In the doldrums of August last year, we put together a little list that took on a life of its own.
We counted down the 25 people and groups who had been doing the most to get word out to the wider world about the Church of Scientology’s many alleged abuses, and who have contributed to its steep recent decline. Our list included current and former church members, academics, attorneys, activists, and a couple of dead people.
This year, summer has not been languid and lazy. In the wake of the TomKat divorce, media interest in Scientology has never been greater and we’ve never been busier. But with August half over, we thought it was time to update our list from last year. This time, we’ve put a premium on what’s happened in the last twelve months, so you might see some of your old favorites drop off the roster. But never fear — you can always revisit our choices from last year, or the choices of our readers.
Now, get yourself a cool drink there by the pool, and let’s plunge in!
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology — 2012 Edition
Our favorite galactic overlord manages to hang on to his place in our list, even though much of the news in the past year has been more about Scientology’s questionable practices, and not so much about its beliefs. But for many people, their interest in all things Scientology begins with curiosity about the church’s space opera secret teachings. And it’s still most fun to learn them through South Park‘s epic 2005 episode, “Trapped in the Closet.”
Xenu made his strongest showing at this blog in July, when we made the case that Scientologists accept L. Ron Hubbard’s story about ancient alien genocide because they’ve been dreaming up their own personal stories of galactic swashbuckling for years before encountering the weird teachings of “OT III.” (And here’s what we said about Xenu last year.)
#24: Kate Bornstein
In May, we put Kate Bornstein on the cover of the Voice, a testament not only to the significance of her new memoir, but also to what she means to New York City. To the theater world here, Kate is a well-known performance artist who for many years has challenged the notions of gender and sexuality in controversial but always entertaining ways.
Before she was the country’s most famous “gender outlaw,” Kate grew up as Al Bornstein, a deeply dedicated Scientologist who had served as first mate of the Apollo with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in the early 1970s. In Kate’s memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger, she writes about those years in a way that may be the best account yet of the fervor and then disillusionment that characterizes so many people who get involved with the church. And besides, the book is a riot, from beginning to end. If you haven’t yet picked it up, you really should.
#23: Lisa Marie Presley
In May, we stopped kidding around and made a definitive statement: Lisa Marie Presley is out of Scientology. How did we know that? Well, we can read, and we’re not friggin’ idiots. A few weeks earlier, we had pointed out that in “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” the single Presley released ahead of her new album, Storm & Grace, she was referring to herself as “a bit suppressive,” something that a Scientologist would never say, even as a joke. (When a church member is excommunicated, he or she is “declared” a “suppressive person.”)
We had heard for years that Presley was disaffected with Scientology and had quietly stepped away from it, and that lyric seemed like a dead giveaway that she wanted the world to know.
But that was nothing. When the album itself came out in May, we got our hands on the lyrics to the rest of the songs (all of which she wrote herself), and that’s when we saw what she says in the track called “So Long”…
This here is a city without lights
Those are all the people without eyes
Churches, they don’t have a soul
Soup for sale without a bowl
Religion so corrupt and running lives
Farewell, fair weathered friends
I can’t say I’ll miss you in the end
So long, seems that I was so wrong
Seems I wasn’t that strong
Dead wrong, and now I’m long gone
Wrong side, I’ve been sleeping on the wrong side
Stains all over my soul I can’t hide
Nothing’s more clear than goodbye
These roads they don’t lead to anything
These people they talk, they say nothing
Actors who don’t have a part
Heartfelt people with no heart
I’ll find a new crowd
Make a new start
Farewell, fair weathered friends
I can’t say I’ll miss you in the end
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, say nothing at all if you’ve nothing nice to say
Lisa Marie has not answered questions about leaving Scientology, but that’s understandable. The church’s toxic policy of “disconnection” keeps some people quiet who leave Scientology for fear of being cut off from loved ones. Lisa Marie’s mother, Priscilla, is still a dedicated church member, we hear, and we figure that keeps Lisa Marie from speaking out.
However, her actions, and her lyrics, say plenty all on their own. (And if she did want to tell us more, of course, she’ll move up much higher on this list. Hey, Lisa Marie, give us a call!)
Look for the next installment of our Top 25 on Sunday. We’ll dole them out every couple of days, and we think we have things timed so that we’ll reveal this year’s winner just a few days before the opening of “The Master,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film that should explode interest in all things Scientology.
Scientology’s Desperate Reaction to NBC
For days, we’ve been giving our readers lots of background on Scientology’s drug treatment program Narconon and its history in Oklahoma in advance of last night’s report about deaths at the facility on NBC’s Rock Center.
We’d heard that in the last week, NBC had been experiencing a big pushback from Scientology and its attorneys.
Then, last night, former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun leaked an e-mail at his blog that showed just how desperately the church tried to derail NBC’s coverage.
