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13,046 DAYS: David Miscavige goes ahead of L. Ron Hubbard as leader of Scientology

[Illustration by Observer]

On May 9, 1950, L. Ron Hubbard began what would become the Scientology movement by publishing his bestseller, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. For the next three and a half decades he oversaw Scientology’s growth.

Then, on January 24, 1986, Hubbard died in seclusion on a ranch near Creston, California. In the intervening time, Hubbard had been the absolute ruler of Scientology for 13,045 days.

If we assume that Hubbard’s successor, David Miscavige, took control of Scientology the next day, on January 25, then as of today he has been the absolute ruler of Scientology for 13,046 days.

Now, we know some might argue that it took some time after Hubbard’s death for Miscavige to push aside Pat Broeker and others to gain full control of Scientology. But there is also evidence that he had been positioning himself to take over that role for several years before Hubbard died.

Either way, it’s a remarkable milestone as Scientology’s post-Hubbard era is now longer than the time under his tenure.


At his blog, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder has for years traced the way David Miscavige has put his own stamp on the organization, even though it is supposed to be as dedicated to “Source” — Hubbard and his writings, the scriptures of Scientology — as ever.

We asked a couple of our experts to tell us what it means to them that Scientology will now have been run longer by Miscavige than it was by Hubbard.

Here’s Jon Atack:

Hubbard contradicted himself so often that his followers can often choose which of his instructions to follow. For instance, in What is Greatness, published in March 1966, Hubbard said, “Happiness and strength endure only in the absence of hate. To hate alone is the road to disaster. To love is the road to strength. To love in spite of all is the secret of greatness. And may very well be the greatest secret in the universe.”

However, a few weeks earlier, in one of several Policy Letters called Attacks on Scientology, Hubbard said:

1. Spot who is attacking us.
2. Start investigating them promptly for FELONIES or worse using own professionals, not outside agencies.
3. Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them.
4. Start feeding lurid, blood sex crime [sic] actual evidence on the attackers to the press.

So much in Scientology is the opposite of what it seems; indeed, such contradictions inspired an early title for my history of Scientology Hubbard Through the Looking Glass, before I re-named it Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky.

The leeway offered by Hubbard’s contradictions should offer a wide range of action for any Scientology leader succeeding him; however, David Miscavige has made serious changes to Hubbard’s inviolable “scripture.”

Just to remind our readers, the Hubbard Policy Letter Keeping Scientology Working is at the start of every “major” course in Scientology. It amazes me that Scientologists who have read this Policy Letter so many times don’t see the contradictions caused by David Miscavige’s changes to Hubbard’s “scripture.”

As Hubbard said in Keeping Scientology Working, “I once had the idea that a group could evolve truth. A third of a century has thoroughly disabused me of that idea. Willing as I was to accept suggestions and data, only a handful of suggestions (less than twenty) had long-run value and none were major or basic; and when I did accept major or basic suggestions and used them, we went astray and I repented and eventually had to ‘eat crow’.” (see my paper Possible Origins for Dianetics and Scientology to see just how much Hubbard actually plagiarized from the likes of Aleister Crowley).

Yet, Miscavige has seriously altered Hubbard policies, while silencing all reproach by sending critics to the gulag that is The Hole, where they are imprisoned until he decides to release them.


Miscavige simply claims that his new policies derive from Hubbard “Advices,” so justifying any change he wishes to make. The first significant change came with the Team Share System (SO ED 3490 INT), issued on July 24, 1986 (six months after Hubbard’s death). Members of the paramilitary Scientology Sea Organization at the Gilman Hot Springs HQ in California — from whence Miscavige reigns over Scientology — were given cards for Social, Bonus, Allowance, Chow, and Berthing.

Those in Miscavige’s good graces are issued a star. As his Executive Directive says, “If a person who does not have all his Team Share cards is found to be wearing a star, the penalty is loss of all cards and the person goes on rice and beans while living in pigs berthing until he is through a condition of Doubt for false reporting his Team Share status.”

When cards are taken away, so are the “privileges” (human rights) of the individual. Without a Social card, society is denied; without a Bonus card, the few dollars given as bonus will be withheld; without an Allowance card, the few dollars of pay will be withheld; without a Chow card, the crew member is reduced to rice and beans; without a Berthing card, they will be assigned to “pigs’ berthing” – sleeping without a mattress or bedding. It is a system of punishment for people who already work a 90-hour week, live in cramped quarters, eat poor food, and are bullied relentlessly in an atmosphere of constant fear.

