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BeyondBeliefOn Tuesday, Barbara Walters once again came to the rescue for Scientology, this time sticking up for the church’s “educational programs” on The View.

Whoopi Goldberg started the discussion by bringing up Jaden Smith’s infamous tweet, in which the 15-year-old actor encouraged kids to drop out of school. Jenny McCarthy then brought up Scientology, which the Smith family has been said to dabble in. At that point, Walters spoke up, saying, “I’m not going to speak about Scientology in general, but Scientology has a pretty good educational program. They’re not telling people to drop out.”

That surprised Sherri Shepherd, who remembered that the program had recently had a guest who said just the opposite. “She said they pulled her out and put her in a camp. What kind of school is that? It’s like it was a hard labor camp. She built the doggone — the huts that they lived in.”

Shepherd was speaking, of course, of Jenna Miscavige Hill, who had visited The View in February. And Jenna has a message for Barbara Walters.

In February, William Morrow published Jenna’s memoir, Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology And My Harrowing Escape, and she went on a major publicity tour, whose first stop was The View.

We thought at the time it was interesting that Walters, a longtime Scientology apologist, was not on the show.


But Shepherd was there, and clearly, Jenna’s tale about the way young Scientologists are made to do hard, manual labor, and the way education is an afterthought in the church, made an impression on her.

But Walters would have none of it. “I have been to some of the Scientology schools and some of their education programs are very good. The last thing I want to do is argue about Scientology,” she said.


Well, Barbara, Jenna has some words for you. She sent them to us, but she wrote them directly to the newswoman…


With all due respect, saying that Scientology has a very good education system is an incredibly ignorant and irresponsible thing to say on your platform and for that reason I feel that I have to say something about it.

Without getting into the details of my childhood and the dangers of Scientology’s education system I will say this.

The leader of Scientology, Tom Cruise’s best man, my uncle David Miscavige, is a high school dropout. What does that say about the value Scientology puts on education? Is this not what Jaden Smith is advocating?

As Sherri Shepherd rightly pointed out, I myself was born into Scientology. And instead of being properly educated, I was indoctrinated into Scientology and made to do heavy labor daily from the age of six years old. I have no high school education, and college was never even a vague possibility for me until I escaped.

Scientology values its “educational system” because of its ability to recruit new members into its ranks. I’m guessing it worked for Jaden Smith.

I don’t know what propaganda you have seen or what your celebrity advocate friends have told you, but it’s time to look a little deeper. If you don’t want to know the truth (which I gather is the case from you saying you “don’t want to talk about Scientology”) then please refrain from praising a system you clearly know nothing about.

Although Scientology’s educational system is one of its most disconcerting aspects because it involves children, it is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Scientology’s deception and abuse.

We have a feeling Walters won’t be heeding Jenna’s words. We noticed the following exchange on Twitter happened just a week ago, which helps explains where Barbara is coming from….


Play back that footage from The View, and you’ll notice another interesting exchange. Near the end, Sherri Shepherd tells Barbara that she ought to believe what she’s saying about the church: “Believe it, because they’ll get you!” It was a clear reference to Scientology’s reputation for retaliation. But Walters was quick to stomp on that notion: “No that’s not true…You just shouldn’t say things like that.”

Oh, Barbara. Maybe it’s time The View had on Lori Hodgson. Or Mike Rinder. Or Monique Rathbun. Just a thought.


Jonny Jacobsen on Scientology’s Belgian Problem

Another day, another setback in court for Scientology. In this case, the European Court of Human Rights has rejected a petition by the church, and our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, helps us understand what is going on over there…


The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed a complaint from Scientology against Belgian officials for their comments on an ongoing investigation of the movement there.

Jonny Jacobsen

Jonny Jacobsen

Briefly, Scientology was arguing its right to a fair trial had been breached by comments made by Belgian prosecutors. The ECHR pointed out that since the trial had not yet taken place, the church’s complaint was a little premature. The Strasbourg-based court ruled the application inadmissible and that decision is final.

Scientology’s complaint was over news reports of an investigation that Belgium opened back in 1997 into alleged fraud and embezzlement at the Brussels-registered ASBL Eglise de Scientologie.

