Tony Ortega is executive editor of TheLipTV and is formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He's written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology's harassment of Paulette Cooper titled 'The Unbreakable Miss Lovely.' He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world from an undisclosed location in an underground bunker he shares with four cats and one of them wrinkly Shar Pei dogs. Despite his super-secret security protections, you can still reach him pretty easily by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT gmail.com (Drop him a line if you'd like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.) [Header image courtesy John Rickard]
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Do Scientologists consider L. Ron Hubbard God? Part Two of the Aaron Smith-Levin podcast

HubbardThinksJeffrey Augustine continues with part two of his podcast with Aaron Smith-Levin. He sent us this synopsis…

In Part 2, Aaron Smith-Levin continues his fascinating and wide-ranging excursion into the world of Scientology from the eyes of a Sea Org member. Aaron opens by describing how he realized that the highly dysfunctional operating conditions of the six Los Angeles Orgs are a reflection of the same dysfunctional conditions at Int Base.

Continue reading Do Scientologists consider L. Ron Hubbard God? Part Two of the Aaron Smith-Levin podcast

The Surviving Scientology podcast: Growing up in the Age of Miscavige

Aaron_Smith_LevinJeffrey Augustine is back with another podcast. We asked him to provide a synopsis…

Aaron Smith-Levin is a second-generation Scientologist who grew up in the David Miscavige era. Aaron spent virtually all his time after school in the Philadelphia Org where his mother worked. By age 12, Aaron was an outer org trainee at Flag training for the original Golden Age of Tech. By age 15, Aaron returned to the Philadelphia Org to work as supervisor.

Continue reading The Surviving Scientology podcast: Growing up in the Age of Miscavige

Leah Remini’s ex-Scientology friends rock TLC — and our interview with one of them

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Last year, when Leah Remini’s reality show began, we criticized her for dealing with her defection from Scientology at a bare minimum — it was referred to only for a few minutes in the first episode and never mentioned again.

Last night, in the first episode of the show’s second season, Remini made up for that in a big way. The episode’s main storyline was about how Leah and her family are continuing to come to grips with leaving Scientology, and there were several moments — some which might have not been obvious to the viewer — which were a big middle finger to the church and its leader, David Miscavige.

Continue reading Leah Remini’s ex-Scientology friends rock TLC — and our interview with one of them

Nick Lister: Scientology asked me to seduce Mike Rinder’s wife in a spy operation

Nick_ListerAaron Smith-Levin and Nick Lister have released the second of their clips for their “Growing Up in Scientology” video series, and it’s another jaw-dropper.

Lister was talked about in Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear. He’s the son of Sara Goldberg, who was forced by the Church of Scientology to choose between her son Nick and her daughter Ashley. Nick had been kicked out of the church, and by sticking by him, Sara herself was kicked out (“declared a suppressive person”) and then her daughter had no choice but to “disconnect” from the two of them in order to remain in the church.

Continue reading Nick Lister: Scientology asked me to seduce Mike Rinder’s wife in a spy operation

Wise Beard Man visits Scientology’s new Fantasyland in Clearwater

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We asked Mark Bunker to mosey on down to Fort Harrison Avenue yesterday to get a gander at the new storefronts Scientology opened up this week.

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Hey, Star magazine, why is Tom Cruise afraid of Aussie journo Bryan Seymour?

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Back on July 2, your proprietor asked his colleagues for some help. Star magazine had announced that Tom Cruise was leaving Scientology, and we thought it was awfully convenient for the story to come out just a few weeks before the press circus around Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation starts up. Now, with so many other media outlets repeating the Star’s fact-free story like it was gospel, entertainment reporters would be off the hook, and wouldn’t have to hit Tom with tough questions about Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear.

Continue reading Hey, Star magazine, why is Tom Cruise afraid of Aussie journo Bryan Seymour?

Jon Atack: Scientology’s snitch culture, and how ex-members must relearn the notion of privacy

Jon_AtackJon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He has a new edition of the book for sale, and for more than a year on Saturdays he helped us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet. He was kind enough to send us a new post.

Jon, we were talking the other day, and one of us mentioned an ex-church member who seemed to have a difficult time with personal boundaries. You told us how that was a product of Scientology itself, and now we’re glad to see you’ve decided to expand on that. We’re all ears.

Continue reading Jon Atack: Scientology’s snitch culture, and how ex-members must relearn the notion of privacy

The story of Brian Sheen and his ‘disconnected’ Scientology daughter you haven’t heard

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The story hit Thursday night at about midnight, just as we were putting to bed our own piece about a Scientology day care scandal.

A local television station in South Florida reported that a man named Brian Sheen, 62, had filed a “civil rights complaint with the state” over Scientology’s toxic “disconnection” policy which rips apart so many families. In his case, his daughter, a Scientologist, had turned away from him, and he was being told nothing by the church about why it had ordered her to do so.

Continue reading The story of Brian Sheen and his ‘disconnected’ Scientology daughter you haven’t heard

Scientology’s day care from hell: The scandal the church managed to keep hidden — until now

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Written by Tony Ortega | Illustrations by Chad Essley

 
Ellen was driving back from an outing in San Diego with her daughter when she got the call. [“Ellen” is not her real name, but this account is exactly how she told it to us.]

It was Julian, an ethics officer at Scientology’s “org” in Los Angeles. Julian was one of the young “masters at arms” who enforce Scientology’s myriad rules and regulations. If you heard from him, it usually meant you were in some kind of trouble, Ellen knew.

Continue reading Scientology’s day care from hell: The scandal the church managed to keep hidden — until now

How Scientology’s 1970s infiltration scandal led to the creation of its IAS slush fund

We have another fun dive into Scientology history courtesy of correspondent Jeffrey Augustine. And this time, he’s starting out with a subject dear to us, the notorious burglarizing of federal government offices in the 1970s, an audacious operation Scientology called the “Snow White Program.” We love the 70s, Jeff! Take it away…

 
July 8, 1977: The FBI conducts a massive raid on the Church of Scientology to find evidence relating to its “Snow White Program.” The raid eventually leads to eleven top Scientology leaders being criminally charged and convicted for their role in the conspiracy to burglarize federal offices.

SEFThese Scientology defendants, including Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, needed a great deal of money for legal defense. So in 1978 Scientology’s notorious Guardian’s Office created the “Safe Environment Fund” (SEF) to pay for the significant legal expenses of the GO members who had been indicted. Essentially, the SEF was a GO legal slush fund that generated a significant amount of unrestricted donations.

Continue reading How Scientology’s 1970s infiltration scandal led to the creation of its IAS slush fund