Video from the Memorial of Alexander Jentzsch; Also: Scientology Commenters of the Week
Filmmaker Mark Bunker put together this video of Friday's memorial held for Alexander Jentzsch aboard the ship Spirit out of Long Beach Harbor in California.
It's a simple event with a few people on a boat. But don't underestimate its significance. Since she sent out a message to thousands of Scientologists about the death of her son, Karen de la Carriere tells me that she's hearing from many people inside the church who are appalled at how she's been treated. And here at the Voice, since Karen sent her mass mailing, we've also experienced a big increase in the number of church members contacting us under the radar.
A programming note: This has been such an overwhelming couple of weeks, our regular tipsters were apparently too busy reading Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes articles to forward us any Scientology fliers. For that reason, "Scientology Sunday Funnies" is on hiatus until I get some fun new stuff in the mail.
Why that's a good thing: This installment of Commenters of the Week may be the best ever.
Commenters of the Week!
Let's run down the week: on Sunday morning, we explored the wild fun of whole track Scientology marriage counseling -- what did your spouse do to you an another planet a million years ago? The answer could save your marriage! Sunday afternoon, Marty Rathbun predicted that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes would quickly settle their divorce in ways that would recall the Debbie Cook case. We thought of another parallel -- L. Ron Hubbard's second marriage. On Monday, we broke the news that Karen de la Carriere had sent out a message about the death of her son Alexander Jentzsch to more than 10,000 Scientologists. On Tuesday, we looked at how well our predictions of the divorce settlement had held up to the real thing, and also prepared for the inevitable church media onslaught. Tuesday afternoon, we got a huge reaction when we pointed out the hypocrisy that Tom Cruise would not have to disconnect from his ex-wife and child (who were obvious SPs) like so many other Scientologists whose families have been ripped apart by the church. Wednesday evening, we reported that Scientology had relented and was now planning to hold a memorial for Alexander Jentzsch, and was allowing Alexander's father, Heber Jentzsch, to leave its secretive desert base to attend. Thursday, we answered the question of how young Scientology kids first get auditing with information from one of the church's own websites showing that young kids, toddlers, and even infants begin their church indoctrination. Friday morning we expressed some disappointment that the Los Angeles Times, once one of the best sources of investigative reporting on Scientology, had published a puff piece of mysterious proportions. Friday afternoon, we responded to news stories that Scientology is going to start its own TV station by revealing its Fall lineup. And on Saturday, we posted some photos from Karen de la Carriere's memorial for her son, and also discussed Scientology's tax-exempt status.
Whew! I need some sleep.
And now, some of the excellent commentary that happened this week.
Mat Pesch on the church's claim that Shelly Miscavige isn't, in fact, missing.
Of course Shelly isn't missing! How could she be "missing". She has a "friend" who never loses sight of her. She lives in a fenced, secure compound up in the mountains. After about 40 years in the cult she has no one to run to on the outside. Her ID, passport and money is kept locked away in a safe so she doesn't accidentally lose it in the compound. All her communication to the outside world is censored. She is happy as a caged monkey in an experimental lab. Anyone that says she is missing is a liar!
Ivy Mapother piles on...
Scientology has set the record straight: Shelly Miscavige is not missing and is hard at work. In the same catagory, Lisa McPherson just had the wind knocked out of her and she's doing much better now.
wannabeclear on Karen de la Carriere taking a page from the Debbie Cook playbook...
The fact that Karen gathered the e-mail addresses from "sympathetic Scientologists" is further proof of the crumbling veneer of the organization. Despite the repeated warnings to not read any "entheta," human beings can't help themselves and this message will get to thousands of people where it will act as a mighty chisel in the wall of cognitive dissonance that's been built up in their minds by the "tech." Never underestimate the power of a grieving mother...
1subgenius also noted that power...
The Moms are bringing the cult down. Ida Cambourn Katie Holmes Karen de la Carriere Astra Woodcraft Anonmomanon
Jenny makes an astute observation about the media firestorm...
It's been about18 months since I first came across articles about the Sea Org and Lisa McPherson on the Internet (as someone with no connection to Scientology). It's quite surreal to now hear the ABC discussing sec checking.
Jefferson Hawkins captures the moment...
Good on Karen for communicating to thousands of current Scientologists via her e-mail. Debbie Cook's e-mail had a huge impact, Scientologists are not supposed to read these things of course, but the "thought-stopping" is starting to break down, with the continuing defection of so many well-respected leading Scientologists.
Any other organization, faced with such an onslaught of negative media, would deploy its PR troops to handle. They would be all over the media. But there are NO Scientologists speaking out. None. One might ask, if they really do have "millions" of members (they don't) where are they? Why are they silent? Every media interview I've done in the past week, they said they had contacted the Church for a statement or to talk to a spokesperson -- but the Church was silent. Why?
