Bernie Headley died today, aged 67. Here's what Marc Headley posted this evening at his Facebook account:
Yesterday my dad got to see a ton of family members. He got to talk to his sisters on the phone. His sister that lives in Colorado was here all day with him in the hospital. All of the cousins in town came by and all their kids came by as well. From 10:00 AM-10:00 PM he had visitors coming and going full time. He was very clear mentally and was cracking jokes all day with the doctors and nurses. Even my sister, who he has not spoken to in almost 15 years managed to speak with him on the phone for a bit.
Around 10:30 he said he was ready to go to sleep. He asked me if I could make sure all of his computers were logged off and shut down. I told him I would make sure they were all taken care of.
Scientology's final word in the complex appeal and cross-appeal of the Luis and Rocio Garcia fraud lawsuit was filed this week, and now the matter is in the hands of the U.S. Eleventh Circuit.
We have the document for you and we'll be interested in what you have to say about it. But we just want to warn you that Scientology is off in the weeds arguing about jurisdictional details that have nothing to do with what has made this case so important and interesting.
Namely, that Tampa federal judge James Whittemore ruled that because the Garcias had signed "religious" membership contracts that had them promising to take any grievances to Scientology internal "religious arbitration," then his hands were tied and he couldn't even consider the Garcias' claims that they had been lied to and defrauded out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. As a federal court judge, Whittemore ruled, he simply couldn't consider the justice of the internal rules of something that called itself a church.
2019-12-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Just how many churches of scientology are there?
If you ask scientology, they will never tell you.
You can look up on scientology.org and count the number of listed churches of scientology — but it's tedious and they don't make it easy. But it is around 150, the same as it has been for decades.
As City Council candidates knock on doors and shake hands at events ahead of the March 17 election, voters are pushing them to confront an issue rarely discussed in public.
"Eight out of 10 times the word Scientology comes up and is frequently the first question asked," said Seat 2 candidate Michael Mannino. "What are you going to do about Scientology?"
Forty-four years after the Church of Scientology established its international spiritual headquarters downtown, its profile is more prominent in this election than any other in recent years.
Part 1 of 6 of "The World's Best Scientology Documentary Ever"
(New episode every Monday)
What is a Sunday "church service" like at the most expensive church in the world? It's not as glamorous as you'd think.
The Church of Scientology has been a dominant issue in Clearwater since 1975, when the organization made downtown its international spiritual headquarters. But 44 years later, the story of the city and the church has begun a new chapter.
In early 2017, the City Council approved a conceptual plan for Imagine Clearwater, a $64-million blueprint to renovate the downtown waterfront into a vibrant park. Over the next three years, companies tied to Scientology bought nearly 100 downtown properties within walking distance of the city-owned waterfront, the Tampa Bay Times revealed in October. The church and companies run by its members now own most of the retail property in the center of downtown, the exact area where the city hoped businesses and activity would sprout as a result of the park renovation.
The March 17 election has the potential to change a majority of the City Council. Three of the five seats are in contention.
Three years ago I made a video about Scientology holidays and this year I thought I'd talk about what Christmas specifically used to be like for me as a Sea Org member and how much has changed since leaving Scientology six years ago. Enjoy!
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2018-12-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
One of my oldest and dearest friends, Janis appeared on The Aftermath last week to help shed light on the life and disappearance of Shelly Miscavige.
Her fantastic, almost photographic memory is a treasure that should not be taken for granted. And she has put her gift to excellent use in the two books she has published so far chronicling her life which also serve as the definitive history of the Sea Organization.
If you want to know what life was like with L. Ron Hubbard in the formative years of the Sea Org, the first two volumes of Janis' story are the only place to go. Her extensive access to Hubbard, her inquisitive nature and her ability to make friends with everyone served her well. Her depth of knowledge of events and the characters that populated the scientology world in the 60's and 70's is unparalleled. Nobody before now has been able to put together such a complete picture — and I suspect nobody will in the future. Janis' access to the inner workings of the world of Hubbard and scientology is unique. Not only was she one of Hubbard's original "Messengers", she was also the daughter of one of the most celebrated Sea Org members (Yvonne Gillham) and one of the most widely known and recognized scientology "Field Disseminators" (her father Peter), thus she was right there experiencing virtually everything that happened.
A former employee of a Wyoming occupational therapy office says the owner of the business pressured her to take Scientology courses as a condition of her employment.
