An insightful, funny, and powerful interview. Great job by Chelsea Handler and Leah Remini. Leah goes directly to ground zero: The IRS needs to revoke the Church of Scientology’s tax exemption.
An insightful, funny, and powerful interview. Great job by Chelsea Handler and Leah Remini. Leah goes directly to ground zero: The IRS needs to revoke the Church of Scientology’s tax exemption.
(Note: This article was first published at Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker)
On Wednesday, Tony Ortega wrote that a Tampa federal judge continues to uphold his ruling that a California couple, Louis and Rocio Garcia, must submit their allegations of fraud to Scientology’s internal arbitration scheme — which doesn’t, actually, exist. And part of their frustration, the Garcia’s allege, is that every time they select a Scientologist they want to make an arbitrator in the Orwellian scheme, Scientology finds a way to declare that person “not in good standing.” Even the judge admitted it was pretty impossible to figure out who is and who isn’t in “good standing” in the church.
What is a Scientologist in good standing anyway?
It ought to be easy to decide who a Scientologist in good standing is. After all, there are millions of ’em, right?
For many years, Scientology officials openly claimed that the church had about eight million members.
In the ABC Nightline episode of February 14, 1992 Forest Sawyer was able to get church president Heber Jentzsch to clarify Scientology’s eight-million-member claim:
Sawyer: How do you get to call them members?
Jentzsch: Because they joined and they came in and they studied Scientology.
Sawyer: They took one course, maybe.
Jentzsch: Well, that’s how valuable the course is. Eight million people, yes, over a period of the last – since 1954.
In 1997, Mike Rinder, then the organization’s spokesman, invoked the same number. Criticizing what defectors from the church were saying, he told a press conference, “If any of the things these people say are true, there would not be eight million Scientologists in the world today.”
And as recently as 2004, the church told the Deseret News that it had eight million members.
In more recent years, as Tony has pointed out, Scientology is a lot less specific about its size. Scientology spokespeople are careful only to refer to “millions.” And here’s what the church’s website today says about Scientology’s growth:
With Scientology, millions know life can be a worthwhile proposition, that Man can live a fulfilled life in harmony with others and that the world can be a happier place. Scientologists work to create such a world every day, joined by others who share this dream. The undeniable relevance of Scientology to the lives of these millions assures its permanence in our society. Millions upon millions more will follow in this quest to create a better world.
Pretty vague, right?
In fact, in 1999 Jentzsch gave a deposition, and under oath he admitted that the “eight million” figure was arrived at not by estimating current active membership, but by adding up all of the people who had ever, in the church’s entire history, ever so much as bought a single book or took a single course.
But even if we take Jentzsch at his word, that eight million people had interacted in some way with Scientology since things began with the publication of ‘Dianetics’ in 1950, it would mean that over the period 1950 to 1999, when Jentzsch made that claim, it would represent about 163,000 new people joining every year. And if you know something about the size and number of Scientology’s “orgs” over the years, you know that number is pure fantasy. (For a more realistic assessment of Scientology’s current size, see the Bunker’s report from recent defector Paul Burkhart.)
But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that there are millions of Scientologists, and it’s just some kind of miracle that you never actually bump into any in your daily life. What does Scientology itself say about what defines a Scientologist?
The membership organization for Scientology, known as the International Association of Scientologists (IAS), has a very loose definition of a Scientologist on its website:
A Scientologist is defined as “essentially one who betters the conditions of himself and the conditions of others by using Scientology technology.”
Hey, that sounds easy. As long as we’re using Scientology tech, and we’re bettering ourselves, we’re Scientologists in good standing!
Well, not quite. The IAS isn’t going to make it that easy. In order to be considered in good standing by the IAS, you actually need to be a member of it. Lifetime IAS memberships cost $5,000 and Scientologists are constantly under a lot of pressure to donate even bigger amounts.
It seems pretty clear that to be considered “in good standing” by Scientology’s leaders, you’ll need to be an active donor and participant in the IAS.
But hang on. How big is the IAS?
Not anything close to millions. Former church executives will tell you that IAS numbers are in the tens of thousands, not millions. (And here’s the latest solid estimate for overall membership in this rapidly shrinking movement.)
But OK, let’s say you cut the check and join the IAS. Then that means you’re officially a part of the Church of Scientology, right?
In fact, according to what Scientology told the IRS in its 1992 application for 501(c)3 tax exemption, there’s actually no single thing known as the “Church of Scientology”….
And to add to the confusion, also according to the IRS application you don’t have to belong to the IAS to be in good standing with “a church of Scientology.”
But see, that’s the beauty of Scientology’s rules for “in good standing.” They can say it’s whatever they want it to be!
Despite L. Ron Hubbard’s millions of words about everything from Scientology baptisms to Scientology funerals and how to clean windows and how to use a vibrator (we’re not kidding), and despite all the books and checksheets and pamphlets and fliers that current leader David Miscavige has killed whole forests to put out, the Church of Scientology really has no definitive policy stating what constitutes a Scientologist in good standing.
Who or what is a Scientologist? The answer is that it all depends on the circumstances, which Scientology uses to its best advantage in court. For decades Scientologists have smugly said to each other, “Everyone is a Scientologist; they just don’t know it yet.”
But for the purposes of arbitration? Scientologists “in good standing” are only whatever handful of people the church can count on to rule precisely the way church wants them to.
