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How insidious is Scientology? Cathy Mullins on how she got sucked back in after escaping

[“I set up the tent every weekend…I had become the perfect Ronbot.”]

Last time, I mentioned that when my mother went off to Saint Hill in the mid-1960s, she left me the phone number of the Scientology org in Phoenix and I began taking courses there. But I left something out: I met the love of my life there, Kim Hawkins. And when I came back a “Clear” after my own trip to Saint Hill, my friends were very impressed. They thought I had superpowers or something. A few of them, including Kim, let me audit them.

And then, love or my life or not, I kissed Kim goodbye and went off to join the Sea Org in early 1968. Kim went back to LA where his brother Jefferson Hawkins had also been introduced to Scientology. They were excited to share it with each other. The brothers went to Scotland and then Denmark to work for this thing called “Pubs Org” — where they published Hubbard’s books. When I arrived back at my mother’s house after escaping AOLA (1969, which I wrote about last time) I found out where Kim was and wrote to him. I told him I was pregnant, not married and living at my mom’s. He jumped on a plane and came to Phoenix to marry me. He’s that kind of guy. Unfortunately, I was overwhelmed with the personal crap that Scientology had never made a dent in. Eventually my mother told Kim he should probably leave. So he did. Five years passed; we didn’t write or talk on the phone. But in the summer of 1975 I was asked to house-sit in LA, so I dropped him a note to say I’d be seeing him soon. I figured we’d get married and live happily ever after. Oops. Kim had joined the Sea Org. At some point he told me he couldn’t leave what he was doing. Not getting married now. Nope. I went back to Arizona, continued my education and bringing up my daughter, and forgot about the love of my life. It sounds awful and cruel but it just had to be that way.

In 1993 I was drinking with a friend and talking about Kim. Again. She’d heard the story about a million times. Finally she cut me off: “Piss or get off the pot!” Oh. Ok. I knew that Kim was the only one for me and that if he didn’t want to be with me I would be better off knowing it so I could just get on with my life. But 18 years had gone by. We hadn’t kept in touch at all, nothing, no letters, no phone calls. How was I supposed to find him? He could have been anywhere. That was the summer that Sleepless in Seattle came out. As I watched it I knew what I had to do. I simply had to find him. I started with L.A.-area phone books, looking up Scientology organization numbers. I didn’t call any of them, not in the beginning. I also wrote down a few numbers for people with the name Hawkins, still not making any calls. I was terrified. What if he said “Cathy who?” or “Oh please, not again.” Or “It’s great to hear from you, I know you’ll just love my wife and kids, can’t wait for you to meet them.”

I finally got up the nerve to make some calls. As crazy as it sounds I ended up finding someone who knew where he was. She forwarded a letter to him, he called, and we were married a month later. It was definitely meant to be.


[Getting married in 1993]

When we got married in 1993, he’d been out of the Sea Org for some years, but was still a bubble-head. We had a tacit agreement not to discuss Scientology. We simply ignored it — for about two years. I don’t know what got me started, but one day I was fiddling around on the Internet reading about what the “church” was up to and came across information about Lisa McPherson, who had died in 1995. I didn’t get deeply into it — I was a bit scattered in my thinking and there wasn’t much available at that point. But it made an impression on me, so much so that I told Kim I didn’t think he should be involved with Scientology anymore. Well, this didn’t go over at all. We had a heated exchange and maybe the word “Nazi” came up at one point. I packed a bag and left.

While I was gone, I picked up a book and just started randomly reading it. It was something about unconditional love. I began to question whether I was willing to lose Kim because of my position. It came down to this: Would I rather be without him or would I rather be with him while he continued in Scientology? I decided it wasn’t up to me to choose his path and that if he got “good stuff” from it, who was I to say he had to stop? I went home and we went back to ignoring the issue.

A few years later Kim’s mom passed away. We went up to Santa Barbara to have a memorial service and pack her things. After many tries, Kim was finally able to get in touch with Jefferson. And, after much hassling, Jeff was able to make it to S.B. for the service. The brothers put together an amazing ceremony — straight out of Hubbard’s book of church services. None of his mom’s friends were Scientologists and probably had never even heard of it. But the part at the end, where the folks all say goodbye, was totally perfect and everyone in the room felt it. I was extremely moved and impressed by the effect on her friends.

Not too long after we returned from S.B., Kim went to AOLA for some auditing. He’d paid for OT 5 and had been trying to get on it for some time, but the “Bridge” was always closed for repairs. He booked himself into the Manor Hotel for two weeks (a/k/a the Hollywood Celebrity Centre). I went up there to spend the weekend with him. I know this sounds really stupid, but the place had a profound impression on me. As I was driving home, I felt light and calm and serene, things I had associated with auditing. I really noticed it. I am not light or calm or serene as a rule.

