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Liz Gale: How she grew up in Scientology, and then smartly traded it for being a pothead

In 2016, our old friend Mark Ebner had a suggestion for us.

More than a decade earlier, Ebner had written a terrific story for New Times Los Angeles (where we worked from 1999-2002) about the suicide of Philip Gale, a math prodigy who had grown up in Scientology and threw himself from a building at MIT on the night of L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday, March 13, 1998. (The story was later republished by Gawker, and you can see it here.)

Ebner’s suggestion to us was to interview Philip Gale’s sister Liz Gale, who had also grown up in Scientology, had left it behind, and had interesting things to say about it. We are indebted to Mark for suggesting it, because the result was a story we were particularly proud of that began to capture what a special force of nature Liz Gale is.

Liz was then invited to appear on Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath for a memorable episode of the show’s second season. And since then, Liz has continued to talk about what a unique perspective she has as a former third-generation Scientologist whose family has been through so much.


And now, she’s really outdone herself, coming out with a book with the startling title, “Confessions of an Ex-Scientologist Pothead.” (It’s available now at Amazon.)

She’s been generous enough to send us a description of the book and a short excerpt, and she has also invited us to participate this morning in a live discussion on YouTube during which she says she is going to quiz us about Scientology. That sounds dangerous! But we’re looking forward to it.

Here’s her description…

From her first breath, Liz is destined for life within the mysterious world of Scientology. Indoctrination lurks behind every corner as she shuffles between an elite boarding school, eccentric churches and a family of true believers.

When her teenage brother’s sudden death sparks a national controversy, Liz begins to ask dangerous questions about her family’s seventy-year involvement with the organization.

The true cost of freedom becomes clear when she starts a family of her own and is faced with a gut-wrenching choice. Will she sacrifice everything to protect her children?

You bet your ass she will.

And here’s the excerpt, from chapter 9, “Confession #9: My brother told me Scientology secrets before he died”

There is no guidebook to your son committing suicide. I think my mother did the best she could, considering the circumstances. I cannot blame her for what she said when she was grieving.

The internet, however, remembers forever.

Thank goodness for this electronic memory, which I stumbled upon almost a decade after it was originally posted. It was a piece of the puzzle that I never had before, and no one I knew in Scientology was going to tell me about it.

Soon after my brother died, our mother posted on a popular anti-Scientology message board. She was livid at the discussion of her son, and felt that the critic and journalists had pushed him into a breakdown.

“I know he was contacted by the Boston Herald for their article because he called me and we talked about it,” she wrote. “The interview was upsetting to him. That was the last time I talked to my son.


“In the BEST case scenario, it was upsetting to him. At worst, it could have actively contributed to his decision to take his own life. How would you feel to be 19 years old and have your school, your work experience, and your parents’ beliefs pulled apart and attacked? I have trouble ignoring the fact that his decision to end his life apparently came within a few days of the Boston Herald article[s].”

Of all of Scientology’s 1990s scandals, The Boston Herald series Scientology Unmasked: Inside Scientology was one of the most damaging. Five consecutive articles by investigative journalist Joseph Mallia ran throughout the week of March 1-6, 1998. Mallia’s articles were about different aspects of Scientology and were extremely critical in nature**. Titles included:

— Powerful Church Targets Fortunes, Souls of Recruits
— Church Keys Programs to Recruit Blacks
— Scientology Reaches into Schools through Narconon
— Church, Enemies Wage War on Internet Battlefield – Sacred Teachings Not Secret Anymore
— Scientology Group Reaches Kids Through PBS Videos

After publication, Scientology hired private investigators to look into Mallia’s life, and to uncover what “sinister motive” he had and what “vested interest” he was working for.

At the time, The Rev. Richard L. Dowhower, a Lutheran minister and an adviser on cult activity at the University of Maryland, College Park, said, “I’ve been in the cult-watching business since the early ’70s and I don’t know of any other group, other than Scientology, that targets journalists.”

Though he was not mentioned by name in the post, Mallia was the journalist that my brother had spoken to. Within a week of publication, my brother committed suicide.

I wanted to understand what had happened to my brother. Did he feel bad about what he’d shared with the reporter? Did he think he would get into trouble?

I reached out to the author, Mallia, a few years ago. I spent hours trying to track him down, finally finding him through a colleague in an old photo.

The journalist refused to speak with me. “It’s too painful,” I was relayed.

Yeah, tell me about it, buddy.



Technology Cocktail

“The largest majority of Scientologists should, I feel, consider themselves as ‘doctors’ on the third and fourth dynamics. And if we work well at this, we will have answered all our various needs and brought it off on the third and fourth as well.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1960



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?

