2015 has been one of the worst years on record of the cult of Scientology. Every week has brought fresh pangs of misery to those who job it is to wait upon David Miscavige, the dictator of Scientology. Here is some of it:
Year to Date
If you havent’ read Mike Rinder’s Scientolgy blog you don’t know what you are missing.
From Tony Ortega’s Underground Bunker.
Google helps Scientology billionaire Bob Duggan
hide a dark family secret
Recently, we told you that California pharmaceuticals entrepreneur Bob Duggan — a man currently worth 2.3 billion — had, through an agent, complained to Google about a story we wrote about him.
Duggan didn’t complain directly to us, but then he must have known that the facts in the story we wrote are rock solid. We relied on first-hand accounts, court records, and photographic evidence to show that in 2013, at the same time that Duggan and his wife, Trish, were propping up failing Scientology facilities in South Africa with large donations, two of their six adopted children suddenly showed up in that country, and were being cared for by South African Scientology families.
It suggested a bizarre trade deal — Duggan largesse saved Scientology buildings while two of their children were taken off their hands — and yet, despite those bizarre allegations, everything about the story was nailed down tighter than John Travolta’s hairpiece.
We titled it “A perplexing tale about Bob Duggan, the richest Scientologist in the world,” and published it on October 15. It proved to be one of our most popular stories of the year, as well as probably the one that took the most work (including long Skype calls to Johannesburg).
It proved so popular, that it soon became the number one result on a Google search of Bob Duggan’s name…
We first noticed that our story was topping Google about the time, in April, that an eagle-eyed reader notified us about the complaint filed by Duggan’s agent, which was memorialized on the Chilling Effects website.
Duggan was clearly unhappy that the most popular online item in the world associated with his name was our story about his strange transfer of his adopted boys to South Africa. But rather than send us a threat letter he instead went straight to Google.
What he did, through his agent, Matt Archambault, was to complain to Google not about the facts in the story, but about the images that we’d used to illustrate it — only two of which he had any ownership claim over. Specifically, Duggan filed a complaint under the DMCA — a “takedown notice” — for six of the images in the story. The first was a headshot of Duggan that came from his own website. Duggan also complained about a photo of his wife Trish that came from her website; a collage of photos from Scientology’s Impact magazine which featured him and Trish accepting trophies from Scientology leader David Miscavige; a photo from Scientology’s website showing the grand opening of the Pretoria Ideal Org in 2013; a photo of Robin Hogarth from Robin’s own Facebook page; and a photo of Robin, his wife Carol, and their (formerly Bob’s) son, from Carol’s Facebook page. In each case, we had been careful to point out in our story where each image had come from, and that in each case the subjects in the photos had posted the items themselves. We wanted readers to know exactly where we had obtained them. (Another photo in the story, showing Carol Hogarth and the blurred-out boy, was taken by Carol’s sister Shelley Ashurst, who gave us the photo with her permission.)
Why did Duggan care that, for example, we’d used a generic promotional photo from the Scientology website about the opening of its Pretoria org? Well, it was pretty obvious to us what he was doing: He wanted Google to punish us for supposed copyright violations by de-indexing our story, making it more difficult for people to find.
We noticed the complaint about ten days after it had been filed. We hoped that was soon enough that our idea for a remedy might be in time — we asked Oregon cartoonist Chad Essley to create illustrations that we could use to replace the photos that Duggan was complaining about. Essley came through quickly, and we thenannounced our clever ploy once we had the new images in place.
Apparently, however, our effort to switch out the images didn’t happen in time, or Google just ignored it, because we noticed this week that our story has indeed been de-indexed and no longer shows up when you search on Bob’s name…
Not only is it no longer a top search result, but even if you search on the words “bob duggan perplexing,” you get an alternative URL to the story and not the original URL it was posted under. As far as we can tell, Google has done its best to bury our story.
On behalf of a billionaire. Who made his kids disappear.
And again, Google did this after we had addressed the issues listed in Bob’s complaint — we had removed the images that Duggan pretended he was concerned about.
Did Google even bother to check whether the images Duggan complained about were still in the piece? Does it matter now? Would they respond to an “appeal” of some sort? Our experts tell us trying to get through to Google and convince it to explain itself is about as quixotic a task as there is in this Internet age.