My comments over at the Bunker to expand on this article:
As the funnel of “millions of Scientologists” dramatically narrows down to a tiny handful of Scientologists in good standing, here’s how, according to court documents, it works: Mike Ellis, the 315 pound Scientology International Justice Chief with health problems is supposedly the only guy in the world who can decide who is in good standing or not. Here is what Scientology told the court about Scientology IJC Mike Ellis:
February 2017: Here are some notes and observations on how I watch and look at Scientology:
1. So many things constellate around The Underground Bunker that this place is mandatory daily reading. Tony Ortega understands context, story, and significance in a way that utterly eludes Scientology, David Miscavige, Freedom Rag, and the no-show-no-stats SMP.
2. Mike Rinder’s blog is the Tiffany’s of documenting Scientology’s ongoing failures, deceits, and decline. Mike provides an outstanding daily journal of real-time Scientology decline. Mike’s valuable insights into Scientology as an organization are possible due to his decades of managing the Office of Special Affairs on a daily basis. Mike understands Scientology and David Miscavige at a profound level. That Mike’s jovial and robust sense of humor is mated to his ferocious intellect makes reading his analysis of the situation that much more enjoyable.
3. Disconnection and Fair Game are non-negotiable and must go. To the degree that Scientology practices and enforces Disconnection and Fair Game, Scientology’s self-destruction will persist. No one out here in the real world will stand for Scientology’s breaking up of families and its programs of character assassination.
4. Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath was a devastating expose of the Church of Scientology and its brutality. If it is not already in the works, season two will spontaneously appear as an act of Creation Ex Nihilo; the metaphysics of television dictate that this must happen.
4. Twitter and Facebook are extremely important to watch. The sum of message traffic on these platforms provides invaluable existential information about Scientology and Culture. Social media shows Scientology’s inherent inability to interact with Culture. This ineptitude is traceable to L. Ron Hubbard who called for Scientology to use blatantly phony and dishonest PR in the place of apologetics or other forms of meaningful interaction with Culture.
5. Scientology’s hate websites are very important to watch. These incriminating sites constitute damning and irrefutable forensic evidence which shows that Scientology’s programs of Fair Game have an unlimited budget of tax-free dollars. These websites also offer a penetrating insight into the psyche of Miscavige and OSA in a way that betrays both of them. Like a Cold War era Sovietologist would note, a good analyst must study the propaganda operations and party line rhetoric of the other side. IMO, our side needs more analysts who are willing to monitor, document, analyze, and write about Scientology’s websites.
6. Scientology’s cash position, cash surplus, and real estate acquisitions are almost completely meaningless as significant metrics. Any organization with a cash surplus can buy and amass a real estate portfolio. In most cases, Scientology’s real estate acquisitions of decrepit old buildings in need of millions of dollars in renovations are designed to stall and buy time for David Miscavige. From my perspective, Miscavige is obviously using these empty buildings to buy time and create some semblance of hope for the future of Scientology. However, no one is fooled. Example: The San Fernando Valley Ideal Org is a complete waste of time and money. There is no excuse for Miscavige to leave that eyesore unfinished given the IAS cash pile. The PR damage done to Scientology by leaving buildings empty for years or decades, particularly when there is plenty of money available to open these buildings within 12-18 months, is inexcusable. Conversely, Scientology will cherry pick top properties. This was the case with SMP here in Hollywood or Larry Hagman’s place in Ojai. But then the Cult will not actually do anything with these premier properties except use them for PR.
7. David Miscavige needs to reverse the massive and long-term statcrash in Scientology and does not know how to do it because he refuses to understand the nature and essence of the problems facing Scientology. Understanding the real problems would require critical self-reflection on his part wherein he would conclude that he must resign and step aside. He has zero capabilities in this regard and believes himself to be indispensable to Scientology. Compounding this is the long term structural damage to Scientology wrought by Miscavige’s execution of Hubbard’s bad policies and Miscavige’s own failed programs in the period 2001 to the present day is irreversible. Miscavige massively overreached with his frenzied money grab in the Basics, selling IAS statuses, and the failed Ideal Org strategy. GAT I and GAT II were, and are, failures in ways Miscavige does not understand.
8. Scientology’s contradictory policies of greed-driven inhumanity place it at war with itself and all the parts of its own existence. To use an analogy, Scientology is like a raging alcoholic with serious self-created problems who denies they are an alcoholic and blames others for their problems. Everyone else can see the problems except Scientology. The Church of Scientology is an embarrassment to itself and does not see it.
9. The real numbers a good leaker could give are these:
A. Attendance at events: publics and SO.
B. The number of SO members over the past ten years.
C. The total number of IAS members in good standing with the Church.
D. Total membership losses of publics and SO over the past ten years.
E. Number of SO senior execs paid off to sign nondisclosure agreements in the past ten years.
10. One of the real things to watch is the covert consolidation of Scientology Orgs. Miscavige can call it whatever he wants, but consolidation is contraction and Scientology is contracting inwards upon itself with great force. The acquisition of real estate is a red herring. Purchasing buildings is meaningless in the face of Scientology’s uncontrollable and accelerating membership losses. The way out is through the nearest door.
11. The petard upon which Scientology is hanging itself is Disconnection and Fair Game.
Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath premiers tonight on A&E. Check your local cable guide for air times.
Karen and I salute Leah Remini for her courage in standing up to the Church of Scientology and telling the very human stories of how Scientology’s toxic Disconnection policy destroys families.
Mike Rinder just used Facebook to post this ad A&E ran on the NY Post. Hurricane Leah owns Scientology on social media. It sucks to be David Miscavige and OSA.
