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From Jon Atack’s ‘Blue Sky’: Reorganizing Scientology as L. Ron Hubbard’s life waned

One of the truly monumental books about Scientology, Jon Atack’s A Piece of Blue Sky: Scientology, Dianetics, and L. Ron Hubbard Exposed came out in 1990 and was nearly sued out of existence. We were fortunate to come across a copy in the 1990s as we were just beginning a career investigating Scientology stories. Today, Atack has a new edition of the book out, and he gave us a chapter to include in our Saturday “Scientology Lit” series. It reminds us that no one else packed so much history into every page recounting the fortunes of L. Ron Hubbard and his organization. The excerpt we have is a snapshot of how much Scientology was changing in the years after Hubbard went into permanent seclusion in 1980. We hope it motivates you to pick up this book, an amazing resource for any Scientology Watcher…

The Religious Technology Center and the International Finance Police


“As the Organization rapidly expands so will it be a growing temptation for anti-survival elements to gain entry and infiltrate, and attempts to plant will be made.” —L. Ron Hubbard, Policy Letter “Security Risks & Infiltration,” October 30, 1962.

The organizational restructuring of Scientology continued apace through 1982. On January 1, the Religious Technology Center (RTC) was incorporated. RTC took over the trademarks of Dianetics and Scientology. David Mayo’s signature is on the incorporation papers, but he claims that the terms were altered after he signed. David Miscavige was another of the seven signatories. Through the control of the trademarks, RTC could control Scientology, withdrawing the right of any intransigent group to use such words as “Scientology” or “OT” in advertising, and suing if the group continued to use them. There were hundreds of registered trademarks, including the word “Happiness,” the phrase “The friendliest place in the whole world,” and tens of Dianetic and Scientology symbols. The new rulers were seeking to use laws relating to business to effect a total monopoly for their religion.

International Church management had been taken from the Flag Bureaux by the Commodore’s Messengers Organization in 1979. The Guardian’s Office had been defeated and absorbed by the CMO without bloodshed in 1981. Author Services Incorporated was waiting in the wings to license Hubbard’s copyrights to Bridge Publications and New Era Publications, which had separated from the Church, at least on paper. The Church of Scientology International had come into being to assume the management of the Orgs. By 1982 Scientology in the UK was already registered as the Religious Education College Incorporated, with its headquarters in Australia. Continental offices each had their own incorporation. It was a hasty attempt to divide the sinking ship of the Church of Scientology of California into watertight compartments.

The CMO, acting on Hubbard’s instructions, attacked the mutinous Mission Holders. Those readmitted during the 1981 conferences were once again declared Suppressive, and others were added to the list. Several previously untouched Mission Holders were also declared Suppressive, Brown McKee among them. McKee had broken one of the great taboos by making his complaints against Scientology public, speaking to the press and to the Clearwater Commissioners.

Hubbard was in the habit of issuing a “Ron’s Journal” to the faithful at New Year and on his birthday. On March 13, 1982, Scientologists who were attending birthday parties at Orgs and Missions the world over heard Ron’s Journal 34. It was called “The Future of Scientology,” and concentrated on supposed religious persecution:

Time and again since 1950, the vested interests which pretend to run the world (for their own appetites and profit) have mounted full-scale attacks. With a running dog press and slavish government agencies the forces of evil have launched their lies and sought, by whatever twisted means, to check and destroy Scientology. What is being decided in this arena is whether mankind has a chance to go free or be smashed and tortured as an abject subject of the power elite.

Hubbard claimed that attacks upon Scientology were doomed to fail because its opponents are “mad monkeys.” Hubbard gave Scientologists a new maxim: “if the papers say it, it isn’t true.” The issue also hinted at some current catastrophe, saying “The last enemy attack is winding down.” It was Hubbard’s way of expressing approval for the small group of new rulers.

Having taken over the Guardian’s Office, and consigned “mutinous” Mission Holders to the outer darkness, the CMO began an internal purge. Long-term Messengers were “off-loaded.” So savage was the purge that CMO Int’s own staff dwindled to less than 20.

Author Services Incorporated is ostensibly a non-Church organization set up to manage Hubbard’s affairs as a writer. It was activated in the spring of 1982. Battlefield Earth had been published by this time, and Hubbard had written numerous film scripts intended for Hollywood movies, including the OT3 story, “Revolt in the Stars.” ASI also collected the author’s royalties from the books produced by the two Scientology Publications organizations.

David Miscavige resigned from the Sea Organization to become Chairman of the Board at Author Services Incorporated. The directors of a large share of Hubbard’s ballooning personal fortune could not be seen to be members of the very organization which would continue to enlarge that fortune. However, Miscavige maintained his tight control of the Church. ASI was staffed solely with top Sea Org staff who had been allowed to resign their billion-year contracts to join. Only those at Gilman knew that ASI was actually the controlling group. This superiority was demonstrated when ASI staff arrived and started issuing orders even to the Watchdog Committee.

Five of the seven incorporators of the non-profit Religious Technology Center became ASI staff. ASI is a for-profit corporation, which derives most of its income from the Scientology organizations controlled by the RTC.

In April 1982, David Mayo received a long dispatch from Hubbard, copies of which were circulated to CMO executives. Stating that he anticipated his own demise within the next five years, Hubbard gave the “Tech hats” to Mayo for 20-25 years. This would give Hubbard time to “find a new body,” grow up and resume his Scientological responsibilities. Giving Mayo the “Tech hats” meant that Mayo would decide what was “Standard” Scientology, and what was “non-Standard” or “squirrel” Scientology. Mayo would be the final arbiter of Hubbard’s “Technology” of the human mind and spirit. This appeared to be a position of tremendous power, because Mayo could not be removed. Others could ostensibly control the assets of Scientology, but Mayo could adjudge people “out-Tech,” and have them cast out of the Church itself. On Hubbard’s orders, Mayo set about creating yet another corporation for his Office of the Senior Case Supervisor International. His 20-25 year posting was shorter even than Executive Director Bill Franks’ posting “for life.” Mayo had only a few months left.

