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What Scientology itself says about the way it’s going to change how your mind works

Jon Atack is the author of A Piece of Blue Sky, one of the very best books on L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. For more than three years he’s been helping us sift through the legends, myths, and contested facts about Scientology that tend to get hashed and rehashed in books, articles, and especially on the Internet.

Scientology’s advocates believe fervently that it is a system for positive behavioral transformation. However, there are many former practitioners who believe it is a negative system of behavioral transformation. And there are people – real people – who simply don’t care: They believe that there are far more serious things going on in the world than the psychological benefit or damage caused by Scientology.

I continue to care, because Scientology is a packed microcosm of social behavior – just about anything you can find in a group can be found here, from the positive and caring aspects to the negative and destructive. Hubbard said, “We have ways of making slaves here.” He also added “Let’s make sure that none are made,” but there are some of us who believe that he was disingenuous. He offered to sell his “brainwashing” to JFK. The letter went unanswered, but the thought is worth investigating: If Scientology is, indeed, a system for brainwashing, then how would those subjected to brainwashing know that they’d been subjected to brainwashing?

When Rick Moxon – head of Scientology’s legal department at the time (and an unindicted co-conspirator in the Snow White case) – asked me in deposition if I had been “brainwashed” by Scientology, I said (under oath), “No.” But he didn’t ask if I thought anyone else had been brainwashed. I don’t like the word – it has a tabloid ring to it – but is Scientology a system of thought reform? Indeed it is, because Scientology is a system of behavioral transformation, and to transform (or modify) behavior, you have to reform ways of thinking.


Does the transformation add up to positive change in some individuals? Yes, it does. Anyone who believes that they have benefited, has benefited: game, set, and match. The fact that I don’t think Damian Hirst’s work is worth the skulls it is stuck on doesn’t mean that it isn’t Art. He is a billionaire (I think the first to become so through making “art”). I think his work is simplistic, dull and unamusing – I’m not anti-conceptualist; I admire Maurizio Cattelan’s work, for instance – but if you think it is Art, that’s your privilege, and if you think that Scientology did you good, then it did. But how much good? “We always deliver what we promise!” or so Hubbard’s guarantee reads.

So, the newfangled Bridge to Total Freedom these days has the Communication Release as the first significant rung, where behavioral transformation is offered (rather than an end to “deterioration”). The promised “end phenomena,” as I have frequently pointed out, include the ability to “communicate freely with anyone on any subject.” That is, of course, unless you are saying something about your “case” (for which you must pay an auditor), or anything about the “technology of Scientology” (which is “verbal tech” and forbidden, least of all the secret Upper Levels), or simply communicating anything to anyone labeled a Suppressive Person.

Can Scientologists above this lowly level really “communicate freely with anyone on any subject”? But how would I know? Without written permission from the International Justice Chief (a title
straight out of Marvel Comics), no Scientologist – including David Miscavige – is allowed to talk to me. Remember that if you haven’t achieved the “full end phenomena” of any grade or level, you will not be able to achieve any of the grades or levels above it. Each step is a foundation for the next.

After Level One Release, the Scientologist has the “Ability to recognize the source of problems and vanish them” and “has no problems” (my quotations are from the 1970 edition of Scientology 0-8 – more recent copies of the Bridge have become more reticent, but the “processes” are the same, and Hubbard authorized this publication).

“Preclears” become utterly ethical after Level Two (unless they have “evil purposes,” which Expanded Dianetics used to handle, but not any more). A Level Two Release has achieved nothing less than “Relief from the sufferings and hostilities of life; ability to be at cause without fear of hurting others.” Now that is an “ability” that I would rather not have: I want to always and at every moment be aware if I am hurting someone. This one sounds a little like a sociopathic trait – “callous and unemotional disorder” as the psychs say. But you also allegedly gain “Freedom from things others have done to you in the past.” I’m not quite sure how that one would work, unless it wipes your memory.

At Level Three – the “Freedom Release” we find “(1) Freedom from the upsets of the past; ability to face future; ability to experience sudden change without becoming upset. (2) Can grant others the beingness to be the way they are and choose their own reality; no longer feels need to change people to make them more acceptable to self; able to cause changes in another’s life without ill effects. (3) Freedom from the need to prevent or become involved in the change and interchange occurring amongst others.” Honestly, that’s what the book says.

