Now here's a comeback we've been looking forward to.
In the late 1960s, Geoff Levin and his brother Robbie were founding members of People!, a band that had a devoted following and at least one radio hit, and which eventually was made up of only Scientologists. In fact, its members even all joined the Sea Org at one point, and became the first band to do so, dedicating themselves to the church by signing billion-year contracts.
Geoff and Robbie had grown up in San Jose, and by the mid-60s were making music. Geoff's first band was the Piney Creek Ramblers, a bluegrass outfit. But under the influence of a heady mix of Bay Area musicians, People! was formed, and had its one big hit with a Zombies song, "I Love You," which charted at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968 — and got the group on American Bandstand.
As much as Scientology is slow to change because it's based on the words of a guy who's been dead for 36 years, it does evolve over time, and it's something that has always fascinated us.
If you want to get oldtimers going, just ask them about how the definition of a "floating needle" changed, or whether the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course has lost its preeminent position.
But the thing we've noticed recently is how much some auditing experiences are being pushed on Scientologists which are not technically on the Bridge to Total Freedom. Think of them as electives on your way to becoming a sort of graduate student of L. Ron Hubbardism.
Like last year, we asked Observer for some of her favorite illustrations that readers of the Bunker posted over the last year. Observer is a shoop specialist herself and provides us with our annual poster and marketing for HowdyCon.
We'll be making her poster for the 2020 gathering public at midnight on New Year's Eve, another of our traditions.
Anyway, in no particular order, she sent us these five shoops that had her chuckling. At the top of the page, that's ot8isgrrreat! and his take on profligate spender David Miscavige having to scale back.
Before we continue with our year in review, we have an item to remind us that through all of Scientology's challenges, all of its rotten press and mass defections, the people still inside continue to consider themselves saviors of the human race.
Denice Duff is a longtime Scientologist and minor actor, Meghan Fialkoff is a Freedom Medal winner for her infiltration of New York City Schools (with the help of the NYPD) to distribute L. Ron Hubbard's quack drug theories to the city's schoolkids. It's heartwarming to see that they have so much enthusiasm for their status as humanitarians...
The planet is in good hands. Now, back to our review as we remember the stories of July 2018…
2017-12-27, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
This is an amazing piece from Jeanie Franks/Bogvad's current husband.
It is a distillation of how fundamentalist scientologists view the world and their role in it.
First off for every good scientologist, an "LRH quote" must set the stage and prove to everyone how "On-Source" you are. It is proudly proffered, without irony, to demonstrate that one is "with the program" as a true scientologist and thus can think for themselves. This one especially picked to be used to overcome sales barriers. "I don't have any money for that auditing you say I need" is responded to with "You are just effect of MEST, look what LRH says."
The story of lead generation in addiction treatment begins, strangely enough, with a nonprofit supported by the Church of Scientology. Narconon started in 1966, according to the Church's site, and uses the teachings of the Church's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, as its guiding principles. Conventional mental health practices are eschewed, high doses of vitamins are encouraged and clients are urged to sweat a lot, often in saunas.
Back in 2000, most clinics got their clients from physicians and insurers. Narconon clinics instead turned to the World Wide Web, according to the former Scientologist and Narconon critic Katherine McBride, who oversees narcononreviews.net under the pseudonym Mary McConnell.
Soon, she said, the internet was home to countless sites promoting Narconon clinics. Over the years, Narconon's success produced imitators who packed sites with keywords in hopes of kicking their services to the top of search results.
We're continuing to look back at 2017's most significant stories here at the Underground Bunker and today it's a flashback to July in our annual Scientology year-in-review.
On Independence Day, we reported that Clearwater bar owner Clay Irwin had managed to download images from the spy camera that was planted outside his house. They included not only images of his house but another one as well. Based on those images, we were later able to confirm that the Church of Scientology was behind the surveillance of Clay's driveway.
On July 7, we did that thing we do every once in a while and bring you Scientology at its source with another fun excerpt of an actual L. Ron Hubbard lecture, in this case a really fun talk that Hubbard gave in 1963. In it, Hubbard revealed the real name of Earth society as given by our space overlords, and he also pitied people who believe in God, who fail to understand that they are a god, and that Scientology can give them powers to crush a planet between thumb and forefinger. Funny how the Scientology celebs never talk about this stuff.
2016-12-27, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
A scientology fan on Twitter today reminded me just how thick the bubble of scientology is. Whether this was a real scientologists or simply an OSA front account, the point is still the same.
