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See the message a Scientologist sends to disconnect from a best friend, forever

Here at the Underground Bunker we’ve brought you many stories of “disconnection,” the toxic Scientology policy that rips families apart. But not every order to disconnect involves the kind of family heartbreak that we saw with Sara Goldberg, for example, in Alex Gibney’s film Going Clear.

When Scientology orders people to cut off ties, it can have consequences not only for families but for close friends and in unexpected ways.

Zac Hopkins (pictured) was a third-generation Scientologist. He grew up in the Los Angeles area and attended Scientology private schools until, he says, at about the age of 12, he told his parents that he demanded they put him in public school.

“All of my friends joined the Sea Org. But I was more on the rebellious side,” he says. And that’s why he developed a strong friendship with another rebellious young Scientology student, a young woman who bounced back and forth between Zac’s public schools and Scientology private schools.

Zac, like many other kids who grew up in Scientology, had a different relationship to the church than people who join as adults. For him, Scientology was a presence in his life rather than something he worked at. For example, even as a child his parents made him fill out a “CSW” — a “completed staff work,” essentially a permission slip that church staff members submit — even if it was just to buy a toy. But Zac also felt only tenuously attached to Scientology at times. He wasn’t focused on going up the “Bridge” of course levels, and he had no interest in joining the Sea Org, the hardcore elite of Scientology who sign billion-year contracts.


And the same seemed to be true of his friend. She was also on the fringes of Scientology, both part of it and not part of it, and it helped cement their friendship.

After high school, Zac tells us he dated a woman who was not a Scientologist, but he ended up in a bizarre situation. In 2006 he took a job with a school in New Mexico, expecting to teach various subjects, but when he got there, he realized that the Mojave Academy was a strange place. The only instruction going on was Scientology training, and the students were mostly the children of Sea Org members. With only the money for a one-way journey to the school, Zac says he felt trapped, and he resented the way he was being pressured to get more involved with Scientology.

Depressed, he eventually escaped from the facility and then decided he was done with this lifetime. “I still believed in the past lives thing at this point,” he says, explaining why he then drove his car off a cliff, destroying his automobile. He somehow survived it. After being encouraged to get more Scientology counseling, he walked away from it for good in 2007.

Since then, Zac had maintained his strong friendship with his old friend from school. It didn’t seem to bother her, Zac says, that he had walked away from Scientology. They had both been the rebellious type when it came to the church, and why would she care if he was taking courses or not? (Meanwhile, his parents also left the church in the last few years.)

Then, recently, Zac began speaking out about Scientology. He started making videos, in part inspired by Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear. One of Zac’s videos, which took apart one of Scientology’s responses to Gibney’s movie, has been seen more than 35,000 times.

Zac, 28, was on his way to a party a few days ago when he got a message that stunned him. He’s provided it to us, with his friend’s name redacted…


“I’m completely devastated. I was driving to a party when I got the message from her,” he says. “We had a really strong bond, because we were the only ones fighting against the Scientology system. It feels awful to leave Scientology and for her to stay in, because she really doesn’t fit in it. And for me it’s really awful because she’s one of my best friends. It feels like I’ve broken up with someone I really love without knowing why.”

Zac says it’s particularly troubling to him because his friend was like him, someone who had rebelled against Scientology and was only tangentially involved.

“I didn’t expect that someone who wasn’t really a Scientologist would disconnect from me. But I figure it has to do with who she works for, or something like that,” he says.

As we’ve seen in the past, Scientologists can get ultimatums from the church about the people they socialize with, the television programs they watch, or who they work for. Zac thinks something like that happened with his friend, who is working in a company run by a Scientologist.

“She definitely wouldn’t do this on her own. It’s definitely someone telling her to do this,” Zac says.

We wouldn’t be surprised if this is a form of retaliation for Zac’s videos, which have been biting. He expected some blowback, and he’s written at his Facebook page about some harassment he’s experienced.

But to lose such a good friend? Zac admits that he’s feeling crushed. And that’s what Scientology does, after all.

Take a look at Zac’s video taking apart Scientology’s response to Going Clear — it’s really well done…



Washington Post story lets Narconon get away with a whopper

We told you recently about an odd situation in Maryland. Scientology is trying one of its sneaky maneuvers again. They want to open a small Narconon drug rehab center at an old fish camp called Trout Run that once filled in for Camp David during filming for The West Wing. But Narconon can’t move in with the current zoning; it needs the location to get a historic designation.

Today, the Washington Post has a really fun piece about the hilarity this situation has caused. Narconon paid for consultants who are trying to convince local officials that Trout Run is a historically significant place, while locals who want to keep Scientology out are arguing that the place isn’t really significant at all. “At best…Trout Run merits a roadside plaque, inscribed ‘On this site in 1930, Herbert Hoover bagged a big one’,” said one person opposed to the drug rehab.

That’s all great and we are interested in seeing how this fight turns out. But we were disappointed that the article allows Narconon to get away with this whopper: “Narconon officials vehemently deny the program pushes Scientology, describing it as completely secular in its approach.”

Sigh. How many lawsuits have to be filed against Scientology’s deceptive drug rehab network before news organizations start getting this right? There’s just no question about it: Narconon tells people that it offers individualized drug counseling in a secular program. But their own materials which are all online show that there is no drug counseling in the Narconon program, and instead it’s all the same staring contests and yelling at inanimate objects that make up the beginning courses in Scientology.

Scientology lies and says this material is “secular” merely because it’s happening in a Narconon facility and not at a Scientology “org.” But that’s like saying a eucharist held at a Catholic high school would somehow be “secular” because it wasn’t happening at a Catholic church. (We know that’s not the best of analogies, but we’re struggling to find something else as deceitful as what Scientology says to public officials all the time.)

Come on, Washington Post, don’t let Narconon get away with such blatant falsehoods. Narconon is Scientology. We’ve shown it, and Ryan Hamilton has shown it, countless times.


‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ appearance dates

May 16, Santa Barbara Humanist Society (with Paulette Cooper), 3:00 pm
May 17, Center for Inquiry-West Los Angeles, 11 am, CFI Orange County (Costa Mesa), 4:30 pm (with Paulette Cooper)
May 20, San Diego (tentative)
May 22, San Francisco (with Jamie DeWolf and Paulette Cooper)

July 12, Washington DC, Center for Inquiry


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 20, 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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