Frequent contributor Jeffrey Augustine is back, and this time he digs into the way Scientology changes its story, depending on who it’s trying to threaten or hoodwink. Take it away, Jeff!
Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder recently reported that church lawyer Gary Soter had sent a threat letter to former Scientology executive Dan Koon.
The church had learned that Koon helped Ron Miscavige Sr., the father of Scientology leader David Miscavige, write his memoir, which is due to come out in 2016. In his letter, Soter informed Koon that by merely helping Ron write his book, he was in violation of nondisclosure agreements and bonds he had signed as a Scientology officer. Those documents Koon had signed carried heavy penalties for violating their terms, Soter claimed.
On March 12, 1980 you agreed to pay $5,000,000 in liquidated damages for “breach of security of the CMO INT or any units working under CMO INT. This would include anything heard with regards to work…”
Sea Org members make about $40 per week — when they’re paid at all — but Scientology expects its indentured servants to pay a $5,000,000 penalty for breaking the Sea Org’s rules. What really stood out, however, was something else Soter included in his letter. Can you spot it?
On May 12, 2000 you signed a “Declaration of Religious Commitment and Membership in the Sea Organization. Paragraph 8 of that Agreement states: “I agree to maintain the confidentiality of all communications…all documents, all files, all mailing lists and all other material not commonly offered to the public for sale or use…which may come into my knowledge or possession in the course of my services as a member of the Sea Organization…”
You might remember that we’ve pointed out before how David Miscavige’s attorney, Lamont Jefferson, has said in official court documents that the Sea Org has no legal standing and has no members. Here’s what Jefferson wrote in a filing in Monique Rathbun’s lawsuit against Miscavige…
Plaintiff asserts that Mr. Miscavige exercised control because he leads the Sea Organization, a religious order within Scientology. But the ‘Sea Org’ is not a corporate entity; it has no physical or legal existence. It is not incorporated or established pursuant to legal formalities. It has no constitution, charter or bylaws, and no formal or informal ecclesiastical, corporate, or other management structure. It has no directors, officers, managing agents, or other executives; no employees, staff members, or volunteers; no income; no disbursements, no bank accounts or other assets; no liabilities; no stationery; no office, home, address, or telephone number. It does not create or maintain any financial, personnel, or other records. It can neither give nor receive orders because it has no one to either give or receive them or to carry them out. It cannot sue or be sued.
What Jefferson told a Texas court aligns with what the Church told the IRS to get its tax exempt status in 1993:
Although there is no such “organization” as the Sea Organization, the term Sea Org has a colloquial usage which implies that there is. There are general recruitment posters and literature for “The Sea Org” which implies that people will be employed by the Sea Org when in reality they will join, making the billion year commitment, at some church that is staffed by Sea Org members and become employees of that church corporation.
So, while Scientology tells courts and governments that its Sea Org has no legal reality and no members, it tells Sea Org members like Dan Koon something very different.
But then again, Scientology isn’t even consistent in what it says in the courtroom. Here’s what another Scientology attorney, Bert Deixler, said in a court briefing in Laura DeCrescenzo’s forced-abortion lawsuit against the church…
“It is exclusively from the Sea Org that the senior leadership of Scientology is drawn.”
The Sea Org has no members. But Deixler told a California court that the senior leadership of Scientology is drawn “exclusively” from the Sea Org – a group that Mr. Jefferson told a Texas court can have no directors, officers, managing agents, executives, employees, staff members, or volunteers.
So, let’s review the scorecard…
— In order to keep David Miscavige out of a deposition in a Texas lawsuit, Scientology claims that the Sea Org does not exist and has no members. Sea Org members derive authority only from their posts in the Church of Scientology hierarchy.
— In order to threaten Dan Koon, Gary Soter asserts that the Sea Org and its contracts exist, that they are legally binding; and that they can serve as the basis of a lawsuit to collect $5,000,000 in liquidated damages.
— In order to claim First Amendment protection for its abusive treatment of employees, Bert Deixler said in Laura DeCrescenzo’s lawsuit that all of Scientology’s senior executives are drawn from its monastic order the Sea Org.
Deixler was unsparing on this point in defending the Sea Org’s policies, which include outrageous treatment of children, as Laura DeCrescenzo was. Deixler cited Higgins v. Maher (1989), a case which states that anyone who enters into employment as religious clergy forfeits the protection of the civil authorities:
The courts of this State have recognized that the ministerial exception bars judicial interference with discipline or administration by churches of their clergy…”In our society, jealous as it is of separation of church and state, one who enters the clergy forfeits the protection of the civil authorities in terms of job rights.”
As I wrote in a previous column, this “ministerial exception” is why Sea Org workers do not have to be paid minimum wage or overtime; why they can be locked up and brutalized in the Rehabilitation Project Force; and why they receive no pension after decades of service. Scientology has been able to subject its workforce to endless hours, sleep deprivation, unhealthful food and psychological terrorizing, and American courts have been reluctant to do anything about it.
