Scientology Dropkick: Commenters of the Week!


Before we look back at the week that was, we wanted to remind you of our upcoming schedule.

Monday morning at 9 am we’ll reveal #3 in our big countdown, and then at noon we’ll close voting on our readers poll. So if you haven’t yet put in your own ballot, there’s still time to tell us your own rankings in The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology!

Then, on Wednesday, it’s time for the grand finale. At 9 am, we’ll reveal #2 in the countdown, and then, only two hours later, we’ll post the #1 person Crippling Scientology. At 1 pm, if all goes to plan, we’ll also post the results of our readers poll and bring to a close this project that took almost two months to complete.

Now, back to this week’s enturbulation!

On Monday, we started things off by naming Anonymous our pick for #6 in the countdown — and did we get an earful about that!

Later that day, however, we opened voting in our readers poll and asked our loyal commenters to send us their own lists of 25 people doing the most damage to the church. There’s still time to get your ballot in, so head on over there!

On Tuesday, we got the big news that charges had been dropped against Marty Rathbun, and San Patricio County, Texas would not be prosecuting him for scratching a member of the Squirrel Busters.

The next day we revealed #5 in the countdown, the dynamic duo at The St. Petersburg Times, Tom Tobin and Joe Childs.

On Thursday, we rounded up some wacky overseas news about Scientology, including yet another bombshell from Down Under: the defection of Chris Guider, former rugby star and loyal former employee to Rathbun.

Yesterday, we broke into the countdown’s Final Four with our entry on actor Tom Cruise.

And that leaves us itching to lift the veil on the top three, but that’s a few days away yet. For now, let’s take a look at the best comments of this past week…

By naming Anonymous #6 in our countdown, we knew we’d be in for some controversy. But such is the stuff of good comments! Of the numerous folks who felt we should have given Project Chanology the top spot in our list, we like PodPeople‘s heartfelt tribute to the leaderless movement:

Yes, I have to speak on this one. I’m one of the thousands that left decades ago. I’m an ex-member, also ex-Sea Org, and an all around cranky. Miscavige had another brilliant idea to stir Our beehive because (I imagine) fooled once, we could be fooled twice. After I calmed down, I jumped on the internet and immediately found Anonymous. I was floored. You know, early on Scientology got its energy, whether sucked up monies or labor and skills, from young, creative and whacky adventurers. It is fitting that it is melting down, like the Wizard of Oz witch, from the energy of young, creative and whacky adventurers. Your videos, Tony, tell the tale of why Anonymous should be in that #1 spot. I had all the resources I needed at my keyboard fingertips thanks to Anons. And when I just couldn’t take the sobbing I found myself in, or my blood pressure rising against doctor’s orders, I could switch to videos like those above and laugh my ass off. The protests that have continued have impressed me beyond my belief and the creativity and imagination displayed, the time, resources, effort, the mad, mad skills, just blew me away and still do to this day. They made a safe haven for ex’s to speak out, yes, but for those still in, they did something no one has been able to accomplish. They stood outside the monster’s caves and sang and danced, not for themselves, but for total strangers, to help end the abuses once and for all. Now you just never know who’s behind those masks, which of course are necessary. Scientology is Psychopathic and Paranoid on steroids, with a stock portfolio. Everything changed when Anons arrived, everything. Media coverage began. Books got written and sold. YouTube got busy. Ex’s, critics and others jumped in, finally, and began to help however they could. It was like the piecing together of a quilt, only one that stretched around the entire world. After the day ends, and you hear one more sorrowful story of Scientology’s latest evil doings, you don’t feel alone anymore, and now you have a warm and cozy cover. I am just one of thousands eternally grateful for Anonymous. Thank you. Just don’t tell them I said warm and cozy. Pod

We were also moved once again by the penetrating words of loyal reader and countdown resident Jefferson Hawkins:

The entry of Anonymous into the equation was a game-changer, possibly THE game-changer. If Scientology was completely clueless as to how to deal with the Internet, they were paralyzed by an Internet activist movement. All of their rules and tactics, cooked up by Hubbard in the Cold War era, went out the window. How do you launch an ad hominem attack when that “hominem” is faceless and everywhere? As a former Sea Org Member and neophyte critic (I had just started telling my own Counterfeit Dreams story online), I was amazed at the Anonymous movement in 2008. I was amazed that they were able to muster 10,000 protesters in a weekend when it took Scientology weeks and weeks of phone calls, promotion and threats to get 6,000 of their faithful to an LA Event. The Church had truly awakened a sleeping giant, simply by doing what they have always done, trying to quash and control information about themselves. To say that Anonymous revitalized the critic movement would be an understatement. It was like the cavalry arriving. All of a sudden it was safe to speak out and reveal the truth. One did not feel exposed and alone. Yes, the Church tried to tar the Anonymous movement, calling them “terrorists” and so on, but they never got much traction with that except, perhaps, among their own gullible members, who believe what they are told to believe. Interestingly, the Church’s main attack line on me is that I am allied with Anonymous, a “terrorist” organization, and therefore I am a terrorist. All because I attended a couple of their protests, was photographed by OSA — ever since then they have tried to smear me by saying I “pal around with terrorists.” The Anonymous people I have dealt with have been earnest, committed, hardworking people, who also have a lot of fun with their pranks, costumes, dancing and caek. At the protests, they came down on any of their own members who tried to violate the law, even something as minor as jaywalking. Sure, some have gone too far. I never agreed with DDOS attacks, black faxes, or harassment in any form. But what do you expect when you have a broad, all-inclusive and leaderless group? What is amazing is not the occasional misguided prank, it’s how effective, professional and law-abiding 99% of Anonymous has been. And I was very impressed with the press conference in LA organized by XenuBarb and Glibby, two very committed and professional women. Anonymous members have worked tirelessly, often behind the scenes, to bring the abuse, fraud and criminality of the Church to light with police, legislators, officials, and the press. The Church tries to smear me because I have stood with Anonymous. Well, bring it — I have stood with them proudly.

