(2012's) Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, No. 21 & 22

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. Our list included current and former church members, academics, attorneys, activists, and a couple of dead people.

This year, summer has not been languid and lazy. In the wake of the TomKat divorce, media interest in Scientology has never been greater and we've never been busier. But we thought it was time to update our list from last year. 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.

So let's see who's next on the list!

The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology -- 2012 Edition

#22: Dani and Tami Lemberger

Last month, we brought you the startling news that an entire mission had decided to break away from the Church of Scientology. In 1992, Dani and his wife Tami started the Dror Center in Haifa, Israel, and since then it's been a thriving center in a country that doesn't recognize Scientology as a religion. (Scientology calls itself a "self-help" group there.) But over the years, like many other longtime, loyal members, the Lembergers had gotten fed up with Scientology leader David Miscavige, who has put the focus of the organization on unending rounds of fundraising. We detailed Dani's long rise in the church over more than 30 years, and then the dramatic way he was tossed out for daring to meet with other people who are part of a growing "independent Scientology movement." Unlike other "indies," however, Dani is not going it alone -- he and Tami are taking their mission with them, and about 40 Scientologists joined them in their walkout. Nothing like it has happened in at least 30 years, and the Haifa defection suggests that an exodus of longtime church members heading for the exits is turning from a trickle into a steady stream.

#21: John Brousseau

John Brousseau escaped from Scientology's International Base in April, 2010, but it took us a couple of years to get around to asking him about his entire 32-year career as a Sea Org member. Brousseau's tale turned out to be mesmerizing. He not only helped us refine our understanding of the notorious office-prison at Int Base, known as "The Hole," he also took us through a history of Scientology for which he had a front-row seat. Brousseau was L. Ron Hubbard's personal driver, he was David Miscavige's brother-in-law, he helped maintain the secrecy around Hubbard's move into seclusion in the 1980s, he refurbished Tom Cruise's homes and customized his vehicles, and he even spent one Christmas in the house with Tom, Katie, and baby Suri. Brousseau saw it all, and his calm, credible recitation of strange events instantly became an important part of the Scientology historical record.

See also: 25. Xenu, 24. Kate Bornstein, 23. Lisa Marie Presley

Look for the next installment of our Top 25 on Wednesday. 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.


Shocking Letter Describes October Death at Scientology Rehab

The Tulsa World's Jarrel Wade scored a major find with a records request to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health: a letter from an unnamed former patient who witnessed the October death of Gabriel Graves.

Graves is one of three patients at Scientology's Oklahoma drug treatment center, Narconon Arrowhead, who have died in the last nine months. Local and state officials are now investigating the facility for those deaths as well as one that happened in 2009.

The most recent death happened last month, when Stacy Murphy, 20, perished at the center. We published the first account by someone inside the facility at the time of that incident. Now, this letter obtained by the Tulsa World gives us a disturbing look inside the facility at the time that Graves died.

The letter contains the depressingly familiar complaint that a patient went to a Narconon center with promises that turned out to be false. In this case, the letter writer insisted on a certain kind of treatment and was told he'd get it. But then he learned he'd be doing Scientology training rather than drug education or individual counseling.

He then complains that Narconon's intense sauna treatments were driving up his blood pressure and giving him intense headaches, but when he complained about it there was no physician on staff to look at him, and he was told he had to keep doing the treatment.

On Oct 25th, the headache was so intense that I called my girlfriend and my mother begging them to come get me. The night before my blood pressure was 167/108 and my head felt like it was going to explode. Both were convinced by the staff that I was 'faking it' or 'making a big deal of nothing.'

The letter writer then describes what happened the next day, when records show that Gabriel Graves died at the facility...

The next day, Oct 26th, I got up and left my room around 7am to do some personal tasks before starting my day and when I returned a couple of hours later. I was in my room for a short time when I heard a commotion in the hallway and heard someone yell "I am not a doctor!"... I looked out into the hallway and noticed that it was coming from where [redacted] and his roommate had been assigned. I saw the "nurse" of the facility crying, walking out of [redacted]'s room with another staffer. I heard someone say that [redacted] had been found dead in his bed ... I was told at one point, by one of the students who found [redacted] that [redacted] looked like he'd had a stroke.