Scientology filed a series of five criminal complaints in Belgium against “person or persons unknown,” saying its right to be considered innocent until found guilty had been violated by the news reports, which, between 1999 and 2007, quoted state prosecutors. Belgian authorities shelved each one of the complaints.

In 2007, the Belgian prosecutor’s office filed charges against 12 individuals and — rather more importantly for the movement — two Scientology organizations.

Scientology went to the court of appeal the same year to argue that the proceedings against it should be thrown out, again complaining about prosecutors being quoted in news reports. Belgium’s Court of Appeal rejected the church’s complaint, and another appeal on points of law was dismissed the following year.

A hearing to set a pretrial timetable for Belgian prosecution was adjourned in 2010 but the case is still active.

This is not the only case that Belgian prosecutors have brought against Scientology.

As we reported last December, they are also going after them on charges of fraud, the illegal practice of medicine, breach of privacy and extortion.

Thanks for that summary, Jonny.


RutherfordResponse from The Rutherford Institute

We reported earlier that two organizations had filed amicus briefs to Scientology’s petition to the US Supreme Court in its lawsuit with Laura DeCrescenzo, who is suing the church over the way she was mistreated as a Sea Org employee, including being forced to have an abortion at 17. We told you that the Episcopal Church was unhappy once one of our readers notified it that the National Council of Churches, of which it is a member, had provided an amicus letter in support of Scientology. The other organization that filed a letter was The Rutherford Institute, which tends to file a lot of such letters in what it considers First Amendment issues. One of our readers wrote to the Institute, explaining that Scientology’s complaints about priest-penitent privilege were really cover for what it was really trying to do — keep under wraps thousands of pages resulting from interrogations of DeCrescenzo, which would have included intimate details of her private life, and which were shared among more than 250 church officials.

But the Rutherford Institute was not swayed. Here’s the message it sent to our reader, with no name attached…

With respect to our amicus brief in support of the Scientology v. DeCrescenzo cert petition, as a civil liberties and civil rights organization, we are interested in ensuring the protection of individual rights in any form they may take. Particularly, since our founding in 1982 we have had a specific focus on defending religious liberty rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The issue in this particular case turned on whether the Church of Scientology could properly invoke the penitent-clergy evidentiary privilege rule that keeps confidential certain communications between penitents and clergy members of the church. In the lower court, the California Superior Court ruled that the privilege was vitiated by virtue of the fact that the privileged information was transmitted from one clergyman to another clergyman within the church. We argued, and it is our belief that, in reaching this determination that the privilege is destroyed simply by the transmission of the privileged information between clergymen, without any inquiry into the reason or justification for the transmission, the court sets a dangerous precedent. Many religions, including Scientology, Mormons, and other Christian sects like Methodists, are not limited to a traditional one-on-one Catholic-style clergy-penitent relationship, and it is often the case that either for the purpose of advice and counsel or for reasons of seeking absolution, privileged information will be transmitted from one clergyman to another. We believe that the court’s ruling that the privilege is destroyed in such a circumstance represents discrimination among the different religions, which the First Amendment cannot tolerate. With regard to your specific concerns about the fact that the privilege is being invoked only by the Church and not by Ms. DeCrescenzo, prior court precedent has clearly held that the privilege can be invoked by either party, and for good reason — in giving absolution, clergymen often also share very personal, private, and privileged faith-based information, and the threat that such information could potentially be revealed might hinder the genuineness and effectiveness of the absolution-seeking process.

While we understand that you might have concerns about the motivations and practices of the Scientology religion specifically, our interest in this case is broader than any single religion or practice, and instead our argument focuses on the fact that the decision results in an unconstitutional denominational preference, favoring one group of religions over another. We strongly support the legal principle that we argue in favor of in our petition — that the privilege should be extended evenly to religious practices evenly, without favoring or disfavoring any religion because of the manner in which they engage in clergy-penitent communications.

Thank you for your thoughts on this, and we hope that you continue to read our articles and remain interested in what we do.

