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Steve Cannane’s Oz-flavored Scientology history ‘Fair Game’ gets a UK-US-Canada publisher

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Silvertail Books publisher Humfrey Hunter continues his remarkable streak for putting out books on Scientology as he announces today that he’s carrying Steve Cannane’s deeply researched history, Fair Game: The Incredible Untold Story of Scientology in Australia, and will make it available in the UK, the US, and in Canada at the same time that it hits bookshelves Down Under next week.

Cannane has spent years covering Scientology for ABC Australia, but recently he moved to London on assignment. He’s headed to Sydney this week to begin appearances for his book, which is being released there by HarperCollins.

Hunter adds Fair Game to his slate of Scientology books carried by Silvertail, including Ron Miscavige’s memoir Ruthless (UK), Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear (UK), Russell Miller’s Bare-Faced Messiah (US/UK), John Sweeney’s Church of Fear, (US/UK), and our own The Unbreakable Miss Lovely (US/UK/Canada/Australia).

“Before I read Fair Game, I thought there might not be much more to say about Scientology, given how many superb books have already been written about it,” Hunter tells us. “But I was wrong. Fair Game is a brilliant, high class piece of investigative work. It’s full of revelations, both historical and modern, which add a wonderful layer of new information to what is already known about Scientology. The stories Steve has uncovered about the nefarious goings on in Australia in the 1960s are particularly astonishing, not to mention revealing about the true character of the church of Scientology when L. Ron Hubbard was still alive. This book is a very special achievement which belongs alongside the other great books on the subject and I cannot wait for people to start reading it.”

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Here’s what historian Jon Atack had to say about Cannane’s book: “Fair Game is a fast-paced and fascinating account of the incredible antics of Ron Hubbard, the cunning narcissist who conned thousands into spiritual slavery through Dianetics and Scientology. There have been some fine books about the cult in the last few years. This is one of the very best. The true story of Scientology is as compelling as any soap opera. Steve Cannane has done a magnificent job of tweaking secrets from forgotten files and persuading those abused by Scientology to speak out. In page-turning prose, Steve reveals the catastrophic arrogance of the ‘Source’ of Scientology, self-styled Commodore Hubbard, whose hubris caused three Australian states to ban his profoundly hypnotic methods. Steve tells the human story of Scientology, revealing the heartless damage inflicted upon his devotees by a cunning narcissist. This is a fine book – fast-paced and fascinating. After 40 years studying Hubbard and his works, I can attest that it is also factually exact and precise in every astonishing detail.”

We’ve also had a chance to read the book, and we can tell you that while Fair Game has an Australian focus, it puts together one of the best overall narratives of L. Ron Hubbard and the history of Scientology that we’ve read anywhere. And you’re going to go nuts over chapters like the one that digs into the spying on Nicole Kidman that Marty Rathbun only barely mentioned in Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear, as well as chapters on some very famous Australians and their surprising connections to the church.

Oh, there’s so much we want to tell you about this book, but we don’t want to spoil Steve’s coming out party later this week. We’re just super glad that Silvertail has stepped up yet again so you can begin buying this book right away in North America and the UK as soon as our Aussie counterparts can.

 
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[Paris-based British journalist Jonny Jacobsen, your proprietor, and Steve Cannane last year in Toronto]

 
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What it’s like when Dad gets declared SP

We want to thank a special family in the Cincinnati area for providing us with a remarkable narrative today. Daniel Organ, like so many college freshmen before him, has been asked to write a personal essay in the opening weeks of his English course.

 
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But Daniel Organ has a more interesting background than most. We’ll let him explain it in this document that he and his father, Andrei “Dodo the Laser” Organ, were good enough to share with us.

 

I’m from Moldova. It used to be part of Russia before the Soviet Union collapsed and then broke off as its own country. On top of that, I was born and raised a Scientologist.

Both of my parents got into Scientology at a young age; I’d like to assume their minds were just young and malleable. Plus, it was the early 1990s, which is when the “church” was coming to fruition.

