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PODCAST: Jon Atack has some things to say about Mike Rinder’s new book on Scientology

The big news this week of course is that former Scientology spokesman and Leah Remini’s costar Mike Rinder has released his really terrific book about his experience in the church, A Billion Years: My Escape from a Life in the Highest Ranks of Scientology.

And in our review we pointed out that we felt the book had a unique place in the literature of this crazy organization that we keep an eye on.

In order to help us put that into some perspective, we thought we’d discuss it with one of the OGs on the scene, the man whose monumental history of Scientology was our own introduction to the subject, none other than historian and Underground Bunker contributor, Jon Atack. His 1990 book, now in a new edition, Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky, remains a milestone in the field. More recently, he’s been producing interviews at his YouTube channel, including several with Rinder.

We figured he’d have some unique perspectives on Rinder’s book, and we weren’t disappointed.


Today, we’re releasing the fifteenth episode of The Underground Bunker Podcast to our paid subscribers at Substack. You should receive it presently at your email inbox if you’re on the list.

Not a paid subscriber? Well, we have something for you, too. Last week’s episode was with Mark Bunker, the Clearwater city councilman, who talked to us about Scientology’s latest moves in that beleaguered town. In the weeks before, we talked to Jesse Prince, Paulette Cooper, Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan, Jefferson Hawkins, Marc Headley, Patty Moher, Geoff Levin, Pete Griffiths, Sunny Pereira, Jeffrey Augustine, and Claire Headley.

Those first fourteen episodes are now free to all of our subscribers, paid and unpaid. All of our podcast episodes can be found here.


Today’s Scientology happy news. Yes, an excerpt from an actual press release put out by the church this week.

Tragedy struck the commune of Senigallia, and local Scientologists responded immediately to help the community recover from the worst floods ever to hit the town. Ever since the eastern coast of Italy was devastated by a flash flood September 16, Scientology Volunteer Ministers have been hard at work providing help.

Volunteer Ministers from the Church of Scientology Mission of Senigallia responded immediately, helping their city dig out from the mud. They have been joined by Volunteer Ministers from the Churches of Scientology of Padova and Rome.

Some of the worst of the recent flooding in Italy hit the town of Senigallia, where the River Misa overflowed its banks.

Although alerted to rain, it was far greater than predicted. Local residents did not expect the violence of the storm, which dumped between 16 and 19 inches of rain on the region in two or three hours. An Interior Ministry official in Ancona described the rainfall as a “water bomb that exploded.” A local mayor said it was more like a tsunami. In just a few hours, the region was inundated with as much rainfall as it usually receives in six months.

Streets became rivers that carried away everything in their path. At least 10 people died.

When floodwaters receded, the cleanup began, and the Scientology Volunteer Ministers responded immediately and have been helping their community dig out from the mud and water damage ever since.

Whether serving in their communities or on the other side of the world, the motto of the Scientology Volunteer Minister is “Something can be done about it.” The program, created by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard in the mid-1970s, is sponsored by the Church of Scientology International as a religious social service and constitutes one of the world’s most significant independent relief forces.

The Volunteer Minister “helps his fellow man on a volunteer basis by restoring purpose, truth and spiritual values to the lives of others.”



Now with no restrictions: Our podcast series on the Scientology docuseries that never aired

In five episodes, we recently looked at something we’ve been curious about for several years: The potentially explosive television show, produced by Sirens Media, that would have featured L. Ron Hubbard great-grandson Jamie DeWolf as its presenter, and that would have taken an active look at the families ripped apart by Scientology’s “disconnection” policy. Unfortunately, even though the series was ready to air on the A&E network in 2016, it never has. Our podcast series turned out even better than we were hoping, and we’ve made all five episodes available to everyone.