Scientology’s petition to the Supreme Court is being considered along with more than 850 others on September 30, during which only a small number of petitions will be selected to go on to the next level. A hearing on summary judgment is scheduled in the DeCrescenzo lawsuit in Los Angeles on October 23.


Under the Big Tent

We wanted to clear up a misunderstanding that seems to have arisen about the purpose for the giant tent that Scientology has erected on a parking lot southeast of the Super Power Building in Clearwater, Florida.

That tent was the same one that was erected each fall in East Grinstead, England for the annual International Association of Scientologists (IAS) gala, one of the three really large-scale events the church holds each year (besides New Year’s Eve and L. Ron Hubbard’s Birthday around March 13).

This year, for some reason, Scientology leader David Miscavige decided to hold the IAS gala in Clearwater, and had the giant tent sent by ship from England. It’s a major and mysterious move, and we are still not sure why he made the change. Last year’s event in England was infiltrated by a reporter from the British paper The Sun which infuriated the church so much, it successfully intimidated the newspaper into taking down its article about the stunt.


A previous IAS gala, under the tent in England

A previous IAS gala, under the tent in England

Whatever the reason, the tent came to Florida and the IAS event was scheduled for November 8 and 9. The tent will hold between 1,500 and 2,000 people, which is about the size of past IAS events. (In order to make room for the tent, two healthy live-oak trees were removed, even after the city denied the church permission to do so. We then interviewed one of the felled trees.)

In a separate move, the church also announced that it would finally be opening its Super Power Building (formally known as the “Flag Building”), which has been under construction for 15 years. The building is the size of a full city block and sits across the street from the Fort Harrison Hotel, the central location of Scientology’s spiritual mecca. Scientology told the city of Clearwater that it intended to hold a grand opening ceremony on October 6, and it expected 10,000 people to attend. The church was going to request street and sidewalk closures for that event, and it was assumed that the mass of those people would be out on the street between the Fort Harrison Hotel and the Super Power Building on Fort Harrison Avenue.

Whether the Super Power grand opening of October 6 was also going to make use of the IAS tent in some way was one of the things the city presumably was going to find out when it required Scientology to submit information on Wednesday in order to qualify for permits. But instead, the church decided to postpone the Super Power event indefinitely.

At this point, the IAS gala in the big tent is still scheduled for November 8 and 9, although, naturally, we’ll be interested to see if that date holds up as well.

But one thing is clear — the church never said that it was going to try to fit 10,000 people into the tent for the Oct 6 Super Power event. We’ve seen a lot of confusion in the comments over this, so we’ll say it again: the tent was brought over and erected for the IAS event on November 8. The cancellation of the Super Power event on October 6 does not affect the tent. And we’ll never know if the tent was going to be used at all for the Super Power event since the church never submitted detailed plans for the grand opening.

The permit for the tent is good through January, and Mike Rinder has said he suspects the IAS gala also may be delayed and all of these new developments — the Super Power opening, the IAS gala, the debut of the Golden Age of Technology Phase II, and the New Year’s Celebration may all get rolled into one event on December 31. We’ll certainly be watching to see if that’s the case.


Lori Hodgson Loses Her Kids to Scientology

Another powerful video from Karen de la Carriere, J. Swift, and Angry Gay Pope.



Mark Ebner on Leah Remini

Our old friend Mark Ebner is his inimitable self on Alison Hope Weiner’s show, which we have also guested on. Watching Mark reminded us that when the British TV crew that made Scientologists at War was here last fall, they asked your proprietor and Ebner to sit down together in a restaurant, and they filmed us swapping war stories. It was a lot of fun, and maybe it’s for the best it didn’t make it into the show. But we certainly enjoyed it. Anyway, here’s Ebner’s appearance on Media Mayhem…



A Special Thanks

If you’ve read our original post regarding our “Donate” button, you know that for journalistic reasons we have a system set up with attorney Scott Pilutik so that we are kept from knowing who’s donating to the Bunker. But we wanted to acknowledge, in general, the many people who chipped in during our trip to Texas. We’re hoping to take more trips in the future (but for security reasons, we don’t like to discuss them until they happen), and your donations make that eyewitness reporting possible. Our deepest thanks for your support.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 20, 2013 at 07:00

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