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As Leah Remini’s second season hammers away, Scientology is losing its mind

 
It’s probably safe to say that the Church of Scientology is now in the grips of a complete meltdown.

We were struck by the church’s response to the first season of Leah Remini’s A&E series Scientology and the Aftermath, but as we have pointed out before, Scientology leader David Miscavige took things to a whole new level when the news was announced that A&E was bringing Remini back for a second season.

And now that we’re three episodes into the second season, we’re starting to realize something. We’ve never seen David Miscavige lose his shit like this.

Scientology’s attacks on its critics has a long and well-documented history. Heck, we even wrote a whole book about it. And generally, over the years, you could count on Scientology to follow certain patterns in how it went after the people it perceived as enemies. During Leah’s first season, for example, we laid it out for her when we appeared in episode seven. Leah showed us all the scary letters that Scientology’s lawyers and spokespeople had sent A&E and the production company. And we told her, this was very standard for the church, and sometimes it actually works — we have personal knowledge of several television productions that were halted because executives panicked over similar threatening letters.

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We told Leah that we knew such letters weren’t going to scare her off. But we told her what else she could expect: 1. Websites attacking her, 2. videos on those websites attacking her, and 3. websites and videos attacking the people she has as guests on her show.

All three predictions have come true, and we’ve written numerous times about some of the attacks on Leah and her guests that have shown up, particularly at a website that actually carries the name of the church on it. (In the past, Scientology used anonymously-run websites to post its smears.)

But what we didn’t predict is just how unhinged Scientology’s attacks have become, and so reckless. We can’t help wondering if the wheels haven’t simply fallen off the crazy train.

Let’s go through some examples of what we’re talking about.

 
1. The new “whistleblower” attack on Mary Kahn

This one showed up Tuesday night, and it really stunned us. The “Aftermath: After Money” website operated by the church has posted an audio recording, and claims that it is a phone call made to the Church of Scientology by a “whistleblower” with information about how dishonest Remini’s show is. Here’s the transcript of the call…

 

I don’t know very much about Scientology, so you are going to have to forgive me. I’m not really familiar with it. I was present for a friend of mine while I was on vacation, who was giving an interview for a program and it involved a celebrity named Leah Remini, and I was asked to come over and kind of be there as a support system. So, while I was in the kitchen and this whole crew of people came, and this celebrity that I used to watch on King of Queens came. And she was doing this interview. And during the interview she kept stopping people and telling them, the people I was visiting, and she kept telling them that it needed to be more dramatic, to make it sound as bad as possible. And I was pretty astounded because these were older, what I considered to be older people. And I kind of thought she was taking advantage of them. And I asked at one point during a break my friend if she was really OK with this, and she said yes, and that they were receiving payment for the interview. And I just kind of felt like because she was telling the husband, “You really need to start crying at a certain point. That would be really good.” She kept stopping and telling them to up the ante. And she did this while big thing and so it kind of gave me the creeps and made me feel kind of dirty.

At the church website, this audio plays against scenes from the Mary Kahn episode from ‘Aftermath’ season one. And what’s really remarkable about it is that although it plays as an anonymous phone call, the church here is making a very specific allegation — that someone invited by Mary Kahn and present in her kitchen made these observations of the taping.

“Flat out, bald-faced lies. Every single thing she says is a lie,” Mary told us when we asked her to watch the video. “I mean truly everything she said as regards my episode was a lie. Everything.”

We have participated in two episodes of Leah’s show ourselves, and we’ve spoken to fellow guests, and we can confirm that no one who appears on camera is being paid for that appearance. The show is paying to fly us out and put us up in a hotel, and it makes sure we arrive at the set on time, but we get paid nothing for the taping itself. Also, we’ve been through two long days of taping, and never once were we asked to be “more dramatic,” and never once did Leah even ask us to repeat something for a better take. During one taping, the producers, after hearing something we had said, asked us to go into more depth on a particular subject, but never to reword what we’d said for effect.

But the allegation here goes beyond how Leah tapes a show. We asked Mary — the church is claiming that this was someone in your house during the taping. Can you tell us who was in your house at the time?

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“My husband, my son, his girlfriend, Leah and Mike, and the crew,” she told us. So, since the caller sounded like a young female, the only possible person it could have been was her son’s girlfriend.

“No, I wasn’t there when Leah was there,” the young woman says. “I met her once when the crew was packing up and was stuck in the garage because it was pouring out. That was like five seconds though, and all the cameras were packed away. That recording is definitely not me. For one thing, I lived at Mary’s house at that point. I was not on ‘vacation’.”

So, Scientology has posted this recording at its website as if it were a legitimate call, when there wasn’t anyone present at the taping of Mary Kahn’s episode who could fit that description.

In other words, it’s ludicrous.

“The church, if it were a person, would be certifiable,” Mary says.

 
2. A Scientology grass-roots campaign goes off the rails

When Scientology started up its new grass-roots online effort to hit back at criticism — a group it calls “Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination” but somehow abbreviates as STAND — we thought it was actually a fairly clever idea.

Individual Scientologists rarely speak up in support of what the church is doing, and it’s even rarer for them to take on critical material about the church (which they’re supposed to be assiduously avoiding). So we thought it was actually a refreshing idea for the “STAND League” to feature individual church members speaking up for themselves.

Sadly, the STAND effort has turned out to be as fake as L. Ron Hubbard’s war medals.

