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Scientology has been desperate to produce results in Texas for a very long time

[Another failed rain dance for Austin?]

I was a Sea Org management executive for the western United States for about nine years, a veritable eternity to hold a single job in the Sea Org. In that capacity and later when doing other Sea Org jobs, I visited almost all of the Scientology churches west of the Mississippi. All of them except for Austin! And yet, the staff and Scientology public of Austin always held a special place in my heart and I thought I might explain why. Almost everything here is based on just my recall from memory as a former Sea Org member, so any errors in the reporting are on me.

The entire time I was in management, from 1995 until 2004, Austin was split into two organizations – a Day and a Foundation. We had extensive Data Files on each organization; these files are a computerized and indexed collection of all the reports, statistics, letters, staff member and income reports and other relevant information from each organization, filed for each month. They go back for as long as each org has existed, although getting access to anything other than statistics prior to the 1990s was pretty much impossible since the files were microfiched and we didn’t have microfiche readers anymore, while the archived hard copy files were in some warehouse on Hollywood Blvd. But regardless, the files we had gave me a good picture of the history of the place and – surprise! – it’s always been a hole-in-the-wall, barely-keeping-the-doors-open kind of organization.

In fact, this is so much the case that I found Hubbard had personally intervened to keep the place from closing down when the Executive Director (ED) of the Day org (I believe this was back in the early 70s) had written a resignation letter to Ron and called it quits. A full evaluation of the situation was done by Hubbard himself, who sometimes would do that kind of thing for individual orgs who were in trouble. An evaluation is a kind of administrative exercise using the Data Files to come up with basically a best guess as to why the organization is floundering (the “Why”) and then propose a series of steps to handle that Why. This always includes, by the way, a “Who” also, meaning the individual or individuals who are blamed for the situation. Usually the Who wasn’t really some evil operator throwing wrenches into the machinery, but just some poor schlep of a staff member working his ass off for peanuts but not succeeding. Hubbard’s vindictive nature was such that he wrote into the policy that there had to be a Who and they were always to be deemed “counter intention” to what Hubbard wanted.

But in the case of Austin and its quitting ED, Hubbard took a tamer approach than usual and talked him into continuing by giving this ED an evaluation “from the old man himself.” As you might imagine, by the 1970s, if Hubbard himself had put his personal attention on your organization and situation, you were expected to snap to and recognize you were receiving orders from the guy above God himself!

The evaluation that Hubbard did of the scene, including why the ED wanted to leave and what was going on with the org overall, is where Hubbard had the “bright idea” to utilize the University of Texas to boom Scientology in Austin. He decided while sitting on his boat off the coast of Europe that what the students of the University of Texas needed was Study Tech, and fast! He told the ED that the key to booming his org and salvaging Texas lie in promoting to the students that they couldn’t study. And obviously, Scientology – an applied religious philosophy that features aliens and thetans – would be the first place for students to go to get help with their Physics and Statistics classes. There may be a bit of sarcasm there, but it’s also the obvious reason why this “Why” from Hubbard himself never was a hit and why Austin floundered around for the last five decades, continuing to be a Podunk nothing of a place.

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The staff of Austin then and ever since have never produced a boom period that I can recall. Every few years, there might be a rally around the “LRH Eval” for the org and how they need to jump all over that university, but that enthusiasm would soon die off when they would start thinking about how to actually implement that plan and realizing they had nothing to even start with. The most I saw ever happen was to get a Scientologist who was actually attending the UofT to start a study group using Study Tech and I think there were maybe four or five members total. Austin was and always has been a do-nothing place for Scientology.

As an org manager overseeing the delivery of the classes and auditing services, I kept an eye on Austin for all the years I was in management. I interacted with the staff from the Executive Director down to the course room supervisors, both in written orders as well as in person when we would call them out to Los Angeles for various reasons, most having to do with the fact they were in trouble and had an appointment with a toilet and a toothbrush before they were going to come see us in management. Usually we ourselves had been scrubbing those same toilets with those same toothbrushes the night before those staff arrived in LA because the abuse in Scientology does roll from the top down. It was not a fun time for them or for us.

