The Seven Problems of Scientology . . .

hubbard laz

The Church of Scientology has seven intractable problems:

1. Hype Fatigue: The promised miracles, powers, and abilities have never manifested and will never be manifested. This is because these claimed states do not exist and are unattainable. This is why the launch of Super Power and GAT II were DOA.

2. Crisis Fatigue: The constant hype that there is a crisis, an emergency, a threat, or a production target that must be handled right now immediately has been chronically overrun on parishioners and Sea Org alike. The Church’s state of constant crisis speaks to manipulation, extremely poor planning, and exceptionally poor management. When a large enterprise is well planned and well managed, there are few real crises. Related to the state of constant crisis is the extreme time pressure for money, stats, and production. This time pressure has been chronically overrun on parishioners and Sea Org alike. It is a truism that scams and cons use time pressure and the “time pressure scam” is run all the time in the Church.

3. Donation Fatigue: This has been widely discussed. Mike Rinder posted an e-mail in which parishioners are now being asked to “go all in” which = give the rest of your money and assets to the Church and hold back nothing. Parishioners realize there will never be any end to the demand for money. The regging will never end. Greed knows no bounds and the Cult of Scientology is greedy. No amount of money will ever satisfy the Cult’s incessant, evil, pitiless greed.

4. The Failure of the Ideal Org Program: The stark and depressing realization that all the money spent only resulted in empty and unproductive buildings has created a pervasive State of Despair in the Church.

5. The Out of Control System of Scientology: By design, the Church of Scientology is a high pressure bureaucratic machine designed to remorselessly extract the money, labor, and life energy out of it’s members every single minute of every day. The system is a greedy “grab and use” machine that sucks the bone marrow out of people and then grinds their bones into powder. The End Phenomenon of the Cult of Scientology is this: Nothing left of a person.

6. The Church of Scientology’s Horrible Reputation:The Church has earned it’s horrible reputation by it’s own policies of forced abortion, Fair Game, Disconnection, the RPF, stalking, spying, brutality, slave labor, greed, phony PR, exaggerated spiritual claims, threats, intimidation, Master Race mentality, and it’s chronic and habitual lying.

7. Scientology’s Own Self-Destructive Nature: As I have long said, the Church of Scientology is reliably self-destructive. Count on it. The Church’s self-inflicted wounds are numerous and frequent. Due to the inherent design flaws of the Church, the Church can only be self-destructive and proves this almost everyday by it’s own actions, the Church of Scientology has been gripped in a self-induced and furious “Onslaught of Self-Destruction” since 2005 when Tom Cruise created a Culture War at the behest of David Miscavige.

By Jeffrey Augustine

Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 3:44 am  Comments (1)  

Ernest & Gaye Corbett, Ex-Scientology Story #431


As the importance of the “tech” of L. Ron Hubbard declines in Scientology the more difficult it is for older members to stay on.  After all, they knew what Scientology was like before David Miscavige took over; they also know that he does not hesitate to rewrite Hubbard’s works to suit his needs.  That puts these people in a difficult position; they can keep their mouths shut and let the fundraisers plunder their bank accounts or they can leave.  And for a lot of them leaving means cutting ties with friends and loved ones.

Recently in South Africa this decision was taken out of the hands of eighteen of them.  A gang of Sea Org members were sent to Johannesburg by David Miscavige to cleanse the field of all who might question his leadership.  This list is from the blog of Mike Rinder who posted it on 11/6/13.

  1. Gaye Corbett – 42 years in Scn, OT VIII, Cl IV, 3Ls, Data Series Evaluator, Triple Cornerstone Member, Silver Meritorius
  2. Ernest Corbett – 42 years in Scn, OT VIII, 3Ls, Data Series Evaluator, Triple Cornerstone Member, Silver Meritorius
  3. Tracey Henley (nee Corbett) – 40 years in Scn (all her life), OT V, Flag trained CL VI, Patron
  4. Guy Henley – 12 years in Scn, Patron
  5. Lisa Goosen (nee Corbett) – 35 years in Scn (all her life), Patron, Ls
  6. Warwick Goosen – 20 years in Scn, Patron, Ls
  7. Rodney Corbett – 40 years in Scn, OT V, OEC
  8. Karl Kroeger – 35 years in Scn, OT VIII, Ls
  9. Sandy Kroeger – 35 years in Scn, OT VIII, Cl IV
  10. Molly Jelly – 46 years in Scn, Cl VI, OT VIII
  11. Dave Jelly – 46 years in Scn, Cl VI, OT VIII
  12. Craig Howarth – 20 years in Scn, 8 years on Durban Staff
  13. Shirley Wartski – 20 years in Scn, Flag trained CL VI, OT V
  14. Cameron Wannenberg – 15 years in Scn.
  15. Kim Downing – 42 years in Scn, OT VII, Cl IV
  16. Ueli Gostelli – 35+ years in Scn, OT V.
  17. Carol Krieger – +- 20 years in Scn, CL IV, OT V
  18. Wendy Bowman – 45 years in Scn, CL VI, 12 years on staff

Two of these people, the Corbetts, have also told their story and what a story it is~!!  There are many stories of greed and avarice in the cult of Scientology but this is one of the worst.  To show these people aren’t pikers here is a list of some of their donations:

They are Silver Meritorious contributors to the IAS. That’s $500,000

They are Triple Cornerstone members of the super power building. That’s $100,000

They have paid in excess of R12,000,000 to Ideal Orgs

They have sponsored the training of African Scientologists to come to Joburg to train. They sponsored flights, accommodation, food and their training. R30,000 per month for 5 years, or R1,800,000.