So we decided rather than go begging to Google we would write this story, and let our readers know what kind of interference the search giant is running for a billionaire like Duggan.
And, if our readers read, link to, tweet, Facebook, and share this story to as many people as they can, it might just rise up on Google’s search results, and help direct people to our original story. At least that’s the theory. We’ll see.
To read the complete story go here:
So why did this brilliant young man die? Did his involvement in Scientology do him significant damage? And just what was his connection to the cult of L. Ron Hubbard? Writer and serious thinker Mark Ebner takes a look at this in his story, “Death of a Nethead.”
“In 1999, Rolling Stone assigned Hollywood reporter Mark Ebner to the story of Philip Gale, an MIT prodigy born into Scientology who killed himself on the birthday of the cult’s founder. The organization sent Rolling Stone a damning dossier on Ebner and the story was spiked. Ebner says he was told by his assigning editor that Rolling Stone owner Jann Wenner was close to John Travolta, one of the sect’s most prominent Hollywood supporters. Since then, the Church of Scientology has softened in its response to critics; and internet outlets have proven less easily browbeaten. So here—after the jump— is Ebner’s original piece, Death of a Nethead.”
This unfortunate youth did manage an entry into the Wikipedia, too bad he didn’t live, his final entry after a lifetime of work could have been much larger and more positive.
2014 Scientology Under Siege
The year 2014 was not a good one for the cult of Scientology. They have been pummeled in the press and cornered in the court room. Mike Rinder, former head of the cult’s OSA Int. has chronicled the failure of the “Ideal Orgs.” as well as the under-handed methods used by Scientology to pry money loose from its shrinking band of members. His blog is the best of its kind. http://www.mikerindersblog.org/ The question that will be most asked at this time of the year is, “What was the most significant event that took place during the past year?” That is as difficult to answer as it would be to find Shelly Miscavige, the missing wife of Scientology dictator David Miscavige.. After all, there are the empty course rooms to consider, the sale of the future Boston Ideal Org, (premises too SMALL the cult claims,) as well as the moribund condition of the other orgs, especially the one in Pasadena, not to mention demise or rather consolidation, of one of the oldest orgs in the LA area. While the continued demise of Scientology has picked up some speed this past year to my mind the most significant event is the
Decline and Fall of Narconon
At this moment their flagship facility, Narconon Arrowhead, located in Oklahoma, is on life support, the number of strange deahs at that facility was enough to motivate the state legislature to enact new laws to close the loophole that allowed Narconon to operate for so many years under the radar. This once big cash cow of Scientology is now losing tens of thousands of dollars a week. How long this retreat into the red ink will continue is unknown. Sooner or later Scientology will have to pull the plug on this white elephant although there is talk of turning it into a halfway house. How the mighty have fallen. The suits against Narconon and its Scientology parent organizations hit an all-time high during 2014 with one lawyer alone accounting for some 25 suits. Tony Ortega has kept an eye on this: http://tonyortega.org/2014/12/23/scientologys-2014-in-review-march Finding reasons to sue Narconon has never been hard considering it is all a money-making scam by Scientology whose teachings might drive a person towards drugs but offer only limp Scientology methods to treat addiction, none of which is based on science. The problem has always been finding brave people willing to stand up and tell their story, and of course getting attorneys willing to fight the cult. This has become easier and easier as Scientology has been shown up to be the cowards that they are. The weakness of the cult has extended to their legal arm, for all of their bluster the cult is just another toothless paper tiger. Even more damaging is the suit brought forward by the National Association of Forensic Counselors against the entire Narconon drug facility network, their parent organizations and many individuals for, among other things, copyright infringement. The suit claims that employees of Narconon put false credentials in their offices. Again, Tony Ortega has covered this suit which has the potential to give Scientology another even larger, PR black eye. http://tonyortega.org/2014/05/19/scientologys-drug-rehab-network-sued-for-conspiring-to-misuse-counseling-credentials/ 2014 has seen the continuation of Scientology’s attempt to stamp out dissent by harassing former members. The wife of Marty Rathbon, Monique, brought suit against the cult for pestering her via their screwball “Squirrel Busters.” This case is a long way from going before a jury due to the delaying tactics of the cult but enough information comes out now and again to help blacken the cult’s name. Here is a link to Marty’s blog, as the former Inspector General of Scientology his words carry weight. http://markrathbun.wordpress.com/ Former Scientology bigwig Mike Rinder takes a sour view of Scientology’s chances for 2015 in his blog. http://tonyortega.org/2015/01/05/former-spokesman-mike-rinder-describes-scientologys-dismal-options/
HBO Releases “Going Clear” by Alex Gibney
Based on the book, “Going Clear” by Lawrence Wright.