But even despite the abuse, real human connections were made and I cared a great deal for many of the Scientologists in Austin, especially the staff members. I wanted to do what I could as a manager to get them producing but I also wanted them to get the benefits I imagined were possible from Scientology back then. Alas, I was one of a very few in management who ever had that idea, and if I’m being honest, I could be a real jerk at times too. I well recall sending a telex to a staff member once that said very clearly “If you don’t get this done, there will be blood on the walls.” Needless to say, that kind of thing didn’t create warm fuzzy feelings between the staff and us Sea Org managers, but it was easy to justify that kind of behavior since Hubbard made it clear we weren’t there to make friends.

Flash forward to about 2-3 years ago. I’d been out of Scientology for years and Kat contacted me to let me know that she was going to infiltrate the Austin org and do Scientology services so she could get a hands-on experience of it for a comedy project she wanted to do. She had many questions which I answered for her. While I always discourage anyone from doing this kind of thing (many have suggested this sort of thing over the years), she went ahead and did it. As you might have seen in our podcast interview, it ended up being a far more significant and emotionally draining experience for her than she had imagined. We discussed that in detail in our interview, so there’s no reason to belabor it here.

What I got out of that interview, though, was an update on all of the people I had managed and what had happened to some of them. Many had disappeared or faded away, but those who stayed were maintaining the party line that their Ideal Org and Saint Hill Size were just around the corner. Their new building was proof-positive that Austin was waiting with bated breath for Scientology and all they had to do was open those doors and let those teeming millions come flooding in. It’s so sad to hear others have maintained the same delusions you used to, long after you have finally gotten away from it.

You can see that reflected in those promotional fundraising videos that Kat gave to Tony. I’ve become convinced that there is no more powerful or certain force on Earth than the power of belief or faith, and that is not necessarily a good thing. The staff and public of Austin have been trying to make something of that place for most of their lives, since many of the staff are second generation Scientologists. They have literally grown up in or around the org and while it’s never been a big, booming scene, it’s always been present in their lives. Most of them simply can’t imagine a world where there is no Scientology, so they desperately look for indications in the environment that Scientology is being accepted and used by the broader world. Like finding Jesus in a piece of toast, Scientologists can find signs all around that success is just around the corner. That’s the kind of hopeful delusion you see reflected in those Austin videos and why there appears sometimes to be a look of not-so-quiet desperation behind those cheers and roars. I’ve been in those rooms too many times to count. They are awkward, disturbing and after hours of it, downright torturous.

Yet in some ways, Miscavige’s Ideal Org strategy may have been the only thing that has kept the inertia in Austin org going for the last 17 years. The EDs of both the Day and Foundation orgs are different from when I was managing the orgs as are many of the staff (who haven’t necessarily left Scientology but have just stopped working there), but the diehard Austin spirit to “make it go right” and “get that university program going” are somehow still alive. I think it’s the fact that there was finally something tangible to rally around – a real, live building – that galvanized whatever tiny Scientology purpose remained in Austin and this will likely keep them going for another decade, just as the big empty buildings opened in Portland, Seattle and Twin Cities have kept those places going despite every reason to close.

I just wonder how much longer this Ideal Org program is going to be able to fly. It feels from the outside like it’s already a lead-winged albatross around Miscavige’s neck but rumors of its impending demise may be too hopeful still. Scientology is built on one thing: hope. It is the grease that keeps the wheels of authoritarian control turning in that group. I know from personal experience just how long hope can stay alive, how it can be rekindled and what it takes to finally kill it. In the case of Scientology, that hope should be killed with the most effective weapon we have: the truth. Scientology is nothing more than a money making scam that uses religious cloaking to hide its true nature and an authoritarian hierarchy to enforce its will and abuse on each individual member. I just don’t know how to say it more plainly than that. And the more people who learn that truth, the faster this thing will disappear forever and fade from memory.

