Scientology Staff Woes Continue, Story # 449

I have chronicled in this blog numerous times before the life of a Scientology staff member is a tough one. They are hired with expectations of making a living, even if it is a frugal one, but what they get is either starvation wages or no wages at all. This was true even back in the days that Scientology had people in their course rooms. But nowadays the course rooms are bare. The only people taking courses are the children of Scientology or existing members who have been forced to retake courses, at their own expense however. Needless to say they are short of staff members. Yet Scientology points to the Inglewood, CA, org as a huge success. Here follows a recent story, courtesy of Tony Ortega and his “Underground Bunker.”
It was a video that lasted only 14 seconds. Long enough for a woman named Tiponi Grey to make a short statement behind a pair of large sunglasses…bad-news
It’s not unusual for people who work for Scientology to leave. But it is very unusual for them to announce it publicly on YouTube and Facebook. We reached out to Tiponi, and she agreed to talk to us about what had prompted her to make the video — after she checked us out and got a feel for the Underground Bunker.
Tiponi tells us that she had worked for several months at Scientology’s “Ideal Org” in Inglewood, California, a working-class suburb of Los Angeles with a primarily black and Latino population. Scientology’s facility there was opened on November 5, 2011 in what seemed pretty clearly to be an attempt by Scientology leader David Miscavige to make inroads in the African-American community.
Scientology is overwhelmingly white, and actor Jason Beghe told us that in the early 2000s both he and Isaac Hayes approached Miscavige, telling him that he needed to do something to attract more black participation. New churches in Inglewood and Harlem were part of that new outreach. But Tiponi tells that the Inglewood org is in trouble.
“The staff there is struggling, they’re not being paid, and they’re struggling to get new people people in,” she tells us. She says that the staff during the day numbers about 21, and 38 work on the night shift. But they’re serving just “two to eight” students at any given time, she says. “On various days, sometimes there may be no one in class. That happens a lot.” Tiponi was raised in Los Angeles and spent several years in Las Vegas. She has two sons and a daughter, and she got involved in Scientology, she says, because a former boyfriend had tried it out and told her about it. She first went to the org in July to take Scientology’s “personality test” and then took her first course.
She was offered a job right after that course, and was made a supervisor. “I oversaw basic courses for public,” she says, using the term in Scientology to differentiate public, staff, and Sea Org members of the organization. But she also had a personal mission in mind, she tells us.
“I just wanted to learn what they know so I could bring it back and teach other people, black people who really need that technology and that help. I really didn’t want to join any religion,” she says. “I have a problem with religion. With any kind of religion.”
If she didn’t like religion, why did she go to work for one? She joined staff, she says, because it was a way to get into the courses without paying for it. So she signed a five-year contract, and then tried to learn as much as she could. In the beginning steps of Scientology involvement, a person is put through “training routines” that involve staring with concentration, remaining focused through distraction, and learning with the heavy use of dictionaries and clay modeling. Former Scientologists who might have grown disaffected over the expensive and esoteric upper levels of Scientology often tell us that they found the beginning courses useful, even after they left. “I believe in what L. Ron Hubbard was doing, and the technology, and clearing the planet. But in other ways no, I didn’t like what they were doing,” Tiponi says. After she had spent some time as a public supervisor, Tiponi says her bosses told her they wanted her to supervise the “Survival Rundown” course, and transferred her to the headquarters complex in Los Angeles on Fountain Avenue, known as PAC Base and more colloquially as “Big Blue.” In recent years, Miscavige has put a heavy focus on the Survival Rundown, or SRD. It’s a composite course that oldtimers remember as “the Objectives,” and it involves up to hundreds of hours of strange exercises such as touching walls and holding objects. It’s intended to put someone in “present time,” and many former Scientologists tell us it’s a mind-bending (and mind-numbing) experience, as well as a physically exhausting one.
Tiponi said she felt restricted at PAC Base, and that she wasn’t learning what she wanted to. Also, she says it became more obvious to her that Scientology’s real purpose wasn’t what she had expected.
“When you get to a certain status, you learn what the true purpose is. I got to that point and realized it was just a business.”
After growing frustrated at PAC Base, she objected and went back to Inglewood. But even there, she says, she was spending too much time wrestling with bureaucracy and not learning what she wanted to know. She typed up a message complaining that Scientology was too focused on fundraising and sent it to key people at the org, announcing that she was resigning.
“It’s too much about money. You can’t call yourself a church and that’s your main purpose,” she says.
Tiponi says she said nothing negative about L. Ron Hubbard or the people who worked at the Inglewood org, but it was very obvious after she sent her message and then posted her video that she is now considered an enemy of the church. Still interested in Scientology’s materials, she tried to purchase a Hubbard recorded lecture, but was told she wasn’t welcome. She says the prices at the Inglewood facility are too high anyway.
“If, as in any religion, the purpose is to clear the planet, then you need to give something. And in that neighborhood there, you shouldn’t be charging those kinds of prices,” she says.
When she was on staff, one of her duties was to try and “recover” Scientologists who had left the organization. She was expected to write hundreds of letters — 700 each week. But the people they were trying to reach in the Inglewood area just weren’t interested, or didn’t have the money. The idea of putting that church there is a good one. But they have to look at what they’re doing. They need to get new people in to pay for staff, whose job it is to get new people in. It’s a cycle that doesn’t work, because the people who live there can’t afford those prices,” she says.
Tiponi says she’s now looking at a couple of different avenues, and hopes to start a business. She may, she says, teach something like Scientology’s study technology on her own.
We asked her if she expected to get some pushback from Scientology if she did that. But so far, she says, she hasn’t been harassed.
We sent an email to Scientology’s international spokeswoman, Karin Pouw, asking for a church statement about Tiponi’s resignation. If we hear back from her, we’ll add it to this story.


