Reza Aslan on CNN Believer series covers Scientology

Discussion in 'Media' started by The Wrong Guy, Jan 2, 2016.

  1. The Wrong Guy Member

    Scientology’s 2016: CNN plans to give L. Ron Hubbard his best press in decades

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 2, 2016

    Last year, former Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder predicted that 2015 would bring his former employer “pain.” And it sure was a tough year for David Miscavige and his followers. With Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear and Leah Remini’s book Troublemaker, more people than ever are learning about Scientology and its controversies.

    But not everyone is apparently happy about that. Back when Gibney’s movie was first getting a lot of publicity, we heard from a couple of national figures who criticized the idea of singling out Scientology for examination. One of them was Reza Aslan, a rising star in the religious writing field and a frequent presence on television. Here’s what he told CNN:

    I don’t think it’s fair to refer to Scientology as a cult. I mean, really the difference between a religion and a cult tends to be how long the religion lasts. Christianity was a cult for three hundred years. Mormonism was considered a cult for a hundred years. In fact, there are people today who still refer to Mormonism as a cult. Is it somehow different than other religious traditions in the way that it deals with its internal structure, in the disaffection of its former movement members? No, I don’t think so.

    That’s easily the most frequent criticism we run into when Scientology is exposed as a cynical, nefarious organization that hurts its members: Well, religions are all the same. (And we’re not even going to go into L. Ron Hubbard’s exploitation of “the religious angle” and whether Scientology deserves to be called a religious organization at all. Also, Aslan’s statement is exactly why we avoid using the word ‘cult.’ It causes more confusion than understanding.) As we explained to Alex Gibney in his movie, why this common complaint fails is that Scientology’s essentially deceptive nature is what sets it apart.

    Anyway, the reason we bring this up is that the new year is bringing a lot of predictions for what 2016 will bring Scientology. And while there’s more controversy on the way — particularly the upcoming memoir by Ron Miscavige Sr., “If He Dies, He Dies” — you can also expect something of a backlash to the criticism Scientology has been receiving.

    And one place to expect it from is Reza Aslan and CNN.

    Last year, it was announced that Aslan would be hosting a new CNN series in 2016, “Believer.” In its announcement, CNN was clearly anticipating the solid ratings it gets whenever it panders to religious viewers. And here was a chance to have a series featuring good news about different faiths around the world, including Scientology.

    We were contacted by a producer for the show in the summer, who tried to convince us that the episode on Scientology will talk about the organization’s controversial past. That may be so, but Aslan is apparently trying hard to find nice things to say about L. Ron Hubbard and his followers. Here’s an email he sent Karen de la Carriere, for example, which she allowed us to show you:

    Dear Karen,

    My name is Reza Aslan. I’m a scholar of religions, an author, a frequent media commentator, and host of a new CNN documentary series called Believer. Think Anthony Bourdain but “faith” instead of “food.” I’m immersing myself in religious traditions around the world – without judgement or criticism – as a way of understanding other world views, of drawing bridges between believers and unbelievers, and of trying to make what some people may find strange and unfamiliar less strange and more relatable.

    I am contacting you because we are filming an episode about people in the FreeZone community. I am interested in the lived experience of normal, everyday Independent Scientologists and members of the Free Zone who have left the official Church of Scientology. I am looking for people who have been helped by the philosophies of L. Ron Hubbard, his ideas and practices, why and how they came to it and how it has helped them in their lives. That’s why I’m reaching out to you: to see if you’d be willing to speak to me about your beliefs.

    I understand you may be wary – I would be too considering the treatment of Scientology in the media. But I assure you I have no interest in further amplifying the voices of Scientology’s critics. They’ve been heard plenty. The show is called Believer because it focuses on believers. I myself am a believer – a Muslim – a follower of a religion that is only SLIGHTLY less misunderstood and feared than Scientology. So I have no intention of treating other believers, regardless of their religion, with skepticism or revulsion. I want to show the beauty and appeal of other religions because I honestly and truly believe these are all different paths to the same destination.

    So what do you say? Will you talk to me? I hope so.


