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Scientology Leftovers: Commenters of the Week!

We're still recovering here in the underground bunker from this week's big feast. The leftover turkey is still holding out as we look back on the past week of Scientology watching here at Runnin' Scared.

We started things off Sunday morning with a look at Part 3 of "The Money Machine," the great new series about Scientology's high-pressure fundraising by the journalists at the St. Pete Times. We were happy to see that regular reader Synthia Fagen had a star turn in this installment of the project!

Sunday afternoon, after the morning open thread, we posted our video report of the "fancy raid" put on Saturday evening by NYC's Anonymous chapter.

Monday morning, we celebrated Part 4 of the St. Pete Times series, which looked at how the $100 million Super Power Building in Clearwater has served as such a cash cow for the church.

That evening, we posted a remarkable video showing a Scientology executive hitting up the people at a New Year's Eve party for thousands of dollars. We thought it made for a great companion to what the St. Pete Times has been putting out this week.

Tuesday morning, we took a look at the curious career of Chill EB, a Bay Area rapper who, years after he had some minor radio hits, has become the in-house hip hop entertainer for Scientology.

The next morning, we posted a remarkable Direct Message conversation that I had with Chill EB after our story the previous day had caught his attention.

On Thursday, we posted our Thanksgiving tribute to Paulette Cooper, not only to salute her courage but also to mark the 40th anniversary since the publication of her book, The Scandal of Scientology.

And yesterday, we continued our new Friday feature, This Week Aboard the Apollo, with excerpts written by L. Ron Hubbard while he was sailing the Mediterranean from 1968 to 1971.

So let's get to the awards!

With part 3 of the St. Pete Times series, Synthia Fagen took her turn in the spotlight, and we liked a response from Schockenawd:

Synthia, thank you very much for being so brave. Now, as you know, your trash will be sorted; your privacy will be gone; your world may be upended. But, it is your act of shoving it in DM's face -- and the similar acts of others who have come before you and those who will come along in future days and months -- that slowly chips away at the facade and will literally save others from wasting decades of their lives in the service of an unimaginably despicable organization. How ironic. They told you you were saving the planet by cleaning out your comrades' bank accounts. Instead, it is only now, after your departure from them, that you can actually begin to save anyone at all.

And we were also happy to see Synthia Fagen speak up as well...

Something drastic has happened in the last decade and more specifically the last 5 years. It's called "Straight up and Vertical" where DM took it upon himself to, at a very rapid pace, commit all of the parishioners money to fund his grandiose ideas (apparently helped along by Tom Cruise who allegedly complained to Miscavige that orgs were too "downstat" for him to send people into) of what it was going to take to clear earth.

It is a pressure cooker. It's hard to explain in this short space. Maybe I will create a blog posting about it and really examine how people are willing to stay in this environment. Of course it is insane.

There are lots of people sitting on the sidelines waiting for something to change. Most people have been conditioned to believe that real Scientology only exists inside the church and for those who want to continue with it (I am not one of those), leaving the subject entirely is not an option.

There are far less public inside orgs and fewer staff. It is disintegrating.

With part 4 of their series, Tobin and Childs turned the spotlight on Scientology's Super Power building in Clearwater, Florida, and we loved this reaction from Patty Moher:

I was present at the Super Power ground breaking ceremony, which was held on November 21, 1998. Exactly 13 years ago today! I sat in the temporary bleachers with the hoi polloi while the hoiti toiti (rich "upstat" dupes) sat on the ground row with nice seats. DM with there as well as Lauri Webster (formerly a reg from the Boston Org in the mid 1970's) and the other Int execs that weren't yet imprisoned by DM. There was the usual tacky glitz and glitter of a DM production. I'm so happy I never gave one thin dime to the Super Power Project.

To bolster what Tobin and Childs were saying about the unusual, high-pressure fundraising tactics of the church, we posted a video of a Scientology executive hitting up some Taiwanese New Year's Eve partiers for several thousands dollars. This response from candace6 made us chuckle:

This was really uncomfortable to watch. Religion my ass.

But as we reported, church defender Mark Miglio stood up for the odd pre-midnight appeal for money:

Tony, your Taiwan video shows the dedication of Scientologists-------that even at a New Year's celebration we took time out to raise money for what is really important.

