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Can a celebrity Scientologist like John Travolta really commit murder under the rules?

[Preparing to murder another role]

Leah Remini continues to tear it up doing press after the stunning success of her A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath, with media paying close attention to what she says. Nearly every time she makes an appearance, whether it’s on Conan O’Brien’s late-night show, or on Joe Rogan’s podcast, news organizations find something to jump on and call “shocking” or a “bombshell.”

This week, press outlets went a little nuts with something Leah told Joe Rogan about John Travolta and the ethics policy known as Kha-Khan.

Here’s video of the moment, and a transcript of the key passage…



I think John was given a designation Kha-Khan… there’s a policy that basically says you can kill another human being if you are Kha-Khaned, you’re going to look the other way. And he was given that by L. Ron Hubbard.

As you can imagine, this led to several breathless news stories about how actor John Travolta could, like, shoot a guy on the set of his next movie and he would be given a get-out-of-jail-free card or something.

We completely understand Leah’s point, that celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta are not staying in Scientology because they’re being blackmailed, but because they enjoy such bountiful perks, like having all their needs met by Scientology staffers. We’ve heard the same thing as well, and we also think that the blackmail angle is exaggerated.

However, having said that, we think the press went a little overboard with the Kha-Khan notion this week and we wanted to bring it back down to earth.

In 1965, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, in one of his innumerable policy letters about everything under the sun, put out a letter titled “Ethics Protection.” It contained this paragraph:

In an ancient army a particularly brave deed was recognized by an award of the title of Kha-Khan. It was not a rank. The person remained what he was, BUT he was entitled to be forgiven the death penalty ten times in case in the future he did anything wrong. That was a Kha-Khan. That’s what producing, high-statistic staff members are – Kha-Khans. They can get away with murder without a blink from Ethics… And Ethics must recognize a Kha-Khan when it sees one – and tear up the bad report chits on the person with a yawn.

It’s important to put that passage in some context. Scientology is an organization that has a fetish not so much for spirituality as for administration. If it is a religion, Scientology worships bureaucracy.

Imagine your friend with an obsession with rules and regulations at work, and crank that up about ten times. Scientologists, particularly those in the “Sea Organization,” must live not only by a vast galaxy of rules, but also must focus their entire existence on producing “statistics” that must improve every single week, and by 2 pm on Thursday, when “stats” are reckoned.

What Hubbard was getting at was that any Scientologist who was consistently producing admirable stats should not be messed with. Leave them alone to keep producing, and if they violate some rules and regulations along the way, it’s better to turn a blind eye than to turn them in.

And the reason that point needed to be made was that Scientologists were constantly turning each other in for “ethics” violations. Scientology is a snitching culture, and it’s an interrogation culture. If your stats were down, or if you looked at someone the wrong way, you might find yourself being interrogated, busted down to a lower post, or even given the death penalty — which was a way of saying that you could be subjected to Scientology’s version of a court martial called a “committee of evidence” or “comm ev,” resulting in being tossed out of the Sea Org or even being declared a “suppressive person” and being kicked out of Scientology altogether.

Supposedly, if Hubbard had designated you Kha-Khan, you could shrug off that kind of situation ten times without penalty.

That was the theory, anyway.

In practice, it didn’t seem to work that way.

“None of this shit really mattered,” Tom DeVocht told us when we asked him about how Kha-Khan worked when he was serving in the Sea Org and close to its leader, David Miscavige. He says that Hubbard, who died in 1986, might have meant for the designation to produce some kind of protection for high-producing employees, but under Miscavige, there was no way to be untouchable.

“It’s all about Miscavige. You might be Kha-Khan, but you couldn’t do anything against him, so what’s the point? That kind of thing only actually worked if there was some benefit to Miscavige directly. Other than that, it was just theoretical.”

Former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder tells us that being named Kha-Khan didn’t really mean much if Miscavige could just toss you into prison.

