Mark Bunker

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Mark Bunker
Mark Bunker Portrait 2.jpg
Portrait of Bunker
Member of the Clearwater City Council
Personal details
Born (1956-05-23) May 23, 1956 (age 65)
Oshkosh, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyIndependent
OccupationBroadcast journalist, videographer, documentary filmmaker
Known forCriticism of Scientology
WebsiteCampaign Website

Mark Bunker, (born May 23, 1956) is an American politician, broadcast journalist, videographer and documentary filmmaker. He won a Regional Emmy Award in 2006 from the Pacific Southwest Emmy Awards division of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.[1][2] He is the city councilman for Clearwater Florida's 2nd district.[3]

He is a critic of the Church of Scientology, having previously worked for Bob Minton and the Lisa McPherson Trust, and is the founder of Xenu TV, a website featuring videos and commentary critical of Scientology.[4]

Early career[edit]

Mark Bunker worked in radio in the Midwest. In the mid-1980s, he then moved to Los Angeles to work as a theater actor and as an actor in television commercials.[5] He also worked for a company doing market research for Hollywood studios, and trained as a video editor with KNBC. [5]

Broadcast journalism[edit]

In 2006, Bunker along with KUSI-TV reporter Lena Lewis, won an Emmy Award from the Pacific Southwest Emmy Awards division of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, for a story on border issues in the San Diego, California area.[1][2]

Criticism of Scientology[edit]

Mark Bunker talking to a police officer in Clearwater, Florida

Bunker started Xenu TV in 1999 and moved to Clearwater, Florida, where he produced videos for the Lisa McPherson trust.[6]

In 2001, Mark Bunker and Jeff Jacobsen, a fellow critic of the Church of Scientology, were refused service by businesses operated by Scientologists in Clearwater.[7] Together they filed discrimination complaints with the Pinellas County Office of Human Rights.[7] The Office of Human Rights rejected their complaints, ruling that the church members had not broken any laws in denying them service.[7] Bunker, Jacobson, and other members of the Lisa McPherson Trust saw this as a sign of the escalating control the Church of Scientology held over the town.[7] Ray Arsenault, a University of South Florida professor and then acting president of the Pinellas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, also viewed the denials as acts of discrimination. "It really is a way of trying to bring pressure to stop them from exercising their First Amendment rights."[7]

Since 2010, Bunker has been producing a feature-length independent documentary film entitled Knowledge Report: Scientology's Spies, Lies, and the Eternity Prize concerning the Church of Scientology.[8][9] According to Bunker, the planned release date is May 2016.[10] This film is being funded by Bunker himself and through crowdfunding.

Project Chanology[edit]

Mark Bunker addresses Anonymous
(January 26, 2008)

In 2008, Bunker posted a video to YouTube critical of the Internet-based group "Anonymous" and asked them to tone down their campaign against the Church of Scientology; a movement called "Project Chanology".[11] In the video "Message to Anonymous", Bunker urged the group to work legally and pursue peaceful ways to protest Scientology.[12]

According to NPR's Morning Edition, Bunker has "become a revered voice to many members of Anonymous",[13] and they refer to him as "Wise Beard Man".[14] Anonymous has adopted a slogan referring to Bunker: "Wise Beard Man. His words are wise, his face is beard."[12] The refrain along with a picture of Bunker has become an Internet meme on the website 4chan.[15]

When actor Jason Beghe decided to leave Scientology in 2008, he contacted Andreas Heldal-Lund, founder of Operation Clambake, who convinced him to meet with Bunker.[16] Heldal-Lund and Bunker went to Beghe's house, where Beghe participated in an interview about his experiences as a Scientologist.[16] Bunker published a 3-minute portion of the 3-hour interview to YouTube in mid-April 2008,[17] and in the video Beghe calls Scientology "very dangerous for your spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional health and evolution".[18] He also comments "I don't have an agenda. I'm just trying to help. I have the luxury of having gotten into Scientology and after having been in it, been out. And that's a perspective that people who are still in and not out do not have."[19]

Clip of Bunker's interview with Jason Beghe
(April 14, 2008)

The video was taken down from YouTube on April 17, 2008 but was reposted by multiple other YouTube users shortly thereafter.[20] By April 18, 2008, at least 45 users had reposted the video interview using their own YouTube accounts.[4] Bunker's account was also canceled on April 17, and he believes this was due to copyright issues with a clip from The Colbert Report that he had uploaded.[20][21] Bunker said that those issues had been resolved, and that YouTube should have given him time to prove that before pulling the Jason Beghe interview.[20] Bunker believes that YouTube removed the Beghe interview after receiving pressure from Scientology.[20] A representative for YouTube told Fox News "There’s no conspiracy here.", but would not say whether Scientology pressured YouTube to remove the video, saying: "We do not comment on individual videos."[20]

On February 24, 2009, Bunker was arrested while photographing the arrest of another individual who was protesting against Scientology outside of the organization's Gold Base compound near Hemet, California.[22] The protester was also arrested, after Scientology officials had made a citizen's arrest.[22] Bunker stated that five protesters had previously walked in front of the Scientology property, and crossed its driveway.[22] Police allege that the two individuals arrested were blocking the entrance to the facility, but according to The Press-Enterprise: "protesters say they were neither trespassing nor blocking the entryway".[22] A protester was arrested, and Bunker said that while he was photographing police deputies arrest the individual, he was arrested as well.[22] The protesters were released the same day, and the Riverside County District Attorney dropped the case because of insufficient evidence.[23]

