Scientology Daily Digest: Monday, December 2, 2013

Perhaps the biggest catch of the day is on ESMB, where a guy identifying himself as the former Director of Special Affairs (OSA boss) in several different locations has popped up on the radar screen and declared himself an Indie.

There are a couple epic advertising fails and some bad news for the Ideal Org building that the cult bought in Philadelphia six years ago, and which is now apparently causing neighborhood blight.

Tony Ortega’s Blog

A fairly light day, with a couple photos of the really tawdry Way to Happiness Foundation float in the really tawdry Hollywood Christmas parade, which has been in a steady decline to irrelevance for decades.  Apparently, the Dianetics Bookstore building at 6253 Hollywood Blvd. is for lease.  Straight up and vertical expansion, baby!

Selected comments:

Mike Rinder’s Blog

  • Today’s post contains a reg e-mail full of unctuous, smarmy praise for David Miscavige, the hero who apparently knows better than Hubbard just how to fix all those courses that kept people from bounding up their Bridge to Total Freedom like a couple of gazelles on meth.  The nauseating praise is a fun read.  My favorite: “You can tell a lot of thought and care went into this by someone intelligent and who understands grammar well.”  Yeah, when you’re telling me that this is the best thing to happen to Scientology since the invention of Dianetics in 1950, it makes me really want to sign up and buy when the best testimonial you’ve got is that the guy who pulled off this feat of “research” understands grammar really well.  It’s like how one actress, when asked in an interview about another, will say “well, he is really punctual.” If the best you can say about someone is that they show up to work on time, that’s not exactly high praise.

Forum Sites (WWP, ESMB, OCMB)

General News

  • I missed this a couple of days ago, but the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about the urban blight of the new Ideal Org building in Center City.  Apparently, in the six years it has lain abandoned after purchase, it now has too many boarded up windows and is breaking an anti-blight ordinance.  Surprise, surprise.  The money quote is from an ex who says that there are only about 100 active Scientologists in Philadelphia.  Wish I knew who that was so I could try to understand the basis of that figure; while it’s possible that the number is that small, I don’t want to use that in anything I write until I know how it was derived.
  • A new low: in Israel, apparently, the cult is running ads inside of web-based kids video games on the local version of the site Webkinz.  Scientology is apparently blaming Google, claiming it has no control over ad placement.
  • The increasingly important “BackInComm” blog of South African independent Scientologists has a great document leak, with a nasty memo from the Executive Director of Johannesburg upbraiding the staff back in 2008, saying that in the 14 months since the release of “The Basics,” they have only graduated 4 people on the course sequence.  Apparently, 50 people have quit part-way through and the staff was so inept that they weren’t able to get them back on track; sounds like they blew the cult entirely.
  • Science Doc

    Nice new look. For the last few weeks I was finding Rinder and South African Comm to be the edgier blogs to follow developments. 72 hours ago I had never been on WWP or ESMB. Now there is entirely too much for me to follow and I might have to give up on primary source material and follow your summaries plus assorted Tony stories exclusively. Being a critic today means drinking from a fire hose.

  • villagedianne

    Oh but John P. let us not forget the best part of Rinder’s post re Miscavige:

    “For a long time he has taken great amusement in having Guillaume Lesevre, Marc Yager and others kiss his shoes to demonstrate their unwavering loyalty and abject subservience to Him.”

    In case you are wondering if this is a metaphor, Rinder confirmed in the comments section that this is literally true.

    COS is always worse than you think!

    • Drat

      After reading about COB beating people to pulp and having an executive lick a bathroom floor clean, I actually thought kissing shoes was downright humane.

      Edit to add: Just read it was lick, not kiss. Sorry. Yuck. Okay, DM wins.

    • John P.

      I did see that. While I think Mike is a credible guy, my gut said to steer clear of writing that up, because I’m not entirely sure of the sourcing. I can’t point to any particular reason I felt uncomfortable with that, but it just seemed like a good idea to take a pass on pushing that particular detail.

      • Anonymous

        I agree…it sounded metaphorical.

        The Debbie Cook tale however, of Miscavige having an exec lick a bathroom floor clean with his tongue while others were ordered to watch, was told in sworn, video taped testimony, in open court. It was not rebutted in any meaningful way.

        Therefore it passes the smell test.

        • John P.

