Before we continue our year in review today, we have a holiday treat for you from reader Graham, who makes a return trip to the BirminghamIdeal Org after he so sneakily brought us a report from its grand opening last year. We're always curious to see how little activity there is at these facilities after the confetti is swept away.
Seasons greetings from Birmingham
It's been a couple of months since I last walked past the Birmingham Ideal Org. As it was a Sunday I wondered if the car-park might be packed with attendees at a Sunday service. Unlikely, as Scientology's Sunday services are often advertised (in order to fake being some vaguely Christian-like religion) but rarely delivered. Checking their website beforehand I could find no reference to a Sunday service so presumably this is a bit of fakery they've abandoned; for now at least.
2018-12-22, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Ok, this is an "ideal" org. According to scientology this means instant "10x expansion."
This is the promotional piece they put together to let everyone know what a great job they are doing.
Notice anything missing?
Citing a now-urgent need for the Scientology-owned lot on Cleveland Street to use as retail parking, the city has asked to restart negotiations with the church. But since the first time around, local church officials have gone dark on communicating with the city.
City attorney Pam Akin said she contacted Scientology attorneys at the end of November to arrange a meeting with local church officials and update the conversation. She said she has still not gotten a response on whether they are willing to meet.
City Manager Bill Horne said Scientology leader David Miscavige called him on Dec. 8 because "he was apparently aware of (Akin) reaching out and not getting a response."
Conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, which promotes itself as a grassroots response to a perceived "liberal intolerance" on college campuses, has come under fire for racism and alleged illegal campaign activity following a New Yorker exposé. The group, which has touted its close ties to the Trump family, hosted Donald Trump Jr. at its three-day annual summit in West Palm Beach, Florida this week. According to the New Yorker report, the group regularly funnels money into student government elections to support right-leaning candidates on campuses all over the country. The piece points to an atmosphere within the organization that was hostile to minorities, with examples including a text message from Crystal Clanton—formerly the group's national field director—to another Turning Point employee that allegedly said: "I hate all black people. Like fuck them all... I hate blacks. End of story." Additionally, the exposé suggested TPUSA violated campaign-finance laws by supporting political campaigns despite being barred from doing so.
It's been a question a lot of bewildered Scientology watchers have been asking recently: How far can church donor Joy Villa take her "MAGA" fame after wearing a pro-Trump dress at the Grammy awards in February, and which Congressional district is she thinking of parachuting into to make her run for the House?
The ever-vigilant Jeffrey Augustine appears to have answered that question — he pointed out to us that according to a donation page on Joy Villa's own exploratory committee website, she's aiming at Florida's 27th district in Miami, which is going to be wide open after incumbent RepublicanIleana Ros-Lehtinen announced that she won't be running in 2018.
Ros-Lehtinen has held the seat since 1989, but the getting out may be good after Hillary Clinton took the district by 19 points last year, and a pro-Democratic wave appears to be building on the horizon. The Tampa Bay Times rated the district "highly vulnerable" to switch to the Democrats now that Ros-Lehtinen is leaving.
President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted out thanks to a head of a conservative student group just a day after its field director of accused of sending out a racist text saying she hates black people.
The president sent out the missive after Charlie Kirk, the head of Turning Points USA, had appeared on Fox News and praised the president in a segment.
'The President has accomplished some absolutely historic things during this past year,' Kirk said of Trump – a quotation the president mentioned in his own tweet.
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 15, written by Susan J. Palmer and titled "The Church of Scientology in France: Legal and Activist Counterattacks in the 'War on Sectes'."
The introduction to this series is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3-lW...
CRITICAL MERCHANDISE AVAILABLE AT:
2016-12-22, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
Hey everyone, we are back after a short break from this series, breaking down this book, Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and featuring academic essays and articles written by religious scholars, sociologists and the like, mostly in praise of or apologizing for Scientology as a religous practice. Since I don't happen to think that Scientology is a legitimate religious practice and have been an outspoken critic against it for the last three years, I can't claim to be unbiased but as I've been showing in this series, neither are these folks.
This week we are tackling chapter 15, "The Church of Scientology in France: Legal and Activist Counterattacks in the 'War on Sectes'" by Susan J. Palmer. She is a Canadian sociologist and author whose primary research interest is new religious movements. She is a professor of religious studies at Dawson College in Westmount, Quebec, and an adjunct professor at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. She teaches sociology of religion courses and Scientology is only one of many groups she's taken an interest in. To this day she still speaks out in favor of them because, as I laid out in my last video in this series, there are some religous scholars who don't take a critical view of any new religious movement because they mistakenly believe that none of them are truly dangerous or harmful. They believe that freedom of religion trumps any critique of these groups and that it is better that they be allowed to not only exist but practice in whatever way they wish without government regulation or interference.
