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The Top 25 People Enabling Scientology, No. 23: The apologist academics

In 2011 we spent the month of August counting down a list of the “Top 25 People Crippling Scientology.” Nine years later, Scientology is still hurting, but church leader David Miscavige learned long ago that paid membership was only one resource that kept him in business. He also relies on a small army of enablers, some paid, some not, who help him stay in business even though they aren’t Scientologists themselves. So we thought we’d recognize them with this countdown.

It’s true that religious studies academics struggle to get anyone to pay attention to what they have to say. And for the most part, the professor types who insist on helping out Scientology by claiming it’s a bona fide “religion” that has been unfairly treated by the media rarely get much traction with the public or press.

But apologist academics can be a real pain for legitimate researchers who come under attack from these Scientology cheerleaders.

A good example that happened recently was the time and effort that the best academic in the business, Stephen Kent of the University of Alberta, had to spend cleaning up the mess created by a fake academic publication, CESNUR, which stands for “pro-Scientology flapdoodle published in Italy for some reason.”


CESNUR had got a lot of Hubbardists excited by claiming that critics of Scientology had never, ever produced evidence that L. Ron Hubbard had ever actually claimed, under his own signature, that he was the recipient of a civil engineering college degree. The notion that Hubbard had falsely claimed to be a college graduate was an impression created by sloppy researchers and some of Hubbard’s own employees, CESNUR claimed.

Kent was attacked in the piece, and so he took it upon himself to produce a lengthy and thorough piece utterly destroying the CESNUR claim. In fact, this very website has published two letters written by Hubbard claiming to be a civil engineering graduate.

Anyway, that’s just one example of how these apologist types not only muddy the record to benefit Scientology, but then create a lot of work for those of us trying to get out the truth about Hubbard and his creation.

Another example: When Reza Aslan decided to stan for Scientology on his short-lived “Believer” series on CNN, he turned to San Jose State University lecturer Donald Westbrook to help him make the case that Scientology was getting a raw deal in the media.

Aslan’s episode aired shortly before Leah Remini’s series began, so it was quickly (and mercifully) forgotten. But Westbrook went on to publish an apologist book about Scientology in which he admitted to being hand-held during his research by the church. As we said in our review of the book…

From the beginning, Westbrook’s sneering contempt for the journalists who have risked their careers, their livelihoods, and perhaps even their lives to get us information about what’s really going on in Scientology is tiresome.

This is a book that takes potshots at consummate professionals like Russell Miller and Lawrence Wright and then admits that its 69 interviews with Scientologists were arranged by the church’s own notorious Office of Special Affairs.

Like we said, the good thing about these Scientology-friendly professors is that virtually no one pays attention to them.

The Top 25 People Enabling Scientology

3: The judges
4: The LAPD
5: The dirty tricks private eyes
6: The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

7: The litigators
8: The ghost private eyes
9: The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Office
10: Political shills
11: Gary Soter
12: The city of Clearwater, Florida
13: Google and other tech titans
14: The Los Angeles Times
15: Jeffrey Riffer
16: James Packer
17: Louis Farrakhan
18: Mark “Marty” Rathbun
19: Wally Pope
20: Gensler
21: Parents who subscribe to ABCMouse
22: Graham Norton and other celebrity strokers
23: The apologist academics
24: Rebecca Dobkin and other low-level PI grunts
25: DirecTV and filmmakers buffing Dave’s channel


Bonus items from our tipsters

Scientology still signing children to billion-year contracts so they can work around the clock? Of course.

Liz is feeling super upstat.


Scientology has turned Lydia into Dr. Dolittle.

Imagine thinking in 2020 it’s a good time to join Scientology staff.


A loss in the Bunker

Your proprietor has traditionally been a cat person, but the mutt that changed all that was a wrinkly shar pei rescue by the name of Phoebe.

She joined our underground oasis in 2011, having escaped an abusive home, and we estimated that she was about twelve years old when she breathed her last yesterday. She spent her final day surrounded by an adoring family that loved her very much.

Indifferent to strangers, passionate about kitchen scraps, and mostly blind as a bat, Phoebe enjoyed nothing more than ignoring the Bunker’s temperamental felines and barking up a storm at the postal carrier. We already miss her enormously.




Source Code

“Public must like to be fooled. They’re always paying con men of some kind or another. There must be some real value in having hope shot up to the moon in the stock market because those birds are very often paid off heavily. You could reevaluate the society on the basis of what I’ve given you. Yes, you could say, ‘Well, the society makes mistakes in this direction. Yes, the society is lied to.’ Well, I don’t think the society makes mistakes in this direction. That’s a new thought, isn’t it?” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 13, 1964


Overheard in the FreeZone

“We get it — there’s no need to repeat your opinion over and over again about ‘Skype auditing is squirrel’ — we have noted your opinion, everyone else has as well, you can seriously stop being critical now and just do your best at whatever it is you do. No need to put others down repeatedly.”


Random Howdy

“I shook Jim Jones’ hand in the free eats line at Glide Memorial (he was serving) and I also met a man named Fred Lewis who was a friend of my dad’s. Fred lost 28 family members at Jonestown.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Arraignment scheduled for September 18.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing is set for August 27 in White Plains, NY
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Next pretrial conference set for Jan 12 in Los Angeles
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Motion for reconsideration denied on August 11
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Sept 4 (CSI/RTC demurrer against Riales, Masterson demurrer), Oct 7-19 (motions to compel arbitration)
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.
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, trial set for Nov 9, 2021


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] Powerful testimonies about child abuse in Scientology keep coming to light
[TWO years ago] Scientology is very worried about 75-year-old Efrem Logreira and his allegations
[THREE years ago] The island nation that is proving to be a refuge for the Church of Scientology
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s fiery ‘Guardian’ before she hooked up with Ron, and other gems from our readers
[FIVE years ago] With a trial looming in 6-year forced-abortion lawsuit, Scientology cries ‘but we’re a religion!’
[SIX years ago] Denise Brennan, 1952-2014: A former insider who exposed Scientology’s corporate shell game
[SEVEN years ago] In Scientology, When the Prices Kick Up, What Do You Get for the Money?
[NINE years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 22: Jamie DeWolf


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 2,028 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,532 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,052 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,072 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 963 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,270 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,138 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,912 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,716 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,032 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,598 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,517 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,685 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,266 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,527 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,565 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,278 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,803 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,333 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,893 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,033 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,353 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,208 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,327 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,683 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,986 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,092 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,494 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,366 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,949 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,444 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,698 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,807 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 13, 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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