As reported in a Tony Ortega exclusive, the Church of Scientology has launched yet another of its sleazy attacks against actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini. With the first episode of Leah Remini’s televised A&E series on Scientology and Disconnection set to air next week on November 29, 2016 the Church of Scientology had its spokesperson Karin Pouw channel a typically smarmy Scientology letter from craven Cult Leader David Miscavige to Mr. Alex Weresow, the Executive Producer of Leah’s show:
Church of Scientology International
September 9, 2016
Slauson Productions, LLC
Culver City, CA 90230
Re: Leah Remini
Dear Mr. Weresow:
This letter addresses the anti-Scientologist host of your program. Ms. Remini is not capable of being objective about the Scientology religion as she has previously demonstrated.
A program about our religion hosted by Ms. Remini is doomed to be a cheap reality TV show by a has-been actress now a decade removed from the peak of her career. Unable to move on with her life, Ms. Remini has made a cottage industry out of whining both about her former religion that expelled her as well as her former friends she alienated with her unending bitterness and seething anger. Rather than letting go, Ms. Remini has doubled down on her obsessive hatred, turning into the obnoxious, spiteful ex-Scientologist she once vowed she would never become.
Moreover, Ms. Remini is a hypocrite. She disingenuously preaches “letting go,” “those who are free of resentful thought surely find peace,” “less hate more love” and “If you are depressed, you are living in the past.” Yet it’s Ms. Remini who lives in the past, spreading hate and resentment while refusing to “let go.”
She also has redefined herself by the company she keeps. For someone who claims to be a feminist supporting the rights of women, she inexplicably embraces and features on your show the likes of Ron Miscavige, who admitted beating his late wife once a month for a decade, as well as two other vicious wife beaters in Mike Rinder and Tom DeVocht. She preaches, “less hate, more love,” yet showcases an angry, mean individual in Marc Headley. His own mother will tell you he once tried to drown her. That’s because Ms. Remini tosses out her principles if she smells a buck. Since 2013, she has shamelessly exploited her former affiliation with the Church of Scientology as a primary income source.
AETN viewers should know the duplicity at work when Ms. Remini stage managed her departure from the Church of Scientology. For six months before she was expelled, Ms. Remini voluntarily participated in the Church’s ecclesiastical ethics and justice procedures due to her ethical lapses. She did so because she wanted to stay in the Church. But her transgressions were so egregious she was expelled, which remains the source of her bitterness today. Knowing she was on the verge of being kicked out, Ms. Remini choreographed her departure to get attention and publicity.
Following her initial flurry of press coverage, Ms. Remini desperately sought more fame and attention by filing a fraudulent missing person report with the Los Angeles Police Department about the wife of the leader of the religion. It was part of a harassment campaign cooked up with Mike Rinder in tandem with Marc and Claire Headley and shamelessly promoted by Tony Ortega. Ms. Remini used an acquaintance of hers in the LAPD to personally file the report, which she quickly leaked to the media. But it all blew up in her face when the LAPD took the extraordinary step of thoroughly debunking to the media Ms. Remini’s absurd claim within hours, calling it “unfounded.” Ms. Remini wasted valuable public resources in an attempt to viciously harass the Church leader’s wife, whom Ms. Remini has obsessively stalked.
In her autobiography, Ms. Remini made the mind-boggling admission that she filed her false report so that she would be expelled from the Church “and that would be the end.” The irony is that by the time Ms. Remini filed the report, she was already expelled. Ms. Remini was dishonest in her book, failing to disclose that the friend in the police department she filed it with had moonlighted as her personal security on one of her television shows and was trying to break into the personal security business. That the Los Angeles Police Department was able to dispose of Ms. Remini’s publicity stunt so quickly is not surprising.’
Ms. Remini’s anti-Scientology antics also have inflamed acts of religious hate.
Take Erin McMurtry, who on December 14, 2015, drove her car through the front of the Church of Scientology of Austin, Texas. McMurtry plowed across the lobby before coming to a stop in front of the nursery, which only hours before had been filled with children. Before McMurtry committed her crime, she had posted on her Facebook page praises for Ms. Remini and Ms. Remini’s anti-Scientology rhetoric, with such statements as:
“EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!!!!!!! This is the most crucial thing I have ever posted!!!…. It is called Scientology!! … ‘Thank you many times over to Leah Remini.”
“I’m pissed that Scientology…even exists”
“Shut them down… (NON-negotiable)”
McMurtry had no prior experience with the Church. She had never been a member. Thus, it is hard to miss the connection as the lies being fed to the press by Ms. Remini pushed McMurtry further and further over the edge, to the point where she smashed her car through the front doors in Austin. It was a miracle that no one was injured and only a stroke of luck the nursery, where McMurtry stopped before backing out again, was empty. McMurtry was arrested and has since been charged by the authorities.
In another incident, Ms. Remini’s support of wife beater Ron Miscavige and another apostate Lois Reisdorf, an expelled Scientologist who had been spouting hate speech on various anti-Scientology websites, coincided with a hate crime and death threat by Reisdorf’s son.
Brandon Reisdorf drove to the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles, got out of his car and threw a hammer through the window. He then retrieved the hammer, threw it again a second time even more forcefully and drove off. The car he escaped in was registered to his mother, Lois. Brandon also sent threatening emails to Scientologists. And according to a Tarasoff Reporting Form, issued by Brandon’s psychiatric care providers, “Brandon Reisdorf has been threatening to harm Mr. [David] Miscavige.” Reisdorf was subsequently arrested by the Los Angeles police and is awaiting trial.
