Janet Reitman: An Interview with the Author of Inside Scientology

JanetReitman.jpg
Janet Reitman
On Tuesday, we sat down with Janet Reitman, author of the terrific new book Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion, which is just hitting bookstores and will be released officially in July.

Inside Scientology is a masterful telling of Scientology's history, from L. Ron Hubbard's pulp fiction career in the 1930s to events happening just last year as an Independence movement splits with current Scientology leader David Miscavige. Along the way, Reitman brilliantly focuses on individuals like Jeff Hawkins and Nancy Many and Lisa McPherson to help us understand the appeal of Hubbard and his "technology," as well as the controversies that have rocked the organization over many decades.

We wanted to know: who is Janet Reitman, and how did she put together such an amazing book?

"I was your typical struggling freelancer for years and years," she says while we're sitting in the conference room at a warren of small offices in DUMBO. She'd even interned at the Voice, she let me know. But it was international reporting that she was determined to do after finishing Columbia University's journalism graduate program in 1992. That eventually took her to Rolling Stone, which sent her to Iraq for most of 2004. After 8 months covering the war, she says her editors wanted to find something else for her to do in 2005.

"Tom Cruise was jumping all over couches, right?" she says with a laugh. "I think my editors had wanted to do something on Scientology for a long time. I was basically the 'Iraq War girl' at that point and they were concerned that I was incredibly burnt, that I would get PTSD, that I needed something else to do. So my editor pitched this to me. 'You'll embed with them. Why don't you write them a letter saying you'd like to embed with the Church of Scientology.' Of course the church said no."

What she did instead is how her book starts, she points out. "I went to the New York org [on 46th St.]...I was basically myself. I think I switched the spelling of my last name by one letter. And I told them I was a creative writer, that I had just finished graduate work at Columbia (which I had, but it was ten years before). I told just a couple of fibs about my circumstances. I did tell them about my boyfriend -- I mean, I didn't tell them his name, but I was pretty honest. I told them I wanted to quit smoking and was stressed in general.

"That was my first experience. And I came back from that first day going, 'What's wrong with this group? I'm not seeing anything that wrong. It worked.' So that made me think, this shit works on me and I'm a really skeptical person, then what's the deal?

"After a couple of days I went through an incredibly exhausting orientation lecture with a guy, it was just me and him in a room. He started telling me all about what Scientology is, all the terminology. All the specific L. Ron Hubbard things about engrams. Some of it sounded pretty existential. I asked him if he'd read any existential philosophers, which of course he hadn't read. It became more and more obvious that if you go to college and study liberal arts you will quickly realize that this is something that's based on lots of different things, and has been disproved in so many ways. And some aspects of it are sort of blatant lies. Like psychiatrists being behind the Holocaust. You know, there are just certain blatant omissions of fact. But if you're someone who doesn't have that kind of education, it sounds so plausible, it sounds really smart.

"The people I met in Scientology, these are smart people. They have to be able to read these books. They are not easy books. These are not dolts. They just haven't had the advantages that some of us have."

After her experience at the New York org, Reitman traveled to Clearwater, Florida, the church's spiritual headquarters, where members travel for high-level training. "It's a bubble. It's a parallel universe," she says, talking about the way Scientologists separate themselves from the rest of society while living inside it. "They seem completely secular and normal. In Clearwater they're the wealthy Scientologists who show up to do their upper-level courses. They don't look like people in a cult. They look like people you would see every day."

Reitman went on several tours of Scientology facilities at Clearwater and says she worked hard to get the church's point of view on various matters. In all, she worked nine months on her story for Rolling Stone. Then, in January 2006, just before publication, she sent a list of additional questions to Mike Rinder, who at that time was the church's chief spokesman (he left Scientology the following year and has since become an important critic of the church).

Reitman says Rinder "freaked out" when he received Reitman's list of questions, telling her that she hadn't properly received Scientology's side of the story. So Rolling Stone flew her out for a three-day trip to California.

"I got a three-day trip with Mike Rinder and Tommy Davis, and it was the most extraordinary experience. That was my unique access, and it informed my book. I went out for them basically to spin me. But part of their spinning is to exhaust you, to get you there at 8 in the morning and keep you with them until 8 at night, or 10 at night, when you're jet-lagged from your trip."