          This is one of those situations where I can’t explain why my gut said to pass on putting that in the digest. I have no reason to doubt Mike as a source for this. As you pointed out, Debbie Cook’s sworn testimony described similar behavior, and it’s certainly in line with comments from other ex’s. Also, I’m not trying to function as a journalist, and even if I were, the legal risk of publishing that doesn’t seem to be high. And yet, for no reason that I can put my finger on, my gut said to pass. I can’t account for it.

          I have learned in a long career at Global Capitalism HQ that one ignores a gut check at one’s own peril. Usually, if something fails a gut check at Global Capitalism HQ, I’d delve deeper into alternate sources of information to try and resolve the issue. But here, I don’t have an alternate source of information. I hope I’m not going soft in my old age, but the habit of listening to my gut is still paramount. Countless times in an investment committee meeting where I’m pitching an idea, upper management will ask, “where’s your gut on this one?” And I’ve seen an analyst or PM who hesitates on that question get shut down, even if the intellectual argument is solid.

          • Anonymous

            I think you made the correct call.

            And you had extra help from your gut because Thanksgiving was just a few days ago. 😉

  • Robert Eckert

    And there is the opening (reopening?) of the Kaohsiung Ideal Org this Saturday. Could this be an excuse for Davey to leave the country, and then not come back?

    • John P.

      My strong suspicion is that the end destination for Dave leaving the country and fleeing with the assets is not in Asia. I don’t think there is a catalyst for him to bolt at this point. I really believe he thinks he’s doing OK at the helm of the cult. I’ve said before that probably the only financial metric that matters to him is whether gross cash (not net, gross) goes up every week, month, quarter, or year. So far they’ve been able to do that. I think he’s able to rationalize declines in membership, plummeting revenue, staff departures, etc. as long as that one number keeps going up.

      And interestingly, if much of the increase is donations in advance of service, that’s still a ticking time bomb. Looking at the financials of the NZ org, a substantial fraction of gross cash is actually deposits, which are presumably refundable, and that’s why suppressing the Garcia lawsuit and the tidal wave of refund lawsuits that I think will inevitably follow a ruling overturning the “arbitration” procedure, is so critical.

      • Drat

        I agree DM has no incentive to leave. Let’s put ourselves in his shoes for a moment and imagine what a lifetime surrounded by sycophants is like. It can hardly produce a balanced view on life, even if he does read the Internet.

  • tetloj

    Not fast enough for yesterday’s post – some more info to add to considerations fo DM’s travel choices.
    It appears the Pope leases Alitalia commercial jets when he travels – worldwide Catholic population estimated at 1.2 billion
    As a counterpoint see attached page for an article on travel by the Archbishop of Canterbury – worldwide Anglican communion estimated at 80 million worldwide
    http://www.maf.org.au/news/n/flying-the-archbishop-of-canterbury-130522
    All facts from Wikipedia, wiki ask sort of sites, but even given a huge margin for error…. DM should not be able to justify anything above travelling coach with an entourage (maybe him and one other first class).

    • John P.

      Very nice to see that the Archbishop of Canterbury rode in a “Platypus” (a Pilatus PC-12), my favorite propeller-driven airplane, which I enjoy flying when I’m on holiday or when I’m heading to an airport that’s either too close to make the jet practical, or which is too small for the jet. Seats 9. Hardly a Boeing Business Jet.

      I think the Alitalia deal with the Pope is a big marketing deal for Alitalia, so they may charge the Vatican a discount rate. Of course, with 1 billion members or more, the Vatican can afford it even if they pay full market rate. That’s a lot more reasonable than a guy with 20,000 followers chartering a BBJ.

  • PoisonIvyHerself

    Glad to have you back in the saddle JP…heading to bed but will check in tomorrow.

  • Lurkness

    John, here is a possible source for a better idea of the Scilon numbers in Philly.

    Jquepublic @ESMB said:

    “Pouw said Scientology has 10,000 adherents in the Philadelphia area, where a smaller building on Race Street near 13th is still in use by the church…

    Karen Pouw is hilarious! Seriously, there may be 10,000 adherents on the east coast (doubtful), but in Philly? No. Average event attendance was about 60 – 75
    people and that was WORK to pull off, and bodies in the shop was around that (60-70) each week. Not much has changed according to an old acquaintance of
    mine, and the list of their donors on the Ideal org website tells me that they haven’t experienced any straight up and vertical expansion. I know 85% of those
    names. Several are children, second genners.

