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


Scientology’s co-opting of Christmas is back, and we have a grim reminder about it

Scientology’s annual co-opting of Christmas is back, and this marks the 40th anniversary of “Winter Wonderland,” when, from his hiding place in 1983, L. Ron Hubbard had a Christmas tree put up in Hollywood for the first time.

Critics of Scientology jokingly refer to the Christmas village that Scientology sets up (complete with Santa Claus) as “R6mas,” a reference to the R6 engram that Hubbard claimed all of humanity suffers from because of the galactic ruler Xenu who, 75 million years ago, implanted in our immortal souls false memories of Jesus and all other modern religions.

In other words, Scientology doesn’t believe in Jesus, Christmas, or Santa Claus, but they know a good recruiting opportunity, and so every year in Hollywood and in other places they set up their ersatz village and lure in the local kids to sit on Santa’s lap.

This time, Santa rolled up to the Hollywood Winter Wonderland on a Harley.


But sadly, Scientology’s star power is so anemic these days, the only quasi-celebrity they had on hand for the formal opening ceremony was Kerri Kasem.

That’s a reminder that in past years, they could count on some heavy hitters showing up. Like the time Danny Masterson got several of his fellow That ’70s Show cast members to show up for the festivities.

Anyway, our friend who dives through old newspaper archives found something that has us thinking once again about Scientology’s attempts to recruit new people with their Christmas fake-out, and wow, this one really hit us hard, just a couple of days after a big anniversary.

What we’re talking about was that back in the summer of 1995, there was some controversy in Clearwater, Florida, when Scientology sought permission from the city to set up a Winter Wonderland in the upcoming holiday season in city-owned Coachman Park.

Some residents were angry that Scientology, which already owned so much of the downtown, would be given permission to set up their recruitment fakery.

But then, a Scientologist wrote to the St. Petersburg Times (today the Tampa Bay Times), asking why anyone would have a problem with such a beneficial amenity like Scientology’s winter village.

And take a look at the signature.

What’s wrong with a winter festival?

I read the article in the Aug. 31 paper about the winter festivities (sponsored by the Church of Scientology) being considered for Clearwater’s Coachman Park this holiday season. I was quite surprised to find such opposition to holiday activities for children.

It is hard for me to imagine anyone, especially one of our own city commissioners, objecting to Santa Claus and singing and to a church that wants to put this on.


It looks like this has become a controversial issue — the holidays, of all things! I find it quite silly. The park is the perfect place for these activities and I look forward to seeing it.

Lisa McPherson

Wow. This appeared in the Sept 8, 1995 issue of the newspaper. And it was that same month when Lisa was declared “Clear” at a ceremony at the Fort Harrison Hotel after church leader David Miscavige himself had gotten involved in her case and decided that she had attained that important intermediate step for any Scientologist.

Less than three months later, Lisa was dead, and Scientology would later endure years of bad publicity as more details emerged of how badly she had been treated by handlers at the hotel, watching by silently as she went mad and died of dehydration.

But sure, Scientology has its happy villages back up again, and Santa Claus is being used by Scientology to lure in more unsuspecting kids.

Is this a great country or what?


Technology Cocktail

“We have a true tiger by the tail. Take Man X off Times Square, pitch him into GPMs and he wouldn’t go OT, he’d go rheumatic. Why? He can’t as-is the significances
and masses. This will be found exclamatorily true of some 99 percent of the pcs.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1964




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 [50] Bruce Hines [51] Spanky Taylor and Karen Pressley [51] Geoff and Robbie Levin [52] Sands Hall [53] Jonny Jacobsen [54] Sandy Holeman



Source Code

“These things called ‘universes’ are games. And really the most valuable thing that a thetan possesses is his spirit of play. His spirit of play is sensation of play, and is not just energy. It’s a tremendous sensation. A guy has practically lost it if he’s here on Earth at all. Spirit of Play. It’s tremendous: he’s depending on all sorts of the soggiest, low tone scale emotions imaginable in order to get any sensation. In substitute for what? Spirit of Play. For instance, sex is, boy, that’s about eighth-rate as an emotion. It is just dull, incalculably dull compared to the rapidity, randomity and actual sensation of the Spirit of Play. It’s way up there. And you couldn’t possibly think that anybody could be serious and win through this universe. The more serious they get — 1.5 is real serious — why, of course, the more serious they get the more they have to do things by flows, and the acre they have to agree and the more they have to follow the rules, and the more broken the piece becomes.” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 9, 1952


