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What happened when one of our readers got into a Scientology ‘Flag World Tour’ event


What a treat we have for you today. On Friday, we brought your attention to a flier that had been posted online claiming that there would be a meeting in Houston Saturday night to discuss the possibility of a new “Ideal Org” project starting there. The flier had been posted by a Scientologist who is also involved in the Nation of Islam. The NOI and Scientology teaming up to put an Ideal Org in a city that only currently rates a mission? This sounded interesting, especially to one of our Houston readers.

In our comments section, he goes by the handle “Commodore H. McCringleberry,” and we learned when we met him during our book tour last year that he’s actually an Army veteran as well as a very knowledgeable Scientology watcher, even though he’s never been a Scientologist himself. He told us that recently, he’d actually encountered some Scientologists from the Houston mission, had gotten to know one in particular — named Barb — and that he thought he could use that connection to get himself into Saturday night’s event. And that’s exactly what he did. Here, then, is his detailed report about what went on. We think you’ll find it really well done.

The event was in one of the hotel ballrooms on the second floor where nobody was walking through the area and nothing else was going on. There were about 30 people milling around — 20 publics and 10 uniformed staff. At a long table set up outside the entrance piled with forms and plain clothes staff, people were sitting all along one long side, like they were waiting for one-on-one sessions with people arriving. There were beverages and gourmet snacks and a table with Flag brochures (full color, looked expensive), pens, and luggage tags.


I got a cup of coffee and they ushered me to the long table, where I sat down across from a very, very large gentleman in civilian clothes and began filling out forms. He asked about my case level (none), if I was interested in courses (maybe) and when I could do the Purif. I explained the liver problems I had last year and that a lot of niacin or potassium could kill me. He was confused for a moment, but then said that I’d have to meet with someone higher up and they’d tailor the program. I filled out three forms, and he asked me if I’d want to meet with a Flag consultant. I signed up for a meeting later in the week. At that time the people from the mission came out of the ball room. It was six Sea Org people and six mission public. They were led out by Barbara Dews, who I recognized immediately.

At the event, there were two groups of Sea Org people, who barely interacted. There were older ones, all more than 60 years old, and younger ones, probably all below 25. The older group looked steely and determined, but not beaten down. They did their job with purpose and knew most of the public people that were there.

The under 25 gang, except the lady that served as the emcee, ran around like children at a school pizza party, playing grabass with each other. There was no effort to engage the public, which seemed to be just fine with everyone else. At 15, 10, and 5 minutes until the start, an older Sea Org guy would go to the middle of the room and scream out how long until the event started. Literally yelled like a drill instructor and at double the volume necessary for everyone to hear him. It was strange.

I’ve always thought that the uniforms in the pictures you see on the Bunker look like they’re well designed, but made out of cheap fabrics, like a lot of polyester or rayon or whatever and they look uncomfortable. These uniforms were the same style, though more understated (they didn’t have so much two-tone or loud piping), and looked like quality uniforms. They’re certainly way too hot for the Texas heat, but they seemed like they might even be comfortable in a cooler place, and they looked sharp. They were clearly newer uniforms, but not being worn for the very first time.

Also, I noticed that there appears to be a rank system now. I know they’ve always had it in the Dress Whites, but this is on the regular Class A uniform. The ranks are very Star Trek-y, and are displayed on the left collar of the uniform, just like we used to do in the Army. The funny thing is, the officer ranks are little square pips that look like they’re made of tiny wound rope. I only saw one, two, and three pips. There were no hollowed out or narrower ones, so unless there’s another part of the system not on display here, Captain Miscavige would be wearing two full rows of four of these things, and the collar looked crowded with just three. On officers, the other collar of the shirt is bare, whereas we wore branch insignia in the Army. I could just see this being a brand new system and them looking for the different Div insignia that LRH designed, like two soup cans over crossed missiles for the Qual division, heh.

The weirdest part was the new enlisted ranks. They use full on Army rank insignia, not Navy or Marines or anything. It’s Regular Army curved chevrons in gold. Last I checked, the Navy and Army used the same training ranks, which are straight, unbent chevrons, but these had the little curve and I only saw two and three — corporal and sergeant — on anyone. No bottom rockers and no private or PFC, or specialist. Regarding military bearing, when one of them walked up to address someone of a higher rank, they’d walk up, wait to be acknowledged and then speak, in a quasi-military fashion. I saw two of the kids fuck it up and start speaking, stop again, wait for the nod, and continue talking. There was no saluting, which means it either doesn’t happen, or else they got something actually right, and don’t do it indoors. Then again, I didn’t see any hats of any kind, so they probably only do it to Miscavige’s dogs still. I was really hoping to see a salute so that I could be a dick and correct someone’s form (a crisp salute takes some practice), but I was let down. Then, it was meeting time.