[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

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner


Source Code

“Let’s return to the earliest moment that we can contact on the sperm sequence. The earliest moment. The earliest moment you can contact there. The first phrase that you get there will flash into your mind when I count from one to five. One-two-three-four-five. You are doing just fine, by the way. What was the phrase you got? No phrase? All right. Is there somebody there who says ‘Shut up’ or ‘hush’ or something? All right. Let’s shift over on the ovum sequence. Let’s contact the first phrase we get in the ovum sequence, the first phrase. When I count from one to five, it will flash into your mind. One-two-three-four-five. All right. Let’s contact now the earliest moment of pain or unconsciousness that you can reach, either sperm, ovum, preconception, wherever it is, the earliest phrase that we can reach. When I count from one to five, it will flash into your mind. One-twothree-four-five.” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 31, 1950


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Hey PAC recruited 15 SO members in the last 2 weeks! So Pers SO is working. And Action Bu is just a blur of fast moving missions. We’re having to catch up with all the dropped balls and sloth of the last year or two. So that’s what I’m into. When balls get dropped I have to pick them up fast.” — The Commodore, August 31, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Clearing this planet is going to take thousands of years and many lifetimes. There is no instant solution involving paying tens of thousands of dollars for ridiculously overpriced auditing from an egotistical self-styled guru or an organization composed of slave cultists. Anyone who really wants to make it will wade their way through the thousands of hours of study needed to understand the tech.”



Past is Prologue

1998: Jesse Prince reported on his recent deposition with Scientology in the Factnet case. “Scientology was deposing me, supposedly concerning the declaration I had filed in the FACTNet case, but in fact I had been asked very few questions that related in any way to the FACTNet copyright case. Most of the deposition had concerned my personal history, much of which had been culled from my pc folders. It was obvious to me that they were using the deposition to gather intelligence information about me, which they would then use to discredit me. The issues before the magistrate were twofold. One was a letter which Lawrence Wollersheim’s attorney Dan Leipold had sent to Scientology attorney Samuel Rosen, in which Dan promised to turn the entire transcript of my deposition over to Ken Dandar, the attorney for Lisa McPherson’s estate, if Rosen dared to bring up any information from my confidential pc folders. The other issue was the length of time Scientology would be allowed to keep me in deposition. Dan and my attorney Ford Greene wanted to limit the amount of time they could keep me; Scientology wanted unlimited access to me. I hear Samuel Rosen say: ‘Your honor, the witness they are bringing into this case, Jesse Prince, was second in command of the Church of Scientology. He signed a confidential non-discolosure agreement not to divulge any information he obtained as a result of his being second in command of Scientology.’ Rosen continued to do his best to persuade the magistrate not to allow Dan to send the deposition transcript to the McPherson case (the outcome was that the magistrate told Dan not to send the transcripts without getting his OK first, and, by the way, we convinced the magistrate not to allow them to depose me past noon of the following day). But I sat there stunned that I had just heard Scientology admit, on the record, that I was second in command of Scientology.”


Random Howdy

“The reason I started watching Game of Thrones is because I thought it was going to be the Deadwood of medieval shows and show how dirty and brutal the times actually were like Deadwood did and there wouldn’t be a whole lot of Lord of the Rings type shit. Which aside from the white walkers and the dragons there really wasn’t. But I’m starting to notice more plausibility gaps and irrational character motivation.”


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

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.

David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, first hearing set for Dec 4.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
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 sentencing of Masterson on Sep 7. Next hearing set for Sept 26.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing Nov 6.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



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] The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see, Episode 4: Katrina Reyes
[TWO years ago] Tom Cruise’s Scientology superpowers, No. 3: Resisting between-life amnesia
[FOUR years ago] Scientology ecstasy: ‘I have no idea where I would be right now without NED’
[FIVE years ago] Sheriff’s Office report spells out tragic details of Scientology ‘Clear’ who took her own life
[SIX years ago] As Leah Remini’s second season hammers away, Scientology is losing its mind
[SEVEN years ago] Vance Woodward’s appeal fails as Scientology has the L.A. attorney on the hook for $90,000
[EIGHT years ago] Home, sweet ‘Freewinds’! We get a rare look inside a Scientology promotional seminar
[NINE years ago] Sunday Funnies: Oops, Scientology reveals a key fact about the size of its membership
[TEN years ago] The History of Scientology’s Weird Vaults — The Bizarre Battlefield Earth Connection!
[ELEVEN years ago] The Secret to Eternal Youth! Now Available on the Cruise Ship Freewinds!
[TWELVE years ago] The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 14: Tory Christman


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 3,138 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,653 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,203 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,193 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,074 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,378 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,249 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,354 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,801 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,143 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,709 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,628 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,795 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,377 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,638 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,674 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,390 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,954 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,269 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,444 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,995 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,126 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,464 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,319 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,438 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,794 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,097 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,203 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,601 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,477 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,042 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,555 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,809 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,918 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 31, 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, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), 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


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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