As we saw in NBC's Rock Center investigation Thursday night, the Graves death is one of the most baffling. His mother told Harry Smith that Narconon officials blamed her son's death on a drug overdose -- but an autopsy found only trace amounts of narcotics. The cause of his death is still undetermined, but this witness asks if Graves could have been harmed by the sauna treatments that form the core of Narconon's treatment.

The letter goes on to describe the patient's traumatic experiences as he finally gets away from the center, and then asks that state authorities investigate.

"I don't know how this program passes your agency regulations," he writes.


Another "Debbie Cook" Letter Making the Rounds

Yet another longtime, loyal Scientologist has sent out a lengthy e-mail in the manner of Debbie Cook, whose New Year's Eve message started off what has turned 2012 into a year of crisis for Scientology.

Mark Shreffler's "independence" from the Church of Scientology was announced at former church executive Marty Rathbun's blog on July 7. And now, Shreffler's list of grievances is hitting e-mail boxes all over the country.

In it, you'll find a familiar list of complaints about the way David Miscavige is running the church, with his focus on new buildings, fundraising, and his obviously fudged numbers about expansion.

"We hear numbers of Scientologists 'in the millions,' but all I can document is less than 40,000 worldwide, including children - and shrinking," Shreffler writes. (Hey, that agrees with what we've found, too.)

I'm not going to reprint Shreffler's entire letter here. You can find it at this thread on the Ex-Scientologist Message Board.

These lengthy lists of complaints from figures who are well known in the church -- Debbie Cook, Karen de la Carriere, and now Shreffler -- seem to be having an effect. They reach deeper into the membership of Scientology than stories in the press do, for example. And the consistency of their specific complaints suggests that they speak for many people in the organization who are just about fed up. It doesn't bode well for Miscavige's continuing leadership.


Marty Rathbun Takes a Quantum Leap

Is it just me, or did Marty Rathbun just promote the idea of 2-hour staring contests by calling Albert Einstein a dumbass?



Scientology Sunday Funnies!

Just about every day, we receive the latest wacky and tacky fundraising mailers put out by Scientology orgs around the world. Thank you, tipsters, for forwarding them to us! On Sundays, we love to reveal them to you.

Last week, we first learned about the "Bowlerama" happening in the San Fernando Valley. This time, we don't have anything so dramatic as the ladies of the CC OTC, but this followup flier should whet your appetite to join the folks down at the lanes. We checked, and tickets are only $100 each!


This next event is happening in Los Angeles, so I don't know how much a "rocketing" image of a barge in the Caribbean is going to motivate you. But hey, dinner.


Hey, wait a minute. You mean I can go get a free dinner on the 16th in LA, and then the next night get another free dinner in Pasadena? And all I have to do is listen to this Gavin Potter guy tell me that I'll be all kinds of rich if I just unlock my theta power? OK, now I'm hungry.



We felt compelled to bring you this ad from a 1976 issue of Advance! magazine because 1) it is a rocking pimp of OT III. I mean, you talk about a seductive come-on. And 2) it puts to shame the crappy design of today's advertising. You look at this thing, and you get some sense what it cost Scientology to lose people like Jefferson Hawkins.


See also:
"Tom Cruise worships David Miscavige like a god"
Scientology's president and the death of his son: our complete coverage
What Katie is saving Suri from: Scientology interrogation of kids
Scientology's new defections: Hubbard's granddaughter and Miscavige's dad
Scientology's disgrace: our open letter to Tom Cruise
Scientology crumbling: An entire mission defects as a group
Scientology leader David Miscavige's vanished wife: Where's Shelly?
Neil Gaiman, 7, Interviewed About Scientology by the BBC in 1968
The Master Screenplay: Scientology History from Several Different Eras
And a post that pulls together the best of our Scientology reporting

Please check out our Facebook author page for updates and schedules.

Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at tortega@villagevoice.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.

As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

That video below makes the whole of scientology look like the great grandfather of a cult that it actually is!!!


  I'd like to suggest some new entries for the top 25.

1.  Paul Thomas Anderson (and everyone involved in the Master)

2.  Debbie Cook

3.  Katie Holmes

4.  The bloggers (some of whom also belong to Anonymous, but not all).


OT III Ad pic is really fucking weird and creepy. Seriously, WTF?!

I know it's 1976 and all, but this just way beyond bad.

C'mon, Clears and OT's should be/do/have better than that.



Why are we still listening to anything Rathbun has to say again? 


Regarding Marty's posting today:  I don't think it is an accident that everyone is relating their incredible gains -- waxing nostalgic -- about the TRs for this early "study tech" piece.  Very subtle transference.  These folks are really ready for it.... 

