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Scientology co-opts ‘Top Gun’ success for its own fundraising needs

In perhaps the most predictable move ever, Scientology is jumping on the success of celebrity member Tom Cruise’s biggest ever box office opening weekend for one of its own fundraising campaigns.

Cruise’s hit sequel, Top Gun: Maverick took in $156 million over Memorial Day Weekend, his most lucrative hit ever, and he’s being celebrated in plenty of gushing media pieces.

Over at the Daily Beast on Sunday, we were asked to provide some background on Tom’s involvement in Scientology. In that piece, we said the following: “[Cruise’s] popularity will be a huge boost for individual Scientologists, who will see the success of Top Gun: Maverick as a vindication of Scientology, even if the movie has nothing to do with it. They love it when a Scientology celebrity gets positive press.”

And they also love to beg for your hard-earned cash!


The organizers trying to convince Scientologists to dig deep for the new Ideal Org in Battle Creek, Michigan wasted no time jumping on the Top Gun juggernaut, as this flier sent over by one of our readers demonstrates.


For the uninitiated: Back in 2003, Scientology leader David Miscavige began a project to replace Scientology’s legacy “orgs” (short for “organizations,” Scientology’s word for churches) with expensive, larger, and high tech “Ideal Orgs.” He put the onus for raising the millions it cost for each location on the local Scientologists to come up with. The result is constant fundraising over the last 19 years which often takes the form of themed parties and fliers.

Star Wars is a favorite theme, for example, as well as riffs on gangster movies, old west dress-up, and tropical motifs. So you end up with a Holiday Inn conference room filled with middle aged white people in costume, doors blocked by Sea Org members, a white board with some numbers on it, and intense pressure to pledge your kid’s college money so Dave can have a new gleaming cathedral in a place where the number of active Scientologists has dwindled to only a handful.

The pressure is very real, however, and so the fundraising for a particular city can go on for years and years. In Battle Creek, a working class town with probably only a handful of Scientologists, raising millions just from the locals is a pipe dream, so the pressure has extended to church members in other cities to pitch in. The organizers there adopted a theme of “barnstorming,” with images of early aviation, so maybe it was only natural that they’d jump on the Top Gun bandwagon.

And how’s it going? Well, thankfully, those Canadian marks are still forking over some serious cash to help things move along.

[Key to Scientology codes: Vanguard: $35,000. Benefactor: $50,000. Humanitarian: $100,000. Silver Humanitarian: $250,000. New Civilization Builder: $1 million.]



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Source Code

“The guy for the last five years has been having trouble with his leg and he just sits in the auditing session with this hidden standard. He runs cows, crocs and alligators with great happiness. And at each moment after he runs the command, or every few commands, why, he kind of thetawise looks down at his leg, you see, to see whether or not that has been affected. “Well, alligators didn’t fit in that leg, so it must be something else,” you see? He’s running with his attention fixed on something else. And he broke his leg five or ten years ago and it has troubled him ever since. Well, you can assess that leg, and by the way, you can even assess it this way: His name, let us say, is John; you can assess ‘John’s leg,’ something of that sort. It’s always best to inspect the meter for a bit of reaction, but oddly enough, you don’t even have to, to do that. You just know this is a long-duration PI problem. The best way to do it is to make a list of terminals that the PC thinks it is. And then take a specific one, not take a general one. See, you don’t want this thing to be a profession. You don’t want it to be a profession, that’s all. Because he’ll run on it for quite a while if you take it as a general thing, see? ” — L. Ron Hubbard, June 1, 1961


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Mr. Sibersky will be arriving aboard in a special motorcade. Any persons who wish to welcome him aboard on arrival are invited to be on hand, observing the following: 1) Dress Neatly, 2) To avoid a mob scene — crew and students should be on the dock lined up by Org (FB, FAO, FSO) and by course (for full-time students) (FEBC, CL X). The gangway, and all accesses to gangways should be kept clear except as noted in FSO 391. 3) Be on time. When exact ETA is known this will be made known by HCO Messenger so people can assemble ahead of time.” — W/O Mike Douglas, Org Off FSO, June 1, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“According to self proclaimed ‘Source Thetan’ Inelia Benz, this is a time to start creating the reality you wish to create for the planet. No longer a time to awaken the sleepers that don’t want to awaken. What are the postulates LRH did for this planet? He said this planet was going to be an OT base for the exit of this universe.”



Past is Prologue

1996: Scientology member Greta Van Sustern is in the news for ambulance chasing the families of the Valujet crash victims. From the Pensacola News Journal: “Relatives of Valujet crash victims in Atlanta reported last week that they were being contacted with offers by the law firm of CNN legal analyst Greta Van Sustern. The packet, which arrived in the mail, included pictures of Van Sustern, the commentator who made her mark as color analyst at the O.J. Simpson murder trial. The packet said Van Sustern’s team would represent the victims for free in exchange for 25 percent of any money recovered from the airline. Taking on such a case could cost $100,000, the packet warns.”


Random Howdy

“Scientology’s aesthetic muse is the Hallmark Channel filming on location in Branson, Missouri with some Space Opera whipping on top.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next pretrial conference June 30. Trial scheduled for October 11.
‘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 June 9 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for June 2.
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 December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior 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] Does Scientology know that it’s a Truman Show? Let us show you their newest magazine cover.
[TWO years ago] Boarded up and shut down, Scientology struggles to stay relevant in uncertain times
[THREE years ago] Scientology Lit: The verse stylings of L. Ron Hubbard, commodore of cool
[FOUR years ago] When the famous war protester met Scientology: A spiritual encounter in Los Angeles
[FIVE years ago] Remembering another Scientology ‘warrior’ — with the help of Mark Bunker
[SIX years ago] Now that Scientology has a TV and radio complex, will it air what Scientology really is?
[SEVEN years ago] Listen to Jim Jones root for Scientology against Paulette Cooper in a 1978 Jonestown address
[EIGHT years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology’s latest attempts to get you amped up!
[NINE years ago] Here’s Some Photographic Proof that Scientology’s “Ideal Orgs” Are Killing the Church
[TEN years ago] AUDIO: ‘Touch Me,’ Creepy Scientology Goon Repeatedly Tells Protester


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 2,682 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,187 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,737 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,727 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,618 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,924 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,793 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,567 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,898 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,371 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,687 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,253 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,172 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,340 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,920 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,182 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,218 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,933 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,458 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 813 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,988 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,539 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,688 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,008 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,863 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,982 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,338 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,641 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,747 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,145 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,021 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,604 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,099 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,353 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,462 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on June 1, 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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