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A business executive looks at Scientology as a (poorly run) business


[Blue states contain active Scientology orgs.]

Jeffrey Augustine is back, this time with a new look at Scientology’s current strength in the United States. We think he’s got a unique perspective in this piece.

I did an analysis of the Church of Scientology in the United States from the perspective of a business executive and not a church executive. As with any business analysis, I began by dividing the US into a very typical business division of four main regions: Western USA, Great Lakes/Central, Southern USA, Northeast USA.

I then listed and counted active churches and Celebrity Centres within these regions.

I did not count:

— Missions, which are typically “come and go” facilities in rented storefronts and have limited operating hours.

— The tiny handful of Dianetics centers in the US.
— The few community centers, as these are PR-focused only.
— CST and its vaults.
— Int/Gold Base.
— Author Services Inc.
— The CSI-licensed “social betterment sectors” of ABLE, WISE, Narconon, etc.
— Printing and distribution facilities.
— The Freewinds, as the ship is a non-US entity.

I am only interested in the main customer-facing service delivery orgs. I also did not count unopened planned orgs such as the San Fernando Valley Ideal Org. With these caveats, I went to and counted 44 active US Scientology orgs in the US. Any corrections to my count are welcome. Scroll down to see my table of US Orgs.

What the geographic distribution of Scientology Inc. tells me is the following:

1. Scientology Inc. has massive org overcapacity. There are too many orgs and too few Scientology consumers, i.e. paying publics.
2. California and Florida are glutted with an excessive number of orgs.
3. The Interanational Association of Scientologists (IAS) slush fund is Scientology Inc.’s largest single competitor with the orgs for income from Scientology’s paying publics.
4. The IAS enjoys the protection and favoritism of David Miscavige, and therefore has an unfair advantage over the orgs.
5. Flag competes with all US orgs by using Flag tours.
6. The orgs within a given geographic region compete with each other.

When looked at as a business, Scientology Inc. is not a very large organization. In April 2015, Fortune magazine said of Scientology: “The church may very well be the world’s most famous small business.”


A. From a business perspective, the Church of Scientology is not tenable in its present form. I would close down 75 percent of the orgs in order to slash operating and personnel costs. In the US, Scientology Inc. could easily be operated from eleven locations. My emphasis would remain in California and Florida:

1. Flag Land Base (Clearwater)
2. Tampa Org
3. The “Big Blue” complex of Orgs in Hollywood + Celebrity Centre International
4. San Diego
5. Orange County
6. Stevens Creek
7. San Francisco
8. Austin
9. New York City
10. Chicago
11. The Founding Church in Washington DC and National Affairs Office

B. 75 percent of the current 44 US Orgs essentially comprise a financially non-performing real estate portfolio. Scientology Inc. also has overcapacity in terms of film and television production. To slash costs, I would close Gold Base and Mad Hatter production facilities and consolidate operations into the new Scientology Media Productions in Los Angeles.

C. The central problem I see in Scientology Inc. is that the IAS is an unincorporated membership organization that does not deliver auditing or courses. However, the IAS appears to be taking the lion’s share of income from paying publics. The IAS fund unnecessary real estate purchases. However, IAS real estate purchases inherently contradict Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s stated purpose for the Church of Scientology to make auditors and deliver auditing in order to clear the fourth dynamic engram and thereby create a cleared planet free of war, crime, and insanity.

D. David Miscavige’s management strategy is easy to infer from his actions:

1. Miscavige’s number one priority is to accumulate as much unencumbered IAS cash donations as possible. Under IRS rules, IAS cash is unencumbered, i.e. it is donated for generalities: “To unite, advance, support and protect the Scientology religion and Scientologists in all parts of the world, so as to achieve the aims of Scientology as originated by L. Ron Hubbard.” Miscavige can spend IAS monies however he sees fit.
2. In the early 2000’s Miscavige formulated his Ideal Org strategy and bet the Church and his own reputation on Ideal Orgs. The Ideal Org strategy has been a failure insofar as real estate purchases have not “boomed” or grown Scientology Inc. Rather, the Ideal Orgs have become, as noted, a financially non-performing real estate portfolio. These Ideal Orgs are largely empty.
3. Miscavige has focused the Church of Scientology inward such that it has become increasingly insular and disconnected from the outside world. This inward focus on a never-ending culture of fundraising, Ideal Orgs, IAS statuses, sec checking, and various “lower conditions” punishments has crippled both the Scientology publics and the Sea Org.
4. Scientology Inc. is internally crippled even as it wages a costly, irrational, and increasingly impotent Fair Game campaigns against former members and critics.
5. RPF, Fair Game, and Disconnection are inherently self-destructive and need to be cancelled as a practical matter.