Then there was Andre Barkanov, a 48-year-old Chicago resident with a long criminal history. On July 21 and July 23 in 2015, Barkanov made nine telephone calls in which he made death threats naming individual Scientologists and the leader of the religion as his targets. The LAPD tracked him down and extradited him to Los Angeles, where he pleaded guilty to hate crimes. He served jail time and is now on probation with a 10-year court order to stay away from the Church. When asked what direct knowledge he had of his “targets,” Barkanov admitted he had no personal knowledge of the Church. When asked what incited him to threaten these people he cited recent media reports, including those about “the King and Queens lady: she just left the Church” (i.e., Ms. Remini).
The entire premise of Ms. Remini’s project with Slauson is inherently dishonest. Slauson describes this project as being substantially about “the issue of the disconnection policy of the Church.” The practice of Scientologists voluntarily severing communication from people who are inimical to their wellbeing is fundamentally no different than the practices of virtually all major faith traditions, as well as common sense. Consider the sentiments expressed by Danielle Koepke, author and founder of the Internal Acceptance Movement, who wrote:
You don’t ever have to feel guilty about removing toxic people from your life. It doesn’t matter whether someone is a relative, romantic interest, employer, childhood friend, or a new acquaintance — you don’t have to make room for people who cause you pain or make you feel small. It’s one thing if a person owns up to their behavior and makes an effort to change. But if a person disregards your feelings, ignores your boundaries and “continues” to treat you in a harmful way, they need to go. — Danielle Koepke
Ms. Remini quotes these same sentiments on her Twitter account: “Love this. Wishing you a toxic free weekend #letitgo.” So while supposedly denouncing the practice out of one side of her mouth, she openly advocates it out of the other. All the family members and associates we have spoken to of each one of Ms. Remini’s co-apostates partaking in her show, including those who are associated with Ms. Remini herself, describes these people to a one as a toxic personality.
In short, Ms. Remini has become what she once declared she never wanted to be known as: “this bitter Ex-Scientologist.” As USA Today wrote, Ms. Remini is “as famous for being an ex-Scientologist as she is an actress.” She needs to move on with her life instead of pathetically exploiting her former religion, her former friends and other celebrities for money and attention to appear relevant again.
Sadly, bitterness and anger are common threads through Ms. Remini’s life. Ms. Remini is showing herself to be a spoiled entitled diva who still obsessively complains about such petty matters as her seating placement, limo rides, five-star hotel accommodations and the paparazzi’s failure to recognize her nearly a decade ago. She also inserts herself uninvited into the family matters of others. Rather than take responsibility for self-inflicted problems, she is quick to blame others. When her firing from The Talk erupted into a public embarrassment in 2012, we tried to help pick her up off the floor. But she treated everyone around her in a degrading, bullying manner. Her behavior was intolerable.
Ms. Remini knows the truth she conveniently rewrites in her revisionist history. The real story again is that she desperately tried to remain a Scientologist in 2013, knowing full well she was on the verge of being expelled for refusing to abide by the high level of ethics and decency Scientologists are expected to maintain. Her repeated ethical lapses and callous treatment of others led to an ecclesiastical review which resulted in her being expelled.
Prior to that, the Church worked hard to help Ms. Remini try to be a good person. In 1998, Ms. Remini said, “without it [the Church] I’d be in the dumps and I would probably be an animal. I would be a horrible, horrible person.”
In 2001 she said, “I don’t get along with others and there is so many things that Scientology has helped me with. I don’t think I would be ME really without Scientology. I don’t think I’d have the success that I have without Scientology. I wouldn’t be the girlfriend that I am, the daughter that I am, the sister that I am, because this is all because of Scientology and what Scientology has taught me.”
In 2012 Ms. Remini said, “What Scientology has helped me with is confidence. I’ve had somewhere to go to tell someone my fears and I wasn’t crazy, you know, that I could actually do something about those fears, that I could actually be in control of my own feelings, that I could actually be in control of my own career, and that’s what Scientology has helped me with. And I think it’s important for an artist to have some outlet other than your mom who is like ‘Ah, just shut up and go on another audition,’ You know, you need some other help and it’s offered me that help.”
In 2003 she said, “I didn’t want to follow the crowd of people, like the bad people but I also wanted to be a cool person so I was like kind of struggling with the two personalities but being a Scientologist you’re getting in touch with the person that you really are and we really are good people…so I’ve avoided all that by being a Scientologist and by having integrity and by living by certain moral codes that this group abides by, I can look at myself in the mirror.”
In 2007 she said, “You start every day talking about something that I believe in and you start being disrespectful to my religion, to me you’ve crossed the line. But that’s any religion. I wouldn’t be disrespectful to any of my friends’ religion. Or think that they should put up with that. It’s just disrespectful.”
And she said, “I’ve met a lot of people who were ex-Scientologists. They usually don’t, they usually don’t say anything to me. Just as I wouldn’t say anything about their religion, or whatever they are doing. You know, I wish them the best. You know, I want them to live a good life. I’m not going to sit and name call and — you know if it’s not for you it’s not for you! You know what I mean? I’m not going to go off — if I go get a bad facial am I going to spend the rest of the day going, you know, ‘This salon over here isn’t…’ you know? I mean it’s just like, it’s just a waste of time. Just go on with your life. I get scared of people who run around making this their, their mission in life. It’s like, please. It’s, it’s crazy, but it’s insane. There’s so many things to be doing in life rather than running after people who are doing good!”