Avast, Ye Mateys

“In answer to Income Clerk’s query, the following points apply with No exceptions: 1. Persons leaving SEA ORG get billed for all their courses they may have incurred at full price. 2. A Course whether finished or just started is always charged for at full price. 3. Reviews are paid for by the hour and at full price — includes the leaving Review. 4. If the person has worked at an Advanced Org prior to coming to Sea Org any courses they may have incurred whilst there are also billed for at full price. We are not in the business of free services and arrangements must be made prior to the person leaving regarding meeting weekly payments for the debt he has incurred with the Sea Org.” — Lt. Robin Roos, CS-3, December 9, 1968


Overheard in the FreeZone

“When and if corporate Scientology will implode, and the even bigger unknown, how? In my craziest ‘conspiracy theory’ mind, I can see a path where they will not actually fold up. I can fairly easily envision a marry-up of Black Dianetics, Psychiatry, and the oligarchy which currently rules my country, the USA. In fact I can already see progression in that direction. Doesn’t have to go that way, but that would be my proposal for Conditional Target #1. Even if most Conditional Targets are wrong, it’s better than the current program which is mostly, ‘Wait and See.’”


Past is Prologue

2000: Mark Bunker reported being asked to leave the Winter Wonderland in downtown Clearwater this week. “There were children singing on stage, kids getting pony rides, and a small petting zoo on display. The lure of the bunnies waiting to be pet were too much for us so we went inside. Within minutes of our entering what we assumed to be a public event, one of my guests had a man poke her in the arm and say ‘Why are you here if you don’t believe?’ My guest was wearing a t-shirt saying ‘Think for yourself’ and displaying the web address for the Lisa McPherson Trust, a watchdog group in downtown Clearwater which helps folks victimized by Scientology. Immediately after, Benetta Slaughter, a prominent Scientologist, came up to the three of us and demanded we leave as we were on private property. We complied immediately. We saw no indication that you had to have specific beliefs to share in the glory of the Winter Wonderland. The signs at the entrance welcomed all and said ‘Free Admission.'”



Random Howdy

“Miscavige has billions at his disposal and he has thousands of lackeys and soldiers to order around. He’s the Teflon Pope.”


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. Sentenced to 30 years to life 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. Next pretrial hearing October 30.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, Scientology submitting anti-SLAPP response Oct 26.
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: Discovery phase.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration.
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] PODCAST EXCLUSIVE: Jane Doe 4, actress Tricia Vessey, on testifying in Danny Masterson trial
[TWO years ago] Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in WW2: Notes from a prohibited war diary
[THREE years ago] Date night at the Scientology Sunday service: How one teenager was lured into Hubbardism
[FOUR years ago] Jingle Bell Crock: LAPD cozies up to Scientology at its faux-Christmas shindig
[FIVE years ago] David Miscavige will be in Africa on New Year’s Day to mark an actual Scientology expansion
[SIX years ago] DID BOB BLOW? Evidence that Scientology may have lost its biggest donor of all time
[SEVEN years ago] Disconnection, neglect, and suicide: Scientology, it’s even worse than you think
[EIGHT years ago] Document leak: When the FBI investigated Scientology’s bizarre New Mexico vault
[NINE years ago] Scientology ambush! Another crazy encounter, this time with Marc Headley at Int Base
[TEN years ago] Scientology asks for psychiatric examination of Laura DeCrescenzo in forced-abortion lawsuit
[ELEVEN years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology Needs Your Cash!


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 3,238 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,753 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,303 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,293 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,174 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,478 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,349 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,454 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,901 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,243 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,809 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,728 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,896 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,477 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,738 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,774 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,490 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,054 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,369 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,544 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,095 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,226 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,564 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,419 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,538 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,894 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,197 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,303 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,701 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,577 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,142 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,655 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,909 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,018 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 9, 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email