Mimi Faust's Mother, Olaiya Odufunke: Her Life in Scientology's Secret Service
Monday night, Mimi Faust revealed on VH1's Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta that she had been abandoned at 13 by a mother who chose Scientology over her own children. By Tuesday morning, we had identified Mimi's mother, Olaiya Odufunke, who died in 2003.
And now, we have a photograph of Olaiya (on the left, above, with Joyce Earl, another Scientology employee) that was given to us by someone who worked with her and can now tell us what kind of work the woman did that was more important than holding on to Mimi.
Olaiya (who also apparently went by "Gloria") was a member of Scientology's "Sea Organization" or Sea Org, the hardcore elite of employees who sign billion-year contracts and promise to work for the church lifetime after lifetime.
And inside the Sea Org, there's a department Olaiya was assigned to known as the Office of Special Affairs -- it's the church's intelligence, public relations, and covert operations wing.
In other words, Olaiya worked in what many consider Scientology's secret service.
All Sea Org members -- whether they're in OSA or not -- work long hours for little pay. We've talked to former members who worked 100-hour weeks, grabbing only a few hours of sleep a night as they were pushed to extreme limits while living with no privacy and often on meager provisions.
In that kind of work environment, there's little time for anything outside Scientology work -- no television, no reading of non-Scientology materials, no days off. And that's why we hear about Sea Org parents essentially abandoning their kids -- they simply have no time for them.
That's the situation Mimi Faust was in as a 13-year-old. On Monday night's show, she said that she was asked to "sign a contract" and work for the church, but refused. (Children of Scientologists are pressured to join the Sea Org and sign its contract at a very young age.) At the time, her mother Olaiya was based at Scientology's administrative headquarters in Los Angeles, a former hospital painted blue that is known as PAC Base, for Pacific Area Command.
But later in her life, from 2000 to 2003, Olaiya was with OSA in Clearwater, Florida.
"Her last post in Clearwater was the Clearance in Charge," says Kirsi Ojamo, a former OSA employee who worked with Olaiya in Florida. "She would look into the quals of prospective parishioners and say OK or not for services."
Kirsi left Scientology in 2007. She's from Finland and today lives in France. And she not only worked with Olaiya in Clearwater, she had the same job: clearing church members for services. (She sent me the photo of Olaiya and Joyce Earl. I then confirmed their identities with their former boss, Mike Rinder, who ran OSA during these years.)
I asked Kirsi to describe the job that she and Olaiya were doing.
Scientology is a very security-conscious organization. Not only is the church constantly on the lookout for outsiders trying to infiltrate it, it also constantly interrogates its own members to sniff out anyone who might be tempted to speak to the press or to law enforcement. Also, it wants to know when a member has secrets which might compromise them. If they're hiding something, they are not allowed to get access to the church's counseling, called "auditing."
It was Kirsi and Olaiya's job to get those secrets from church members coming to Clearwater -- Scientology's spiritual mecca.
"Let me assure you first that there was no priest-penitent privileged information. I would have access to anything I felt I needed from the PC or OT folder which was not technically confidential and above my level of processing," Kirsi says. "The case supervisor would supply reports she felt [contained] relevant security data and submit the PC folder for my review."
In other words, anything that a Scientologist had revealed in previous supposedly confidential counseling sessions -- whether they were a lower level "Pre-Clear" or higher level "Operating Thetan" -- was fair game for OSA.
"I would look into ethics folder data, and if I felt a sec check was needed, it got done before accepting for services," she says. (A "sec check" -- short for "security check" -- is an intense interrogation done while a subject is holding the sensors of an e-meter, which Scientologists believe can detect when they're holding back secrets.)
I asked Kirsi what sorts of things would disqualify a Scientologist from getting the services he had come to Florida for.
"Tax evasion is one. A criminal history -- 'Type B,' in that lingo. Evidence of a family member or relative attacking the church. Yes, it didn't matter if you were flying in from Iceland for your OT levels," she says, meaning that how far you'd come didn't matter -- you had to get past Kirsi and Olaiya's tough screening process.
Like other Sea Org members working at Flag, Olaiya was bused in from a nearby apartment complex, the Hacienda Gardens. Typically, workers there have little privacy and share space with multiple roommates.
In 2003, Kirsi says, Olaiya was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was sent to City of Hope in LA for treatment. "Unfortunately, she perished after eight months in their care. I held a service for her in Clearwater, and I also met Mimi there when she came to pick up some of her mom's belongings."
I asked Kirsi if Olaiya had spoken about her children. She said that Olaiya did talk about them, particularly Mimi, and "it was obvious she loved her," Kirsi says.
"That was my impression, that she was not indifferent about her family to be sure."
We've contacted Mimi's representatives, and hope to be speaking to her soon.
