Archive for the ‘Newspaper’ category

More Speak Out

August 2, 2009

The St. Pete Times has another lengthy expose of David Miscavige’s brutal treatment of his underlings.

They are stepping forward — from Dallas and Denver, Portland, Las Vegas, Montana — talking about what happened, to them and their friends, during their years in the Church of Scientology.

Jackie Wolff wept as she recalled the chaotic night she was ordered to stand at a microphone in the mess hall and confess her “crimes” in front of 300 fellow workers, many jeering and heckling her.

Gary Morehead dredged up his recollection of Scientology leader David Miscavige punishing venerable church leaders by forcing them to live out of tents for days, wash with a garden hose and use an open latrine.

Steve Hall replayed his memory of a meeting when Miscavige grabbed the heads of two church executives and knocked them together. One came away with a bloody ear.

Mark Fisher remembered precisely what he told Miscavige after the punches stopped and Fisher touched his head, looked at his palm and saw blood.

These and other former Scientology staffers are talking now, inspired and emboldened by the raw revelations of four defectors from the church’s executive ranks who broke years of silence in stories published recently by the St. Petersburg Times.

Those behind-the-scenes accounts from Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest officials ever to leave Scientology, were buttressed by detailed revelations of highly placed former managers Amy Scobee and Tom De Vocht.

Now their stories have prompted other former Scientology veterans to go public about physical and mental abuses they say they witnessed and endured.

Some want to support and defend the initial four, whom church representatives labeled as liars attempting a coup. Others say they feel more secure now that Rathbun, Rinder and the others are on the record with their unprecedented accounts of life on the inside.

But fear still prevents many defectors from talking. For every former church staffer willing to speak out, one or two more refused.

Those who talked confirm the earlier defectors’ stories of erratic, dehumanizing treatment and provide a deeper view into the controlling environment in which members of the religious order known as the Sea Org live and work.

A few days ago, Miscavige distributed a special Freedom Magazine issue smearing the four people who spoke out in the first St. pete Times articles.  He’d better crank out the next issue fast before the villagers chase him down with pitchforks and torches.

Slappy sees the end draw near.

Scientology Ads

July 28, 2009

The L.A. Times reports on the newest batch of glossy, slick commercials for the Scientology corporation.  The business section of the paper looks at the business angle of Scientology.

The Church of Scientology has had a bad couple of years, PR-wise. You could start the damage-control clock running in January 2008 with the release of the Scientology indoctrination video featuring Tom Cruise — you know, black turtleneck, eyes spinning — claiming that Scientologists are the only ones who could really help at an accident scene. This summer the church was tried for fraud in France. In May, Wikipedia said it would ban entries originating from Scientology IP addresses on account of the church’s self-serving wiki-revisionism. And last month the St. Petersburg Times published a devastating four-part expose of Scientology’s tiny tyrant David Miscavige, based on testimony from four former high-ranking executives in the church.

Then there was last week’s Katie Holmes “homage” to Judy Garland on “Dancing With the Stars.” Talk about the scene of an accident

All of which has left the church with a smoldering crater where its public image ought to be. And yet, the church didn’t get to be La-La Land’s Holy See for nothing. In May the church launched a series of new commercials, and they are nothing short of brilliant. Sleek, chill and nonthreatening, these ads are visually beautiful, with a kind of tonal waveform of celestial bliss that invites fellow questers on a journey of self-discovery. “Scientology: Know yourself. Know life,” the tag line runs. Well, who wouldn’t want a piece of that?

The pleasure of these ads derives from their glossy cinematic execution, of course — the cerulean monotones, the exquisite jib camera work, the husky, hunky voice-over, the tranquil soundtrack (think U2 jamming with Vangelis).

But it also must be noted that, finally and surprisingly, the church with the greatest affinity for and proximity to Hollywood has finally turned up a decent branding spot. I mean, these are the people of the exploding volcano.

If these spots were produced in-house, somebody’s thetan deserves a case of beer or something.

Read the full article.


