A group of Scientology goons trying to discredit one of the cult’s most influential ex-members by filming and surveilling him in his hometown of Ingleside on the Bay, Texas, plans to continue its activities — described by law enforcement as harassment — despite a new city ordinance.
The Squirrel Busters, who say they are making a documentary about Scientology defector [Marty] Rathbun, told the City Council they won’t abide by the ordinance that would have required them to apply for a film permit.
Instead, they submitted a letter saying their lawyers told them the city ordinance violates their free speech rights and could draw the city into lawsuits. The letter did not explicitly threaten to sue the city.
Ralph Gomez, the group’s assistant producer, said documentary filming will continue.
The group’s activities have gone beyond documentary research, according to police reports and interviews with law enforcement officials, neighbors and Rathbun and his wife. But none of their activities have risen to the level of a crime, said Oscar Rivera, chief deputy of the San Patricio County Sheriff’s Office.
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Taking a break?
Film crews have showed up at Rathbun’s door, surveilled he and his wife at a local restaurant, and learned his travel plans and greeted him at airports. When, in a moment of frustration, Rathbun snatched a microphone from a crew member, the county attorney refused to prosecute the resulting theft complaint against Rathbun, saying no jury would convict a man who had suffered as much provocation as he had.
Ingleside on the Bay Mayor Howard Gillespie said that in light of the potential legal challenge, the city will have its attorneys and the Texas Municipal League suggest amendments to the film permit ordinance. In the meantime, the crews will be free to film.
Rathbun, who attended Tuesday’s council meeting while the Squirrel Busters filmed it, moved to Ingleside on the Bay, after 27 years in the church, to rebuild his life and help others do the same. He joined a growing chorus of former members who describe the church’s practices, especially its treatment of defectors, as abusive.
Hate- and harassment activities have always been part and parcel of Scientology’s teachings and practices. The unethical behavior was promoted and condoned by the cult’s nutty founder, L. Ron Hubbard. See, for instance, the destructive cult’s so-called ‘fair game‘ and ‘dead agenting‘ policies.
Note: in the opinion of the publishers of Religion News Blog, the Church of Scientology is not a religion, but rather a commercial enterprise that masquerades as a religion and acts like a hate group.
While we fully support and promote religious freedom, in our opinion Scientology’s spiritual and medical quackery — along with its manifold human rights violations, including acts of hate and harassment — qualify this group as a destructive cult.
Scrutiny of former Church of Scientology official has town on edge
Scientology’s Cover Story for Harassment: “We’re Making a Documentary!” (Lying is condoned and encouraged in Scientology)
Scientology Goon Squads Face Fines After Texas Town Rallies To Marty Rathbun’s Cause
Research resources on Scientology