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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An L. Ron Hubbard island fantasy: The Scientology daydream you haven’t heard

Hubbard1956On Tuesday, we told you about new FDA documents which helped us fill in some gaps in Scientology history. The documents took us back to late 1957, when L. Ron Hubbard hatched a scheme to force the country’s psychiatrists and psychologists to take a “loyalty oath” he’d dreamed up, with hopes of rooting out disloyal shrinks and then sending their names to Vice President Richard Nixon for persecution.

Nixon didn’t like being named in Hubbard’s plot, and he sicced the Secret Service on Scientology, which prompted Hubbard in 1960 to tell his followers not to vote for Nixon in that year’s presidential election. And hey, Nixon lost in a squeaker! And you thought postulates weren’t effective.

Continue reading An L. Ron Hubbard island fantasy: The Scientology daydream you haven’t heard

Scientology vs. the mayor: The full Gabe Cazares interview from 1997’s Secret Lives

Gabe_Cazares_SLWe have another leak of raw footage from Channel 4’s excellent 1997 documentary, Secret Lives — L. Ron Hubbard, this time with former Clearwater mayor Gabe Cazares.

The film, one of the better ones made about Scientology, contained numerous short clips from interviews of people who knew Hubbard. A source is releasing to us the full interviews with these participants for the first time. So far, we’ve seen interviews with Hubbard’s literary agent, Forrest Ackerman, his press assistant and lover, Barbara Klowden, and one of Hubbard’s fellow science fiction colleagues, Arthur Jean Cox.

Continue reading Scientology vs. the mayor: The full Gabe Cazares interview from 1997’s Secret Lives

SCIENTOLOGY DENIED: Australia’s only Narconon rehab center loses zoning fight

Melbourne drug rehabilitationThe Australian community of Warburton, in the state of Victoria east of Melbourne, has won its struggle to keep a Scientology drug rehab facility from moving into town, and now Scientology’s Narconon network finds its only Australian facility on the brink of oblivion.

Here in the U.S., Narconon centers around the country have been the subject of investigations and lawsuits after several patient deaths in recent years. What was once one of Scientology’s most reliable money makers, endorsed by its celebrity members like Kirstie Alley, Tom Cruise, and John Travolta, has turned into one of the organization’s biggest headaches.

Continue reading SCIENTOLOGY DENIED: Australia’s only Narconon rehab center loses zoning fight

LEAH REMINI IN TALKS TO SUE SCIENTOLOGY: MIKE RINDER TESTIMONY

LeahBFGIn July 2013 the Underground Bunker first broke the news that Leah Remini had defected from the Church of Scientology. Now, we’ve learned that within the last year, Remini has been in talks to join a federal fraud lawsuit seeking refunds for former Scientology members, according to a sworn deposition.

Luis and Rocio Garcia of Irvine, California filed their lawsuit in Tampa, Florida in January 2013, alleging that they had been lied to and defrauded by Scientology employees in order to get them to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars that they now want back. The Garcias and their attorney, Ted Babbitt, said from the lawsuit’s onset that they were talking to other former Scientologists who also wanted refunds, and they expected some number of them to join the lawsuit. So far, none has.

Continue reading LEAH REMINI IN TALKS TO SUE SCIENTOLOGY: MIKE RINDER TESTIMONY

When Richard Nixon ordered the Secret Service to investigate Scientology

Richard_NixonWe have another fun discovery found in a Freedom of Information Act request made by a friend to the Underground Bunker. Her request pried loose documents gathered by the Food and Drug Administration during its long investigation of L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology.

In the late 1950s, the FDA had become concerned about the health claims being made by Hubbard for his auditing processes with “e-meters.” About 100 of the machines were seized when the FDA raided the Washington DC church in 1963, and inspectors continued to gather information about Hubbard as they prepared for what turned out to be a prolonged court fight. (In 1971 the case was settled when Scientology agreed to put a disclaimer on all e-meters that it was not a device for medical diagnosis.)

About a month after the raid, the FDA looked into an interesting lead: Five years earlier, in 1958, Scientology had been probed by the US Secret Service on a request from then Vice President Richard Nixon — and the reason why is pretty wild.

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The shocking case of Scientology mistreatment of the mentally ill you haven’t heard

MentalIllness

 
Last May, in a small Arkansas town, a sheriff’s deputy arrived at a large house to help an ambulance crew with an unusual call.

He went into the basement of the house, which had a ground floor entry, and on the stairway leading to the kitchen on the next floor there was a woman sitting on the stairs.

Continue reading The shocking case of Scientology mistreatment of the mentally ill you haven’t heard

About that Scientology ad you saw on TV before and during the Super Bowl

Answers13We’re getting reports from around the country that Scientology’s “Age of Answers” ad has already been airing today on Super Sunday.

We figure it’s only going to pick up as the game itself nears. Earlier today, we weren’t certain which ad the church was going to use for its Sunday blitz, but then we received a leaked message from one of our tipsters indicating that it would be “Age of Answers,” a slick Apple Computer-like spot that Scientology posted to its YouTube channel in October, and that we described in November.

Continue reading About that Scientology ad you saw on TV before and during the Super Bowl

Super Sunday Funnies: Will you get to see Scientology’s ad during the big game today?

SuperBowl49a
UPDATE: We have a new leak from Scientology that suggests the church will be airing its “Age of Answers” ad from October as its commercial during the Super Bowl, and it will occur at halftime. See the update, below.

Ah, Super Sunday, when, for the past few years, the Church of Scientology has caused a Twitter freakout by placing its creepy TV ads in certain markets during the big game.

Scientology leader David Miscavige has been on a media buying blowout, placing full-page ads in USA Today and the New York Times, and paying for web ads in every conceivable place lately. Miscavige is scrambling to deal with his latest crisis, in this case the imminent airing of Alex Gibney’s documentary, Going Clear, on HBO on March 16.

Continue reading Super Sunday Funnies: Will you get to see Scientology’s ad during the big game today?

Jon Atack: Scientology’s elusive ‘Clears’ and ‘Operating Thetans’ — where have they been?

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, we’ve wondered about the earliest group around L. Ron Hubbard when he published Dianetics, and where were the results of this research he had supposedly done before the book came out. As you point out, we thoroughly went through the book and were pretty surprised by its claims about how easily it would be to create Clears. And so we’re very excited that you’re taking a close look at that period and the claims Hubbard made for Clear and later “OT.” Take it away!

Continue reading Jon Atack: Scientology’s elusive ‘Clears’ and ‘Operating Thetans’ — where have they been?

Another Secret Lives leak: L. Ron Hubbard enjoyed humiliating people under hypnosis

Arthur_Jean_CoxWhile we’ve been bowled over by the response to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear’ — and it’s only going to get more intense as its HBO air date of March 16 nears — we’re still in the process here at the Underground Bunker of releasing rare video from another Scientology documentary altogether.

Today, we have our third leak of original, raw footage from Channel 4’s excellent 1997 program, Secret Lives — L. Ron Hubbard.

Continue reading Another Secret Lives leak: L. Ron Hubbard enjoyed humiliating people under hypnosis