Scientology's Worlds Colliding: Bert Leahy and David Edgar Love Together in Oklahoma on August 25!
To even begin to explain why it's significant that a Texas man named Bert Leahy and a Montreal man named David Edgar Love are going to meet up in the godforsaken town of Canadian, Oklahoma on August 25 would probably strain most news organizations.
But we have an advantage: Bert Leahy and David Love are both stars of this blog, and our readers will know exactly why their meeting should send shivers down the spines of the executives who run Scientology's embattled drug treatment program, Narconon.
First, the reason why people concerned about Narconon will be gathering to protest its flagship facility in Oklahoma: people are dropping dead there.
Three deaths just since October is a frightful record for a quack drug treatment center that lures unsuspecting people (typically stressed out parents looking for a place to send their drug-abusing kids) without being up front about its real purpose -- as a front group for Scientology.
Using generic-looking websites that say nothing about Scientology to hoodwink parents and judges who have no idea that they're sentencing vulnerable people to a completely unscientific treatment program, Narconon gouges patients for about $25,000 for a month of indoctrination and dangerous doses of niacin. (See this excellent article written last year by Mark Ebner for some of the science that debunks Narconon's lies.)
In Quebec, David Love was once a patient of Narconon and then briefly a worker there when he gained access to the center's records and learned to his horror that not only were Narconon's claims to an 80 percent success rate completely bogus, but also that patients were being fed Scientology's concepts so they could be recruited by the church. He left, and took with him thousands of documents. He spent the next two and a half years explaining Narconon to Quebec officials, who shut down the center this past April. Love is continuing to pursue investigations of Narconon and Scientology in Canada, but now he's turning his attention to Narconon's flagship in Oklahoma.
Bert Leahy, on the other hand, comes from a completely different soggy patch of the festering swamp that Scientology is sinking into.
Last year, Bert played an incredibly important role in the 5-month siege by Scientologists assigned to harass ex-church official Marty Rathbun at his home near Corpus Christi. A freelance videographer, Leahy was hired for a couple of days to be part of the "Squirrel Busters" team whose goal, they were told, was to "make Marty's life a living hell." Leahy realized that the job wasn't film making so much as a goon squad to torment a guy just because he no longer worked for the church, so he quit, and then blew the whistle on the Scientology private eye running the operation, Dave Lubow.
We followed the saga of the Squirrel Busters last year -- easily one of the most outrageous, and ultimately futile, examples of Scientology's legendary penchant for retaliation and dirty tricks -- but now the story is getting to the mainstream media. Leahy was featured on a recent episode of Rock Center on NBC, which we were glad to see.
And now, these two very different people from such different parts of the Scientology story are coming together in Oklahoma on August 25. Leahy's going to bring his film making skills to the event and Love, well, he's just going to be David Love.
Bogus "Real Water" Hooks Up With Scientology!
One of my favorite parts of the movie Idiocracy comes near the end when Luke Wilson's character tries to point out to the cabinet members of the White House in our very stupid future that the reason America's crops are failing is that they've been watering plants with an energy drink called Brawndo.
The cabinet members react with utter incredulity: "But it has electrolytes!"
I had hoped those days were far in the future, but apparently they are already here. A Nevada company is trying to prove that you can't overestimate the lack of science knowledge in the American public by selling its "Real Water" with the idea that its product has "more electrons."
I'm not kidding. The Guardian had fun debunking this nonsense on its science pages. A sample....
In an attempt to blind the reader with science, there are reams of misplaced claims and pseudo-facts. Take the claim that "many food and beverages ... are devoid of electrons" -- which would make them an entirely new state of matter.
One look at Real Water's website should give you an indication that this product is aimed at people with room temperature IQs.
Anyway, our eagle-eyed friends managed to spot a grocery display of Real Water that showed the company has hooked up with Scientology. It lists as one of the charities that benefits from Real Water sales the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, which is Scientology's anti-Psychiatry attack group...
Well, I guess in this case these two were made for each other. And just try explaining to the genius you find drinking this stuff that it's directly benefiting Scientology. You're probably going to get this...
"But it's got electrons!"
Another Look at Tom Cruise and Disconnection
On July 10, we gave Tom DeVocht credit for raising a stink about Tom Cruise and his "visitation rights" with his daughter Suri and his ex-wife, Katie.
Ex-Scientologists rightly pointed out the hypocrisy about the way Tom was being treated by the church: they would surely like "visitation rights" with the people that have been ripped out of their lives because of Scientology's policy of "disconnection."
