Thanks to smart planning by a couple of our readers, we have a complete video of Scientology leader David Miscavige’s speech Saturday as he opened the organization’s new “Ideal Org” in an Atlanta suburb.
The Atlanta facility is the first Ideal Org Scientology has opened in the US in nearly three years, but photos from the event show a crowd of only about 500 people gathered at the building in Sandy Springs, Georgia. As usual, Miscavige presided over the ceremony while an image of him was projected on a large screen nearby.
Scientology goes to great lengths to keep non-Scientologists far away from these events by blocking streets, sidewalks, and with the use of security personnel, so that we get only partial views of what’s going on.
In this case, our correspondents, JustSheila and another Bunker reader, had planned ahead and secured permission from a private property owner to make use of a vantage point across the street from the building. They shared the space with a crew from ABC also taping for the upcoming April 29 20/20 special about Ron Miscavige’s book about his son, Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me.
But you won’t have to wait until April 29 to see our footage.
The picture is particularly good for the distance it was filmed from. (And if you know how hard our correspondents have tried in the past just to get a glimpse of Miscavige, this is really remarkable and exactly the kind of thing Miscavige has tried to prevent.) But the downside of that great distance is the amount of car noise we hear — there is a major avenue between the camera and the Scientology building. We did our best to provide captions for what Miscavige is saying, but some of it was really difficult to make out.
We’re looking forward to your thoughts on Miscavige’s performance. It seemed to us that he (or his speechwriter, Dan Sherman) was straining to make references to local cultural touchstones. Did he really have to incorporate Rhett Butler’s “don’t give a damn” and even reference the movie’s title as well? Lawd have mercy.
One section that interested us came about halfway, when Miscavige was talking about “southern wings yet to take flight” or something. He seemed to be admitting that there is virtually no Scientology in the US South and in Atlanta in particular. But thanks to a few wealthy marks, they came up with the money to open this thing, even without any demand from the locals whatsoever.
Isn’t that what he’s admitting to in his speech, that there was no reason to open an Ideal Org in an area where there are virtually no Scientologists?
UPDATE: We asked former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder for his thoughts on the video. He sent us this…
I haven’t seen one of these Ideal Org events in full for a long time. In the early days there was no individual recognition of donors other than some of the whales were invited on stage to pull the ribbon. Though I think Joe Sgroi may have been mentioned in Buffalo — he virtually funded the org single-handedly after the money from the sale of the old building/settlement with the city was all used up.
Miscavige has done that at the IAS Banquet at Saint Hill where he presents the bowling league trophies to the big whales. Some sort of flowery BS and much hand shaking and “thank you, thank you” and a little bow and perhaps a salute when they walk on stage.
One thing I found interesting in his speech.
He repeated lines from each of the previous speakers. This means someone wrote their speeches for them, or at the least they had to be cleared beforehand. He could not have gotten their words into his teleprompter unless he knew what they were going to say beforehand. This has been done a lot. Aaron Mason used to write the speeches for the “guest speakers” — it was how the Mayor of Buffalo said something about being on the Scientology org board. And where that stuff about L. Ron Hubbard past, present and whatever came from. Don’t know who is doing it now, but clearly someone is.
Funny story on that, at the original NY Org opening, Charlie Rangel spoke. He refused any speech anyone wrote for him. Said he would write his own. Refused to provide it beforehand. Miscavige nearly lost his shit about that and almost canceled Rangel (the biggest name that has EVER participated in any Scientology ribbon yanking ceremony) because he was afraid of what he might say and that it would mess up the event and not be usable in the video afterwards.
Paulette Cooper talks Miss Lovely
Paulette Cooper, the subject of our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, sent us a link to a talk she gave recently about her amazing story.
We sure hope we can do one of these together again soon.
PS: We expect that there will be a second story today. So you might want to stick around.
Bonus items from our tipsters
Another sieg heil, this time in Taiwan…
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. 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
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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