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Balloons? Here’s what Scientology should really be apologizing for

On Saturday, Scientology held another grand opening of a new “Ideal Org,” this time in Ventura, California, and angered local officials by releasing hundreds of helium balloons into the sky.

As we pointed out on Tuesday, Ventura mayor Matt LaVere called it “forbidden activity” in an angry posting on Facebook, and claimed that the city council had told Scientology not to release balloons.

Scientology initially was defiant, saying that it had a permit for the balloon release, but then yesterday apologized, claiming that there had been a communication mixup with the council.

CNN has now picked up the story and has it on its front page, and so we expect it will metastasize and become a story of the day in the rest of the media.


And while we are concerned about California marine life and hope that the balloons won’t end up causing too much damage, we wish CNN and the mayor of Ventura would pay a little more attention to the damage that Scientology does not only for a few minutes at a grand opening ceremony, but day in and day out, 365 days a year, in communities around the country and around the world.

Yes, it’s fun to see Scientology publicly apologize, which is something it almost never does. But we hope LaVere and others in Ventura start asking some questions about what Scientology really ought to apologize for. Here are just a few.

Ripping apart families. Scientology’s toxic ‘disconnection’ policy requires its members to cut off all ties to people the church has deemed “suppressive” because they left the organization or spoke out about it. That’s required even if the suppressive is a family member. And so children will turn their backs on parents who have left the church, parents will cut off their own kids, and countless marriages get ripped apart. We’ve covered many stories of disconnection here at the Bunker, and every morning we publish an updated list of some former Scientologists who have spent years unable to communicate with their loved ones because of Scientology’s heartless policy.

Financial extortion. Scientologists are under incredible pressure not only to pay for increasingly expensive courses as they go up the “Bridge to Total Freedom,” but also to donate increasing amounts to various fundraising initiatives for David Miscavige’s new Ideal Orgs and the enormous costs of his litigation expenses and retaliation schemes. We’ve covered some outrageous stories in the last couple of years describing how new people, especially if they’re older, can be overwhelmed with Scientology’s hard-sell tactics, saddling them with stunning amounts of debt nearly overnight. People often ask, if Scientology is a church, what does it worship? The answer is money.

Abuse of Sea Org workers. Scientology recruits the children of its members for its Sea Org ranks beginning when they’re 12 or 13 years old. We’ve personally spoken with a few former Sea Org workers who signed its infamous billion-year contract when they were only five or six years old. Once they actually go to work in Sea Org posts, the hours are incredible. At only 12, Laura DeCrescenzo was working 90 hours a week, she testified in her court case. When she turned 13, she was moved to the adult schedule at 112 hours a week. Sea Org staff work 365 days a year and may go years without seeing their other family members. And their pay? It’s typically $50 a week, when they’re paid at all. Also, the culture in the Sea Org is a paramilitary organization where humiliation and abuse is the norm, and punishments are insane. We’ve talked to former members who were stuck in the Sea Org’s internal prison programs for years at a time.

Forced abortions. Since the 1970s, women in the Sea Org have been told they can’t have children in order to keep up its 112-hour weeks of work. When they do get pregnant, they are heavily pressured to have abortions. In 2009, Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis admitted that the church had a ban on having children, but denied that women were coerced into abortions. But a recent defector from the Sea Org tells us that it’s still going on. Several women have come forward telling of being forced into abortions, and Scientology in 2018 spent millions settling a lawsuit in order to keep Laura DeCrescenzo’s story of a forced abortion from being heard at trial.

Smears and retaliation. Scientology has a well-earned reputation for smearing, stalking, and trying to destroy people who leave the organization and then speak out, as well as targeting journalists and even judges who try to expose the truth about the church. Scientology spends insane amounts of money employing a small army of private investigators, former journalists, and lawyers in order to compile dossiers on its supposed enemies, and then targeting them with online attacks, visits to family and neighbors, and other dirty tricks intended to intimidate and frighten people into silence.

Passing off pseudoscience as mental health treatment. Since 1950, L. Ron Hubbard and his followers have been selling a cheap parlor trick as a “science” of the mind, and today convince the gullible to fork over huge amounts of money in the pursuit of past-life memories and the promise of god-like powers. As early as the 1960s, governments were pointing out that Scientology was essentially passing itself off as a mental health provider and foisting quack ideas on vulnerable people in order to reap huge profits. We’ve shown that the US government has been clearly aware of this scam for decades, and yet year after year does nothing about it.

OK, so we put it to our very knowledgeable commenting community: What else should Scientology be apologizing for? And what should the good people of Ventura (and elsewhere) understand about what actually goes on at an Ideal Org?


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Jay Spina: Sentencing set for April 3 in White Plains

Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members: Trial set for April 14 in Los Angeles

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Waiting for an appellate decision from the Eleventh Circuit
— Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ (Valerie’s options.)
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology: March 11 (plaintiff attorneys pro hac vice, defense motions to quash), March 20 (demurrers by Masterson and Scientology), March 27 (motions to compel arbitration)
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe’s attorneys have asked for discovery, April 20 hearing set (motion to compel arbitration)
Matt and Kathy Feschbach bankruptcy appeal: Oral arguments on March 11 in Jacksonville


Source Code

“Look at the laudable withholds of a lady. She withholds herself from drinking. She withholds herself from swearing. She withholds herself from rowdy companions. She withholds herself from dirt, you know, and getting dirty. Withholds herself from getting sweaty. See, all the things a lady withholds herself from. Withholds herself from sex, from pleasure, from pleasurable excitement. This starts to look like a very interesting series of withholds. And we finally find out that a lady’s primary mission was to hold herself from living. Not that that’s — things I have mentioned are the total composite of living.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 27, 1962


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I have much track with Ron, as I’ve run out in my prior auditing, including my participation in what Ron called the OT III incident. It is good to search out a matter, and also good to be aware of the technology that can produce what is colloquially called a ‘chiphead,’ which is of course a degrade of the mind after it is scanned and copied onto a chip. Has anyone come across this?”


Random Howdy

“The ‘church’ had to admit to TR-L in the Canadian trial when they questioned the veracity of the prosecution’s ex-Scientologist witnesses by stating to the judge their testimony couldn’t be trusted because they had been specifically trained to lie while in the church.”


Start making your plans…

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


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

[Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Greta Van Susteren]

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] A letter of surrender, written from the basement of Scientology’s ‘Big Blue’ HQ
[TWO years ago] New memoir ‘Flunk. Start.’ richly illuminates the appeal — and betrayal — of Scientology
[THREE years ago] Keep your Oscars, we won a Scientology ‘bigot’ award!
[FOUR years ago] Augustine: How Scientology makes it so hard to get your money back
[FIVE years ago] Gerry Armstrong’s full 1997 ‘Secret Lives’ interview about L. Ron Hubbard
[SIX years ago] Is Ukraine’s proposed new prime minister a Scientologist? Says his niece: ‘That’s crap’
[SEVEN years ago] Lori Hodgson Appeals to Scientology’s “Spin Doctor,” Michael Sitrick
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology’s Secret Behind “Ideal Orgs” Revealed At Last


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 1,861 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,365 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,885 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 905 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 796 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,103 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,971 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,745 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,519 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,865 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,431 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,350 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,518 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,099 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,360 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,398 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,111 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,636 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,163 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,726 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,866 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,186 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,041 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,161 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,516 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,819 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,925 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,327 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,199 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,782 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,277 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,531 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,640 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 27, 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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