Jim Bailey’s tribute to Judy Garland is a much better recreation of the original number.

Jason Beghe on Marty Rathbun

June 22, 2009

Legendary Village Voice editor Tony Ortega has an interview with Jason Beghe about the St. Pete Time’s articles slamming David Miscavige.

Today, the St. Petersburg Times unveiled part two of its devastating series on David Miscavige, diminutive leader of Scientology.

An indication of how much this series is hitting Scientology to the bone: rare and vehement denunciations by Miscavige himself, and by his spokesman, the clearly in-over-his-head Tommy Davis, son of actress Anne Archer.

The St. Pete Times series packs a punch because it’s based on interviews with two of the formerly most high-ranking figures in the church: Marty Rathbun, once considered the best “auditor” in the Hubbard technology game, and Mike Rinder, once the church’s top spokesman (and Davis’s predecessor).

Predictably, Scientology is hitting back by trying to smear the two of them. If they were once the most trusted, most powerful members of the church, now suddenly they are lunatic losers who can’t be trusted.

“Tom had essentially disconnected from the church for the previous ten years. Most people don’t know that,” Beghe says. “So if Marty was a lunatic, why would Miscavige give him the job to bring Tom back in, the most important job in the church at that time?”

Read the full article and thank Tony and Jason for speaking out against the tiny leader of Scientology.

The Truth Rundown

June 21, 2009

Talk about flaps.  David Miscavige must be packing his bags to go live in that cave with Osama Bin Laden.   Marty Rathbun is spilling the beans.

This account comes from executives who for decades were key figures in Scientology’s powerful inner circle. Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, the highest-ranking executives to leave the church, are speaking out for the first time.

Two other former executives who defected also agreed to interviews with the St. Petersburg Times: De Vocht, who for years oversaw the church’s spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, and Amy Scobee, who helped create Scientology’s celebrity network, which caters to the likes of John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

One by one, the four defectors walked away from the only life they knew. That Rathbun and Rinder are speaking out is a stunning reversal because they were among Miscavige’s closest associates, Haldeman and Ehrlichman to his Nixon.

Now they provide an unprecedented look inside the upper reaches of the tightly controlled organization.

There’s terrific video, too.  Go and read.  Watch.  It’s Miscavige’s nightmare coming true.

UPDATE: Part 2 – Death in Slow Motion

The second installment covers the Lisa McPherson case.   Rathbun admits he ordered the destruction of evidence.  And creepy new revelations that not only are auditing sessions videotaped, but David Miscavige can watch the seesions live any time he chooses.

Do the parishioners find this unsettling?  Or will they simply excuse it as they have so many other abuses?

Scientology 0n Trial in France

May 25, 2009

From the Independent:

The Church of Scientology in France went on trial today on charges of organised fraud.

Registered as a religion in the United States, with celebrity members such as actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta, Scientology enjoys no such legal protection in France and has faced repeated accusations of being a money-making cult.

The group’s Paris headquarters and bookshop are defendants in the case. If found guilty, they could be fined €5 million ($7 million) and ordered to halt their activities in France.

Seven leading French Scientology members are also in the dock. Some are charged with illegally practising as pharmacists and face up to 10 years in prison and hefty fines.

The case centres on a complaint made in 1998 by a woman who said she was enrolled into Scientology after members approached her in the street and persuaded her to do a personality test.

In the following months, she paid more than €21,000 for books, “purification packs” of vitamins, sauna sessions and an “e-meter” to measure her spiritual progress, she said.

Other complaints then surfaced. The five original plaintiffs – three of whom withdrew after reaching a financial settlement with the Church of Scientology – said they spent up to hundreds of thousands of euros on similar tests and cures.

They told investigators that Scientology members harassed them with phone calls and nightly visits to cajole them into paying their bills or taking out bank loans. The plaintiffs were described as “vulnerable” by psychological experts in the case.

Scientology, founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, describes the “e-meter” as a religious artefact that helps the user and supervisor locate spiritual distress.

Investigators have described the machine as useless and said vitamin cures handed out by Church members were medication that should not have been freely sold.