As they herded us into the ballroom, we had to pass by two easels with sign-up boards that the Sea Org kids had been wrangled long enough to run. The first was the signup sheet for the meetings with the Flag reps that are going on here for a week. There were one or two appointments in the early morning hours, and they’d written my appointment there for later in the week, which was all by itself in the middle of this board. Maybe six appointments in total, no more than eight. They were much more excited about the second board, which was your commitment to arrive at Flag and nobody got into the ballroom without signing this one. The Sea Org teenagers were still throwing shit and slapping each other in the backs of their heads and whatnot, but they’d stop just long enough to accost each person entering. I was walking in with Barb, the local mission public, and she used me as cover to duck inside the ballroom. I got grabbed by Adam Boshoff, who gave me the smarmiest smile of all time. He handed me the pen and asked when I was coming to Flag. I handed it back and said that I was new and had no idea. Then a few of them pounced on me and I was encouraged to be brave and make a commitment and that Flag would change my life, so I said “I don’t know, how about December, six years from now.” He literally did the math in his head and wrote “December 1st, 2022 — Purif” on the board. Then he looked over and asked if I had an appointment with the Flag reps that week. I pointed out that I did and that they’d spelled my (fake) name incorrectly. He gave me a blank look, so I spelled it for him and he corrected it. Then I was allowed into the ballroom.

The room was large, probably meant to hold about 500 people comfortably milling around. They had a gigantic FLAG stage set up at the front of the room. It had the rolled steel motif going on, but when you got really close, you could see it was cardboard. Regardless, it looked professional. The middle was a huge screen, with the Flag island logo on the panel to the left, and the obligatory photo of LRH on the right. The room was set with 10 large circular tables at the back and eight rows of chairs in front of the stage with an aisle in the middle. On each chair was a copy of Source magazine, a blank piece of paper, and yet another form to fill out, which was titled FLAG SURVEY, and contained exactly the same information and questions as the earlier form I’d filled out at the table outside. The room was dark and my new FSM sat me one seat from the aisle in the second row. There was a Scientology song playing, which Barb recognized. Then a second song was played that I thought was “We Stand Tall,” and I got excited. Everyone in the room got excited as well, and another Scientologist sat down behind Barb and asked her if she recognized the song. Barb said “Friday night Graduation!” with religious fervor. Sadly the song wasn’t “We Stand Tall,” but a song with the same tune and different words which turned out to be “Flag is Here!” and was all about how the world was dark and shitty until Flag was established and now everything is OK. The mood in the room as the song played was positively evangelical. I saw some hands raised, most people were swaying back and forth, and the mood totally changed. Everyone seemed to find their seats and were ready to listen when the song ended. At this point, there were the same numbers of Sea Org folks and about 35 people in civilian clothes, though a lot of them were volunteers at minimum and possible staff from other orgs or support people that were brought along on tour with the uniformed folks. At the end of the meeting, when the lights came up, I asked Barb how many people were local. There was her husband, another lady she pointed out, then a young woman in a wheelchair that must have come in later. Two people approached us at the dinner afterwards who were local, so I’d say seven to maximum 10 people among the 40 or so total were local, and at no point was the local mission staff or public ever recognized during the event or by any of the Sea Org people.

After “Flag is Here” put everyone in a religious fervor, a young woman in Sea Org uniform took the stage. She had a wedding ring on and I’d put her at about 25 years old. She welcomed everyone to the Flag World Tour, then brought up the first speaker, Adam Boshoff. He walked out there like he was auditioning for David Miscavige’s job — chest puffed up, confident smile, knew everyone was looking at only him, etc. He read off a bunch of L. Ron Hubbard quotes, then got down to the Litany of the Stats. There were two things to notice here: Unlike DM’s speeches we’ve all heard, he got into the actual staffing numbers at the various buildings at Flag. The second thing is that the numbers of people doing the various jobs doesn’t raise any red flags, but the amount of production they seem to accomplish seems unreal. The audience is either taught to ignore the dissonance that 35 auditors can put out 55,000 WDAH (Well Done Auditing Hours) on a weekly basis, or else they fully believe that the Flag staff is superhuman, able to consistently produce at a monumental level, and a higher sort of being. I couldn’t tell which, but the lack of any reaction to these numbers means that one of the two (or some other explanation I haven’t thought of) is the case. He mentioned 15 Case Supervisors and 13 Directors of Production at the Sandcastle Advanced Org, then said that 30 or 40 people a week make it through OT 5 there. The other anomaly with the stats as given is that sometimes he would change the frame of reference to include beyond Flag. For example, he stated that they made a couple of dozen Solo NOTs auditors a week (not that big of a stretch) then said that a person starts on Solo NOTs “every single minute of every hour of every day worldwide.” There are other AOs that make Solo NOTs auditors, though not OT 7 ready, so I’m not sure if the change in frame of reference is to hide poor stats at Flag, or to just pick whatever available data sounds most rosy. Regardless, and this is important, there was absolutely no incredulity or disbelief among anyone there. When he gave the Solo NOTs numbers, I looked back at the Sea Org folks standing behind the rows and they were all smiling proudly. At two points during his litany, he led standing ovations to LRH.

