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Scientology’s sneaky front groups and building projects under the microscope in 2019

[Swedish meatballs.]

Like last year, on this final Sunday in 2019 we asked Rod Keller to give us his own year in review. We’re so fortunate that Rod gives us a report every week while he keeps such a close eye on Scientology’s “expansion” projects and front-group operations around the globe. Here’s his report on another great year of hard work.

Here’s a look back at some of the articles we wrote in 2019, a few updates on developments since then and some predictions for 2020.



In January we reported that Scientology planned to distribute more than 500,000 booklets at the Super Bowl in Atlanta. Sources tell us that rather than hundreds of volunteers they had hoped for there were a dozen at most and perhaps a few thousand booklets were distributed — mostly in boxes left at shops and businesses in the area. This year the game is in Miami and we expect a larger turnout as Scientology has recruited legendary running back Marshall Faulk as a spokesman for the Foundation for a Drug Free World.


February brought the news that the Manchester Ideal Org program was raising funds to renovate the Duckworth Essence Distillery building. Enthusiasm was high then, but has now faded somewhat. Sources tell us that money trickles in a few hundred pounds per week. Manchester finished the year third in Ideal Org contributions for UK orgs. Their fate may be to follow the decline of the sad Birmingham ideal org which opened in October, 2017 and in 2019 ranked dead last in UK Ideal Org fundraising.


In March we saw how Scientology uses school shootings such as that in Parkland, Florida in its crusade against psychiatric medicines, ignoring victims’ efforts to increase control of gun ownership. Since then Scientology continues to use each shooting to raise funds for front group CCHR.

Wealthy Scientologist donors are generally conservative and pro-gun rights. CCHR reflected this in an article on its blog from August. It’s the polar opposite approach to that of the victims of shootings who are activists for gun control.

It is not guns that are the common denominator to these horrific events — some occur with knives, axes and even automobiles. Nor is it clothing, age, gender or political orientation. The fact missed by most is that psychiatric, mind-altering drugs have been found to be the common factor in an overwhelming number of these acts of random senseless violence. These drugs, on an ever increasing rise in society and amongst schoolchildren, particularly over the last two decades, are actually creating acts of violence.



In April we reported that Scientology has purchased a building in Edinburgh to be the new Ideal Org. Ideal Org openings were down in 2019 with only two (Columbus and Kansas City) instead of the usual seven or eight. HAPI, as the Edinburgh org is known, is the top UK fundraiser for 2019 and has announced plans to open in 2020. The building is in good repair and that doesn’t seem an unreasonable goal.

We predict that Austin, Ventura, and ODD in Mexico City will also open in 2020. We incorrectly predicted ODD to open in 2019, but we don’t know the extent of damage to the building caused by the 2017 earthquake. It could be extensive. Other good candidates to open in 2020 are Boston, Chicago, Adelaide and Taipei.


May saw the debut of QR codes on Scientology brochures, T-shirts, laptop stickers and the like. QR codes are easy to make and provide a link to a particular web page. Once exclusive to materials produced from Scientology’s huge printing plants the codes have now spread and are now being used to promote everything from a Slovakian personality test to a sneaky “happiness survey” from Melbourne that deliberately omits the word “Scientology.”

In June we profiled the Malmö Ideal Org. They opened their doors in 2009 and have not expanded their staff or publics in the decade that followed. Since June they have been tasked with raising funds for the planned Gothenburg ideal org. Gothenburg is the second largest city in Sweden with over 1 million residents in the metropolitan area.


In July we introduced you to the Concerned Coalition, a group of Scientologists fighting changes to state laws being introduced to increase the number of vaccinated students in schools. Since losing the fight in California over SB-276 the group is trying to stay active. Co-founder Jonathan Lockwood has since left the group so why did he visit the Tampa org and Fort Harrison Hotel this month? Perhaps Scientology has bigger plans for this political operative.



In August we reported that Scientology is planning to open Narconon Ireland despite an ongoing case to determine if they have a proper license. This month the high court has heard the case and has reserved judgment, meaning they need some time to consider their decision. Narconon remains closed for now.


In September we reported that front group CCHR attended the Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Conference Foundation to spread Scientology’s hate campaign against psychiatry. In the months that followed we have seen no further activity from this group. CCHR is a hit-and-run operation. It briefly surfaces then disappear before uncomfortable questions are asked about its claims.


In October we documented the rise of Friends of Narconon, a group of long-time staff members who are falsely claiming they have official approval from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. It’s not going well; their $150,000 fundraising drive has generated only $270 so far.



In November we documented Scientology Volunteer Ministers helping feed firefighters near Sydney, Australia. As of today the fires are still burning and the Scientologists are still cooking. We haven’t seen further evidence of “touch assists” for firefighters but it’s safe to assume they continue as well.


