Scientology, Winning! We Hear from the Church's #1 Student

Marty Rathbun tells me a story from when he was still the second-highest ranking executive in the Church of Scientology.

It was some time after Arnold Schwarzenegger's November, 2003 election to governor of California, which had become the subject of conversation in David Miscavige's Land Rover.

"Miscavige was driving, and Tom Cruise was in the passenger seat. I was sitting behind Miscavige, and Michael Doven was sitting behind Cruise. At some point, Tom said, 'If Arnold can become governor, I can become president.' And Miscavige got really excited and said, 'Absolutely!' And the thing is, Tony, he meant it," Rathbun told me.

I love that story.

Rathbun knew Doven very well. From 2001 to 2003, Rathbun had audited Tom Cruise and was in daily contact with the two of them. But by 2004, Rathbun was out of Scientology and had gone so far into seclusion, rumors circulated on the Internet that he had died.

But in 2009, he resurfaced and started his blog, "Moving On Up A Little Higher," which savagely criticized Miscavige and quickly became a key component in a growing Independent Scientology movement.

The next time Rathbun saw Doven, it was under rather odd circumstances.

It was April, 2010. Rathbun had been blogging a little more than a year, and his site had become a beacon for new defectors, who were leaving the church and making their way to Corpus Christi. (Rathbun lives in a small town nearby, Ingleside on the Bay, Texas.)

The latest escapee from Scientology's secretive California desert base was John Brousseau, and he made a beeline for Rathbun's home.

Rathbun arranged for Brousseau to stay in a hotel in a nearby town, and took the precaution of having a friend book the room to throw off the church's Office of Special Affairs -- its intelligence and covert operations wing. But in less than a day, Rathbun says, Brousseau had been found. Showing up at his hotel were Tommy Davis -- then Scientology's chief spokesman -- and three other church members. (All of whom, Rathbun notes, are now out of the organization.)

When Brousseau told Rathbun that he had company, Rathbun says he quickly jumped in a vehicle and started to head over there. But he had to screech to a halt, he says, when he found four cars, each with four people, bearing down on him and blocking both lanes of his road.

Rathbun watched as out of one of the four cars, Michael Doven emerged. Rathbun today says he wishes he had a video camera with him and presence of mind to tape the incident (today he always has one with him), but instead he gunned his car and blew past the roadblock. Soon he was with Brousseau, and he took him to Corpus Christi, and gathered with his attorney. In the meantime, he called Mike Rinder, another former church executive who had recently defected, and asked him to fly over from Florida to help him out. Rinder was soon on a plane and on his way.

As Rathbun went to the Corpus Christi airport to pick up Rinder, he had a fascinating telephone conversation -- which he taped.

It was with Michael Doven, who, you'll hear, wants to talk to Marty about what had just happened.

Try to keep this background in mind as you listen to this remarkable conversation from April, 2010. Rathbun was once one of the most powerful executives in the church, but now he operates independently in South Texas, and his blog seems to be wreaking havoc in the official church as more longtime, high-paying church members leave to join with Rathbun in the independence movement.

Doven, on the other hand, has just taken part in a wild church operation -- an attempt to block Rathbun while other church operative descend on Brousseau, probably to intimidate him into coming back into the fold.

Doven has to somehow explain himself and make Rathbun feel like the one who is out of line. Rathbun, meanwhile, tells Doven that "the church is dead," and it seems to hit his old friend very hard.

I'm providing a transcript of the conversation, which Rathbun had put on his blog. It's lengthy, but I think it's remarkable, and something we hadn't reported here before.

It's an opportunity to listen to Michael Doven as he explains himself after doing the church's dirty work, and before he goes on his mission to be the first to complete the Golden Era of Knowledge...

Here's the transcript:




MARTY: Hi, what's happening?

MICHAEL: Well, uh, love to chat. Uh, love to chat you up a little bit, and see if I can inject some sanity into this thing.

MARTY: Inject some what?

MICHAEL: Sanity.

MARTY: Into what?

MICHAEL: This whole scene, Marty. This whole ... this whole scene, you know?

MARTY: Yeah, well, you know I'm willing to talk to anybody on any subject, my Grade 0 is fully in. Uh, but I don't think you know me well enough to know the incorrect way to approach me is to have 12 people ... or 16 people in 4 cars descend on my place.

