Like last year, as part of our annual year in review, we asked Observer, our resident imagemaker (and designer of our new book cover, Battlefield Scientology) to pick out five of her favorite manipulated photos — otherwise known as "shoops" — produced by Underground Bunker readers.
Right away she came back with her choices, including the GIF above, put together by the inimitable Phil Jones.
In no particular order, here are the others she found most memorable.
If Scientology isn't guilty of forced labor, sex-slave cult Nxivm isn't guilty of forced labor.
That's the argument lawyers for actress Allison Mack are making in their latest effort to get sex trafficking and forced labor charges against the "Smallville" star tossed out of Brooklyn Federal Court.
Mack and Nxivm leader Keith Raniere are accused of duping women into joining a master-slave group by getting them to hand over damaging "collateral" like naked photos of themselves and accusations against their loved ones, then forcing them to work for free and have sex with Raniere.
But in court papers filed Friday, Mack's lawyers argue that the threat of releasing those photos and statements doesn't rise to the threat of "serious harm" required to prove someone engaged in forced labor.
Scientology celeb Joy Villa is getting a ton of ink this week for her complaint that former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski slapped her butt inappropriately at a social gathering in November.
What we hadn't seen her comment on, however, was the recent report by Huffington Post reporter Yashar Ali that Joy's MAGA benefactor, Donald Trump, told his longtime aide Lynne Patton that he's in favor of pulling the Church of Scientology's tax exempt status.
Yesterday, however, one of our readers managed to get a response out of the pop singer at one of her Facebook accounts, and it looks like Joy doesn't believe that the president will follow through on that desire to clip Scientology's wings...
In this interview with former Sea Org member Leah Farrow, we talk about the Scientology ship Freewinds, how she was recruited to work onboard and what happened to her during the 6 years she was there.
2017-12-28, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Many apply few are chosen
Right.... I guarantee there has not been a single person apply for staff in scientology in the last 10 years who has not been "chosen." Not one.
Help your business explode in 2018
The striking similarities between the Church of Scientology and the Watchtower or Jehovah's witnesses!!! While both religions have very different doctrines, the way how they enforce their teachings and promote their organizations are very similar. We thought we should do this video since the Watchtower organization of Jehovah's witnesses number in the millions and deserve to be examined closely by its members and the general public.
Link to Watchtowers history: www.jwfacts.com
Here is the link to the videos: https://www.youtube.com/user/rogerrad...
Earlier this year, London-based Australian journalist Steve Cannane published a terrific new book on Scientology titled Fair Game. We asked him for a year-end message and he sent us this...
Tony has asked me to write about my experience of having a book come out in 2016, but I'm ignoring the editor, and instead of focusing on myself, I want to pay tribute to the people who allow journalists to report on Scientology - the whistleblowers.
The cult of Scientology relies on secrets to maintain its control. Every time a former member speaks out or an insider leaks information it's a hammer blow to the organization. Scientology relies on a combination of deception and ignorance to hoodwink newcomers. Each time an ex-member speaks out they help inoculate the next generation from being recruited into Scientology.
2016-12-28, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
As I have been doing after each program, I am putting this here as a place for people to make comments about the show that has just aired.
The outpouring of support has not only continued, if anything it has grown. It is quite amazing how far and wide this show is reaching and to how many people who have not had personal experiences with scientology but now feel they must do something about the abuses that are being exposed. Thank you all. I try to respond to messages and emails and PMs and tweets, but it is physically impossible to do so. If I have not gotten back to you, I apologize.
As always, I am interested in your views - including criticisms and things you think might be better explained or covered.
After two years, many people have wondered which HBO celebrity I hinted at who was involved with the Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre in Hollywood? Around 2010/2011 I did the Purification Program alongside an actor from the hit television show True Blood. This person, by being involved in Scientology, was supporting (by association) the abuses within that very organization. I wanted to spill the tea and inform others of who this person is. Hopefully they are no longer taking dangerous Scientology services!
Links: http://www.tonyortega.org and http://www.mikerindersblog.org/
Donate to Me & My Channel: https://www.youcaring.com/stevenmango...