Dense writing that somehow resonates + early memories of wins + a community reinforcing it = a comfortable place. 

Yes, they will swallow it.


yikes is right.. marty makes my head hurt.. and he reminds me of someone.. but i can't think who..


omg.. i just realized.. he's kinda like richard gere in chicago:




Give 'em the old razzle dazzle

Razzle Dazzle 'em

Give 'em an act with lots of flash in it

And the reaction will be passionate

Give 'em the old hocus pocus

Bead and feather 'em

How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

What if your hinges all are rusting?

What if, in fact, you're just disgusting?

Razzle dazzle 'em

And they;ll never catch wise!


Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle

Razzle dazzle 'em

Give 'em a show that's so splendiferous

Row after row will crow vociferous

Give 'em the old flim flam flummox

Fool and fracture 'em

How can they hear the truth above the roar?

Roar, roar, roar!

Throw 'em a fake and a finagle

They'll never know you're just a bagel,

Razzle dazzle 'em

And they'll beg you for more!


Give 'em the old double whammy

Daze and dizzy 'em

Back since the days of old Methuselah

Everyone loves the big bambooz-a-ler

Give 'em the old three ring circus

Stun and stagger 'em

When you're in trouble, go into your dance

Though you are stiffer than a girder

They'll let you get away with murder

Razzle dazzle 'em And you've got a romance


Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle

Razzle dazzle 'em

Show 'em the first rate sorceror you are

Long as you keep 'em way off balance

How can they spot you've got no talent

Razzle Dazzle 'em

Razzle Dazzle 'em

Razzle Dazzle 'em

And they'll make you a star!


Does anyone know where the actual term "Dianetics" comes from?  Recently I was wondering if it was related to Hegel's Dialectic, the process by which an idea goes through the Thesis (original idea), Antithesis (opposing idea) and Synthesis (combination of the first two).  This paved the way for Marx, among others.  Sorry, I took Modern Humanities over 10 years ago so my memory of all this is rusty.  But the two words seem very similar, and I know LRH cribbed stuff from many sources.  And the process of auditing, the back and forth supposedly to get at the truth, reminds me of the dialectic itself.  Probably just a way-out-there idea but I keep thinking of it.


I don't know what I hate more right now: scientology or livefyre.


You know, like scientology, ya gotta know when to ditch what doesn't work. Jes sayin'.




The Church of Scientology is not crippled by anything.


We are in a period of unparalleled expansion and recently opened 3,000 new "Mini Ideal Orgs" inside of Starbucks in order to reach vapid young people who overpay for coffee. Our reasoning is that   if they will pay $5.00 everyday for a cup of coffee, then they will pay us $500,000+ to go up the Bridge.


As for particulars on Ortega's rantings today, we would like to offer our side of the story: 


Upon discovering that the Dror Mission was secretly connected to secret Israeli psych master, terrorist, and pseudo-Scientologist Gur Finklestein, we in RTC prepared to declare the entire Dror Mission an SP Group.


To escape Scientology justice, however, the Dror Mission created the apparency of "blowing" and sent out an unwanted e-mail full of lies to Scientologists in good standing. The Church was in no way "crippled" by Danny and Tammy Limbaugh.


The Church was also in no way crippled by John Brousseau, a low-ranking staff member who made burlwood pens in the mill during his time in the RPF. Now that John is gone we have someone else, and someone better, making burlwood pens.


Freewinds invite:


"Achieve abundance in all things" WTF? So many ways to go with this, but it's the generality that stands out for me. Where the hell am I going to put this abundance when I no longer have a home?


"And NEVER take 'no' for an answer.!" How'sbout; "Fuck you!"


Tony, great to see the new crop of "People Crippling Scientology." I think we will see this list continue to grow. I am sure that in six months it will have to be "The Top 100 People Crippling Scientology."

I see my past Advance Magazines are coming back to haunt me.

