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Scientology smears ‘Aftermath’ guest with info from his supposedly confidential files

[Paul Burkhart]

Last night’s Scientology and the Aftermath episode started out with a message about how the show, for a change, had not received a last-minute threat letter to A&E about its contents.

Instead, Scientology took a swipe at the episode’s guests, Bert Schippers and Paul Burkhart, on a website the church uses to attack Leah Remini, Mike Rinder, A&E executives, and the people who appear on Leah’s show.

Last night’s broadside from the church started out with the usual litany against Mike Rinder, and went after an A&E executive for no apparent reason. Then it turned its attention to Burkhart, who spent years as Scientology’s space planner for new building projects.

We wrote about Burkhart’s career in Scientology in 2016, and how he was in a really unique position. Although very high up in the organization, because his particular job was so singular he largely escaped all the chaos that tended to disrupt Scientology’s upper Sea Org ranks. And as he explained on the show last night he was in a perfect position to see how much David Miscavige is spending on his Ideal Org obsession.

Burkhart had access to internal enrollment documents, and he told us that worldwide membership has fallen, in his estimation, to fewer than 20,000 worldwide. It was obvious to him that Scientology was a failed enterprise, and in August 2013 he left.


So on its attack website last night, Scientology did what it always does and claimed that Burkhart was a rotten employee who was bad at his job and had to be kicked out, and that he didn’t leave of his own accord.

“The work accusations are untrue and fall apart given that I quit — I was not fired,” Burkhart told us last night. “At that time, I was the longest serving staff member in the International Landlord Office. I held many positions, from draftsman to the head of planning.”

This is the most common of Scientology’s smears, that a defector had to be removed because they were not worthy. But Burhkart points out how specious that is.

“Like most of the high-ranking ex-staff that are smeared after they leave, the answer to that accusation is simply this: If someone was so bad, how did they rise so high in the ranks and stay there so long?”

(The website also took a halfhearted swipe at Schippers, referring to the lawsuit that he and his wife Lynne Hoverson filed against the church in 2011. Bert told us it didn’t describe the litigation correctly at all, and he marveled at its presentation. “The writing is so childish!”)

After the standard attack on Burkhart, we were surprised that Scientology then included a nasty paragraph that even to our eyes, as an outsider, was pretty obviously information that Burkhart might have divulged in a confessional counseling session.

“Burkhart’s history showed that he learned his unethical behavior at an early age,” the paragraph begins. “As a teenager he shot cars using BB guns,” it continues, and then accuses him of taking “illegal drugs” and engaging in some other vague and unseemly behavior he might have described while being quizzed on an E-meter.

Scientologists are under intense pressure to divulge every possible secret from their private lives going back to their early childhood. Sea Org members in particular must fill out detailed and invasive “life histories” that include every sexual partner they’ve ever had and detailed descriptions of the sex acts they’ve participated in. Members are also repeatedly made to undergo brutal interrogations about every sexual thought they have during masturbation. And meanwhile, as these interrogations happen, everything the member says is written down and put into their files.

Scientology has repeatedly claimed in court that the contents of these files are sacrosanct and should be protected under priest-penitent law. When Laura DeCrescenzo sued the church after it forced her to have an abortion at 17, she demanded that her personal files be turned over to her. The church fought all the way to the US Supreme Court to keep her from getting them, claiming to the court that the files were strictly confidential. (The church lost that fight and Laura eventually got her files. Last year, she won a huge settlement to end her lawsuit.)

The church has always denied that it mines those files for blackmail material. But we’ve heard from many people who say that once they left the church and spoke out, private details from their files suddenly showed up on anonymous smear websites.

In this case, Scientology pretty obviously took material from Paul Burkhart’s confidential files and put it on an attack website that bears its name.

It’s maybe the most blatant use of private file information for the purpose of smearing a former member that we’ve ever seen.

Burhkart was typically unruffled, however.

“The stuff from my PC folder is far from the worst things I have revealed in session. It makes me wonder why I got off easy,” he quipped.

Well, that’s one reason we like Paul Burkhart. He’s unflappable.

But it’s another of those things that is hard to fathom the Church of Scientology getting away with. It told the US Supreme Court that it considers those files to be “religious” in content and highly sacrosanct, and then it takes information from them to smear a former top executive on a website that clearly bears its name:


We have to join with the many, many people we hear from who all ask the same question: How does the Church of Scientology get away with this stuff?


Start making your plans!


Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Elisabeth Moss, Michael Peña, and Laura Prepon]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. 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!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Scientology’s original case of ‘disconnection’ — L. Ron Hubbard and his doting mom and dad
[TWO years ago] David Miscavige has plenty of new Scientology buildings set to open in 2017
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s 2016: CNN plans to give L. Ron Hubbard his best press in decades
[FOUR years ago] LEAKED RENDERINGS: What Scientology’s (post-KCET) new media center will look like
[FIVE years ago] THE TOMMY DAVIS DEPOSITION: Scientology asks judge to reconsider
[SIX years ago] Scientology Brings Hope to Africa!
[SEVEN years ago] Mark Bunker and Mike Rinder Give Us a Preview of Enturbulation To Come


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,317 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,448 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,950 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,430 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 493 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 381 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,688 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,556 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,330 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,104 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,450 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,016 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,936 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,103 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,684 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,944 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,984 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,696 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,222 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,311 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,451 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,771 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,627 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,746 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,102 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,404 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,510 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,913 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,784 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,367 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,862 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,116 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,225 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on January 2, 2019 at 07:00

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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 Underground Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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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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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