When we named Tom Tobin and Joe Childs to the countdown in the #5 position, we were pleased to see that we weren’t the only ones singing their praises for their epic series, “The Truth Rundown.” We liked in particular this response by Damian DeWitt:

The Truth Rundown was a watershed event in the recent history of opposition to Scientology. Among other things it got Randy Sly at Catholic Online writing, and he has become the leading Catholic critic in the US, and in fact in the English-speaking world. It unleashed Marty and Amy on the world and gave courage and set a standard for other journalists and bloggers to write and triggered the defections of Paul Haggis and a mass of others.Joe and Tom’s exhaustive No Kids Allowed on Sea Org abortions was similarly important. The “paper of record on Scientology” — perfect. It is difficult to imagine the implosion of the cult we are witnessing without their work. These are professionals of the highest caliber and modest men. It was wonderful to read Mike Rinder’s and Mark Bunker’s experiences working with them. Epic imminent series will be epic!

And talk about a tribute, it doesn’t get much better than this tale by Kris:

When the Truth Rundown series came out, I had been out of the Sea Org for 5 years, I saw some stuff as a SO member, not nearly as bad as any Int folks, but enough to want to make me run. Thinking that being a public would be better, I flirted with going back in, and I had gone to events, even donated money to various things in the Church(Ideal Orgs, IAS, library donations, freeloader debt) and bought books. I was still at odds with Scientology, as I did see bad stuff in the Sea Org, and also I had recently been stuck in a room with 6 high Scientology Execs literally demanding that I pay 75K to get my patron in the IAS (they only got 1200 as I played the I’m very poor card). I was getting very disenchanted with Scientology, as it seems like every call I would get would be for money, but still had a purpose for wanting to go up the bridge and continuing in Scientology. Something wasn’t right and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Then I remember one morning, reading a headline on Yahoo, that says something of the sort”Mike Rinder confirms beatings occur in Scientology”. It referenced to the SP times, on where I found the videos of former members, and all my suspicions had been confirmed. It was after reading and watching the Truth Rundown, that I made the choice never to walk into a Church of Scientology ever again.

On Thursday, we jumped on the breaking news of former professional rugby player and longtime Scientologist Chris Guider becoming the latest church executive to defect and accuse leader David Miscavige of being violent to his employees. But our roundup of news also included an item about a UK man who, only a few weeks into his Scientology indoctrination, pledging 20,000 pounds to the organization. We were struck by this reaction from LeeAnne Clark:

I just read Stephen Cox’s e-mails to his scammers, and it almost made me cry. This is a man who is in trouble — his life is in chaos, and he is grasping at straws to feel some sense of connection to God and the world, some sense of doing the *right* thing. He clearly wants his life to make sense and mean something, and he feels he can do that by trying to help others. There are so many directions he could have gone to do that — he could have ended up with a Christian church, or with Amnesty International or Save the Children or Oxfam or any group that would help him to channel his desire to make a difference into…actually…making a difference. Any of those groups would have been thrilled to have him donate his time and money, and turned it into legitimate HELP for people who need it. None of those groups would have taken ALL his money and made him go into debt, of course — they would likely have given him some help in figuring how much he could afford, without causing himself financial harm. And they would have helped people. Instead he ends up with — Scientology. The one group that will take all his money and MORE, putting him into a debt that he can never get out of, and use its ill-gotten gains to…buy real estate, perform nutty “auditing” on people for the purpose of convincing them they need to donate more of their own money to, and finance the extravagantly opulent lifestyle of a celebrity-chasing psychopathic midget. They will eventually convince him that his idea of “God” doesn’t exist, and will drive him insane with notions of untold numbers of alien souls clinging to his body like swarming gnats. Not a single person will be helped. The irony is so sad it’s almost incomprehensible.

We also liked this comment by JustCallMeMary, which recounted the roundup nicely:

To Chris Guilder, thanks for speaking up publicly and filing your complaint against the church. Have a good life and enjoy time with your family 🙂

Re: Stephen Cox: This is so pathetic. Another broken marriage, broken family, empty pockets and auditing brainwashing. Bet that money he gave the church was supposed to go to his wife as part of the divorce settlement. Hope she shows the video and this article in divorce court.