“I think they were getting handed out a lot, but then some people who were Kha-Khan ended up on the RPF, so it kind of went out of fashion,” he says, referring to the Rehabilitation Project Force, the Sea Org’s prison detail that members can spend years on in degrading conditions.

“I don’t think Kha-Khan ever saved anybody, frankly. It was just a theoretical thing,” he adds. “Ray Mithoff, Norman Starkey — it did them no good avoiding The Hole,” he says in reference to the special prison that Miscavige created in 2004 for his top lieutenants. Rinder himself spent much of 2006 and 2007 in The Hole, before he managed to leave Scientology entirely.

We asked him about Travolta being named Kha-Khan, and he said he wasn’t even aware of it. “It could have been from Hubbard for Travolta speaking at the Portland crusade or in LA in the mid-1980s. John was the only real celebrity then who stood up and said I’m here to support Scientology.” (In 1985, Scientology was facing two lawsuits, in Portland and Los Angeles, that each resulted in huge judgments against the church. Scientology held major demonstrations outside the courthouses of them both.)

“But Travolta was never the same after Battlefield Earth,” Rinder says. The 2000 movie based on L. Ron Hubbard’s 1982 science fiction novel was highly anticipated by Miscavige, who believed it could turn into a major recruitment tool for the church. But when it turned into one of the worst flops in cinema history, Miscavige blamed Travolta.

Kha-Khan never held any water with Miscavige,” Rinder says, and tells us that Travolta really doesn’t have any special dispensation to commit murder or any other crime.

“Miscavige probably thinks Travolta is a useful idiot. He doesn’t have any great respect for him.”

UPDATE: Seeing some comments, we wanted to append a coda to the story to make something more clear. While we think Kha-Khan in particular is something of an outdated concept in Scientology and probably never delivered the immunity it seemed to promise, that isn’t to say that Scientology doesn’t offer enormous benefits to its celebrities, including protecting them after they commit misdeeds. Travolta may be only a useful idiot to Miscavige, but we heartily believe that Miscavige would use the full force of his Office of Special Affairs and other resources to protect any Scientology celebrity from investigation or prosecution by law enforcement whenever it might be possible.


HowdyCon 2017: Denver, June 23-25. Go here to start making your plans.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,659 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,256 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,296 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy in 1,008 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 475 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,593 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,763 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,083 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,058 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 414 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin in 4,716 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 823 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,225 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,098 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 679 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike in 1,184 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,428 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,537 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on February 10, 2017 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.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2016 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2016), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

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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  • The Dude

    Hello Bunker! I miss my friends here out on the fringes of the inter-web-thingy. How the hell are y’all?

    • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

      Hey, proud papa! How much sleep are you managing to get? Is your wife doing well? How is the littlest one?

      • The Dude

        Super. He is such a good Baby. Feed him and he just sleeps. Sometimes we think he is asleep and he is just looking around, wide awake. He is starting to fill out a bit. Still only 3 weeks old.
        Mom is doing great. She wants to go back to her usual routine but the doctors say no work for at least 6 weeks.

        • Missionary Kid

          Oh, boy! Enjoy it while you can. Good to see you around here.

        • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

          Wonderful 🙂 Those first few weeks are like living in a bubble, aren’t they? It’s such a special time. I’m delighted to hear how well your wife is, but she’s right to listen to her doctors. Love to you all 🙂

        • Liberated

          Sounds like the little dude abides!

    • Liberated

      Hi Dude.

    • Rasha


      • The Dude


        • Rasha

          Oh, yeh! ^_^

    • beauty for ashes

      We are still a cornucopia of all types, all shapes and sizes, all countries colors and languages, rounded out with the best kind of weirdos you have ever seen.

    • Juicer77

      Hey there 🙂 Great pics! Such a cutie.

  • The Dude
  • The Dude
    • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

      My favourite.

    • chukicita

      Those are some seriously beautiful ojos!

      • The Dude

        Deep Blue-green hazel like my other son and I.

