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Austin, Chicago & Mexico City: Here’s why you’re getting new Scientology churches now

[It’s been more than four years since the last time Dave released balloons]

The situation has been shifting and changing, but it’s now looking more realistic that Scientology leader David Miscavige will open the new “Ideal Orgs” he promised in Austin (Feb 24), Mexico City (March 1), and Chicago (March 3), with another opening in Paris also imminent.

The word has started getting out to the public in general, and we’ve been seeing some pretty quizzical responses on social media.

Scientology is opening new churches? Where? Why? And what’s an “Ideal Org” anyway?

The Ideal Org project is a story we’ve been covering for many years, and so we’re hoping we can provide some answers for the people and media in those towns.

Scientology is a very hierarchical organization, with one man, David Miscavige, perched on the very top. At the local level, however, Scientology for decades has operated what it calls “Class V orgs” — the word “org” is short for “organization” — that are intended to be mainstays in major cities around the world. Each big city is supposed to have one.


People new to Scientology might first be introduced to its ideas in something even more local, like a “mission” or by a “field staff member,” but eventually they are expected to go to the big local org on their way later to even higher-level places like the Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida.

Back in around 2002, however, and about 15 years into Miscavige’s tenure, after he had taken over following the 1986 death of founder L. Ron Hubbard, the church had a problem in Buffalo, New York.

The city there was using eminent domain to take away the land under the city’s Scientology org for a new parking garage. Scientology would be paid for the trouble, but Miscavige and Scientology needed to find a new place for its org there.

Meanwhile, Mike Rinder has told us he heard at the time, Tom Cruise was supposedly disappointed when he took someone down to the org in Tampa, Florida, which was something of a dump.

And third, the org in Johannesburg was in such a bad neighborhood, a staffer had been killed in random violence.

At least, those were the stories that Scientologists were told when Miscavige then revealed that he intended to replace all three of these orgs — in Buffalo, Tampa, and Johannesburg — with new, larger, and more updated facilities he called “Ideal Orgs.”

Many former Scientologists have pointed out to us that this was not something that L. Ron Hubbard had ever called for. In fact, Hubbard was against an obsession with what is called “MEST” in Scientology, “matter, energy, space, and time” — in other words, things. What was more important than property or things to Hubbard was people doing Scientology. So Miscavige’s sudden emphasis on more expensive and more attractive buildings seemed like it went against the spirit of Hubbard’s teachings.

But Miscavige and Scientology went all-in on the idea, and in the 20 years since then they have pursued the goal of replacing every run-of-the-mill org with an “Ideal Org,” whether the city it inhabited needs it or not.

Each project costs something like $25 million, according to a former top executive named Paul Burkhart who worked on the projects and told this to Leah Remini and Mike Rinder on Scientology and the Aftermath.

Since the start in 2003, this has been the building schedule…

2003: Johannesburg, San Francisco
2004: Madrid, New York
2006: London
2007: Berlin

2009: Dallas, Malmö, Nashville, Rome, Washington DC
2010: Brussels, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Pasadena, Québec, Seattle
2011: Inglewood (California), Melbourne, Moscow, Tampa, Twin Cities
2012: Buffalo (a do-over), Cincinnati, Denver, Hamburg, Los Gatos, Padua, Phoenix, Sacramento, Santa Ana, Stevens Creek, Tel Aviv
2013: Cambridge (Ontario), Kaohsiung, Portland, Pretoria
2014: Sydney
2015: Basel, Bogotá, Milan, Tokyo
2016: Atlanta, Budapest, Harlem, San Diego
2017: Amsterdam, Auckland, Birmingham, Copenhagen, Dublin, Johannesburg North, Miami, San Fernando Valley
2018: Detroit, Orlando, Perth, Salt Lake City, Silicon Valley, Stuttgart
2019: Columbus, Kansas City
2020: Ventura

That’s a total of 64 Ideal Orgs around the world. (Scientology boasts a larger number, but it also counts some Ideal Advanced Orgs, which is something different.)

Miscavige has attended every grand opening ceremony except the one in Berlin. Tom Cruise has only attended the 2004 grand opening in Madrid (and gave a speech in Spanish).


It’s also interesting to see which local dignitaries Scientology convinces to show up and say a few words, which have included US Congressmen and mayors. For a complete rundown of all the ceremonies, including photos of the celebrations and the dignitaries who gave speeches, see the Ideal Org section of our dot org website.

The last grand opening was held on February 22, 2020 in Ventura, California, just days before the Covid pandemic began causing national shutdowns.

In each case, Scientology claims that it is replacing an existing org with an Ideal Org because of greater demand, and to serve a growing membership.

But there has never been any evidence of this. In fact, actual evidence suggests that Scientology’s overall membership has dwindled, from a total of about 100,000 active members around the year 1990, to around 20,000 members today. (Scientology has never had the “millions” of active members that it always claims.)

So why are Austin (Feb 24) and Chicago (March 3) getting Ideal Orgs now, and Mexico City getting a second Ideal Org on March 1, and Paris sometime soon?

Because they fit David Miscavige’s schedule and for no other reason. There is no demand for new facilities in those cities, there is hardly any membership at all especially in Austin and Chicago, and these buildings have been ready to be opened literally for years.

They are opening now simply because David Miscavige, after the pandemic and after dodging process servers in numerous lawsuits, is ready to have his grand openings.

None of the cities that have existing Ideal Orgs have experienced the booms in membership that Miscavige promises his followers will happen. Most of them are virtually empty after an initial year when they work hard to win the “Birthday Game” and claim to be busy.

