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First AME Church & USC both disclaim letter Scientology using against Leah Remini

[Rev. Dr. Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray and David Miscavige]

On February 8, we told you about Robin Athlyn Thompson, a brand manager in Phoenix who made a few inquiries and discovered that her counterparts at USC believed a letter one of their own faculty members had supposedly written to Disney’s CEO, which was being featured by a Scientology website, was a fake.

Since then, Robin continued to pursue the matter, and has some startling updates for us.

First, let’s review the situation: For a couple of years now, Scientology has struck back at Leah Remini and her A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath, with what it hopes people believe is a grass roots religious rights group that calls itself the STAND League. We and many others have long pointed out that it’s mostly a fake group of bogus Twitter accounts using stock photography portraits and bots tweeting around the clock.

But another STAND strategy is sending letters to A&E and its parent company, Disney, as well as the show’s advertisers. These letters are full of bluster about “bigotry” and “religious discrimination,” and they are designed to inflame the passions of people who may not be familiar with the show and what it has been accomplishing — namely, exposing Scientology’s host of abuses.

The STAND League clearly believed it had attained a new level in its game when it landed a letter written by USC fellow and well known Los Angeles religious leader Rev. Dr. Cecil “Chip” Murray. Written on December 13 and addressed to Disney CEO Bob Iger, the letter appeared on letterhead of USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture, where Dr. Murray is a major figure.


In our previous story, we described how Robin Thompson had wondered how USC’s brand managers felt about its letterhead being used in that way. And we were stunned at the response she got back from Brenda Maceo, USC’s Vice President of Public Relations and Marketing.

“Reverend Murray has stated that he was not the author of the letter that was addressed to Mr. Iger on a discontinued letterhead. We are currently looking into the misuse of the university’s trademarks,” she wrote to Thompson. The Daily Beast subsequently followed up with USC, which confirmed Ms. Maceo’s response.

We noticed that the STAND League reacted by replacing Dr. Murray’s letter with another copy of it, this time on what appeared to be the letterhead of First AME Church (FAME) in Los Angeles, where he is emeritus pastor.

So Thompson then turned her attention to FAME, sending multiple emails and leaving voice mails asking about the letter’s authenticity.

Yesterday, she received a phone call from FAME’s Senior Pastor, J. Edgar Boyd.

“I told him that it befuddled me that the STAND League would use two different organizations to further its cause in this way. Pastor Boyd said to me, ‘It’s certainly not our letterhead and our name was certainly not used with our permission.’ He also said that he was talking to Brenda Maceo at USC, and they were discussing what to do about it.”

Um, wow. So both USC and the First AME Church in Los Angeles now deny that the letter has any connection to them.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey Augustine, who reported on the scene for us when Dr. Murray’s letter was “presented” to Disney itself at a protest outside its studios on January 28, followed up with some of the clergy who attended the small event. One of them was the Reverend Shane Harris, who was there with Dr. Murray.

“Harris told me Rev. Murray wrote the letter,” Jeffrey told us.

We sent an email last night to Dr. Murray, asking him to clarify things for us. USC says he told them he never wrote the letter, FAME says it was never asked permission to put the letter out under its name, but STAND continues to have the letter on its website.

As long as Dr. Murray allows Scientology to use his letter against Leah Remini, doesn’t he have something to explain to USC and FAME?

And if Scientology is misrepresenting that letter (at best), what about the other letters that STAND has sent out to A&E, Disney, media companies, and the companies that advertise on Remini’s show?

For example, in December 2017 Inquisitr wrote something about Scientology that didn’t sit well with the STAND League. So the League’s Alicia Selverson sent out a sternly-worded letter.

“Your rendition of Scientology is so far removed from anything connected with the subject that you make yourself an object of ridicule by writing it,” she huffed in the letter, which is still posted at STAND League’s website.



But there was only one problem. “Alicia” was a fake, her photo pulled from stock photography…


In January 2017, the Conan O’Brien Show got a letter from an unhappy Catriona McKenzie. “Shows like your recent one featuring Ms. Remini convey false impressions and promote religious bigotry,” she told Conan.


Only, whoops, it turns out that Catriona is also a stock-art character. (After Jeffrey Augustine and some Twitter sleuths started outing the STAND League fakes, Scientology tried to defeat the Google image reverse search by replacing the photos with cartoonized images like you see above, but the swap didn’t really mask what was going on.)



Several other STAND League figures are flat-out fakes. But more than a hundred other people sent out angry letters on STAND letterhead to various companies, with Disney receiving the bulk of them. Who were these letter writers? It turns out most of them are simply the usual Scientology operatives who have been relied on to carry out Scientology’s initiatives over the years, and who would do anything David Miscavige asked them. Here’s a rundown on some of them, which we put together with the help of several former church members…

Beth Akiyama (Letter to Anheuser-Busch, Aug 22, 2017), OSA Int
John Allender, Bay Area public and notorious Squirrel Buster
Laurie Bartilson, ex-In-House lawyer for OSA Int
Linda Batdorf (Little Caesars Pizza, Nov 1, 2017), LA public
Gerald Beeny (Disney, May 31, 2017), LA Public
Gracia Bennish, LA Public
Siouxie Boshoff, Flag public
Toby Burwell (Walgreen, Jun 16, 2017), LA public
Gail Carroll (Disney, Dec 23, 2017) LA Public
Michael Chan (Disney, Aug 15, Aug 26 and Oct 1) Flag public and searcher for Obi-Wan Kenobi
Leisa Collins, ex-SO
Courtney Condon, PTL public