Since 1987 they have trained 4000 teachers and 3000 students on study tech through Education Alive projects they have run in various rural areas.

Education Alive’s national offices have worked rent free in one of their centres for the last 10 years.

The executives and some staff of Joburg have lived rent free in houses they own.

You can see from this what dedicated Scientologists these people were.  It took a lot to drive them out of Scientology but David Miscavige as always was up to the task.  Here is what the Corbetts had to say about it:

In 1964 Ernest bought a copy of DMSMH and never read it. In 1971 after we got married we were moving house and while repacking books, I saw the copy of Dianetics Ernest had bought all those years prior. I sat down and read it, start to finish. I insisted that we find somewhere to get Dianetics auditing. I had been unable to fall pregnant and I felt Dianetics and the auditing described in it would address this issue. We found the local org in Durban which neither of us liked it very much, it seemed a little weird the way the staff stared at us. We looked a little more and some months later we found the Jory Mission in Durban. After doing 100 hours of TR 0 the mission reg, George Southworth, suggested I get 25 hours of auditing.

Neville Jory (bless his soul) audited me for 25 hours, after which he asked how I felt. I said I hadn’t handled what I wanted handled, namely to fall pregnant. Neville immediately re-credited my 25 hours and we continued. During this second batch of auditing I fell pregnant. After hearing that I had gone back track, Ernest demanded his own auditing!

Since then we have never stopped. We have always been involved, always looking for ways to forward Scientology and to help others. We have always been connected to orgs.

In 1976 I went Clear on the Apollo with David Mayo as C/S. Ernest was the first public at Flag after their move from the ship to Daytona Beach. I joined him there later and we both had L 10 personally C/S’d by LRH . I was then fortunate enough to have another 4 pilot rundowns delivered to me, again C/S’d by David Mayo and LRH. Ernest was asked to go on a mission to NY to promote the Ls and talked to hundreds  of people at different booming missions in NY.

After returning from Flag we joined staff. I became the ED and Ernest was the HES. In 1979 Jens Bogvat arrived on a mission and declared Ernest and removed me as the ED.

After stewing for a few weeks we got on a plane and went to Flag to see the IJC. We sat outside his office. After being ignored for 3 days he asked what we wanted. We asked if he had listened to the tapes of the Comm-Ev. He hadn’t. He took the afternoon to listen to these tapes after which he phoned Joburg and ordered a review comm-ev. Within 24 hours the review was held, the  recommendations cancelled and Ernest’s declare was lifted.

We did not return to staff but instead spent time moving up the Bridge. We both got through OT V by 1982. I audited on OT VII until I attested in 1988. 6 years of auditing on OT VII without a single sec check. I completed OT VII in 1988. Ernest started OT VII in 1987 and completed a year later. He didn’t feel he had completed but was told he was finished.

By this time we had both done L12 as well. In 1997 We were recalled to Flag and put back on OT VII which we  completed in 2004. This time everyone on OT VII was required to do sec checks every six months. this by the way is completely out tech. In C/S series 73 LRH specifically bans sec checking during a major action and which must only be done if the Pre OT is doing badly or in trouble. We completed OT VIII for the second time in 2004 as well. Again after grueling sec checks on the ship. I could never understand why one would need all this sec checking after having completed OT VII and being completely keyed out. Of course it never occurred to us that this was a good money earner as by the time you get through the wall of sec checking there is a fair amount of protest at having to continually look for non existent overts and withholds.

In 2005 we went back to Flag and re-did all 3 L’s. A year later I returned as I had attention on L12. Review insisted I redo all 3. I did them for a 3rd time.

The point of the above is that we had a lot of auditing, a lot of training. We never stopped. Much of the auditing we had was good, some of it not so good. But we never stopped. We were always doing something both personally and on the 3rd and 4th dynamic.

The above hopefully gives the picture of the sort of people we are when it comes to our approach to Scientology. It was front and centre in our lives, always.

With this in mind when we were approached to help in securing a new building for Joburg we were only too happy to help. The year was 1999. Joburg org was housed in a terrible building in downtown Johannesburg. The area had deteriorated and was dangerous. It repelled it’s public.

A new building was located by Pandy Katakuzinos in Kensington. It was perfect! Everyone who saw it loved the idea of our local and continental org being there. In order to secure it, Ernest and I put up the money and signed the sale agreement. We took this upon ourselves as we didn’t want the org to lose the building. This was paid back through Sea Org reserves some time later.  This was prior to the concept of Ideal Orgs. This was just an org trying to be in a better location.

We got very involved in the process of renovating this org as did our son, Mark. Between 2000 and 2002 the idea of “Ideal Orgs” was born and instead of Joburg just handling their own org it became an”IDEAL” Org. When the org was opened by the venerable COB in November 2003 we were immensely proud and for the next 18 months it seemed our efforts were well worth it. Joburg expanded and was announced as Saint Hill Size in March 2005.

However the attention of management moved to the next org to be purchased, Cape Town. A building was found which had just been purchased for R9 million. The new owner threw out a price of R18 million at the church and they jumped and accepted. They had R9 million in hand and this was paid over as a deposit. At that time the plan was to raise a bond for the remaining R9 million which they couldn’t do. The pressure was on to find the balance before they lost the R9 million deposit. We were asked to help and we duly did, raising the bond ourselves to secure the building. This was paid over a year or two through fund raising efforts. Again we put ourselves at risk to save the irresponsible and naive  way the SO was managing this process.