We wrote earlier about how STAND was used as a front to create a bot army to spam Twitter. After we wrote that piece, some of our clever readers looked even more deeply into the situation and found that many of the STAND participants were completely faked, using photos from stock photography or model websites to create the impression that they were individual Scientologists.

Reader “Justin Templer” located original photos for several STAND accounts, including the Italian model Chiara Ferragni…

 

 
“Communicator I/C” then got a response when he contacted Ferragni’s management about the use of her photo on the account of supposed STAND member “Eva Band.”

“Thank you. Our legal office is taking this in charge,” the model’s team told Communicator I/C. For now, however, the “Eva Band” account still remains at Twitter, and “Eva” is the author of six articles at the STAND website since November.

 
3. Bodhi Elfman to the rescue

We cringed when we saw that Bodhi Elfman had posted an article at the STAND website where he’s going all-in with the Scientology line that exposing the abuses in the church is a form of “bigotry.” Elfman, the minor celebrity husband to actress Jenna Elfman and nephew to Oingo Boingo frontman (and non-Scientologist) Danny Elfman, makes use of the offensive trope equating criticism of Scientology with antisemitism and the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany.

That one never gets old for Scientology.

And what also struck us about Elfman’s screed were passages like this one, where he claims that critical stories about Scientology are baseless and simply come down to discrimination:

I have personally observed Scientology helping people for decades, and every now and again someone will come along with claims of some outrageous story, or some awful “incident,” and I’ve made the mistake of trying to chase it down only to find nothing there. But, actually, there was something there: the rumors or “reasons to hate” were always started and forwarded by individuals with hate and intolerance in their heart. Every single time. Every single time I have had to “defend” my religion, it was never against an actual occurrence or truth but rather against individuals with hatred in their hearts.

We found that claim by Elfman to be pretty interesting. Every single time, Bodhi? Well, let’s remember a story published here at the Underground Bunker back on February 23. It was the story of Quailynn and Paul McDaniel, who had been extremely close friends to Bodhi and Jenna Elfman for many years — they were even present for the birth of the couple’s first child, as we proved with photos from the delivery room.

 

[Quailynn McDaniel with Jenna and Bodhi Elfman]

 
And yet, when Paul McDaniel dared to simply press the “Like” button on a Facebook post by Leah Remini, this is the email that he received from his longtime friend…

Dear Paul,

After some time to think things over, I don’t really think we need another conversation.

Here are my thoughts. You wrote and spoke quite a bit about how you are powers for good, only want to help people and be a good guy. I’m glad you feel this way, though I’m sorry to say your actions are contrary.

You posted on FB in support and gave props to someone who publicly left the Church. Then claimed you don’t really know her or know the scene, yet you did know she’d left the Church. Then posted again that you are in support of “whistle-blowers”, implying that there was cause to “whistle-blow” against the Church. Those posts were against what is stated in the Suppressive Acts policies and against how LRH says to handle one’s disputes.

I would rather not associate with those who support “whistle blowing” or investigations outside of HCO/proper channels, or criticisms of Scientology or with someone who avoids auditing.

I genuinely wish you and your family well and I, with all my heart, hope you go to Flag very soon, get on the cans and find harmony.

This is a private email for you and your wife only. Please respect that.

Until then, let’s please not communicate anymore.

Bodhi

Before we published that email, we sent a message to Bodhi, asking for him to explain to us what he was thinking when he sent this note to Paul McDaniel. He didn’t respond.

He was apparently too busy chasing down stories about Scientology and finding nothing there.

Now, some of our readers may ask, are these examples really a sign that something different is going on during Leah Remini’s second season? After all, Scientology’s attacks on its critics under leader David Miscavige have in the past been unwise and ham-handed and have backfired spectacularly. There was the ill-advised New Yorker gambit, for example, or the Freedom magazine issues about Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder that ended up motivating quite a few church members to look into actual news about the defected executives and helped convince them to leave.

It’s true that David Miscavige has always been absolutely incompetent when it comes to public relations. But these latest attacks just seem off the charts in how petty and clumsy they are.

Does the church leader not realize that there are seven more Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath regular episodes, and four special episodes still coming this season?

Someone ought to tell him to pace himself.

 
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Chris Shelton on the Grade Chart

Says Chris: “In this first of two parts, I break down the lower-half of the Bridge to Total Freedom, service-by-service and point by point. Readers of The Bunker will have seen Claire Headley’s series on the various Scientology services so this isn’t all new news here, but I think there’s some new things I go over worth seeing. Enjoy!”

 

 
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Petition to depose Rathbuns in San Antonio denied

Just got word that Bexar County district Judge Karen H. Pozza has denied the petition by attorneys who want to depose their former clients, Monique and Mark “Marty” Rathbun.

In a one-line order with no explanation, Judge Pozza denied the Rule 202 petition that had been submitted by attorneys Ray Jeffrey, Marc Wiegand, and Elliott Cappuccio.

No immediate reaction from the attorneys, but as was discussed in Tuesday’s court hearing, they can refile the petition in San Patricio County, where the Rathbuns live, and under a different part of Rule 202.

Those two different provisions of the Rule became the sticking point in Tuesday’s hearing, and it appears to have figured into Pozza’s ruling. For what the attorneys are trying to do, they will either need to file a lawsuit against the Rathbuns in San Antonio, or a new Rule 202 petition in Corpus Christi.

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,859 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,842 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,616 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,962 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,456 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,496 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,208 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 734 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,823 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,963 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,283 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,258 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 614 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,916 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,023 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,425 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,298 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 879 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,384 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,628 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,737 days.

 
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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 31, 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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