Scientology's Grand Scheme of Greed Was Kickstarted by the 9/11 Attacks -- St. Pete Times

It's here -- part 3 of the new St. Petersburg Times blockbuster series about the extreme pressure Scientology puts on its members to donate money.

And we're thrilled to see this video of Synthia Fagen anchoring the report about the International Association of Scientologists and its constant begging for cash.

It was Fagen who alerted us this week to that fly new hip hop video put out by the Copenhagen branch of the IAS. If you haven't seen it yet, you really must.

There's a lot to absorb in this new installment in the series, which focuses on the IAS's hard-sell tactics, as well as the "Ideal Org" building boom.

And here's another unsavory detail: If Scientology has always been money-mad, the pressures of the last decade have been off the charts as church leader David Miscavige decided to use the 9/11 attacks as a new call to action.

The push for new cash has meant both more buildings and huge reserves for the IAS:

The Ideal Orgs drive has more than doubled the church's real estate holdings worldwide in terms of square footage. And the IAS has collected at least $250 million just since 2006, according to a Times analysis of the organization's published membership rosters.

Fagen told the Times that she left the church in 2009 after the push for money just became too much:

Church members were getting multiple calls each day -- a dozen, two dozen, sometimes many more, Fagen said, echoing numerous others interviewed for this story. Workers from various church entities called, each with their own quotas, cajoling and pestering.

Tobin and Childs also smartly pointed out that all of this high-pressure fundraising runs afoul of the best practices of the country's more legitimate tax-exempt organizations. In an informative sidebar, they point out that normal non-profits bend over backwards to show exactly how much money they raise and how it is spent. Even donors of large amounts in Scientology are told little about how their money is spent, and they don't receive financial reports from the church.

The St. Pete Times series is as explosive as we hoped it would be, and we are looking forward to even more installments. (We're going to stop predicting how many more are coming, and when, given our miserable track record so far.) But we also wanted to mention something we meant to days ago: Mike Rinder added his own remarkable contribution to the series with something he wrote at Marty Rathbun's blog.

In the piece, Rinder talks about how the IAS catered to Miscavige's expensive tastes. But it was what he said about "The Basics" that really caught my eye:

We had a time machine order from Miscavige to get a book done EACH DAY. It also included putting together a glossary for each book. This of course was insane, made doubly so by the fact that Jon [Horwich] and I were spending almost as much time answering questions from Miscavige's personal staff and his other sycophants demanding to know what we had done and whether we would "meet the TM" as we were working on the books. In the end, people were assigned to stand over us to keep us awake - we were sleeping a maximum of 2 hours a nite...

That's quite a different picture than the one Miscavige gave at the 2007 gala when he introduced the book project. He made it sound like teams of scholars had been working Hubbard's books for months. Sounds like he may have been more interested in rapidly putting together a set of materials he could sell for $3,000 a pop than in the textual scholarship he pretended was so important...

Anyway, another great chapter for Tobin and Childs on the irrepressible fundraiser at the IAS. After reading this, the words of the immortal Chill EB now take on a different cast, don't they?

We the unstoppable flood.
See, cuz we the IAS.


UPDATE: We have found it curious that the St. Pete Times is so tight-lipped about the schedule of its series. But today, we were given an explanation which might make a lot of sense. We're told by our Clearwater-area readers that on the mornings that a new installment in the series comes out, Sea Org members are mobilized before dawn to buy up every loose copy of the newspaper in order to keep the larger public from seeing the articles. In the age of the Internet, this doesn't make a lot of sense, but it might explain why Childs and Tobin's editors don't like to tip off the church too far in advance.

If it's true that Scientologists are out before dawn buying up piles of papers, I sure would like to get video of it!


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] [Thursday 2pm Stats!] | [Scientology vs. South Park]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"]
[Tom Cruise and Baby Suri embarrassed by news item, so someone must pay]
[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

[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]
[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]
[Australian farmer blamed for giving Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, loses her friends, family]

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!]



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