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A new ex-Scientologist memoir provides a journey through extortion in the rank-and-file

Books by ex-Scientologists keep arriving, and we received one this week that we didn’t even know was coming at all, from an ex-Scientologist we hadn’t spoken to before. So yes, forgive us if we were a little skeptical about whether we’d enjoy Chris Shugart’s Fractured Journey: A Personal Account of 30 Outrageous Years in the Church of Scientology.

But right away, we liked how Chris presented his book, and the humble way he positioned it. No, he wasn’t a celebrity in the church. He’d never been in the inner hardcore of the organization, the Sea Org. He didn’t have any stories like you would find in Marc Headley’s Blown for Good or Jefferson Hawkins’s Counterfeit Dreams with outrageous stories about David Miscavige’s treatment of people.

But on the other hand, what we often hear from the religious studies professors is that they want accounts not about the famous names in the church but from the rank and file, the average Joes and Janes who move up the “Bridge” of Scientology courses, go to church events, and keep the place going in their own way.

Shugart sure delivers that, and in a spare, well-written style that is self-conscious about being factual and non-judgmental. There’s simply no question, for example, that Shugart gave Scientology every chance to be a positive part of his life. Time and again, whether he was working in the Westwood Mission in the 1970s, or supplying printing needs to the church in Los Angeles in the 1980s, he would give the church the benefit of the doubt — and paid for it nearly every time.


This is not a book that spends much time considering L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology” and whether it might have some actual benefits. What you get instead is a steady, relentless look at how an average church member is prodded, poked, strong-armed, and simply ripped off for money, money, money.

And Shugart had some money. His father, Al Shugart, was the man who started Seagate Technology in the Silicon Valley and became the pre-eminent supplier of hard drives to the world for a while. Al hated that his son was involved in Scientology, but at one point he gave Chris enough Seagate stock to be worth a small fortune.

And when Scientology comes for that stock, Chris describes quite well how he walked right into another fleecing by the church. You want to reach out and shake some sense into him.

That’s one of the qualities of the book, that Chris isn’t afraid to reveal how many times he was duped or abused, when he was convinced to give “loans” to other Scientologists, for example, that always turned out badly.

Chris Shugart’s career in the church took place as many of the most famous incidents in church history were happening, but he was always looking at them from a distance. The 1977 FBI raid and subsequent prosecution of 11 top Scientology officials, for example — Chris explained how the thought of the FBI investigating the church only made him more dedicated. He was also on the periphery of Ted Patrick’s deprogramming of Paula Dain, which we wrote about in our own book about Paulette Cooper, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely. (Paulette was pulled into litigation over that case.)

In the 1980s, Chris became an OSA volunteer, but again, his role seemed to be somewhat removed from the real action. Meanwhile, he and his wife Susie both went “OT,” but not only did no super powers show up, he made a realization after going to numerous OT events — people who are OT, he realized, are dull.

Gradually, Chris pulls away from the church, in part because of the constant “regging” by the IAS for more and more money. Starting to look online, he finds evidence in 2001 that the church is corrupt. By 2002, he had attended his final event.

For a short time in the early 2000s, he dared to write under a pseudonym online about what he saw ailing in the church. It was a different time then, and Chris took a real risk. Today, it’s less risky for ex-Scientologists to write about what they went through, but we still found this a valuable guide to a side of Scientology that doesn’t get so much attention.

We found it to be a solid read, and we suggest you pick it up when it becomes available on May 9.


Make your plans now!


Wow, we’re now less than two months out, and Chee Chalker is working hard to make sure things are going to run smoothly at this year’s HowdyCon in Chicago, June 21-23. As in past years, we’re looking forward to meeting readers of the Bunker, culminating in Saturday night’s main event.

The biggest difference this year is that our Saturday night event is separate from that evening’s dinner. Chee is setting up an inexpensive pizza dinner that you don’t need to pay for ahead of time, after which we’ll walk over to the theater where our event, hosted by Chicago Fire star Christian Stolte, will take place. Because it’s a separate event, we’re asking that you pay $10 each to get into the Saturday night event, which will help us recoup what the Bunker paid for the venue. (We have never made a penny on our HowdyCon meetups, we only try to break even.)

Please email your proprietor (tonyo94 AT gmail) in order to reserve your spot for Saturday night’s main event. Seating is limited, and we’re going to have some really interesting people on stage and they may make a few announcements that you don’t want to miss.



Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,098 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,701 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 244 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,307 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,081 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,855 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,201 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,695 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,735 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,447 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 973 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,062 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,202 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,522 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,497 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 853 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,155 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,261 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,664 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,536 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,118 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,623 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,867 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 12,976 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on April 28, 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

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news


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