It’s just about Dave, holding a party to impress his wealthy donors, and to convince them that Scientology is still expanding. It isn’t actually expanding, but if you live in Austin or Chicago or Paris or Mexico City, a small party will soon happen in your town that you and the local media are not invited to, and that will be filmed extensively to show other Scientologists that all is well.

It’s a dog and pony show, and nothing more.


Technology Cocktail

“After Standard Tech is out for just so long in an org, Scientology ceases to have any meaning. Squirrel processes and repairs wind the staff up in a ball, enturbulate the field and cause a general lethargy and trouble. Ethics then goes in hard or it all goes up in smoke.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1968




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

“I criticize governments. That’s because at the present moment I’m not in any position whatsoever to completely smash them. I make no bones about this, see? This is not covert at all. Governments know what they’re doing, not cooperating with me, if they’re that smart. If they were very, very clever, they never would. And we’ll have to cut that off the tape, you see. But at the present moment it’s not that I’m in a position to, but it just doesn’t fit the cards to make nothing out of all national governments, that’s all. It just isn’t in the cards at the present moment.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 22, 1962


Avast, Ye Mateys

“Flag is crowded these days. Berthing is at a premium. New faces, new actions. This is the time when it is hard to wear one’s hat because the weaker points on lines have given away. This is the time that reputations are made and future trust inspired in those who wear their hats and do their jobs. In such times one begins to mark out those who can control their immediate environment and make it and those in it go right. This is the way future officers and promotions are scheduled. Reversely this is also the time one notices who couldn’t hold the line or who made a mess of it or who caved in. Those trying to get the job done note these things. The non production, the absent from post, the flaps as well as the order and high production people are noted. It all come straight eventually because those in charge note and support those who make it go right and mark down the others. The go-right guys eventually wind up in charge. Those who dodge their way and dog it eventually vanish off the lines. This is YOUR Sea Org. It is as good as you make it. THE SUPREME TEST OF A THETAN IS TO MAKE THINGS GO RIGHT.” — The Commodore, February 22, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

There are profound differences between American indies and European freezoners. American indies are waiting for the return of LRH as indicated by David Mayo. According to Mayo, LRH instructed him (Mayo) to to find LRH reincarnated some 20 years after death. That probably ‘drives them crazy.’ European freezoners, on the other hand, are aware, mostly, that LRH assumed the identity of a Space Commander after death. That somehow provides peace of mind.”


Past is Prologue


1999: The Independent reported this week that a Dublin woman has accused Scientology of attempting to brainwash her. “Judgment was reserved yesterday in High Court proceedings brought by a 33-year-old businesswoman who claims she was subject of mind control techniques by the Church of Scientology. Mary Johnston operates a sport equipment shop at Westwood, Foxrock, Dublin. She brought an application seeking documents against the organisation, which she described as a pseudo religious cult. Ms Johnston claimed the documents were necessary in her action for damages against the church and three of its members – John Keane, Tom Cunningham and Gerard Ryan. She alleged that while undergoing ‘treatment’ offered by the church she suffered increasingly with a dissociative stress reaction, became intolerant and rejected family and friends. Ms Johnston claimed she suffered a distinct personality change, would often adopt a fixed stare and simulated smile while switching off her feelings. She also said she became increasingly confused and her health suffered. Pressure was exerted on her to have a test which took place in March 1992 and the evaluator was Mr Keane. Ms Johnston claimed Mr Keane and Mr Cunningham pressurised her into subscribing for a ‘purification rundown and training routing’ at a cost of £1,200. She was told to attend a ‘doctor’ of the organisation who transpired not to be a registered medical practitioner but a cult member. She said she was persuaded to join the ‘Sea Organisation’ and sign ‘a billion-year contract’ to work for Scientology. David O’Neill BL, for the church, said his clients believed they would suffer damnation if they disclosed the counseling folder.”


Random Howdy

“Most of the junkies I’ve talked to told me the reason they did dope was because it made them feel ‘normal,’ not for the buzz. It made them feel the way they always imagined life should feel, even before they tried it. Unfortunately it’s an illusion, just like the ‘tech,’ and it ends up costing you everything. Hey, if they made Scientology and dope free just think of all the money and pain saved!”


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 February 26, 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: motion to file new complaint, hearing on March 20.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Scientology moves for religious arbitration, hearing on March 26.
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] Simi Valley: Not the town, but one of the Underground Bunker’s most loyal helpers
[TWO years ago] Scientology celebrates new staff as everything is really going gangbusters
[THREE years ago] When Scientologists talk Scientology, we all benefit from it
[FOUR years ago] Scientology tries to keep high-profile Philly attorneys out of Danny Masterson lawsuit
[FIVE years ago] First AME Church & USC both disclaim letter Scientology using against Leah Remini
[SIX years ago] Insider reports on Scientology’s grand openings in Silicon Valley and Salt Lake City!
[SEVEN years ago] First look inside Tom Cruise’s Clearwater double penthouse — and Scientology is not happy!
[EIGHT years ago] How the indoctrination of growing up in Scientology has changed over generations
[NINE years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology’s latest insider fliers for your dissection and delectation
[TEN years ago] Jon Atack puts it to Scientologists — did L. Ron Hubbard have the qualities of a leader?
[ELEVEN years ago] Blogging Dianetics, Part 8: The Demon Seed


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Tammy Synovec has not seen her daughter Julia in 2,818 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,313 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,828 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,378 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,368 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,249 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,553 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,424 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,976 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,317 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,884 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,803 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,971 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,552 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,813 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,849 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,565 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,129 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,444 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,619 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,170 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,301 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,639 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,494 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,612 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,969 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,272 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,378 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,776 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,652 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,217 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,730 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,984 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,093 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 22, 2024 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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