    This was followed up by an email from one of the show’s producers, who told Karen, “We had great experiences talking to people in the Freezone and independent communities in LA, Reno and Israel.”

    Continued here:"Reza Aslan" Scientology
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  2. anon8109 Member

    Saying that scientology is like any other religion because they all have supernatural beliefs is like saying that North Korea is like any other country just because they all have armies.

    Saying that scientology is like any other religion because they all have supernatural beliefs is like saying that the mafia is like any other business just because they all try to make a profit.
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  3. Random guy Member

    Quote Ortega:

    That should put a cork in the trolls that go on and on about her here.
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  4. A slightly gentler parallel that might be more likely to get through to someone like Aslan:

    Everyone agrees that Christianity is a religion. This has no bearing on whether or not televangelists are con men running Christian-themed for-profit enterprises.
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  5. DeathHamster Member

    I welcome his spirited defense of other religious such as the Jedi, Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and Chicago Cubs fandom.

    However, if he feels that any of these are not a religion, we can change ends and I'll defend their religiousity while he goes on the offensive.
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  6. She still won't accept any responsibility for placing him in the "entity" she says killed him. Neither Karen#1 or her husband, who both post on Tony's blog will say if she is or isn't still an independent auditor. From Tony Ortega's blog comments today:

    • [IMG]
      Little David
      As for Karen, here’s her response to a CNN producer who recently contacted her about getting images for the show…
    • “As long as this show is pushing the benefits of Scientology I want no part in it. This entity killed my son.”
    • Does this mean she is no longer an independent auditor?

      • [IMG]
        I have been scolded twice today for asking that question.
        No one has told me a definite answer!
        She might be... she might not be ...
        But it is odd that no one is for sure. ODD I say
        but everything about scientology is fucking odd
        I am not speculating... just helping another blog user...
        No need for anyone to take off any earrings :)

        • [IMG]
          Little David
          Yes, it is odd that Karen#1 won't say if she is or isn't.
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  7. The Internet Member

    Hey OSA, this thread is about Resa Aslan mostly. He is a strange fellow who might be spreading propaganda favorable to the Muslim Brotherhood, a cult far worse than Scientology.

    I suspect he has a reason for celebrating rather than criticizing Scientology. Maybe he lives in a glass house.
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  8. moxie Member

    I think he does. He is the apologist who claimed that Indonesian women and men are treated 100% equally. He is also very hostile to atheists. Sarah Haider wrote a nice piece about his BS:
  9. The Wrong Guy Member

    Professor Dave Touretzky on Reza Aslan

    By Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, January 3, 2016

    Our story yesterday about Reza Aslan’s upcoming CNN program on Scientology kicked up quite a response. We wanted to make sure that readers didn’t miss the really interesting comment left by Carnegie Mellon University professor Dave Touretzky, who has been studying Scientology and creating crucial web pages of information about it for many years. He’s reacting to the email that Aslan sent to Karen de la Carriere, explaining his project “Believer,” one episode of which will focus on Scientology, talking not to church members but to former members who still practice its precepts as independents. “I want to show the beauty and appeal of other religions because I honestly and truly believe these are all different paths to the same destination,” Aslan told Karen. Here’s what Touretzky said in response:

    Continued here:
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  10. Random guy Member

    Satanism with better props ... bloody ingenious!
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  11. The Wrong Guy Member

    There’s nothing quite like when Scientology cancels your superhuman powers with a ‘declare’

    By Tony Ortega, June 9, 2016


    What we have for you is the “suppressive person declare” of Dani and Tami Lemberger, which has only become public this week for the first time. We hope you find it as perplexing and fascinating as we do.

    It is, in fact, an indictment for thought crime that is straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.

    There’s a lot of jargon in it, but even if you’re somewhat new to Scientology watching, you should get a flavor for the thing. And keep this in mind: Until this declare in 2012, Dani Lemberger had been a loyal member since 1980 who had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on his Scientology involvement. His wife Tami, meanwhile, had received awards as one of the top Scientology auditors on the planet. Dani had even taken it upon himself to translate some of L. Ron Hubbard’s work into Hebrew so that it could be disseminated more easily in Israel.

