Thanks to strong ratings in its first few weeks – including their highest series premiere numbers since 2014 – A&E's Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath surprised viewers with not one, but two episodes this Christmas week. In Monday's special installment, Remini answered questions from her Reddit "Ask Me Anything" and introduced the story of Paulette Cooper, a journalist who was allegedly the target of a nasty Scientology PR campaign called "Operation Freakout." (More on that in a bit.) That was followed up by last night's hour, which focused on current Church of Scientology leader, David Miscavige. Here's what we learned from these two back-to-back episode.
1. Members are advised to watch out for "entheta"If there's one recurring lesson from the show, it's that the Church doesn't take criticism very well. Hubbard coined the term "entheta" to describe news, information and circumstances which disturb, agitate or otherwise upset "theta," his word for "life force." Scientologists are taught that simply engaging with anything that could be considered entheta – that is, anything negative or upsetting – hinders their spiritual progress. It is to be rejected, full stop.
Remini said that as she was becoming disillusioned with the organization, she tried to discuss her concerns about some the allegations she'd read online with two of her closest friends; they allegedly wrote up a Church Knowledge Report on her. "Scientologists will turn you in," the actress claims. "Doesn't matter if it's your child, your mother, your father, your husband."
Former parishioners Remini and Rinder met with ex-Scientologists Jeff Hawkins, Tom DeVocht and Ron Miscavige, father of the current leader, in part four of the A&E docu-series.
Hawkins and DeVocht discussed weighty allegations of physical abuse in Seattle, while Ron described his experiences at the Church's international headquarters, dubbed "Gold Base" near Hemet, Calif.
"(David) was a mean guy," said Hawkins, a parishioner of three decades who Rinder described as "the marketing guru of Scientology." "David Miscavige physically assaulted me five separate times."
2016-12-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
My god, the number of messages, friend requests on Facebook, traffic to this blog and new posters here, general well-wishes, expressions of support and love is frankly overwhelming.
I will continue to put up this post after each episode as I feel it is important that those who may be new to the blog can find some helpful references easily. But as always, I am interested in your views - including criticisms and things you think might be better explained or covered.
For new readers here I thought you might find it instructive to be directed to some earlier postings that may help explain some things.
(Illustration by Bruno Moraes)
Oh, this awful year. From the deaths of David Bowie and Prince, to the senseless violence of the Orlando shooting and the horrific Bastille Day in Nice, to a grinding presidential election that put everyone at each other's throats, this has been a year to forget and one we're happy to turn our backs on.
As for the Underground Bunker, it's been another year of hard work that paid off in stories about Scientology you could get nowhere else. And 2016 is really finishing strong now that Leah Remini has turned everything upside down. Wow, are we glad we're along for the ride. Her A&E series Scientology and the Aftermath has changed everything, and it makes us very bullish on 2017.
2015-12-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
How pathetic is this?
They try to make it sound so wonderful — after years (likely decades) and many hundreds of thousands of dollars, the big news is the "excitement" of doing the Purif and SRD over again. And then, the "wins" of redoing the Student Hat and "the Basics".
Apparently, the pinnacle of scientology today is the bottom of the Bridge.
And here we are again! Wow, this has, without a doubt, been the best year of Scientology watching that your proprietor has ever experienced. We hope 2015 was as eventful and fulfilling for you as it was for us. It felt like we never got a chance to catch a breath this year, but we loved every minute of it.
Of course, what really makes the Underground Bunker the place to be is our amazing commenting community, and we thank you for another twelve months of discussions, arguments, hot tips, and hilarity.
We knew, as 2015 dawned, that it was going to be a big year for Scientology news. We knew that Going Clear was coming. We knew that we'd be releasing our own book, about Paulette Cooper; that Louis Theroux had a film coming; and that some other big stories were on their way. But there were plenty of surprises that kept us on our toes. We asked Observer, the unofficial official shooper of the Underground Bunker, to give us an image that might capture what a blockbuster year this was.
2014-12-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Another in the ongoing Sunday "Redux Series" reissuing earlier postings that still seem relevant. This one from 1 June 2013. The descent into madness has continued unabated since... It's crazier today than it was 18 months ago, and there are more and more people speaking out as a result.
This is the second in a series of postings examining the subject of Scientology disconnection practices. See Disconnection — Scientology's Nasty Secret.
Who qualifies for disconnection?
We're racing toward a new year again, and so it's time to look back at the territory we covered in yet another twelvemonth here in the Underground Bunker.
As ever, we want to wish our commenting community a happy holidays and offer another big thanks for making the Bunker what it is. We hope our longtime readers will enjoy some reminders about the important stories of 2014, and maybe our newer readers will consider this a guide to things they might catch up on.
So let's dive in. The beginning of the year saw a flurry of activity in Monique Rathbun's harassment lawsuit against Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige. And on January 2 we were giddy about bringing you our first exclusive of the year - the deposition of former church spokesman Tommy Davis.
