Janet Reitman: Unflappable as Scientologists Question Her Motives


Over at the Washington Post website, Janet Reitman, author of Inside Scientology, just concluded an hour-long live question and answer session with the public.

As usual, Reitman was calm and unflappable in the face of criticism. We pointed out this weekend that Scientology’s official objection to her book is specious at best: they accuse her of not talking to active Scientologists while she compiled her book, which is marketed as the first truly objective, journalistic history of the church.

As we pointed out earlier, Scientology’s criticism is a dodge.

Reitman worked hard in 2005 and 2006 to get the church’s perspective on things, when she was originally researching the Rolling Stone article that became the basis for her book. Since then, some of the people she interviewed have left the dwindling church — which certainly isn’t her fault.

During the Washington Post session today, Scientologists raised this criticism again, but Reitman calmly swiped such objections aside. An example:

My wife and I have been Scientologist’s most of our adult life. Our Scientology faith has helped us with our marriage (36 years and counting) as well as raising our three children. All three of our now-adult children choose to become Scientologists. While we taught them about Scientology while they were growing up, one can can only become a Scientologist by making a self-determined decision to be one — which each of our children did. My question: Did you interview any currently active members of the Church from around the country for your book? If so, how many did you interview? My impression is that your research focused on a few disgruntled ex-members. – July 15, 2011 11:46 AM

A. Janet Reitman : Wrong impression. I interviewed many, and one of them has a key role in the book, and indeed, she ends the book. she’s a fiercely dedicated Scientologist and was raised in much the same way that it seems you raised your own family.

Reitman takes very seriously her role as a journalist who approached the subject of Scientology without preconceptions and, actually, a good deal of sympathy for the Scientologists she met along the way. The church is never going to get a more thoroughly researched and basically good-intentioned investigation of its history from a mainstream journalist. (Well, at least until Lawrence Wright’s book comes out! What an embarrassment of riches for Scientology watchers this year has turned out to be.)

But that objectivity won’t keep people from questioning her motives — in fact, folks in the Tampa area will get a chance to see her in action tonight at Inkwood Books. We’d love to hear any reports from the scene! Also, look for Creative Loafing Tampa‘s reporter Mitch Perry to be all over it. It was questions from Perry that prompted Scientology to put out that official response to Reitman’s book we wrote about Saturday.

And Perry earns extra points: recently, Scientology purchased the building that houses his newspaper, Creative Loafing Tampa. Gulp! Keep up the good work, fellow alt-weekly wretches, and let us know how David Miscavige is as a landlord!


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 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
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”
An Interview with Nancy Many, Former Scientology Spy