    Like so many other longtime members, however, they had increasingly become dissatisfied with the leadership of David Miscavige. And then, that June, they made a trip to Texas to meet with former church executive Mark “Marty” Rathbun, which sealed their fate. (We interviewed Dani for our Village Voice story when Dani had a few short hours in Newark airport on his way back to Haifa after visiting Rathbun.) Dani and Tami had consorted with the ultimate “squirrel” (Scientology’s cute jargon for “heretic”), Rathbun, who at that time was openly leading a rebellion of independent Scientologists against Miscavige. The Lembergers had gone over to the dark side, and now the church would excommunicate them by bringing up anything in their past in the most negative light possible.

    Now, with all of that in mind, give this document a read.


    We will remind you that in January, we mentioned that the Lembergers and their Dror Center had been visited by Reza Aslan, who is gathering stories for his upcoming CNN series “Believer.” We criticized Aslan, whose remarks in the past about Scientology we have found to be uninformed.

    We spoke at length with a producer on Aslan’s show, and she assured us that she wanted to get in as much as she could about Scientology’s many controversies and allegations about its abuses. But we are still expecting that the credulous Aslan will provide L. Ron Hubbard his best press in decades.

    We have an update on that now. A member of Aslan’s crew recently posted to Facebook that the series has been delayed because CNN is focusing on the election. Since 2016 was always going to be an election year, we read that to mean “CNN is making so much bank on Donald Trump, it can’t take the camera off him even to pander to its religious viewers with a Reza Aslan show.”

    Eventually, the Aslan show will run. And we expect it to be rather cringe-inducing. But for fear of being misunderstood, as were the last time we wrote about this, our criticisms of Aslan and our dim view of the “Believer” series are completely unrelated to the esteem we have for Dani and Tami Lemberger.

    We think it took a lot of guts to break their Dror Center away from the Church of Scientology, and we are grateful that Dani was so forthcoming for our 2012 story. And after reading their declare, we have more respect for them than ever.
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  12. Reza Aslan from CNN on the Independent Scientology "Reform Movement."

    Reza Aslan doesn't think the Church of Scientology knows there is an Independent Scientology "reform movement" going on? Did he do any research? Any actual reporting? Is he totally incompetent and clueless?

    Vulture: Reza Aslan on His CNN Show Believer, Scientology’s Bad Rap, and Why TV Executives Are Hesitant to Make a Muslim-American

    * * * * * BEGIN EXCERPT * * * *

    The religious scholar, author, and regular commentator has recently taken a more creative role in television, from coming on as a consulting producer on HBO’s The Leftovers to hosting his own CNN series, Believer, premiering Sunday night. On each episode of the CNN show, Aslan embeds with a different, niche religion, from India’s ascetic Aghori to reform Scientologists in the U.S. and Israel. He also has a number of other shows in the works, most of them still under wraps — one of them, a family sitcom based on his life that he sold to ABC last year, was dropped by the network post-Trump. Aslan sat down with Vulture to discuss the challenges of getting a Muslim-American TV show made, why Scientology gets a bad rap, and his thoughts on why he’s such a polarizing figure.


    Why did you decide to focus on smaller religions?

    For me, it was very important to talk about religions that are misunderstood or on the fringe in some way. Voodoo is a religion a lot of people immediately have certain impressions about. Scientology is another example — everybody has an opinion on Scientology, even though most people don’t really understand what Scientology actually is. Even most Jews look at the ultra-Orthodox as something that is so out there. So it’s important for me that every one of these religions carried with it this immediate impression that people have of foreignness or exoticness, because if I’m going to force you to break through that, I’m not going to do an episode on Catholics in Minnesota. Now look, eventually if we get to do more than a couple of seasons, we’ll be able to do bigger and more mainstream religious traditions. But for now, it’s important to deal with religions that are on the margins.

    With Scientology particularly, you take a much more sympathetic view than we typically see. I had no idea there’s a reform movement going on in Scientology.