A media firestorm follows the release of the film at the Sundance Film Frestival.
Scientology pummeled in the press and thenmakes things a whole lot worse by attacking the attackers. Here is a small sample of this most recent Scientology mega PR disaster.
Sundance: Scientology Film Subjects Called “Brave,” Get Standing Ovation The Hollywood Reporter
5 Surprising Revelations From HBO’s New Scientology Documentary ‘Going Clear’ Alternet
5 big revelations in HBO’s new Scientology documentary ‘Going Clear’ Raw Story
Sundance: HBO’s Scientology Exposé Going Clear Is Jaw-Dropping Vulture
Scientology Doc ‘Going Clear’ Claims the Church Split Up Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman The Daily Beast
How did Scientology respond? The same old way it always does.
Scientology Is Now Trying To Bully Film Critics Over “Going Clear” The Daily Banter
Scientology Drags Out Old Playbook In Response To New Exposé Addicting Info
Former high-ranking Scientologist Mike Rinder takes a shot at his old boss David Miscavige and his handling of the most recent disaster for Scientology.
As the dismal year for Scientology got off to a bang writerscontinue to pour gasoline on the flames.
RIBISI DIVORCE: DID SCIENTOLOGY REAR ITS UGLY HEAD?
One of Scientology’s front groups gets caught out.
Parents Outraged After Scientology-Sponsored Group Delivers Anti-Drug Messages At New York City Schools
Florida Attorney General trains for her new role in carrying water for the cult of Scientology.
Floridians have recently been perplexed with the actions of their State’s Attorney in fighting to ban gay marriage even though the tide of public opinion is flowing against her. Not only has public opinion changed on this volatile issue the courts have now been ruling time after time to allow gay marriage. Many question the wisdom, and the expense, of fighting a rearguard action in a lost cause.
While many would condemn her for these futile battles it is possible to understand why she does it. Maybe she has strict religious motives or, as a political figure she finds it expedient to reflect the values of her party base. These are rational explanations of her position that we can all understand even if we don’t agree with her. It is much harder though, to find any rational or moral high ground whatsoever in her accepting campaign donations from Scientologists. Here is a link to an article on this subject that appeared in The Tampa Bay Times. http://www.tampabay.com/news/scientology/pam-bondis-clearwater-fundraiser-organized-by-scientologists/2186599 and this one from New Times Blog. http://blogs.browardpalmbeach.com/pulp/2014/07/scientologists_host_pam_bondi_fundraiser_tonight.php
So why get upset about that? Aren’t people of any religion, even one for tax purposes like Scientology, able to donate to whomever they wish? Yes, certainly. But such is the tyrannical authority that Scientology holds over its followers that the support for a political candidate, especially when that turns into financial support, would have to come from the highest levels within the group.
So what would Scientology expect to get from supporting a candidate for Attorney General? The short answer is that Scientology itself, or via one of its many front groups, is always fighting somebody in court. For a more detailed answer take a look at Scientology and its history.
Before I go any farther I would introduce you to Dr. David Minkoff, a Scientologist and donor to Pam Bondi’s campaign. He lost his licence to practice medicine for a year due to his role in the death of Lisa McPherson, a fellow Scientologist in Clearwater, FL.
To learn more about this tragic affair in which a 36-year-old woman died for no good reason other than the crass stupidity and negligence of Scientology follow this link. http://www.lisamcpherson.org/
Wherever you find Scientology you will also see
Scandals, lawsuits and unexplained deaths.
Scientology 101 (all hail Xenu)
L. Ron Hubbard.
The dubious prodigy, wives, writing, stolen valor, empire builder and recluse.