After Ms. Remini was no longer able to keep herself in check, she became the hypocrite she is. She now regurgitates the tired myths the Church has repeatedly debunked, circulated by the same tiny clique of expelled former staffers bitter at having lost the positions they enjoyed before their malfeasance and unethical conduct was uncovered. Ms. Remini is now joined at the hip wit this collection of deadbeats, admitted liars, self-admitted perjurers, wife beaters and worse.
If your “Untitled Documentary Project” is honest, it should be renamed “Leah Remini: Desperate for Attention and Money.”
“Desperate for Attention and Money” describes the greedy and depraved Church of Scientology perfectly — and this particularly applies to Scientology’s violent, narcissistic, and deceitful dictator David Miscavige.
Why did Scientology write its letter about Leah Remini? It did so because L. Ron Hubbard’s incredibly depraved policy of Fair Game calls for Scientology to ruthlessly attack and destroy anyone who criticizes Scientology. Former Scientology executive Mike Rinder gave the public a very valuable and detailed explanation of Fair Game on his blog this week; we strongly urge you to read it.
Hubbard’s Fair Game policy has been applied by Scientology for six decades now and proves that Scientology is an organized hate group. Indeed, Scientology has a department dedicated to conducting psycho-terrorist Fair Game campaigns of hatred, lies, and character assassination.
Called the Office of Special Affairs, or OSA, this department is staffed by a particularly sick group of sadistic and mentally disturbed individuals whose job is to execute L. Ron Hubbard’s policy of Fair Game. Then there are the rank and file worker bots in OSA like Karin Pouw, who signed her name to the letter Scientology sent Leah Remini. Former NFL player Bob Adams also works for OSA PR where he serves as a Vice President in Scientology. OSA. Adams became a Scientology Sea Org member because he partakes in Scientology’s delusional Messianic Complex that it alone can save the world.
Because it is charged with the psycho-terrorism of Fair Game, OSA wrote its tawdry letter attacking Leah Remini. Leah’s reply was razor sharp and to the point – and we couldn’t agree more: None of the work to expose Scientology ends until Scientology stops fucking with people’s lives and families.
No one is afraid of Scientology or OSA. The people out here are engaged in the deadly serious business of taking down the criminal syndicate called Scientology. That is our star high purpose.
The Karmic Vortex is systematically dismantling the Church of Scientology in its present form. This will continue until Scientology repents and changes it ways or ceases to exist in its present form. It really doesn’t matter to me how it ends. However, cults have a tendency to end badly and Scientology will be no different.
We note that Karin Pouw’s letter was bizarre and totally squirrel insofar as it quoted undergraduate psychology student Daniell Koepke as an authority to justify Scientology’s toxic doctrine of Disconnection. I say this because L. Ron Hubbard hated psychology and psychiatry and embedded this hatred into Scientology. Since when did OSA begin citing a non-Scientology social media darling and psychology student to justify Disconnection? Is RTC aware of OSA’s actions in defending Scientology by citing a psychology student? Where is OSA’s LRH reference? Why is OSA so weak these days that it is afraid to cite LRH and his policies on destroying SP’s? Apparently OSA has become so fearful of criticism and pushback from Culture that it is now incapable of citing Source. Due to OSA’s dilettante ways, it falls to me to cite LRH and his views on handling attacks:
The difference between what Daniell Koepke is saying and Scientology Disconnection is extreme. Scientology Disconnection is ordered by OSA as a form of revenge, emotional blackmail, and it destroys families, friendships, and often financially ruins former Scientology business owners when OSA orders all of their Scientology clients to disconnect from them. This is quite different than no longer associating with a toxic person. Daniell Koepke nowhere says that you should use Fair Game and seek to utterly destroy a person whom you no longer wish to have in your life. Scientology is lying about Disconnection now and has lied about the brutality of Disconnection for six decades.
David Miscavige’s puppet Karin Pouw provides yet more evidence proving that the Church of Scientology is a malicious Cult that spends tax exempt dollars to engage in its psycho-terrorist practice of Fair Game.
As part of the Scientology Cult’s attempt at character assignation against Ms. Remini, Ms. Pouw employs confidential parishioner from Ms. Remini’s preclear and ethics files from when she was a member; this in complete violation of priest-penitent privilege. This proves that Scientology lied to the IRS and committed perjury when it claimed that the information of its parishioners was sacrosanct.
In addition to being a violation of public policy and yet more evidence of Scientology having lied to the IRS in its application for 501(c)3 tax exemption, this hateful screed from Karin Pouw fails because David Miscavige’s manufactured narrative about Leah Remini is not at all credible. Those of us who have followed Leah Remini and her courageous story since she and her family left Scientology know that Scientology is lying.
If anything, David Miscavige, OSA, and the Scientology Cult have zero credibility due to their documented lies, perjury, and the ruined lives they have left in their path of unchecked greed and destruction.
(Note: This article was originally published on Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker. It is posted here for archival purposes)
[Scientology’s ‘disconnection’ policy takes center stage]
From Phil and Willie Jones to Brian Sheen to Lori Hodgson to the Headleys to so many others. We’re hearing from more and more people who have been affected by Scientology’s policy of “disconnection” that is ripping families apart. Our friend and frequent contributor Jeffrey Augustine has been looking into Scientology’s documents, as he does, and has been thinking about disconnection. Jeff, where should we start?
Jeffrey: Understanding disconnection, you first have to put it within the context of L. Ron Hubbard’s system of ethics. According to Hubbard, disconnection is part of the “PTS/SP” model.