Our story generated a remarkable response from our ex-Scientologist readers, who listed for us the people taken away from them because of disconnection. (We collected those stories later that week.)
We're happy to see that now, this story is getting wider attention. Dana Kennedy at The Hollywood Reporter has a lengthy piece out today explaining why this double standard is so galling.
Give it a read.
Scientology on the High Seas!
In November the Voice obtained hundreds of copies of L. Ron Hubbard's previously unpublished "Orders of the Day," which he gave to crew members as he sailed the Atlantic and the Mediterranean on the yacht Apollo. Our documents cover the period from late 1968 through 1971, and this time we're looking at what was happening the week of July 22 - 28 during those years.
This week, the Commodore smashes Smersh and sets sail...
July 25: Diana puts her foot down.
LIESE EELLS and BILL GREENWALT are hereby separated.
Their relationship has proved contrary to good order and therefore MUST cease.
Lt. Cmdr Diana Hubbard
July 26: LRH loves abusing Smersh.
Smersh just lost half of its suit on us. It was suing us for defamation of its character.
The sum of the result will probably be the judge's questions "What character?"
Part of the evidence of the next part of the suit was a restricted issue of an Ed they stole out of an org!
Charles Parselle is doing a great job on Legal in the UK.
The Guardian's Office is going at its usual TERRIFIC! over the world.
July 28: LRH is feeling upstat...
WE SAIL AT 1600 TODAY regardless of barometer (which is falling) waves (which are rising) and restraint of Rulers and Princes (there are no restraints) Perils of the Sea (which are only too real) and Acts of God (means things you can't figure out how you goofed).
Standby to take on Dramamine (called so because it keeps one from "drama"-tizing).
Secure everything and tie down everything except the watch.
In short let's get the blue blazes out of here!
After L. Ron Hubbard had moved HQ from the yacht Apollo to the Florida coast, Advance! magazine was thrilling Scientologists with tales of "OT Phenomena." Those church members who had reached the higher levels of spiritual training shared their stories of superhuman powers with fellow dupes -- er, enthusiasts. This excerpt is from Issue 42, November/December 1976. (And another cover featuring a photo by the Commodore, which is so awful, we've provided an even bigger version of it, which will appear if you click on it.)
I am a mailman in Santa Monica, California and being an OT, I can say I am very much at cause over my area. Before I crossed the Bridge to Clear and OT the environment at work had moments where it was out of my control and I became the effect and would get very upset. You know what I mean...natter, antagonism, covert hostility, etc. etc.
But I took a slight leave and returned as an OT and now everyone else is very nice. That's only half of it. Today while delivering mail, I casually flipped someone's magazine on his porch and it landed with one corner curled under. It didn't look nice and neat so I thought, "Gee, I'd like to see it lying flat!"
Then the edge of the magazine lifted up and uncurled about half-way, then stopped. I thought, "Wow, that was pretty neat...do it again!" Then the corner lifted up once more and the magazine uncurled until it was completely flat.
I smiled satisfactorily and proceeded to finish my appointed rounds. -- Mike Doughty, OT
What is it like being an OT? As an OT I am aware of being that which I am, in limitless abundance: an awareness unit in communication with everything. My own natural goodness and good will to all dynamics has been restored. This is the realm of "no-stops," no suppression, no vias, no uncertainty, no other determinisms, no reactivity, only effortless activity.
This is the glimpse I am trying to give you "out there" of the State of OT and what it has meant for me and what it perhaps may mean to you. -- Peter Hallan, OT
I just love the idea of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars so I can develop the power to keep my magazines crease-free. But I hope these OT Phenomena start picking up. That second one gives you some idea of how generic they've been sounding through these issues. It's almost like you get to the OT levels and it just gives you a boost in confidence or something. And where's the fun in that?
Big stories coming, so please be patient. If I can get the cats in the underground bunker to settle down, I may have a super-juicy, monster-length piece for your weekend reading prepared for tomorrow morning. And then next week, the breaking news should start happening again. I can feel it.
Scientology's president and the death of his son: our complete coverage
What Katie is saving Suri from: Scientology interrogation of kids
Scientology's new defections: Hubbard's granddaughter and Miscavige's dad
Scientology's disgrace: our open letter to Tom Cruise
Scientology crumbling: An entire mission defects as a group
Scientology leader David Miscavige's vanished wife: Where's Shelly?
Neil Gaiman, 7, Interviewed About Scientology by the BBC in 1968
The Master Screenplay: Scientology History from Several Different Eras
And a post that pulls together the best of our Scientology reporting
Please check out our Facebook author page for updates and schedules.
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 email@example.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 was 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.