Julie A. Rohrbacher filed a lawsuit in federal court Dec. 17 against Teton Therapy, a group of physical and occupational therapy offices in four Wyoming locations.
Rohrbacher worked at an office in Lander, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.
Before we continue with our year in review, we wanted to share with you something a tipster forwarded to us. It's an advertising mailer for a particular wing of Scientology that targets businessmen, trying to convince them that L. Ron Hubbard was a genius-level business administrator.
The flier offers to help deal with poisonous attacks from competitors who engage in what Scientology calls "black propaganda."
Well, that's pretty rich. No one does "black PR" like Scientology itself. Leah Remini, Mike Rinder, and heck, your proprietor, are constantly targeted with smear campaigns by Scientology, conducted at huge expense on social media.
We're looking back at 2017's most significant stories here at the Underground Bunker and today it's a flashback to the month of March in our annual Scientology year-in-review.
Without a doubt, March was our biggest month of the year for significant stories, and it started off with the year's biggest bombshell: We revealed that Scientologist and That '70s Show actor Danny Masterson was being investigated by the Los AngelesPolice Department on accusations of rape by three different women, who were each Scientologists at the time of their alleged attacks. We referred to them as Victim A, who had written a scathing letter of complaint to LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, Victim B, who was made to do past-life auditing by the church as a bizarre kind of punishment for alleging that Masterson had raped her, and Victim C, who we interviewed, and who told us about the violent attack she went through. Since then, Yashar Ali at the Huffington Post revealed that a fourth victim had also come forward and was part of the investigation. He also reported that the District Attorney's office had put the case on a "slow roll," which explains why nine months later, we're still waiting to see if charges are going to be filed. At this point, both Masterson and his accusers deserve an answer to that question, and we hope the DA's office can get its act together soon after the holidays.
The next day, we really shifted gears and decided that this whole Joy Villa situation was getting out of control. You have to understand, we've been keeping an eye on Joy since 2014, when her desperate antics in an attempt to be considered a Scientology "celebrity" of some sort — of any sort — were getting too obvious to ignore. We watched as she tried scheme after scheme to get noticed. There were a couple of Grammy awards appearances with barely-there dresses dreamed up by her maniac friend, Andre Soriano (like one made out of a snow fence), which just got her ridiculed for trying too hard. For a while, she tried to "train her waist" to be scarily small, and then she won an award at the Celebrity Centre for her vegan bodybuilding. This woman was just determined to be famous for something, even though she didn't actually seem to exhibit any talent of any note. But then, she wore Soriano's newest dress for the 2017 Grammy awards, and boy, did it get her attention. The "MAGA" dress was a huge hit among Donald Trump supporters who don't have a lot of entertainment figures to call their own. It didn't seem to matter that Joy had a record as a Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders supporter, and that it was pretty obvious that the dress was another cynical ploy for attention. Trump supporters bought up her record in huge numbers, and Joy began milking that attention for everything she could. When she went to a "Gays for Trump" rally in DC on March 4, we pointed out that she'd been listed in a recent Scientology publication as a major donor — a "Patron Meritorious," someone who has given at least $250,000 to the International Association of Scientologists. But it had little effect. What would it take to convince Trump supporters that they were being played? Oh, if we'd only known in March how far Joy was going to take things. She steadily worked her way into the Trump White House, and then in October received a pretty clear endorsement from the president for the notion of running for Congress...
The show where I answer your questions. Please leave any comments or feedback in the comments section here below. I see everything and want to hear from you.
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2017-12-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Imagine a future world in which people's cell phones were loaded with an array of laser-precise Scientology applications. Now picture these apps connecting automatically with a vast air-conditioned server farm located on the edge of the Mojave Desert—affectionately known in management circles as Sci-Cloud. We're not talking science fiction. This technology has existed for years. Why hasn't David Miscavige and his church jumped on this tech already?
Staying Clean in the Twenty-first Century
The second most useful app (we'll get to the first later) would be the Clean Hands App that dealt with people's overts and withholds. Instead of having to go through all the trouble of writing up misdeeds on paper or coughing them up in-session, people would simply enter their crimes on their cell phones the minute after they'd been committed.
