Scientology Daily Digest: Friday November 15 — Tampa Bay Times Overview

Due to scheduling constraints, there will be no Daily Digest tonight.  We’ll resume with a double-header edition distilling down what will undoubtedly be a flood of reports of the goings-on under the Thetadome tomorrow night.  I have a very early start tomorrow morning (the pilots are not happy about a pre-dawn pre-flight check of the jet) but will be back on the air in plenty of time to catch up.  

Just in case you haven’t seen it, there is a big article in the Tampa Bay Times by Joe Childs and Tom Tobin which was published after Daily Digest press time last night about what’s inside the Super Power building. The article is not particularly critical of the cult, but it does contain an interesting statement:

Scientology says it’s the most important project in its 59-year history. And indications are it will represent another important first for the church in Clearwater.

Recruiting new followers will be emphasized, it appears from a Tampa Bay Times review of church publications, internal memoranda and construction plans submitted to the city.

This is extremely unexpected — the idea that Flag will now be used as a central tool for recruitment of new members, whereas previously it has been exclusively for higher-level services to existing members.  It is too early at this point to tell whether this is a distillation of a low-level PR statement or whether this is a significant change in strategy.  It would be extremely important to try to understand any attempt by the cult to do something different (and perhaps actually effective for once) in terms of member recruitment, which it has seemed relatively uninterested in doing in the last decade or two.

In looking through the text of the article, it is possible that this conclusion is based entirely on the contents of the first floor. But Tony’s initial article in the Village Voice with the renderings of the first floor exhibits don’t lead me to the same conclusion; it seems that they’re more about presenting tangible “evidence” for the success of Scientology to existing members who may be at risk for doubting the achievements of their “Church.”

My guess is that the cult is not going to make a major change in attempting to recruit new members, though they may say they are.  But this is only a hunch at this point. If they really are embarking on a serious, credible program to attract “fresh meat,” it is important to recognize this as early as possible to try and figure out maximally effective ways to thwart that, and then to undertake coordinated action to nip it in the bud.  

So my challenge to readers is to watch for any data points to try and look for those that confirm this as a major change in cult thinking versus as a “throwaway line” in a PR package.    Talk is cheap, and I think that we must look carefully for evidence of behavioral change rather than just verbiage, before we believe this.  But it is important that we not miss evidence of such a change if it is in fact taking place.  Skepticism is a viable way to approach looking at this statement, but cynicism (unwillingness to believe that they are making such a change even if evidence suggests they’re going to try) is unwise here.

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Administrative note: due to problems confirming e-mails in the subscription system, I have been manually adding addresses of commenters to the mailing list.  I haven’t yet been able to debug the subscription system.  If you don’t wish to be included in the e-mail list, please send a reply asking me to remove you and I’ll do it as soon as possible.

  • DeElizabethan

    I believe that since it was stated to me years ago that this building was for public members use, means: they are losing around the world and they want to pull more to this area. Also around the world, if outer Orgs don’t pull in peeps that then go to Flag, it will be losing more. They certainly aren’t going to pull in people from this Florida area and the orgs are idle now. I foresee them to become more empty as time goes on, as we the people educate others to this fraud. The Flag building will be their last stand for the diehards. I probably will be gone by then, but happy to have helped.

    • ThetaBara

      All of this “I will probably be gone by then” talk of yours makes me sad, but it also reminds me of my mom. When I saw that Nixon had died, I actually cried – not for that loathsome creep, but because my mom had beat him to it and I knew how badly she wanted to see that headline herself. When it finally happens I will be thinking of you, if we can’t celebrate together. <3

      • DeElizabethan

        Thank you dearest one. I’m 77 now, even tho in fairly good health and spiffy enough. Realistically i don’t plan on beating my genetic lines past 90 and hopefully middle 80’s I should be ready. Nice to have your thoughts to celebrate. <3

  • sugarplumfairy

    Recruitment of new members? Good luck with that.. The only thing that will improve new member stats is if the internet crashes for a few years.. Well, not the only way.. co$ lying about their stats would work as well..

  • sugarplumfairy

    And thanks again for doing this, John P.. In these days of 1500+ comments! your site is a godsend..

  • aegerprimo

    I think sayings like “old habits die hard” and “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” ring true… what I mean is, the Co$ is not going to change their tactics. They “talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk” (whew I am full of cliché’s tonight). Anyway, that is “my two-cents.” They are not going to change after after 63 years.

  • ThetaBara

    I can’t say what their strategy is, but IMHO the best ways to block their recruitment efforts are for folks to spread the word – online and in person to your sphere of influence – and having ongoing in-person demonstrations. These are things at which Anonymous seems to excel, and I would imagine getting locals in from the Clearwater area would be an uphill struggle even moreso than with the general population. Unless there are still people who neither have internet nor read the newspaper, I think most folks are onto the cult.

  • Spackle Motion

    There’s no way that ‘fresh meat’ wouldn’t run away from any Scientology recruitment in pure laughter if they were accessing the Super Power rundowns before they are fully indoctrinated. This is an ineffective hook, and one that is really ridiculous to boot. Only those under a mind control and peer pressure (and financially/emotionally invested) would fall for the wonders of the torture waffles and smelling spaghetti bolognese in reaching your so-called potential.

    Also, thanks for manually adding one of my email addresses. I noticed that a few days ago.

    • John P.

      I sincerely doubt that the Sooper Powerz floor will be available to “wogs,” even though Hubbard said the Sooper Powerz rundown is for any level; it’s not for OT’s or Clears or anything like that. You are exactly right: you will only appreciate Hubbard’s genius if you were thoroughly in the cult already.

