Every Thursday afternoon, Scientology’s “orgs” — its churches, as it were — scramble to report their weekly stats to show how much progress they’ve made over the week before. And woe to those whose numbers are sagging!
We do something similar here at Runnin’ Scared every week. A little before the Thursday 2pm deadline, we tally up the previous week’s media hits and misses for the church, and we look for stories far and wide.
In fact, this week’s roundup starts in far-off Norway, where one of Scientology’s all-time most formidable critics took on the sort of cultural icon it’s hard to beat these days: that country’s version of an American Idol judge.
During our recent big countdown, we made sure that Andreas Heldal-Lund had a place of honor. For fifteen years, the unassuming Norwegian engineer has maintained one of the most important sources of information critical to Scientology, his website “Operation Clambake.”
During that time, Heldal-Lund took advantage of liberal Scandinavian ideas about freedom of expression to fend off repeated attempts by Scientology’s attorneys to have the website pulled down. During the 1990s, when the church’s attorneys were having much more success pulling down similar sites here in the U.S., Heldal-Lund’s website was a sort of beacon of Internet freedom.
Now, however, he’s facing a rather interesting Scientology onslaught right in his own backyard.
Norway’s version of American Idol features a celebrity judge named Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby, a popular rock singer who says he got sober with the help of Scientology’s Narconon program, and who now promotes Scientology’s anti-psychiatry front group, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR).
“Idol-Hank,” as the Norwegian press charmingly refers to him, has apparently been very effective getting his message out to Norway’s young people, and when asked about CCHR, tells the press that it has nothing to do with Scientology as a religion.
This week, Heldal-Lund took to Norway’s airwaves and its largest national newspaper, Dagbladet, to take on Husby directly. I snagged this translation from Clambake:
The former lead singer of Turbonegro and now a judge on TV2 Idol, Hans-Erik Dyvik Husby uses his celebrity position in a campaign against psychiatry. This fight is built on wild conspiracy theories and is governed by the controversial Church of Scientology.
Husby’s defense when confronted with this makes as much sense as if he promoted the Mafia and justified it because he loves Italian food.
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? This is a battle that will remain confined to one Scandinavian country, but any time it is pointed out this forcefully that front groups like Narconon and CCHR are recruitment tools for the church it’s a serious downstat for Scientology. And one thing’s for certain — it was something to see Heldal-Lund battling on his home turf in such a big way!
Story #2: Can’t Get No Satisfaction
We noticed a fun item coming out of Toronto this week. In town to shoot another movie, Crash director Paul Haggis agreed to a local interview (what are we, chopped liver? Give us a ring, Paul!) and said he gets no satisfaction hearing that he’s serving as an example of people leaving Scientology:
Paul Haggis says he’s been told that his high-profile rebuke of Scientology has prompted other followers to leave the controversial church. But the Oscar-winning filmmaker insists he didn’t set out to encourage others to leave the faith. Haggis says he’s not on “a crusade” against Scientology…
Haggis went on to say that it was difficult to tell whether his high-profile defection from the church is affecting his career.
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Haggis already came off very well in Lawrence Wright’s epic February profile in The New Yorker, and this note of humility will only confirm for many that his credibility is intact. Have to call this a significant downstat for the church.
Story #3: Anonymous Gets Wired
We very much enjoyed Wired magazine’s initial chapter of an ambitious, in-depth look at the Anonymous movement that debuted this week. Embedding writer Quinn Norton with the SF Anons, one of the country’s more active Project Chanology groups, was a brilliant idea, and she doesn’t disappoint with her first part in the series, which looks back at where Anonymous came from. Even if you think you know much of that history, you’ll enjoy Norton’s writing and thoughtful observations about this wacky Internet phenomenon.
Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? This first chapter really didn’t delve into the Anonymous fight with Scientology, so the church really didn’t gain or lose much. But Norton promises that her next installment will be about Project Chanology’s history of tilting against David Miscavige’s organization, and that should be very interesting.
Overall a fairly quiet week here on the Scientology-watching front, which is a good thing, since we’re actually at an undisclosed vacation spot outside the underground bunker. We have a feeling things are really going to heat up in a few days, however, so check back often for more Scientology updates here at Runnin’ Scared!
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!]