Scientology “Ideal Orgs” Laid Bare In Our Thursday Stats Roundup!


It’s that time of the week again — at 2 pm on Thursdays, Scientology orgs turn in their stats for the week, and so we like to do our own accounting of how things went for the church with our weekly roundup.

After the jump, an eye-opening look inside an “Ideal org” by our sister paper in Phoenix. But first, watch this video segment released by Mark Bunker, in which he interviews Jamie DeWolf for his upcoming documentary, Knowledge Report.

Jamie puts on another fine performance here. Listed at #22 in our countdown, DeWolf is the great-grandson of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, and he’s also a noted slam poet and stage performer who lives in the Oakland area.

As in his previous appearances, he tries to convey what life was like for his grandfather, L. Ron Hubbard Jr., who changed his name to Ron DeWolf as he distanced himself from Scientology.

“Imagine if your father was a cult leader. Imagine if your father was literally referred to as ‘The Source,’ and people have to salute his picture, even when he’s dead. Imagine that’s your dad. Where are you going to get guidance from?”

Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — I think Jamie DeWolf could become a huge problem for David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology. He’s likable, he’s charismatic, and he says the kinds of things about Hubbard that only a family member could — devastating things that tear at the fabric of the LRH mystique. A huge downstat for the church, and we have to hand it to Mark Bunker for always finding a way to make Knowledge Report even more anticipated.

Story #2: Ideal Times in Phoenix

From my old friend Ray Stern at our sister paper in Arizona, Phoenix New Times, comes a delicious expose of the “Ideal Org” under development by the church there.

Ray called me up after we posted the notorious “Dede” video, showing Phoenix Scientologists begging fellow church members for funds to purchase a new building. It was Mark Bunker who alerted us to the cringeworthy spot, which shows some middle-aged folks putting on fake enthusiasm while pretending to be accepting donations in a boiler-plate phone-bank setup. It’s a rare glimpse into the reality of outlying orgs like the one in Phoenix, and far from the celebrity-soaked image Scientology normally likes to convey. But what was the status of the new “org” that these poor folks were raising money for? Ray wondered if there wasn’t a larger story there.

Boy, did he find one. Ray’s a digger, and he found amazing details about how Scientology purchased its new building, how it kicked out the remaining tenants, and how it continued to hit up parishioners for big bucks even after the purchase had been completed. Please take the time to read his entire piece, which is the cover story for this week’s issue.

Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Another big downstat for the church. The media has really been behind the curve on the “Ideal Org” program (and I include myself in that criticism), but Ray’s piece should prove a blueprint for other journalists who want to understand this bizarre real estate expansion at a time that Scientology is dwindling. (And a note about that: Ray talked to the author of the study which found in 2008 that there are only 25,000 Scientologists in the country. We have previously noted that this is mostly a guess, and the study itself noted that its margin of error was actually larger than the number of Scientologists it found. In Ray’s story, the author says that the margin of error is so large, there could be up to 325,000 Scientologists in the country. That’s fine, but there are other, more solid, sources of data on the number of Scientologists: we are most confident in the estimates of Jefferson Hawkins, who for years oversaw enrollment figures for the church while he was a high-ranking member. He puts the worldwide church population at only 40,000.)

Story #3: Ideal Times in Inglewood

Another Ideal Org is opening in Inglewood, California, to mixed reviews by the locals. Olu Alemoru of the community paper The Wave polls folks in the neighborhood near the new church, and finds that some are unhappy, others nonplussed, and some are actually enthusiastic.

Well, that vocal support included a Nation of Islam guy, so maybe not the best endorsement.

All of Scientology’s expansion plans are mystifying, but this one especially so. Why does a notoriously creepy organization that is already having trouble convincing gullible wealthy white people to fork over hundreds of thousands of dollars to exorcise their inner alien cooties think it’s going to have success expanding into a working-class black neighborhood? Beats us. But it should be interesting to see what happens.

Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Have to call this one a downstat. When even a community newspaper is calling you “controversial” as you (supposedly) bring new business to town, you know your mission may be dead on arrival.

Hey, keep those tips coming. Things are a bit crazy here in the underground bunker as we help prepare next week’s big Best Of NYC issue at the Voice, but we’re doing our best to stay on top of Miscavigey developments around the globe.

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.

@VoiceTonyO | Facebook: Tony Ortega


[All recent stories] | [Top 25 People Crippling Scientology] | [Commenters of the Week] [Thursday 2pm Stats!]


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