Today's edition of The Independent offers a profile of Marty Rathbun, a member of the Church of Scientology for 27 years, now considered a "heretic." As a high-ranking official, Rathbun worked with high-profile Scientologists like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, and Greta Van Susteren. Since he left the Church, he has been hounded by damaging allegations and a weirdly persistent "documentary crew" known as the "SQUIRREL BUSTERS."
In the video above, Rathbun asks the stranger at his door what he's doing. The reply: "I'm doing an investigation on you and your squirrel technology." A "squirrel" is a term used by Scientologists to describe members who have turned against the Church, as a letter sent to the Independent explains.
It said Marty had been responsible for 'lies, obstruction of justice, and violent behaviour' within the Church and had been dismissed from an executive position in the organisation rather than having, as he claims, quit. Because of his work since then, it claimed: 'he is what we call a squirrel (a heretic)'.
Rathbun's offenses include maintaining the very popular blog Moving On Up a Little Higher, a favorite among ex-Scientologists and a serious problem for devoted members. Rathbun also runs what he calls a "halfway house" for people who flee the Church and are left feeling like they have nowhere else to go. Former members who have felt lost and friendless have sought guidance from Rathbun before moving on with their lives.
One of the most interesting aspects of Rathbun's story is that he still considers himself a Scientologist. Like other religious reformers before him, he believes that it's the greed of the Church and not the faith itself that poses the real problem.
Marty still subscribes to many key tenets of the religion. He continues to practice "auditing", the form of counselling Scientologists use to seek enlightenment, and he continues to revere Hubbard, whose books and lectures he frequently quotes. Like L Ron, he believes firmly in reincarnation.
It's worth noting that Rathbun does not believe that an alien named Xenu actually caused humanity's problems with an intergalactic war 75 million years ago. In his mind, the story is an allegory — another view the Church of Scientology considers heretical.
The Independent's profile of Rathbun notes how much damage the internet has done to Scientology. Scientologists-turned-skeptics can now gather and voice their concerns. We're also far more aware of the wackier aspects of Scientology, including the aforementioned Xenu business. (See also: Battlefield Earth.) Meanwhile, Rathbun continues to update his blog, run the halfway house, and generally be a thorn in the side of Scientologists.
The "SQUIRREL BUSTERS" eventually stopped showing up at his house. It remains unclear whether these men were self-appointed defenders of the religion, or if they were told to harass Rathbun by Scientologist leader David Miscavige — Rathbun's former colleague and the best man at Tom Cruise's wedding.