Overts and withholds would automatically be uploaded to Department 3 in the individual's local org (Department 3 is that branch in a Scientology organization that handles ethics). EOs and MAAs would instantly be appraised of crimes and be able to quickly take the appropriate measures. For instance, an EO could drag a pre-written ethics program from his desktop onto a church member's avatar, and hit "send." Boom! Handled!
If you don't know who Mike "Health Ranger" Adams is, he may be a steadfast presence in your social media newsfeed without your knowledge. Awarded the top slot on Real Clear Science's "Worst Websites for Science in 2016" list, and with its founder touted by Dr. Oz as "the Renegade Health Ranger," Natural News is a thorn in the sides of all who hold legitimate science dear. But bad science isn't Adams' only offense. Natural News is a fake news fixture, with articles on Obama birtherism, HIV/AIDS denialism, and the Sandy Hook tragedy as an elaborate hoax by FEMA to promote gun control. With the current uproar about fake news, the website and its founder should top lists of spurious sources.
Despite its outlandish stances, Natural News has been a staple since 2003. Attracting millions of unique visitors per month, you probably know at least a couple people who follow the website (just go to Facebook and see how many of your friends "like" the page).
Now, dozens of science supporters (including me) have launched a grassroots New Year's resolution campaign against both Adams and his website, tagged with #NaturalNonsense. The message went out via a graphic simultaneously posted on Facebook by a host of public pages, from the popular Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast to the Refutations to Anti-Vaccine Memes organization, at 8:10 am eastern time on Thursday:
(LAPD Chief Charlie Beck notified Leah Remini that he needs more time)
The Los AngelesPolice Department has notified Leah Remini's attorney, Douglas Mirell, that it needs an additional two weeks to fulfill Remini's December 12 records request regarding the whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige, wife of Scientology's leader, David Miscavige.
On August 5, 2013, Remini filed a missing person report with the LAPD about Shelly, who was once a formidable executive in Scientology, but who vanished from Scientology's "Int Base" near Hemet, California in late summer 2005, and has only been seen in public one time since — at the funeral of her father in the summer of 2007 while in the presence of a Scientology "handler."
Watch the Full Larry King Now Interview Here: http://www.ora.tv/larrykingnow
In response to the Church of Scientology's assertions that Leah Remini's new docuseries about the organization is factually inaccurate, the actress and former Scientologist has a powerful response: sue me.
Sign up for the Larry King Now newsletter to receive guest updates: http://www.ora.tv/larrykingnow/articl...
2016-12-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
For new readers at this blog, this comic strip is a weekly satire of all things scientology.
It's written by a former scientologist to speak to former scientologists. Some of the concepts and language may be difficult for those new to the subject to understand. But notwithstanding, I doubt the big picture or overall message will not be understood. RB has earned a well-deserved reputation for insights into the mind of those still in the bubble of scientology that you won't find anywhere else.
This week I talk with Pete Griffiths, a former Scientologist from Ireland. Back in the 1980s he used to run a very successful Scientology mission but has been an anti-Scientology advocate since the mid-2000s since discovering the truth about his former religion. We discuss our mutual history with Scientology, what it we are trying to do as advocates and his recent court victory against Scientology trying to defame him.
Please comment away and let me know your feedback or if you have any questions or comments you'd like me to address on air.
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2015-12-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
I mentioned this in passing before but have not had time to go through and provide commentary on the Impact magazine featuring the annual IAS event.
But I could not leave this tidbit til after XMas.
If Saturday Night Live or John Oliver set out to satirize the fawning worship of money in scientology again, they would be hard pressed to come up with anything that tops this.
The cats are curled tight against the chill down here in the Bunker as we dive into another winter, and they've become awfully vocal lately about the treats schedule. (They're fanatical about observing the seasons properly, even if the conditions don't really call for it. The calendar might say it's winter, it's true, but it's been practically tropical in New York this December. Thanks, Obama.)
With Christmas just a couple of days away, we're continuing our look back at 2015, and this time we're remembering the highlights of March. The month was just a few days old when we got another fun update on Alex Gibney's documentary: Going Clear would be scheduled to make its theatrical debut in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles on Friday, March 13 — which happened to be L. Ron Hubbard's birthday. The movie played in theaters for a couple of weeks to make it eligible for Oscar contention. Now, nine months later, we can't help thinking it does have a decent shot at a nomination. Fingers crossed.
