Conan O’Brien staged a showdown for the ages this week — all-out combat between New York City and Los Angeles — and as Scientology watchers, we enjoyed every minute of it.
Take in Conan’s inspired skit as we round up this week’s news stories to determine Scientology’s Thursday afternoon stats, when orgs around the country total up their wins and losses to determine how well the church is doing…
Conan had fun, as you can see, pitting NYC’s Empire State Building against the biggest landmark in Los Angeles he could find — “the Scientology bookstore on Pico.”
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? As we pointed out in our big countdown, TV’s comics love to mock Scientology, and when they do so, it can have serious repercussions for the church. Key church defector Marc Headley credits O’Brien with helping him decide to escape from Scientology’s international headquarters in the California desert. Who knows, maybe this fun little skit about battling buildings will inspire another troubled Sea Org member to wake up. No question: this simple little TV joke is a downstat for the church.
Story #2: Daniel Montalvo goes away quietly
We will admit that we were pretty excited about Daniel Montalvo’s dramatic 2010 escape from Scientology and the subsequent lawsuits he filed against the church earlier this year. But things then got weird out there in California. We heard that Montalvo had changed his mind about things and turned his back on Jason Beghe, one of the people who had helped him in his post-Scientology life.
This week, Marty Rathbun wrote about Montalvo quietly settling both of his lawsuits, the terms of which were not released. Rathbun smartly spins this is a victory against the church, but there’s no escaping our disappointment: the first really solid lawsuits exposing the way children are employed by Scientology have been made to go away.
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? We’re going to have to give this one to the church, an upstat for a group that loves to make plaintiffs go away in order to avoid trials.
Story #3: A French Do-Over
It’s a somewhat similar story over in Gay Paree, where Scientology has appealed its 2009 fraud conviction, and as an appeal trial approaches, the original plaintiffs are dropping like flies.
As the AP describes it, the 2009 conviction was pretty serious: “The group and bookstore were fined €600,000 ($830,000). Four leaders were given suspended sentences of between 10 months and two years. Two others were fined.”
But now that the appeal is happening, all but one original plaintiff has dropped out, leaving only the National Council of the Order of Pharmacists.
A member of MIVILUDES (the Interminsterial Mission of Vigilance and Combat against Cultic Abuses) told Europe1 that he is not surprised by these withdrawals. “It is Scientology’s habit to reach settlements so that no plaintiff remains,” he commented. MIVILUDES fears that the appeal trial might be canceled because of possible judicial maneuvers by Scientology. “Every time there is a trial involving Scientology — every time — an exceptional and bizarre event occurs. If it isn’t the disappearance of a file in the courthouse, it’s the completely unexplained disappearance of a law regarding dissolution. Today, it’s the witnesses who are disappearing,” he lamented. “So either there is a curse that afflicts the justice system as soon as it becomes interested in Mister Ron Hubbard’s foundation, or there is a real power to counteract, to take action so that justice can never be heard,” says the organization.
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Hey, we have to give the church credit where it is due. Scientology has proved to be exceptionally crafty in legal matters, and it also never, ever gives up. If the 2009 fraud conviction was a huge embarrassment, it looks like the church has merely bided its time, worked its usual magic to make plaintiffs go away, and has this conviction on the ropes. An upstat for now, but of course this case isn’t over.
Story #4: Don’t mess with Tom Cruise
Once again, we’ll round out our Stats Roundup with our own stories. This week, we learned that whether you feed Tom Cruise a bad shrimp, or cause him to get tweaked in the press, Scientology will make you pay.
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Tom Cruise has already done irreparable damage to Scientology, as we pointed out in our big countdown, but this new picture emerging — that Cruise is also tangled up with Scientology’s legendary retaliation tactics, can’t be good for either him or his religion. Have to call that a big downstat.
Overall, a mixed week for the church. No doubt, his minions are telling David Miscavige that he’s about to get a big win in France, and that making the Montalvo cases go away was another big victory.
Well, lap it up, DM. That’s pretty sweet sauce for your next gourmet meal, which can’t be more than a couple of hours away.
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”]
[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!]