Last week, we brought you several moments from Scientology’s big L. Ron Hubbard birthday event that was held on March 10 in Clearwater, Florida. Here’s another few minutes from that celebration that we alluded to earlier, during which church leader David Miscavige uses the church’s “Writers of the Future” contest to burnish Hubbard’s reputation.
Now, with a little more than a week to go before Writers of the Future throws its big annual gala on April 15, Scientology is pulling out the big guns, adding surprising names to this year’s party. And someone who ran the contest for many years tells us that can mean only one thing: the contest is in big trouble.
As we reported on March 12, we discovered troubling ties between the prestigious contest — which brings together some of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy to honor up and coming new writers — and the startling allegations of abuse at Scientology’s international headquarters (“Int Base”) about 90 miles east of Los Angeles.
We showed that at the same time a woman named Barbara Ruiz was running the contest as the executive director of Author Services (the Hubbard literary agency and church entity that administers the contest), she was seen by three witnesses helping church leader David Miscavige run “the Hole” — the notorious office-prison at Int Base where fallen executives were held against their will and made to live under degrading conditions.
After that report, we heard from numerous writers who for years had been somewhat uncomfortable with the connections between the contest and the church — despite the supposed “firewall” that kept contest participants from being proselytized. And after our story showed the disturbing connection between Author Services and the alleged abuse at the base, we heard from a couple of writers who are now publicly cutting ties with the contest, including Ithaca’s Carl Frederick, who decided to turn down an invitation to participate in this year’s week of workshops, which included an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles.
We never did hear back from church spokeswoman Karin Pouw, who we asked about Ruiz and the contest. But this week, we learned that the church appears to be striking back…
Now added to the gala are a couple of surprisingly big names from the Scientology pantheon of celebrities. Karen Black, who has been very quiet about her affiliation with the church in recent years, but whose involvement goes back to the early 1970s. And even more startling, Nancy Cartwright — the voice of Bart Simpson and one of Scientology’s biggest personal funders — will appear at the gala.
To get a sense of how unusual this is, I called up Rachel Denk, who administered the contest from 1986 to 1994, and then again from 1999 to 2004.
She told me there was no question that the church is scrambling to deal with a public relations nightmare inside the world of sci fi and fantasy.
“Your story has created a major flap in fandom,” she says.
It is very unusual that figures like Black and Cartwright have been added to the program, Rachel says, and she remembers that back in 1994, for the 10th anniversary of the contest, Cartwright was approached about appearing, but the contest was unable to get her.
I told Rachel I thought it was strange that Scientology would call in its own big celebrities when it has tried so hard to keep the contest separate from the church. Wouldn’t it make more sense to bring in big non-Scientology names? (Guests in the past have included Sean Astin, David Carradine, and NASA astronauts.)
“They probably cannot get the big [non-church] names because of the revelations of Scientology’s abuse at the top,” she says. “I doubt the big names will touch it.”
Rachel says this is the third time that she can remember Scientology violating its strict firewall policies to keep the church and the contest separate.
“That was first broken in the early 2000s when the contest was promoted on the Maiden Voyage,” she says, referring to a June 6 celebration of the church’s private cruise ship, Freewinds.
“I was contest administrator at the time. I was told to get photos from the contest so they could be used at Maiden Voyage. But I wouldn’t touch it. That’s a church gig.” She says that using the contest to pump up church members at an event like Maiden Voyage was exactly the kind of mixing that she was supposed to prevent. “I didn’t think it was the right public, marketing to the church public,” she says. “That was the first breach. And from my understanding it was ordered by David Miscavige.”
The second breach? When Miscavige surprisingly showed up to attend the 2004 contest celebration at the Beverly Hills Hotel (the same year his Author Services executive director, Barbara Ruiz, was seen not only at the contest gala but also earlier that year leading mass confessions at “the Hole” and relaying information about them to Miscavige).
Later that year, on November 5, 2004, Rachel’s husband Dr. Gene Denk — who had been Hubbard’s physician and personal friend — passed away. A few weeks later, Rachel was told she was no longer needed at the contest. She felt kicked to the curb just as soon as the church could get away with it, after Dr. Denk’s death.
“The third breach, and the big one,” she says, “was talking about the contest at the LRH Birthday Event” as seen in the video above. “Those are the three breaches — in the old days that would never have happened.”
In the video clip, you can see Miscavige extolling the effectiveness of the contest just before he goes into a spiel about The Way to Happiness, an anodyne booklet of truisms that the church hands out around the world. He then announces progress in the church’s drug treatment program, Narconon, and in their efforts to get school districts to accept Hubbard’s “study tech.” The writers contest, in other words, is just another tool that the church uses to spread Scientology around the world.