Re: Gur Finkelstein & the Tel Aviv org. I’m waiting for him to turn against the church and spill the beans on it’s involvement in the paying off of people to arson the building ( before he got caught doing the other crimes related or not to the building.) Finklestein is just another Scientology lawyer doing Scientology’s dirty work.

On the cartoon: when the Church of Scientology shows its distain for people like this and for Christianity, by mocking it, its just one more nail in the coffin of a dying cult.

Also, our thanks to countdown member Amy Scobee for figuring out all of the defectors displayed in the Freedom magazine parody cartoon which we posted. I think she’s nailed it here:

There’s no question to me who they are trying to portray — especially if you’ve seen some of the photos they’ve put up on their websites of these people. [From left to right] Chuck Beatty, Daniel Montalvo, Jason Beghe, Paul Haggis, Tom DeVocht, yours truly, Larry Wright, Marc Headley, Marty Rathbun, Claire Headley, Miek Rinder, Jeff Hawkins and Steve Hall. Yeah — McSavage — the people exposing your crimes.

Our post naming Tom Cruise #4 in our countdown included a surprise guest, the inimitable Mark Ebner, prompting this reaction by F_Randy_Hullabaloo:

Ebner’s last paragraph is going to have me in stitches all weekend! I’m so glad he contributed to this one.

The Cruise entry also brought out some pro-church commenters, including MaryAnne Molina:

It unfortunate that Tom Cruise can’t live his life the way he chooses without beings judged for every single action. He is Tom Cruise, one of the best actors of all time, and that should be what people talk about, who cares what his religion is. There are tons of religions, not all of them are for everyone, not everyone understands the principles in each.

Unfortunately, the others sticking up for Tom and the church were similarly half-hearted. Come on, Scientologists, is that the best you can do? Really?

We’ll end with a thoughtful question from Patty Moher, who wondered what church members must think about the post about Cruise:

Tom Cruise # 4! Fucking nice! After I read your article, including Ebner’s hysterically funny write up, the first thing I thought of is, what are the Scientologists that are still in the cult going to think of this? I’m sure they understand why you included the already known SP’s but I’m also pretty sure they don’t fully get why you named Tom Cruise # 4! Many of them really don’t get it and will attribute it to the “fact” that you’re just an evil being controlled by the psychs/big pharma/the 12 International bankers. I mean, what else could it be? Tom Cruise, crippling Scientology?? This may cause some of them to actually read the article. Which would be nice. Tom Cruise Scientology Video – ( Original UNCUT ) now has over 7 million hits on Youtube and endless parody videos that are almost as funny. A big shout out to the brave anonymous Scientologist that sent me the video 5 years ago. You did good.

And with that, another week comes to a close. Now, I need to get back to putting the finishing touches on 1 through 3 here in the underground bunker. Itching to reveal them, but you’ll just have to wait for Monday and Wednesday mornings!

[VOTE NOW in our readers poll — tell us who you think should be 1 through 25, and we’ll reveal the results on September 28.]

The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology
#4: Tom Cruise
#5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin
#6: Anonymous
#7: Mark Bunker
#8: Mike Rinder
#9: Jason Beghe
#10: Lisa McPherson
#11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants)
#12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives)
#13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists)
#14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists)
#15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics)
#16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church’s HQ
#17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano
#18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive
#19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church’s other thugs and goons)
#20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures)
#21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church
#22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members)
#23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church)
#24: David Touretzky (and other academics)
#25: Xenu, galactic overlord

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


[All recent stories] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] | [Commenters of the Week]


[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing “disconnection”]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]


[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties]
In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview]
The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun’s open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun’s cause] | [Squirrel Buster’s claim to be making a “documentary”] | [VIDEO: “On a Boat”] | [“Anna” sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology’s highest levels]


[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley]
[Scientology’s West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology’s enemies list: Are you on it?]
Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2]
[A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard’s remarkable public confession]
[Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine]
[Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to “handle” the Voice]


[“Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | [“Tom Cruise not a kook!”] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise]
[Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church]
[Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his “suppressive person” declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice]
[Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense]
[Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis]
[Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology’s retaliation is “scary and pathetic”]
Grant Cardone, NatGeo’s “Turnaround King”: [Doing Scientology’s dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone’s smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo]


[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman’s first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid]
[Scientology doesn’t like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post]
[A roundup of Reitman’s print reviews, and why isn’t she on television more?]


[A review of Urban’s scholarly history of the church] | [An interview with Hugh Urban]


[Marc Headley: “Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Jeff Hawkins’ Counterfeit Dreams] | [86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]


[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested]
[All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots]


[Scientology singalong, “We Stand Tall”] | [Captain Bill Robertson and “Galactic Patrol”]
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[When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers]
[Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.]
[Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York “org”]


[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]