The Cape Town building is actually 3 buildings. We sent several requests “uplines” to sell the smaller building and utilise the funds from this to pay for the renovations. It wasn’t that it was disapproved, there was simply no response. To this day (8 years later) the building remains unoccupied by the org.

By this time it seemed that there was an effort to apply a “one size fits all” approach to Ideal Orgs. On a visit to the ship in 2005 we asked to meet with Angie Blankenship who was the WDC Ideal Orgs. We explained our concerns. She was utterly disinterested in what we had to say.

By 2006 there was only one more building required, this one for Durban. The old Westville Hotel was on sale for R5 million. We felt it was a lovely building for an org and were excited to get it. However, Ken Krieger and probably others, disagreed and instead another building was found for R16 million. This building would later be torn down and it remains an empty lot. 

Around this time Charmaine Rodgers, of Superpower Reg infamy, came to South Africa. She had a meeting with me. Or rather, she showed up one day at our offices to meet with us. Our secretary informed me that prior to me arriving in my office Charmaine spent time rifling through the papers on my desk. Among the papers was a sale agreement of a shopping centre we were in the process of selling. The profits of this sale were to be used to build a new shopping centre.

Several days later Ernest received a call from an MAA at Flag informing him that senior Sea Org executives were waiting for us at our house and we had better get there pronto. Ken Krieger, Alex Faust, Elmien Lochner and Robert Bokelmann had invited themselves into our home. Their demand was that we pay R5 million for Durban Org. They were quite convinced we had the money and it was obvious they had data about our financial affairs, possibly from the data that Charmaine had gotten from our desk papers. What followed was a 4 hour gang reg interview with all 5 demanding in Nazi fashion that we pay this money. After hours we relented and agreed to pay R1 million. This went down in Ernest’s memory as the worst experience he had ever had in Scientology and perhaps even his life.

During this time it was not unusual to be followed by one or more of the above people trying to get a meeting with us. They would wait outside our premises, follow us to meetings and then follow us back home and ask to meet. It was constant hammering and begging for money, not only for Ideal Orgs but for the basics or someone’s air fare or training or or or!

A week after agreeing to pay R1 million we were visited by 3 of the Durban OT Committee. They begged us to help by loaning them a further R1 million that they would pay back with interest. After some time we agreed. This money was never paid back. Interest on the loan was paid for a few months  and then never again.

As you can imagine we had started to fall out of love with this whole idea of Ideal Orgs. But worse was to come. So much worse.

Our realisation at this point was that for Sea Org members to act in this  unprofessional fashion, with no compassion, had to mean they were PTS. But PTS to whom?

The full R16 millon had now been raised to purchase the Durban org building. However one Tuesday afternoon We arrived at our office to find Alex Faust, the CO CMO in my office. He broke down in tears, quite literally weeping and explained that a cheque of R5 million from Peter Cooke had bounced. This put the church in breach of the sale agreement. See the full story on that here. Alex was terrified that the church would lose the building and the parishioners their donations. Of course he was in terror that he would be RPF’d. He was in phone communication with COB every night. He had not been able to tell him that this disaster was looming. We agreed to put up security for the R5 million only after Alex had promised that Peter Cook would be rectifying this breach within two weeks and we only needed to put up a guarantee for those two weeks. Neither the Church nor Peter Cooke ever made good on the money and we were left to cover it.

In 2009 Sea Org management issued a general interrogatory to the field in an attempt to discover “who was trying to stop Ideal Orgs”.  After the interrogatory both of us were called in to receive “Roll Back”. On the day of the Roll Back, I discovered that we had a R5 million tax bill. This was related to our donations since we had not received tax certificates. We arrived for our roll backs completely out ruds. Despite explaining this I was told to sit down and pick up the cans. Ernest had the same handling and his own roll back. Conducting the roll back was a young CMO Sea Org member, Nikita Byrnes, who was not Clear and a CL IV auditor. She did some roll back then proceeded to attempt to pull withholds. I’m not sure how I got through this but the whole process lasted 2 hours. After getting out of the auditing room we were immediately ushered into the conference room with Ken Krieger and Brittany Terpstra (?) who demanded R5 million for the IAS to be used for renovations of the Castle. This reg interview lasted until midnight at which point we got up and left with Brittany screaming “YOU WILL PAY!”.

Robert Bokelmann phoned me the next day saying that I had to come back to the org to complete the roll back. At that point I told Robert to take his roll back and shove it up his backside. He threatened “the next ethics gradient”. I asked that he please go ahead.

A few days later Ken Krieger and Claire Anderson arrived at our offices. An off-the-meter interview was done to “repair” the roll back disaster after which Ken then said, basically, “give us R500,000 and we’ll call it quits”. We paid the money to be done with it.

From that point it seemed we were left alone. It was abundantly clear that we were very unhappy.

In 2010 a Class IX auditor came from the Freewinds and asked us to come in for more roll back. Ernest agreed but I avoided it. Ernest’s realisation from this latest round of roll back was that compassion no longer had any part in this church.

