Scientology Storms Out of Court in France, Getting Hammered in Florida: It's Time for Thursday Stats!
We've written here several times that few former Scientologists ever endured as much legal persecution and really unbelievable levels of harassment as Gerry Armstrong. But how did it all start? In this video, Gerry describes that his unpardonable sin, as a Scientologist, was an earnest desire to eliminate L. Ron Hubbard's lies about his past from church propaganda -- which he felt would benefit Scientology.
Watch Gerry describe his attempt at a good deed as we begin this week's Thursday Stats Roundup, taking a look at Scientology news from around the world. Each Thursday at 2 pm, Scientologists race to get their statistics up for a weekly measuring. And we like to do the same here at Runnin' Scared!
As Gerry explains, he had been given the task of gathering biographical documents about Hubbard so that another person could write an authorized biography of the Scientology founder.
But the more documents he gathered, the more Gerry was stunned to see how the actual historical record differed from what Hubbard had told the world about himself. When he brought this up to his superiors, and urged them to have Scientology's PR department stick to actual facts, he was hounded out of the church and then began a Kafkaesque period fighting for his ability to live a normal life. (And perhaps our astute readers could recommend the best article or book that describes Gerry's legal nightmare. I'll post an update here.)
Thursday Stats: Upstat or Downstat? While Gerry Armstrong may have paid a high personal price for his criticism of Hubbard and Scientology, any time he opens his mouth it's a serious downstat for the church.
Story #2: How do you say 'crybabies' in French?
Back in 2008, Scientology was convicted of fraud in France, and only a legal technicality kept the church from being dismantled there. Now, the church is getting an appeal trial on the fraud conviction, and as we've mentioned earlier, it has brought its usual scorched-earth approach to the proceedings. But after managing to persuade nearly all of the original complainants against it to withdraw from the case, this week things suddenly started to go bad for Scientology, according to reports we're seeing from the excellent Jonny Jacobsen and French media that's being posted at Operation Clambake and WhyWeProtest.org.
In fact, Scientology got so huffy about a ruling that didn't go its way, earlier today, the church's attorneys (more than half a dozen of them) staged a mass walkout from the trial!
Can you say waaaaaaah?
Thursday's Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Coverage of Scientology's antics in France has been unsparing. The pieces we've seen have called out the church for all of its legal shenanigans. The longer this trial goes on, the bigger downstat it seems to be in that country.
Story #3: Leftover Meat Loaf
We hear that Scientologist warbler Stacy Francis really sort of tanked it singing a Meat Loaf song on X Factor last night, and she got a chewing out from mean old Simon Cowell. Does that mean she might get voted off the island tonight?
Hell, we don't know and we really couldn't care less. But it gives us another excuse to point out that Stacy is a big old Scientologist and for some reason doesn't like talking about it.
Thursday's Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Talking with Michael Sandlofer again yesterday, we were reminded that there's still plenty to come out about Francis and her involvement in the Hollywood Celebrity Centre. And the longer she lasts on the show, the longer she stays in the spotlight, which would keep up interest in stories about her, right? Ah, who cares. She's been a bit of a downstat for the church up to this point, but at some point, it's hard to care about reality contestants who are so transparently chasing fame.
Story #4: Come on Joe and Tom, Give Us the Next Chapter!
We've saved this for last, but of course nothing hit the Scientology watching world this week like the new series out of the St. Petersburg Times that began appearing Sunday. Parts one and two from Joe Childs and Tom Tobin were devastating looks at the way Scientology is consumed with money making, and even more so since the release of "The Basics," revisions of L. Ron Hubbard's books on Scientology, which came out in 2007.
We are breathlessly awaiting part 3, and we would appreciate it if Tom and Joe would publish the thing, already.
Thursday's Stats: Upstat or Downstat? There's really no question, is there? This is such a big downstat for Scientology, it's likely to be the kind of thing that will fundamentally change the way the church is viewed, reported on, and talked about for years to come, which is what happened after the last special report by Childs and Tobin, 2009's "The Truth Rundown." This is the stuff David Miscavige's nightmares are made from.
Well, a pretty bad week for the church, and you'd have to expect that when the St. Pete Times is unloading with both barrels. But it's also important to keep an eye on what's happening in France. And hey, where's your response to that petition, Obama?
The Top 25 People Crippling Scientology #1: L. Ron Hubbard #2: David Miscavige #3: Marty Rathbun #4: Tom Cruise #5: Joe Childs and Tom Tobin #6: Anonymous #7: Mark Bunker #8: Mike Rinder #9: Jason Beghe #10: Lisa McPherson #11: Nick Xenophon (and other public servants) #12: Tommy Davis (and other hapless church executives) #13: Janet Reitman (and other journalists) #14: Tory Christman (and other noisy ex-Scientologists) #15: Andreas Heldal-Lund (and other old time church critics) #16: Marc and Claire Headley, escapees of the church's HQ #17: Jefferson Hawkins, the man behind the TV volcano #18: Amy Scobee, former Sea Org executive #19: The Squirrel Busters (and the church's other thugs and goons) #20: Trey Parker and Matt Stone (and other media figures) #21: Kendrick Moxon, attorney for the church #22: Jamie DeWolf (and other L. Ron Hubbard family members) #23: Ken Dandar (and other attorneys who litigate against the church) #24: David Touretzky (and other academics) #25: Xenu, galactic overlord
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications.