Published in: on January 19, 2017 at 1:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Scott and Kerry Campbell, Ex-Scientologist Story #443

You are coming back? Thanks for the warning,  We'll hide our money.

You are coming back? Thanks for the warning, We’ll hide our money.

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


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.



Published in: on May 13, 2014 at 8:28 pm  Leave a Comment  

Gary Weber, Former GO and Sea Org member, Ex-Scientologist Story #438


Here is another in a long string of defectors who tells just how evil Scientology is and always had been.  If the devil himself had sat on the shoulder of L. Ron Hubbard as he planned the RPF is couldn’t have been much worse.  Here Gary Weber tells of the various people that he met, including David Miscavige, and talks about what they did.  As we have seen in these stories Scientology was started by a money-hungry writer who tired of “writing for a penny a word,” so he came up with a “religion,” that the fools of that era bought into.  Things got much worse in later years when the writer and opportunist started to believe his own lies.

More on the cult of Scientology.  This is a religion?

Published in: on March 29, 2014 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

Jillian Schlesinger Leaves Sea Org, Ex-Scientologist Story #437


A new defector from the Sea Org, out less than a month, sheds light on how things fare inside the cult of Scientology.  The following was taken from the “Underground Bunker,” by Tony Ortega on 3/26/14.

Jillian Schlesinger: How I got into Scientology, and how I got out

This is happening in Los Angeles, on Fountain Avenue, in an old hospital building painted blue and topped with huge, lit-up letters that read SCIENTOLOGY.

And this is only weeks ago. In 2014. In the center of one of the largest cities in a country that likes to think of itself as one of the freest on earth.

A woman of 30. Already a veteran of years of working 19-hour days for eight dollars a week. With no access to a telephone. Sleeping in a room with 11 other women on a floor of the old hospital with only a single bathroom. She’s never owned a car. She’s never rented her own apartment. She’s never owned a cell phone. She’s never had a credit card.

Except for helping out her family as a child, she’s only ever had one employer: She’s worked for Scientology since she first joined staff at 15.

She cannot watch television. She cannot read the news. She lives in the movie capital of the world but the only time she gets to watch a film is when Tom Cruise has a new one out and she and all of her coworkers are taken in buses to see it so Tom will get good movie sales.

But she’s had enough.

