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.
The Village Voice has a haunting, well-sourced account of "The Hole," where upper echelon Scientologists who have fallen into bad odor with the group's leader are imprisoned under inhumane conditions and tortured.
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Debbie Cook was in for only 7 weeks in 2007, but her experience was brutal. She testified that Miscavige had two hulking guards climb into her office through a window as she was talking to him on the phone. "Goodbye" he told her as she was hauled off to the gulag. Like Rinder, she described a place where dozens of men and women were confined to what had been a set of offices. Cook testified that the place was ant-infested, and during one two-week stretch in the summer with temperatures over 100 degrees, Miscavige had the air conditioning turned off as punishment. Food was brought up in a vat riding on a golf cart. Cook described it as a barely edible "slop" that was fed to them morning, noon, and night. Longtime residents of the Hole began to look gaunt.
They had to find places on the floor or on desks to sleep at night. Rinder said there were so many of them they slept only inches from each other, and having to get up in the middle of the night was a nightmare of stepping over sleeping figures in the dark.
In the morning, they were marched out of the offices and through a tunnel under Gilman Springs Road to a large building with communal showers. They were then marched back to the Hole, and during the day would be compelled to take part in mass confessions.
An internal memo from Scientology's "Office of Special Affairs" (notorious for being a dirty tricks bureau) asks adherents to the faith to find message-board comments on stories about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes's divorce that criticize the church and try to have them censored by complaining about violations of online services' "codes of conduct," which typically prohibit "inciting religious hatred."
Well, I am not somebody that I am going to simply stand and watch a
bunch of uninformed people putting my religion under the carpet. So
here is a simple hatting on how you can causative fight back and at
the same time stand up and defend our religion on the internet.
Microsoft or Google or any of these big online company require that
each person when create an account with them follow a Code of
Conduct when they are on the internet. If there are abuse of such
Code of Conduct, those website do actually invite you to report the
matter to the Moderator — in other word, write the matter to
Blogger: Scientology group asks followers to censor Web comments
(Thanks, Marilyn!) Read the rest
Leaky ex-Scientology bigwig Marty Rathbun reveals that the Church of Scientology has been running deep "public records checks" (including dumpster-diving and investigating friends) on South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, looking for damaging/discrediting material: "Scientology's standard procedure would be to put its private eyes on a complete check of these people and their property, legal, and other public records. If they owed taxes, or had been in messy divorces, or had been arrested, Scientology would soon know about it." Read the rest