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The Surviving Scientology podcast: Growing up in the Age of Miscavige

Aaron_Smith_LevinJeffrey Augustine is back with another podcast. We asked him to provide a synopsis…

Aaron Smith-Levin is a second-generation Scientologist who grew up in the David Miscavige era. Aaron spent virtually all his time after school in the Philadelphia Org where his mother worked. By age 12, Aaron was an outer org trainee at Flag training for the original Golden Age of Tech. By age 15, Aaron returned to the Philadelphia Org to work as supervisor.

Aaron was an extremely dedicated Scientologist who signed a Sea Org contract with the CMO. However, he could not find anyone to replace himself at the Philadelphia Org. Eventually, the Church replaced him with someone from the Czech Republic. Aaron joined the Sea Org and was then sent to ASHO Day Los Angeles as the Tech Sec, Division 4. It was here that Aaron discovered just how brutally the six orgs in Los Angeles area competed with each other for preclears (customers). Flag and the IAS regges also compete for the preclear dollars. Aaron describes just exactly how the IAS regges create certain problems for Scientologists that essentially force them to donate to the IAS.

Aaron discusses how money and stats work in the Church in a way to send as much money to upper management while leaving as little money as possible for food, pay, and clothing in the Orgs.

Aaron additionally offers a fascinating and funny insight into how no excuses for not making stats are allowed in the Church. He describes how individual Scientology Orgs do not cooperate with each other and often work at cross-purposes and thus make life hell in the Sea Org.

Aaron’s “first big crack in the armor” occurred when he watched the 2008 YouTube videos of Jason Beghe filmed by Mark Bunker. Aaron was in the Sea Org in Los Angeles and had watched as the Senior C/S of ASHO was auditing Beghe to try to get him back into the fold. The Church’s inability to recover someone as important as Beghe was shocking to Aaron.


We ask Aaron what he knew and believed about L. Ron Hubbard while he was in the Sea Org as compared to what he learned after he left the Church. Aaron cites the “Truth Rundown” by the Tampa Bay Times and the Alex Gibney documentary Going Clear as revelatory and impactful in terms of revealing the real facts about L. Ron Hubbard.

— Jeffrey Augustine



Miss Lovely goes big Down Under

Australia’s Lateline interviewed Paulette Cooper, Len Zinberg, and your proprietor in Toronto last month, and today viewers of the program are getting to see the result. So far, there’s a web version of the story posted by ABC, and we’ll get the video as soon as it’s available.


Rocky Mountain High


Hey, we’re in Denver today, and we’ll be kicking things off his morning by appearing on the Peter Boyles show from 7 to 9 am local time (9 to 11 am Eastern). We’ve been on Peter’s show in the past, and for a reason you’d probably never guess.

It actually had to do with a dumb new twist in the media obsession with the JonBenet Ramsey case, and we debunked it all the way from Fort Lauderdale. When we reminded Peter of what fun we had talking about that years ago, and that we were in town with our new book out, he invited us to come on down to the studio. We hope you can tune in.

At 7 pm today we’ll be at The Secular Hub, which is some kind of ill-reputed den for notorious local freethinkers, we hear. Bunker contributor Chris Shelton will join us on stage to help us talk about our book and about Scientology in general.

When we arrived here in town yesterday, we were pretty stunned to learn about the gathering of folks our visit has attracted. Sara Goldberg is here from Florida, Lori Hodgson from California. It’s the first chance we’ve had to meet Lori, and to meet Claire Headley which, considering how much we’ve written about her over the years and what a big help she’s been at the Bunker, it’s kind of amazing to think we’re meeting her for the first time.

It’s your chance to meet a lot of interesting people you may have only read about before. So come on down!

UPDATE: Here’s the podcast of our appearance this morning on the Peter Boyles show…



Bonus photos from our tipsters

Hey, girl. Here’s an actual caption for you: “When you’re husband poses for the new book he bought you”


For what it’s worth, Scientology rapper Chill E.B. has apparently put out a new song he hopes fans of the Oakland Raiders adopt as the theme for the 2015-2016 season…


Cementing their bromance, Bob Duggan and Grant Cardone strip down and get wet…



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 a complete 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)…

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

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

July 22: Houston, Fox and Hound, 11470 Westheimer Road, sponsored by Humanists of Houston

July 24: San Antonio, Folc Restaurant/Park Social, 6 pm

July 25: Austin, Cafe Express, 3 pm, Center for Inquiry

July 29: Paris, Le Bistrot Landais, 19:00 (with Jonny Jacobsen)

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

August 24: Boston, Boston Skeptics in the Pub, 7 pm (with Gregg Housh)

Sept 15: Arizona State University

Sept 23: Cleveland

Sept 24: Minneapolis

Sept 27: Portland

Sept 28: Seattle

Sept 29: Vancouver, BC


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 17, 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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