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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Scientology Sunday Funnies: Kirstie Alley is now Super Powered!

Kirstie_Alley_LRHWe’re going to start out this installment of Sunday Funnies with a tip we received from one of our best sources. We’re told that on Friday night, the Flag graduation ceremony in Clearwater, Florida was graced by the presence of none other than super celebrity Scientologist and television actress Kirstie Alley!

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The Heinlein Letters: What L. Ron Hubbard’s close friends really thought of him

HubbardProfileA couple of weeks ago, we looked at a 1949 letter written by L. Ron Hubbard which hasn’t received a lot of attention before. Russell Miller paraphrased the letter in his 1987 book Bare-Faced Messiah, but the full text of the letter has never been published in a book or news article, as far as we know.

In it, Hubbard wrote to his friend Forrest Ackerman about the work he was doing on what would become Dianetics, the 1950 book that would change Hubbard’s fortunes and eventually lead him to create Scientology.

Continue reading The Heinlein Letters: What L. Ron Hubbard’s close friends really thought of him

Scientologist (and Tea Partier) Brent Jones is elected to Nevada’s legislature

Brent_JonesOur old friend Nathan Baca sent us a hot tip last night: He pointed out that Brent Jones had defeated incumbent Democrat James Healey in Nevada’s 35th Assembly district in Tuesday’s election, and no one had really noticed that it meant a Scientologist had managed to get himself elected to public office.

There’s precedence for Scientologists to get elected. Sonny Bono, who served as a US Representative from 1994 until his death in a skiing accident in 1998, took Scientology courses, though he was careful to put “Roman Catholic” on official documents.

Brent Jones was also cautious. He makes no mention of Scientology in his official campaign bio. But there’s no hiding his extensive involvement with the organization.

Continue reading Scientologist (and Tea Partier) Brent Jones is elected to Nevada’s legislature

RIFFER MADNESS: Scientology leader David Miscavige goes smeary in new court filing

Jeffrey Riffer

Jeffrey Riffer

Scientology leader David Miscavige has filed a motion to get himself dismissed from the massive lawsuit filed by the National Association of Forensic Counselors against Scientology and its drug rehab network, Narconon. But unlike the many other similar motions filed in the case, this is far from a routine legal document, and it includes a short declaration by the reclusive church leader himself.

We told you recently about the NAFC’s interesting adventures trying to serve Miscavige, who was one of 82 defendants named in the lawsuit along with many people who work at Narconon centers and related entities. The NAFC’s lawsuit alleges that Miscavige and the other defendants were involved in a years-long conspiracy to misuse the logos and trademarks of the NAFC in order to make the Narconon centers seem more legitimate than they really are — and all in an attempt to sucker new people ultimately into Scientology itself.

Continue reading RIFFER MADNESS: Scientology leader David Miscavige goes smeary in new court filing

Ken Dandar files another court appeal to get out of Scientology’s million-dollar noose

KenDandar2Let’s keep one thing in mind as we review, once again, why Tampa attorney Ken Dandar is facing ruination.

The only reason his bizarre legal situation exists is because two people died on Scientology’s watch.

One was a young church member named Lisa McPherson, who died in 1995 of severe dehydration, several experts say who examined her autopsy records, though the church managed to wriggle out of a criminal conviction when it put so much pressure on the local medical examiner she caved and changed the cause of death.

Continue reading Ken Dandar files another court appeal to get out of Scientology’s million-dollar noose

Scientology’s own plans show it paid $37 million for a building to serve only 87 people

NorthSydneySmallWe told you previously that one of the announcements Scientology leader David Miscavige made at an October 17 gala in front of a few thousand people under a giant tent in England was that he had plans for a new “Advanced Org” in Australia.

It’s a fascinating study in Scientology hubris. At a time when the church is shrinking, unable to attract people to the “Ideal Orgs” it already has, and with its drug rehab program Narconon increasingly under fire, Scientology doubles down by announcing plans for “Ideal Narconons” and new Advanced Orgs.

Continue reading Scientology’s own plans show it paid $37 million for a building to serve only 87 people

Dani Lemberger, who led a breakaway Israel mission, sues Scientology for libel and fraud

DaniTami
We just spoke with Dani Lemberger, who let us know that he’s filed suit against the Church of Scientology in Tel Aviv.

“We’ve been working hard at it the last two years,” Dani told us by telephone from Haifa. “It wasn’t easy. It took time to find the right lawyer.”

Dani and his wife Tami are suing Scientology for 3 million shekels, about $820,000.

Continue reading Dani Lemberger, who led a breakaway Israel mission, sues Scientology for libel and fraud

Scientology and space opera: A new scholarly approach by Susan Raine

SpaceOperaJust Saturday, Jon Atack was complaining about social scientists and their inability to understand how Scientology works. But there are academics who know their stuff, and at the top of that list is University of Alberta professor Stephen Kent.

Not only has Kent spent decades exposing Scientology’s abuses, he has one of the best collections of Scientology material in the world — and he uses it to educate the next generation of scholars. Among them is Susan Raine, who studied under Kent and has done significant work of her own.

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Sunday Funnies: Scientology is finger lickin’ good!

Jim_MeskimenHey, it’s another Sunday and we have another set of Scientology fundraising fliers that our great tipsters have forwarded to us. We just love to share these items with our readers, who do such a great job of pulling out details and clues to what the church is really up to.

Over time, these fliers have given us a great chance to watch Scientology sink into its mad obsession with its “Ideal” projects as its membership dwindles. And this week is no different!

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: Scientology is finger lickin’ good!

Jon Atack: Are cult members — like those in Scientology — unduly influenced?

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.

We really have a treat for our readers today. It’s a major new piece by Jon Atack that discusses undue influence in Scientology, a controversial topic in social science that, as Jon says, some scholars resist. With extremism on the rise around the planet, we think it’s time for this idea to get more currency. And we’re thrilled that Jon chose the Underground Bunker to reveal his hard work in this new article. Take it away, Jon…

Continue reading Jon Atack: Are cult members — like those in Scientology — unduly influenced?