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Lawrence Wright weighs in on Scientology opening Austin ‘Ideal Org’ in his town

This afternoon, in the fair city of Austin, Texas, Scientology leader David Miscavige is scheduled to resume his “Ideal Org” project with the first grand opening of a new facility in four years.

As we detailed Thursday, Miscavige has spent the last 22 years on an ambitious plan to replace ordinary “orgs” — short for “organizations,” Scientology’s word for churches — with larger and more expensive “Ideal Orgs,” and he had opened 64 of them in cities around the world until the program was stopped by the pandemic in 2020.

Now, we are expecting that he will be present as the newest Ideal Org gets its outdoor grand opening ceremony this afternoon, after which he is expected to open similar facilities in Mexico City (March 1), Chicago (March 3), and Paris (undetermined).

We thought we’d get some thoughts from people who have long watched the progress of Scientology, as its overall membership has dwindled at the same time that Miscavige has had so much money spent — about $25 million per Ideal Org — over the last 22 years.


We turned first to Lawrence Wright, author of the 2013 book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief which was followed by the 2015 HBO documentary.

“Tony, I’ve wondered if I was inadvertently responsible for the new Ideal Org,” he tells us. “After the documentary Going Clear (based on my book of the same name) came out in 2015, a lady went to see it in the theater. Apparently she drove straight from the theater to Guadalupe Street, where the Scientology building stands. She drove her car right through the plate-glass doors, then actually drove around the lobby knocking over bookcases. I had to issue a statement saying I opposed violence in any form.”

Hey, rebuilding the place after that kind of damage is as good excuse as any Dave himself ever came up with! (And yes, we too oppose any violence aimed at Scientology or Scientologists. Please don’t damage Scientology property or harass Scientology workers, who are prisoners themselves of this totalitarian organization.)

Claire Headley is a former Scientology Sea Org official who testified as an expert on Scientology at the criminal trial that convicted actor Danny Masterson, who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for committing multiple forcible rapes. She and her husband Marc Headley escaped from Scientology in 2005, and they have dedicated much of their time to helping others get away from this controlling group.

David Miscavige likes to pretend he can influence public opinion with fancy buildings. More so, he wants to try to “prove” to those still in the fold that he is not in hiding, as he has been. Fortunately, people these days know to use Google to search up (as my kids like to say) what Scientology is actually about. I have no doubt the people of Austin will do the same and will not be fooled by a fancy building that will no doubt be empty of people. I remain hopeful that those still in will continue to wake up and get out, as they have been doing more and more recently. We will continue to provide support and aid for those wanting to get out and start over. Anything is possible when you’re ready to exit the prison of “belief.”

Chris Shelton recently celebrated ten years of his activism on YouTube, describing his life in Scientology’s Sea Org and how this organization enslaves its members.

Oh boy. I think it’s hilarious that Miscavige has been over-promising and under-delivering for many years now when it comes to opening Ideal Orgs, to the point where I honestly wonder whether some whales may have jumped ship. I mean, how long can you keep them on tenterhooks? Pretty long, apparently. This sudden news that three renovated orgs are opening suddenly goes hand-in-hand with the return of all the executive trainees from all over the world. This tells me this is going to be used as fuel to show the witless whales that Miscavige is on top of things and ensuring “the brakes are off for infinite expansion. Planetary clearing is right around the corner!”

Beyond the internal PR and influx of money this will bring though, the fact is externally the Austin opening will mean absolutely nothing to the big wide world around the org. No one at the University is going to come running over to learn to learn, none of their community neighbors are clamoring for The Way to Happiness, and no one in Texas wants an auditing session. So as usual, we are going to see a lot of balloons and a lot of cheering on the day of the opening followed by an awful lot of crickets inside a very empty building. And frankly, I’m here for it. Watching Scientology desperately try to continue its Truman Show is a satisfying experience for me these days because whether Miscavige or Trish Duggan or Tom Cummins or any of them realize it or not, Scientology is dead and it’s really just operating on inertia and rapidly dying hope.

