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Tony Ortega

(2 Hours, 5 Minutes)

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Investigative journalist Tony Ortega joins BoA:Audio for an in-depth discussion on his research into the controversial Church of Scientology. We'll find out what insiders have revealed about the notoriously secretive religion as well as the nefarious methods that Scientology uses to suppress critics and disaffected former members.

Over the course of this vast conversation, we discuss the birth and evolution of Scientology, the emergence of David Miscavige as the current leader of the church, the many controversies which have surfaced in the last few years, and the various lawsuits which seem poised to do serious damage to the infamous organization. We also delve into Xenu, Narconon, Sea Org, 'the hole,' Shelly Miscavige's disappearance, celebrities and Scientology, as well as the CoS's megachurches and, of course, tons and tons more.

Highlights: We begin with the standard bio / background on Tony Ortega and find out how his journalism career led him to investigating the Church of Scientology (CoS). From there, we reflect on how the past few years have been particularly revelatory for the CoS and that the story has taken on layers much deeper than the 'Xenu story,' which most of the mainstream guffaws. Tony goes on to tell us about the Xenu story and how it sets up Scientologists to spend money to attain future 'levels' within the church.

Next, we have Tony provide a thumbnail, of sorts, on the history of Scientology so that we can bring the listeners, who may be out of the loop, up to speed. Tony details L. Ron Hubbard & Dianetics, the ups and downs of the organization in the 1950's, and the emergence of Scientology as a religion from all of this. Tony reveals the "ultimate goal" of Scientology, which involves all sorts of ideas which sound like science fiction merged with classic esoteric ideas. Additionally, we find out how Hubbard explained how he 'knew' all this arcane and mystical stuff.

Following that, we talk about the death of Hubbard and how David Miscavige maneuvered into gaining control of the religion. Tony sheds some light on his secretive nature as well as how his vindictive nature seems to be what caused the massive backlash of whistleblowers in the media of recent years. We also get an update from Tony on the story of Shelly Miscavige, who has seemingly been missing for the last seven years while working on a secret project involving underground vaults used to house Hubbels' writing. We also ponder whether or not Shelly is being held against her will or a willing participant in all of this.

From there, we hear the story of Scientology's prison complex known as 'the hole,' where Miscavige sends underlings that displease him or threaten his power. Tony details some of the various, crazy punishments which befall people who "mess up" in the eyes of the religion. We also muse about whether or not the people in 'the hole' are being kept there against their will and what the mindset of someone in the hole might resemble. This leads to Tony talking about some of the nefarious rules that used to be in place regarding women from the CoS' Sea Org having children.

We then take a look at a story that seems to be on the verge of creating a huge scandal for Scientology which centers around their drug rehab wing, known as Narconon. Tony details how Narconon started, seemingly, as a scheme to make money from unsuspecting dupes and recruit new Scientologists, but turned into a massive fiasco for the Church which led to some folks dying, lawsuits being filed, and authorities investigating these facilities. This segues into some talk about the techniques of low-level Scientology, including yelling at ashtrays.

Tony then details the story of Marty Rathbun, a former high level Scientologist who left the Church, went into hiding, and emerged only to be harassed endlessly by the CoS for speaking out against the church. Tony also explains how this harassment led to Marty's wife suing the CoS which is another case that seems poised to become a major scandal for Scientology since Rathbun specifically targeted David Miscavige. This leads us to some talk about the Scientology cruise ship as well as the lavish churches that Scientology builds in various cities around the world.

Heading towards the close of the conversation, we find out how Scientology justifies the outrageous costs that are required to move up in the organization as well as how longtime Scientologists justify staying in the Church after years or decades. In light of how much the CoS revolves around money, we find out if poor people can even get into the higher levels of the church. Touching on another aspect of Scientology that gets a lot of press, we discuss the celebrities who are in the church and why it seems to attract them.

Nearing the end of the show, we break from tradition and take a caller, George White, who shares his story of being in Scientology from 1972 to the late 80's, reaching the highest level of the church, and how difficult it was for him to get out of the CoS. Closing out the program, we find out if it is even possible to remove David Miscavige from power within the CoS as well as what's next for Tony Ortega going into the future.

Tony Ortega Bio

Tony Ortega is executive editor of The Raw Story and is formerly the editor of The Village Voice. He's written about Scientology since 1995, and has a forthcoming book about the subject. He continues to monitor breaking developments in the Scientology world from an undisclosed location in an underground bunker he shares with four cats and one of them wrinkly Shar Pei dogs.

His website is tonyortega.org

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