  • The Dude
  • The Dude
  • RIP Mike Ilitch.
    Personal family friend.
    Many nights my mom spent in cold hockey arenas with Marian Ilitch and Colleen Howe watching their children play.
    He did and gave his all to many thousands of kids who wanted to play hockey.
    Before he could afford to do so.
    I knew him when he had one pizza store.

    • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

      I am so sorry, love. What a sad loss for you all.

      Group hug 🙁

    • chukicita

      Sorry for you loss, Shorpy. He sounds like the kind of guy a lot of folks are going to carry in their hearts.

      • Robert Eckert

        He always found a way to be a source of brightness in our too-often-bleak city.

        • And as you well know the whole family would face the typical criticism of doing too much for the corporate and not enough for the people.
          But I know for a fact that he did so much for actual real children.
          Real tangible stuff.
          One side story: one of his young hockey players happened to be a black golden gloves boxer.

          When he was faced with racism on the ice, the other guy didn’t stand a chance.
          The guy now runs a very successful business in Detroit.

        • And I didn’t even hate him when he tore down my law school to build the ball park.
          Geez, they moved the Elwood Bar, and the Gem Theater, which I never frequented when it was showing pornos. Never. I swear. Really.

      • Thanks. He was a man.

    • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

      I am reading about his life and his achievements. He was a remarkable man and will be all the more missed for it.

      • Came from absolutely nothing.
        He and my dad sponsored the first youth hockey teams with long haired hippies, blacks, and girls.
        The Hanson Brothers were straight outta there.

    • TexasBroad

      Hugs for your tears, Shorpy.

      • I’m tellin’ ya….
        Thanks, I am into full weeping mode.
        Sometimes tears are good.
        I guess they get rid of toxins and stuff.

        • TexasBroad

          Grief brings such a jarring clarity…shakes the tears right out of you. Tears are good and hugs are too…guessing you have a share of both ahead of you.
          You probably have some toxins built up so… *hugs tightly, passes nifty hankerchief befitting Shorpy style*

    • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

      Is Johnny okay, Fly?

      • Liberated

        I’m watching Bill Maher right now….Piers Morgan is on…god, he is so obnoxious I can’t stand him.

    • Johnny Tank (Forever Autumn)

      Thanks, buddy. I enjoyed that. Crimson is one of my favorite colors.

  • Ribisi – “it’s something where if somebody has a question the only thing you can really say is yeah, it works for me and if you’re curious about it, go ahead, go pick up a book.” – What a wimp!

    • Robert Eckert

      Yeah, I guess that’s all he can really say

    • Liberated

      Don’t you wish someone would say….I’ve read EVERY book…I think it’s insane!

      Wonder what he would say?

      • Yes! I think i will try that one day. If there is anyone left to meet. I am not sure they Body route anymore

      • Tracy Schmitz

        and point out passages (like tony ortega has been doing) to show and prove it’s insanity! oh yeah, make mention as well “in what world does l.ron hubbard a science fiction writer, a pathological lying bigamist who even lied about his education, have the audacity (much less the education and expertise) to claim dianetics as 100% all knowing, 100% all right and the “modern book of the mind” and then sit back and wait for the answer from ribisi or any celeb cultie!..

  • TexasBroad

    I’m watching Apollo 13 for perhaps the 15th time and I’m very, very worried they aren’t going to make it home!

    • Tony Ortega

      Houston, do you have a problem? Maybe you should watch something else.

      • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

        I have watched “Withnail and I”, “LOTR” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” more times than I can remember. It’s crazy how favourite films age like a fine Chateauneuf.

        • TexasBroad

          I think the movie I’ve watched the most times (though not necessarily from beginning to end) is Pulp Fiction. I truly loved John Travolta in it.

          • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

            That’s another favourite 🙂

          • Robert Eckert

            Wizard of Oz, Dr. Strangelove, and Casablanca are the ones I watch over and over. I know: two black-and-whites, and one that used color when it was brand-new; and besides, a weird psychological mix. Oh well, I guess I am just strange, and I love it.

