The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 7: Mark Bunker

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On August 5, we started a countdown that will give credit -- or blame -- to the people who have contributed most to the sad current state of Scientology. From its greatest expansion in the 1980s, the church is a shell of what it once was and is mired in countless controversies around the world. Some of that was self-inflicted, and some of it has come from outside. Join us now as we continue on our investigation of those people most responsible...



The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology

#7: Mark Bunker


MarkBunker2.jpg
Bunker
Mark Bunker is currently working on Knowledge Report, a documentary about Scientology that we've been previewing here at Runnin' Scared for months. You probably also know that Bunker was famously dubbed "Wise Beard Man" by Anonymous when he counseled in January 2008 that the upstart movement adopt a more Gandhi-like approach to its fight against Scientology.

But do you know how Bunker first fell into his interest in Scientology on his way to becoming the dean of old time critics? No you don't -- and that's because Bunker said he was telling the full story to the Voice for the first time anywhere.

Bunker had worked in radio in the Midwest before he moved to Los Angeles in the mid 1980s to work as an actor. He found work in television commercials and theater.

At that point, he says, he had some understanding of Scientology -- he'd seen a 60 Minutes report in the 1980s, and when he moved to LA, he suddenly had a reason to become more curious about it.

"I moved into a house, and the previous resident had been a Scientologist. So I was getting all this Scientology mail. 'What is this?' I thought. I mean, this is crazy," he says.

Besides his acting work, Bunker later also took a job working for a company that did market research for Hollywood studios. One day, he remembers, he was driving past a Scientology building on Sunset Boulevard with a coworker, who asked about it. Bunker told her what he knew: that Scientology was the invention of a science fiction writer, and that he'd heard various negative things about it. Later, he learned that his co-worker was in fact a Scientologist, and he felt some embarrassment.

As a kind gesture, he told her that he'd actually like to learn more about Scientology. "'Would you come tomorrow?' she asked me," Bunker says, trying to capture how eager she sounded. "She arranged for me to get my own screening of the orientation film, to take a personality test, to play with an e-meter. I even sat down with the president of the Hollywood Celebrity Centre -- I can't remember his name. But I told them I thought this wasn't for me." Bunker says he also wanted to ask them some challenging questions, but he didn't know the material well enough to do so. It made him curious to learn more.

"I started looking more into it, and it made me see that things my coworker did were starting to make sense now. Like, she tried to talk me out of going to a therapist at one point," he says. "She audited me one night. I found it really annoying. She kept asking me to tell the same story over and over." She was taking large amounts of vitamins, and was getting them in injections. "She was even investing in ostrich eggs," he says, referring to a bizarre get-rich-quick-scheme that some Scientologists hoped would help them raise money quickly to pay for expensive church services.

"I don't know if she's still in. One of the things she did was show me the grade chart at the Celebrity Centre, the chart that goes all the way to the top, which is OT VIII. She pointed at the bottom to show me where she was -- the very bottom. And she'd been in for 15 years. She'd made no progress because she had no money and didn't want to join the Sea Org," he says. (Scientologists who join the Sea Org sign billion-year contracts and work for almost no pay, but they can get free services to help them move up the grade chart.)

The more he looked into Scientology, the more he found it fascinating, Bunker says -- even if he was coming to an opposite point of view from his coworker. In the meantime, he had begun training in video editing, and eventually started posting things about Scientology online at the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology. "This would have been 1998. I started posting under a fake name then: Benjamin Wog. And then I gave my alter ego a doctorate and started calling myself Dr. Benjamin Wog."

About that time, after having taken a few years off from acting, Bunker decided to take another shot. "I got a new agent. I went to my first audition, it was a music video. I was there with a couple of actors in the room," he says, and they were boasting about the commercials they'd recently appeared in. Bunker, feeling that he need to speak up, says he bluffed and said he was working on a show about the Church of Scientology.

Later, he got a call from his agent, saying that someone wanted very much to get in touch with him. He eventually called the number, and it rang at the Hollywood Celebrity Centre. "We understand you're writing a movie about us," he was told. "That really frightened me. I'd just been reading about Paulette Cooper and Gabe Cazares. And they tracked me down after just one offhand comment!"

After training with a video editor at KNBC, Bunker says he was ready to begin applying for jobs at all the Los Angeles stations when his life changed suddenly: Bob Minton, a wealthy retired businessman, and Stacy Brooks, a former Sea Org member, had announced that they were taking over FACTnet, an anti-cult website that had been mired for years in litigation with Scientology.

