The guys who crowdfunded a campaign to project the word "Sucks" on the Scientology headquarters building in Los Angeles received a letter from Scientology's legal department accusing them of committing a hate crime. The pranksters deny that it was a hate crime, and show clips of people coming up to them during the stunt asking "is this a hate thing?" to bait them, which the pranksters were careful to deny.
The letter also includes accusations of trespassing, battery, illegal recording, harassment, fraud. But the pranksters deny these accusations as well. Read the rest
"Reckless Ben" (no relation to Wreckless Eric, as far as I know) and his pal made a 10-part documentary about how they infiltrated the Church of Scientology, started a religion called "Scientology Sucks," and launched a GoFundMe account to project the word "Sucks" on the Scientology building. While they projected the word on the building for a couple of hours on a recent evening, several people who may or may not have been Scientologists approached them on the sidewalk to have discussions with them. The Scientologists tried to block the projector with balloons, and also shine a bright light on the world to wash it out. Then the police came and politely told them they should probably stop, which they eventually did. But then they found out it was legal so they returned and did it again to other Scientology buildings. Read the rest
David Miscavige leads the Church of Scientology, the cultlike sci-fi religion notorious for its hostility to members, apostates and critics alike. His wife, Shelly, hasn't been seen in public in many years, and few trust the LAPD's proforma assurances that she is safe, let alone those of the church. Jezebel posted a long story about her alleged captivity, and Scientology is asking them to remove the post.
The [church's lawyers'] letter makes some specific claims about both Shelly and Remini, which are as follows:
1. Mrs. Miscavige is not “missing.” Remini previously filed a “missing person” report about Mrs. Miscavige with the Los Angeles Police Department (“LAPD”). LAPD investigated. It then immediately concluded that Remini’s report was “unfounded,” which means the report was false and meritless. Mrs. Miscavige has no interest in appearing in public merely because Remini – who is no friend to Mrs. Miscavige, her husband or her religion (see below) – wants to use that as some cheap publicity stunt to get ratings.
The LAPD hasn’t said that Remini’s report was “false” or charged her with filing a false report, which would be a misdemeanor under California law, but they did, as far as we know, close the investigation in 2015.
Seems like it would be easy to clear all this up with an interview.
Photo: Scientology Newsroom Read the rest
Longreads posted an excerpt from from Alec Nevala-Lee’s new book, Astounding, recounting the events that led to L. Ron Hubbard creating a religion and its origins in the golden age of science fiction: Dawn of Dianetics: L. Ron Hubbard, John W. Campbell, and the Origins of Scientology.
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In the summer of 1949, Campbell was thirty-nine years old and living in New Jersey. For over a decade, he had been the single most influential figure in what would later be known as the golden age of science fiction, and he had worked extensively with Hubbard, who was popular with fans. The two men were personally close, and when Hubbard, who was a year younger, suffered from depression after World War II, Campbell became concerned for his friend’s mental state: “He was a quivering psychoneurotic wreck, practically ready to break down completely.”
Hubbard had sought medical treatment for his psychological problems, which he also tried to address in unconventional ways. While living in Savannah, Georgia, he began to revise Excalibur, an unpublished manuscript on the human mind that he had written years earlier. In a letter to his agent, Hubbard said that the book had information on how to “rape women without their knowing it,” and that he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to use it to abolish the Catholic Church or found one of his own. He concluded, “Don’t know why I suddenly got the nerve to go into this again and let it loose. It’s probably either a great love or an enormous hatred of humanity.”
The E-meter is a quack device used by Scientologists in a religious ritual called "auditing" in which changes in skin potential are said to indicate past traumas (including traumas from past lives) being re-experienced and cleared from your psyche.
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Since its launch in 1999, Neopets has enjoyed a pretty colorful history. The game offers users the ability to create a virtual pet to take on adventures and, using virtual and real-world currency, feed and trick out their digital pets with swag, homes and other online sundries. It was originally aimed at kids, but grew a cult-following of oldsters, too.
Oh, and it used to be run by Scientologists.
According to The Outline, the company that originally owned the Neopets brand employed business practices deeply rooted in Scientology. Up until the point where NeoPets was sold to Viacom in 2005, Neopet's CEO and practicing Scientologist Doug Dohring rocked L. Ron Hubbard’s Org Board business model in order to keep things running smoothly – provided you considered turning your employees against one another smooth.
From The Outline:
The information currently made public about Org Board is vague — introductory workshops are required to learn more about it. The business model contains seven divisions: Communications, Dissemination (sales/marketing), Treasury, Production, Qualifications (quality control), Public (public relations), and, most important to the system, Executive. The symbiotic divisions are arranged to create a “cycle of production” that parallels the church’s “cycle of action,” which Scientology.org describes as “revealing what underlies the continuous cycle of creation, survival and destruction—a cycle that seems inevitable in life, but which is only an apparency.” It is also made up of seven stages.
