Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Jon Atack: What we have here — in Scientology — is a failure to communicate

CoolHandLukeJon 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’re going to challenge one of Scientology’s essential tenets again, aren’t you? Well, let us have it.

JON: The central conundrum of Scientology is in the right to communicate. The Creed of the Church of Scientology states, and emphatically so, “We of the Church believe: That all men have the inalienable rights to think freely, to talk freely, to write freely their own opinions and to counter or utter or write upon the opinions of others…and that no agency less than God has the power to suspend or set aside these rights, overtly or covertly.”

Elsewhere, L. Ron Hubbard insisted that “more communication, not less, is the answer.” One of the earlier achievements on his Bridge to Total Freedom is Level 0 release, where the individual allegedly gains the ability to “communicate freely with anyone, on any subject” and, further, becomes “Willing for others to communicate to him on any subject; no longer resisting communication to him on unpleasant or unwanted subjects” and, finally, is “Willing for others to communicate freely to others about anything.”

There are certain notable, and vast, exceptions to these hard and fast rules. Scientologists may not “communicate freely” about the Technology of Scientology or Dianetics, because that would be “verbal tech.” Nor can they discuss their “case” — their troubles — with anyone but their “auditor.” Scientologists must refrain from making any criticism of either Hubbard or his Org, even if that criticism is justified, save on the proper “lines” (not exactly “freely to anyone”). The OT levels may not be discussed, even though they’ve been in the public record for years. No report can be made to anyone outside Scientology about the activities of other Scientologists, because this constitutes not an “inalienable right” but a “high crime.”

For a system that claims to be based upon communication and to succeed because it enhances the ability to communicate, this seems utterly paradoxical, as Scientologists end up being very restricted in their communication. Far more so than when they first joined up. To top this off, there are hundreds of people with whom Scientologists may not communicate, if they wish to avail themselves of the “services” of the “Church.” Disconnection has long been the answer to real world communication problems. At worst, those who retain their inalienable right to communicate their opinions have frequently been terrified and traumatised into silence.


John McMaster, the “World’s First Real Clear,” told me that he tried to remonstrate with Hubbard that rather than running away from “Suppressive” people, we should heal their destructive urge. He realized that until such a “Tech” existed, Scientology would always be at war. And it has been.

Over the years, the cult has paid tens of people millions of dollars to clam up about their experiences with Scientology. The most significant target of this abuse is Gerry Armstrong, who has had not only his “inalienable right” alienated, but has also been subjected to court orders in the USA that violate his First Amendment right to free speech.

So, back to the real “Tech” — “more communication, not less, is the answer.” We should do everything in our power to help Scientologists to regain their inalienable right and their ability to communicate.

THE BUNKER: Thanks for that, Jon. And for those that missed our previous conversation with Gerry Armstrong, please give it a look.


RJ Ellory [Photo: E. Garault]

RJ Ellory [Photo: E. Garault]

Jonny Jacobsen: Dispatch from Paris

Jonny, we hear there was an R.J. Ellory siting recently on French television. What’s up with the mystery writer we’ve had so much fun discussing in the past?

JONNY: I’ve just had a wee look at the Canal+ website. Ellory was on to promote the latest of his books that have translated into French — the fifth, I think, of the nine he’s written. Mauvaise Etoile in French (which I think is Bad Signs in the original English): apparently he’s sold more than a million books over here — and they loved this latest one.

A little later however, French singer Bernard Villiers was plugging his latest album Baron Samedi (complete with a song about a modern-day Jack the Ripper who kills bankers). Perhaps Ellory wasn’t looking sufficiently interested because Villiers made a passing reference, à propos of nothing, to the press reports that Ellory had written favourable reviews online of his own book (about 8:30).

(I reported on this story for the Underground Bunker and there’s an extended version at Infinite Complacency.)

“Oh no no no,” said Ellory. “Let’s be completely honest: what we read in the newspapers and the truth are not always the same thing.”

Villiers didn’t press the matter and the conversation continued quite amicably thereafter. A little later in the programme one of the presenters mentioned how “Lire” magazine had revealed his attachment to Scientology and asked if his writing was in any way influenced by his beliefs (about 13 minutes in).

Not at all, said Ellory: he had dabbled in Buddhism, he had read the Bhagavad Gita and the Bible and always had a deep desire to ask and answer questions about life — and that was reflected in his books. He continued: “The way Scientology is portrayed in the press I don’t think it’s actually accurate…

“I’ll put it this way: in 1986 I did a drug detoxification programme through the Church of Scientology and I honestly believe that had I not done that I wouldn’t be here — and I wouldn’t have published any books.

