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Bent Corydon on Scientology’s Sunday night massacre: ‘We all clapped at the right places’

[Homer Schomer, Mike Rinder, and Bent Corydon at a recent get-together in Los Angeles]

We have another classic for you this week in our ‘Scientology Lit’ series — a chapter from Bent Corydon’s landmark 1987 book, L. Ron Hubbard, Messiah or Madman? Bent was a mission holder in Riverside, California who lost his mission but fought successfully to hold on to the building it was in. He also had to fight litigation from the church over his book, and also had to deal with his co-writer, L. Ron Hubbard Jr., pulling one of his flip-flops and turning on him. We chose a chapter that features Bent himself, talking about the drama of the infamous 1982 Mission Holder’s conference in San Francisco, when a young David Miscavige began to exert his authority on behalf of Hubbard, who was in hiding at the time. The SF conference came ten months after a Florida meeting when the Mission Holders had voiced their concerns about the increasingly heavy-handeded methods of Hubbard’s new young lieutenants…

The Saviour’s Revenge

L. Ron Hubbard’s attempt to use trade-secret and industrial espionage laws to enforce “church doctrine” is probably unique in the annals of religious and legal history. Deploying “Finance Police” operating under an “International Finance Dictator” to enforce the sending of “customers” from “franchises” to the higher Church also has a bizarre ring to it: something out of Hubbard’s pulp fiction.

The invitation to the Mission Holder’s Conference created an air of mystery. So much brass in attendance had to mean some momentous announcement and changes.


There were a bunch of us who arrived about the same time at San Francisco International Airport and there were lots of hugs and greetings. The October air was crisp despite the sunshine as we stepped through the automatic doors to get the bus into the city.

Dean and Melanie Stokes from Texas sat with me on the bus and Dean expressed his conviction that he would lose his mission again. I disagreed and tried to be positive.

There were preliminary events, but the meeting did not finally happen till Sunday night at eight P.M. Between the initial Friday evening meeting and Sunday night people steadily arrived and the tension grew.

Most of these mission holders had, like my wife and me, invested their houses and ten to 30 years of their lives into their “franchises,” based on Hubbard’s representations in his policies that they would be “theirs.” Even if they were to be run non-profit, at least one could draw a salary and expenses and live decently.

We had mostly a middle-class standard of living and families to support, and these kids who now seemingly ruled Scientology, who had never known what having to get an education for their children and pay a mortgage and insurance was like, made us nervous. My wife had just given birth to our second child, a boy. Thus, for us, this problem was particularly intense.

Discipline was to be kept light in missions, Hubbard had written. The very worst that could happen would be that we would lose our rights to call ourselves a Scientology mission. But these policies give no one any great comfort now. Experience had demonstrated to us that policy was made to be broken where management was concerned. Any one of these kids could wipe us out on a whim.

We finally were ordered to take the elevators to the fourth floor and the room there began to fill up from the back. It was indicative of the mood that the front rows were empty while the back rows were jam-packed as the brass lined up on the stage.

There were uniformed Sea Org members around the edges and at the entrances to the room continually firing flash cameras at us, apparently to take our pictures. Later we discovered it was an attempt to intimidate and hypnotize.

Norman Starkey, with his thick guttural South African accent, began to yell at the people in the back of the room to come up to the front rows.

No one moved.

His shrill tone and the general atmosphere had everyone in an odd state. How should one react? This was outrageous. But to say anything or take action could be dangerous.

He then yelled at someone. No one was quite sure who. The tone was the same as that used by an angry master when disciplining his dog:


The target of Starkey’s wrath turned out to be Gary Smith, who had a franchise in Hayward, near San Francisco. Gary lived in Blackhawk, a community of multi-million-dollar houses. He had financed a classy mission because he and his wife believed in Scientology but, unlike most of the rest of us, did not need it for his livelihood. He had come to the meeting with his wife Suzy and their three-year-old blond daughter Carrie.


“Yes YOU in the red shirt. You know who I mean!” yelled Starkey at Gary, who was by this time looking around him to see who this guy might be yelling at.

Finally, realizing that he was the only one with a red shirt on, he replied, “Thank you, but I have my wife and daughter here and we’re quite comfortable.”

Starkey was stung by this public questioning of his ultimate authority:

“You have to the count of three, and if you don’t move by then you’re going to be expelled and declared suppressive!” he yelled.

“One! two!’ — Gary did not move — “THREE! Get him!”

Uniformed guards ran towards him from several places in the room, and as they got near him Gary stood up and said firmly, “Don’t touch!”

Gary Smith is no lightweight. He worked out regularly with weights and had a good record in college football as a quarterback.

He took his daughter’s hand and they and his wife walked deliberately towards the door at which stood several guards. No one touched him.

When he had left the room it was announced that he and his wife were suppressive persons and would be declared such. They would no longer be running the Hayward franchise which they had financed and built up. Their franchise subsequently disbanded.

Then Kingsley Wimbush, an Australian who was currently running the most productive mission, was expelled. The privilege of expelling him was assumed by David Miscavige himself. He announced that Kingsley was a suppressive in tones that betrayed his absolute pleasure.

