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What the New Yorker left out of its story about Elisabeth Moss and Scientology

It’s a simple formula. A successful Hollywood star has a new vehicle launching, and publications line up to interview them to coincide with it.

In this case, it’s Elisabeth Moss, and the new show is “Shining Girls” on Apple+. But hanging over Moss is a question that has been raised repeatedly since her breakout success in Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and that’s how she can reconcile her association with a show about a dystopian future when she’s a member of a totalitarian oganization like the Church of Scientology.

For years, we’ve complained that publications let Moss get away with murder in interviews and never ask her a straight question about Scientology.

So it was interesting that one of the publications lining up to publicize Moss’s new show was the New Yorker, which, of course, has a strong history of asking tough questions about Scientology. Surely it wouldn’t let her walk all over it, would it?


Michael Schulman’s story did, in fact, have some good questions for Moss about Scientology, and he went into much more detail about her association with it than other publications normally do. Moss was generally dismissive, as she always is, and offered the usual non-answers that are easily disproven. That Scientology is an “open” organization, that it’s “misunderstood,” and that if people want to learn about it, they should read one of its books. This last is the classic Scientology celebrity response, what they are, in fact, trained to say.

We were contacted by a New Yorker fact-checker before the story came out to confirm what we had told the Hollywood Reporter: When Moss used an obscenity after winning a Golden Globe award, we pointed out that in Scientology, particularly its Sea Org, cursing is like a sacrament. We answered the fact-checker in the affirmative. (Although, in hindsight, we should have said, “Fuck yeah!”)

After the article came out, it was picked up in a feeding frenzy by other news websites around the world. Buzzfeed in particular did its best to cash in, breaking out each of Moss’s responses to Schulman’s questions in separate pieces. Clicks, clicks, clicks!

We were planning to ignore it for the most part, but then we heard from Geoff Levin.

He was featured in the article because, as a longtime Scientology musician, Geoff had worked with Moss’s father, Ron Moss, and knew Elisabeth growing up. He supplied some key insights about her and we thought he looked good in the piece.

But he told us he was disappointed. He had said much more, and he felt the piece was soft-pedaling Scientology.

Last night, we had a conversation with him about it. And we want to make it clear, we don’t mean this to be a criticism of Schulman, who, we will say again, asked far better questions about Scientology of Moss than other reporters have.

Levin was in a particularly good position to understand Elisabeth Moss’s involvement in Scientology. He had worked closely with her father, who was a jazz musician, as Schulman points out in the New Yorker piece. But as Elisabeth began a dancing career, the Hollywood Celebrity Centre and its president’s office, which catered to Scientology’s most important stars, had little interest in her.

“They didn’t pay any attention until she hit it big. And now she’s being taken care of by the president’s office,” Levin says. “I know it from being in the president’s office for years, and not seeing her there. When she was a dancer they couldn’t have cared less.”

Levin explains why this is important. Scientology is obsessively hierarchical and structured. Its more dedicated members obsess over where they are in the pecking order and how they are viewed by those above them.

This is reinforced by an intense snitching culture, Levin points out, where you are as likely to be turned in for unorthodox ideas by your own children, or your own parents, as you are a stranger.

But Elisabeth, he says, managed to sidestep a lot of that by not being a part of its Hollywood clique. “The Mastersons. The Ribisis. Jason Lee. Laura Prepon. They were kind of a group all of about the same age, but she wasn’t really a part of that,” Levin says.

And in fact, he admits to wondering what she actually liked about Scientology, even though she had grown up in it. “There’s something that she feels is really important in Scientology. I’m not sure what though.”

And she is dedicated, he points out. “I know she’s paid for some of her mom’s courses,” he says. (Linda Moss, for example, did the expensive “Super Power” process in 2018, as well as Operating Thetan Level Five, each of which cost tens of thousands of dollars.)


And then Geoff hit us with a bit of a bombshell. We knew that Elisabeth’s parents were no longer married, but Levin said he believed that Elisabeth and her mother had distanced themselves from Ron in the Scientology way.

“He fell from grace and never really recovered,” Geoff adds. He says it was well known that Ron Moss and Chick Corea had had some kind of falling out, and Levin believes that Ron was punished with “lower conditions.” That’s Scientology-speak for remedial exercises and practices that a Scientologist is required to go through in order to restore their status. Nearly every Scientologist goes through lower conditions at some point in their career, so that’s not controversial. But Levin says it’s his understanding that Ron never really recovered, and that his daughter and former wife are keeping their distance.

Levin says that Elisabeth Moss would receive regular guidance from the Celebrity Centre president’s office about who is in good standing and who isn’t.

“There’s one person at the president’s office, all they do is ‘dead agent’ people who have spoken out about Scientology, and they put together these ‘dead agent’ packs. And I can guarantee you that Elisabeth has been briefed with those packs. She is told that everything former members are saying about Scientology is all lies.”