Then we saw the return of Charmaine Rodgers to our shores. She contacted me and said she just had to see one of our lodges! I arranged for she and her mother, Sadie Lurie, to stay at our Safari Lodge. There was one room available. Charmaine arrived with her mom AND her brother! The staff didn’t know what to do but Charmaine insisted that they could all sleep in the same bed. When Charmaine got back to Joburg she took a room at our Waterfall Lodge. She said she would only be there a night. One week later after enjoying five star service with no further explanation she left without so much as a “Thanks”.

In 2011 another Class IX auditor arrived in South Africa. He came to our offices and we had a long chat. He then asked that we come to the org as he had a special C/S  R-factor, just for us. I had reservations but Ernest felt he had come all this way and they should respect that. Along we went. We were invited to pick up the cans for some more roll back! This auditor pulled out pages of reports from Charmaine Rodgers about all the things Ernest & I had said while she was here.

At this point the relationship with our church was forever severed. This was comm from a Class IX from the Ship that was based on a lie with zero compassion. With no care.

We knew our management was PTS. We saw at this point that they were PTS to their seniors. Our doubt formula began. We took a trip and visited 6 Ideal Orgs around the world: Joburg, Berlin, Malmo, London, Pasedena and Rome. We concluded from this trip that the Ideal Org program was an utter failure for the following reasons:

  • These buildings had expenses: Rates, taxes, maintenance that orgs would not be able to afford
  • Their fields were decimated. They were broke and afraid of coming to their orgs for fear of being further regged.
  • Scientologists were disillusioned with OT. They weren’t doing well so why carry on?
  • All the people we met along the way were, almost without exception, not doing well.

It was time to do research for our doubt formula. On the Internet. Even if it meant we would fall pregnant or go blind. Our awakening was complete. We pieced together the history of our church and we now, finally, understood everything that had happened over the last 40 years. The 1982 mission destruction, why so many auditors left the church. Why we were small and going nowhere.

During our research which lasted the better part of 14 months we discovered two very important facts: One, “Command Intention” was not the same as “LRH Intention” and secondly, the Church does NOT have a monopoly on the tech.

Published in: on November 22, 2013 at 2:51 am  Leave a Comment  

Fundraiser: Cindy Plahuta, Ex-Scientologist Story #430 Part II


Giant ‘Super Power’ building in Clearwater takes a pause, yet millions keep flowing in

  • By Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin, Times Staff Writers, 

Sunday, November 20, 2011 

Maybe they’re out of money.  That speculation — irresistible to many Scientology watchers in Clearwater — never died after the church suddenly stopped construction on its massive, downtown “Super Power” building.

The church had spent five years and $45 million erecting the shell of the seven-story colossus that covers an entire city block. But in 2003 it shifted the project into idle, offering little explanation.

Always mysterious since coming to Clearwater under a fake name in 1975, the church became all the more inscrutable as its big building just sat there, finished on the outside, raw inside.

But unknown to those wondering about the delay was the whirl of activity just across the street.

In an office off the mezzanine in the church’s Fort Harrison Hotel, a savvy team of fundraisers was raking in millions.

The Super Power project has been a bonanza for the Church of Scientology. Far from a financial burden, it has been a money magnet, a powerful come-on for L. Ron Hubbard’s master vision.

Pay for a building. Save the planet.

St. Petersburg Times analysis shows Scientology has raised at least $145 million for the project, far more than the $100 million cost consistently cited by the church’s Clearwater public affairs team through the years.

In a single week in March 2003 — the year construction stopped — fundraisers brought in $23 million in parishioner donations, according to a former member of the team.

That figure is “absurd,” the church said. It declined to provide the amount collected that week or the total raised during two decades of fundraising.

But it generally acknowledged the triumph of the Super Power fundraising campaign.

Dollars donated “under the banner of Super Power” paid not only for the skyline-altering building and its elaborate furnishings, but for a $4 million power plant and a parking garage. Still going strong, the campaign is raising the millions needed for a planned 3,500-seat auditorium, L. Ron Hubbard Hall.

“This and a number of other outstanding projects remain to accomplish the goals of Super Power,” the church said.

No law compels religious organizations to release financial information, and Scientology does not. The Times analysis of the Super Power campaign is based on interviews with former insiders and major contributors and on a review of church publications and internal memoranda.

What emerges is a detailed picture of a well-organized team of religious workers-turned-fundraisers with big-dollar appetites.

Headquartered in Clearwater and supported by satellite crews in Los Angeles and England, they studied the work of secular fundraisers. They extensively rehearsed opening and closing lines in role-playing sessions, learning how to overcome a parishioner’s resistance. And they choreographed an array of presentations that included videos, plays on emotion and other gambits.

They also had inside information, according to a former fundraiser. Cindy Bernot Plahuta, a Super Power fundraiser from 2002 to 2004, said the team got sensitive personal information about parishioners from church ministers and used it as leverage to get donations.

“We knew … their big horrible, horrible button for life,” Plahuta said. “We would push it. That’s how we got money.”

The church flatly denied that.

Scientology never announced a goal for the Super Power drive, as is customary in mainstream fundraising. Asked why, the church said the project’s cost was unknown. Work resumed in 2009 and is ongoing.

Former church members said the six-year construction delay and the open-ended fundraising campaign are revealing.

“Why stop raising money?” said Luis Garcia of Irvine, Calif., who gave Super Power $340,000 before leaving the church this year. “It’s a cash cow. It always has been.”

The church reacted strongly to any suggestion that it delayed construction to extend fundraising.

That, said church spokeswoman Karin Pouw, “is, frankly, inane.”


