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David Miscavige at Scientology’s IAS event: What he claims, and what’s really going on

[Dave, still wearing the wedding ring.]

Last night, Scientology posted its photos from its 2019 IAS event that was held a week ago at Saint Hill Manor in East Grinstead, England. The usual week-long delay occurred so that Scientologists in other parts of the world had a chance this weekend to see video of the event at their local orgs.

We’ve watched a lot of these things over the years, and so we can say that the overall size of the crowd continues to be smaller than in past years. In fact, in a very unusual move, Scientology itself didn’t include an estimate of the crowd size in its press releases about the event at its various websites. It just referred to attendees from “65 nations.”

We do think that’s significant. The crowd size, the subjects covered by Miscavige in his presentation, and other news coming out this week make us think more than ever that the state of Scientology in 2019 can be summed up this way: It’s still shrinking, but Miscavige has worked to make it a hardened target for law enforcement or government investigations.

 

[Miscavige still loves totalitarian chic.]

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For a few years now, we’ve been pointing out that places like Saint Hill Manor and Los Angeles and nearby Int Base, formerly Scientology’s main strongholds, have been losing influence as Clearwater, Florida gains in importance. Call it circling the wagons, but Miscavige is increasingly putting Scientology’s eggs in that Florida basket.

We certainly got a big confirmation of that with the brilliant investigative work done in Sunday’s Tampa Bay Times special project by reporter Tracey McManus. Her hard work showed that as the city tried to revive downtown with its “Imagine Clearwater” project, Scientologists suddenly and secretly in 2017 began buying up property in the downtown area, essentially doubling Scientology’s control of the dead city center.

As Tom DeVocht explained so well in the McManus piece, what’s really going on is that Miscavige wants to keep non-Scientologists out of the area, even though there’s no wall and Clearwater’s downtown is still nominally a public space.

But here’s one of the odd paradoxes about Scientology. While Miscavige has been busy turning Clearwater into a Scientology fortress, it’s very unlikely that he’s going to be seen there himself. He’s made himself scarce in the US, and with major new lawsuits here naming him as a defendant, we think that’s no accident.

 

[Is that Connor Cruise over Dave’s left shoulder, in the second row? Hard to tell.]

Conspicuously absent from Miscavige’s IAS presentation, according to Scientology’s summary, was any mention of Ideal Orgs. In the past, this was a major part of his 3-hour speech, but this time it was all about the front groups that work so stealthily to spread influence at the United Nations, in schools, and in foreign governments. Special praise was lavished on Scientology’s anti-psychiatry front, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which celebrated its 50th anniversary, and the premiere of another “season” of unwatchable propaganda at the DirecTV channel.

And Miscavige is still boasting about opening a new “Advanced Org” in South Africa on January 1, but it’s now been more than a year since he presided over the opening of a standard Ideal Org (in Detroit), which had been his major focus for the last 15 years. We think he’s avoiding grand openings of Ideal Orgs, perhaps to keep away from process servers, even though several renovations are complete and ready to be opened.

But even with the disruption of the Ideal Org program this year, and continued dwindling of overall membership, which we believe is now only about 20,000 people worldwide, in other ways Miscavige has been very canny about putting on a layer of armor around Scientology.

We think, based on discussions with Mike Rinder, that Miscavige was truly spooked about how close the FBI came to raiding Scientology’s secretive Int Base (also known as Gold Base, and Miscavige’s primary residence) in the summer of 2010. That FBI investigation fell apart, but since then Miscavige has made various moves that we think are a direct result of that investigation.

First, he personally moved away from Int Base and reportedly hasn’t been back in six years. Second, he significantly reduced its population and moved much of its audio-visual work to a new set of studios in Los Angeles. (Rinder pointed out that Miscavige understood how bad it looked that so many people lived and worked as indentured servants at the base, and so dispersing much of that work and those workers lowers the chances of a future raid.) The “Hole,” a prison program at the base, was ameliorated to a certain degree, although Valerie Haney, who escaped in 2016, assured us that the staff assigned to the Hole are still a segregated group, and are still being punished.

 

[Saturday night was the Patron’s Ball for big donors]

But making changes in the wake of the FBI investigation and the 2009 Tampa Bay Times investigation “The Truth Rundown” — both of which revealed so many Sea Org abuses — only goes so far. Perhaps the biggest effort that Miscavige has made in the last few years to toughen Scientology against interference is, of course, amassing vast amounts of money.

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In 2012, when former Flag captain Debbie Cook was sued and testified in court in Texas, she claimed that Miscavige had more than a $1 billion in liquid cash in the IAS, the membership organization that was created in the mid-1980s as a legal defense fund.

