Eight years ago today, the Internet grew feet. We remember very well how surprising it was that Anonymous, which had vowed to bring down Scientology the month before over its attempt to censor a leaked Tom Cruise interview video, showed up in the form of young people wearing Guy Fawkes masks at Scientology orgs around the world on February 10, 2008. Things have never been the same since.
For a really interesting discussion of where Anonymous came from and where it went from there, we recommend McGill University professor Gabriella Coleman’s book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous. When it came out, we were disappointed to see some criticism of it from a writer who dismissed the impact of Anonymous on Scientology. To the contrary, we pointed out, the lasting impact of Anonymous cannot be overstated. Scientology has never recovered from those 2008 protests, and it likely never will.
We keep seeing more anecdotal evidence of just how bad things are getting for the Church of Scientology, not only as many longtime members have left in a steady stream since the mid 2000s, but also because those who are left inside are becoming less enthusiastic about taking part in leader David Miscavige’s initiatives. (Initiatives that inevitably end up costing them large amounts of money.)
This past week, for example, we were forwarded an email from one of our California readers who has left the church but nevertheless received an invitation to fly to Atlanta and help clean up the Central Files in preparation for the opening of an Ideal Org there…
Miscavige promises his followers that if they donate to buy and renovate buildings for these new Ideal Orgs, it will lead to a land rush of new people joining Scientology. And as part of that promise, the paper files of the old org have to be cleaned up and reorganized in preparation for that boom.
Paper records. In 2016. And there are so few participating members in the Atlanta area itself, the church has to ask Californians to fly out and do the job.
The delusion is stunning. But so is the indication of just how far Scientology has fallen.
A large part of the credit for that has to go to Anonymous, which in 2008 suddenly made it too difficult for Scientology to practice its old method of targeting every critic who spoke up about it — now there were simply too many of them.
We’d love to hear your memories of the 2008 protests. Where were you when the Internet turned the tables?
Bonus photos from our tipsters
Hey, girl. I joined staff at the South Coast mission in Orange County. Can I get a thumb’s up to a date?
Youth for Human Rights lectures kids in Sierra Leone. Thanks, Legoland. (As our readers noticed, this is actually a photo of a WHO volunteer teaching kids about hygiene. For some reason, YHR has posted it at its Facebook page.)
Something tells us there’s a better way to celebrate Carnival in Brazil than with Study Tech.
Jason Beghe wants to see a motherfucking Clear? Here is Sergio. He is Clear. The piece of paper says so. And you can see it in his eyes.
Scientology whale Jim Mathers continues to work Kiev…
Hey, anyone got a spare $150,000?
E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield