Is Marty Rathbun losing control?

Is Marty Rathbun losing control of his “indie” group, courtesy of Tony Ortega?

That seems to be the topic of conversation making the rounds and it appears that Marty Rathbun, the self-styled “indie” guru, is more than just a little bit worried – a tad too concerned that Tony Ortega, who now operates his own independent anti-Scientology site, is moving up a little bit higher in the blogosphere. Maybe a little too higher.

First, here’s a look at the evidence.

Rathbun recently wrote “what more can I say?”

Pleading in tone, the headline exhibits little of the self-confidence and conviction of the leader of a disparate group that – in Rathbun’s universe – is coalescing around him.

Indeed, that’s what followers seek in a leader – sure-handedness, certainty and clarity. Not a beseeching message that says, well, pretty much all he can bring himself to say.

Secondly, in the body of his post, Rathbun directs his ire not at the usual suspects, Scientology “operatives” and the like but, rather, at his own supposed followers. Is this the message of someone acting from strength or is it something else – a despairing plea from a man who pretends to be a leader, and got away with being so, at least for a time, until his followers caught on?

Maybe something has changed with Rathbun and his followers don’t quite like the feel of it.

As we’ve already mentioned in this space, various sources have pointed out that Rathbun’s counseling is highly suspect. Some have told us it has worked for a while but has offered little of enduring, long-term substance, so little that they do not return for more.

Knowing Rathbun, I’m sure he is conflicted by all this and that it’s tearing him up. The image of a pacing Rathbun, muttering expletives, angry – with that trademark signal of his eyes rolling back in his head as his fury reaches the boiling point – comes to mind.

But why are Rathbun’s followers questioning him? Hasn’t he led them through thick and thin these last couple of years or so?

Well, not quite. That’s because Rathbun likes to have it both ways. While claiming to be follower of L. Ron Hubbard (LRH), and railing against Scientology, the indisputable truth is that Rathbun has deviated from the teachings of LRH and has altered the tech.

By virtue of his abrasive personality, Rathbun, the so-called “guru,” looks down on everyone – not just his perceived enemies in Scientology but, ultimately, on LRH himself.

So much so that we can see the day on the horizon when Marty Rathbun dispenses with LRH altogether and forms his own brand of what he calls a new Scientology. Or, maybe he would give it a different name – something along the lines of “Martyology.”

But here’s the real rub. Rathbun likes the cozy embrace of all media hostile to Scientology and has proven to be that media’s “go-to” guy for quotes used to attack the Church, Scientology and Scientologists and, by extension, LRH.  This is especially so with Tony Ortega whose vehement anti-Scientology messages pre-date Rathbun’s own departure from the Church. In the years since, Rathbun and Ortega have maintained a close relationship, linking to each other on their blogs, and Ortega has been Rathbun’s guest in Texas.

So, given Ortega’s hostility to LRH and his teachings, how can Rathbun profess to believe in the Scientology founder while criticizing, if not condemning him, in the public square through his support for the former Village Voice editor?

Then there’s another factor. We detect a hint of jealousy – if not outright envy – that Rathbun’s place in the media spotlight as been supplanted by Tony Ortega whose Internet following, we suspect, is just as big, if not bigger, than Rathbun’s. Ortega seems to be getting the media attention now and that might just indicate that Rathbun is on his way to becoming a mere footnote to Scientology.

With all this back-biting, self-questioning and personal weakness, we can understand why Rathbun is not quite the leader his followers are looking for and that many of them have come to the same conclusion and have decided to move on.

That’s something that does not sit well with Marty Rathbun – as he, himself, has told us.