A few days later, we reported that we'd heard from some of the people who appear in the film that they'd suddenly experienced a surge of harassment. It was the usual stuff — private investigator shenanigans and other silliness. But Mike Rinder had received a pretty scary threat, and another participant in the film was shaken up by a personal visit from a church operative. Meanwhile, the online smears were coming hot and heavy. Scientology was lashing out, and all it did was make people want to see the film even more.
As in his life, Casey Kasem's death has not been without its drama.
Nearly six months after his death, the radio legend reportedly has been buried in Norway by his wife Jean, who did not inform his children, according to a rep for Kasem's daughter Kerri Kasem.
"Jean buried him without telling the kids," Danny Deraney told ABC News. "She does not have to tell them since she is the conservator over his remains."
2014-12-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Someone recently sent me this write up giving the details on how to try to sell Dianetics on the street.
It including reference to the "No answer" drill from STCC (Success Through Communication Course). Of course, there is little in scientology that is straightforward when it comes to trying to interest new people. In today's Google world, it's virtually impossible. But this is all taken from references that predate the birth of the internet, it has always been this way in "disseminating."
As this drill is something that has been discussed quite a lot (it being the "acceptable" version of the infamous "TRL" (Training Routine Lie) from the old GO days), I am including it at the end of this posting.
Ryan Hamilton has now filed his 25th lawsuit against the Church of Scientology's drug rehab network, Narconon, and this time he's opened up a new front - in the state of Florida.
Hamilton began filing his lawsuits in February, and limited them to cases in California, Nevada, and Colorado. They follow a pattern which grew more robust over the year - they accuse Narconon of running a deceptive scam that advertises drug counseling and instead delivers Scientology training.
Hamilton this week filed a federal fraud lawsuit against Narconon Gulf Coast in the Florida panhandle town of Destin. The facility recently changed its name to "Blu by the Sea," one of numerous name changes by Scientology rehab centers as they try to get away from the embattled name "Narconon."
The hearing is the most recent in series of lawsuits, filed against Narconon Arrowhead alleging wrongful death, credit card and insurance fraud and employees trading drugs for sex, according to court documents.
Also earlier this year the Senate passed Senate Bill 295, Stacy's Law," to regulate facilities such as Narconon Arrowhead.
2013-12-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Here we have some more mangled english from our friend Edy Lundeen.
The consistency with which this horrific grammar spews forth from the bubble confirms that it is not merely a fluke. There is some endemic lack of understanding of the english language within the church of scientology. Perhaps the Shermanspeak is rubbing off on them?
What is amazing about this is that they are actually promoting how terrible the existing Solo auditors are. I think....
We've seen a lot of Scientology testimonials over the years. There's something really interesting about the way Scientologists talk to each other in their jargon-filled language when they try to convince other members about their big "wins."
But we don't think we've ever seen quite the success story like the one that was published in the latest issue of the Fort Harrison Hotel newsletter.
It's so remarkable, we thought it was worth a post of its own.
2013-12-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Here are some thoughts that may make Christmas more meaningful.
by Mohandas K. Gandhi:
My Christian friends have told me on a few occasions that because I do not accept Christ as the only son of God, it is impossible for me to understand the profound significance of his teachings. I believe that this is an erroneous point of view, and that such an estimate is incompatible with the message that Jesus gave to the world. For he was certainly the highest example of one who wished to give everything, asking nothing in return, and not caring what creed might happen to be professed by the recipient. I am sure that if he were living here now among men, he would bless the lives of many who perhaps have never even heard his name, if only their lives embodied the virtues of which he was a living example on earth: the virtues of loving one's neighbor as oneself and of doing good and charitable works among one's fellow men.
2013-12-23, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Lauri Webster is back hunting the dwindling number of whales they have not yet harpooned and slaughtered for their blubber.
Tony Ortega mentioned the launch of the new Lauri Webster fundraising this morning on his blog with a copy of a letter (several people also sent copies of the same letter to me). But I also received another communication containing some further specifics on what the "Super Power" people are now up to.
Here is what Lauri had to say:
2012-12-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Christmas marks the postulated birthday of Jesus Christ. While some say the holiday can be traced back to a day of worship of the Sun at the outset of its return from its shortest day of the year, the Christ birth narrative is the story that has stood the test of time and garnered the most widespread acceptance. You can choose whatever story you like best, and so it will be with God according to a wonderful movie now in theaters, Life of Pi. Incidentally, I highly recommend you go out and see Pi if you haven't already. A perfect holiday entertainment.