Abuse in Scientology
BEYOND BELIEF: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape by Jenn Miscavige Hill
Camilla Andersson enlisted in the Sea Org when she was only 17 years, she was a second generation Scientologist. She worked her way to the top of Scientology only to learn the the high you fly in that cult the more severe your punishments will be if you screw up. Of course that means you. For one mistake Camilla ended up sleeping for a night in a tree. Such is the fate of those who find themselves in Hubbard’s dry land navy.
Want more? Try this.
Lee Shewmaker, 71, is a veterinarian. Originally, he’s from Kentucky, and he speaks with a pleasant twang. He operates his animal clinic in the Florida town of LaBelle, on the Caloosahatchee River, about halfway between Ft. Myers and Lake Okeechobee. Lee serves the local community not only with his clinic, but also with a converted RV so he can take his practice on the road for large animal care.
Like other professionals, he was recruited into Scientology through something called Sterling Management Services. In 1990 he signed up with Sterling to help him manage his business — vets, chiropractors, and dentists are targeted by Sterling, which licenses L. Ron Hubbard’s management “technology” from the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, WISE, a Scientology front group.
Lee’s short involvement with Sterling (only about six months) led to his becoming a Scientologist at a San Francisco mission, then later the Los Angeles org and ultimately at Scientology’s spiritual mecca in Clearwater, Florida.
Lee estimates that he gave Scientology half a million dollars over his career. “I spent too damn much money. I borrowed a bunch of money and gave it to Scientology for my Bridge, and it was too much,” he says.
Like other Scientologists, he was encouraged to spend increasing amounts for services as he went step by step up Hubbard’s “Bridge to Total Freedom.” He was also encouraged to give donations for various church causes, including the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) which acts as Scientology’s legal defense fund. He was also hit up to pay for copies of Hubbard’s pamphlet The Way to Happiness to be distributed to the public, along with Scientology’s various building schemes.
But when the economy went sour, Lee realized that he needed to scale back, and fast. “Four or five years ago, I was telling them, hey, I’m in trouble.”
Lee says he had put too much money into Scientology while his business was experiencing a downturn. The combination had the potential to put him underwater. But when he tried to explain why he couldn’t make more donations or spend more on courses, he says the church reacted with threats. “Of course they kept threatening to send me to ethics. Hell, it’s extortion,” he says. “They withhold services unless you give them more money. They want you to donate to the IAS, The Way to Happiness, and a lot more.”
Over his lengthy career in the church, Lee had progressed into the upper level teachings of Scientology, reaching Operating Thetan Level 7 — just one below the highest spot on the Bridge, OT 8. But as we’ve documented previously, many Scientologists get stuck on OT 7, sometimes for years. And every six months while they’re “on the level,” as they say, they are required to go to Flag (the ‘mecca’ in Clearwater) for interrogations and other expensive services. Often, however, when members go to Flag, they find themselves stuck in “ethics” investigations that can take weeks and cost huge amounts without making progress on the Bridge.
Lee made his most recent trip to Flag for the New Year’s Eve event four months ago, a lavish affair which featured Scientology leader David Miscavige giving a two-hour presentation about the church’s successes in 2013. “It was a big deal, man. But I’ve always felt it was a big hoax. They talk about all this good they’re doing, but you don’t see it anywhere else. You don’t see it in the newspapers. You don’t see it on the TV news. You only see what their camera crews are putting on. Because all they get is bad press,” Lee says.
While he was there, Lee stuck around for his OT 7 semi-annual update.
“I went for my refresher. They kept me in ethics forever and ever. I told them, hey, I have to go home.”
Not only had he been away too long from his business, but he’d also, once again, been talked into spending a large amount of money. This time, he was convinced to spend $5,000 on a new Mark Ultra VIII E-meter — the new machine that Miscavige wants every member to purchase for the new “Golden Age of Tech Phase II” technology update which he released in November.
Tired of being held up without progress on his OT levels, Lee decided to return home. “I told them I’d be back in a month or so. But I’m not going back,” he says. Besides his disaffection with Miscavige, Lee has more immediate concerns at home. With his business doing about half of what it was five years ago, Lee recently decided he needed to seek protection in court. “I had to file bankruptcy. I got foreclosed on.” He has submitted a payment plan to the court to get him debt-free in five years while he carries on with his business. “The bank’s fighting it, but so far it’s working,” he says.
