Get enturbulated

A reader sent me a link to this unpleasant video of Scientologists in Clearwater, FL. I recognize the work: it’s by Mark Bunker of XenuTV, where you’ll find a whole collection videos documenting the kind of religious fascism Scientology, the creepiest cult on the planet, sponsors.

Bunker’s videos show how these grim fanatics can take over a whole town by terrifying the residents and coopting the police—it’s very unsettling.


  1. Diego says

    I have been going on several sampling trips in the Clearwater area this year and I have yet to stop being amazed by the block of huge buildings the Scientologists own and the legions of identically dressed cultists walking the streets. They definitely don’t hurt for money.

  2. bernarda says

    What is amazing is that these three thugs are allowed out of their padded cells. Even more amazeing is that the police are bought off to close a public street.

    I would have told them that if I ever ran into some hypothetical nazi brownshirts, I would be scared.

  3. makita says

    I guess the country isn’t as free as I thought it was. It’s a qualified freedom. The more money/power you have, the more free it is for you.

  4. says

    I once knew a guy who thought that “Science” was a religion, officially known as “Scientology.”
    I still want to punch him in the nose over that.

  5. brent says

    The fascincating part of all that is that despite their obvious goal of intimidation, they are the ones that are actually intimidated by the lone cameraman. The fact that he does not back down from their absurd agressiveness bugs the shit out of them and even when he finally walks away, they cannot let it go. Its a textbook example of how to stand up to a bully. I honestly can barely believe how transparently pathetic those three guys showed themselves to be. Wow. That guy Mark is my fucking hero.

  6. craig says

    I live here. It is creepy. I was cutting through their parking lot once, in a hurry to catch a bus at the nearby bus terminal and was stopped by one of their droids.
    They have people standing out in the parking lot just for surveilance purposes, watching every move you make if you get too close.

    Actually, though, they may NEED to do that. Wouldn’t surprise me if they get a lot of threats. After all – this is fundie territory. In fact, that bank building where the virgin mary was “seen” in the windows and which was purchased by a church is less than a block away.

  7. spencer says

    Hell, you should see what those Scientologists did to the St Pete Times over its coverage of the death of Lisa MacPherson. The paper, once a hard-hitting critic of the Cult, is still scared to give those fools the media coverage they deserve.

  8. says

    Standard cultish ‘logic has no place here’ reasoning, too. “We’re the ones who don’t want the cameras here… so you’re the one with something to hide.”

    Interesting, tho’, that diversion tactic, in a particular sense. I’ve read here and there that part of Scientology’s hold over its followers is that during the confessional aspects of the sessions, they naturally tend to get hold of all sorts of unpretty little details of their members’ lives. So I’d expect that’s a part, at least, if not a significant one, of being a part of that organization, worrying about that.

    So I guess it’s no huge surprise that Kafkaesque presumption of omnipresent guilt is gonna tend to show up when you’re confronting them. Have to wonder what they’ve got on these particular gentlemen. Sure seems to have given them an unhealthy obsession with the lurid, doesn’t it?

  9. Markus says

    These guys seriously scare me. I think I’m going to have nightmares about them. Insanity is a bad combination with bullying.

    ps. I was the one who sent the link (ohh), on there seem to surface quite alot of stuff for atheists as of lately, you might want to check it out.

  10. says

    I once spent a lot of time researching those kooks. My research into Scientology and other cults was one of the main things that lead me to ‘deconvert’ from my Christianity. (I couldn’t tell the cults from the churches after I finished learning about them all.)

    If you’re interested in reading about their kookiness I’d highly recommend Jon Atack’s book, A Piece of Blue Sky. The cult of Scientology had temporary success in getting Amazon to stop distributing this book when it was first published.

    Unfortunatly the cult shoots itself in the foot so often that it’s critics coined the term ‘foot bullet.’ Atack, an ex-cult member, relaxed the copyright on his book so now anyone can read it for free, online.

    For current Scientology events, try It’s hosted in Norway, and despite their best efforts Scientology hasn’t been able to shut it down yet.

    Scientology isn’t just evil or stupid, they are also an inflexible bureaucracy – which makes them capable of greater evil and stupidity than Pat Robertson or Ted Haggard.