The Bunker: “PTS” is Scientology shorthand for “potential trouble source.” And an “SP” is a “suppressive person.” How does that work?
Jeffrey: A Scientologist becomes PTS when they become associated with someone antagonistic to Scientology. Wrote Hubbard:
In order to resolve the PTS condition, he either HANDLES the other person’s antagonism (as covered in the materials on PTS handling) or, as a last resort when all attempts to handle have failed, he disconnects from the person. He is simply exercising his right to communicate or not to communicate with a particular person.
To “go PTS” means the Scientologist will become unconsciously self-destructive and therefore “pull in” sickness, injuries, accidents, financial loss, relationship problems, make bad decisions, and incur a host of other troubles. The key Scientology notion to understand is this: A Scientologist goes PTS when they are connected to an SP, a person who is antagonistic to Scientology.
The Bunker: So the SP turns Scientologists PTS by being connected to them?
Jeffrey: That’s right. Here’s how the Technical Dictionary puts it: “A person…who suppresses other people in his vicinity…[who] become PTS.” An SP “actively seeks to suppress or damage Scientology or a Scientologist by suppressive acts.”
The Bunker: And what happens when the Church of Scientology decides that someone is an SP?
Jeffrey: The church issues an “SP Declare.” And once someone has been declared SP, all other Scientologists must “disconnect” from that person. This includes family and friends — everyone has to cut the SP out of their lives.
The Bunker: Everything we’ve seen in the last few years suggests that Scientology leader David Miscavige is declaring people SP and ordering disconnection with more frequency than ever, and for seemingly trivial reasons. Why is Scientology so aggressive demanding that Scientologists disconnect from SPs?
Jeffrey The answer is really interesting. According to the church itself, it’s because L. Ron Hubbard considered SPs to be Scientology’s kryptonite. Here, look at what Scientology says about disconnection at its website:
There you have one of the Scientology’s big secrets: Hubbard and his church admit, rather incredibly, that, “all spiritual advancement gained from Scientology may well be lost because one is continually invalidated by an antagonistic person who wants nothing more than to do harm to the person.” According to Hubbard’s logic, then, SP’s are infinitely more powerful than Scientologists; The mere presence of an SP can destroy all of a Scientologist’s Bridge progress and spiritual advancement. Hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on Scientology can go down the drain if the Scientologist goes PTS because of a proximity to an SP. Hubbard characterized spiritual advancement in Scientology as a delicate hothouse flower, a frail object that cannot tolerate any suppression, antagonism, or opposition whatsoever.
The Bunker: They dare not hear any criticism. It apparently ruins everything.
Jeffrey: David Miscavige, the current leader of Scientology, said as much in 2001, quoted in this church publication:
Hubbard said this about suppression in 1966: “Suppression is a harmful intention or action against which one cannot fight back.” (HCO PL 26 Dec 66) This is why suppression is so dangerous to Scientologists: They cannot fight back against suppression and will, in fact, lose all of their Bridge progress to it.
The Bunker: The poor things!
Jeffrey: Fortunately, every problem in Scientology has an exact solution that can be purchased. In the case of handling PTS/SP situations, David Miscavige introduced and heavily promoted the PTS/SP course in 2001. This course was designed to teach the Scientologist how to “confront and shatter” suppression:
The course reiterates Hubbard’s policy that Scientologists “handle or disconnect” from those who are suppressive towards Scientology. “Handle or disconnect” means that the Scientologist must get the person to stop being critical. Hubbard argued that most people who are antagonistic simply do not have the correct data about Scientology. So the solution is to give the antagonistic person the correct data. In the 1990s, Scientology created the cassette tape and booklet “Can We Ever Be Friends?” to handle family and friends who were antagonistic to Scientology.
If that “handling” doesn’t work, then the Scientologist disconnects.
The Bunker: Hubbard came up with disconnection and other “ethics” ideas — such as Fair Game — in the mid-1960s, when he was really unhappy about breakaway groups. And there’s been a controversy over whether he changed his mind about it, isn’t there?
Jeffrey: Hubbard issued orders that cancelled some of these ethics policies, including disconnection and Fair Game, in 1968. But it’s clear that he did that specifically as a reaction to investigations of Scientology in Commonwealth countries and especially in New Zealand. This was done as a part of Hubbard’s disingenuous “Reform Code of 1968.″ However, none of these policies were ever actually cancelled in practice and continue to this day.
The Bunker: In fact, as we saw in documents from the Garcia federal fraud lawsuit that were made public yesterday, Scientology’s current “International Justice Chief” Mike Ellis cited a 1983 policy on Suppressive Persons to tell the Garcias that no current church members in good standing can have anything to do with them. There it is, in black and white — Scientologists today must disconnect, and it’s based on a 1983 official church policy.
Jeffrey: Exactly! Those documents made public yesterday were pretty amazing. And they were official communications from Scientology’s top justice official.
The Bunker: Well, prepare yourself, Jeff, because as soon as you cite that 1983 policy, some former church members who still revere Hubbard will tell you that there’s a problem with it. Hubbard went into permanent hiding in February 1980, and Dan Koon and others who were around then tell us that Hubbard actually had nothing to do with that policy (even if the church today relies on it to force disconnection). Koon and others insist that Hubbard cancelled disconnection in 1968, and the evil David Miscavige brought it back, against Hubbard’s wishes.
