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A Scientology childhood: What it’s like to grow up under the Hubbard spell


Aaron Smith-Levin has sent us the latest video in the Growing Up In Scientology series. He started out the YouTube channel with a series of interview segments with Nick Lister. Now, Aaron puts himself in the interviewee chair along with former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder.

Rinder was 6 years old when his parents got into Scientology in Adelaide, Australia in 1961 before the Sea Organization even existed. Aaron Smith-Levin was 5 years old when his mother Gayle Smith got into Scientology in Philadelphia in 1985, right around the time David Miscavige was maneuvering to take full control of the Church while L. Ron Hubbard was in hiding.

In this segment Aaron and Mike take turns discussing their earliest memories of Scientology, the first course they did, what it was like to receive auditing for the first time, and how Scientology became something they once fully embraced. Let us know what you think.




Chris Shelton gets skeptical

Former Sea Org worker Chris Shelton gave a talk this past weekend at the Wichita Skeptics of Oz annual conference.

“I talk about what Scientology is and how it lures unsuspecting new people in using the personality test, and then there is a Q&A period about the Sea Org, the Ideal Org program, and some of my own experiences as to why I left,” Chris tells us.

Sounds like good stuff. Let us know what you think!



Dutch once again find Scientology to be a commercial enterprise

In December, Jonny Jacobsen told us about a reversal for Scientology in the Netherlands, where the country’s supreme court overruled an appeals court, saying that Scientology did not deserve tax exempt status because it was a commercial enterprise.

Here’s what Jonny told us then: “SKA first applied to be considered a public benefit organization (or ANBI) in September 2007. The first court ruling on the bid, in April 2008, rejected the application, and a district court confirmed that ruling in July 2012 before the Haarlem Appeal Court saw things Scientology’s way in October 2013. Friday’s Supreme Court overturns that appeal court ruling and sends it back downstairs for a fresh look. This time around however, it will be the Appeal Court in The Hague that considers the matter.”

And now that appeals court in The Hague has also found that Scientology is a business, charging high rates, and shouldn’t qualify as a church with tax exempt status. This ruling can also be appealed, but it’s not clear if Scientology is going to do so.


Stacy Francis, disseminator

And so it begins…



Our first day in Sydney

Bryan Seymour had us hopping on our first day in Sydney as we went directly from the airport to the Channel 7 studios downtown for an appearance on The Morning Show. Later in the day, Bryan had this report after the two of us visited the Ideal Org in town…




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 22, 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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