— Chris Shelton

 
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Source Code

“The individual is in contest with his environment. We’ll just take off from that point. Now, that’s a very true observation. Particularly, if we qualify that observation just a little bit further and we say that a contest is not necessarily a battle of fisticuffs….Once umpty-skillion years ago I got swatted, and sat there very, very immobile, being right. I went on being right for quite a little while. See, by permitting myself to be immobilized, it made the other fellow wrong. It wasn’t really doing anything to him, taking no action, absolutely no forward thrust of any kind whatsoever, no outward motion, no outward flow of any kind, not even a thought of an outward flow and yet that was the method of handling the environment. So the way we qualify this is the method is not necessarily smart.” — L. Ron Hubbard, June 16, 1964

 

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Avast, Ye Mateys

“A Comm Ev was ordered by Telex on the non-SO auditor at Asho (Sheila Aldrich) for evaluating and feeding cognitions and all but destroying tech. Pokras and Eltringham on the US Station Ship were ordered transferred to deck for 6 months for neglecting to report or put right area out tech. Another Comm Ev has been ordered on the Broadbents for fostering the situation. This was what had Asho stats down so long! So it’s time we got sharp and drilled up and put our own house in good order.” — The Commodore, June 16, 1970

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“John McMaster was certain that LRH wanted to take over the planet. Today it is clear that the world under LRH is a far more ethical scene than the world under Angela Merkel in Germany or the Clintons in USA, or under the rule of third world country dictators and their drug ridden ‘shitholes.’ Germany is now on the verge of extinction as a country. McMaster was not seeing into the future. LRH was. Clearly very few besides LRH confronted the future track of this prison madhouse planet.”

 
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Past is Prologue

1996: David and Julie Mayo posted extensive accounts of the Fair Game policy against them in the last few years. David is being harassed for having founded a competing church to Scientology. “On August 4, 1994, Scientology(tm) utilized INTERPOL, the US DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), and the DNCD (Dominicana Nacional Control de Drogas) to try to enforce Scientology’s(tm) religious beliefs on me, to persecute me and to get me jailed by false allegations to INTERPOL. INTERPOL had received and acted on a report that I was ‘practicing Scientology(tm) without a license’; that I had ‘destroyed Scientology(tm) property’; that I was ‘representing’ myself as a ‘Scientologist’. Ventura Bayonet, head of the Dominican Republic DNCD said that he decided to act as a result of a phone call from INTERPOL alleging that I had damaged ‘millions of dollars of Scientology(tm) property.’ I was not representing myself as a Scientologist nor was I practicing Scientology(tm), with or without a license. I had not ‘damaged’ Scientology(tm) property. By 1992, all of the civil lawsuits brought against me by Scientology(tm) had been dismissed and in January 1993, the Central District of California had sanctioned RTC/Scientology(tm) plaintiffs 2.9 million dollars for abusive litigation against me. On August 4, 1994, our residence was surrounded by approximately 15 armed police, military and DNCD agents. I was not charged nor was I resented with any order but I was handcuffed. My home was searched for fire arms, drugs and money. No drugs or firearms were found. Nonetheless, I was taken to two police stations and eventually taken to Santo Domingo where I was put in prison with no charges, explanation or reason.”

 
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Random Howdy

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“There are no theologians in Scientology. No one is allowed to interpret or tell a student what they think L. Ron Hubbard meant.”

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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for August 9. Trial tentatively scheduled for early November.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference August 21 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for June 18.

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 to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology has until June 25 to respond.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court grants review on May 26, asks Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration.
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.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 24.

Concluded litigation:
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.

 
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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

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.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

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.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

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

 
Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. 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?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Buffy goes Clear, and other signs that Scientology has survived the coronavirus
[TWO years ago] While Scientology shrinks, its ‘Ideal Orgs’ pretend they are booming
[THREE years ago] The trauma of leaving Scientology: ‘Who wants to believe they’ve thrown away their best years?’
[FOUR years ago] Marty Rathbun’s project becomes clear: Someone’s worried about Scientology & the IRS
[FIVE years ago] Our money maverick dives into Scientology’s latest financial house of horrors
[SIX years ago] O Canada! All eyes in the Scientology-watching world will be looking north next week
[SEVEN years ago] LEAKED: The slick campaign Scientology had planned for UK expansion!
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: When David Miscavige Made RTC Look Like The Matrix

 
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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 2,333 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,838 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,358 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,378 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,269 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,576 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,444 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,218 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,548 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,022 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,338 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,904 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,823 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,991 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,572 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,833 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,871 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,584 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,109 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 464 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,639 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,190 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,339 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,659 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,514 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,633 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,989 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,292 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,398 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,800 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,672 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,255 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,750 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,004 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,113 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on June 16, 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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