By that time, Bunker had learned how to record shows about Scientology and post them online at a time when there wasn't much video on the net. He was making American shows available to overseas websites, for example. So when Minton and Brooks made their announcement, Bunker offered his services to help with video on their site. In January, 1999, they flew him out to a conference in Stamford, Connecticut. "Bob put a camera in my hand and I followed him around for the entire conference."

"That was a big turning point in my life. I met a lot of critics that I'd been reading on ARS: Rod Keller. Grady Ward. A whole bunch of these people. I attended the panels and videotaped them and put them online," he says. Later, Minton and Brooks dropped FACTnet and instead started the Lisa McPherson Trust, and hired Bunker to be a part of it during 2000 and 2001.

But that was in the future. In 1999, a few months after he returned home from the Connecticut conference, on Hubbard's birthday in March -- a Scientology holiday -- he went to videotape a protest. "I wasn't protesting, I was just videotaping. The next day Scientology put up fliers in my neighborhood with my photograph that said 'Beware this man.'" Two men showed up to picket his house.

Now that they knew his name, Bunker dropped his alias and announced who he was on ARS. "That's when I created my website, XenuTV. And so for many years I was the guy who people would turn to if there was a television or radio show on Scientology going on, and they would ask me to tape it and put it online. I would stay up all night working to tape these things. Now that Anonymous has come along, that burden has been taken off my shoulders, and now there's an entire army watching and taping things."

With Anonymous taking over those duties, Bunker has for a couple of years been thinking of a new project of his own. With his editing skills (he did go to work for a couple of San Diego television stations, and even won a local Emmy) and voice skills, he knew he was in a good position to make a documentary.

"I wasn't sure how I could get it funded, because the studios are not going to make something like this. Everyone was too afraid of Scientology. And then I saw there were sites like IndieGoGo that were using crowdsourcing. I knew I could do this fairly inexpensively. So I put up my first campaign and sought $10,000 to get the ball rolling, and got that essentially overnight. So let's do it," he says. "I thought there were two methods to get the film done. I could try to do it secretly -- look around for investors and just kind of surprise Scientology with the project. The other route is to be open about it, with crowdfunding, and keep everyone informed of every step. And it's paid off in that there has been a whole hell of a lot of support by people who say they want to be a part of it. And now that I've declared my support of Marty Rathbun on his blog, I'm getting a lot of interest from the independents. I'm getting a lot of interest and help from people who wouldn't have talked to me before, who would have considered me an SP."

I had to admit that Bunker's announcement that he had secretly given technical help as Rathbun began his blog in 2009 was a big surprise. But Bunker says it shouldn't have been. "I've always been supportive of the Free Zone. They still believe in the tech, which I don't believe in. But what does it matter to me what they believe in if they're not abusing anybody? My position in most of the 10 plus years I've been doing this -- and it wasn't my thinking at the very beginning, but one I came to eventually -- was that I never have a problem with individual Scientologists. The people who came to me at protests and tried to bait me and yell at me, I never considered them an enemy. People ask me how am I so calm when I run into these people who call me an evil criminal -- it was never my feeling that I need to attack them back."

For an example of how Bunker keeps his cool as he interviews sometimes uncooperative Scientologists, take a look at this amusing segment he filmed with Ethan Suplee for Knowledge Report:

Finally, I asked him to reflect on being dubbed "Wise Beard Man" by Anonymous and how he feels about that episode three years later.

"People ask me from time to time to make another video, to say to Anonymous, don't hack into PayPal, don't hack into Visa, these kinds of things," he says. "But I'm not sure lightning is going to strike twice. I've made my point to them for the people who see the importance of not doing the illegal stuff. I'm not sure me telling them again is going to make any difference. I continue to think that Anonymous as a whole does a lot of great stuff, and I hate to see them do something that lands them in trouble. Because not everyone involved in it does that kind of thing. The vast majority of them are doing something noble and kind of fun."

And Bunker looks like he's still having fun, so many years after beginning to document the challenges facing Scientology. I hope he gets that movie done soon.