“I think what you see is that Miscavige is getting hard up for good PR, so he’s diving into the contest itself,” Rachel says. “He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He has no clue.”
We’d still like to hear from more science fiction and fantasy writers — particularly those who are helping to judge the contest — about Miscavige’s use of the contest to promote Scientology. We’re listening.
Rathbun and Rinder Speak Out on McPherson
On Wednesday, we published a series of video interviews with former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder. That post produced a torrent of reactions, particularly in regards to what Rinder had to say about the 1995 death of Lisa McPherson.
McPherson was a longtime Scientologist who perished at the Fort Harrison Hotel — headquarters of Scientology’s spiritual home in Clearwater, Florida — after being held there 17 days following a psychotic episode.
After her death, Rathbun and Rinder were brought in to deal with the legal and public relations fallout. For four years, they worked out of the Clearwater Bank building, fending off a state criminal complaint and jousting with McPherson family attorney Ken Dandar in a civil lawsuit (which was ultimately settled in 2004).
It was only much later — after both had left the church themselves — that Rathbun and Rinder learned that while she was still alive, McPherson’s spiritual training in Clearwater was being “case supervised” by church leader David Miscavige from the Int Base in California.
Janet Reitman does a superb job telling this story over four chapters in her book, Inside Scientology. Reitman describes that while McPherson was dying, a number of Scientologists at the Fort Harrison bungled her treatment because they were blindly following a set of arcane rules and regulations in Scientology’s fetishistic adherence to “policy.”
Yesterday, Rathbun and Rinder went even farther than that, saying that those people were specifically afraid to anger Miscavige, knowing that he was supervising her case.
…it was the fact that Miscavige himself had been personally involved in supervising her case. That set in motion a chain of catastrophic decisions based on the concern that “to not handle her would be regarded as an effort to make COB [Chairman of the Board, Miscavige] wrong.”
…the RTC [Religious Technology Center, Miscavige’s chief church entity] Representative was in a complete prison cell of Miscavige’s own construction. To report to Miscavige that his C/Sing and programming had resulted in a psychotic break would have been suicide for her and worse. So, now everyone involved in the handling of Lisa’s psychotic break were simply hoping she’d come out of it with doting care and love – and all the while trying to keep the episode quiet. To complicate matters even further, when it was apparent that Lisa was deteriorating physically the RTC representative and Alain in their horrific fear of Miscavige vengeance, began rationalizing and justifying that Lisa was “calming down.” And Lisa wound up calming down all right, she calmed down to death.
My own take: I don’t think anyone has told Lisa McPherson’s entire story better than Janet Reitman, and I think her conclusion — that some well-meaning people were unable to look outside some bizarre policies and rules and see that a woman in front of them was dying — carries a lot of weight. Now, Rathbun and Rinder are coming forward and saying that these workers were under the additional pressure of Miscavige’s involvement in McPherson’s case, which puts the blame on his shoulders.
As I told Rinder, however, this finger-pointing loses some of its effectiveness when, for the last three years, the two of them have been using Rathbun’s blog to blame Miscavige for every single thing wrong with the Church of Scientology. It’s just not surprising that they would also blame him for the death of McPherson.
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 April 1 through 7 during those years.
This week, a couple of interesting rants by the Commodore…
Our trouble has been isolated to the British Government. It uses British Consuls, Lloyds and reporters as part of its intelligence service.
It has been revealed that reporters in the UK, particularly those operating outside it, are members of their intelligence service while still being reporters.
The primary British effort in the world (which is what has caused its downfall) has been the practice of subversion to weaken all political threats. This involved her (by “maintenance the valance of power in Europe”) in the Napoleonic wars and WW I and WW II. Her loss of colonies and dominions is due to this government characteristic of subverting by lies, rumours etc. using her intelligence service which consists now mainly of Consuls, “reporters” and the Lloyds network.
The English people for a long time have been unlucky in their “upper classes” in government. Her merchants and their people created the empire and the government took it over and destroyed it and are destroying England and her people.
The US health societies, groups, foundations and agencies are all members of SMERSH which is an English takeover of the work of Clifford Beers to bring protection to mental patients. In 1948 a group in England calling itself the “World Federation of Mental Health” incorporated in Delaware, USA and began the Fascist psychiatric trend behind the face of “humane mental health”.
The Russians use this group’s lines also and push their intelligence personnel disguised as “psychiatrists” along its lines. They disagree with its “treatments” and do not use them in Russia but still “put in mental institutions” whoever disagrees with the state such as writers, etc.
Fundamentally the orientation of this group is, however, Fascist.
By blackmail, corruption and pretense of being “the very best people” this group had the British government in its palm. It appointed the health ministers of both parties in England and throughout the Commonwealth and even Switzerland.
