It's a Scientology Book Avalanche! RUN FOR COVER!
A slow week was suddenly broken wide open as we were hit with an avalanche of new books, promised books, and barely-begun books with one thing in common: Disapproval of David Miscavige's brand of Scientology.
After the jump, we'll tell you about the book that legendary cult-busting attorney Paul Morantz sent us, and discuss some promises that Jesse Prince has made about a book he's writing, which involves going after former church executive Marty Rathbun. But first, in the video above, Rathbun himself reads to us from the intro to a book he's writing on how to "cure Scientology with Scientology."
Rathbun has been telling us that he's working on multiple books about his more than 20 years as a powerful executive in Scientology and then his subsequent years as one of its most visible critics.
As we've noted in the past, Rathbun, who was once the church's second-highest-ranking official and its notorious enforcer, has proved to be a serious threat to Miscavige's leadership of Scientology now that he's out and writing a blog that harshly criticizes the church. Because he still adheres to the ideas of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, Rathbun's message -- that Scientology isn't broken, but Miscavige's version of it is -- he's proved very effective at reaching deep into the ranks of longtime, disaffected church members and leading them out to a growing "independent Scientology" movement.
That message is clearly on display in this introduction that he reads, which features no criticism of Hubbard or of Scientology's beliefs, but instead suggests that Scientology can be reformed. Rathbun says the book will appear in "four to five weeks," and that its title will be What's Wrong with Scientology: Healing through Understanding.
We found it particularly interesting that in order to make this point about reforming Scientology, Rathbun talks at length about another high-profile defector, the actor Jason Beghe. Beghe made news in 2008 when he recorded a lengthy videotaped denunciation of Scientology and its bedrock principles. "Let me see a motherfucking clear," he said in that video, mocking the idea -- which Hubbard proposed from the very beginning of Scientology in the 1950s -- that Dianetics could produce a state of mind with superhuman qualities called "clear."
Beghe has assured me that he is not, in fact, an "independent Scientologist" and that he no longer ascribes to Hubbard's ideas, but Rathbun doesn't really make that explicit in the portion he reads in this video. I tried to ask Jason about that yesterday, but I didn't reach him.
Rathbun's wasn't the only book project announced yesterday. At his blog, former Scientologist Jesse Prince revealed that he's making progress on his own book about the church, which he left in 1992. He explained that he intends to write critically about Rathbun and another former Scientology executive, Mike Rinder, who was the church's chief spokesman until his defection in 2007.
"After I left it became Marty's job and priority to eradicate me in any way he could without implicating the church. Marty was very creative with his attempts to eradicate or silence me as an enemy target," Prince writes.
Rathbun and Prince are giving us peeks at the very beginnings of books which aren't finished, and they may be getting ahead of themselves. But assuming that these projects do get finished and then are (likely self-) published, it does seem to mark a shift in the way Scientology is being written about.
A spate of remarkable tell-all books by former Scientology employees came out between 2008 and 2011 by Amy Scobee, Nancy Many, Jefferson Hawkins, and Marc Headley. Each contained devastating looks at the church, its leader David Miscavige, and didn't really spare Hubbard or his ideas. Those books emerged on the scene as the Independent movement grew, and as the Anonymous movement put heavy pressure on the church all over the world. Scientology has visibly suffered from that double-fisted onslaught, but perhaps with the success of so much anti-Scientology activity, the fault lines in that united effort are starting to show more clearly.
On June 30, for example, there's a conference scheduled in Dublin that will feature ex-Scientologists who still adhere to Hubbard's ideas, as well as those who don't, and Anonymous is planning a "mega-raid" for the same weekend there. Even before the conference starts, I've noticed some sniping about it at WhyWeProtest.net, where questions have been raised about how someone like Samantha Domingo, an outspoken ex-church member who is an ardent Hubbard and Rathbun supporter, might get along with an ex-Scientologist and Hubbard critic like Tory Christman. (My prediction: swimmingly.)
With Scientology at a critical juncture in its history -- as its "Ideal Org" program, for example, farcically tries to give the impression that Scientology is growing when more and more evidence suggests that the church is actually facing serious problems with its ranks shrinking -- it would be a shame for Scientology watchers to get distracted by internal squabbling or by trying to settle ancient scores. (Just this old timer's two cents.)
