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Scenes from the increasingly desperate straits Scientology finds itself in

NashvilleOpeningWe had a lot of fun on Monday revisiting perhaps the high point in the careers of Scientology leader David Miscavige and his actor-lieutenant, Tom Cruise, when they opened a new church in Madrid in 2004. Since then, the two have been battered and bruised with years of brutal press accounts of how Miscavige physically abused his top executives, imprisoned them for years at a time, was the subject of an FBI investigation, and made his own wife disappear — all as Cruise has idly stood by, continuing to be the organization’s number one recruiting tool.

The last ten years have also seen an exodus of longtime, loyal Scientology members, as they fled Miscavige’s extreme fundraising demands, which he makes on members in order to open more unnecessary buildings around the world in order to pretend that Scientology is expanding. Thanks to our tipsters, and those at Mike Rinder’s blog, however, we get regular intelligence about just how desperate things are getting for Miscavige as his boat continues to take on water.

Today we have two small items as an example of the kind of actual data that comes in which counters the propaganda put out regularly by Miscavige and the church.

First, we received a report from a reader who’s been keeping an eye on just one of Scientology’s “Ideal Orgs” that are supposed to symbolize the church’s expansion. It’s in Nashville. Here’s what our tipster sent us, along with a couple of photographs…

In the past few months, we have driven past Celebrity Centre Nashville quite a few times, on various days at different times. This last time, a Friday in August, was no different than the other times we had seen so we decided to take some photos. We counted a total of eight cars in the parking lot, which seems to be the norm over there. This not only means that the public auditing and training rooms are near empty, but the staff is small, as well. This is an Ideal Org, that David Miscavage opened himself in 2009 (see picture, above). It won the birthday game in 2010, which means it was the fastest-growing Scientology organization of its class in the entire world. According to Miscavige, this org was supposed to change the city. It was supposed to have a large staff of over 150, who were well-paid. After the millions of dollars raised to fund this building, it sits today with no more cars in the parking lot than it did when it was back in the crappy little run-down “non-ideal” org a few blocks away. Additionally, this org is run by Sea Org members, not local Nashville Scientologists. They don’t even have enough staff to replace the “temporary” team, which has been there for six years now. Driving through the city, I tried to find any sort of Scientology presence. I found no billboards, no prominent ads, no fliers on any bulletin boards, nothing. After days of looking, I only found two items: a tiny pink ad next to the divorce attorney in the back of a magazine, and an old book at a used bookstore.

 

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Thanks for that report, tipster. We know it could be replicated all around the country. Another tipster left us something interesting in our comment section a couple of days ago. It was an email announcing that a last-minute seminar had been put together, and that in just a few days Scientologists could attend a conference on the cruise ship Freewinds with Scientology super-donors Bob Duggan and Grant Cardone.

 
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[Cardone, left, and Duggan, center, aboard the Freewinds]

 
We were stunned when we saw that email. We knew that Duggan had recently sold his cancer drug company, Pharmacyclics, for about $21 billion and so perhaps he has some time on his hands, but it seemed extraordinary that Scientology could get him and Cardone, who seems to have about ten different motivational speaking companies going, to appear at a Scientology event on last-minute notice. You would think it would take months to book those guys. But they’re apparently willing to drop everything to hang with their fellow thetans on the high seas. We asked Mike Rinder what he thought of if.

“Yeah, Duggan is also at the ‘WISE Convention’ at the Marriott Burbank Airport. It seems the pressure is on — if they want to be in the ‘Big Being’ Club with Dave and Tom, they need to do more than just give money. You can’t buy status in Miscavige’s church, apparently,” Rinder told us. “But if you think about it, it’s actually the best way to ensure continued flow of cash from someone with a lot of money. Have them participate in the scam themselves. They are far less likely to balk and walk away from the rip off if they are involved in it. Because if they just continue to be soaked for money, sooner or later they realize they are being taken to the cleaners.”

 
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Daily Beast on the Purif

A few weeks ago, Daily Beast reporter Brandy Zadrozny told us she was looking into the Department of Defense-funded Purification Rundown experiment on Desert Shield and Desert Storm veterans. We told her we’d talked to an expert who warned that this was the kind of feel-good study that would find — surprise! — that hanging out in saunas and getting some exercise would tend to make folks with various ailments feel better. But what would not be studied was L. Ron Hubbard’s thesis — that fat cells store up the drugs you took decades ago, and are released during his “detoxification” — all of which is pure malarkey. We put Zadrozny in touch with Mike Rinder, who knew all about FASE, the Scientologist-created group that backs these kinds of studies to try to prove that Hubbard’s hokum has some validity.

Well, we’re glad we did. Zadrozny also talked to Bunker regular Chris Shelton, and she did a bang-up job on her lengthy article. As she points out, you have a group of veterans with a hard-to-diagnose cluster of different symptoms, a researcher who admits that Scientology came to him because he goes for wacky stuff like “wifi is bad for you,” and a threshold of success — did you feel better? — that will almost certainly give Scientology the result it wants. What a great way to spend government science money.

Also, Jim Lippard at Skeptic has a really glowing review of our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely.

 
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Bonus photos from our tipsters

At the mission in Fushing, Taiwan, a task force gets to work on promoting OT 9!

 
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WISE in Kiev drew 150 for its seminar on how to run businesses the L. Ron Hubbard way! Just what the Ukraine needs.

 
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Dean Glosup and Jim Mathers had a whale of a time on the Freewinds. Can you imagine the regging they got?

 
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More Scientologists and Spanish! This time it’s Nancy Cartwright talking about her upcoming gig in Mexico City to help an org go Ideal 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.

Tony Ortega’s upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

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

Sept 15: Barrett the Honors College, Arizona State University, ASU in Downtown Phoenix campus

Sept 23: Cleveland, Parma Heights Library, 7pm sponsored by Center for Inquiry – Northeast Ohio

Sept 24: Minneapolis

Sept 27: Portland

Sept 28: Seattle, Razzi’s Pizzeria, 7 pm, with Seattle Skeptics and Seattle Atheists

Sept 29: Vancouver, BC, Seven Dining Lounge, 7 pm

Oct 23: Sydney, Giant Dwarf Theatre (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 25: Melbourne

Oct 28: Adelaide (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 30: Perth

Past dates: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4)

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on August 12, 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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