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VIDEO: Jon Atack talks to Mike Rinder about his first months aboard Scientology’s ‘Apollo’

[Mike Rinder at 18, in Madeira]

I’ve spoken with more than a thousand Scientologists over the years, but Mike Rinder’s interview is the most vivid and appalling account of daily life aboard the ship run directly by Hubbard.

Mike Rinder was eighteen when he joined the flagship and international headquarters of Scientology at Lisbon in 1973. Mike was there to study Founder and Commodore Ron Hubbard’s elaborate system of statistical management known as the Flag Executive Briefing Course (FEBC).

Hubbard claimed to have devised the finest management system ever known. Through this elaborate method of statistical management Hubbard claimed that groups could achieve the “ideal scene.”

The flagship under Hubbard’s direct control is the best evidence that his management system was a fraud. Mike’s account shows that conditions aboard the Apollo were inhumane. While Hubbard raked in money, his followers were reduced to serfdom in complete violation of their civil rights.

Rather than studying the FEBC, Mike was immediately told that the Australian Scientology organization had traded him for a “mission” from the flagship. In reality, Mike had been trafficked in an act of modern slavery.


Conditions on the flagship were far from any “ideal scene.” Members of Hubbard’s “elite” Sea Organization lived in squalor packed into filthy, stinking dormitories and allowed only thirty seconds a day in the shower. Clothes were washed in buckets of sea water, and, as Mike says, the food was “garbage.”


[L. Ron Hubbard and his flagship, the Apollo]

In 1950, Hubbard claimed to have developed the first workable science of mental health. Aboard the Apollo, Hubbard “researched” his cure for psychosis, the Introspection Rundown. He decided that recovery would happen if a psychotic was completely ignored. In Hubbard’s mind, psychosis was just attention-seeking behavior.

Mike was tasked to ensure that silence was maintained outside the cabin where a crew member in the grip of a psychotic episode was imprisoned. This was the only “research” case for the Introspection Rundown, Hubbard’s purported cure for insanity. The subject for the research was actually off-loaded as soon as his psychotic break ended, without any follow up to see if he suffered further bouts.

However, Hubbard was exultant and made various claims about his new “technology”: “THIS MEANS THE LAST REASON TO HAVE PSYCHIATRY AROUND IS GONE [emphasis in original] … I have made a technical breakthrough which possibly ranks with the major discoveries of the Twentieth Century,” and, “Its results are nothing short of miraculous.”

Hubbard’s claims are belied by the McPherson case. In 1995, after 17 days on the Introspection Rundown, Lisa McPherson died at Scientology’s Florida base. She appears to have been held captive and there were ligature marks on her wrists and ankles. She had more than a hundred insect bites on her body. Scientology organizations deny any responsibility for her death.

After his Introspection Rundown “baby-watch,” Mike was sent ahead to prepare for the Apollo’s arrival at the island of Madeira. He gives his account of the famous “rock festival,” where locals attacked the ship with bricks and cobblestones and heaved crew motorcycles and Mary Sue Hubbard’s car into the sea. Mike was the only crew member left on the island and was lucky to escape unharmed. He describes the adventure in detail.

Russell Miller’s excellent biography, Bare-Face Messiah, relied upon Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky, which is listed in his bibliography as “Hubbard Through the Looking Glass.” I chose that title because Scientology is very clearly the opposite of Hubbard’s public claims. Far from releasing mankind from trauma and granting self-determinism, Hubbard was actually inflicting trauma and robbing his most dedicated followers of their personal liberty.

This is one of the most fascinating interviews of my long career as a Scientology historian.

— Jon Atack




Source Code

“I happen to be a nuclear physicist. I am not a psychologist nor a psychiatrist nor a medical doctor. To some degree, it was my responsibility that this world got itself an atom bomb, because there were only a handful of nuclear physicists in the thirties — only a handful. And we were all beating the desk and saying ‘How wonderful it will be if we discover atomic fission,’ because we decided that the thing to do with atomic fission was to go out and discover the stars, to make big passenger liners that would go ten times around the world on the same fuel. This was what we endeavored to do with atomic fission. The government stepped in and gave us three billion dollars. I had nothing to do with that program; I would not have had anything to do with the program. Three billion dollars to destroy all of man.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 6, 1952


