You really have to hand it to Scientology. It just never gives up.
Sure, the church may be shrinking and on a collision course with oblivion, but the people who remain after all the theetie weetie dilettantes have been chased off are hardcore fanatics, and church leader David Miscavige has them pushing Scientology’s sneaky front groups in all kinds of directions and with all kinds of clever efforts at subterfuge.
One of our eagle-eyed tipsters noticed a very subtle and successful new move by someone we’ve told you about before. He’s Kenneth Kramer, a private investigator who helps Scientology agitate against the psychiatric profession, which L. Ron Hubbard hated with a passion. Even today, as it dwindles, the church believes that it’s on a mission to destroy the psychiatric profession utterly.
Yes, the entire industry. David Miscavige himself said in a speech at one of Scientology’s big international events that the church’s operatives had “booby-trapped” the entire psychiatric profession and were going to blow it up so Scientology could replace it.
It’s a lot of hogwash, of course. But Scientology’s most unhinged front group, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) does what it can to demonize the psychiatric profession. In Los Angeles it operates a Sunset Boulevard house of horrors, the “Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum,” where it makes the bogus claim that the Holocaust was caused not by Adolf Hitler and his maniacal antisemitism but by psychiatrists. (CCHR is less talkative about L. Ron Hubbard’s claims that psychiatrists originally come from the planet Farsec and have been sabotaging us with damaging mental implants for trillions of years.)
Kramer’s role as a private investigator is to track down records of psychiatrists who have been disciplined or jailed. He runs a website, psychsearch.net, where you can report your local “psych,” and where Kramer posts news of psychiatrists behaving badly. Last year, he posted stories about approximately 90 psychiatrists around the world who had been convicted of everything from alcohol abuse to fraud to sexual assault and even to murder.
If that sounds like a lot, it might be important to keep in mind that there are about 50,000 psychiatrists working just in the United States, which has been described as a severe shortage in recent studies. (Also, in that earlier story, we noted that Ken had some pretty interesting ideas about what ails the psychiatric profession.)
Anyway, the last time we wrote about Kramer, we had sent him a message asking about his announcement to expand his database into Canada. But now, he’s celebrating a new victory.
On March 13 — which just happened to be the birthday of L. Ron Hubbard — Kramer managed to place an article at USA Today!
Identifying Kramer as a columnist, the piece was about what a good thing public government records are. And we agree! We couldn’t do our job otherwise. We completely agree with the sentiment of Ken’s column, that it’s crucial to our democracy that citizens can get their hands on documents in the government’s possession.
And Ken was super smooth. In his entire column, this was his only reference to his usual hobby horse: “You can find out if a psychiatrist was ever disciplined for sexual misconduct, substance abuse or has a record of overdrugging children.”
So we sent him a message because we wanted to know, does this mean that he’s going to be writing regularly for USA Today? And will he be using that position to write more openly about his passion for the psychiatric profession, and his connection to the Church of Scientology?
We’ll let you know if he gets back to us. But for now, we have to hand it to Ken. He really scored one for Xenu’s team this time. We sense a Freedom Medal in his future.
A few days ago, several of our correspondents forwarded to us a short student film that had been made about East Grinstead, the English town where Scientology’s UK headquarters is located at Saint Hill Manor, where L. Ron Hubbard lived from 1959 to 1967.
We thought it was a very well put together video. The students who shot and edited it clearly had excellent skills as filmmakers. We did have a few concerns about how Scientology was characterized and some of the conclusions that the film came to, and so we decided not to write anything about it here. But it still had a very legitimate central thesis: How much influence does Scientology have on the leaders of the local town?
That question turned out to rile up the council itself, which denied that it was too friendly to Scientology at a public meeting on Monday, which the Surrey Mirror reported on.
But then the council proceeded to explain why the students were, in fact, asking exactly the right questions.
In the film, for example, ex-Scientologist Stephen Jones shows the filmmakers where Scientologists had planted trees next to the road that faces the entrance to Saint Hill Manor. Planting the trees there was purely strategic — they block off the verge on the side of the road where protestors might stand. With the trees in the way, protestors would have to stand in the roadway itself and face arrest (or injury).