On a more refreshing note, we received from Paul Morantz a copy of his new book this week. Titled Escape: My Lifelong War Against Cults, it's a thrilling read that links together half a century of mental manipulation, violence, and legal warfare waged by controversial religious movements.
Morantz is most well known, of course, as the lawyer that Synanon tried to kill in 1978 by putting a rattlesnake in his mailbox. (He was bitten and nearly died, then helped sue the organization out of existence.) But his lawsuits against "totalist movements" (his preferred term) were not limited to Synanon -- I really wasn't aware of how Morantz had fought nearly every religious charlatan who flourished in the 1960s and 1970s.
As I started the book -- which Morantz wrote with his former USC Daily Trojan colleague Hal Lancaster -- I winced when it opened by bouncing around subjects like "American Taliban" recruit John Walker Lindh, to Mao Tse-Tung's theories, to American GIs brainwashed during the Korean War. Was Morantz biting off more than he could chew? Soon, his project became clear -- he was laying the groundwork for showing how so many controversial groups, particularly those coming out of the 1960s human potential movement, shared the same kinds of ideas, the same kinds of methods, and the same kinds of results.
As I made my way through the chapters, I found things in Charles Manson's "family," the Symbionese Liberation Army, Synanon, Jim Jones's People's Temple, Werner Erhard's est, the Unification Church, and Bagwan Shree Rajneesh's commune that were eerily similar to the tales the Headleys, Scobee, Hawkins, Rinder and others have brought to us out of Scientology. Forced abortions. Extreme hours with little to no pay. Sleep deprivation. Constant, ego-smashing abuse combined with just as constant praise and reassurance. Disconnection from families. Vicious legal strategies intended to ruin reputations and cripple outside interference.
Another recurring theme is that Morantz ended up tangling with nearly all of these organizations in one way or another, and usually found a way to do serious damage to them even when the government couldn't be bothered. Then, he turns to Scientology and gives a brief yet thorough background on its genesis and history, but in this case his involvement was only tangential -- he helped attorney Ford Greene in Gerry Armstrong's legal battles, and has filed a brief in support of the Headleys' appeal after their 2008 lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge (Morantz has not heard yet whether the appeals court will consider his brief).
Even though Morantz didn't find himself waging the kind of epic struggle he'd had with Synanon, his two chapters on Scientology were helpful because of the way they fit in with the rest of the book. He puts Hubbard's creation in a larger context that I found fascinating.
Note: I received this response and wanted to add it to this story.
I just read the review by Tony Ortega of Paul Morantz's book, Escape: My Lifelong War Against Cults. Mr. Morantz's book as well as Mr. Ortega's review includes the est Training in the same category as a few groups that used methods that were aggressive and perhaps even harmful. Nothing could be further from the truth. The late Margaret Singer, a well-known cult expert, even stated in a deposition that est is not a cult. The est Training was an enormously popular, sometimes controversial and frequently imitated educational program of the 70s that spawned an entire self-development and coaching industry. Furthermore, it made a huge contribution to the lives of over 500,000 people including government leaders, businesses professionals and respected artists. Many of its key concepts have earned a lasting place in mainstream culture.
Martin N. Leaf, Esq. Former Counsel to the est Training New York, New York
Scientology on the High Seas!
In November the Voice obtained hundreds of copies of L. Ron Hubbard's previously unpublished "Orders of the Day," which he gave to crew members as he sailed the Atlantic and the Mediterranean on the yacht Apollo. Our documents cover the period from late 1968 through 1971, and this time we're looking at what was happening the week of June 3 - 9 during those years.
This week, Smersh is nearly licked...
June 4: Nelson Rockefeller is Blofeld!
We made it.
As we left the Agent said we were the finest bunch of people he'd ever had to deal with. And the pilot apologized for the papers action saying he and his friends were embarrassed. With all the whistles and waves on our leaving I would say we opened the port completely.
Did you see in the news where Nelson (Smersh) Rockefeller was asked NOT to visit Venezuela? One smart country. Nelson's National Health Foundation money finances Smersh. He also runs Stockades in NY where youth who MIGHT become delinquent are sent. (They really are called stockades). His oil companies also exploit Venezuela and drain off her natural resources. He's touring Latin America with 26 top advisors (psychiatrists) at Nixon's request to "find out what they want". He stopped a whole 8 hours in one country. He has now found they don't want Rockefeller.
