The Secret to Eternal Youth! Now Available on the Cruise Ship Freewinds!
Scientology watchers, we have a treat for you this morning. This video has been making the rounds the last couple of days, and we can see why it's generating so much interest. Mike Napier, the captain of Scientology's private cruise ship, the Freewinds, stars in this film and tells us about the benefits of his "competence and leadership" course (which looks hard to distinguish from your typical Outward Bound sort of experience, but what do we know).
This is Scientology, so naturally the claims are off the charts -- for example, swabbing the decks of the church's tugboat is somehow going to teach you how not to age!
We know what you're thinking. If Mike Napier really knows how to stop time, why's he looking two days older than dirt himself?
Well, banish those thoughts, you Scientology cynic, and let this video wash over you until you're ready to head for the high seas. Be patient, and don't miss the heartfelt testimonials near the end.
Personally, I can't wait to get a 600-percent increase in my handling of randomity. Where do I sign up?
In our comments, we're looking forward to all of your thoughts on this lengthy video's many claims. Have at it!
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology -- 2012 Edition
Last summer, we put together a little list that took on a life of its own. We counted down the 25 people and groups who had been doing the most to get word out to the wider world about the Church of Scientology's many alleged abuses, and who have contributed to its steep recent decline. A year later, we thought it was time to update our list. This time, we've put a premium on what's happened in the last twelve months, so you might see some of your old favorites drop off the roster. But never fear -- you can always revisit our choices from last year, or the choices of our readers.
#11: Astra Woodcraft
Astra Woodcraft was one of three young women who delivered a body blow to the church when they started up their website, exscientologykids.com. It's one thing for adults to join an odd group like Scientology and then suffer the consequences, but for the children of Scientologists who grow up in it without a choice, it's another thing entirely. Woodcraft joined the Sea Org at only 14, got married a year later, and pregnant at 17. Like other women in the hardcore organization, she was under intense pressure to have an abortion, but she decided to leave the Sea Org and have her baby in 1993. Today, she's emerged as one of the most skillful communicators about the harsh conditions of the Sea Org, and what it's like to grow up in such a manipulative environment. After the TomKat split, Astra was the subject of a popular story at The Daily Beast, and AOL recently made a video of her which shows off how well spoken and charismatic she is. Woodcraft seems destined to become even more visible in the mainstream media, and that doesn't bode well for Scientology.
Those halcyon days of 2008 may be fading a little, and Anonymous may have moved on to many more targets for its online crusades. But Project Chanology -- the Anonymous project to expose the secrets of Scientology -- keeps an unwavering eye on the church's every move at places like the online forum WhyWeProtest.net. We suppose it's only natural that a place like WWP would go through some internal strife, but in recent months the site seems to be rallying and becoming more useful again.
#9: Tom Tobin and Joe Childs (and other journalists)
In November, Joe Childs and Tom Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times once again showed why they're the best in the business, publishing yet another blockbuster investigation in their years-long expose of the inner workings of Scientology. In this installment, "The Money Machine," the duo gave us hard numbers on how much cash the church is bringing in, and it introduced us to people like the late Hy Levy, who brought in about $200 million over the course of his career as a Scientology "registrar." It was Levy's job to convince parishioners to mortgage their homes and max out their credit cards in order to give, give, give to the church. Tobin and Childs also demonstrated how much Scientology has turned to raising donations for the Super Power program and the International Association of Scientologists warchest. That focus on fundraising, however, is exhausting church members, who are increasingly giving up on leader David Miscavige.
In the media feeding frenzy following the TomKat split, there was some silliness hitting the 'net. But over the past year there has also been very good work being produced by people such as Drew Harwell, Guy Adams, Abigail Pesta, Dana Kennedy, Marisa Mendelson, Jeanne LeFlore, Jarrel Wade, Harry Smith, Kate Snow, Steve Cannane, Jonny Jacobsen, and Bryan Seymour (farewell, mate!).
See also: 25. Xenu, 24. Kate Bornstein, 23. Lisa Marie Presley, 22. Dani and Tami Lemberger, 21. John Brousseau, 20. Jamie DeWolf, 19. Jefferson Hawkins, 18. Amy Scobee, 17. Marc and Claire Headley, 16. Dave Touretzky, 15, Mark Bunker, 14. Tory Christman, 13. Karen de la Carriere, 12. Debbie Cook
Look for the next installment of our Top 25 on Sunday. We have things timed so that we'll reveal this year's number one just a few days before the opening of "The Master," Paul Thomas Anderson's new film that should explode interest in all things Scientology.
On the next page: Our regular Friday feature, Scientology on the High Seas...