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Scientology’s showdown in Belgium: Here’s our plan to cover an epic battle


[Jonny Jacobsen and your proprietor in Paris at the end of July]

Our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, is one of the most thorough, accurate, and dogged reporters we know. And it excites us to no end that he’s going to be covering an upcoming Scientology trial in Brussels that should be explosive. Like us, however, Jonny doesn’t actually make a living with his expertise on Scientology. He’s going to need some help if he’s going to get to the trial and cover it with the kind of effort he puts into everything.

We told him we’d like to support him, and asked what we could do. He asked us to post the following description of his needs. We hope you can get behind what should be an epic adventure of reporting. Take it away, Jonny.

From October 26 to November 27, a criminal court in Brussels will try 13 Scientologists, but more importantly two of its organisations, on fraud-related charges. As we’ve already reported here at the Bunker, the case is a fusion of two investigations of the movement, elements of which date back to 1997.

If Scientology is found guilty, it would be the first time the organisation has been convicted in Belgium. So you can be sure they’ll be fighting it all the way. I’ve joined forces with Byline, a relatively new website specializing in crowd-funded journalism, to try to raise the money to cover the trial.


The information I have so far suggests that the trial will run from October 26, 27, 29 and 30 with a pause the following week. It will resume on November 9, running the 10, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 26 and 27. But of course there’s no guarantee that those dates are set in stone, so I’ll have to be flexible. I’ll need the money to cover my expenses commuting from Paris to Brussels and back again and for overnight stays where there are two or more consecutive court dates.

Just up at Byline is my presentation of the case, a list of suggested levels of payment with a series of rewards for supporters. I’m initially asking for $2,000 to cover my costs, and once the trial gets going I’ll ask for another $2,000 to ensure I can stay the course to the end.

To be fair to my backers I will have to concentrate coverage over at Byline, but I don’t see why I can’t file the odd round-up at the Bunker. (I’m guessing the Byline audience will include people who are not quite as well-versed in the arcane workings of Scientology as the Bunkerites.) I hope some of you will support this project, but even if you don’t, you can always drop in at the Byline site to keep up with coverage (assuming I manage to get the funding I need).

Finally: I couldn’t quite get to grips with the video part of the website, so here’s a brief audio presentation of the project, in my best BBC voice.

— Jonny Jacobsen

Thanks, Jonny. And here’s a fun fact: Alex Gibney’s documentary “Going Clear” will air in Belgium on October 1, just weeks before the trial starts. We have little doubt that Scientology will file a motion to protest that the film prejudices the Belgian public and will make the trial unfair. We’re just glad Jonny will be there to report on it for us!


We love the Midwest

Just a quick note to say how amazing the last two days were. The Bunker crew in Cleveland was second to none. But then Minneapolis far exceeded our expectations. The venue was one of our favorites so far, and the room was jam-packed. Questions at both events were terrific. And thank you, Twin Cities people, for selling out the books brought by the Minnesota Atheists to sell. We like it when our sponsoring groups take in some cash for their causes.

As always, it hits us hard when people come up to tell us their disconnection stories at these events. Last night, we nearly came to tears when a mother and her daughter told us about how the Bunker was helping them get through their family being split apart. The husband/father of the family disconnected in the Scientology way, and won’t be a part of their lives — and get this, he’s a surgeon.

Yeah, we’d like to go under the knife of a guy who thinks Scientology is assuring his eternity, and who thinks his meat body contains a Genetic Entity and a bunch of unseen body thetans. That guy’s science must really be solid.

Anyway, an amazing couple of nights, and our thanks again to Center for Inquiry-Northeast Ohio and Minnesota Atheists for putting on such great events.


Bonus photos from our tipsters

When Thursday at 2 pm comes around, people resort to some pretty desperate measures…


It’s like they’re not even trying anymore to disguise what’s going on…


Actual caption: “Congrats and well done to Jim, who just secured his package all the way to Clear!!!!” (There’s one born every minute.)




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)…

Sept 27: Portland, Friendly House, 1737 NW 26th Ave, 12:45 pm, sponsored by Humanists of Greater 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, venue secured (announcement coming later)

Oct 28: Adelaide, Wheatsheaf Hotel, (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), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24)


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 25, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT 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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