Writers of the Future, Today! Scientology Gets Its Party On

Oh my, do we have a treat for you today. For several weeks now, we've been reporting on the "L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future" contest. For several years, certain writers have questioned the connection between the contest and Scientology, which owns and operates it. And recently, we dug up surprising links between the contest and shocking abuse allegedly happening at Scientology's international headquarters.

Tonight, the contest will celebrate its big annual gala. All week, Scientology has been treating a new set of winners to workshops and dinners. And it all culminates with the big party this evening. Get a load of last year's dance number (above), which we're told dramatizes the winning stories of 2011. Interpretive dance! This party is off the hook!

As we told you last week, the church is pulling out all the stops this year, and tonight's show will feature some really big names -- Nancy Cartwright and Karen Black!

Can't get to the Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Hollywood for tonight's event? Fear not! You can watch it live, with us, by following this link to this year's netcast!

Barring any unforeseen problems with the broadcast, please join us in the comments section as we do some live commenting on this evening's gala. Our excellent commenting community, with its deep knowledge of the church, should have some insights on tonight's doings.

Before that begins, we want to make one thing very clear: this year's winners deserve their accolades. The contest itself, we've pointed out from the beginning, brings together some of the best names in science fiction and fantasy, and those judges select the winners based on the merit of their work.

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Here are this year's writers and their workshop leaders as they began this week's series of workshops and celebrations.

UPDATE: OK, I think I have these folks figured out now. As Rachel Denk pointed out to me in the comments, these are just the writers, who arrived a day or two before the illustrators. And now I think I have them identified -- so choose a favorite and during tonight's show we can pull for our picks to win the as-yet unrevealed top prize!

Back row, left to right: Gerald Warfield (2nd place, 1st quarter, Texas), Nick Chan (2nd place, 2nd quarter, Sydney), Scott Barnes (2nd place, 4th quarter, California), William Mitchell (1st place, 3rd quarter, UK), William Ledbetter (1st place, 2nd quarter, Texas), Jacob Boyd (3rd place, 3rd quarter, Oregon), David Carani (1st place, 4th quarter, Illinois), Roy Hardin (Finalist, 2nd quarter, Florida), Harry Lang (3rd place, 1st quarter, Pennsylvania)

Front row, left to right: Meghan Muriel (2nd place, 3rd quarter, Texas), Corry Lee (3rd place, 2nd quarter, Washington), Nina Kiriki Hoffman (judge), Tim Powers (judge), Marie Croke (1st place, 1st quarter, Maryland) Tom Doyle (3rd place, 4th quarter, Washington DC)

As writer Carl Frederick pointed out to me earlier, these winners will be treated better than any other time in their careers.

And long about the time they're being fitted for tuxedos...

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...they might wonder how a literary agency has so much money to throw such a lavish party.

Well, we're just grateful that we'll be along for the ride tonight! We believe that festivities will begin at 6:30 pm Pacific Time.

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Scientology Sunday Funnies!

Just about every day, we receive the latest wacky and tacky fundraising mailers put out by Scientology orgs around the world. Thank you, tipsters, for forwarding them to us! On Sundays, we love to reveal them to you.

Our first flier from Portland, Oregon, and it's sweet!

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This next one from Plymouth, England is really quite a mess. What do pirates and bricks have to do with each other? And that awful grid laid over a photo? Honestly, there's just too much going on in this fundraising appeal. Simplify! Simplify!

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This is a new one on me. Can somebody help me understand what the San Fernando Valley org means by "Her Royal Governor"? At least her highness is willing to match your donation, dollar for dollar. Where's my wallet!

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Marty Rathbun beat me to this one, but it bears repeating for its utter crassness...

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BONUS VIDEO SUNDAY FUNNY!

We've had a lot of fun with the Orange County org this week. You have to hand it to these folks for pure enthusiasm and excitement as they prepare to open their Ideal Org in Santa Ana. Here's OC executive director Ed Dearborn promoting a Doingness Congress where you'll learn to "disseminate to any upstat person," and he's even more excited to announce that Santa Ana's police department is fully stoked to be working with Scientology to fight drugs!