This Twitter genius was repeating the line that "scientology has expanded more in the last 10 years than in the 50 years previously." (I asked him whether he measured this in "vacant real estate purchased" or "# lies told". The discussion didn't go far from there.) This "last 10 years" is a variation of some of the other doozies Miscavige has tossed out about "47X expansion" and "each ideal org sees 10X expansion." These of course go along with "we reduced the crime rate by 50% in Colombia" and "we restored hope to the nation of Bangladesh with the Way to Happiness" and "we are the largest private relief force on earth."
It is imperative for Miscavige and the scientology hierarchy to convince their followers that they are in fact expanding and accomplishing their goals. They spend an enormous amount of effort to do so. After all, how long would people keep devoting their time and handing over cash to something that was utterly futile? Unless you can persuade people their efforts and their money are making a difference, they will stop trying and stop paying.
(Davie Lurie and his sister Charmaine Roger)
Word has gradually made its way out of Scientology's Florida headquarters — the Flag Land Base, in Clearwater — that a key figure there has died. One of the things "Flag" is known for is that it brings in more money than all the rest of Scientology's worldwide facilities combined. Flag is where wealthy Scientologists from around the planet come to spend huge amounts on high-level courses they can only get in Clearwater. And it's a special kind of Scientology Sea Org officer — the "registrars," called "regges" for short — who bring in that money by the millions, week after week.
And none of the regges was more well known, or more recognized for bringing in the really big money from Scientology's biggest "whales" than Charmaine Roger.
Watching tonight's fifth episode of A&E network's Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath, we kept thinking about how it's really about time we re-read Marc Headley's great 2010 escape narrative, Blown for Good.
In the second half of tonight's episode, you'll get a good sense of how Marc and his wife Claire Headley made their escapes from Scientology's "Gold Base" near Hemet, California in January 2005, but for the full craziness of their lives at the base and how they managed to get away, you really should get a copy of Marc's book. It's the most fun to read of all the books that came out in a small wave by former Scientologists around that time, and part of that is because Marc is such a great storyteller.
But Claire really steals the spotlight when she brings up a subject Leah has been angling toward through the first half of her eight-episode special series: Forced abortions in the Sea Org. Now, Claire brings that subject into the open in a way that should shock viewers and crank up the outrage among an audience that, judging by their reactions on social media, has already been besides themselves with rage.
2015-12-27, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
The weekly show where I answer questions from viewers left in the comments section of my Q&A videos or sent by email at AskChrisShelton@gmail.com.
My new book, Scientology: A to Xenu, is available here:
Kindle edition: http://goo.gl/K51ySi
2015-12-27, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
You will be thrilled to hear the magnificent breakthroughs that have been made now with GAG II reaching the very top of the bridge.
The old, crappy, altered versions they have been selling now for 30 years have been replaced, for the third time, with all new, much better stuff.
These announcements sound like old laundry soap ads — "2X whiter", "you won't believe how bright your colors are", "now with super cleaning power", "amazing suds/theta boster", "much longer lasting and faster too"...
We want to thank everyone who's been sending us warm holiday wishes. We apologize that we've been slow to respond to messages. Like everyone else, we have a lot going on in our subterranean lair during these final days of the year. But in the meantime, we continue to look back at the stories that made this such an exceptional year. In this post, we're looking at the stories of July.
We started out the month with a question. We know that Marty Rathbun has said that L. Ron Hubbard never wrote any "OT" levels above OT 8, which is the highest that Scientologists can currently achieve. (At an incredible price. Marc Headley estimated that it costs between $500,000 and $2 million to become an OT 8, considering all of the course prices, accommodation costs, and donations that a typical member pays.) Hubbard claimed that the "Bridge" would go up to OT 15, eventually. But even if he never wrote anything above OT 8, what, we wondered, would actually stop Scientology's current leader, David Miscavige, from inventing OT 9 and OT 10?
Those two levels are supposed to be released together, and more and more we'd seen rumors and hints from inside the church that Miscavige was preparing to release them. (And since then, he's made the actual announcement.) In July, we asked Claire Headley for her thoughts. She agreed with us that nothing is stopping Miscavige from releasing his own versions of OT 9 & 10. And charging huge amounts for them, of course.
2014-12-27, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
It is with a very heavy heart that I report the passing of our dear friend Kirk Radandt yesterday afternoon.
To say this was untimely, unexpected and horribly premature would be to understate the sadness of it by a country mile.
I have met few people on this earth who were as happy, friendly and just fun to spend time with as Kirk. His sense of humor was sharp and displayed itself often. His love of children made him a favorite of our sons and the 3 adorable daughters of his beloved Gayle's son Aaron (Tony Ortega covered Gayle and Aaron's story on his blog). I have long held a measuring stick against a man to gauge his attitude towards children and theirs towards him. To me it has proven a reliable indicator of their goodness. And by that measure (and any other for that matter) Kirk was off the top of the charts. A caring friend who was never too busy to help out, Kirk was that guy you have over for dinner that does the dishes and fixes the clogged drain and waters the plants to boot. When I said I had a very heavy heart, I really mean to say I have a large hole in my heart, a vacant space where our friend Kirk resided.