  11. speedwell says

    Oh, do not miss the lovely website maintained by the level-headed and thoroughly decent Norwegian fellow, Andreas Heldal-Lund:

    All of the stuff you never thought you’d want to know is there, plus some. Pick up a T-shirt while you’re at it to support the cause. He does NOT take money personally for maintaining the site.

  12. craig says

    Interesting disclaimer on that site for “A Piece of Blue Sky.”

    “For legal reasons, it is advised that this work
    not be distributed in the United Kingdom.”

    Wonder what that’s all about?

  13. Tu says

    Actually, though, they may NEED to do that. Wouldn’t surprise me if they get a lot of threats. After all – this is fundie territory.

    Something I never understood was why Scientology seems to consistently slip under the radar of the Christian right. Having quite a number of right-wingers in my family (including two pastors), I can testify to the fact that they’re far more concerned with Islam than they are with the multi-billion dollar empire of actual evil that’s growing in their midst and groping outwards for their children. This is something that’s happening on our soil, why aren’t they up in arms and furors about it?

  14. gonzoknife says

    These guys are crazy but are they really any crazier than fundamentalists from any other religion? Substitute “Christianity” for “Scientology” and “Jesus” for “L. Ron Hubbard” in the video and all of the sudden these kooks would be considered “the faithful” and above reproach.

    Somehow it is ok to question Scientology but it is off limits to question the kooky beliefs of other religions. They’re all equally nuts.

  15. Carlie says

    it is off limits to question the kooky beliefs of other religions.

    Not here, it isn’t. It was really weird how they kept asking him why he was hiding – HE’S STANDING RIGHT THERE. Also they had different tactics; there was the guy who just kept yelling the same thing over and over like he was in a Skinner box, and then the one with the “look at me” hypnotic eyes and weird stare. I liked how they walked off and left in a huff like somehow he was supposed to feel hurt by their rejection. I’ve seen videos by Mark before, and he has a lot more guts than I could ever dredge up.

  16. says

    Interesting disclaimer on that site for “A Piece of Blue Sky.”

    “For legal reasons, it is advised that this work
    not be distributed in the United Kingdom.”

    Wonder what that’s all about?

    If I recall, the UK threshold for libel or exposing trade secrets is lower than here in the USA. Scientology successfully sued to stop distribution in the UK until some of the text was altered. (I recall it wasn’t much – a paragraph or two.)

    Upon winning that suit, they petitioned Amazon to stop selling ‘Blue Sky’ on the reasoning that it could be purchased by UK buyers. After a brief uproar here in the USA, Amazon decided they could sell the book outside of the UK. And I think they now sell the (slightly) abridged version in the UK.

    As for Scientology and Christianity – Scientology and Christianity are both ‘questioned’ in inverse proportion to the number of members they have.

  17. says

    I lived directly up the street (Lexington near Vermont) in a third floor apartment, irradiated by the cult’s name in ten foot tall letters, when Mt. St. Helens blew up. We wondered if there was a post office nearby, with all the apparent letter carriers in uniform walking about, until a neighbor showed us her shrine, with its poster of John Travolta, and clued us in.

    We often joked about having the perfect perch to deface the sign, but could never decide which letter to take out. Without the letter “L” it would read: SCIENTOOGY, which sounds funny but wouldn’t kern quite so nicely as removing the letter “I.” SCENTOLOGY, or, what’s that smell?

    That blast of light all night long made it not only a chore to make the bedroom dark: amateur stargazing with a six inch Newtonian on the roof was a joke, especially with the Griffith Observatory straight up Vermont. Since there was going to be a very long total lunar eclipse, my roof turned out to be a good place to be.

    Still high in the atmosphere, the exploded volcano’s ash filtered the sunlight before it reached the full moon. We watched as a rust red shadow darkened the light. The four of us (two animation artists, a comic book colorist, and a writer with credits that would include Reboot and B5), took turns at the telescope.

    What a photo opportunity. Not the moon, but the commotion directly up the street. Some neighbors must’ve thought it prudent to torch a parked car in sacrifice to Quetzalcoatl in hopes it would hork up the Moon. With pillars of smoke and flame, the spinning lights of the police cars and fire truck were no competition for the cult’s neon glare, bounced off the necrotic blue paint of the former children’s hospital. Talk about a street festival…

    My disrespect for the cult contributed to the inevitable breakup with the ex. She’d laugh at them too, but could never understand why I didn’t want to be an ESThole like her. You’ve seen one cult, you’ve seen them all, and they’re all, each and every one of them, cults, no matter whether it’s Elrond Hubbub’s or the pope’s.