Well, they would never allow any rank-and-file Scientologists to do media. They would have to answer for the lies, abuse and fraud of the Church, and believe me, the Church does not want them to know anything about that, let alone have to justify it. As for "official" spokespeople -- they have run out of them. Tommy Davis has disappeared, Heber is imprisoned. What "official statements" trickle out these days are from hired lawyers.
Why doesn't David Miscavige himself do interviews? Well, the bottom line is, he is a coward. His personality is that of a perennial adolescent, a middle-school bully. He's like a petty crime boss, getting his way through threats, intimidation and violence, extorting money through a "protection racket" -- "give me money and you won't be declared." But when he has to answer for or defend his actions, he disappears. He only appears before tame, carefully vetted audiences where he can read carefully scripted remarks from a teleprompter, and where no one will question or challenge him. His adolescent idea of effective PR is "Mad Magazine" -- which is what his "Freedom" magazine has become -- just look at the cover. Fortunately, more and more Scientologists are waking up to exactly who their Fearless Leader is.
CofS Exit Zone notes the difference between the appeals by Debbie Cook and Karen de la Carriere...
It is very encouraging to hear of the outpouring of support Karen is receiving. With Debbie Cook's e-mail blast, the context was much more direct and hit the recipients close to home with a ton of self-evident disclosures that seemingly caused many people to realize what was happening to them personally. Whereas Karen's e-mail is eliciting a selfless response of compassion and empathy, with disclosures that make an example out of Karen herself in regards to what she is going through.
Skip Press on the great love story that is having a big impact...
Just watched the Tanja and Stefan Castle story. Harrowing and heartwarming how he stuck it out and saved her. This was Micavige's secretary and he treated her that way? Those doggone "apostates" rebelling again.
Herod makes an interesting point...
I think part of a the legal definition of a religion should be that it can be practiced without electricity.
Our story pointing out the hypocrisy of the Tom Cruise divorce settlement generated a huge response. Ex-Scientologists howled when they learned that Cruise would have "visitation rights" with his daughter -- when so many ex-church members are barred from having anything to do with their family members because of Scientology's policy of "disconnection." We asked readers to tell us who they wish they had visitation rights to see, and their responses hit us in the gut...
Windhorsegallery: I would like my friend Pat to have visitation rights with her daughter Tara who he hasn't seen since he left in 2000. She was born in the Sea Org and was sent to Clearwater when she was 14 or so. Patrick was at Gold when he left.
Victoriapandora: I would like to communicate with my best, most fun friend ever; Jeannie. But she is still in and runs a Narconon centre. Perhaps I am remiss in not contacting her, when our own Dan Locke was sweet enough to find her information for me only recently. I didn't want to upset her world with what I know. Or maybe I just didn't want to be rejected. A little of both.
El Jeffe: I have a son that I would like to communicate with as well as numerous friends I made in the "Church" over 28 years. Disconnection is voluntary? I don't think so. They have no choice or right to question this policy. The church's stance is, "Do it our way or hit the highway." You either disconnect or get declared an SP yourself.
Savanna: I would like to have visitation rights with my mother and sister. My mother is Ann Teutsch, an IAS registrar at Flag and my sister Luanda Gouessan is at Gold. I was very fortunate to have an extended family outside of Scientology who bent over backwards to help get me out at the age of 18. It never crossed my mind that I would be declared an SP simply for leaving.
Sue: Years ago my sister sent a disconnection letter to our family, she has since left the church. About a year ago I had lunch with an OT4 or 5 and mentioned it -- "Oh that doesn't go on anymore," she said. When I got home from lunch she had blocked me from her Facebook page, and hung up on me when I called.
Marc Headley: I'd like to see my sister, my mother, my half brother, my two sister in-laws and brother in-law. Also, it would be cool if my wife would be allowed to see her parents and her family members. They have all been told to disconnect from us because I was one of the first to tell about the abuses at the Int Base. Originally, the Scientology organization told our families that these were all lies and that no one was ever abused. Then they admitted that abuse took place but blamed it on someone who had since who left. They never went back and told anyone that what they had originally claimed were lies from me had actually occurred.
Bruce Hines: I would like to have visitation rights with my nieces and my brother-in-law (their dad). I would like my son to have visitation rights with his mom (my ex).
