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Scientology Schweinehund: Commenters of the Week!

We were feeling pretty whiplashed this week here at the underground bunker where we keep an eye on all things Scientology related -- on the one hand, our big countdown was really heating up, but we also needed to keep an eye on the big news breaking out in Germany, where Marty Rathbun and Ursula Caberta were giving David Miscavige reason to have the night sweats.

Things started early for us this week, as just a few hours after posting last week's best comments, we rushed to get word out that Rathbun was headed for Hamburg, his secret travel plans having been outed by the Squirrel Busters.

On Sunday, we supplemented your holiday weekend with a fun little tidbit about how Scientology is engaged in a seemingly desperate effort to track down people who have been out of the church for 20, 30, even 40 years.

On Monday, we resumed our countdown with #12, Tommy Davis and "other hapless church executives." This proved to be one of the most popular posts in our list so far.

Tuesday night, a reader tipped us to an interesting piece by screenwriter Skip Press, who wrote about his memories of watching Paul Haggis rise through the ranks, only to see Scientology savagely attack him recently for going public with his criticisms of the church.

Wednesday morning, we revealed #11 in our countdown, Australian Senator Nick Xenophon, who seems to have Scientology on the ropes Down Under.

Later that day, we posted the first video coming from Rathbun's press conference with Caberta in Germany. It was something else to see the two of them sitting together!

Thursday morning, we made an announcement about when you'll be able to vote on your own Top 25 People Crippling Scientology -- from Monday, Sept 19 to Monday, Sept 26. And we also revealed that we'd added some folks to our previous countdown items.

The next day, we plunged into our Top Ten with the moving tale of Lisa McPherson, with help from Janet Reitman, who generously gave us permission to quote liberally from her terrific book, Inside Scientology.

And finally, yesterday afternoon we posted additional video from Germany, where Rathbun appeared on a talk show and said some interesting things about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair.

Wow, all that in one week. OK, on to the awards...

In regards to our holiday weekend story about Scientology tracking down a former member 40 years after he left in order to sell him some new books, we liked this response by Jefferson Hawkins:

Tony, I was just heading out to the river myself, but had a few comments. First, to a Scientologist, there is no such thing as an Ex-Scientologist. If you ever were a Scientologist, no matter how briefly -- even if you just bought a book -- you are always a Scientologist. You are just "inactive" for one reason or another - you had "misunderstoods" on Hubbard's materials, you "skipped a gradient," you "had an ARC Break," and so on. As Hubbard's materials can never be wrong, then "obviously" people only leave because they didn't get it. So there is a consistent and massive effort to "recover inactive Scientologists" by showing them how and why they "didn't get it." When I was part of Scientology's marketing department, we were constantly berated for all of these "inactive Scientologists" and tasked with coming up with more and more ways to "recover" them. Secondly, their massive membership numbers -- six million or 20 million or a gazillion -- depend on counting all of these "inactive" Scientologists. Third, as Hubbard's materials can never be wrong, they have to dream up reasons why people didn't get it. A favorite one is "there were errors in the books" or "there were errors in the materials." How Hubbard could have missed all of these supposed errors is never explained. They did this in 1991, when all of Hubbard's books were gone through and "corrected" so that they were "exactly as Hubbard intended." Scientologists were then told to discard their old "inaccurate" books and buy a whole new set of books. This was 1991. Then they did the exact same caper in 2007, again saying that the books all had errors, redoing them all, and forcing all Scientologists to buy all new books. That Scientologists fell for it TWICE shows the level of cult indoctrination -- they believe anything they are told, even if it contradicts what they were told before. All of these shenanigans speak of a high level of desperation in the Church. They are shrinking, losing members every day, and not bringing in new people (as the truth about the organization is all over the internet). Their only "expansion" is a massive real estate scam.

