The Scientology Money Project

Hey, kids! It’s open mic night at your local Scientology spaceport!

(Note: This piece was originally published at Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker and is republished here for archival reasons.)

Scientology TV features so much repetitive and boring content that it has taken to inviting desperate filmmakers to screen their documentaries on its platform. These filmmakers are able to overlook the appalling human rights abuses of Scientology in order to get their documentaries about other appalling human rights abuses broadcast. The mental gymnastics of this aside, Scientology TV has become the broadcast channel of last resort for those who have run out of money for promotion and traveling to film festivals.

The Scientology Ideal Org in the San Fernando Valley has a similar problem. The Org has so much empty and unused space that it has to look for something with which to fill that space. When we last reported on the Valley Ideal Org in January of this year, it was hosting a fake interfaith press conference attended by tens of people. As an adjunct to this faux ecclesiastical nonsense, the Valley Org conducted a grim conference on its vast and windswept plain of empty carpet:

The photo of the interfaith meeting is odd, for in it we see the floor in the background sloped downwards to the left. Could it be that the Org is so large we are seeing the curvature of the earth? Or is it just more Scientology camera tricks? In any event, half of the attendees were from Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs and the Valley Org’s Department of Special Affairs. The other attendees were rent-a-clergy. The conference came to naught as it had no meaning in the first place.

For those readers not familiar with Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley Ideal Org is located in North Hollywood, a/k/a “NoHo,” a Los Angeles neighborhood located ten miles northwest from Hollywood. In recent years, North Hollywood has successfully labored to develop a swank Arts District. It appears Scientology now wants to cut in on NoHo’s action: the Valley Org hosted its first open mic night in August. As we read in Scientology News online:

The open mic, which held its premiere performance last month, will take place the second Tuesday of each month, with the next performance scheduled for September 10.

The first open mic featured both young and seasoned performers who played and sang everything from contemporary and jazz to classical. There was even a unique harmonica-piano duo.

Known for its outstanding acoustics, the auditorium of the Church of Scientology of the Valley presents a great opportunity for talented artists to perform in a safe environment where everyone is encouraged to express themselves.

“Great Event!” texted one guest. “Super impressed with the talent level. Wow!”

Wow, indeed. Scientology has plenty of ringers to send down to open mic night, from impressionist Jim Meskimen to amateur magician Stan Gerson to rap artist Chill EB. Who knows which Scientology celebrity might be tempted to spice things up for the benefit of church leader David Miscavige and Valley’s mascot, The Simpsons voice actress Nancy Cartwright, known at the org as “Her Royal Governess of the Vast Valley Territory.” (We’re not making that up.)

And you can understand why the Valley Org has resorted to a weekly talent show when you get a look at the four events it offers every single day…

Given the Church of Scientology’s ongoing collapse in membership, ours is an easy prediction to make: Scientology TV and the Orgs will increasingly reach out to non-Scientologist groups and offer them free broadcasting and free venues for events. This will be done for PR reasons, to safepoint local groups, and to make it appear that Scientology’s Orgs are bustling centers that serve local communities.

The irony is that local Scientologists who donated $15-$20 million for their Ideal Orgs appear to have donated in vain. Rather than serving as the promised Oases of Sanity whose goal is to disseminate the Gospel according to L. Ron Hubbard and thereby boom Scientology to straight up and vertical heights of expansion, the Ideal Orgs are slow-creeping towards becoming non-Scientology community performance spaces.

This past June the San Fernando Valley Org hosted a performance of the Philippine Ballet Theater. Ticket prices were $25, $50, and $75. “All attending received a copy of The Way to Happiness, the common-sense moral code written by author, humanitarian and Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard, bearing a custom cover displaying images of the Philippines Ballet Theater,” the Scientology website informs us. How about that for a night at the ballet? Dancing and a free copy of The Way to Happiness!

— Jeffrey Augustine


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