She’s had some job assignments that weren’t the best. There was that endless scanning of documents in a bare cement basement of a building on Hollywood Boulevard, for example. That was drudgery. But this latest assignment was the worst. In order to save money so more of it could be sent “uplines” to Scientology leader David Miscavige, the “Sea Org” had created a construction crew so it wouldn’t have to pay outside contractors.

The woman has never worked construction before. But now, she finds herself stripping fiberglass insulation without protective clothing at one job site. At another, she’s helping repair a ceiling, backbreaking work, at a former hotel on Hollywood Boulevard that has served as dingy ‘berthing’ for Sea Org workers for years.

And that’s where Jillian Schlesinger begins to plan her escape. After a week, she’s filled the duffel bag with her clothes. She sneaks into the building’s ‘galley’ — where there’s a phone — and calls her father. She asks him to drive over and see her, and she gives him the duffel.  In a week, she tells him, meet me at the same place, at the same time.

And over the next seven days, each time she goes to work, she carries a few more personal items from her room at the old hospital and hides them at her construction site at the old inn.

She sees her father again and gives him her personal items. But she admits to him, she’s not ready to leave yet.

In fact, she hasn’t even made up her mind if she’s really going to do it.  He tells her he understands. She has to make up her own mind, he tells her. He can’t force her to make a decision.

So a few more days go by.

And then, on a Wednesday, as she’s heading home with a roommate, she learns that it’s her last day working at the inn. Tomorrow, her work unit will switch to a construction project somewhere at the old hospital complex, where she lives.  She knows instantly that there’s going to be a unique opportunity to make a run for it in the morning. And if she doesn’t take it, she might not have another opportunity for who knows how long.

The next morning, she heads for the bus stop. She knows that no one at the old hospital realizes yet that her job location has changed. They won’t miss her, thinking that she’s still working at the old Inn. But when she arrives there, she knows no one there is expecting her.

So she walks right past it.  She walks to the metro stop, which is nearby. She goes down and buys a ticket — she’s been saving up some money, even on her meager earnings — and takes the subway to Union Station. Then she buys a ticket for an Amtrak train to Orange County. No one stops her.  When she arrives at the station in Santa Ana, she asks to borrow a telephone from the employees there. She doesn’t have one of her own. She calls her father, and he doesn’t answer.

She doesn’t panic. She knows he works nearby. So she takes a cab.  When he sees her, he’s taken by surprise. And he beams. She’s made her own decision. She has left Scientology’s Sea Org. And now both of them, they know, will have to leave the church itself.  They’ve had only a few weeks since then to get used to the idea.

Stories of abuse in the Sea Org are not new, there are dozens of them on the net and many in this blog.  Nothing changes in Scientology when you get down to it.  Sea Org members and Scientology staffers have told their dire stories over periods of time that span decades.  This is one of the reasons that the cult grew rich: it enslaved its members.  

Published in: on March 27, 2014 at 1:42 am  Leave a Comment  

Sea Org follies, Alex beached. Ex-Scientologist Story #435

Hubbard's slaves. Ignorant and abused.

Hubbard’s slaves. Ignorant and abused.

The Sea Org has been called a paramilitary force since they have uniforms, ranks and their own vocabulary of military sounding names.  But in practice they are incompetent, ill-led rabble and mere cannon fodder.  Scientology will go to great lengths to enlist members yet they often get thrown out for relatively trivial offences.  Their lives are often miserable due to poor living conditions, lack of sleep and unrealistic work targets.  Yet they sucker people into it year after year with with threats and high pressure; and also slick ads like the one above.  Does anyone really think that diminutive girl, whose head is almost lost inside that hat, could really do any fighting with that dull fake sword? But even if she could by some miracle defend herself with fencing and swordplay, of what utility would that be to Scientology?  None, it is all part of the Bull Shit that is Scientology.

 How do they treat each other?  Hubbard had little to say about kindness, respect and empathy for his troops.  Not much about human dignity either.  Sea Org members yell and scream in each others faces and threaten dire punishments for unmet quota’s.  They follow through with these threats too.  If there is one thing that this group does do very well it is to crush the live and joy out of its members.

