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Life in Scientology: Saving the planet and lining your pockets at the same time!

Anyone who has been involved in Scientology likely knows about “FSMing.” FSM stands for Field Staff Member. In the 1960s founder L. Ron Hubbard wrote a policy letter that established this system.

In short, it enabled people who are not on staff in an organization to make money through sales commissions. The “field,” in Hubbard’s jargon, is made up of non-staff Scientologists who have taken service or bought something from the org. They were dubbed “staff members” even though they are not on staff.

If an FSM gets a person to pay for auditing or training at the org, they earn 10 percent of the amount that the person pays. If the person buys books, the commission is 15 percent. Obviously, the intent of the system is to increase income.

I am no expert on the policies related to FSMs. While I don’t know how or why, for a time staff members in “lower orgs” and even in the Sea Org could make book commissions. Maybe that is still true.


This all relates to one of the more surreal episodes in my Scientology life. It was in the mid-1980s when I was working in the Flag Service Organization. It involved two relatively well-known guys who were Sea Org members at the Flag Land Base at that time. One of them was Ron Norton, who was Captain FSO. The other was Jon Lundeen, who held the post of, if I remember correctly, Flag Finance Director.

These two guys made a lot of money in a relatively short period of time. They did this by getting well-to-do people to buy book packages. They would arrange to meet with their marks and then proceed to do a sales job. This activity had nothing to do with their actual jobs. The Captain FSO is the top boss in that organization, who is supposed to manage its activities with the aim of maximizing production. In other Sea Org units, that post is called “Commanding Officer,” but someone thought that at Scientology’s “spiritual mecca” the title “captain” sounded better.

The Finance Director is kind of like a CFO. Because those two guys were top executives locally, they could get some of their underlings to set up these sales sessions. The sale of books generally takes place in a relatively minor section in the organization chart, out of many, many other more important jobs. It was like the top manager at a Macy’s going to the shoe department to personally make sales.

This is not to say that book sales have not been a big deal. At that time, because L. Ron Hubbard was the author, he personally got a cut. I don’t know the specifics of that. But consequently, there have always been programs to get Scientologists and new saps to buy books and audio recordings by Hubbard. One such campaign involved the donation of Scientology publications to public libraries. Another was the purchase of large quantities of The Way to Happiness booklets for distribution by various front groups. The aim was to get Scientologists to buy huge amounts of books and book packages that would not be received by the purchaser, but would be set aside for use in broader dissemination efforts.

In the high-pressure sales meetings, the potential buyer would be hammered with the usual arguments of saving the planet and the individual’s responsibility of expanding Scientology. Some rich person might pay ten thousand dollars, or even much more in big transactions, to feel the satisfaction of, say, helping the make the words of Hubbard available to “wogs” (non-Scientologists) in libraries all across the country. Fifteen percent of 10,000 is $1,500. Adding up a few such sales per week, in a matter of months Norton and Lundeen had taken in a sizable chunk of cash.

There was an added benefit to those executives selling lots of books. That money taken in was included in the organization’s statistic of gross income (GI), in my recollection. In all Scientology organizations, that stat is one of main ones that the executives live and die by. It is generally the most important one and engenders the most pressure from the international level.

Norton and Lundeen were helping themselves in that way too.

So, what did they do with their windfalls? Well, they both went out and bought Corvettes. Sensible, right? For those who might not know, a Corvette is a fancy, high-end sports car put out by the Chevrolet company. And these weren’t old used ones. They were sleek and shiny and red. One would see those two driving to and from their “berthing” (in Sea Org parlance, that is the place where one sleeps and keeps some personal belongings) and the location of their work, which was the Fort Harrison Hotel at that time.

Sea Org members back then were allowed to have children, which was cancelled in about 1987. Both Norton and Lundeen and their families therefore lived in the “QI” (short for Quality Inn, an old hotel that the Sea Org had purchased for Sea Org members with kids), as did I. Those Corvettes would be cruising along U.S. Highway 19, where the QI was located, and Gulf to Bay Boulevard in and out of downtown Clearwater.

Were those two guys satisfied with flaunting their fancy rides? Oh no. They also had to get Rolex watches. As I recall they weren’t the lower end of the Rolex line, but were gold time pieces. These became a kind of symbol, in an odd way of thinking, for the success of Scientology. In addition, those recently flush Sea Org members acquired uniforms that were spiffier than everyone else’s.

This was all in stark contrast to the existences of almost all Sea Org members before that time and since. Low pay, budget food, cramped quarters, and the like has been the norm. The vast majority of staff at Flag would not have had the time nor opportunity to corner some wealthy public person somewhere to do a sales job on them. Most of us could only look on in wonder.

One might ask how these behaviors could be justified. A lot of people were asking that. As is often the case, pieces of the writings from Hubbard could be used, probably out of context, to excuse wild goings-on. There was the concept of “flourish and prosper,” which supposedly was the best answer to attacks against Scientology. There is also the idea of “havingness,” related to “beingness” and “doingness.” This is an abstract and far-reaching part of Hubbard’s weird philosophical system, which became over-simplified to mean how much stuff a person owns. This became equated, unfortunately and insidiously, with the power and influence of a being. To make matters worse, financial success is often thought of as a representation of how “OT” a person is. OT is an abbreviation for “Operating Thetan” and OTs are supposed to possess supernatural abilities. Hubbard even said that Sea Org members were supposed to be OT regardless of how much auditing they had received.