We have a personal note to one Central American Country's No. 2 man. The area is too not politically just now. We avoid such areas as political heat brings in the KGB of Russia, CIA of US and the British Intelligence and they file false reports with each other. Makes anyone in the area subject to hammering.
Dianetics study is now total for those off watch in study hours.
The chaplain does not need HCO clearance to speak to somebody or do her job.
HCO did well getting the Missionaires off.
I hope we bribed the guards adequately. It's the custom in Portugeuse customs.
Div. 3 should now reorganize to take over all their duties re serving and dishes. When they have it reorganized we will switch back.
Port and Stbd. watches must include EVERYONE so as to adjust liberty.
A commendable to MSH for getting urgent traffic off which had been neglected on lines and came to me as we have short on the anchor!
DON'T WASTE WATER.
DON'T WASTE FUEL.
My confidence in the ship was badly jarred by the false food reports off Malaga. Such goofs and oversights are beyond my reality.
Therefore I hope you will start a campaign to win back my confidence.
June 4: We haven't used the chain locker in a long time. So why dwell on it?
Here's a wild out-point. In the SO we have a reputation for chains, chain lockers, overboards and mud boxes. Yet I haven't seen a low condition assigned for ages or any real need for one.
In Scn orgs, where they say we are so rough they assign a low condition (SH, OTL WW report this spring) to a student for doping off on a tape and drive her into an agony of grief. HCO ES, this spring, Comm Eved the whole EC of Wash DC when the SO had recently put their stats up and they were doing fine -- and after flying them clear to LA, absolved them utterly as all a mistake!
We have now traced the three sources in the US of the year old rumour that SO Missions collapse stats.
1. Walters who was pocketing WW 10 percents.
2. An SF staff member who was passing paying org pcs to outside auditors for a cut.
3. The Eckers in NY who were connected while inside the NY org to Bernie Green in Franchise who was selling forged OT materials and who blew to his group.
So when you hear how bad the SO mission does, watch it.
June 5: Hey, watch where you drop your meat body!
Mayfair magazine UK published an article by me as a "World Exclusive." It may effectively handle a lot of things. It ended off the William Burroughs thing. It said why we're attacked and attacks hard. It appeared on the stands just before Parliament adjourned. Captain AOUK said it acted like an S & D on the crew there.
Those recently injured were not PTS. Survey showed they were exterior and feeling powerful and didn't watch where they were sending the body.
June 4: Mo' money, mo' money! And: Mary Sue gets ethical!
GOT IT MADE
We have GOT IT MADE.
From where I view the scene, the show can't be slowed down much less stopped.
Tech breakthroughs -- a faster L10, dizzy fast. Hi Lo TA troubles on the way out. PTS tech brand new, 1st case after I found the theory, went like a megaton firecracker.
CLOs on the ball.
FB rolling it out.
FAO snapping to.
FSO more on the ball than I've ever seen it.
Look out world, that's us.
We've GOT IT MADE!
That moment of silence in the line above is a moment's sorrowful quiet with the cops doffed while the Guardians Office laid another wreath on the grave of Smersh. It says, sadly,
"they tried to stop us."
POWER crackles on the mountain tops.
A world knows something is happening.
The accursed world everyone shunned.
(Did you know that?)
Turned around and headed up. Headed up? This world
WE have got it made.
All we've got to do now guys is handle that old Human Emotion and Reaction and
KEEP IT ROLLING!
You and me.
STOP THE PRESS
The Food and Drug Administration of the US Govt has attacked us, raided orgs and sued us and stopped E-Meters and made it difficult to supply them. On 7 June 71 the FDA vs Church of Scn trial is opening in St. Louis. So far all reports is that it will be favorable.
The Gdns Office US has been conducting nation wide press and TV and poster campaigns against this Fasciest book burning agency. The poster picture in the German helmet was of Goodrich, head of the FDA.
A telex has just been received from the US. FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE TRIAL GOODRICH HAS RESIGNED "EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY"!