I’d gone to the local Org with Kim once or twice to see some event — I remember going for a big Dianetics thing, all about how it had been translated into millions of languages and everyone in the world was forming groups, blah, blah, blah. I mention this because it’s interesting, in retrospect, that the org didn’t give him any trouble about me not being “in” — another case of situational ethics. One day a Sea Org mission was in town “recovering” lost souls and called Kim to see if they could come to our house and talk to me. He asked me and I said “Yes, but I will not be talked into anything!”

Three fancy-fake officers showed up. We sat on the patio and drank tea. It was very civilized…until I mentioned Lisa McPherson. As I’ve said, I didn’t have all the information and it was easy for them to deny, deny, deny. They were so sincere, like Tommy Davis, right? I believed them.

These three incidents — the memorial service, the floaty feeling from two days at the Manor, and the artlessness of the Sea Org troop — worked on me. It didn’t take very long and I started to “come around.” So insidious.

I have to say that, looking back, seeing what I did and how I stuck my head in the dirt after knowing what I knew, I feel deeply embarrassed. I know other people have done similar things and probably felt a bit shame-faced, but that doesn’t help me feel any less of a jackass.

I had jumped down the rabbit hole — for the second time! And I knew how awful it was. I’d been there, seen it for myself. But I did it anyway. I don’t know what I was hoping for — certainly not “OT powers,” I already knew that was phony-baloney. One day I was not a Scientologist and the next day I was at AOLA, routing in for who knows what? I’d been away for 30 years, what were the chances they even had my folders? The folks there made a very big deal about me: “Look!! She was lost, but now she’s found! She’s been recovered!” It was 2002 and I was back in the fold. Whew.

First things first: my “freeloader” debt. That’s a bizarre thing, isn’t it? I worked for a year and a half for almost no money, barely enough for cigs and Tampax, working 16 hours a day, no days off. (Wait, I actually do remember two days off.) And while I was on the Royal Scotman in the 1960s I did the OT levels above OT 1: OT 2 to OT 6. I have no idea what any of them were about except OT 3, which unfortunately I can’t unknow. I also have no idea what their monetary value was at the time, but if you’ll recall, the “church” had been hounding me, through a collection agency for $10,000 (give or take). So how does that work, exactly? I’m their unpaid slave for 18 months, I do some ridiculously weird Scientology “levels” and I owe them money? Huh.

Well, let me just say, the regs at the AO saw me coming. Somebody dug up my freeloader bill. It said I owed about $2,000 and for OT 2 to OT 6. There was a lower condition assignment — something obligatory, just so I’d know they were taking it seriously. I knew that they were supposed to declare me — I’d blown from the Sea Org. But they needed the money that week, so what the hell? I paid the freeloader debt, emptied some trash cans and washed a few windows and bingo! I was back in good standing.

They never did find my folders. I spoke long and often with the Director of Processing about what I remembered being audited on. A program was devised and I went in session. Oh boy. There were sec checks and FPRD (False Purpose Rundown, one of Hubbard’s most bizarre inventions) and lots of other stuff I don’t remember. I do remember the day my auditor (Ken Markin, a truly wonderful person who I hope has returned to Canada and his son) pulled his chair around the desk and sat right in front of me and demanded, “Give me that hand.” What? I’d never heard of this. I had no idea what was going on. I thought it was a game, so I put my hand behind my back. There were some other fabulously kinky “processes,” like this series of commands: “Look at that window. Walk over to that window. Touch that window. Keep it from going away.” Really? Was it leaving? I laughed and laughed. And I was paying big time for this silliness.

Needless to say, they dragged this out as long as they could and wrung every penny out of us. In the five years I was back “in,” I did not move at all on the Bridge. And my husband never did get to do OT 5, after paying for it twice and being run around the maypole both times, using up the intensives for all manner of invented problems.


I had the distinct misfortune of meeting up with an old co-worker, David Light, PAC base Superpower super reg. He’s another one who saw me coming. I won’t disclose just how much he saw me coming, suffice it to say it might have involved a second mortgage. (Oh god, it’s so embarrassing. I feel such the idiot.)

The Case Supervisor ordered me onto the Solo Auditor’s course. The one I’d done back in 1967 was considerably shorter, but not easier by any stretch. Have you listened to Hubbard on reel-to-reel? In an over-heated room? Argh. She said I’d be going back onto OT 3. I took the course at the San Diego Org. Somewhere in all this, I also did the Student Hat course, Pro TRs and the E-meter course. At one point I had Ken for my auditor on Method One. That was actually kind of fun. Kind of.

I became a Volunteer Minister. I set up the tent every weekend and tried to rope people into buying something…anything…please.

I turned off my thinking. I went wherever I was directed. I did whatever I was told to do.

I had become the perfect Ronbot.

How did I get out of it for the second time? That’s a story for another day.

— Cathy Mullins


Beck has interesting new friends

Our thanks to the reader who spotted that Beck, at his Instagram account, posted an arresting shot of himself yesterday from the Newport Folk Festival.

