Posts Tagged “CoS”

Photograph of Leah Remini, via Wikimedia CommonsA month ago I blogged about Leah Remini’s documentary series exposing the excesses of Scientology, on the occasion of it winning an Emmy. As I said then, Remini’s series is by no means the first major exposé of the Church of Scientology and its abusive practices. There have been many of them over the last several decades. One of the more noteable early exposés was a book, The Scandal of Scientology, by Paulette Cooper, published in 1971 (which resulted in her being “fair gamed” and nearly destroyed by CoS). A biography of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah by Russell Miller, was published in 1987. Much more recently there was Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscavige Hill, published in 2013. There was also BBC’s Scientology and Me in 2007, and Going Clear on HBO in 2015.

Really, the inanity of Scientology has been well-known since Martin Gardner released Fads & Fallacies in the Name of Science in 1952 (before the CoS existed and Hubbard’s bullshit was known only as “dianetics”).

So none of what Remini (and co-presenter Mike Rinder) reveal in the series is news. It’s not. But Scientology and the Aftermath reaches more people than ever and shining a much brighter light on CoS than before.

As far as I know, CoS’s main response had been to draft Web sites critical of Remini, Rinder, and some of their contributors. But as the Wall Street Journal reports, the popularity of her series has forced CoS to ramp up that response a bit (Archive.Is cached article):

Scientologists are emailing advertisers and demanding they boycott the A&E show “ Leah Remini : Scientology and the Aftermath,” claiming the documentary series is inciting threats and acts of violence against members of the church.

Individuals who say they are Scientologists sent multiple versions of the letter in recent months to advertisers and ad buyers, according to people familiar with the matter. The group behind the effort, Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination (STAND), also posted a handful of letters addressed to Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV’s Chrysler brand and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Geico, among others, on its website.

I have no idea how “Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination” extracted the “STAND” acronym from their name. I mean, “STAAD” works better. Maybe they avoided that because putting a “G” in front of it might confuse them with a ski-resort town in Switzerland. But hey, what could I know about it?

As the WSJ explains, at least one advertiser (Geico) did bend over for CoS and they’ve pull its ads from the series — but not from the network (which kind of makes clear that they’re specifically avoiding Remini’s show). Way to go, Geico. I knew geckos are flexible, but I didn’t know they had no backbones.

With this development, it’s clear Remini and Rinder have had an effect on Scientology. Good for them! The more is revealed about CoS’s shenanigans, the better.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Leah Remini & her Emmy / David Crotty, Patrick McMullan/Getty Images, via PeoplePardon me, Dear Reader, for taking the time to rectify a major omission. I haven’t mentioned Scientology or “dianetics” (which is its core) in quite some time. And it shouldn’t have gone so long below my radar.

It’s not as though the Church of Scientology and its minions haven’t been up to no good, all this time. Oh no. Just a month ago, The Hollywood Reporter revealed yet more forged court orders directing Web search engines to purge themselves of links to sites and pages critical of its Narconon* wing (Archive.Is cached article). No, CoS is still up to its usual shenanigans, and likely will continue to be, for quite some time.

I’d just like to point out that ex-Scientologist Leah Remini’s anti-Scientology series — which just started its second season — won an Emmy award (for Outstanding Information Series), as People magazine reports (cached):

On Saturday night, Leah Remini won her first Emmy for her A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

Remini, 47, teared up as she accepted her award at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles.…

Back in the press room, Remini told reporters about how moving the experience of winning was — and how the award doesn’t really belong to her.

“Well, it’s — as an actress, you always want to get an Emmy nomination or win an Emmy and as you get a little older you realize what’s really important and you are exposed to stories like this,” Remini said. “It becomes more about doing the right thing and so it doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to our heroes and so it’s so much more fulfilling.”

Remini called her contributors “heroes” is because many of them face harassment by CoS. If you doubt that CoS is capable of destroying people, look no further than “Operation Freakout,” a plot in which they framed author Paulette Cooper, who’d written a magazine article and then a book critical of Scientology, for a felony (cached). She only got out from under this due to another CoS plot, “Operation Snow White,” in which CoS agents tried to remove unflattering information about CoS from government files. The thefts of some documents was discovered, CoS offices were raided, and documents found there laid bare the whole scheme to destroy Ms Cooper (cached). Some CoS personnel (including Mary Sue Hubbard, wife of founder Lafayette Ronald aka “L. Ron” Hubbard) were jailed, and the “Fair Game” policy which had spawned both “operations” was ostensibly rescinded.

