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VIDEO: Scientology Goes Hillbilly; Also, Broke in Ireland and Big in DC (UPDATE: We're Squirrel Buster Stars!)

For our fellow Scientology watchers, we thought we'd post just a few diverting items at the end of another day here at our underground bunker, where we keep an eye on all things Miscavidgey.

From the ongoing Armageddon happening in South Texas, we bring you yet another example of the "documentary" stylings of the Squirrel Busters -- a group of hapless goons sent by Scientology to harass and intimidate former high-level church executive Marty Rathbun at his Ingleside on the Bay home.

At first, the Squirrel Busters seemed to be trying to win over Rathbun's neighbors, but that didn't last long. Watch as they put on classic renditions of Rathbun's community members, caricaturing them as "Bertha" and "Jethro."

Now, we have to give them at least a little credit for going for some humor. As has been stated elsewhere, one of the reasons Scientology comes in for so much ribbing is that, as a group, it seems to be just about the unfunniest group on Earth.

But we're not sure who the Squirrel Busters are trying to win over here. Rathbun may have some lumber laying around his yard, but will his neighbors really rally to the side of the Scientologists when they're being portrayed as too stupid to get off the toilet for a video interview? [Note: Rathbun called me tonight to deny that this is actually his yard being filmed.]

Meanwhile, there are a couple of other Scientology developments which have been making the rounds lately that we wanted to mention, if only to get them down on the record.

In Ireland, where Scientology has a different status than it does here, and has to open its books to inspection, things are not going so well. According to the Irish Times:

According to financial documents lodged by the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin Ltd, the company's revenues more than halved from €484,070 to €193,509 in 2009. As a result of this 60 per cent drop, the church's operating surplus fell 74 per cent, from €271,804 to €68,292. The accounts are for the 12-month period to the end of April 2009, but were only signed off by the board on July 20th last after a long delay by the company in lodging the return. The last occasion the company filed accounts was in October 2008. Last night the non-executive director of the Church of Scientology Mission of Dublin, Gerard Ryan, blamed the recession for the drop in revenues. "We are not immune to the economic circumstances of the wider community and clearly this has impacted on our fundraising efforts," he said.

It's a shame that Scientology is sagging so significantly in Ireland. Maybe it needs to pry more money out of parishioners with men in uniform.

And finally, we enjoyed a story at TBD.com in Washington DC, which noted that the new mayor there, Vincent Gray, has made a surprising appointment to his Interfaith Council:

Mayor Vince Gray announced today the appointment of 26 religious leaders to his Interfaith Council, which will, in the words of a press release, "advise him and his staff on religious affairs..." One of those advisers is a Scientologist. Guess how many Buddhists, Mormons, Hindus, and Jehovah's Witnesses there are? Zero.

The lucky Hubbardite on Gray's council is Susan Lee Taylor, of the Founding Church of Scientology in DC. That's an org we've been talking about lately here at Runnin' Scared because one of its parishioners, Tad Reeves, has been a particularly interesting subject of conversation.

Otherwise, it's been a somewhat quiet day here in the bunker. Our colleague Dennis Romero followed up on our post about a Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy over at our sister paper, LA Weekly, where commenters there went after us with some ferocity. We only wish they'd call us names here. It only adds to the fun, in our opinion.


SUPER FUN UPDATE: The Squirrel Busters love us! They really, really love us!

Check out our appearance in this brand new video the Squirrel Busters just posted:

First, I want to apologize to the far more capable of my fellow Scientology journalists who were overlooked and didn't appear in this short film. I am humbled to be singled out by the goon squad that watches Marty Rathbun's house from 8 in the morning, every day, until well into the night, and has managed, with six different cameras going all day long, to capture a few images of Rathbun looking aggressive.

I have never actually met Marty Rathbun, and do not consider him a personal friend -- he's a story subject and a source -- but I am very happy to have the opportunity to write about him as he creates such a furor within the church of Scientology. Same for Mark Bunker. I have yet to actually be in the presence of the man, but I do respect his many years of research and calm debate in regards to a subject that fascinates me. For that, I offer no apology. And now that I have a Squirrel Busters video denouncing me, I think my friends are generally going to find me insufferable for a few days.


tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO | FB: 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


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