Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Chicago’s big Scientology event looked like a bust: Will this city ever be ‘ideal’?

[Straight up and vertical!]

On Saturday, a longtime reader of the Underground Bunker who lives in Chicago volunteered for what we hoped might be an exciting assignment.

A flier posted by Mike Rinder at his blog called on “all Scientologists” in the area to come to the Union League Club’s Crystal Ballroom for a “special announcement about the Chicago Ideal Org.” Mike wondered if this might be an announcement opening up the Ideal Org on Clark St, and we agreed that he had good reason to think so.

At the New Year’s event, Scientology leader David Miscavige announced that he would open four new Ideal Orgs in the first quarter of 2023, and that window was rapidly going by. The Chicago facility has been ready the longest — it was ready to go even before the pandemic put a temporary stop to any grand openings.

Our reader volunteered to stand outside the Union League Club on Saturday afternoon and photograph people going inside, so we might get an idea of the size of the crowd.


But after standing around for a couple of hours, and well after the event had been scheduled to start, he had only seen maybe half a dozen people go into the place. (The photo above gives you a pretty good idea of what he witnessed.) And we couldn’t even be sure which of those few people were there for the Scientology event or some other reason for going to the club.

He also went by the Ideal Org building itself, which showed no change in its appearance, which has been pretty constant for several years.


UPDATE: Our thanks to reader Chukicita who found Facebook images showing that the gathering at the Union League Club was held and appeared to be only a handful of people who were once again pressured to raise money for an Ideal Org coming “reeeeal soon!”


Meanwhile, the Ideal Org still isn’t open, and now Miscavige has less than seven weeks to meet his goal of opening up four new orgs. [End of update.]

But we wanted to thank our man in Chicago for at least stepping out to give us a sense of the scene Saturday, and to tell you a little more about him.

For years, he’s specialized in hunting down obscure newspaper articles about Scientology from decades past. He’s really good at it, and we thought we’d share a couple of his recent finds, because they are directly related to Scientology’s presence in the Windy City.

The first is from 1950, when Dianetics was new. It’s a fairly gushing story in the Chicago Sun-Times talking about L. Ron Hubbard and his new invention that we hadn’t seen before. The first third of it is the usual folderol about Hubbard, a “mathematician and philosopher” who had come up with a new science of the mind. But then things get more interesting when it describes the situation in Chicago…



Chicago Sun-Times, Sunday, Oct 22, 1950

Science or Quackery? Dianetic Disciples Claim Cures

By Robert S. Kleckner

Is it science — or quackery?

Thousands of persons in Chicago — and other thousands over the world — insist it’s science. Millions are dubious. Recognized scientists in medicine and psychiatry are positive. To the latter it’s quackery.

Dianetics is what we are talking about.

The subject — dianetics — was formulated by a “shoemaker who didn’t stick to his last” and came up with a new theory which he and his adherents claim can cure all the psychosomatic ailments which afflict man.

And they are plenty. They are the diseases and maladies which have their basis in emotional disturbances, and run quite a distance over the medical horizon.

But more about that later.

The author of “Dianetics — the Modern Science of Mental Health” — is L. Ron Hubbard, mathematician and philosopher.

Hubbard is about 40; a burly, good-looking red-headed, six-footer who did some of his scientific expounding in the shocker type of “science” publications. As to his background, his own publications merely say:

“L. Ron Hubbard was born March 13, 1911, in Tilden, Neb. He has traveled widely over the world, particularly in Asia. Educated at George Washington University as a mathematician, he began his studies of philosophy in 1934 and completed dianetics in 1947. He is a member of the Explorer’s Club and the Gerontological Society.” (The latter studies the problems of old age.)


But the first sentence to the synopsis of his book shouts:

“The creation of dianetics is a milestone for Man comparable to his discovery of fire and superior to his inventions of the wheel and arch.” Adds the synopsis:

“The hidden source of all psychosomatic ills and human aberration has been discovered and skills have been developed for their invariable cure.”

That “invariable cure,” in the opinion of Hubbard and his followers, is dianetics, stemming from the Greek word thought, or science of the mind.

