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In Scientology, the grift of its own members just never ends

Rod Keller helps us understand a longtime practice in Scientology, an organization that never tires of taking advantage of its own suckers.

Public Scientologists who can confront the MEST universe have begun in-house renos at two planned Ideal Orgs in the UK this week. Unless you are a former Scientologist that sentence may need some unpacking. Publics are the non-staff members and have been volunteering at the planned Ideal Orgs in Manchester and what we think will be called the Newcastle Ideal Org in Gateshead. They have begun renovations, known as “renos,” consisting for now of some fence painting and demolition.

The MEST universe is Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s acronym for Matter, Energy, Space and Time. His theory is that spirit, or Theta, is capable of creating and controlling MEST and much of Scientology involves regaining the ability to confront and control it. The definition of an Operating Theta, or OT is “knowing and willing cause over life, thought, matter, energy, space and time (MEST).” Confronting MEST helps make you more OT.

“There are MEST drills – like TRs – which give you the ability ‘handle MEST,'” says Shelley Ashurst, a veteran of renos in Johannesburg, South Africa. “One of the famous statements made by Hubbard was ‘people know you by your MEST.’ That was one of the big justifications used by David Miscavige for why we need these over-the-top Ideal Orgs.”



[Artist’s conception of the completed Manchester Ideal Org]

We may never know for sure, but purchase of the Duckworth’s Essence Distillery building in 2006 may have been guided by the eleven-bay layout of the building. That conveniently allows renos to place the eleven letters of the word “Scientology” across the entire facade. It is located in Old Trafford, home to the highly successful Manchester United football club, known as the Red Devils. Scientology has appropriated that nickname for the Ideal Org Alliance with Saint Hill and Birmingham Ideal Org.


As we have seen in other areas, completing your own Ideal Org means you are now available to donate to the next one, and the next. In addition to money, publics can donate labor for “in-house” renos. In Manchester they have been working on the fence and removing plaster from the interior.


[Painting the fence in Manchester]

We shared the leaked construction photos with some former Scientologists to get their reactions. “Scrubbing metal fences, I wonder if they are using stones like Nathan [Rich] and Tara [Reile] did at the Mace Kingsley Ranch,” says former Scientologist Mike Rinder referring to an episode of Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath which described the experience of the two students received unusual punishment in Renos. “I wonder what all the fundraising is for? They have to pay and actually do the renovations?”


[Plaster removal]

[Lift in use at Manchester to work on the high exterior]

Yes, says Marc Headley, a veteran of renos at Gold Base, New York, San Francisco, Stevens Creek, Tampa and Buffalo. “L. Ron Hubbard wrote in an advice to have the staff do the renovations. Because he wrote that in 1980 something, it can never not be done.”


“Advices” refers to orders delivered to Scientology during the time Hubbard was in hiding, pretending to have resigned from Scientology. They are not treated as mere advice, but rather orders to be followed as with any other policy documents.


[Interior of Manchester Ideal Org]

In-house renos usually don’t go well. “There were redos and screw ups done on renos on everything from planning to final construction that caused millions of dollars in wasted funds. Buildings had to have walls ripped out or concrete redone. Scientology has invested in a false economy that having people that have no clue what they’re doing will be cheaper than just paying skilled trades people to do what they do everyday professionally,” says Headley. “Just like them to do something over and over again, fail every time and think that next time it will work.”


[Scientology has printed a “hatting” booklet to help train inexperienced workers]

“Miscavige’s building 50 was done ‘in house’ the first time,” says renos veteran Tom DeVocht speaking of the headquarters of the Religious Technology Center at Gold Base. “When professionals were brought in their first recommendation was that it be torn down and started from ground up. They estimated taking it apart bit by bit to the structure would be more costly than demolition and doing it right the first time. Oddly, Reno’s motto was ‘do it right the first time.’ It turned out the professionals were right.”

But there is a financial reason that drives doing as much of Ideal Org renos in-house as possible. Former Scientologist Chris Shelton tells us, “It just opens the door to more money going up the line. The International church management says it costs $10 million for Renos and the org fundraises it. Then they end up getting volunteers to do some of that work. Int. Management doesn’t reduce the bill. They just keep the excess. They can siphon the most money from each org area when they do this Ideal Org thing.”


