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O Canada! All eyes in the Scientology-watching world will be looking north next week

canadaHey, this really sneaked up on us. After a stop in Chicago on Saturday, we’re going to the great white north next week! Oh, Canada!

We just wanted to remind you that we’ll be crossing the border next week, and helping Jon Atack by participating in his swan song, a weeklong conference that should be a blockbuster.

One of the best things that’s come out of this little experiment in single-subject daily journalism has been the Underground Bunker’s relationship with Atack, the premier Scientology historian active today. He had gone quiet for a number of years after the publication of his book, A Piece of Blue Sky, but then we noticed that he’d made an appearance on a television show about cults.

We reached out to him, hoping he might be interested in participating in a project. We told him one of the things we try to do here at the Bunker is deal with all of the bad information, the myths, that grow up around Scientology because of the nature of the Internet. Could he help us cut through the noise and get to the facts?

We started out with a photograph of L. Ron Hubbard auditing a tomato (as well as another photo that often gets misrepresented), and our series with Jon, Scientology Mythbusting, really took off from there.

There are probably a couple of e-books in the material that Atack has written for us in the two years since, and maybe one of these days we’ll get around to putting something like that out. But for now, you can revisit his words of wisdom at our dedicated page about him.


Atack tells us that he’s ready to go into a more permanent retirement this time, but first he is putting on a big show. He’ll be in Toronto next week with Tyndale University professor Jim Beverley to examine Scientology with a who’s who of invited guests. Atack was good enough to invite your proprietor and Paulette Cooper, and we’ll be talking about our book and more on Tuesday morning.

The night before, we’re also having a reading in town sponsored by the local Centre for Inquiry, and we hope to see you there. But it’s at the conference where we can really go in depth on Hubbard and his movement, and we’re looking forward to meeting so many other great figures in the Scientology watching world.

We sure hope you can join us. Visit the conference website and please come join the event. Here’s the week’s lineup that Jon previously gave us…

The event will be at the Sheraton Toronto Airport Hotel & Conference Centre from 22-26 June.

There will be morning, afternoon and evening sessions over the five days of the seminar. The evening sessions, unless otherwise indicated, will be panel discussions, open to questions from the audience. This is an outline of the programme that we hope to present, certain details may be modified.

Monday 22 June

Morning sessions:

Why Me? Jon Atack’s path from raw recruit to trained auditor and OT V, his departure from Scientology and his work since.

Hubbard’s biography – Jon with Gerry Armstrong and a video from Hubbard’s biographer Russell Miller. We will examine Hubbard’s significant claims: that he was a ‘bloodbrother’ of the Pikuni people; that he broke broncos as an infant; his alleged study with gurus in Tibet, India, China and Mongolia; the Caribbean Motion Picture Expedition; his frequent claims to be a ‘nuclear physicist’ and to have made the first mineralogical survey of Puerto Rico; the Alaskan Radio Experimental Expedition; Hubbard’s claims to have been a wounded and decorated war hero and to have worked in Navy Intelligence; Hubbard’s involvement with Aleister Crowley’s Sex Magick; Hubbard’s claims to virtuosity as a hypnotist.

Afternoon sessions:

The history of the cult – Jon Atack on the origins of the cult – Whatever happened to the first 280 Clears, the research pool upon which Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health was based? The withdrawal of Hubbard’s original supporters: publisher Art Ceppos, editor John Campbell, and Dr Joseph Winter; the Shrine Auditorium Clear fiasco; Hubbard’s kidnap of his baby daughter, Alexis, and flight to Cuba; the Wichita Foundation; Hubbard’s loss of Dianetics and creation of ‘Scientology’ (largely based on Aleister Crowley’s ideas); Saint Hill; Government Inquiries; Heavy Ethics and the Sea Project – with Hana Whitfield, a founder member of the Sea Project; the Mission into Time – with Hana (who will also talk about Hubbard’s temperament); the Sea Org in the Mediterranean, overboarding, the death of Susan Meister; the Rock Festival and the flight to the US; Hubbard in hiding; the Sea Org in the 70s, with Nancy Many, Chuck Beatty; the CMO take over with Jesse Prince

Evening sessions:
Nancy Many’s Brainwashed; Jesse, Hana, Nancy, Gerry, Q&A


Tuesday 23 June

Morning sessions:

The Guardian’s Office of Special Affairs – Jon Atack introduction – the first criminal activity (James Elliot, in Wichita, in 1952); The Scientologist: a Manual on the Dissemination of Material 1955; the creation of the Guardian’s Office and What is Greatness?; Nancy Many on Hubbard’s direction of the GO.

Tony Ortega on The Unbreakable Miss Lovely, with Miss Lovely herself, Paulette Cooper; ‘dead-agenting’ and ‘fair game’: the tactics used to ruin critics. The 800-page Information Full Hat, used by the Guardian’s Office and re-issued in 1990, without a single deletion.

Afternoon sessions:

Celebrities – Jon Atack introduction, including celebrities who left, such as Aldous Huxley, Gloria Swanson, Leonard Cohen, Van Morrison and Nicole Kidman; policy on celebrities; Nora Crest, former staffer at Celebrity Center LA, Carmen Llewelyn, Hollywood actor, about her experience at CC. The religion angle – how Scientology was transformed from a ‘science of mental health’ into a religion. With contributions from cult expert Christian Szurko, Professor Martin Poulter and Professor James Beverley.