Other than this the Sea Org members have a fun time.  Oops, I forgot one thing; they are made to spy on each other.  The list of offences is almost endless and range for the high-crime of an innocent kiss to sleeping on the job.  One of the worst things is to be guilty of wanting to leave the Sea Org; although looking around on the Internet is also a terrible crime.  Once accused of a crime the interrogations and security checks come into play.  Welcome to the group that thinks it can rule the world.

The following is a very typical story of what happens to Sea Org members that manage to keep any spirit or spine.

Alex’s Story. Chewed up and spat out.

[Danger, this story contains large amounts of in-group slang and terms that would only be understood by a Scientologist or someone who has studied this dreary cult far too long.  Danger to sanity might follow reading this, or compulsive laughter.]

Hi, my name is Alexandre Rex Salomon, (known as Alex) and this is my story:

After being on staff at Narconon Johannesburg for about 8 months in 2006, I joined staff at Joburg Day.  I signed a contract to be trained as a Class V auditor and was placed on the TTC.  After many months of training, my department’s executive, the Qual Sec (Daryl Berman), took me aside after course one day and told me that due to the new Basics release, what was needed and wanted by him and other executives was that I be taken off of the TTC and placed on the ATC (Admin Training Corps) to be trained as a Professional Registrar. I was not happy with this to say the least, but allowed myself to be convinced that this was acceptable and allowed my own reality to be compromised. He took me to the ED (Albert de Beer) and the HAS (Sabina Laktionova) and officially removed me from the TTC. In the presence of the most executive persons on the Org Board I felt too intimidated to query this at the time.

The next day when my direct senior, the SSO (Kiki Etzioni) issued me with my new TIP (to now train as a Registrar) I queried it with her, since as I understood it, a trainee could not be removed from the TTC pool and moved to another division of the Org Board. She did not come to my aid to speak out against the above executives.

I further queried this with the Cramming Officer (Thomas Pagenkopf) who agreed with me, but did not speak out against our senior Daryl nor any other party involved in the decision. After nothing came from that I decided to approach a SO member to assist (who I believed was in a good position to speak out against a decision made by a Org executives), yet the FR (Laurent Malherbe) also just agreed with me but did not do anything to help me reverse the change in post. Lastly I approached the LC AF (Robert Bokkelmann) for assistance to remain on the TTC. He very adamantly agreed that it was off-policy to take me off the TTC and move me to another department, yet told me that he did not want to get involved.

I was taken off of the TTC and put in the ATC. To my knowledge no one objected. This was my first upset with the Joburg Org.  Before all the above, when I was still new on staff, training in the division 6 course room doing the Personal Efficiency course, I met Jaco Snyman. He was also new on staff. We became romantically involved and later on moved in together and got engaged.

At some point a recruit mission arrived in Joburg. Their purpose was to man up an AOAF team to go to Flag for training.  Many events were held to recruit people for the Sea Org. At this stage my 2d Jaco was the PPO for Joburg Org Day and was at one of these events assisting to recruit. When people were called to go up on stage and pledge to join the SO – he later on told me – that the ED (Albert de Beer) convinced him to go up on stahe and announce he was joining the SO which he duly did. This was commended and encouraged by the ED (Albert de Beer) as well as the Mission I/C . This was my second upset with the Org, and had now extended to being upset with the SO and Flag too.

My objection to this was that I was not qualled for the SO (due to my drug history) and if Jaco joined, I would lose my fiancé (we had already been engaged for almost a year by this point).  I hardly slept that night when he came home and told me that he had joined the SO.

The next day at the Org I was livid and ready to again seek assistance. Jaco was passively going along with everything, yet I believed that he did not truly want to leave me and even told me it was not his fault that I could not join too.