However, we showed Dan that, in fact, a 1973 policy, written by Hubbard, endorses disconnection. And when we asked readers if they knew of any acts of disconnection that occurred between 1968, when it was supposedly cancelled, and 1980, when Hubbard went into hiding, we received dozens of responses. The “indies” might have rosy memories of the 1970s, but based on what we heard from our readers, disconnection was definitely part of the Scientology 1970s experience, and with Hubbard fully in control, even if it’s more prevalent today under Miscavige.
Jeffrey: There’s no doubt Hubbard endorsed disconnection. And his warning that the Scientologist can lose all spiritual advancement to an SP plays right into the “me, me, me” egocentricism of the Scientologist. In the thinking of the Scientologist, disconnection is a “pro-survival” act in which the Scientologist is declaring that his or her spiritual progress is infinitely more important than any family relationship or friendship. This was made abundantly clear in the disconnection letter that Cindy Plahuta received from a friend, which you published here in 2013:
Dear Cindy: After our conversation today I went to the MAA to get ethics handling because I had some attention on what we had discussed concerning the people that have left the Church. The MAA informed me that you have a connection to a known SP in Denver, that you are no longer in good standing with the Church, and you are pending a justice action. I found this out after I left a message on your phone that I had good news. You and I have been close friends for so long Cindy that this is very difficult for me. However, I don’t want to jeopardize my standing with the Church and eligibility for Solo NOTS, or my relationship with my children and friends, and definitely don’t agree with the people that have left our Church. Therefore, I have no choice but to follow LRH Policy, which is very specific concerning this, and can no longer communicate with you until you get this situation handled. I hope you will please contact OSA or the MAA here at Flag to get this resolved as soon as possible.
[MAA = Master at Arms; Solo NOTs = New Era Dianetics for Operating Thetans, high-level church processing that is done alone on the e-meter; LRH = L. Ron Hubbard; OSA = Office of Special Affairs, Scientology’s intelligence wing.]
The writer of this disconnection letter makes it clear that she will not be allowed onto SOLO NOTs if she stays friends with Cindy. Worse, the writer states that her relationship with her family or friends in the Church would be at risk if she stayed connected to Cindy.
Hubbard feared PTS Scientologists because they were capable of suppressive acts. In 1965 he wrote: “Until the environment is handled, nothing beneficial can happen. Quite the contrary. In the most flagrant of such cases, the Scientologist’s case worsened and the suppressive person or group sent endless distorted or false reports to press, police, authorities and the public in general.”
We now begin to zero in on Hubbard’s real fear and that of his Church: The PTS Scientologist is likely to tell an “SP” what is really going on inside the organization, which then can get out to the press and the public. Hubbard additionally makes it a “high crime” for any Scientologist to report the church to police or the courts.
The Bunker: Heaven forbid.
Jeffrey: Disconnection — it’s information control.
The Bunker: Of course it is. And that’s why the firehose of information that is the Internet has proved to be such a disastrous calamity for Scientology.
Jeffrey: And the more Scientologists are exposed to it, the more they’re voting with their feet and leaving.
The Bunker: Thank you for digging into these idea for us, Jeffrey. We really feel for the families that have been torn apart by this toxic policy — many of whom never speak up for fear of retaliation. For them, we’ll keep exposing these practices for what they are.
Note: Bunker community member Vistaril had some heated responses to my article in the comments section. We republish them here along with my reply to his allegations; we also include Douglas D. Douglas’ comments:
(Note: This article was originally published at Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker and is republished here with a new title)
Jeffrey Augustine is back, continuing on his investigation of Scientology’s governing documents and what they mean for members and ex-members. This time, Jeff tells us about the thing every ex-member of Scientology should do as soon as he or she has decided to leave…
In America, freedom of religion is typically considered in positive terms: Americans are free to embrace or reject religion as they please. Monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, animism, and every other religious form under the sun are allowed to be practiced in America without any interference from the government.
Churches, temples, mosques, and ashrams are free to determine their own internal form of government, rules, and discipline. The government is prohibited from intruding into these ecclesiastical matters. The First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution guarantees these rights. In the legal case Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese, Etc. v. Milivojevich, the Court stated:
“…the First and Fourteenth Amendments permit hierarchical religious organizations to establish their own rules and regulations for internal discipline and government, and to create tribunals for adjudicating disputes over these matters. When this choice is exercised and ecclesiastical tribunals are created to decide disputes over the government and direction of subordinate bodies, the Constitution requires that civil courts accept their decisions as binding upon them.”
So long as the “rules and regulations for internal discipline and government” do not violate US law, the members of a religious group can be subjected to harsh ecclesiastical tribunals, severe punishments, and even the humiliating public disclosure of their sins and the US courts cannot do anything about it. This is the dark side of “freedom of religion.”
A really clear example of this is a court case that I think has a lot of relevance for Scientology. It was the 1984 dispute known as Guinn v. Church of Christ of Collinsville, which was ultimately decided by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Marian Guinn joined the Church of Christ in 1974 in the small community of Collinsville, Oklahoma, where up to five percent of the local population belonged to the church. Several years into her membership in the church, Guinn, a single woman, began dating the town’s mayor. The mayor was a divorced man, and according to the Church of Christ, the only form of divorce condoned by the Bible was one caused by adultery, which was not the situation in the mayor’s case. So the church considered Guinn’s relationship with the mayor to be “unbiblical,” and the church elders demanded a meeting with her.
In that meeting, Guinn admitted that she was sleeping with the mayor, compounding the problem in the eyes of the elders. They told her to end the relationship, and she promised to repent. In a second meeting, the elders demanded that Guinn appear before the assembled church membership and publicly confess to the sin of fornication. Instead, she stopped attending the church.
