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Year in review: In April, Dee Findlay delivered a truth bomb to Scientology in its spiritual mecca

We’re continuing to look back at 2017’s most significant stories here at the Underground Bunker and today it’s a flashback to April in our annual Scientology year-in-review.

At the beginning of the month, Scientology leader David Miscavige was piling on the personal attacks against Leah Remini after word had broken that there would, indeed, be a second season of A&E’s Scientology and the Aftermath. At a Church of Scientology website set up to attack Leah and her guests, short videos appeared that featured Scientologists saying that Remini was a big meanie. And it was as laughable as that sounds.

The next day, we reported that David Miscavige was promising that Scientology would have its own 24-hour cable television channel up and running by the summer solstice. Well, here it is the first week of winter, and there’s still no Scientology TV. What gives, Dave?

On April 10, we decided to provide an answer to a question we get a lot — how can a Scientologist actor play a role that seems contradictory to Scientology beliefs? In this case, we were getting a lot of questions about Scientologist actor Erika Christensen playing a Christian convert in the movie The Case for Christ. So once again, we pointed out to readers that it’s always important to remember Scientology Rule #1: Celebrities get to break all the rules.


Around the middle of the month, we started to pay more attention to an interesting battle brewing in Clearwater, Florida, where Scientology has its “spiritual mecca,” the Flag Land Base. The battle was over a small parcel of land that the Clearwater Aquarium had purchased when it was thinking of moving from the beach area to downtown. But Scientology helped kill that deal, and now the Aquarium had no use for the parcel. Scientology coveted the land because it was adjacent to the Fort Harrison Hotel and the Oak Cove hotel. But after the way Scientology had foiled the Aquarium’s downtown expansion plans, we could understand why they were in no mood to help out the church. Instead, the Aquarium was planning to sell the parcel to the city, which wanted the land for an ambitious downtown redevelopment plan. As the tug of war between the city and Scientology heated up over the parcel, church leader David Miscavige pulled out all the stops and had some of his top celebrities, including John Travolta, show up to gladhand Clearwater business owners. But one local businessman who wasn’t invited was bar owner Clay Irwin, who had embarrassed the church by visiting Tom Cruise’s unfinished penthouse down the street.

On April 16, Rod Keller told us about finding out that one of the women he had interviewed about deaths at Scientology drug rehab centers had, herself, died of a heroin overdose. It was a chilling reminder that not only are Scientology’s “Narconon” centers built on a deceptive business model, but that they are endangering the lives of vulnerable people.

The next day, we had a fun little treat that had confounded our experts — a tipster pointed out to us that L. Ron Hubbard referred to a “Mount Xenu” in an obscure lecture he recorded in 1958, some ten years before Hubbard would use the name “Xenu” in his infamous “OT III” handwritten notes. None of our experts had noticed it before, but Jon Atack pointed out that it was indeed an indication that Hubbard was simply dreaming up nonsense from a limited storehouse of ideas and notions.

On April 20, things came to a head in Clearwater as the city council faced its vote over whether to purchase the 1.4-acre parcel from the Clearwater Aquarium that the Church of Scientology coveted and was throwing incredible money at. And what a moment it was when former Scientologist and Bunker regular Dee Findlay stood up to be heard and brought down the house. “What I’d like to say — which I haven’t, and before I die, and I’m 80, I’ll be 81 soon. And I hadn’t had the nerve to say it before: I’m sorry. And I apologize to the citizens of Clearwater for being a volunteer covert operator for the organization in the early 80s… I thought I was helping. I was a good member of the church. And I thought they needed my help with their enemies. But that’s not true. I found that out later.” Wow, what a moment. And then the city voted 4-1 to buy the land and deny Scientology yet another piece of downtown. (Don’t get too excited about a new land swap that’s now being talked about between the city and the church — it’s an unrelated and very minor shuffling of properties to help alleviate a parking shortage.)

On the 24th we were thrilled to find that a rare 1973 documentary featuring Nan McLean was put online, and what a great peek it gave us about her early days as a former Scientologist going public with the church’s abuses. At that time, there were few former members willing to go public, but Nan was so charming about it, and tough. She’s really an inspiration.

The next day, we had to break the bad news to David Miscavige that although the Department of Defense had nearly doubled the list of religions that servicemembers could choose to identify themselves with, the “world’s fastest-growing religion” (TM) had somehow still been left off the list. How is that possible, Dave?

In the wake of the land vote, Rod Keller surveyed the wreckage, and we marveled at how Scientology handled losing — by trying to smear the Clearwater Aquarium and its beloved dolphin, Winter. Well of course. Always attack, never defend, even if it’s a sea mammal you’re talking about. Scientology never changes, Xenu bless it.

1. Scientology leader David Miscavige launches new personal attacks at Leah Remini
2. Bunker reader Dee Findlay stole the show as Clearwater stood up to Scientology last night
3. Scientology’s celebrities to the rescue! John Travolta shills while Jenna Elfman melts down
4. Scientology leader David Miscavige turns 57 today — what’s your birthday greeting?
5. She ‘graduated’ from Scientology’s drug rehab, which told her she was cured. Now she’s dead.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2016: David Miscavige is filmed opening an Ideal Org in Atlanta. Phil and Willie Jones put up a billboard in Los Angeles about Scientology disconnection. We reveal that Giovanni Ribisi’s daughter Lucia Ribisi has ditched Scientology. The Gregg Hagglund story — seeing a Fair Game operation from both ends. How David Miscavige ripped apart his own family, and how Lisa Marie Presley became (at least for a short time) his biggest nightmare. David Miscavige threatens to sue his own Dad, and we’re live on the scene as Laura DeCrescenzo’s lawsuit survives a second motion for summary judgment. Is this the greatest single month for news in the history of the Bunker? It’s certainly up there.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2015: We broke down the elements that made SNL’s parody, ‘Neurotology,’ so great. We brought you full audio tapes of police interviews with the Scientology private eyes who stalked Ron Miscavige. And we dug up the true history of Tom Cruise and Mimi Rogers.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2014: We checked with his tailor to find out David Miscavige’s actual height. Tax documents spelled out Scientology’s amazing cash value. And an insider provided us documents showing that Narconon Arrowhead is running on fumes.

