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Jon Atack: Is Scientology really a ‘church’?

Perhaps no one understands the early history of Scientology like Jon Atack, author of one of the most famous books on the subject, 1990’s ‘A Piece of Blue Sky,’ which was more recently expanded and re-released.

Today he takes a startling look at the crucial days in 1953 and 1954 when Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and a few of his top followers conspired to turn what had been the “modern science of mental health” (as Dianetics was subtitled) into a “church” of Scientology.

Atack shows how, through early corporation documents from that time, founder L. Ron Hubbard had actually set up a Christian church as an umbrella to shield Scientology from accusations that it was making bogus health claims. It’s a stunning recitation of this history that we hadn’t seen explained in this way before.

We’re looking forward to you watching the video and then bring the story forward: Is Scientology today using the word “church” more as a shield or as a true description of what it does?




Bonus items from our tipsters

Ventura welcomed the silver mullet, Dan Sherman? We sure hope video of it surfaces!



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Source Code

“I heard about something the other day that made me feel rather bad. I dropped the I-76 or the Imperial Japanese Navy Trans-Pacific Submarine down into the mouth of the Columbia River, dead duck. And it went down with a resounding furor. And that was that. I never thought about it again particularly except to get mad at all the admirals I had to make reports to because of this thing, see? This was one out of 79 separate actions that I had to do with….My dad suddenly sprung on me the fact that my submarine had been causing a tremendous amount of difficulty in the mouth of the Columbia River….It’s got jagged steel sticking out at all ends and angles, and it’s a big submarine! …And the fishermen coming in there and fishing are dragging their nets around in that area, and it’s just tearing their nets to ribbons — they’ve even hired a civilian contractor to try to blow the thing up and get it the devil out of there — and has evidently been raising bob with postwar fishing here for more years than I’d care to count….I was asking my father for the address of the fishermen’s association up there to write them a letter of apology.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 23, 1956


Avast, Ye Mateys

RIGGS ECKELBERRY is assigned as Intell Officer I/T, FSO. He is replaced as Expeditor in Dissem Div by Gary Reisdorf, DFP. Riggs is to groove Gary in on all his current cycles before moving on to his new post. Riggs is to be programmed in Dept 13 for the study required to meet all requirements he has not completed. He is also to be programmed for all requirements needed for this new post. He will then report to the Dean of the Hatting College for enrollment and part time study after post hours.” — The Commodore, October 23, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“I am sure he hung with Allister Crowley in the late 40’s, I’m sure he was in financial stress in the 50’s. I’m sure he did all sorts of dark things in his personal life. But all that just endears him to me. I never judge a man for what he was. I judge him for what he has done for people. LRH has done MORE than his share of good things for people. It’s easy to dig into a guy’s past and find dirt on him, make the dirt seem uglier than it really is and then use the trumped up ‘dirt’ to do him in because of it. This is the way of man.”


Past is Prologue

1999: Bob Minton reported that the newly formed Lisa McPherson foundation is being blocked from renting office space in Clearwater, Florida. “We were informed this morning that MKV Realty, which owns the Sun Trust Building at 601 Cleveland Street, has refused to rent the space we intended to occupy to either the Lisa Foundation or me. The buck has been passed up to a gentleman named ‘Rusty’ who has yet to return my call. Ken Dandar will also speak to Rusty when Rusty is available.”



Random Howdy

“When they landed on the Moon, the adults in my neighborhood were crying. I couldn’t understand it at the time.”


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, 2020 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] Leah Remini: No such thing as Scientology ‘arbitration’ — judges are being duped
[TWO years ago] Scientologist defendants plead not guilty as Medi-Cal fraud trial scheduled for Nov 21
[THREE years ago] In 1949, psychiatrists wouldn’t touch Dianetics — so L. Ron Hubbard invented one who would
[FOUR years ago] Despite Scientology’s best efforts, a Bunker reader attended Saturday’s grand opening
[FIVE years ago] Vote for Xenu! Scientologists are looking to L. Ron Hubbard for advice on the coming election
[SIX years ago] The technology of ‘ruining’ people: Jefferson Hawkins on Scientology’s opening pitch
[SEVEN years ago] L. Ron Hubbard explains to a friend the real reason he wrote ‘Dianetics’
[EIGHT years ago] LIVE FROM LOS ANGELES: Summary Judgment Hearing in DeCrescenzo Forced-Abortion Lawsuit
[NINE years ago] British Newspaper The Sun Sneaks Reporter into Scientology Annual Gala!
[TEN years ago] Scientology Targeted South Park’s Parker and Stone in Investigation


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 2,462 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,967 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,487 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,507 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,398 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,705 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,573 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,347 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,677 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,151 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,467 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,033 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,952 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,120 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,701 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,962 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,998 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,713 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,238 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 593 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,768 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,319 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,468 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,788 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,643 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,762 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,118 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,421 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,527 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,925 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,801 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,384 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,879 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,133 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,242 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 23, 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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