UPDATE: It turns out Olaiya was a longtime member of OSA, and not just at the end of her life. We just heard from Simi Valley, a veteran Scientologist who recently defected and declared her independence from the church.
Here's what she told us about Olaiya:
I knew her when she and I were both working at OSA US (based in LA) in 1988-89. At the time she was using the name "Olaiya Olayinka" and was posted in the Treasury Division.
Olaiya was tough as nails and totally serious about her job in the Sea Org. I recall one time she was sitting at lunch talking about someone who had irked her and she said, "I KR'ed her ass," meaning "I wrote a knowledge report on her."
A lot of the OSA staff walked around with a chip on their shoulder and were really bitchy at each other, so her remark was typical of the mood they were usually in.
Back to the Future: The Running Program!
Yesterday, Jim Edwards at the Business Insider had a fun look at one of Scientology's more notorious punishments: "the running program."
Also known in Scientology jargon as the "Cause Resurgence Rundown," the running program was a common punishment meted out to Sea Org members that had them running around a pole -- or in this case, a palm tree, in desert heat -- for twelve hours a day...
As Amy Scobee pointed out in our story yesterday about another Sea Org nightmare, "The Hole," even people who were unfit to run couldn't escape the punishment of the running program: "I observed someone getting pushed around the running track in a wheelchair (while the rest of the Int execs were running, as a punishment)."
That desert running track around a palm tree has been covered over with grass for years now, but we wanted to remind readers that the running program is apparently still dear to Scientology leader David Miscavige's heart. In fact, proposed designs for the church's giant Super Power Building -- which we first revealed in January -- show that the notion of running around a pole for hours at a time will become a futuristic, and massive, part of much of the building's upper floors!
In development since 1998, the Super Power Building across the street from the Fort Harrison Hotel in Scientology's mecca -- Clearwater, Florida -- is a $100 million boondoggle which will maybe finally open later this year. It promises to deliver "super power" to high level, wealthy Scientologists who have nowhere to go after reaching OT 8, the church's tops in spiritual enlightenment. You've no doubt seen some of the images of devices that have been designed for these wealthy patrons, which look like something out of the starship Enterprise...
That particular image -- from the Super Power Building's spacey fifth floor "Perceptics" installations -- leaked out years ago. (Drudge went nuts over this image recently when the Daily Mail posted it. I tried to get word to him that it was at least four years old, and that we had so many more images of Super Power that no one else has ever published. But I never can seem to get through to the guy.)
What surprised us when we got our hands on the rest of the building's plans in January was what we found one flight up, on the sixth floor...
We know that image is dark, but that seems to be the point. A giant circular indoor space will apparently have only one source of light -- an illuminated pole. Around it, Scientologists will run and run and run in a cavernous room.
This architectural drawing of the sixth floor shows just how much of it will be taken up by the massive new running room...
What surprises us is that the running program, in this case, is made to look somewhat glamorous -- when it's traditionally been used as one of the Sea Org's more sadistic punishments.
Are wealthy Scientologists really going to pay tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of being abused in a 12-hour daily ritual of running around a lighted column? (In our comments, John P. suggests that the running track may be for punishing staffers, and Miscavige wants it indoors to keep it from being photographed.)
UPDATE: In answer to a question raised by John P. in the comments. Here's the schematic for the Super Power Building's seventh floor, showing that it surrounds the running dome, which itself is the top of the building. (Miscavige's set of offices is on the upper left in this drawing, which is actually the southwest corner of the building.)
On the next page: Our regular Friday feature, Scientology on the High Seas...
Scientology on the High Seas!
In November the Voice 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 Atlantic and the Mediterranean on the yacht Apollo. Our documents cover the period from late 1968 through 1971, and this time we're looking at what was happening the week of July 29 - August 4 during those years.
This week, the Commodore loses his anchor!
July 29: Get your outnesses in, lubbers!
UK DAILY REPORTS
Divisions III and VI are the weak divisions in Scientology orgs over the world.
The enemy seeks by false reports to blunt out org image and this by depressing stats recoils into Div III making finance hard.
It is interesting that the enemy is also depressing world stats in this same way. False alarming reports of conditions are made so that the finance of nations is being injured. The World Bank loans the bulk of its funds to India. It has now pressured India to nationalize its banks. It also forces birth control and unpopular measures on India to cause civil unrest and give the government a bad name with its people. The world bank's biggest debtors are forced to act in criminal and unpopular ways. False reports are spread to injure credit. What would be their national Div VI is hurt and it recoils on what would be their Div III and then they borrow heavily and fall under the control of the bad hats. We are smart enough never to borrow or subsidize. Thus we are still alive.
Some people or departments appear frightened or worried that I can be 3rd Partied about them and may act on false reports.
When I do act it is to handle some outness that threatens the ship or her crew members and I usually investigate.
