Two weeks ago, we wrote about the similarities between Scientology and its founder and the group Nxivm, whose founder, Keith Raniere, had been arrested in Mexico and extradited to the US on charges of running a bizarre sex slavery ring, where the women in the group were branded in their lower abdomen with Raniere’s initials.
Today, we follow up with another comparison, this time, focusing on the similarities between Nxivm’s “Rainbow Cultural Garden” program, designed to teach kids seven different languages at the same time and the Scientology “study tech” program pushed into often unwitting schools by its Applied Scholastics front group.
We look at how the similarities may portend a common feature of well-established personal development cults, pressured to come up with ever greater “super powers,” and ways to create second-generation members. Continue reading “Nxivm’s Super Kids Program vs. Scientology Applied Scholastics”
In Part Three, the penultimate segment in our examination of the third era in Scientology’s criminal evolution, we’ll look at how David Miscavige’s assumption of power reflected a continuation of Hubbard’s obsession with Scientology’s ruthless utilitarianism, as well as how Miscavige’s own violent, thuggish temperament reflected a Gotti-like use of fear as his primary mechanism of control. We’ll also examine how Scientology’s use of the legal system shifted from the harassment-focused days of Hubbard to a more nuanced strategic approach, as well as how several key incidents that occurred under Miscavige redefined how Scientology’s La Cosa Nostra (“This thing of ours” or “Our thing”) -like mindset operates to this day. Continue reading “Scientology Financial Crime Part Three: Miscavige’s 20th Century Mob”
In 1964, the Church of Scientology published a small document authored by L. Ron Hubbard called “Scientology Plan for World Peace,” which set forth a vision of a “one world government” headed by the UN, with all decision-making to be handled by diplomats and bureaucrats resident in a giant “International City” to be built in North Africa. This document was only circulated for a few years, perhaps only until the early 1970s, when it apparently was allowed to fade quietly from sight. While it’s been available on the web for a while, it hasn’t been the subject of much scrutiny.
We’ll give a general overview of the proposed structure of Hubbard’s world government but we’ll focus on the economic prescriptions Hubbard throws out to solve all the world’s ills. Unsurprisingly, they’re the usual Hubbard stew of naively simplistic ideas presented with unwavering confidence in their brilliance.
The biggest conundrum is why Hubbard would propose something under his own name that’s so far left on the surface. Hubbard’s political views, especially in the 1960s, were so rabidly anti-communist that they could have been lifted wholesale from the propaganda of the John Birch Society. We take a guess at Hubbard’s real motivation. In particular, the bland assurance in the introduction that “the following programme has no other purpose or interest than attaining these ends” is highly suspect. Continue reading “Hubbard’s 1960’s Bizarre Vision for the Global Economy”
This week, we continue our examination of Scientology’s evolution from that of a self-help process, the origins of which were rooted in founder L. Ron Hubbard’s pseudo-scientific epistle Dianetics, to that of a mafia-like Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO), essentially a criminal conglomerate couched as a “religion.” In understanding Hubbard’s motivations for wealth accumulation, it was clear from last week’s examples that Hubbard’s obsession with money was as much about funding the furtherance of his legacy as it was furthering Scientology. In continuing with our use of behavior within a given era to examine the evolution of Scientology’s financial criminality, we now go from the era of Hubbard as tax evader, on to the transitional era of Hubbard as an established crime boss-like figure. Contemporary to Hubbard’s transitional era is the seemingly inevitable rise of David Miscavige, from that of indispensable lieutenant to consigliere and in our final era, his eventual role as capo de tutti capi of Scientology. Continue reading “Scientology Financial Crime, Part 2: From Tax Evader to Mob Boss”
News over the last week or so on the cult front has featured multiple cults who seem to focus on sexual abuse of women members. We wrote extensively a week ago about the arrest of Keith Raniere, founder of Albany, New York-based Nxivm (pronounced “Nexium”). The indictment alleges that Raniere headed a secret “master/slave” group where the all-female membership were branded with his initials in their pubic region. Be Scofield, a journalist specializing in new-generation Internet gurus, recently published an article on yet another abusive group. Scofield looks at the followers of Padma Aon Prakasha, who leads various workshops in the US; 15 women and 2 men have accused Prakasha of physical and emotional abuse and other things. And the well-received Netflix documentary Wild, Wild Country about the 1980s Rajneeshee cult in Oregon recounts stories of physical abuse aimed at women.
We are writing to start a discussion about treatment of women in cults, including in Scientology. For those of you who are ex’s, we would be interested in understanding what happened to you, for both former staff/Sea Org and for rank-and-file members. And we’re particularly interested in whether high-control groups always end up committing abuse of women (and, probably equally of children). What general inferences can we draw and what can we do about it? Continue reading “Opening an Inquiry: Do Cults Always Abuse Women?”
As my introductory post mentioned, my goal in this series is to provide a historical perspective on money in the church in roughly three eras: the first era will address Hubbard’s financial behavior up until the time of his final days; the second, David Miscavige’s assumption of power and the 1982 Mission Holder’s shakedown, and third, money in the church under Miscavige following the Mission Holder shakedown up to the present day.