Rinder and Davis took her to Scientology's secretive desert base near Hemet, to a prominent Scientology school, and to Scientology's anti-psychiatry front group, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and other places. Throughout her tours, she says she kept peppering Rinder with difficult questions, and she says he gave "uncensored" responses. "You got the feeling that he was burning to tell more than he could. I have great respect for him," she says. "Mike Rinder informed every page that portrayed the Scientology point of view in my story," she says.

The story was a big hit for the magazine, and her agent told Reitman that multiple publishers were interested in its potential as a book. She wrote a proposal, and it sold immediately. I asked her why publishers might be more interested now in a book on Scientology.

Reitman thought her unprecedented access had helped her sell her book, but that publishers could also see how things had changed in the media's treatment of Scientology. "Tom Cruise was out of control. Because he had become such big news...the whole thing was so weird, it fascinated people. And I think that publishers, I guess, felt that the interest was there," she says.

But Reitman's primary interest wasn't Scientology's celebrities. She wanted to write a book that would capture what L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology had meant to the religion's more prosaic members, to get their point of view and not just rehash the church's many controversies.

"The best lesson that I was ever taught at Rolling Stone by Jann Wenner was to cut out any prejudicial language from anything I wrote, because the material itself is so rich, let it speak for itself. I carried that lesson with me," she says. Despite striving for that objectivity, however, she doesn't know that Scientologists themselves will get to see that she made that effort.

"I don't know if they're going to be able to read the book at all," she says. But it was still important to her not to dismiss their way of thinking. "Scientology is different things to different people. There are people I've met for whom this stuff has worked. Like Natalie Walet. Natalie grew up in the church. She has her own mind. She's going to law school, that's just fantastic. For her this stuff works. I'm not going to judge that. I'm not a religious person myself, but I've certainly met people who believe that the rapture will happen. Who am I to judge what they believe in?"

In particular, she found young people in Scientology amazing to talk to. "Scientology kids are really remarkable," she says. If they are raised somewhat in a bubble, they impressed her with how focused they are and how well they present themselves. "Most kids are not able to communicate or be present with you in a conversation in the way Scientology kids are." On the other hand: "I meet these kids who are so bright and so together, and yet they couldn't name the two houses of Congress. Their education had been so deficient. What a tragedy."

Also key to maintaining the book's objective view was choosing the right people to interview and portray. "I made a huge point of looking for people -- it was a very arduous task to do this," she says. "What I wanted to avoid were the people who were very outspoken, the well-known critics. They'd been smeared by the church because they had an axe to grind. I wanted to find people who didn't have an axe to grind."

But just finding people wasn't enough -- she was determined to have them on the record. "I used this argument with them: you have power in numbers. If you all come out and use your names, they can't come after you. But if you do this silently, then they can intimidate you and no one will come to your defense because no one knows who you are."

Reitman's book does strive to get the church's point of view, as well as its critics. But she doesn't hold back on reports of the abuse of church members, and I asked her about that.


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161 comments
Joe_Lynn
Joe_Lynn

The theory is that 'all publicity is good publicity' and we have two camps now, Jack, who is supposedly part of 'we' and Manhandy, who is a decades-long member of 'them' both promoting that theory; the one to suggest that we 'stop giving Scientology all this puclicity' and the other to thank us for it :)

Naturally, the 'Church' of Scientology does *not* agree with that theory, so much so that it has an entire department, Department 20, the 'Office of Special Affairs' assigned to *control* any public reference about Scientology, by any means necessary, up to and including illegal, abusive and the merely deplorable methods.

Still, isn't it heart warming to discover that 'we' and 'them' are on the same page here?   So, let there be more of the same; public discussion, exposure and opposition.  Can you imagine the wonderful free publicity if Wogs V. the 'Church' were broadcast live on Court TV?

Jack
Jack

DuckBenwa:  I am truly sorry that I upset you, that was not my intent.  This is the first time I have ever commented on anything on the net.  I can see that I should have taken my own advise and kept quiet.  Once again, I did not mean to upset you.Jack

Jack
Jack

Let's all stop and look at what we are doing.  The only one that I know of that has spoken about Scientology in the last few years until now is Tom Cruise and he is nobody special.  Anything he has to say is very soon forgotten by the public.  What I see here is all the free publicity we are giving them.  I believe the only way to stop handing them our power is to refuse to talk about it period.  Believe me, it would very quickly fade away and all we have to do is stop talking about it and take the power we are giving them away from them.