Last month, we told you that Scientology leader David Miscavige was in the process of detonating and rebirthing his drug rehab network, Narconon. He's opening new centers around the world, and the existing centers are being given an ultimatum: Get with the new program and be more tightly managed by Scientology itself, or get out.
One sign of that, we said, was that the Northern California network of Narconon centers had quietly changed the names of its clinics while leaving the Scientology fold. One of our expert sources had noticed that change at the website for the network (which is now calling itself Elevate Addiction Services), and he told us it was strong proof that the Northern California clinics had flown the coop.
Now, we have more confirmation of that, but also a really interesting view of what was happening behind the scenes.
2015-12-28, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
The below mailing is sent out by scientology as a big success: Take out loans. Stretch your finances beyond what any sensible person would do. Go deeply into debt. And then somehow it all works out due to a windfall that was completely unexpected.
What a way to handle your money? Doing exactly what L. Ron Hubbard said NOT to do, so you can be really "on Source" and hand over everything you own, and more, to the great scientology cause (of course "ideal orgs" are totally "squirrel" according to Hubbard, but that is not what the sheeple are told).
Serge Benhayon?, founder of the esoteric healing group Universal Medicine who is called the "new Messiah" by his students, will inherit the bulk of the million-dollar estate of a female devotee after her two adult children failed in a challenge to her will.
Judith McIntyre died in June 2014 aged 66 following a three-year battle with breast cancer. A month before her death, she made a will giving her daughter Sarah, 34, and son Seth, 41, $250,000 each, with the remainder to go to Mr Benhayon. The estate is estimated to be worth about $1.1 million.
Serge Benhayon, founder of Universal Medicine at his healing centre near Lismore, Northern NSW.
With the new year only days away, we're still looking back at the most significant stories we covered at the Bunker in 2014.
Join us as we look through the best stories of August.
The month started out with some silly celebrity news - Kirstie Alley's furor over her former friend Leah Remini leaving Scientology had caused her to give up on a former very close male friend - dancer Maksim Chmerkovskiy - and we learned that she'd also cut off ties from Serge Onik, and in both cases because the men had spent time hanging out with Remini. So high school.
2013-12-28, Mike Rinder, Something Can Be Done About It
Sent in by one of our Special Correspondents who monitors the Scientology Facebook groups.
I am at a bit of a loss for words over some of this stuff. But it does give some interesting insight into life inside the bubble that is fundamentalist Scientology.
1) How pathetic. And how many people do you think are in this boat? And its not even seen to be something odd. Either that one of the most powerful beings in the universe cannot afford an emeter, or that an emeter is priced out of reach. The poor fools who have been on Solo NOTs for years, spending all their disposable income to travel to Flag for the pleasure of being sec checked twice a year, MANY of them are now broke.
We're continuing our year-in-review, and we've come to the explosive month of July. But before we get into the drama created by the biggest Scientology celebrity defection ever, a few other important things happened as the summer deepened.
On July 2, Laura DeCrescenzo finally obtained her "pc files" from Scientology after a Los Angeles Superior Court judge had ordered the files to be turned over to her in Laura's forced-abortion lawsuit. The church had failed in multiple appeals to stop the judge's order, even losing in state supreme court. Laura received some 18,000 documents on a thumb drive, and began sifting through them.
The next day, we broke the news that Will Smith's Scientology school in Calabasas, the New Village Leadership Academy, had closed its doors about a week earlier.
Oh Belgium, how we love you UPDATE: See more analysis from journalist Jonny Jacobsen after the jump. The latest: Jonny's thoughts on the Belgian investigating magistrate, Michel Claise.
We sure picked a great day to go for a long hike.
Turns out, minutes after we left for our day-long stroll, we received an e-mail from a newspaper editor friend of ours in Ghent, Belgium. He wanted to make sure we had seen a Flemish-language story breaking the news that the Belgian government is going to prosecute the Church of Scientology as a criminal organization.
