For this Saturday morning, we’re going to take things easy and let you do the work.
We’d like to get your thoughts on a question that’s come up a few times lately. It’s a question that comes up on occasion, and perhaps it’s getting talked about more now because of David Miscavige’s apocalyptic recent moves in Clearwater.
That question we’re talking about: Is the Church of Scientology imploding or isn’t it?
We were very interested to see how this question was handled at Mike Rinder’s blog a week ago. Rinder had printed another essay from “Terra Cognita” in which the writer made the point that the church was here to stay, whatever critics think of it. Terra was skeptical that the church would ever be dismantled, even if Miscavige were out of the picture.
“Scientology has banked so much cash and amassed so much real estate that taking apart the organization would be a Herculean task, if not impossible. Undoing Scientology would be akin to dismantling General Motors or the Catholic Church. The court battles alone could take decades.”
But Rinder disagreed, and added an interesting counterpoint to the end of the piece.
The IRS can administratively change their determination that Scientology does not satisfy its criteria for religious organization exemption. To do so would make the future revenue stream dry up, but it would also change the perception of courts that Scientology must be afforded 1st Amendment protection to hide their immoral and fraudulent practices
The church lives in the US, the most litigious society on earth. It has a lot of money. There are a lot of lawyers. Should the IRS change their view, it would become a feeding frenzy to tear flesh off that beast. Even if the IRS doesn’t change their view, there are still a lot of lawyers and $3 billion reasons why they would be interested. It will happen sooner or later. As the PR climate changes, it becomes a more and more attractive target. Once that dam bursts, the end will surely be nigh.
We tend to be sympathetic to that view, that the church’s fortunes are getting rather precarious. But over at Facebook, the feisty Anon who calls herself Heidi Macavoy, citing David Miscavige’s offer of $15 million for a $4.5 million parcel of land, harshly criticized the idea that the church was on the ropes, and said it was foolish to say so.
She certainly has a point. Time and again, the Church of Scientology has survived what would have proved catastrophic for another group. Eleven of its top executives went to prison after a 1977 FBI raid turned up voluminous evidence of Scientology’s subterfuge and spying, but the church survived it. In our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, we pointed out that Paulette Cooper, in a newsletter she was mailing around in the late 1970s, felt sure that the church was about to collapse.
It’s good to keep that in mind.
When it comes down to it, we really don’t know what’s going to happen — and that’s part of what keeps us reporting, day after day.
So tell us, how do you see things going? Is the church imploding? Or does it have the cash to weather any storm, even if it continues to lose membership?
Bijou Phillips finds a match close to home
Yesterday, at his Instagram account Scientologist and That 70’s Show actor Danny Masterson shared a photo of his wife Bijou Phillips with the man who provided her a new kidney.
That man is Chris Wadhams, who turned out to be perfect match for the transplant, and he was already a close family friend. Wadhams and Masterson are in a band together with Scientologist actor Michael Peña that calls itself “Grandpa Vs Prowler.”
And sure, a kidney is just MEST (that’s Scientology talk for matter, energy, space, and time, all of which is less important than mind and spirit), but it can’t hurt that Wadhams, like Masterson and Phillips, is a Scientologist himself.
We sincerely hope that Phillips enjoys a speedy recovery.
Send Cathy Schenkelberg to Edinbergh
There’s still time to help send Cathy Schenkelberg to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. We have a feeling that performing her one-woman show “Squeeze My Cans” there might launch it into a higher orbit. Visit her “Hatch Fund” site to learn how you can help.
Bonus items from our tipsters
Graduation night in Mexico City! This place will be cleared in no time!
Ahoy, matey! On board the Freewinds with the Commodore.
Emily Jones, daughter to Phil and Willie Jones of “Call Me” billboard fame, poses with her husband John Goodwin. The Galaxy Press pair enjoy the stage setup for this past weekend’s Writers of the Future ceremony. That backdrop is a great reminder of how much money Scientology spends on this contest and its award ceremony.
Countdown to Denver!
HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.
Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,714 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,817 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,311 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,351 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,063 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 589 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,678 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,818 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,138 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,113 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 469 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,771 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 878 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,280 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,153 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 734 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,239 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,483 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,592 days.
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
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