As part of putting Org Board into play, employees are called upon to spy on the work practices of other employees. Read the rest
Avatar is a self-actualization "technique" created by an ex-Scientologist named Harry Palmer, who defected from the "church" in 1986 to found a lookalike multi-level-marketing version where he serves as a commission-earning "upline" from practitioners who teach his high-priced "courses" -- his Scientology-alike borrows heavily from the original cult and even used some of its symbols until he lost a trademark suit to Scientology.
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A lawsuit against JP Morgan-Chase -- the nation's largest bank -- asserts that the institution paid off the $4,200,000,000 in mortgage forgiveness that it agreed to as a settlement for widescale mortgage and foreclosure fraud by committing a lot more mortgage fraud, in which homeowners, ethical lenders, and American cities were stuck with the bill. Read the rest
Tony Ortega at The Underground Bunker posted a fascinating overview of Gold Base, aka Int Base, the Scientology compound near Hemet, California. It includes beautifully piloted and filmed drone footage from an anonymous contributor. The 4K is so detailed you can watch adherents playing soccer. Read the rest
Here's the trailer for Louis Theroux's upcoming documentary, My Scientology Movie.
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Inspired by the Church’s use of filming techniques, and aided by ex-members of the organization Theroux uses actors to replay some incidents people claim they experienced as members in an attempt to better understand the way it operates. In a bizarre twist, it becomes clear that the Church is also making a film about Louis Theroux. Suffused with a good dose of humor and moments worthy of a Hollywood script, MY SCIENTOLOGY MOVIE is stranger than fiction.
One of my favorite podcasts is Oh No Ross and Carrie, in which two investigative journalists join cults and fringe religions, and try out new age remedies and practices, and report back on the experience. Read the rest
Funny 2012 video from Cracked. (Thanks, LDoBe!)
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The Scientology Christmas catalog is pretty much what you'd expect, if you're familiar with the cult: enormously expensive (as in, "mortgage your house and embezzle from your employer") sets of books and DVDs/CDs, as well as crude, tarted up skin galvanometers ("e-meters") that are the holy relics of the faith. Read the rest
The Scientology Remix Project by NCN and JC Clone
Phineas Narco sends us The Scientology Remix Project , "Broadcast on KFJC, May 9th 2013, mixed live with JC Clone and Phineas Narco on The Mr. Pumpkinhead Show on KFJC in Los Altos Hills, CA.
This was a show remixing samples having to do with, and deconstructing, the controversy of Scientology/Dianetics.
Originally a four hour program presented here on bandcamp (newly today) in post-produced, synthesized, 3-hour 'Narco Edit' digest form.
Available on a name-your-own-price basis."
The Scientology Remix Project Read the rest
As Scientology's numbers and influence decline, the company religion is desperate to maintain appearances. Mark 'Wise Beard Man' Bunker managed to get shots and videos of this weekend's gala opening in Portland (despite a keystone kops runaround from the Portland cops, whom Scientology suborned to chase independent press away from the event), along with other, less public Scientology skeptics. They estimated the crowd at 450-750; the Church put it closer to 2,500, and to prove it, they photoshopped a bunch of stock-art people overtop of a line of rented trees.
Scientology Sunday Funnies: Portland Is Now Cleared, On to the Rest of Earth! UPDATE: PHOTOSHOPPING! Read the rest
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Dr. Dennis Nobbe's Dynamic Medical Services, Inc, where employees were made to engage in bizarre Scientology rituals as a condition of employment. The EEOC says that this violated employees' freedom of religion, and they're suing Dr Nobbe to prove it. This is the downside of the Church of Scientology's dodge of getting itself certified as a "religion," a practice that otherwise grants it enormous privileges, including preferential tax-treatment. But once your woo-woo exercises are officially "religious rituals," then forcing someone to engage in them violates freedom of religion rules:
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According to the EEOC's suit, the company required Norma Rodriguez, Maykel Ruz, Rommy Sanchez, Yanileydis Capote and other employees to spend at least half their work days in courses that involved Scientology religious practices, such as screaming at ashtrays or staring at someone for eight hours without moving. The company also instructed employees to attend courses at the Church of Scientology. Additionally, the company required Sanchez to undergo an "audit" by connecting herself to an "E-meter," which Scientologists believe is a religious artifact, and required her to undergo "purification" treatment at the Church of Scientology. According to the EEOC's suit, employees repeatedly asked not to attend the courses but were told it was a requirement of the job. In the cases of Rodriguez and Sanchez, when they refused to participate in Scientology religious practices and/or did not conform to Scientology religious beliefs, they were terminated.
Requiring employees to conform to religious practices and beliefs espoused by the employer, creating a hostile work environment, and failing to reasonably accommodate the religious beliefs of an employee all violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Stella Forstner grew up in the Church of Scientology, and wants you to understand what Scientologists actually believe. [The Hairpin]
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Growing up surrounded by the language and ideas of Scientology, I developed the capacity for linguistic register-switching: the ability to rapidly, even unconsciously, shift my language when I moved among different social domains. To this day it’s like a door opens in my brain when I’m with my parents, allowing the use of those specialized terms, and closes again when I’m with friends, preventing me from throwing out an embarrassing engram reference by accident.