Scientology Is Not Happy With "Inside Scientology"
Two interesting developments for Scientology watchers on this Saturday. Above, an instructive video from Marty Rathbun's blog, which shows that Rathbun's wife, Monique, is also a target of the strange intimidation tactics her husband experiences.
And also, after the jump, Scientology responds officially to Janet Reitman's book, Inside Scientology, and we wanted to make sure the church gets its say on this blog.
Rathbun identifies the "Anna" in the video as a woman from Austin. Rathbun's wife Monique filmed this while Rathbun himself was in Los Angeles a few weeks ago and was followed constantly by numerous private investigators and church operatives for several days. While Rathbun was away, "Anna" was sent to ask Monique questions.
If you're just catching up, keep this in mind as you watch the video: Rathbun was once one of the most powerful executives in Scientology before he left the church in 2004. He was not only a high-ranking official, but also one of the most highly trained "auditors" in Scientology, entrusted to personally handle the counseling of important members such as Tom Cruise and Jason Beghe. In the past two years, Rathbun has been publicly criticizing Scientology's leader, David Miscavige, while also encouraging members to leave the official church and come get counseling with him in Texas. This is what "Anna" is asking Monique about -- are the people who come to Marty getting "standard" Scientology auditing?
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Monique has never been in Scientology -- something the church would know quite well -- so sending a member like Anna to ask her these questions is pointless on its face. It's hard not to conclude that this is just another attempt to intimidate. While Marty is away, the church is letting her know, they're aware she's on her own.
"I have no data on that," Anna repeatedly says when Monique points out that while they were talking, Rathbun was surrounded by church agents in Los Angeles, something the crew in Texas would know quite well. This just keeps getting more creepy.
Meanwhile, as Janet Reitman continues her reading tour (she'll be at BookHampton in Sag Harbor on July 22), Scientology has put out an official response to her book, Inside Scientology:
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY STATEMENT
Janet Reitman's book "Inside Scientology"
Ms. Reitman's book is filled with inaccuracies. It is neither scholarly nor well‐researched and bears no resemblance to an "inside" story. While preparing her book, Ms. Reitman never contacted the Church and never requested nor interviewed a single Church representative, let alone the ecclesiastical leader of the religion. Ms. Reitman chose to speak exclusively to people outside the Church. She and her publisher refused to accept the Church's offer to provide information. Her "report" is really no different than a view of, say, the Catholic Church told exclusively by lapsed Catholics or defrocked priests and should more accurately be called OUTSIDE SCIENTOLOGY. The book is a rehash of false and baseless allegations largely drawn from stories written by others that have long been disproved, many held inaccurate, by courts of law.
Despite her claim of "personal interviews and e‐mail exchanges with roughly one hundred former and current Scientologists," Ms. Reitman's book refers to an exchange with only one Scientologist--a single parishioner in five years. Her primary sources of information are a handful of apostates, previous external affairs officers who are admitted perjurers, dismissed and defrocked when their crimes were discovered. These sources have a documented history of making false and defamatory statements against the Church. Their anger and hostility toward the Church should give anyone serious pause.
Many of Ms. Reitman's sources are also members of or are affiliated with Anonymous, the cyberterrorist organization that has been the subject of federal investigations, arrests and convictions for engaging in hate crimes against the Church and its members. In the past few months Anonymous members have been the subject of intensified global law enforcement investigations involving criminal activities that include violating the privacy of countless innocent people while hacking into accounts at credit card companies, businesses and financial institutions.
If Ms. Reitman were truly "objective" she would have held these sources and their claims up to a harsh and penetrating light instead of putting them on a pedestal. She would have found, among other things, that they boast arrests, a conviction for pummeling an officer of the court, and a failed lawsuit that a federal judge not only tossed out, but also ordered the plaintiffs to reimburse the Church more than $40,000 in court costs.
Claims by Ms. Reitman to have engaged in extensive research for her book are laughable. Ms. Reitman has it wrong from the first page of chapter one, where she states, "When Hubbard died in 1985, the world took note..." Mr. Hubbard passed away January 24, 1986.