This historical arc provides a convenient means of analyzing the church’s transition from its roots in providing Dianetics-based therapy into a pseudo-religious conglomerate with all the trappings of a cartel, or more so, demonstrating many of the characteristics reflective of a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) of significant proportions. Key to understanding any crime are the factors of means, motive, and opportunity. While the past certainly provides valuable context in understanding both L. Ron Hubbard’s role and Scientology’s means, motives, and opportunities for accumulating wealth, understanding the doctrine, ideology, and psychological profile of the church is also crucial. Thus the rigid adherence to Hubbard as “Source” for all of Scientology’s teachings, doctrine and operational foundation, and the resultant cult of personality that compels its malevolent zealotry, are the nexus for its criminality. Continue reading “Scientology Organized Crime, Part 1: The Beginnings”
Earlier this week, Keith Raniere, the leader of Nexium (pronounced “Nexium”), a cultic group headquartered in Albany, New York, was arrested in Mexico after fleeing the US and swiftly extradited back to the US for trial. He’s accused of sex trafficking in conjunction with a secret “sorority” made up of Nxivm members who agreed to function as slaves for him, and who were branded in their pelvic region with his initials. There are other investigations pending that may result in further charges.
Though Nxivm never achieved the success of Scientology in its 20-year history, there are some interesting parallels between Nxivm’s modus operandi and Scientology’s as well as some parallels between Keith Raniere and L. Ron Hubbard’s claims about themselves. We look at some of these parallels and try to determine whether there’s any way to use the accelerating collapse of Nxivm to predict the endgame for Scientology, particularly in seeing how activists can target their efforts to hasten its demise. Continue reading “NXIVM Cult Leader Arrested: Parallels with Scientology?”
I was first drawn to the Scientology critic movement as a result of my background in anti-money laundering, countering the financing of terrorism and the forensic analysis of financial crime. Having come across several Interpol reports that mentioned L. Ron Hubbard’s money movements from his days on the Apollo, my interest was piqued as to the why and how of his intentions. The further I delved into the financial affairs of Scientology, the more I became convinced I was potentially dealing with a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) of significant proportions. While I’ve enjoyed investigating a variety of topics within Scientology, over the next few weeks I’ll be returning to this premise.
I’ll be looking at the historical perspective of money in the church in roughly three eras: the first era will address Hubbard’s financial behavior up until the time of his final days; the second, David Miscavige’s assumption of power and the 1982 Mission Holder’s shakedown, and third, money in the church under Miscavige following the Mission Holder shakedown up to the present day. Over the last several months, I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with several key figures in Scientology history who are intimately familiar with money management over the three eras I’ve mentioned. Further to these firsthand experiences, in recent weeks we’ve undertaken several investigations into some of the foundational writings of Scientology, as well as the link between conspiracy theory, Scientology and cults in general. Continue reading “Scientology Financial Crime through the Years: an introduction to a new series”
This post is a request for help. I’m trying to understand the link, if any, between Scientology and conspiracy theory thinking. I was struck by how well-known old guard critic Arnie Lerma, who recently attacked his wife and then killed himself, had degenerated into the conspiracy mindset. The story is more complex, involving significant medical challenges that affected his mental health, which may have been primarily responsible for his increasing paranoia. (Lerma’s tragic saga merely sparked my interest in the general mechanism; I’m not trying to understand the particulars of his journey or to diagnose him retroactively.) The news about Lerma’s death came only a day after another post from Tony Ortega about Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s “SMERSH” conspiracy, a ludicrous tale of opposition to Scientology, and the juxtaposition led me to start thinking about the connection.
I’ve heard stories about other former Scientologists who have similarly crossed into the conspiracist world. I’m trying to understand the relationship between Scientology and conspiracy theory obsession, and I can’t get it right without a lot of different perspectives. I’ll set out my thinking so far, which is indeed incomplete, and then set out particular questions I’m struggling with. I welcome the thoughts of ex-Scientologists, never-ins and people who are familiar with the mindset of conspiracy theorists. Thanks in advance for helping me (and hopefully, the reader base) understand the conspiracy mindset and how it relates to Scientology. Continue reading “Request for Your Thoughts: Link Between Scientology and Conspiracy Theory Thinking?”
In last week’s post, I provided an overview of The Responsibilities of Leaders, one of Hubbard’s more iconic writings, along with some observations from former Scientologists Brian Lambert and Jefferson Hawkins on the importance of this policy in understanding Scientology’s zeitgeist. Both gentlemen frame their observations of this policy as being perhaps a sort of “command legacy” from Hubbard to David Miscavige given that it’s Miscavige’s favorite LRH essay, which he uses to illustrate what he literally expects from his subordinates in terms of loyalty, ruthlessness, and Keeping Scientology Working. This week I begin by contrasting Hubbard’s power-as-leadership model against more traditional concepts of leadership, and then examine the connection between Mary Sue Hubbard and The Four Seasons of Manuela, and lastly, how The Responsibilities of Leaders may account for David Miscavige’s behavior and its subsequent impact on his relationship with wife Shelly Miscavige. Continue reading “The Responsibilities of Leaders, Part II: Power, Mary Sue, and Where’s Shelly?”