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Has Scientology’s leader David Miscavige gone underground in the face of a legal onslaught?

[Has anyone seen C.O.B. since Maiden Voyage?]

DISCLAIMER: What you are about to read is your proprietor’s speculation, and nothing more than that. We’re trying to read the tea leaves here, and we reserve the right to be completely and utterly wrong about everything in this post. So, with that said, we beg your patience as we spin a yarn about what we think might — and we stress might — be happening in Scientology’s highest reaches…

Recently, Scientology made some last-minute changes that might have gone overlooked. But the Bunker community includes some super sleuths who rarely miss anything. Two of our correspondents duly noted that the changes were very sudden and out of character.

First, a Los Angeles helper reported last month that there had been an unusual alteration in the Maiden Voyage celebration there, and out of nowhere a couple of “conventions” had been scheduled, seemingly overnight.

News from other tipsters trickled in, showing that similar conventions had been held in other locations as well, such as Toronto and Sydney and Mexico City, and that they stressed “Unity.” We also couldn’t help notice that attendees were wearing T-shirts with an unusual slogan: “Doing it simultaneously.”

Then, Rod Keller decrypted the code, and reported that at these conventions, Scientologists were being told about a fundamental shift in Scientology’s “Ideal Org” strategy.


Instead of opening new “Ideal Org” churches one at a time, and a few each year, the new strategy was to convert ALL of the remaining orgs into Ideal Orgs “simultaneously.”

This seemed insane. Beginning in 2003, Scientology leader David Miscavige has put enormous pressure on his followers to raise millions of dollars to convert “Class 5” orgs (there is usually one in each large city in the US, Europe, and parts of Asia and Latin America) to “Ideal Orgs,” with greater size, fancier interiors, and a lot of automation for impressing visitors. Paul Burkhart, a former church executive who worked on the Ideal Org program, told Leah Remini on Scientology and the Aftermath that $15 to $20 million is being spent on each Ideal Org project. And over the last 16 years, Scientology has held grand opening ceremonies for 61 of the gleaming new cathedrals. (These Ideal Orgs replace earlier churches, so they don’t really represent “expansion,” even though that’s what Scientology claims.)

But even with 61 Ideal Orgs opened since 2003, there are still 75 more Class 5 orgs that have yet to be converted. With two to four converted each year, the program could go on for decades. But now, Miscavige suddenly wants the money to be raised not for a few targeted locations, but for all 75 so they can all be converted at the same time?

The Scientologists at the conventions learning about this new plan naturally reacted with joy, as if it were the greatest thing ever.

But we figured something else was going on.

Claiming that the rest of the orgs will go Ideal “simultaneously” was another way, we realized, of saying that the Ideal Org program had been put on hold. Ideal Org projects are finished and waiting for their grand openings in places like Kansas City, Missouri and Columbus, Ohio. Others are steaming ahead on their construction projects. But it’s already August and Miscavige has presided over no grand openings since the new Advanced Org in South Africa on January 1. Fundraisers and renovations might still be steaming ahead, but no new openings are happening. And why put those grand openings off in order to focus on locations that haven’t even begun to raise the money they need for construction?

We felt there was an obvious answer. For months, an impressive national legal team has been preparing a series of major lawsuits against the Church of Scientology and Miscavige. The first was filed on behalf of Leah Remini’s assistant, Valerie Haney, on June 18. But the lawsuits have been in the works for a long time, and we’ve known about them long before Haney’s suit was filed. If we knew about them, it’s pretty likely that Miscavige was aware they were coming too.

The Kansas City Ideal Org, for example, was steaming at full speed for an opening that was originally announced for April. But since then, it seems to have been put on hold with the rest of the program.

We thought there was an obvious answer to explain these various pieces of evidence: Miscavige knows that if he makes a public appearance at an Ideal Org grand opening, he could make himself vulnerable to being served legal papers. In the Haney lawsuit, for example, it’s quite likely that he’ll be subpoenaed to be deposed. Haney worked in Miscavige’s private quarters for years, and she blames Miscavige personally for making it impossible for her to leave Scientology’s Int Base until she managed to make a daring escape in the trunk of a car.

The second lawsuit by the dream team was filed last week, on behalf of the women accusing Danny Masterson of rape, and the suit names the church and Miscavige for conspiring to harass the women after they came forward. More lawsuits are planned, and will be equally explosive. And Miscavige again will be named.

