Greetings, fellow Scientology watchers! How good and snug it feels to be back in our underground bunker, where we keep a vigilant eye on all things L. Ron Hubbard-related. After a week away, we’re back with a new set of supplies, lots of reading material, and plenty of food for the cats. We should be set for several weeks without interruption.
We have several really major stories cooking for the next couple of weeks, but for now we thought we might pick up where we left off — with the intriguing Tad Reeves, DC-area Scientologist.
As I reported last week, I stumbled across a smart and diverting blog post by the young father and ardent Scientologist, who pondered big questions about the nature of church founders and how their words are preserved.
But blogging isn’t the only thing Tad Reeves has given the world. The avid mountain biker and doting dad is also a talented photographer, as his numerous Flickr albums will attest.
Most interesting for our purposes, however, is the album he compiled of photos that he titled “Scientology Church & Activities in DC.”
We’ve selected the 9 photos we thought were most interesting, or that might help us understand Tad’s journey as a Scientologist. Each of them carries a caption that Tad himself wrote, and we’ll offer a few additional words where we can explain or clarify things.
We’ve tried to reach out to Tad himself for further help on what’s in his snapshots, but so far we haven’t heard back. We called the DC org — the founding church of Scientology, established in 1955 — where Tad seemed to indicate that he worked. But the person we talked to there said Tad wasn’t a staffer. So we’ve sent him an e-mail through one of the blogs he runs, “Scientology Parent.”
While we wait to hear from Tad, we expect that our perspicacious commenters, as usual, will provide the lion’s share of useful information about what’s going on. I look forward to your thoughts on the following images…
Update: I noticed after the fact that Tad’s Flickr doesn’t contain a creative commons license. So I’m going to keep up our descriptions of his photos, but with links, so please go look at them yourself and then come back here to discuss them.
PHOTO 1: Goofy happy Tad holding his baby girl and her certificate.
Mackenzie is a lifetime International Association of Scientologists member! As dad points out, she doesn’t look thrilled, but you just know her inner thetan is jumping for joy. Anyone in our audience happen to know what it costs to make your child a lifetime IAS member? We’re just curious.
PHOTO 2: A lovely photo of the Washington DC org at night.
Love this shot. A really lovely photo of the DC org. Of course, it’s interesting that Tad describes this as the “Holidays.” As we’ve noted before, Scientology believes that Jesus Christ is just a “figment of the imagination” as their spokeswoman Karin Pouw once put it to me (or, more specifically, part of the massive R6 implant Xenu put into the brains of our thetan ancestors 75 million years ago). So I’ve always found it…um, quaint…that Scientology puts on the outer trappings of Christian churches as winter approaches.
PHOTO 3: Tad wearing a rain coat with his daughter peeking out from inside.
Come on, this is just cute as hell. One thing certainly comes through in Tad’s Flickr albums: he really seems to love being a young dad. In this case, he’s manning the Volunteer Ministers tent on the DC mall, and advertising, we suppose, that the church is ready to send its volunteers to the site of disasters around the world. Isn’t that selfless of them?
PHOTO 4: Mom, Dad, and baby celebrating.
Another shot of the whole family celebrating Mackenzie’s lifetime IAS status. You know what they say about the family that prays together…
PHOTO 5: The family with a medal winner!
More celebration of Mackenzie being made a lifetime member of something she probably doesn’t understand too well yet. And what an endorsement — a Medal of Freedom winner! Commenters, help us out with a couple of things here. Anyone know much about Mary Shuttleworth, or what it takes to win one of those medals? And be nice.
PHOTO 6: Three youngsters outside a Washington Nationals game.
Tad posted a short video of these youngsters handing out materials outside a Washington Nationals game. Their T-shirts say “Youth for Human Rights International.” Is that another CCHR front group?
PHOTO 7: Baby Denali’s first PC folder.
I guess this is very cute if you’re an active Scientologist. If you’re not — if you’re a former Scientologist or just an avid Scientology watcher, like us — then this is maybe one of the saddest things ever. Tad and his wife apparently have another addition to the family, a boy named Denali, and at just a few days old, a new PC (“pre-clear”) folder is created for him, ostensibly to later record all of his worst fears and traumas. Having just reported a story about Placido Domingo Jr., who told us the contents of his supposedly confidential folder were recently used to smear him publicly, well, I figure this photo has some pretty creepy vibes, doesn’t it?
PHOTO 8: A shiny trophy for LRH’s b-day!
In his album, Tad makes reference to a “birthday game” a couple of times. I’m assuming this has something to do with L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday, March 13, which is a Scientology holy day. Perhaps our commenters can fill us in on what the “birthday game” is and why it would call for such an amazing trophy.
Update: Award-winning commenter Pam Ellis answers our question about the “Birthday Game” with an explanation from Scientology itself:
“Birthday Game: A yearly competition participated in by Missions, Scientology Organizations and Advanced Organizations. The purpose of the game is expansion, and its points are earned each week based on the trends of the statistics. The Birthday Game started in 1974 when L. Ron Hubbard was asked what he wanted for his birthday and his answer was ‘5X the stats!’ The result was one of the biggest booms in Scientology to that date, and the Birthday Game has since become a tradition.”
PHOTO 9: Denali immortalized on the wall!
And finally, we see that Tad’s son Denali has literally become a poster boy for lifetime membership in the IAS. Actually, he’s a “Centennial Patron,” whatever that is.
So that’s a glimpse into the life of Tad Reeves and his family. One thing’s for sure: he is very happy about being a Scientologist, and I can respect that.
Click here to see all recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he’s been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard’s organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga — Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story — How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection — A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum — The ‘Crash’ Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape — ‘Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle’
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation — Scientology’s former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross — Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked — Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back — Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack — The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated — The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation — Investigating a reporter’s divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation — An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology’s past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh — A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology — A masterful telling of Scientology’s history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? — Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology’s Enemies List — Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology — An interview with author Janet Reitman
Scientology and the Nation of Islam — Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman!
Scientologists — How Many of Them Are There, Anyway?
Roger Weller’s Wild Ride — Scientology When it was Hip
The Marc Headley Infiltration — A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed
Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology’s Retaliation is “Scary and Pathetic”
An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy