Scientology Video of the Year: The Vote Is In!
We're going to start off our end-of-year celebrations this week by revealing which video you selected as the best of 2011.
Here's your only clue to the winner
My thanks to our readers who participated in the poll. We had many interesting videos to choose from this year; some were new, others were rediscovered, and every one made an impact.
As for the winner? Well, I had a feeling this one would come out on top. But first, let's once more look over the also-rans.
Fifth Place: Birmingham in the House!
In September, a sharp-eyed researcher noticed that the Scientology org in Birmingham, England had left its server open to the public. Within days, a huge amount of information from the org had been posted on the Internet. Part of that leak included photos and a song from a tropical-themed fundraising event to raise money for an "Ideal Org" -- a new building, the kind of thing Scientologists are constantly being hit up for. These images (and especially the song) painted a much less glamorous picture than the celebrity-tinged church we normally get to see. The photos really came to life when someone put them together with the tune for what you see here. Note at the end the modest amounts church members were willing to pledge even after all that island fever.
Fourth Place: The Angels of the Melrose Mission
Scientology's boutique Melrose Bouleverd org apparently didn't last long, but it left behind this promotional video, which was sent to us by Angry Gay Pope. Readers have pointed out that there are some very odd moments in this homage to Charlie's Angels.
Third Place: "Dauntless, Defiant, Resolute (We are the IAS)"
We've been learning more and more about Chill EB, the Bay Area rapper whose career was revived in 2005 when he became Scientology's in-house hip hop artist. For the International Association of Scientologists -- the IAS -- Chill performed an inspirational track using the association's motto -- "Dauntless, Defiant, Resolute." He also created a video for it that we still haven't seen. But last month, we learned that Chill's song had been used for a separate video put together by IAS members in Copenhagen. Something about Danish breakdancers, Scientologists handing out certificates, and these earnest IAS members chiming in with the lip-syncing made this piece an instant hit.
Second Place: "Dede from the Phoenix Org"
Like the Birmingham leak, this was another glimpse into how much church members are pressured to raise funds for new buildings, called "Ideal Orgs." In this case, a woman named Dede and other members of the org in Phoenix, Arizona put on quite a show of enthusiasm as they promised a cheer for every donation. Since this video surfaced in July, some of us have become attached to the woman who stars in this show. She inspired one reader, after voting in this contest had started, to write, "Go, Dede. Every time you get a vote, we'll go crazy for you."
But Dede, and the other contestants, were simply outmatched in this contest. Winning by a large margin was...