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Two years after Scientology’s ‘Super Power’ debuted, it’s still a flop


The Telegraph yesterday posted a number of photos from inside the “new” Scientology Flag Building in Clearwater, which actually opened a couple of years ago. (This isn’t even the first time we’ve seen actual photos from inside the building, which we brought you in 2013.) The occasion, the newspaper said, was that the photos had been released by “Vantage News,” which is a PR firm in England. So, in other words, this was the latest “look upon our works, and despair” moment from Scientology leader David Miscavige.

But the release of these photos from inside the “Super Power” building only reminded us of how we kept a close eye on this overblown funhouse years before it actually opened. And it also gave us an opportunity to reflect on what little impact the place has had after such a long buildup. Super Power, in fact, turned out to be a Super Dud. And with so much bad news happening for the church, it’s interesting to see Miscavige try to get some publicity out of a place the public can never enter.

If you’re not sure what we’re talking about, we’re referring to a massive, city-block sized building in Clearwater that Scientology finally opened in November 2013 after first breaking ground fifteen years earlier, in 1998. The building cost something like $80 million to construct, but Mike Rinder and other former church officials say the project raised as much as $200 million or more as it became another cash cow, one of many different initiatives church members were pressured to donate to over the years.

And for what, exactly? Scientology has referred to the structure as a modern-day “cathedral,” but that’s not really accurate. This place offers no sanctuary even to most members of Scientology. Only some members qualify to go through the “Super Power Rundown,” which was actually developed by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1970s to perk up flagging staff members who were fatigued by long hours. The rundown is intended to help a Scientologist hone his or her “theta perceptics” — the 57 senses that the thetan uses which are separate and superior to the senses used by a thetan’s meat body.


But Hubbard’s successor, David Miscavige, turned what was a set of different exercises (“rundowns”) intended to help revive staff members and instead turned it into a culminating experience for the non-staff but high-ranking (and wealthy) Scientologists. And it wouldn’t be cheap. Last year, former spokesman Mike Rinder, who keeps an eye on Scientology’s fliers and emails and other sources to keep track of what’s happening in the Flag Building, totaled up what a visit there costs…

So, if you buy 6 intensives upfront and then add the mandatory surchage of $5,000 for the “perceptic drills” (which cost nothing to deliver other than some people in “special uniforms” who “supervise”) you are shelling out $32,200, without including accommodations, meals, and mandatory contributions to the IAS/Ideal Orgs/L. Ron Hubbard Hall and Planetary Dissemination campaigns.

And what do you get for that $32,200? In 2012, we were the first to publish a complete set of renderings of what the Super Power building would look like, from its basement Sea Org mess hall to David Miscavige’s offices on the seventh floor. We also revealed the actual content of one of the Super Power “rundowns.” It involves an auditor asking a subject over and over again the same question. That question? “Where would you be safe?”

Yes, for tens of thousands of dollars, you get to hold the sensors of an e-meter and answer, hundreds of times, the question “Where would you be safe?” until you finally realize that you are “in present time.” In other words, young Buckaroo Banzai, you are where you are, and you are in that moment.

What a bargain.

And again, only some Scientologists even qualify to pay these prices and step foot in the building. Last year, Rinder cited Scientology’s own records to show that only about 15 people were going through the process each week, even though it had been built to accommodate hundreds at a time.

Still, you can count on Scientologists to say that doing Super Power is the greatest thing they’ve ever experienced (which is what they say about every process). Here, for example, is a testimonial written earlier this year by Bob Duggan, Scientology’s richest donor, who had completed the perceptic drill “level of consciousness”…

This was an awesome experience! Through the process of communication via my sense channels I fully realized WHY theta has provided me the 57 perceptions. It is so I can orient myself, perceive my surroundings, my emotions, emotions of others. This is not possible just by “seeing or glancing at something.” I must get into comm via as many sense channels as possible. Then and as I do that my level of awareness, my quality of perception really changes for the better. I “know” more about what I am actually confronting. This is really a drill to live by. USE all my perceptions as needed. But no longer will I substitute “thinking” for real perception through examination via my perceptics as appropriate. Thanks.

No, thank you, Bob, for making that explanation so clear.