“So you know when people criticise and when people point the finger and say there is something unusual or controversial about Scientology, I just have to think well, ‘You know what? I am not a drug addict any more and I am not in prison any more so it was a good thing for me.”

So he wasn’t really plugging Scientology so much as responding to the inevitable questions about it.

Did I mention they love his book?

THE BUNKER: Why are we the only ones who ever bring up the conga line?


Hartley Patterson

Hartley Patterson

Scientology marriage in England — the local view

We’ve heard from several folks who felt that our assessment (here, second item) of the recent legal decision about Scientology marriage in England did not have nearly enough panic and gloom. Well, perhaps we have downplayed some of the church’s nefarious plans in this well-plotted strategy. For a local view, we turned to an old time Scientology critic and someone we admire a lot, Hartley Patterson. He sent us these thoughts.

HARTLEY: Louisa Hodkin must be one happy if boggled bunny. The Church’s case all along has been that their chapels are “places of worship,” which Lower Courts and indeed this one thought was piffle. And then the Court did what the Supreme Court can do, considered evidence that it had not been asked to look at and overturned Segerdal altogether!

THE BUNKER: And help our readers with that reference to Segerdahl, if you will.

HARTLEY: In the UK exemption from local property tax is given to churches, synagogues, mosques and the like. In 1970 the Church of Scientology was in court claiming that its chapels should also be entitled to such exemption. This case is known in legalese as “R v Registrar General ex parte Segerdal,” or “Segerdal” for short.

Lord Denning, the presiding Judge, saw that the exempted buildings were collectively referred to in the law as ‘places of worship.’ The apocryphal version of the story has it that he asked counsel if Scientologists did in fact worship a God.

“They do not,” he was told.

“Case dismissed!” Denning pronounced.

The consequence of this judgment was that in English common law a religion had to include “faith in a god and worship of that god.” Scientology does not, and therefore it was not, for legal purposes, a religion.

In my view Segerdal was bound to fall sometime, it was out of date. It had not done so before because it takes a Supreme Court to overturn Lord Denning, the most famous of 20th Century judges.

This recent judgment is not about Scientology specifically but as it says relates to all religions that don’t sing hymns and pray. What remains to be seen is how far the domino effect will take us. The tax exemption for religious buildings will likely be next, since that was the actual subject of Segerdal.

A year or two ago diligent research by Anonymous and friends (see WWP for details) revealed that local Councils were giving discretionary rate reductions to the Church. The Local Government Minister Eric Pickles, a professional ‘no nonsense’ Yorkshireman, told them firmly to stop it at once. He will not be a happy bunny over this. Nor apparently was the Education Minister Michael Gove, who just called them a cult — again.

A Charity? The Church still has to jump the “public benefit” hurdle for that, and given the mud that’s been sticking in recent times I can’t see it happening without a big fight.

THE BUNKER: Hartley, thanks for chiming in. Judging from some of the harsh editorials that British newspapers printed in the wake of the decision, it does appear that Scientology will not so easily turn this incremental victory over an outdated law into further victories regarding taxation. In the meantime, Scientology in the UK is tiny, and it is not the magnet for money that Clearwater, Florida is — and now, Scientology leader David Miscavige has further undermined England by taking the IAS gala away from it, relocating it in Florida this past month. We would argue that decision will have far greater consequences for English Scientology than the marriage of Lousa Hodkin and Alessandro Calcioli.


A Note about the Rathbuns

Finally, we have a brief note we’d like to make about Marty and Monique Rathbun, who recently celebrated an addition to their family. We had not said something earlier out of respect for their privacy. But some of our more eagle-eyed readers noticed in court papers we posted yesterday morning that there is a reference to the Rathbuns and their desire to adopt a child.

After the Rathbuns moved to Bulverde, Texas and appeared to have more privacy and distance from the Scientology harassment they experienced in the Corpus Christi area, they made plans to adopt. Then, they found that cameras had been set up near their home by a man named Steven Gregory Sloat, who has now admitted that he was hired by the church to spy on the Rathbuns and possibly gain access to their home. The possibility that this new surveillance activity might interfere with the adoption process was in part a reason why Monique Rathbun decided to file her lawsuit when she did.

We’ve noticed a lot of misinformation and speculation going on in our comments and elsewhere online. We hope that settles down now, and we trust our readers will join us in congratulating the Rathbuns in the adoption of their adorable new son, William.

— The Underground Bunker


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 14, 2013 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email