The whole theory of dianetics is based on the assumption that you — and every cell of you — is composed of protoplasm, with which no scientist will argue. Protoplasm is the basis of living matter.

But dianetics insists that there is a kind of memory impressed on the cells, which we do not perceive which is “filed away” from the time of conception, through the prenatal period and on to your present being.

A lot of these memories are pain, etc. Because of these “unperceived” memories, the body and the mind get themselves into a lot of jams; hence, psychosomatic illness and emotional upsets.

If these memories can be erased, his theory goes, through reliving them in sort of a “conscious trance,” then the things the long-time impressions are causing, also will be erased.

Psychiatrists — all medical men — recognize that memories of many things may have a bearing upon well-being. But they try to eliminate those memories through conscious effort.

Dianetics depends upon an “auditor” — one who listens and helps interpret — to bring those memories to the present, have the patient relive them, and thus erase them.

Through this system, it is claimed, such ailments as migraine headaches, some forms of heart trouble, arthritis, high blood pressure, hay fever, asthma, peptic ulcer and certain other maladies not only may be controlled, but cured.

The dianetics group now is nationwide.

At a walkup on the third floor at 111 E. Oak there is a sign on the door: “Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation.”

There under Leo West, a soft-spoken, graying former school teacher with no medical training, Chicagoans gather to become trained in “auditing.” That means they learn to diagnose themselves and others.


Of course, there is a “certificate” that may be had to show they are bona fide auditors. That takes up to 15 basic sessions at a cost of $250. But really to become a graduate, one still must go to the foundation headquarters either in Elizabeth, N.J., or Los Angeles for another course which runs up to six weeks at a cost of another $500.

West said: “Sure, there are some people in Chicago now doing auditing. We don’t demand they take courses. Anyone who reads and understands the book and has a psychological understanding can operate as I see it.”

Some Chicago newspapers now are taking advertising from persons who “audit” patients. The charges they make are neither suggested nor supervised by the foundation, according to West.

West, also a onetime copydesk man on a Detroit newspaper, got interested in the subject when he went to St. Joseph, Mich., “to write a novel.” There he met Dr. J.A. Winter, medical graduate of Marquette University, who had become interested in the Hubbard theory. Winter is now at the Elizabeth (N.J.) headquarters. He is one of the few medical men associated with the group.

“He sort of used my family for experiments — and they worked,” said West. “I got interested, saw what dianetics did and here I am.” His wife, he said, had had eye trouble and couldn’t do her sewing any more. Now she can sit through a movie with no bad eye trouble.

The novel, West confided, still hasn’t been sold, and meanwhile he’s introducing Chicagoans to dianetics.

Come Nov. 3, the first class will be “graduated” at the Oak St. address. Some 26 have taken the course. Whether they go on in advanced work remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, says West, between 1,000 and 1,500 Chicagoans have become interested in the effectiveness of dianetics. They all have written headquarters for more information.

He is a little more cagey than Dr. Winter, interviewed on Aug. 15 by The SUN-TIMES. Dr. Winter claimed many cures had been made on ill people, including one woman who had lost the sight of one eye. The woman now can see light in the eye, he asserted, and before long, he felt, she would have effective vision.

West contented himself with saying he had seen improvement, not only in his wife and family, but among some people who even had lost the sense of tasting food. As an afterthought, he added:

“Some musicians who couldn’t hear music so well also are greatly improved.”

Dr. Morris Fishbein, SUN-TIMES family physician, in a recent editorial in the scientific publication, Postgraduate Medicine, said: “The United States is overwhelmed with mind-reading cults. A new one like ‘dianetics’ simply adds to the fun and the fury. It’s good stuff for resort conversation.”


Heh. That’s a good one. “Mind-reading cults.” And that assessment was made in 1950.

Our Chicago friend had another gem from the archives, another one we’d never seen before and that we thought you’d enjoy. Stick with it for the twist.


Chicago Daily Tribune, Apr 5, 1957

Couple Admit Cremating Son in Fear of Law

A married couple arrested Thursday for shoplifting items valued at less than $7 admitted to Chicago police yesterday that they bilked air lines out of thousands of dollars in the last five months, and cremated their ailing newborn son in an incinerator after he died without receiving medical attention.

The couple, Stanley Gottlieb, 30, or New York City, and his wife, Therese, 24, were questioned by Sgt. Frank Hanley and Detective James Scully of the confidence detail after they were arrested for stealing a shirt and a pair of scissors from a Loop department store. Police found several air line tickets in Gottlieb’s pockets, which led to the couple’s admission under questioning.

Mrs. Gottlieb said that a baby boy was born to her last November in New York City.

“In February, the baby got sick but we were afraid we would be arrested if we called a doctor,” Mrs. Gottlieb said. “The baby died. We were afraid to bury the baby so we put it in an apartment building incinerator.”

Sgt. Hanley placed charges of shoplifting and larceny against them. The larceny involves theft of $90 and a wallet last month from Triangle fraternity of Illinois Institute of Technology, 3222 Michigan Ave. Hanley said federal authorities intend to question the couple today.

The Gottliebs’ daughter Joy Linn, 2, was placed in St. Vincent’s orphanage.

Mrs. Gottlieb, originally from Appleton, Wis., said she met Stanley four years ago in Milwaukee, where she was studying art. Gottlieb at the time was teaching a subject called “Scientology” to small groups of students.


The Gottliebs went to Dallas, Tex., where they were married, and began traveling about the country, with Gottlieb selling encyclopedias. Mrs. Gottlieb said her husband, who had studied drama and psychology at Denver University, decided to start burglarizing fraternity houses.

She said he stole cash, which they lived on, and student identification papers, which he used to write phony checks to purchase air line tickets.

The couple traveled with their daughter throughout the country by plane. They seldom stayed in any city more than three weeks.

Asked why the couple traveled all over the country, Mrs. Gottlieb said they wanted to “straighten out our problems.”

Asked what her problems were, she said: “Marriage. Scientology.”


Technology Cocktail

“Far-flung members of our organization often ask themselves (if they think about it at all) what they are buying with their book purchases or their courses or their processing. For one thing they are buying the least costly and most important job of research which has ever been done on this planet.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1956



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 as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.



THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

— The Underground Bunker Podcast

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— SPECIAL: Your Proprietor’s updates on the Danny Masterson trial

[1] Sep 21 [2] Sep 28 [3] Oct 4 [4] Oct 10 [5] Oct 11: Day One [6] Oct 12: Day Two [7] Oct 13: Day Three [8] Oct 17: Day Four [9] Oct 18: Day Five [10] Oct 19: Day Six [11] Special interview with Chris Shelton, Oct 19 [12] Oct 20: Day Seven [13] Oct 21: Day Eight [14] First week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [15] Oct 24: Day Nine [16] Oct 25: Day Ten [17] Oct 27: Day Eleven [18] Oct 28: Day Twelve [19] Second week in review, with Jeffrey Augustine [20] Halloween special [21] Nov 2: Day Thirteen [22] Nov 3: Day Fourteen [23] Nov 4: Day Fifteen [24] Third week in review [25] Nov 5, Saturday special [26] Nov 6, Sunday special [27] Nov 7, Day Sixteen [28] Lisa Marie Presley breaking news [29] Nov 8, Day Seventeen [30] Nov 9, Day Eighteen [31] Nov 10, Day Nineteen


Source Code

“The matter of communication is a very serious one. People who are wearing glasses have a break in communication — the communication between the outside world and their minds. It is something which makes it hard for them to see. Myopic astigmatism, unless caused by an accident, is a psychosomatic affair caused by the mind. There is a communication break relating to sight. Those breaks culminate in glasses. Statements in engrams like ‘You just can’t see anything’ will cause the command power to shut off vision. Those people who have achieved optimum personality often drop off the need for glasses.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 14, 1951



