As Scientology Expands, So Do Its Naysayers

Source: Seattle Weekly
Date: August 13, 2008

by Brian Miller

Masked protesters are taking to Seattle streets as the church eyes new facilities downtown and in lower Queen Anne.

Wielding banners and signs, a small band of protesters has appeared on certain evenings, waving at drivers below and encouraging them to honk if they hate Xenu. On other nights, farther west in the Uptown neighborhood, the same merry pranksters have shown up outside an empty old office building declaring their opposition to thetans and federal tax exemptions. Other times they march to Westlake or Seattle Center to hand out flyers. Always they conceal their faces with bandannas and masks - often the smiling white plastic visage of Guy Fawkes from the Wachowski brothers' movie V for Vendetta (which concerns a heroic rebel band fighting against a totalitarian state).

Xenu, you may recall, is the malign alien ruler who, in Church of Scientology doctrine (codified in the 1950s), scattered the unhappy souls of extraterrestrials among us earthlings 75 million years ago, creating a host of mental problems that cannot be solved by modern psychiatry or pharmacology. And now, following a notorious Tom Cruise video released earlier this year and a certain prior South Park episode, Scientology finds itself the target of a new generation of activists who have declared this coming Saturday, August 16, to be their next worldwide Scientology protest day. Hundreds are expected to participate in Seattle, where the publicity-shy church is undertaking a major expansion into new facilities in lower Queen Anne and downtown.

Their organization - many of them, actually, self-organized and leaderless on the Web - is called Anonymous. Its Seattle members preferred to remain just that during recent meetings with the Weekly; instead they go by their screen names.