A LOOK BACK AT APRIL 2013: Live-blogging Rock Center‘s Narconon expose, behind the scenes at Int Base with “Love in the Time of Miscavige,” and Narconon in Georgia raided.

Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of April 2017

April 3: Baby
“I was Leah’s hairdresser. When she came to my shop she never treated me like family.. uh… She treated me like a hairdresser. When she was under the hair dryer she would read a magazine and not wave at me or blow kisses at me. She asked for a haircut one day and I asked her how short she wanted to go.. She said.. ‘About 2 inches.’ And I swear she wanted to pick up those scissors and thrust them into my heart and watch the blood flow from my neck.. errrrrrrrrr, I mean heart…and track blood all over the salon as she danced for my customers. I was scared for my life as she smiled, thanked me and left a generous tip. Uh, is that OK or do we have to do another one? She only came to my salon once, and that was with her daughter. I get a free purif right?”

April 9: Mat Pesch
I was the Treas Sec FSO (Flag Service Org) for 7 years (1995 – 2002). The FSO brought in an average of almost $2 million per WEEK. All money goes into a bank account controlled at the Scientology international level. The actual amount of money (if any) received into the bank account controlled by the FSO was entirely determined at the international level located in California. There were months at a time when the FSO staff would get ZERO pay with an occasional 1/4 pay ($12). There would be little to no money for staff uniforms, month after month. Few staff owned more than one shirt or pair of pants. Staff were wearing plastic shoes from Payless Shoes that they paid for themselves. When staff used the staff laundry facility they had to wait while their clothes were being washed so that some desperate staff member didn’t steal their shirt or pants. The Financial Planning committee occasionally received briefings from an Int Finance representative that they were giving money for staff pay due to the high amount of security checks showing that staff were stealing food, cigarettes, soap etc from the public canteen. Note that the staff are expected to pay for their own socks, underwear, make up, birth control, soap, hair cuts, etc, etc. FSO brings in more money than all the rest of Scientology combined. If its staff can live under those conditions you can only imagine how it is for other Scientology staff. Meanwhile Miscavige lives like an Arab princess with all the money in the world.

April 10: org-rat 1003
I spent my childhood in Scientology, and we lived in East Grinstead. Of all the friends I had over the years, at Saint Hill and Greenfields (a Scientology-run school), I only knew one family who referred to themselves as Scientologists and something else (Muslim) as well. We were all told if we happened to ask our parents or someone else, that this was all good and fine and OK. But even before I broke away from Scientology, both mentally and physically, I was already aware of the hypocrisy of this, since I was always encouraged by my mother to look upon traditional religions like that as, at best, antiquated quackery, and at worst, the very tools used to retard the development of the human race by the same entities that wiped people’s memories in implant stations in the between-lives world. My friend tried to explain his Muslim beliefs to me only a couple of different times and then refused afterwards because I just mocked them ruthlessly and arrogantly. Once, when some neighbourhood kids tried to start a fight with us because they found out we were Scientologists, he decided to say that he was a Muslim, not a Scientologist, and he got out of the situation alot quicker than I did.

April 17: Michael Leonard Tilse
When you listen to one of the early Hubbard tapes, it’s something about Hubbard researching the “whole track” with the e-meter and Mary Sue Hubbard, you hear him basically babbling some free-association of words and thoughts that pop into his head, and then assigning meaning to them to fabricate some kind of scenario of a past history… I think it is the same phenomena of “false memories” that are being exposed as occurring in aggressive police interrogations that result in false confessions… So what Hubbard did to us for years and years was to draw us into his fantasy and get us to invent our own false memories that fit into his narrative. And ultimately, to buy into his free-association whole-track-view of galactic rulers by inventing within ourselves all the horrible incidents and entrapped spiritual beings infesting ourselves, and most importantly our ongoing, deep and unforgiven guilt, only to be expiated at a rate of thousands of dollars an hour. All that whole track crap is false memory. He invented it whole cloth. You took over inventing it for yourself when you bought into Scientology. It’s false. It’s made-up. It never happened. You didn’t do it. It wasn’t your fault. You were never responsible for it. You don’t have to make up for it. Hubbard was a liar. Let his lies go.

April 20: Dee Findlay-DeElizabethan
Whaooooooo! I finally did it. Apologized to the citizens of Clearwater tonight. A well known reporter told me not to do it four years ago, but I was a nervous wreck thren, so just as well. I’m still a little shaky, but this time determined and it needed to get done. Period. Channel 8 NBC local did an interview of why I was against the scios buying the land. Greed, money and power were some of my answer. Now to have some fine wine as needed and will read the Bunker. Happy day for me.


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 4,973 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 119 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,182 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,956 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,730 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,076 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,570 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,610 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,322 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 848 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,937 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,077 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,397 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,372 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 728 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,030 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,136 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,539 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,412 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 993 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,498 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,742 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,851 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on December 24, 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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