Kingsley and his wife (good friends of mine: sincere and well-intentioned people) visibly froze as Starkey pointed at him and abused him as a “Squirrel” (one who alters Scientology technology). He was ordered to leave the room and did so, leaving his wife sitting in shock with an empty seat next to her. It took her a couple of minutes to collect her wits, at which time she also stood up and walked towards the door.

“Declare her as well!” exclaimed Miscavige.

Dean Stokes had been right. He was about to lose his mission again. He was next.

His wife Melanie and I had worked very hard to get it back for him, as he had done for me after I had lost mine in 1978. For Dean, his franchise had meant his whole life for some ten years, now he took all this in stride. It was almost a relief for him, it seemed to me, as I watched his demeanor. The never knowing “if” and “when” had been driving him crazy.


With these instant expulsions out of the way, Miscavige strutted. He had delivered Hubbard’s retaliation for our “mutiny” 10 months previously in Florida! The Saviour’s revenge was sweet.

There was more to come.

Larry Heller, a Church attorney, was introduced by Miscavige and dutifully lectured us on copyrights and trademarks. The underlying message was that we might have been bold enough to assert our views in Florida, but now that we had signed the new SMI “contract” we would be thrown in jail if we didn’t respect the kids’ authority and toe Hubbard’s line.

Heller’s suit and tie contrasted with the dark naval uniforms, with lanyards and captain’s hats with scrambled eggs, the others were wearing.

HELLER: Most of you are probably familiar with what a trademark is but perhaps, for our purposes, a small explanation might be in order. A trademark is a symbol which is held out to the public representing to that public a certain quality of product or service which, when the public buys under that trademark, it’s assured of getting. To give you a very simple example. Some of you might have had a glass or a bottle of Coca-Cola with your lunch today. Hypothetically, one or two of you might be in Hong Kong tomorrow and have a bottle of Coca-Cola with your lunch as well. That Coke is going to taste exactly the same tomorrow when you get to Hong Kong as the bottle of Coke that you opened up today. As long as it has that Coca-Cola symbol on it, comes in that very distinctive bottle, that means that you’re going to get a certain mixture of ingredients, a certain effervescence. Scientology, as all of you know, also has trademarks…Those trademarks, just like the Coca-Cola trademarks, represents a symbol which assures the public of a certain quality of Service which they are going to receive if they purchase something of receive services under that trademark.

He talked about how those trademarks had been owned by L. Ron Hubbard, but had been “donated” to the Religious Technology Center who sub-licensed them to the Church of Scientology and SMI.

Then he got closer to home: what did all this have to do with us?

RTC has a right to send a “mission” directly to the individual mission holders to determine whether the trademarks are being properly used by you. This mission may review your books, your records, and interview your personnel…If there is a determination by RTC that Scientology services being given by any of you under “Scientology” trademarks are not on Source, then RTC…has the right to immediately suspend any utilization by individual missions of those trademarks. The word “immediate” is the key word here. There need not be, at this point, a hearing in order for there to be a suspension. RTC will order that you no longer use the trademark and you must stop or be subject to civil penalties and ultimately criminal prosecution…You will then be fined or thrown in jail.

From advice I got later from other attorneys, these assertions, to say the least, stretched the facts regarding this issue so as to make them appear much more alarming and generalized than they actually were.

There is certainly a question here as to whether the courts have any business monitoring religious doctrines and rituals.


It appeared to me, even at the time, that they were trying to have it both ways. They wanted full protection by the government as a business. Yet they demanded no interference from the government with their “religious” practices and doctrines. And, in fact, the U.S. courts were being called upon to ensure that these “religious doctrines” were not deviated from: hardly separation of Church and State!


Next — Commander Steve Marlowe, Inspector General from the Religious Technology Center:

The fact of the matter is you have a new breed of management in the Church. They’re tough, they’re ruthless, and they are on Source! Holding on to upper level students and pre-clears when they should be moving up the Bridge, which is exactly what we’re here for, are over. They [the actions of mission holders of denying them “customers”] are violations of long-standing policy. They enter into such criminal or civil charges as conversion, theft, not to mention Industrial Espionage and Sabotage which will get you two years in the pokey.

I sat through all this while the cameras kept flashing at us, thinking this is so bizarre. I knew most of the mission holders in the room, and I knew how they detested what was happening, yet we all clapped at the right places. The guards were watching for anyone with disagreement showing on their faces.

