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Former Scientologists, academics, and Falun Gong get together for a Philly blowout

Rod Keller sent us this dispatch after his visit with the experts…

The International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA) held its annual conference this week in Philadelphia. Formerly known as the American Family Foundation, the group brings together mental health professionals, counselors, academics, former members of cult groups and others to exchange ideas and viewpoints and learn from each other. Former members from Scientology, NXIVM, the Children of God, Hare Krishna, Transcendental Meditation and others attended.

In past years Scientology has sent representatives from OSA to monitor and sometimes interfere with conferences, however the only identified representatives of one of the cultic groups this year was Falun Gong. Yesterday morning a group protested outside the hotel with the banner in the photo above. They also presented a poster inside the conference of abuses they have suffered from the Chinese government. They were removed from one of the sessions for filming without permission, but they filmed extensively in the conference lobby.

Former Scientologists Hana and Jerry Whitfield gave a fascinating presentation on their approach to helping families present information to their family member that may help them exit the group. Chris Shelton, Aaron Smith-Levin, and Christi Gordon spoke at a session, “Scientology’s Aftermath for Second-Generation Members.” Chris is the creator of the Sensibly Speaking podcast and Youtube Channel. Aaron is the host of Growing up in Scientology and Christi is developing a website called Children of Scientology, planned for launch later this year. I spoke to Chris about the charisma of Scientology’s leaders, L. Ron Hubbard and David Miscavige, as well as advancement to higher ranks in the Sea Org.



Chris also presented a session, “Escaping Scientology and Coming to Terms with Your Story” with Naomi Raddatz, speaking on “Voyeurism in the Media: Creating A New Narrative.” This conference was the first time Naomi has spoken in public about her experiences in Scientology. Expect her story to make headlines as her presentation was magnetic and poetic.

Dr. Stephen Kent is Professor of Sociology at the University of Alberta. I asked him about the challenges of researching Scientology for academics.


I also spoke with Dr. Eileen Barker. She is a Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the London School of Economics. Dr. Barker is among those some would call “cult apologists,” but I found her comments on her interactions with Scientology very interesting. Her history of spending time living in cult facilities is probably unique among social scientists. The ICSA emphasizes that the conference is for all interested parties, whether they agree with the leadership and speakers or not, and Dr. Barker has been an attendee for many years.


— Rod Keller


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,171 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,774 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 317 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 205 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,380 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,154 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,928 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,274 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,840 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,508 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,768 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,808 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,520 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,046 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,135 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,275 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,595 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,570 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 926 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,228 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,334 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,737 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,609 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,191 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,696 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,940 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,049 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on July 10, 2018 at 06:00

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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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