    They can’t afford the Int Landlord jacked up rent they’re paying at RaceStreet, they definitely can’t afford – and do not need and cannot FILL – the
    PNC building.”

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:V4ldbRHP8Q0J:www.forum.exscn.net/showthread.php%3F34090-City-of-Philadelphia-Taking-Scientology-to-Blight-Court-Over-quot-Ideal-Org-quot-Building/page2+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

    JP, also note that they have approx 200 people that have donated to the idle org campaign so far per the news story: “The Daily News reached out to six top
    donors on a list of more than 200 contributors on the Philadelphia Freedom Org website, but none returned calls seeking comment” As long as the fundraising has been going on, who knows how many of these may already be out.

  • ThetaBara

    Much as I adore Sunny (and I do) I must mention that the idea was originally floated by From Poland With Love. 🙂
    And now I’m shopping for cards. I want them to be as sweet as possible! Spread a little holiday cheer to the scientologists. I’m sure they don’t get much of that. What a fun project. I can hardly wait!

    • Miss Tia

      This is something we mentioned a few months ago…..that’s when someone directed me to the WWP project from a few years ago…..though yes, FPWL brought it up again for xmas cards for Shelly…..i have a separate post from my tweet –in case OSA flags it—on the bunker today (with the pix of me giving the finger for OSA 🙂 asking if we should include people in the hole? and i have errands to run but i’ll find that WWP thread when i get back and make a website so the addies are in one location and with general info—such as don’t mention CO$, DM, etc and OSA will NOT be able to get that site down! 🙂

  • Drat

    John, Scott Gordon’s account of his activities in OSA should explain why indies have so far not formed any major organisation of sorts. That, and their unwillingness to face up to the reality of LRH.

  • Miss Tia

    So the 14 year old has to start over now though, right?

    One thing with putting Ft. Harrison as the return address—and believe me I LOVE that idea!!! that would violate postal rules…..we’d like to be able to get THEM on violating postal regulations—-as in NOT delivering mail to the addressee, so we shouldn’t be violating postal regulations….USPS told me that if mail is not delivered to the addressee it’s a FEDERAL CRIME….they do NOT mess around….

    • aegerprimo

      Good point. I will do some research on that today and see what I can find.

  • Free Minds, Free Hearts

    Interesting post on numbers from Mike Rinder, and an interesting long comment on his blog by Deep Six.

    First, Mike brings up someone else’s estimate of 25,000-30,000 worldwide who may do a course, buy a book, or attend an event with another 15,000 hard core including SO, which would total 40,000-45,000.

    Then, Mike says he thinks that for every 4 committed members, there is 1 open indie and 100 under the radar/ex-members. says, “I find the membership question interesting and have some opinions based on my four decades of experience with the CofS. My speculation is the ratio of committed members versus OPENLY independent or disaffected ex-members is 4:1. BUT, the ratio of under-the radar members and ex-members to committed members is 25:1. This is extrapolation from my own circle of friends, family and acquaintances.”

    Deep Six estimates high figure to be 24,000 public and 9,500 staff (total 33,500). Deep Six comments:

    “Let’s just talk BODIES IN THE SHOP for a minute. There are NOT more than 1,000 public on-lines at Flag. And 1/2 those public are from out of town and are on the BIS stat for other org’s as well. So we’ll say 1,000 public at Flag, and that’s the highest of the highest. There are NOT more than 100 BIS (on average) at each of the 170 Class V orgs. A few orgs have more than 100 but the smaller orgs bring down that number. And also, many of the Class V BIS are OTs who have to be regularly onlines at their local org and also appear on the BIS count for an SO org at times.

    “There are NOT more than 200 BIS (on average) each of the SO orgs outside of FLAG (ASHO, AOLA, AOSH EU, AOSH UK, AOSH ANZO…have I missed any?). And counting the SO orgs is generous b/c most of their public are also counted at the Class V orgs.

    “Missions in the U.S. hardly even exist. They are probably still big in Russia. Just for the hell of it, let’s say 5,000 public WORLDWIDE at missions who might not be being counted in the Class V world.

