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How Scientology plans to take over the world: By boring us to death, apparently


Rod Keller is on assignment this week, but we’re grateful that Underground Bunker contributor Jeffrey Augustine has a fun and illuminating Sunday feature for us. Thanks, Jeff, for this look at Scientology public relations…

The Church of Scientology is challenged daily by the continuing negative exposure of its egregious and ongoing human rights abuses, unchecked greed, outright lies, and its Fair Game smear campaigns directed against its former members and critics. Rather than forthrightly addressing the very serious and abusive practices that are crippling and destroying the Church, Scientology has instead settled into a very predictable and rather boring PR strategy.

Directed largely at its own members and disseminated through paid press releases and social media platforms, Scientology uses a highly repetitive and formulaic PR strategy with the help of its many front groups. We call it, “Smiling People Holding Scientology Booklets.”



The smiling people seen in the photos are shown holding The Way to Happiness, The Truth About Drugs booklets, or the UN Declaration of Human Rights. In some photos the people holding the booklets are Scientologists. But others are unwitting but well-meaning people who do not seem to realize they have been duped into allowing their faces to be used to promote Scientology. The companion PR piece to “Smiling People Holding Scientology Booklets” is “People Marching in the Streets Carrying Scientology Banners.” These images attempt to create the impression that thousands of morally outraged people have taken to the streets to carry Scientology’s message:


Another Scientology PR approach is “Smiling Cops Holding Scientology Booklets.” Overworked police agencies are often tasked with drug education in their communities. Because Scientology’s front group called Drug Free World offers police departments a free “plug and play” curriculum of simplistic and often pseudoscientific anti-drug booklets, police agencies are quick to take the free books and distribute them in order to check off the “drug education” box on their to-do list. But this comes at a price to police agencies. In exchange for free materials, police agencies must agree to pose for Scientology PR photos. “Smiling Cops Holding Scientology Booklets” has become a staple of Scientology PR.


Scientology sometimes greases the PR wheels by donating money to police agencies. The Los Angeles Police Department, a long-time BFF of Scientology, has often received money from the church. Here we see LAPD senior commanders receiving $20,000 from Celebrity Centre International. These donations serve as yet more PR for Scientology:


The LAPD does not disclose that it is a financial beneficiary of the Church of Scientology when it distributes the Church’s Drug Free World booklets. Scientology’s financial munificence towards the LAPD also results in yet another Scientology PR element we call “Smiling Cops With Scientology Officials.” Below we see a 2015 photo of Edith Reuveni, President of the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles, with LAPD Captains Pratt and Murphy of the LAPD…


And of course, until he was indicted, former Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca was Scientology’s favorite “Smiling Cop With Scientology Officials.”


Although the Church of Scientology is predominantly white, its PR strategy includes a partnership with the Nation of Islam. The “Peace Rides” in South Central Los Angeles were co-founded by Scientology’s Alfreddie Johnson and the Nation of Islam’s Tony Muhammad. While Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LAPD Chief Charlie Beck participated in a recent Peace Ride event, the clear goal for Scientology was to put its name and The Way to Happiness at the PR forefront of the event:


The Church of Scientology used this recent one-day Peace Ride event to trumpet itself as the broker of a peace between rival Los Angeles street gangs; and yet how many gang members present realized they were being used for Scientology’s PR purposes? The Scientology Newsroom rushed the story onto its website:


In Scientology’s more North Korean style PR – and this has become a Scientology cliché — the central image used is that of global ecclesiastical leader David Miscavige opening Ideal Orgs and other facilities as if he were surrounded by tens of thousands of adoring Scientologists (when it’s actually just a few hundred):


Finally, what would Scientology PR be without the close up photos of Miscavige orating as he opens Ideal Orgs? Photoshopped to a high lustre, Miscavige’s backdrops look like enameled Kabuki sets while he himself looks like a porcelain figurine crowned by a flawless pompadour, as was the case at his most recent appearance, to open the new Advanced Org outside Sydney…


As Tony pointed out when he was at the Village Voice, Dear Leader has his special photo-op pose down just so…


Clearwater Info Center

Clearwater Info Center

CLO, England

CLO, England

Saint Hill Manor, England

Saint Hill Manor, England

IAS 2015

IAS 2015



Scientology Media Productions, Los Angeles

Scientology Media Productions, Los Angeles



Flag Building, a/k/a "Super Power," Clearwater, 2013

Flag Building, a/k/a “Super Power,” Clearwater, 2013

The present and future Scientology PR strategy will continue to present us with the same predictable series of ten basic of photos:


Conversely, the hardscrabble and miserable reality of Scientology-on-the-inside will continue to be found in the endless fundraising e-mails that are only seen internally, except for when they are leaked each day by Mike Rinder:


— Jeffrey Augustine


On ‘The Other Side of Midnight’ with Richard Hoagland

We had a feeling that this would be an unusual interview for us, and it was. We don’t know if that means you’re actually going to enjoy this or not. But here’s the full two-hour program of your proprietor talking Scientology with well known radio figure Richard C. Hoagland…



Paulette_Cooper‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ audiobook now on sale has released the audiobook version of The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper and you can get the book for free if you’re signing up at Audible for the first time!

Read by the author (that’s us), the book tells the incredible tale of a journalist who was among the first to expose Scientology’s controversies, and nearly paid for it with her life. Go to Audible’s website for more details — [US version] [UK version]

To support the Audible launch, Paulette Cooper joined us for an “Ask Me Anything” session at Reddit on September 29, which covered a lot of topics about the book and about this website.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on October 2, 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, Kindle, and audiobook versions. 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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