The Level Four Release is the “Ability Release.” This too has a sociopathic tinge to it, for my money (and, yes, I did pay to do it, while Hubbard was still alive and able to oversee the Tech): “Without need to justify own actions or defend self from others, loss of make-guilty mechanisms, self invalidation and demand for sympathy. Can be right or wrong.” I haven’t actually met many Scientologists who could be wrong. Back in these old days, the next step was the “confirmation of expanded grades”: “Knowledge of having fully made lower Grades; freedom from cruel impulses and from being humanoid.” I don’t believe I’ve met a single person who has actually achieved these states, and whether the management of the mother cult is humanoid or not, I am not qualified to say, but they have yet to rid themselves of “cruel impulses.”

The 1970 edition of Scientology 0-8 also has the end phenomena for the upper levels. I hope to find time to discuss them at a later date – they are rather more startling than the current Bridge! In the meantime, you can find my work to proof people against manipulation and how to develop healthy skepticism at the Open Minds Foundation.

— Jon Atack


Jeffrey Augustine takes aim at the IRS commissioner

We recently learned from contributor Jeffrey Augustine that some changes in the law have made it a little harder for the IRS to launch an investigation into a church’s tax-exempt status. As a result, pressure will need to be brought on the IRS commissioner himself to launch an investigation, and that will take considerable effort.

In order to help that process along, Jeffrey has launched an online petition.

Now, we have made it plain in the past that we are not very sanguine on the efficacy of online petitions, and we haven’t changed our mind about that. However, we like the way Jeffrey has written this petition (most of them are written terribly), and it seems focused well. So, we’ll leave it up to you: here’s a link to Jeffrey’s campaign.



In which we lose some respect for our antipodean friends

One of the highlights of our visit to Australia in 2015 in support of our book was getting the chance to have dinner in Adelaide with independent Senator Nick Xenophon. Scientology watchers know him for the remarkable 2009 speech he gave in Parliament about his concerns regarding Scientology. “Scientology is not a religious organization, it is a criminal organization that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs,” he said.

In person, Xenophon was a hoot. He doesn’t drink alcohol, but he encouraged us to as we ordered half the menu at a Mexican restaurant, and we talked about his political ambitions and our coverage of Scientology.

Anyway, we’re bringing him up today because we’re astonished that our Australian friends seem to have lost their minds.

Although Nick Xenophon was born in Australia — and let us repeat that, he was born in Australia — as reflected in his last name he’s the son of immigrants. His father was from Cyprus, which in 1951 was a British colony when he emigrated to Australia.

It turns out that because his father once was a subject of the United Kingdom, the UK today considers Nick Xenophon to be a British overseas citizen.

Why does this matter? Well, Australia is currently in the grips of a bizarre panic over members of its Parliament possessing dual citizenship. Our friend Bryan Seymour helped explain what’s going on:

First one Senator was found to still be a New Zealand citizen and he resigned as the law is simple and clear. Since then, almost 10 MP’s – almost all Senators – have discovered they are citizens of other countries too. Nick’s case is the most unpredictable of all – there’s no way he would have ever thought to investigate the tremulous links his dad had to the UK. Now it’s up to the High Court to determine if these MP’s were eligible to be elected in the first place. If the answer is no, they all go and the government, which has a majority of just one in the lower house will lose power! Nick can renounce his UK Citizenship and stand again and would most likely be re-elected. If the High Court finds they can stay, the status quo continues… though they could rule differently in each case which means some could stay and the government could still fall.

We have no interest in Australian internal politics or which party is in power, but the fact that Nick Xenophon is in such a position just seems like madness to us.

In the US, we all know that to be eligible to be US president a candidate must have been born in this country. But otherwise, citizenship is enough for our other elected positions, and there are no restrictions on dual citizenship. According to The Hill, recently: “Anyone can become a dual citizen, even members of Congress, high court judges and top officials of the executive branch. There’s no law or regulation against it. Nor are they required to disclose such dual citizenship.”

Nick revealed the news of his apparent dual citizenship with a bit of humor, which is characteristic of him. We hope the country gets a sense of humor about this “crisis” soon as well.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Seems like a lot of work for a hoodie…


In Quito, the latest fundraiser goes with a rock ‘n’ roll theme…



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,847 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,830 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,604 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,950 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,444 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,484 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,196 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 722 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,811 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,951 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,271 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,246 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 602 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,904 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,011 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,413 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,286 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 867 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,372 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,616 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,725 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 19, 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 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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