Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder has been using his blog to document just how desperate the church is getting as it pursues its “Ideal Org” strategy.
Church leader David Miscavige seems more determined than ever to raise money from church members in order to purchase and renovate downtown landmarks in cities around the world, even though they seem unneeded and then go largely empty. (Rinder documented just how empty in a remarkable story about one of the first Ideal Orgs, in Johannesburg.)
Years of effort goes into the fundraising and rehabbing of these buildings, and everything about these efforts suggest that Miscavige seems to believe that their grand opening ceremonies present huge public relations opportunities for Scientology, which has, in the last year, been suffering through the worst publicity of its existence.
In particular, the sheer panic that seems to be fueling next week’s opening at the newest Ideal Org in Portland, Oregon suggests that the church considers it a major make-or-break moment. And we have to wonder, does the church not realize that the outside world couldn’t care less?
Rinder has already posted a couple of interesting fliers about the Portland opening. And now we have a fairly amazing e-mail we wanted to share with you that shows just how much effort is going into putting on a big show for, well, the rest of us, apparently.
First, let’s take a look at a poster that Rinder found objectionable, and for very interesting reasons.
It plays on the notion that Portland does have a special place in Scientology history. In 1985, the church was hit with a $39 million judgment in a lawsuit brought by Julie Christofferson Titchbourne, a woman who had briefly been a church member and said she had been harmed by Scientology’s processes. To protest the jury award, Scientology flew in a couple of thousand church members to Portland — including John Travolta (who flew his own Lear Jet) and Chick Corea. The judge in the case then declared a mistrial, voiding the jury award, and ever since the church has referred to the Portland event as its “Religious Freedom Campaign.”
But Rinder noticed that the man in the poster putting up a declaration at Portland’s courthouse is none other than Heber Jentzsch, nominally the president of the Church of Scientology International since 1982, who has been a resident of Scientology’s notorious office-prison for fallen executives, “The Hole,” at its secretive International Base in Southern California since about 2004.
As Rinder points out, it’s pretty amazing that the church would use an image of an executive it has kept in a hellish internal prison to represent “religious freedom.”
As we said, all evidence suggests that Miscavige really considers the May 11 grand opening of the new Ideal Org to be of critical importance. And we have a lengthy e-mail to prove it.
First off, there’s evidence of something we always suspected — that church members from other areas are pressured into attending the grand openings in order to swell the size of the audience…
0n Apr 30, 2013, at 5:42 PM, Austin Nickels
PORTLAND GRAND OPENING STANDINGS
We meet again for freedom where victory began!!!!
1. Sacramento 36
2. Mountain View 16
3. San Francisco 10
4. Orange County 9
5. Dallas 8
5. Denver 8
7. San Diego 7
8. Austin 6
9. Twin Cities 4
10. Salt Lake City 3
11. St. Louis 2
11. Los Gatos 2
13. Albuquerque 1
13. Kansas City 1
13. Stevens Creek 1
16. Hawaii 0
16. Las Vegas 0
16. Phoenix 0
16. Santa Barbara 0
1. Portland 617
2. Los Angeles 194
3. Seattle 121
4. East US 30
5. Canada 22
6. United Kingdom 15
LET’S GO WUS!!!!!!!!
Total target is 3,500 people and we are past the 1,000 mark overall. GO, GO, GO!!!!!
PS: If numbers are inaccurate, let me know what it is and list of names
And of course, it wouldn’t be a Scientology event without lots of mandatory money-grubbing…
On Sat, Apr 27, 2013 at 11:01 PM, Austin Nickels wrote:
Its official. You may have already gotten the word. Portland Ideal Org is grand opening on the 11th of May!!!!!!!
…This is for your general briefing and a bit of the international and continental view as to what is expected of the big, bad WEST US!!!!
…For your info, this is how many people are expected to come from outside the WUS for this truly historic occasion:
EUS [Eastern US] 300
CAN [Canada] 250
EU [Europe] 100 + (2 per org)
LATAM [Latin America] 25
UK [United Kingdom] 25
ANZO [Australia/New Zealand] 15
AF [Africa] 5
You never know, there could be more but they are calling in and scheduling like mad…
Now the next point is Fundraising. Of course! On Saturday, we have the Rally and Fundraiser and Sunday, the panel. Now this is our HOME COURT and there is no way other continents are going to come into OUR HOUSE and push us around. NO WAY!!!!! So here is the trick. You are going to get this ALL LINED UP befor hand and you are going to bring it to Portland and you are going to show the world what YOU’VE got and what WE’VE got as a group. These are CASH quotas. Not pledges. Those go on top — they are fine, but we are talking CASH IN here. We are going to slamdunk the next $1M cont-wide IN THAT ROOM, THAT NIGHT in recognition of our final (and DEDICATED) push to complete our continent. We are going to do it together — in that room, right there on the spot — you/we are going to show the world what you/we are made of. And of course you all want ot show off in front of each other, too:
ALB [Albuquerque] $50K
AST [Austin] $200K
HAW [Hawaii] $50K
KC [Kansas City] $200K
MV [Mountain View] $200K
SD [San Diego] $200K
SLC [Salt Lake City] $200K
STB [Santa Barbara] $50K
STL [St. Louis? Seattle?] $200K
VLY [S.F. Valley?] $200K
That’s that. You walk in with that cash in hand. We want the donors there with you to announce it. But note, if for some odd reason the donor can’t come along on the trip, then get the money in hand and announce it for them — it can still count as long as it’s paid.
…First thing — your attendance (i.e. you that is reading this), along with a strong delegation from your org area — bring your finest Humanitarians, your finest OTC members and a great deal of potential for Ideal Org movement that weekend…
Org attendance targets are:
ROCKY MOUNTAIN ALLIANCE:
The second leg of this is the fundraising advance we expect to make that day as covered above. So of course, you are going to line this all up beforehand and bring it with you. Then, with the people that you are bringing with you want to do more and they need the opening for the close, you’ll capitalize on that and SMASH that wimpy quota I laid out for you above…
Well, that certainly sounds like a good time. Speeches and cheering and then get out your checkbook.
But we marvel at the tone of this e-mail and the other mailers and fliers we’ve been seeing for this event. We know that church members are already exhausted from the endless rounds of fundraising that have been going on for several years. And many of the people coming from other cities will have already seen their own Ideal Orgs open and then fail to bring in the promised waves of new public. So who is all the fake enthusiasm for?
Is it for the media, the public? Even Miscavige can’t believe that Ideal Org openings are doing anything for the church’s reputation. Or is the big show for the whales, the big spenders who need to be reassured that progress is being made, that the planet is being cleared? Give us your thoughts.
Posted by Tony Ortega on May 3, 2013 at 07:00
E-mail your tips and story ideas to email@example.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.