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
2014 | Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous | Gabriella Coleman
This recent book is written by an anthropologist and examines the strange, virtual, tribe of people who call themselves ‘Anonymous’.
The second chapter, which is entitled “Project Chanology – I came for the lulz, but stayed for the outrage” covers one of the earliest real-world campaigns undertaken by this online collective – its attack upon the Church of Scientology. It does so in loving, accurate detail, and includes the contribution of ‘Wise Beard Man” (aka Mark Bunker) which helped to make the mass protests so effective.
The involvement of Anonymous has had a profound influence on the culture of those who campaign against the Church of Scientology. It demonstrated how a groups of like-minded individuals, using anonymity and the Internet to work together, are more than equal to a inflexible bureaucracy like Scientology. However, as the book reveals, its involvement in the campaign against Scientology changed Anonymous just as much – from a group of uber-trolls to iconoclastic social campaigners.
This is a fascinating read for both Anons and ‘Old Guard’ critics of Scientology (who must have wondered where these strange, masked people came from, and what they were up to).
Unlike some academics, the author really understands the virtual culture which gave us Anonymous, the culture of Scientology critics and the motives of the people who belong to them both. She also writes in an engaging and accessible style. If you want to understand one of the greatest influences upon the shared culture of those who oppose Scientology, this is the book to read. Continue reading
Inside Scientology and Escaping the Witnesses | August 2015 | Channel 5 Television (UK)
View Online |
This programme is based on interviews which present the stories of three British women’s involvement in two different high-control religious groups – The Church of Scientology, and the Jehovah’s witnesses. There are striking parallels in the oppressive practices of the two groups.
It begins with an account of Sam Domingo’s 20 years in Scientology and moves on the experience of two other women with the Jehohvah’s Witnesses.
The researchers make one significant error (concerning the supposed legal status of Scientology in the UK – it is not recognised as a religion) but this does not detract from the testimony of ex-Scientologist Sam Domingo (who suffered a great injustice) which is engaging and powerful. Continue reading
From “Freewinds Magazine of the Sea Org”
Issue 2 page 12
In 1967 L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, took to the high seas to avoid the legal consequences of his activities. He bought a number of redundant vessels and recruited an ‘elite’ group of Scientologists to crew them for him – the ‘Sea Org’ (short for ‘Sea Organisation’).
The Sea Org has an official publication – “Highwinds: Magazine of the Sea Organisation”. After the break there are links to 12 issues of “Highwinds” which you can download.
Hubbard took up residence in the flagship, served by Sea Org personnel. This had originally been the “Royal Scotsman”, an Royal Navy infantry landing ship. It had been converted to a passenger ferry after the Second World War and then sold to the Church of Scientology. After another refit, it was renamed the “Apollo.”
After Hubbard abandoned ship, returned to the US and went into hiding, Scientology’s fleet of ships contracted from its peak of four to just one – the “Freewinds”, an ageing cruise ship where the most secret upper levels of Scientology training are still presented.
Despite an apparent lack of appropriate employment, the Sea Org endures. However, they are now an almost exclusively land-based organisation which the Church of Scientology claims is a religious order (although they still wear elaborate faux-Naval dress uniforms). Under US law, the Sea Org’s ‘religious’ status releases the Church from many legal obligations (e.g. employment law) and critics observe that Sea Org members work long hours under pseudo-military discipline for minimal wages – and are discarded without compensation when found to be ‘unfit for duty’.
Members of the Sea Org are encouraged to see themselves differently – as an uncompromising military force engaged in a mission to save mankind over multiple lifetimes. Their motto is “Revenimus” – “We come back” because they believe that they have served the Sea Org in previous lives and will do so again in future incarnations.
2015 | “The Unbreakable Miss Lovely | Tony Ortega | ISBN 9781511639378
Author’s blog “The Underground Bunker”: tonyortega.org
The Church of Scientology is the subject of many critical histories. The essential texts which cover the period up to the death of the organisation’s founder are, “A Piece of Blue Sky” (first published in 1991, and republished in an expanded form in 2013) and “Bare Faced Messiah“. These books remain definitive, and difficult to surpass
“The Unbreakable Miss Lovely” also deals with this period, but from a new perspective which adds considerable depth and a human dimension to the story.
Its subject is Scientology’s treatment of a journalist (Palette Cooper) who published a book critical of the Church entitled, “The Scandal of Scientology” in 1971.
After her book appeared, the Church of Scientology subjected her to an organised programme of persecution. This included a libellous (but anonymous) smear campaign, endless litigation, the tapping of her telephone, being ‘befriended’ by undercover agents and being framed for sending letters containing bomb threats.
After many years of legal action the Church succeeded in obtaining the copyright of her book and suppressed it. Nevertheless, you can download and read it here.
All of these operations (and more) were undertaken by the Church of Scientology’s ‘intelligence’ branch (which still exists and operates today, under a different name). While it was persecuting Cooper, the “Office of the Guardian”also infiltrated multiple US Government premises, where they copied (and planted) documents which they thought could be used to their advantage. This bizarre espionage story is extensively covered by Ortega, not least because it had unexpected consequences for the subject of his book.
2015| Discovery ID | Dangerous Persuasions: A Scientologist’s Escape
View Online | Download as .mp4 | View in video window after the break
This programme is the second in the “Dangerous Persuasions” series which deals with Scientology. The first was, “My Eternal Contract“. Broadcast in 2013, this was a dramatisation of Nancy Many’s 2009 memoir “My Billion-Year Contract“, a book in which she describes her 27-year involvement with the Church of Scientology.
This programme treats the experience of Mark “Marty” Rathburn in very much the same style – it begins with his recruitment (which he presents as motivated by a desire to learn how to help his mentally ill brother). It then covers his rise to the position of right-hand man to the present ‘leader’ of the Church, David Miscavige – and his fall from grace (he is attacked by Miscavige, and then effectively imprisoned in a Scientology compound) . Finally it presents his dramatic escape on a motorcycle, by accelerating through a security gate as it is closed after a car.
Subsequently, Rathburn has been the subject of extraordinary persecution by members of the Church of Scientology. One of the more blatant episodes is documented in the programme “Scientologists at War“which was broadcast in 2013. This persecution is presently the subject of a court case, in which Church of Scientology has argued that this behaviour is an expression of religious belief protected by the first amendment to the US constitution.
2005 | Education and Re-Education in Ideological Organizations and Their Implications for Children
Stephen A Kent Phd professor of sociology at the University of Alberta at Edmonton, Canada
Originally published in Cultic Studies Review Vol. 4, No. 2,
View Online | Download as .pdf
In this paper, Kent examines the attitudes of a number of “high control groups” (including Scientology) towards children. In all of these organisations he finds that:
- The overwhelming majority of the second generation abandon their parent’s ‘faith’, leaving as soon as they are old enough
- The reason for this is that group membership made such demands on the time and attention of parents that they did not have any time to spend with their kids – let alone time to indoctrinate them into a ramshackle belief system that was being made up as it went along.