Anyway, it’s funny that Miscavige is trying to get some good publicity out of the Super Power Building now, two years after the giant edifice actually made news. That was the last time, really, that we paid much attention to the place. And what a good time we had: Many of you will remember it, when Miscavige’s grand opening was spoiled by Mike Bennitt and Mike Rinder hovering overhead in a helicopter.

Now that was Super.


BelgianTVBelgian TV goes after Scientology on eve of trial

Our man in Paris, Jonny Jacobsen, tells us that things are heating up on television as we are just days away from a criminal prosecution of the Church of Scientology in Belgium…

Belgium’s public broadcaster RTBF is airing promos ahead of Wednesday’s Devoir d’enquête (Duty to investigate) special on Scientology; and it does not look as if they’ll be pulling their punches.

Here’s the language in a promo from presenter Malika Attar:

“I’ll be ready to meet you on October 21, for the return of Devoir d’Enquete (Duty to Investigate) around a special programme specially devoted to the Church of Scientology. You’re going to see four investigations carried by our crack team: They are going to reveal to you the hidden side of this sulphurous organisation. The cult finds itself — for the moment — up against a considerable charge: It has to go before the Brussels criminal court accused of being a criminal organisation which uses fraud. To find out more then, tune in at 8:20pm this Wednesday, October 21, on La Une.”

At the program’s web page Sunday they said they had interviewed former members who denounce the movement for having ruined them; that they will look at how the movement “infiltrates” political and business circles; and at the work of OSA, whose “spies are given the job of tracking deviants and enemies of Scientology with methods worthy of a totalitarian organisation”. So they’re not sitting on the fence.

Presumably once viewers have seen these scenes, presenter Attar will grill French Scientologist Eric Roux, who is acting as point man for the movement during the trial. The program’s website puts the word “church” in scare quotes and makes a point of quoting Hubbard’s comment — the provenance of which Scientologists still dispute, remember — that the best way to make a million is to start a religion.

Then on Monday, over an increasingly hysterical musical soundtrack, they upped the ante, with another trailer featuring clips from former members including Marc Headley, Gerry Armstrong, and Alain Stoffen. (Frenchman Stoffen told his remarkable story in a book a few years back, which I really must review for the Bunker one day.)

This kind of reporting would never be allowed in Britain ahead of a trial, where it would constitute contempt of court. Apparently in Belgium however, they do things differently. Scientology’s lawyers in Belgium have already tried to argue that public comments made by the prosecutors during the investigation have prejudiced any trial. They took that argument all the way through the Belgian courts and right up to the European Court of Human Rights before losing.

The Strasbourg court told them that their bid was premature because they could not say their trial had been prejudiced before the event. But that does not mean they cannot return to the issue at some point in the future if the trial goes badly for their clients. And I expect they will have something to say about this programme in court next week.

— Jonny Jacobsen


Dan Burton lobbying for CCHR

We’ve noted in the past how former Indiana Congressman Dan Burton has gone to bat for Scientology, appearing most recently when the church celebrated the first anniversary of the re-grand opening its new “national office” in Washington DC. Burton’s a clown who is known for his anti-vaxxer views and his obsession with the death of Vince Foster. He and Scientology make a natural pair, and it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that he was paid $20,000 between July and September to lobby for Scientology’s cartoonishly anti-psychiatry front group, Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

Every couple of years or so a story about Scientology paying lobbyists in Washington DC shows up, and each time, it sounds like a revelation. But each time, and this is no exception, we’re reminded how little Scientology, a multi-billion dollar entity, spends on lobbying the US government. Even David Miscavige, we figure, knows that Scientology has little chance of overtly affecting how things work in DC. The Church of Scientology has always preferred to work more quietly, through key individuals like the late Gerald Feffer, and not through lobbying.



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)…

Oct 23: Sydney, Giant Dwarf Theatre (with Steve Cannane and Bryan Seymour)

Oct 25: Melbourne, The Wheeler Centre, 3 pm, free but reservations recommended (with Steve Cannane and Bryan Seymour)

Oct 28: Adelaide, Wheatsheaf Hotel, (with Sen. Nick Xenophon and Bryan Seymour)

Oct 30: Perth, Collins Street Centre, Collins St and Shaftesbury St, South Perth, 7 pm (with Bryan Seymour)

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), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29)


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 20, 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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