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Scientology becoming a ghost town; ALSO: Illinois man arrested for threatening Miscavige

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The “L. Ron Hubbard Golden Age” theater troupe visited a middle school in St. Petersburg, Florida recently in order to bring back to life the words of the pulp fiction writer. Having actors read the corn-pone tales that Hubbard cranked out in the 1930s is just one of a dizzying number of stealthy ways that Scientology tries to spread the influence of Hubbard and, ultimately, gain new members.

Over the years, we’ve brought you many images of Scientology front groups peddling Hubbard around the world, and in these images, the best possible face is put on the activities and the crowds they draw.

But through multiple lines of influence, we judge that Scientology is shrinking really quite quickly now, and the movement is having a much tougher time motivating even its longtime members to get involved, let alone the raw public it needs for new blood.

At his blog, Mike Rinder, the former Scientology spokesman, has been especially effective at gathering recent internal communications which, sometime in subtle ways it takes someone like Rinder to recognize, the real situation comes through. Scientology is dwindling fast.

We know that the image we’re about to show you is only anecdotal and doesn’t really prove anything. But we really appreciate that when the L. Ron Hubbard Golden Age troupe was performing the Great Thetan’s old western, someone had the nice idea of getting a shot of the crowd.

 
GhostTown

 
That sparse scene reminded us of something we meant to post a while back but never got around to. Mark Bunker sent us some photos after he happened to wander by Scientology’s Winter Wonderland in Clearwater on a Friday morning at about 10 am on December 11. He was surprised that on such a beautiful morning, right in prime Christmas shopping season, the place was completely deserted.

 
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And one more report, this time something posted on Facebook by Cindy Plahuta. Cindy lives in Colorado, and we’ve written previously about how Scientology’s disconnection policy has ripped apart her relationship with her daughter. Here’s how she described a recent trip to Clearwater, at a time of year when Florida’s draw as a tourist destination is about as strong as it gets.

Matt and I took a trip to Florida a couple of weeks ago. We just had to poke the hornet’s nest a little bit. We went to Flag on a Saturday morning between 11 and 12. The Winter Wonderland was open but not one person or child was partaking in that fun!

We walked over to the Super Power Building and had our photo taken in front by a Sea Org member!

The biggest take away was how empty the streets were. It used to be fairly busy on Cleveland and Ft Harrison on Saturday mornings. Most of the shops are empty on Cleveland; even Peter Gilham’s was permanently closed.

We went down Waterman St to check out the new ABLE front groups and it was completely empty.

It is a completely different town than it used to be when I went to Flag for my obligatory six month checks! It is a ghost town!

 
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Like we said, it’s just anecdotal. But at the same time that Scientology leader David Miscavige is making a major push with press releases on the web and trying to scare off major media, he has less and less to show for it.

 
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Barking mad: Illinois man charged with threatening Miscavige

The Los Angeles Times is reporting this morning that a Chicago man named Andre Barkanov has been arrested and charged with 12 felony counts for making threatening phone calls to the Church of Scientology and claiming that he was going to assassinate church leader David Miscavige.

In September, TMZ reported that threatening phone calls were made in July, and in one of the calls a Scientology receptionist had kept the man on the line for three hours. This appears to be the same case.

“On July 23, eight more phone calls from the same telephone number were made to the church. In the last call, according to the affidavit, the message was blunt: ‘Tell [Miscavige] that we have a bullet for his forehead. OK? Thank you’,” says the Times.

The church said that Barkanov had no involvement with Scientology. On Skype, he had used the name Andre Barkan. He sounds like a nutter.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 6, 2016 at 07:00

E-mail 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. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated 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 L.A. 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

Other links: The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | 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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