Scientology's 'Martin Luther' Nails Up His Disputation: Marty Rathbun's Open Letter to his Texas Neighbors [UPDATED]
Updated after the jump: Video from this morning of Scientology's goon squad filming Rathbun's house from a paddle boat! Surveillance never looked so unseaworthy.
Rathbun and his wife Monique: Cluing in the neighbors
Somehow, Marty Rathbun continues to outdo himself at his blog, "Moving On Up a Little Higher." Today, (actually, Sunday -- this post was updated) he provided an open letter to his neighbors, attempting to explain to them who he is and why he is under constant surveillance by odd people from the church of Scientology. It's a remarkable document.
Rathbun is an incredibly controversial figure in the world of Scientology watching. He first became a member of the church in 1978 and rose to one of its highest positions of power before his 2004 defection.
At his most powerful, Rathbun says he answered only to Scientology's ultimate leader, David Miscavige.
Rathbun was an enforcer, a fixer, someone Miscavige could turn to when the church was in trouble. For that reason, many church critics refuse to forgive him for his acts, even seven years after leaving the church and becoming one of Miscavige's chief tormentors.
When the Voice writes about Rathbun, we receive angry comments from Scientologists, ex-Scientologists, and members of Anonymous. He seems to rile up just about everyone.
Except, that is, the growing number of "Independent Scientologists" who are following Rathbun out of Miscavige's organization, threatening its very existence.
Inside Scientology author Janet Reitman compared Rathbun to Martin Luther for leading the schism of Independents. She said that the threat of Miscavige's movement was so serious, Miscavige's Scientology would need to "change or die."
But Rathbun is paying a price for his ongoing protest of Miscavige and "corporate Scientology." That price is constant surveillance and what he says is illegal gathering of his phone and flight records.
In today's open letter to his neighbors, Rathbun provides a remarkable recitation of who he is and how he reached this point. He links to material about him that contains criticisms of him. And he explains what he's doing in south Texas:
I moved to [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas] primarily to write, fish, boat, and spend some years enjoying some of the fundamental virtues that drive humanity but that I found so lacking during most of my adult life in the church of Scientology.
In 2009, he explains, he began blogging about Scientology, criticizing Miscavige's handling of the church and explaining how he and others had left to find alternative ways to use L. Ron Hubbard's "technology."
A consequence of my having spoken out as loudly and thoroughly as I did was the creation of an exodus of sorts from the Scientology cult.
He then provides a list of what sort of harassment he's been the subject of in the last two years:
1. Hacking my email.
2. Illegally buying my phone records.
3. Buying my trash from BFI and searching it for any clue they could use against me.
4. Setting up 24/7/365 surveillance of my every move; they have had agents embedded in Ingleside and IOB for over a year.
5. Hacking airline computers to get my flight plans so that every time I left town in the past two years, i) my wife was confronted by two unidentified cult members each time, and ii) I was picked up by teams of private investigators at each destination airport.
6. The hacking of my blog and shutting it down.
7. Putting up 28 websites in attempts to slander and discredit me - including such allegations that my wife is in fact a man and that I murdered my own brother thirty years ago. The cult is well heeled and will invent and publish the most vicious defamation, inviting libel suits so that they can ruin the plaintiff utterly by abuse of court processes.
8. Sending private investigators to every former member who has met with me, multiple times, offering cash incentives to bad mouth me in any way.
9. Sending private investigators to harass each of Monique's associates, friends, and even her former husband.
10. Sending teams of dummies to put cameras and microphones in my face in restaurants, sidewalks, airports, and other public places, obstructing my path, then bringing bogus assault charges against me for gently guiding them out of my way when they obstruct me, my wife or friends. To give you an idea how insane it gets, they hired a former FBI agent lawyer in Corpus to heavily lobby to have me prosecuted for grasping a microphone they stuck in my face, over my own property line after I had to herd four of them off my doorstep. Four unidentified intruders who traveled from California for the exclusive purpose of harassing me on my doorstep. The county attorney who evaluated the case said she had seen nothing more frivolous in her career (and could not believe anyone in their right minds would spend money to have an attorney try to lobby for such a case). They have done this to me nine times that I am aware of in three states. All nine cases have been heavily lobbied by their expensive lawyers and cop private investigators. All nine have been laughed out of existence by the officials receiving them. Zero for nine.
Rathbun then posts the video of a Scientology goon squad visiting his house which we wrote about earlier.
Rathbun details the fascinating attempts by a Los Angeles private investigator and a local retired cop to rent a house as close to Rathbun's as possible so that it could be used as a staging location for surveillance.
He then answers a question I've been meaning to ask him: if Miscavige changed tactics and tried to buy him off, would Rathbun back down?
Just so everybody knows, as Miscavige just won't seem to get it through his head, I will never fold to any pressure no matter how intense, and I am not for sale - at any price.
Well, I guess that answers that question.
UPDATE: Rathbun punctuated his post with video that he took this morning. If his words aren't enough to convince you that he's under some extraordinary surveillance by Scientology, watch this short video: three of Scientology's goons crammed into a paddle boat, filming Rathbun's house from the canal out his back door!
Click here to see all recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle'
The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
A Church Myth Debunked -- Scientology and Proposition 8
Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back -- Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits
When Scientologists Attack -- The Marty Rathbun Intimidation
A Scientologist Excommunicated -- The Michael Fairman SP Declaration
The Richard Leiby Operation -- Investigating a reporter's divorce to shut him up
The Hugh Urban Investigation -- An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology's past
Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh -- A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link
Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology -- A masterful telling of Scientology's history
The Western Spy Network Revealed? -- Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige
Scientology's Enemies List -- Are You On It?
Inside Inside Scientology -- An interview with author Janet Reitman