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Scientology’s 2014 in review: So long to another great year in the Bunker!

NYE2015We hope you have something fun planned for tonight as we welcome in 2015. Whether it’s a wild party or just staying home with loved ones, enjoy yourselves and be safe.

We’ll always be a little on edge as the clock strikes midnight after what happened three years ago — we had put a lot of work into a story we timed to appear right as the new year began, a primer we titled “What is Scientology?” We thought it would be a good way to start 2012 as our coverage at the Village Voice continued to gain steam.

But then, just some twenty minutes later or so, we started getting peppered with emails from readers all over the country. Had we seen this remarkable message that had been sent out by former church official Debbie Cook? Well, you may know the rest. Cook struck a blow that was the biggest salvo since the 2009 “Truth Rundown” series in the Tampa Bay Times, and Scientology is still feeling its effects.

We have a feeling January is going to rock the Scientology watching community in a big way again this time. But for now, we’re going to finish up our look back at 2014.

November brought another lawsuit against Scientology — this time, Dani and Tami Lemberger filed suit in Israel, where they had led their mission in Haifa to breakaway from the church in 2012 and, they allege, suffered severe harassment afterward.

On November 4, we were leaked Scientology’s plans for a major new facility in Australia, and we showed that the church’s own plans called for a $37 million project that would end up serving only 87 parishioners, on average, at any one time.


On November 7, with the help of Nathan Baca we broke the news that a Scientologist attorney, Brent Jones, had won a seat in Nevada’s legislature.

The next day, we had a real treat for readers. We had dived into Robert Heinlein’s letters collection to find some descriptions of L. Ron Hubbard by his friends in the 1940s. At least one of the letters, by L. Sprague de Camp, had never been put online before. The picture that emerged? “So Hubbard was an opportunistic womanizer working a racket on other veterans — and that’s what his friends thought of him. Ouch.”

On November 11, more news in the Oklahoma state agency scandal — after we, along with several local outlets, reported that Kim Poff was suing the state over her investigation of Scientology’s flagship drug rehab facility being suppressed, Poff was suddenly fired by another state agency she had gone to work for.

The next day, we were really glad to reveal that Lauren Wolf — Larry Wright’s research assistant on Going Clear — had helped us out by spotting a blatant effort by Scientology to erase Sara Northrup from the historical record. Sara was L. Ron Hubbard’s second wife, and a woman he married while he was still married to his first wife, Polly Grubb. Lauren spotted an outrageous photoshop job in the “Ron Series” biographical encyclopedia — Scientology’s worker bees had erased Sara from a sailing photo.

On November 19, another remarkable document from the past — an affidavit filed by L. Ron Hubbard’s first wife, Polly, accusing him of being a deadbeat dad.

Three days later, a longer piece we worked rapidly to pull together — the saga of insurance mogul Richie Acunto’s rise and fall, symbolized by his expensive Scientology trophies ending up on eBay.

The next day, Marc Headley sent us video of him busting two Scientology spies who had been secretly taking photos of former Scientologists gathering for a reunion and birthday part in Las Vegas.

On November 24, the Hollywood Reporter broke the news we’d been keeping quiet about: Oscar-winner Alex Gibney was finishing up a full-length documentary for HBO about Scientology, based partly on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book Going Clear. We quickly put up our own story, pointing out that Gibney had competition — BBC broadcaster Louis Theroux is also working on a full-length film about Scientology. They both should be major pieces and reach huge audiences.

On December 4 we reported that Christian Stolte had started an actor revolt when the SAG-AFTRA union placed a Scientology ad in its magazine. After Stolte and other actors protested, the magazine’s editor promised not to take more ads from the church.

Australian television journalist Steve Cannane announced that he has a book about Scientology coming out, the Sundance Film Festival announced that it had added Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear to its lineup, Marc Headley experienced another bizarre Scientology ambush (at Int Base this time), and yet another weird ambush happened with Marty Rathbun being confronted outside a movie studio in LA. And that pretty much brings us up to date.

We want to give a huge thanks to the many great tipsters who sent us another year’s worth of weird wonderful and wacky Scientology documents and other info. And we extend our humble gratitude to Jon Atack and Jonny Jacobsen and Karen de la Carriere and Jeffrey Augustine and Chris Shelton and our other correspondents who have kept us supplied with so many great contributions all year long.

A LOOK BACK AT NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013: Mike Rinder and Mike Bennitt in a helicopter over the Super Power party, our exclusive interview with the principal at Will and Jada’s Scientology school, and we marked the actual 60th anniversary of the first ‘Church of Scientology.’


Bonus photos from our tipsters

The Aussie new year started early last night here in New York!


Australian journalist Bryan Seymour is vacationing in New York, and he used the occasion to propose to his girlfriend. We met up with the happy couple last night for some celebrating.

Sneaky, sneaky! Scientologist model/actress Selia Hansen is appearing at a “T.E.D. Talk” at a venue near the LA airport to talk about her industry success. How many people will think they’re going to an actual “TED Talk,” and won’t realize that they’re probably going to get a pitch about Dianetics being the best thing ever?


Joy Villa is back, this time with the excitement of a Postulates Congress at the Hollywood Celebrity Center! Do you have your 2015 postulates ready?


Wow, here’s an interesting scoop from one of our tipsters — about a week ago, Bob Duggan‘s firm, Pharmacyclics, had a holiday party, and it featured performances by Scientologists Stacy Francis and Doug E. Fresh. This image Stacy posted to her Instagram account, showing her rehearsing with singer Jesse Campbell…


Pharmacyclics has made Duggan a billionaire, and of that money he’s turned over something north of $50 million to Scientology, so the least they could do was to send over a couple of their celebrities for a shindig!

Oh look, Scientology will be blasting its message to the poor saps stuck in the freezing cold temps at Times Square tonight!


Scientology in Dublin is counting all of its amazing wins!


Posted a few minutes ago — Russian fun at Flag on New Year’s Eve!




Scientologists are using social media more than ever. Drop us a line if you spot them posting images to Instagram or Facebook!


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 31, 2014 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.

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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