In 2019, Beck made it public that he’s no longer a Scientologist (and Leah Remini called him out for the way he did it), but we do think it’s interesting that he posted a shot of himself yesterday with Fred Armisen, ex-husband to Scientologist actress Elisabeth Moss.

A slight dig at his former co-religionist? Tell us what you think.




Source Code

“Do you realize the value of auditing is not measurable in dollars and cents to a person who is being audited properly? It is just not measurable. A hundred thousand dollars an hour would be something he would talk about. Got the idea? He would talk about. He might not be able to pay it but he could consider it. Now, that’s quite interesting. He could consider it, without gaping and jumping out the window and so forth.” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 29, 1958


Avast, Ye Mateys

“The enemy seeks by false reports to blunt our org image and this by depressing stats recoils into Div III making finance hard. It is interesting that the enemy is also depressing world stats in this same way. False alarming reports of conditions are made so that the finance of nations is being injured. The World Bank loans the bulk of its funds to India. It has now pressured India to nationalize its banks. It also forces birth control and unpopular measures on India to cause civil unrest and give the government a bad name with its people. The world bank’s biggest debtors are forced to act in criminal and unpopular ways. False reports are spread to injure credit. We were smart enough never to borrow or subsidize. Thus we are still alive.” — The Commodore, July 29, 1969


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I see the whole story as a CIA plot to destroy Scientology. For this narrative they wanted a monopoly to write the history of Scientology. Not a pro-Scientology history, of course an anti-Scientology history. To make this narrative believable, they need documents to prove their viewpoint. How to get these? To be convincing, they needed docs ‘from LRH himself.’ How to get access? So they used their shills within Scientology to create a project-CSW to write the LRH bio by a writer with an excellent reputation: the non-Scientologist Omar Garrison. With this CSW it was possible to get the support of everyone and to collect all needed documents in 21 boxes and to bring them out of the orgs. And no Scientologists had an overview, which docs are included in these 21 boxes. Now Gerry put an ARCx there to explain, that he run away with the docs and handed them over to his lawyer and later to the court. In this time it was possible to insert any needed faked docs into the boxes. No one could later prove that these newly introduced docs have not been there in the first place. So they get validated ‘as the original raw data’ by the court proceedings. This is the raw material on which any evil ‘history maker’ can base their propaganda against LRH and Scientology. An intelligently set up plot — I can only admire it (in the hope that it then vanishes).”



Past is Prologue

1997: A letter and declaration from Garry Scarff were posted this week. As part of Garry’s settlement with Scientology, he is demanding that the German TV show he participated in not be rebroadcast. “I was a featured subject in your program ‘Looking for..The Dark Side of Scientology’, which aired on station ARD/WDR. I have been told by Ms. Mona Botros that it is going to be aired again. Having seen the show and the ridiculous falsehoods contained in it, I demand that you not re-air the show again. I lied numerous times and Mona Botros & you knew that I was lying, that I was not a credible witness and not worthy of your trust or being relied on. The show creates a completely false and reckless impression of Scientology and I can imagine that Scientologists world wide in fact find it civilly libelous. If you choose to air this program again, I will pursue every legal claim that is available to me under the laws of every country exposed to this trash.”


Random Howdy

“I want a cheap E-meter so I can sec-check my cats and I can get to the bottom of mysteries like, why do you chew on plastic bags? Why do you eat your own hair? Why do you refuse to help me do the dishes?”


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 Sept 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 responded on June 25.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for Oct 5.
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: Third 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 23. Appeal hearing scheduled for Aug 23-27.

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] Miami chiropractor and Scientology donor Dennis Nobbe charged with COVID relief fraud
[TWO years ago] Driving people away (and begging them back) was built into Scientology from the start
[THREE years ago] Nancy Cartwright goes home as Scientology ‘Ideal’-izes the world
[FOUR years ago] Jon Atack: The biggest thing L. Ron Hubbard got wrong about Buddhism
[FIVE years ago] Arlene Cordova, 1933-2016: In her 80s, she took on Scientology and reunited with her daughter
[SIX years ago] ow Scientology schools prepare young minds for the rigors of the Sea Org
[SEVEN years ago] VIDEO: Scientology gets a grilling at Chautauqua
[EIGHT years ago] Jim Lynch, Scientology’s Shill, Dies at 59
[NINE years ago] ‘Tom Cruise Worships David Miscavige Like a God’: The John Brousseau Story, Part Two
[TEN years ago] Scientology’s Hollywood Landmarks: More from THR Reporter Daniel Miller


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 2,376 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,881 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,401 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,421 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,312 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,619 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,487 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,261 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,591 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,065 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,381 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,947 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,866 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,034 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,615 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,876 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,914 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,627 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,152 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 507 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,682 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,233 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,382 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,702 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,557 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,676 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,032 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,335 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,441 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,843 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,715 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,298 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,793 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,047 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,156 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 29, 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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