MICHAEL: I understand that. I mean you don't know me well enough to know ... I actually understand that.

MARTY: I know .. I know you know. But yet .. but yet you DO it. And that is the frightening thing. I mean there's this gamemanship, this intimidation stuff, and you're being a vehicle for it. And I know that you know that it's not right.

MICHAEL: Yeah, yeah. Well that's uh ... that's not my know ...

MARTY: I know that, Michael.

MICHAEL: ... everyone has their agenda. And ... and ... there are certain ... you know there are individuals with passionate feelings about .. you know ... communicating with you in different ways. Right? And uh ... and uh ... you know, although there may be some agreement as to ... uh ... the desire for that to occur ... and/or the uh ... you know, the ... what they want to communicate ... uh ... that's ... you know the HOW that takes place ... that's uh ... I'm calling you now. I'm calling you now. And uh ...

MARTY: Where's everybody else?

MICHAEL: Well I don't know everybody else ... I'm at McDonalds with ... uh ... two friends. Uh, I don't know if you know 'em, Michael and Denise Duff ...


MICHAEL: Michael and Denise Duff ...

MARTY: Uh huh.

MICHAEL: ... and Michael Roberts.

MARTY: Michael Roberts? And uh ...


MARTY: Wow. Who were the other guys in the car with you?

MICHAEL: That's who was in the car with me.

MARTY: The guy in the back with the blonde hair is Michael Duff?

MICHAEL: Uhhh ... this morning ... that is a dull morning ... No, that's not ... no Michael Duff has black hair.

MARTY: Right, he was in the front seat with the camera.

MICHAEL: Uh yeah ... uh yes, but the guy in the backseat's name ... I don't frankly know.

MARTY: Is it an Int guy?

MICHAEL: Um, I believe ... I don't know.

MARTY: You got a guy in your car you don't even know, Michael.

MICHAEL: Yeah, well there was a car load of individuals, and I didn't know ... have everybody's name.

MARTY: OK. I just uh ... this is very odd. I like to identify who it is who came to visit me.

MICHAEL: I know, I know that. I understand that. I ... I uh ... I would have chosen to ... uh .. you know ... I would have preferred to call ... email ... then show up. You know? And make an appointment. Something ... that would have been more ... uh ... more uh ... more my choice. I'm not going to make less of other people's choices, but that that would have been what I would have chosen to do. And uh ... it's just a straighter uh ... straighter approach ... you know?

MARTY: Mmm huh.

MICHAEL: So ... so ... uh ... so there you go. That's ... that's that.

[Car door opens and closes; sounds of cars driving by.]

MICHAEL: Umm ... I just wanted to talk about your ... you know, over a number of months ... it's just like ... All right, what's taking place here? HOW is it taking place? WHY is it taking place? WHAT is taking place? You know, how ... how ... how we get to this point, to where one who wants help and who wants to help people I know and care about ... uh ...

MARTY: [while walking] I'm helping people Michael now ... this is the wrong button ... I'm helping people now like I've never helped people before. In fact, I'm doing my job unobstructed like I've never been able to do my job before. So I don't ... that paradigm doesn't really work for me.

MICHAEL: Yeah, but let me ask you a question. At one point, before, just earlier, somewhere earlier, was there a sense of KNOWING you were helping with certainty and KNOWING that it was working, and KNOWING that you were contributing to something good? Was there that point?


MARTY: You told Tiziano that I was "the who". What did you mean by that?

MICHAEL: I told Tiziano that date coincident with the time that I spent with you, or directly after, were the lowest work years of my life.

MARTY: Mmm hmm.

MICHAEL: Now ...

MARTY: And you attribute that to me?

MICHAEL: I don't know where else to look, Marty.

MARTY: [Laugh]

MICHAEL: I can look at myself, I can take responsiblity for my shit, alright ...

MARTY: Everything was ... everything was hunky-dory until Dave got his talons into Tom [Cruise], and now Tom is a mini-me David Miscavige and that's your problem.

MICHAEL: Well, I ... I ... don't know ...

MARTY: And I saw it, and saw it, and I witnessed it and I observed it, and I was completely in a position where I had no obligation or no fish-to-fry with anybody, and I observed it.


MICHAEL: OK. And ... and..and..and... uh [unintelligible] ... that's your viewpoint.

MARTY: I mean ... it IS my viewpoint.

