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


Ron Miscavige, Scientology whistleblower and father of the church leader, 1936-2021

We just learned that Ron Miscavige has died. His co-author Dan Koon wrote this touching memorial for us, which we are publishing now.

I first saw Ron Miscavige in May 1981 when he played a concert with his band at a Dianetics Day celebration at the Int Base.

A couple years later, I met him after a night down in LA working on liner notes for one of the Space Jazz albums and was tasked with driving David Miscavige back to the base, who had been up all night doing their weekly stat evolution at ASI. Dave slept in the back and when I drove through the gate and opened the van door, Ron carried Dave in his arms like he had many times as a boy, or so I imagined.


Ron joined the Sea Org in 1985 and we hit if off right away, mainly because of our interest in exercise. We had many discussions about exercise over the years, in person at the base and over Skype when we moved to Sweden and Ron was living in West Allis.

Ron’s greatest interests in life were his music, his family and exercise, not necessarily in that order. I visited him a few times in Wisconsin while working on the book and enjoyed his performances with a Dixieland band at a pizza parlor or at Stud’s Bar. He often played solo gigs at old folks’ homes around town, accompanied with a music set-up of his own construction that played the background music while Ron played his horn or sang. He had a somewhat corny sense of humor that played well with folks around the same age as his.

Another love of his was his Philadelphia Eagles. He was thrilled when the Eagles won their first Super Bowl title, and he could put his long-suffering fandom to rest. Our most recent conversations mostly centered around Carson Wentz and Ron was glad that they shipped him off to the Colts.

Ron was very appreciative of the help he got from the Veterans Administration from being a Marine veteran and was super proud of his time in the Corps.

If you’ve seen his YouTube videos about Life After Scientology or Life Lessons or Story Time, you’ll know that he was always trying to help people become a better version of themselves. He even began a series of videos centered about a device called the Iso Trainer, which is an ingenious device that one can use for isometric or isotonic exercises. It costs only around 25 dollars and Ron let people know that they could buy one and get a discount if they used his name at checkout.

He used to go around Wal-Mart and see some little kid in the store and tell the kid, “Hi, little kid, the Birthday Man wanted me to give you this dollar and to wish you a happy birthday.” He’d hand the kid a dollar and watch the kid light up. He truly enjoyed making people happier, even if just for that moment.

He loved animals and even to this day he makes Becky go out to feed the birds and the bunnies that come around and of course his cats Sammy and Frank. Basically, Ron loved all of life in whatever its forms. People, birds, dogs, cats, it didn’t matter to Ron. But especially his family. It broke his heart when his daughters were forced to disconnect from him after they had been in close contact for many months after his escape. To that we must give a big FU to David Miscavige. The one who never deserted him was his #1 son, Ronnie. They often visited and shared many laughs and old memories. The great love of his life was his second wife Becky Bigelow Miscavige. He often told me that as bad as his first marriage was, his second was the greatest thing that ever happened to him. He loved her as deeply as one can love another person.

Probably the strongest drive Ron had was his desire to see people do better in life. The YouTube videos mentioned above are evidence of that. He wrote a couple of humorous books, True Confessions of a Kid and Hideouts for Midgets on the Lam and while these were humorous, they always had a deeper, instructive messages. Ron turned me on to the Iso Toner and the Exer-Genie and we often discussed books like John Peterson’s book on Transformetrics or Dr. Leonard Schwartz’ Heavy Hands: The Ultimate Exercise System.

Being away from Scientology for a few years, Ron discovered the writers of the New Thought Movement, a group of authors from around the late 19 th , early 20 th century who Ron and I agreed must have had an influence on L. Ron Hubbard’s development of Dianetics and Scientology. The number of New Thought Movement concepts that show up in Hubbard’s writing are too numerous to count. One writer from that period was a guy named Charles F. Haanel, who wrote The Master Key System. His system consisted of 24 philosophical lessons along with their practical application. The very first practical exercise was very similar to what Hubbard called OT-TR0.

I’d say Ron was a product of his age with the idea that playing it straight would work out for the best.

I’ve tried to cover aspects of our relationship that did not make it into the book Ruthless, and hopefully I have conveyed some sense of the man that all of us owe a deep debt of gratitude for shining the light on the darker aspects of Scientology. At the end, he viewed Scientology as a con, even though he never regretted his time in the organization. If you’ve read the book it’s clear he got a lot out of it.

Even though it’s sad that this is the end of the line for Ron, he has lived a life with a satisfaction that he did all he could to expose the worst aspects of something he devoted much of his adult life to, and he did so with great humor and understanding. We can all learn something from Ron’s life well lived.

Man, I’m going to miss this guy.

— Dan Koon


Ron’s dying wish was that some money be raised to help support his wife Becky Bigelow through what is coming next. Please contribute to his GoFundMe account if you can.



