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Scientology Photoshopping, Part 2: A mystery disappearance on the yacht Apollo

RonEncyclopediaYesterday, we told you about Lauren Wolf describing what it was like to work for Lawrence Wright on his book Going Clear and finding an example of Scientology trying to erase the existence of L. Ron Hubbard’s second wife, Sara Northrup, from the record with creative photoshopping.

She told us that in the “Master Mariner” volume of “The RON Series” of “biographical encyclopedias” (pictured, right), she found an example of the church pulling Sara from a 1946 photograph of her with Hubbard.

This is the set of books that Scientology has asked its members to raise money for in order to send out copies to foreign governments and other “opinion leaders.” It’s as official as it gets when it comes to a Church of Scientology record of its founder, and Lauren found a pretty blatant example that it plays fast and loose with the truth.

And while we were working with her on that story, we found another example.

While leafing through the same “Master Mariner” book, we spotted an image that we know well.

In January of 2012, we revealed that we’d been leaked a full set of schematics and renderings of what would become Scientology’s “Super Power Building” (officially named the “Flag Building” today). A few images of the space-age interiors had leaked to the press before our story, but this was the first time a full set of images from every planned floor in the building was made public. (And it’s when we fell in love with the fifth floor’s “Oiliness Table” along with several other bizarre pieces of equipment.)


The building has so many extraordinary features, but one that really stuck out was the museum to L. Ron Hubbard that was planned for part of the first floor. In one section of it, plans called for a tribute to the yacht Apollo, from which L. Ron Hubbard ran Scientology while plying the Mediterranean, Atlantic, and Caribbean from 1967 to 1975.

The display called for a mock-up of part of the Apollo‘s deck, complete with replica lifeboat, and the centerpiece of the diorama was a life-size photo of L. Ron Hubbard and one of his crew talking and walking on the deck right at you. Here’s the image of what they planned to build, and you’ll see what effect they were going for…


At the time we posted that image, several readers pointed out that if you look very closely, you can see that behind Hubbard there’s what looks like a small girl trailing him…


And that made sense. Because one of the most well-known features of the Apollo were its young “Commodore’s Messengers” — young girls whose job it was to carry Hubbard’s messages to different parts of the ship and imitate the way he gave those orders as closely as they could. The Messengers, who had been turned over to Hubbard’s navy by their parents, were also responsible for doing Hubbard’s laundry, drawing his baths, lighting his cigarettes, and many other tasks. They also took a lot of verbal abuse from him if all of the detergent smell hadn’t been rinsed out of his shirts or for any number of other transgressions.

Once Scientology’s top management went back to land in 1975, the Commodore’s Messenger Organization (made up of both young men and women) eventually became one of the most powerful organizations in a status-crazed movement. Current Scientology leader David Miscavige became leader of the CMO in 1979, and his (missing) wife Shelly was once a Messenger on the Apollo.

Hubbard’s use of young girls in this way doesn’t really go over so well today, and you don’t see Scientology discuss it much. And maybe that explains what we found on page 126 of the “Master Mariner” volume of “The RON Series”…


Hey, where’d she go? Oh, those Photoshop wizards at Bridge Publications, they really are something.

We looked around online, and found that Martin Ottman had spotted another photograph of this trio on the deck of the Apollo, and he posted it at the site, the forum for Chanology, the Anonymous project that agitates against Scientology and is still a great hangout for some of the best Scientology researchers around. Here’s the photo…


If you expand the photo a bit and look carefully, the little girl appears to have a black eye…


We talked to a former Commodore’s Messenger who told us the little girl in the photos is Julie Blundell, and she was about ten years old when this photo was taken. Julie herself showed up in the WWP thread to say that her black eye was the result of a loose pulley that had hit her in the face. We’ve sent a message to Julie, hoping she’ll tell us more about her days on the Apollo

We asked the other former Messenger why she thought Scientology would erase Julie from the picture in the “Master Mariner” volume.

“I don’t know what their point is. To me, David Miscavige wants to erase anybody who knew LRH,” she said.


David Pakman interviews Marty Rathbun

A lot of this will be old hat for our readers, but it’s interesting to see Marty Rathbun interviewed on camera for the first time in a while. Probably the most interesting part came near the end, when Rathbun called independent Scientology “a failed experiment.” Oh really? That oughta be worth a few angry threads over at Milestone Two. Heh.



Daniel Ruth on the new Mormon openness

Daniel Ruth of the Tampa Bay Times raised an interesting point in his latest column last night: If the Mormons are finally becoming more open about the unsavory elements of their past — admitting recently that founder Joseph Smith had up to 40 wives, some of them married to other men, and at least one who was only 14 years old — then maybe it’s time for another organization to begin taking the same approach.

“There’s a lesson there in accountability if anyone in Clearwater would bother to listen. Scientology remains entrenched as an unresponsive, arrogant, obstructionist bully into the civic affairs of Clearwater, its aloof leader David Miscavige hidden away behind a phalanx of apparatchiks, apologists and lawyers, always lawyers,” Ruth writes.

But before anyone holds their breath waiting for Scientology to change, let us give you the number one reason why we resist making comparisons between Mormonism and Scientology — a comparison people repeatedly, over the years, have urged us to make.

According to Pew Research, Mormons make up 1.7 percent of this country’s 316 million people. That works out to about 5.3 million Mormons, just in the US. Our best estimates of the number of Scientologists in this country run about 25,000, with maybe 40,000 across the entire world.

Scientology is a tiny, toxic organization whose every tenet, scripture, and activity is about control, interrogation, retaliation, and vengeance. And because of that, it is shrinking and headed for oblivion — perhaps with some spectacular upheavals along the way.

Mormonism, for as weird as its beliefs are, is growing and has become, for good or ill, a not insignificant force in this country’s culture and politics. It isn’t going away anytime soon, and part of its growing pains will continue to include dealing with its past demons.

We know there are surface similarities between these two organizations. But take a deeper look, and you will see that they actually have very little in common. And you will understand why Scientology is incapable, constitutionally, of learning from Mormonism’s new outlook.


Posted by Tony Ortega on November 13, 2014 at 07:00

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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, 48

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, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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