And that leads to the next point that Geoff says he talked with the New Yorker about, and that’s how he personally has been subjected to this kind of punishment and familial alienation.

We’ve written several times about Geoff Levin’s exit from Scientology, his reunion with his brother Robbie and their band, People!, and their work on a documentary. And while Geoff was recovering his life after decades in Scientology, he learned just what his punishment would be for daring to leave and speak out about what he had seen.

In July 2017, his son Collin told him that he had no choice but to “disconnect” from him, as Scientology demanded. His daughter Savannah then disconnected from him in 2018. He hasn’t seen or talked to them since.

Elisabeth Moss may have told the New Yorker that Scientology is an “open” organization that is “misunderstood,” but she knows that it splits up families like Geoff Levin’s.

And, Geoff tells us, she knows it first hand.

We hope the next reporter who gets a chance to help her out with another publicity campaign can ask her about that.


[Geoff Levin and his children, Collin and Savannah]



Meanwhile, in federal court…

Just for fun. Isn’t this a thing of beauty? (See the new labor trafficking lawsuit’s complaint here.)



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Source Code

“Now we take eating and condense it down. That is to say, let’s make food scarce and let’s make it very hard to get — and we got a condensation, you might say, which completely escapes time itself. And you go outside of time and get sex. That is to say, the outside of present time and you get future time, which is sex. An individual goes right straight off the time track between eating and sex, and there’s nothing will float on a time track like a sexual engram. They just float all over the time track; they don’t nail down at all. They’re very mobile. Believe me.” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 3, 1954



Avast, Ye Mateys

“No new crew cases should be begun until ‘parked’ ones are pushed up into Solo range. ‘Complete in HGC’ is the target. Dozens of cases are overlong in grade. L10s should be completed only after OT III anyway. So an HGC completion does not mean ‘all possible pgms we can do in HGC.’ It means just get the pc safely off into Solo. There are also some non-soloing solo auditors aboard. FEBCs who have Solo work to be done should be shoved onto it hard within 48 hours of arrival. I want to see crew ‘HGC Completes’ up through the roof and Solo w.d. hours ranging around 900 a week minimum!” — The Commodore, May 3, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“More than a year and a half ago now, an incident happened with my daughter. Her teacher sent home from 5th grade a VERY disturbing writing she had done in class. This prompted removing all sharp objects and placing them in a lock box. I emailed Ron to ask for some remote help. He asked for her name and our location. A few weeks later he emailed me he’d done what he could and hoped it was helpful. (Now, for those here who have no understanding of the spiritual universe, this is very normal. Static, after all, has no location, but Thetans attach themselves compulsively to bodies. The GE seems to have the function to RUN a body. Others are NOT the ‘owners’ but they think they are!) Ron ran various Infinity procedures and the BT’s that were planting bad ideas in her went on to productive spiritual activities elsewhere. Is this a win? Beyond words.”


Past is Prologue

1995: Jeff Jacobsen reported a visit this week from private investigators. Here’s his description of the events. “From about 7:30am to 8:45am a private investigator sat in his car near my house. The police came by and asked them (at times it was 2 guys) what they were doing. They told the police that they were private investigators. I went and talked to them and they told me they were not private investigators. I took their license plate numbers. One guy had straggly long black hair. The other, who seemed to be in charge, had short brown hair and a long nose. They were both perhaps 35 or so. They also went through the garbage cans in the alley.”


Random Howdy

“The only people who don’t adore me are the people who abhor me, and that’s just how I want it. You’re either in or you’re out.”



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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next pretrial conference May 31. Trial scheduled for August 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury. Additional charges also referred to grand jury after January 5 assault while in jail.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference May 20 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for May 5.
Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court.
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Valerie’s motion for reconsideration denied on March 15.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Next hearing scheduled for June 29.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for June 28.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Appeal hearing held Aug 23-27. Awaiting a ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



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 can’t get enough corrupt South American police generals under its wing
[TWO years ago] Scientology boasts about members keeping up online — and once again reveals its true size
[THREE years ago] Scientology measles ship Freewinds ditches St. Lucia quarantine for Curaçao, its home port
[FOUR years ago] How Scientology’s mental health ideas end up enabling the worst compulsions
[FIVE years ago] Confirmation of the 2009 FBI trafficking probe of Scientology that the church denied
[SEVEN years ago] Whale watching: The wealthy donors keeping Scientology afloat, 2015 edition
[EIGHT years ago] Ken Dandar gets another day in court after his $1 million Scientology judgment
[NINE years ago] Scientology is Staking Everything On Portland Like It Actually Matters


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 2,653 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,158 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,708 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,698 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,589 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,895 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,764 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,538 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,869 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,342 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,658 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,224 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,143 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,311 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,891 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,153 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,189 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,904 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,429 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 784 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,959 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,510 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,659 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,979 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,834 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,953 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,309 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,612 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,718 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,116 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,992 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,575 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,070 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,324 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,433 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 3, 2022 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), 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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