Hubbard described the Super Power program as one of his most important discoveries.

Scientology’s founder said in 1978 he considered civilization to be in terrible decline. He cited crime, drug abuse, TV watching, a poor educational system, a dwindling food supply.

Seeking an answer, the former science fiction writer developed a series of 12 “rundowns” that combine Scientology’s core counseling practice, called “auditing,” with drills involving elaborate machines.

The Super Power program would help develop and sharpen what Hubbard called man’s 57 “perceptics” — sight, smell, taste, touch, blood circulation, depth perception, solidity, awareness of awareness. Participants would be spun on a gyroscope-like wheel, spend time in a sound chamber, sniff vials emitting fragrances, experience changes in gravitational pull.

“Out-of-this-world machines that would make any science fiction buff marvel,” said fundraising team leader Lauri Webster, speaking to Scientologists in August in Clearwater.

Hubbard said his program would awaken spiritual beings occupying human forms by empowering them to “clear the planet” of its many perils. “Super Power is the answer to a sick, a dying and dead society,” he said.

“With it, we literally revive the dead. With it, we have the means to put Scientologists into a new realm of ability enabling them to create a new world.”

The church has kept the program under wraps since Hubbard developed it 33 years ago, saying it needed to build an appropriate facility and recruit 300 counselors, called auditors, needed for the 12 rundowns. The auditors would be required to join Scientology’s religious order, the Sea Org, a dedicated workforce of 6,000 worldwide who give up mainstream life to work long hours for $50 a week.

In her speech in August, Webster said auditors were “urgently needed.”


High energy, fast talking and all business, longtime Sea Org member Charmaine Roger was Super Power’s chief fundraiser.

“A building must be built, and built rapidly,” she wrote to parishioners in 1992, six years before the foundation was poured.

“Your contributions are vitally needed now to make the dream of a new world a reality.”

The church rolled out incentives. Donors of $35,000 — Cornerstone Club status — were promised a 40 percent discount on the cost of their Super Power program. Their names would be engraved on a plaque inside the building.

Gifts of $100,000 fetched a 50 percent discount and priority scheduling when doing the Super Power program.

Thirty-four parishioners became Cornerstone contributors that year. Fifteen more contributed larger, unspecified amounts, according to a church newsletter.

Roger was an experienced church fundraiser. She had asked parishioners for years to contribute to the International Association of Scientologists, which funds the church’s social betterment programs, its expansion, and its defense against lawsuits and hostile governments.

For the elite Super Power project, the church paired her with Webster, also a veteran of the Sea Org.

Roger and Webster worked out of Scientology’s global spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, also known as the Flag Land Base, or Flag. They met with parishioners coming in for services. They phoned church members, wrote them, and mailed out an avalanche of information packets and solicitations.

They often traveled to meet parishioners, especially wealthy ones, making their pitches over multicourse meals in fancy restaurants.

The Sea Org’s maritime dress uniforms — double-breasted blue jackets with brass buttons — wouldn’t do there. Webster and Roger wore designer outfits, purchased in New York.

They were going after big money.

And they got it.

• Bob Duggan, of Santa Barbara, Calif., a developer of robotic surgery and a venture capitalist: $12 million.

• Bryan Zwan, founder of Digital Lightwave of Clearwater, maker of products for fiber optic networks: $7.5 million.

• Ron Pollack, of Clearwater, hedge fund manager and real estate investor/developer: $5 million.

• Kurt Listug, co-founder and CEO of Taylor Guitars, El Cajon, Calif.: at least $1.5 million.

Listug and his wife, Jenny, pushed their donations to that level in 2001. “We are not doing what is comfortable for us to do. We are giving until it hurts,” they wrote in a testimonial sent to fellow Scientologists.

“We urge you to join us in winning this game through the release of Super Power. … Go ahead and give until it hurts. Then give some more.”

At the time, fundraisers were asking for money for the project’s freestanding power plant. Two blocks from the building, the $4 million plant, finished in 2003, will heat and cool Super Power.

A church newsletter published this year lists donors by category of contribution from the start of the campaign.

In addition to the Listugs, 28 other Scientologists have given between $1 million and $5 million, earning Legion of Honor status.

Eleven more donated at least $500,000 each.

Fifty-nine contributed at least $250,000.

More than 300 are Key Contributors, donating at least $100,000.

And nearly 1,200 Scientologists are listed in the Cornerstone Club, each having donated at least $35,000.

Considering the minimum thresholds for these contribution categories, the list puts Super Power’s collections at upward of $145 million.

Not listed are current and former Scientologists who contributed less than $35,000. Church defectors said there are thousands of those.

Also missing from the list: Many former church members who gave, some generously.

Luis Garcia and his wife, Rocio, were listed in previous Cornerstone newsletters as “Founding Members,” having surpassed that category’s $250,000 threshold with their gift of a third of a million dollars.

But when they left Scientology, concerned that appeals for money took priority over providing services, they disappeared from the newsletter.

Numerous other former church members interviewed by the Times also have been dropped, each having contributed at least five figures.


Cindy Bernot Plahuta, a Scientologist for 14 years, was in the middle of a divorce and needed a job when Super Power’s chief fundraiser in Los Angeles asked her to join the team. She would be a “field fundraiser,” earning 10 percent on the donations she brought in.

Plahuta, formerly of Clearwater, had no experience, but thought: Why not?

It was 2002. She joined Sea Org member David Light and two others in an office at the church’s busy “Pacific Base” on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.