The Church sees Sea Org members as “coins” that can be traded among Orgs and then kicked to the curb when they weaken from age or infirmity. The Sea Org euphemism for this cruelty is called “Fitness Boarding.” Old and sick Sea Org members are fitness boarded, given $500, and then shown the door.
Is what I am describing inaccurate? Is my language too strong? Not according to the words of Bert Deixler and the Church of Scientology in their filings opposing Laura DeCrescenzo’s lawsuit:
Even if an ecclesiastical decision appears harsh, humiliating, unfair, or irrational from a secular viewpoint, civil courts have no role to play…
The Church of Scientology’s justification for its humiliating and sadistic treatment of Sea Org workers is the First Amendment. However, when Captain David Miscavige of the Sea Org is at risk of being deposed, the Sea Org does not exist.
The Church of Scientology should not be able to have it both ways: A legally nonexistent entity cannot have First Amendment protections.
The late Earle Cooley, an attorney for the Church of Scientology, once caught someone the Church was suing in a contradiction during a deposition. Cooley calmly asked, “So which story are you sticking with?”
Thus, we turn Mr. Cooley’s question to David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology: Does the Sea Org exist or does it not exist?
Which story are you sticking with, Mr. Miscavige?
— Jeffrey Augustine
Scientology facing bankruptcy in Norway
The newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad is reporting this morning that Scientology is facing bankruptcy in Oslo, and used the occasion to produce the really nifty illustration of L. Ron Hubbard you see here. In fact, it’s an interactive graphic, and allows the newspaper’s readers to learn basic information about Scientology concepts as they mouse over Hubbard’s mug.
The reason for the story is that Scientology has changed locations in Oslo, and its old landlord, Panorama Group CEO Stig Bjarne Sandøy, says he’s going to have his former tenant declared bankrupt for stiffing him on nine months of rent, a total of 292,434 kroner.
Scientology’s new offices are located on the fourth floor of this building, seen in a photo taken by Adrian Nielsen…
The newspaper quotes local Scientology spokesman Rasmus C. Lossius, who claims that local orgs have to come up with their own finances, and no help will be coming from the international church in America. “This is not good news and something we obviously wish we were well,” he said. (Of course, Scientology leader David Miscavige has shown that he will spend large sums through “IAS grants” when it suits him to prop up a far-flung org. But apparently Norway is not on his Christmas list or something.)
And you have to love this quote from Lossius, who is no Karin Pouw: “Scientology is financed by donations from our members and interested parties who believe in the applied religious philosophy that we work with. Now I encourage members and supporters to join and donate so we can clean up this as quickly as possible.”
Chris Shelton begins an interview with Rachel Bernstein
“I met Rachel Bernstein through a referral by Karen de la Carriere and I am so happy I did, as she is very knowledgeable and articulate about destructive cults and Scientology in particular. She has counseled over a thousand people through the exit/recovery process in leaving a cult behind and has a great deal of experience with Scientology practices and the harm it causes psychologically and emotionally. I thought interviewing her about this would be informative and helpful to anyone who has ever had anything to do with Scientology and would also help increase understanding for those never-ins who struggle to decipher why anyone would get involved with a destructive cult in the first place. This interview is the first of three parts. In the final part, we will cover the Fair Game tactics Scientology engaged in against Rachel directly when she first began her practice, but first we cover what destructive cults are all about and what can be done about them. I hope everyone gets as much out of this as I did.”
On Sunday morning, December 3, 1995, Rita Boykin noted that Lisa McPherson had finally, after days and days, gotten some good, uninterrupted sleep.
The day before, Boykin and the other caretakers had noted a major change in Lisa. She could no longer stand on her own, and had become incontinent. And now, she fell into a long slumber.
When she awoke, at about 10 in the morning, Lisa was “very confused and combative,” Rita noted, adding that Lisa didn’t seem fully awake for another hour and a half. At that point, they pushed on her the usual regimen — valerian root capsules and other herbal tablets, Cal-Mag, and a protein shake.
Overnight, they had also managed to get Lisa to drink 6 ounces of water.
On Sunday afternoon, Lisa took a few ounces of orange juice and some Cal-Mag. She then slept soundly for about two and a half hours, with brief episodes of restlessness.
Rita noted that at one point during the day, she perceived that Lisa wanted to put on a sweater.
“I put it on her, and she thanked me,” Rita noted.
Bonus photos from our tipsters
It’s beginning to look a lot like an R6 implant at Flaaaaaaaag…
Writing a success story in Bogotá!
Hey, girl. Now that I’ve been to Flag, your withholds will be all mine.
We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.
Our book tour is concluded for now. (But you can re-experience it through this nifty interactive map!) We’ll let you know about future appearances. Previous events: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29), Sydney (10/23), Melbourne (10/25), Adelaide (10/28), Perth (10/30)
Posted by Tony Ortega on December 3, 2015 at 07:00
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Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield