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Is David Miscavige winning? Scientology seems to be on a roll, but is the law about to step in?

[David Miscavige in Ventura]

In 1995, when she first emerged online after mostly vanishing from the field ten years earlier after a court settlement, journalist Paulette Cooper was congratulated by Scientology watchers for all that she’d done to expose Scientology’s abuses while surviving one of the fiercest Fair Game campaigns of all time.

She said she would be checking in from time to time at alt.religion.scientology, the Usenet group that was then the hub of Scientology online news, to see what was happening with the group that had tried to get her thrown in prison. But while she was still curious about Scientology, she added that, “I think it’s futile to fight them now.”

She explained that since Scientology leader David Miscavige had been successful in 1993 regaining the organization’s tax-exempt status, it made the church nearly invincible.

In recent weeks, her words have come back up in our mind repeatedly.


Is David Miscavige winning?

We are certainly not experiencing what we expected to in the year 2020. As we watch what we hoped would be a spectacular legal onslaught from a formidable legal team sputter and stall, we wonder if Scientology’s First Amendment protections really have made it almost invincible.

Combine that with recent advances against other toxic individuals and organizations, from the Jehovah’s Witnesses to Harvey Weinstein, and we couldn’t help feeling that Scientology, post-‘Aftermath,’ has reached a new kind of immunity, even as it struggles against dwindling membership and perennially bad press.

And yet, for the first time in a long time, we are also hearing some whispers about law enforcement finally getting its act together regarding Scientology.

Is it the worst of times, or about to be the best of times?

After this weekend’s major showing of Scientologists in Ventura, California, the largest outdoor gathering of church members we’ve seen since the 2013 Flag Building grand opening, we thought it was an apt time to take an assessment, and we want to get your thoughts on it.

Yesterday we explained that getting 2,000 Scientologists in the Los Angeles area to attend an event with “all-Ideal California” hype should not be difficult, even for a shrinking organization that now has fewer than 20,000 members around the world.

But even with that caveat, Scientology certainly now has some compelling images showing the size of crowd it can assemble after surviving the ‘Scientology and the Aftermath’ juggernaut. And if the Ideal Org program seemed to have been on hold for most of 2019, it has picked up speed again with three openings in four months (Kansas City, Columbus, and Ventura), with Austin coming soon and others also steaming ahead.

And while Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon, has downsized its ambitions in the US to a certain degree, it’s still pushing for larger facilities overseas, and recently won a decisive court victory against opposition to its new clinic opening soon in Ballivor, Ireland.

Meanwhile, law enforcement and the courts seem to have all sorts of courage as long as the person or group in question has nothing to do with Scientology.

Last year, we watched in awe as the US government demolished the leaders of the Nxivm cult in a successful criminal prosecution. While we’re waiting for sentencings, victims of Nxivm have filed a massive lawsuit and are taking no prisoners. They also immediately asked for court protections for the plaintiffs in litigation that, along with prison sentences, threatens to bury Nxivm forever.

Scientology is a small organization. Nxivm was even smaller. And another alleged cult that found itself in the cross hairs of federal prosecution consists essentially of just one guy. We’re talking about Lawrence Ray, the college dad profiled in New York magazine who had come to dominate the lives of various students at Sarah Lawrence College north of New York City. He’s now facing human trafficking allegations that sound a lot like what Scientology has been accused of, except that Ray is facing decades in prison after being indicted.

On the other end of the spectrum, the massive Jehovah’s Witnesses organization (approximately 8 million members worldwide), was rocked by a two-part documentary on the Oxygen network this month, and on the same weekend, we learned that a Pennsylvania grand jury is looking into abuse allegations in JW ranks.

On January 30, we learned that the top three leaders of a Van Nuys Christian church were arrested for human trafficking in an immigration scheme. (Meanwhile, literally for years we’ve been publishing evidence of Scientology’s fraudulent use of “religious” worker visas to staff their bases in Florida and elsewhere.)


And the conviction yesterday of Harvey Weinstein, who had at one time seemed too difficult to bring down, reminds us that the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office has had even stronger evidence against Scientologist actor Danny Masterson for more than three years now, with no word of whether it will ever file charges against the That ’70s Show actor.

And while those criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits are targeting abusive groups, remember that this was the year that Scientology was going to be hit with a tsunami of legal claims coming from a prestigious national legal team.

We’ve already reported about the missteps and setbacks this team has had to deal with litigating just their first three lawsuits. But that’s the thing, they were supposed to be only the initial salvo in what were many more actions coming. Weren’t we supposed to see lawsuits on behalf of Serge Gil by now? Victoria Locke? And perhaps even Leah Remini and Mike Rinder? Wasn’t this going to be a tidal wave of lawsuits that would overwhelm David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology?

In the meantime, you’ve seen reported here from our various correspondents example after example of business and political figures willing to shill for Scientology. From documentary filmmakers desperate enough for attention to get in bed with Scientology’s TV channel, to local politicians singing the praises of Scientology at its Ideal Org grand openings, to tech companies such as Google and Amazon willing to help out Scientology where they can. (Although, we will point out that the Amazon Smiles program is probably only providing a trickle of pennies to Narconon, while Scientology has boasted that Google has granted them millions in free advertising.)

Miscavige works tirelessly to rope in new enablers with Scientology’s bogus “human rights” and anti-drug campaigns, including law enforcement figures who can’t seem bothered to do a Google search on the front groups making the come-on.

Despite all that, we think there is still reason to think that a change is coming.

Sooner or later, for example, we’re going to get an answer from the Eleventh Circuit regarding the appeal of their lawsuit by Luis and Rocio Garcia. And if it goes against Scientology and its “religious arbitration,” it might have a substantial effect on other lawsuits.

We understand why judges are supportive of efforts to lighten their caseloads by sending disputes to arbitration, but the “religious arbitration” that Scientology wants to force on its former members has nothing to do with fairness or impartiality. It’s unconscionable that judges are sentencing victims to a kangaroo court operated by their former abusers, all completely on Scientology’s terms. A federal appeals verdict could help to reverse that trend.

Secondly, despite what we’ve heard from sources who know her, we still hold out hope that Jackie Lacey will take seriously the accounts of the women who accuse Danny Masterson of violently raping them, particularly in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s convictions. We remain optimistic, and we even hope to hear something more definite on this case in a short amount of time.

Also, we can’t provide any details, but we have reason to believe that the government is taking seriously the recent financial crimes that we’ve been reporting here over the last two years.

Will that mean action? Will this recent trend of Scientology running roughshod over former members and in US courts end any time soon?

Let us know what you think.



Balloon-gate in Ventura

Who’s right about this? Was there a permit or not? First, the mayor of Ventura:


And Scientology’s response…


Funny to see politicians finally talking tough about Scientology in regards to balloons. So what are they going to do about it? Can’t wait to find out.


Source Code

“One of the things that is going to happen in the next few months: You will probably see, increasingly, the word ‘Scientology’ occurring. And that is in order to give doctors of medicine and psychiatrists and psychologists an out. It is pretty hard, after a man has made a pronunciamento about which he knows nothing, to convince him that he ought to say something else about it now that he knows something about it, because he will lose face with the people he has said this to. So if we just give him another word for a similar package and we say ‘Now it’s Scientology, and Scientology embraces the Axioms,’ why, then, two things will happen: He can say, ‘Well, Dianetics was no good and Hubbard was really crazy when he threw that one. But Scientology — now, that’s different. scientifically done. It has a great many things to recommend it. Well organized, and it works! (Dianetics didn’t!)’ And as the students who are going to graduate out of Hubbard College will discover, their degrees are in Scientology, not in Dianetics. It says that they are professional Scientologists and that they are capable of understanding mental and physical stress and are eligible for further degree work in Scientology. So I hope these graduates will feel themselves capable of understanding physical and mental stress!” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 25, 1952


Overheard in the FreeZone

“When I extend my space I feel the presence of the local mountain spirits. I have seen many shift into various other practices and mix them in with Scientology without alignment to the axioms resulting in a somewhat goofy hodge podge. PDC tape 53 is one which I consider a fundamental for any researcher along with the Axioms (Both Scientology and Dianetic), Logics. Pre-Logics and the Data Series. Without those tools thoroughly studied one will wander in the dark overwhelmed by the myriads of apparent complexity that face aspiring students of the nature of existence.”


Random Howdy

“When you tell vaLLarrr that LRH had no degrees or academic training, s/he replies that science hasn’t caught up to LRH yet and that Newton was insane and Einstein was a high school dropout. Rathbun was doing the same thing when he was trying to compare the quantum theory that nothing really exists unless you’re looking at it with Hubbard’s bullshit about subjective reality.”


Start making your plans…

Head over to the convention website and meet us in St. Louis!


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

[The Big Three: Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley]

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] No, the National Enquirer has not ‘found’ Scientology’s Shelly Miscavige
[TWO years ago] Orlando, you’re next! Scientology makes an ‘Ideal’ move on the magic kingdom
[THREE years ago] More federal charges for Scientology family that sold rhino horn products
[FOUR years ago] Laura DeCrescenzo, on eve of crucial hearing, explains Scientology for new judge
[FIVE years ago] Now it’s Scientology UK that opens its books, and we have the numbers
[SIX years ago] Telepathic space-age exorcism — Let’s do Scientology’s New Operating Thetan Level Six!
[SEVEN years ago] Anne Archer, Terry Jastrow, and…Could It Be…Tommy Davis, At Film Reception Tonight?
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Thaumaturgy: Commenters of the Week!


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 1,859 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,363 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,883 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 903 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 794 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,101 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,969 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,743 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,517 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,863 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,429 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,348 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,516 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,097 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,358 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,396 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,109 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,634 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,161 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,724 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,864 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,184 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,039 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,159 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,514 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,817 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,923 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,325 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,197 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,780 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,275 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,529 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,638 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 25, 2020 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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