious belief or rituals. The word "cult' itself goes back to the Latin word "cultus" which just means "cultivated or tended" and was the past participle of the word "colore" which means "to till." It was a farming term. It was revived in the 17th century to refer to the rituals or religious practices of ancient or primitive peoples. Fast forward to the 1940s, and the word "cult" took on a negative connotation when fundamentalist Christian groups began using it to describe religious groups they felt weren't properly interpreting the Bible such as the Mormons, Christian Scientists, Jehovah's Witnesses and even Catholics, as well as non-Christian religions such as Wicca, Islam, Paganism and Hinduism. Ironically, this kind of intolerant, us-vs-them thinking and bigotry is one of the indicators we use now to define a destructive cult. So where these fundamentalists sought to eradicate anyone or anything not conforming with their belief system, they ended up becoming what they were fighting. Hardly surprising given how witch hunts tend to go. It's a constant source of wonder and amazement to me that authoritarians never seem to learn the lessons history has to offer, namely that when you start down a road of destroying evil, you must be careful you don't become that same brand of evil. Tyrants old and new alike seem to always think the rules don't apply to them, all the way up to the point they are being stood up against a wall and shot.
Our thanks to the tipster who got us the new Impact magazine right away, something we always look forward to. But please be aware, there are several things unusual about this newest publication from the International Association of Scientologists.
First, the timing. Each October, the IAS holds a big weekend party, usually in East Grinstead, England, and on Saturday night Scientology's biggest donors — what we refer to as "whales" — are recognized with big gaudy trophies for reaching a new "status" level of giving during the past calendar year.
And even though those trophies are handed out in October, it's usually not until some time in February that the issue of Impact comes out with photos from the event, and we get a chance to see who the new crop of biggest donors is and their new statuses.
For decades, actress Leah Remini – best known as the female lead on the hit TV series King of Queens — was one of Scientology's most diehard celebrity members, along with fellow actors Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta and, of course, Tom Cruise. She appeared in promotional videos and at events designed to recruit new followers, dazzling them with stories of how Scientology was not only responsible for her success in Hollywood, but offered the only solution to curing the planet of its many ills.
Then, in 2013, after 34 years of devotion, Remini left the Church of Scientology and became the religion's most famous defector – and its most outspoken critic courtesy of Troublemaker, her 2015 memoir about her time as a member. But the book's publication failed to provide her with closure; as she learned about the experiences of other ex-members, including former high-ranking officials, the actor found herself unable to walk away with a clear conscience. Having participated in promoting propaganda and vehemently defending the organization against criticism, Remini felt a responsibility to help undo the damage she says the Church has caused. So she began documenting these stories for her new A&E series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, hoping to use her star power to expose the abuses of what the show calls a "multi-billion dollar church, corporation, empire and cult."
Like her memoir, this TV documentary series breaks down Scientology's allure, ably explaining the manipulative and abusive tactics used to indoctrinate followers into prioritizing the Church's supposed goals over anything else. Here are five things we learned from last night's premiere episode.
(Mat Pesch and Amy Scobee, while Angelo Pagan photobombs)
When we called up Amy Scobee last night, she still hadn't seen the episode of Leah Remini's A&E show that featured her so prominently. But she had a pretty good idea of what would be in it.
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath premiered last night with an opening segment that had Leah quickly recounting how we got here, with her defection and her best-selling book, Troublemaker, and the intense media coverage it kicked up. But her high profile escape from Scientology produced more than just headlines; Leah heard from many other people who had also struggled to break away from the notoriously vindictive organization.
2016-11-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The first show has aired. Phew. 7 more to come.
I am interested to hear what you thought — including criticisms or things you felt could or should have been explained more/better or treated differently.
The perspective of others is valuable feedback.
Tony Dovolani says the Church of Scientology was hot on his tail during his stint with Leah Remini on "Dancing with the Stars" ... looking for any dirt they could find to discredit her ... even by association. Click 'SHOW MORE' for related content...