Here is a quote from a book review of Susan's book The Church of Scientology: The New Heretics of France from a website called "freedom of conscience." This gives a summary of the issues involved in the country of France when it comes to new religious movements.
We're continuing to count down the months in our 2016 year-in-review, and today we're looking back at the stories covered here at the Underground Bunker during February. (But we're still continuing to cover breaking news, never fear.)
Looking back at February 2016, the month started off with perhaps the year's biggest shock to the system. We broke the news on February 1 that Monique Rathbun had fired her entire legal team. In August 2013, Monique filed a harassment lawsuit against numerous Scientology entities and officials, including church leader David Miscavige. Scientology responded by throwing more than 20 lawyers at the case, which provided some interesting scenes down at the courthouse in quiet Comal County, Texas. Those lawyers followed Scientology's usual scorched-earth playbook and threw numerous roadblocks at the suit, including the tactic of trying to get Monique's attorneys disqualified. But Monique's team — Ray Jeffrey, Marc Wiegand, Elliott Cappuccio, and, for appeals, Leslie Hyman — knocked back everything Scientology threw at them, and were, by all accounts, winning the case. Scientology knew it, and in order to protect Miscavige, the church fell on its sword and made some amazing stipulations in official court briefs, admitting, for example, that it does surveil and investigate former members as a matter of course. Never, in decades of litigation, had the church made statements so openly admitting to such behavior, an indication of the worry that Miscavige would end up, at some point, under oath in this mess. From May 2014 to November 2015 — a full year and a half — the case was on hold as the Texas Third Court of Appeals considered one of Scientology's desperate attempts to derail the lawsuit. But when the appeals court finally ruled, it not only cleared away the church's obstruction but handed Monique one of the most damning rulings against Scientology in many years. After more than two years of preliminary matters, Monique and her husband, former church official Mark "Marty" Rathburn, were in the driver's seat and were poised to cause some serious pain for Miscavige and his church, our legal experts told us. And then, just two months later, Monique fired all four of her attorneys, and "without cause," so if some kind of judgment or settlement still happened, the attorneys would be in line to be paid. After then gamely pursuing the case on her own for a few months, Monique then withdrew it altogether while blaming her former attorneys for blatantly mishandling the lawsuit — a charge that was demonstrably untrue. Months later, we're still completely mystified as to why the Rathbuns badmouthed their attorneys and walked away from a winning case that at least had the potential to yield them a settlement in the millions of dollars. At his blog, Marty Rathbun claimed that there was no settlement at all, and he has left readers guessing as to the reason the lawsuit was dropped.
Thankfully, on February 5 we lightened things up with another of those glorious testimonials videos from Scientology — and this one even featured Leah Remini's husband, Angelo Pagan, talking about his "releases" and "blowing things out."
2016-12-22, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Hurricane Leah is blowing scientology's house down and their only response is to send legal threat letters, create "WhoIs" smear sites and put up a webpage with their extremely lame response.
Here is their "handling" for the relentless storm surge that is swamping their leaking lifeboat.
I have commented previously about their responses, this article addresses the statement above (this is the SAME response they have had on their website forever as even more of their dirty laundry keeps tumbling out, this is apparently the best they can do) and this is another article where I address their statements about me sentence by sentence.
The I.M. Chait gallery had previously purchased and sold an illegally smuggled dinosaur skeleton from convicted paleontologist Eric Prokopi, whom Bharara called a "one-man black market in prehistoric fossils."
The gallery has not been accused of wrongdoing. A representative did not return a request for comment on Monday.
(Note: authored by Jeffrey Augustine this piece was originally published on the Underground Bunker and is reposted here for archival purposes)
[Isaac Hayes (1942-2008) tells an audience about becoming the international spokesman for the World Literacy Crusade]
Tony Ortega: "We could not have broken the big story of felony charges against Scientologists operating a Scientology drug rehab clinic in Compton without the help of our sources. We've had invaluable help here in New York with the Underground Bunker's man on the scene, Jeffrey Augustine, who lives in Los Angeles."
2015-12-22, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Everything in scientology these days is about "ideal" and "golden age" — terms that are bandied about constantly.
Narconon is apparently experiencing a "golden age" that appears to be a measure of how many people die in their facilities, multiplied by the number of lawsuits filed against them, plus the total of zoning variance application rejections x inches of entheta media. It's straight up and vertical. Hip hip hooray.
