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 documentary ‘Going Clear’ participants getting harassed, threatened

Mike_Rinder_Paul_Haggis

Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder (left) received a frightening threat of violence which he posted to his blog this morning. The anonymous sender of the message said Rinder was under surveillance “twenty four seven,” and told Rinder he wanted to “cut your fuckin balls off.”

Continue reading Scientology documentary ‘Going Clear’ participants getting harassed, threatened

Scientology really, really, really doesn’t want you to see this movie

GoingClearSquibWe’re five days out from Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear opening in theaters in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, and things are getting downright nutty. Like, Scientology is losing its mind.

But here in the Underground Bunker, we’re over our fever, the cats are napping like champs, and we’re ready to get back to our essential weekly feature, Sunday Funnies.

Continue reading Scientology really, really, really doesn’t want you to see this movie

Jon Atack visits an org — ALSO: The richest Scientologist gets even richer!

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 sent us just a short anecdote this time, which only whets our appetite for more. But we know he’s a busy man and has a lot going on that will come to fruition later this year. We’ll take what we can get. Tell it, Jon…

Continue reading Jon Atack visits an org — ALSO: The richest Scientologist gets even richer!

Scientology posts the (nearly) full deposition of reclusive ‘Justice Chief’ Mike Ellis

Mike Ellis [Photo by Doug Owens]

Mike Ellis [Photo by Doug Owens]

Our fevered brain is still keeping us hunkered down in the Bunker. The cats are mixing up some nasty-smelling elixirs they swear will make us well. We think they just enjoy seeing us suffer.

Anyway, we only have energy for another short post today, and we apologize if it only appeals to the truly hardcore in the Scientology watching community. But we understand that for many former members of the Church of Scientology, there’s a big fascination for a man named Mike Ellis, who holds the position of “International Justice Chief” of the Church of Scientology International.

Continue reading Scientology posts the (nearly) full deposition of reclusive ‘Justice Chief’ Mike Ellis

‘Will Smith is not a Scientologist’ — we elaborate on our quote the press went wild for yesterday

Will_Jada_SmithYour proprietor has been laid low by a virus right in the middle of all this intense publicity for Alex Gibney’s film, Going Clear. This is what we get for leaving the confines of the Bunker and interacting with germy human beings.

So we’re going to keep things short today, and trust our commenters to fill in by keeping an eye on all of the crazy press going on as we near the movie’s theatrical debut next week.

Continue reading ‘Will Smith is not a Scientologist’ — we elaborate on our quote the press went wild for yesterday

Scenes from the ‘Going Clear’ publicity caravan in midtown Manhattan

Mike_Rinder_Aaron_Smith-Levin

Yesterday Mike Rinder and your proprietor were being interviewed about Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear for a well known national news organization when the interviewer asked, what is David Miscavige’s biggest skeleton in his closet?

We had already talked about the Scientology leader’s disappeared wife, Shelly Miscavige, and where we think she has been for the last nine years. And that, certainly, is one of the biggest controversies about David Miscavige. But we thought Rinder had a really good answer.

Continue reading Scenes from the ‘Going Clear’ publicity caravan in midtown Manhattan

How’s this for a gift on L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday? ‘Going Clear’ in theaters March 13

TimesTalkOur commenters didn’t miss it yesterday when director Alex Gibney, in a talk at the New York Times building about his new documentary, Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief, dropped the news that his movie will open in theaters next week.

And what a date — Friday, March 13, on L. Ron Hubbard’s 104th birthday.

Continue reading How’s this for a gift on L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday? ‘Going Clear’ in theaters March 13

NEW TODAY: Memoir with shocking claims by notorious Scientology spy, Merrell Vannier

Merrell_VannierThere was a time when coming out with a book about Scientology meant almost certain litigation and harassment. From 1970 (George Malko, Scientology: The Now Religion) to 1990 (Jon Atack, A Piece of Blue Sky), and those in between — Paulette Cooper (1971), Cyril Vosper (1971), Robert Kaufman (1972), Roy Wallis (1976), Russell Miller (1987), and Bent Corydon (1987) — every author who came out with a book about the secretive and litigious organization saw his or her book sued and ultimately made difficult to find.

But things have changed. A wave of former Scientology members, including former high-ranking executives, came out of the organization in the 2000s and wrote self-published books about their experiences, including Marc Headley, Jefferson Hawkins, Nancy Many, Amy Scobee, and three books by Mark “Marty” Rathbun. None of them were sued.

Continue reading NEW TODAY: Memoir with shocking claims by notorious Scientology spy, Merrell Vannier

Sunday Funnies: Scientology going all-in with fundraising and fire fighters

Dave_WellsHey, it’s nice to get to our weekly feature, Sunday Funnies, when we can sit back and watch our great commenters take apart the latest fundraising fliers put out by Scientology.

Our tipsters have another fun collection for us this week, and as always we’ll be looking for interesting patterns or wacky new theme-party ideas.

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: Scientology going all-in with fundraising and fire fighters

LEAK: Scientology celebrities are stepping up their involvement behind the scenes

Kirstie_Alley_Jenna_ElfmanOur tipsters have sent us several emails and fliers lately that suggest to us that there’s something interesting going on with Scientology’s celebrities.

If you recall, we suggested in recent months that we had noticed a marked increase of activity from some of the most reliable Scientology actor types. Kirstie Alley, Kelly Preston, and Nancy Cartwright all recently completed “Operating Thetan Level 7,” one of the most difficult high-level courses on “The Bridge,” and one that can take years to finish. Also, actress Marisa Nichols finished OT 8, the highest level of all, which is only delivered on board Scientology’s private cruise ship the Freewinds. Cartrwight, Alley, and Michelle Stafford have also recently been spotted on the ship.

Continue reading LEAK: Scientology celebrities are stepping up their involvement behind the scenes