Avast, Ye Mateys

“MOLLY McBRIDE and CLARISSE BARNETT are appointed Commodore’s Messengers. They are cadets in rank and wear a blue lanyard. When they have done their AB, Mission School 2nd Class, SSI and SSII, if they perform duty well, they will be made midshipmen. Anne Tidman as Cmdr’s Messenger I/C will assign their watches and groove them in (Terri Gillham is on Mission). Molly McBride and Clarisse Barnett should turn over any duties they have to the next in line on their posts and groove them in so as not to leave a hole. A poor turnover of former post can drag one back into it as Mr. Warren has learned lately to his sorrow!” — The Commodore, February 14, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Grade 2 worth it? LRH is very simply a genius. I realized I am CAUSE. I am responsible for anything that ever happened to me, willingly or unwillingly; knowingly or unknowingly. Waves and waves of energy have emanated from my body and me for the past few days and I have addressed items and terminals I had attention on forever. My voice dropped a register during auditing. I had a higher pitched voice before and I just calmed the hell down during this auditing. I sound manlier, I talk slower, I don’t mumble my words so much, I listen attentively to others. I am very happy, I am really ready to go back in the workplace and see changes happening there with terminals. Curious to talk to my 2D (we are currently separated), curious to talk to anyone. My face changed, mass blew right of my face, I feel like I got a face lift and reconstructive surgery. My goodness. Oh and I perceive differently with my vision. I see layers of vision. It is a change of vision, it is a rehab of the Objectives wins I had before but to make it simpler to understand the MEST universe is right in front of me and closer and in full 3D, I AM the MEST universe if that makes sense. It’s not some nebulous weird thing that’s over there. It’s right there in front of me. Sometimes I say hi to it and smile and admire it, it seems to like that.”


Past is Prologue

1996: The first Internet posting by Monica Pignotti was made to a.r.s this week. “For those of you who don’t know me I am a EX 6-year member of the CofS who wrote an account of my experience which was posted on ars My Nine Lives in Scientology. I was involved from 1970-76, which included time done on the Apollo, Clearwater, AOLA and the Salt Lake City mission. I’d love to hear from anyone who knew me back then and anyone else who would care to write. I’ve been out for nearly 20 years now — the anniversary date of my leaving and getting back my freedom was August 22nd, 1976. I’ve never for a moment regretted my decision to leave and I am a very happy SP, even though current members believe this is an oxymoron.”


Random Howdy


“The idiots show up like clockwork on a Thursday, leave a couple of barely comprehensible comments and scurry away, and they’ve done their job for the week! I think Miscavige is overpaying them.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Mistrial declared November 30. Retrial scheduled, jury selection begins March 29. Next pretrial hearing: Feb 16.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Next pretrial hearing Feb 13.
Rizza Islam, Medi-Cal fraud: Trial scheduled for March 1 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next status conference Feb 13.

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. Hearing November 17 to argue the arbitration motions, awaiting ruling.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Selection of arbitrators underway. Next court hearing: March 15, 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 at least through February 7.
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.



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] A day in the life of a pilgrim at Scientology’s spiritual mecca in Florida!
[TWO years ago] Post-Super Bowl, Scientology is on fire and will soon clear the planet
[THREE years ago] Masterson accusers in court today seek changes to deal with Scientology ‘arbitration’ motions
[FOUR years ago] Scientology’s street theater in New York: A bid to head off a 4th ‘Aftermath’ season?
[SIX years ago] 25 years ago today: Scientology leader David Miscavige’s ‘Nightline’ appearance
[SEVEN years ago] Karen de la Carriere: Scientology is smearing me again, and this time is hitting below the belt
[EIGHT years ago] More secrets from Scientology’s vanished entity, Narconon International
[NINE years ago] Scientology’s $100,000 girl records a video promoting a fundraising event in California
[TEN years ago] Scientology’s Spiffy Golden Era Studios Has Its Own Dentist!
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology’s Shocking Treatment of Children Held in a Suburban Labor Camp


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 2,940 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,445 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,995 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,985 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,876 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,180 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,051 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,156 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,633 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,945 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,511 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,430 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,598 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,179 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,440 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,477 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,192 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,756 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,071 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,246 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,797 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,928 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,266 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,121 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,240 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,596 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,899 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,005 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,403 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,279 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,862 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,357 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,611 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,720 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 14, 2023 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email