            • TexasBroad

              I haven’t watched Dr. Strangelove, but have seen the other two more than a few times. Should I see it? Or is it one of those movies you had to experience at the time (culturally) to love it in 2017?
              I think the worst move I ever watched was Wickerman with Nicolas Cage, but I’ve never seen Battlefield Earth so I may reevaluate later.

            • Robert Eckert

              It would be an interesting experiment for someone who never knew that period to watch Dr. Strangelove. It is definitely a period piece– but then, so is Casablanca and it holds up very well.

            • MarcabExpat

              Nononononono go watch Dr. Strangelove now! It is timeless. Absolutely timeless. (Even thought it’s about the Cold War.) Also, it features Peter Sellers in multiple roles! How can you lose?

            • Tracy Schmitz

              i saw battlefield earth and i’m not sure why because i was never a travolta fan…. this was BEFORE i knew anything about scientology and that the movie was based on hubbard writing… i can very VERY PROUDLY tooting my own horn say, that i WALKED OUT OF THE MOVIE, IT WAS SO BAD!…

        • Most of the films of Akira Kurosawa, “Blade Runner” (Dekard was a replicant) “2001”, “Howard The Duck” (my mate’s kids liked that one a lot, and I had to bring a VHS tape of it when I looked after them). and Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V.

        • MarcabExpat

          I do not even know how many times I have seen 2001, Mulholland Dr and Vertigo. Some things just get better with more exposure!

      • TexasBroad

        Whew! All is well. Miraculously, they all made it home!

    • I remember watching that ‘live’ and in real time, coming home from School afraid to watch the news for fear that it was all over for the crew.

      That effort always seemed to me to illustrate the best of America – creative teamwork that pulled off a near-miracle. May the US return to that culture soon.

      PS: I once spoiled the film “Titanic” by telling someone “it sinks in the end”.

  • Andrea ‘i-Betty’ Garner

    Part 1 of Tony on “Come Get Sum”. Was a link posted earlier? I really like the host. I should have been in bed 4 hours ago but I’m channelling Tuesday Nights With Leah.

    ETA. The host (I think he is called Chris) reading Lori Hodgson’s letter to her children is difficult to listen to. I have read it before – perhaps here? Poor Lori. She mentions in her letter that their grandfather is 75. He has just celebrated his 80th birthday and still hasn’t seen his grandchildren.

    ETAx2. Cathy Schenkelberg is also interviewed about Squeeze My Cans.

  • Liberated

    Real Time w/Bill Maher just announced next weeks guests….Leah Remini!
    Yay…I love seeing her name.

    • Jimmy3

      They cut the hard line. I’m out

      • Liberated

        What do you mean?

    • Tracy Schmitz

      i believe next week, friday, feb 17th…maher really should do a special 1 hour of his show with just her!…

  • If it doesn’t ”work” and you don’t find happiness, then it’s YOUR fault.

  • Advertising Standards Authority Complaint Against The Church of Scientology Plymouth UPHELD.

    • Sort today’s comments by “Best” and you will see the author’s comments about the article.

    • JJ

      Dude, go back to using soft, unverifiable wordage or made up Scientology Tech Verbiage. If you offer a provable fix for something you will actually, eventually need proof… not just a spiel about the users not doing it right.
      If you tell me I will be able to make an ashtray hover over the table after session 37 and it doesn’t, it is not user error.

      • That’s precisely the point of the exercise..

        I’m not targeting the stuff they hand out to the public to prevent the CofS from making specific claims for which they lack objective evidence (which is against ASA rules)..

        Every successful complaint closes the option to make a whole range of claims, every time they are caught and undertake not to repeat them. Eventually, it will become impossible for them to promote Scientology in advertisements because their promotional material will become so vague and nebulous as to be meaningless.

        There is no objective evidence that could be offered in support of Scientology, so they are on to a loser.