In any event, Norton and Lundeen showcased their new-found success. Many folks — staff and public alike — came to view it as cool and somehow gratifying. “See, this is the power of Scientology!” Even I, who at first resented what was happening, came to admire their ingenuity.

But it turned out that their little dash through glory was not meant to be. While I don’t know the details, someone in international management got wind of the situation and put an end to it.


Jon and Ron sold their cars and did something with their watches. Possibly they had to pay back some of their commissions, though I’m not sure. Certainly they had to go through some kind of “ethics handling” behind the scenes. Then life in that crazy world went on as before.

What a strange little interlude.

— Bruce Hines


Technology Cocktail

“It is easiest to run R6 on pcs who have at some time or another been cleared. It is also possible to run R6 immediately on some rare pcs because they are just about clear anyway. It is risky to attempt R6 on the average pc who has not been cleared. Some pcs can’t be audited at all on R6 until they are cleared.” — 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

“By the way, professional football is nowhere near as successful as college football; that is to say, people go to see college games. Well, actually I won’t go see a college game because I know most of those players are on the payroll. I was, by the way, the first boy in America to bust that story to the print, to the newspapers: professional paid football players on college teams. I didn’t get expelled for it, my fellow editor got expelled. But he didn’t really get expelled, he just simply got disgusted. And he is now one of the top sports editors of America. But the two of us found that college, the college — our own college — was paying considerable salary under the name of scholarships and bonuses and things like that, to good football players in order to make a good football team. And they were getting in more money at the stadium for every game than they were getting in through the tuition window. And this was an interesting story, we thought. So we broke it in the college paper and broke it over the Scripps-Howard newschain, which I was associate editor of the paper and my pal was also a sports reporter, as well as a student, on the paper.” — L. Ron Hubbard, December 17, 1954


Avast, Ye Mateys

“B. BEREZ: Goodbye Mr. Berez. You who used ethics most wrongly were found with a huge tin of marijuana to be the most out-ethics person aboard. B. Berez, you were the longest aboard in all the out ethics days of the old RSM. We can blow some charge on that. So goodbye Mr. Berez. I trust you will soon go up in smoke.” — The Commodore, December 17, 1968



Overheard in the FreeZone

“Ron after 1972 was not himself anymore. Whatever happened to him, he was destroyed. Game over for him. He was either a clone or a heavily PDHed messed up shadow of his former self. I can say that I consider Ron as the best genius on this planet. But in my view, clearly after 1972 he is not that anymore. He’s fake after that. Whoever got him, be it CIA/FBI or Aliens, Marcabs, matter less. He was being used by others to destroy Scientology from within.”


Past is Prologue

2001: The Buffalo News reported that the city is still considering tearing down the Buffalo Scientology org to make room for a parking ramp. “Planners want to seize two downtown properties, demolish an office building, then construct a 10-level addition to the city-owned Owen B. Augspurger ramp on West Huron Street, between Pearl and Franklin streets. But opponents say the city shouldn’t tear down more buildings, especially occupied structures, for parking. The four-story Hurst Building at 43 W. Huron is owned by the Church of Scientology, which occupies the first two floors, according to attorney William R. Crowe. He said the third floor is used for storage, while the top floor is vacant. Crowe said his client wants to remain in the building, despite a $425,000 purchase offer from the city.”


Random Howdy

“After Waco the political will to do anything about cults vanished. The main reason they finally did something about Warren Jeffs and the FLDS was because it was a pedo factory. America is a very religious country and it’s also a celebrity-obsessed country. When you have names like Cruise and Travolta running interference for you, you can run a long way.”



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 January 29, 2024.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, motion to strike/anti-SLAPP motions by Scientology to be heard January 9, 2024.
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] Florida Bar past president hired to stop court from serving lawsuit on David Miscavige
[TWO years ago] Growing up in Scientology’s Sea Org, and encountering David Miscavige: A look back
[THREE years ago] Scientology hopes to benefit from Michael Jackson estate’s arbitration win against HBO
[FOUR years ago] The Scientology spy who wants desperately to come in from the cold
[FIVE years ago] Finally, Scientology spells out its crazy ideas in a video you weren’t supposed to see
[SIX years ago] Mexico officially recognizes Scientology as a religion, Miscavige claims at New Year’s event
[SEVEN years ago] Scientology is totally reading your comments here — and you’re scaring them senseless
[NINE years ago] Scientology’s Clark Carr: Those letters after my name were no good and I didn’t know it
[TEN years ago] At OT 3, you learn you have space cooties — how do you get rid of them? Scientology exorcism!
[ELEVEN years ago] Scientology Quick to Exploit Newtown Tragedy


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 3,246 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,761 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,311 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,301 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,182 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,486 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,357 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,909 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,251 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,817 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,736 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,904 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,485 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,746 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,782 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,498 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,062 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,377 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,552 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,103 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,234 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,572 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,427 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,546 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,902 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,205 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,311 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,709 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,585 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,150 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,663 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,917 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,026 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on December 17, 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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