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A shocking glimpse inside Scientology’s floating cathedral: ‘All I hear is desperation’

[Valeska Paris and Criceida Leon]

We’re still knocked out by the amazing leaked conference call that Rod Keller brought us yesterday. Sharron Weber, commanding officer of Scientology’s private cruise ship the Freewinds, was recorded giving marching orders to Australian “Field Staff Members,” exhorting them to sell more Scientology courses amid the obstacles of the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s not every day that we get such a vivid, unfiltered glimpse inside the real world of Scientology and hear for ourselves the bizarre jargon, the paramilitary mindset, and the batshit orders. Once again, an audio recording confirms that life inside Scientology is exactly the way defectors have been telling us for decades.

We wanted to hear from some experts what they heard in the call. One of the first people we turned to was Valeska Paris, who spent 11 years on the Freewinds as a virtual prisoner on it, from 1996 to 2007.

She told us right away that she had been close friends with one of the other people we hear on the conference call, Criceida Kundert (née Leon).

“Criceida was one of my best friends and in my dorm. So sad to hear her still there. She has a terrible story, and I actually helped her a lot. She’s from Venezuela. Her dad was a cop and was tragically shot dead while on duty,” Valeska tells us. “It looks like they are doing this with every org, as they said in the call that they are calling other orgs as well. Sharron Weber sounds like she is batshit crazy. I don’t know how they would be coping with passengers as no one can travel, so I would imagine they are in huge trouble. I also don’t know how they have had OT 8 completions, must be people that were already on board. It sounds like they are getting thrashed to make sure things go well after the pandemic is over. It’s terrible that Criceida is still there. We were really good friends.”


Valeska says she was struck by how “delusional” the people on the call sounded. “It’s the usual Scientology BS that they are spearheading everything, including the coronavirus which Sharron calls ‘suppressive’ like it’s some person with power. It’s the usual ‘we know better and are above everyone’ bubble and complete nonsense mentality,” she says. “And they are probably in hot water to ‘make it go right’ by people like Sue Price and Lurie Belotte, which is why Sharron Weber is getting on the phone. It was hard to listen to and not puke. How she says ‘I can feel you all and your theta’ at the beginning. She sounds nuts and her ‘anyone who knows me knows how hard not hugging is for me.’ She’s actually nasty but she has this fake bubbly personality.”

We also asked Mat Pesch what he thought of the call. Mat was in finance at the Flag Land Base and has deep insights about how the organization is run.

“Honestly, it is very hard to listen to for me,” he says. “All I hear is desperation. A sort of gleeful insanity in an effort to convince themselves and others that things aren’t as bad as they are. A bunch of L. Ron Hubbard quotes weaved in about how one can always be cause and win. A mix of pleas and demands to send business to the Freewinds. Any kind of business, even if it is just a convention. The pressure is building as the situation gets worse and people like Sharron are attempting not to become the target. I see the bilges in Sharron’s future if she isn’t there already.”

It’s been five years since we had a recording like this, capturing a Scientology executive giving orders. In that case, it was Sea Org official Andres Rodriguez caught on tape at an org briefing. Chris Shelton was very familiar with Rodriguez and helped us decode what the Senior Case Supervisor was talking about.

Chris also had some observations to make about Sharron Weber’s call.

“There is so much to be dissected here but let me just point out three things that jumped out at me. One, there are a couple of underlying philosophical pillars of Scientology’s belief system and one of those is what is known as The Law of Attraction or ‘The Secret.’ This is such a common con that it has its own Wikipedia page, which defines this as ‘the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person’s life. The belief is based on the ideas that people and their thoughts are made from “pure energy,” and that a process of like energy attracting like energy exists through which a person can improve their health, wealth, and personal relationships. There is zero empirical scientific evidence supporting the law of attraction, and it is widely considered a pseudoscience.’ What’s hilarious about that to me is that this is basically how Hubbard defines where OT powers are derived. He never called it the law of attraction, he called these kinds of reality-creating thoughts ‘postulates.’ Sharron Weber lives in a world where everyone talks to each other as though postulates are just how you get things done. If you are not getting things done, are failing, ‘downtone,’ or some other miserable experience is happening to you, well that’s on you because some deep part of you, underneath your conscious level of thinking, is postulating against your own success. And of course, Scientology is the only thing that can free you of those hidden monsters, but God help you if you’re a staff member or Sea Org member not getting your products out because that means you must yourself be ‘counter-intention.’ You are the one stopping the production from happening, which justifies an endless array of physical and emotional punishments dished out until you get with the program and start getting things done.

“Two, controlling emotion: ‘You know what I love you so much, you got to knock it off, man. You got to get your ethics in, and I want you to start thinking about your future. I want you to put the future there. What can you cause?….’ This is just one of the many ways that Sea Org executives talk to you to get you out of your doldrums and into a ‘happy place’ where you won’t be complaining about not getting paid for the past four weeks or how you only have one uniform shirt left. And this is the nice part, before it starts literally becoming an ‘ethics matter’ that you aren’t walking around in a passionate daze about getting your products and getting our stats up.

