Voice Readers Raise Thousands For Couple That Refused to Spy for Scientology

We've always been suckers for the final scene of It's a Wonderful Life. No matter how many times we see it, we tear up at the sight of George Bailey's friends coming to his aid in his time of need, proving to him that he really is the richest man in town.

Over the last couple of days, we watched something remarkable happen as the readers of this blog rallied to help a family in a somewhat similar circumstance. Only this time it wasn't old man Potter providing the bullying tactics, but the attorneys of the Church of Scientology.

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Scientology's Homophobia: Even the Church's Token Gay Guy Was Disgusted

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Keith Relkin
UPDATE after the jump: Breaking news about Paul Haggis and the Vanity Fair bombshell about Tom Cruise.

One of Scientology's enduring mysteries is that it has attracted Hollywood stars when it has such a reputation for homophobia. The sexual orientation of its top celebrities is always a matter of popular speculation, and even those with the barest understanding of Scientology seem to know that if celebrity members are gay, they have to keep quiet about it.

Scientology is going through several serious crises right now, but its treatment of homosexuals is never far behind its other more immediate troubles. It was the San Diego church's support of California's homophobic Proposition 8 in 2008, for example, that became the last straw for director Paul Haggis, who famously quit the church and then told his story to the New Yorker last year. (He's not gay, but he has two lesbian daughters.)

Now, we have a remarkable story about a man named Keith Relkin who for several years became a sort of unofficial spokesman for queer Scientology. He was the church's token gay guy in West Hollywood, insisting to the public that Scientology was actually friendly to homosexuality.

On February 3, Relkin died. And now, his friends have shared with the Voice some of his e-mails and other writings which show that behind the scenes, Relkin was actually very frustrated with the deep-seated homophobia of his church.

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(2012's) Top 25 People Crippling Scientology, Nos. 14-16

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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.

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

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

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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!

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Scientology Sunday Funnies: Bowl With The Valley Girls!

And here we thought the Ideal Org caper was winding down.

An alert reader guided us to this video, which shows that the clever gals at the Operating Thetan Committee of Scientology's San Fernando Valley Celebrity Centre (CC OTC) know how to get the membership pumped up for some of that endless fundraising the church is known for.

How endless? Well, we looked around and found this enthusiastic pitch for a Valley Ideal Org dated seven years ago. Looks like they've been throwing gutter balls for a long time!

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Movie Night at Scientology's New York "Org": The Village Voice Gets Proselytized!

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The image you see here means a lot to us at the underground bunker, where we keep an eye on all things Scientology related. And on this lazy Sunday morning, we hope you'll indulge us as we attempt to explain what it represents.

Andreas Heldal-Lund, meet Chill EB.

Chill, meet the devil.

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"Tom Cruise Worships David Miscavige Like a God": The John Brousseau Story, Part Two

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John Brousseau, aboard the Freewinds
NEW: Scientology's concentration camp for executives -- John Brousseau helps us compile a list of its prisoners, past and present.

Yesterday, we published the first part of our conversation with John Brousseau, a 32-year veteran of Scientology's "Sea Org" who escaped from the church's International Base east of Los Angeles in 2010.

In our first part, Brousseau described his work in the Tom Cruise household with Katie Holmes and baby Suri. He saw up close the odd relationship between Cruise and Scientology's leader, David Miscavige. He recounted his early days in the Sea Org, making movies with Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, whom he later served as a personal chauffeur.

Brousseau helped convey Hubbard's instructions to the church after the aging writer went into seclusion. Brousseau lived for several years under an assumed name as he ran a Mojave Desert ranch in case Hubbard needed to hide there. And after Hubbard's death in 1986, Brousseau served Miscavige at Scientology's Int Base until Miscavige had him sent to a prison program for three years. After his return, Brousseau was surprised when Miscavige restored him to a position in Scientology's most powerful entity, RTC -- which allowed him to do more work for Tom Cruise.

And now we continue with part two....

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Neil Gaiman, 7, Interviewed About Scientology by the BBC in 1968

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Gaiman as a teen
See also: We've read the script to The Master, and can tell you what it's all about.

Former Scientologist Patty Moher was going through her collection of old church magazines and other materials when she spotted something pretty remarkable.

I visited her this weekend at a gathering of ex-Scientologists and Scientology researchers, and several of us marveled at her find.

It was a pamphlet, dated 1969, titled "A Report to Members of Parliament on Scientology."

The 14-page item was published by Scientology's "World-Wide Public Relations Bureau" at East Grinstead in Sussex. It contains the church's responses to various objections to Scientology that had been raised by the UK and other Commonwealth governments at the time.

It also contains an interview with a child, which was apparently included in order to counter accusations that Scientology kids were being "indoctrinated."

That child was the son of David Gaiman, Scientology's PR chief in the UK at the time. Years later, Neil Gaiman would go on to fame as perhaps the most celebrated science fiction writer of his generation. But at 7 years old, he made for the model of a young Scientologist.

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Prehistoric Aggression: More Reasons Katie Holmes Was Smart to Avoid Scientology Marriage Counseling

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"In all the planets in all the eons of the universe, you walk into mine."
In its print edition today, the New York Times is catching up to something we printed on Wednesday about the weirdness of Scientology's marriage counseling.

After news broke that Katie Holmes was divorcing Tom Cruise, various news outlets relied on Scientology PR to give the impression that, as ABC put it, "the church concentrates on improving couples' relationships through therapy." That sounded warm and fuzzy, but then we showed how Scientology's marriage counseling actually works by going right to the source: the actual counseling instructions laid down by church founder L. Ron Hubbard.

The Times today is publishing a story that hints at those instructions without, for some reason, quoting Hubbard and explaining that the ritual involves an auditor asking only two questions: in Katie Holmes' case, she would be asked, "What have you done to Tom?" and "What have you withheld from Tom?" repeatedly. For hours. At nearly $6,000 per 12.5-hour "intensive."

We can't imagine why the Times is leaving out that detail in what is otherwise a very good piece. But we're going to advance the story anyway: it turns out Scientology marriage counseling is weirder than even we let on!

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Radar Gets It Wrong: How Scientology Is Likely To Be an Issue in the Divorce of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise

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Yesterday, RadarOnline, one of several online tabs trying to churn out incremental stories about the celebrity story of the year, grabbed for attention by quoting two lawyers who said it was unlikely that Tom Cruise's Scientology would be allowed as an issue in his divorce with Katie Holmes.

Aside from the fact that it was obvious Radar's two "experts" didn't know the first thing about Scientology, our own legal expert tells us that they're flat out wrong anyway -- family court is different than civil court, he says, and the religion of a parent can become an issue when a judge is trying to decide which parent should take custody.

After the jump: our legal expert, Scott Pilutik, a Manhattan attorney with a deep understanding of Scientology history, fills us in on how New York's family court may indeed be forced to consider the religious question of Suri's upbringing.

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