Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology admits that it numbers ‘tens of thousands’ not millions, as we’ve been saying

[Miscavige and the RTC portal]

A reader pointed out something on one of Scientology’s websites that we have to admit is pretty precious.

The Religious Technology Center is Scientology’s nominally controlling entity. (The Sea Org is the real power, but it has no legal status, and so RTC is the next best thing.) Its chairman is David Miscavige, which is why Scientologists refer to Miscavige as Chairman of the Board or C.O.B.

RTC wields Scientology’s copyrights and trademarks (on loan from the Church of Spiritual Technology, Scientology’s even more secretive source entity), and its role is to maintain the purity of L. Ron Hubbard’s “technology” across the entirety of the Scientology movement.

Scientology is a snitching culture, and it maintains that purity of technology through intimidation, fear, and expensive interrogations. If a member is found to be “squirrelling the tech” or having doubts about Miscavige or Scientology, the Stasi-like RTC will send out ethics officers to subject that member to brutal examinations and then bill them for it.

But in order for such an inquisition to get going, RTC needs tattle-tales. And so it maintains a website where Scientologists can snitch on each other.


Over the years, our readers have enjoyed pranking this website by sending in sarcastic reports. But recently a reader pointed out something about that web portal, and it was something we hadn’t noticed before. (Someone else might have pointed it out, but it was new to us, anyway.)

Here’s the first paragraph from the page that is the introduction to the snitching portal…

The Internet has grown to an estimated 940 million users, which continues to escalate on a daily basis. As there are tens of thousands of Scientologists who have access to the Internet, RTC has set up an “e-form” (electronic form) line to give everyone the option and ability to send reports to RTC on Matters of RTC Concern via the Internet.

Holy shit. It’s right there in black and white. Tens of thousands of Scientologists.

Let us explain why that’s a big deal.

L. Ron Hubbard and his movement have always greatly exaggerated its extent. In a Hubbard book from 1969, Scientology claimed to have 15 million adherents around the world. And up through the 1980s, Scientology regularly claimed to have six or eight million members (and no explanation for what happened to the rest of the 15 million).

As recently as 2012, we caught Scientology claiming that it was not only the fastest growing religion in the world, but that it was adding 4.4 million new members a year.

If that were true, long ago it would have been an organization with more members than either the Jewish or Mormon faiths.

But when was the last time you actually ran into a Scientologist? Those numbers have always been a fantasy.

Former top-level executives who had access to enrollment documents before they defected tell us that Scientology actually reached its greatest extent around the year 1990 after several years of an extremely successful Dianetics advertising push (remember the erupting volcano ads?). At that point, worldwide membership was about 100,000. But then, after the May 1991 Time magazine cover story denouncing Scientology as a “thriving cult of greed and power,” those numbers began to fall. By the time Jefferson Hawkins had come out of the church and went public in 2009, he estimated worldwide membership at only about 40,000.

Another high ranking executive who left in 2013, Paul Burkhart, told us he had worked in the Hollywood Guaranty Building, the nerve center of worldwide management, and had seen enrollment figures from facilities around the world. He put worldwide membership at between 10 and 20 thousand.

And there’s no evidence that Scientology has grown since then.

Also, there is a lot of other evidence that corroborates Hawkins, Burkhart, and other former executives. For example, Scientology’s annual celebration of the life of L. Ron Hubbard, on or around his March 13 birthday, is held in the same small 2,100-seat venue in Clearwater, Florida, year after year. And the other big annual events, in Los Angeles for New Year’s Eve, and for the IAS fundraising arm in October in England, are in larger venues, but still far fewer than 10,000 each.

How could an organization adding millions of new people a year fit in such tiny venues year after year?


And our favorite piece of evidence about the size of Scientology is from Marc Headley, who worked for many years at Scientology’s international management base, Int Base or Gold Base near Hemet, California. One of the things that Marc oversaw was the ordering of a new version of e-Meter, which were manufactured in China in the early 2000s. He told us that when it came time to place that order, Miscavige asked him to have 30,000 of the machines made. And he says every Scientologist would be expected to buy two of them, so that suggested the number of active Scientologists who would be buying the machines numbered only 15,000.

Whatever the actual number, it’s quite clear that Scientology, as a movement, has always been in the magnitude of tens of thousands, not millions.

And here, on RTC’s snitching portal, there’s another fine example of that.

If Scientology had millions of members, would RTC really say that only “tens of thousands” of them had web access?

Oh, Dave. Hoisted once again on your own petard.


Source Code

“In the final analysis, everything is a postulate. Everything came about by postulates. We just could make postulates the end-all of everything, and we’re very safe on it. Everything rationalizes out very nicely. And postulates if treated as a topflight goal bring about a very, very fine condition on the part of the preclear. What are you trying to get him to do, in essence? Change his mind. He has a bad leg, he’s crippled; you won’t get that leg well unless he changes his mind about having to have a bad leg. Believe me, you won’t. The doctors can saw and hew and use axes and materia medica and Morris Fishbeins and everything else on him, and by George, his leg will not get well until he has made up his mind for his leg to get well.” — L. Ron Hubbard, April 28, 1954


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I’ve decided to leave the other Scientology groups I belong to or have been added into. What I’ve been observing and why I’m actively leaving those other groups is while this group has seemed to come together out of common interest for the betterment of ourselves and other members with Ron 2.0 at the head, and now seems to be forming a high-level group, those other groups are filled with snakes in the grass luring people in on a pretext in order to influence and actively put people off doing not just new processes but any form of auditing.”


Random Howdy

“‘Malcom In The Middle’ was so good I broke my rule for watching TV shows with Scientologists in them.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Jay Spina: Sentencing was set for April 3 in White Plains
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members: Trial set for October 7 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 June 17
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: May 1 (Masterson new demurrer due), July 8 (plaintiff attorneys pro hac vice), August 31-Sept 1 (CSI/RTC demurrer against Riales, Masterson demurrer), Oct 7-19 (motions to compel arbitration)
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe’s attorneys have asked for discovery, depositions (Warren McShane, Lynn Farny), amended complaint filed
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.


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] Leah Remini and Mike Rinder dare Scientology defenders to go on camera
[TWO years ago] A new ex-Scientologist memoir provides a journey through extortion in the rank-and-file
[THREE years ago] With Scientology at war in Clearwater, religious studies types still seeking its warm & fuzzy side
[FIVE years ago] Secretly taped Scientology executive complains about cheating on the ‘Survival Rundown’
[SIX years ago] Chris Shelton on the origins of Scientology’s notorious ‘Fair Game’ policy
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: Baby We’re Amazed!
[NINE years ago] Scientology Critics Find That Someone Wants Their Cellphone Records


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 1,921 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,425 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,945 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 965 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 856 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,163 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,031 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,805 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,579 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,925 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,491 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,410 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,578 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,159 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,420 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,458 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,171 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,696 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,226 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,786 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,926 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,246 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,101 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,221 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,576 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,879 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,985 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,387 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,259 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,842 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,337 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,591 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,700 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 28, 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email