Rathbun said the e-mail was sent by a Narconon official, who beseeched her fellow Scientologists to bombard NBC producer Anna Schecter with calls…
We need you to call the station and leave a message for the producer. Anna Schecter. It is getting harder and harder to reach her (email full, voice mail full) so that is why I need someone like you, tone 40 who won’t back off by a couple of barriers. You call 212-664-4444, ask for Rock Center (that is her show), you want to talk to Anna Schecter, she won’t be there, you want to talk to her secretary, you do not want to leave a comment in the general mail box, you want to talk to someone in her office or talk to her personally. Don’t use Scientology lingo. Leave a message and let me know when done.
“Don’t use Scientology lingo.”
Well, as another writer recently put it, Scientology keeps showing up with a squirt gun to put out a forest fire.
Narconon is in the grips of nearly a full-scale meltdown, with local and state officials appearing to be very engaged in the Oklahoma investigations (and perhaps having never forgotten the way they were snowed and intimidated back in the day), and the drug treatment program has been chased out of Quebec, sued in Georgia and Michigan, and reportedly gave up on the UK.
As we’ve pointed out before, what makes Narconon especially vulnerable is that its “students” have not voluntarily chosen to be indoctrinated in Scientology training, but in most cases had no idea that they were being sent to the church’s bizarre and unscientific drug treatment program. Deception, in other words, lies at the heart of Narconon’s business model.
With the media now on heightened alert about Scientology and its methods, even a concerted telephone campaign isn’t going to fool anybody.
But we’ll give it marks for effort. Right?
Scientology on the High Seas!
In November the Voice obtained hundreds of copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s previously unpublished “Orders of the Day,” which he gave to crew members as he sailed the Atlantic and the Mediterranean on the yacht Apollo. Our documents cover the period from late 1968 through 1971, and this time we’re looking at what was happening the week of August 12 – 18 during those years.
This week, the Commodore explains the World Bank…
August 13: LRH ferrets out treason!
Bill Greenwalt has submitted his resignation which has been accepted with full accessories.
To put the record straight I did not say he could not be trained or processed. I only stated I would no longer C/S his folder. It was obvious he had witholds. The following day a Sec Check initiated by the 3rd Mate revealed them. These made him critical and nattery and generated hostility.
To be an auditor one honestly has to want to help others and to receive help as a pc one has to be honest with his auditor.
Now and then one sees a case of Treason on the 1st Dynamic. But it takes considerable awareness to perceive it for oneself and assign the condition.
I always feel a bit sad when I see someone doing himself in. It’s so pointless. But such usually chose somebody else as their executioner and that comes under the heading of an overt of magnitude.
When somebody feels hounded or persecuted he should ask himself what his condition is on the 1st dynamic instead of going around persuading others to do him in.
August 14: LRH, financier…
There is some evidence that the “World Bank” is using nationalism to seize the assets of the world.
India owed the World Bank fantastic sums — and then nationalized all its banks.
Zambia owes the World Bank better than 120 million and has just nationalized its mineral companies.
This is bearing out our guess that whoever owes the WB large sums will be persuaded to nationalize something in order to repay its loan.
The cycle is evidently promoted riots, a currency scare, a huge saving loan from the WB or its branches and then that country gradually nationalizing private assets to meet interest an payments. It’s quite a drill.
Their support of psychiatry gives their activities a flavour of attempted world dominion by mental-politlcal-financial control. Easy seizure of anyone and his disablement or death would take care of all objectors, national dependency takes care of political control and puts a control on all assets of the world.
Sounds crazy and of course it is. But this is Smersh at work.
They are probably also the control behind the Communist Country’s International Bank (they also have one, the old capitalist haters!)
I imagine about now they are deciding they can get along without psychiatry, as such people detest anything that might be too public or revealing. They work best in the dark.
The WB advocation of birth control and refusal to loan to those nations which won’t practice it is a sample of how far they wander from mere money.
The politician has already been taught and believes that “the financier is senior to the politician.”
The only real danger is that the World Bank considers itself also senior to God.
Psychiatric front groups tie in to the World Bank via their key members Meyer and Rothchild. Other names and connections between psychiatry and the World Bank may also exist.
The hidden part of the WB is “participation of private investors.” They also sell private bonds and supplant or continue such firms as JP Morgan & Co. who through efforts to protect its loans to the Allies dragged the US into WW I.
The relation of WB officers to psychiatric front groups an psychiatric death camps gives the WB a very unpleasant flavor, far removed from its original reconstruction charter an could blacken its name and crash its credit over the world if publicly known.
August 16: What’s true for LRH…
IF ITS WRITTEN
It if isn’t written it isn’t true.
The only orders that affect transfers, functions, programs in an org must be issue as Executive Directives, OODs or FSOs or FBDLSs or AIDES ORDERS, CBOs or FOs to be legal.