Just a comment on Marty's latest post. I'm glad to see that Marty is studying and reading materials other than Scientology, but I fear he is putting everything through a Hubbard filter. I found the article hard to read simply because it fails to provide exact quotes, attribution or links. Thus one is left with "This is Marty's interpretation." For someone used to Hubbard's lectures, where he freely paraphrases, interprets with abandon, and often plays fast and loose with the facts, this may be par for the course, but I find it annoying. I am happy to discuss science and philosophy, and welcome anyone's ideas, but I bridle at anyone selectively filtering facts to fit an agenda,

The essay demonstrates, to me, a basic confusion between gnosis -- intuitive spiritual revelation -- and knowledge based on scientific method. Mystics claim that scientists are "materialists" and are "blind to reality" because they don't accept the mystic's revealed "reality." Scientologists like to talk about how Hubbard was "far in advance of science" because of his personal gnostic revelations about the nature of the spirit, past lives, and space opera.

To me, it is disingenuous use the uncertainty that exists at the cutting edge of quantum physics to insert one's foot in the door and shove in a lot of unproved gnostic revelations.

Who knows? Perhaps the mystics are right. Maybe reality is a construct of the mind. That's not the point. The point is that mysticism and science are apples and oranges. The mystic seeks internal spiritual revelation (gnosis). The scientist is looking for facts and evidence. That does not make him "lesser than" or "behind" the mystic. Sure, science hasn't explained all of the phenomena of quantum physics. But mystics didn't put a rover on Mars.


 @DodoTheLaser No doubt, no doubt. But so is all of $ciloontology. And it's still way more compelling than anything they're putting out today. Looks like lots of Fun With Word.


 @SvenBoogie Rathbun is a total nutcase. There. I said it. He's left the org, but he's still a cultist. He's as wackadoodle as the day is long.



I wanted to point out Marty's history in Scientology. We recognize that Rinder was raised in Scientology and Marty was not. Marty had an insane introduction to Scientology, and if I understand it correctly he spent years debating if he was going leave.


Marty's first task in 1978 was to guard Diane Coletto. Well, she was shot dead by her husband right next to Marty, and Marty was splattered with brains and blood. Her husband, John, then turned his gun on Marty and pulled the trigger, but luckily the gun didn't fire--all the bullets were spent. That was Marty's welcome to the fucking sea org.


Marty, as you can imagine was quite freaked out, Afterwards he was watched, guarded, and he had all kinds of messed up Scientology counselling. It appears Ron Hubbard's mind control really stuck.


Marty needs to step away and get a different job--nothing related to Scientology. He has to let it go, clear his head. Right now he is enjoying playing the role of the Hubbard BS sacred science guru.





 @exileandcunning dianetics  1950, coined by U.S. writer L. Ron Hubbard, an alteration of dianoetic (1677) "of or pertaining to thought," from Gk.dianoetikos, from dianoetos, verbal adj. from dianoe-esthai "tothink," from dia- "through" + noe-ein "to think, suppose."Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper 

The don't list any other cites on how they came up with this but it sounds plausible.


 @exileandcunning I heard he named the book for his daughter, Diana. But I have no dox.

(I used to be "Grace".  Now I'm "StillGrace".  I wanted an avatar, so I registered, but VV wouldn't let me be "Grace" anymore.)



  OT8, Scientology is insolvent in Norway and has just 40 members in Ireland.


 @OTVIIIisGrrr8! I trust that the quality of the burlwood pens will now be much better, without that squirrely burlwood tech being practiced by JB.  Does this mean that TC's pen will be replaced with the superior product?  


 @OTVIIIisGrrr8! Does Starbucks know that the Church of Scientology has placed 3,000 new "Mini Ideal Orgs" inside of Starbucks stores?



Is the guy making the burlwood pens doing that as training for Project Mouse Table?  


Incidentally, I just watched Spinal Tap again for the umpteenth time.  A cautionary tale comes at the end, with the measurements for the "Stonehenge" prop.  Better re-check your specifications for Project Mouse Table. Otherwise, some literally minded computer-illiterate sod in Int Base will think it is a table for a mouse and it will not be 12,000 feet long but about 2 1/2 inches, but it will have room for the mouse to store his little hunks of cheese and to fold his tail so it's out of the way.  



 @OTVIIIisGrrr8! Thank god....I was starting to think the Burlwood pens would somehow go away. I have faith now that there is still a chance that I can claim my own burlwood pen.

What is the going rate for that OTVIIIGrrr8!?

And do I have to pay more now that the SP Brousseau is no longer making them?

I am sure they are now made by highly qualified SO Burlwood Pen manufacturing experts. I bet I won't get splinters from these babies!


 @DMSTCC "Achieve abundance in all things" sounds like prosperity gospel schtick.