Then, two weeks ago, he got a surprise visit. It was a couple of ethics officers from Flag, who showed up at his house and demanded that Lee turn over the E-meter he had bought just a few months before. They handed him a check for the full amount he’d paid — a little over $5,000 — and took the machine away with them. Had the church somehow heard that he’d decided not to go back?
“I think they were more concerned about the bankruptcy,” Lee says. “What they’re scared of is the bank might come after them.”
With so much of his money in the church, he explains, his creditors might go after Scientology to get their money back. He figures that’s why Scientology is so ready to cut off ties with him, and sent out two Masters-At-Arms to retrieve his E-meter. Looking back, Lee talked about the good things he says he took from Scientology, and other things that have long bothered him. “I’ve had a lot of wins. I probably wouldn’t be around here if it weren’t for my being in Scientology,” he says. But those “wins,” he points out, tended to come during the initial, low-level Scientology courses.
“I think they’re a bunch of fucking crooks. Especially after I got into the upper levels. It wasn’t like this when i was in the lower levels. Yeah, they did a lot of regging [fundraising], but not for the IAS. That’s really increased in the last two or three years. I’m tired of that shit,” he says.
He’s also left with a bitter taste in regards to his children. Neither of them are church members, but Lee says his son, J.L., went through a traumatizing incident in the Caribbean.
“I took my son to the ship when he was 15 years old,” he says, referring to the Freewinds, Scientology’s private cruise ship. “They talked him into a basic study course.” But when they tried to leave, J.L. was held against his will — ostensibly for missing a few questions on his course. “My son hates Scientology,” Lee says. And as for his daughter, Bridgitte? “They talked me into firing my daughter. They said she was suppressive.”
Today, Lee regrets listening to Scientology and firing his daughter because she was “suppressive” (had negative intentions toward Scientology). But things turned out well — Bridgitte works for another veterinarian firm, and D.L. works for the state’s animal control division. Lee says his wife has never been involved in Scientology. “She went with me to the New Year’s Even event, and hated it,” he says. He admits that it was difficult for him to be the only dedicated Scientologist in the family. But now, that makes it easier for him to leave.
Recently, Lee reached out to Karen de la Carriere, hoping to find information about how to continue his studies outside the church, as an independent Scientologist. He still has affinity for L. Ron Hubbard and the ideas underlying Scientology. But as for Miscavige?
“I think he’s a damn criminal,” Lee says. “All he’s worried about is the money.”
This was taken from Tony Ortega’s blog and can be read by going here: http://tonyortega.org/2014/05/01/scientologys-e-meter-police-and-the-horse-doctor-of-labelle-florida/
Here is something on the subject of David Miscavige.
Nothing will save you from the meat grinder of Scientology if the Nazis at the top get even a little whiff of a person daring to doubt or to indeed, think for themselves. The following story has been told time and again in the history of Scientology but more frequently the last few years as Scientology continues to implode. Doubt is fought with the most potent weapon at the disposal of the fanatical lickspittles who cringe at the feet of David Miscavige. Their weapon, the one that they claim they don’t have, is disconnection. If you leave your friends and family will kick your butt as you walk out the door. They will be forced to leave you in the dust or else they too will be kicked out; and that of course means no more services. But yet for all of that people DO leave, all the time. Here is the story of another brave man. Hear what Ryan Hogarth has to say:
I was born into a Scientology family. My grandmother knew and worked with LRH in Rhodesia. She moved to South Africa in 1966 with her two sons, Robin & Simon, to work full time for Scientology. Both Robin & Simon also joined staff. My parents, Simon & Anne, met at Joburg in 1970.
That makes me, I guess, a 3rd generation Scientologist. My wife (Melissa) and son (Tyler) have both served on staff. Between the three of us we have given 46 years of staff service to Scientology in South Africa.
My gran passed away in 2003 and my mother and father are still in the Sea Org.
JOINING THE SEA ORG
My mom was transferred to OSA US in 1985 when I was 13 years old. I was recruited into the Sea Org within 4 days of arriving in Los Angeles. I was just so happy to be out of school and out of South Africa it seemed a perfectly smart thing to do. There would be no more formal schooling beyond the primary school I’d completed.
I loved LA and loved being in the Sea Org there. Although I was only there for just shy of 3 months I felt I’d made a home there. Sadly we all had to move back to South Africa. My mom’s replacement didn’t work out.