She made $60,000 to $70,000 a year, working 10- and 12-hour days, often seven days a week, contacting parishioners by phone or in person, arranging lunches, dinners, home visits, office visits — any opportunity for her and Light to make their pitch for Super Power.

The two were in a parishioner’s living room or hosting a dinner “every single day,” Plahuta said.

Light — a 60ish sales veteran known as “The Surgeon” for his ability to extract money from people — almost always handled “the close.”

In her two years on the team, Plahuta, 54, spent part of almost every day canvassing the base’s waiting areas, looking for a target she could take in to Light. She looked for people who seemed “nice” — cooperative and agreeable when she introduced herself.

It worked beautifully one of the first times she tried it.

Smiling brightly, Plahuta approached a woman who seemed to be killing time. Could she answer a few survey questions?

Cathy Mullins said sure.

She lived in San Diego, a housewife who was returning to Scientology after 30 years away.

And, yes, she was concerned that society was in decline.

Plahuta ushered Mullins to an office, where Light joined them. He flicked on a video.

Opening scene: big banquet. Three men take turns announcing whopper donations to the Super Power building fund.

Ending scene: One says he’s pushing his total contributions to $5 million.

Light opened a binder. He flipped through pages of photos, newspaper stories and statistics. They told a frightening story: war, crime, drugs, insanity.

L. Ron Hubbard created a solution for this madness, Light said, extolling Super Power’s potential to save the world.

He told Mullins: Help make it happen.

He explained the church was building a fabulous Super Power delivery center in Clearwater.

Help us finish it.

Make a gift — $35,000.

He quoted Hubbard talking about man needing to take responsibility for his actions.

Mullins teared up. “That’s a major thing for me,” she recalled recently. “People should be held accountable. When they mess up, they should have to fix it.”

Mullins wrote a check for $25 but said she would do more.

It was Plahuta’s first or second day on the job. After watching Light work and hearing Mullins’ heartfelt reaction and her vow to donate, Plahuta told herself: “This is not going to be that difficult of a gig … Cathy is going to donate money … A lot of money.”

Mullins and her husband, Kim Hawkins, applied for an $82,000 second mortgage on the home they had bought four years earlier for $150,000.

A few weeks later, the Surgeon and his new field fundraiser drove to San Diego to pick up a check elevating Mullins and Hawkins into the Cornerstone Club — $35,000.

It was a Sunday. Mullins fixed brunch.


Compared with the take-no-prisoners approach of other Scientology fundraisers, Lauri Webster’s Super Power team was in many ways genteel.

Poised, articulate and quick with praise, Webster had earned “altitude” among Sea Org members because of the vaunted accomplishments of her team — five fundraising staffers based in Clearwater, four in Los Angeles and one in England.

Demanding of herself — she never snacked between meals — Webster insisted they follow the Golden Rules of Fundraising, 26 aphorisms they grew to know by heart.

Learn everything you can about the prospects you’ll be calling.

Practice, practice, practice. Write out what you’re going to say.

Don’t let objections rattle you.

Get a commitment to something before leaving.

They practiced for hours on each other, polishing comeback lines and posing the Four Magic Questions: Is it the institution? Is it the project? Is it the amount? Is it the timing?

They often didn’t meet strong resistance. The promise of Super Power — that “world clearing” is in reach — is a stirring message for Scientologists. They commit themselves and their money to spreading the religion so the planet can be saved. Super Power would accelerate that.

Team members graphed their collections each week, posting stat sheets so teammates could see. Plahuta’s line graph spiked up and down: $14,600 one week, $33,900 the next.

They sent Webster weekly “lineups,” lists of parishioners who had agreed to meet with them or had promised to donate once they sold property or got a new credit card.

The field fundraisers in Los Angeles and Clearwater staged a monthslong competition that ended each year on Hubbard’s birthday, March 13. They earned points for bringing in new donors or pushing existing donors up in status. The winner could gain free entry to the Cornerstone Club. Plahuta never made it, but three colleagues did.

But one of the team’s tactics didn’t come from a best practices list.

The Los Angeles fundraisers routinely asked ethics officers, directors of processing and church registrars to divulge parishioners’ personal secrets, Plahuta said.

“We would find out what trouble they had been in, what their buttons are, how much money they had … We had the skinny on everybody,” she said.

In Scientology, directors of processing make sure parishioners are progressing in their auditing sessions. They often hear church members’ most intimate thoughts.

“You spiel your guts out at a DOP,” Plahuta said. “You tell him everything that’s upsetting you, everything you want to handle.”

She added: “It was not confidential by any means. I could tell you who the child molesters are. … The guy naked under the raincoat, exposing himself, the people who have had affairs.”

Parishioners had no idea their secrets were out, and fundraisers were careful not to let on, Plahuta said. But they made clear in their presentations that Super Power would address the issues they knew were troubling their targets.

“They are there because they know there is something wrong with them,” Plahuta said. The fundraisers talked generally about that specific “aberration” and how ruinous it was for society.

Often, the parishioners opened up about their problems, Plahuta said.

“We’d say, ‘Listen, it’s good that you are here to fix it. The way you can also fix it is you can help us fix society. And the way you can do that is to contribute to Super Power. Let us show you what it is.”’

Then came the video, the binder, the scary statistics and headlines. The kicker: Super Power is the solution.

The man with the habit of exposing himself responded with a $1,000 donation and later increased it to $5,000, Plahuta said.

