Marty Rathbun is Big in the U.K., Still Waiting for Major U.S. Treatment

Marty Rathbun is Big in the U.K., Still Waiting for Major U.S. Treatment
Michael Zamora/The Independent

This weekend's lengthy profile of Marty Rathbun by The Independent's Guy Adams really brought back a lot of memories for us.

Last year, we brought you frequent coverage of the bizarre "Squirrel Busters" siege at Rathbun's house near Corpus Christi, Texas. For some five months, a strange spiritual showdown took place in little Ingleside on the Bay, and as it escalated, we kept waiting for major U.S. media to jump on the story.

Well, we're still waiting. But at least readers in the UK have now been treated to a thorough and entertaining telling of the tale.

Like the Texas Monthly before it, The Independent does a fine job summarizing what happened as a crew of camera-carrying Scientologists planted themselves on a South Texas cul-de-sac, day after day, claiming to be doing a documentary on Rathbun, who was once the church's second-highest ranking official until he defected in 2004.

(For some reason, neither publication reported what we established here at the Voice: that there was no question the "Squirrel Busters" team was an operation of the church itself, supervised by Dave Lubow, a private eye who has long been used for such retaliation schemes by Scientology. Come on, fellow journalists: don't let the church get away with its lame denials of a connection to the Busters when there's solid evidence to connect the two. You only do your readers a disservice by not pointing this out.)

Adams does a great job portraying Rathbun in his complex role: the church's former enforcer, Rathbun is now trying to draw longtime church members out of the organization with the use of his popular blog. Rathbun has plenty of detractors, many of them longtime critics who believe he hasn't done enough to explain and apologize for his own actions when he worked for the church. But that doesn't change the fact that he's reaching deep inside Scientology to help lead an exodus of members that threatens to cripple David Miscavige's leadership.

As Adams points out, we're coming up soon on the anniversary of John Allender and the other Squirrel Busters first showing up on Rathbun's porch with cameras strapped to their heads. We'll have to think of an appropriate way to observe that anniversary here, and we can only hope it motivates some major U.S. media to finally start paying attention to the split tearing apart the Church of Scientology right before our eyes.


Scientology Sunday Funnies!

Just about every day, we receive the latest wacky and tacky fundraising mailers put out by Scientology orgs around the world. Thank you, tipsters, for forwarding them to us! On Sundays, we love to reveal them to you.

What better way to celebrate the Thetan-known-as-Jesus picking up a new meat body than to go to the Celebrity Centre in Hollywood and search for missing painted eggs?

Honestly, the sheer amount of pagan, Sci Fi, and New Testament freakout going on in this new flier is enough to upset my entire Whole Track...

Marty Rathbun is Big in the U.K., Still Waiting for Major U.S. Treatment
It's not enough that yellow-jacketed Volunteer Ministers are willing to drop everything to go hand out pamphlets and practice touch-assist voodoo at the latest site of a natural disaster, but these unpaid volunteers have to pay $150 each just to attend their own convention? Ouch, right?
Marty Rathbun is Big in the U.K., Still Waiting for Major U.S. Treatment
Marty Rathbun is Big in the U.K., Still Waiting for Major U.S. Treatment
Marty Rathbun is Big in the U.K., Still Waiting for Major U.S. Treatment
What is it about San Diego? Yet another flier from the home of Ron Burgundy that literally hurts the eyes with its atrocious graphic design. But that isn't the only thing in bad taste this time. Are we the only ones thinking maybe it isn't really such a good idea to use the 100-year anniversary of the deaths of 1,514 people as a fundraising tool?
Marty Rathbun is Big in the U.K., Still Waiting for Major U.S. Treatment
Hey, wasn't Scientology boasting just the other day that California is now the first All-Ideal Org state in the country? Well, apparently that was jumping the gun a bit. As this flier shows, there's still plenty to do to get the San Fernando Valley Ideal Org finished, so open those wallets, people!
Marty Rathbun is Big in the U.K., Still Waiting for Major U.S. Treatment

Thank you tipsters, and please, keep those fliers coming!


Commenters of the Week!

Last week, we started things off with something unusual -- word from Richard Nixon's foundation that it didn't think much of the Church of Scientology's rather weird revision of history which had Tricky Dick leading an attempt by atomic scientists to overthrow the U.S. government in 1945 with nuclear weapons.

In our Sunday Funnies, meanwhile, we found it odd that the Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater, Florida, was advertising a lecture that would connect Scientology with Masonry and the history of "magic." That prompted this response from BroekerBroekerBroeker...

