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My brother, the Scientologist: Trying to bridge the gap when Hubbardism is in the way

We heard from a reader who told us about her situation trying to deal with a sibling who is a dedicated Scientology staffer. They aren’t disconnected, but this brother-sister pair have an interesting situation we thought you’d want to read about. Here’s our reader’s account about what it’s like growing up with a brother so committed to the cause…

I’m an ex-Scientologist. I was born into the church. So was my brother. He was a garden variety mid-80’s mall rat growing up. Only when you scratched a little on the topic of spirituality, or math, did the arcana and lacuna of his Scientology schooling show up. One of his favorite declamations, usually delivered to grown-ups, was: “What if I said you could live the rest of your life without ever getting sick?”

He wanted to be a writer. He wrote rather a lot, and the horror genre was a favorite creative outlet. One favorite gag of his was to put down a bunch of characters and name them after personal friends. There was mirth in it for him — he liked when his reading audience detected the embedded winks. He enjoyed springing on people what he didn’t know to call “O. Henry endings.” When he was 13, he pretended to host a radio show from our porch. Had events played out differently, had forces been differently balanced, I suspect his proclivities might have taken him into “communications” in some form.

But the remote desert K-12 school we attended had a secret. It was an incubator for Sea Org recruits. This was easy to figure out for any astute observer: Sea Org missions showed up on an annual basis and each time, within a few weeks, one or two (or more) of the promising bright high schoolers disappeared from roll calls.


At 15, with the gentle blessings of the OT VII principal, my brother dropped out. He was going into something the academy couldn’t counter-argue, off to that ultimate Greater Good, the Sea Organization. His recruiters accomplished this without the consent of our parents — he hadn’t signed anything yet, so he didn’t need them, but he was ready to close. He never lived at home again.

I hope it was my parents and their refusal to co-sign that prevented him from climbing aboard that particular nightmare. Instead he went “on staff” at the local Class V org, where he has continually renewed his contract for the past 25 years. I vividly remember the day I realized he’d officially spent half of his life as a staff member. That was seven years ago.

In an all-Scientologist milieu it can be difficult to grow intellectually — especially after regular, state-mandated education ends. I suspect this stagnation has two roots: the utter antipathy preached against critics, and the peculiar taboo called “evaluation,” which is another word for “critique” in Scientologese. No opinion uttered is seriously challenged; no beliefs rigorously questioned. Throw in the ferocious self-regulation created by the concept of “overts and withholds” and a more perfect block to enlightenment has never been invented.

I went off and struggled to repair my life and make something of it. Interactions with my brother were rare. He acknowledged my achievements and I acknowledged his — seldom in ways more substantial than texting.

Cut to: I’m married and pregnant. My husband and I are waiting the safe twelve-week interval before making our announcement . . . and a surprise hits our iPhones: My brother and his wife are themselves expecting twins and two whole months earlier than us. We exchange the customary felicitations.

I thought about the future. Reflected on our past. Saw the bright moments: Friends, trips to Yellowstone, summer holidays at uncle’s cabin, unboxing the first “family computer” (a lunky Apple II), Christmases, theme parks, movies, books. The warm infinity of it. Then, the cold shadow: our church. Comical in retrospect. All those empty hours at the peeling pre-Ideal orgs. Sea Org officers and Class V staff smoking like the Industrial Revolution. Weird old course pack art. Trips to soggy Tampa and dirty Hollywood. All the strange slang. “Acommos” (accommodations). “Dev-T” (interruptions). “Ser fac” (. . . I have no idea). My disillusionment. His entrenchment.

I felt a hope rising that his children, growing up within such easy reach of the truth about Scientology, will one day be his emancipator. Maybe I’m naive.

And then, an interesting turn. My brother sheepishly revealed he’d started writing again. He shared a snippet with me, seeking my feedback. It wasn’t bad. This was the first hint that the creative impulse I recognized in my childhood companion was still there, just stunted — boundless potential trapped in amber. The unfortunate consequence, however, was that he chose a couple of incredibly cloying 19th century names, right from a Brontë novel, for the twins. Not kidding.

My own name isn’t the easiest to spell or pronounce, and it’s something I’ve had to deal with my entire life. So for that reason, my husband and I have chosen an extremely easy to spell and pronounce name for our daughter (it’s a flower). But for my nieces, it will be botched roll calls forever. What can I do.

If that reinforced the separation, I still hope. My husband, for example, is a pediatrician, and we’ve noticed that my brother has actually taken his advice over what their Scientologist chiropractor is telling them. But we still roll our eyes and grit our teeth at some of the atrocious anti-scientific practices they’ve adopted for their infants.

It seemed subtle at first, like celebrating their 4-month-olds’ first visit to the chiropractor. (Who does that?) Subsequent moves were less ambiguous, and perhaps more predictable: They refused to vaccinate. On top of endangering every child in the local “herd,” this also means our daughter must wait an entire year just to meet her cousins — a crazily short-sighted inconvenience for us parents. “First holiday” plans involving their meeting were instantly annihilated.

Also, in desperation at their twins’ difficulties sleeping, rather than learn from any number of freely available resources on infant sleep training (which we can vouch for personally), they’ve endangered the lives of their precious offspring by . . . tying rocks around their necks on strings. This particular fad is called a “teething necklace” and the FDA has felt sufficiently concerned about it to openly condemn them. My brother already complains about how active and rambunctious the twins are, but I don’t think he sees how that only increases the chance of strangulation.

These pseudoscientific remedies weren’t invented by Scientologists, of course, but for whatever reason it seems those “still in” are easy prey for opportunistic mountebanks.

Despite these wince-inducing differences, I still see potential for greater future interaction between us as the kids really start becoming their own people. At this writing our “reunion” has been mostly functional and superficial — a few tips traded, the ones innocuous enough not to go against the grain of anything Scientological.


I have hope for my nieces. It would be too depressing not to have that.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Score one for Scientology TV! Actual caption: “Hi my friends! This is a fantastic Success story. This is Laura Lee Clark. She found out about Scientology trough the TV Chanel. She come to the Mission in February. Did life improvement Courses, bought and listen lots of Clasics Tapes, did a Life Repair at the Mission and She went to do the Purif to Orlando. She just attest the Purif and started her SRD. She loves our Mission and can’t wait to keep moving!”


We Come Back (to route out properly)…


They’re doing it simultaneously in Buenos Aires!


Kids in Chile get their TRs in!


Anyone know what was keeping them busy at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre yesterday?



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

[Alanna Masterson, Terry Jastrow, and Marisol Nichols]

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] If Scientology is hurting, have its ‘expansion’ plans slowed down? Here’s our assessment
[TWO years ago] Garcia case update: Has Judge Whittemore managed to fill a Scientology arbitrating panel?
[THREE years ago] Former workers file EEOC complaints saying Grant Cardone forced Scientology on them
[FOUR years ago] Scenes from the increasingly desperate straits Scientology finds itself in
[FIVE years ago] Mark Bunker: Clearwater is being pressured to knuckle under to Scientology (again)
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: Bowl With The Valley Girls!
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Sees Fundraising Gold in the UK Riots: “We Have a Strategy”
[ELEVEN years ago] Isaac Hayes Was No Expert Scientologist


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,536 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,665 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,169 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,689 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 709 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 600 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,907 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,775 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,549 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,323 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,669 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,235 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,154 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,322 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,903 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,164 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,203 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,915 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,441 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,530 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,670 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,990 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,846 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,965 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,320 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,623 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,729 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,131 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,003 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,586 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,081 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,335 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,444 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 12, 2019 at 07:00

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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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