We're still looking back at this amazing year for Scientology watchers, refreshing your memory about what got our attention in 2012.
We hope you have plenty to say as we look back at the stories that mattered in the past twelve months…
As the fall began, we were enjoying all the speculation by reviewers about the Scientology content in Paul Thomas Anderson's movie The Master. (Those that actually knew some church history recognized that the film is shot through with it.) We pointed out how Anderson's script was even more vicious about Hubbard and his invention than the finished movie, and we heard great suggestions from our readers about who the Joaquin Phoenix character, Freddie Quell, might be based on.
2011-12-28, Tony Ortega, Runnin' Scared, Village Voice
As we continue our year-end celebrations, we've come to a big moment. We asked voters to decide which story had the most impact on Scientology watching this year. We chose five finalists that we think had lasting importance as well as immediate punch.
There were many other stories worth covering of course, but these five did seem to generate a passionate response -- voting in this category was much closer than in the other two (for video and shoop of the year). There was no one story dominating the others -- only a small percentage separated all five of these big stories.
So let's go through them to see which ones moved you the most!
2011-12-28, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Here is a listing of the most discussed posts on this blog since its July 2009 inception. The link for each post is provided along with the number of comments made in response to each one in bold. To look them over anew gives an interesting perspective on our activities.
10. A Letter From Garcia. November 11, 2010 540
9. OT VIIIs to Objectives: The Latest In Reverse Scientology. June 8, 2010 548
2010-12-28, Marty Rathbun, Moving On Up a Little Higher
Guido and Marisa
With this letter we are publicly announcing our decision to leave the current Church of Scientology since we believe it doesn't represent the spiritual freedom that was once expressed by L. Ron Hubbard, instead it perpetuates different purposes and it has introduced substantial alterations in the use of Admin, Ethics and Tech.
These are suppressions that have caused and are continuing to cause sufferings in PCs, Pre OTs, students and staff members at any level.
Actor Tom Cruise and his wife Katie Holmes are living in fear after receiving death threats.
Sources close to the star, a leading Scientologist, say the threats are believed to have come from groups opposed to the religious organisation.
Back in May, I wrote a short blog item for the Blade's web site urging gays to boycott the new "Hairspray" film because the lead role -- originated by the inimitable Divine -- was being played by John Travolta, the nation's second-most-prominent Scientologist. In the interest of avoiding another round of death threats, let's just say Scientology has a "complicated" history when it comes to its treatment of gays.
He casually brushes aside any mention of anti-Scientology protests and critics who have compared him to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.
"I really don't have anything to say about it. Just look at the sunset," he said, abruptly changing the subject as he mingled with the cast and crew of the movie Valkyrie and some of Berlin's civic dignitaries at a cocktail reception on a hotel rooftop.
The state of Florida tortured 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson to death for trespassing. The teen had been sentenced to probation in 2005 for taking a joy ride in a Jeep Cherokee that his cousins stole from his grandmother. Later that year, he crossed the grounds of a school on his way to visit a friend, a violation of his probation. His parents were given a choice between sending him to boot camp and sending him to juvenile detention. They chose boot camp, believing, as many Americans do, that "tough love" was more likely to rehabilitate him than prison.
Less than three hours after his admission to Florida's Bay County Sheriff's Boot Camp on January 5, 2006, Anderson was no longer breathing. He was taken to a hospital, where he was declared dead early the next morning.
A video recorded by the camp shows up to 10 of the sheriff's "drill instructors" punching, kicking, slamming to the ground, and dragging the limp body of the unresisting adolescent. Anderson had reported difficulty breathing while running the last of 16 required laps on a track, a complaint that was interpreted as defiance. When he stopped breathing entirely, this too was seen as a ruse.
1997-12-28, David O'Reilly, Knight-Ridder, Seattle Times
John Carmichael, president of the New York office of the Church of Scientology and its regional spokesman, acknowledged that Scientologists had posted the flier in Keller's apartment house.
"We would have sent one to you (The Inquirer) too, if we thought it was newsworthy," Carmichael said. "We are eager to get the message out."