News & Politics

Scientology Wins Some, Loses Some in our Thursday Stats Roundup!


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.

We found this description of events happening there amusing (translated from French and posted at Operation Clambake):

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
#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



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