Scientology in the Village Voice: 2011 in Review
Here at the Voice we wrote 234 stories on Scientology this year. They generated more than a million pageviews and more than 20,000 comments from our loyal readers.
"I still can't figure out how I didn't make the countdown."
Our first story of the year was posted in February, when we lauded Lawrence Wright's excellent, lengthy New Yorker profile of church defector and film director Paul Haggis.
Our last story of the year will be posted tomorrow morning, when we announce our Commenters of the Year awards.
Along the way, we covered breaking stories, interviewed fascinating people, revealed formerly secret Scientology documents, and tried to put Scientology's various difficulties into perspective.
Some of those stories brought more of you around to take a look than others. After the jump, we'll look at the most popular stories of the year...
Our 25 Most-Read Scientology Stories of 2011
(February 7) Wright's 24,000-word profile of church defector and film director Paul Haggis was an early indication that this was going to be a big year for Scientology watching. (Just noticed that The New Yorker is listing Wright's story as their 2nd most-read story of 2011. Wow!)
(November 28) This was our first story about Valeska Paris, who says church leader David Miscavige kept her on Scientology's private cruise ship from 1996 to 2007 to keep her away from her own mother in an extreme case of "disconnection."
FEBRUARY: The lavish interior of an SUV custom-tailored for Tom Cruise by Sea Org members working for less than minimum wage.
23. The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 6: Anonymous
(September 19) A controversial ranking in our big summer countdown; many thought the leaderless online community and its Scientology-watching corps, Project Chanology, would finish higher on our list. At least it made for great comments!
(September 20) The culimination of months of reporting on the Squirrel Busters siege at Marty Rathbun's house in little Ingleside on the Bay, Texas, this seemed a fitting final blunder for the church's misguided "fair game" operation.
MARCH: Daniel Montalvo files child-labor lawsuits against Scientology. (They've since been settled.)
21. Tommy Davis, Scientology Spokesman, Secretly Recorded Discussing 'Disconnection'
(August 30) One of our favorite investigations of the year -- It's not often that you have a high-ranking Scientology official unaware that he's being taped as he pretty openly tries to intimidate a former church member about losing all contact with his family.
(August 30) Six months after Lawrence Wright's article about Paul Haggis appeared in The New Yorker, Scientology's propaganda organ, Freedom magazine, got around to trashing Wright and Haggis in surprisingly stupid fashion.
APRIL: The Squirrel Busters goon squad shows up to intimidate Marty Rathbun in South Texas
19. The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 3: Marty Rathbun
(September 26) As we got near the top of our big countdown, our choices got more controversial. Rathbun is loathed by many in the Scientology watching world, but there's no doubt that his blog is having a big effect on the church.
(September 28) We chose Miscavige as our top runner-up in our countdown, but readers in our online poll chose him as their number 1.
MAY: The Simon Wiesenthal Center bestows on Tom Cruise its annual Humanitarian Award. Paulette Cooper is not amused.
17. Janet Reitman: An Interview with the Author of Inside Scientology
(June 24) It didn't surprise us that the author of such a fascinating book would turn out to be fascinating herself.
(October 25) After news of Scientology's retaliatory 2006 investigation of South Park's Trey Parker and Matt Stone broke, spokeswoman Karin Pouw put out one of the most inept church statements of all time.
(June 23) Marty Rathbun revealed an internal Scientology document which contained a list of people in the Western U.S. the church wanted to make sure weren't invited to an upcoming event. Those of us Back East were green with envy.
(April 21) There were several reports during the year in the entertainment tabloids that all is not well in the House of Cruise as Tom's kids explore young adulthood.
JULY: Placido Domingo Jr, seen here with his famous father, leaves Scientology, calling it "scary and pathetic"
13. The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 12: Tommy Davis
(September 5) We weren't really surprised at the popularity of Tommy, the good-looking top church spokesman who suddenly vanished early in the year. Is Tommy another victim of church leader David Miscavige's infamous fickle favoritism?
(December 21) A minor scuffle in San Francisco turns into an intriguing story about a woman victimized by the church, her husband's in-your-face protesting techniques, and an angry confrontation over Xenu, the galactic overlord.
(August 5) With this post, we launched our big summer countdown, and started things off by giving Xenu his place of honor.