    I don’t think the church knows that. That’s the one that is probably going to blow people’s minds the most. Not just because they are going to recognize that when you really get down to it, Scientology beliefs aren’t as weird as we think they are. But at the same time to think that, oh, there’s this whole other thing happening where these Scientologists have left the church, but not the religion. And the parallels that it has with the Christian Reformation, or with the reformation of almost any religion, are really stark.

    There has already been a good deal of backlash before the episode from the anti-Scientology crowd, who are angry that we would even treat it like a legitimate faith expression. And then there’s been a little bit of concern from the church, having just seen the previews, that we’re going to be yet another one of these shows that are about the controversies and the scandals of the church.

    And it’s clear in the episode that you tried to talk to the church.

    I tried very hard. Very hard. I get it because it’s a religion that is demonized by the media, by the public perception. A lot of it is their own doing. I don’t think they’re very good at dealing with criticism, and it would behoove them to learn how to be better at that. But as a member of one religious community that is constantly demonized, I can’t help but feel a certain connection with them.

    You get audited in the episode, which you note is the first time an auditing session has ever been filmed for mainstream American TV. What was that experience like? It looked a lot like therapy.

    I went into it thinking to myself, Oh my God, I have to bare my soul. And it wasn’t that at all. It was basically a mental exercise. I refer to it in the show as aversion therapy, where there’s this thing that is bothering you, so let’s just focus on that thing over and over and over again. We clearly had to fast forward the auditing sessions, but that went on for hours.

    That sounds exhausting.

    It was exhausting. But I will say there was something about it where when it was over, you couldn’t help but feel lighter, you couldn’t help but feel as though a certain weight had been removed from you. And I get it, I understand why people who would undergo an experience like that think to themselves, this is something I wanna do over and over again.

    * * * * * END EXCERPT * * * * *
  13. Ann O'Nymous Member

    Nice. IMHO, mentioning how scientology treats children before they become useful could be interesting.
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  14. tippytoe Member

    Rena Aslan has yet to encounter a religion he didn't like. The man is the poster boy of promoting religious cloaking to any act of abuse that a non-believer reveals. Because he is touted as a "scholar" and has a public outlet, his views on these matters are given a lot of weight. He is nothing but a religious apologist.
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  15. Aslan needs more spray bottle

  16. The Wrong Guy Member

    Believer With Reza Aslan explores little-known religions

    Here's the relevant excerpt. Quoting Aslan:

    Scientology is another great example. That is probably the most misunderstood religious tradition, certainly in the United States. I think everybody here has an opinion on Scientology, but almost no one can tell you what Scientologists actually believe, like what does it really mean to be a Scientologist on a day-in and day-out basis? And you’re going to see that for the very first time. And you’ll probably think to yourself, “Huh, not as weird as I thought.”

    More at
  17. DeathHamster Member
  18. The Internet Member

    I cannot stand that fake faced Reza Aslan who lies about his own credentials.
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  19. The Wrong Guy Member

    Reza Aslan and Scientology

    By Tony Ortega, March 26, 2017


    Tonight, Reza Aslan will pretend that independent Scientology is actually more than a few old Scientologists pining for what once was. In his Believer episode on CNN at 10 pm, he’ll try to convince viewers that L. Ron Hubbard gets a bad rap, and that indie Scientology is the next great world religion. CNN has not let us see the episode ahead of time, but on Tuesday we looked at some of the things that Aslan has been saying about it in interviews. And we asked a couple of experts we admire the most [Jefferson Hawkins and Professor Stephen Kent] to give us their thoughts as well.

    Continued at
  20. The Wrong Guy Member

    Believer with Reza Aslan asks if Scientology is undergoing a reformation as some hold true to Hubbard

    By April Neale, Monsters and Critics, March 26, 2017


    The controversial control of the diminutive leader David Miscavige (he is barely 5 feet tall) is now the lightning rod that is dividing the faith and creating the fertile environment for Scientologists to break away. For years he has battled accusations that he had his wife sent away and has warred openly with actress Leah Remini, once a devout Scientologist.