In 2015, when Alex Gibney investigated Scientology in his documentary and spoke with us about Scientology’s tax filings, he estimated that Miscavige was sitting on about $3 billion.

But since then, Miscavige has only increased his ability to get huge amounts of money out of wealthy Scientologists. Truly, it’s stunning.

Take two years ago, for example. At the Maiden Voyage event that is held every June on the ship Freewinds, trophies were handed out to Scientology’s top donors from that year. For Maiden Voyage 2017 the Scientologists who had given at least $1 million each amounted to two donors who had given a cumulative total of $1.5 million each, and Tom Cummins, who had reached $15 million in giving.

Two years later, at the 2019 Maiden Voyage event, this is the breakdown of people who were recognized for giving at least a million dollars each:

2 donors at $1 million, 1 at $1.75 million, 6 at $2.5 million, 2 at $5 million, 2 at $10 million, 1 at $15 million, 1 at $17.5 million, and 1 (Cummins again) at $30 million.

Scientology may be shrinking, but Miscavige has never been better at convincing wealthy Scientologists to turn over millions of dollars to the IAS slush fund, or to buy up property secretly in downtown Clearwater to secure Scientology’s position there.

Just a few days ago, we told you that we obtained new documents showing that Trish Duggan, the world’s richest Scientologist, had turned over $61 million to Miscavige in 2016, with $48.8 million of that in shares of AbbVie, the pharmaceutical giant, which were trading at about $62 each that year, and that almost doubled to $123 in 2018, after she had turned them over to Miscavige.

If in 2010 Scientology was vulnerable to an FBI investigation and possible raid, nine years later David Miscavige has hardened Scientology’s position and is more prepared than ever for any kind of protracted legal battle, even with dwindling membership and persistent staffing problems around the country.

Dave has billions, and he’s ready for a fight.

 

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

Even though a previous Jason Dohring seminar resulted in the filing of a false imprisonment case, he’s still playing church shill. Kind of amazing.

 

 
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Source Code

“Before we developed a good port PRO [Public Relations Officer] actions and good local area PRO actions, were very often in trouble. We were in trouble in the most remarkable ways. But it wasn’t really Scientologists that got us into trouble. The biggest amount of trouble that happened in Spain was a commercial licensed engineer who turned homo and was that way with hired Spanish hands who then went to the police and complained about this English engineer. And he was dismissed and the whole thing was handled. But it still sits in the office of information in Spain. See? Not as a handled situation but that there’s something, you know? And they’re having a lot of trouble lately with hippies. They aren’t counting the communists that they’ve got in their midst — Minister of Defense, Minister of Shipping, Franco’s first adjutant, second aide, Chamberlain — they aren’t counting these guys, they’ve gotta get these hippies. You see it has no political sense at all. If you knocked off every hippie in Spain you would not have strengthened its political position a minute.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 21, 1969

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“All the promises of people on this planet are vapor. Except LRH. After millions or trillions of years of being lied to, he’s the one guy who ever told me the truth. You think I’m not gonna follow that guy? Ha! If I was ever going to be loyal to anyone, it’d be Ron.”

 
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Random Howdy

“Do you really think a guy who texts ‘YSCOHB’ to people has the self awareness to realize that Kirstie is making his business look bad?”

 
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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?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Scientology and hurricanes: Providing storms of comic relief in one disaster after another
[TWO years ago] KID CORPS: Scientology’s internal documents lay out its disturbing ideas about children
[THREE years ago] TOM CRUISE PENTHOUSE IN SCIENTOLOGY’S SPIRITUAL MECCA? WE HAVE THE PLANS
[FOUR years ago] Laura DeCrescenzo answers Scientology ‘religion’ gambit on eve of key hearing
[FIVE years ago] Vance Woodward files motion to reconsider his dismissed lawsuit against Scientology
[SIX years ago] The Flaw In Scientology’s Religious Outrage Theory: A Man Named Steven Gregory Sloat
[SEVEN years ago] Sunday Funnies: Let’s Put Scientology Kids to Work!
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology and Forced Abortions: Testimony of an Enforcer

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,604 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,733 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,237 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,757 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 777 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 668 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,975 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,843 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,617 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,391 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,737 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,303 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,222 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,390 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,971 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,232 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,271 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,983 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,509 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,035 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,598 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,738 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,058 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,914 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,033 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,388 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,691 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,797 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,199 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,071 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,654 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,149 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,403 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,512 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on October 21, 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, 14 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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