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The wealthy donors keeping Scientology in business, New Year’s 2020 edition

Over the last few days we’ve been looking at Scientology’s schizophrenic approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, and our comments section has been doing a great job keeping up on all of the coronavirus news, including late-breaking stuff like the yellow-jacketed Volunteer Minister idiots in Kansas City endangering the public while pretending to be helping out.

But we must also pause and take note at this point because a new issue of Scientology’s ‘Impact’ magazine is out (and thank you to Once Born for tracking it down), and that means we get another glimpse into church leader David Miscavige’s ultimate obsession, the wealthy donors he convinces to turn over huge sums that keep Scientology in business.

In this case, we’re talking about a “Patron’s Ball” held in Los Angeles for the new year, and it highlighted donors in California and other Western US states. The magazine was typically flush with praise for Miscavige and the event, which it described thusly…

It was the perfect way to close out the greatest decade in Scientology history and ring in a New Year that promises to be even more glorious. Hundreds of dedicated Scientologists from all across the Western United States came together in a grand setting in Beverly Hills for an IAS Patrons Ball that was as elegant as it was intimate. The ballroom glittered with festive decorations, a perfect backdrop for the occasion. Laughter and joy filled the room as friends reconnected before settling into their seats.


Scientology makes a game out of giving the church huge sums, begging big donors — we call them “whales” — to turn over more and more in the hopes of reaching a new status level, a bigger trophy, and the prospect of being included in Impact magazine.

But it’s really important to keep in mind that these are cumulative amounts. Someone credited for giving half a million, for example, may have given only a few thousand in recent months that enabled them to get past that plateau. [For an explanation of how we know what amounts the statuses represent or the estimates we’ve made for some of them, see our methodology here.]

Today, we have for you the lesser cetaceans, the ones still working up to a million dollars in giving, and we’d love to know if you recognize any of the names. Later, we’ll show you the really big whales that Miscavige landed this time.


Patron With Honors ($100,000)
Aaron Barnett, Julie Carroll, Bill Carroll, Helen Wehl, Dale Terndrup, Svetlana Smith, Maggie Reinhart, Ron Reinhart, Vanessa Stokes, Thatcher Stokes


Patron With Honors ($100,000)
John Murawski, Myrna Murawski, Diane Simon, Juliette Carey, Gavin Koepke, Myriam Koepke, Alfonso Limone, Srinivas Adibhatla


Patron Meritorious ($250,000)

Tracy Meisler, Andre Adair, Virginia Smedberg, Debora Brown, Gavin Cichocki, Monique Cichocki, Zack Gainsforth, Ryan Dale, Hazel Dale


Silver Meritorious ($500,000)
Thorsten Overgaard & Caroline Overgaard Andrews

(Thorsten had posed with his then-wife Joy Villa when he reached Patron Meritorious, but now that he’s doubled his contribution, he appeared with his daughter Caroline.)


Silver Meritorious ($500,000)
John Richardson, Ron Suiter


Silver Meritorious ($500,000)
Bob Estavillo, Kevin Nordenstrom



Silver Meritorious ($500,000)
Eric & Sean Townsend


Silver Meritorious ($500,000)
Bennie & Sandra Teutimez


Silver Meritorious ($500,000)
Doreen & Russ Tom


Silver Meritorious With Honors ($750,000)
Will & Elisa Southard


Silver Meritorious With Honors ($750,000)
Andrea Abbate


Silver Meritorious With Honors ($750,000)
Brad Bernstein


Silver Meritorious With Honors ($750,000)
Justin Perz, Stephanie Caplin and Barbara Perz



Silver Meritorious With Honors ($750,000)
Taylor Meskimen, on behalf of the Meskimen family

(Taylor is the daughter of impressionist Jim Meskimen, one of the most dedicated of Scientology’s celebrities.)


Ask a Scientologist!

Here’s a question that came in to, and we thought Tom DeVocht might be the best person to answer it. If you have a question for one of our many experts, please send it in!

Is David Miscavige a believer in Scientology at this point? Or is he in on the con and just wants to keep control of the con? The way he mocked Tom Cruise’s auditing sessions, the way he oversees edits of LRH’s work, and the way he lives a lavish lifestyle in the Sea Org makes me wonder if it causes him any conflict of faith to be going against Scientology’s rules in this way.