Another movie I watched recently inspired this post. That is The Quantum Activist featuring quantum theorist Amit Goswami. In the film, Goswami explains how quantum theory relates to consciousness. In doing so he touches on the advice of Christ to love one's enemies. While I have heard the advice so many times before, including in L. Ron Hubbard's What Is Greatness?, I have generally found it difficult to apply. I suppose it was a combination of other recent reading, particularly Ken Wilber's work on integral spirituality and others on quantum mechanics and its relationship to consciousness, combined with life experiences that set the stage for Goswami to reach home to me.
Per the King James Bible, book of Matthew, Jesus Christ is reported as saying:
We're looking 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.
On February 9, one of the most remarkable single days Scientology has ever spent in a courtroom took place down in San Antonio, Texas.
2011-12-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
What of all the lobbying, litigating, intimidating, and enforcing of the Corporation? In my view, so much building castles out of sand.
Jesus said, per the King James Bible:
And He said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.
As the threat of a national security risk is grounds to refuse recognition, the Church of Scientology will not get official status, Gulyás noted.
The Constitutional Court struck down the church law passed last summer, which acknowledged 14 denominations, because it was completely rephrased with amendments by a committee shortly before the final voting procedure. The Court objected to the way the law was passed rather than its content.
2011-12-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Some commented on the posts of the last couple days on Scientology Inc's Washington Lobbying apparatus that there did not seem to be much money involved. Well, based on the work of the folks at Why We Protest and Karen #1 in just a few hours a different picture emerges.
As to Greg Mitchell, see Secular Invasion of Washington , according to documentation available at Campaignmoney.com, between 2008 and the first quarter of 2011, he received $290,000 from Scientology Inc:
Here is a shot of Greg doing his best Bill Clinton Jr impression:
2011-12-23, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
For Voice coverage of Debbie Cook's rebellious e-mail, please go here. For a collection of all of our most recent Scientology stories, go here.
On November 18, we started a new feature here on Fridays: the Voice has obtained hundreds of copies of L. Ron Hubbard's previously unpublished "Orders of the Day," which he gave to crew members as he sailed the Mediterranean. Our documents cover the period from 1968 to 1971, and this time we're looking at what was happening the week of December 18 through 24 during those years.
After the jump, the crew prepares to celebrate the Yuletide the LRH way...
2010-12-23, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Here's a postulate for 2011: Freeing self and others from a low-scale, imprisoning moral to a high-scale, liberating ethic. LRH, from the Philadelphia Doctorate Course lecture Chart of Attitudes: Rising Scale Processing, 11 December 1952:
Now, what then is your level that is an attainable level for freedom? It would have to be a level which is so high that every man could reason and be responsible in his own right for his own acts and also for the acts of others.
Blame-regret, blame-regret is the course of a police state. And its spiral dwindles down, and dwindles very rapidly. So there's no halfway point on this scale. You can't cut it off here and say we've done a good job and reformed the whole world. You can't cut it off here at A: you can't cut it off at B. You just got to go ahead and put the guy into shape so he can handle himself and his force.
It is more than conservative. In fact, Judicial Watch specializes in far-right-wing advocacy, and though the group is designated by the Internal Revenue Service as non-partisan and tax-exempt, it pursues a relentless wing-nut agenda, one that includes the insidious cause of nativism.
For example, in Judicial Watch's alternate reality, the DREAM Act — the proposed federal legislation that would allow young, undocumented men and women brought to this country when they were tots to legalize their status — is "amnesty."
Senate Bill 1070? Manna from heaven. State Senator Russell Pearce, Arizona's biggest bigot? A hero, whom the organization represents in federal court and whom it recently hosted in D.C. as a speaker at a panel on immigration.
A tipster in Texas flirted briefly with Scientology when college-age. Then, sensibly, she ran the hell away. Now people she's never met are sending her creepy hand-written notes trying to get her back into the cult.
The envelope was also hand-written, for the 'we're watching you' personal touch, and contained this note:
A drug rehab facility for inmates on Albuquerque's West Side is at risk of being shut down by the city.
The Second Chance Center has less than 24 hours to give officials proof that it is following their lease agreement. The rules say Second Chance can only house inmates in need of drug rehabilitation.
