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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Escaping from a Scientology drug rehab center: A transcript

Per Wickstrom

Per Wickstrom

Recently, we received a message through Facebook from someone we didn’t know. She was frantic, worried about getting her cousin out of a drug rehab clinic in Michigan. The clinic, Best Drug Rehabilitation, is one of several Michigan facilities either owned or run by Per Wickstrom or a member of his family, and is modeled on Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon. Like Narconon centers, Best Drug uses Scientology training rather than drug counseling on its patients, who are not informed ahead of time of that link. We’ve provided this transcript from actual Facebook messages, with only slight edits for clarity and spelling, and we’ve changed the name of the woman who contacted us to “Anne.”

Continue reading Escaping from a Scientology drug rehab center: A transcript

DOX: Scientology drug rehab center found deficient after a 2010 California death

NNWatsonvilleWell here’s a shock. A patient at Scientology’s Watsonville, California drug rehab clinic, Narconon of Northern California, was rushed to an emergency room and died, the state later investigated the clinic and substantiated seven deficiencies — several of them major — and the clinic apparently suffered no penalty at all.

That’s pretty shocking, considering what’s been happening in the rest of the Narconon system in the years since that 2010 death was investigated in early 2012. Additional patient deaths in Georgia, Michigan, and Oklahoma — where three patients died in only a nine-month period — have led to multiple government investigations and numerous lawsuits.

Continue reading DOX: Scientology drug rehab center found deficient after a 2010 California death

Finally! Scientology begins selling its mysterious ‘OT’ levels more openly with slick new videos!

ot3AdWe’ve said it before: Scientology is really missing out by not being more open about its space-opera beliefs. Thanks to the Internet the word is already out, and there’s just no hiding the fact that Scientology is all about time travel to your brutal experiences taming unruly planets 10 million years in the past, getting implanted with memory-wiping brain-scans on Venus or Mars between lives, and spending years exorcising unseen alien entities with electronics that were considered sophisticated when a guy named Ike lived in the White House.

Maybe that kind of Space Age excitement, especially at several hundred dollars an hour, isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But it seems to us that everyone would be a lot better off if Scientology were to embrace its L. Ron Hubbard weirdness and actually try to reach people in a more open way.

Continue reading Finally! Scientology begins selling its mysterious ‘OT’ levels more openly with slick new videos!

Longtime Scientologist Jim Jackson remembers Lyman Spurlock, 1945-2014

Jim Jackson

Jim Jackson

We’re still hearing from people about Lyman Spurlock, the longtime Scientology executive who died last month of throat cancer. And in particular we received a truly remarkable remembrance from someone who has never spoken publicly about his time in the organization. Jim Jackson is an attorney and certified public accountant in Los Angeles.

 
I first met Lyman Spurlock in 1971 as his “Hard TR’s Supervisor” at the Berkeley Mission. Since we were both CPA’s, he later hired me in 1974 to work for him in his tax practice in Los Angeles.

Continue reading Longtime Scientologist Jim Jackson remembers Lyman Spurlock, 1945-2014

Lyman Spurlock, 1945-2014: Imprisoned and abused, a loyal Scientology executive to the end

Lyman_SpurlockWe received confirmation that Lyman Spurlock, a longtime and high-ranking official in the Church of Scientology, died last month after a battle with cancer. He was 69.

Spurlock had worked directly with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and was a key figure in Hubbard’s scheme to reorganize Scientology while he was in hiding in the early 1980s. In more recent years, eyewitnesses say Spurlock quietly and without complaint suffered verbal and physical abuse at the hands of current Scientology leader David Miscavige. He spent much of his life at Scientology’s secretive International Base east of Los Angeles, but left it recently for Scientology’s spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida, loyal to the organization to the end.

Continue reading Lyman Spurlock, 1945-2014: Imprisoned and abused, a loyal Scientology executive to the end

Sunday Funnies: Scientology is going down in style!

MarilynSmallThanks for joining us in the Bunker today for our weekly feature, Sunday Funnies, when we take a look at the best Scientology fliers that tipsters forwarded to us.

Once again, this week’s items give us a snapshot of Scientology’s obsession with fundraising as individuals are asked to give up any thought of themselves for the good of the group.

But hang on, what’s this? Our first item, which comes to us from the ‘Silicon Valley Ideal Org’ push in Mountain View, California, is somewhat out of character for your typical celebration of people who write big checks.

Continue reading Sunday Funnies: Scientology is going down in style!

Deputy ambassador of a small African nation? Scientology wants to buy you lunch!

FraserMansionScientology has an interesting history with Washington D.C.

On July 4, 1955, the “Founding” Church of Scientology was opened there, even though churches had already been created in Camden (1953) and Los Angeles (1954).

The first raid on a Scientology church happened in Washington in 1964 when the Food and Drug Administration decided it had heard enough of L. Ron Hubbard’s health claims and the agency confiscated about a hundred of his “e-meters.”

Continue reading Deputy ambassador of a small African nation? Scientology wants to buy you lunch!

Angry Gay Pope loses ownership of ‘KendrickMoxon.com’ to … Kendrick Moxon

MoxonAGPYesterday, arbitrator and retired Texas judge Carolyn Marks Johnson took away the rights to the domain name KendrickMoxon.com from Donald Myers, a West Hollywood Scientology critic better known as ‘Angry Gay Pope,’ and awarded the domain to Scientology attorney Kendrick Moxon.

AGP is known for his loud, brash way of protesting Scientology, whether in attention-getting public demonstrations or his online activities, which included the website named after the church attorney, Moxon.

Continue reading Angry Gay Pope loses ownership of ‘KendrickMoxon.com’ to … Kendrick Moxon

LIVE REPORTS FROM TAMPA: Scientology tests its religious freedom defense in fraud lawsuit

TampaCourtWe have several correspondents on the scene today as the next dramatic showdown occurs in Luis and Rocio Garcia’s fraud lawsuit against the Church of Scientology.

The Garcias first filed their lawsuit in January 2013, alleging that over their long time in the church, they had been victimized by fraudulent schemes to convince them to donate large sums of money. (In one memorable example, they claimed that they were asked to donate tens of thousands of dollars to pay for a Scientology cross to go on the top of the Super Power Building in Clearwater, only to find out later that other church members had been asked to pay for the same cross.)

Continue reading LIVE REPORTS FROM TAMPA: Scientology tests its religious freedom defense in fraud lawsuit

Nancy Cartwright puts out the creepiest Scientology advertisement of all time

Nancy_Cartwright2Scientologist extraordinaire, voice of Bart Simpson, and San Fernando Valley resident Nancy Cartwright — known to the locals as ‘Her Royal Governess’ — has provided what may be the creepiest Scientology advertisement of all time.

Readers of the Underground Bunker know that Cartwright has been heavily pushing her fellow Valleyites to come to one themed event after another where they have the pleasure of being held in a locked room until they fork over large donations for the renovation of a dull-looking building at Lankershim and Burbank Boulevards in North Hollywood.

Continue reading Nancy Cartwright puts out the creepiest Scientology advertisement of all time