All Scientologists Look Alike, Right? — And More in our Weekly Stats Roundup!


Every Thursday at 2 pm, Scientology staff members race to turn in their weekly statistics. We like to do the same by rounding up the week’s Scientology news from around the world and weigh how the church is doing.

We’re going to start this week with a nice journalistic screwup by, a gossipy website that just loves to capture celebrities for candid photos.

And yesterday, they got a big scoop! Tom Cruise on a super-dope motorcycle zipping around Beverly Hills!

Er, um, sorry guys. Wrong dude. After the jump, we show you how X17online fucked up.

Here’s an image from’s big story yesterday:

Look, they even have a close-up of Tom Cruise’s face — it’s got to be him!

Well, the guy on the bike is, indeed, a Scientologist — or at least he was. But truth be told, Tiziano Lugli, a musician from Italy, has been on the outs from the church for a while. (He was declared a suppressive person two years ago.)

He tells us that he was the one zipping around on his Ducati 1098 near Scientology’s Hollywood Celebrity Centre (“I like to have the security guards there freak,” he says) when he noticed a cameraman.

“I looked around and saw the guy photographing me.”

His photo was snapped Tuesday afternoon and showed up on the website yesterday.

Tiziano sent over this photo of himself on the bike. As you can see, he is not, in fact, Tom Cruise…

Well, it should be fun to see if X17online now owns up to its mistake!

Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Let’s give the church a little upstat on this one. After all, it did get a little free publicity of Mr. Scientology seemingly zipping around on a bitchin’ bike through LA, even if it turned out to be in error. And the church needs a little upstat considering our next item…

Story #2: Debbie Does Damage*

This week, the Scientology world was almost all about Debbie Cook, wherever you looked. Stories about her showed up all over the place — European newspapers in particular were fascinated with her rebellious e-mail. And we want to thank Huffington Post for the shout-out in the video. And just a few weeks after we exposed a HuffPo blogger as a shill for Scientology!

Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? This one is off the charts. It’s such a downstat, we really won’t know for weeks or months just how much it has hurt Scientology. Keep an eye on Marty Rathbun’s blog, because I have a feeling that starting in a few weeks we’re going to see a larger than average number of old time church members declaring their independence from Miscavige’s fundraising insanity.

Our own stories about Debbie Cook… Sunday: We break the news about her rebellious e-mail. Tuesday: Jason Beghe explains why her e-mail is having such a devastating effect. Wednesday: Debbie Cook’s transformation from enforcer to whistleblower.

*I blatantly stole the headline for this item from one of our brilliant commenters.

Story #3: My Old Philly Home

Philadelphia Daily News reporter Jason Nark chose an interesting angle for a story this week: he looked into Scientology leader David Miscavige’s South Jersey roots, talking to old neighbors who remembered the Miscavige family.

We learned that young Davey was an asthmatic kid remembered apparently by no one he went to high school with (he dropped out), and what drew him to Scientology was a search by his father for a cure to Davey’s wheezing.

This quote from his niece, Jenna Miscavige Hill, is a classic:

“I feel that there is a good possibility that the Miscavige family would be better off if my grandpa had not found Dianetics,” she told Nark.

Thursday’s Stats: Upstat or Downstat? Nark did an excellent job, in particular with the way he handled a 1985 sex crime charge against Miscavige’s father, Ronnie Sr. (it amounted not to a whole lot, essentially). If the purpose here was to give us a better understanding of David Miscavige by examining his background, it succeeded. But despite some criticism of the church leader (which we’ve heard before), this wasn’t really a big upstat or downstat for the church itself — a sign that it was a balanced piece by a skillful journalist.

Overall, this first week of 2012 has been a major problem for the church, and we are starting to hear about some repercussions of the Debbie Cook e-mail which should yield even more stories a few weeks from now. (Can’t say more just yet, but check back often!)

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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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 | 12. Tommy Davis | 13. Janet Reitman | 14. Tory Christman | 15. Andreas Heldal-Lund | 16. Marc and Claire Headley | 17. Jefferson Hawkins | 18. Amy Scobee | 19. The Squirrel Busters | 20. Trey Parker and Matt Stone | 21. Kendrick Moxon | 22. Jamie DeWolf | 23. Ken Dandar | 24. Dave Touretzky | 25. Xenu


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