The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#1: L. Ron Hubbard
#2: David Miscavige
#3: Marty Rathbun
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] | [Commenters of the Week]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"

[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]

JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]

HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth]
[Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family]
[Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle]

My Voice Nation Help
68 comments
MrEricSir
MrEricSir

I don't usually donate to anything, but I'd considering throwing in a few bucks towards Wise Beard Man's movie.

bulldogSP
bulldogSP

I really like Mark Bunker. It's amazing how calm he stays when confronted by Scientology's handlers. I think the only time I've really seen him upset was, when he went before the Riverside board of supervisors. Jeff Stone is so corrupt it makes me sick.

Is Mark still taking donations for his movie? I'd like to add a donation.

candace6
candace6

Mark Bunker is a hero.That is all.

REB Slaughter
REB Slaughter

More importantly, imho, is the fact that the "Squirrel Busters" are harassing a citizen in his home (and as Hunter pointed out seemingly permanently) and Mark is merely interviewing people, and quite respectfully, outside a public event.  Any of the people he interviewed there could walk away and rejoin Kirstie's festivities at any point.  Mark is behaving as a good journalist should.  The Squirrel Busters, however, make Hollywood paparazzi look like boy scouts. 

edit: this was intended as a reply to Hunter S. Dog's post, apparently the act of logging in while posting results in a reply no longer remembering its place in the thread.

Anonymous
Anonymous

WBM was right when he warned Anon against non-lawful tactics against the cult, because the cult is expert at using the legal and court systems as weaponry against individuals.

Bunker is also right when he suggests it'd be futile for him to warn Anon off non-legal tactics is other instances, but not for the reason he supposes: " I'm not sure lightning is going to strike twice" - rather, it is because, having listened and decided his words were wise apropos Scientology, the hive is more than capable of deciding for itself what relevance they might have wrt a different target - the answer, usually, is none.

But when it comes to the cult, the beard is wise, and the hive, in the main, remains grateful that it pointed its follicles towards a more effective set of tactics against the cult.

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Mark Bunker has been crippling Scientology for many years now in ways no other critic has managed to do so and in such abundance. He always manages to capture the the darkest corners of this cult for all to see, yet he's the nicest SP I know of .. well, besides Tory, lol

I believe that it is vital to have this documentary be made and seen by the general public. To see how scientologists deal with truth, to see how they react to communication outside the Scientology bubble, to see real people telling real stories of what they witnessed and endured, to learn about the abuses and fraud, and the totalitarian and fair game harassment tacics it employes. We know how we have been moved by Marks work. Imagine others who have never set foot in an org, or those who have and are afraid to speak out, seeing the whole of what has only been seen or heard of in parts. Imagine the impact! This is a film to be supported. Mark deserves a little help from the many friends he has made over the years for his goodwill technical efforts. That is what is going to get this film made.

Thanks for a terrific article, Tony. Best wishes to Mark.

Theoracle
Theoracle

O.K. so Mark crashed a business promotional party and tried to make them look like assholes for his video.  He is doing the same thing squirrel busters are doing to Marty.  He thinks he is on higher ground?  Why isn't he over in Spanish Harlem crashing some wedding and grilling them about being Catholics? Because he would get stabbed that's why.  I don't contribute to this very very covert abuse because when the Church closes down he is liable to show up in my front yard. And I am sure you all do not want to see a R.I.P. thread going here for Mark Bunker.    O.K. haters and sadists,,,,let it rip!

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

Wow! If that was your demonstration of shattering suppression, you have flunked!

Such butthurt!

I bet you couldn't shatter shit with a shotgun.

Hunter S. Dogs
Hunter S. Dogs

You state that Mark is doing the same things that the Squirrel Busters are doing. I think there are many differences that should be noted, which, really, are quite obvious.

First is duration. One lasts perhaps an hour and the other lasts until, I suppose, Marty Rathbun quits being a squirrel.

Second is that Mark is one (or at most him and a few allies) going up against dozens if not hundreds of his opponents. Though I have no love for Marty Rathbun, he is the one outnumbered.

Third is the amount of money and power behind the organizations. Again the situations are very different.

Fourth is Kirstie Alley is promoting a questionable product while the squirrel busters are hitting Marty Rathbun where he lives.

One ads up to harrassment. The other is really a very courageous act by a man who has been harrassed (I believe to the point of being arrested on a trumped up charge) by an insideous cult. 

Even the most crazed cultist can see that the situations are very different. Your cult leader said "Engramic thinking can be stated by A equals A equals A equals A equals A". ( DTOT, p. 64).  It would do you good to check on that.