We haven't seen this much excitement coming out of an org since Melbourne. Hey Ed, when is OC Day going to get its own Rap Battle Team?


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Commenters of the Week!

We started things off last Easter Sunday with some thoughts about the lengthy profile of Marty Rathbun by Guy Adams in The Independent, and also threw in a fun collection of Sunday Funnies.

BroekerBroekerBroeker noticed something unusual on one of the fliers, a reference to a policy letter written by Hubbard five years after his death...

The LRH quote on the Volunteer Minister Convention flyer appears to come from an HCO PL dated 21 Feb *1991*. He is risen?

Mark Stark also noticed something odd about it...

The new risen Elron writes in sentences that aren't a paragraph long, too. Very suspicious.

Mimsey_borogrove, like us, found the San Diego's latest flier to be about as tacky as they come...

I love the San Diego Titanic promo piece. How ironic, unsinkable Scienology steaming full speed ahead to save the world with its technology hasn't seen the iceberg ahead, while many of its passengers are jumping ship and swimming for shore. How apropos. Good luck with that course you've chosen Captain Miscavage, sir!

On Tuesday, we discussed the lyrics in Lisa Marie Presley's new single, "You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet," which sure look to us like a big middle finger salute to Scientology. Four additional videos -- including a rather nutty one from the Orange County org -- rounded out the post.

We finished the entry with a salute to Mike Wallace by looking back at his 60 Minutes profile of Paulette Cooper.

Naturally, we were thrilled to see Paulette respond!

60 Minutes was notorious for making people look bad so I was nervous after I was interviewed by Mike Wallace -- who off and on camera was cold as ice. So I said to the producer before the show aired, "I know you can't tell me how I come off in the final segment, but I'd like to have a dinner party that night and if I'm going to come out as someone sinister fighting the great Scientology (and remember that in those days it didn't have the reputation it has now) then please tell me so I'm not embarrassed in front of my friends." And the producer said "have your dinner party."

Scientia was one of many commenters who agreed with us that Lisa Marie had to know that her new song would raise serious questions about her relationship to the church...

LMP must have known this was how her song would be interpreted, and the resulting flap it will likely cause. Even if it isn't about the "church" (which seems doubtful) she clearly doesn't care about the PR ramifications. A definite middle-finger however you look at it.

Mat Pesch provided some information that sounded very familiar....

My brother (a Scientologist) worked for Lisa for 7 years as the body guard for her and her family. He loved them very much and loved his job, with one exception: He was routinely pulled into the "church" and put on the e-meter and made to disclose the details of Lisa's life and those of her acquaintances. He felt he was being forced to betray a friend.

Many commenters were tickled by the Orange County org's use of a koi fish to convince people to join Scientology staff, which Miles Biondo ran with...

I originally joined staff because a fish told me to. Some time later, after the fish convinced me to invest in a time-share condo in Boca Raton and to campaign for Rick Santorum, I came to regret my inexplicable obedience to a fish I didn't really even know that well.

Thursday morning, we tossed together a bonus post after tipsters clued us into the existence of an OC Ideal Org YouTube channel! Oh, these videos were precious.

Guest2 seemed to catch the general reaction...

Can't imagine doing anything more fun on an Easter Sunday than going through 160,000 files of people that don't ever want to hear from Scientology again. What a blast!

Once again, Jefferson Hawkins gave us an education about what we were seeing, and this time he gave us two doses of wisdom...