I fought with the Mission staff who had gotten wind of my objection. They made me read the policy on the ‘Greatest Good for the Greatest number of Dynamics’. I found it ironic that the “greatest good” could be used as one saw fit, and that there were different versions thereof. My version of the greatest good for the greatest number of dynamics was to leave both Jaco and I on staff and in a 2D. It included the org not losing a staff member and for me not having to sacrifice my 2D for AO AF. As I saw it, I was taking into account the greatest number of dynamics and not destroying an entire dynamic (2D), yet they somehow saw it otherwise.

The only person who took proactive action was the EO (Vanessa Kruger) who used applicable extracts from the Scn Marriage Course to handle both of us, since we had entered a mutual agreement and committed to being engaged to each other. She also addressed his commitment made to being on staff and that there was a shortage of Class V Org staff. This helped to reiterate and verbalise what I was trying to get across, which I do appreciate, since I was so upset and emotionally distraught I could hardly express myself without shouting or crying.

Yet the ED (Albert de Beer), the majority of executives and other SO members all backed the decision for him to leave staff, leave me and join the SO.

I decided that since virtually nobody was helping me, I would try to join the SO to salvage my 2D and auditor career and so I withdrew my previous statement regarding the details of my drug history. And I was signed up to the join the SO.

All SO members training for the AO AF were to train at Flag. Within a couple of weeks the AOAF Mission had arranged my visa (I was awarded a 2 year visa) and a plane ticket for the USA. In May 2008, I boarded a plane for Flag. I was the third person to leave SA for Flag for the AO AF and the first girl. I was assured that Jaco would join me there once his cycle was complete and his visa approved.

Upon arrival at the Flag base my ID, passport (all means of identification) and cell phone were confiscated and locked away. When I queried this, I was told that exterior influences may disrupt my time at Flag. I was not given access to email and I was only allowed one 10-15min supervised phone call per week. There were no pay phones on the base. These things seemed very un-kosher and I felt my first pang of enslavement. As it turns out these actions are illegal, yet Flag does it all the time.

To read the rest of the story go here:

Published in: on March 8, 2014 at 1:07 am  Leave a Comment  

The Truth About Fundraising in Scientology, -Ex-Scientologist Story #433

Chris Shelton was in the Sea Org for 26 years before the greed and avarice of Scientology management drove him out the door.  Here are some videos in which he details what Scientology is all about.  The “Sea Org,” should really be named the, “Sales Org.”

Published in: on March 6, 2014 at 2:13 am  Leave a Comment  

Ass Sniffing in the Sea Org, -Ex-Scientologist Story #432


Ass and Pit smelling in Scientology.

In the later part of 1991 Michael Priv, a Russian translator in the Sea Org, (the fake military part of Scientology that delivers their “tech”) was stationed at the chief Scientology compound near Hemet, California.  This is where David Miscavige and the top members of Scientology rule their expanisve empire.  This base has become infamous in recent years due to the statements of defectors saying that conditions, at least for some, were like the gulags of Stalin’s USSR.  Michael says:

“The forever running lower conditions and failures sucked all the life out of my friends. It was just a scene of death and destruction, gloom and doom. Then shortly after I arrived, in March of 1992, David Miscavige walked into TU and went out immediately with the words “It stinks in here”. The TU execs, Tanya Alexander and Porzia, immediately lined us up and started sniffing everybody’s butts and under arms. Have to give Tanya a credit: she was blushing.”

Her sniffing was in vain however; David Miscavige had his own way to deal with smelly, and from his viewpoint, traitorous, Sea Org lackeys.  He sent in an ethics team with a meter to find out who and where the subversive elecments were.  Their effort was succesful as he recounts.

“—that very second. RTC Investigators arrived shortly after the sniffing frenzy subsided. They set up camp in our spaces, got everybody’s Ethics and PC folders out right there in front of us and started investigating the hell out of the body odor situation in TU. As a result, our professional Dutch translator, an OT and old-time Scientologist Olfert Kleveringa, whom I helped get to TU, was offloaded as a psychotic. He has been translating for over 20 years, everything Amsterdam had to deliver was done by Olfert. I’ve been there on a recruit mission earlier, I knew the score. I confronted Porzia, the TU Dir, on that point. Her reply was that Scientology failed to expand in Holland beyond a mediocre Amsterdam Org and so Olfert had no ethics protection. I bet Olfert had no idea that he was supposed to set up and run orgs in Holland to have ethics protection against body odor. Olfert was a sharp and experienced old goat so I asked him how he felt about being offloaded. He answered with a strange glint of mirth carefully hidden deep in his eyes that he had no choice because he was a psychotic. “

How did he view his time at Int. Base in general?