When I was about five, my parents saw an opportunity to leave Moldova — and unfortunately the rest of the family — and move to the States, which I don’t really blame them for with the collapse of the Union. It kind of shat up the economy, so they were looking for an out and I guess an all round better life for me and ourselves as a family. They had a few Scientology organizations get in touch with them, as the church liked to refer to itself, and the first to hit them back up was the church here in Cincinnati. I still remember my dad trying to teach me a few basic phrases in English a week or so before we headed overseas.

I can’t remember the flight over all too well but I know we took two flights here. I do vividly remember arriving at the airport and meeting Connor, my best friend who I was about to grow up with for the next 11 years of my life. The head of the church here in Cincy, Jeanie, was scheduled to meet with and introduce us to the States, and she came along with her son Connor. I remember walking along side my parents through the airport while they were chatting it up with Jeanie. I glanced over to see Connor holding this super rad plastic toy sword that I’ve never laid eyes on before and I really just wanted to get my hands on it. I asked my dad how to say hello again and how to ask for something, but I think all he told me was to say, “Hey, Connor.” and when I gave it a shot I remember saying something around the lines of “Hi, Guana.”

I had my Russian accent for a few months and was actually struggling in school and had to repeat the first grade, but being a kid the adjustments and adaptation in living here came soon enough. I soon dropped my accent all together, was speaking fluent English and even now barely speak my native tongue aside from the few basics. As a year or two skipped by, more people from around the globe were joining the church here, which included families and that’s how I met all of my friends. The church has always brought in diverse cultures and ethnicities from around the world which I always thought was kind of cool.

The reason I think the church gained so much traction is because at that time, before the Internet, it could really thrive. It was this new religion that came out of nowhere and looked appealing on the surface. Its creator L. Ron Hubbard was a science fiction writer, and numerous sources claim they heard him say “If a man is truly looking to get rich, all he needs is to form a religion.” That should have been a red flag right there, but of course none of this information was public or available at the time and being the writer he was, he was able to fabricate a new religion and draw people into it.

The church’s belief is that we’re all “thetans.” It’s basically another word for your spirit, and that our thetans are our true identity and not this physical form we live in. We are all immortal, powerful beings who have been trapped in these bodies, and the goal is to free ourselves by taking specific steps through a form of counseling called “auditing” in which we consciously recount and relive traumatic past experiences. By doing so, we find acceptance and solace in those past events so we’re no longer burdened by them and are one step closer to being the state of “Clear.” Before you can reach the state of Clear though, there’s this “Bridge To Total Freedom” you have to rise up in, with numerous steps to reach the state of Clear and get this: This Bridge is a chart of paid courses and auditing sessions. That’s right, if you want to attain and reach that level of true spiritual freedom, you have to pay your way up there and it only gets more and more expensive as you rise up in the ranks.

You can however attain it for free if you devote your life to the Church and its influence and awareness around the world. My dad was a class V auditor which was an esteemed role because he was one of the people who would sit down with someone to record these traumatic moments in their life and had been training to be an auditor since he joined. I feel for my dad because his entire intent behind joining was because he actually believed he could help people and make a difference in the Church and for a time he was, regardless of how ridiculous it seems now, so I respect him for that. He told me there were a few scenarios in which someone was seeing into a past life of theirs and could remember things from another time and genuinely believed it to be so.

Even if it was all bullshit or a placebo effect on the person’s part, they came out feeling genuinely happier and thanked my dad each time so I’m sure he was feeling good about it as well. My point is though, if you truly dedicate yourself to the church, you can rise without charge, or at least to a certain extent I believe. The state of Clear is only like a fourth of it all. The highest level of spiritual freedom you can reach in the church is OT8. OT stand for “operating thetan” and 8 is the highest class and state of spiritual control and freedom.

