Scientology watchers, we have a treat for you this morning. This video has been making the rounds the last couple of days, and we can see why it’s generating so much interest. Mike Napier, the captain of Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds, stars in this film and tells us about the benefits of his “competence and leadership” course (which looks hard to distinguish from your typical Outward Bound sort of experience, but what do we know).
This is Scientology, so naturally the claims are off the charts — for example, swabbing the decks of the church’s tugboat is somehow going to teach you how not to age!
We know what you’re thinking. If Mike Napier really knows how to stop time, why’s he looking two days older than dirt himself?
Well, banish those thoughts, you Scientology cynic, and let this video wash over you until you’re ready to head for the high seas. Be patient, and don’t miss the heartfelt testimonials near the end.
Personally, I can’t wait to get a 600-percent increase in my handling of randomity. Where do I sign up?
In our comments, we’re looking forward to all of your thoughts on this lengthy video’s many claims. Have at it!
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology — 2012 Edition
Last summer, 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. A year later, we thought it was time to update our list. 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.
#11: Astra Woodcraft
Astra Woodcraft was one of three young women who delivered a body blow to the church when they started up their website, exscientologykids.com. It’s one thing for adults to join an odd group like Scientology and then suffer the consequences, but for the children of Scientologists who grow up in it without a choice, it’s another thing entirely. Woodcraft joined the Sea Org at only 14, got married a year later, and pregnant at 17. Like other women in the hardcore organization, she was under intense pressure to have an abortion, but she decided to leave the Sea Org and have her baby in 1993. Today, she’s emerged as one of the most skillful communicators about the harsh conditions of the Sea Org, and what it’s like to grow up in such a manipulative environment. After the TomKat split, Astra was the subject of a popular story at The Daily Beast, and AOL recently made a video of her which shows off how well spoken and charismatic she is. Woodcraft seems destined to become even more visible in the mainstream media, and that doesn’t bode well for Scientology.
Those halcyon days of 2008 may be fading a little, and Anonymous may have moved on to many more targets for its online crusades. But Project Chanology — the Anonymous project to expose the secrets of Scientology — keeps an unwavering eye on the church’s every move at places like the online forum WhyWeProtest.net. We suppose it’s only natural that a place like WWP would go through some internal strife, but in recent months the site seems to be rallying and becoming more useful again.
#9: Tom Tobin and Joe Childs (and other journalists)
In November, Joe Childs and Tom Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times once again showed why they’re the best in the business, publishing yet another blockbuster investigation in their years-long expose of the inner workings of Scientology. In this installment, “The Money Machine,” the duo gave us hard numbers on how much cash the church is bringing in, and it introduced us to people like the late Hy Levy, who brought in about $200 million over the course of his career as a Scientology “registrar.” It was Levy’s job to convince parishioners to mortgage their homes and max out their credit cards in order to give, give, give to the church. Tobin and Childs also demonstrated how much Scientology has turned to raising donations for the Super Power program and the International Association of Scientologists warchest. That focus on fundraising, however, is exhausting church members, who are increasingly giving up on leader David Miscavige.
In the media feeding frenzy following the TomKat split, there was some silliness hitting the ‘net. But over the past year there has also been very good work being produced by people such as Drew Harwell, Guy Adams, Abigail Pesta, Dana Kennedy, Marisa Mendelson, Jeanne LeFlore, Jarrel Wade, Harry Smith, Kate Snow, Steve Cannane, Jonny Jacobsen, and Bryan Seymour (farewell, mate!).
See also: 25. Xenu, 24. Kate Bornstein, 23. Lisa Marie Presley, 22. Dani and Tami Lemberger, 21. John Brousseau, 20. Jamie DeWolf, 19. Jefferson Hawkins, 18. Amy Scobee, 17. Marc and Claire Headley, 16. Dave Touretzky, 15, Mark Bunker, 14. Tory Christman, 13. Karen de la Carriere, 12. Debbie Cook
Look for the next installment of our Top 25 on Sunday. We have things timed so that we’ll reveal this year’s number one just a few days before the opening of “The Master,” Paul Thomas Anderson’s new film that should explode interest in all things Scientology.
