Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Scientology’s 2012 in Review: Parting Shots from a Year David Miscavige Won’t Soon Forget

Tiziano Lugli does his best Tom Cruise

Tiziano Lugli does his best Tom Cruise

And so we come to the end of this lengthy year in review, which no doubt has already gone on far too long for some readers.

If we’ve been longwinded, our excuse is that 2012 has been such an exceptional year for Scientology, and there were so many disasters for the church right up to the last few weeks.

On December 10, with Gawker’s help, we brought to the world a very unusual video. During our recent visit to Los Angeles, former church member Tiziano Lugli played for us a funny song that featured several ex-Scientologists rapping about what it was like to work for David Miscavige at the International Base. We thoroughly enjoyed the rap stylings of Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder (seriously, it was dope), but what made the video go viral was that one of the people who performed on the song was Nazanin Boniadi, and she specifically name-checked the church’s three big celebrities, Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Kirstie Alley. Boniadi had become famous in Maureen Orth’s Vanity Fair story in September, but here was the first evidence of Boniadi speaking out on her own about her disillusionment with Scientology.

If that video was a bit shaky because of our handheld cam, Lugli showed the quality of his work when he allowed us to debut two other videos he’s been working on. “Shit Scientologists Say” featured great cameos from such well-known ex-Scientologists as Tory Christman, Michael Fairman, Mike Rinder, and Jenna Miscavige Hill.

December also featured a great surprise: Former Los Angeles Times reporter Joel Sappell, who was part of the team that produced a landmark 1990 series on Scientology, went to Texas to confront former church enforcer Marty Rathbun and ask him, did Scientology kill his dog? Although Sappell didn’t get all the answers he was looking for, this piece reminds us that Scientology has a hard time holding in its secrets with so many people breaking away.

And the hits kept coming up to the last minute — just this week we learned that state regulators in Georgia are trying to shut down Scientology’s drug rehab program in that state (Narconon Georgia), and prosecutors in Belgium are filing indictments against the church and are seeking to treat it as a criminal enterprise.


In the long run, however, the December story that may have the greatest ramifications for the church was the revelation that the Department of Homeland Security has been investigating Scientology for human trafficking allegations for many months, and perhaps more than a year. Is the investigation dwindling? There’s some evidence of it. So what’s it going to be, Janet Napolitano?

So December goes out the way 2012 came in — with a series of blasts that the church has no real response for. (Miscavige has given up on the brash, noisy approach that characterized his use of spokesman Tommy Davis up to about 2009. These days, the church puts out comical statements through its attorneys for the most part, and never has anyone available for actual interviews.)

So how does 2013 look? If January is any guide, it’s going to be rough.

January 7 — John Sweeney’s book The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology hits bookstores.

January 16 — A TV documentary is debuting that we are not allowed to speak of just yet.

January 17 — Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear will ride in on a big wave of publicity.

January 17 — Jenna Miscavige Hill’s memoir will give Wright’s book a run for its money as the media feeding frenzy peaks.

January 17 — We predict that Marc Headley will not be making that announcement that so many of you think is happening. So calm down.

And that’s just January. In March, UK’s Channel 4 will broadcast an hour-long documentary that we were happy to provide some help for. We will only say that its filmmakers took very seriously the notion that Scientology is in the grips of a crisis, and we expect this to be a fine contribution to the field.

But all that is in the future. For now, we just want to say how deeply indebted we are to the readers of this blog and to our tipsters, who day after day keep us informed about what’s happening in the world of Scientology. 2012 has been a deeply satisfying one for serious Scientology watchers, and you’ve helped us make this site the place to go to keep abreast with what’s going on. Let’s keep it up!


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email