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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The Document: When Scientology canceled ‘Family Time’

Martin_Ottman2Martin Ottmann was in Scientology relatively briefly: He first got involved in Stuttgart in 1989, joined the Sea Organization and went to Clearwater in 1990, and by the end of 1992, after returning to Germany, he was out. Since then, however, he’s become known for his dogged pursuit of documents that reflect every possible detail of Scientology management and Scientology life. We asked him to bring some of his expertise to the Underground Bunker and help us dig into the dark corners of this secretive organization.

To start things off, Martin sent us a 1989 document that was smuggled out of Scientology’s Pacific Area Command (PAC Base), its big Los Angeles complex in the former Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. The document describes a change in policy that made it even more difficult for Sea Org parents to spend time with their children. Sea Org members are Scientology’s most dedicated workers — they sign billion-year contracts and work 110-hour weeks for pennies an hour.

Continue reading The Document: When Scientology canceled ‘Family Time’

More trouble for Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon — this time in Florida

Suncoast's future location, a former church

Suncoast’s future location, a former church

Joe Childs at the Tampa Bay Times last night reported that there’s trouble potentially brewing for the Scientology drug rehab facility in Hernando County, Florida.

Suncoast Rehabilitation Center, part of Scientology’s Narconon network, has been in the news recently for a dispute with the county over its expansion plans. The Times has closely watched that battle, which took a fortunate turn for Suncoast when it successfully appealed a low damage award (the case is now in mediation). Childs reported last month that another facility, a former church, was purchased in Clearwater by the same owners, and we told you that according to our sources Suncoast is planning on moving its operation from Hernando County to the Clearwater location.

Continue reading More trouble for Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon — this time in Florida

Chris Shelton explains why Scientology is in a management death spiral

Chris_SheltonWe’ve really enjoyed the explanatory videos put together by Chris Shelton, a former Scientology Sea Org worker who left the church only recently.

We’re happy to premiere his newest effort, a lengthy but fascinating look at Scientology’s management — how it’s supposed to work, and why it isn’t.

Continue reading Chris Shelton explains why Scientology is in a management death spiral

Scientology claims credit for solving the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri

Bob_AdamsIt’s time for Sunday Funnies, our weekly feature for reviewing the Scientology mailers forwarded to us by our great tipsters. And once again, we have a bushel of fun circulars put out by the fundraisingest church on earth.

But first, we have to hand it to Scientology junior spokesman Bob Adams for taking the church’s public relations to OT 9.

Yesterday, a press release disguised as a news story carrying Bob’s byline showed up on something totally not sketchy called “World Religion News.”

Continue reading Scientology claims credit for solving the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri

Jon Atack: How Scientology’s methods of manipulation stay with you after you leave

Jon_AtackJon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than a year on Saturdays he helped us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet. He was kind enough to send us a new post.

We’re fortunate to have two pieces this week from you, Jon. On Thursday, you told us about L. Ron Hubbard’s theory that life was a game, with him controlling the pieces. Today, you’re talking again about leaving Scientology and recovering from it. Help us understand why it is ex-Scientologists have a hard time leaving the church behind.

Continue reading Jon Atack: How Scientology’s methods of manipulation stay with you after you leave

Scientology skates (so far) as OK grand jury says “keep investigating” Narconon Arrowhead

Stacy Dawn Murphy

Stacy Dawn Murphy

In June, we told you that we had learned the Oklahoma Multicounty Grand Jury was investigating evidence of insurance fraud at Scientology’s flagship drug rehab center, Narconon Arrowhead.

The Multicounty Grand Jury was empaneled in January 2013 and just finished its work, submitting a final report yesterday. It listed numerous murders and other crimes that it looked into. And near the end of its report, it had a single paragraph about Scientology’s rehab center:

Continue reading Scientology skates (so far) as OK grand jury says “keep investigating” Narconon Arrowhead

Scientology graduation videos from the UK? Even better!

Hamish_BulgerWe will admit to a lifetime of Anglophilia. Though we’ve never been to Albion’s shores, we tend to put its residents on a pedestal. And so it always amuses us that Scientology has found so much success there (at least historically). L. Ron Hubbard? In the UK?

And yet, here is video proof that the few Scientologists left in Blighty are still moving up the Bridge. A few days ago we had graduation videos from Copenhagen. Now let’s take a look at what’s been happening at Saint Hill Manor, Scientology’s headquarters in England!

Continue reading Scientology graduation videos from the UK? Even better!

Jon Atack: The games L. Ron Hubbard played

Jon_AtackJon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than a year on Saturdays he helped us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet. He was kind enough to send us a new post.

Jon, we’re tickled that your column this time was prompted by a response one of our readers made to a previous piece. We really do have a great commenting community here. So please take us on another exploration of Scientology lore…

Continue reading Jon Atack: The games L. Ron Hubbard played

Scientology ethics: Raising money from Ferguson and swiping J.K. Rowling’s image

RowlingNarconon

Scientologists call themselves “the most ethical people on the planet” because, well, founder L. Ron Hubbard told them to say that, and Ron had a great talent for saying things that were the complete opposite of what they meant.

Continue reading Scientology ethics: Raising money from Ferguson and swiping J.K. Rowling’s image

Narconon’s cancer spreads: New lawsuits and a court order for Scientology’s rehab network

Narconon Arrowhead

Narconon Arrowhead

Yesterday, we brought you news of an explosive new lawsuit which alleges that Oklahoma state mental health officials covered up wrongdoing at Scientology’s flagship drug rehab facility in Oklahoma, Narconon Arrowhead. That news came out against the backdrop that a grand jury is considering claims of insurance fraud at the facility, leaked documents suggest the center is suffering badly with few patients, and there’s also news that Arrowhead has applied for a new certification as a “halfway house” as it gives up its status as a major treatment center.

Continue reading Narconon’s cancer spreads: New lawsuits and a court order for Scientology’s rehab network