Tony Ortega is executive editor of The Raw Story and is formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He's written about Scientology since 1995, and has a forthcoming book about the subject. He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world from an undisclosed location in an underground bunker he shares with four cats and one of them wrinkly Shar Pei dogs. Despite his super-secret security protections, you can still reach him pretty easily by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT gmail.com (Drop him a line if you'd like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.) [Header image courtesy John Rickard]
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What’s in that National Enquirer ‘World Exclusive’ about Scientology?

NatEnqFBI
We couldn’t help being intrigued when the National Enquirer claimed that it had “bombshell” documents which were the “FBI’s secret Scientology files” and that they described what John Travolta and Tom Cruise were “hiding.”

Scientology watchers know that thousands of pages of FBI files about L. Ron Hubbard and the church with information going back to the 1940s has been freely available on the Internet for a long time, and that most of what they describe has already been thoroughly hashed over in books by Russell Miller, Jon Atack, Bent Corydon, Janet Reitman, and Lawrence Wright, not to mention in many websites such as Operation Clambake and the archives of Caroline Letkeman.

But the Enquirer seemed to claim that it had something new. Here’s how they describe it:

Continue reading What’s in that National Enquirer ‘World Exclusive’ about Scientology?

Pearl Harbor Day 2015 — Mark your calendar for a day that will live in Scientology infamy

Laura_DeCrescenzoFinally, we have a new trial date in Laura DeCrescenzo’s forced abortion lawsuit against the Church of Scientology. Filed in 2009, the lawsuit has had a very complex history as the church challenged it on statute of limitation grounds, resulting in the suit’s dismissal. But an appeals court revived it, Laura then fought all the way to the US Supreme Court to get key records of her own confessional auditing sessions, and then she survived Scientology’s motion for summary judgment — a dramatic day in court we were present for.

Continue reading Pearl Harbor Day 2015 — Mark your calendar for a day that will live in Scientology infamy

L. Ron Hubbard, deadbeat dad ALSO: Former members of Scientology show off their stuff

HubbardSpeechOver the past week we’ve made a couple of interesting dives into L. Ron Hubbard’s past, and it’s prompted tipsters to send us some really great items.

Today, we have another key document from Hubbard’s life, and we believe it’s the first time an image of the document itself has been posted online.

It’s an affidavit that Hubbard’s first wife, Margaret Louise “Polly” Grubb, filed after Hubbard failed to pay child support.

Continue reading L. Ron Hubbard, deadbeat dad ALSO: Former members of Scientology show off their stuff

What Adrian Chen got wrong about Anonymous and Scientology

HackerHoaxerFormer Gawker writer Adrian Chen has a long and contentious history with the hacktivist collective known as Anonymous. We’re not really very interested in that backstory (though a recent article shows that it’s pretty juicy). And we’re also not all that interested in the drubbing that Chen gave last week to McGill University professor Gabriella Coleman’s new book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous.

We found Coleman’s book to be pretty useful and fascinating, but Chen accused her of being too embedded with Anonymous so that she tended to overlook some of its faults. For an interesting counterpoint to Chen’s piece in the Nation, we recommend David Auerbach’s response in Slate.

Continue reading What Adrian Chen got wrong about Anonymous and Scientology

More L. Ron Hubbard history that Scientology has done its best to disappear

Hubbard_SpeechWe have a follow-up to our story Wednesday about Scientology doing what it can to erase L. Ron Hubbard’s second wife, Sara Northrup, from the historical record.

We had some help from Lauren Wolf, who worked as research assistant to author and New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright on his 2013 book, Going Clear. It was Lauren who had spotted a photograph in a Scientology publication that erased Sara Northrup from a 1946 photo with Hubbard. She told us she had found it too late for Wright’s book, and we were grateful that she brought it to the Underground Bunker.

Continue reading More L. Ron Hubbard history that Scientology has done its best to disappear

Sunday Funnies: Get yer boots on for some Scientology line dancing in Austin!

AustinDanceWe have another fun set of Sunday Funnies for you this week, where we reveal to you the best Scientology mailers that have been sent to us during the week.

And this time, we get to start off with a couple of new videos. This first one, from the Austin org, is really a treat.

Now, we’ve only been to Austin a couple of times, but we enjoyed how seriously the town takes its fun, and in particular its music.

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: Get yer boots on for some Scientology line dancing in Austin!

Judge calls for February mini-trial in Garcia case, and we have text of the Lemberger lawsuit

Judge James D. Whittemore

Judge James D. Whittemore

Here’s a little bit of a surprise. We had expected that Tampa federal District Judge James D. Whittemore would be nearing a decision on the Church of Scientology’s motion to compel Luis and Rocio Garcia to submit to internal church arbitration and dismiss their fraud lawsuit.

Instead, he’s called for an evidentiary hearing on February 18.

It will be a sort of mini-trial, which will not be the first in this lawsuit since it was filed by the Garcias in January 2013. We were present for the first one, a courtroom battle over a Scientology motion to have the attorneys for the Garcias disqualified. Whittemore denied that motion.

Continue reading Judge calls for February mini-trial in Garcia case, and we have text of the Lemberger lawsuit

Classic Scientology shenanigans as class action lawsuit is filed against legal opponent NAFC

Clark_Carr2
Wasn’t it just yesterday we made the point that Scientology is incapable of evolving into a more benign form?

For you connoisseurs of classic Scientology legal chicanery, you’re going to love the full body and complex flavors of this vintage.

Continue reading Classic Scientology shenanigans as class action lawsuit is filed against legal opponent NAFC

Scientology Photoshopping, Part 2: A mystery disappearance on the yacht Apollo

RonEncyclopediaYesterday, we told you about Lauren Wolf describing what it was like to work for Lawrence Wright on his book Going Clear and finding an example of Scientology trying to erase the existence of L. Ron Hubbard’s second wife, Sara Northrup, from the record with creative photoshopping.

She told us that in the “Master Mariner” volume of “The RON Series” of “biographical encyclopedias” (pictured, right), she found an example of the church pulling Sara from a 1946 photograph of her with Hubbard.

Continue reading Scientology Photoshopping, Part 2: A mystery disappearance on the yacht Apollo

Scientology Photoshopping: Erasing L. Ron Hubbard’s second wife from ‘The RON Series’

RonSeriesMasterMariner
We have a real treat for you today, and it comes courtesy of someone we are honored to have helping us out.

We met Lauren Wolf when she was helping Lawrence Wright as the research assistant on his epic 2013 book on Scientology, Going Clear, and she’s been a friend to the Underground Bunker ever since.

Recently, she emailed us with a hot tip, and we are so glad that she did.

Continue reading Scientology Photoshopping: Erasing L. Ron Hubbard’s second wife from ‘The RON Series’