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Scientology Mission Impossible: Or, how an ‘SP’ ended up in charge

My reason for leaving Scientology was simple. My pregnant wife and child were starving. So was I.

We were actually paying a babysitter so that we could work at the “org” (Scientology’s word for church) where we received no pay, week in week out. The staff were making it difficult to leave and so “blowing” (Scientology’s word for leaving without authorization) was the only option.

I had just wasted three years of my life. The thing is, I still reckoned that Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard had the answers to most if not all of Man’s problems, and although I cursed the org staff for not following policy and getting us into a dreadful situation, I still believed that people needed to know about this wonderful technology that could save us all.

The org declared me a Suppressive Person (or “SP,” in other words, an enemy of the church) for blowing, which was shocking enough but it didn’t quite kill me. And still like an idiot I wanted to promote Scientology and Hubbard.


This led me to contact the Scientology Missions Network and make enquiries about running my own mission, because I knew I could do a better job than those idiots at the org.

Yes, even though I had been declared SP, I still had the idea of running my own Scientology mission.

After all, I had done part of the FEBC (Flag Executive Briefing Course), the top executive training available, and had also completed the OEC (Organization Executive Course), which consists of studying every single page of the so-called green volumes, hundreds and hundreds of them.

A Scientology course is unlike any other. You are pretty much left alone to study at your own pace, especially if you are designated a Fast Flow Student, which I was, mainly on account of having finished various other courses or auditing actions. And one day the supervisor decided to do a spot check on me. This consists of asking me what any random word or phrase might mean, and he looks over the text and asks me what is the definition of “it.” I hesitated, and he said “Flunk!” This meant that I had to go back to the very beginning of the course, and I had been on my fourth volume of the seven.

With a shrug I go back to page one. There is a datum in Scientology which states, “Number of times over materials equals certainty and results.” Deep breath, here we go again. Anyway despite all of this I contacted the person in charge of missions and asked about the possibility of starting one.

He said, “As you are an SP, there is no way you can be a Mission Holder, but if you found someone else to be the MH then you can be the Executive Director and run it.”

And that is exactly what happened. A mate said he would do it after I convinced him that there would be nothing to do and he’d just be Mission Holder in name only and that I would do all the work. Everything was signed up, ready to go but neither of us could afford the mission starter pack.

These things cost about £30,000 I think.

Oh well, I tried.

Then I heard that there were two mission starter packs available that had been bought but not used. One near Manchester and the other in Edinburgh. The Manchester guy I knew had cancer and that was most likely his reason for not opening his mission. The Edinburgh one, I had no idea.

Off to Manchester we go, to some middle-class cloned housing estate and knock on the door of the house, and sure enough in the garage is what looks like a mission starter pack. We load up, say thanks, and head home.

One thing I had noticed was that the basic books that comprised most of the pack were of the older style. They still had colourful covers but there was already a newer edition out. Of the same book, of course. The freight train from Venus was there. And the woman dressed in an ape suit. It’s hard to recall exactly when these were published but in my time there was a whole new lot introduced that superseded the previous bunch from the early 80s? I could be wrong but a later edition was out, late 80s, 90s. So I would be pretty much selling any new public older stock. Not ideal.

When I finally got to Edinburgh and entered the dark dingy damp room in which the mission starter pack was stored, the scene was much worse. These books were of an even earlier edition. The ones with “loyal officers” dressed in white mini-skirts and matching steel helmets. Apparently these book covers were LRH-approved designs. I managed to salvage any books that were not water or damp damaged and headed the long way home.

It was pretty obvious that both these starter packs were starter packs in name only, and in addition to being old stock had actually been ravaged by a couple of hundred petty pilferers. Great start, eh?


To get things rolling I took out a full page ad in a local free paper that consisted solely of an Oxford Capacity Analysis (Scientology’s “personality test” that actually has nothing to do with Oxford University) and a return address. Something inside me knew that to mention Scientology or Dianetics would be counterproductive, so I just called us “Riverdale Mission” (name changed to protect the innocent.)

So far, expenses had been the cost of petrol to collect the starter packs and not much else as I planned to run the operation from home until we had made a bit of money. The newspaper ad of course would be paid for at a future date once the money came rolling in.

The OCAs began to come in and then I began to call people to come in for evaluation. Things took off in a minor kind of way.

The big problem was that true to my word to my mission holder friend, I did everything myself. I was the call-in person, the registrar, the bookseller, the course supervisor and the auditor. But still people came in from the OCAs.

The Commanding Officer of the UK called me to Manchester to a meeting with the Manchester Execs and as we sat around a nice big polished table he told them that they ought to be more like me and finished by saying, “And he’s a bloody SP!”

Another time at Saint Hill Manor, Scientology’s UK headquarters, I was introduced as a successful businessman from the north. When the guy asked what I did, the Sea Org executive answered, “He’s a Mission Holder.” Which of course I wasn’t, but that is the bizarre world of Scientology right there. As long as you are producing the goods, everyone is happy and petty rule violations are overlooked.