And finally in December we dissected an article from CCHR blaming psychiatrists for a drop in literacy rates. There is no such drop, but Scientology continues to court the United Nations as they work their way through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This month they blame psychiatry for gender inequality.

That’s all for 2019 and thank you for reading and commenting.

— Rod Keller


Continuing our year in review: The stories of September 2019

We kicked off September with a story about a woman who has been so victimized by Scientology, losing her daughter to “disconnection.” But she hasn’t let that keep her from finding love and a new marriage. We asked her about what it was like to carry on even after Scientology rips your heart into pieces.

Scientology might be hurting for membership, but David Miscavige is getting bigger donations out of the wealthy people he has left, and this year celebrated his whales four separate times. In September, we showed you the big donors from two of those events, including the lesser whales and the big leviathans.

Elisabeth Moss snowed yet another reporter when she was asked about Scientology, but this time we were stunned when we saw what Moss got away with in a statement that was a slap to every family that’s lost a child in the church.


In September, we started three new daily features: Source Code (what L. Ron Hubbard said on that day in history), Overheard in the Freezone, and Random Howdy. All three proved popular with readers.

Yet more documentary filmmakers loaned their movies to Scientology to air on its new TV channel. So we named them again.

Scientology hurried to capitalize on another natural disaster, this time Hurricane Dorian.

Michelle “Emma” Ryan announced that she’d be archiving the ESMB forum after more than 12 years in operation.

Once in a while we feel compelled to debunk a bogus tabloid report about Scientology, and that was indeed the case with a very dumb claim by RadarOnline that it had found a photo of a new underground bunker at Scientology’s Gold Base. It was actually just an enclosure for a trap shooting machine.

Scientology’s Hurricane Dorian operation paid off with some photos of local politicians.

But an even bigger “get” was the photo they snagged of NBA great Charles Barkley with some Foundation for a Drug-Free World officials at a golf game.

For four years we’d been reporting on criminal charges against a family accused of running a Medi-Cal scam at a Scientology drug rehab. But things really escalated when a couple of the defendants tried some “sovereign citizen” craziness with the court.

The third big lawsuit from a national legal team landed in September, this time with a plaintiff who was a child and said she was sexually abused multiple times while she worked for Scientology. This lawsuit was filed in Miami, unlike the other two which were filed in Los Angeles.

Leah Remini’s bio-dad George Remini died in August, but Leah only found out about in September and denounced the way Scientology had used him to make negative videos about her.

A new census came in, showing that out of 4.7 million people in New Zealand, only 311 of them are Scientologists, which works out to 0.007 percent!

A surprise message from a pastor in Florida brought us a mysterious new chapter in the story of a former insurance mogul and his Scientology trophies.

And Leah Remini finished off the month with a longer statement about her late father George, and the way Scientology has subjected her to a hellish ongoing ‘Fair Game’ campaign.


A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2018: Two upstate New York Scientologist chiropractors charged in an $80 million Medicare scam. We decoded David Miscavige’s chest ribbons. Jeffrey Augustine tangled with a Scientology PI. Jeffrey also detailed the history of the Freewinds. The US government adopted a Russian Scientologist as a ‘prisoner of conscience.’

A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2017: On national television, Leah Remini and her mother Vicki Marshall exposed OT 8 for the shameful scam it is. And then we posted the actual New OT 8 materials for the first time to prove it. Clarissa Adams told us her disconnection story. John Brousseau, Karen Pressley, and Paul Haggis appeared on Aftermath, and Haggis answered Marty Rathbun’s smears. And we said goodbye to Bernie Feshbach.

A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2016: Marty Rathbun goes on the attack against Ron Miscavige and Louis Theroux. The anonymous drone pilot begins premiering his footage of Scientology bases. Jason Lee ditches Scientology. And Steve Cannane’s excellent book Fair Game comes out.

A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2015: We marked a full decade since Shelly Miscavige first vanished. Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear took home three Emmy awards. And we broke the news that Jim Carrey’s girlfriend, Cat White, was a Scientologist on the SRD when she killed herself.

A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2014: Nancy Cartwright makes perhaps the creepiest Scientology ad ever. Jim Jackson remembers Lyman Spurlock. And Scientology crows about getting money from Google.

A LOOK BACK AT SEPTEMBER 2013: Scientology’s private dancer, live-blogging at the Monique Rathbun temporary restraining order hearing, and day two’s live-blog which set a then-record number of comments for a single blog post at the Bunker (3,442).

Five of our favorites from the most-upvoted comments of September 2019

September 2: Phil Jones
I think the most widespread damage Scientology has done is their disconnection practice. The Sea Org has harmed people. The RPF has damaged them. People have lost countless thousands of dollars into Scientology and many have come out broke and in debt. But I’d bet that anyone who did come out with any money intact, they’d give it up in a heartbeat to have their loved ones back. And the numbers. The number of families broken up by Scientology is just mind boggling.