Also you may not have noticed but I have never ordered anyone to leave the Sea Org and have tried to keep Comm Evs from ordering people to do so.
Just as sometimes there are false "Ron orders" verbally thrown around (such as a recent one that no motors should be put to Inverters) there are also false or altered "Ron saids" put about occasionally.
All I'm trying to do aboard is build the central SO group up to a self-respecting body of individuals that is able, individually and collectively to take care of itself and SO business without constant watchfulness and correction on my part.
That goal is gradually being achieved.
July 29: The Apollo lost its anchor while coming into port. Days were spent diving to find it...
We have found 6 anchors and 3 cannon so far. But not our own. Two of the anchors are good ones. We've asked the harbor to pick up the loot with their barge for us. We own 80 percent of what we find.
I am very glad to see the ship taking interest in extra income not only in the ship but on the bottom.
There's an octopus down there named George, a friend of Ed's, a moray eel and an electric eel that think our activities shocking.
We leave when we find IT
July 31: Success!
Well we found the Anchor! In 50 feet of water, the search has been long -- 60 to 70 hours of diving on the bottom.
The reason we lost it was the NON FUNCTIONING of the K&H radar range ring, awaiting a part for weeks and not expedited. This made an exact range to the place impossible.
A crane barge will pick up the Anchor this morning and get it aboard. Put the shackle on right way to -- open and facing aft as the Chain goes across the winch.
Then we sail.
That was a very well done diving job. The newest greenest diver found it.
A very well done to the divers and tenders.
July 30: Somebody loves us!
On arrival we were met with much local ARC here.
Officials and people were offended we were only staying a week so we have extended to two.
Townspeople do know of "the incident" in last port and are sympathetic to us. No reason to discuss it further. Just ack and thank them. Don't try to deny it.
Recent political events have left this area untouched.
August 1: Mongols and de-powering. Huh?
The P/L WHY HATTING (has gotten very good comment thank you) says guesses that some in the human race have an aberrative habit of de-powering people by pushing them around -- moving them on posts and in space.
Looking over the actions of Socialists (either brand -- Communist or Nazi) and the proposals of Socialists in the US Govt and the South African regime, IT IS THEIR BASIC TACTIC.
They move whole sections of the population obsessively. They unhat faster than one can count.
Even the US and UK Govts unhats their top brass as a "political way of life."
The Mongols in China a few hundred years ago transferred officers and troops every two years "so they wouldn't get friendly with the local people" and every major service has been using the system ever since. Their real reason of course is to de-power.
So we just GOT to knock off all this transferring and get settled down doing our jobs.
We should even construct a full time pro-Missionaire Unit in each area.
On the plus side the most powerful network we have, the GO has the least transfers!!!!
More 1970s Awesomeness!
After L. Ron Hubbard had moved HQ from the yacht Apollo to the Florida coast, Advance! magazine was thrilling Scientologists with tales of "OT Phenomena." Those church members who had reached the higher levels of spiritual training shared their stories of superhuman powers with fellow dupes -- er, enthusiasts. This excerpt is from Issue 42, January/February 1977. (And another cover featuring a photo by the Commodore!)
I was driving down a busy street and saw a car coming from a side street that had a stop sign on, too fast to stop. So I stopped him and in doing so I pushed him back and over to the curb. By that time I was almost stopped. The man leaned his head out of the car and yelled, "Lady, how did you do that?" I told him to be a little more careful and watch the stop signs. He really looked amazed. My husband was with me and asked if I hadn't been a little hard on him. Then I realized what I had done and laughed so hard I nearly quit driving. Many thanks to Ron for all his tech and thanks to the ones who keep it going. -- Hazel June Staton, Full OT VII
Just one new phenomenon I experienced since becoming OT occurred last Christmas. I found myself knowing the contents of presents before they were unwrapped. But when I began calling off what each beautifully wrapped box under the tree contained, I realized I was spoiling the game of "surprise" for those involved and stopped. But then I knew: I could know or not know by choice. -- Jim Davis, OT
These may be the two most annoying OTs we've met so far. Can you imagine this doucher at your Christmas party? "A football? I could have told you that's what it was before you opened it." Ah, shaddap.
See also: Scientology's president and the death of his son: our complete coverage What Katie is saving Suri from: Scientology interrogation of kids Scientology's new defections: Hubbard's granddaughter and Miscavige's dad Scientology's disgrace: our open letter to Tom Cruise Scientology crumbling: An entire mission defects as a group Scientology leader David Miscavige's vanished wife: Where's Shelly? Neil Gaiman, 7, Interviewed About Scientology by the BBC in 1968 The Master Screenplay: Scientology History from Several Different Eras And a post that pulls together the best of our Scientology reporting
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********** 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 email@example.com, 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 was 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.
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