The church said that none of its staffers who minister to parishioners ever disclosed a confidence. The suggestion “any priest-penitent information was ‘shared’ … is false and insulting,” Pouw said.

The fundraisers also played on emotion and vulnerabilities, Plahuta said.

She and Light visited a woman two months after her 12-year-old son was struck by a car and killed. The woman knew the fundraisers were coming. Her other child answered the door as she watched a video of her son.

Plahuta and Light told her Super Power would pull society out of its tailspin.

They discussed how perilous the world had become for children and explained Super Power would remedy that.

“We pushed the button with kids,” Plahuta said.

The woman was expecting an insurance settlement. She donated $5,000.

Church spokeswoman Pouw said Plahuta lacks credibility and is speaking out in hopes of driving a wedge between the church and her 34-year-old daughter, a part-time Scientology staffer in Foothills Ranch, Calif.

Plahuta — who left the church in 2009 partly because she grew weary of its focus on money — acknowledged that she wants her daughter to leave the church staff. But she insisted she’s not exaggerating anything.

“I wanted to stand up and tell the truth. People in Clearwater and elsewhere need to know about this.”

Webster set multimillion-dollar weekly targets for the Super Power team, relaying them to Los Angeles fundraisers in telephone calls. Because Plahuta was not a Sea Org member, she wasn’t patched in every time.

“I heard them maybe one out of every four,” she said. “But usually it (the weekly target) was between $20 (million) and $28 million. I know that sounds ridiculous, but I just don’t ever remember hearing anything any lower.”

She isn’t sure whether the lofty targets reflected the bosses’ expectations or were just meant to motivate. The church said the figures cited by Plahuta are incorrect “in every instance.”

After the team’s $23 million week in 2003, Webster commended the fundraisers, sending out mementos. She gave Plahuta a Waterman Paris fountain pen.

Collections surged to record levels that year. Webster told Plahuta in a year-end letter that the team had brought in more Cornerstone members than ever. She indicated the end was in sight.

“For 2004, the full funding will be completed with all of your continued help.”

But fundraising didn’t stop. Plahuta said Webster told her the church needed money to buy equipment for the perceptics rundown.


When Webster’s team got big money, one person usually was responsible — Charmaine Roger.

“She made millions every single week,” Plahuta said.

Plahuta remembered introducing Roger to a man waiting for counseling at the Clearwater church.

“She asked him what he knew about Super Power and he said, ‘Well, it’s going to clear the planet.’ ”

Roger: How much have you donated?

Not much, maybe $100.

Roger burrowed in, Plahuta said.

“You need to be a Cornerstone member. Cindy tells me you can become one.”

The man tried to resist, but Roger didn’t back off.

“She was just in this guy’s face,” Plahuta said. “‘I need you to do the cycle (make the donation). I need you to do the cycle. How can you do it? How can you do the cycle — $35,000. Can you do it on a credit card?'”

He could, and did.

It was 10 minutes’ work for Roger.

A building project that goes on and on

Thirteen years ago today, 6,000 Scientologists cheered as church leader David Miscavige thrust a gold-bladed shovel into the ground across the street from the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater.

The Super Power project was under way.

Nine days earlier, Pinellas prosecutors had filed two criminal charges against the church in the death of Scientologist Lisa McPherson, who had suffered a psychotic breakdown and died while in the care of church staffers. (The charges were later dropped.)

Now the church was making a statement: Scientology would flourish.

“When you consider the great religions of the world and look at the Vatican or Mecca, and what their construction so many centuries ago meant to their faithful, therein lies a little of what this day means to a Scientologist,” Miscavige said.

Construction abruptly stopped in 2003. After three years, Clearwater imposed a fine of $250 a day for code violations.

Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw said construction was halted because church leaders needed to replan the interior. They had underestimated how much Scientology would expand worldwide, she said.

Special equipment unique to the Super Power program also required two years of planning and engineering, Pouw said.

Work resumed in 2009. Last month, the church paid the code violation fines — $413,500. Pouw said the building will open soon, but she provided no date.

Super Power’s new home “is a monument to our religion, and its construction time is short compared to the world’s religious cathedrals,” she said.

Specially designed equipment for L. Ron Hubbard’s Super Power program is being installed on the fifth floor of the Super Power building. The machines help a person enhance 57 “perceptics,” which heighten sensory perceptions, the church says. Hubbard created the Super Power program in 1978, but the church has kept it highly classified. This feature is from a 2007 edition of the church’s Source magazine.

‘Big beings’ and a big donation

Luis and Rocio Garcia were resting in their hotel room at Scientology’s Sandcastle complex in Clearwater in August 2005 when Super Power fundraiser Charmaine Roger knocked on their door.

The church wanted to place a large bronze Scientology cross atop the unfinished Super Power building four blocks away.

A contractor was standing by. How much could they give?  The Garcias looked at each other. They didn’t want to donate.

Roger said the cross would be visible for miles. She dropped to her knees, Rocio remembered, her hands pressed together and pointing upward, as if in prayer. Please help us. I know you have big hearts. I know you are big beings. “I felt so bad,” Rocio said. “I mean, you cannot say no to a person when you see that.”  They donated $65,000.

The cross wasn’t mounted for five years — not until September 2010.  “I felt pretty cheated about that,” Luis said.

The church said it couldn’t verify the Garcias’ story.  Were other parishioners asked to donate for the cross?  Spokeswoman Karin Pouw said it’s common practice to ask parishioners to donate for specific features such as a stained-glass window or a cross.