Another response we liked was this one by TrueScientol:

I really liked the video. It was very spiritual. It really put me in the mood to be more spiritual and go withdraw my retirement fund. I also thought it would be more spiritual if I donated my childrens tuition funds. They don't really need education anyway.

On Tuesday, we reviewed the odd career of rapper Chill EB, and showed his latest anti-psychiatry video, "Define Better," which links to CCHR, Scientology's anti-psychiatry front group. The video prompted a lot of different reactions. We thought JustCallMeMary put things in perspective well:

Very powerful video on 'Define Better'. Very persuasive. The problem is that CCHR & Scientology generalize about these medications and their effects, and they have no real viable scientifically valid solutions to helping children who are suffering from ( and I say that in truth) mental effects of disorders like ADHD, Autism, Schizophrenia, and manic-depression (Bipolarism). Most Scientologists have no experience with children like these and when they do, they disconnect from them as they get older, after 'Scientology' failed to correct the problems. Many of these children are now as adults called 'downstat', or 'degraded beings' by the cult. I have been on both side of the fence on this issue. I was once a strong proponent of CCHR and its agenda when I was a member of the church. Scientologists live in a bubble and have no reality of what life is like for these children and their families.

Another good one along the same line came from anon anon song:

The problem with CCHR is that it takes a legitimate point of concern (ie over-prescriptions), puts a self-serving spin on it, shuts down all possibility of dialogue between the medical community, families, etc., ignores a case-by-case approach, and hits the whole subject out of the moonbat park.

Runnin' Scared regular Alanzo, however, was struck by the quality of Chill's video:

I have more respect for Chill EB after seeing his "Define Better" vid. It's too bad he let himself be used by the Church of Scientology to raise money for the IAS. But he obviously believed in what he was doing, and so there ya go. I am not a member of CCHR, nor am I a Scientologist in any way. I do not support the destruction of psychiatry and I know that psychiatrists help people every day. I believe they are extremely valuable to society and are our only hope of finding answers to mental illness. But psychiatrists, and the medical industry in general, are not above criticism. The profit motive in the medical industry can corrupt the quality of treatment that people receive, and does so every day. It is important to keep our attention on that. If an artist does it, or someone like Ralph Nader does it, or the family of a dead patient does it, we should listen, and we should think. Again, I appreciate Chill EB for making this statement.

Late Tuesday night, I managed to have a DM conversation through Twitter with Chill EB. I posted the transcript of that conversation, and I think a lot of us were really surprised -- and pleased -- to see this appeal to Chill from an old friend, VanessaRecordsRIP:

Listen dogg, you gotta know what you're into here. Some of these guys are right! Go to YouTube and you need to search out "What's The Matter With You, Hat?" which is a video clip where L Ron Hubbard is talking about all kinds of crazy stuff but the racist shit is there and also the anti-Christian stuff is there. LRH was best buddies with Aleister Crowley, dog, he ain't cool at all. If you're making money from Scientology then all good, but be careful with those guys!! Stay away from the shit they be trying to put in your head. I'm just trying to tell it like it is brother. You don't need that.

The Chill EB interview also brought out a number of new church defenders. (We were getting so used to Mark Miglio and Marcotai!) Suddenly, we were getting slapped around by several readers, like Ben:

Tony O is such a card -- his messages are dripping with sarcasm and insincerity. All for the sake of clickbait, of getting people to read his tabloid, he is harrassing Chill and squeezing him for more information. His history of writing about Scientology says it all, -- his unrelenting bias and pursuit of "dirt" that he can dish out. Scientology remains a strong and vibrant organization. Nobody has to answer to Tony O about their religious beliefs; he doesn't deserve an explanation. Leave Chill alone.

Ben, where have you been? Welcome to the fray.

On Thanksgiving, we revealed the tribute to Paulette Cooper that we've been working on for some time. We really enjoyed the tributes to her by our readers. There was this one by Banchukita:

I remember reading The Scandal of Scientology when I was a teenager; my sister worked in a bookstore and she gave it to me. As a young woman who wanted to be Woodward and Bernstein when I grew up in an era where nice girls didn't do that, Paulette Cooper was -- and still is -- my idol.

