I would also like to thank all those Scientologists who have argued with me. I do learn a lot from the arguments. As my understanding has been changed over the years by some of those who have argued with me, so I hope I have been able to change some of your understanding as well.
As it is traditional at New Years to look back and look forward, I have been thinking about all that has happened in the few years this blog has been in existence.
First, a look back.
Shortly after I started Ask the Scientologist, the infamous Tom Cruise video was leaked in January of 2008. At that time, no one knew how that would affect Scientology. It changed everything.
I don't need to rehash that in any detail, but from the efforts of the Church of Scientology to suppress the video came Anonymous' Project Chanology and from that came the collapse of the Church of Scientology.
In light of David Miscavige's recent announcement of his "victory over Anonymous", I want to point out exactly what Anonymous and the Internet did.
Before Anonymous, the Church of Scientology was, essentially, untouchable. Major media had learned its lesson from Time Magazine -- if you said anything negative about the Church of Scientology, even when completely true and proven in court, it would cost you millions and millions. No major media would risk that, so the church's crimes, lies, fraud and abuse were universally ignored.
Before Anonymous, critics and whistle-blowers were viciously fair-gamed, attacked, slandered and libelled. Once again, the Church of Scientology's million-dollar lawyers made it virtually impossible for the whistle-blowers to defend themselves.
Now it is true that the Church of Scientology was shrinking and had been for three decades, but this was primarily because of Miscavige's incompetence, poor leadership and stupidity, not because of any external force. It was a train wreck in slow motion.
Then came Anonymous.
Turns out it was the perfect way to attack and expose the Church of Scientology's crimes, lies, abuse and fraud. Every single weapon the church possessed was completely nullified. The attack had no leaders, no organization, no faces, no names, just information -- pure, verifiable information.
The truth has always been Scientology's Achilles heel, and they could do nothing about these leaks and their ineffective attempts to do so just fuelled the flames.
Today, the environment is completely different for the church. Major media can and does report regularly on the church's crimes, lies, fraud and abuse. Virtually no one outside of the Church of Scientology has a good opinion of the church. The information about Scientology that was once so carefully hidden is now available for all to see -- and millions have seen it.
Very notably, in all this media coverage was the incredible exposés of the St. Petersburg Times by Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin. Their series, The Truth Rundown, was incredible -- and they aren't stopping.
And let us not forget Anderson Cooper's series, Scientology: A History of Violence. David Miscavige's incredibly stupid and incompetent rebuttals were more damaging than anything Anderson revealed.
And there were a lot more major media reports and exposés, all over the world. No one is afraid of the Church of Scientology any more.
Far from there being any "victory" here for Miscavige, the Internet has defeated the Church of Scientology at every turn. As the saying goes, the Church of Scientology can't afford any more "victories" like that.
As we come up on the third year anniversary of the protests, we see that, while the protests are often smaller and are no longer appearing at all the smaller orgs, they are still continuing. This is both impressive and important. The crimes, lies, abuses and fraud of the Church of Scientology continue to this day. That must not be forgotten.
This year we also saw the Headley case dismissed. That was disappointing, but not unexpected. However, the great part was, after evidence was presented in court, the Church of Scientology had to admit it was all true. Yes, they do abuse their staff. Yes, they don't give them any time off. Yes, they pay them next to nothing. Yes, they feed staff table-scraps and force them to sleep under their desks. Yes, yes, yes. But, they said, we're allowed to do that, we're a cult!
And the court agreed. Didn't like it but had to agree. Yes, they can abuse their staff. This is now public record. This was not the "victory" that the church claimed, was it?
Several new books have come out this year exposing Scientology's evils. No longer does the church have any power to stop them. This year we've seen: