We’ve shuffled up our schedule a bit here in the underground bunker — it was either that, or the cats would be dining on our corpse with the klaxons going off for weeks before we were discovered. Now that things are a bit more relaxed, we can take in the past week with a Sunday morning warm beverage and only a hint of tying one on last night.
The most fun we had this past week, of course, was sharing with you a few key segments from this year’s big L. Ron Hubbard Birthday Event. There were so many great moments. But clearly, the most stunning utterance of the night came from LRH official biographer Dan Sherman, who said that in late 1945, Hubbard personally stopped Richard Nixon and a gang of atomic scientists from overthrowing the U.S. government with nuclear weapons.
So taken aback were we by that claim, we contacted the Richard Nixon Foundation, and yes, we got a reply!
We sent a detailed description of what happened at the Birthday Event, along with a link to our story to Jonathan Movroydis, the media relations guy at the Foundation. Here’s what he was good enough to send back…
Hi Tony –
I hope all is well and it’s great to hear from you. We too think the suggestion is ridiculous. It doesn’t deserve a serious comment.
For some reason, that just tickles us no end.
There was another interesting development coming out of the Birthday Event post, and we’ll get into that after we check in with our Funnies and Comments of the Week…
Scientology Sunday Funnies!
Just about every day, we receive the latest wacky and tacky fundraising mailers put out by Scientology orgs around the world. Thank you, tipsters, for forwarding them to us! On Sundays, we love to reveal them to you.
And this was a new one on us. We’re so used to Hubbardism presented as a “science,” it’s jarring to see it couched in such different terms for this event next week at the Fort Harrison Hotel: “The Magic of OT: Telling the history of the Magi, through their evolution through the Masons and onto OT and regaining their power through our tech.”
I asked Jefferson Hawkins for his thoughts on this flier equating Scientology with “magic” and the Biblical Magi…
You’ve got me there, this sounds just like a bunch of crazy talk. I don’t recall anything in official literature or Hubbard’s works that makes these odd connections.
Mike Fine is a salesman — what they call a “reg” (registrar). So he’s gathering them together to sell them something, and is trying to come up with something that will interest them enough to show up — which is always a challenge. Sometimes they will hold a “seminar” about “how to improve your business” or “how to make it in the arts.” Mike is going the route of “OT strangeness.” Scientologists like this sort of woo-woo conspiracy stuff, these occult connections, so probably they will show up and he’ll give them some sort of talk cobbled together from conspiracy books and websites and then sell them Freewinds services.
Thank you for that assessment, Jeff.
Now, on to more Freewinds fun…
Billy Sheehan is still alive? Billy Sheehan is still in Scientology? Billy Sheehan will show me how to maximize social media so my garage band can go platinum? I am so there!
This next flier came with an interesting message from a tipster…
Someone sent me this from the Chicago Scientology e-mailing list. It’s a success story of Chicago Scientologists who re-did the Objectives. You know, that’s the course where someone orders you around physically — “Touch that wall, thank you, pick up that book, thank you…”
I had heard rumblings starting maybe a year ago that Scientologists were being made to re-do hundreds of hours of Objectives, but it’s one thing to hear it and another to see hard evidence of it. Even OT’s and other high-level members are redoing this very basic course near the very bottom of the Bridge.
The rumor as I heard it is that everyone had been groovy with the “old” Objectives, except at some point, it was supposedly “discovered” that Ron himself had supposedly spent dozens or hundreds of hours himself on this course. And then that sent a mini-shockwave through staff, because if regular people were completing Objectives in “only” 10 hours or so, how were they getting through Scientology faster than Ron? So it was supposed that anyone who had done it in the past like that, and had not taken freaking forever in the process, had been “quickied,” and their completion of the course now considered suspect or outright invalid.
What say you, crowd? Have you heard about this as well? And here’s the flier… (We apologize for the poor quality. Click to enlarge, but it’s still tough to make out the fine print.)