Evening sessions:

Tory Christman, Nancy Many, Nora Crest, Carmen Llewelyn

Wednesday 24 June

Morning sessions:

Jon Atack with Steven Hassan – the hypnotic and social influence techniques of Scientology deconstructed. Demonstrations of training and auditing: Book One, TRs, Objectives, NED, Grades, Clearing Course/OT II; OT III; OT IV-VII; OT VIII ‘Antichrist’ – with Jesse Prince, senior ‘technical terminal’ when OT VIII was released.

Afternoon sessions:

Second generation – Nora Crest; former Hamburg State Minister, Ursula Caberta, video on child abuse in Scientology. Jon Atack on problems particular to second generation members. Christian Szurko on counselling ex-members.


Scientology attitudes towards medical treatment – Tory Christman, who was ordered to stop taking epilepsy medication; Lawrence Wollersheim video on Scientology’s attack upon his mental health.

Evening sessions:

Jamie DeWolf will perform his show about his great-grandfather, Ron Hubbard
Gerry Armstrong presentation

Thursday 25 June

Morning sessions:

The international scene – Professor Alexander Dvorkin on eastern Europe; Pete Griffiths on Ireland and the UK; Andreas Heldal-Lund on Scandinavia; Steve Cannane, author of a new book on the history of the cult in Australia; and Jonny Jacobsen, journalist and long-term Scientology expert based in Paris, on the European scene.

Afternoon sessions:

Front groups, including Narconon and the health dangers of the Purification Rundown.

Evening sessions:

We hope to have video reports from Karin Spaink, in Holland; Marta Gorna, in Poland; Simonetta Po, in Italy; criminologist Arnaud Palison, who worked with the French courts; and a video from Lawrence Wollersheim about his successful litigation; Steve Cannane, Professor Dvorkin, Pete Griffiths, Q&A

Friday 26 June

Morning sessions:

Recruiting and hard sell; the dissemination drill; the registrar sales course and Big League Sales.

Afternoon sessions:

Recovery with Chris Shelton, Nan McLean; Jon Atack’s recommendation that members question the tenets in open discussion. Cult information and the internet – David Pike, of FACTNet, and Brian Collinge, message board moderator.


A great Underground Bunker moment remembered for no reason

Jon Atack was asking us about something, and it had us looking through our archives. And then we saw something we hadn’t thought about for a while. For the hell of it, we thought we’d remind you of it.

It was October 23, 2013, and we were in Los Angeles to provide live coverage of a summary judgment hearing in the lawsuit of former Scientology Sea Org worker Laura DeCrescenzo. Scientology had argued that she waited too long to file a lawsuit about the abuse she said she suffered in the Sea Org. Laura had countered with thousands of pages of documents she had to fight to the US Supreme Court to pry out of the church which documented her abuse in great detail. We were live in the courtroom, trying to keep up with all of the twists in logic being uttered by Judge Ronald Sohigian. We had thousands of readers, many of them commenting, watching every moment as we tried to figure out where Sohigian was going. Hours went by as he dealt with related matters, but held back his decision while we typed madly, trying to keep up.

Among those hitting the F5 key was Laura DeCrescenzo herself, visiting Marc and Claire Headley in Colorado…


And the suspense was killing everyone, especially because Sohigian seemed to be siding against Laura…


When Sohigian finally made his ruling, we could barely keep up with it. We typed it in fast phrases and barely had time to tap three characters in comment…


In other words, after hammering Laura’s case for hours, Judge Sohigian said he was ruling against Scientology’s motion, and he decided there was enough that still needed to be decided, it warranted a trial, which is what Laura wants. We scrolled down to find the exact moment in the comments when those words appeared on the site…


The celebration had just got started in the comments as we continued to tap away at what become a very long explanation by Sohigian. A couple of memes showed up in the comments, of course…


Followed by the image everyone was waiting to see, from Colorado…


That was some day, with more than 3,000 comments. And Laura will get her day in court: Her trial is scheduled for December 7.


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Actual caption: “This is not what I expected to find in small town Maine.”


About to enjoy the Going Clear premiere in Bologna, Italy…


Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Leonard Johnson, left, does some gladhanding at an event at the Fort Harrison Hotel. Sports teams seem happy to help Scientology with its front groups…



We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together an index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Our upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

June 20: Chicago (with Christian Stolte) The Annoyance Theater, 5pm: This event is SOLD OUT.

June 22: Toronto (with Paulette Cooper) Toronto Public Library, 40 Orchard View Blvd, 7:30 pm, sponsored by the Centre for Inquiry-Canada

June 23: Toronto (with Paulette Cooper) The “Getting Clear” conference

June 28: Clearwater, Florida (with Paulette Cooper) Clearwater Public Library, 2 pm, sponsored by Center for Inquiry-Tampa Bay

July 12: Washington DC, Center for Inquiry (with Paulette Cooper)

July 14: Hartford, MARK TWAIN HOUSE (with Tom Tomorrow)

July 17: Denver, The Secular Hub, 7 pm (with Chris Shelton)

July 20: Dallas, Times Ten Cellar, 7 pm (with Robert Wilonsky)

July 22: Houston

July 24: San Antonio

July 25: Austin

July 29: Paris (with Jonny Jacobsen)

August 4: London, Conway Hall (with John Sweeney)

August 24: Boston

September 16: Arizona State University


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 16, 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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