Tony Ortega is executive editor of The Raw Story and is formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He's written about Scientology since 1995, and has a forthcoming book about the subject. 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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The Dallas Morning News asks a question about Scientology, and we want your response

Going_ClearHey, kids, welcome to summer camp! This is supposed to be a time when things slow down, but we’re more slammed than ever — and we have big stories coming, we promise.

But today, we thought we’d latch on to the seasonal fun over at the Dallas Morning News, where the editorial board decided that for the dog days of summer, they’d read Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book about Scientology, Going Clear. (Here’s our piece back when the book first came out.)

Today’s discussion over at the DMN is a question that we usually avoid here, because it tends to send people in circles. The newspaper asks, “What makes a religion a religion, and should Scientology qualify?”

Continue reading The Dallas Morning News asks a question about Scientology, and we want your response

Sunday Funnies: Scientology lets slip the reason it still produces L. Ron Hubbard’s bad fiction

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We have a lot of fun looking through Scientology’s wacky fundraising mailers each Sunday. They give us a snapshot of just how hard the church works to convince its members to fork over more and more money in leader David Miscavige’s unquenchable thirst for more cash.

But on occasion, these internal church fliers also let slip some pretty important admissions that aren’t intended for the larger public. And this week, we have a beauty.

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: Scientology lets slip the reason it still produces L. Ron Hubbard’s bad fiction

Scientology accused of financial sleight of hand to avoid paying in human slavery lawsuit

FreewindsOTIn April, we told you the story of how Scientology had found itself tangled up in one of the most remarkable human slavery lawsuits ever adjudicated in the United States.

In 2008, three Cuban men won an $80 million judgment against the Curaçao Drydock Company after they escaped years of what they said were harrowing conditions of 112-hour work weeks, pay of a few cents an hour, and the inability to leave. After they finally got away, they ended up in Florida, where they sued the drydock — whose major shareholder was Curaçao’s government. After winning the huge award, the attorneys for the men then set out trying to collect it, which hasn’t been easy.

Continue reading Scientology accused of financial sleight of hand to avoid paying in human slavery lawsuit

Ken Dandar could use a cool million in his fight against Scientology

KenDandar2The last time we spoke with Florida attorney Ken Dandar, he had put on a brave face about what appeared to be another setback in court. Federal Judge Virginia M. Hernandez Covington had refused, again, to intervene with a state court that had saddled Dandar with a $1 million judgment, payable to the Church of Scientology.

Dandar told us, however, that he was encouraged that Covington had allowed part of his lawsuit against Scientology and the lower court to stand. “She denied their motion to dismiss. That’s huge. She recognizes the federal rights in this case, but she’s reluctant to interfere with the state courts,” he told us.

Continue reading Ken Dandar could use a cool million in his fight against Scientology

Scientology begins hitting back at Ryan Hamilton and his lawsuits

Ryan Hamilton gets some blowback!

Ryan Hamilton gets some blowback!

We have some legal updates, and they involve several different filings from attorneys for Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon, as it begins to hit back at the 16 federal lawsuits filed by Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton.

Hamilton’s strategy has been consistent and simple: His lawsuits allege that Narconon’s business model is essentially deceptive in nature. Prospective patients and their families are told that they’ll receive drug counseling delivered in a safe setting with medical professionals, and that Narconon’s sauna-and-vitamins regimen is safe, effective (with 76 percent and higher success rates), and based on scientific purposes.

Continue reading Scientology begins hitting back at Ryan Hamilton and his lawsuits

Jon Atack: The abandoned ideas that L. Ron Hubbard turned into Dianetics

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, it’s great to see you back, at least for a one-off. Please take us on another dive into the history of Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard.

Continue reading Jon Atack: The abandoned ideas that L. Ron Hubbard turned into Dianetics

Ryan Hamilton files lawsuit 16 against Scientology’s drug rehab network

FortCollinsHe’s like a machine. Since late January, Las Vegas attorney Ryan Hamilton has filed sixteen federal fraud lawsuits against Scientology’s drug rehab network. The latest was filed this weekend, and we have the details.

In February of this year, Jerry Courson went looking for a suitable rehab program for his wife, Christy, and found himself talking to a Narconon “Fresh Start” recruiter, in this case about Narconon’s facility in Fort Collins, Colorado, which is also known as “A Life Worth Saving.”

Continue reading Ryan Hamilton files lawsuit 16 against Scientology’s drug rehab network

Scientology tries to psych out Florida — and Chill EB is back!

CCHRLogoEven as more people leave and Scientology continues inexorably to dwindle, the church never gives up trying to spread its message, sometimes in subtle ways.

The latest example is a campaign we learned about before Scientology has even been able to launch it. It’s the newest ad from the Florida chapter of its anti-psychiatry front group, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, CCHR.

Continue reading Scientology tries to psych out Florida — and Chill EB is back!

Sunday Funnies: Scientology finally starts making its members superheroes!

IdealDetailWe hope you’re enjoying your holiday weekend as we turn to our Sunday tradition of sharing with you some of the Scientology fliers and mailers our excellent tipsters have forwarded to us.

If you’ve been with us for a while, you know that most of these church communications are focused on fundraising. And if anything, the desperation for money has only gotten ramped up higher and higher. Members are implored to come down to events that are made to look as fun as possible, when really attendees are “regged” intensely — pressured, in other words, to give large sums even if they’ve given plenty already.

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: Scientology finally starts making its members superheroes!

John Joseph, 1955-2014: A Scientologist, and a friend to the Underground Bunker

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We knew him only as “Plain Old Thetan.”

He began communicating with us during our Village Voice days, and quickly became one of our most productive and most trusted sources about what was happening inside the Church of Scientology.

On Thursday, Plain Old Thetan — whose real name was John Joseph — died after suffering complications from appendicitis. He was 59.

Continue reading John Joseph, 1955-2014: A Scientologist, and a friend to the Underground Bunker