In 2007, Jacqueline Olivier was hired by Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith to turn their home-schooling experiment into an actual bricks-and-mortar institution. A year later, the New Village Leadership Academy opened its doors as protesters showed up to picket the school — by then, it was known that the Smiths had asked Olivier to use L. Ron Hubbard’s “Study Technology” as the school’s guiding curriculum. (Study Technology is also a significant part of coursework in the Church of Scientology, which Hubbard founded.)
But Olivier assured the public that the private school in Calabasas, California was strictly secular, and she played down the influence of Study Tech. Then, a year later, she was fired and replaced by a woman named Franca Campopiano, also known as Piano Foster. At the time, news reports suggested that Olivier had not embraced the use of Hubbard’s ideas strongly enough, which is why Campopiano, a Smith family friend, was brought in to replace her.
Continue reading EXCLUSIVE: First Interview with the Principal of Will & Jada Smith’s Shuttered Scientology School
A helicopter just lifted off carrying former Church of Scientology members Mike Bennitt and Mike Rinder, who are headed for downtown Clearwater to film and report on Scientology’s big Super Power Building opening today.
Bennitt’s carrying a couple of different cameras for filming and still shots, and after they touch down in a couple of hours, we’ll start posting images here that he brings back.
In the mean time, we’ve asked Rinder to send us live updates of how the shoot is going, and give us his impression of how many Scientologists are actually in the streets for this event. This should be fun!
Continue reading LIVE OVER CLEARWATER: Watching Scientology from an Eye in the Sky
The big day is finally here, and we can hardly stand it. This afternoon, Scientology’s $200 million
white elephant epic cathedral is going to open for tours (Scientologists only), and before long, one assumes, wealthy church members will be making their way to the fifth floor for their Super Power Rundowns.
All weekend, the parties have been going on at Scientology’s spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, and it looks like these folks are having a helluva time.
But for this installment of Scientology Sunday Funnies, we’re actually going to start in Los Angeles, where a very different celebration of the church has been going on!
Continue reading Scientology Super Power Sunday Funnies! Let’s Get Oily!
Jon 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 on Saturdays he’s helping 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.
Jon, you had an interesting anecdote for us this week about Mary Sue Hubbard. She was L. Ron Hubbard’s third wife, and they had four children together. They were married in 1952, and she was an enthusiastic Scientologist and helped him run his movement, including the years from 1967 to 1975, when they ran Scientology from sea. But you say that didn’t always go smoothly?
Continue reading Jon Atack: Did Mary Sue Hubbard Doubt Scientology’s Key Experience?
Judge James A. Whittemore
If you’ve been following our coverage of Luis and Rocio Garcia’s federal fraud lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, you know that there have been quite a few motions and responses and declarations filed in the last few weeks.
We were in Tampa to see Judge James Whittemore deny an attempt by Scientology to have the attorneys for the Garcias disqualified. Even before that hearing on October 3, Scientology had made a motion to have the case dismissed in favor of the church’s own internal arbitration system. And that question, about arbitration, has produced a number of filings recently. But now, Whittemore says in a new order, the case has been stayed until he can deal with the other big issue in the case — a motion by Scientology to dismiss three of its entities from the lawsuit because of a problem with “diversity jurisdiction.”
Continue reading Judge James Whittemore Reins In the Garcia v. Scientology Case
Jefferson Hawkins was once the top marketing executive for the Church of Scientology and helped it reach its greatest extent with the famous “volcano” TV ads in the 1980s. He’s told his tale of getting into and out of the church with his excellent books Counterfeit Dreams and Leaving Scientology, and he’s helping us understand the upside-down world of Scientology “ethics.”
Continue reading Jefferson Hawkins Drops In To See What Condition Our Scientology Condition Is In
Lisa Marie Presley is inching ever closer to speaking publicly about leaving Scientology. And yesterday, she seemed to take a pretty big move in that direction.
In April of last year, we first pointed out that a new song by Lisa Marie contained words a Scientologist in good standing would never use. The song was “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” and it was released ahead of the album Storm and Grace. Based on those lyrics, we said it was pretty likely that longstanding rumors were true and Lisa Marie had left the church.
A month later, we obtained from her label the lyrics to the rest of the album’s songs, and revealed that the words in the song “So Long” no longer left any doubt that Lisa Marie had left Scientology behind.
Continue reading LISA MARIE PRESLEY ON SCIENTOLOGY: “CRAZY CRIMINAL PEOPLE”
Claire Headley is taking us on our journey to train as Scientologists. She and her husband Marc were Sea Org workers who escaped from Scientology’s International Base in 2005. She spent years working with Scientology’s “tech,” and was trusted to oversee the auditing of Tom Cruise. Go here to see the first part in this series.
Claire has brought us all the way to the “OT” levels, and last week she introduced us to “Operating Thetan Level One,” consisting of L. Ron Hubbard’s handwritten 1968 notes. We had all sorts of fun with Hubbard’s instructions to go outside and “count bodies,” at hundreds of dollars an hour!
Continue reading Bruce Hines Joins Us As Claire Headley Keeps Us Moving Through Scientology’s OT Levels!
We’re still pinching ourselves that this Sunday, after all this time, Scientology’s “Flag Building” — better known as the “Super Power Building” — will be opening up, 15 years after it was begun.
Continue reading SCIENTOLOGY SUPER POWER COUNTDOWN: Six Days to Blast-Off!
Last week, Luis and Rocio Garcia responded to Scientology’s most serious attack on their federal fraud lawsuit with a harshly-worded court brief which also included a declaration from Luis Garcia himself.
On Friday, Scientology filed a new motion which is asking for Garcia’s declaration to be rejected. Why? Because Garcia is now alleging facts which contradict the lawsuit’s original complaint, the church says.
In January, the Garcias sued five of Scientology’s corporate entities, accusing them of defrauding the Garcias as they were asked for donations. In particular, the Garcias say they gave one entity — the Church of Scientology Religious Trust (CSRT) — more than $300,000 for donations toward construction of Scientology’s “Super Power Building.”
Continue reading Scientology Attacks Garcia Filing; Marc Headley Schools Clearwater’s Mayor