Keep up on all of our New York news coverage at this blog, Runnin' Scared
SCIENTOLOGY IN THE VILLAGE VOICE
[Scientology spokesman Tommy Davis secretly recorded discussing "disconnection"] [Tom Cruise and Baby Suri embarrassed by news item, so someone must pay] [Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology] [Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?] [Scientology hates clean ice: The "Fair Game" operation that should turn your stomach] [Scientology hates clean ice, part 2: Another target, and the web as weapon]
MARTY RATHBUN AND THE SIEGE OF SOUTH TEXAS
[Scientology has Rathbun arrested] | [Rathbun and Mark Bunker reveal surprising ties] In Germany with Ursula Caberta: [Announcing plans] | [Press conference] | [Making news about Tom Cruise, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair] | [Post-trip interview] The Squirrel Busters: [Goons with cameras on their heads] | [Rathbun's open letter to neighbors] | [Ingleside on the Bay, Texas rallies to Rathbun's cause] | [Squirrel Buster's claim to be making a "documentary"] | [VIDEO: "On a Boat"] | ["Anna" sent to creep out Monique Rathbun] | [Squirrel Busters go hillbilly] | [A videographer blows the whistle on the goon squad] | [Ed Bryan, OT VIII, shows the power of Scientology's highest levels]
SCIENTOLOGY SPYING AND "FAIR GAME"
[Secret Scientology documents spell out spying operation against Marc Headley] [Scientology's West U.S. spies list revealed] | [Scientology's enemies list: Are you on it?] Spy operation against Washington Post writer Richard Leiby: [Part 1] | [Part 2] [A Scientology spy comes clean: Paulien Lombard's remarkable public confession] [Scientology advertises for writers in Freedom magazine] [Accidental leak shows Scientology spy wing plans to "handle" the Voice] [Lori Hodgson and Disconnection: "No one's going to take my eternity away"]
SCIENTOLOGY AND CELEBRITIES
["Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [Tom Cruise likes coconut cake] | [Tom Cruise has a sense of humor] | ["Tom Cruise not a kook!"] | [Paulette Cooper on Tom Cruise] [Paul Haggis, director of Crash, issues an ultimatum, leaves the church] [Character actor Jason Beghe defects noisily] | [Actor Michael Fairman reveals his "suppressive person" declaration] | [Michael Fairman talks to the Voice] [Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh: Scientology-Branch Davidian link makes sense] [Russell Brand weds ex-Scientologists in wild ceremony] | [Skip Press on Haggis] [Placido Domingo Jr.: Scientology's retaliation is "scary and pathetic"] Grant Cardone, NatGeo's "Turnaround King": [Doing Scientology's dirty work?] | [Milton Katselas complained about Cardone's smear job] | [Cardone runs to Huffpo] [Philip Boyd, Saving Grace actor, rips "the business that is Scientology"]
JANET REITMAN'S INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY
[Our review of Inside Scientology] | [An interview with Janet Reitman] | [A report from Reitman's first book tour appearance] | [At the Half-King: Reitman not afraid] [Scientology doesn't like Inside Scientology] | [Q&A at Washington Post] [A roundup of Reitman's print reviews, and why isn't she on television more?]
HUGH URBAN'S THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY
EX-SCIENTOLOGISTS SPEAK OUT
[Marc Headley: "Tom Cruise told me to talk to a bottle"] | [The Nancy Many interview] [Sympathy for the Devil: Tory Christman's Story] | [Jeff Hawkins' Counterfeit Dreams] [86 Million Thin Dimes: The Lawrence Wollersheim Saga] | [Mike Rinder on spying]
[Scientology dodges a bullet in Australia] | [Scientology exec Jan Eastgate arrested] [All hell breaks loose in Israel] | [Scientology sees fundraising gold in the UK riots] [Aussie former rugby pro Chris Guider calls David Miscavige "toxic" and "violent"] [Stephen Cox, UK church newbie, pledges 20K pounds] | [Biggi Reichert: A German Lisa McPherson?] | [The Birmingham trove: 7,000 internal e-mails] [Australian farmer blamed for giving Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, loses her friends, family]
ODD VIDEOS AND ODDER NEWS
[Scientology singalong, "We Stand Tall"] | [Captain Bill Robertson and "Galactic Patrol"] [Scientology wins a major award!] | [Scientology wants your money: Meet Dede!] [Birmingham in the House! The "Ideal" dance mix] | [Scientology and the Nation of Islam] [When Scientology was hip] | [Sad: David Miscavige makes fun of his own fundraisers] [Freedom magazine parodies The New Yorker. Hilarity ensues.] [Scientology surf report: Anonymous parties outside the New York "org"]
THE VIEW INSIDE THE BUBBLE
[A scientologist's letter to the Voice and its readers] | [Scientology silent birth] [Tad Reeves: Scientology might listen to this guy] | [More Tad Reeves and family] [Scientology never forgets: A heartwarming telemarketing holiday miracle] [Scientology High School, Dating and Super Powers!]
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.