What happens if you leave the official Church of Scientology, but remain an independent, practicing Scientologist? As apostate Marty Rathbun learned the other day, a group of bearded men with cameras attached to their heads stalks you. Seriously.

Rathbun is a kind of Scientology Martin Luther, a defector from the institutional church who still believes in the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, and as such he presents a unique danger to current church head David Miscavige. As The Village Voice's Tony Ortega points out, "independent" Scientologists cut the official church off from its main source of income—suckers who pay thousands of dollars for bogus "auditing" classes—and Rathbun is likely the most public of these "independents," or, as they're called by the church, "squirrels." (Rathbun maintains a well-trafficked blog, where you can see photos of Tom Cruise's Scientology slave-built motorcycles, among other things.)

And so, unsurprisingly, the Church of Scientology has assembled a crack squad of devoted weirdos to tail and harass Rathbun. The "SquirrelBusters" showed up at Rathbun's house in Texas earlier this week, and, armed with at least four cameras (two attached cranially), attempted to harass him. Rathbun, who was at the time auditing with another "squirrel" named Lori Hodgson, videotaped them back (holla, the 21st century!), resulting in a bizarre pas-de-deux now available to the public. Above is Rathbun's video; below, that of the "SquirrelBusters."


As amusing as it is, it's also deeply creepy. The man whose microphone Rathbun grabs identifies himself as John Allender—the same John Allender who, Lori Hodgson says, harassed and stalked her in San Jose, Cali. in December. And who has now followed her to Texas, to interrupt her private religious rituals, along with several cameramen.

In the end, the sheriff's department was called. According to Rathbun, a deal was struck: He wouldn't bring harassment charges against the SquirrelSquad, and they wouldn't bring assault charges against him for grabbing Allender's microphone.

[Village Voice]