The 44 orgs in the US:

WESTERN US (20): Los Angeles Ideal Org, AOLA, ASHO, Hollywood Celebrity Centre, Inglewood, Orange County, Pasadena, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Sacramento, San Francisco, Stevens Creek, Mountain View, Los Gatos, Portland, Seattle. Las Vegas, Phoenix, Albuquerque, Denver, Salt Lake City, Honolulu

GREAT LAKES/CENTRAL US (8): Chicago, Columbus, Saint Louis, Kansas City, Battle Creek, Detroit, Twin Cities, Austin, Dallas

SOUTHERN US (7): Atlanta, Cincinnati, Nashville Celebrity Centre, Tampa, Miami, Orlando, Flag (Clearwater)

NORTHEAST US (9): Buffalo, New York City, New York Celebrity Centre, Harlem, Long Island, Philadelphia, Boston, New Haven, Washington DC

— Jeffrey Augustine


Mary Marinelli, a/k/a sugarplumfairy, has flown away


It is with great sadness that we report what we have learned from a family member, that Mary Marinelli, known in the Underground Bunker as “sugarplumfairy,” succumbed yesterday afternoon in her battle with cancer. Mary was at our viewing party for Going Clear last March, and in June she attended our book event with Paulette Cooper. She had seemed to be as thrilled to meet us as we were to meet her. She had long been one of our favorite commenters, and we greatly appreciated her consistent participation for several years.

Mary Marinelli was born on April 29, 1955 in Wilmington, Delaware, and had four sisters and four brothers. Her sister Ruthie Graziano tells us: “Mary went to school in Delaware and became a registered nurse in the mid 1980s. Her only regret was not having children, but she had 12 nieces and nephews that called her Aunt LaLa. She was a bigger kid than they were. She is from a family of nine kids all born in a 12 year period, with great loving parents. She cared for my mother, who had a stroke in 2007, up until she died in 2013. And several months later Mary was diagnosed with cancer. Mary put up a great fight and dealt with five different cancer sites and never voiced one complaint. The last cancer was diagnosed on December 18. She only had two wishes, that I don’t leave her side and that she be able to die in her own bed, which she did. Her funeral will be at 11am on Thursday at Corpus Christi in Elsmere, Delaware where she went to grade school.”

And Mary’s cousin, Susan Marinelli, added that Mary was thinking of the Bunker: “She asked me to let you know, as well as your wonderful online community. She made so many good friends there. She also admired your talent greatly. She read your work up till the very end, and I have to thank you and your online group for providing my beloved cousin many hours of enjoyment. Mary Marinelli fought her cancer harder than a Scientologist looking for a donation. Thank you for all that you do, and carry on. Mary would love that.”

We will miss Mary very much. We offer this sample of her contribution to our community at this humble website as a tribute to her.

(2 years ago, to Captain Howdy) In my mind, the wallpaper of my life is already early seventies Beatles and Beach Boys sounds, huge primarily colored flowers, hot pink paisley patterns, brilliant giant rainbows and talking bunnies with top hats. LSD could only be a disappointment.

(2 years ago) I have no problem with someone getting hypnotized to see if they can access past lives. Hey, there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in my philosophy. It’s the bankrupting, enslaving, punishing, humiliating, discarding, and alienating that I object to.