In June, yet another Commanding Officer of the CMO fell. John Nelson was replaced by Miscavige’s 19-year-old protégé, Marc Yaeger. Yaeger looks old for his years, in part because he is prematurely balding. While still a teenager he became the senior officer in the management structure of Scientology, at least in name.

Yaeger had risen far from his start as video-machine operator on the Tech films. “Video-machine operator” is a rather grandiose title for someone who pushes the button to start and stop the recorder. Yaeger joined the Sea Org when he was 15, so has minimal formal education. The same holds for most CMO staff. Indeed, most of the original Messengers were even younger when they were taken away from their schooling.

Ex-CO CMO John Nelson was assigned to physical labor. Rumor had it that Miscavige’s All Clear Unit would quash the legal threats against Hubbard by the end of 1982, so preparations were made at Gilman Hot Springs for Hubbard’s return. The Founder’s love of the sea is well attested, so to welcome him the CMO decided to construct a replica of the top and interior of a full-scale, three-masted clipper ship, some 50 miles inland. The materials for the ship cost about half a million dollars, but Sea Org labor was cheap at less than $20 a week for a 100-hour week. Miscavige was ostensibly in control of Hubbard’s royalties, Hubbard’s Church, the Guardian’s Office, and, until the Commodore’s triumphant return, was the master of a landlocked clipper ship, the Star of California.


John Nelson has described his cloak-and-dagger meetings with Pat Broeker, who delivered orders from Hubbard to Gilman. These orders came in the form of tapes from Hubbard, which would be transcribed as “Advices.” This was designed to perpetuate the fiction that Hubbard was not the head of the Church. In theory, the Church could take or leave his “Advices.” In practice, Hubbard’s orders were carried out to the letter.

In June 1982, Wendell Reynolds became the first International Finance Dictator, and was sent to Florida where he recruited staff for the International Finance Police. The titles reflect the mood of the time.

A peculiar Hubbard Bulletin called “Pain and Sex” was released in August. In the Bulletin the 71-year-old Commodore released his newest discovery: “Pain and sex were the INVENTED tools of degradation.” (Emphasis in original.)

Hubbard alleged that psychiatrists “who have been on the track a long time and are the sole cause of decline in this universe” had invented sex as a means of entrapment eons ago. As a result of Hubbard’s diatribe, some Scientologists stopped having sexual intercourse with their spouses.

At the end of August, David Mayo and his entire staff were removed from their positions, and put under guard at Gilman. The next month Franks’ successor as Executive Director International, Kerry Gleeson, was removed, and replaced by the head of Scientology’s operations in continental Europe, Guillaume Lesevre. In October several other well-known, long-term Sea Org members were rounded up and taken to Gilman Hot Springs. One of these, Jay Hurwitz, described the experience in some detail:

The first day I arrived at INT [International HQ, Gilman] I had a Nazi style “Interrogation” sec check which was done by the highest authorities of Scientology. There were four interrogators present in the room firing questions at me while I was on a meter.

They were: David Miscavige, one of the three highest execs running Scientology today; Steve Marlowe, Executive Director of RTC; Marc Yaeger, CO CMO INT; Vicky Aznaran, Deputy Inspector General.

Their first question to me was “Who is paying you?” … I was then subjected to enormous duress with statements like “we will stay here all night until you tell us who is running you” (in other words I was a plant, an enemy agent). Miscavige said he would declare me [Suppressive] on the spot if I didn’t tell him who my operations man was…

For the first five days I was at INT I was kept locked up under guard with three other people (females) … for the first two days, we were kept in an office … For the next three days, we were kept confined in a toilet, under guard … We used the same toilet facilities in the presence of one another.

Hurwitz accused Miscavige of physically assaulting three people during the course of his investigation. A Committee of Evidence was convened and lasted for several weeks. Hurwitz was one of those who left before the Findings and Recommendations of that “Comm Ev” were published, in January 1983.

While so many former top executives of Scientology were confined at Gilman Hot Springs, the new management took its final strike at the power of the Mission Holders.

Howard “Homer” Schomer, who was the Treasury Secretary of Author Services Incorporated, has testified that money was being channeled frantically into Hubbard’s bank accounts during 1982. Schomer was in a position to know, as he made the transfers. He has said that during his six months at ASI, about $34 million was paid into Hubbard’s accounts. Schomer says this money came mostly from the Church, rather than from book royalties. Yet again Scientology was billed retroactively by Hubbard. Orgs were charged for their past use of taped lectures. They were charged for their past use of Hubbard courses. Schomer says there was a target figure of $85 million by the end of 1982. If this figure was achieved, there would be fat bonuses for ASI staff.
Probably acting on Hubbard’s orders, the new management called the Mission Holders to a conference at the San Francisco Hilton Hotel on October 17, 1982. At this fateful meeting, any degree of independence the Mission Holders retained was torn away from them. The meeting was also part of the desperate attempt to raise the targeted $85 million.

— Jon Atack




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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,210 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,813 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 356 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 244 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,419 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,193 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 2,967 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,313 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,879 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,547 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,807 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,847 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,559 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,085 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,174 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,314 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,634 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,490 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,609 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 965 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,267 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,373 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,776 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,648 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,230 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,735 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 1,979 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,088 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on August 18, 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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