We have seen the magnificent "grand openings" of "ideal" Narconons in Clearwater, Baton Rouge and yesterday on the Bunker it was Eslov in Sweden — apparently a one man Narconon that has now attained idealiness.
(Izzy Chait at LAX, the actual skull sold in 2007, and an actor out $276,000. )
By now you've probably heard the news that actor Nicolas Cage is giving back to the nation of Mongolia a stolen Tyrannosaurus bataar skull he bought at an auction in 2007. It's the latest shoe to drop after a notorious broker, Eric Prokopi, pleaded guilty in 2012 to illegally importing fossils from Mongolia and China.
What you probably don't know is that the guy who sold Cage the hot Prokopi skull was Isadore M. Chait, an OT 8 Scientologist who has participated in the church's notorious "Fair Game" retaliation schemes. We have some fun video of Chait for you to consider in a moment. But besides being an ardent, high-ranking Scientologist, Izzy Chait is also a renowned Beverly Hills art dealer, specializing in Asian art, who several years ago also began carrying dinosaur fossils and other natural history items. (At his bio posted at his website, you can see what an impressive guy he is. Somehow, however, he left out of it that he's a master of matter, energy, space, and time as a Scientology Operating Thetan Level Eight.)
2014-12-22, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
PasadenaIdeal Org in peak production mode...
Various reports have come in about the scene in Pasadena Org. Apparently, they have been being "shamed" by the "production" at LA Org with their massive bodyrouting effort fail (I guess they didnt read the recent post about this).
But this is not a new "management" tactic in scientology. In fact, it is pretty much par for the course. Make every org believe that others orgs are doing well and they are the only ones failing.
We're continuing our countdown of the best stories we covered this year, and we're looking at what happened in February.
The month started out with a new lawsuit, filed by an attorney in Las Vegas, Ryan Hamilton (a/k/a "Hambo"), who would become a very familiar name here in the Underground Bunker.
We were impressed by the thorough nature of Hamilton's complaint in the federal fraud lawsuit he was filing against one of Scientology's drug rehab clinics, Rainbow Canyon Retreat in Nevada, one of the facilities in the Narconon network. By the end of the year, Hamilton would file 24 separate lawsuits against the Narconon system.
When it comes to taking a person's money, the Church of Scientology moves at the speed of light. When it comes to refunding money, however, the Church moves in a geological time frame and uses its bad faith sham contract terms to make it virtually impossible to get money back.
One example: By definition, donations to the IAS are inherently out exchange as nothing is exchanged with the donor. Compounding this violation of its own "doctrine of exchange" that Scientology made such a big deal about with the IRS, IAS donations are non-refundable per the donation contract.
The inference here is that the IAS does not practice the doctrine of exchange and admits such when takes in donations on a nonrefundable basis. The IAS is yet another wealth extraction scam in the larger Scientology con game masquerading as a religion.
2013-12-22, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Things are not looking too good in the Ideal Org race in East US. Even though they are sending out this "promo piece" to their public.
8 Orgs with ZERO points?
Detroit, Boston and Miami (who have all PURCHASED expensive white elephants), are not even collecting enough to pay for the plywood to keep the windows and doors boarded up. (Remember, this is a POINTS system — it's not equivalent to the number of dollars collected, except where the figure is 0. That is nada no matter what system it is).
On Sundays, we like to reveal to you the various things our tipsters have forwarded to us during the week — mailers and fliers that Scientology sends out to its members as the call for donations goes ever onwards.
This week, the world of Scientology is preparing for one its biggest days on the calendar. New Year's Eve is a major landmark for the church, because, well, who knows. It just is. So make plans to get on down to your local org for some late night partying and wallet loosening.
Let's start with the biggest change for the church and its New Year's Eve plans. For the first time ever, the main party will be not in Los Angeles but in Clearwater, Florida. In yet another sign that things are shifting to Florida at the expense of Scientology's other major hubs in England and California, the main event will be happening on December 27 at that big tent near the Super Power Building which has seen so many other big celebrations in recent weeks.
Right at midnight on New Year's Eve, we posted a primer on Scientology, starring LRH It's time to look back at this amazing year for Scientology watchers, and over the next several days we're going to refresh your memory about what got our attention in 2012.
Of course, one of the things that made this year so memorable was the level of involvement of our commenting community, and we hope you have plenty to say as we look back at the stories that mattered in the past twelve months.
January sure started with a bang this year. At midnight, we put up a primer about Scientology that we'd been working on for weeks, then sat back to sip a bit of champagne to bring in the new year. Minutes later, our e-mail inbox started going crazy. Our regular tipsters were peppering us with messages — had we seen the mindblowing letter that just went out to thousands of Scientologists from a former executive named Debbie Cook?