“Three, product orientation: When the second woman starts talking about getting things going and Sharron is in the background talking about products and ‘dones’ and no ‘public relations,’ I literally had a flashback to working in management. Actually a little montage ran through my head of seniors who had said those exact words to me, often accentuated by pounding the table or pushing me around. Now realize that Sharon Weber has held her executive position longer than almost any other Sea Org executive in Scientology history other than David Miscavige himself. Where must her head be at to have stayed there, in that bubble world mindset, for decades? And this advice she’s giving here is the very best that Scientology’s got when it comes to getting people going and ‘debugging their production.’ She is the epitome of the kind of executive David Miscavige apparently wants. So is there any wonder at all that Scientology is shrinking faster than ever before? Of course not, look at the caliber of people leading it. Sharron Weber couldn’t manage her way out of a wet paper bag in the real world. If she tried that ‘I love you so much, you got to knock it off man’ in the real world, she’d be fired before lunchtime. But in the Sea Org, she’s a star.”

We told Chris that we were really struck by the desperation of it. Here’s a pretty unusual set-up, we would think, a conference call with the Freewinds commanding officer. And during a pandemic. And yet the message is just the same old, tired solution: Let’s get more people moving up the Bridge. And with the promise that the great expansion is about to happen, when anyone with sense might begin to think that the pandemic could be a lethal blow to an already struggling institution. But they just appear to know no other way.

“Exactly right. And so desperate,” Chris says. “Sharron Weber has long had a track record of going around and giving talks and stuff to the point she’s as known as Debbie Cook used to be. And she’s clearly running a ‘danger condition’ on her executives like [Criceida], doing their job for them and giving them shit about it the whole time, like those ‘jokes’ she was making from the back of the room.”

Yes, so passive-aggressive it was off the Tone Scale.

What a recording. Our thanks again to Rod Keller for tracking it down and giving us this really unique window into Scientology’s desperate current situation.



Bonus items from our tipsters

More crisis cosplay by Scientology’s disaster fetishists, this time in New Orleans…


And here’s their stash…



Source Code

“Some time, by the way, when you haven’t anything else to do, read Gibbon’s ‘Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.’ That’s quite a thing. I undertook that some years ago because I was having trouble sleeping. But I decided I would read it from one end of that many-volumed volumes to the other — read the whole thing. And it was quite an interesting exercise. I hope I never get so ambitious as to start reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica from one end to the other. But, I will say, I am running out of reading matter now that Ian Fleming has picked himself up another body. May have to do it.” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 18, 1965



Overheard in the FreeZone

“The insanity that the modern western culture has forced upon me is vanished (e.g, radical feminist and social liberalism and political correctness). The new area of Scientology has taken it away and made it disappear. I feel great today, I feel human again, I feel new. I have my space again, my bigness is restored. Finally I can travel with confidence again, with personal culture and space. The damage a man can have in the east concerns some ‘radical religious Abrahamic fucked up view point.’ In the Neo west there other fucked up insanity (post moderation). Scientology saved me from both pig-fucked philosophies. This journey started with my auditor Bernie and today after I finished the Hubbard Certified new ERA Scientologist, I become free again.”


Random Howdy

“All the e-meter is capable of is measuring galvanic skin response. It has as much scientific, technical value as X-Ray glasses and Sea Monkeys.”


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 August 11
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: 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!

[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] Graham Berry does it again: More Scientology financial fraud spelled out in legal demand
[TWO years ago] Scientology’s founder in 1948: Dianetics was ‘unfrigidizing’ women into ‘nymphos’
[THREE years ago] To whet your appetite for season 2, A&E airing 2-hour ‘Leah Remini’ special on Memorial Day
[FOUR years ago] Scientology responds to Garcia accusations; sexy Virginia congressional candidate visits an org
[FIVE years ago] Just two blocks from Scientology’s LA headquarters, Paulette Cooper shone
[SIX years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology fundraising fliers try desperately to hide the truth
[SEVEN years ago] Jon Atack on the Hypnotic History of Scientology Auditing
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology: Kiwi Reporter Puts Lisa Marie Presley On the Spot; Playboy Blows Tom Cruise
[NINE years ago] Scientology in Israel: All Holy Hell Breaking Loose?


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 1,941 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,445 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,965 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 985 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 876 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,183 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,051 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,825 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,599 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,945 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,511 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,430 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,598 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,179 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,440 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,478 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,191 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,716 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,246 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,806 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,946 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,266 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,121 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,241 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,596 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,899 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,005 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,407 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,279 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,862 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,357 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,611 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,720 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 18, 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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