Asked about that the questions in the film the East Grinstead Council on Monday gave the most pathetic response imaginable. Yes, they admitted, the Church of Scientology had unilaterally cut down trees for a carpark last year without permission, and then applied for permission after the fact, which is what Scientology often does (and usually gets away with). The town council indicated that it had rejected the church’s plan in September 2016 and again in January 2017, but that it still required “a further recommendation for refusal and is now waiting to be scrutinised again at the district council before a final decision is reached.”
Yeah, real terrors they are. In the meantime, Scientology gets what it wants, and continues to ply the councillors with charity donations, which the council defended because Scientology is one of the largest entities in town. (Our readers in England point out that the town council on its own can only make recommendations, and that it’s the responsibility of district councils to take action on planning matters. So we’ll cut the town some slack on that until we learn more.)
In other words, the questions the students were raising were spot on. But alas, the video itself has been taken down, whether from legal threats by the town or by the church, we don’t know. If you know the students who made the film, tell them we’d like to hear about it.
Until then, East Grinstead will continue to stand up to the Church of Scientology with impressive fortitude.
David Miscavige ups the ante in Clearwater game of brinksmanship
Another excellent report from Tampa Bay Times reporter Tracey McManus revealed yesterday that David Miscavige has upped the Church of Scientology’s offer for a plot of land in downtown Clearwater to $15 million, even though the current owner — an aquarium company — plans to sell the parcel to the city for $4.25 million, which is what the land has been assessed at.
The aquarium still says it’s committed to selling the parcel to the city, pending a vote by the city council. Why is the aquarium — which is trying to raise money for its own expansion elsewhere — turning its nose up at such a huge amount of cash? And why is David Miscavige so determined to get his hands on the parcel that he’s willing to pay so much over market value?
The parcel is right next to Scientology’s Fort Harrison Hotel, the most holy location in the “Flag Land Base” that makes up Scientology’s presence in downtown Clearwater. It’s also adjacent to another hotel that the church owns, the Oak Cove. Miscavige has told the city that he wants the land so he can build a swimming pool for visiting Scientologists while they’re in town.
A swimming pool. Visiting Scientologists are under so much pressure to be interrogated and fleeced while they’re going through the vaunted upper level secret rituals of the Flag Land Base, none of them has time for swimming. So why does Miscavige really want the land so bad? And why won’t the aquarium sell to him?
Well, keep in mind that the aquarium owns that piece of property because at one time it had grand plans to move from its current location near the beach to that downtown plot. But who ruined that plan? That’s right — it was David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology, working behind the scenes, that reportedly made that project fall apart, and that’s why the company is now selling the land it once had such great plans for. So maybe it’s no wonder that the aquarium company is in no mood to do business with the church.
As for Miscavige, we asked former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder if the church leader is mostly concerned with simply keeping control of the area.
“I have said repeatedly – Miscavige wants to keep wogs away,” Rinder says, using the Scientology slang term for non-Scientologists. “He looks at this as a long term proposition. $15 or $20 million is nothing in the overall scheme of things for Scientology. They have hundreds of millions invested in those properties. What if someone built a condo there that overlooks the Fort Harrison and Oak Cove and all those prying wog eyes are watching, 24/7. Catastrophe. So, no price is too high for him and he is going to try to put pressure on the aquarium to do the ‘right thing’ to benefit the aquarium and its cause.”
It’s quite a tug of war. And as Scientology continues to dwindle in the rest of the world, it’s becoming clear that Miscavige is putting more and more emphasis on Clearwater as the church’s most important location. As we told the NY Post recently, for some time now it’s felt to us like Clearwater is where Miscavige knows that the church will be making a final stand of sorts. And that’s why control over its downtown area is so crucial to him.
Now, can he spoil the city’s deal for the parcel? It’s great drama, isn’t it?
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Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,713 days.
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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, Kindle, and audiobook versions. 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.
The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)
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