I was posted in OSA and I spent the entire 25 years on staff in OSA, both Sea Org and Class V staff.
For the first 7 years of my staff career all my posts in OSA were internal– recruitment of staff, hatting, ethics. In 1989 I met Melissa, my future wife. She was a DSA from Port Elizabeth. She was gorgeous and I was in love almost immediately. Our relationship was verboten since she was not Sea Org. But somehow we still managed to get married in spite of this in July 1989.
LEAVING THE SEA ORG
Melissa never got to join the Sea Org as she was asked to fill the DSA Joburg post “temporarily” which became permanent. Although she wasn’t an SO member she stayed at the SO base and was expected to work an SO schedule.
In July 1991 two years after our wedding Melissa fell pregnant. As it was now Sea Org policy that Sea org members were not allowed to have children I would have to leave. This was a particularly rough period of time. Melissa was viewed with great suspicion, the thinking being that she had “done this deliberately”. She faced particularly brutal ethics action and at 6 months pregnant was doing deck work sanding floors and facing an aggressive committee of evidence. I don’t dwell on regrets much but when I do it’s around this period and how I didn’t do enough to prevent my pregnant wife being treated this way.
At the age of 19 our son, Tyler, was born on the 13th of March 1992. Melissa was on post until 10pm the night before he was born. In fact we went to the hospital from the org. Any doubts, upsets or confusions in my life evaporated at the moment I held him in my hands. Nothing gets you focused like a new life that depends completely and utterly upon you.
6 months after his birth we left the Sea Org base and began life on our own as parents and full time Joburg staff. Our first residence out of the Sea Org was a cottage rented to us by a Scientologist for R25 a week. We were almost immediately behind on the rent, not making enough money to cover this tiny amount. We were broke constantly and on more than one occasion I walked around collecting empty cooldrink bottles to get the deposit on returning them in order to buy milk & bread. Life was a continual financial struggle. We didn’t have a car or any family to assist. Melissa’s family lived in Port Elizabeth and mine lived in LA. During all of this we never doubted our commitment to the church and ultimately changing the world. Life continued in this fashion for the next 4 years.
However it got the point where we couldn’t continue. Melissa took two leaves of absence. First in 1996 and again in 2000. Both times she returned when we believed that “things were really going to turn around now”. In 2001 Melissa was recruited to be the Chaplain. Ken Krieger convinced Melissa & I that she would make more than sufficient money as a Chaplain from selling materials so she rejoined and went to Flag to train.
THE IDEAL ORG & BECOMING THE PRESIDENT
In the late 90s Joburg Org was situated in the city centre which by that time had deteriorated to the point where fewer public were willing to come to the org, particularly at night.
We decided to find a new building out of the city. This was a local decision borne from necessity. We involved our OT public and a search began. Pandy Katakuzinos in 1999 found the perfect building and the Corbett’s put up the money (which was later repaid by Sea Org reserves).
We needed around R1.2 million to renovate. Fund raising began by asking public to put money into the org for services. We really felt we could do it this way. By late 2000 we abandoned this approach and went for straight donations. Something like this had never been done before so there was general agreement and excitement. By mid 2002 renovations were complete and we were ready to move! The problem was we just couldn’t get the okay from “uplines” to move. Months went by with our new building standing there, empty but ready! In late 2002 we received a briefing and brand new plans. The building was going to be huge! We were going to build an extra two buildings, and add a level to the main building. The size of the org doubled. “Ideal Orgs” had been born! The budget shot up to over R17 million.
Two things happened with Miscavige that unsettled me. The first was when he gave a briefing to all staff and Sea Org. During his briefing a CMO crew member was falling asleep (she had been up for days prior). Mid sentence Miscavige snapped his fingers in her direction and yelled “YOU! Get out! Now. GET OUT!”. Humiliated she stood up from the front row and walked out past everyone.
The other occurred in the exec space of the org, which Miscavige was using. I walked into the area heading to my office. No one else was around. He was eating in the conference room. He saw me and said antagonistically “What are you doing here? You are not supposed to be here!” I was flummoxed and froze on the spot. He then bellowed with laughter and said “Just kidding”.