MissCabbage
MissCabbage

I thought it was $cientology who believe they are on "higher ground." They need NO help from Mark or anyone else in their appearance as "a**holes," the "Church" itself does a very good job of that.  BTW, you write, "O.K. haters and sadists,,,,let it rip!"  Do you expect COB David Miscavige to reply?

Theoracle
Theoracle

You went straight for her kid Mark. And you place yourself on holy ground?

BBB
BBB

Last I checked, her "kid" is of legal age and considered an adult by the statutes of the United States of America. He can speak for himself, without the guidance of mommy dearest and her PR stuntmen backing her every assinine statement.

Mark has done nothing but expose the church for what it has been for years. And while I have no issue personally with Marty Rathbun studying or believing in the tech, it is quite annoying when people make it sound like Marty is the barrer of critics and the man who started this wave against scientology.

With all due respect, Mark Bunker was protesting the church when Marty Rathbun was still visciously assaulting people both physically and mentally (through fierce litigation) within' the org. If you have a problem with Bunker's tactics, fine, it's your perogative, but to say what he's doing is wrong in light of the fact that you support a man who put people and their family through years of agony and misery is quite unsavory.

That is all, have a nice day.

Raph37
Raph37

It was the LMT's picket video's that introduced me to the abuses of Scientology about 5 years ago. It's Mark's calm and considerate manner in which he takes on the 'church' that has earnt him so much respect in the critics community. Tony, this is a wonderful insite into how it all started, just another perfect example of the Church's proactive contribution to the creation of their own critics.

Chuck Beatty
Chuck Beatty

I urge people to spend some time going through  Mark's  Xenu TV site and watch the  1980s and 1990s TV shows done by TV media on Scientology. One show in particular is a MUST view show.   It is the  1968 Granada Productions "World In Action" English BBC-style interview with L. Ron Hubbard.   It's  NOT the fake interview that Scientologist  Tony Hitchman did, but a real English TV journalist giving Hubbard tough questions, and seeing Hubbard squirm and blatantly lie on camera.  

Mark's interview with Billy Sheehan, where Billy  came out to impromptu defend Scientology at one of the early LA anonymous protests.  Thanks so much for your years of work Mark and for Xenu TV!     

SFF
SFF

That Granada show is great. It's where Hubbard says he's been married twice but claims he never had a second wife.

Torychristman
Torychristman

Congratulations, Markie! Truly and honestly, as well as helping many others, you did help change my life, forever...in a huge way. OSA Had sent me out to "handle" Mark, in that July picket of 1999. After, they asked me to go picket his house and I said, "No--you are creating your own enemies". One year later, on-line, I literally woke up, and soon after escaped out of Scientology--being chased across the country. That was huge... I'd told Stacy Brooks: "I'm not going to speak out, make videos or picket: I'm just leaving under the radar".

However, 2 weeks after leaving, Bob, Stacy, Mark and I all went up to Bob's home in NewHampshire. After a week-end there, on the way back to Boston, Bob said: "We're going to do a picket there". Shocked, I said, "Well *I* am not". They: "Ok". Then I thought of ALL  the families I had talked to in the 2 last weeks. Mothers and fathers calling the Lisa McPherson Trust they had created, asking for help to find *their* kids. I said, "ok-I'm not going to picket, but I will go talk to the staff". After that day, Mark created the video: "Magoo Dancing in Boston" and put it up on the Net, without even telling me. (Smart! I would have probably not said Ok at that time).

My dear new friend, Andreas called me from Norway: "Tory! Tory! It's Andreas..In Norway!I'm calling you from the top of a mountain here in Norway. I just saw your video: *You* are David Miscavige's Worst Enemy!"  That's how I learned about that video, which began my many years of education about the abuses of the dark side of the "church" of $cientology.

Scientology declared me an "SP" over night--having never applied ONE of their many "Ethics" policies they are supposed to, before declaring a person an SP. That was the beginning of a great friendship. It's been amazing to watch Mark Bunker grow, also. He went from just a guy on the street, to a man interviewing many Ex-Scientologists and others, to an Emmy Award Winning Editor, to now a film maker. I'm so proud to know Mark and I'll always thank you for helping changemy life, and many others. Congratulations, again!!!! :) Your friend, Tory/Magoo

Torychristman
Torychristman

PS: I forgot to thank Tony for doing such an excellent job of writing. This list shall be historic, even if people disagree and/or people (many) are left out who should be on it.More can be done---but this is one fantastic start! Thank you, again, Tony for your courage in journalism. The award I gave you many years ago for just that should haveFeathers and a diamond added to it. :)

Sampson Simpson
Sampson Simpson

And thank you Tory for the amazing work that you've done and for all the inspirational and informative youtube videos...

