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Introducing ‘The Cult Awareness Podcast,’ recorded at HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

[Underdown, Minor, Ortega]

One surprising thing we learned about Jerry Minor, when we wrote about him after he appeared on Leah Remini’s A&E series, Scientology and the Aftermath, is that he’s actually been a regular reader of the Underground Bunker for a long time and had a great familiarity with our Scientology stories.

Jerry appeared in the special episode that began Aftermath‘s third season: He was one of several ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses who gave us a stunning look into how much the two groups have in common. He’s also a former Saturday Night Live cast member and has appeared in many other television programs.

Several weeks ago, Jerry approached us with an idea: How about a podcast where we talk about Scientology news, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other subjects? Sounded good to us. We’d be joined by Center for Inquiry-West director James Underdown as our third. Jim and your proprietor go way back — the two of us appeared together in the very first episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! in 2003.

Now, how about a name? As we explained in this first episode, recorded at HowdyCon in Los Angeles, we first got into this crazy activity of reporting on Scientology when we wrote a story about Rick Ross and a lawsuit that bankrupted the Cult Awareness Network. Scientology, who had recruited the plaintiff in that lawsuit, bought CAN’s assets out of that bankruptcy in one of its dirtiest tricks of all time.

So yeah, we’re going to try things out under the name, The Cult Awareness Podcast.


Doing this stuff live is tricky. We said that Mark Bunker, for example, is running for mayor of Clearwater. He’s actually running for City Council. There may be some other screwups that our readers will no doubt point out to us.

But we’re very glad that we got to feature several people who are very important to us here at the Underground Bunker. And we hope before too long to have a second episode for you.


Scientology’s sick victimization of the vulnerable on display again

Ginger Sugerman sent several of us this document yesterday. We found out several months ago that she had decided to go through Scientology’s “A to E” steps in order to get back into good standing with the church. Now, it is putting her through this humiliating process, which included this “step B,” a public statement that she was wrong to criticize the church.

Last year, in March, Ginger’s husband Arnie Lerma shot her in the face in an attempt to kill her. She credits turning her face at the last second to saving her life. A bullet ripped through her mouth, and she ran to a neighbor’s house to call for help. Lerma then went into his bathroom and shot himself in the mouth, committing suicide.

In June, just three months after the incident, Ginger attended our HowdyCon event in Chicago. She told us that she was hurting badly in the wake of almost being killed. Despite multiple surgeries, the gunshot wound had left her disfigured, with the prospect of more surgeries to come. She still lived in the rural Georgia home where Lerma had tried to kill her, and her only local friend, her pastor, had been reassigned and moved away. She was in pain, she was lonely, and she was understandably suffering.

Just before she made the decision to return to the church, she asked us to put her on our list of “disconnected” people that you see at the bottom of each story here at the Bunker. She was desperate to get back in touch with her children. Soon after making that request to have her put on the list, she rescinded it, and we soon learned that she had begun her A to E steps. She apparently saw it as the only way she would get to see her children again.

This is how Scientology preys on the vulnerable. And it pains us to see Ginger put herself through this humiliating experience. We take no pleasure in posting her document, but since it was already circulating on social media, we wanted to make sure our readers understood the background to it.



Meanwhile, at the Copa…

Oh good. Both Anne Archer and her husband Terry Jastrow made it to Fredo’s wedding after all.



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

[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]

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] Freed files: Scenes from a government investigation of Scientology
[TWO years ago] Facing government opposition, Scientology prepares to play dirty
[THREE years ago] Field report: Visiting the mission that told the Church of Scientology to take a hike
[FOUR years ago] How to read a tabloid magazine story about the Church of Scientology: A primer
[FIVE years ago] Scientology litigation update: The Garcias respond, and the NAFC plays hardball
[SIX years ago] Scientology Turns Over Documents, Laura DeCrescenzo Begins Process to Review Them
[SEVEN years ago] Tom Cruise’s Former Scientology Auditor: “He Should Let Katie Have Everything She Wants”
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Fireworks! Commenters of the Week, Independence Day Edition


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,495 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,624 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,128 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,648 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 668 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 559 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,866 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,734 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,508 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,282 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,628 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,194 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,113 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,281 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,862 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,123 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,162 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,874 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,400 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,489 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,629 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,949 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,805 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,924 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,279 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,582 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,688 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,090 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,962 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,545 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,040 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,294 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,403 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 2, 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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