Source Code

“In Dianetics, if you don’t think you could produce ‘therapies’ which would produce convulsions, break people out in rashes, make them walk on the ceiling and have their ears rot off, you are foolish. You definitely could. You are working here with the basic tools; you are working with what is wrong. And when you are working with what is really wrong with the human psyche, you can of course just specialize in making it more wrong. For instance, you can take a preclear down the time track and turn on a fever that won’t turn off for two or three days. That is spectacular! You can actually send him down the time track and get him into a fever engram and take his temperature or see that his skin is very hot to the touch, and he will have a fever.” — L. Ron Hubbard, June 28, 1951


Avast, Ye Mateys

“THE ENEMY: Nelson Rockefeller finances and pushes forward the Totalitarian idea of Population Control by Psychiatry and his foundations try to shove us around. In the news he and his family interests are under heavy attack in South America. Rhodesia’s anti-Ron government just gets in deeper and deeper. I wrote Smith a Constitution permitting black representation while maintaining white interests that Britain and the Rhodesian white both would have bought. The govt answer was refusal to extend my visa. That the people of Rhodesia remained on our side is attested by three orgs there now. That Smith is on the side of psychiatry is attested by a new big psychiatric clinic next door to the jail. The enemy is having a very hard time. He is going counter to a world where comm is pushing freedom into being. We are going with the flood tide of world opinion. The enemy is floundering against it. We only have to expand and endure to win.” — The Commodore, June 28, 1969



Overheard in the FreeZone

“We have evil people (SPs) and they can be created by a cancer growing in their head or something and it made them evil, or at work they got stabbed in the head with metal, and then after that turned evil, so their whole track hasn’t changed, it’s the same person. And when they got stabbed in the head at work there was no person around talking commands. So in these situations engrams were not really involved, it’s simply more a physical reason for them being evil, not some whole track engram theory. I think our bodies are like cars, and when they are not functioning right whether it by being evil or gay, it’s due to simple physical reasons like them living in a house with a mold problem for years and this infects their body and attacks it and they end up being retarded from it or something. It’s nothing to do with memories of the past. I’ve just looked into this topic heaps and I’m telling you there’s all these physical reasons for people’s aberrations, and Hubbard’s engram or body thetan theories most of the time don’t prove to be correct. But I do agree that sometimes they are right. I think he’s done a massive exaggeration with his theory, he exaggerates a lot. I think for some people’s problems they really are caused by memories and it ain’t a physical thing, there’s evidence for this.”


Past is Prologue

2001: Thomas Gandow reported that the head of Narconon in Russia has denounced Scientology and left the organization. “Vladimir Ivanov – the leader of Russian ‘Narkonon,’ the president of Scientological ‘Foundation of Salvation of Children and Adolescents from Drugs’ and the foundation ‘Drug-Free Russia,’ while speaking live on popular radio Ekho Moskvy, unexpectedly announced that he had broken with the Scientology organization. Mr. Ivanov spoke about Scientology as a criminal cult which has nothing to do with religion and which capitalizes cynically upon the sufferings and pain of other people. Ivanov said that he is no longer ‘Satanist’ and had asked forgiveness from those numerous people whom he recruited into Scientology. He had announced that from now on none of the organizations he heads, has anything to do either to Scientology, or to ‘Narconon.’ At the same time, Mr. Ivanov had expressed an idea that technology used in Narconon can be used effectively outside of Scientology and Narconon itself.” From an open letter by Vladimir Ivanov: “Having thoroughly studied the theory and practice of Scientologists in Russia and abroad for the past ten years, I have come to realize that the certain practicality of the so-called technology is in full and complete contradiction with the purely commercial aspirations, hidden from the outsider’s view, and has nothing in common (except for declarations) with the spiritual-religious goals. The so-called Church of Scientology flouts human rights and the rights of religious people in general by imposing a ban on a profession, by denying a person the right to defend his interests in the court of law, and by enslaving him with work for the benefit of its mercantile interests.”


Random Howdy

“Two eggs over easy, hash browns, and either two Italian sausage or four bangers and dark rye toast. Thanks. Oh, and a double tequila sunrise in a pint glass.”


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: June 18 pretrial conference delayed until July 9.

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.



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.


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 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?



[ONE year ago] Scientology will see you now! Orgs are reopening in safe and not so safe places
[TWO years ago] Your brain on Scientology: ‘I am the hurricane’
[THREE years ago] Scientology rock ‘n’ roller goes back to his days with L. Ron Hubbard at sea
[FOUR years ago] Federal judge tells Scientology to cool its jets, says arbitration is ‘imminent’
[FIVE years ago] How Google is getting gamed in the fight both for and against the Church of Scientology
[SIX years ago] Project Normandy, 2015: Paulette Cooper has landed in Clearwater — Scientology’s ‘Mecca’
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology’s secret plan to take over the world — here it is!
[EIGHT years ago] Blogging Scientology’s Bible: Vance, We’ve Reached the Finish Line!
[TEN years ago] Grant Cardone Takes to the Huffington Post to Head Off “Haters”


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 2,345 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,850 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,370 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,390 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,281 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,588 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,456 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,230 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,560 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,034 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,350 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,916 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,835 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,003 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,584 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,845 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,883 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,596 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,121 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 476 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,651 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,202 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,351 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,671 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,526 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,645 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,001 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,304 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,410 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,812 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,684 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,267 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,762 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,016 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,125 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 28, 2021 at 12:05

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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email