As 2009 comes to a close, the Scientology organization is reeling from another year of high-level defections, criminal convictions, journalistic exposes and books detailing the cult's criminal practices, and intense pressure from human rights activists. The Anonymous global network of human rights activists are keen to hold Scientology's leaders accountable for their crimes, which include organized fraud, human trafficking, kidnapping, obstruction of justice, and toxic waste dumping.
Here are just a few of the many recent victories against the Scientology organization, which until quite recently believed itself immune to all criticism, able to do as it pleased in its insane quest to "clear the planet" of non-Scientologists through the "global obliteration of psychiatry."
* Monthly and flash protests continue at Scientology offices worldwide: The Anonymous activists continued their monthly protests for a second solid year. These and frequent "flash" spontaneous protests at Scientology buildings continued to shine a spotlight on the crime-cult's activities.
* Numerous major lawsuits were filed against Scientology, for causes ranging from wrongful death to human trafficking. All of these lawsuits are presently going forward in ways that are favorable to the plaintiff in each case (i.e. Scientology's motions are generally denied and the plaintiff's motions are generally granted).
* The St. Petersburg Times published a major series of articles detailing the violent outbursts of Scientology's leader David Miscavige, as well as Scientology management's general criminality and abusive behavior. This series can be read at www.truthrundown.org
* California's KESQ television and reporter Nathan Baca brought an excellent investigation of the human rights and other abuses taking place at Scientology's "Gold Base" desert compound. At Gold Base, a paramilitary cadre of Scientologists called the "Sea Org" work 100-hour weeks for less than $50 per week, live in filthy, crowded barracks, and are watched carefully to prevent escape. Indeed, the fence around Gold Base features razor-sharp spikes pointing inward to prevent escape. Also, in an interview with hapless Scientology spokesmodel Tommy Davis, reporter Baca led Davis into admitting that an evil galactic dictator from 75 million years ago, "Lord Xenu," was an integral component of Scientology "scripture.
* Australia's Nine News television program also featured quite a lot of hard-hitting Scientology coverage, as did the Nightline program in the USA. In the latter program, hosted by journalist Martin Bashir, Tommy Davis fled the set in a bizarre tantrum as Bashir asked for clarity about the Xenu question.
* Two main branches of Scientology in France were convicted of organized fraud, and sentenced to pay fines of over €600,000 (£550,000). Four leading cult officials received suspended prison sentences of between 18 months and two years, as well as fines ranging from €5,000 to €30,000. This was only the latest of several fraud convictions for Scientology in France; indeed, the cult's founder, L. Ron Hubbard, was convicted of fraud there in 1978.
* Several important new books told the story of top-level defectors from behind the scenes in Scientology. John Duignan's "The Complex: An Insider Exposes the Covert World of the Church of Scientology" was published in February; Nancy Many's "My Billion Year Contract: Memoir of a Former Scientologist" was published in October; and Marc Headley's "Blown for Good: Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology" was published in November. At the present time, "Blown for Good" is the #1 bestselling book about Scientology on Amazon.com; "My Billion Year Contract"" is #3.
* Hollywood writer and director Paul Haggis publicly left Scientology in October, upset at Tommy Davis' denial of Scientology's vicious practice of "Disconnection" from all loved ones who may be critical of Scientology, as well as of the cult's support of California's anti-family Proposition 8. Haggis knew "Disconnection" to be a core cult practice because his own wife was ordered to stop talking to her parents.
* In November, Australian Senator Nick Xenophon called for a Senate inquiry into Scientology's criminal activities in that country. Meanwhile, Australian police investigators openly criticized the cult for obstructing their investigation of a young soldier's suicide. This young man, Edward McBride, had spent $25,000 on Scientology courses in the preceding months, and was heavily being pressured by dozens of calls and text messages from Scientology offices in the day before his death.
These are just some of the many, many excellent wins against the Scientology criminal organization in the past year. Notwithstanding all of Scientology's posturing in incessant floods of press releases about its alleged "explosive growth" and "tremendous worldwide expansion," the fact remains that Scientology is the world's fastest shrinking cult, with perhaps 50,000 people in the world who would be willing to admit their membership.
There aren't any comprehensive worldwide surveys of what people believe, but there is plenty of other evidence to show that there aren't really very many Scientologists in the world.
* In 2001, the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) reported that there were 55,000 adults in the United States who consider themselves Scientologists.
* In 2008, the same survey team estimated there to be 25,000 Americans identifying as Scientologists.
* The 2001 United Kingdom census contained a voluntary question on religion, to which approximately 48,000,000 chose to respond. Of those living in England and Wales who responded, a total of 1,781 said they were Scientologists.
* In 2001, Statistics Canada, the national census agency, reported a total of 1,525 Scientologists nationwide.
* In the 2006 New Zealand census, 357 people identified themselves as Scientologists
* In 2006, Australia's national census recorded 2,507 Scientologists nationwide.
* In 2008, the Pew Forum's Statistics on Religion in America Report didn't even bother to mention the number of Scientologists they found, though their analysis noted religious affiliations down to less than 0.3%, with such beliefs as "Wiccan" and "Pagan."
Scientology's spokesmen have sometimes attempted to refute the statistical estimates by saying that perhaps the respondents were also Christians or members of other religions, and that it is possible to be both a Scientologist and a member of another religion. Such claims are patently false, both in the essentials of belief as well as in Scientology's explicit declaration that "as a practical matter Scientologists are expected to and do become fully devoted to Scientology to the exclusion of other faiths."
Despite Scientology's attempts to create a perception of "massive growth," there is an abundance of evidence, even beyond the census and survey data, that the cult has never been particularly large, and is rapidly getting smaller.
Scientology is much more than just a weird and wacky Hollywood fad, in which celebrities make fools of themselves and provide material for gossip magazines. Beyond its status as a "religion" in the USA, which it obtained through a secret deal with the Internal Revenue Service, and which give it extraordinary benefits not permitted to any other group, Scientology is also a multinational criminal racket. The average person would be shocked to learn the amount of influence Scientology wields, mostly due to blackmailing and intimidation of government officials. Scientology's primary goals are to "clear the planet" and to "obliterate" psychiatry and the mental health profession, replacing it with Scientology. They are prepared to do this by any means necessary, and are adept in using their many front groups to portray the cult as concerned humanitarians. The opposite is true. Indeed, according to L. Ron Hubbard, critics of Scientology are to be considered "fair game," and "[m]ay be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed." (L. Ron Hubbard, "HCOPL 18 October 67 Issue IV, Penalties for Lower Conditions").
The Anonymous worldwide human rights activists are a network of thousands of ordinary people from around the world who are appalled and horrified by the Scientology organization and its abuses, and are working to stop it.