Reaching OT8 is said to take years and costs at least $500,000 to get there, but once you have done so, you are completely unburdened even from the physical body and it is said you would be able to leave and roam the world and the galaxy and can choose whether or not to be born into another body after death or to be in complete control of your true form and roam space endlessly or even create your own worlds and galaxies. Basically it’s the promise of becoming a primordial being and reaching godlike status. There are in-depth books on it all, all written by Hubbard and in his style of writing as he tried to entice readers to believe it all, and unfortunately my parents and I by default fell for it.

The one thing the Church has done right for me is show the basic knowledge of communication and learning. At a young age, I was taught communication was key to any situation and they even had a whole chart of how you should go about living and treating people; basically their own commandments that any religion comes with. Another thing I’m sure that’s just a tactic to lure in more people is the creation of their own Youth For Human Rights program and drug free organizations. Even if everything on the inside is a money grubbing scam, the world’s pretty screwed as it is so I appreciate the fight for a drug free world where everyone is created equal and treated fairly even if it was all a front; I grew up knowing never to touch harmful drugs and treat others with respect because of it.

So back to me. The Church required any member to dedicate themselves wholeheartedly so my parents, including all of the parents of my friends, had to fill quotas and meet weekly stats constantly. There was almost no family time, I barely grew up with my mom and dad. That’s not to say I don’t love them to death because I do, but it definitely affected my relationship with them. Even now I don’t feel as close to them just because there was so much lost time and it kind of feels like we’re living our own little lives within the same home now. So back then, my friends and I were all babysat until we reached a certain age until we just started hanging out in the org (church, it was what we were used to calling it) and at our respective homes while our parents worked.

It’s crazy looking back at it now, running around in the org. We were such oblivious children running around and playing in a world of bullshittery, but these friends of mine were obviously my family at that point. I went to public school as a kid but never really made too many friends there that I hung out with outside of school. I’d always just be hanging out with my church friends, the ones I’ve already been best pals with since 5, it was just routine. Once I reached 15 the church and everyone in it was pressuring me to work as a staff member alongside a couple of my friends who had reached the age as well at that point. So “Why not?” I thought. I had no job and I’d be alongside friends helping out in this “noble” crusade of ours. It was all right, while it lasted. I was trained as a receptionist but it got to a point where I wasn’t showing up much because the pay was just trash and it fluctuated weekly. Keep in mind this was the same for everyone busting their ass trying to meet quotas, which mainly consisted of fundraisers and getting more public to join the Church. It wasn’t a big org so I knew almost every adult there and for the main part, they all looked just tired and drained. I’m sure everyone had a second job on the side because that pay wasn’t even close to be able to sustain a life.

My mom had these worries that I would fall under bad influences in high school so she suggested I be homeschooled through a certified teacher and alongside my friends so we could graduate faster and not have to worry about all the in-betweens. She left the choice up to me and I regrettably chose the homeschool life for my first year of high school. It was a unique experience though, and I actually kind of enjoyed it. I remember since I was a staff member at the time and was still somewhat participating in the church, once my birthday came around, I and a couple other employees got cakes from the org and had the birthday song sung to us. I thought it was actually really cool that they’d have events like that, celebrating people’s birthdays when the time came around and whatnot. It was probably to keep up the morale. This was for my 16th birthday and I remember a couple weeks afterwards is when all the shit hit the fan.

The mother of one of my friends pulled me out of class and drove me down to our church downtown. I remember asking her what was going on and she just told me she wasn’t sure and was told to bring me down there. I remember her giving me a hug before getting out of her family van and telling me it’ll be all right; first sign right there. I met up with my mom and she looked like she had been crying all day. I asked her what happened and she said it had to do with dad. Both my mom and I met with an employee whose sole purpose was to seek out and notify people of any threats to the church from within the church itself. My dad at that point hadn’t been really active in the church for the past couple years and left as a full time employee to find a better job to provide for us while my mom was still working within the church. So this employee we met with, Thalia, someone I knew since I was a kid had apparently found my dad communicating and posting on an ex-Scientologist website under a pseudonym, but they were able to put two and two together based on the experiences he wrote about. She had a literal stack of all the posts he’d made over the couple years and presented it to my mom and me.