:^)

F_Randy_Hullabaloo
F_Randy_Hullabaloo

A well-deserved place in the top ten.  Keep up the good work, Mark, and thanks for all you do to help educate the public.

WOLFNSHEEPSKIN
WOLFNSHEEPSKIN

Truly courageuos effort WBM.  I've enjoyed following your endeavors.   Wonder wher you rank on the "Enemy List"?    Thanks for making our world a better place.

Call me a wimp  -  I backed off enturbulating the Buffalo NY Sci's when Troy wispered "some day we'll meet and your life will end".   My family was 10 feet away when he wispered it to me.    He was kinda pissed because I interupted another stress test to explain the Scientology connection.   Anyway, your efforts are greatly appreciated  as you have placed yourself in harms way dealing with some (not all) dangerous minds.

BBB
BBB

Fact is, pretty much most non-scientologists, including myself, wouldn't be exposed to the dangers of scientology in the age of the internet had it not been for Mark Bunker. He paved the way for many others with his rather innovating tactics. Granted Lerma, Erlich, etc., were posting on A.R.S. before "Dr. Wog" was making a splash, he was doing it at a time where the internet boom became an internet craze, and the rest has been history, so to speak.

Sid
Sid

If I had to trace my interest in the subject of Scientology to one person, it would be Mark Bunker.

It was watching the videos on his website that alerted me to the dangers posed by Scientology, and prompted me to do more research.

His long-term dedication to exposing the abuses of the CoS is extremely admirable. Watching his friend Bob Minton being destroyed by the cult must have been devastating. But despite the personal risk he has kept going and going, relentlessly calling the cult out whenever he's caught them.

The way he steered Anonymous onto the right path was just inspirational, and also vital - a long drawn-out cyber-warfare against the church might have strengthened their hand.

Despite never being a Scientologist, Mark saw things he knew were wrong and has dedicated a large part of his life to bringing them to the attention of the wider public.

His style of cool, logical reasoning makes the critic's arguments all the more convincing, and his persistence over such a long period of time marks him out for me as the ultimate critic of Scientology.

Alanzo
Alanzo

I have to agree with you here, Sid.

Mark Bunker has seen a lot, and had a lot done to him by the cult. And the dude abides. He enjoys graciousness and acceptance from many different people at all ends of the spectrum. He continues to handle life in such an OT way. And yet....

Jacob
Jacob

Wow - such a great story hear.  When I first came across Mark Bunker's website about 5 years ago,  it was the stimulus for me to become interested in the abuses of scientology.  I remember thinking, this man seems like such an authority on the subject.  But for some reason, I thought he was an ex-long-time-scientologist.  How much more impressive he did this all as a peripheral observer.  Thank heavens for Mark Bunker! 

Anna Asks
Anna Asks

I love Ethan Suplee!  It makes me sad to see the lack of curiosity in him, and I can't wait for him to wake up at some point and start looking.  Those adorable little rosy cheeks should be smiling all the time and he'd be so much cuter with a twinkle in his eyes instead of that slightly dead look that seemed to wash over him at the beginning of his exchange with Mark Bunker.

Go Mark!  I remember the evening his WBM video went up and became a viral phenomenon.  I stayed up until dawn watching the rest of the videos on xenutv (dot) com.  At that point I knew a lot about Scientology dogma, but had only the smallest inkling of the abuse of members.  What an education he provides!

Mark Bunker is a gateway to curiosity and going out to look for one's self to see what is true.

NCSP
NCSP

I like Ethan Suplee too. I believe he's a second-generation Scientologist (like Beck, Juliette Lewis, Giovanni Ribisi and Mimi Rogers), so the indoctrination is deep in him. I once saw his name on a completion list in an old Scientology magazine, back when he was under 10. Kids who were raised in it must have a really tough time seeing "the walls," as Tory would say.

Anon A
Anon A

Congrats to Mark, and I for one can't wait to see the completed "Knowledge Report" documentary.Mark stands as a great example of keeping one's cool in the face of Scientology's bullying tactics, and I'm proud to say that I followed his lead when confronted by "bullbaiting" Scientologists at various Anon protests over the last few years.

mjm
mjm

Juliette Lewis looks a crackhead-ish...