2013-12-21, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Penned by my good friend Dan Koon, one of the nicest people I know. Dan also possesses a wry and dry sense of humor. He said this is the 10 year anniversary of EPing the Highway 79 Rundown, "one of the best rundowns I ever did. It has given me lasting gains."
It has been 10 years to the day that I pedaled through the mechanical gate at the Kirby Apartments, biked through Hemet and routed myself out of the Sea Organization.
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.
On Thursday, Jefferson Hawkins explained to us how Scientolgy's system of "ethics" seals church members off from outside influence. But how, ultimately, do Scientologists then break out of that bubble and escape? Jon Atack this week helps us understand that process.
JON: I left Scientology because a close friend was declared suppressive. I refused to disconnect from him — enforced disconnection had just been reintroduced — but he insisted that he would not communicate with me, in case it affected my relationship with the Organization. I spent six months "following policy." I started with the Saint HillEthics Officer and then moved up to the HCO Area Secretary. Unable to get any sense out of them, I wrote to the International Justice Chief (where do they get these titles!), pointing out that we all have a right to a hearing, at least according to the policy of Scientology. There had been no "bill of particulars," indeed no accusations of any type. No "committee of evidence" and no "findings and recommendations." There had not even been a "Suppressive Person declare." My friend's name had just been put on a list, along with several hundred others.
LOS ANGELES Actor Tom Cruise on Friday settled a $50 million defamation lawsuit against a German media company that published a report saying the Hollywood star had "abandoned" his daughter Suri after his divorce from actress Katie Holmes.
Attorneys for Cruise and Bauer PublishingCompany, which publishes U.S. celebrity magazines Life & Style and InTouch Weekly, agreed to have the lawsuit dismissed, with each paying their own costs and attorneys' fees, according to a document filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
The actor's attorneys said in a statement that Cruise and Bauer settled the dispute and that the publishing company "never intended to communicate that Tom Cruise had cut off all ties and abandoned his daughter, Suri, and regret if anyone drew that inference from anything they published."
2012-12-21, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
David Miscavige has come up with a 'solution' for no longer being able to spy on my wife and me electronically. see Scientology Spies and Going Mobile.
Miscavige's Office of Special Affairs (OSA, dirty tricks and propaganda wing of Scientology Inc.) has wound up failed journalist, turned Scientology Inc. gumshoe, Jim Lynch and granted him an unlimited expense account to harass my wife and me from a distance. Lynch is zig zagging the U.S. by airplane dropping in on our friends and relatives spewing a litany of criminal-mind (the criminal - in this case David Miscavige - accuses others of that which he himself is doing) allegations against me. The randomness and distances of his routes betray a financial mindedness of a sick Saudi prince. Some church.
If you know Monique or me very well there is a good chance you'll be seeing Lynch unannounced. We would appreciate it if you would record any conversation you may have with Lynch should he show up to your home or office (for evidentiary purposes). Feel free to share your views about the nature of his boss (Miscavige) and Lynch's activities should he contact you. Otherwise, you are also free to tell him to get a life and get off your property.
In an Underground Bunker exclusive, we're giving you the first look at two slick videos shot and assembled by Tiziano Lugli and numerous other former members of the Church of Scientology. Among those you'll see are video blogger Tory Christman, former church spokesman Mike Rinder, and character actor Michael Fairman. Also taking part was Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Scientology leader David Miscavige, who has a memoir coming out next month. (Also, a few actors helped out — hey, it's Hollywood.)
First up, Shit Scientologists Say...to outsiders.
When we were in Los Angeles recently and videotaped Lugli playing a now-infamous rap song featuring Nazanin Boniadi, he also showed us preliminary edits of these videos. Since then he's added more cuts and finished up these first two.
2011-12-21, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Do you want to know how David Miscavige can imprison and torture dozens of people in the morning on any given day and the same afternoon receive reports how the US State Department is enraged over Human Rights violations against poor David and his cult? In a word, MONEY.
For more than a decade this gentleman who touts himself as a Nobel peace prize candidate has been on Miscavige's payroll covering up Miscaviges serial, continuous Human Rights violations. He is but one of a team of mercenaries, including a number of former US Department of Justice lawyers, who receive thousands of dollars weekly to cover up for David Miscavige's crimes.
Joseph K "Joe" Grieboski
The new Atid ("Future") private elementary school in Yahud closed its doors this week after the city's mayor, Yossi Ben-David, gave instructions to shut it down. Anti-missionary and cult NGO Yad L'Achim reports that the school, which opened its doors in September, was Israel's first and only school run in accordance with the precepts of the scientology cult.
The schools' scientology connection was not known until recently. Yad L'Achim says that the father of a pupil in the school noticed that a schoolbook his son received was not recognized by the Ministry of Education. The father – who is an educator himself – turned to Yad L'Achim, which found that the book is based upon the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, scientology's founder.