Alex Barnes-Ross is a former London Scientology staffer who has been making some major waves in the United Kingdom with his activism, including meeting recently with his MP about investigating the church there.

What a time to be alive! Two years after the rest of the world, the world’s most ‘advanced religion’ is finally returning to its pre-pandemic Ideal Org program.

With Executives returning to their Orgs after spending years training at Flag on the Golden Age of Admin, and now the opening of a new Ideal Org, I can imagine the hype and excitement for those in Scientology is palpable right now. When I was on staff it seemed like a new Org was opening practically every week. What more evidence could you want that Scientology is expanding? After four years without grand openings and Miscavige ushering in a ‘global era of expansion’ at the IAS and New Year’s events recently, I’m sure for Scientologists this will be considered a monumental and historic moment that sends the world a sure-fire message: “We’re back!”

Unfortunately, while lavish opening ceremonies and newly refurbished multi-million dollar properties might look impressive, it’s all a facade designed to keep donors on the edge of their seats, forever waiting for ‘what’s next.’ Peel back the curtain and you’ll find that once the hype dies down and the focus shifts to the next Org, what’s left behind is a vacant, lifeless building staffed by a handful of shell-shocked victims of the world’s fastest shrinking cult. Way to go, Captain Davey.

And finally, Jon Atack is a former Scientologist whose book Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky is still the most comprehensive history of the church itself.

We were all hit hard by COVID-19, but Scientology suffered badly with staff divided over whether to follow Miscavige’s orders or QAnon. Sea Organization staff languished, morale dropped and increasing numbers of staff escaped.


Mike and Leah’s Aftermath TV series raised public awareness, making recruiting even harder. After a long pause, a reduced Scientology at last returns to the propaganda technique of Ideal Orgs.

When Catherine the Great of Russia toured the south, her courtier Prince Grigory Potemkin carefully prepared the villages she would see from the imperial barge so that her territories seemed prosperous and happy. The empress saw painted facades rather than the real misery of her people.

While some challenge the scale of this deceit, it is matched by the Ideal Org. Scientology only survives because of the wealthy ‘whales’ who gush money into its coffers. Like the benefactors of medieval monasteries, these whales probably believe that their future happiness will be determined by their donations. In the Middle Ages, donors would buy masses to be sung so that they after their death they would move quickly from purgatory to heaven.

Scientology whales believe they will dodge the Implant Stations that circle the Earth (as yet unobserved by astronomers) to reprogram disembodied souls before they reincarnate.

But the Ideal Orgs are as much an illusion as the Potemkin villages and the indulgences bought by feudal lords and monied merchants for the safety of their souls. They only prove that Scientology is good at extracting money from its true believers, because these ‘ideal’ organizations are created solely for propaganda purposes. Once the lens of publicity is gone, the Orgs shrink back to their real and diminutive size.

Back in the 1980s, Scientology could boast outsized organizations – Munich and Milan both exceeded 200 staff – now they ship in Sea Org slaves to give an aura of success. But the truth is that the International Association of Scientologists membership has shrunk below 25,000 with about 4000 enslaved in the Sea Organization.

We should focus on helping those slaves to escape, as the Aftermath Foundation does, and informing those who use the businesses of the whales that their money is being used to fund slavery. The truly ideal org is no org whatsoever.

Our thanks to these esteemed observers of the Scientology scene, and we look forward to hearing about any David Miscavige sightings today.

Hip, hip, hooray!