Get ready for "Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography," by Andrew Morton, who wrote best sellers on the lives of Princess Diana and Monica Lewinsky. This one covers Tom's teenage years, past loves, his mom, Scientology. No mention about his sex life, but since the book is allegedly banned in Britain (because of libel laws), it could be juicy. It comes out Jan. 15, by St. Martin's Press.
5/6/94 - Former Scientologist Paul Grosswald testifies in a court case on behalf of Tom Padgett who left Scientology while his wife and children stayed in the group. A Scientology audio tape is played into the record. It was made to explain to non-Scientologist parents why they should not be concerned that their child has joined Scientology. It just screams, "CULT!!!!!'
In Clearwater, the church this month got city permits and a development order to complete the exterior of its Super Power building.
Last year, the city lost patience with Scientology's lack of progress. The code enforcement board ordered the exterior, including landscaping and sidewalks, to be completed by early summer.
Technically, the church is accruing daily fines of $250 -- now totalling more than $40,000 -- for failing to meet that deadline.
But the city and the church have agreed on a new timetable for completion. If the church meets it, city officials expect the fine will be forgiven.
In this era of "House Sold for Insane Profit" stories, this one stands out.
Sure, the sales price is a zinger. Bought in 1992 for $76,000. Sold last month for $1-million.
But the story of this house sale has unique subplots: a hard- nosed negotiation between Scientologists and a big-time condo development shaking up the neighborhood.
Cipriano says that when he agreed to help Scientology destroy one of its enemies, the church leased him a house and a car, helped finance his nonprofit business, and paid off a debt that freed him from a felony probation sentence. Cipriano also says his Scientology attorney rewarded him with a job at Earthlink, the Internet provider started by Scientologists. Berry, meanwhile, says the church's harassment has severely hampered his ability to practice law.
But given their backgrounds, it's easy to dismiss Berry and Cipriano when they say Scientology -- which has earned a reputation for harassing enemies with covert operations -- is up to its old tricks.
However, it's not so easy to dismiss a pile of documents suggesting just that.
Church of Scientology mouth that roared Al Buttnor travels to Ottawa to pay an impromptu visit to the elderly parents of vociferous church critic Gregg Hagglund. There was an earlier visit to Hagglund's brother. The church has a way of getting at its critics.
Scientology has blasted Robert S. Minton Jr. for donating more than $1.25-million to its critics, calling his actions "nefarious" and underhanded. The church contends he is illegally interfering with lawsuits involving Scientology.
But earlier this decade, Scientology officials themselves backed several lawsuits against one of the church's own adversaries, the Cult Awareness Network.
1996-12-23, Laurie Goodstein, Washington Post, Seattle Times
A young Bellevue man whose lawsuit has pushed the Cult Awareness Network into bankruptcy has done an about-face and is no longer moving toward putting the group out of business.
He has abruptly dismissed his lawyer, a prominent member of the Church of Scientology, the anti-cult group's nemesis, and hired an attorney who has battled the church in the past.
After years of sparring with the townsfolk and veiling itself in secrecy, the Church of Scientology has succeeded in turning Clearwater into its spiritual mecca. Scientologists quietly run teen nightclubs, schools, day-care centers, management consulting firms and other businesses, records and interviews show.
Now the strategy of the organization, longtime observers say, is to confront controversy, gain converts and make money - lots of it. Scientology's Clearwater operation brings in $1.5-million to $2-million a week, say church watchers who include Clearwater police, former Scientology security chief Richard Azneran and former Scientologist-turned-author Bent Corydon.
Fee schedules show how the dollars add up: 12 1/2 hours of basic Scientology counseling in Clearwater costs $8,000, not counting meals and accommodations.
Though such beliefs may seem far-fetched, Scientology documents show they are part of upper-level Scientology training known as OT III, short for Operating Thetan III. OT III is the third of 15 steps on Scientology's advanced ladder, climbed by believers after reaching the state of "clear." OT III training, which is supposed to remove the implants by revisiting the Xemu incident and breaking through the wall of fire, is offered in Clearwater at a cost of $6,500, according to a fall 1988 rate sheet.
Details of OT III are considered confidential. When church documents describing Xemu surfaced during a 1985 trial in Los Angeles, Scientology lawyers tried unsuccessfully to immediately seal them. Gerald Armstrong, a former Scientologist who discovered that many of Hubbard's credentials and claims were false, described in a court document why the group so closely guards Xemu.