From the opening I assumed the title of “President of the Church of Scientology Johannesburg” It is a PR post and essentially translates to “spokesperson”. I took to it with vigour and for the next 6 years I was an active and frequent spokesperson for the church. Over time this morphed into being the national spokesperson although this was never official but no one else would or could speak to the media. In those 6 years I appeared on local, regional and national television, radio and print media. I actually developed working relationships with some journalists, relationships which I have maintained to this day.
In 2005 I got myself in hot water. I was interviewed by a national magazine. They asked the question “How much does it cost to get to OT VII?” My thought in answering the question was that we always skirt the issue of money like it doesn’t exist. So I decided to be open about it. I said “around R700 000”. This was a terrible underestimation as it was. When the article ran I got a Knowledge Report and a cram for answering the question.
Also in 2005 I was asked to come to LA to be in the President’s office and be an International Spokesperson. By then Heber was long gone and, as I would find out later, Mike Rinder was in the hole. I already had differing opinions on how the media should be handled. I felt my views on how to do it would not be accepted. I said that I would likely land up on the RPF fairly quickly so let’s rather not waste each other’s time.
The period between November 2003 and May 2005 were the best years I ever spent on staff. We were left alone to do our jobs. We never got to the level of staff pay that had been promised but everyone ignored that because it was a good time to be on staff and we were making progress. Don’t get me wrong there were a fair share of bizarre orders but the pain pleasure ratio was finally in proportion. In March 2005 we were announced as St. Hill Size at the Int March 13 event. A Universe Corps team arrived in April to audit the staff to OT. We had a huge public event. Staff were happy, public were happy. We had made it! All the years of hardship had been worth it. I had the most amount of auditing I’d ever had to that point. I went from nowhere on the bridge up and onto NED within 5 months. Melissa went clear.
Despite the excitement things were changing. In early May I was called to an urgent meeting along with other org executives convened by Ken Krieger. With a straight face he told us “50,000 people have to watch the May 9 event!”. The event was 10 days away! I thought he was out of his mind and pretty sure everyone else in the room thought the same. But we all nodded and gave a firm “Yes sir!”. Off we went to work out what unusual solutions we could come up with. We spent in the region of R60,000 or more trying in vain to attain this target.
This for me was the end of the honeymoon. Soon the org was again under financial stress, the Sea Org were back in the org micromanaging and it felt an awful lot like it had for all the years prior to the move.
By the end of 2005 the Universe Corps was falling apart and by May 2006 they were all gone never to return save one brave but vain attempt in 2008.
BASICS AND THE BEGINNING OF THE END
The hype around the Basics began, I believe at the start of 2007. We were hearing about a major overhaul of all the books of Scientology and that a “new breed of Scientologist” was coming. This was the release of the Basics which was to be the worst two years of my Scientology staff career.
Whatever org pattern and structure existed completely fell apart. EVERY staff member had to contribute to sales. Either directly or through “recoveries”
At the same time there was continued push on Ideal Orgs. Even though we were in one we had to get a Test Centre, we had to help the other orgs become Ideal. To add insanity to stupidity we had IAS targets as well. At one point, during 2009 it was Basics sales during the day and two Ideal Org events and one IAS event per week.
It was with this backdrop that one April morning while sitting in my office I had an epiphany: I could leave! This was a thought I never allowed myself to have. My staff contract would expire in January 2010 and I would leave.
In July 2009 I was reading the daily “Google Alert” for media on Scientology. I saw the name Marty Rathbun. Marty was a god from my standpoint. He was at the very top of my command line. I trusted him implicitly. I assumed he was making a media statement and since I hadn’t heard from him in a while I was keen to hear what he had to say. The story was the “Truth Rundown” in the St. Pete Times. It took several minutes for me to realise that Marty was not talking FOR the church. He was out and what he was saying was being confirmed by Mike Rinder the second most senior person on my command line. Time stood still as I watched, in slow motion, my life shatter in front of me.
For the next two days I did ZERO post work. I locked my door and read EVERYTHING I could find on the Internet. I cannot adequately explain the feeling of your entire life’s purpose and goals unravelling before you. But that’s what was happening. I got to see that the madness and mayhem in South African Orgs was not a localised problem. It was a global pandemic.
Over the ensuing 8 weeks I continued to read, I made contact with Marty and others. My decision to leave was now more firm than ever.