“No, I cannot characterize one-third of my life spent on the Base as Hell. I would characterize, or rather diagnose it, as “chronic dental extraction aggravated by severe rectal somatics.” For the medically challenged, yes, there absolutely is a medical condition of chronic tooth extraction. It is a prevailing condition at Int Base under Die Lieber Fuhrer.” 

If you want to read more of Michael Priv’s story, which is well worth the time, he has lots of very wry comments, go here:

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.
Read more:

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  

“Abuse at the Top,” Ex-Scientology Story #429


In 2009 a series of devastating articles appeared in the St. Petersburg Times entitled, The Truth Rundown.  Top level defectors came forward and accused David Miscavige, the ruler of Scientology, with physical abuse to his top executives.  Of course Scientology claimed that the accusations were from disgruntled former members and that no such activity took place.  While these statements were largely viewed with a jaundiced eye by a public already hostile to the cult it took corroboration from other high level defectors to ram home the true facts of the situation. 

Amy Scobee was a member of the paramilitary arm of Scientology known as the “Sea Org.”  Of course it was long ago since Scientology had ships but these latter day, dry-land sailors still have the fake naval uniforms .  It is their job to deliver Hubbard’s tech, and more importantly to extort money from the non-staff members called “public members.”  Relentless pressure is put on these public Scientologists to persuade or intimidate them into buying courses, books, tapes and of course to get more auditing.  And if money is not coming in at a sufficient rate then there is hell to pay.  The ones who pay that particular hell are the staff members.  The Sea Org members are generally treated like peons or slaves.  They work long hours, get little sleep and their pay is a joke.  But as bad as these conditions are they can get worse, much worse.  The internal prison system of Scientology is known as the RPF, or rehabilitation force project.  On Hubbard’s ships people who screwed up spent their nights in the chain locker, sometimes days too.  Or else they were just tossed over the side of the ship (overboarding)  into the filthy harbor waters below.  Then came the DPF, or the deck project force, which was the less formalized, but equally as sinister, forerunner of the RPF.  It was a steady progression of human rights abuses.  To read Professor Stephen Kent’s study, “Brainwashing in Scientology’s Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF)” follow this link:’sRehabilitationProjectForce.htm

Being in the RPF is not a bar to rising in Sea Org, every single top executive that I have read about has been in the RPF at one time or another, if there are exceptions they are few.  Amy Scobee was there and one only has to read her account to feel the honesty of her statements.  In fact I would say that her transparent honesty is one of the most compelling aspects of her book.

  Amy got into Scientology as a young teen when her parents joined the cult.  She spent the next 27 years of her life in Scientology.  She knew all of the top players, she was a top executive  herself as a member of the Watch Dog Committee, WDC.  She was a dedicated Scientologist who sincerely wanted to make the world a better place.   At long last events took place which made the Sea Org and Scientology unendurable for her. 

As I said in my review of Jeff Hawkins book it looks crazy to an outsider like myself to see all the effort that Scientology goes through to recruit staff members but then they turn right around and treat them worse than dogs.  This is the wonderful world of the great humanitarian, L. Ron Hubbard.

 Amy had a bird’s eye view of what went on in top management circles  She was there and saw for herself the savage attacks Miscavige made on those who he thought were not performing well.  Temper tantrums worthy of L. Ron Hubbard himself were seen.  That is saying a lot for Hubbard’s tantrums were legendary.

In rating her book I will give it the full five stars and throw another in for good measure.  Only by shinning the light on predators, like Amy does very well indeed, can we hope to eliminate the criminal abuses of Scientology.

For more on Amy and her book go here:

Published in: on October 23, 2013 at 12:14 am  Leave a Comment