We also liked this response from SuzyQ, with her solution to insistent Scientology telemarketers:

I was tracked down after 29-years, two name changes (married then re-married), three moves including into a new state. I think they are using Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. to track folks down... can not confirm but seems possible. I was so stunned & shocked that I just started screaming into the phone "how did you find me" -- "leave me alone". My poor, never been a scio-bot, husband was at my side trying to figure out what happened. I hung up and was so upset, hubby ask if we should get a gun. I told him no -- but the calls continue UNTIL! I offered to help the caller to "escape" from Scio-bot world. I offered the assistance of "others" who would help her get in touch with family, a job, freedom. She hung up ASAP & I have never received another call. If I get another call I will be filing a police report & "taking steps to protect my interest".

Our countdown item about Tommy Davis and other church executives generated a huge response. We chose this fun tidbit about New York org leader John Carmichael which was posted by Bob Peterson:

I first ran into John Carmichael after a picket in Clearwater sometime in '97 or thereabouts. After the picket was pretty well done for I headed for my car in a parking garage down the street when I noticed a couple of guys following me in a car. Carmichael was the driver, the other guy some heavy that I have never seen since. They followed me into a restaurant where we had a parley of sorts. It turned out that they were very put out over the fact that I was not with the other picketers who I guess had all gone off someplace to eat. Why this upset them I can't say for sure. Suffice to say that before meeting John Carmichael I had always scoffed at the idea of UFO's and Aliens on earth; after that day I decided to reserve judgement.

We also appreciated this rumination on our countdown from Miles Biondo:

I've come to appreciate how many of the items on this Top 25 list are themselves lists, with each number representing not just a person, but a collection of entities, all falling under the banner of an individual who, I suppose, epitomizes their category. Some numbers are lists of people who stood their ground in the face of the cult's legendary antagonism and harassment. Some are lists of journalists who dared to tell the truth about the cult. Some lists are a mixed bag of people, the cult's former victims and victimizers, who have changed their allegiance and created problems for the cult. And some are just lists of scumbags. This one. This list, my friend, is a steaming pile of vile, unrepentant scumbags. Plus a pretty cool comic book that makes fun of $cientology without even knowing it's doing it.

Our countdown item about Australian politician Nick Xenophon also listed another public servant who stood up to Scientology, the late mayor of Clearwater, Gabe Cazares. We liked this reaction by loyal reader MarkStark:

Gabe Cazares was a real trooper during the cult's landing and invasion in Clearwater. On the national level, as an American, I'm embarrassed that we have to look to Australia and Europe, or any other countries to find politicians who made a difference nationally, in stemming this cult's activities. Happily embarrassed though, because at least it is happening over there, which is kind of everywhere, because of the web. The opportunities religions have here to be free and flourish spawned Hubbard, his cult, their sales creatures and propaganda machine. Are the U.S. politicians waiting for Scilons to cut their balls off and commit suicide before they do something? Is it backlash from Jonestown? Politicians think that it they get involved investigating something so insular and controversial, like a major cult, it risks their reputation and maybe even life. Leo Ryan unwittingly triggered the Jonestown tragedy. That's hard for a lot of politicians to forget. Then there's the star worship, which comes in handy for politicians seeking office, trying to identify themselves with stars and their idealism in movie roles like Cruise in Top Gun. For many years, it was too much of a risk, to go up against the cult of Tom Cruise. However, his video may have made a significant difference, if any politician cares to watch it. The other thing they should watch is Xenophon's speech, and why not read the Reitman book, just for fun?

Our report about Marty Rathbun's press conference in Germany elicited a firestorm in the comments between Rathbun's "indie" supporters and his detractors in the Scientology critics scene. We thought the following two comments pretty well characterized the two sides arguing with each other. First, from the cantankerous Dennis Erlich...

He objects to the very things he was doing to others. How did he go from perpetrator to victim so fast? By applying scienotek, of course!