And so I had proved myself right. The problem wasn’t Scientology, it was the people doing it and I was just as good if not better than they were.

I was to find out just how wrong I was!

And so I found myself riding high in the Scientology world and all because I was producing, getting products out. I was disseminating, calling in new people, selling them courses or auditing, or books, in short, doing everything. Slowly I began to acquire staff to help but I couldn’t train them quickly enough to become useful and of course this would have meant no time to do all the other things. Eventually I had five staff members. One guy was hired to simply hand out leaflets and he appeared to be doing a great job of it. His statistic kept going up and up.

L. Ron Hubbard teaches that promotion is the key to just about everything, and I was just waiting for the hordes of interested public to come beating on my door. They didn’t. I thought I’d better investigate the matter. After all, I had done the Data Series. This was Hubbard’s version of analysing logic and all that it entailed in order to find out what was illogical and thence find answers that would solve the problem, once and for all.

Meanwhile I get called to Saint Hill to receive an award for the book sales I had been doing. As I walked through the courtyard towards the fake castle entrance I was approached by the Ethics Officer, a big tall guy, softly spoken.

“I thought you were an SP?” he began.

“Oh, I don’t think so,” I grinned, feeling invincible. In actuality I was still an SP. The declare was never lifted for some reason. I suppose it saved some time later when I became a real SP.

I received my award and glowed all over the place feeling pretty smug. Back at base (my home) we had three staff living with us and of course we were also raising a family, or trying to. Despite the accolades for sales and delivery, income was never, ever enough.


One of our students overheard my wife and I discussing our inability to pay the rent that month and generously offered a donation which from sheer desperation I accepted, whilst feeling like a utter cad.

The new public was really just a trickle at this time so I confronted the leaflet guy. He was glad of the chance to confess his overts (sins). Each morning he went out with his bag full of leaflets, dumped them into a litter bin and spent the day sunbathing in the local park. I was furious but at the same time found the whole thing amusing.

I can’t even recall how I disciplined him, probably assigned him a lower ethics condition, the answer to everything. Things, however, were still going reasonably well and it came around to the time of year for a big event.

The powers that be decided that the event for the Northwest area of England would be held by our mission rather than Manchester Org, as I was putting the org to shame with my one-man show. It became mandatory for all staff and public of the org to attend.

I organised a local hotel to host the shindig, which included the obligatory video viewing from the recent International Event, and then of course some hardcore regging (Scientologese for getting people to buy lots of stuff). Prior to this we were to have a three-course dinner in celebration.

Planning was easy enough but I grew concerned as to who was going to pay for everything. The ED (Executive Director) assured me that the attendees would each pay their part, and when I suggested we could sell tickets I was reassured that I could collect the money on the night from the guests.

You can probably imagine what happened. We all had a lovely meal and afterwards I realised that I had better get collecting as I would be presented with a bill from the hotel at the end of the night.

Things did not go well.

“Oh can I send you a cheque next week?”

“Oh we thought it was free.”

“I’ll pay you next week, promise.”

And so on and on from table to table as my heart sank further and further and I had to face reality. The average Scientologist couldn’t afford a meal out at any time of the year and here they were ordered to attend a function and the weakest link would just have to break.

That was me.

Later that night I had some moments of clarity. The first I had ever had since first becoming involved with Scientology some seven years prior.


I was introducing people to this fabulous new idea which would enable them to unleash their true potential, remove the barriers to success, handle the problems of life easily, and so on and so forth. And guess what? It didn’t work!

It didn’t work in the UK but maybe it was different elsewhere? Not really, I had seen LA and Flag and the same sense of desperation was all-pervasive amongst the membership. You handle things by lurching from crisis to crisis, quoting LRH or some piece of tech to make yourself sound better than you were. All this ability waiting to be unleashed, turning average humans into powerhouse millionaire types, and it just wasn’t happening, at all, anywhere. If it seems to good to be true…

I collected about 300 of the 2400 invoice on the night and nothing after that. I was an idiot. How can I, with hand on heart, introduce people to Scientology, knowing full well that you don’t get what is promised and you can’t even afford a dinner?

My mission production went to zero overnight.

Once a week, at 2pm on a Thursday, I would get a call from Scientology Missions International (SMI) UK to report my statistics. These consisted of a lengthy list ranging from things like book sales, new people in, auditing hours, gross income, corrected gross income. student points — ah the list went on and it was relatively easy saying zero, zero, nothing, nothing. And at the same time, it was tough to do this. I felt foolishly like it was me that was letting the side down.

The first time this occurred I was told to buck up and improve the following week. But I couldn’t. This went on for some six weeks before the Commanding Officer showed up and with some repressed rage blurted out, “You are out of here, the mission is transferred to (blank) and don’t look so bloody noble about it.”