The young lady who was the emcee got up after him and introduced the first video, which was all the services that Flag offers and the miracles they create in your life. This video was long — 25 to 35 minutes — but basically followed the format of those testimonial videos you see on YouTube. There was no individual narrator walking around Flag talking, just voiceover. When they described how your life was before you availed yourself of Flag services, there’s a heavy softening of the image going on, which becomes crystal clear and HD quality when they show the solution you’d get at Flag. On the Super Power part, they show all of the “perceptics” devices in great detail. The oiliness table is there, and there’s a long montage with closeups of someone getting strapped into the gyroscope space camp contraption. The vibe is that everything is very well constructed and thought out, and it certainly appeared that way. One anomaly here is that they flog the hell out of the benefits of Super Power, coming close though never explicitly stating that you’re not a complete person before you’ve experienced it. It was the longest, most detailed part of the video and they go on and on and on about how amazing it is and how profound its impact is on every person who’s ever gone near it, and all of the lost abilities that come back, etc. At the end of this video, the emcee came out, we did a standing ovation to LRH, and the second, shorter video was then shown, about Flag Accommodations. They listed all of the hotels you can stay at while there, starting with the Fort Harrison. I kept looking for cheaper options to be mentioned, but every time they’d show a cheaper looking property, it would be outfitted with “whole family suites” or “private, distraction-free, auditing spaces” — which they clarify are great whether you were doing Solo Sessions or Personal Security Checks, which I’d never heard of. They also talked up the beautiful Fort Harrison Park, which is just a little paved track next to the hotel. I’d never heard of it before. After the second video was the HIP HIP HOORAY! and then an invitation to stick around for the buffet. Civilian ushers blocked each row and we weren’t allowed to leave until we’d handed in our Flag Survey forms.

There was a buffet dinner set up (mostly southwestern foods) that was very gourmet and was delicious. I avoided food at the beginning, but figured that I’d earned it by now. Barb and I hit the buffet and then found a table with six empty chairs and sat in the middle. Her husband was with another group. She gave me a very AA-sponsor type of lecture regarding being my FSM and that she was my main contact point as I moved up the Bridge. She explained that all of the garbage in my brain would gradually fall away like ice from a glacier, sometimes in small chunks and sometimes in big sheets. When I left, my cover was still intact and I walked down the street with a young couple who said they were second generation and had picked up Scientology from their parents. I asked about Ideal Houston just to make sure I hadn’t missed something and they had no idea what I was talking about. He suggested that I was confused with Austin, which might one day go ideal. And that was that.

— There was no mention of Ideal anything, or even any acknowledgment of the local mission in any way.
— There were about 40 people at the event, but only about 10 who were from the local area.
— The Sea Org members appear to be wearing a new, visible display of their ranks on their uniforms
— The event was slick and ran efficiently, suggesting that the Flag people who do it are very experienced at it.

Thanks very much for that report, Commodore, and for being so observant, too.

So was the “Ideal Org” wrinkle a bum tip? Not according to yet another flier that’s been posted, urging Houston Scientologists to put another event on their calendar. Apparently, they’re going to hear from magician Stan Gerson how to make their mission “Ideal” as they prepare for an Ideal Org. Hey, that will be a neat trick. But we have to figure that the most magical thing of all is not to be in Houston in August…



Fred Haseney hires Graham Berry

After being hit with a restraining order application by Scientology because of his photojournalism outings in Los Angeles, Fred Haseney has turned to attorney Graham Berry in advance of his July 15 hearing.

He’s also launched on online appeal to help him pay for Berry’s services and asked that we provide you the link to his Funded Justice page. Good luck, Fred.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 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: 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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