Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


HURRICANE LEAH: ‘The defenses are crumbling. Scientology in Los Angeles is dying.’

We’re still marveling at the juxtaposition — that the same weekend Leah Remini took home an Emmy award for her A&E series Scientology and the Aftermath, a major hurricane was barreling down on the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida.

Talk about the scene of an accident. But with a busted ankle, Operating Thetan 7 Big Being Tom Cruise was in no shape to come to Flag’s rescue, even though he has a new condo penthouse that got bull’s-eyed by the storm.

Now, cheekiness aside, we’re bringing this up because Scientologists actually take this stuff pretty seriously. And the combination of devastating hits being taken by the church must be leaving a mark, right?

We decided to contact our trusty Hollywood Celebrity Centre source, who counts a large number of Los Angeles OT 8s as friends. With Cruise proving to be all too human (rather than homo novis), and with Leah Remini’s show winning an Emmy, and with the Flag Land Base and its OT 8s unable to postulate Hurricane Irma out of the way, is any of this stuff getting through to rank-and-file OTs? Or are they so well conditioned to ignore the news, they have no idea what’s going on?


Our man in Hollywood surprised us with his response. Usually, he tells us that his OT 8 friends are completely impervious to “entheta,” and ignore all of Scientology’s bad press. But this time, he says, that’s not the case.

“The defenses are crumbling,” he says. “Scientology in Los Angeles is dying.”

He agreed with our recent assessment that Scientology leader David Miscavige’s response to Remini’s show has been over the top, and the OTs have noticed.

“After decades of observing both celebrity and non-celebrity members, I see all the true believers panicking. This morning I was struck by the thought that 30 years ago, we were sure we were going to save the planet, all of us OTs, and in particular OT 8s. Where are we now? Dead, sick, or out. And Hollywood has spoken: Leah’s win Saturday night ensures that the biggest concentration of Scientologists in the world will continue to shrink rapidly, and none to soon,” he says.

As in the past, Miscavige appears to be making things even worse with some bad decisions about how to retaliate against Remini. And “retaliate” is the right word, because Miscavige must retaliate as per the instructions of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Never defend, always attack. But Miscavige has a particular talent for seeking revenge in ways that backfire.

Eight years ago, Miscavige turned Scientology’s propaganda organ, Freedom magazine, into such a crazy attack dog against recent top executive defectors like Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder it backfired spectacularly as Scientologists, confused by the magazine’s ludicrous attacks, went online looking for real information about what was happening. We’ve talked to many former Scientologists who date their disaffection to reading those bizarre, cartoonish issues of Freedom.

Now, Miscavage is taking a similar risk with the way he’s having individual Scientologists help him return fire on Remini. Usually, Scientologists are under strict orders to ignore “entheta” — negative press — and they’re very good at it because they know that if they dare to look at what’s being said about the church, they may be turned in for it (often by their own family members) and then have to spend thousands of dollars for the privilege of undergoing brutal interrogations about their misdeeds.

But in this case Miscavige is asking members, in a coordinated campaign, to write letters to A&E’s advertisers to complain about Remini’s show. The church has also encouraged members to sign a petition demanding the cancellation of the show in which they are asked to express their reasons why the show should be off the air.

Miscavige is playing with fire in both campaigns. In order to write letters of complaint or to sign a petition, these members are being made aware of Remini’s show and what it’s all about.

Our man in Hollywood’s observation is only the latest in what we’ve seen as a trend — that Scientology in Los Angeles is seriously hurting, and that Miscavige seems to be placing more emphasis on the Flag Land Base in Clearwater. Not only was the Flag Building opened there in 2013 to deliver “Super Power,” but there are more plans to expand there with the L. Ron Hubbard Hall. Cruise is moving into his penthouse at some point, and recent news came from Tracey McManus that John Travolta also appears to be buying property there.

Now, keep in mind, for all of Scientology’s nonsense about “expansion” with its unneeded Ideal Orgs in places like Auckland and Bogotá, all evidence suggests that Scientology is actually shrinking fast. Instead of the millions of members that the church has always claimed, the real number has been in the tens of thousands. Last year, we heard from Paul Burkhart, a high-level executive who defected in 2013 and who had daily access to Scientology enrollment figures around the world. He told us that there were fewer than 20,000 active church members on the planet.

And now there’s a new defector, Peter Nyiri, who worked at the Flag Land Base and on the cruise ship Freewinds. He got out just a few months ago, after a daring escape, and he told us that while he was in he had access to Flag’s enrollment documents. The total number of all Scientologists on file at Flag — and that includes everyone who has ever enrolled there, since the base was founded in 1975 — was 70,000, he said. When we asked him if Burkhart’s number of fewer than 20,000 current active members sounded right to him, Nyiri told us that it did.

But Paul Burkhart and Peter Nyiri aren’t the only ones who know the true state of Scientology’s participation figures. David Miscavige knows them quite well himself. And that’s why, we think, he’s realized that the church is nearing a day of reckoning, and he’s concentrating resources in Clearwater.

Right in time for it to be smacked by Hurricane Irma.

By the time the storm arrived in Clearwater last night, it had weakened somewhat. We truly hope that damage to property there is minimal, and that all Clearwater residents come through it safe and sound.

But we just can’t help thinking that the MEST universe really messed with Miscavige on this one.

And just think of it: Remini’s Season Two still has seven more regular episodes and three more specials.

Aye carumba, as Nancy Cartwright might say.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,870 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,853 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,627 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 1,973 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,467 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,507 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,219 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 745 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,834 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 1,974 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,294 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,269 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 625 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 4,927 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,034 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis for 1,436 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,309 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 890 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,395 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,639 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,748 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 11, 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email