Remember to keep those mailers and fliers coming, tipsters!
Commenters of the Week!
We started off the week with a blast — we revealed the promotional video for RON the Encyclopedia! We learned that L. Ron Hubbard lived life from the top down and the bottom up, and we’re still recovering from that thought.
We have to admit it — we love it when a commenter connects the dots between our present and past stories. In this case, Llama cleverly reminded us about a ban on Scientology books being upheld in Moscow…
I guess they could have saved some money by skipping the Russian translation of the Encyclopedia!
We also enjoy our prominent ex-Scientologists who let us know how they’re thinking. Like this gem from Larry Brennan…
Good Lord, watching that video makes me want to put a bag over my head as I sit here completely embarrassed that I ever believed this man on any subject.
On Monday, we had an intriguing follow-up to our expose on Scientology’s “Writers of the Future” contest — we learned that sci-fi author Carl Frederick has cancelled his invitation to participate in this year’s workshops after reading our story.
Our readers — such as Scientia — had strong feelings about his decision…
Carl, you should be applauded. A difficult decision, but an ethical one. There are many incredibly decent people in (or connected to) the “church”, but the bottom line is that their allegiance funds and supports an abusive organisation whose management has no respect for the most basic of human rights. No ifs, no buts, just a simple reality that those still involved (in whatever capacity) will eventually have to confront. Well done.
And this one from frequent commenter Chocolate Velvet…
Too often, there are a lot of “good reasons” not to do the right thing. Especially when it involves sacrificing something you value as a resource. I applaud these writers for refusing to gloss over the troubling facts in this situation. Hopefully, it is the beginning of a trend.
We were also touched when we saw that Carl Frederick himself responded…
I appreciate all your kind words — and am moved by them. They make my lonely decision far less lonely. But the words might have been too kind. I merely, very politely perhaps even timidly, disengaged myself from the contest.
On Tuesday, we reported that a new fence had appeared at Scientology’s Int Base in California, which made us wonder about “the Hole” being moved now that it’s become the stuff of news reports and court testimony. But more importantly, we used the opportunity to post some amazing new photos of the base taken by Sinar Parman from a helicopter — thank you, Sinar!
After giving readers a pretty good view of the entire base, we asked for thoughts on where the residents of “the Hole” might be moved to. Gerard Plourde considered several suggestions by other readers and then made this reasoned analysis…
I think that the berthing unit is the most likely. It doesn’t require a move off base which could prompt a break by someone (although that’s admittedly unlikely in light of their mental state). The building could have the same surveillance capability as is believed to exist at Hacienda Gardens. A move to Australia would require valid passports and visas. This is definitely too risky. While the Freewinds idea is intriguing the number of people to be housed could be a problem (although if cruises aren’t selling out there might be enough space to house and segregate the prisoners). The question here is what is the Freewinds‘ home port? If she’s mostly berthed in the Curaçao the passport issue arises again.
And we were thrilled to see Jefferson Hawkins contribute his thoughts about the base, a place he remembers well…
Tony, what a creepy way to start my day! These photos bring back a lot of memories, none of them pleasant. There is not one area of that Base that does not trigger memories of abuse – being thrown in the lake, being forced to run around the buildings as punishment, having one’s “crimes” read out to the assembled crew. Despite the green grass, it is a grim and forbidding place. The undeveloped area around the Old Gilman House has always been used as a detention camp. If one was “confined to the Base,” this was where one would live, crammed into seedy trailers rigged out as dormitories and doing physical labor such as clearing the grounds. I spent many months out there. The thought that they have apparently built a detention compound within the detention compound gives me the willies. My only guess is that it would be a sort of “RPF’s RPF” where the worst of the hard cases would be housed. As to “where is the Hole now,” in a sense, the imprisoned executives could be anywhere — the entire Base is a secure compound, with razor wire, lights, cameras, motion detectors and security guards. When I was there, most of the staff lived in apartment complexes in Hemet, about 8 miles away, and would be transported to the Base in buses, The “Berthing” complex was built so that all staff would live and work within the fenced Base – better control. So the executives could live in the Berthing dormitories and be marched around the Base by guards. Interesting to me that the old Running Program track has gone to seed and is no more. Here’s the significance of that: the “Running Program,” or “Cause Resurgence Rundown,” is part of Super Power. In fact, the upper floor of the Super Power Building in Clearwater is devoted to a big circular track for that purpose. Well, the whole Super Power Program was originally designed for staff and Sea Org Members, to make them super-duper OTs. That the track is no longer used means that Miscavige has given up on the whole Super Power thing for its intended recipients, staff. Why? Maybe because it didn’t work? Yet even so, they will continue to promote it and eventually sell it to public Scientologists, even though they’ve apparently given up on it at the Base as a failed program.