Source Code

“We could bring people in off the streets and have them walk down the hall and stop in Office 1 where a little sign says, ‘Glasses removed here.’ We wouldn’t have any couches or anything cluttering the place up like that, and we could just walk them around the hall and at each station there would be another auditor and he would just ask standard questions. The people coming in would walk all the way around and then out on the street again. Of course, they would stop at the desk before they went out and write out a check for the equivalent amount of medical treatment, which would come to $8,687,962.05! There is some slight possibility that we may be at that stage. I don’t want to over evaluate anything, however.” — L. Ron Hubbard, October 1, 1951


Avast, Ye Mateys

“With only a third of the crew done Festival Stats have fallen. Immediate Emergency action was taken. A new threat is required according to the C/Ses. The three Highest Hours get a SPECIAL BONUS. The three with the Lowest Hours have to push a peanut with their nose the whole circle of the prom deck on Grand Ball Night and the one who loses the peanut race can only wear a sheet for the next 24 hours. Review Auditors are included.” — The Commodore, October 1, 1971



Overheard in the FreeZone

“Frankly, I don’t think ‘discussions’ about history or any other topic ever produce much of any value. Debate is vastly overrated as a way to come to realistic conclusions about anything. Discussion is fun and occasionally someone says something that makes you cognite about something. But it rarely resolves anything. Online discussions also have a value in knitting together a community. In our case, we can’t all descend on the corner bar and have beers together. Now I know of a variety of trained and reliable ‘with-LRH’ people. And hopefully more will follow. Because God knows, there are few enough of us out here as it is.”


Past is Prologue

1999: Officials in Belgium raided Scientology locations, seizing documents related to fraud and abuse. From Agence France Presse: “The controversial Church of Scientology was again under the gun in western Europe Friday after simultaneous raids and seizures of its documents in Belgium and France, the Brussels prosecutor said Friday. Jos Colpin, spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, told AFP Belgian police with warrants swooped on 25 locations Thursday, searching premises, seizing bookkeeping documents and temporarily detaining people for questioning. He said two such searches were also carried out in Paris at the request of Belgian authorities, but added that no charges were yet pending against the church in either country, and that all those questioned had been released. The seizures resulted from a fraud and abuse complaint filed in Brussels in 1997 by a former member of the church seeking recovery of money she had paid.”


Random Howdy

“The only place D.M. is taking his ass if the seat gets too hot is to Tahiti or the Russian Riviera. He’s a gangster, not a fanatic.”


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.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Arraigned on August 29.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff scheduled to be sentenced on Oct 28.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for October 24 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. Plaintiffs filed amended complaint on August 2.
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. Scientology petitioning US Supreme Court over appellate ruling.
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] New evidence that private eyes stalking Leah Remini and J-Lo were working for Scientology
[TWO years ago] SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS, Episode 8: The secret Paul Haggis shared with the wrong person
[THREE years ago] Valerie Haney drops ‘Jane Doe’ label in brutal amended complaint against Scientology
[FOUR years ago] Dispatches from our far-flung correspondents agree: Scientology still sucks
[FIVE years ago] Scientology celebrates its disaster response in Florida, but struggles in Puerto Rico and Mexico
[SIX years ago] Atack: Scientology advocates serenity, so why are so many Scientologists angry jerks?
[SEVEN years ago] Cathriona White’s Scientology ‘twin’ on grueling courses was an actor named Travis Case
[EIGHT years ago] Scientology’s drug rehab network hit with lawsuit number 22 by attorney Ryan Hamilton
[NINE years ago] RAY JEFFREY 1, SCIENTOLOGY 0: Disqualify Motion Denied in Harassment Lawsuit
[TEN years ago] Secrets of The Master: Elements of Scientology That Didn’t Make It into the Film
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Internal E-Mails: Even More Depressing Than You Might Assume


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 2,804 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,309 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,859 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,849 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,740 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,045 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,915 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,020 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,493 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,809 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,375 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,294 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,462 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,042 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,304 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,340 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,055 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,620 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 935 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,110 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,661 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,792 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,130 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,985 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,104 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,460 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,763 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,869 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,267 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,143 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,726 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,221 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,475 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,584 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 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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