The second gross violation of human rights imposed by Miscavige was the abortion rule, whereby Sea Org members are not allowed to have children. Anyone who violates this rule will be sent to an “outer organization,” far away and failing. I interviewed one woman who was harangued for two weeks but refused to have an abortion. She was assigned to clearing out a cesspit of human excrement, despite her condition.

Miscavige ordered a pedantic revision of all Hubbard texts about 15 years ago. The changes are insignificant (as far as I can tell) — largely grammatical — but all Scientologists were forced to replace their library with the extremely costly new books.

One change for the better has occurred. After the blistering defeat in litigation against Time magazine and Rich Behar (after a 20-year court battle), Miscavige reined in his legal department. I’m fairly sure that Scientology has been the most litigious organization in all history — following the strict policy of Hubbard to “never defend, always attack” and that “the law can be used very easily to harass.” Miscavige spent tens of millions on litigation (from the “war chest”), and successfully prevented any mainstream publications about Scientology for 20 years after my own Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky in 1991. Janet Reitman borrowed significantly from my book to publish her own Inside Scientology in 2011. Since then, there have been some fine books, including our proprietor’s excellent Unbreakable Miss Lovely, and many accounts by former members.

That’s one change that I welcome.

Hubbard was a tyrant, but at times an amiable tyrant. Some who worked with him have fond memories of him, despite admitting his authoritarian behavior – and screaming fits. Miscavige has been nothing but a harsh tyrant from the start. When I corresponded with his former boss, DeDe Voegeding, she told me that if you wanted a wall knocking down, he would simply lower his head and charge. He boasted at the Mission Holders’ Conference in 1982 that he was “tough and ruthless”, which is true — but not at all the right attitude for a putative religious leader.

If you want to find out more about the harsh world of Scientology and its founder, please check out my work. Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky, which remains the only historical overview of Scientology. I’ve also written Scientology: the Cult of Greed as a brief guide to the uninitiated. The Underground Bunker houses most of my writings about
Scientology’s implanting system. My YouTube channel has interviews with many worthies (including the proprietor) and is at “jon atack, family and friends.” My latest publication, Opening Our Minds, uses Scientology to exemplify many of the tricks and traps of authoritarian groups.

Among his many good works, emeritus professor of law Alan Scheflin co-wrote The Mind Manipulators, which exposed the vicious mind control experiments by intelligence agencies. He kindly provided an introduction to Opening Our Minds, which includes the statement, “If you want to make your body stronger, go to a gym. If you want to make your mind stronger, pay close attention to what this book tells you. Not only will you learn how to spot and avoid threats to your mental integrity, you will also have the pleasure of reading a very fine book.”

— Jon Atack

And this from Chris Shelton:


So we have now come to the point where David Miscavige has ruled Scientology for longer than L. Ron Hubbard. Almost from the very beginning, Miscavige began a campaign to change the nature and indeed, the whole look and feel of Scientology to fit how he thought it should be. In fact, at this point, with his declaration of various “Golden Ages” and success right around the corner for every Scientologist (except for the ones who are all going to jail or dying off), I’d say that his re-imagining of the subject is almost fully complete.

He changed how the “technology” of Scientology is talked about, how it’s delivered, and how it’s promoted. Now he is working on revising the entire administrative system and, if I have my history correct, engaging in his third worldwide effort to create an army of loyal followers and staff who will do whatever he tells them to (the first two efforts failed miserably and most of those former “loyal” followers are now out of the Sea Org and/or declared suppressive). The funny thing, and it is kind of hilarious if you really think about it, is that while Miscavige likes to prance about on and off stage and boast about epic numbers of new and old Scientologists moving up “The Bridge” in highest-ever numbers, the objective reality is that Miscavige is the failed leader of a failed movement which already heard its death knell back in 2008.