For now, Miscavige may not want to make it easy for process servers to find him. And for the last few years, the only time he’s been out in the open is at Ideal Org grand opening ceremonies.

Tom DeVocht pointed out that whenever Miscavige faces some kind of setback, he always tries to turn it into “the greatest thing ever.” In this case, putting the Ideal Org program on hold was transformed into the announcement that all orgs would go Ideal simultaneously. Miscavige turned a legal problem into the greatest advance in Scientology history ever, as impossible as it seems to be. See how that works?

When we originally voiced our theory that the Ideal Org program has been put on hold so Miscavige can keep himself under wraps, and that the “Doing it simultaneously” plan was just a cover story for why the grand openings would not be happening in the meantime, we were met with some skepticism that Miscavige has really gone underground.

In October, for example, Miscavige presides over one of the biggest events of the Scientology calendar, the International Association of Scientologists anniversary gala, which takes place in a giant tent in East Grinstead, England. For three nights, the IAS holds its celebrations, and on Friday night Miscavige holds forth with a two-hour stemwinder about all of the things that Scientology has accomplished in the past year. At one time, several different church officials would speak at the lectern, but Miscavige has decimated his executive ranks out of paranoia, and now he’s the only one who speaks on stage. (The event is filmed, and then in ensuing weeks Scientologists in other parts of the world are asked to come down to their local org to watch the recording.)

But if Miscavige has put the Ideal Org program on hold in order to avoid making personal appearances at grand openings, would he risk an appearance at the IAS gala?

We reasoned that if Miscavige is avoiding being seen, he could beam in his address from anywhere. He wouldn’t need to be in East Grinstead if he didn’t want to.

But that was just spitballing. We admitted that our theory was pretty speculative, and that we’d need more evidence to prove that Miscavige is making himself scarce to avoid service.

But then, this week, we got an intriguing tip. One of our readers learned that a few weeks ago, Scientology Media Productions approached a large venue in the Clearwater area, asking if it would be possible to rent a 2600-seat space for an October event in that Florida city.

Venues that size tend to be booked far in advance, and there were no dates open. The venue suggested that the Scientologists try Ruth Eckerd Hall, which is where Scientology holds its annual LRH Birthday event each March. But the SMP delegation said they’d tried that, and Ruth Eckerd Hall was also fully booked for October.

Scientology’s annual events are among the most reliable, consistent things about the church: Los Angeles for New Year’s Eve, Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall for LRH Birthday in March, the ship Freewinds for the Maiden Voyage week in the Caribbean in June, and the big tent in England for the IAS event in October.

Why would Scientology suddenly, at the last minute, want to rent a large venue in Clearwater for October?

We couldn’t help thinking it bolstered our theory. We wondered, if David Miscavige is going to beam in his address to the IAS event this October, why couldn’t he beam it simultaneously in other locations, rather than make Scientologists wait a week or two to see a recording?

Why couldn’t the IAS event itself be transformed to “Doing it simultaneously?”

Once again, we’re trying to think like Miscavige, who likes to turn a negative into the greatest thing ever. So, if he’s too afraid to show up in East Grinstead for the IAS event, is he going to turn it instead into a chance for all Scientologists around the world to gather in local venues in order to see his address beamed in from some undisclosed location?

Well, that’s a big guess for such a small amount of evidence, and we could be misreading the clues in important ways. But we do think it’s possible that David Miscavige has gone underground, just like L. Ron Hubbard before him, and is trying to make himself scarce as Scientology’s legal challenges mount.

What do you think?


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] See the Scientology-like ad for Scientologist-owned ABCMouse, made by Scientologists!
[TWO years ago] DOX: The full FBI file from its 2009-2010 human trafficking investigation of Scientology
[THREE years ago] Who are the clergy Scientology convinces to attend its ‘interfaith’ farces?
[FOUR years ago] VIDEO: Scientology rehab salesmen — Just exactly the humanitarians you imagined
[FIVE years ago] Jon Atack: The games L. Ron Hubbard played
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Surf Report: Making Waves at the New York ‘Org’


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,545 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,674 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,178 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,698 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 718 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 609 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,916 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,784 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,558 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,332 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,678 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,244 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,163 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,331 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,912 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,173 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,212 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,924 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,450 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 976 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,539 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,679 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,999 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,855 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,974 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,329 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,632 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,738 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,140 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,012 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,595 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,090 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,344 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,453 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 21, 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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