Jack
Jack

I wonder why Janet Reitman wrote the book.  It's certainly giving Scientology excellent publicity.  Makes me wonder if Janet belongs to Scientology and this is a way to try to start getting publicity and more members.  It seems like it could be working, don't you think?

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

If clues were shoes, would you be barefoot?

Manhandy
Manhandy

I have only one thing to THE CHURCH IS EXPANDING. they the critic,  faultfinder. are not we get bigger every time one these article come out. i have had 36 years in Scientology. Thanks for the free PR   

Zander
Zander

You've been in Scientology since 1975? That is so sad. I became involved with Scientology in 1970, and ceased involvement in 1976. The "Church," which has always been a dishonest money-making cult, has been declining, membership wise, for a long time. But the brainwashing often takes years to wear off. Witness the "Independent Scientologist" movement. Although I will say that the current crop of "Independent Scientologists" is pretty sophosticated, even to the point of fooling some fairly smart - as they call them - "wogs."

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

And it seem to have done wonders for your intelligence, Manhandy!

You're the best publicity I've seen this week for a 60 year old cult that mangles human lives and minds, yours included. 

Best of luck on your next English As A Second Language Exam! Y'all come back now and tell us how it went? Thank you.

P.S. Yes, the cult expands, like a malignant cancer, as it gets sicker and sicker and sicker. Soon to die. Bye.

Eric
Eric

Having read all recent reviews of Reitman's offering, I still think Frank Nordhausen & Liane von Billerbeck - Scientology - Wie der Sektenkonzern die Welt erobern will, published in 2008, is still the definitive treatise on Scientology today. [Rough translation: Scientology: How the Cult Business Wants to Conquer the World]. You can't beat 20 years of research and excellent journalistic writing. No space for apologists, just plain, researched facts. I do sincerely hope someone will translate this oeuvre into English soon.

DuckBenway
DuckBenway

The text you reference appears to be a tour de force! 

Thank you for the information! It is appreciated!

Lita Newdick
Lita Newdick

Scientology has been shown to abuse and defame its ex-members.It amazes me that knowing this fact does not preclude  interest in joining.

bewreslippyslope
bewreslippyslope

Janet states "I was your typical struggling freelancer for years and years,"  so she then attacks something big like Scientology to get on the map.  She lies to the first people she meets and continues to lie until she is caught.   She continues to lie with her idea she is doing a fair article.  She is backed by people who also want to get a headline so attack something that many have interest in to make a name.  She is a morally inadequate and the only thing making her important is that she is attacking something important. 

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Joe, that's worse than I thought, and I have never met with any. Don't you think it is strange that, after L Ron Hubbard dies, there is no advancement? In the seventies, we barely knew what a singularity is, let alone a worm hole( NASA and they ARE the last word). The Scientologists have advanced no further.Whatever passes for their science aspects is static, stuck in the seventies, like a Star Trek rerun.  When I was in Hollywood CA on the Boulevard, I had the clammy feeling that I was in " Silent Hill".  " Burn the Squirrel!"  screamed Barbara Hershey.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet
Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

So. Scientology is nothing but pop psychology. Even though, hominidae have only been diverged of pongidiae( chimps) for 7 million years, the ability to be speech capable does not show up until 1.7 mya, 2mya, tops. In order to be speech capable, one must have a broca's  region in the brain. Homo Ergaster, which begat both Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens did not have this area. H Erectus, which is similar to Ergaster, but emerged in Asia, did. Without speech capabilities, the life form becomes, "telepathic", which might explain why Scientology, is so totalitarian. Quite frankly, they need to stop calling themselves, Scientologist. It is a misnomer, and can be construed as fraudulent. Because none of the members are actual scientists, the Church itself is sorely lacking in credibility.

Angela Garcia as NeonMosfet

bewreslippyslope
bewreslippyslope

Scio does not mean Scientists.  It's a greek derivation. Try not appearing so High Brow with your history of man thesis.   Try actually studying Scientology before you make your ignorant statements. 

