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Scientology’s speechwriter, the word of God, and a Hubbard bio that will never see the light of day

 
One of the benefits of our book tour is that we’re getting to meet people around the country who we’ve only known through the Internet or on the telephone. In Denver we finally met Claire Headley for the first time. In DC, it was the amazing researcher Mary McConnell. In Toronto, it’s a list so long we were left stunned.

And then, this week, we made our first ever trip to Dallas and got to know Steve Hall.

Steve is a well-known name in Scientology watching. A former Sea Org member, Steve was largely responsible for starting the surge in Independent Scientology’s public challenge to the official church that took place in the late 2000s and that was more popularly associated with Mark “Marty” Rathbun.

It was Steve’s website, Scientology-cult.com, that, before Rathbun’s blog, gave a place to many recent defectors from the church to speak up about David Miscavige and the state of the organization.

Steve showed us around Dallas, and we talked about his years in the Sea Org, much of which was taken up with the thankless task of writing scripts for the big events that David Miscavige wanted choreographed down to the second. (For a lengthier discussion of Steve’s 17 years in the church and his stint in the RPF, check out this interview of him at Business Insider.)

We told Steve that when we think of big Scientology events and their scripts, we can’t help thinking of Dan Sherman (pictured above), the official Hubbard biographer and the man who supplies David Miscavige with his unique and mangled experiments in the English language.

As we said in 2012

This was our first experience watching Dan Sherman, the writer behind Miscavige’s speeches, and the man who serves as the church’s official Hubbard historian. We were struck by his odd voice, we dug his shaggy mullet, but most of all, it was just fascinating as hell to hear the man speak who, we now realize, supplies the bizarre, twisted way of talking that characterizes Miscavige’s own presentations. This is the man, in other words, behind all the odd sentence constructions and repeated bizarre phrases that turn every Miscavige utterance into a logical pretzel: consequent to that fact, and in so far as, and specifically and summarily, and no less than, and amplifying and in contrast to, and so many others.

Steve told us that he’d actually talked to Sherman about that florid diction, and that Sherman had told him a couple of really interesting things.

“He said that he developed that style of writing as a way of creating something that the people listening could not hope to create themselves. It’s to impress people with how profound it was,” Steve said.

How cheeky. And, you know, how is high school dropout David Miscavige to know that Sherman is making him sound like a chump?

Anyway, it was the other thing Steve told us about Sherman that really threw us for a loop.

“He once implied that he was the actual author of the opening lines of Genesis, from the Bible,” Steve told us.

Hang on. You mean, Dan Sherman says he’s the actual source for these stentorian lines?

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”

Apparently Sherman believes he penned these momentous lines in a past life. Ah, Scientology.

But even if Dan Sherman is a past-lives cowboy like other Scientologists, he is not a Sea Org member, which both Steve and Marc Headley reminded me. So he could come and go as he pleased, and he got away with his silver mullet, which wasn’t Sea Org issue.

Headley says that in meetings, David Miscavige would remind people that Sherman had once been a spy for the church, and had helped run an operation against Gerry Armstrong. (Dan’s code name in that operation was “Sheepskin.”)

“Dave tells that story because Danny would be in meetings, and it was to pump him up and tear down the others,” Headley says.

Although Sherman wasn’t a Sea Org member, Headley says that Miscavige rewarded him for his loyalty by renovating one of the stand alone houses on the Int Base near Hemet for Sherman. Headley says the house was much nicer than the others, and came to be known as “the writer’s house.”

Sherman’s longtime employment was supposed to be about more than just events, both Hall and Headley say. He’s the official L. Ron Hubbard biographer, and he was supposed to put out a book on Hubbard on behalf of the church. But Steve tells us that won’t happen.

“It will never come out, I’ll tell you that,” Steve says. “I’ve read it. It was a manuscript in a three-ring binder.”

Steve says he was supposed to be working on a script for a biographical film about Hubbard, so another executive allowed him to read the manuscript.

“Hubbard’s too corrupt. They can’t ever let that get published. Sherman covers Hubbard’s bigamy, for example,” Hall says, referring to Hubbard’s 1946 marriage to Sara Northrup when he was still married to his first wife, Margaret “Polly” Grubb, who he divorced in 1947.

“The manuscript covers it, but Sherman spins it, saying that Hubbard did it to save Sara,” he says. But for Steve, it was something of a revelation. As a Sea Org member, he had no idea about that part of Hubbard’s life. “I was shocked when I read it.”

Hall says that when Miscavige learned that he had been allowed to see the manuscript, the official that gave Steve permission was then busted down.

Miscavige will make sure the rest of the world doesn’t see Sherman’s book either, Steve says.

In the meantime, Sherman will be responsible for those great speeches given by Miscavige. We can’t wait for the next one to get leaked to us.

“I originally hired Dan Sherman to do the LRH Biography,” says Mike Rinder, Scientology’s former international spokesman. “He had some talent as a writer when he had a good editor — Trevor Meldal-Johnsen — to rein in his flowery, overly long sentences. Once Miscavige started employing him to write his speeches, things went downhill. Rather than an editor, he was instead encouraged by someone obsessed with trying to sound erudite and intelligent even more than Dan liked to write prolix prose. The speeches descended into Monty Pythonesque parodies of hype and breathlessness, and Sherman became a complete ‘teacher’s pet.’ Never a poster-boy for men of stiff-spined courage, as he fell under Miscavige’s spell Dan Sherman became what could only be described as ‘COB’s bitch.’ Unfortunately, it is a lifetime appointment as there is nobody else in the world that could turn out the dross that has become the hallmark of Miscavige.”

Well, there you have it. And our thanks to Steve Hall, for showing us a slice of Dallas. We look forward to coming back!

 
Steve_Hall

 
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On to Houston!

Wow, last night in Dallas, at a terrific venue — the Times Ten Cellars in Lakewood — your proprietor was quizzed by the awesome Robert Wilonsky of the Dallas Morning News. And we got to meet some amazing people.

Bunker commenter Frank Lee was there to put a bolo tie on us, and we also got to meet several other Bunker loyalists. But one of the highlights was meeting the amazing and brave Sunny Pereira…

 
Sunny_Pereira_TO

It’s always so inspiring to meet someone like Sunny, who was treated so badly by Scientology and then risked everything to get her story out to the public. We told her that the story she featured in that was written by Joe Childs and Tom Tobin at the Tampa Bay Times was, for our money, one of the four or five most important stories ever written about the Church of Scientology.

It was great to meet Sunny and her husband and see photos of their two young children. There’s no better result after what Sunny has been through than the success she’s enjoying now.

We hope you Houstonites can join in on the fun on Wednesday night. The Humanists of Houston are hosting us at their regular joint, the Fox and Hound on Westheimer, where they’re used to a fun crowd in a festive setting. See you there!

 
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BOOK NOTES
3D-Unbreakable

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 22: Houston, Fox and Hound, 11470 Westheimer Road, 7 pm, sponsored by Humanists of Houston

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

July 25: Austin, Cafe Express on Lamar, 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

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on July 21, 2015 at 07:00

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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