Perhaps the most significant illustration of how far outside Scientology her book lies is Ms. Reitman's ignorance of the Church's accomplishments. She could have seen our new Churches in Moscow or Melbourne or any of the dozens opened since 2006 in cities like London, Brussels, Rome, and Washington, D.C., all of them bursting with thousands of new members practicing their chosen faith. Anyone is welcome to experience the Church's practices and see its humanitarian works firsthand: Scientology's global human rights initiative has educated millions on human rights; its "Truth About Drugs" crusade teaches millions how to live drug‐free; and our global Volunteer Ministers disaster relief program has been hailed by the international community.
Contrary to Ms. Reitman's claims, there is nothing secretive about Scientology. Our Churches, located in major cities around the world, are open seven days a week, 365 days a year. Many have public display areas to answer all questions about Scientology beliefs and practices. Anyone who wants to know the true story of Scientology should find out for themselves by coming to our new Church of Scientology of Tampa, 1911 N 13th Street, Ybor Square, or go to the Churchʹs website, www.Scientology.org.
Well, we didn't expect the church to love the book. But I just wanted to make a couple of observations about Scientology's specific objections.
First, it's facetious to complain that Reitman didn't interview church representatives. Her book grew out of a lengthy Rolling Stone article that she researched and wrote in 2005 and 2006. During that time, she spent long days with church representatives, including an intense three-day trip to California with Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder.
Scientology is playing games by saying that her book contains no contact with the current church. Rinder left in 2007, after Reitman had worked with him. It's really not her fault that it took so long to get her book published. As she explained to me, there was a delay when her publisher merged with another company. It also takes a long time to edit and fact check a book like this. Scientology knows quite well that Reitman did her best to get Scientology's point of view when she was doing the bulk of her research in 2005 and 2006. It's not her fault that, as part of its dwindling fortunes, Scientology has lost the people that she talked to then.
Scientology's response spends a paragraph complaining that Reitman talked to people in Anonymous. Funny, but in her 369-page book, that's all she dedicates to the group as well -- one paragraph.
It is true that Reitman's book early on gets the year of Hubbard's death wrong. That's a mistake I myself pointed out in my review. Later in the book, however, she not only gets this date correct, but provides many details about Hubbard's death. So the mistake on page 3 is clearly just a typo and not proof that she didn't "engage in extensive research."
Finally, for the Church of Scientology to say that there's "nothing secretive" about itself is the kind of thing we love about this wacky group. We don't really need to point out that no other religion has filed so many lawsuits over the decades to keep its teachings secret, do we?
Before we go, a programming note: you'll notice fewer posts coming in the next week as we leave the underground bunker for some unrelated work elsewhere. Until then, watch the skies!
Click here to see all recent Scientology coverage at the Voice
Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:
The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle' The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap A Church Myth Debunked -- Scientology and Proposition 8 Daniel Montalvo Strikes Back -- Scientology Hit with Stunning Child-Labor Lawsuits When Scientologists Attack -- The Marty Rathbun Intimidation A Scientologist Excommunicated -- The Michael Fairman SP Declaration The Richard Leiby Operation -- Investigating a reporter's divorce to shut him up The Hugh Urban Investigation -- An academic takes a harsh look at Scientology's past Giovanni Ribisi as David Koresh -- A precedent for a Scientology-Branch Davidian link Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology -- A masterful telling of Scientology's history The Western Spy Network Revealed? -- Marty Rathbun ups the ante on David Miscavige Scientology's Enemies List -- Are You On It? Inside Inside Scientology -- An interview with author Janet Reitman Scientology and the Nation of Islam -- Holy Doctrinal Mashup, Batman! Scientologists -- How Many of Them Are There, Anyway? Roger Weller's Wild Ride -- Scientology When it was Hip The Marc Headley Infiltration -- A Scientology Spying Operation Revealed Placido Domingo Jr: Scientology's Retaliation is "Scary and Pathetic"
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