The idea of CoS developing an interest in establishing relationships with Masons isn't all that far-fetched. After all, Masonic orders are shrinking in numbers, and are having a difficult time attracting new members. But they own some of the most striking properties in many American cities -- properties that I have to imagine DM would covet as Idle Orgs ...

Another flier encouraged Scientologists in Chicago to come back into the org to make up or redo basic training routines that they might have considered completed long before. John P. shared this thought about that...

I am stunned that people would fall for the made-up excuse to get them in and do hundreds of hours of low-grade nonsense after reaching lofty and exalted OT super powers. The sad thing is that the people remaining in the Church are probably so bereft of the ability for autonomous thought that they think this is reasonable.

...prompting this quick comeback by Noah Miller...



On Wednesday, we published video interviews that we'd done with Mike Rinder last month in Florida. Rinder, the Church of Scientology's former chief spokesman, talked about what it was like to be held in "the Hole," what the mass confessions there were like, and how Scientologists are able to tolerate so much abuse.

Radio Paul was clearly paying attention...

Sounds like Ronnie Miscavige is an SP who helps SP's. DM's own family!

We also appreciated the thought put into this comment by anne...

I feel for Mike Rinder, I really do. How could he not still be reeling from all of his experiences within the church. The proximity alone to "COB," not to mention the physical attacks that came from him, were enough to crush any man or woman. The best part of course in his telling of the story is of his departure. Instead of following orders to report to Saint Hill for MEST work, he simply picks up the only thing he owns, a briefcase, and heads for the tubes and out onto the streets of London. I felt liberated just hearing it. He'd given years and years and years to this church, and just walked away. My wish for you Mike is that some day you may reconcile with you children.

We have to agree with Skwerl King that Rinder gave us some interesting insights into Scientology mind-think...

Pay very close attention to Rinder's description of the indoctrination. It is one of the best explanations I've heard of how a normal, sane human being can begin to believe and do things everyone else finds unacceptable.

And once again, Jefferson Hawkins made us all feel a bit smarter...

Tony, thanks for filming these interviews with Mike and posting them. It is hard for anyone not in that culture to understand how that kind of environment is created and why people put up with it. Mike does a masterful job of explaining it. Mike was arguably THE most abused person on that Base. I recall one morning as I was clearing weeds in the "OGH" detention compound, I saw a horrifying apparition coming down the road - it looked like something from "Dawn of the Dead" - pale, skeletal, ragged, stumbling down the road, half alive. It was Mike, going to get a few hours sleep in a filthy dormitory after who know how many days without sleep. That's why it is a particular joy for me to see Mike well-fed, healthy, happy, and in a beautiful home. And speaking openly about his experiences. Every Scientologist, I don't care who they are, has some level of cognitive dissonance. They can see that the world of Scientology does not match up with what it is "supposed to be." When that dissonance becomes overwhelming, when they can no longer explain it all away - that's when they leave.

On Friday, we published an interesting update to our ongoing coverage of this year's "Writers of the Future" contest, with news that Karen Black and Nancy Cartwright have been added to this year's gala. The event appears to be turning into a big Scientology celebration, which should make some of the Sci Fi and fantasy writers uncomfortable. Or, as Anon anon song put it...

It would be safe to assume that a few other contestants/participants in the contest are on the fence as far as their attendance to the gala. My IT (Insight Thought) powers and current cloud formations give me the confidence to put down 10$ that the new scilon billing marquee will inspire a few strep throats, family emergencies or haircut appointments that CANNOT be cancelled.

JustCallMeMary had doubts about our (admittedly speculative) assertion that the big added names to the gala were a direct result of our previous coverage. But even so, she points out, the presence of so many Scientology figures does threaten to overwhelm the event...

Frankly, I think this event with the Scientologists headlining it was planned and organized before your article. Having all those names attached to the event and program in general is suicide. Every name listed there ( with the possible exception of Phil Proctor ) is a Scientologist. They were probably looking to use this event to expand WOTF further into the Hollywood scene. Between your original WOTF article, the defections from the WOTF and this article, Scientology is now indelibly linked with the contest.

We can hardly wait for the event on the 15th.

Enjoy your Sunday, whether it's a holy one for your family or just another great day off. Please check with our Facebook author page for updates and schedules of future posts. We have plenty of good stories in the hopper, so check in with us often!

********** 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, 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 is now being 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.

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