Scientology Shoop of the Year -- The Vote Is In!

We're continuing our year-end celebrations here at the (newly refurbished and upgraded) underground bunker. Today, we have the voting results for best Photoshopped image as chosen by you, our fellow Scientology watchers.

The talented Photoshoppers over at constantly turn out clever mashups that tease and taunt Scientology. We chose five finalists that we felt spoke most directly to the stories we've been following here at Runnin' Scared in 2011.

After the jump, let's see how your favorite image placed in the voting...

Fifth Place: "Y'all Busted"

Scientology Shoop of the Year -- The Vote Is In!

Someone found a great way to use Chill EB's own Facebook portrait in this shoop that refers to an anti-psychiatry song he put out a couple of years ago, "Y'all Busted." Now that he's Scientology's in-house hip hop act, Chill puts out slick videos with anti-pharma messages and with links to the church's anti-psychiatry front group, CCHR. And church leader David Miscavige as Oompa Loompa? Well, sometimes satire hits below the belt!

Fourth Place: Gur Finkelstein and the Jaffa Org

Scientology Shoop of the Year -- The Vote Is In!

The news out of Israel this year strained credulity -- Scientology's "Ideal Org" there was mired in a controversy about the church's local agent, an attorney named Gur Finkelstein, who is facing prison time after being indicted for trying to kill three different people (including a municipal official) and also for trying to set fire to the building, twice. So with that level of craziness going on, we thought this mashup of recent Scientology figures and memes made for a fun overall image. Do you recognize all of the faces?

Third Place: David Miscavige, Scientology's Pope

Scientology Shoop of the Year -- The Vote Is In!

This wasn't really attached to any of our stories here this year. We chose it just because it gives some indication of the creative work being done at places like practically every day. This image really seemed to capture church leader David Miscavige's sense of entitlement and power.

Second Place: Squirrel Stuff

Scientology Shoop of the Year -- The Vote Is In!

We were surprised to see this do so well in the voting, but the back story on this image is pretty fun. In August, we made an appearance on the Church of Lazlo show at Kansas City radio station 96.5 The Buzz, where we had once worked at a local paper, The Pitch. Lazlo likes to check with us on occasion about Scientology news. After that appearance, the local Scientology org sent a letter complaining about the show to the station's manager, along with some literature about the church. However, the church member who sent the materials also accidentally included an internal memo which gave her instructions on making the complaint. The letter said not to worry about the Voice, because the international branch of the Office of Special Affairs would be "handling" yours truly. The letter also contained a handwritten admonition that the church volunteer making the complaint not actually listen to our appearance on Lazlo's show, because the segment had "squirrel stuff." In Scientology parlance, that was a warning that the show contained material critical of the church and its upper-level teachings -- things that a low-level volunteer should not hear. Of course, to those of us not in the church, warning that a radio show was "weird and has squirrel stuff" was just about the best endorsement we could imagine.


Scientology Shoop of the Year: A Civilization Without Insanity

Scientology Shoop of the Year -- The Vote Is In!

This one won't win any contests for image manipulation. But it's the totality of the message that really has an impact, and our readers seem to be in agreement. With more than twice as many votes as any other entry, this image really seemed to put into perspective the insanity of the Squirrel Busters episode. In April, this was the scene former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun saw on his front porch: several church members wearing matching T-shirts, with cameras strapped to their heads, trying to intimidate him about his "squirreling." That's the word the church uses for unsanctioned counseling, one of the things Rathbun does that church leader David Miscavige apparently finds threatening. The goon squad spent the next five months outside Rathbun's house, watching Rathbun and his wife Monique, following them whenever they went into town or to eat at restaurants, and generally tried to make their lives "a living hell." Instead, it brought the church loads of bad publicity and a lot of howling laughter. Were the Squirrel Busters really so blind to how ridiculous they came off?

Now, more than a month after they finally left the Rathbuns in peace, I know I'm not the only one looking back at the Year of the Squirrel Busters with at least a little nostalgia and sadness. For a time, anyway, these church members in a golf cart, patrolling a cul-de-sac in a small Texas town, provided some of the best Scientology watching in years.

Tomorrow we continue to look back at 2011 with the readers poll finale -- Scientology Story of the Year. This one was a squeaker, so make sure to come back to see which big news story edged out a win!

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

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


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[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] [Desperate Scientology fundraising caught on video]

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