He is an empty shell of a tyrant, a Tin Foil King who rules over a dirty back alley while telling himself and anyone who will listen that he is the King of the World. Sorry for waxing faux-poetic today, but these are where my thoughts go when I think of the waste and tragedy of Scientology. Miscavige holds all the cards in Scientology. Had he wanted, he could have turned Scientologists loose on the world to engage in charity, positive social reform and actual help — the kind of thing that “new religious movements” are supposed to do. Instead, he managed to take the ravings of a pathetic megalomaniac and somehow make them even worse. Scientology has only shrunk under Miscavige’s watch and it will continue to shrink into oblivion over time.

The only thing I think I’d like to thank Miscavige for is that through his actions, he has ensured that no reform and no revision of Hubbard’s legacy will now or ever be acceptable to the world at large. Scientology will always be a toxic mess and everyone knows it. So maybe there is something to rejoice in after all with Miscavige’s long and sad reign. May his next decades be as great.

— Chris Shelton


Bonus items from our tipsters

Detroit, get ready: Michael Chan is coming!



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Source Code

“I was asked to study the physical universe. I was being asked to study nuclear physics, atomic, and molecular phenomena, all sorts of odds and ends and incomprehensibles, and they had not basically resolved the most fundamental things they had to resolve, which are: space, energy and time — what are these things? They’re psychological phenomena. That’s all they are. And the whole science of physics, then, is entirely dependent upon the mind. You want to know why, then, did a nuclear physicist ever go into the field of the mind? Why did we ever get Dianetics and Scientology? Why did I become interested in it? Well, I became definitely interested in it because the smallest unit of energy I could find must be a mental unit of energy.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 13, 1954


Avast, Ye Mateys

“I have an annual stat of major programs (C/S Course, Target Packs, Data Series, Personnel Series, Expanded Lower Grades to name some of those of 1970). This stat is shooting into affluence this year since 1967. Having gotten Power redone into ‘New Power’ as a Tech Advance and developed tested (by Flag Qual) and issued OT VII I am now working out OT VIII and have made several breakthroughs on it in the last 10 days. If comparable work on Flag Income and production and Flag Org on GDSes and Bureaux on operation will now follow in we can book this rather quickly. Orgs are teams and all of Scientology is a team. It takes team work and back up to make things go right and stay right.” — The Commodore, October 13, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I’ll say this: any time you think you’ve got a better idea than the Old Man, think again.”



Past is Prologue

1996: Hud Nordin reported a second appearance of the Scientology Chicken on the Conan O’Brien show. “The famous Scientology Chicken, Johnson, made his second appearance on NBC’s Conan O’Brien show, on Tuesday. The plot was about the same, the animated chicken is invited out to entertain the kids and fails to do anything but harp on L Ron Hubbard, Dianetics, and Scientology. This time, when pressed, Johnson’s aborted attempt at a story was about a boy named Tom, and a girl named Nicole, and a pie made out of… Scientology berries!”


Random Howdy

“I’m not here to change anybody’s mind. I’m a soldier.”


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 December 17 in Los Angeles

David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for November 19.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.

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.’ US Supreme Court denied Valerie’s petition Oct 4.
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 November 2.
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 June 28, 2022.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.



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] The Top 25 People Enabling Scientology, No. 12: The city of Clearwater, Florida
[TWO years ago] Just what Panama City needed, a new Scientology ‘Ideal Mission’!
[THREE years ago] A queer story about Scientology, gender, and L. Ron Hubbard’s sweet pile of Swiss cash
[FOUR years ago] After pausing to reflect, Marie Bilheimer takes on Scientology’s attack of her ‘Leah Remini’ spot
[FIVE years ago] Attempted murder, a fancy lawyer, and the long path to healing: A Scientology life, exposed
[SIX years ago] Back in London for the next Scientology summit, featuring Russell Miller!
[SEVEN years ago] Kelly Preston finally blows away the last of her Scientology space cooties!
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Special: Remembering Some People Who Mattered
[NINE years ago] L. Ron Hubbard Whines (Again) About His Scientology Workload
[TEN years ago] Scientology ‘Ideal Orgs’ Laid Bare In Our Thursday Stats Roundup!


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 2,452 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,957 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,477 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,497 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,388 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,695 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,563 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,337 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,667 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,141 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,457 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,023 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,942 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,110 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,691 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,952 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,989 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,703 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,228 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 583 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,758 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,309 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,458 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,778 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,633 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,752 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,108 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,411 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,517 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,915 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,791 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,374 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,869 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,123 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,232 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 13, 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


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