We’ve been looking forward for some time to New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright’s account of the defection of ‘Crash’ director Paul Haggis from Scientology.
But this thing. Wow. I think my inner Thetan just fainted.
Scientology has been reeling from one PR disaster to another in recent years, and all of our favorite characters in that drama show up in Wright’s beautiful opus: major defectors like Marty Rathbun, Mike Rinder, and Voice favorite Jason Beghe. There are the defectors who wrote thrilling self-published tell-alls, Marc Headley and Jefferson Hawkins, who you also read about here first.
Wright not only masterfully sums up the recent controversies, he reaches back in Scientology history to neatly trace where the troubled organization has been, and through Haggis is able to describe the complete arc of a longtime member who eventually comes to the conclusion that Scientology is one fucked-up racket.
And on top of all that, Wright, better than perhaps anyone, eviscerates the abomination that is Tommy Davis.
Davis is the son of actress Anne Archer (both are Scientologists) and as the organization’s spokesman has the unenviable job of spinning Scientology’s bullshit about what it believes, what it charges its members and how it splits apart families.
Davis has made an ass of himself plenty of times before while defending Scientology, but Wright is careful to fact-check every one of Davis’s inane utterances.
As Wright describes, Davis and four attorneys representing the “church” visited the New Yorker‘s offices and tried to foist some questionable documents supposedly backing up L. Ron Hubbard’s claims about war wounds and valor.
Wright, however, obtained Hubbard’s 900-page original military records file from the armed forces, and with the help of experts showed that Scientology is peddling forged documents.
Davis, as usual, is made to look the utter fool.
Wright also breaks news that the FBI has, reportedly, taken an interest in claims about trafficking involving young people who are asked to join Scientology’s “Sea Org,” which requires billion-year contracts and pays only about $50 a week for hellaciously long hours and menial labor. (Scientology put out a statement today vehemently denouncing the article, naturally, and also saying that there is no federal investigation.)
And Wright points out that only about 25,000 active Scientologists actually exist in this country, but he adds the funny aside that this number suggests Scientologists are outnumbered two to one by Rastafarians. Oh stop, you’re killing us.
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 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 Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation — Scientology’s former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross — Scientology lures a young defector into a trap
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 7, 2011