We’re struggling with a little post-countdown hangover here in the underground bunker, but time marches on, and we can’t let down on our Scientology-watching duties. For the second week in a row, then, we’re doing a roundup of items in time for Thursday 2pm Stats — is the church upstat or downstat this week? Let’s find out.
This was actually an excellent week for journalistic exposes of Scientology, and we’re having a hard time deciding which one to highlight first. I’d have to say the one that impressed me the most was a two-part investigation of Delphian, Scientology’s elite high school in Oregon, by The Daily’s Benjamin Carlson.
In part 1 on Tuesday, Carlson pointed out that Scientologist parents are shelling out $42,000 a year for an unaccredited private high school, and that the school is sending many students into the Sea Org.
Yesterday, in part 2, Carlson explores the strange world of Hubbard’s “study tech” at the school, where emphasis is put on looking up words in a dictionary — even words like “the.”
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? While Carlson includes plenty of quotes from alumni saying that Scientology’s Hogwarts was the best thing that ever happened to them, once again Scientology can’t help coming off creepy and delusional in this piece. Have to say it’s another big downstat!
Story #2: Where Scientologists Learn How to Fly
We were also pleased to see a fun and revealing piece by Daniel Miller (not, we presume, our old friend at THR?), writing for the UK’s Daily Mail, which showed what a spiffy and fun place David Miscavige’s $90 million Super Powers palace is going to be for wealthy, upper-level Scientologists. How are you going to get even more money from OT VIIIs, who have topped out on Scientology’s wacky upper level teachings? Promise them superpowers at the lavish new building, which looks like a Kubrick movie set inside a Vegas reproduction of Venice. Or something.
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Someone, somewhere, will look at these photos and think to themselves: “Hey, that looks like a good time!” But in general, this is another downstat. Again, the creep factor is all over the page.
Story #3: Scientology dating: where hot singles get their Xenu on?
Gawker media site Jezebel wrote this week about Affinity Exchange, a new age-y dating site for singles big on “consciousness” and dolphins. While writer Anna North was careful to point out that the site used to have a stronger connection to Scientology, her headline maybe promised a bit more than it could deliver — when CBSNews.com looked into it, they found plenty of spiritual types, but nobody who appeared to admit to being Scientologists.
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Have to say, this was something of an upstat for the church. I mean, even Scientologists need to hook up, right? So it felt like a bit of a cheap shot on them, especially when the site has apparently distanced itself from a stronger Scientology connection in the past.
Story #4: A petition to get government’s ass in gear
My e-mail inbox was burning up earlier this week with friends of Runnin’ Scared alerting me to a new petition at whitehouse.gov that is urging the government to get off its ass and investigate the abuses at Scientology. Marty Rathbun blogged about it, but I have to say, the most important thing I took away from Rathbun’s call to sign the petition was his announcement that he had heard from his law enforcement sources that the FBI’s investigation into Scientology is now dead. It was Lawrence Wright, in his February New Yorker story about Paul Haggis, who first made public the news that the FBI was poking around about abuses in the Sea Org, etc. But now, Rathbun says, Scientology has managed to talk the Department of Justice out of proceeding further down those lines. When I asked him about it, he said he couldn’t reveal his sources and describe how he learned that the investigation had been stopped.
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Have to say, if Rathbun is right, this is a big upstat for Scientology. Not really sure that a petition is going to convince the government to do what it seems to have no interest in — either challenging Scientology’s tax-exempt status, or give a crap about the way people are treated after signing billion-year contracts.
Overall, a mixed week for the church, but a great one here at the underground bunker. The floors are still sticky with champagne after we celebrated the end of the countdown last night. Next week, we’ll be on the road in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, so the posting may be somewhat light. But never fear, we’ll be back in the underground bunker again soon, keeping an eye on all things Scientology — so keep those tips coming!
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
#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”]
[Benjamin Ring, LA deputy sheriff, wants you to spend your 401K on Scientology]
[Scientologists: How many of them are there, anyway?]
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]
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]
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?]
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]