Now, keep in mind, at this point, the church was my home and really the only thing I truly knew. In my eyes, this was the biggest betrayal on my dad’s part. I remember flipping through the papers and welling up seeing him just completely rip on the church like that. I remember going home and just balling till I passed out. I woke up a couple hours later and was able to get a ride back over to stay the night with my friends where I hung out with the majority of them for the rest of the evening. I don’t think they even knew about the situation or just weren’t talking about it but either way, that was my final memory of being all together and having a fun night.

In the church, people who are a threat and seek to harm the church are classified as an “SP” which stands for suppressive person, which is what they now declared my dad. All contact with an SP must be dropped or you’re considered a “PTS”, a potential trouble source, which is someone who’s affected by a suppressive person and in turn can affect others because of it. The bastards gave my mom the ultimatum of divorcing my dad, who was the one putting all the food on the table and was our main support as a family. Also, she’d been happily married to him for 17 or 18 years at that point. She was told to stay with me and the church: The alternative was for the three of us to be exiled and to break all contact with everyone we had known for 11 years.

My mom and dad, being the sane people they are, chose true family. Since then, the church has moved to Kentucky, but a couple of the old members still live around downtown and I’ll see them every now and then only to be ignored or to be at least slightly acknowledged with a nod. It’s fucked to think how brainwashed these people are and I feel truly sorry for them. These were my friends and I hate knowing they’re still stuck in that cult. There may be a couple that are content with living that lie and in a world of emotional and physical stress as well as a world where tearing up friends and family lives is OK, but just like with any other “religion,” to each his own in pursuing his happiness.

The reason my dad contributed his word in online forums was because he witnessed and read about very similar experiences he had himself while with the church. There was, and still is, actual physical abuse and subjection to hard physical labor when an employee or employees don’t meet certain stats or criteria for the week which both my mom and dad dealt with on multiple occasions. My dad had access to the Internet and saw the signs when he was able to get the insight of other members that had been in his position and it’s because of him, we escaped and are living a normal life now. At first it killed me and it was the first real moment in my life where anything so drastic had happened to me, but I couldn’t be more thankful that we’re out now. The whole experience has changed me for the better because I feel like I always took my friends and the people I had in my life for granted. Once the whole experience knocked me on my ass, I’ve since then always welcomed others with open arms because their story might’ve been just as difficult as my own in their own personal world and I’m just hoping to find the truest of friends and family to happily live the rest of my life with somewhere down this line.

 
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Scientology talk in the wee hours tonight

At midnight tonight on the west coast — and yes, that translates to three in the morning where we are — we’ll be going on the radio to talk with none other than Richard C. Hoagland. The former fixture at Coast to Coast radio has his own show he calls “The Other Side of Midnight.”

We’ve done several radio shows that are of a, shall we say, speculative nature, and we find that the hosts are always very fascinated to get some real information about Scientology. While we may not ascribe to Hoagland’s astronomical notions, we have a feeling it’s going to be fun to talk Hubbard and Miscavige with him. Please tune in, if you’ve had like a dozen cups of coffee or something.

And just catching up, we’ve been meaning to relate that Paulette Cooper stopped in town about a week ago, and we had an early dinner with her and Ed and Vivian Fancher before they headed off to a Broadway show. Ed is the original publisher of the Village Voice, and we’ve been fortunate to get to know him through Paulette and her husband, Paul Noble. Paulette was still buzzing over her recent trip to England, when she met so many great Bunkerites.

Another Underground Bunker luminary we saw recently was Kate Bornstein. We had dinner with Kate last Thursday night in Harlem, and caught up on all sorts of chisme. She told us she’s in a new indie movie, “Saturday Church” (non-Scientology related), and a new edition of her influential book Gender Outlaw is coming out soon — this time with a cover photo from the shoot we did when we put Kate on the cover of the Voice in 2012.

 
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Meanwhile, back here in the Bunker, one of the cats developed an abscess in her paw, the dog wandered away in a storm for a day, and the other cats think the whole thing is hilarious. We persevere.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 12, 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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