Ray Mithoff, the new chief Case Supervisor was really being a zealot:

The future can either be bright or very bad. I know for me it’s going to be very bright and for someone who’s out there squirreling and trying to get other people’s attention off of Scientology and onto something, just to fatten their own pocket or whatever, that person’s future is black. You hear Mr. Starkey mention a bit of how black it is. It is really black. It is so black I can’t even describe it right now. I can’t even find words to describe how black that person’s future is. In fact it is almost as black as the future of an FBI agent. I mean it is really black. The depth of that blackness and the length of time that that person will be in oblivion is just immeasurable…

In the same vein, Norman Starkey said of a defector:

He will never, never, I promise you, for any lifetime, get any auditing or ever get a chance to get out of this trap…That means dying and dying and dying again, forever, for eternity…

Then Wendell Reynolds was introduced as the International Finance Dictator! He said:

Now right now you guys are Counter Intention on my lines [meaning we were getting in the way of what he was trying to do], maybe one exception in this room, but I doubt it, because you guys are sitting on public [I assumed he didn’t mean it literally — but meant holding onto their customers], you’re ripping off the orgs, you’re doing all manner of crazy things…Now some of these guys you see standing around here are International Finance Police and their job is to go out and find this stuff and if you guys are guilty of it, you’ve just had it! So, are we talking the same language here now?…Now this convention is costing the Church money. You’re all going to sign 5 percent minimum Corrected Gross Income (income after overheads are paid) to this DMSMH Campaign.

This meant that we were to pay 5 percent of our mission’s income to a TV advertising campaign for Hubbard’s book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. The book was published by a for profit corporation and the royalties went to Hubbard, yet our non-profit franchises were supposed to carry part of the costs. It sounded illegal to me.

When, later that morning (the meeting ran on till 2:30 A.M.) I was told to sign the contract for 5 percent, I told the Finance Policeman that I wanted to put a proviso on the form stating that it was signed on the proviso that it was legal. He told me, “Sign!” When I still hesitate he said, with a sarcastic grin, that I could ask Wendell Reynolds the Finance Dictator about it. I signed knowing that any other action was dangerous in this charged atmosphere.

THE FINANCE DICTATOR: You’re going to get Dianetics and Scientology as a household word…And if you look at it Battlefield Earth [a science fiction book by Hubbard] has been released on the same pattern as the early 1950s, when LRH was a popular writer, with DMSMH released right on the heels of it and that put it right on the best-seller list! And right now Battlefield Earth is selling out and selling out and selling out again. So we got a tremendous popularity thing going and you guys are getting a gift at 5 percent of CGI. It’s a total gift. So if I hear one person in this room who’s not coughing up 5 percent…as a minimum you’ve got an investigation coming your way, because you got other crimes in your mission. Questions on that?

We were pulled out one at a time to have mug shots taken by a uniformed photographer.

It was then announced by Captain Lesevre, in a heavy French accent, that teams of finance police would be coming to our missions and that we were going to be paying for them. The price would be $15,000.00 a day.


We were finally told we could leave on the proviso that we wrote a letter to Ron thanking him for the event and acknowledging him for his contributions to us and mankind.

Guards blocked the door until we were given clearance.


Homer Schomer told me recently about Miscavige and company’s excitement as they returned to Author Services (on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood) where Homer worked at the time:

When they came back from the meeting they were laughing and joking about how they had really “socked it to those bastards.” The look on Kingsley Wimbush’s face when he was expelled was a source of great amusement — very funny! And there was much backslapping and mutual congratulations. Norm Starkey was quite a hero for his expulsion of Gary Smith. They called a special staff meeting to brag.

It was also only recently that I learned that Hubbard was the prime mover behind the actions of his messengers at the San Francisco meeting.

Homer Schomer told me that he saw a note from Hubbard which told these guys:

Congratulations on your handling of these franchise holders. As far as I’m concerned you can get rid of all of them. We don’t need them!

I believe that this revenge for the Florida “mutiny” was Hubbard’s last major move as a manager of the Church as such, a move that precipitated a major schism.

Following this, according to an ex-aide, he became preoccupied with preparing for his death and with preserving the myths he had created about himself: He became obsessed with recovering his biographical and other personal documents turned over to a courtroom in nearby Los Angeles.


Scientology’s celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs’ — now with comments!

[Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, and Juliette Lewis]

We’re building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs.’ We’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them, in order to build a record and maintain a watch as Scientology continues its inexorable decline — and yes, we finally have comments working on these new pages! Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Today’s Ideal Org: Washington, DC!



Now on sale: Twice the Miss Lovely!

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. What a pleasure it is for us to work with her on this after we wrote about her ordeal as a victim of Scientology’s “Fair Game” campaigns in our 2015 book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, which is also on sale in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions.



[ONE year ago] If Trump is serious, he has a clear path to go at Scientology — through his Treasury Secretary
[TWO years ago] L. Ron Hubbard on the run: When the Daily Mail was hounding Scientology’s founder in ’66
[THREE years ago] Narconon is dead, long live Narconon! How Scientology solved its drug rehab addiction
[FOUR years ago] Ryan Hamilton’s next move: Consolidating his Narconon litigation into one big case
[FIVE years ago] Scientology Attacks Garcia Filing; Marc Headley Schools Clearwater’s Mayor
[SIX years ago] A Scientology Knockoff That Considers Children ‘Sexy’? Great Xenu’s Ghost!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,264 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,897 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,377 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 440 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 328 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,503 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,277 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,051 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,397 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,963 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,883 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,050 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,631 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,891 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,931 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,643 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,169 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,258 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,398 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,718 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,574 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,693 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,049 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,351 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,457 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,860 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,731 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,314 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,819 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,063 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,172 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on November 10, 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates

Join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

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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