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Why Scientology celebrity Elisabeth Moss is problematic as an icon of reproductive rights

On Thursday, Salon writer Melanie McFarland noted that it was like clockwork: Whenever challenges to abortion rights come up on social media, there’s a reflexive use of imagery from Hulu’s series ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ And with this past week’s news out of Texas, with a law there literally putting bounties on the heads of people facilitating abortion procedures, the memes featuring women in red robes were ubiquitous as comparisons were made between the Lone Star state and the theocracy of Gilead portrayed in the series.

McFarland criticized this, however, saying that while she understood why people were quick to use images from the series, and specifically of its star Elisabeth Moss, she complained that featuring the well known actress in memes, or showing up at protests in Handmaid’s Tale garb, tended to gloss over the real problem:

Engaging in such cosplay makes for attention-grabbing civil disobedience, but it also plays a part in eliding the reality that women like Elisabeth Moss’ heroic June – which is to say, white middle-class professionals with resources – will probably have access to safe abortions no matter what happens to Roe v. Wade.

It’s poor women, and women of color, who are most affected by such challenges to Roe v. Wade, she pointed out.


She’s correct, of course, but we can think of another reason why it’s problematic to use Elisabeth Moss as your icon of reproductive rights.

From the beginning of Moss’s involvement in the series, which is based on Margaret Atwood’s book of the same name, writers have pointed out the hypocrisy of a lifelong Scientologist playing the protagonist in a series about a totalitarian religious dystopia.

It’s come up again and again, and we ourselves contributed to that chorus when we pointed out how much Moss’s lines echoed the evidence from an FBI investigation of the way workers were treated in Scientology’s “Sea Organization.”

But there’s another reason why the hypocrisy of Moss in the Handmaid’s Tale gets cranked up even further in the context of abortion. And that’s because of Scientology’s long-established record for forcing the women in the Sea Org to have abortions so they can keep working 112-hour weeks for pennies an hour.

The Tampa Bay Times has done incredible work on Scientology over the years, and if there was one story that should have garnered a Pulitzer Prize for reporter Tom Tobin, it was his 2010 article ‘No Kids Allowed,’ which featured interviews with three former Sea Org women who regretted being forced to have abortions by the church.

Scientology makes the usual denials, but there’s simply no question that from as early as the 1970s women in the Sea Org have been coerced to have abortions, and as recent as 2019 a new defector from the Sea Org, Bree Mood, said it was still happening.

When one of the former Sea Org members featured in Tobin’s story, Laura Decrescenzo, filed a lawsuit against Scientology and included her allegations of a forced abortion, the church spent nine years fighting her case tooth and nail before finally caving and settling just days before a trial was to begin in 2018. Church leader David Miscavige knew that Scientology could never allow live court testimony about its forced abortions to happen and get wider press coverage.

Elisabeth Moss grew up in Scientology, and Scientology’s own records show she completed its quack “detox” procedure, the Purification Rundown, in 2017. She is well aware of the Sea Org and the dedication of its workers. Would she be aware that women in the Sea Org are forced to have abortions to enforce its “no children” rule? It’s possible that she’s unaware of it, but we’ve never seen her asked such a question in an interview.

But either way, Moss’s star keeps rising, making her an increasingly important figure for Scientology, whose power in Hollywood is diminishing. As other stars fade, Moss is more and more becoming the Hollywood face of Scientology.

But you might think twice before using her as the face of your reproductive rights campaign.


Bonus items from our tipsters

Mila being used as bait?




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Source Code

“The most sorrowful engram I ever ran into was an AA [attempted abortion] on Christmas Eve. This was a brutal one. This person couldn’t even start to come near a Christmas tree without going to pieces. He didn’t want anything to do with Christmas or any part of it. He was very peculiar about presents. If anybody tried to give him a present, he would say the social amenities of ‘Thank you very much. Oh, yes, I enjoy it a great deal,’ and then hastily throw it into a trunk to get it out of sight so that he wouldn’t run into it again. This peculiar behavior was occasioned by the very sad engram of a mutual AA where Papa was being very brutal. He got drunk and decided that he didn’t want any children around. He did this AA against protest, at the same time talking about Christmas. And then he said, ‘I’ve got a present for him,’ and thrust a needle right straight through the embryo. One thrust, one phrase. It really messed up that person’s life. Mama went to the doctor shortly afterwards and got herself patched up and the baby came through.” — L. Ron Hubbard, September 7, 1950


Avast, Ye Mateys

“To relieve the feeling it’s a totally nutty planet, there are several PLUS-POINTS. 1. Orgs are there. Last Oct. they would have gone bankrupt but hard work by MSH and Gdn Office using FP No. 1 and CS-3 and FBOs got their cash-bills graphs into a solvent situation. 2. We have a strong SO unit at UK and a competent SO C/O at WW who is getting in a CIC at WW. We have the UK SO member aboard in training to put the Liaison Bureaux into UK. 3. We have trained a new C/O for AOSHDK and he is reported by one of our officers just there to be making the fur fly.” — The Commodore, September 7, 1970



Overheard in the FreeZone

“Levitation is possible. Like making the body float. I imagine with lots of spiritual practice you can do it, I remember some Scientologists could do it back in the 50s. Apparently when someone is possessed by a demon they can start speaking a foreign language they never learnt and suddenly can levitate. The Exorcist movie is literally based on true stories. Priests who do exorcisms know about this. This is all true, people really don’t know what’s actually possible”


Past is Prologue

1995: Larry Wollersheim reported more dirty tricks by the Church of Scientology this week. “Lawrence Wollersheim has just learned that the security of his Rocky Mountain Internet email account has been breached by parties unknown. Within hours of the seizure of his computer by US Marshals and the Church of Scientology on August 22nd, an unknown party broke into two email accounts changed the passwords, read, and then deleted the email.”


Random Howdy

“YouTube routinely takes down videos after DMCA complaints without any sort of review, especially if the complaint comes from a paying customer.”



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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for November 10. Trial tentatively scheduled for February.
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 October 7 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, 2020 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 held 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] Prosecutors: Judge isn’t getting the point about Dennis Nobbe’s post-arrest shenanigans
[TWO years ago] More filmmakers who are helping out Scientology with its TV network
[THREE years ago] Another life connected to Scientology ends in despair, as so many do
[FOUR years ago] Forced to open its books, one overseas Scientology rehab shows that business is grim
[FIVE years ago] Scientology’s secret sites: The Bunker premieres drone footage never before seen of ‘Int Base’
[SIX years ago] TEN YEARS GONE: Shelly Miscavige, the wife Scientology’s leader wants us to forget
[SEVEN years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology is going down in style!
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology Heresy: Jon Atack on L. Ron Hubbard’s Debt to Psychiatry
[TEN years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 11: Nick Xenophon


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 2,416 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,921 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,441 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,461 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,352 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,659 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,527 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,301 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,631 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,105 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,421 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,987 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,906 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,074 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,655 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,916 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,954 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,667 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,192 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 547 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,722 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,273 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,422 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,742 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,597 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,716 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,072 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,375 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,481 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,879 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,755 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,338 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,833 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,087 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,196 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 7, 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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