Dozens of organizations have tried in vain to get rid of this man. It took the US GO to force his resignation.
We're in POWER CONDITION!
This Power that ousted Goodrich will now be channeled into the eradication of Fascism and Nazi groups such as the National Association of Mental Health and the World Federation of Mental Health, the International Nazi organizations that created Hitler.
High and Low TA problems are undoubtedly over. HCOB 3 June 71's first testt case was a howling success.
PTS: The main cause of being a potential trouble source is being connected with persons (such as marital or familial ties) of known antagonism to Scientology.
If your mother, father, aunt, grandfather, husband, etc., are antagonistic to Scientology or to your being in Scientology -- you ARE a potential trouble source and by POLICY must report yourself as such to Ethics (Master-at-Arms).
Quite frequently the cause of such antagonism is due to the individual's own mishandling of the family member concerned. Certainly the least one can do in handling such a situation besides reporting the matter to Ethics, is to remain in good communication with the family member concerned so as to not cause further upset.
We have just had to return an FEBC student to Toronto because:
1. His father was antagonistic to his being in Scientology.
2. He had failed to communicate to his father even though he knew via the reports of others that his father was worried because of not hearing from his son.
Therefore, if this definition applies to you:
1. report immediately to the Master-at-Arms.
2. Take action to handle the situation.
Mary Sue Hubbard, CS-G
June 5: Hawkins, get yer TR's in, stat!
TR COMPLETIONS REQUIRED
The following persons are ordered to complete the TR Course tonight by midnight: Jean Smith, Carl Barney, Jeff Hawkins, Marcus Lanciai, Terry Lee, Laurie Dean, Harriet Foster, Doris Hoyseth, Lars Gustavson, Edie Hoyseth, Kristen Puckett, Ken Banfield.
Those above not so completing will thereafter be transferred to Cramming and operate on a surcharge of $100 a day.
More 1970s Awesomeness!
While L. Ron Hubbard had moved HQ from the yacht Apollo to the Florida coast, Advance! magazine was thrilling Scientologists with tales of "OT Phenomena." Those church members who had reached the higher levels of spiritual training shared their stories of superhuman powers with fellow dupes -- er, enthusiasts. This excerpt is from Issue 36, November 15, 1975. (And another cover featuring a photo by the Commodore!)
Actually, Issue 36 didn't have an "OT Phenomenon" section. Instead, it was a special issue, editor David Ziff pointed out.
Not only was it a Christmas issue, Ziff wrote, but "this issue is special for another very important and historical reason. It is a celebration of the State of Clear occasioned by the announcement, in this issue, of Clear 5000."
From the announcement...
Cathy Moore, a California Scientologist, became Clear 5000 at the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles.
This accomplishment is a tribute not only to Cathy but to the staffs of AOLA, AOSH UK and AOSH EU who are seeing that Ron's upper level technology is standardly applied.
Cathy and her husband, Greg (also a Clear), first found Scientology while visiting friends at the Davis Scientology Mission in Davis, California. She was impressed that Scientologists had "live communication and were exhilarated by what they were doing." Cathy immediately signed up for the Communications Course. Soon she was doing her Academy Levels and is now a Class IV auditor.
Concerning herself Cathy says: "Prior to Scientology I had been looking for understanding of myself and the truth for a long time. Of course, in Scientology I found it. What was even more rewarding was finding a way to help others to be happier and to know too."
Hip hip hooray! It's amazing to think that way back in late 1975, L. Ron Hubbard produced the 5,000th Clear, a superhuman Scientologist with total recall, the power of clairvoyance, and an imperviousness to disease. It really is a testament to the power of Dianetics.
We wondered what had happened to Cathy,
and then noticed this four-year-old article from Washington state...
Thank you, Luis Garcia and Dan Locke, for pointing out that I'd found the wrong Cathy Moore in a 2008 obit.
In fact, Cathy "Clear 5000" Moore is still kicking it old school at the OC org, where we saw her recently firing a major all-hands party in Central Files to prepare for the new Ideal Org...
Clear 5000, we salute you.
We'll finish up with issue 36's back cover for some inspiration:
Please remember, on your way to clearing the planet, to check our Facebook author page for schedules and updates.
********** Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.
As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.