Joe Lynn
Joe Lynn

Angela, Scientology is many things, including 'Pop Psychology' and 'Self Help' and very likely a demonically inspired soul trap, but, it's never just 'one thing'.  My involvement as an opponent generally tends to concentrate on the 'Movement' aspect, because it is overtly political.

Yes, I'm aghast at the fraud and abuse comitted on its own members, but, for an outsider, like me, the *political* aspect is most important.  (OK, I admit, the abuse of its own members, especially the poor children born into the MindFuck is also very important and a valid arena for socially responsible concern.)   But, as a *political* movement, Scientology takes on itself the mandate to affect *all* of the world; not just those so unfortunate as to fall into its clutches.

And, no, I'm not worried about Scientology actually succeeding in 'Clearing the Planet' and granting Scientology to all of us, whether we want it or not.  No, it's not about whether it might succeed; it's about the *harm* they cause while trying.

Harm to individuals they see as enemies; harm to society in the criminal corruption they deliberately spread as a matter of religious purpose; harm to the already dicey legal and political systems we *all* live under.

Scientology isn't the *worst* thing in the world, but, it's bad enough to deserve social attention and remedy.

davidhugeman
davidhugeman

She has her own ideas. She went to law school is great. As is his story works.The great success for the magazine, and his agent, Reitman said several publishers interested in its potential as a book.

Vontaz
Vontaz

Four chapters on Lisa McPherson (which occurred ten years ago under Miscavige), yet she wants to not "rehash the Church's many controversies" (directly tied to Hubbard and his teachings); wants to avoid people with an "axe to grind," yet she obviously depended heavily on both Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun.

Huh?

I'm glad the book is there, but I think this nice lady has been "handled" by the Independent Scientology PR department.

Joe Lynn
Joe Lynn

There's an inherent danger to leaning too far backwards in trying to be 'balanced'.  Yes, 'the truth is often somewhere in between', but, not infrequently the 'in-between' is very close to one or another side, and not in some theoretical and artificial 'middle'.

The 'Church' has always excelled at the use of salami tactics to move public perception, first a little, then a little more then a little more until the 'acceptable' position is in 100% compliance with 'Church' approved positions.

What horrifies me about the most recent manipulation of public perception is the ongoing effort to 'differentiate' between Scientology and what is now being called the 'Church of Miscavige'.  That is a deliberate lie and the people willing to support it because 'it's better than nothing' are naive at best and dishonest at worst.

No; historical revisionism is not helpful here, not even as a political ploy and you  don't fight 'bias' by ignoring reality or blithely swallowing Rathbun's mantra that to tell the truth about Scientology or Hubbard is 'radical'.

MarkStark
MarkStark

Janet went through this personally, in her investigation of Scientology. Aspects of dealing with simple arrangements to interview people, or see buildings, were complicated by their complete lack of understanding of the role of a journalist/writer.

So, if they are doing that to outside people -- trying to force them into 100% compliance with Church approved positions -- it becomes obvious the "crippling control" they exert over members who submit to it.

Joe Lynn
Joe Lynn

I'd never understimate the Cult to the extent of thinking that they lack understanding of the role of a reporter/writer :)   However, a journalist/writer is the *Enemy*, and that's part of 'Church' dogma; as revealed by L. Ron Hubbard Himself; not Tiny Dave.

MarkStark
MarkStark

As a writer, Hubbard had a better understanding of it though. Hubbard knew the power of words since he used them as power. Thus he had a special fear of others  -- especially the Merchants of Chaos -- using them against him.

To Tommy Davis and DM, and some other mind f'd people who grew up worshiping LRH, they may not have the same understanding.

Consider the resident OSA shill's poor understanding of the word "objectivity." You can't learn everything about the meaning of words using a dictionary. The contextual meaning Scilons learn is through their meaning in Sciloontology.

Their minds are formed around the meaning of words, as they apply in Sciloontology, according to Hubbard. To them, Sciloontology is life.

The rest of us borrow from a wide range of contexts, how we grew up, our education, books we've read, jobs we've had, foreign languages we've learned to speak, failures and successes.

Maybe we don't become as good manipulators, sellers,or propagandists as Scilons, but we become much deeper thinkers, because we aren't always trying to cram our conception of things into Sciloontology. "All encompassing."