    “So we have FLAG = 1,000
    Class V world = 17,000
    Non-FLAG SO world = 1,000
    Missions = 5,000
    HIGH-ESTIMATE FOR WW PUBLIC = 24,000

    “Staff estimates…
    SO = 5,000
    Class V = 3,500
    Missions = 1,000
    HIGH-ESTIMATE FOR WW STAFF = 9,500

    HIGH-ESTIMATE FOR WW BIS & STAFF= 33,500

    “I believe the real number is lower than this, but this is a fair (high) estimate.

    “The number is also within the 15,000 to 40,000 ballpark that is commonly discussed.

    “Even if you double these estimates, you are still talking about a debacle.

    “Probably 20% to 30% of all these staff actually want to leave.

    “Probably 20% to 30% of all these Active SCNs are actually under the radar and reading the blogs.

    “The remaining cling to the idea that anyone who reads negative data about the Church is an SP, and anyone speaking out against the Church is only doing so because they are furious the Church is expanding so fast.

    “Any SCN would agree with these estimates at the org-level. They just wouldn’t be willing to extrapolate the numbers out to the WW level. They would suffer from cognitive dissonance. They would probably say “there are tens of thousands of missions all over the world that we just don’t see”.”

    • John P.

      This is a reasonably good back of the envelope estimate. In reading it over, the only two numbers I’d pick at are the Class V org worldwide; I don’t think there are 170 Class V orgs worldwide; I thought the number was 150 or so including missions. I’ll have to go back and re-check.

      The other number that seems a bit high is the Sea Org. I think you’ve got maybe 2,500 to 3,000 worldwide. I think that people have driven by some of the SO “berthing” in Clearwater and some of the smaller facilities are empty. Hacienda Gardens and one other are in use, but there are two or three other apartment complexes that are usually empty or are used for Outer Org Trainees.

      Another small detail: with the exception of some foreign countries, I think there is likely to be some double counting of Mission public, since many of those are likely to be on lines in Orgs as well. I have talked to a couple recent departures from the cult who have said they try to do as much as possible in the missions because of the lower hassle factor, but also go to the orgs when they have to. In the US, there’s likely to be a lot of double counting because most missions are in cities where there is an Org already. In some other places (e.g. Russia) there are missions that are in cities with no corresponding Org.

      • Free Minds, Free Hearts

        I liked Deep Six’s clear explanation of where he/she came up with these numbers, but I don’t know how accurate they are. It would be nice to have a numbers section where people can weigh in. A commenter today asked Mike R to survey readers and ask them to do a census of their own local area and he could compile them, which would be helpful but not exhaustive. And… Interesting that the estimate of 33,500 includes 20-30% (up to 10,000!) who want to leave. I agree that there may be double counting of the public. I don’t know how to figure out the number of Class V orgs. In terms of Sea Org, my understanding is that there are 400 or so Sea Org staff at Int Base in Hemet. I don’t know how many in LA, or at Flag or Saint Hill, or where else Sea org are stationed.

  • tetloj

    It would be interesting to know about immigration prospects for sea org workers recruited overseas (e.g. Taiwain, Central/south America, eastern Europe). I believe these people would be on a special class of visa as foreign nationals working in a religious context. I wonder of any countries where they may be based would confer permanent residence or nationality for extended stays as religious workers and if this is an incentive for some of the Sea Org workers to continue in support of the cult. Still can’t wipe from memory those happy, smiling and very young faces from the GATII photos.

    http://www.immi.gov.au/Visas/Pages/401.aspx

    In Australia the type of visas Taiwanese Sea Orger would probably on have a maximum stay of two years. Not sure if you can reapply after that.

    I was very happy to see in today’s comments form Tony that Manuela Oliveri is back in Sydney. That must be some comfort to her family that even if she is in the cult she is at least on home soil. I wonder if she still believes there is a career in dance for her n the Sea Org.

  • Cece

    Kirstie A is on Howard Stern XM100 talking about Scientology/Leah etc.

    • aegerprimo

      Just saw this post. I don’t do radio, is there a link to a podcast for the show?

      • Cece

        Oh aegerprimo, I don’t know. It’s on my XM and I just added 100 & 101 Howard Stern for my boyfriend. I’d actually never listened to him before this hour! Just recognized Kirstie voice.
        Maybe it will be on UTube. She was in the studio. She went into a lot of detail about Leah and why she disconnected from her – she has it all well justified and tied up with a little halo in her mind. Quiet convincing.