SMERSH is a world takeover type group, full of preposterous plans.
“Quacks” are anyone who would get in their way. Their Utopia was planned to seize anyone disagreeing with them and torture or kill them which is plain terrorism. All in the name of “mental health”. “Mental health” has been broadened by them to mean all phases of education life and government.
Due to their political influence they can manipulate the Foreign Office and Home Office and their directors did own British press.
Up to the time they attacked us, they had it “in the bag”.
Since our death camp campaign (and before) they have been losing. People see there is nothing wrong with us and then consider our attackers bigots or fanatics or Fascists.
The recent actual discovery of their Cardiff death camp is just the beginning.
Their technology (Wundt, 1879, Palov 1980) destroyed Russia, Poland, Austria and Germany. It is now actively destroying western nations whose governments look to them to dispose of malcontents without realizing SMERSH’s degraded technology is violently opposed by Western peoples.
If we are careful, keep good security and continue to attack, SMERSH will collapse as they are trying to be a police state without either the police or army on their side.
The most senseless thing they ever did was attack us over the worlld. But in doing so they have exposed and destroyed what is probably the most sinister and bizarre conspiracy against man in all his centuries.
We must be alert to the Intelligennce factors of SMERSH and safeguard against their penetration of our security.
On our shoulders alone rests the possibility of freeing Mankind from the horror of one of these police states which could destroy Mankind. The rest, like sheep, have been taken in wholly.
I found Scientologists do not know (and the world sure doesn’t) the size and state of the enemy.
For years, our orgs have made more in a week than Swersh does in a year.
Two years ago Swersh was ₤25,000 in debt with little income in sight. Last year it was far worse.
So we will take over the presidents’ job. Many candidates have been approached.
They closed in Switzerland, moved into a doctor’s private office in Scotland, didn’t have enough to incorporate, are shortly closing that office and are moing to a tiny South American island republic.
Their US chapters are “on their last legs.”
Congress holds them in contempt.
Their Corfu agent “Major” Forte is being fired by the British and has just confessed publicly he was responsible for the trouble we had there and is in fear that people will say the Scientologists had him removed.
Brock Chisholen their world leader, just died, very few key figures are left.
Their mouthpiece “The Daily Mail” has just folded and Peter Younghusband who caused the Rhodesian upset has been sacked.
We have traced their origins to 2 years before Hitler and have traced the Nazi death camps and Nazi Philosophy to this group.
There were not 200,000 members at their peak.
So over the world we outnumber even their rank and file 25 to one at a very low estimate. We could buy all they own out of a week’s income and never miss it.
Although a few skirmishes or even battles are still ahead of us, there is now no slightest question as to who is winning this war.
The Nazi Psychiatrist and Nazi psychologist will most surely to the way of the dinosaur.
No, there is no question now as to who will win this war. We will.
Bonus 1970s Awesomeness
While L. Ron Hubbard plied the seas, back on dry land Advance! magazine was thrilling Scientologists with its 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 27, December 1974…
My husband (Class 4, ARC Straightwire Release) and I had our long-awaited vacation last week. We went to a spot in Utah about 25 miles from where we went to two years ago. That time I had audited two beings (minus bodies) who were Indians and couldn’t bring themselves to take up Caucasian bodies. That had been a super vacation, perfect weather etc., and I knew I had two eternal friends floating around. When we got up there this time I got back in comm with the one who was the chief’s wife (her husband has a body now.) The previous auditing was because I noticed large areas of very dry land — this time the suppress on water was off in one huge valley and it’s now much greener. But there was a threat to this vacation — it was going to rain for four days in the middle of our eight days. And the area in the valley below where we were staying was desert!
So, sitting in a restaurant having breakfast with my husband, I picked up a thetan (an old shaman — also stuck in the area — no body) who was keeping water off the desert so it was going to rain where we were. I audited this being and suddenly he cognited and was like a sun, so bright. Well, my husband perceived the change — the restaurant brightened up and a few patrons had their thetan-attention on us, like they wanted some too?!!!
The rain never came on the mountains, but the desert (we could see the huge banks of rain clouds moving into the area and raining — we being at 6000 ft. above the desert) got plenty, and we had perfect weather the whole time after that. Also I decided it wasn’t cold enough to change the quaking aspen to autumn colors — so the last two days there it was freezing at night and when we left the area it was popping up yellow, gold and red on the aspens — beautiful! Whoever said weather and good times are luck? When you’re an OT luck doesn’t mean much, because you make your own! — Diann Candill, OT IV
Again with the weather. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to plunk down $350,000 and several years of my life for superpowers, I better be able to do more than shift some rain clouds around.
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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 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.