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Mike Rowe uses Facebook to rip Scientology over the treatment of his friend Spanky Taylor

Mike_Rowe_Spanky_Taylor

On Sunday night Mike Rowe, the former Dirty Jobs host and current star of CNN’s Somebody’s Gotta Do It, used his Facebook page to vent over the treatment of Spanky Taylor that’s described in Alex Gibney’s documentary about Scientology, Going Clear. Spanky was one of eight former Church of Scientology members who appeared in the film to talk about how they got into the church but later broke away, and Spanky’s story about being assigned to the Sea Org’s prison detail and having to save her young child from a filthy group nursery is one of the most shocking parts of the movie.

Going Clear made me angry,” Rowe wrote after explaining that he employed Spanky and knew her story, but was still stunned by what he saw in the movie. “And if you’re offended by bullies and opportunists who take advantage of people at their most vulnerable, and an IRS that seems both craven and manipulable, it’ll make you angry too.”

As we explained in a piece about Spanky that appeared a few days before Going Clear first aired on HBO on March 29, she has spent decades working with famous clients, helping them manage their interactions with fans. But she never discloses who her clients are, and we didn’t know she’s done work for Rowe.

Rowe explained that he’s already familiar with what she’d been through, but what infuriated him about the movie was the way it portrayed Scientology bullying the IRS into giving it tax exempt status in 1993, which has enabled the church to amass billions in the years since, tax-free.

“Maybe I’m still a little cranky from the check I just wrote to Uncle Sam,” Rowe said as he made it clear that he doesn’t care what people believe, but that Scientology’s habit of bullying and manipulating people is hard to reconcile with its status as a tax-exempt church. “But mostly, Going Clear made me very proud of my friend, and others like her. It’s a hell of a thing to realize everything you believe is not what you thought it was. And it’s even harder to confess your mistakes to the world and start over. Paul Haggis, a talented and successful screenwriter comes forward, along with a handful of former members and church officials who endured the kind of threats and intimidation that would keep most people silent. Their courage is impressive.”

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We called Spanky, who had no idea that Rowe had posted the statement.

“I was really surprised to see this, and grateful to see that he took a position,” she told us. “But it concerns me, because I don’t want him to become a target of the organization. I appreciate that he took time to see the film and was so moved by it. And I agree with him, I think people should sign a petition to take away Scientology’s tax exempt status, and talk to their elected representatives.”

Take a look at his entire statement

When I was shooting Dirty Jobs, I hired a woman named Spanky Taylor to help me fulfill requests from viewers and fans. If you ever asked for and received from me an autographed photo, or a signed letter for an Eagle Scout, it was Spanky who licked the stamp and got it in the mail, many thousands of times.

Anyway, I just finished watching a documentary on HBO in which Spanky appears. That’s her behind me, on my unnecessarily large TV screen. The documentary is called “Going Clear,” and while it’s not exactly an Easter story, it’s most definitely a tale of resurrection and new life. I’m posting this today because I think everyone who has ever been lied to or deceived should watch it.

Going Clear, among other things, tells the story of Spanky Taylor’s escape from The Church of Scientology. Like all Church employees, Spanky signed a “Billion Year Contract,” and pledged her life to the cause. She was, according to her own account, brainwashed, programmed, and forbidden from leaving the property. When she gave birth, her baby was put in a separate location, so as not to interfere with her Church duties. One day Spanky went to visit her daughter. The baby was malnourished and utterly neglected. She was covered with flies, and her eyes were filled with pus and fused shut. Something finally snapped, and with the help of a friend, Spanky took her child, fled from her captors, and never looked back.

I knew Spanky’s story when I hired her, so when I watched her tale unfold on my unnecessarily large screen, I was not struck by the details of her personal ordeal, or by the incredible stories of other members who broke free and agreed to come forward. In truth, I’m no longer shocked by people who choose to follow a charlatan, or give away all their money, or forsake their friends and family to seek some greater truth, or drink whatever Kool-Aid is being served. The right to make bad decisions is an important part of being free. And to be clear, (as it were,) I don’t begrudge Scientology’s right to exist, or their right to separate a fool from his or her money in whatever legal means possible. Caveat emptor. But beyond all that, the thing that really chaps my ass is the fact that our government has enabled Scientology to grow into the colossus it’s now become.

In 1993, The IRS granted tax-exempt status to Scientology. This ruling not only saved Scientology many millions of dollars, it gave them status as a worldwide religion, and dramatically increased their power to recruit more members, or customers, if you prefer. That changed everything. The financial facts are beyond dispute – Scientology is a multi-billion dollar business that sells a tangible service called “auditing.” They also create “auditors,” for a price. Prior to 1993, an auditing session was no different from a tax-standpoint than a session with a palm-reader, a fortune-teller, a hypnotist, or a Voodoo Priestess. It was a taxable event. That’s no longer the case. Today, The Church of Scientology generates billions of dollars in revenue, and pays no tax at all. Zero.

Maybe I’m still a little cranky from the check I just wrote to Uncle Sam. Hell, maybe I should write a book and turn mikeroweWORKS into a religion. Or, maybe not. Either way, for all sorts of reasons, “Going Clear” made me angry, and if you’re offended by bullies and opportunists who take advantage of people at their most vulnerable, and an IRS that seems both craven and manipulable, it’ll make you angry too. But mostly, “Going Clear” made me very proud of my friend, and others like her. It’s a hell of a thing to realize everything you believe is not what you thought it was. And it’s even harder to confess your mistakes to the world and start over. Paul Haggis, a talented and successful screenwriter comes forward, along with a handful of former members and church officials who endured the kind of threats and intimidation that would keep most people silent. Their courage is impressive.

Going Clear is not a blockbuster. It does have star power though, and more than its share of heroes and villains. Some of whom you’ll certainly recognize. Check it out.

Happy Easter
Mike

 
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Marty_Rathbun_GC2Marty Rathbun story coming to TV again, this time on ID

If you’ve been with us awhile, you may have been caught up in the excitement as we prepared for and then live-blogged the ID network’s treatment of the Nancy Many story in January 2013.

ID is the Discovery Channel’s spinoff network about true crime, and it treated Nancy’s story in an interesting way. It was essentially Nancy narrating the story of how she found herself in Scientology’s Sea Org prison detail, the RPF, while she was pregnant, living in a parking garage in Clearwater, Florida. She eventually made her way to the Hollywood Celebrity Centre and then, after a breakdown during an intense sec check, left Scientology for good. Her show was based on her book, My Billion-Year Contract, with her telling her story as we saw scenes recreated by actors.

Well, the next person to get that treatment will be Mark “Marty” Rathbun, whose story is being told by ID in its “Dangerous Persuasions” series on April 15 at 10 pm. We confirmed with Rathbun that the format will be the same, and judging by the brief description online, it sounds like the show uses biographical scenes from Rathbun’s most recent book, Memoirs of a Scientology Warrior.

Rathbun spent 27 years in Scientology and rose to be its second highest ranking official before he left in 2004. He was an important part of Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary, Going Clear, and he was also the subject of an excellent UK Channel 4 documentary, Scientologists at War.

 
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Bonus photos from our tipsters

The Church of Scientology Berlin Promotes Drug-Free Living!

 
SciBerlin

 
Scenes from the third annual Youth For Human Rights regional South Asia summit in Kathmandu!

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

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on April 6, 2015 at 00:05

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 cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield

 

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