Michael Leonard Tilse: I want to see, hug and talk to these dear friends disconnected from me by the insane policies of Scientology: Sarah Lorien Leslie, my ex wife. Rachel Rausch Johnson, my friend. Nancy Dillingham, my friend. Larry Gentry, my friend. Paula Michel, my friend. Alice Pero, my friend. Eric Johnson, my friend. Sky and Arwen Dayton. My friends. Lance Jensen, my friend. Alex T., my coworker from ELNK. Charlie Armstrong, my friend and course supervisor. Charleen Dumas, my friend. Stan Tabor, my fellow student. David Berman, supervisor. Paige Kemper, my friend. Jeanie Baer, my friend. Michael Henderson, my friend. Many others... I have not contacted them, out of respect for their decision, but I miss them...
scnethics: It's a humbling thought that just a year ago, I could have been on somebody's list here. I want open visitation rights with all the SPs I've connected and reconnected with since waking up from Scientology. As a Scientologist still in good standing with the church (ha ha, fuck you OSA), it all has to be under
the radar. Can't wait for the day when I don't have to worry about losing family to disconnection anymore.
Ramana Dienes-Browning: When I was in the Sea Org I knew so many people who had not seen or talked to their non-Scientology parents in years. It was almost like it was a sign of how dedicated or hard-core you were as a Sea Org Member to be disconnected from one or more of your parents. It makes me sick to think about it. Now since I have left Scientology and spoken out I have lost contact with my older brother, my childhood friends and now facing losing my mother.
Derek Bloch: Here are some names of people that I would like to reconnect with: Darren Bloch, Theresa Bloch, Alexander Bloch, Sarah Bloch, Stephanie Carey, Cal Cole, Sydney Thomas-Thompson, Sean Thompson, Sando Bendig, Brandon Pick, Joaquin Quintero. Let's hope some people are as fond of Googling themselves as I am.
Thank you to all of our readers who shared with us their wish for visitation rights.
AnonMomAnon commented on the church relenting to media pressure and holding a memorial for Alexander Jentzsch...
Once again a mother's love brings the cult of Scientology to its knees.
Vistaril noted how unusual that decision was...
Wow! That's a change. There was no memorial service for L Ron Hubbard's son Quentin, no memorial service for L Ron Hubbard's third wife Mary Sue, and no memorial service for the person who nursed L Ron Hubbard in his final days, Annie Tidman. How wonderful to know Scientology is now at effect to the media's cause. MOAR!
HeatherGraceful put Scientology's jargon to good use...
Miscavige is at effect. Karen is at cause.
Kate Bornstein gave us some background on the Mace-Kingsley Ranch School...
My ex-wife, Molly, was at one point in charge of the Mace-Kingsley school, back when it was located out in the desert in New Mexico. No way for kids to escape. Nowhere to run but desert, where they'd surely die. Molly was a stern and strict task master, but I'd bet anything she didn't do any sexual bad stuff w the kids -- unlike the guy who was in charge before she took over. I don't know if my daughter Jessica was still living with Molly at the time. I think Jessica had joined staff elsewhere.
I met a young man on the Ex-Scientologists Message Board who'd been sent by his parents to Mace-Kinglsely. It was an expensive private school for parents to send their SP children, or lazy children, or children who refused to learn the tech, or children that parents just didn't want to be bothered with. Parents paid thousands of dollars to RPF their children. The history of the place is easily found with a couple of clicks. Damn, damn, damn.
XenuCombusts on Thursday's puff piece in the L. A. Times....
Scientology might have gotten a smooch from the L.A. Times, but then promptly got a swift kick in the behind by NBC, Brian Williams and "Rock Center." The tide's a changing and all because Operation Free Katie was a roaring success.
Lordbuckly dug our ideas for Scientology TV...
The Caltech mutiny video is the greatest Church of Scientology video of all time. Needs its own Emmy category. Wow!
Barb Snow also recognized the greatness of El Ron's tale...
It is so unfair that no one outside Scientology would give the great LRH the credit he deserves for all the times he has saved humanity.
And finally, several readers told us how they marked the death of Alexander Jentzsch with some solidarity with his mother, Karen de la Carriere...
anne: Flowers were tossed in the Atlantic for Alexander yersterday and my pics were sent. Surf, sand dunes and shared sorrow.
Robert Eckert: I threw lilac petals into Lake St. Clair at my favorite overlook, where you can see across on the right side but as you pan left the treetops sink lower and lower and go under the horizon, so you can perceive the minute curvature of the earth and get a gut feel of the grand scale of the world. Some of the petals went into the water, but the wind off the lake blew some of them back to me, make of that what you will.
Fidelio: Flower petals floating in the Wannsee in Berlin...
Windhorsegallery: 27 long stem roses floating slowly down the Connecticut River (separates New Hampshire and Vermont) tossed into the river yesterday at 4:10 Eastern Time 13 Friday.
Thanks very much everyone for an amazing week. Please check 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.