Jgg
Jgg

I can't believe there are 6 people who have done more to damage Co$than Mark Bunker. 

redpill
redpill

seconded.

Sid
Sid

I'm gonna be slightly upset when Mark Rathbun gets a higher score than Mark Bunker on the "Scientology-damage-ometer".

However, in the interest of supporting Tony Ortega in this fabulous piece of journalism I will grit my teeth.

Gina Smith
Gina Smith

Mark Bunker commented: "I've always been supportive of the Free Zone. They still believe in the tech, which I don't believe in. But what does it matter to me what they believe in if they're not abusing anybody?"

Thing is the Free Zone is still abusing young children by practising their unlicensed, quack, therapy on them. Adults have a choice, children don't.

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

I agree...however, the reality is that other religions are doing the same thing: indoctrinating their children into believing nutty myths and superstitions, teaching them to hate others (e.g. gays and non-believers). It's sad and tragic, but that's human nature: we want to believe in the supernatural.

The difference between those religions and Scientology is that CO$ commits actual crimes, against their own adherents (murder a la Lisa McPherson, employee abuse to Sea Org staff, violence from the midget), and against those it considers its foes (fair-gaming tactics). Those are the things that I feel need to be stopped, and should be fought against.

You gotta pick yer battles. Crimes performed in the name of "religion" need to be stopped, no matter which "religion" is doing them. The FDLS needs to be stopped from sexually abusing little girls and forcing them to marry older men. The Westboro Baptist Church needs to be stopped from their hateful picketing of solider funerals. Extremist Muslim sects need to be stopped from murdering infidels and their terrorist activities.

But the whacky beliefs, and indoctrinating children into them? That's what ALL religions do. Sad but true.

Gina
Gina

I'm not sure that's exactly true.  Many religious traditions support the right of a young adult to choose if they want to join, once they are old enough to make an informed decision.  Often, you can't be a member unless you've gone through elective education.

Indoctrination, sure, but that happens in many other aspects of life, too.  I'm a Buddhist, and naturally will expose my children to Buddhism.  I'll also encourage exploration of other religious traditions, as my Prostestant parents did.  One of my friends, also a Buddhist, married a Jew, and their kids can pick whatever they like.  I think this type of reasonable approach is more common than many people think, with the caveat that it happens in open, liberal democracies.

Sid
Sid

Sad but true. Even sadder, those doing it don't realize the damage they may be unintentionally doing. They indoctrinate their children with the best of intentions.

Sid
Sid

You know what? You're right.

Isn't it amazing, this is the same species that managed to develop science to the extent they could escape the gravity of the planet on which they live and travel to another celestial body.

This is the same species that has developed a way for billions of their number to socially interact and collaborate together. The same species that have found ways to replace their vital organs with artificial devices. The species that produced music from Mozart and art from Da Vinci.

This same species allows hundreds of millions every year to die from hunger, fights wars constantly, slowly poisons their planet and believes in absolute bullshit.

If we ever encounter another super-intelligent species, I wonder if they will be as varied as we, or if over the ages they have attained universal logic, reasoning and critical thinking.

I sure as hell hope they don't find those platinum plates in a trillion years and assume we were all Scientologists.

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Excellent points, and I totally agree with you.

I think what I was trying to say is, I don't have any *more* problem with FZ than I do with any of these other extremist religions - they're all nuts as far as I'm concerned, but like you say, people have a right to choose to believe whatever whacked-out supernatural crap they want to believe. Where I feel like I (and the government) need to step in and do something is when they commit crimes, which CO$ is clearly doing...but the FZ is not (as far as I know). If the CO$ wasn't committing actual crimes and human rights abuses, I would just think of them as another weird religion. But they ARE - and they need to be stopped.

But I really do like your idea of having a societal benefit test for charitable organizations. Why should someone not have to pay taxes on their income just because they say they are working for a "religion"? Hell I should declare myself a religion, and refuse to pay taxes on MY income. And what about religions that, in fact, HARM society? What about a Satanic group that wanted to sacrifice small children? Under our current laws, they could get tax exempt status for the restaurant where they serve the children flambee'd in brandy sauce!

Xenu
Xenu

I don't see them as all the same.  I think the FLDS is a very genuine religion, which happens to teach and practice things which are illegal and socially harmful.  Westboro Baptist are on the border between religion and hate group.  Scientology is a quack therapy hiding under the cloak of religion.  I don't see the FZ as necessarily any better, but they're tiny, poor and fragmented, and really have very little impact of any kind.  I'd be worried about them if I thought they'd ever be big enough to matter.