And this gem by Jefferson Hawkins:

Paulette has been an inspiration for all those who have spoken out since. She was the trailblazer, and incurred the wrath of Scientology at a time when they could focus their considerable resources on one lone whistleblower. And she survived, demonstrating her amazing strength and intelligence. Now, there are literally thousands speaking out against Scientology abuses, thanks to this brave pioneer.

And another by Barbara Graham:

It was Paulette's story, along with that of Dennis Erlich, profiled on Investigative Reports on A&E that got me looking into Scientology as a train wreck worthy of slowing down to gawk at. How did Tom Cruise put it? "Wild and wooley." Yeah, like that. With Guy Fawkes masks.

On Friday's installment of This Week Aboard the Apollo, we excerpted an odd note by L. Ron Hubbard, who said he was doing "his job" to reduced "unchecked air use," which was adding to the world's pollution problems. We asked readers what they thought that signified, and we loved SFF's quick comeback:

"What is the threat of "unchecked air use" to the planet, and what, exactly, would Hubbard be doing as his "job" to counter it?" Hubbard was doing his part to minimize oxygen use by inhaling solely through unfiltered Kools.

And finally, we were excited to find a reference to "A Bornstein" in a 1971 document, a reference to a party in Portugal. We were looking forward to hearing from regular reader Kate Bornstein (who used to be Al Bornstein), and she didn't disappoint:

Oh Tony, you are an evil evil being for restimulating me with clips from the Nov '71 OODs. Now I've got my engrams in a twist and I'm having a hard time remembering. I think I'd been busted off my post as Flag Public Relations Officer a few months earlier, and assigned to the Deck Force where a few weeks later I was promoted to First Mate. I had no business holding that job because I knew nothing about ships! But I was the ranking officer on the Deck Force, and the mantra was "make it go right." The Captain ordered me to remember all my nautical knowledge from my earlier lifetimes on ships. Truth.

I do remember the panic engendered by the Old Man's prediction that the world would end in the year 2000. We were all supposed to ramp up production in response to his dire warning. And there was me, the nice Jewish boy closet case in charge of the seaworthiness of the whole frakking ship. Bad, bad Tony O--I'm so confused now, and it's all your fault. I sure would appreciate any help getting my timeline straight from any readers who were aboard in those days.

Another great week of commenting from our loyal readers! Tomorrow morning, we'll have our regular Sunday Funnies and open thread, so if there's something you've wanted to discuss that we haven't covered, please jump into the fray. Will there be a Part 5 of the St. Pete Times to talk about tomorrow morning? We'll see.


The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology #1: L. Ron Hubbard #2: David Miscavige #3: Marty Rathbun #4: Tom Cruise #5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin #6: Anonymous #7: Mark Bunker #8: Mike Rinder #9: Jason Beghe #10: Lisa McPherson #11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants) #12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives) #13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists) #14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists) #15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics) #16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ #17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano #18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive #19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons) #20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures) #21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church #22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members) #23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church) #24: David Touretzky (and other academics) #25: Xenu, galactic overlord


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.

tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE

[All recent stories] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] | [Commenters of the Week] [Thursday 2pm Stats!] | [Scientology vs. South Park]

FEATURED INVESTIGATIONS

[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"] [Tom Cruise and Baby Suri embarrassed by news item, so someone must pay] [Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology] [Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?] [Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach] [Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]

MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS

[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties] In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview] The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]

SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"

[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley] [Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?] Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2] [A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession] [Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine] [Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice] [Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]

SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES

["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise] [Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church] [Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice] [Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense] [Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis] [Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"] Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo] [Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]

JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY

[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid] [Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post] [A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]

HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY

[A review of Urban's scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]

EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT

[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview] [Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams] [86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]

OVERSEAS NEWS

[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested] [All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots] [Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"] [Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails] [Australian farmer blamed for giving Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, loses her friends, family]

ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS

[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"] [Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!] [Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam] [When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers] [Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.] [Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]

THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE

[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth] [Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family] [Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle] [Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]


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