      I think they would have to be referring to the stuff on the first floor, to get people all impressed by all that “straight up and vertical expansion” and by all the amazing things that the World’s. Most. Amazing. Guy. Ever. did, including life on board the Floating Garbage Scow.

      • ze moo

        Stupor Powerz is the marketing mistake that will drive the old timers away. Else why all the ‘standard tech’ signs at the Tent? This is Daves attempt to put his brand on the old nag. Will the clampire have any respect left by adding non-hub ‘ecclesiastical teachings’? Like they had any respect before……

  • Cece

    Just LOVE this JOHN!

  • Gerard Plourde

    Just skimmed the TB Times article. I agree that it’s very low-key and noncontroversial. The interesting thing is the lack of cult sock puppetry in the comments – out of 34 comments (as of 6:45 EST) only 2 can be characterized as probably pro-cult.

    • SciWatcher

      The article is so “low-key and non-controversial” that I actually checked the authorship twice yesterday as I was reading it! It reads more like a PR (granted, not the typical Cherch’s PR) piece than their usual articles.

      • aegerprimo

        I did the same thing.

  • chukicita

    People thought Scn’s wooing of Nation of Islam was about attracting new followers – it wasn’t – a Flag FSM once paraphrased Hub to me when I asked him why there were only two people of color I saw there on a several-hours facility tour: Black people don’t spend their money on spiritual things, but material things. And then I had to listen to the whole anthropomorphic hat story.
    But that push really wasn’t about getting black folk to be members as it was to get white people to BUY THE COURSE MATERIALS so they could be provided to these disadvantaged, childlike black folk with the confidence that studying tech would change the trajectory of their lives. This would not only make it look like Scn was doing something for the less fortunate for the first time ever, but also get some well-meaning whales to buy a bunch more overpriced books that they print themselves with slave labor.

    • John P.

      Thanks for this scenario. I hadn’t considered that this was the whole point of the exercise. It’ll be interesting to see if they start to crank up programs like this as Study Tech and the library book donation scam stop working so well. Naturally, if anyone gets data points showing that the cult is raising money for donations to the less fortunate (less white) people in need of Hubbard “tech,” pass ’em along!

      Incidentally, it’s possible that the NOI will dismiss any reports that surface of Hubbard’s racism, given that Farrakhan’s direct endorsement of Hubbard probably overrides that minor detail. However, I suspect it will be another thing entirely if there start to be large numbers of interactions between NOI members and Scientologists who are unthinkingly and casually racist. I’m sure a sizable percentage of cult members are from the lily-white suburbs and have never even met an actual card-carrying black person.

      • chukicita

        Back in the early 2000s there was a push in Tampa to invite local black ministers to train in Scn, Alfreddie Johnson might have been the face of that. As I understand it, the initial courses were purchased for them by white donor(s). They were taking courses at the Tampa org on Habana st., but the black clergy didn’t bring their flocks in and pretty much all of them jumped ship. So at first it might have been an attempt to increase membership, but it didn’t end up that way.

        I forgot to mention the licensing of study tech – there’s a flow of money all by itself – as was the case in Clearwater at the Life Force charter school, which I believe was paying Applied Scholastics licensing. That was another attempt to photobomb the black spiritual community that backfired for Scn, Inc.

      • ThetaBara

        They’re not going to be running into them anyway; they tend to hold separate events. There are photos on the “Scientology Invasion of the Black Community” fb group.

  • aurora50

    Well, there seems to be a cognitive dissonance operating here; if it is to be a recruitment tool, they need to let the ‘wog-world’ ENTER it to be AMAZED…not kept from the doors by para-military style guards…

    (NB. I have never been to Clearwater and am describing what I have grown to assume through reading The Bunker et al in the past few months. My assumptions may be skewed?)

  • ze moo

    The Tampa Bay/Clearwater area does not have enough population to warrant using the SP building as a recruitment tool. ‘Sink Hole Alley’ {a geologists name for that part of Florida} is not the place to run a major recruitment drive.

    I don’t think any place on the clam map is suited for a major recruitment attempt. Everyone’s seen South Parks ‘trapped in the closet’ and read about the TomKat and Remini crazy. Daveys major ‘announcement’ this year is going to be another super bowl commercial. That only costs money and some production time. Then he can brag about ‘dissemination’ all he wants.

    I just can’t see the clampire using the SP stuff to compete with the Mormon Grand Temple or St Peters or Lourdes or even Randys Donuts. The SP stuff is just too tacky.

    • John P.

      I love the comparison of the Super Power building to Randy’s Donuts. If you know LA history, that comparison is a great job of mixing the sacred and the profane…

      I agree that Tampa is not a great place to recruit, for geological reasons or a whole host of other issues. Who in their right mind is going to respond to a Craigslist ad for a free personality test, then jump on a plane to Tampa to stay at the expensive Fort Harrison hotel then head across the street to the Super Power building to have their results read to them? That sounds rather ludicrous.
      Interesting notion that it’ll be all about another Super Bowl commercial… it might be, but I think his whales will be too tapped out to raise new funds for one given how late in the year the IAS event is; I don’t think they can put enough small donations (i.e., 4-figure or 5-figure) together to buy a Super Bowl ad. And the national spots were all sold at the network “upfront” period back in May, so they’d have to outbid local and regional advertisers on affiliate-based spots which would cost them tons of money for relatively minimal market anyway.

      • I think the SP building needs a Chicken Boy on top. He’s a real LA celebrity.