Clearwater City Council Run[edit]

On June 21, 2019, Bunker announced that he would be running for Clearwater City Council in the March 2020 election.[24] Among his campaign issues were demanding accountability and openness from the leaders of the Church of Scientology. His campaign was endorsed by Scientology and the Aftermath hosts Leah Remini and Mike Rinder.[25][26] On March 17, 2020, Bunker was elected to the Clearwater City Council.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Bunker was born on May 23, 1956, in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.[27]


Year Award Organization Work Category Result
2006 Emmy Award Pacific Southwest Emmy Awards Border Special, KUSI Historic/Cultural - Program Feature/Segment Won[1][2]


  1. ^ a b c "Emmy 2006 Recipients - Historic/Cultural - Program Feature/Segment" (PDF). The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, Pacific Southwest Chapter. 2006. p. 8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-27. Retrieved 2009-11-23.
  2. ^ a b c Whyte, Murray (February 10, 2008). "Scientology Protests - Anons plan 'polite' church protest: Demonstrations - sparked by viral spread of Tom Cruise promo video - planned in 14 countries". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
  3. ^ a b "Clearwater City Council Seat 2: Scientology critic Bunker earns historic win, awaits coronavirus test results". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  4. ^ a b Schmidt, Veronica (April 18, 2008). "Jason Beghe Scientology video removed from YouTube". Times Online. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  5. ^ a b "The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 7: Mark Bunker". The Village Voice. September 16, 2011. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  6. ^ Lattin, Don (2000-05-15). "Travolta's Religious Battlefield: Critics say movie bolsters Scientology". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2007-10-28.
  7. ^ a b c d e O'Neil, Deborah (2001-09-23). "Northpinellas: Scientologist merchants can bar critics: A ruling says church opponents are not protected from discrimination and can be refused service". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2008-05-14.
  8. ^ "About the Film". Knowledge Report. May 16, 2009. Archived from the original on August 8, 2011.
  9. ^ Ortega, Tony (July 26, 2011). "Scientology Apocalypse! Mark Bunker and Marty Rathbun Reveal Their Ties". The Village Voice. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  10. ^ Ortega, Tony (November 5, 2015). "Hey, Mark Bunker, what's taking that film of yours — 'Knowledge Report' — so long?". The Underground Bunker. Retrieved March 18, 2016.
  11. ^ Puzzanghera, Jim (February 4, 2008). "Scientology feud with its critics takes to Internet: Cyber attacks and threats against the church erupt after it asks YouTube to pull Tom Cruise clips". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2008-02-05.
  12. ^ a b Landers, Chris (April 2, 2008). "Feature by Chris Landers: Serious Business". Baltimore City Paper. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-16.
  13. ^ Masters, Kim; Renée Montagne (February 7, 2008). "'Anonymous Wages Attack on Scientologists: The fight started when the Scientologists tried to get a video of Tom Cruise off the Internet". Morning Edition: Digital Culture. National Public Radio. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
  14. ^ Ortega, Tony (2008-03-11). "What to Get L. Ron Hubbard for His Birthday". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Archived from the original on 2008-03-15. Retrieved 2008-03-18.
  15. ^ Davies, Shaun (2008-05-08). "We've toned down the hate: Anonymous: Anonymous's initial attack on Scientology was highly aggressive — the group collapsed the church's website on January 17 and "declared war" soon after". National Nine News. Archived from the original on 2009-02-25. Retrieved 2008-05-08.
  16. ^ a b Ortega, Tony (April 8, 2008). "Scientology's First Celebrity Defector Reveals Church Secrets: 'I was Miscavige's favorite boy,' says veteran TV actor Jason Beghe". Village Voice. Archived from the original on April 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-16.
  17. ^ Friedman, Roger (April 16, 2008). "Actor: Scientology Is 'Brainwashing'". Fox News. Retrieved 2008-04-16.
  18. ^ "'Sex and the City' star's cancer battle, Mills follows McCartney". The New Zealand Herald. April 16, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-17.
  19. ^ Staff (April 23, 2008). "Hollywood Scientologist slams church: A former friend of Tom Cruise and long-term member of the Church of Scientology has slammed the controversial religion in an online video rant". Marie Claire. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  20. ^ a b c d e Friedman, Roger (April 18, 2008). "Cruise, Travolta: Homo-novis". Fox News. Fox News Network, LLC. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  21. ^ Metz, Cade (April 24, 2008). "Anti-Scientology crusader vaporized from YouTube: 'Help me, Stephen Colbert. You're my only hope'". The Register. Retrieved 2008-04-24.
  22. ^ a b c d e Glick, Julia (February 24, 2009). "Two protesters arrested, cited outside Church of Scientology compound". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 2009-02-25.
  23. ^ Asbury, John (April 25, 2009). "Scientology protesters won't face charges". The Press-Enterprise. Retrieved 2009-06-27.
  24. ^ "He has publicly criticized Scientology for decades. Now he's running for Clearwater City Council". Tampa Bay Times. 2019-06-21. Retrieved 2019-06-30.
  25. ^ "Scientology critic Leah Remini endorses Clearwater City Council candidate Mark Bunker". Creative Loafing: Tampa Bay. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  26. ^ "Leah Remini Takes Battle With Scientology to Clearwater Political Race". Q101. Retrieved 2020-03-18.
  27. ^ "Mark Bunker Biography". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 15 November 2019.

External links[edit]