  18. G. Tingey says

    The Potters House christians round here are almost as bad.

    They are a USA cult who have invaded, and no-one will do anything to stop them…….

  19. jeffk says

    I would actually vote that scientologists are slightly more crazy than other theists, only in they have had a first hand view of the sordid beginnings of their religion/cult, whereas Christians, for example, can hide behind thousands of years of history to fashion the prophet of Christianity as they would most like to see him. This also allows of more variations to suit more people’s visions of how they would like to see the world, and therefore makes it possible for 80% of this country’s population to be “Christian” – because it can suit their needs to rationalize homophobia, ethics-less capitalism, etc. Plus, fewer were indoctrinated as children.

    I found the debate about the use of the street interesting. I always assumed that when a road was closed (as in done for block parties put on by various organizations here in Minneapolis), it needed to be open to anyone. I wonder what the rules are on this.

  20. sammy says

    I could only stand to watch about the first half of the video. The “what do you have to hide” bit was odd enough, but when leftmost creepy dude asked if “have you stopped beating your wife yet?” it just became downright bizarre.

    I mean… it’s the classic example of the “loaded question.” It’s in Wikipedia , for FSM’s sake.

    It’s like the guy went to a two day seminar on how to confuse and intimidate people, but missed the part where the presenter said, “Now, obviously, you wouldn’t really ask if he’d stopped beating his wife. That’s too obvious.”

  21. minimalist says

    Hah, looks like they were trying to use “Tone 40” on him. It’s basically supposed to be mind-control through shouted repetition of commands. It’s sad when a cult’s pathetic power-fantasy runs smack into cold, hard reality.

    Did I say “sad”? I meant “hilarious.”

    I think the most prominent (and funniest!) public example of Tone 40 was when Heber Jentsch repeatedly screamed at some radio host to admit that he “loved drugs”. It’s great fun to listen to.

    A transcript of it is here, but it really has to be heard to be believed. I wish I still had that MP3.

  22. Ford says

    I’m looking forward to Mission Impossible 4, where the MI team rescues a kidnapped actress (or maybe the President’s daughter?) from Scientology’s boat.

  23. says

    Very entertaining read about the whole system in Wikipedia, linked here and particularly, here.

    It is very bad science fiction at best! I can NEVER understand ever how some people can believe in this crap. And there seems to be so many of them!

  24. says

    The US Christian Right has a similar blindspot towards Reverend Moon’s Unification Church, but its a lot more understandable. Moon and his mouthpiece the Washington Times have usually said the right things about issues like homosexuality and Communism, making them allies whose oddities, like Moon claiming he’s got the personal stamp of approval of Jesus, can be ignored for the “greater good.”

  25. proud to swim home says

    if i were single with little to lose, i’d love to get one of those panel trucks that the anti-choice people use and i’d drive around and around their buildings all day. it’d be hard for them to interfere with a moving protest vehicle and still stay within the law. it would certainly make the driver immune from listening to their drivel. and i don’t think i’d even need a protest permit for that… i’d just be taking a drive after all.

    among the sayings i’d put on would be “E.T. – It’s a Movie, not a Religion.”

  26. Jeff says

    You know, I co-exist with all kinds of religions quite peacefully…but I declare war on Scientology. When I was a kid in Pensacola, there was an Assembly of God that blew up every single abortion clinic in the City…and I declared war on them as well. What do I mean by “declare war”? Just that I will not countenance them as fellow citizens in any way.

  27. says

    tim gueguen: Like the Latter Day Saints the Moonies are sort of an off-shoot of Christianity. I think that might have something to do with it. But that doesn’t explain why they aren’t attacking the “satanic religion of Hollywood” or something.

  28. jbCharleston says

    Pretty standard intimidation crap, usually put out by people who are absolutely sure that they have the absolute truth. Brown shirts were like that (with the added ability to inflict actual physical harm). The one serious interaction I had with one their flock was the ex-husband of a boss. He had gone through all of their money. And for that, he had attained a certainty that he knew the true nature of the universe – but of course he couldn’t tell me because, without proper training, that information would completely fry my brain. hmmm

    That rather sickening video brought up some old memories. I used to do a lot of dog training and observing of their behavior. Everything – I mean eveything (aside from their ability to mouth more complex noises) – they did was exactly what a pack of dogs do. Notice that one who said the least. He was the alpha dog. Whenever he realized he wasn’t going to win, he’d say a couple of things to the other 2 – who would immediately go to heel with the leader. If all this stuff just brings you down to becoming a two-legged dog, what’s the point?