We're still looking back at the most significant stories we covered here at the Bunker this year as we get ready to welcome in 2015.
Today, we're looking at the stories of July, and once again we had some real fireworks lighting up the summer.
And wow, what a surprise we had for readers on Independence Day: Scientology's 'disconnection' policy was defeated by one Missouri family when Jeremy Powers defied the church and finally returned to the family he had spurned on Scientology orders.
The Church of Scientology covered its huge tent with a new wrap in anticipation of a planned New Year's Event, but this covering doesn't bother city officials.
The new wrap, put up around Christmas, doesn't violate the city's sign code, said City Manager Bill Horne.
A state judge has ordered a controversial private drug treatment center in Oklahoma to produce the records of employees and patients who are alleged to have used illegal substances at the facility during the six-year period from 2004 to 2010.
Associate District Judge Jim Bland issued the order in a negligence lawsuit filed against Narconon Arrowhead, a detox facility rooted in the teachings of Scientology, by the parents of a former client, Heather Landmeier.
The mugshot of Denise Gentile We now return to our annual year-in-review, and we hope you enjoy hearing about how busy we were this past spring here in the Bunker.
The month of May started out with a legal setback for Scientology: a California appeals court refused to consider the church's attempt to hold onto documents that a lower court decided should be turned over to Laura DeCrescenzo in her force-abortion lawsuit. But then a few days later, the church petitioned the state's supreme court on the matter.
On May 7, Oklahoma GovernorMary Fallin signed "Stacy's Law," tightening regulation over Scientology's drug rehab center in that state.
2013-12-27, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
"Scientology is more than 11,000 churches, missions and groups."
(The latest Scientology public relations line.)
They have just increased the number from 10,000. It's funny how they can count every single phantom individual in attendance at the mini ribbon cutting for the SP building (10,273) but can only operate to the closest thousand when it comes to their number of churches....
2013-12-27, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large
It is an easily observable fact that the human mind excels at pattern matching. We do it all the time. We see patterns or shapes that are familiar to us. There is nothing wrong with this - it is a crucial element in our very survival to be able to recognize things we have seen before, to have on file the traits and characteristics of things which we need to get along in life.
However, the mind can sometimes be too good at this. Often we can see patterns or shapes in things that are actually just random jumbles of different elements. Examples of this also happen every single day, such as seeing monsters in cloud formations, thinking an open shower curtain is a person waiting to pounce on you in the bathroom, or seeing faces on almost everything from a piece of toast to the side of a building. Scientists and skeptics have even coined words to describe this pattern-making trait of human thinking, calling it apophenia and patternicity.
2012-12-27, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Unfortunately, a judgmental attitude and bearing seems to have become one of the distinguishing characteristics of a Scientologist. While adopting such a view in itself could be considered stereotyping, the proclivity for sitting in judgment of others – and stereotyping them - may be the one character flaw that makes such labeling stick with Scientologists.
Labeling is a convenient form of denialism. It is something a person resorts to when that which he or she is confronting or dealing with is too complex or nuanced for easy explanation or understanding. In the case of Scientologists such denialism is all too often applied to people. It is an assignation of blame intended to bring about shame and regret in the target.
It is easy to write someone off as an "SP" or 'suppressive person', a 'pts' or 'potential trouble source', an 'out-ethics type', 'reasonable', 'off Source', or even 'squirrel'. Once you do that, the labeled person is now 'over there', a 'particle' to be routed to some 'terminal' (not even a person really) for special 'handling.' The only way out for the labeled is conformance. In the case of Scientologists that conformance is usually demonstrated by performing labeling of others with a high degree of certainty and alacrity.
RJ Ellory, the bestselling British crime writer exposed for writing fake online reviews, has been banned from editing on Wikipedia after he was found to be deleting stories from his biography.
The Daily Telegraph can disclose that the 47 year-old was "permanently blocked" after attempting on more than a dozen occasions to remove negative stories on his posting on the internet using pseudonyms.
Volunteers from the online encyclopedia, which has more than 450 million users worldwide, became suspicious about his activity amid accusations it compromised the integrity of the profile.
2011-12-27, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
I am not much of a fan of shooping (photo shopping images - usually for joking and degrading purposes). In fact, I have trashed pretty much most of the attempts to post shoops in comments on this blog.