  • MostSpecialAgent Joe McClaine

    OT I saw the old 1998 article about the Phoenix Lights, from the tweet side bar.
    Very good take down of the woo merchants.
    Brilliant and well researched. It took me a couple of hours to read and look up the names and claims.
    It’s often cited as “indisputable proof” by my conspiracy friends.
    I see some ex Governor, who witnessed it, referred to it a few days ago and claimed some bs and proof. I can’t remember what he said exactly, but he thought it was indisputably alien IIRC.
    Bill Maher said it well tonight in his closing comments, when he railed against the current rejection of science and facts.
    19 years ago but just as relevant, thanks Tony.

    • Missionary Kid

      Driving along northeast of Las Vegas, probably about 3 in the morning, I saw the same phenomenon. I realized that it was over a military practice area, and what they were was parachute flares, dropped from an airplane for night operations, perhaps a parachute drop, to illuminate a large area.

      The problem is that on a dark night, it is very difficult to judge distance, so people will claim to have seen them in a variety of distances.

      • MostSpecialAgent Joe McClaine

        I dabble in amateur astronomy and sometimes get to hang out with real astronomers. Sometimes, I’ve seen things in the sky that you can’t identify, but after searching or asking others it has a rational explanation.
        If I mention my interest, frequently the UFO question comes up more often than not.
        People seem to believe astronomers are mostly UFO believers but in reality I’ve never met one who was a committed believer.
        I like to keep a tiny bit of my mind open to the possibility, but like Tony says in the article, the study of UFO’s is more akin to a religion. Perhaps, as people reject and move away from traditional religions, UFO belief fills the void?

        • Missionary Kid

          As a part of my flight training, we were all taken into a room that was then darkened while our eyes adapted to virtually no light. After full adaptation, we were shown lights that could be moved closer to or further from us, as well as varied in intensity.

          With a completely darkened room, it was obvious that we nearly always picked the light that was brightest as being closest to us.

          When flying at night, I have seen weird things that my mind has given me what was basically an out of this world explanation until I have flown closer and discovered a different interpretation that made normal sense. What I realize is that the mind tries to interpret things in many different ways. With little information, it makes things up.

          • Robert Eckert

            And we make sense of a weird thing in terms of the weird things our culture has prepared us for. The same weird light in the sky would have been a flying witch a few centuries ago.

            • Missionary Kid

              Exactly. Reports of UFO’s spike after one is reported in the media. It’s a form of mass hysteria, IMO. When we hear of something, we tend to interpret things in the same way.

    • Ha ha. Thanks for that.
      “Aliens are here. They are mating with humans.”

      Donald Fagen was right:

      “They’re landing on the Jersey beaches
      Their engines make the white sand swirl
      The heat is so intense
      Earth men have no defense
      Against tomorrow’s girls

      They’re mixing with the population
      A virus wearing pumps and pearls
      Lord help the lonely guys
      Hooked by those hungry eyes
      Here come tomorrow’s girls
      Tomorrow’s girls”
      (Tomorrow’s Girls)

      • Rasha

        …so that’s why the milkman screamed and pointed up at the sky….

        • Not like the old superman TV show. What were those first two people so excited about? What’s so unusual about a bird or a plane?

          • Rasha

            Ah, the days when one could point up and shout “Look! Up in the sky!” and the crowd would all stop and look up in mild curiosity…..

            …plus, he was wearing a hat, how would he have noticed it in the first place? I’m gonna ask the milkman – he had a hat on, too….

            • It still works.
              Don’t even say anything.
              Just point. People can not resist looking.

    • Susan black

      This is the guy i wanna see. Great news. Not sad!

      • He did a great job of going with the weird flow.

  • Newiga

    So, the only true Kha-Khan in Scientology is Miscavige. He can do anything he wants without getting punished.

    • It’s good to be the King.

    • Rasha


      FIFY ^_^

      • Newiga

        LOL! Yes, he is full of it. 😉