I realized that with Marty Rathbun. When he got out of the cult, he started reading for the first time. Everything he reads, he relates it to Sciloontology, and finds it supportive of Sciloontology.

Not all Scilons are that way. But some of the kids who grow up in it are and some of the adults are too.

Michael A. from Newark, NJ
Michael A. from Newark, NJ

I knew Janet Reitman's parents when they lived in Verona, NJ years ago. Judging by them, I would certainly take a copy of her book over Dianetics! :)

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

I read the book and wrote an Amazon review that it is an important and well researched historical book that, while not including everything important as I know it, it will raise the blood pressure of the church management as well as the hairs on the arms of those unfamiliar with what goes on inside.

There is so much good in it and it is an excellent read for those unaware, despite it's shortcomings. I did not comment on her conclusions or specific interviews or chapters because I wanted digest all that was said and what was not said. It is, perhaps, going to be one of the most controversial books on the subject because of her efforts to remain neutral and unbiased in the context of the criticism which is rightfully rampant on the internet and the media. It is the critics of Scientology ( exs and journalists) who brought and continue to bring the issues of this cult to the attention of the general public. And it is the critics and media who have suffered invasive investigations and harassment by this 'church' because of their speaking out and exposing the 'Inside Story' . And it was the church's policies and historical use of  'fair game' treatment towards it's enemies that drove public to communicate in anonymity that eventually resulted in the concept of Anonymous vs Scientology - a loosely knit collective of exs and people from all walks of life, from all over the world under the mask of anonymity, with the goal of exposing this cult to bring it to it's knees....doing so under the protection of anonymity so that lives were not damaged as so many had been before while protecting the right to free speech. 

The Anonymous vs Scientology collective, the openly critical former members of scientology and the many journalists who got their information from critics of Scientology are,for the most part, responsible for so many people being able to leave the church and speak up about the mental, physical and sexual abuses and financial ruin they incurred. Not Mark Rathbun. Not Mike Rinder. Leaving this important and essential impetus and the remarkable people who helped make this happen is a huge faux pas concerning a book about the history of the Church of Scientology! Despite the excellent interview choices, one has to wonder where Reitman got the idea to eliminate the importance of the many other warriors who paved the way. Her excuse is:

"I made a huge point of looking for people -- it was a very arduous task to do this," she says. "What I wanted to avoid were the people who were very outspoken, the well-known critics. They'd been smeared by the church because they had an axe to grind. I wanted to find people who didn't have an axe to grind."

Reitman is naive as her heroine, Natalie Walet!

It surprising is that, in lieu of understanding the bigger picture, she relies on a blog by Rathbun and a girl named Natalie Walet, who is anything but an example of a typical second or third generation scientologist. A scientologist would never talk to a journalist with a history of being critical of scientology, which is why Rathbun did not accept Reitman's request for interview.

Did it occur to her that Natalie Walet is living in lala land if she thinks she is going to 'go Clear' and reform organized Scientology (as is stated in the book ) after Janet quoted her as stating " I don't doubt that some of those things ( abuses mentioned in St Petersburg Times) happened" " I am well aware of what it's like in the Sea Org and there is definately truth to every bit of bad PR you hear." ? Scientologists are not supposed to speak critically about the church. PERIOD! This is considered a suppressive act.

Well, a cursory look at Natalie's Facebook shows that most of her friends are not scientologists and that the ones that are scientologists include, of all people, John and Sylvia Stanard and their daughter. Does Reitman know who Sylvia Stanard is? She is the Director of Special Affairs for the church in Washington DC. She is the last person Natalie or her parents should be friends with if they want to speak out publicly against the church and it's Sea Org operations! Do you think Stanard is not already on top of this 'flap'? Does Reitman know what is going to happen to this girl and her family now? Or what the plans are for Reitman? Of course not. Perhaps if she actually read what those other well-known critics were writing and speaking up about, she would have understood and protected this girl.

If only Natalie knew what it was going to take to 'reform' this church and what has been done thus far, she just might join Anonymous or 'the Independents' and get to work on helping dismantle this cult. As it stands, she is quite alone in her 'quest' and I fear that she and her family will be subjected to the very real tactics Reitman outline in her book.