Org Patterns and posts and duties must exist as P/Ls and may not be transferred or changed without obtaining authority to issue a P/L.
Therefore if anyone tells you to change post or duties or that a function is changed on the Org Bd and cannot show it to you in a policy letter or FO or CBO, it is not true.
Furthermore to follow such an unwritten or illegal order is to risk a Comm Ev for accepting illegal orders.
It would be just as bad to follow an order to violate an HCO B and run some upsetting process.
The reason is very plain. Policy, followed, results in a productive, comfortable post and policy not followed with verbal orders only in effect makes a cat’s dinner.
HOLD THE FORM OF THE ORG is no light statement.
An org that holds its form can win. One that can’t collapses.
HCO Policy Letter 13 Mar 1965 What Is Policy? is well worth looking over.
We will probably be at anchor as you read this.
We are supposed to move back in soon.
It’s cooler at anchor.
August 17: “Beliefs” — ORLY?
I’ve been working on a clear statement of what are the beliefs of Scientology.
It will be under survey.
I am working on the Scientologists Hat.
Without such a statement it is hard to get word of mouth. We are well into Messianic period on Earth.
Progress has been made on this.
I can write, I think, a “Book of Fate.”
I have also made an advance in research on the character and handling of mental mass.
Some weeks ago I conceived we did not know all there was to know about high and lo TAs and have suddenly made big progress.
The answer was unexpectedly simple and includes auditing over out suppressed ruds that one doesn’t suspect are out!
We just don’t pay enough attention to it.
Big answers are very basic.
So I feel very cheerful.
To raise the tone all around we are on a one-line program, no cross orders, no conflicts, total on policy.
Policy brings group agreement.
On Policy is the watchword.
Then everyone else will be cheerful too.
More 1970s Awesomeness!
After L. Ron Hubbard had moved HQ from the yacht Apollo to the Florida coast, Advance! magazine was thrilling Scientologists with tales of “OT Phenomena.” Those church members who had reached the higher levels of spiritual training shared their stories of superhuman powers with fellow dupes — er, enthusiasts. This excerpt is from Issue 46, May/June 1977. (And another cover featuring a photo by the Commodore!)
Last night I was studying late on the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course, listening to tapes. I had two more to do to complete Part II of the Briefing Course. I was listening to Ron lecture, when I heard a lot of banging in the canteen area. I stopped my tape to see what was going on.
Someone was trying to get his money back out of a candy bar machine that had jammed. One of the knobs he’d selected had jammed about half an inch out and he was pushing and pulling on it to try to free the mechanism.
I told him to wait a minute, I’d try it. I pulled on it, but it was solid. I tried to force it, it wouldn’t budge. The person started to leave.
I stood back looking at the machine. Being part mechanic, part engineer and general mechanical wizard prior to Scientology, I was studying it. I decided that being a simple machine, it shouldn’t jam.
All of a sudden the knob on the machine jumped out about two inches. I grabbed it with my hand and pulled it the rest of the way out, getting the candy bar. I called to the person to wait and threw him his candy.
He looked at me, kind of smiled, and said, “You’re not OT VII are you?” I said, “Yes, I am.” He turned around and walked off, saying, “It’s always nice to have you all around.”
Yes, thanks to Ron, it is nice to have us around. — Ted Cormier
Since completing OT VII EP and OT III Expanded, my ability to know and to be at cause has been phenomenal. Because of my greatly increased certainty of myself and my universe, I’m able to spot what is happening in other people’s universes and taking action on it.
When I am driving, for instance, I know what the other drivers’ intentions are, so I am able to maintain a safe environment on the road. — Alison O’Neill
You have to love the sentiment in that “atta boy” that Ted received. Yes, if it weren’t for you OT 7s, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars you’ve spent on Scientology processes, we’d never get the candy bars out of our vending machines. Sigh. Our heroes.
“Tom Cruise worships David Miscavige like a god”
Scientology’s president and the death of his son: our complete coverage
What Katie is saving Suri from: Scientology interrogation of kids
Scientology’s new defections: Hubbard’s granddaughter and Miscavige’s dad
Scientology’s disgrace: our open letter to Tom Cruise
Scientology crumbling: An entire mission defects as a group
Scientology leader David Miscavige’s vanished wife: Where’s Shelly?
Neil Gaiman, 7, Interviewed About Scientology by the BBC in 1968
The Master Screenplay: Scientology History from Several Different Eras
And a post that pulls together the best of our Scientology reporting
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Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.
New readers might want to check out our primer, “What is Scientology?” Another good overview is our series from last summer, “Top 25 People Crippling Scientology.” At the top of every story, you’ll see the “Scientology” category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.
As for hot subjects we’ve covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology’s “Mecca,” whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.
Other stories have looked at Scientology’s policy of “disconnection” that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We’ve also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there’s plenty more coming.