    In Haifa, Israel, a reformation group headed by former Scientology leaders Tami and Dani Lemberger is introduced to Aslan. The actual business structure of Scientology is laid out as a franchise model in that those who have their “shops” pays percentages to the mother ship.

    But now the reformation and people who have broken away fully are really not wanting to be connected anymore. The Lembergers had reached an extremely high status in the core Scientology church, but they broke away and want full autonomy.

    Tami Lemberger explained their defection. “In the 70’s and 80s Scientology was fun, but the 90’s saw increased pressure from upper management for money which was too much.”

    They were declared an “S.P.” [suppressed person] and declared an apostate and cut off from the church.

    Essentially, the Lembergers were in “violation of the Church of Scientology’s trademark” and stilled defied them using readily available materials on the Internet.

    “I am only loyal to one person,” says Dani Lemberger, “L. Ron Hubbard.”

    These refomationists are exhibiting the same behavior that happened in the 16th century with Christianity. The protestant reformation erupted over the widespread abuse and corruption of the Vatican.

    Trey Lotz, who is at the highest level within the church as an OT8, is Aslan’s next interview target. He was excommunicated in 2007 and declared a suppressive person. Despite this, he audits people out of his house. He says the “Church” got rid of “old timers” and “run control on everybody.”

    People followed Trey. He tells Reza Aslan his past lives and even his remembered deaths. He recalls the vitality of Hubbard and conversely says the faith post-Hubbard became less kind and tainted.

    Many of these people Aslan interviews are “coming out of the closet” and are less fearful of the repercussions. “These are very devout believers,” says Aslan.

    Aslan gets audited. They try to break his concentration. Using insults and digs at his Iranian immigrant beginnings. This is an exercise in the process.

    Despite all of these intrusive and frankly mirrored psychology techniques, the “faith” of Scientologists is defended and admired by Aslan.

    Part of that stand is admirable, but for those who have witnessed lives destroyed, monies bilked from families and torn apart and outright threats made from shadowy entities within the cult, the reformation may be too little too late.

    More at
  21. The Wrong Guy Member

    Reza Aslan’s ‘Believer’ episode about indie Scientology lived down to all expectations

    By Tony Ortega, March 27, 2017


    This show was simply dishonest. Whatever you think of L. Ron Hubbard and the idea of past-life counseling, there’s just no denying that the Church of Scientology is a shrinking entity that is mired in controversy and accused of shocking abuse. Thousands have left the church in the last decade.

    And of those, the vast majority leave it altogether. A very small number, however, continue to practice some version of Scientology. These tend to be older people who miss what Scientology meant to them when they picked it up in the 1960s or 1970s. And not only are their numbers small, but that number is not growing appreciably.

    As Jefferson Hawkins pointed out yesterday, independent Scientology tends to be a brief phase that people go through on their way out of Hubbardism altogether. And that is worth covering — it’s something we’ve been covering pretty steadily for at least the last six or seven years.

    But Aslan, after admitting in the first part of his show that he has a “soft spot” for Scientology in general, tries to give the impression that independent Scientology is “pure” Scientology, and that it’s the future — a growing, living thing that could, as he said in one promo, become one of the great religions of the world.

    And the only way he could give that impression was through sleight of hand. As we said in our piece on Tuesday, he features places like the Dror Center or Rey Robles’s Reno group without giving any hint of just how tiny they are. Not once does he make any attempt to give some sense of the size of Scientology — the church or those outside it.

    Sure, it’s cool that Rey Robles thinks he’s OT 9 and has sorcerer powers — yes, he called himself a sorcerer — but should CNN really be using its media power to send Reza Aslan to Reno for that kind of pointless interview when in his own backyard, in Los Angeles, there’s a 7-year court battle being fought over Scientology forced abortion that’s already been to the US Supreme Court, a court fight that CNN has never mentioned at all?