And on Friday, we posted some revealing moments from this year’s big L. Ron Hubbard Birthday Event that was held on March 10 at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida. Highlights included some wonderful tall tales told by the Commodore himself!
At the end of the three-hour ceremony, church leader David Miscavige appeared to promise that the Super Power Building — the church’s new “Mecca” — would open “before summer dawns,” which implies that it would open its doors before June 21. But the man’s way of speaking was clear as mud, and we asked readers to chime in with their own interpretations of his announcement. TheHoleDoesNotExist differed with our assessment…
Okay, about that Super Power grand opening…I listened again (damn you, Tony) and definitely don’t think he was still referring to a dawn of summer timeline for the “Mecca,” but just a couple orgs. If you look at the Oh f*ck expression on his face when the crowd bursts in disbelief and rapture, I think he realizes his screw up. Hell, I was already working on the party.
And finally, we have to give Ivy Mapother credit for practically making us spit up a cold drink all over ourselves with this note about the re-enactment videos starring an actor as Hubbard whose face we never quite see…
The actor’s portrayal of L. Ron Hubbard was spot on perfect. I’ve never seen anyone capture the back of his head with such purpose and style. Who ever that actor was, he’ll be sure to add a couple of the back-of-the-head photos in his head shot portfolio. Millions of Scientologists from across the planet will bump into him and say “Didn’t you portray LRH’s backside? You look just like his backside. Would you mind turning around so I can get a photo of me and your backside?”
Stop it, Ivy, yer killing us.
As promised, we wanted to come back to the response to the Birthday Event post because we really didn’t see this one coming: Marty Rathbun not only linked to our Birthday Event post, he then doubled down and wrote about it in an even more surprising manner.
We know how some of you feel about Rathbun, who until 2004 was the second-highest ranking official in Scientology and for years had overseen its retaliation programs on defectors and critics, some of whom are still livid about what he did. We understand that. We get that. (And we know we’ll hear all about it in the comments.)
However, we find it remarkable that Rathbun first recommended that his “indie” readers come to our blog to read a post that didn’t make L. Ron Hubbard look very good (largely, we have to say, through the old man’s own words, not ours). But then, Rathbun’s follow-up post went much further. For the first time, he’s written at length about the church’s battle with Gerry Armstrong.
Armstrong was a longtime Scientologist who had been entrusted to research documents of Hubbard’s life to be turned over to a writer for an authorized biography. But when Armstrong saw how much the official record contrasted with what Hubbard and the church had been saying about his past, he tried to get church officials to correct the church’s public record and for his troubles was expelled from Scientology.
He took those documents with him, and was then sued by the church. Rathbun is now saying that it was obvious to him, to Miscavige, and to the church’s attorneys that Armstrong was right — that official documents did show Hubbard to be an inveterate tall-tale teller, and that it would all come out if they didn’t settle with Armstrong:
The attorneys – and their back up staff – did everything in their power, short of being dragged out of court for defying court orders, to keep a lid on the evidence admitted. They also did an admirable job of attempting to discredit the witnesses and evidence they entered.