Michael Duff, LA public
Riggs Eckelberry (Disney, Dec 22, 2017) LA Public
Bodhi Elfman, LA Public and flaky celebrity
Catherine Emrani (Anheuser-Busch, Oct 8, 2017), LA Public
Pat Felske (Toronto Star, Mar 10, 2017), Ex-GO Canada
Dean Glosup (Disney, Dec 12, 2017) LA Public
Lee Holzinger (Expedia, Sep 27, 2017), DSA STB ex-OSA Int
Jim Kalergis (Disney, Oct 15 and Dec 23, 2017) LA Public
Andrea Kluge (A&E, Dec 21, 2016), LA Public
Avi & Shiri Lonstein (ABC, Jan 5, 2017), LA Public
Jim Meskimen (Disney, Dec 19, 2017) hack d-list celeb
Paris Morfopoulos, Flag public
Joel Morris (The Wonderful Company, Jan 15) LA Public
Dennis Negley (Skechers, Sep 5, 2017), SFO public, former staff
Cathy Norman, DSA Austin
Jennifer Pantermuehl (A&E, Dec 22, 2016), Public
John Pantermuehl (Volkswagen, Aug 24, 2017), Texas public
Edward Parkin, OSA Int and STAND League director
Ann Pearce (Aaron’s Stores, Jan 15) DSA Seattle Org
Matt Pearce (Disney, Jan 6, 2017) SO member
Bernard Percy (Proctor & Gamble, Aug 15) LA Public
Carolyn Percy (Hyundai Motor America, Sep 21) LA Public
Joel Phillips (Nestle, Aug 21, and Disney, Jan 4) LA Public
Raleigh Pruitt, ex-SO
Jeff Quiros (Sears, Sep 18, 2017), DSA SGO and San Francisco head goon
Edith Reuveni (Disney, Aug 2, 2017), LA Public
Eric Roux, DSA Belgium
Ken Shapiro (Walgreen, Jun 16, 2017), ex-SO ASHO
Judi Shervell (Anheuser-Busch, Jan 15) OSA Int
Peter Sokoloff (Disney, June 1) LA Public
Randy Stith (Walgreen, Jun 16, 2017), LA Public and embarrassing goon
Koko Tabibzadeh (Hyundai, Oct 8, 2017), LA Public
Alethiea Taylor (Nestle, Oct 7, 2017), ex-SO from the Apollo
Clair Taylor (Burger King, Oct 22, 2017), LA public
Diane Temps (KFC, Oct 21, 2017), LA public
Pam Vilinsky, DSA
Rev. Peter J. Vilinsky (Liberty Mutual, Oct 24, 2017), NY public
Cass Warner (Disney, May 30, 2017), LA Public and studio figure
Jenny Widmaiger, ex-SO
Janet Weiland, OSA Int and longtime Scientology operative
Richard Weiland, OSA Int
Nick McNaughton (Walgreen, June 16, 2017), OSA Int

We’d like to believe that A&E, Disney, and the other companies getting these astroturf messages from the STAND League can see through them and realize what a put-up job this campaign is.

Unfortunately, some actual religious leaders in Los Angeles appear to have been taken in. But Scientology always manages to find some shills.

It would be a shame if anyone took them seriously.



We have some news for you about how our plans for this year’s HowdyCon have changed a bit. First, to review: We had decided that because this year we’ll be in Los Angeles, we would coordinate with Janis Gillham Grady, who has an annual reunion barbecue and this year is dedicating her event to former Scientology ED Int Bill Franks, who died in December.

We were hoping to hold that barbecue at a former Scientology mission building in Riverside, but the sheer distance between Los Angeles and Riverside and the lack of public transportation in Southern California made our original plans problematic.

So, we’re still planning on holding events in LA on Thursday and Friday, June 20 and 21, but Janis is now looking for a new location for Saturday’s combined event in Burbank. She also says she will soon have hotel information for those coming in from out of town.


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

[Kelly Preston, Beck, and Anne Archer]

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] Insider reports on Scientology’s grand openings in Silicon Valley and Salt Lake City!
[TWO years ago] First look inside Tom Cruise’s Clearwater double penthouse — and Scientology is not happy!
[THREE years ago] How the indoctrination of growing up in Scientology has changed over generations
[FOUR years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology’s latest insider fliers for your dissection and delectation
[FIVE years ago] Jon Atack puts it to Scientologists — did L. Ron Hubbard have the qualities of a leader?
[SIX years ago] Blogging Dianetics, Part 8: The Demon Seed
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology and the Occult: Hugh Urban’s Exploration of L. Ron Hubbard & Aleister Crowley


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,368 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,499 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,001 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,481 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 544 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 432 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,739 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,607 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,381 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,155 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,501 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,067 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,987 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,154 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,735 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,995 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,035 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,747 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,273 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,362 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,502 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,822 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,678 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,797 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,153 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,455 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,561 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,964 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,835 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,418 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,913 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,167 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,276 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 22, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 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. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), 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

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, or 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 | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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