MICHAEL: Yeah, OK, you're entitled to that. I ... I got that. I ... I got that. I uh I don't work for him. I haven't for a number of years. I haven't seen him. I'm not currently ... that's not ... I'm not here to represent him, you know? I just have my own ... you know, whatever. I got that. But I got the sense back then ... did .. you know, you said you didn't, you weren't ... you had no agenda at the time. You know, and you were just ... but, were you helping? Did you help ...?

MARTY: To answer ... to answer your question ... an earlier time when I was helping ...?


MARTY: I think when I got Tom's case straightened out from all the quickie bullshit he got from Ray, Dave and Greg ... got his OT IV straightened out, got his OT V done, got him through his divorce, got him his life together ... got him to start helping people like he'd never helped before, like Jaime ... that was help.

MICHAEL: OK. OK. So you had a sense of helping, all right? So at what point did you decide "OK, now let's just fucking destroy them all, and destroy everything that I've just worked for ...."

MARTY: What are you talking about?

MICHAEL: "... and anybody that's had any gains."

MARTY: Where's this generality coming from? Where's this generality coming from?

MICHAEL: Well, what do you mean ... which generality?

MARTY: Destroy ... who am I destroying? Who have I ... attempted to destroy? Who have I ... I have not attempted to destroy anybody.

MICHAEL: Well, listen ...

MARTY: Who have I attempted to destroy? This is Dave's case you're running on me.

MICHAEL: No, no, no, no ... (unintelligible).

MARTY: Oh this is. This, this, this is. You're trying to put intentions into me that I have not demonstrated, I have not communicated. Nor have I demonstrated in my actions.

MICHAEL: Well OK, how about this? In terms of your actions, let me just ... just ask you ... in terms of the numbers of individuals around the planet who you know and have cared for at one point, who have had absolutely wonderful wins and gains, HOW are they being affected by your actions now?

MARTY: Who? Name somebody. Is there a problem with somebody?

[Sounds of interior airport noises in the background.]

MICHAEL: Any, any upstanding current member of Scientology ...

MARTY: Yeah ...?

MICHAEL: ... are you helping them or harming them?

MARTY: I'm helping them. And ...

MICHAEL: And HOW is that help?

MARTY: Because they are stalled and they are getting reverse Scientology applied to them. And they are becoming, and doing things against ... they're doing things against their nature, and they're being requ ... [to someone else next to Marty] ... hey Peter, how you doin' my man ... you got my marine corps cap on bro ...

PETER: [mumbling] Mmm ...yeah ...

MARTY: ... you big time ...

PETER: [mumbling] ...mmm ...mmm...

MARTY: ...been a long time we talked ...

PETER: [softly] ... yeah right ...

MARTY: ...all right bro, I'll catch ya. [To Michael] ... Umm, reverse Scientology's bein' run on all y'all. And the fact ...

MICHAEL: OK ... OK ...

MARTY: And the fact that you're having to go out and do things that go against your better judgement, is the proof of it. The fact that you admit you come out down here with 16 people to try to ambush Marty and try to intimidate him somehow ... I mean I know you Michael, you know that, you know me better than that. You spent two years with me, man.

MICHAEL: Well ... I uh ... I'm talking to you now.

MARTY: I know, and I'm talking to you.

MICHAEL: [Softly] I know. [*deep breath*] Here's the deal Marty. I ... you now, the people I run into ... and I got that you have attracted to you all the disaffecteds and those who have ...

MARTY: That's not true.

MICHAEL: ... bad things not ...

MARTY: That's not true.


MARTY: That's not true. The disaffecteds ... you know the Anonymous people called me ... and said I'm a much bigger threat to Miscav ... to them than Miscavige will ever be. Because they see the same thing. They see this guy as taking the whole ship down with him, and they're afraid of me. So the disaffecteds and people that want to attack Scientology, fear me more than they fear David Miscavige.

MICHAEL: Well ...

MARTY: So ...

MICHAEL: ... well what does that mea ...? ... I don't know what that means.

MARTY: What it means is that this conver ... what it means is that this conversation you're having with me should be being had with David Miscavige.

MICHAEL: Yeah, but ...

MARTY: He's your problem.

MICHAEL: But I see ...

MARTY: He's your problem.