Technology Cocktail

“A Case Supervisor must watch Ethnics (customs) oddities and changing fashions because one race has different mores than another and changing fashions bring in new methods of degradation, i.e. Drug Rehab was not necessary in 1950, but is vitally necessary in 1968. Sex was not a button in Ancient Greece and is the total subject of Freudian analysis in 1894. For the 1930 period, C/S would have to pay attention to rehabbing periods of time pc went “release” when drinking.” — 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

“The gross divisional statistic of HCO is letters out and letters in. Why? Because the Existence of an org is real to the public mainly by writing in and getting answered. The volume of letters out and letters in is wholly in the ability of HCO to control. After all, it is the HUBBARD COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE. When letters don’t go out in volume, the public and field don’t know the org is there. When letters come in and aren’t answered then the public jolly well knows the org isn’t there and gets ARC Broke about it as well! You can advertise. You must send out mags and these also say the org is there. But that personal communication to Joe, Joe’s reply and answering Joe is vital vital vital for Joe now knows you’re there.” — L. Ron Hubbard, February 24, 1966


Avast, Ye Mateys

“ANCHOR: We will be at anchor until we leave Thursday evening. We will cut short our stay in the next port, arriving there the 26th and departing the 1st of March, giving us only 4 days there. This lets us take part in some celebrations in the port after next. Webspread will be very pleased — if he ever comes back.” — The Commodore, February 24, 1971


Overheard in the FreeZone

“The last time I saw Jack Parsons he was now this lifetime an OT 5 and still living in Pasadena, and he did recall an explosion.”


Past is Prologue

2001: A summary of Steve Hassan’s appearance on The O’Reilly Factor was posted to a.r.s this week. “Steve Hassan was on The O’Reilly Factor on the Fox network. O’Reilly’s contention was that it would be very difficult for the Bush administration to deny a group such as Scientology potential federal money for ‘faith based’ charitable works since it could be argued that Scientology has done good. The example O’Reilly used was Scientology’s work with drug addicts; ‘they’ve cured numerous drug addicts,’ according to O’Reilly. Hassan stated that the eligibility of groups receiving federal funding for faith based works should be based on the behavior of the groups and not their belief system. He mentioned the United Nation’s Declaration of Human Rights as a model. He suggested that Scientology (and other religions such as the Moonies) could not meet the basic requirements of a faith based religion due to their ‘systematic deceptions to recruit people.’ He also mentioned the Lisa McPherson case and how she was denied medical treatment for seventeen days. Hassan stated that if it forces the destructive mindset of groups such as Scientology into the public domain, that this would be a good thing. If an objective set of guidelines on what constitutes a faith based group is written down and followed, it might eliminate groups such as Scientology from contention for federal money.”



Random Howdy

“I seem to recall that a fear of heights is an engram caused by the thetan-occupied clam remembering being dropped by a seagull.”


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] TESTAMENT: When a celeb faced a nasty divorce, and Scientology kept it all under wraps
[TWO years ago] What the Dutch Coast Guard really thinks about Scientology and its ship the Freewinds
[THREE years ago] MASTERSON ACCUSERS PETITION APPELLATE COURT: Seeking to overturn ‘arbitration’ ruling
[FOUR years ago] DRONE FLYOVER: Saturday’s Scientology ‘Ideal Org’ opening in Ventura, California
[FIVE years ago] In Scientology, every dollar you own is under constant attack
[SIX years ago] Scientology fires back at the Garcias, but reveals absolutely bonkers ‘arbitration’ instructions
[SEVEN years ago] Whale watching, 2017 edition: Who’s keeping Scientology from sinking?
[EIGHT years ago] Monique Rathbun is on the clock at the Texas Supreme Court, and more in our legal roundup
[NINE years ago] New government release contains a surprise: L. Ron Hubbard flunked out of high school, too!
[TEN years ago] Monique Rathbun files motion for contempt against Scientology defendants
[ELEVEN years ago] Marisol Nichols prepares for her greatest role: Scientology space cadet!


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 2,820 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,315 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,830 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,380 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,370 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,251 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,555 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,426 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,978 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,319 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,886 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,805 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,973 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,554 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,815 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,851 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,567 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 3,131 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,446 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,621 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 7,172 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,303 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,641 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,496 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,614 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,971 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,274 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,380 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,778 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,654 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,219 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,732 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,986 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 15,095 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on February 24, 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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