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Countdown to Portland: Scientology Planning a Rager on Saturday

Portland Mercury photo by Dirk Vanderhart

Portland Mercury photo by Dirk Vanderhart

Scientology leader David Miscavige began opening “Ideal Orgs” about a decade ago. In each case, local church members are pressured to raise huge amounts of money to replace perfectly adequate church facilities with much larger, more elaborate palaces that tend to stand empty. It’s a controversial plan that has exacerbated splits in the church membership — there’s lots of evidence that founder L. Ron Hubbard actually preferred more modest facilities and always stressed the need for new members, not new buildings.

But for whatever reason, Miscavige has banked the future of the church on his Ideal program, and seems to think tomorrow’s grand opening in Portland is the most important one yet. We’ve been marveling recently at the effort going into tomorrow’s big show, and we have some more updates for those thinking of stopping by for a gander.

First, we keep getting asked by Portlanders where this thing is going down. As the Portland Mercury pointed out, with some photos (see above), the podium for the big celebration has been set up on the west side of SW 3rd Avenue, just a little south of the intersection with SW Oak Street. We’re hearing that SW 3rd Avenue will be closed off for tomorrow’s celebration, which is happening at 1 pm. Knowing Scientology, a small army of local law enforcement and rent-a-cops will prevent you from getting very close, but we have several folks who are going to try and get us some photos of the ceremony. We’re especially interested, as always, to know which local dignitaries get roped into participating.

The theme of this grand opening is naturally predicated on the 1985 “Religious Freedom Crusade” that went down in Portland and was a milestone in Scientology’s history. Tomorrow morning, we’ll have a piece by historian Jon Atack that goes into very interesting detail about that slice of church lore.

For now, here’s a flier showing that the church is playing up that history to get its members to show up. In this case, with an appeal from Jeff Pomerantz, a former soap opera actor and very familiar voice at Scientology events…

 
PomerantzFlier1PomerantzFlier2

 
As we pointed out earlier, at least one church flier evoking the 1985 crusade included a photograph of Heber Jentzsch, who remains the president of the Church of Scientology International even though he’s mostly been kept in Scientology’s hellish prison, “The Hole,” since about 2004.

We have an unconfirmed report that Heber has been spotted in Portland. If he’s there, this would be the second time in a year that he’s been trotted out to make a symbolic appearance. Last July, his 27-year-old son Alex died from taking methadone for pain while he was suffering from pneumonia. Because Alex’s mother, Heber’s ex-wife Karen de la Carriere, had been excommunicated from the church for speaking publicly about Heber’s confinement, she was prevented from seeing her son’s body. She was told by Scientologists that there would be no memorial at all for Alex. After we wrote about that — that the president of Scientology’s son didn’t merit a memorial service — and other media outlets picked up the story, Scientology then quickly arranged a service at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre, and Heber Jenztsch was brought to it, his first public appearance in years.

Now, if he is in Portland, he’s being brought out again for public relations purposes. This time, it’s probably because former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder has made a stink over at his blog about Heber appearing on posters advertising tomorrow’s event. Rinder pointed out the audacity of using Heber to advertise “religious freedom” when he’s spent most of the last nine years in confinement at Scientology’s secretive International Base east of Los Angeles.

 

Before "The Hole": David Miscavige plays nice with Heber Jentzsch

Before “The Hole”: David Miscavige plays nice with Heber Jentzsch

 
Three years ago, Rinder wrote at Marty Rathbun’s blog about the mistreatment of Heber Jentzsch that he personally witnessed…

Miscavige hates Heber. He has said many times that Heber portrays the wrong image of “his” Church. Heber is too old (but not too old to send to the Hole….). Heber doesn’t feel the need to dress like a window mannequin for Barney’s. Heber is “stupid”. And Heber knows too much. Unlike Teflon Tommy [Davis], who was never at Int, Heber has not only witnessed Miscavige’s brand of physical and mental abuse, he has experienced it firsthand. Miscavige cannot afford to put Heber front and center because he might just tell the truth…

Heber bore the brunt of much of Miscavige’s ire over the years. I have seen Miscavige strike Heber on at least 10 occasions. Miscavige had dolls made in the likeness of Heber (and me). These were very elaborate reproductions that looked like ventriloquists dolls. Miscavige would make Heber sit with the doll on his lap and Miscavige would address himself to the doll instead of talking to Heber directly. This was to demonstrate the “fact” that Miscavige thought Heber “wooden” and “unresponsive.” (Anyone who knows Heber can attest to how ridiculous this is). It is all part of Miscavige’s Joking & Degrading and constant denigration of people around him, especially those he considered were some form of threat (and Heber’s popularity with staff and public was a very real threat in Miscavige’s eyes).

The dolls were even flown to the UK for the IAS event where Heber endured endless cruel bullbaiting at the hands of Miscavige. I only saw Heber snap once, when after hours of Miscavige’s taunting and belittling, Miscavige squirted Heber’s face and glasses with contact lens fluid and then blew powdered coffee creamer into his face. This is the level of behavior of the so called “leader” of Scientology…

Heber is banned by Miscavige from making any public appearances and isn’t allowed to be in Int events any longer. So, he has become a “non-person” and is kept out of sight at the Int base.

We’re hoping those attending tomorrow can keep an eye out for Heber and let us know if he makes an appearance.

Numerous readers have also pointed out the interesting local setting for the Portland Ideal Org. Right across the street from the notoriously homophobic organization, for example, is one of Portland’s gay bars, the Silverado, which includes a large nightclub. We found this enticing image of its interior…

 
SilveradoClub

 
The Silverado sure looks like a lot more fun than a sterile Ideal Org. We have a feeling there won’t be much interaction between the two. Also on the same block as the Silverado is Cameron’s Books

 
CameronsBooks

 
With so many independent bookstores dying these days, we hope Cameron’s can hang on. The Ideal Org will have its own bookstore, of course, but as one of our commenters pointed out recently, is there anything sadder than a store that sells books by only one author?

We look forward to any reports about the weekend’s events. Go Portland!

 
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Sweeney banned from Cardiff Library

BBC reporter John Sweeney continues his barnstorming tour to promote his book, The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology. We’ve been keeping up on his appearances, which tend to take place in pubs and leave the patrons in stitches. But his latest gig was cancelled, and for odd reasons.

Without explanation, the Cardiff Central Library told Cardiff Skeptics, who were hosting the event, that it couldn’t use the library after all. The cancellation has kicked up a bit of a stink in the British press. Apparently, the library felt Sweeney’s talk was simply too controversial.

“The Church of Scientology, I think, are entirely aware of who I am and what my book says, but this is an issue of free speech and I do not believe anything I would say would cause public disorder,” Sweeney told a reporter.

That Sweeney. What a troublemaker.

 
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Scientology’s Anti-Family Agenda

Another video from Karen de la Carrier, J. Swift, and Angry Gay Pope…

 

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on May 10, 2013 at 10:45

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