[Gateshead security wall and renos]

There is no Ideal Org Alliance for the building in Gateshead, near Newcastle, but renos have started there as well. Volunteers have been demolishing a greenhouse added to the structure when the former Windmill Hills school was used as an elder care home. Newcastle will probably be the next Ideal Org in the UK after Manchester. The in-house renos serve to take the heat off Scientology for owning a dangerous eyesore where drug users and vandals have run free for a decade. Now Scientology has built a security wall to keep them out, but don’t expect a full renovation yet, the priority is still with the Red Devils.


[Gateshead interior]

An uptone renos volunteer recently replied to an email from a concerned neighbor:

Thank you for your email & concern regarding the property at Gateshead. I totally agree it is a glorious property that had been neglected beyond belief & I am warmed that you feel so passionate as to its condition.

The Scientology field here in the area has done a lot of fundraising recently & this has allowed work to embark on the internal structures as well as the exterior. The Designers & Architects plans are ready also for the next stage.

While we were preparing for these steps we had gone to clear the grounds & I was so uplifted by the people passing by as to their concern & then joy at the improvements being undertaken. What a great community there is there in Gateshead.

So I am relieved to tell you that things are seriously progressing.

I wonder if you would like to pitch in & help either in labour or financial donations? We need a boatful of both.

Kindest Regards & Best Wishes for 2018
Hilary Porteous
In red hat & gloves


In-house renos are a part of every ideal org project because it’s policy from L. Ron Hubbard. Volunteers can never complete the entire job, but the longer volunteers can be used in a project, the more money can be siphoned off by International Management. In-house renos lead to mistakes, and cause more work to be done in the long run, but professional builders can never be called upon to do the entire project. Policy and economics prohibit that.

— Rod Keller


It’s Super Sunday! We get a new Scientology ad today!

We’ll be watching this evening as the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots meet in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

At some point, we expect Scientology’s newest Super Bowl ad to show up in some markets around the country. If past years are any guide, the ad will pop up during the pre-game show, and then it tends to appear right after halftime as the third quarter of the game is about to start.

For a rundown on how Scientology buys local spots instead of national ads, and to see all of the past year’s commercials, check out our previous coverage here.

Based on what some viewers in Tampa saw recently, we have a feeling the theme or tagline of tonight’s ad will be “Curious? We thought so.” But we really have no idea as of this morning.

In the last two years, Scientology got a lot more shy about showing its ad early.

Kickoff is at 6:30 pm eastern.

UPDATE: Hey, speaking of Super Sunday, we talked to Ron Miscavige recently about past Super Bowls and his son.

It’s well known that in 1981, before he became Scientology’s supreme ruler, David Miscavige drove from Southern California to New Orleans to see his beloved Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl XV with his wife Shelly and his Sea Org pal Marty Rathbun. They met up there with Ron and Loretta, Ron’s first wife. The Eagles got shellacked by the Oakland Raiders, 27-10, and after the game the Miscaviges nearly got into a fistfight with some Raiders fans. Good times.

But the Eagles were in the Super Bowl again since then — Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, when they were edged by the Patriots, 24-21. By then, Rathbun had left Scientology, and Ron Miscavige was in the Sea Org, having joined it in 1985. We asked him if Dave went to the game that year, but he told us that he, Shelly, and Dave watched the game on a big-screen TV at Int Base, just the three of them. (It was later that year that Shelly vanished.)

And what about this year? We asked Ron if he thought Dave might be tempted to go to the game. But Ron says Dave would be pretty worried about being spotted and harassed. He told us that he imagines Dave would only show up if Tom Cruise brought him along.

Otherwise, Dave is likely to be watching the game at home — either his apartment in Los Angeles off Hollywood Boulevard, or in Clearwater, perhaps at the Flag Building.


Make your plans now!

Head over to our HowdyCon 2018 website to start making your travel plans!



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,015 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,618 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 161 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,224 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 1,998 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,772 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,118 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,612 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,652 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,364 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 890 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 4,979 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,119 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,439 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,414 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 770 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,072 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,178 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,581 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,453 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,035 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,540 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,784 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,893 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on February 4, 2018 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, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), 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 | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ


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