Inwardly I was so relieved and the next day gathered all stock, what was left of it, and folders and dumped it all with the poor unfortunate who had been convinced to take over. He was actually someone I had got in. I wished him luck and drove off into the night.

Years later I heard that Scientology was saying that I had organised an event and ran off halfway through. What? Yes, that was the line they put out. The event was in the town I lived in so I hardly ran off. The attendees all ran off, in truth. Leaving me with the bill.

That is the thing that got me out of Scientology physically. They had me mentally for a further 14 years.

The rotters.

— Pete Griffiths


Technology Cocktail


INHIBITED INFLOW ON SELF” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1962


Now available: Bonus for our supporters

Episode 4 of the Underground Bunker podcast has been sent out to paid subscribers, and it’s a conversation with Bruce Hines about the mind-warping life in the Sea Org and a new story about Shelly Miscavige we hadn’t heard before. Meanwhile, we’ve made episodes 1 through 3 available to everyone, with Jeffrey Augustine on recent Scientology court cases, Claire Headley exposing Tom Cruise, and Marc Headley on what it must be like for David Miscavige living in Clearwater, Florida. Go here to get the episodes!



Source Code

These fellows do things like get your headquarters robbed of private research papers, buy them off the thief, publish them out of context and thus confuse the theory and research papers of Scientology with the actual practice of Scientology. And I point out to you that these are two entirely different things. Because I have just reserved the right all the way along the line to write down whatever I found. But I did not put it out for unlimited circulation. You see? So they’re challenging a fellow’s right to make notes of what he’s seen. But those research papers and books, today, actually do not much reflect the practice of Scientology, which if you look at it up the grades has very, very reasonable and very comprehensible goals. Do you see?” — L. Ron Hubbard, July 19, 1966


Avast, Ye Mateys

“PARTY: I’m glad you had a good time at the Roaring 20’s party. I was going to attend but couldn’t find any gangsters or a Sub-Thompson machine gun — ‘Chicago typewriter’ or a big enough cigar. (Joke)” — The Commodore, July 19, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Gullible people are there for the status! Not for the real thing! It’s a huge pretend! And the auditors who participate in the sham are suppressive! To say the least! Promoting satanic church members! Shame on all those who had any connection with one or another! They should do their conditions already! Low integrity, low self esteem!”


Past is Prologue

1995: The Tonbridge Courier, in Kent England reported this week that harassment of people who cooperated with the producers of The Big Story expose on Scientology. “Legal investigators acting for the cult have twice been to the [Richard and Judy] Price’s house – the last time at nearly midnight when a letter was pushed through the door and a man was heard running away. The couple reported the incidents to police. ‘It was very frightening – I don’t want unsolicited people at the house late at night,’ Judy said. ‘I couldn’t sleep because of it and I now feel very insecure. I know that we are opposed to Scientology but this is a free country and we have a right to speak our minds. We have done nothing unlawful – we have just tried to get Richard’s sister out of it.’ Peter Mansell, church spokesman, made this chilling response. ‘I don’t think it was anything personal,’ he said. ‘It was probably just a warning for the benefit of those that had been interviewed.'”



Random Howdy

“I’m a watching a movie and I saw on IMDB that one of the actors was named ‘Mapother’ and sure enough he’s Middletooth’s cousin and he’s been in tons of stuff and he’s a better actor than Tom. Who knew?”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Trial scheduled for October 11, pretrial conference August 17.
‘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: Readiness hearing scheduled for August 22 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for September 19.
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, Scientology moving to compel arbitration.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: February 2, 2023.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place, next status hearing October 25.
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] Scientology wants you to take this survey like yesterday. So pencils ready!
[TWO years ago] Scientology donor in leaked video: ‘You’re going to pay this money fucking eventually’
[THREE years ago] Fans feeling conflicted about Tom Cruise and Scientology after seeing Top Gun 2 trailer
[FOUR years ago] Judge to Garcias: Scientology can lie and cheat and there’s nothing I can do about it
[FIVE years ago] VIDEO: ‘Scientology Kills’ protest at Dublin concert enrages Jive Aces musician
[SIX years ago] ‘Call Me’ says their billboard — and their daughter in Scientology did just that
[SEVEN years ago] Mile High and climbing: Chris Shelton helps us tell the tale of Scientology and ‘Miss Lovely’
[EIGHT years ago] VIDEO: L. Ron Hubbard solves the Cold War and your bad marriage
[NINE years ago] STACY DAWN MURPHY: One Year After Her Death, Still No Answers
[TEN years ago] Case Closed: Paul Thomas Anderson’s Script for The Master is Nothing But Scientology


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 2,730 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,235 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,785 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,775 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,666 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,971 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,841 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,615 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,946 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,419 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,735 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,301 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,220 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,388 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,968 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,230 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,266 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,981 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,506 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 861 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,036 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,587 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,736 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,056 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,911 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,030 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,386 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,689 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,795 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,193 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,069 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,652 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,147 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,401 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,510 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 19, 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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