2011-12-22, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
The hypocrisy of David Miscavige and his Scientology Inc arms knows no bounds. The following church of Scientology Office of Special Affairs (OSA, dirty tricks, propaganda, and bribery unit) documents it.
The document outlines a plan to buy a "secular tech invasion in D.C.", through yet another commission based lobbyist.
Pay special attention to target 1 in the "Earmarks" section:
2010-12-22, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Blogger's introductory note: The following is a mother's account of the attempted destruction of her family. I cross flowed much of what Renata relates. It is very timely in that one year ago - almost to the day - on the eve of Christmas 2009David Miscavige's anti-Marty mission invaded the Lugli's home attempting to recruit Claudio and Renata to team up to ambush their son Tiziano - and failing that attempting to get the parents to disconnect from their son. Almost a year later, their other son Flavio was sent into their home as a missionaire working for the same Miscavige mission, spying and attempting to get his parents to disown and disconnect from Tiziano. That they kept their equillibrium through all this doing everything in their power to keep the family together speaks volumes as to their character. Regardless of the outcome, one things is certain, they survived this ordeal with their integrity not only intact but strengthened.
I would like to tell my personal experience in Scientology from a mother's viewpoint, which is my main beingness, regarding my two sons, Flavio and Tiziano. What I had to live through myself with regards to what has happened to them, was the main reason for our departure from the Church, besides all other facts that we included in our Resignation Letter -(https://markrathbun.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/claudio-and-renata-lugli-are-free/.)
Flavio and Tiziano were born in 1977 and '78, and my husband and I were both in the Sea Org at that time, we joined in '74 and left in '82. During that time one could still have kids in the Sea Org, and regardless of the amount of work that was absorbing our lives, I have always tried to give my sons all of my attention and communication, trying to give them, to the best of my abilities, an ethical education and a spiritual growth towards their self-determinism and mental sanity.
Pinellas CountyTax Collector Diane Nelson and her staff deserve credit for finally requiring the Church of Scientology to collect bed taxes at its five busy hotels in downtown Clearwater - though it shouldn't have taken 10 years and a call from a St. Petersburg Times reporter to get the ball rolling. Now state officials need to ensure that the church's hotels also are paying sales taxes. Allowing the church's hotels to dodge their taxes is unfair to every other taxpayer in the state. The Church of Scientology is exempted from paying taxes on its facilities used for religious purposes, but not for others such as hotels and restaurants. Yet no one has a good excuse why the county and state have never required the church hotels - including downtown Clearwater's landmark Fort Harrison Hotel - to pay up. The neglect had going on for decades and cost the county millions.
2010-12-22, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
A friend made the observation to me today that the Church of Scientology has no heart. This person, a former Scientologist, had just visited another church and had been impressed at the spirit of benevolence, charity, love and compassion that was evidenced by the people there, both the leaders and the members. These are all traits that we normally associate with Christmas, a time when even the hardest hearts feel some charity and goodwill.
I well remember Christmases in the Church of Scientology. It was seen as an annoying distraction. Staff had to be given a half a day to go out and shop for family presents and send them off. Otherwise it would be a "PR flap." But even this brief nod to Christmas was barely tolerated.
Every year, Management would go into a panic. It was known that the stats would go down over Christmas. Duh. People were doing other things, seeing family and friends, relaxing. The solution? A hastily put together program to "get the public to come into the Org for courses over the Christmas holidays. "Use that time to get up the Bridge!" the promotion screamed. How dare anyone actually just relax and have a good time when staff were working around the clock to "keep the stats from crashing."
Don Jason was locked, against his will, in a cabin on The Freewinds (Scientologys Ship) and denied repeated requests to leave the ship and the cult.
Jason is quoted as saying, "For probably three or four days I refused to work, sat in my room saying over and over again: I want to leave. I want to leave. I want to leave. But that didn't get me anywhere."
Using bits and pieces he found in his cabin, he fashioned a device to escape down a mooring line.
2009-12-22, Jefferson Hawkins, Leaving Scientology
This is a picture, believe it or not, of this year's RTC Christmas Card. It is as big as a coffee-table book, ornately foiled, die-cut and hand-assembled. It is estimated that each card could have cost as much as $50 to print and assemble. The postage alone, on each card, was $5.00. It went out to "top Scientologists." One of them, disgusted by the expense and ostentation, photographed it and sent us the shots.