MarkStark
MarkStark

Cooper, Miller, and Behar, and pretty much everyone who has written or attempted to write a book about Scientology, has a story after the story. You could write a whole book just detailing the crap the cult does to people during the writing process (with Cooper) and especially after they have published a book.

This would makes some good chapters in a whole book about facing off with and protesting Scientology. The Rise and Fall of Sciloontology.

I haven't read the Natalie chapter yet, but I'm thinking it may have been a set up, by the cult. I'm not sure of this, but I think it is possible.

Janet is going to have quite a time, because of the waves her book could make. They might have to call in the VMs to pass out water at this tsunami.  She has a good excuse though. Her editor assigned her to write the Rolling Stone article, and then she was contracted to write a book. "I was just following orders!"

She wasn't one of these perverted criminal types who sees something a wee bit (or a lot) scary and weird about Scientology, and sets out on their own to dive in, like Richard Wright. To paraphrase his motivation....you can see how some uneducated couch jumping fruitcake like Tom Cruise got involved, but Paul Haggis?

I don't fault Janet at all for leaving Anonymous out. She's telling stories that will hopefully be engrossing to the general public.

It would be too many nuts on the fruitcake. It's not so much that Anonymous is nutty, it is just that it is complicated.

I understand that ex-members feel passionately about all of the issues. I sympathize with them. I just think that for the general public, they would be confused by too many details and issues.

Gary Lee-Nova
Gary Lee-Nova

Outstanding posting, JCMM! Very astute insights into the attention whoring of Rathbun & Rinder.

As for Anonymous vs. Scientology, and the absence of due credit where credit is very due, imho, it is next to impossible for a journalist to penetrate the digital Anonymous phenomenon and find stable location that would be useful in a major journalism project.

Such a task poses challenges that are probably greater in scale than those of defecting into a foreign country. 

However, to the credit of Anonymous, and to the best of my knowledge, the force of nature known as "anonymous" is not seeking any praise or recognition for the work that has or will become accomplished.

Anonymous is seeking the termination of present-day policy and practice in the Co$. In a word - its complete *destruction*.

If the 'destruction' also involves the arrest, prosecution, conviction and jailing of the "leader" of the Co$, there will be great celebration and much lulz. However, there won't be any seeking for attention, seeking for praise or recognition. Anonymous does it for "The Win" and "The Lulz." It's Anonymous.

JustCallMeMary
JustCallMeMary

Well thank you :)  Yes, Anonymous does it for "The Win" and " The Lulz", as do most critics who have not been involved in Scientology before joining in the phenomena. But some of  Anonymous also participate because they want to help right the wrongs for which they were once a part of, and must do it anonymously to protect themselves. The internet and Anonymous vs Scientology makes this possible. It was such an ingenious idea to make anonymity the central key to attack back at Scientology and it's harassment threatening & free speech stiffling tactics!

The internet is Scientology's worst nightmare and Anonymous evolved out of need and opportunity. That, in itself, makes it worthy of praise and recognition. 

Nearly everyone interviewed in this book is someone who has in the past praised Anonymous as helping them in some way and in helping them to help expose Scientology. But the reader of this book would not know that because Anonymous was not mentioned at all in it and 'the protests' are only given a slight comment in the book. I include the protests from back in the 90's, too, which helped fuel attention nationwide to the Lisa McPherson tragedy. Reitman gives one journalist from Clearwater all the credit of getting the case on the map. I beg to differ. If it had not been read by former scientologists and discussed on the internet ( by many using nic names ), along with the efforts of Allen "Lee" Strope of the FL Dept of Law Enforcement getting his agency to aid the Clearwater Police in their floundering investigation ( which Reitman acknowledges and gives much information about) this story would not have gone further than Clearwater, media wise.

Anonymous helped 'old guard' critics by bringing the issues to people and places it might not have ever reached. Those protests alone have helped many scientologists start to THINK outside the cloisters of Scientology propaganda. That is a phenomena in itself.

So, praise I give freely as deserved, even if Anonymous and Scientology critics in general don't do it for the praise. But the reader of the book, unless he or she is already aware of this internet phenomena against Scientology, will not know by readng this book. They won't know about the early efforts that lead to the current and they will think that Mark Rathbun started the exodus and they will be misinformed as a result. That is why I wrote here. A terrific book  left out such an important part out.

