Brace yourself, Scientology watchers. This is jaw-dropping territory.
You’ll remember that former church executive Marty Rathbun complained to local government in his Corpus Christi-area town of Ingleside on the Bay, Texas, that he was being surveilled and harassed by a goon squad sent to watch him by Scientology, which considers him an arch-nemesis.
The town rallied to Rathbun’s defense, and the goons with their cameras fended off criticism by saying they were renting property nearby and even filming him from a paddle boat because they were making a “documentary.” Yeah, a “documentary” in the style of an SNL music spoof, complete with high-level Scientologists dancing on boats. (Seriously. Click the video already.)
At his blog, Rathbun commented that the video’s sense of humor was consistent with past work by Scientology leader David Miscavige. There’s no obvious evidence that Miscavige had a hand in it. We’re trying to reach the “Squirrel Busters” themselves to see how they describe the work.
I guess they deserve some points for playing around with SNL’s footage and somewhat laughing at their own people in the listing paddle boat that has already been a hit here at Runnin’ Scared.
But the Squirrel* Busters themselves prancing on a boat? Not so funny when you keep in mind that these people are following Rathbun and his wife constantly wherever they go.
I don’t know. Our commenters will no doubt score this video on their own. A hit? Or a miss, folks?
Update: For those wondering about the source of the video, please feel free to peruse “The Squirrel Zone,” where the Squirrel Busters have been posting all of their anti-Rathbun and anti-Rinder videos. You’ll see that it’s quite consistent with the others.
*What’s a squirrel? If you haven’t been keeping up with our previous posts about what’s happening in South Texas, here’s a primer: Marty Rathbun was once one of the top executives in Scientology. He left in 2004, and since 2009 has been operating a blog that is highly critical of Scientology’s current leader, David Miscavige. In retaliation, Scientologists from around the country have been traveling to Rathbun’s Corpus Christi-area home to surveil him constantly. They call themselves “Squirrel Busters” because Scientology derisively calls people “squirrels” who leave the church but continue to practice founder L. Ron Hubbard’s philosophies (which Rathbun does). There have been several such splinter groups, or independence movements in the past, but Rathbun is a particularly dangerous “squirrel” to a shrinking Scientology. That’s why they have created the logo you will see of Rathbun’s head on a squirrel’s body. It’s also on their shirts. Keep an eye on Runnin’ Scared for more updates on the strange latest twists in this and other Scientology stories. We post items just about every day.
SECOND UPDATE!: We’ve received a response from the Squirrel Busters themselves and wanted to share it with you.
Yesterday, I called Ralph Gomez, the member of the Squirrel Busters who is actually a local and not a Scientologist from California or Florida or elsewhere, and told him I wanted to ask about the “I’m On a Boat” video. I especially wanted to talk to Ed Bryan, the Scientologist who dances on a boat in the short film. (Bryan is reportedly OT VIII, the highest level of training in the church and, by church teachings, nearly a superhuman.) Gomez told me he was feeling ill and asked me to call back on Friday morning. When I got to work this morning, however, I found the following e-mail waiting for me:
We received your message and want to thank you for your words of encouragement regarding our latest video. Mr. Bryan is actually fielding more offers for music video appearances and is in contact with an agent due to the overwhelming positive responses we have received!
I wanted to make sure you understand though that the clips you have seen so far are just teasers for our longer project. But more on that later.
We were glad that you contacted us as we had planned to interview you on camera next time we are in New York to hear your thoughts on the suit filed against Village Voice Media by the victim of child pornography and prostitution. (The victim’s pimp was using the Village Voice site to post child pornography and ads for prostituting a minor.)
As this is possibly a larger situation in your newspaper, any other comments on the subject of the ethics of a newspaper taking ads for child prostitution would be helpful to help clear the record.
For speed sake, you may be able to arrange for us to interview Rathbun to speak on your behalf about your company’s ethics in this matter since you have such an intimate relationship with him and run ads for his hate site on your blog so frequently.
Thank you very much for your interest and your fairness in reporting both sides of the story and issues concerning Marty Rathbun.
The Squirrel Busters Production team.
Squirrel Busters Productions
As Corpus Christi’s newspaper, the Caller-Times and its excellent reporter, Mark Collette, already divined, SQB Productions and that 408 telephone number are associated with a San Jose Scientologist named John Allender. In our story “When Scientologists Attack!” which showed the Squirrel Busters goon squad trying to intimidate Rathbun on his porch, it was Allender who was front and center and doing the talking. I called that number and Allender’s home this morning, but didn’t reach him.
Will it be Allender who comes to New York with a camera strapped to his head looking for an interview with me? I wonder.
The Village Voice has long taken ads for things that other newspapers won’t, which is part of the reason we have so much freedom to write things that other newspapers won’t. And that’s also why its editor in chief can satisfy his own curiosity about an odd church that acts in such mysterious ways. (Also, it’s just so fun.)
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 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 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”