    More at
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  22. DeathHamster Member

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  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    Here's some good information about who he is:

    Reza Aslan and the Myth of Information

    By Robyn Faith Walsh, The Huffington Post


    Aslan has often touted his credentials as a Religious Studies scholar on television. He is a Professor of Creative Writing and his most advanced degree is not in Religious Studies (or, for that matter, Creative Writing) but, rather, Sociology. He does have a two-year master’s degree from my alma mater, Harvard Divinity School, but he has otherwise earned his credentials outside of the discipline. His Wikipedia page claims he is an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion (our flagship organizations), but I’m hard-pressed to tell you the last time I saw him at a conference or the last time he gave a paper. He published his third book recently with Random House called Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (2013); however, at the risk of sounding somewhat cruel, his book utilized outmoded scholarship and was not taken seriously by most active scholars of New Testament or Early Christianity (by “seriously” I mean that it did not advance any conversation in the field, it revealed no new thesis/information about Jesus, and the approach was not innovative). Likewise, in his television appearances (including Believer), he regularly employs imprecise language about religion that cause many of his Religious Studies colleagues to cringe (“lived religion,” “experience,” “spirituality”). And he routinely makes (what are evidently) false claims about his status as part of the Creative Writing faculty at University of California at Riverside. Yet, at some stage, Aslan was able to gain a foothold in popular media (and, perhaps, imagination) as a scholar of religion and has been regularly appearing on CNN, Fox News, The Daily Show and related outlets ever since. He has carved out for himself an enviable career that, otherwise, can leave many who hold actual Religious Studies doctorates out in the cold.

    I give you this background not to forefront any direct disapproval of Aslan, but to highlight why he has become such a lightning rod. In short: he is hard to place. He claims he is a scholar of religion but, at least speaking as someone who is an assistant professor of early Christianity, scholars of religion have little to no association with him or his work. He is a Muslim writing popular books about the historical Jesus which can rankle those who aren’t fully aware of what academics do for a living. He is a great communicator, yet his words and writings reveal that he isn’t engaged with his professed field of study.
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  24. The Wrong Guy Member

    Lawrence Wright goes to Nazareth; or, how Reza Aslan drove us into the arms of L. Ron Hubbard

    By Tony Ortega, March 28, 2017


    Yesterday, we were still thinking about Reza Aslan’s friendly-but-not-so-friendly jabs at Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright in his Sunday night Believer episode about Scientology.

    Aslan was up front that he has a “soft spot” for Scientology, which he feels gets a bad rap. And certainly one of the biggest raps the church has absorbed lately was the documentary that Gibney and Wright came out with in 2015, Going Clear (disclosure: we’re in it).

    So Aslan could hardly weigh in without at least acknowledging Going Clear, and he did so in passive-aggressive ways which elicited nervous laughter on the screen.

    Did you notice, for example, that he said if Lawrence Wright had been around to interview Jesus, there would never have been Christianity?

    Is that like the most backhanded compliment of all time or what? And who makes out worse, exactly — Larry, or Christianity?

    Anyway, as we pointed out yesterday, Aslan used indie Scientology without acknowledging how tiny it is, which was our main criticism. But, another thing we’ll point out is that if you were paying attention to the opening section of his show, Aslan really wants to push back against reporting on Scientology in general. He thinks we’ve heard too much about abuses in movies like Going Clear, and it looked to us like indie Scientology was just a convenient vehicle for him to use. (He was, after all, apologizing for Scientology long before he started profiling indies.)

    OK, so Aslan set out to create a counter-narrative to Going Clear. But the biggest difference between the two wasn’t just the focus on abuses in Gibney’s documentary. It was the near erasing of L. Ron Hubbard in Aslan’s program.

    One of the things that made Going Clear so effective was the way that it went deep into Hubbard’s own history, with new material never heard before from Hubbard’s second wife, Sara Northrup, and great archival footage that really established Scientology’s bizarre underpinnings.

    After watching Aslan talk about Bullbaiting and other TRs and Disconnection and even Super Power with almost no references to Hubbard and how those ideas evolved, we were, believe it or not, feeling a need to hear some of the old man to re-ground us in what Scientology is really all about.

    So we dived into our collection yesterday, and more or less randomly pulled out a 1965 lecture that was part of the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course, the vaunted lectures that Hubbard gave in East Grinstead, England.