Avast, Ye Mateys

“If your parents or friends are the kind who worry about you, BE SURE AND WRITE THEM AN AIRMAIL LETTER regularly. Otherwise they give us DEV T by asking the government to check up on you to see if you’re all right. If uncertain about it, write them anyway. Also, if you haven’t written your family recently do so anyway. Otherwise they’ll think Scn put you OUT of communication. You can mail the letter straight from here.” — The Commodore, February 6, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Over the millenniums, thousands of religions, philosophies and mental therapies have been dissecting, explaining and advising us crazy critters — enough to fill libraries. Of the ones I’ve read, many have been interesting, some brilliant, insightful and helpful. And some destructive and others downright weird and incomprehensible (would someone please explain Deconstructivism?) However, NONE of these have gotten rid of the reactive mind, much less as-ised one lousy, bothersome mental image picture. That is until L. Ron Hubbard came along. In order to really fully understand and help a being, both mass and significance have to be understood.”


Past is Prologue


2000: Mark Bunker, filmmaker for the Lisa McPherson Trust, was attacked this week by a worker at the home of German Scientologist Gottfried Helnwein. “This morning Mark Bunker went with German film maker Peter Reichelt and Hans Michael Kassel, director of documentary film for the German TV station ARD, to Gottfried Helnwein’s house on Palm Bluffs Road, about a mile and a half north of 33 N. Ft. Harrison. Gottfried is a Scientology artist in Germany who has apparently been denying he is a Scientologist, and Peter and Hans Michael were here gathering documentary footage to prove he is an active Scientologist. As Mark was videotaping, a man ran out of Gottfried’s house and assaulted Mark with a hammer. He hit Mark’s camera twice but luckily did not hurt Mark, although Mark was extremely frightened and shaken when this man ran at him and struck him with a dangerous weapon. The man then went back into the front door of Gottfried’s house, and soon after that two police officers arrived. Mark spoke to Officer Kelly, and told him that a man had just assaulted him with a hammer and asked the officer if he wanted to see it on videotape. He asked Mark if he had informed the man that he was audiotaping him. Then Officer Kelly told Mark that he was going to arrest him for audiotaping the hammer-wielding man without his knowledge!”


Random Howdy

“If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have tried even harder to destroy myself.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Masterson arraigned Jan 20. Next conf to set prelim, March 24.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay’s sentencing delayed to March 2.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for May 20 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Charged in Brooklyn federal court on February 4.

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.’ Petition for writ of mandate denied Oct 22 by Cal 2nd Appellate District. Petition for review by state supreme court denied Dec 11.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Dec 30, Judge Kleifield granted Scientology’s motions to compel arbitration. March 8: Status conference.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Second amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.

Concluded litigation:
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs.
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
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.


SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks

The Australian Seven News network cancelled a 10-part investigation of Scientology and its history of dirty tricks. Read the transcripts of the episodes and judge for yourself why Tom Cruise and Tommy Davis might not have wanted viewers to see this hard-hitting series by journalist Bryan Seymour.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Scientology OT8 dentist closes office while patients confront him about their cash
[TWO years ago] Scientology TV wins a boatload of awards, and is the ‘fastest-growing TV network in history’!
[THREE years ago] Scientology spies coming forward to spill their guts, then and now: A key example from the past
[FOUR years ago] L. Ron Hubbard’s daughter — the one he wanted to disappear — surfaces online
[FIVE years ago] ‘Are you 100 percent American?’ — ‘Ross & Carrie’ investigate joining Scientology
[SIX years ago] Scientology vs. the mayor: The full Gabe Cazares interview from 1997’s Secret Lives
[SEVEN years ago] The BBC’s John Sweeney gives us another glimpse of creepy Scientology intimidation
[NINE years ago] Scientology’s Secret Vaults: A Rare Interview With a Former Member of Hush-Hush “CST”


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 2,204 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,708 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,228 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,248 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,139 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,446 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,314 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,088 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,892 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,208 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,774 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,693 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,861 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,442 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,703 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,741 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,454 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,979 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 334 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,509 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,060 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,209 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,529 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,384 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,503 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,859 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,162 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,268 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,670 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,542 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,125 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,620 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,874 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,983 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 6, 2021 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, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), 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, 15 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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