MICHAEL: I got ... I got that you ... that that's your viewpoint. I see ... what I see is I'm winning ... and doing well ... and having wins ... and expressing those wins ... and sharing them ... and pitching in ... and joining orgs ... and helping ... that's what I'm seeing.

MARTY: Have you read my blog?

MICHAEL: I've read parts of it, not everything. I've read parts of it.

MARTY: Well, you know, it's like spike Lee says ... judge me by the body of my work, don't judge me on some individual thing, ok? Read the blog. It's like we're ... it's like two ships passing in the night right now. I wear my ... I wear my Self in the wide open, and I bare my soul. It's all there for the whole world to see. And for you to start telling me that I'm doing things to *attack* uh ... multiple ... even multiple individuals, let alone uh, you know ... multitudes of people ... it's just inaccurate.

MICHAEL: Well how are you HELPING all of those of us, including yourself in earlier years ... [inintelligible] ... put some chance of hope there for people ... how is that helping?

MARTY: I don't know ... I don't know where to begin with you, because it's all there. Scientology's been hijacked. It's been hijacked for the personal aggrandizement of a extremely egotistical person.

MICHAEL: So what are you gonna do, take it back? Or just give it away, or just destroy it? What's the plan there? Wreck it because it was hijacked? Or make it better?

MARTY: Take it back? What you mean "take it back, destroy, hijack" ... no ... what I ...

MICHAEL: I don't know, what are you going to do with it?

MARTY: What I'm doing with it is applying it. Applying it as it was intended to be applied. And making it safe for others to do so. You guys gotta wake up and smell the coffee, man. The Church is dead, man.

MICHAEL: That's not true for me and thousands of others, but if that's true for that's true for you, and I'm sorry to hear that.

MARTY: The Church is dead. He killed it. It's dead.


MARTY: I'm doing that right now, man.


MARTY: That's why you need to ... that's why you need to do your homework ... instead of just taking orders from DM ... and find out who you're talking to, because you're talking to a reality point ....

MICHAEL: I haven't talked to him or seen him in two fucking years!

MARTY: And you're going to sit there with a straight face and tell me that you're not following his orders right now ... you tell me Tommy Davis uh ... commandeered this whole plan and figured out to send 20 people down here?

MICHAEL: I'm telling you I volunteered to come and speak with you because that's what I wanted.

MARTY: Because we need some straight R on this ... I mean if we're gonna have a talk, let's talk R, let's not talk bullshit.

MICHAEL: OK, I'll tell you straight, I volunteered to come because I wanted to talk to you.

MARTY: You wanted to *stop* me? Where's that at, man?

MICHAEL: I wanted to get in comm. And I gotta tell you, you must know by now ... that that probably isn't too popular.

MARTY: I know, it's completely unpopular.


MARTY: Utterly, I understand that.

MICHAEL: So that tells you where I stand, you know.

MARTY: Shheesh ... Michael, you came down with 20 freakin people, please.

MICHAEL: Yeah. Well ...

MARTY: I gotta pick somebody up, I'm gonna have to call you back, I'm sorry they're coming in right now. And I've got one of your guys is video-recording me, in the uh .. in the ... in the ... you wanna tell these guys to back off, or do you wanna ...

CHRIS SMITH: Who are you talking to?

MARTY: I'm talking to him.

MICHAEL: They're not my guys.

CHRIS SMITH: No, I'm talking to you right now. No, I'm actually talking to you right now.

MARTY: I've got Chris Smith doing a confrontation with me ...

CHRIS SMITH: I'm doing confrontation?

MARTY: And a guy's got a video camera in my face ...

CHRIS SMITH: Now this is Marty "Destroyer" Rathbun ...

MARTY: you wanna talk?...

CHRIS SMITH: ... being videotaped. Who is it you're talking to Marty? Who could be more important than us?

MARTY: Here you go ...

MICHAEL: Now we're ...

MARTY: (Back into the phone.) I gotta go. I'll talk to you later.

Well, it's too bad that Michael decided not to talk to me. I think it would be fascinating to ask him about going from that raid of Marty Rathbun's house to then becoming the first person to complete David Miscavige's do-over of Hubbard's materials.

Anyway, for this Thursday's stats, let's give Scientology a little upstat for Michael Doven's dedication and optimism. The church really needs it after the brutal couple of weeks it's had.

Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. | @VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega

Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared


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