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Garcias ask for reconsideration on judge’s error: ‘We never agreed that Scientology is a religion’

Luis_GarciaOn March 13, Tampa federal Judge James D. Whittemore granted the Church of Scientology’s motion to compel Luis and Rocio Garcia to submit to Scientology’s internal arbitration scheme, which essentially ended the Garcias’ lawsuit against the church. The Garcias, who live in Irvine, California, had sued the church for fraud, contending that donations they’d given of several hundred thousand dollars had been pried out of them through lying and deceit.

They also contended that Scientology’s “arbitration” scheme didn’t really exist, and was just concocted for contracts they had signed in order to shield Scientology from lawsuits. As former members who had been declared “suppressive persons,” they would never get a fair hearing from Scientology’s own arbitrators, they said. Judge Whittemore agreed that the arbitration scheme appeared to be something of a phantom, but he argued that he couldn’t rule if the Garcias would get fair treatment because that would require him to judge the practices and values of a church, and since both sides agreed Scientology was a religion, he couldn’t go there.

The Garcias, once they took a close look at the order, did a double take. When did they ever agree that Scientology was a religion?

If you’re like us, you’ve been wondering what the Garcias were going to do after Whittemore’s order. Would they actually go through with Scientology arbitration? Would they appeal the judge’s order?

Instead, they’re doing something else — they’ve filed a motion to reconsider. They argue that Judge Whittemore just flat-out made a big mistake and they want a do-over. They say that Whittemore assumed that the Garcias agreed that Scientology is a religion for the purpose of the motion, when actually neither side — the Garcias or Scientology — asked for that to be a consideration.

Here’s what Whittemore said on page six of the March 13 order that seemingly ended the lawsuit: “As an initial matter, the parties agree that the Church of Scientology is a religious organization and that the dispute between the parties as to whether Plaintiffs’ claims are subject to arbitration reaches First Amendment implications.”

But hang on, writes Garcia attorney Ted Babbitt: “That is simply incorrect. Plaintiffs have never agreed that the Church of Scientology is a religious organization.”

Babbitt also points out that even Scientology wasn’t asking for a ruling about its First Amendment rights as a religion — it was saving that for another motion later.

And it’s simply wrong, Babbitt says, for Whittemore to assume that Scientology is a religion, when his research suggests that no court has ruled as such. “Research on that subject reveals no case in which the issue of whether Scientology is a religion was contested and decided by a Court that is binding on this Court or has any precedential value. To the contrary, Plaintiffs, if given an opportunity, could show that the Church of Scientology is a business under the cover of religion.”

Hey, now that’s something we’d like to watch! Babbitt continues…

Plaintiffs can produce evidence that Scientology possesses an elaborate corporate structure which is primarily a money making racket aimed less at promoting spiritual values than at squeezing individual Scientologists for as much money as they can pay. There is ample evidence that despite its claimed “religious” teachings and use of quasi-religious vocabulary, Scientology does not really have anything that could be called a theology. Critics suspect that clerical terms like spiritual, God, and Church mainly serve the purpose of tax evasion.


We have a feeling this is a bit of a long shot — how often do motions to reconsider actually prevail, we’d like to know from our expert community — but we find this motion entertaining as all get out. Give it a look and tell us what you think…


Garcia vs. Scientology: Motion to Reconsider


Jon_AtackJon Atack on Steve Hassan’s Combating Cult Mind Control

Jon Atack has given us a piece that gives us the opportunity to recommend a book for our community. Take it away, Jon…

When I left Scientology, I was eager to find out as much as I could about the cult. I still believed — indeed, I was at the center of the UK ‘independent’ movement for several months — but that didn’t hinder my curiosity. As a member, I’d read Cyril Vosper’s Mindbenders, Christopher Evans’s Cults of Unreason, and sociologist Roy Wallis’s Road to Total Freedom. So, I’ve never been afraid that my mind might be changed by evidence. The refusal to even consider information in most departing members surprised me, but, then, I didn’t know about cognitive dissonance which so often prevents us from considering evidence that conflicts with our beliefs.

What I learned about Hubbard after leaving made me highly suspicious of his motives. Why would anyone believe a pathological liar who insisted that “honesty is sanity?” I collected 27 official biographies published by Scientology — most of them authored by Hubbard, all of them copyrighted to him — and no two were the same. Hubbard was careless with facts. He liked to tell stories. He was a fabulist.

It took me only a few weeks to distance myself from the “Technology” with the realization that the promises made for it had none of them been fulfilled. There have never been any Clears or OTs. The “release” grades are bogus (try persuading a Scientologist to “communicate freely on any subject” by reading my book). Scientology simply creates “auditing” junkies, desperate for the next “level.” It is actually an intelligence agency posing as a religion.

