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 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

John_Joseph

 
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

Scientology’s ‘Disconnection’ policy foiled as Jeremy Powers reunites with his family

Jeremy_Powers

 
We couldn’t think of a more appropriate breaking story for Independence Day: Jeremy Powers, who we first wrote about more than two years ago, has ditched the Church of Scientology and was reunited yesterday with the family he “disconnected” from, including his grandmother, Edie Fields.

Continue reading Scientology’s ‘Disconnection’ policy foiled as Jeremy Powers reunites with his family

German media: Scientology is essentially dead in Berlin

BerlinAnonsTwo recent newspaper reports indicate that despite the opening of its “Ideal Org” in Berlin seven years ago, Scientology is essentially defunct in the city, with only about 130 members in a metropolis of more than 3 million.

Drawing from the most recent report from the country’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Berliner Zeitung BZ, Berlin’s largest newspaper, reported that 130 members is also the same number Scientology had the year before.

Continue reading German media: Scientology is essentially dead in Berlin

Scientology litigation update: The Garcias respond, and the NAFC plays hardball

Squirrel Busters Ed Bryan and Joanne Wheaton on a boat in a 2011 video we'd like to see again

Squirrel Busters Ed Bryan and Joanne Wheaton on a boat in a 2011 video we’d like to see again

We’re trying to stay on top of a lot of different litigation involving the Church of Scientology that’s happening around the country. We’re fortunate to have numerous tipsters and legal experts who help keep us up on what’s going on.

Let’s start with the federal fraud lawsuit in Tampa filed by Luis and Rocio Garcia. You’ll remember that the Garcias survived a daunting challenge to their lawsuit and its “diversity jurisdiction.” They dropped three defendants in order to get around an objection by Scientology, but then the church accused the Garcias of cutting corners in order to make that change.

Continue reading Scientology litigation update: The Garcias respond, and the NAFC plays hardball

Rathbun: ‘Scientology never endorsed anyone where there wasn’t a clear self-interest’

Pam Bondi, Florida AG

Pam Bondi, Florida AG

On Sunday, we broke the news that Scientologists were holding a campaign fundraiser for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who is running for re-election this year.

One of our tipsters had forwarded to us a mailer that was not meant to be spread outside the church, showing that several high-level Scientologists were organizing the event at the luxury Clearwater condominium of wealthy church members Michael and Liz Baybak. The fundraiser is scheduled for tonight, and attendees are asked to donate at least $1,000 each to Bondi’s campaign.

Continue reading Rathbun: ‘Scientology never endorsed anyone where there wasn’t a clear self-interest’