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PODCAST: Louise Shekter compares working closely with both Hubbard and Miscavige

[Louise on her first day at the Apollo, in 1969]

Louise Shekter has written some dynamite pieces for us at the Underground Bunker. She not only was in some amazing places to witness Scientology history during her tenure (1969-2000), but she’s a terrific writer of evocative []


What Scientology’s nutty ‘OT 3’ — the Xenu tale — taught one member about Sea Org slavery

[An artist’s conception of Xenu from HBO’s ‘Going Clear’]

Summer 1984, Advanced Org Los Angeles. Alone in the small study room, heart pounding, mind overflowing with anticipation, I flipped open the folder containing the auditing instructions for OT 3, the secret level of Scientology known as the “Wall of Fire.” Finally, finally, after sixteen years in []

How Scientology’s ardent followers prove their loyalty with blind (or near-sighted) obedience

 Yacht Apollo, mid 1971. Seated uncomfortably on the edge of the red leather armchair across from L. Ron Hubbard’s desk reserved for his visitors during one-on-one conferences, I am fumbling miserably as LRH is quizzing me about the meaning of the word “resources.” While he is training me along with the rest of his Aides []

How a decaying landmark became Scientology’s legendary Hollywood Celebrity Centre

 Yacht Apollo, early 1974. “The Commodore says if you don’t handle this situation he’s going to punch you on the []

How Scientology’s notorious prison program, the RPF, got its birth at sea

[Commodore L. Ron Hubbard rechristens the Royal Scotman the Apollo in Corfu, 1968]

 Flag Order 3434 landed in my in-basket as if with a resounding thud. I had gone to my promenade deck office to start my day on January 8, 1974. It sent chills of dread down my spine. []

Quentin Hubbard’s suicide: A Scientology-based explanation so insane it might be true

[Quentin Hubbard audits a preclear. Photo courtesy of Karen de la Carriere.]

Clearwater, October 1976. Every evening at the Fort Harrison Hotel’s Lemon Tree restaurant, which had been converted to the officers’ dining room, we get together for dinner. There are four of us sharing a booth along the wall, the seats and backs covered with []

Rough seas? Tough cookie, sailor. In Scientology, you upchuck at your own peril

 In response to my essay on the Azores hurricane of October 1970, two of my shipmates at the time wrote in to say that what they remember most was being seasick. Their comments shed light on this additional burden that so many of my Apollo shipmates endured, in addition to the other hardships of their []

Shekter: A trial by storm for Scientology’s most dedicated still resonates today

 September 1970, Azores. Now that I have moved my way up from the Stewards Department to administrative jobs, a new highlight of my life on board is my initiation into the routines and rituals of sea watches. []

Shekter: The proposition that threatened to upend my Scientology billion-year commitment

[Agadir in the 1970s]

Agadir, February 1970. I’m proud of myself and having a good time. After a stint on L. Ron Hubbard’s flagship the Apollo as steward in the Officers’ dining room, I’ve been promoted to Ship’s Purchaser, which I secretly consider to be the best job on board. While everyone else is pretty much []

Shekter: How Scientology intervened in an intimate affair of the heart

[Sick Kids]

January 1991, Toronto. I take a spot in one of those molded plastic orange seats tied together in a rack, that have been there forever in the cardiology waiting room at the Hospital for Sick Children – affectionately known to all as Sick Kids. []