Leah Remini Backing Off the Tom Cruise Attacks https://youtu.be/bCv1_L_WImM
Tom & Katie – Refusal to Speak Has Nothing to do with Scientology! https://youtu.be/Z1b70_dxoGU
2015-11-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Honestly, it has reach the point where these people will say ANYTHING.
These are the "PR Professionals" who will be preaching "Never use lies in PR" to anyone foolish enough to show up for their convention.
They are actually saying that "LRH PR tech" (this is the reason this time, normally it is distribution of WTH) has created the following in Colombia:
Twenty years ago today, the new weekly edition of the Phoenix New Times featured a man named Rick Ross on its cover, and a byline that was printed there for the first time: "By Tony Ortega."
Yes, it's been 20 years to the day since our first cover story appeared, and that first story just happened to be about a man, Rick Ross, who was battling the Church of Scientology. (Inside, the clever headline on the piece, written by our editor Jeremy Voas, was "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlatans.")
Our story about Ross was also our first story about Scientology, and one that would lead us to others, and then others, and then, well, this is where we are today.
2014-11-30, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The US Government is despised and derided by scientology, with numerous L. Ron Hubbard writings and lectures mentioning the US Government, many government agencies and even Presidents in less than flattering terms. There are very few positive statements about any person or any part of the US government anywhere in the "scriptures" of scientology. The most consistent vehemence is directed towards the FBI and the IRS.
But then it comes time to pitch how they will help raise money for the IAS, suddenly, Old Glory is fluttering in the breeze with the IAS logo imprinted on top of it. Now they are the greatest people on earth and full supporters of the IAS!
Pity it's such a bureaucracy that there isn't anyone in the US Govt who would care. Though it might make a nice exhibit the next time the church tells a court "but look how wonderful we are, we are recognized as a tax exempt religion by the US government."
We have a very special treat for you to kick off this week's installment of Sunday Funnies.
It's been a year now since Scientology's Super Power Building (officially named the "Flag Building") opened in Clearwater, Florida, with David Miscavige giving a very short speech to Tom Cruise and John Travolta and a couple of thousand other church members, and with Mike Rinder and Mike Bennitt watching from a helicopter overhead.
We've had a special interest in the Super Power building since we were leaked full schematics and renderings from rooms on every floor, and discovered some of the wacky contraptions planned for the fifth floor. They had been designed to test a subject's "perceptics." See, Scientologists believe that we are all "thetans," immortal beings that have lived countless times in the past, and that the thetan has its own set of finely-honed senses which are more powerful than the senses of the meat body we happen to be walking around in this lifetime. One goal of the Super Power process is to tune the subject's perceptics - all 57 of them, from taste to pitch to rhythm to smell and even to "cellular and bacterial position." And of course, one of our favorites, oiliness.
There it is! Finally! The elaborate set-piece for last night's International Association of Scientologists annual gala under the big tent in Clearwater, Florida.
We leaked plans for this globe-and-flags backdrop more than a month ago, and it's fun to see it in its full glory, thanks to some nameless Scientologist who broke the rules and snapped a photo of it and posted it on the Internet for WWP's indefatigable Black Rob to snag for whyweprotest.net
UPDATE: See what we've learned about the Rathbuns' new home so far, below.
We have to admit, this really took us by surprise.
Earlier tonight, Marty Rathbun posted what appears to be an announcement that he and his wife Monique are pulling up stakes and leaving Ingleside on the Bay, Texas.
2012-11-30, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
For those who haven't followed the saga of the Scientology cult's antics in our sleepy, beautiful home town of Ingleside on the Bay (IOB) Texas, I summed some of it up in an Open Letter to Residents of Ingleside on the Bay.
I promised the folks of IOB that if the cult insanity escalated to the point where it was a threat to ruining this town, I would up and leave in a heart beat.