I think Miscavige would like to believe, and I think Miscavige has to believe to a certain extent to keep his sanity. But does he actually believe? In retrospect, when I look at all the situations that I went through with him, and his reaction to things, and talking about Hubbard technology, there’s no way he can believe in it. And keep in mind, he’s the single person in Scientology who profits from it. He’s got complete control over all that money, and he has so many attorneys, and it’s all about him. I know there are a couple of things that people point to, for example installing copper rods at the base that could be used to ground mental energy when Miscavige grasped them. Yes he did install those copper rods. And you could say he’s a believer because he did that. But I think he did that as a means to make Mike Rinder and the guys he was using it against feel bad. I don’t think he actually believed in it. I asked him once about the copper rods and he freaked out on me. ‘You can’t ask me about that! You don’t know anything about that!’ And yes, it is true that he seemed frightened of small children and talked about how easy it is to catch body thetans from them. But no, I don’t think he actually believes in Scientology. That dude has never gotten any results from it whatsoever. His asthma? No, he still takes medication. He’s never seen anyone improve because of it. He hasn’t improved because of it. The organization is supposed to have superior management technology but it’s a complete supreme disaster and he knows it. But he’s got money. He’s got the power of god within the organization. He hobnobs with Tom Cruise. If he admitted to himself or anyone else that it doesn’t work, the whole thing would fall apart. It’s not about saving the planet. It’s all about him and his reputation. He can’t walk away from it now. He’s it.

— Tom DeVocht



Source Code

“I’m not down on religion. I believe in religion, except I don’t believe in limited religion. If we’re going to have two gods let’s worship two gods, that’s all. If we’ve got to have worship of gods, let’s at least worship the minimum number allowable in this universe. Now, let’s not fool around with this religion, tell people what they can’t do with religion and what they can do with religion. We’ve just got religion — if we’re going to have religion, then let’s be honest with it and look and see and find this to be the case: that everybody who starts worshiping one god and one god only, and shaping his pathway straight toward one god and only one god and good, and it’s good, and that’s all we can have anything to do with is good, winds up bad. Ever know any minister’s sons?” — L. Ron Hubbard, March 23, 1953


Overheard in the FreeZone

“It was LRH’s mistake that he failed to perceive that each major triangle was actually two triangles: a white one and a black one. He should have perceived it because he knew Magick, and must have known very well that when summoning any basic universal force that the negative side of that force must be bound FIRST, in order to receive only the positive. (All primal forces in the universe are arranged in a dichotomy with part at or near the top of the tone scale and the other part at or near the bottom.) He failed to bind the black triangles (the KRC also), and they devoured him. To say it in Scientology terms, he failed to confront the lower scale ‘R’ of the ARC triangle, therefore it persisted. The more he failed to confront it, the bigger it became, and after some years the white triangle vanished under a wave of SO force: ‘What does your material state?,’ ‘Make it go right!’ and other black ARC.”


Random Howdy

“I remember growing up in the 60’s, and this idea that all of our problems were due to suppressed subconscious desires or traumatic incidents we had ‘forgotten,’ and if some psych could make us remember we would be miraculously whole and normal again like Liz Taylor, was the concept that was being pushed on everyone. Hubbard just took the bullshit and ran with it.”


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.’ Hearing on motion for reconsideration set for April 16
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology: April 22 (plaintiff attorneys pro hac vice), June (demurrers by Masterson and Scientology), June (motions to compel arbitration)
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe’s attorneys have asked for discovery, depositions (Warren McShane, Lynn Farny), April 20 hearing set (motion to compel arbitration)
Matt and Kathy Feschbach bankruptcy appeal: Oral arguments were heard on March 11 in Jacksonville
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Amended complaint filed.


Start making your plans…

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


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?



[ONE year ago] Carol Es on 20 years in Scientology: ‘You’re programmed to think emotions are weak’
[THREE years ago] State investigators fired for blowing the whistle on Scientology’s rehabs get hearing in Denver
[FOUR years ago] Scientology attorney Bert Deixler takes another swing at Karen de la Carriere
[FIVE years ago] ‘Going Clear’: Mike Rinder helps us understand a Scientology document that will creep you out
[SIX years ago] Three weeks out of Scientology: Fresh information from a ‘blown’ Sea Org member
[SEVEN years ago] Blood Brother Ron: Starting Out Life on the Wrong Blackfoot
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology on the High Seas: Posing as Archaeology Students for the Sardinians


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 1,886 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,390 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,910 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 930 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 821 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,128 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,996 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,770 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,544 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,890 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,456 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,375 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,543 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,124 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,385 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,423 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,136 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,661 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,188 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,751 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,891 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,211 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,066 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,186 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,541 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,844 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,950 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,352 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,224 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,807 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,302 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,556 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,665 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 23, 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, 1995-2019 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2019), 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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