2011-12-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
That accusation has been made previously about Joseph K. Grieboski, who blogs at Huffington Post's Religion section and runs something he calls the Institute on Religion and Foreign Policy. In 2009, former Scientologist Gerry Armstrong accused Grieboski of taking money from Scientology, claiming that he'd talked to a former Institute employee who told him of the connection.
And now Rathbun comes forward with a document from Scientology's Office of Special Affairs -- the church's intelligence and covert operations wing -- which suggests that Grieboski was employed to actively temper anti-Scientology sentiment in European countries. Previously, we've authenticated Rathbun's leaks of OSA documents, including spying operations against Marc Headley, Mark Ebner, and South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone.
And besides, another former top Scientology official tells the Voice that he has personal information about Grieboski's employment with the church.
2011-12-21, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
Getting a face full of unhappy Scientologist Tommy Gorman has a pretty in-your-face way of protesting the Church of Scientology. He positions himself outside the entrance to San Francisco's Scientology "org" holding a video camera and another device that plays an audio recording.
As workers at the org arrive or leave, Gorman plays for them the recording, which is from a tape of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard describing Xenu, the galactic overlord that is part of secret upper-level teachings in the church, and which Scientology publicly denies is part of their religion.
While he's playing Hubbard's words, Gorman himself barks things at the workers intended to make them question their faith. He's not subtle about it. He's deliberately trying to get under their skin. Many of them, in fact, know Gorman well. He grew up in Scientology and worked at the San Francisco org for years until leaving in 2001. In 2005, he began protesting Scientology, and his intense -- but peaceful -- demonstrations have resulted in more than one org worker taking a swing at him.
THE biggest box office star in Hollywood, Will Smith, gave $122,000 (£82,000) to three charities linked to the Church of Scientology last year, according to newly released tax returns.
It is a record donation to the controversial organisation by a non-member. In 2006 he donated $22,000 to the church created by L Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer.
As Smith promoted his latest film, a thriller called Seven Pounds, last week he said he was not a member of the church but agreed with some of its more "common-sense" principles.
2007-12-21, Tom O'Connell, New Mexico Business Weekly
Opposing forces are squaring off over the Scientologists' plan to open a church Downtown.
A Jan. 11 variance hearing at the Albuquerque Planning Department could determine whether the Church of Scientology of New Mexico will finalize its purchase of a prominent Central Avenue building. The hearing will determine if the church should be issued a conditional use permit for the site.
The opposition says the church does not fit into the Downtown 2010 Sector Development Plan. The Scientologists say the plan does not preclude such use.
The ostrich eggs should have been a tip-off. But Raul Lopez wasn't worried, even though he had paid $30,000 for two of them. The eggs were going to make him rich. After all, his lawyer, Brent Jones, whom he trusted more than his own mother, had convinced him. Jones came highly regarded as a member of the Church of Scientology, the Los Angeles-based church in which Lopez had invested his hope of getting cured of irreversible brain trauma resulting from an auto accident. Never mind that medical experts had concluded that little could be done about his nervous tremor and inability to reason and interact with others the way he did before a big-rig crossed the center line of a Ventura County highway and slammed head-on into his pickup truck in 1985. Without exception, doctors advised him to adapt to his limitations and move on with his life.
In November, Microsoft announced that disk fragmentation technology developed by Executive Software had been licensed to Microsoft for use in Windows 2000, due for release in February.
Executive Software's CEO Craig Jensen is a member of the Church of Scientology and has boasted that his staff is trained according to administrative systems developed by the Church of Scientology. Jensen has attributed his company's success in selling its defragmentation utility DisKeeper to a 12-volume encyclopedia on managing organizations written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
Leaving her home in Boston one morning early this month, Therese Minton was shocked to find her husband's photograph on fliers stuck to cars and trees in their Beacon Hill neighborhood. Beneath the photo was text that began: "The face of religious bigotry. Your neighbor Bob Minton is not all that he seems."
A few nights later, as children arrived for the birthday party of one of the Mintons' two young daughters, three Scientologists picketed quietly outside the home, handing out the same flier.
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Church of Scientology holds assets of nearly $400 million, including a cruise ship used as a "seagoing religious retreat," according to a detailed portrait of the group's financial network provided to the Internal Revenue Service.
The papers, which fill nine file boxes, were submitted by the church as part of its 39-year effort to gain tax-exempt status. The documents became public after the IRS granted an exemption to more than 20 Scientology organizations on Oct. 1.
The papers offer an unprecedented public view of the huge organization, which includes two publishing houses, a 2,845-acre California ranch used as a school for the children of church staffers and more than 45 buildings on 500 acres in Riverside County, Calif.
Gary Smith, president of the Narconon Chilocco New Life Center, said Friday that the appeal claims his center in Kay County near the Kansas border has experienced "an incessant wave of constitutional violations" in its efforts to gain state certification.