Well, the latest from David Miscavige's Scientology dirty tricks and propaganda service has crossed that line.
A former Church of Scientology member has claimed she was held against her will aboard the Church's cruise ship, The Freewinds, for 12 years.
Valeska Paris, an Australian resident, said she was forced onto the ship by the Church's leader, David Miscavige, when she was 17 after her mother tried to dissociate her from the organisation.
Ms Paris, who was born in Switzerland, moved to the UK at age six, where she was placed in the church's youth wing, the cadet org. At 14, she joined the church's elite Sea Organisation and signed a contract which bound her for a billion years.
2011-11-30, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Cruise, off the rails Our readers send us the most wonderful things. By e-mail and snail mail, our far-flung correspondents put in our hands Scientology's tasteless fundraising mailers (which we use in our recurring Sunday Funnies posts), they send us over-the-top glossy Scientology magazines, and of course they send us links and videos of Scientologists doing the darndest things.
And then, recently, in the mail, one of our readers sent us some pure gold.
It is a five-page document, and it may be the most precious, hopeful, earnest, presumptious, and ultimately dictatorial artifact I have seen come out of the church in some time.
A former Scientologist has claimed on television she was imprisoned for 12 years on board a cruise liner after her family denounced the religion.
Valeska Paris says she was held against her will aboard the church's luxury 'cathedral' ship The Freewinds from the age of 18.
Ms Paris, who now lives in Australia, alleges she was forced into hard labour and was never allowed to leave the ship without an escort.
2011-11-30, Steve Cannane, ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Valeska Paris says the Church of Scientology's leader David Miscavige sent her to the ship when she was 18, to prevent her mother taking her away from Scientology.
Ms Paris says she ended up being on the ship for over a decade, and was unable to leave The Freewinds for the first six years without an escort.
She has also described the church's leader David Miscavige as a psychopath and says he should be put on trial.
For most people, an extended stay aboard a luxury cruise liner sounds like a dream vacation.
But Valeska Paris says she was held against her will aboard the Scientology cruise ship "Freewinds" for more than a decade. During her stay on the vessel, she alleges, she was forced into hard labor and never allowed to leave the ship without an escort.
2010-11-30, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Former high-level Scientologist Marty Rathbun revealed fascinating material yesterday on his blog: he claims that it's evidence of a detailed "dark ops" program launched in 2006 by Scientology to destroy a woman named Tory Christman, who had left the organization several years earlier.
He indicated that the story on forced abortions was based on fabricated lies brought forth by "a very few disgruntled members" who are using us (Catholic Online).
I have filed eight stories on Scientology since June, 2009. As we researched for these articles, the witnesses we found included former members, investigators, affidavits from litigation, etc. The amount of information available regarding false declarations, questionable practices, and suspicious relationships is enormous; its impact is global.
2009-11-30, Daniel Miller, Los Angeles Business Journal
The Church of Scientology has signed a 10-year lease topping $12 million for industrial space in Commerce.
The lease with landlord Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America for the 184,772-square-foot building at 6130 E. Sheila St. closed Nov. 9. The church will print and distribute magazines and books there. The deal starts at about 52 cents per square foot per month on a triple net basis and includes annual rent escalations. The lease will begin Dec. 1.
The article on forced abortions in Scientology is tantamount to bearing false witness. It is absolutely a gross lie fabricated by a very few disgruntled former members that are using the Catholic On Line site to forward their scurrilous lies and bitterness in an attempt to tarnish the Church and it's members.
There also is debate about a treatment being offered to Meth Cops. The 30-day regimen involves officers exercising, sitting in a sauna and ingesting antioxidants for five hours a day in order to excrete poisons. The program is based on the teachings of Scientology and has received funding from the state Legislature.
But toxicologists contend the poisons would have left the body years ago and the regimen promotes fringe science over conventional medicine.