Therefore, I find it ironic, even poetic justice, that the Village Voice end of the year poll voted the following image as Scientology Shoop of the Year:
2011-12-27, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
The squirrel theme was popular this year. We're continuing our year-end celebrations here at the (newly refurbished and upgraded) underground bunker. Today, we have the voting results for best Photoshopped image as chosen by you, our fellow Scientology watchers.
The talented Photoshoppers over at WhyWeProtest.net constantly turn out clever mashups that tease and taunt Scientology. We chose five finalists that we felt spoke most directly to the stories we've been following here at Runnin' Scared in 2011.
After the jump, let's see how your favorite image placed in the voting...
They are alleged to have carried out reconnaissance missions before deciding on their possible targets.
Police were said to have found a list of six sites, including the full postal address of the Stock Exchange, Boris Johnson's London mayoral office and the US embassy.
Defendants were seen studying the tower of Big Ben, before inspecting Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and the Church of Scientology.
For more than six months, Wired's Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed -- but refuses to publish -- the key evidence in one of the year's most significant political stories: the arrest of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning for allegedly acting as WikiLeaks' source. In late May, Adrian Lamo -- at the same time he was working with the FBI as a government informant against Manning -- gave Poulsen what he purported to be the full chat logs between Manning and Lamo in which the Army Private allegedly confessed to having been the source for the various cables, documents and video that WikiLeaks released throughout this year. In interviews with me in June, both Poulsen and Lamo confirmed that Lamo placed no substantive restrictions on Poulsen with regard to the chat logs: Wired was and remains free to publish the logs in their entirety.
Despite that, on June 10, Wired published what it said was only "about 25 percent" of those logs, excerpts that it hand-picked. For the last six months, Poulsen has not only steadfastly refused to release any further excerpts, but worse, has refused to answer questions about what those logs do and do not contain. This is easily one of the worst journalistic disgraces of the year: it is just inconceivable that someone who claims to be a "journalist" — or who wants to be regarded as one — would actively conceal from the public, for months on end, the key evidence in a political story that has generated headlines around the world.
In June, I examined the long, strange and multi-layered relationship between Poulsen and Lamo, and in that piece raised the issue of Wired's severe journalistic malfeasance in withholding these chat logs. But this matter needs to be revisited now for three reasons:
Mayor Martin Chavez on Friday sent a notice to the Second Chance rehabilitation program, ordering it out of the old West Side jail by Jan. 31.
The city contends that Second Chance violated its lease agreement by housing violent offenders and making unauthorized changes to the building.
Chavez said he was particularly concerned that Second Chance, in his view, had recently moved some of its residents to "avoid our oversight, our scrutiny."
It's been a bad week for the controversial Second Chance drug and alcohol treatment center.
On Friday, the City of Albuquerque terminated the center's lease, and a day later Socorro County is cutting ties.
The Church of Scientology will not pay any more income tax after the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) declared it a charity, the church said today.
Announcing its decision on December 24, the IRD said the church was a charitable organisation dedicated to the advancement of religion and its income would be tax exempt.
Editor, The Tribune:
When the Oklahoma Mental Health Board voted to deny certification to the Narconon Chilocco facility, it triggered an international campaign of outrage. Individuals dedicated to fighting the war against drugs are demanding an investigation to find out what is going on.
Cazares should know. Few Tampa Bay residents have felt the sting of the Scientologists' venom as sharply as Cazares, who reacted with understandable concern in the mid-1970s when the secretive, California-based organization started buying up his town. To date, the group has purchased 12 parcels of property, with a taxable value of more than $21-million.
The Scientologists don't pay taxes, though. The group has ignored its Pinellas County tax bill since 1981, claiming it should share the tax exemption meant for traditional religious organizations. The bill now stands at a whopping $2.84-million, but the Church of Scientology doesn't seem worried. While the lawyers haggle, the group's various local enterprises draw an estimated $1.5-million to $2-million in revenues weekly. At that rate, the Scientologists could easily make good on seven years' worth of delinquent taxes in two weeks.
Among the most controversial of these programs is Straight Inc., where youths get one very clear message from the outset. "We give them the message, 'We don't trust you,' " says Deborah Tychsen, administrator of the Springfield, Va., branch. " 'You need to earn our trust and your family's trust back.' "
The highly regimented Straight programs, using an approach called "tough love," attempt to turn around the peer pressure that led to drug use in the first place. At night, the teens live with host families whose own children are in or have been through the program. During the day, "old-comers" -- those who have been in the program longer -- watch the newcomers' every move; they are not even allowed to shower alone. They also confront the newcomers, pushing them into admitting their drug use and acknowledging that they have hurt their families -- the first step in their struggle to "gradually earn back what they have lost."
After six weeks or so, they return to their families but continue with the program as outpatients for more than a year.