The obsession with "Central Files" goes all the way to the top. In fact it started with Hubbard. He instructed Orgs to never retire files unless the person was dead or a declared SP -- and even then they go into an inactive category -- but they keep the file. According to the Scientology mindset, there is no such thing as an ex-Scientologist. Seriously. There are only "active Scientologists" and "inactive Scientologists." Everyone who has ever been contacted is "on the Bridge." If they are "not active" then they are "stalled on the Bridge" and need to be contacted and gotten back in and "moved up the Bridge." Seriously, this is how they look at those piles and piles of folders. They are all "thetans" who need to be salvaged and gotten back on the Bridge. Never mind that they only bought a book in 1987 and never did anything further, they still must be gotten "back on their Bridge." In the marketing department, we were constantly browbeaten about the high percentage of "Scientologists" who were "inactive." It never occurred to us that these were not "inactive Scientologists" but EX-Scientologists (or never-Scientologists). So this whole "Central Files" thing is a sort of a holy crusade to salvage errant thetans who have stalled on the superhighway to total freedom. Really, these videos are a great example of the sort of mind-f**k that goes on. People are indoctrinated into seeing these files as the magic formula to "Clear the Planet" -- not as a bunch of paperwork documenting Scientology's high rate of failure. So you get people coming in on Sundays -- or that one poor woman coming in in the middle of the night while her husband and children sleep. Sign her up for the Sea Org! I've seen the numbers, and I can tell you that about 85% to 90% of people who buy a book or take a personality test are never heard from again -- so they remain eternally trapped in a file folder, waiting for a dedicated Scientologist to find them sometime in the middle of the night and prod them back on to the "only road to total freedom" with calls and mailings. A rather pathetic waste of time and money....

A few added thoughts: It is axiomatic in Scientology that if the "tech" doesn't work, then it wasn't applied properly. This crazy bit of circular logic is hard-wired into every Scientologist. Scientology ALWAYS works, and if it doesn't, then it wasn't properly done -- it "wasn't Scientology." Every success is attributed to the brilliance of Hubbard's "tech," and every failure is blamed on the errors of individuals who are "not correctly applying it." Scientologists become very adept at explaining away failure -- "he had misunderstood," "she was PTS," "there was out-tech on the case" and so on ad infinitum. Thus, these 160,000 people in their Central Files are not seen as failures of Hubbard's tech, but as failures of application. If ONLY they could get them in for a case repair. If ONLY they could get them in and word-clear them on the book they read, THEN they would, of course, see the brilliance of Hubbard's tech. This is how they can explain away an 85% to 90% failure rate. This is how the Independent Scientologists explain away the utter collapse of the entire Church of Scientology -- what the Church is currently doing is "not Scientology." I have a few Independent Scientologist friends who are convinced that all I need is a good case repair and I'd come running back to the fold. As if my 35 years spent in the cult pursuing all that was promised on "the Bridge" wasn't an adequate trial run. But this is a bit of circular logic that is nearly impossible to get past. You can bet they will be combing these folders for "out tech" and will be urging these poor people to come in for a repair or a word clearing session to get them fixed up and corrected and "back on the Bridge." They cannot accept, of even see, that for the bulk of people who contact Scientology, it does nothing for them.

On Friday, we had news about those slimy, anonymous websites that attack former church members -- Scientology spokeswoman Karin Pouw admitted a direct connection to them!

Mimi The Great reacted to the way Lori Hodgson's private information was used by one website to embarrass her.

It INFURIATES me to my core to see this pseudo "church" attack my best friend over and over again in pathetic pursuit of what? Retaliation? Disconnecting her from the two most important people in her life,her children, wasn't enough? This "church" is nothing but cruel, demented and an expensive way to be mind fucked.

It was also good to hear from Bruce Hines, who pointed out that Karin Pouw's gaffe was not of her own doing...

I'm pretty sure, based on my experiences at the Int base, that Karin Pouw does *not* have the authority to pen and then send something like this to a reporter without getting it approved by some higher-ups. I doubt further that someone in OSA Int (which is "upper middle" management, as opposed to "upper" management) could approve such a missive. We haven't seen her answer questions from the media in person. It's possible that someone else wrote the letter for her. She will probably become a scapegoat.

And finally, we'll finish with another Ivy Mapother classic who, when Jefferson Hawkins pointed out that he'd never been to see the "WhoIsJeffHawkins" website that's set up to attack him, went to look on his behalf...

I checked out "your site." The good news is you oppose the designated hitter rule and the bad news is you may have shot JR. There's some other crap but it appears to be written by third graders. Sleep well.

You people slay me, you really do.

Remember to check at our Facebook author page for schedules and announcements. We have a particular treat planned for you this week, and we'll drop more hints as it nears.


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Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at tortega@villagevoice.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.

As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and is now being sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.



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