September 6: flyonthewall
The reason Moss would chain the baby to herself and hold onto it for dear life is pretty obvious. She knows that being in Scientology that baby could be taken from her for any number of reasons. It could be recruited into the Sea Org and she’d never see it again. It could leave Scientology and she’d have to disconnect. She might want to leave Scientology and it would disconnect from her. So yeah, she prob would chain it to herself until it’s 50yrs old. Be dumb not to really.

September 9: Mark Parry-Maddocks
As a never-in and relative latecomer to post-Anonymous developments, ESMB was an invaluable way of getting up to speed on what was happening under Miscavige’s misrule, but it’s continued as a major source on the history of Scientology in the UK for me. Three cheers for Michelle!


September 17: DexterSka
I would like to take this moment to thank Scientology for not blurring the lines of good and evil by doing any actual good.

September 19: Jeb Burton
I’m not schooled in human trafficking laws but it seems to me that shipping off an 11 year old off to Venezuela without her parents and I assume against her will because she reported crimes against the cult would be a text book definition of child and human trafficking.


Leaked document of the day

From the Mace-Kingsley Ranch documents release comes this item.

Shayne is back, making another editorial comment on a Knowledge Report that turns him in for being his “1.1 self”.


Deck Sec


Shayne D.

Today, over the radio Uncle Mike asked for Adam S. and Deno decided to get him for me, showing initiative. He said, “I’ll get him” and Shayne said “No, you won’t,” being his 1.1 self.



Source Code

“I got a frantic wire the other day from a scientific congress that was occurring in, I think, Boston, and they wanted to know if I had any proof I could offer that thought created matter. They’d suddenly stumbled onto some mathematical proof of this one way or the other, and they wanted to know if I had any proof of this at all, and I sent ’em back a wire telling ’em that, yes, we’d had somebody mock up large mock-ups and stuff ’em into his body and increase his weight thirty pounds in a few weeks and then, by getting the reverse flow, to reduce his weight back again. We’ve actually made that experiment. That’s quite an experiment to make, by the way, because it takes a devilish lot of auditing and the fellow has to be awfully good at solid facsimiles and mock-ups and things of that character before you can perform the series. But we have done it, taking thought alone, without increasing somebody’s diet, and increasing his weight and decreasing it. So, I sent ’em this data and I got back a highly enthusiastic wire saying that my data, as sent to them, had been of great assistance, so I hope they were all edified. That’s all I’ve heard about it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 29, 1957


Overheard in the FreeZone

“A lot of terminals, I believe, think they were sentenced to MEST. In Christianity the physical plane is not the Garden of Eden, Paradise, etc., but a descent on a gradient? P.S., the future may end up like ‘1984’ plus ten. Chips and AI implants, etc. Do you think an organisation of robots like Miscavige has is worse? I don’t think so. Sure, he likes to play god with the Bridge and has a 1.1 serfac attitude to public (‘I’ll take all their money because they are out-ethics public who need to be sec checked like the SPs that they are,’ etc). I can almost see it in his head. However, I wouldn’t want to see the church end just on the off chance it changes. Even the slightest chance true? This is how you play the game with an SP.”


Random Howdy

“To my mind all religion is organized superstition and magical thinking that was created to explain the unexplainable and to get people to behave. Also, financial reward and social power for the creators has sometimes played a significant role. Some of it was made up thousands of years ago, some of it was made up much more recently. If you can get people to believe it’s a religion…it’s a religion.”


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

[Catherine Bell, Chick Corea, and Nancy Cartwright]

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] How Marc and Claire Headley’s Scientology lawsuit is being used by the NXIVM defense
[TWO years ago] Scientology sues Laura DeCrescenzo in latest plot to kill her 8-year forced-abortion claim
[THREE years ago] The disturbing detail other media missed about TMZ’s Scientology scoop yesterday
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s 2015 in review: In September, Erika Christensen was out of this universe
[FIVE years ago] One Scientologist is out to teach HBO a lesson for its upcoming documentary
[SIX years ago] Scientology’s 2013 in review: A summer of delicious scoops!
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s 2012 in Review: Parting Shots from a Year David Miscavige Won’t Soon Forget
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Goes Upstat for the Final News Roundup of the Year (And Why We’re Grateful)


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,801 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,305 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,825 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 845 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 736 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,043 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,911 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,685 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,459 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,805 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,371 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,290 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,458 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,039 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,300 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,338 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,051 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,576 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,103 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,666 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,806 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,126 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,982 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,101 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,456 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,759 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,865 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,267 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,139 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,722 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,217 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,471 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,580 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 29, 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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