    We’ve pulled an excerpt for you in a short “fair use” segment, and we’ve even captioned it so you can follow along. It’s just a few minutes long. Join us for a moment of L. Ron goodness, please.

    Continued at
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  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Believe it or not, a second season of Reza Aslan’s ‘Believer’ is coming

    By Tony Ortega, May 24, 2017


    We’ve told you about cult expert Rick Ross many times in the past. We first wrote about Rick more than 20 years ago when we were living in Phoenix, and he still shows up here at the Bunker from time to time.

    And then yesterday, he sent us an email chain that we knew you’d want to see. He generously agreed to let us share it with you.

    On Monday, Rick was approached by a CNN producer who works with Reza Aslan, and since that’s punishment enough, we’ll do them a solid and hold back their identity. Here are the key lines from the email they sent Rick:

    I’m a producer for Believer, a CNN series that premiered earlier this year and follows noted author, scholar and adventurer Reza Aslan as he immerses himself in six different that are largely misunderstood by outsiders.

    Our first season ended very successfully, and we’re now working on research and development for season two. I’m writing to you because we’re interested in exploring active cults in America. Given your immense knowledge and expertise on the topic, I was wondering if we could set up a time to speak with you over Skype. Do you have a free hour this week to talk? If so, that would be fantastic.

    Hey, that’s news — a second season of Believer is on the way. We wonder if it will generate as much criticism from religion experts as the first season did. (We had our own criticisms of Aslan’s episode on Scientology, which we called ‘dishonest.’)

    So here’s the response that Rick Ross sent to the CNN producer, in its entirety:

    I don’t think Reza Aslan has any coherent understanding concerning destructive authoritarian groups called “cults.” He has demonstrated this repeatedly in interviews and very specifically in the episode about Scientology.

    Aslan didn’t even begin to penetrate the surface of Scientology in any meaningful way that could be understood by people interested in objective facts about the organization. Instead, he seemed intellectually lazy and apparently didn’t bother to seriously research Scientology.

    I deeply respect CNN. And have worked on many news programs for CNN over the years. For example, I have helped producers at “Anderson Cooper 360.” Cooper has done excellent work reporting on Scientology.

    But Aslan appears to be interested in sensational entertainment rather than anything serious or substantial.


    Rick Ross

    Ouch. That’s going to leave a mark.

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  26. The Wrong Guy Member

    CNN cuts ties with Reza Aslan following anti-Trump tweets | Fox News


    CNN has parted ways with "Believer" host Reza Aslan less than a week after the religious scholar came under fire for a series of heated tweets he made about President Trump.

    "CNN has decided to not move forward with production on the acquired series 'Believer with Reza Aslan' (season two)," a CNN rep told Fox News. "We wish Reza and his production team all the best." A rep for Aslan did not immediately return Fox News' request for comment.

    Aslan responded to Trump's June 3 remarks regarding the terrorist attacks in London calling Trump an "embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency" and a "piece of shit." He later apologized for his language.

    Aslan's CNN show faced controversy earlier this year when the 45-year-old ate a human brain with a Hindu cannibalistic sect in an episode that aired in March.

    Continued at
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  27. Quentinanon Member

    Both of Aslan's remarks I can empathize with, but he cannot be an objective journalist ans publicly say those things.
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  28. The Internet Member

    I think it is ok for a journalist to express the personal opinion that Trump has embarrassed America with his awful tweets to the mayor of London. But I think calling Trump a "piece of shit" is too crude for an outfit like CNN.

    Being objective means you base your conclusions on facts. It doesn't mean that you walk around pretending you've never reached a conclusion on anything.
    • Like Like x 1
  29. DeathHamster Member

    Perhaps he was having an off day. Maybe it was someone he ate?
    • Like Like x 2
  30. Like his hat being forced down his throat? He's always wrong after all.
  31. The Internet Member

    Maybe the prions in that brain he ate are replicating.

    This is why only zombies should consume brains.
  32. Quentinanon Member

    Hubbard's barley water formula?
  33. The first one is arguably an objective fact. :)

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