Judge Jean-Christophe Hullin ruled last year that the offices and members, including the group’s 60-year-old French head, Alain Rosenberg, should be tried. The public prosecutor had recommended the case be shelved.

In a trial that has revived a debate about religious freedom in secular France, the defence is expected to argue the court should not intervene in religious affairs.

Scientology has faced numerous setbacks in France, with members convicted of fraud in Lyon in 1997 and Marseille in 1999. In 2002, a court fined it for violating privacy laws and said it could be dissolved if involved in similar cases.

The headquarters and bookshop account for most of the group’s activities in France and a guilty verdict would in practice mean its dissolution, although it is unclear whether it could still open other branches in the future.

Palin Pallin’ with an OT? You Betcha!

March 27, 2009
Greta Van Susteran and husband John Coale

Greta Van Susteran and husband John Coale

Last week, it was all over the blogs that Sarah’s Palin’s brain trust for the 2012 election included big-time Scientologist, Washington D.C. insider and husband of Greta Van Susteran, John Coale.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza broke the story and since then, Gawker has been all over it like fur on a weasel.

Gawker also is taking a look back the F.L.A.G.G. PAC that Coale tried to form in 1986 to “safepoint Scientology.”  They have even posted the full memo Coale sent out to solicit funds.  Here’s an excerpt:

Whenever a new president got elected, I would always tell myself, “How much harm could they do?”   They’d be there 4 or 8 years and then move on.  But during his term in office, George Bush managed to break the world.

I see Sarah Palin as Bush in a dress, his ideological twin, making decisions by the gut.  I can’t imagine what would have happened if Bush had a Scientologist at his side.

And for those who don’t want me to mention politics, this time it’s inescapable…and, boy, am I holding back.

Jeff Stone’s Unethical Behavior

March 24, 2009

This is why we need newspapers.  Reporters like Julia Glick from the Riverside Press-Enterprise do us all a favor when they bring to light the unethical behavior of local politicians like Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone who touts his sister as a volunteer for the county, yet last year he paid her $40,000 more out of campaign funds than he made as a County Supervisor.


Supervisor Jeff Stone frequently praises his sister as Riverside County’s best bargain because she works full-time as an unpaid volunteer in his office.

But records show he paid Lori Stone more than $180,000 in campaign money last year for political consulting and professional services and he assigned her the free use of a county car with taxpayer-funded gasoline included.

Over the past three years, Stone’s campaign payments to his sister totaled about $330,000.

In reporting this story, The Press-Enterprise tried to interview Lori Stone and another staff member. Jeff Stone directed them not to comment and asked that requests be referred to him.

Jeff Stone has been shilling for Scientology but his days may be numbered.  In this time of outrage over AIG bonuses, do we really want to hear that a politician’s sister gets paid $181,000 for “volunteering” and is given a free vehicle and gas courtesy of the taxpayers?

That’s not volunteering, Mr. Stone.   And you’re no representative of the people.  

Turning Hubbard House into Museum

February 4, 2009
The L. Ron Hubbard Authoried But Not Properly-Zoned Museum

The L. Ron Hubbard Authorized But Not Properly-Zoned Museum

The Phoenix New Times has a great, lengthy article about Scientology converting a house  in which Hubbard once lived into a museum — without permission, of course. 

Jeff Jacobsen is interviewed for the article and he predicts the outcome:

The Scientologists will prevail in reopening their museum, Jacobson insists, either with the help of their deep-pockets legal team or because the city will cave in to the intimidation tactics he says the church uses to get what it wants.

“The city is probably scared,” Jacobson says. “Or at least they should be.” He’s referring to the numerous controversies and conflicts that are — next to Tom Cruise’s allegiance — all that most laypeople know about the religion. There’s Operation Snow White, a ’70s project reportedly designed to purge unfavorable public records and published criticisms of Hubbard and Scientology. And there are the alleged attempts to legally force search engines like Yahoo and Google to censor Web pages that disparage the church. And, perhaps most infamously, there’s the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who died while in the care of the church.