Published in: on November 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Fundraising in Scientology, Cindy Plahuta, Ex-Scientology story #430, Part I


This weekend on 11/17/13, the huge “Super Power” building in downtown Clearwater will open, at long last.  This is a good time to take a look at how the money for this edifice was raised and how Scientology intends to use these premises.  But first things first.  We will start with a story that was heard on 11/12/13 on The Voice of Russia.  Russia and Eastern Europe have become a target of Scientology since they have been largely discredited in West.

Ex-Scientologist comes clean about Scientology ‘people will do anything, it’s like drugs’

Scientology claims to have 8 million adherents globally, though thousands escape from the religion most notably described as a cult-like religion, impossible to detach from. Ex-member of Scientology Cindy Plahuta gave the Voice of Russia the dirt on the church and the rocky path after defecting.

Before Plahuta’s life was turned upside down, she had been living in a small town in Illinois and was a practicing Methodist. Though, after her move to Florida with her then husband, events unraveled which would change her behavior forever. Upon taking a job for a company, where mostly all employees and even the boss were scientologists, she slowly got pulled into the realm of Scientology for 20 years.

 Though, the hook line and sinker were just the tip of the iceberg in the world of Scientology. Potential Scientology members are given a Stress Test to figure out what problems are burdening them in life. Afterward, a certified e-meter reader deciphers what their main issues are and how Scientology can untangle the knots in their life. Plahuta warns though that once a few tiny steps are done toward the “bridge to total freedom”, there is no turning back.

“You cannot get out. If you do, they know your friends, family, and there’s a very big part of Scientology called disconnection and that can be just devastating,” 56-year-old Ex-Scientologist, Cindy Plahuta told the Voice of Russia.

 Endless reading and non-stop courses keep the majority of Scientologists busy as bees. A paperback copy on Scientology is just a measly 8 dollars, and beginner courses range from 50 to 100 dollars. However, in a religion where the “bridge to total freedom” forces adherents to take classes, read books, and get auditing done, it could easily cost a person half a million dollars to make their way up to the top. ”The bottom line is, it’s all about the money,” she said.

Like many former scientologists, Plahuta had come to a breaking point and by 2002 she couldn’t ignore it any longer. Two major hang ups motivated Plahuta to slowly stop engaging in group events and then eventually not show up to gatherings altogether.

One factor, which was of great concern for her, was with the fundraising efforts The Church of Scientology had done. Since Plahuta was part of the church’s fundraising initiative in Los Angeles for their new Super Power Building, she was told they needed to hit their target goal. The amount ranged from 2 to 25 million dollars per week. Even though some weeks the target amount was reached, she was still left with burning questions. “Where’s this money going and why is the target never going down,” Plahuta asked during this time of confusion.

Another commonality within Scientology was Plahuta found that people were disappearing left and right. One instance arose where she had scheduled a telephone conversation with another member however, to her dismay an entirely different person picked up the phone and said the man she was looking for was busy on a mission. When Plahuta interrogated her superior about the disappearances, instead of calming explaining he yelled at her for doing so.

Plahuta and her husband dropped out of the church and were sure of their decision in 2009, after a friend of Plahuta’s advised her to read an article about Scientology online, where executive hot shots left the religion for good. “It’s not allowed that you would look on the internet or type in the words Scientology, or watch the news,” Plahuta confessed. While her husband went off to sleep, she quietly went online, found the article and read it thoroughly. She said in that moment, she was sweating like a pig.

Later on, she ended up reading the article to her husband, and he had the same reaction as she did—speechless. Once the news was out, Plahuta lost friends she had had for decades, but more importantly she had lost complete and total contact with her daughter. She used to talk with her daughter Kara on the phone in early 2010, but would stay away from the topic of Scientology as it was a touchy subject.

“Two and a half years ago she just stopped called and she has not returned a phone call since,” Plahuta said in an upset tone of voice. Her son and step-son are anti-Scientology, but her step-daughter, like her biological daughter, has cut all ties with her and her husband.

It is safe to say that Plahuta’s personal path in and out of Scientology has been brutally unforgettable—but her pain does not stop her from spreading her story and words of warning. Her first precautionary tip is to foreign countries, as one sector of Scientology, The Sea Organization, has been recruiting lower class people to sign up for their religion in places like Taiwan and South America. They promise them a better life by offering the money, a free place to stay, and food in exchange for their allegiance to the church. “I would be very wary in Russia. Before I got out, there had been more people than I had seen prior from Russia,” Plahuta commented.

The ex-scientologist also forewarns people that as much as the Church of Scientology advertises they are a religion—in her eyes they are a cult. “People are just brainwashed. People will do anything, it’s like drugs to get their next intensive or their next course paid for. They’ll take our credit cards, mortgage their homes, borrow money from any relative. It is crazy.” Plahuta said.

Nowadays, she has to live with private investigators tracking her every move and people keeping an eye on her –a method many former followers say is designed to intimidate defectors. In her childhood she was a Methodist, in her adulthood she turned to Scientology, however now after what she has dealt with, she admits now she will never get involved with religious groups. Instead, “treat people the very best you can and whatever happens in the end will happen in the end regardless” has become her and her husband’s new take on life.
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For more reading on fundraising in Scientology go here, it makes some very juicy reading:

Published in: on November 15, 2013 at 5:42 pm  Leave a Comment