All of those groups do have one thing in common, they all demonstrate how badly we need some sort of social benefit test for charitable organizations.  If they flunk, suspend or cancel their tax exempt status and any other special privileges, like avoidance of wage laws.

The Constitution grants me the right to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, to pray to him, and to blather about his noodly appendages without state intervention.  It does not give me the right to open a pasta restaurant which is tax free and exempt from labor laws.  That's in the hands of the legislature, which really ought to be hearing from us.

LeeAnneClark
LeeAnneClark

Just go watch a Westboro Baptist Church soldier-funeral picket. They bring their children along, and make them hold signs that say "God Killed Your Son," "Pray for More Dead Soldiers" and "9/11: Gift from God".  Sick.

While I think the Free Zoners are mind-fucked delusionals who worship a drug-addled madman, they're no worse off than any extremist religion. They're all nuts in my book.

Alan
Alan

The current Church materials are now invalid, since they changed them from the original Hubbard work.   The "squirrel" tech is what is being sold by the church, falsely re-written. And in terms of licensing, the church licenses its adherents to practice quackery.  At least the FreeZoners don't license it. 

mjm
mjm

troll.out.now...

Gina Smith
Gina Smith

Nope, it's an unpalatable fact to you Free Zoners and fan bois, but it's still a fact.

MarkStark
MarkStark

Congratulations Mark. This is an honor well deserved. It takes a special sort of person to maintain composure, good nature, compassion and understanding for people stuck in this cult, and do it do it for this number of years.

There is a profound lack of understanding in certain elements of society, like Hollywood, in the true implications of the Internet, the democratization and free availability of information, and the quality and depth of information there is to access. That includes information about secretive and exclusive groups, like Scientology.

I think actors feel vulnerable about the web and are suspicious about everything having to do with it. Think of Colin Ferrell (and other celebrities) sex tapes finding their way to the web. They associate the web with things that are done to defame or ruin their images, privacy and careers, or at least embarrass them. So, even if you published a tape of David Miscavige beating a staff member, there would be Scilebrities who would not watch it or want to hear about it. That would be embarrassing to Scientology.

So, I agree with others, that until their own case or experience gets messed with by the organization, like Paul Haggis had happen, or Larry Anderson, well, long road ahead.

There's bright hope for the future though. Stars like Justin Bieber get discovered on the web, and the younger generation -- including people who are interested in acting -- explore the web for information about everything.

Who knows, maybe Suplee picked up the New Yorker Freedumb issue and something will click from what Mark said, especially if it coincides with the cult trying to hit him up for more money.

Arielle
Arielle

An absolutely amazing article, very insightful. We all thought that we knew Mark Bunker, but apparently none of us knew the whole story. Its been very interesting to read what got him interested in Scientology and the fact that he's been involved in fighting it much before Bob Minton invited him to join the Lisa McPherson Trust. Mark - very best of luck with your documentary, I'm eagerly anticipating it.

Anonymous
Anonymous

The video of Mark being threatened with a hammer by the scientologist startled me in to realizing this cult, and its member's, are nuts and dangerous

Old OT7
Old OT7

Probably more than you can imagine!  They  even  ordered staff to kill the pets of people they regarded as SPs just to intimidate them.  Scientology, it's worse than you think!  Far, far worse.  Read Patty's posts to just get an inkling of how much harm they inflict on their members and critics.  I really can't say enough bad  shit about these people.

Carmen
Carmen

The response by the cops (lack thereof) was even more disturbing. A guy attacks with a hammer ON VIDEO and the cops...did nothing.

It was later revealed that Hammer Guy was also involved in cocaine distribution. Nuts, dangerous, whacked out, and gets a pass from LEO. Yikes.

John_R
John_R

Mark Bunker also got a taste of police "over-reaction" - when he was tackled, roughed-up and arrested by off-duty cops hired by Scientology ostensibly for that very purpose. His crime? Daring to film donors asking for a refund.

Worse still, these were dirty cops who stole his film and then denied everything.

Old OT7
Old OT7

God, that is really fucked up!  Tough to know that cops are working for THE most evil, vicious and militant the world has ever seen.  Money, pure and simple and to hell with doing what's right.  Sad.

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