Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


A holiday tale for families ripped apart by Scientology’s heartless ‘disconnection’ policy

[Can someone show this photo to Samantha Sterne?]

It’s a holiday Monday here in the US, and we hope you’re having a lovely day off with friends and family. For some families with members in Scientology, days like today can be a bitter reminder of how much they’re missing because of Scientology’s cruel “disconnection” policy.

That thought is rarely far from our mind, but something we saw on Facebook recently really brought it home for us once again. We noticed that a woman we are friends with had filled her Facebook wall with photos and reports about the joy of getting married.

We were really moved, especially because we knew who would not have been at that wedding.

We reached out to Mary Jane Barry to ask her about her joyous occasion last week, and at our request, she has sent some thoughts that we wanted to share with you.

But first, let us remind you about Mary Jane’s story.



[Samantha Sterne]

We wrote about Mary Jane five years ago, explaining that when she married a man named Chuck Sterne in 1993, they each already had two children from previous marriages. Then, they had a child of their own and named her Samantha Sterne. Chuck was a Scientologist, and Mary Jane also became involved, but her older two daughters never had anything to do with it, and Mary Jane also grew apart from the church, especially after she and Chuck divorced in 2004. By then, Samantha was 10, and as she grew into a teenager, her own involvement in Scientology was very light, and consisted of little more than exposure to “study tech.”

But after Samantha went to Oregon for her freshman year in college, something suddenly changed. Over Christmas break, her father took her to the Flag Land Base, and when she returned, she told her mother that she had signed a Sea Org contract, the billion-year commitment reserved for only the most hard-core Scientologists.

Mary Jane was bewildered and angry, and told Samantha that she was going to do her best to keep her daughter from dropping out of college and committing herself to Scientology. But by March 2013, it was clear that Samantha had made up her mind.

Mary Jane hasn’t seen her since then.

Her story of “disconnection” is particularly disturbing to us not only because Samantha and her mother had been extremely close before a trip to Flag ripped this family apart, but also because Mary Jane was at a total loss about what had happened to her daughter. She has no idea where Sami is stationed, or what she is doing. Scientology had made a promising, beautiful college student completely vanish.

We were very happy to see Mary Jane post news of her marriage last week, but we asked her what it was like without her daughter in attendance. This is what she sent us.

For years I felt completely broken, as if I were in the middle of a recurring nightmare or the Twilight Zone, due to the loss of my youngest daughter to one of the most masterful cults of the 21st century. I thought for sure my life would never be happy again. We were inseparable. She was extremely happy, smart, and full of life, yet they convinced her that she was never happy and that she should quit college to join their mission.

Fortunately, in 2017 I reunited with an old friend who is now the love of my life, and we were married last week. I feel whole again, and although I am extremely happy, I will always be broken.

Parent alienation and isolation is one of the tell tale signs that this vile organization is a cult and is convincing Samantha that I have a problem with them. They won’t let me contact her, and have cut her off from all communication with me. I tried to have the LAPD do a well check, and they refused. For years I sent emails and only wrote in the subject line, hoping it would pop up without her opening it, saying that I miss her every minute of every day, but now her email account is deactivated.

I only hope she will wake up and remember how much I love her so she can enjoy the great loving relationship we had and meet my wonderful husband. I will always have a hole in my heart, but they will never keep me from being truly happy!

Thank you, Mary Jane. Your strength is something so many other people affected by disconnection demonstrate day in and day out.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Actual email and flier received by one of our tipsters from Scientology actor and impressionist Jim Meskimen…

Getting Groovy without YOU is…
… not an option!

Hey, it’s the end of a great summer, but there’s one more big house party that you are invited to, this time celebrating Woodstock, music, and the Ideal Ventura Org! We are throwing a groovy bash at our Tarzana spread and there will be music, food, and creativity, just like at Woodstock! UNLIKE Woodstock, there will be bathrooms and shelter, AND a great purpose- to be up to date on what’s happening with the Ventura Org, the LAST IDEAL CALIFORNIA ORG! Can you come by? We’d love to have you. We’ll have special musical guests and we know you’ll have a great time. Fundraiser? Sure, but, it will be GROOVY. Nothing to get uptight about, just PEACE & LOVE, man. See you there? RSVP so we know how much Patchouli oil to buy.

Tamra and Jim Meskimen



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?



[TWO years ago] Louis Theroux isn’t the first who tried to find Scientology’s positive side and failed
[THREE years ago] ‘Finally, I am myself’: Scientologists talk about Scientology in a video not made for the public
[FOUR years ago] Why Scientology can never submit its drug rehab quackery to scientific review
[FIVE years ago] Jonny Jacobsen reviews the new Scientology memoir by Hungarian writer Peter Bonyai
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s Homophobia: Even the Church’s Token Gay Guy Was Disgusted
[EIGHT years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 13: Janet Reitman


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,556 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,685 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,189 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,709 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 729 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 620 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,927 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,795 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,569 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,343 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,689 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,255 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,174 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,342 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,923 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,184 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,223 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,935 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,461 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 987 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,550 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,690 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,010 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,866 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,985 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,340 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,643 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,749 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,151 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,023 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,606 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,101 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,355 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,464 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email