So the elders then drove to her house for a third confrontation, and again demanded that she make a public pronouncement of her sin. They then sent her a letter warning that if she didn’t do what she was told, she would be withdrawn from the fellowship, and she realized that the elders intended to inform the congregation of her deeds. She sought legal advice, and her lawyer sent the elders a letter advising the not to discuss her private life with the congregation. Guinn also sent a letter making it clear that she had left the church and had rescinded her consent to be governed by its rules. This turned out to be crucial.
A few days later, the elders ignored her request to respect her privacy and read out a letter about her involvement with the mayor to the congregation. They also encouraged the church members to contact Guinn and ask her to repent. When Guinn met with one of the elders and again asked that her privacy be respected, he told her that her attempt to withdraw herself from the congregation was “doctrinally impossible” — as far as they were concerned, they still governed her and she could never leave on her own.
Guinn’s private life was not only discussed at her church, but the facts of her “sin” were also sent to four other local Church of Christ congregations to be read aloud to the members.
Marian Guinn then filed suit against the church for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. The Church of Christ argued in court that because its rules do not permit its members to ever resign or depart from the Church, the Church’s rules applied to Guinn even after she resigned. (A jury eventually awarded her $390,000.)
The Church of Christ, like the Church of Scientology, would like its members to think of it as the Hotel California: You can check out any time you want but you can never leave. However, this is simply not correct. The Guinn court offered an instructional and highly valuable ruling:
Just as freedom to worship is protected by the First Amendment, so also is the liberty to recede from one’s religious allegiance. In Torcaso v. Watkins the Court reaffirmed that neither a state nor the federal government can force or influence a person to go or to remain away from church against one’s will or to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. The First Amendment clearly safeguards the freedom to worship as well as the freedom not to worship.
As an aside, what this tells us is that the Scientologist who wishes to resign from the Church in order to escape its oppression and abuse is free to do so by sending the Church a written statement of resignation that includes a specific withdrawal of one’s consent to be governed by Scientology’s doctrinal rules. (And please note that I am not an attorney; this article may not be relied upon for legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney in your state for specific legal advice about your particular situation.)
The point here is that anyone desiring to resign from a church and withdraw their consent to be governed by the rules of that church must make a positive act. This means writing a letter to appropriate church officials specifically stating one’s resignation and withdrawal of consent. In the case of the Church of Scientology one needs to resign from the IAS, the Church of Scientology International, and all Orgs where one has signed membership services contracts and had services; the positive act should be as broad and sweeping as possible.
The court record in Guinn is specific on the point of withdrawing consent (emphasis mine):
The Elders had never been confronted with a member who chose to withdraw from the church. Because disciplinary proceedings against Parishioner had already commenced when she withdrew her membership, the Elders concluded their actions could not be hindered by her withdrawal and would be protected by the First Amendment. Parishioner relies on her September 24, 1981 handwritten letter to the Elders in which she unequivocally stated that she withdrew her membership and terminated her consent to being treated as a member of the Church of Christ communion. By common-law standards we find her communication was an effective withdrawal of her membership and of her consent to religious discipline.
Consent is the crux of the matter in terms of religion in America. Once an individual consents to be governed by a church’s rules, that individual is fully subject to the rules and the punishments, however harsh they may be, for breaking those rules.
Once an individual resigns from their church and withdraws their consent to be governed by church rules, however, the church no longer has any rights to punish them. As the Church Discipline blog wrote of the Guinn matter:
This bears repeating. Once a withdraw has occurred the First Amendment protections don’t belong to the church, rather they belong to the individual. All religious activity in the United States is consensual, a person who publicly claims not to be a member of a church is legally not a member of that church and church discipline cannot continue without consent. A church attempting to discipline a person that has withdrawn can be found to be engaging in a form of harassment.
Where the Church of Scientology radically differs from every other church in America is that it has a malicious intake system in which new members are systematically stripped of their civil rights when they sign a series of waivers.
In a previous article in the Bunker, I laid out the four basic contracts the Church of Scientology uses to legally assert its First and Fourteenth Amendment religious protections against its own members.
In business terminology, the Church of Scientology “front loads” its membership terms and conditions. What this means is that Scientology ensures that it is legally protected at the outset from any potential or conceivable future legal consequences from new members by using secular contract law against new members. These contracts legally position the Church deeply behind the religious protections of the US Constitution.
The brutally honest answer as to why the Church of Scientology has gotten away with what it does to its members is simple: Scientologists consented to it. Even if that consent was coerced, not understood, given under compulsion or the threat of an SP Declare and disconnection, that consent allowed the Church to become the beast it is today. When Scientologists no longer consent to the Church’s brutality and abuse they leave by their positive acts of resignation or escape.
The Church of Scientology is like a rigged casino: Thanks to its Constitutional protections, the odds are absolutely and irrevocably stacked in favor of the house. Like all rigged casinos, people will have some wins in Scientology; but over time the house takes everything. That is how the game is designed. The only way out is to resign from the Church and to withdraw one’s consent to be governed by the Church of Scientology’s rules.
Beyond withdrawing your personal consent, the larger solution is to demand that the IRS and Congress act to revoke Scientology’s 501(c)3 tax exemption. Once Scientology loses its tax exemption — and this will happen — Scientology will be a business subject to civil and criminal penalties. As it now stands, Scientology is an evil Cult that gets away with murder. This must stop.
— Jeffrey Augustine