LIFE OUTSIDE THE BUBBLE
In November 2010 I was asked to go to OSA Int to route off staff. After initially refusing I went. I had 28 days of straight security checking and little bit of case clean up at the end. For the most part I was treated very well which probably had a lot to do with the prevailing mood at the time, being just 6 months after the devastating “Truth Rundown” series of articles in the St Pete Times. I was very open – I told them everything I had done, everything I had read, everyone I had been in comm with. I asked all the questions I had. Some were handled well, most poorly. I read Mike & Marty’s declares which didn’t handle much. As for questions about the Int Base and “the hole”, these were categorically denied. I made a decision to accept what I was being told at face value and to see how it all panned out.
While “seeing how things panned out” I would not interact with anyone outside the church or any websites outside of official Scientology.
On my final day as a staff member I was collected by my brother who lives there. We got into his Jeep and hit the Pacific Coast highway. It was around 11.30pm. We cranked up the music and I sang my heart out. I was done! I was free! I was on my own. I had not been that happy in well over 5 years.
I arrived back in South Africa on the 20th of February and began my new life. I was 38 with no career, no insurance, no medical cover, no savings and a mountain of debt (most of which was Scientology materials related).
But Melissa & I had never been happier! Our life was OURS! Ours alone.
In the 3/12 years since I’ve built a successful career as a professional speaker and a budding career as a writer. I have had the considerable honour & pleasure of meeting and working with some of the greatest business thinkers in the country.
I tried for a short while to stay connected and work on projects but it became plain that nothing inside the church would change. It was the same old same old. Fund raising, promises and regging. Additionally Melissa & I realised that this group is so small and so toxic it was claustrophobic so we made the decision to build a life completely outside of Scientology which we have since done.
At the same time I tried to reconnect with every friend I had ever left behind, both Scientologists and not. I had come to see that I had lost connections for a variety of ridiculous reasons ranging from “he’s not a Scientologist” to “he’s not an upstat Scientologist”. The time spent reconnecting was incredibly therapeutic and it became my policy to always be open to communication, if it was genuine & real. People may well cut their comm with me but it won’t be me with them!
For a long time Melissa & I thought we had left it all behind us and it would become a dimming part of our history. However two things happened:
I rediscovered L. Ron Hubbard on my own terms and came to appreciate in a very personal way the value in his work. This appreciation came mostly from being able to reject some of his writings at my own discretion. It made those parts that are truly profound even more so.
Melissa & I began receiving calls from people asking, firstly, “what happened to you guys?” and secondly “what the hell is going on with our church?”
The first point made me realise that the philosophy is important enough that it deserves a chance in this world and that it will never get a chance as long as it remains in the hands of the church as it is now.
The second point got me talking openly with Scientologists who had themselves observed the outnesses within the church. We answered their questions.
This served to put me on the radar and over time it became a greater problem. In March this year I met with an OSA Int person who had come to do PR work for the opening of the Pretoria Ideal Org. We had a long, frank and robust conversation. He eventually asked in exasperation, “Well, what do you want Ryan!?”
My answer was that I wanted Scientologists, the many very clever Scientologists who had built this church to have a platform to openly discuss and debate what the church is doing and to have a say in the direction it takes. The response was simple and direct “Ryan, you know that will never happen.”
I told him there was then no point in us talking further.
To read the entire blog entry go here: http://www.mikerindersblog.org/ryan-hogarth-steps-forward/
Are you interested in seeing proof of Scientology’s growth? Are they growing or do they just own a bunch of empty buildings?
Scott and Kerry Campbell spent decades inside of the Sea Org, and what was their reward for working long days with little time off? What did they get for sacrificing their lives for the benefit of L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings? They each got a bill for the “services” they took during their time in. Kerry got a bill for $ 69,772.50 and Scott was charged $94,111.00 for the privilege of being slaves.
Both filled declarations in support of the Garcia’s lawsuit against Scientology, you can read it by this link http://tonyortega.org/2013/04/22/garcias-respond-to-scientology-youre-a-big-ripoff/
Scott made a number of videos that are now on YouTube. You will have to see these for yourself and make up you own mind but his story is a harrowing tale of abuse and betrayal; words familiar to those who follow the history of Scientology.