Scientology’s crummy reputation is by no means news; things began going awry from the beginning, back when the religion was still headquartered in Phoenix. In May 1955, a woman named Estrid Anderson Humphrey sued the Church of Scientology for damages to her Paradise Valley home. The lawsuit, which was eventually settled out of court, alleged that a house Humphrey leased to the church was smashed up by what an Arizona Republic story called “one or more persons with assertedly deranged minds” who were placed there “for care and treatment.”

Jacobson refers to this as among the first of Hubbard’s many “experiments with crazy people,” in which Hubbard would allegedly isolate mentally ill people in a room or small house while treating their psychosis with Scientology’s “present time awareness” techniques. They’re still using these methods today, according to Jacobson.

How Good People Turn Evil

March 1, 2008

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo is interviewed in a great piece from Wired Magazine about how easy it is for good people to do evil things and what we need to do to try to stop that.

People are always personally accountable for their behavior. If they kill, they are accountable. However, what I’m saying is that if the killing can be shown to be a product of the influence of a powerful situation within a powerful system, then it’s as if they are experiencing diminished capacity and have lost their free will or their full reasoning capacity.

Situations can be sufficiently powerful to undercut empathy, altruism, morality and to get ordinary people, even good people, to be seduced into doing really bad things — but only in that situation.

Understanding the reason for someone’s behavior is not the same as excusing it. Understanding why somebody did something — where that why has to do with situational influences — leads to a totally different way of dealing with evil. It leads to developing prevention strategies to change those evil-generating situations, rather than the current strategy, which is to change the person.

Zimbardo’s famous Stanford Prison Experiment is one of the most important of its type.

I was most taken by his proposed solution to the problem. Training kids from an early stage about the importance of being a hero. Taking a stand. Facing the repercussions because you are doing what is right.

To be a hero you have to take action on behalf of someone else or some principle and you have to be deviant in your society, because the group is always saying don’t do it; don’t step out of line. If you’re an accountant at Arthur Andersen, everyone who is doing the defrauding is telling you, “Hey, be one of the team.”

Heroes have to always, at the heroic decisive moment, break from the crowd and do something different. But a heroic act involves a risk. If you’re a whistle-blower you’re going to get fired, you’re not going to get promoted, you’re going to get ostracized. And you have to say it doesn’t matter.

Most heroes are more effective when they’re social heroes rather than isolated heroes. A single person or even two can get dismissed by the system. But once you have three people, then it’s the start of an opposition.

The three young women who started Ex-Scientology Kids are such heroes. I applaud them and everyone else who joins the movement.

Michael Shermer Article

February 19, 2008

In a strong and provocative L. A. Times op-ed on Anonymous, Michael Shermer of the Skeptic’s Society pulls no punches.

Imagine reading this press release:

Hello, Jews. We are anonymous. Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye. … Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind — for the laughs — we shall expel you … and systematically dismantle Judaism in its present form. …

The rantings of crazed neo-Nazis, right? No. Substitute “Jews” and “Judaism” with “Scientologists” and “Church of Scientology” and you are reading from a statement issued by a group of anti-Scientologists calling themselves “Anonymous.” This statement was released Jan. 21 (read in a YouTube video by a Stephen Hawking-like computerized voice). It was followed by another on Feb. 10 that coincided with demonstrations at Scientology centers around the world at which protesters donned masks (the Guy Fawkes variety from the movie “V for Vendetta”) and waved posters that read, among other things, “Honk If You Hate Scientology.”

Again, imagine if that sign read “Honk If You Hate Jews.” How innocuous would such a protest be in that case?

And yet this latest turn against the organization founded in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard has an air of farcical comedy to it. Why? Why aren’t civil rights organizations and anti-hate-speech activists pouncing on these protesters? The reason, I suspect, is that most of us do not consider Scientology a religion, at least not a religion that resembles in the slightest the world’s major faiths.

Be sure to read Michael’s full op-ed piece and visit his important website from the Skeptic’s Society.