Scientology Mailbag: We Hear it from Church Members
Since we started moving to nearly daily coverage of Scientology back in April, the tips coming in here to the underground bunker have been voluminous and oh, so helpful. To all of you in Australia, Germany, the UK, France, Canada, and across the United States sending me alerts to breaking news -- I am humbled and grateful.
We also have a rich, robust free-for-all going on in our comments section between Scientology church members, Scientology critics, and independent Scientologists. I even get in there myself and spar with folks from time to time. It keeps me on my toes!
However, despite the presence of that forum, some church members still prefer to e-mail me directly. Knowing that some of our readers would like to see how these folks react to our coverage, I thought I'd share with you a few of their letters!
We want to thank Gary Tanno for this recent message of helpful advice:
I dearly wish you knew what you were talking about when it comes to Scientology. I suggest you read a book about it. Millions of people have been helped by it. You can't say that for Psychiatrist.
Read a book about it! Well, we did read and review (and make extensive use of) both Janet Reitman's excellent Inside Scientology and Hugh Urban's The Church of Scientology. Oh, I think you mean I should read a book by L. Ron Hubbard! Well, I have, but you aren't the first church member to urge me to go back to the basics. An upcoming announcement, then, should maybe thrill you. But for now, let's move on to the person who e-mails us the most, Runnin' Scared favorite Mark Miglio.
After we initially produced an entire Miglio letter on the blog back in August, he's sent us several more messages. I thought I'd share two of them with you.
On October 8, Miglio sent this message after we had mentioned Scientology's anti-drug front group, Narconon, after we featured a comment about Narconon by Damian Dewitt in our "Commenters of the Week" post that day.
Dear Tony, I feel I should I say something about the Purification Program and its use of sauna and niacin, and its inclusion in the Narconon program as the basic self-improvement action in a similar way that the Church uses it as one of the first things a new Scientologist will do. I did the purif in 1981, I was one of the first members to do it -- one of many thousands that have since followed. First, you should have the data that the purif saunas are not as hot as the saunas in the health clubs. I was in and out of the sauna for four hours a day -- for 18 days. It was neat to be sweating out the garbage we all get -- even if we don't use street drugs. It was easy to do and a breeze. I sat in a brightly-lighted sauna and read mags and paperback books, and conversed with the other people in the sauna. I also left the sauna and took long walks, cool-down showers, and did periods of exercises outside of the sauna during this 4-hour period. So the actual time in the sauna was like, two hours. I looked forward to doing this regimen each day and this was the healthiest I have ever felt; I am 57 years old currently. Niacin is the only vitamin that is never toxic when properly used. Niacin that has added ingredients, and formulated to be a "time-release" version, is toxic in large dosages. I spent three years working at Narconon. Never once did I see anyone given altered niacin, or have any physical difficulties with the heat of the the lower-regulated heat saunas. All of the participants had to have signed okay from the on-site doctor to be approved for the program. The thing is that environmental chemicals and the chemicals in our food does affect the way we think, feel, and will even cause feelings of depression for some. The mind and body work together. You can do one thing to one of them and not affect the other. This is also explains why psych drugs backfire. A psych drug can make you feel happier by pushing all of your "happy chemicals" in to your system, but it will be a a short-term effect because the body will eventually suffer from the effects of the drugs, and the brain-mind-emotional connection will suffer too...
Four days later, Miglio sent another message, this one in response to our short piece about Lori Hodgson, who went through the nightmare of having her teenaged children "disconnect" from her when she left Scientology:
Tony, I don't know Lori but I can say she was declared an SP because of her antagonism to the church. It is one thing to say, "Scientology is not for me" but quite another thing to be come a combatant antagonistic to the rest of us Scientologist. There are plenty of former Scientologists not declared. After all, you, yourself, that we have so many people leaving the church, but I say then where are all these untold numbers of suppressive person declares? I have quoted more about this issue from one of our websites: "A person declared a Suppressive Person is extremely rare and results in expulsion from the Scientology religion. This occurs in instances of serious offenses against the Scientology faith and can also occur when an individual is found to be actively working to suppress the well-being of others. This can be done through criminal acts already recognized by society as unlawful or through the commitment of acts deemed Suppressive Acts in the Scientology Justice Codes -- which includes the Suppressive Act of publicly renouncing the faith, an act which in Scientology, as well as almost every religion, is grounds for automatic expulsion." "When someone has been expelled from the religion, that person loses both his or her fellowship with the Church as well as with other Scientologists. The condition lasts until they have been restored to good standing. Once the person has been restored to good standing, the prohibition against fellowship with other Scientologists is lifted. Similar practices have been part of religious communities for thousands of years and have been recognized by courts of law as a fundamental right." I hope Lori will come to her senses, knock off her suppressive denial, make amends, and rejoin her family. Any questions? Comments?
Questions? Comments? No doubt our commenters will have plenty, Mark. And keep those letters coming!
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
#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.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE
[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?]
[Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]
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]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]
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]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]
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
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]
[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]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]
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]
[Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]