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Rick Ross: ‘What did Keith Raniere take from Scientology for Nxivm? Everything.’

[Rick Ross]

We first heard about Nxivm and Keith Raniere more than a dozen years ago and from Rick Ross, an Arizona cult expert we’ve known since 1995.

Ross and Raniere tangled for years, and for that reason Rick is reluctant to say much at all about the criminal court case that Raniere is currently facing.

“Raniere sued me for 14 years. He was relentless in harassing people, and things kept escalating until his arrest last year,” he told us yesterday from Tucson.

But if he’s reticent about discussing Raniere’s prosecution, Ross said he could talk about something that he knows fascinates our audience: Nxivm’s connection to Scientology.


“What did Raniere take from Scientology? Everything. I mean, he has a whole module about disconnection from suppressive persons. Where did that come from? When I read that, I realized he was copying from Scientology,” Ross says. “A lot of Nxivm is Scientology, some of it is Ayn Rand, some of it is multi-level marketing, and it also takes from Landmark Education and Werner Erhard. Raniere was anything but original.”

Heidi Hutchinson, a former Nxivm member who met Raniere in 1984, told the CBC that one of the things that characterized him in the late 1980s was his interest in Scientology.

“Scientology is really kind of infused in this,” Ross says. “Nxivm is sold like Scientology, as a self-improvement, educational process, where you become an improved human being through its training routines. And you confess to your coach, like you would to an auditor.

“I would say some of the most important modules in Nxivm read like Hubbard. So I’m surprised that Scientology didn’t go after Nxivm the way they went after Erhard. But maybe they didn’t because Nxivm was harassing me,” Ross adds.

He’s referring to a situation that goes back to the mid-1990s, when we first met Ross and wrote about him. Ross had been sued by a young member of a Christian church in Washington state, but Rick insisted that the case only happened because the plaintiff, Jason Scott, had been recruited by Scientology to go after him (something Scott later acknowledged).

Ross and the Cult Awareness Network, which had referred Ross to Scott’s family, were hit with large court judgments, bankrupting CAN, and Scientology swooped in and purchased CAN’s assets.

“Nancy O’Meara, a Scientologist, was a pivotal player in the breaking down of CAN. She was right there when they created the new CAN,” Ross reminds us. “At the time, I received information that Nancy and Keith Raniere were in touch with each other. This was very early, before he sued me. She encouraged him to go after me.”

If Raniere adopted Scientology’s methods to run his organization and to sue Rick Ross, he didn’t manage to equal Scientology in its most prized possession: tax exemption. Without it, he didn’t have the protection the Church of Scientology enjoys that tends to keep it out of trouble with law enforcement and the courts.

But Raniere is fighting his prosecution with dozens of high priced attorneys and an aggressive style of litigating, just like L. Ron Hubbard would have.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 8, 2019 at 17:45

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Tony Ortega is a journalist who was formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He’s written about Scientology since 1995, and in May 2015 released a book about Scientology’s harassment of Paulette Cooper titled ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely,’ and more recently a compilation of his stories, ‘Battlefield Scientology.’ He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world, as well as other subjects at The Underground Bunker. You can reach him by sending him a message at tonyo94 AT (Drop him a line if you’d like to get an e-mail whenever a new story is posted.)


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