But it took me years to understand what Scientology really is: A systematic form of indoctrination that overwhelms the “self-determinism” of its members, turning them into dependent fanatics, hooked on the euphoria of its hypnotic “processes” and antagonistic to anyone who questions its beliefs. Steve Hassan’s Combating Cult Mind Control was one of the first books that I read about exploitative persuasion, and it was the first to make complete sense to me. It provided a simple route map of techniques common to all cults, and demonstrated, beyond doubt, that we Dev-OTs had been exploited and manipulated.

Soon after I read the book, I had the pleasure of meeting Steve, who stayed at my house for a couple of days. My own book, A Piece of Blue Sky, had just made legal history as the only book ever prohibited from publication in the US that did not violate state security (the only other book subjected to “prior restraint” — in violation of the First Amendment — was Victor Marchetti’s expose of the CIA). Steve read the proof copy and was overjoyed that we defeated the injunction and were able to publish. We have remained friends ever since that day, over 25 years ago.

In that time, hundreds of thousands of people around the world have benefited from Combating Cult Mind Control. Typically, ex members are baffled by their experience. They cannot understand how their reasoning was bypassed, as they come to realize just how obvious the deceptions of the cult were. In the documentary Going Clear, two-time Oscar winner Paul Haggis suggests that he was simply stupid, but this is no explanation at all (did I mention that he’d won two Oscars?).

Many extremely intelligent and talented people are drawn into cults. When I was a member, Scientology had many lawyers, doctors and scientists in its ranks. My course supervisor at Birmingham was a PhD who worked for NASA. The cult even boasted a professor of sociology who wrote a response to Roy Wallis during his brief membership. Psychiatrist Frank ‘Sarge’ Gerbode was a member for almost 15 years, before defecting to found the Institute for Research into Metapsychology.

All too often, ex-members simply ignore the evidence, without realizing that they are responding to the cult’s phobia induction. As Steve has long said, “If you were under mind control, how would you know?” With Scientologists, it is often the sense of superiority that cripples enquiry: What Hubbard called “know best” and inflicted upon us all. Cult expert Christian Szurko tells me that in over 30 years working with former cult members, ex-Scientologists tend to be the most arrogant (not a problem at the Bunker, I hasten to add, and I am extremely humble, as I’m sure you’ve realized).

Steve contacted me when he started work on the updated version of Combating Cult Mind Control, late last year. I’ve contributed material about Scientology and offered a few minor tweaks.

The new book widens the net. Those of us with significant experience of cults have long realized that the same dynamics apply to all fanatical groups. Steve has extended his argument to include terrorists and human traffickers. He includes the story of Masoud Banisadr, a former ambassador for the Iranian MeK, which has the dubious honor of inventing ‘suicide’ bombing. He also includes Rachel Thomas’s story. She was recruited by a modelling agency, but soon found herself trapped in a sex trafficking ring.

Steve has also added two of the larger cults, each of which boasts millions of members: Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons. The new edition also has a new chapter showing how we can all help to educate the public and our leaders about this increasingly dangerous phenomenon. Although the Moonies are no longer in the news in the West, the cult field is burgeoning, with new groups springing up daily. Events in the Middle East show just how dangerous fanaticism can be. Groups such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda grow because of the social dynamics of undue influence. We all need to understand these dynamics and educate our children, to make a safer world.

Combating Cult Mind Control remains the best introduction to the techniques of manipulation. Techniques relied upon by Hubbard and so many other narcissistic creators of totalist cults. It is a must read. And, the truth is, you won’t know if you were subjected to mind control until you truly understand how mind control works. Read this book and find out!

I’d also be grateful if, having read it, you would promote it on Amazon and other sites, give it to friends and let your political representative know about it.

— Jon Atack



Alex Gibney op-ed in the LA Times

Filmmaker Alex Gibney has a masterful opinion piece on the editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times today. He lays out a description of Scientology’s reaction to his film, Going Clear, and the increased private eye activity that we’ve noticed. He also brings up the new report about spying on Ron Miscavige, the father of Scientology leader David Miscavige. Gibney makes the point that Scientology is able to do these things because we, the American public, subsidize the church in the form of tax exempt charitable status. Isn’t it time the IRS reviewed that status?

He’s careful to say that a review shouldn’t be based on Scientology’s beliefs, but on its behavior. Behavior that tends to benefit David Miscavige himself, or actor Tom Cruise, which is against the rules for a tax exempt religious organization. “It seems to me that our government has a ‘fundamental, overriding interest’ in protecting individual liberty by not subsidizing harassment or surveillance by gun-toting private eyes. The 1st Amendment should not be a smokescreen to hide human rights abuses and possible criminal activities.”

It’s a great piece of writing, and make sure you give it a look.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 11, 2015 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 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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