Here we have "the true spirit of Christmas" according to David Miscavige. Spend as much of parishioner money as possible to put on the biggest and most ostentatious display of excess that you can possibly put together. One of these, we assume, went to Tom Cruise. And we have to impress Tom, don't we? Other copies I am sure went to all of the top IAS contributors - or, should we say, all of Miscavige's top enablers. Why? To impress them with how well he shepherds their donations?
Miscavige, here are a few things you could do, in the spirit of Christmas, that would impress me. And they would not cost you much.
2006-12-22, Roger Friedman, Celebrity Gossip, FOX News
My source within the Fire Department warns that Scientology will not be allowed in again if there's another terrorist attack. "Our crisis workers weren't equipped to deal with them last time. They're ready now," my source said.
By the way, the Scientology/Detox people should re-designate one of the spokeswomen in their recruitment and fundraising video. Margarita Lopez is no longer a New York City Councilwoman, as she is billed. She is now a Surrogate Court judge in Brooklyn. Her efforts to become Manhattan Borough president in 2005 were blunted when the New York Post reported that she directed hundreds of thousands of city dollars into the controversial detox program after receiving $115,000 in campaign donations from Scientology.
The Tax Court ruled yesterday in Sklar v. Commissioner, 125 T.C. No. 14 (12/21/05), that a couple's tuition and fee payments to their children's Jewish day schools are not charitable contributions because they received a substantial benefit from their payments and lacked charitable intent.
All these presumptions and prejudices are being debated here these days because of an increasingly bitter dispute between German authorities and the Church of Scientology, the controversial group whose spiritual headquarters is in Clearwater. Just this past week, Chancellor Helmut Kohl announced the creation of a federal office to monitor Scientology's activities in Germany and keep church members out of key public jobs.
Kohl and other officials are convinced that the Church of Scientology isn't a church at all and has nothing to do with religion.
For some of these officials, the organization is at best a curious kind of personal and career management business that needs to be closely monitored. Others see it as a clever pyramid scheme that exploits human weakness to make money.
An Oklahoma County judge who previously has ruled in favor of Narconon Chilocco New Life Center has been assigned to hear the center's latest court case, a lawyer for the center said Saturday.
Harry Woods Jr. said a court appeal of the state mental health board's denial of certification for the facility has been assigned to District Judge Leamon Freeman.
Freeman also will rule on a request to allow Narconon Chilocco to remain open through the appeal process, Woods said.
Operating under auspices of the Church of Scientology are dozens of groups, many of them separate legal entities. Untangling Scientology's lines of organizations can be difficult; even the sect's own charts that have been used in court cases are complex. Here are some of Scientology's organizations.
The next year, the FBI raided church offices and seized hundreds of documents. Eleven church members were subsequently convicted of crimes. And the Church of Scientology promised that it had cleaned house. Such dirty tricks, said the church, were things of the past.
Consider, then, the more recent case of Charles O"Reilly, an aggressive California lawyer who was another thorn in the side of Scientology. O"Reilly represented some former Scientologists who were suing the church, and he refused to settle their cases. One client, who said the church nearly drove him insane, had won a $30-million verdict against the sect. Church executives were irate, one of their former lawyers recalled in sworn testimony.
So in the spring of 1987, top-ranking Scientologists and lawyers called a meeting at their headquarters on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles to talk over the O"Reilly matter. According to their former lawyer, Joseph Yanny, the Scientologists planned to steal confidential files on O"Reilly from the Betty Ford Center and other alcohol- and drug-treatment centers. Yanny said the Scientologists figured that such records could be used to blackmail O"Reilly.
The 9th Circuit Count of Appeals in California has ruled that federal prosecutors here may use materials seized in a 1977FBI raid on Church of Scientology headquarters in Los Angeles in the criminal trial of 11 church members accused of conspiring to steal from the government.
The prosecutors had sought the ruling to clarify an Oct. 30 9th Circuit opinion that left some doubt whether the documents could be used only before grand juries, or at trials as well. because the appellate court said that the documents could not be made public.
Lawyers for the church argued that the documents would obviously become public when the criminal trial is held here, probably early next year.
Now, the founder of still another cult, he claims to have discovered the ultimate secrets of life and the universe, and to be able to cure everything, including cancer.
For the cult, L. (for Lafayette) Ron (for Ronald) Hubbard has whipped up the bastard word "Scientology," which he defines as "knowing about knowing" or "the science of knowledge." His latest ology is compounded of equal parts of science fiction, dianetics (with "auditing," "preclears" and engrams), and plain jabberwocky.* Hubbard has preached his gospel to the British; he spent last week drumming for converts in Philadelphia. Awed by his own accomplishments, Hubbard has awarded himself the degree of "D. Sen." -- doctor of Scientology.