Paul David Schofield described how Scientology was complicit in the cover-up of child sexual abuse - and how he helped them hide the truth about the deaths of his own daughters.
The emotional heart of Paul Schofield's letter is his account of the deaths of his two daughters - one of them while she was in Scientology's care - and his own complicity in covering up the truth about had happened.
Scientology has denied his account, referring to witness statements that put Schofield himself on the spot and caring for his daughter at the time of the accident.
2009-11-30, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
Apparently OSA is adrift. They are attempting to handle the "disaffected field" (which is to say, the whole field), by calling people in or visiting them in their homes. But instead of questioning the field, they are finding that they are the ones being questioned.
Most public Scientologists by now are familiar with the abuses, the Policy and Tech violations. They have read the St. Petersburg Times articles, and have read this blog and others. So when OSA shows up, they find themselves being asked about these things. And they have no answers.
Public: "This whole Ideal Org thing is out exchange. LRH said not to ask for donations, yet that is all they are doing nowadays."
PROSPECTIVE purchasers and commercial real estate agents were left standing at the altar again this week, after the Church of Scientology abandoned the sale of its city headquarters, just hours before a scheduled auction.
The Church blamed planning delays, and other issues concerning the development of its new headquarters, as the reason it cannot vacate its 4-level Melbourne home of almost 30 years.
The Scientologists have been doing their damnedest to stop the international publication of John Duignan's memoir The Complex. Following legal representations, it is no longer possible to buy the book, published in Ireland by Merlin, from Amazon.co.uk. That made me curious, so I had a copy sent direct from Dublin. Here's my review.
CLEARWATER -- City officials hoped to stir civic pride with their $10-million makeover of Cleveland Street.
But so far they"ve got confusion.
As in, just what the heck are those 12 giant concrete spheres doing in the medians?
2005-11-30, Anderson Cooper, Anderson Cooper 360°, CNN
COOPER: So, Richard, what do you know about this facility, this bunker, and these sort of crop circle-like markings?
RICHARD LEIBY, WRITER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": This is one of what I think has been reported to be three bunkers that the Church of Scientology uses to preserve against any catastrophe, nuclear war, whatever might happen, earthquakes, to preserve the sacred writings of L. Ron Hubbard.
COOPER: And then the markings outside, the crop circle-like things? What are those? What is the purpose of that?
LEIBY: That is a logo of the Church of Spiritual Technology, Inc. That corporation was created by the Church of Scientology, specifically for the preservation of Hubbard's materials.
2005-11-30, Anderson Cooper, Anderson Cooper 360°, CNN
COOPER: That's what he's done. Cruise has said the antidepressants and psychiatric medications are dangerous, especially for children. For Cruise and the Church of Scientology, it is not just a debate but it's a war, really, against psychiatry. Tonight, we want to give you both sides of the battle. We begin with Bruce Wiseman, he is the U.S. National President of Citizens' Commission on Human Rights, a scientologist group dedicated to fighting with it calls "psychiatric violations of human rights." I spoke to him on an earlier edition of 360. [Transcript]
The Church of Scientology says it is suing the Belgian state over an official report that labelled it a dangerous sect and accused it of brainwashing.
The lawsuit has been lodged as Belgium's authorities pursue a separate investigation of the group after allegations of fraud, forgery and tax evasion.
Robert Lobsinger, who with his wife, Susan, owns and publishes the Newkirk Herald Journal, has received the 1991 Leo J. Ryan Award from the Cult Awareness Network. The award was presented recently at the Cult Awareness Network conference in Oklahoma City for Lobsinger's coverage of Narconon Chilocco New Life Center north of Newkirk. Lobsinger was honored last year with a special legislative commendation for coverage of Narconon and its ties to the Church of Scientology. Cult Awareness Network honors American citizens who exhibit "extraordinary courage, tenacity and perseverance in the battle against tyranny over the mind of man. " The award is named for U.S. Rep. Leo J.