 @JeffersonHawkins35 We in RTC need to get off this BPC we have on Jeff Hawkins: He is always thinking of himself first as when he moaned:


"I see my past Advance Magazines are coming back to haunt me."


Jeff should have said:


"I see my magazine covers are coming back to haunt the Church of Scientology and for this I feel shame, remorse, and need to write a public letter of apology for producing overt products that are now the subject of ridicule by my so-called friend Tony Otega."


We in RTC long ago purged all Sea Org members who had anything to do with approving these magazine covers.


Superb observations Jefferson!


In my view, Hubbard's "trick", to accomplish his goal to have others assume the viewpoints he needed them to be assuming about himself and Scientology, was to take scientific, historical, or philosophical information and embellish it, alter it or add falsehoods to it in order to have that information validate the viewponts those, and so get the praise and stratopherical respect he so very much needed  for him and for his Scientology .


Whether the viewpoints are indeed valid or not is not the issue. It is the approach that stunk and which prevented his ever achieving those needs.


Ron's approach and the needs that dictate that approach are still very alive in some Scientologists. 





 @JeffersonHawkins35 "Sure, science hasn't explained all of the phenomena of quantum physics. But mystics didn't put a rover on Mars."




 @JeffersonHawkins35 Congrats on managing to get through that laborious ramble. To me it's a mumbo-jumbo mishmash filled with sweeping unprovable 'facts as MR sees them'. He may just as well have quoted from Shakespeare's Macbeth:


Double, double toil and trouble;

Fire burn and cauldron bubble.


Fillet of a fenny snake,

In the cauldron boil and bake;

Eye of newt, and toe of frog,

Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,

Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,

Lizard’s leg, and howlet’s wing,

For a charm of powerful trouble,

Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.


 @JeffersonHawkins35 Jeff, Great post. And I want to personally thank you for your book. You had such a different perspective than much of the other things I have read (not discounting them, but noticed some huge contrasts) and I found your story facinating.

I am so glad you are out.

You are a talented and intelligent individual.

Your work...yeah including your damn Advance Magazine work....is interesting and goes a long way to explain a lot.

I am sure the "Church" misses you. It sure should!




Earlier today, the Mars rover vaporization a curious white rock with its spectral analysis laser beam.  The results confirmed that the small cylindrical rock was actually a filter from a Kool cigarette.


And doing an admirable job of it.. Posting an intro of a TR that includes quantum theory.. something maybe less than 1% of the population can comprehend even a fraction of? What's that about? Razzle dazzle, baby.. and they're beggin for more..


 @N.Graham Hmm I suppose that makes the most sense especially given his obsession with dictionaries and etymology.  


 @J.Swift  @OTVIIIisGrrr8! Dear J., one must be thoughtful in responding to OTVIIIisGrrr8, our resident satirist par excellence. Like Scientology, he does not consider facts to be crucial in his writing, though he seems to like doing it for laughs, while Miscavige and company seem to have far more nefarious intent.  I realize you've only been posting here for a little while, so I'm issuing the same observation that others have offered to acclimate relative newcomers to Mr. OTVIIIisGrrr8.  


 @sugarplumfairy32  @Einsteinonthebeach 

As I noted below, he just shut me down from posting I believe. Tried to engage him honestly, he wasn't haven't any of it. Check out the comments, I posted under the same name.


 @Einsteinonthebeach  @sugarplumfairy32 well, he got 135 responses to his blog post so far.. my head was about to explode, so i didn't read all of them.. but the first commenter sounded so excited he probably had to change his slacks..


 @WhereIsSHE Oh be nice shelly seeker.

it is late on a sunday (funnies day). 

do you notice my pathetic attempt at using absolutely no caps?

hugs baby,

I almost peed on myself laughing just now.



J. Swift did not GET A SIMPLE JOKE (courtesy of OTVIIIisGrrr8), but comes here PREACHING about such lofty things as "SPIRITUALITY" and "CONSCIOUSNESS", not to mention what (he thinks, because he read or Googled a bit, what ALBERT EINSTEIN KNEW OR THOUGHT)...


If you cannot pick up on the most OBVIOUS SATIRICAL HUMOR HERE, it's probably a GOOD IDEA for you to re-evaluate your ABILITY TO CRITICALLY EVALUATE other things of which you feel sooooooooo certain.



OK. Now I have an INTELLIGENCE CRUSH on you! (Major Faulkner fan here.)

Now Trending

New York Concert Tickets

From the Vault