(2 years ago) There once was a monkey in knickers
Reduced Tony’s bunker to bickers
Her motives confusing
Not very amusing
But I say forget it with liquors

(2 years ago) Over a year ago I was coming home with two sisters from visiting a cousin in LA. At LAX, I drew the short straw and got the full search from Homeland Security. When they handled my iPad, it came on to where I’d been reading Tony’s story that morning. It was something about the application to join the Sea Org. The officer took a look at it and looked at me in horror. Can’t remember his exact words, but it was something like, “Oh miss, you don’t want to get mixed up with this bunch…this is not a good group.” I showed him what the blog was and that I was more into criticizing than joining. My sisters, who up to that point had banned Scientology as a topic of our conversations, were pretty impressed. Since then, they’ve taken it a lot more seriously. Now even my mom reads Tony.

(1 year ago) Fifteen years ago, before I knew anything except Cruise and Travolta, I read a bunch of Scientology stuff over my boyfriend’s shoulder. He read it and used it as an excuse to quit med school and drastically change his life. To me it was a foreign language. I remember drilling him about certain passages that he said were meant for him. At that time, I just didn’t take it seriously and after reading it, I couldn’t believe anybody could take it seriously.

(9 months ago) I remember a time when someone had offended MidwestMom and me and probably some others. It was something about being Catholic, but I can’t really remember. Mom said goodbye to the blog for a while and Howdy was upset. And he thought that I had left as well and he was upset and ranting in his Howdy way about that too. I remember teasing him that I’d caught him in the act of liking me. He really was a lovable guy.

(8 months ago) I want to say that anyone who posts anything negative on the Internet about Scientology is one of three things, or maybe all three: A person of discerning intellect, a person I’d like to high five, and a person I would love to buy a drink.

(5 months ago) I once lost a job, I’m pretty sure, because I pointed out to my boss’s Mormon boss that the Dr Pepper he was drinking at a conference had caffeine. I was young and innocent. Thought I was being helpful.

(4 months ago) I miss Howdy. I just noticed that John Stumbke looks amazingly like early horror film character Count Orlock. I know Howdy would know just who I mean.

(3 months ago) I come from a law enforcement family. My dad retired as a captain on the state police force. I have great respect for those who serve and protect. But LA sheriff’s department turns my stomach. They won’t do a damn thing except release a statement absolving Scientology of all sin.

(3 months ago) The Spectrum in Philly used to be my home away from home.. My best friend was 18 and waitressing nearby when Deep Purple came in to eat. We didn’t see her for three months after that until a limo showed up at my house one day and she disembarked like the dowager queen. She’d taken off with them and spent a summer on tour. Her two daughters have never heard that story. And I’m still pissed she didn’t take me with…I saw Bowie, Queen, the Stones, Who, Zeppelin, Billy Joel (he was opening for Eric Carmen, believe it or not), Santana, Kinks, Pink Floyd, and so many more, can’t remember them all. Then I almost got crushed at an Emerson, Lake & Palmer show. Haven’t been to a large venue since.

(3 months ago) It doesn’t matter to me if a poster is pro-Scientology or anti-Scientology, what matters is his comment. I don’t know if any particular poster is a former Scientologist, a declared SP, a never-in like me who just wants to see the scam end, an OSA operative trying to disrupt the community here or a run-of-the-mill Internet troll looking for attention. It makes no difference anyway. Only his comment matters. If I disagree with that, I’ll respond. If he keeps trying to engage and piss off, I’ll disengage. I might have gut feelings about where a poster is coming from, but the fact is, I don’t know for sure so I try not to judge. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always work because I’m ridiculously judgmental. But intellectually, I know this is an open forum, which I adore, and anybody can post whatever they want, whether it pisses me off or not. That being said, one of the things I truly love about this place is how savvy everyone here is about Scientology behaviors and strategies. It’s pretty fun watching someone try to get something past this group.

(1 month ago) There is sooooo much wrong with the care Lisa [McPherson] got. Or didn’t get, I should say. She should have been seen by a real doctor weeks before she was finally taken to the hospital. It’s just so criminally cruel and so very horrible that no one was ever held accountable. Where is Janis Johnson now? Who is she negligently caring for now? Omg, I’m so upset.

sugarplumfairy’s last comments were on the final story in our Lisa McPherson series, on the 20th anniversary of Lisa’s death.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on January 10, 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: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | 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 | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | 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 | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | 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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