But CoS still hounds anyone who crosses them. And for years they’ve worked to purge the Internet of anything unflattering about CoS or “dianetics.” Fortunately, that hasn’t entirely worked … in spite of things like fraudulent court orders (as I mentioned).

At any rate, I’m glad to see Ms Remini’s series was renewed, and has been getting good ratings. Hers is hardly the first exposé of Scientology’s excesses … there’s been no shortage of articles, books, or documentaries on the subject, going back almost to CoS’s origins. But this is, arguably, the highest-profile production of its kind. She’s shining a brighter light on the fetid swamp of Scientology than it has ever had to endure. Let’s hope it leads to meaningful changes, or better yet, to the destruction of CoS.

P.S. CoS only has itself to blame for having made Ms Remini their enemy. She has said her exit from Scientology was chiefly triggered by the disappearance of Shelly Miscavige, CoS agent and wife of its leader David Miscavige. Ms Remini had asked about Ms Miscavige’s whereabouts, and was harassed by CoS personnel because she’d asked about her (cached).

*Note: Even though it looks like a shortened version of its name, Narconon isn’t connected in any way with Narcotics Anonymous or NA. Both programs are bullshit, of course; Narconon is based on “dianetics,” while NA is a religion-based 12-step program.

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Gee, it seems only a short time ago that I blogged about the Church of Scientology’s failed “investigation” of the St Petersburg Times, which late last year ran an extensive multi-story exposé of that so-called religion. This weekend, the estimable New York Times ran its own single-story (to date) exposé of Scientology (WebCite cached article):

Defectors Say Church of Scientology Hides Abuse

Raised as Scientologists, Christie King Collbran and her husband, Chris, were recruited as teenagers to work for the elite corps of staff members who keep the Church of Scientology running, known as the Sea Organization, or Sea Org.

They signed a contract for a billion years — in keeping with the church’s belief that Scientologists are immortal. They worked seven days a week, often on little sleep, for sporadic paychecks of $50 a week, at most.

But after 13 years and growing disillusionment, the Collbrans decided to leave the Sea Org, setting off on a Kafkaesque journey that they said required them to sign false confessions about their personal lives and their work, pay the church thousands of dollars it said they owed for courses and counseling, and accept the consequences as their parents, siblings and friends who are church members cut off all communication with them. …

They soon discovered others who felt the same. Searching for Web sites about Scientology that are not sponsored by the church (an activity prohibited when they were in the Sea Org), they discovered that hundreds of other Scientologists were also defecting — including high-ranking executives who had served for decades.

The large number of recent defections from the CoS likely explains this rash of newspaper stories on Scientology’s abuses. At any rate, the story acknowledges that the “average” CoS member may not be aware of all of this:

The defectors say that the average Scientology member, known in the church as a public, is largely unaware of the abusive environment experienced by staff members. The church works hard to cultivate public members — especially celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Nancy Cartwright (the voice of the cartoon scoundrel Bart Simpson) — whose money keeps it running.

But recently even some celebrities have begun to abandon the church, the most prominent of whom is the director and screenwriter Paul Haggis, who won Oscars for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Crash.” Mr. Haggis had been a member for 35 years. His resignation letter [cached version], leaked to a defectors’ Web site, recounted his indignation as he came to believe that the defectors’ accusations must be true.

The Times continues by relating the Collbrans’ harrowing story of trying to leave Scientology, which included impediments such as taking their passports so they couldn’t travel. It also recounts things like beatings of Scientology members and employees, some at the hands of the head of the CoS, David Miscavige.

Marvelous people, eh?

I wonder if the CoS will try the same stunt they attempted with the St Petersburg Times and try to hire other reporters to investigate the New York Times. Even if they do, I’m betting they will also refuse to reveal the contents of that investigation.

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