The earth moving under your feet this week has not only knocked a few things off your shelves, we do believe it represents a tectonic shift in the world we live in.
That world being, of course, Scientology Watching, which will get another seismic jolt tonight with ABC 20/20 ‘s episode featuring an interview with Ron Miscavige about his tell-all memoir, Ruthless.
We’re still recovering from last night’s shock to the system, when we learned that Monique Rathbun filed to end her harassment lawsuit against the Church of Scientology by trashing her former attorneys in outrageous terms. Obviously, we still have a lot to learn about what went into Monique’s decision (or her ghost writer’s) to backstab the legal team that had brought her through solid court victories only to be fired and then accused of incompetently writing her lawsuit so it would be vulnerable to Scientology’s delaying tactics.
But whatever went into that decision, it seems obvious that Mark “Marty” Rathbun’s influence on the world of Scientology is now largely over. For years, we wrote that no one represented a greater threat to the continued existence of the Church of Scientology than Rathbun and his website. But this week’s court filing appears to end what had been a truly remarkable chapter in Scientology history, 2009-2016, when Rathbun and other top former executives made a bold move to challenge David Miscavige and change the narrative about how Scientology was described in the media. Beginning with the appearance of Rathbun’s blog and the “Truth Rundown” series in the Tampa Bay Times in 2009, through the filing of Monique Rathbun’s lawsuit in 2013, and with the publication of Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology (2011) and Lawrence Wright’s Going Clear (2013), as well as Channel 4’s Scientologists at War (2013) and Alex Gibney’s film version of Going Clear (2015), the Rathbuns led a media tsunami that exposed and accelerated Scientology’s ongoing crisis in faith that was fueling an exodus of longtime members.
But this year, things have changed. We’ve been featuring a remarkable set of new defectors and others who are once again adding to and altering the narrative about what Scientology is and where it’s going. And as you wait for tonight’s powerful television event, we invite you to read, or re-read if that’s the case, and discuss what we’ve come to think of as the “Class of ’16,” the notable new figures who are changing Scientology Watching in big ways…
— Nora Crest, who has used her infectious speaking skills to bring media attention on Scientology’s homophobia
— Skip Young, who is connecting Scientology’s history of spying with today’s toxic environment of disconnection
— Phil and Willie Jones, who have brought a new focus on disconnection that the media is eating up
— Lucia Ribisi, whose defection has connected Scientology’s celebrities with disconnection in a drama that’s only beginning to unfold
— Gregg Hagglund and Peter Ramsay, whose stories highlighted the grim ending chapters some lifetime Scientologists face
— Ron Miscavige, who is turning his family’s wreckage into a referendum on his dictatorial son, Scientology leader David Miscavige
— Lisa Marie Presley, who is making David Miscavige pay for his policy of celebrities as ornaments
While we wait for tonight’s big show, we look forward to your thoughts on whether we aren’t seeing a major shift in the way Scientology is perceived, and whether it will survive.
Your proprietor will be traveling tonight, so we’re going to be relying on our readers to provide the live-blogging on tonight’s 20/20 episode. We’re sure you won’t let us down.
In the meantime, we’ll plague you with our latest media appearances, some of which you’ve already endured, we have no doubt.
We always love being on Allison Hope Weiner’s Media Mayhem program at TheLipTV (where, we should note, we work as executive editor)…
Yesterday we also talked with Celeste Headlee for Georgia Public Broadcasting’s program “On Second Thought,” about the new Scientology ‘Ideal Org’ in Atlanta…
And on Wednesday afternoon, we had fun, as usual, on KABC 790 with Jillian Barberie and John Phillips. Our segment starts at about 19:45 in…
Oh, and one more thing…
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