On the next page: Our regular Friday feature, Scientology on the High Seas…
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 26-September 1 during those years.
This week, the poor Commodore has to lift the world’s stats all on his own…
August 27: Buddhists are wimps
Reports show the ship is working very well these days. The Bureaus are flying. Morale is good. A new Chief Cook and a food B of I findings should help with ration quality.
We are short of sheets and towels.
Wow, what a couple days. Well, I’ll single hand world stats up if I have to use a building jack.
They got the tech. All of it. So they go for a holiday!
Part of this is ECs not on post. Worst off org, Sydney, has had its PES disappear (blow) weeks ago and its HCO ES working on another job. New Gdn Order = ECes not on post can be denied further auditing, training and debarred from Ad Courses. Missing EC members is a common cause of stat failure.
Did you know or realize that with the Exteriorization Intensive material we attained the full target for which the Buddhist has striven and not attained for 2,500 years! And Buddhism once claimed 2/3rds of the civilized world.
August 29: Nothing like a party to cool those CIA rumors
The Club Dinner aboard was a great success and the Port Capt’s org officer is filing commendables in the folders of all who contributed.
We apparently were a CIA ship that really smuggles cats to hang crowbars on banana trees. But this is all scotched. The guests were very pleased.
(I’m going to send bills for advertising to both CIA and the Mafia.)
This Club didn’t know they had other clubs in nearby ports.
And by the way a recent mission reports the last country we were in all cool. The Rep there reported a flap, failed to report the flap was vanished.
September 1: Germany is ready for us!
JOHN F. KENNEDY
According to a long newspaper article John F. Kennedy picked up a boy in Germany five minutes after he was killed in Texas.
Spotting and naming the people of his family and office and mentioning personal habits and actions, this is John F. Kennedy all right, now 7 years old is now the son of Johan Schuler of Munich and has the name of Johan Schuler.
The parents are worried about his ability to lead a future normal life.
An interesting point is not that he picked up a new body but that Germany is now alert to “reincarnation.”
The Flag Ship Org is running VERY much better lately.
Proud of it.
The smooth start of the trip is heartening. There’s a hurricane knocking New England apart and I trust it will not upset the Atlantic further North.
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 48, September/October 1977. (And another cover featuring a photo by the Commodore!)
I was at Disneyland the other night and in one of these seemingly endless waiting lines. The people were really going further and further downtone as a result of their wait.
So I decided I didn’t have to have that and put out a postulate for live communication to occur. I told my escort and within seconds the tone level had gone up at least two levels and people started talking and smiling and even speaking to others they didn’t know. I took a large win since there was a crowd of over 100 people and to that degree I had improved their lives. And that’s what being a Scientologist is all about, right? — Doris Prado
I have been full OT VII for a year now. After year you would think it has become old hat. Well, it hasn’t. Every day I get new wins and higher reality levels. Here are just a few of my wins:
I have expanded my corporation from 3 to 13 offices.
I have a real nice 5th dynamic which I never had before.
I am now writing songs.
I have a great relationship with my kids.
I can see through all legal and accounting problems.
All second dynamic aberration has disappeared.
I know exactly what other people are up to just by thinking of that person.
My ability to find and rekindle a failed purpose is incredible.
My ability to confront and handle anything to a done is out the top.
I am now writing a newspaper column that I will have published.
This list could go on forever. My personal thanks, love and gratitude go out to Ron and the AO staff. — Robert L. Float
Yeah, I always loved that guy who actually started talking to everyone in line at Disneyland. He made waiting a real E-ticket ride, let me tell you.
“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
Please check out our Facebook author page for updates and schedules.
Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and if you ask nicely he’ll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, 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.