If you followed my marathon post yesterday about the opening of a new Scientology facility at Firhouse, in the republic of Ireland, you will have read some acerbic comments from the local press.
One of things they wondered is why Scientology was spending millions of Euros on a huge building in a country which only has 87 Scientologists (according to the 2016 census).
Part of the reason for these low numbers was the tenacity of one Mary Johnston. She was a Scientologist from for about two years (between 1992 and 1994). After leaving, disillusioned, she claimed damages in the Irish courts for conspiracy, misrepresentation, breach of constitutional rights and deliberate infliction of emotional harm.
She won an unspecified (but likely huge) out-of-court settlement, after presenting her case. Scientology had such little confidence in itself that it abandoned the litigation and offered an substantial sum of money just before they were due to present their evidence in rebuttal.
This victory must have had a chilling effect on Scientology’s activities in Ireland and, unable to be as ruthless in Ireland as they are elsewhere, suppressed their ability to recruit and retain members for years.
Now, they are spending millions in the country with the aim of… who knows what?
After the break there is an episode on Ireland’s “Late late show”, hosted by the legendary Gay Byrne. this was about Scientology, and featured Mary Johnston, the Irish woman who pushed back. Continue reading
Leah Remini is an US actress, known to the public for various roles, principally as one of the leads in the TV series, “King of Queens.”
She was ‘born into’ Scientology and participated for many years. Recently, however, she left the organisation.
The details of ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ are bizarre. A decade ago, after a dispute with her husband, the wife of the current leader of Scientology disappeared. In 2013 Leah Remini wanted to know where her friend had gone – and was aggressively blocked. The fact that she did so during a celebrity wedding which Miscavige was attending made matters worse.
Eventually, Remini filed a missing persons report with the Los Angeles police. Informed sources place Shelley in an isolated Scientology facility, which includes an underground bunker. This place is dedicated to preserving he writings of the founder of Scientology L Ron Hubbard. The police cast no light on Shelley’s whereabouts. They claimed to have determined that she was not under duress, and therefore her location was confidential.
After leaving Scientology shortly after these events (with her family, who refused to ‘disconnect’ from her, as per Scientology policy) Leah Remini produced a eight-part critical TV series about Scientology, which is now being broadcast. This is different from previous examinations (e.g. “Going Clear”) . It does not take a documentary approach, but is based upon first hand experience and interviews with ex-Scientologists. It promises to bring the abusive behaviour of the Church of Scientology to a new, wider audience, and add a human dimension.
Click ‘Continue Reading’ for links enabling you to watch the first seven episodes (so far) a bonus episode (which includes some incredible interviews) entitled “Ask me Anything” and coverage by the ABC New programme 20/20. Continue reading
1996 | BBC2 Television (UK) | Newsnight
View Online > | Part One | Part Two | Download as mp4 > |Part One | Part Two |
In 1996 the Church of Scientology broadcast its first television advertisements in the UK. The ads themselves were practically content-free and apparently unsuccessful. No more appeared until 2014, and those too, sank without trace.
However, even back in 1996 Scientology’s reputation was poor and there was a lively debate about whether they should be allowed to advertise on television at all. The BBC’s flagship news programme “Newsnight” took an interest.
Their report is presented in two video windows below, in two parts. Part one provides background to the story, part two shows a studio debate which followed. It is of particular interest today because the Scientology representative who appears in both is one Heber Jentzsch.
When he appeared in this programme Jentzsch was a high-flying ‘executive’ of the Church of Scientology (President of the Church of Scientology International, no less). Nominally, he still is. However, he has not been seen in public since 2004 and hardly ever leaves the Scientology compound where he lives. He is now widely believed to be nothing more than a figurehead for the authority of David Miscavige, Scientology’s present leader. Continue reading
“L Ron Hubbard Breaks Silence: A Reply to William Burroughs”
“Mayfair” Magazine | Vol 5 No 6 | August 1970
View Online | Download as .pdf
This article by L Ron Hubbard was written in response to William Burroughs, who had published an extensive critique of the Church of Scientology entitled, “I, William Burroughs, Challenge you L Ron Hubbard” in the March 1970 issue of “Mayfair”.
Burroughs was convinced of the value of Scientology practice, but criticised Scientology’s repressive ‘discipline’ and the secrecy surrounding Scientology techniques.
He believed that Scientology practices should be freely available for others to develop for the benefit of mankind, not held as trade secrets by the Church of Scientology and L Ron Hubbard. Burroughs was, in fact, one of the first ‘Independent Scientologists’.
Perhaps the prospect of debating with a prominent literary figure in public appealed to Hubbard’s vanity. Whatever the reason, he submitted a reply, which was duly published. You can read it &/or download the full text above and decide for yourself if Hubbard addressed the issues raised by Burroughs or attempted to evade them.
“I, William Burroughs, Challenge You, L Ron Hubbard”
Vol 5 No 1 | March 1970 | Republished in “Los Angeles Free Press” View Online | Download as .pdf
William Seward Burroughs II was a prominent US novelist and essayist. Like John W Campbell (the editor of “Astounding Science Fiction“) he thought of himself as an intelligent sceptic, but enthusiastically embraced a series of fringe ideas – including Scientology – and was exploited by L Ron Hubbard.
Burroughs was welcomed to Scientology as a ‘celebrity’ whose membership would impart credibility and generate public interest. However, he demonstrated that this approach was a double-edged sword when he objected to the growing authoritarianism of the Church of Scientology and spoke out against it in this article.
Hubbard wrote a response which was published in “Mayfair’s” August issue. It will be the subject of my next post.
Absolutely Fabulous | Special | November 1996 | The Last Shout |
View Online | Part One| Part Two
Difficult People | Season 01 episode 4 |2015 | The Courage of a Soldier|
In a recent post I suggested that television writers seem to using Scientology as a metaphor of ‘bizarre, abusive cult’. I included two examples – single episodes from the current US drama “Elementary” and the UK comedy “The IT Crowd”. Since things have been a little serious around here lately, here are another two. Continue reading
Rambam (Dutch TV) 2015 | View Online |
Rambam is a Dutch television programme which addresses consumer issues in an informal, irreverent and entertaining way.
To give you an idea of their style, they once investigated allegations that Dutch public honours were carelessly administered. They did this by packing out a stooge’s fake CV with three false references and accounts of volunteer work for non-existent charities (supposedly dedicated to the welfare of dachshunds and ecological gardens).
Not only did their stooge ‘win’ an honour in the King’s birthday list, but one of the programme’s presenters stood in for him, wearing a fake beard, when he was publicly presented with his honour by the Major of Utrecht.
In this programme, they infiltrate a Dutch Scientology Org – and reveal abuses that they take more seriously.
Watch it a video window (and read my commentary) after the break