    BTW, Mark’s behavior is exactly what you do to face down a pack of dogs. And yes, that was a brave thing he did!

  29. TomMil says

    Their intimidation tactics are bizarre. In a wierd coincidence, Florida happens to be the state that wants to pass a law allowing you to shoot someone who intimidates you. This could be a dangerous combination.

  30. David says

    Oh, neat. I’m glad that these videos are finally getting wider distribution.

    Almost all of the old Lisa Trust picket footage is absolute gold, and I think most of it is still up at XenuTV (which, sadly, had to remove some of the awesome TV shows they used to host). My favorite is the “Mad Picket,” which is the ugliest, most unpleasant display of anti-humanity *ever*. About fifty upper-level Scientologists stream out of the bank building next to the Fort Harrison and start handling the few LMT picketers around…one old, tired woman’s odd, mindless repetition of “we don’t like NAZIS in AMERICA” is forever seared into my mind.

    The single piece of Scientology-related media that everyone should become familiar with, though, is the infamous KFI interview from 1991, featuring Dennis Erlich, Priscilla Coates (from the Cult Awareness Network) and Heber Jentszch, president of the Church of Scientology International. The entire nine-part interview is absolutely fascinating, but the money shot comes at the end, when Dennis attempts to respond to a caller’s question about “exorcism” (remember, Xenu wasn’t really well known at this point). Heber starts talking…and talking…and won’t stop…it becomes painfully obvious that he’s just trying to drown everyone else out. “YOU LOVE DRUGS, DENNIS. DENNIS, YOU LOVE DRUGS.” The entire thing is available on xenutv, while the “highlights” were MP3ed by (search for Heber Jentszch…it’s the “Zany Scientology Morning Zoo” one).

  31. says

    Picked up a big big bundle of 1950’s Astounding ScienceFiction magazines a few weeks back. They included some truly bizarre ads for LBH. I quote the text of one below

    How do you know you haven’t captained a Space Cricket Team ?

    How do you know you aren’t a crashed Saucer-Jockey ?

    Who are you anyhow ?

    and I add:

    How the **** did anyone FALL for this tripe?

  32. rp says

    The really sad and scary part is that it is all for money. Christianity, well the mainstream ones anyway(ie not evangelical), may bug you to tithe 10% but $cientology first figures out how much money you (and your family) have and then charge you for their programs.

    After they have sucked you dry they pronounce you ‘cleared’

    They had successfully sued people for publishing their ‘religious texts’. What kind of ‘truth’ is it if you have to pay for it?

  33. Nomen Nescio says

    Florida happens to be the state that wants to pass a law allowing you to shoot someone who intimidates you.

    well, actually, no. FL has become semi-famous for taking a couple other legislative leads down the gun-rights and self-defense roads, but as far as i know, your claim there is quite baseless; even southerners aren’t that nuts.

    you may be thinking of their “stand your ground” law (removing the duty to retreat before defending oneself, in certain circumstances), but that one’s not only already passed, but doesn’t come remotely close to what you describe, either.

    </nitpick> ; back to our regularly scheduled loony-bashing…

  34. Leni says

    Gaaach!! *cootie dance*

    For those of you who’ve have taken acid- you’ll know what I mean- bad f’g trip. Can’t you just see getting cornered by those weirdos at your loser neighbor’s party and having your night, and potentially a small part of your psyche, ruined beyond repair? They were bad trip creepy- which is, of course, way worse than the regular sort of creepy.


    Anyway, sorry about that. It was just so weird. It gave me that same awful, creepy, people-are-evil-and-man-this-dude-is-really-freaking-me-out-when-does-this-shit-wear-off anyway- feeling.

    And it would have been more funny if I didn’t suspect these three clowns of being the camp leaders for the local Scientology gulags. Where people imprison their own children. To make them “better”.

    I kept wanting to to laugh, but then I kept imagining what those creeps acting like this to their kids. Mark should have kept at it with the names of victims, both dead and alive. He should have brought the autopsy pictures and rubbed their delusional, possibly sociopathic noses in it.