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Rathbun: ‘Scientology never endorsed anyone where there wasn’t a clear self-interest’

Pam Bondi, Florida AG

Pam Bondi, Florida AG

On Sunday, we broke the news that Scientologists were holding a campaign fundraiser for Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who is running for re-election this year.

One of our tipsters had forwarded to us a mailer that was not meant to be spread outside the church, showing that several high-level Scientologists were organizing the event at the luxury Clearwater condominium of wealthy church members Michael and Liz Baybak. The fundraiser is scheduled for tonight, and attendees are asked to donate at least $1,000 each to Bondi’s campaign.

Bondi is a Republican and former prosecutor who was endorsed by Sarah Palin when she first ran for election and won in 2010. Most recently, she’s been in the news for announcing that she would be vigorously defending Florida’s ban on gay marriage in the state and federal courts.

Yesterday, Joe Childs of the Tampa Bay Times published a detailed story after talking with Bondi’s campaign, who confirmed that she’s attending and that she’s well aware the event is being organized by Scientologists.

Bondi is aware Scientologists are staging the event, said campaign spokeswoman Christina Johnson. She said Bondi first connected with Scientologists in 2012 when she and other elected officials toured some of the church’s Clearwater facilities. Bondi spoke then to a group of Scientologists about human trafficking and the evils of pill mills, a topic that resonated because Scientologists sponsor what they tout as the largest anti-drug program in the world.

At Tuesday’s fundraiser, she will return to those themes, Johnson said. “It’s like-minded folks sharing the same goals: Protecting children against drug overdoses and human trafficking,” Johnson said.

Childs pointed out the irony that Scientology itself was being investigated by the FBI for human trafficking from 2009 to 2011, but no charges were filed.

A decade before that, Scientology was charged criminally by the state of Florida in regards to the 1995 death of church member Lisa McPherson, who died after 17 days of isolation at the Fort Harrison Hotel, centerpiece of Scientology’s Clearwater base.

Former Scientology official Marty Rathbun testified last year that the church spent about $30 million trying to influence prosecutors, judges, and other officials in order to derail that prosecution. (The state ultimately dropped charges in 2000 after a county medical officer changed McPherson’s manner of death under intense pressure.)

We talked to Rathbun about Scientology’s previous attempts to influence Florida’s politics with fundraisers.

“Scientology never endorsed anyone where there wasn’t a clear self-interest,” Rathbun told us. “They’ve never supported a candidate or an issue for the good of the country. It’s all self-interest, and they’ll make sure Bondi knows that this is the church and these are Scientologists. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it.”

The Bondi event is being organized by OT 8 Scientologist Brett Miller, according to the flier. We left a message for Miller to ask about how many people would be attending and if all of the attendees would be Scientologists, but we didn’t get a response.

 
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Ruth_Bader_GinsburgScientology gets trolled by the Supremes

Yesterday’s highly-anticipated Supreme Court decision regarding Hobby Lobby’s objection to the Obamacare contraception mandate produced a wild day of punditry and analysis. And one thing we noticed: When commenters wanted to give the impression that the Court’s decision was a harbinger of disaster, they tended to bring up Scientology as a dire warning.

It was actually kind of funny.

In the majority opinion written by Justice Samuel Alito, the Court went out of its way to make the point that its decision, finding for Hobby Lobby that its “sincerely-held” religious beliefs should allow it to opt out of the health law’s mandate, was narrowly aimed only at contraception, and should not be a signal that companies could then apply the decision to other health care requirements they disagreed with.

But critics of the decision didn’t buy that caveat, and predicted that soon, business owners would begin making their own religious-based objections for all kinds of things. A Scientologist business owner, for example, might object to paying for psychiatric treatments, since Scientology considers psychiatry the source of all of the universe’s problems.

Even Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing the dissenting opinion, called out Scientology by name as an example of a worst-case scenario…

Would the exemption … extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations (Christian Scientists, among others)? According to counsel for Hobby Lobby, “each one of these cases . . . would have to be evaluated on its own . . . apply[ing] the compelling interest-least restrictive alternative test.” Tr. of Oral Arg. 6. Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.

Ouch! We’ve written previously of the Supreme Court fending off Scientology. And now, to be used as a negative example in a court decision? Tsk. Tsk. Is there no love for David Miscavige’s crew on the highest court in the land? Maybe all those years of outrageous abuse of the American legal system has its price, after all.

 
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Jonny_Jacobsen2Jonny Jacobsen takes on the academics

Our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, has come out of semi-hiatus to post two strong pieces at his blog, Infinite Complacency, about Scientology and academics.

There are some academics, like University of Alberta professor Stephen Kent, who work doggedly to understand the Church of Scientology in the light of revelations about its many controversies. Kent’s document research is impeccable, and his work investigating the Rehabilitation Project Force — the Sea Org’s prison detail — broke new ground on how the RPF is understood by the world outside the organization.

On the other hand, Jonny explains that there are numerous religious-studies types who have been little more than stenographers for the church and its public relations operation. The church, meanwhile, seeks out these academics, as Scientology’s chief man in Europe, Eric Roux, is doing right now. But Jonny’s on to him, and we expect more interesting dispatches soon.

 
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Karen de la Carriere on Scientology’s legal tricks

Employing a number of labyrinthine contracts, Scientology has members in a clever legal trap, Karen tells us…

 

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on July 1, 2014 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94@gmail.com 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.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS (We read Scientology’s founding text) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25

UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN (Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer

 

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