Scientology Shoop of the Year — The Vote Is In!


We’re continuing our year-end celebrations here at the (newly refurbished and upgraded) underground bunker. Today, we have the voting results for best Photoshopped image as chosen by you, our fellow Scientology watchers.

The talented Photoshoppers over at constantly turn out clever mashups that tease and taunt Scientology. We chose five finalists that we felt spoke most directly to the stories we’ve been following here at Runnin’ Scared in 2011.

After the jump, let’s see how your favorite image placed in the voting…

Fifth Place: “Y’all Busted”

Someone found a great way to use Chill EB’s own Facebook portrait in this shoop that refers to an anti-psychiatry song he put out a couple of years ago, “Y’all Busted.” Now that he’s Scientology’s in-house hip hop act, Chill puts out slick videos with anti-pharma messages and with links to the church’s anti-psychiatry front group, CCHR. And church leader David Miscavige as Oompa Loompa? Well, sometimes satire hits below the belt!

Fourth Place: Gur Finkelstein and the Jaffa Org

The news out of Israel this year strained credulity — Scientology’s “Ideal Org” there was mired in a controversy about the church’s local agent, an attorney named Gur Finkelstein, who is facing prison time after being indicted for trying to kill three different people (including a municipal official) and also for trying to set fire to the building, twice. So with that level of craziness going on, we thought this mashup of recent Scientology figures and memes made for a fun overall image. Do you recognize all of the faces?

Third Place: David Miscavige, Scientology’s Pope

This wasn’t really attached to any of our stories here this year. We chose it just because it gives some indication of the creative work being done at places like practically every day. This image really seemed to capture church leader David Miscavige’s sense of entitlement and power.

Second Place: Squirrel Stuff

We were surprised to see this do so well in the voting, but the back story on this image is pretty fun. In August, we made an appearance on the Church of Lazlo show at Kansas City radio station 96.5 The Buzz, where we had once worked at a local paper, The Pitch. Lazlo likes to check with us on occasion about Scientology news. After that appearance, the local Scientology org sent a letter complaining about the show to the station’s manager, along with some literature about the church. However, the church member who sent the materials also accidentally included an internal memo which gave her instructions on making the complaint. The letter said not to worry about the Voice, because the international branch of the Office of Special Affairs would be “handling” yours truly. The letter also contained a handwritten admonition that the church volunteer making the complaint not actually listen to our appearance on Lazlo’s show, because the segment had “squirrel stuff.” In Scientology parlance, that was a warning that the show contained material critical of the church and its upper-level teachings — things that a low-level volunteer should not hear. Of course, to those of us not in the church, warning that a radio show was “weird and has squirrel stuff” was just about the best endorsement we could imagine.

Scientology Shoop of the Year: A Civilization Without Insanity

This one won’t win any contests for image manipulation. But it’s the totality of the message that really has an impact, and our readers seem to be in agreement. With more than twice as many votes as any other entry, this image really seemed to put into perspective the insanity of the Squirrel Busters episode. In April, this was the scene former Scientology executive Marty Rathbun saw on his front porch: several church members wearing matching T-shirts, with cameras strapped to their heads, trying to intimidate him about his “squirreling.” That’s the word the church uses for unsanctioned counseling, one of the things Rathbun does that church leader David Miscavige apparently finds threatening. The goon squad spent the next five months outside Rathbun’s house, watching Rathbun and his wife Monique, following them whenever they went into town or to eat at restaurants, and generally tried to make their lives “a living hell.” Instead, it brought the church loads of bad publicity and a lot of howling laughter. Were the Squirrel Busters really so blind to how ridiculous they came off?

Now, more than a month after they finally left the Rathbuns in peace, I know I’m not the only one looking back at the Year of the Squirrel Busters with at least a little nostalgia and sadness. For a time, anyway, these church members in a golf cart, patrolling a cul-de-sac in a small Texas town, provided some of the best Scientology watching in years.

Tomorrow we continue to look back at 2011 with the readers poll finale — Scientology Story of the Year. This one was a squeaker, so make sure to come back to see which big news story edged out a win!

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] [Thursday 2pm Stats!] | [Scientology vs. South Park] | [This Week Aboard the Apollo]
[Sunday Funnies]


[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 hates clean ice: The “Fair Game” operation that should turn your stomach]
[Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]
[Paulette Cooper, Scientology’s original and worst nightmare: a Thanksgiving tribute]


1. L. Ron Hubbard | 2. David Miscavige | 3. Marty Rathbun | 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 | 12. Tommy Davis | 13. Janet Reitman | 14. Tory Christman | 15. Andreas Heldal-Lund | 16. Marc and Claire Headley | 17. Jefferson Hawkins | 18. Amy Scobee | 19. The Squirrel Busters | 20. Trey Parker and Matt Stone | 21. Kendrick Moxon | 22. Jamie DeWolf | 23. Ken Dandar | 24. Dave Touretzky | 25. Xenu


[Valeska Paris, held against her will from 1996 to 2007 on Scientology’s cruise ship]
[Ramana Dienes-Browning, marriage at 16, sexual interrogation, life in the engine room]
[Melissa Paris, Valeska’s sister: forced to marry at 16]


[Scientology targeted South Park‘s Parker and Stone in an investigation]
[More documents in the South Park probe: instructions to send in a young mole]
[Scientology responds in typical fashion] | [Lloyd Kaufman confirms the probe]
[Mark Ebner also investigated after South Park involvement]
[Mark Chauppetta, private eye, explains what Scientology operatives look for]


[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]
[Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: “No one’s going to take my eternity away”]


[Hey, Scientology Celebrity, Here’s Your Media Training Checksheet!]
[Tom Cruise and X Factor‘s Stacy Francis singing together on the Freewinds]
[X Factor’s Stacy Francis: Her first husband, Michael Sandlofer, answers abuse claims]
[Tom Cruise and Baby Suri embarrassed by news item, so someone must pay]
[“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]
[Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips “the business that is Scientology”]


[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]


[“The Money Machine”: another blockbuster St. Pete Times investigation]
[Marc Headley: “Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle”] | [The Nancy Many interview]
[Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman’s Story] | [Jeff Hawkins’ Counterfeit Dreams]
[86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]


[Scientology in Israel: Arson, attempted murder, paranoia — and a visit by the Voice!]
[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]
[Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige “toxic” and “violent”]
[Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails]
[Australian farmer blamed for giving Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, loses her friends, family]


[Scientology chillin’ with hip hop!] | [The curious career of Scientology rapper Chill EB]
[Chill EB and me: the Voice interviews Scientology’s in-house rapper]
[Scientology singalong, “We Stand Tall”] | [Captain Bill Robertson and “Galactic Patrol”]
[Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!]
[Birmingham in the House! The “Ideal” dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam]
[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]
[Desperate Scientology fundraising caught on video]