But, in the end their prognosis turned out to be quite conservative. The judge issued a ruling about Hubbard who of course was not there, finding as a matter of fact that he was a “pathological liar” and “paranoid” and “schizophrenic.” Not only did L Ron Hubbard’s life history get annihilated by the world wide media – it continued to be for thirty years, with only lame denials in response, as Gerry Armstrong was right all along in this respect: the church had little to no to counter documentation for the claims the church had loudly trumpeted about L Ron Hubbard’s life.
Again, we know there are plenty of people who won’t give Rathbun any credit for these utterances, but as a longtime Scientology watcher who has been on the case since 1995, for us these words are almost as surprising as when we heard that Rathbun and fellow former high-ranking executive Mike Rinder had defected, and then were talking to the St. Pete Times. Why? Well, one of the key, bedrock principles of official Scientology is that it considers every word Hubbard wrote about Dianetics and Scientology and himself — millions of words — to be sacred, unalterable, law. With posts like this, Rathbun is announcing that in the independent movement — at least the indie movement he favors — there will be a more realistic assessment of Hubbard’s tall tales (if still a fervent embrace of his “tech”). Also, to see Rathbun write those words — Armstrong was right — seems like a remarkable forward step.
We e-mailed Gerry yesterday afternoon, but unfortunately we haven’t heard back from him yet. When we do, We’ll add his thoughts to this post and make a note about it at our Facebook author page. (Which, we’ll point out again, we’re using for announcements about schedules and upcoming blog posts.)
UPDATE: Gerry Armstrong did send me a response which I’ll put up here…
Unfortunately, and as others have commented on your blog and other forums, this is not an attempt by Rathbun to come clean. He will come clean when he communicates with me and debriefs to me and my attorney. Under subpoena at this time, he would lie, but a debrief to us would be coming clean. Rathbun has done missions, and he’s debriefed many times. And I know when he’s not coming clean. This is one more effort in a long chain of efforts by Rathbun to avoid coming clean. That also means, however, what a glorious day it will be when he does attempt to come clean, which honestly is not that difficult.
What Rathbun has written here about how I was treated is not revelatory and pretty well dumps it all on DM.
– before I left the cult Miscavige sent Starkey to give me an SRA for being “disaffected”
– Miscavige-directed PIs hounded me for several months
– Miscavige pursued me as the devil incarnate
– They sued me for theft
– The attorneys demonstrated they could do significant damage to my credibility
Marty is actually trying to make the issue all about a set of Hubbard’s lies, when those lies have long since been laid to rest and are really not an issue at all. Rathbun hasn’t even come clean about those lies, although he is at least still talking about them. Unaddressed is what he and his fellow Scientology leaders, knowing Hubbard was lying, have done to prevent people from learning the truth, to destroy people who told the truth about the lies being told, and to benefit from his lies.
The most terrible of Hubbard’s lies, and what Rathbun and all Scientologists must confront, are his lies about the SP class. The Scientologists would love it if the issue could be made whether Hubbard sunk Japanese subs, invented the US Air Force, was machined gunned in the Java jungle, or whether having saved Australia he was flown back to the US in triumph in the Secretary of the Navy’s plane. What matters are Hubbard and Scientologists’ lies about SPs, who are simply wogs who tell the truth about Hubbard, Scientology and Scientologists. All Scientologists need to come clean about the SP doctrine, which is a pack of malignant lies, and how in application of that doctrine they have treated us.
These sure are interesting times.
We expect some announcements soon in the Debbie Cook lawsuit, and we have plenty of other stories working, so please check our author page for the latest developments.
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you ask nicely he’ll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, “What is Scientology?” Another good overview is our series from last summer, “Top 25 People Crippling Scientology.” At the top of every story, you’ll see the “Scientology” category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.
As for hot subjects we’ve covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology’s “Mecca,” whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology’s policy of “disconnection” that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We’ve also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there’s plenty more coming.