And from the indie side, we liked this comment by Theoracle:

Thank you Marty. This is bridge building and increasing understanding. I'm sick of every body wanting to practice Scientology getting stuck with the stigma the Church generates today. We DO disagree. And a "Scientologist" doesn't have to be equaled with David Miscavige and the corporate Church structure. All Scientologists are NOT the same and MOST of them don't want to have anything to do with the corporate structure and it's madness! There is no reason entire cultures have to turn again the practice and every Scientologist because of one man hiding out under a rock in the desert in California. That is plain injustice! Thank you Marty, for making them understand. Thank you for your voice and courage and for the justice you are bringing to this arena. Every Independent and Freezoner and Scientologist out here owes you a debt! You are doing us all an enormous service.

The countdown item about Lisa McPherson generated an outpouring of heartfelt grief over this woman so many of us only got to know after she died. In particular, we enjoyed this comment by Justcallmemary:

Once a person reads about Lisa McPherson, you see the subject of Scientology in a whole new light. I urge everyone, especially members former and current, to read Reitman's book if only for this extensive chapter on Lisa, which highlights the culture and policies of Scientology that attributed to her death and brought them under the media spotlight. It contains the most detailed, accurate and moving information to be found in one text, on what happened to her and why. What happened to Lisa could happen to you. Or your daughter, your son, your sister or your brother, your spouse, your friend, or your neighbor, when one becomes a part of the Scientology membership. At the onset, one signs away their civil right to appropriate medical care, leaving themselves in the hands of a church that would and could let this happen to another human being. Lisa McPherson's care and death tells us that no one should suffer so and no religion or organization should have the right to control another human being in this manner. When all is said and done many years down the pike, people will remember what happened to Lisa McPherson in the care of Scientology. 16 years and people still cannot forget what happened once they find out. That is why I think she is the # 1 Person Crippling Scientology.

Yesterday, after we posted more videos from Marty Rathbun's trip to Germany, we thought this conciliatory comment by NCSP seemed a fitting followup to the divisive stuff earlier in the week:

I am not a fan of Marty, but -- credit where credit is due -- he seems to be hitting it out of the park on this trip. Good for him!

And finally, V for Vacation posted a response to that story that raised what we thought was an interesting question.

I wonder what kind of ramifications this will have at all, other than to enrage Scns and DM towards Rathbun even more. I wonder if TC or any of his "people" would care or take action about a thing like this? Big news for Scientology, especially in Europe, but probably a non-existent story for anyone planning to buy a ticket to the next Mission Impossible movie.

Another great week of comments, folks, if a little light on pro-church action (or at least comments worth citing). Come on, Marcotai, you can do better -- and what happened to Mark Miglio?

Please come back for a big #9 in our countdown, which will be revealed Monday morning at 9 am.


The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology #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


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

See all of our recent Scientology coverage at the Voice

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:

The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle' The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap A Church Myth Debunked -- Scientology and Proposition 8 Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back -- Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits When Scientologists Attack -- The Marty Rathbun Intimidation A Scientologist Excommunicated -- The Michael Fairman SP Declaration The Richard Leiby Operation -- Investigating a reporter's divorce to shut him up The Hugh Urban Investigation -- An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology's past Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh -- A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology -- A masterful telling of Scientology's history The Western Spy Network Revealed? -- Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige Scientology's Enemies List -- Are You On It? Inside Inside Scientology -- An interview with author Janet Reitman Scientology and the Nation of Islam -- Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman! Scientologists -- How Many of Them Are There, Anyway? Roger Weller's Wild Ride -- Scientology When it was Hip The Marc Headley Infiltration -- A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology's Retaliation is "Scary and Pathetic" An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy The Paulien Lombard Confession -- A Scientology Spy Comes Clean The Deputy Benjamin Ring Hard Sell -- Scientology wants your 401K The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology -- the whole series! The Squirrel Busters Busted -- Unmasking the Scientology PI in Charge Tommy Davis, Scientology spokesman, secretly recorded discussing 'disconnection' Scientology internal document says its Office of Special Affairs will 'handle' the Village Voice


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