Epicurus
Epicurus

While I endorse any attempt to discredit or just shine the light of day on, dangerous and powerful cults like CoS, there are disturbing contradictions and fallacies in Ms. Reitman's views. Hubbard's "management theories" or "technologies", like EVERYTHING he “created” are a bizarre hodge-podge of unoriginal, incomplete constructs stolen from various sources.

CoS is not a faith tradition, it began as self-help pop psychology then proceeded to engage in open warfare against its roots, after accumulating massive wealth by acting as economic parasites and oppressors of its faithful flock, with the celebrity cadres and “elect” in the upper echelons being the notable exceptions.

With CoS, as with most doctrinaire currents, you’re either on board or thrown off deck. Whoever’s the prevailing authority in any such institution, dictates orthodoxy and that’sthat. While I think the schism that seems to be occurring within CoS is a much-neededsign of health, make no mistake, this, as with Reitmans’ ahistorical and poor analogyto Luther and Protestant Reformation, is a power-struggle. Luther wanted to reform the Catholic Church because of one piece of doctrine (Sale of Indulgences), and it spun out of control; Luther was also virulently anti-Semitic – he was no hero.

I did not "embed" myself or get face-to-face interviews with high-ranking members but I worked for an organization owned/operated by wealthy members of CoS. I befriended one of the owners and knew the others, along with management, all of whom were practitioners of Hubbard’s “management theory” – as a Director I was required to learn their “terminology”. They value “force of will” and “perception” OVER facts, logic, and verifiable truth.

I DO agree with Reitman’s assessment of the education angle. All the CoS folks I met do NOT read anything beyond CoS-sanctioned materials and what’s required to functionat their job posts. Most of them do not possess basic knowledge and skills in history,literature, the arts, medicine, logic/critical thinking, politics/law, or mathematics. They’re NOT stupid, but like their Christian Fundamentalist counterparts, willfully ignorant as a result of spinning in a cognitive disinformation loop. CoS is a closed system that offers NOTHING that cannot be derived from other sources more effectively, for far less money, and without the controlling abuse that is the hallmark of any cult-like organization.

MarkStark
MarkStark

I have read the section of Janet's book on Hubbard and Dianetics. She does not skimp in  naming the sources Hubbard ripped off. She has done meticulous research tracing them.

Her opinions (in interviews) aren't that important, as long as she has some key phrases like "cripplingly controlling" she's alright by me. Let her book speak for itself. Whatever "contradictions and fallacies" you now find distrubing will melt away in the face of the well-written and researched book that could very well crack open this rotten egg for a much wider public than we've ever seen.

Print journalists and writers don't always make the best interviewees. Scientology is a confusing and wacky subject.  All these front groups. Its "all encompassing" nature.

If I were interviewing Janet, I would ask her if during her research,  she ever felt nuttier than a fruitcake, just reading some of this stuff, or listening to Hubbard's "lectures." I'd ask her this, because many of her readers are going to go through this experience reading her book.

I've read P.T. Barnum's bio. It was tame compared to Hubbard's.

Thinking of Wright's blurb, "light but not heat."

Scientology is explosive enough as it is. Exploding volcanoes. Tragic deaths like Lisa's. Crazy movie stars.

Lisa McPherson's story confused me when I first heard about it. It had so many dimensions. And now Janet has told it as a human and heart-wrenching story, the consequences of applying Hubbard's "technology" to someone held captive by a sci fi cult.

Miller's book got a little bogged down in the huge cast of characters. Janet has done well by focusing on the compelling stories of a few.

Cult members aren't going to read it, but the public will.

  

Joe Lynn
Joe Lynn

I'm looking forward to reading Janet's book, but, what's frustrating here is the simplistic notion that, because the 'Church' of Scientology is so bad (and, it is, in fact, it's much worse) that the 'New Independents' (There have been 'Independent Scientologists' since the '50s) are somehow heroes or the 'good guys'.  

Certainly some of them *are* good guys, and almost all of them, like almost all Scientologists, are well intentioned and sincere.  But, good intentions and sincerity are *not* enough here.  Becuase, the 'New Independents' are for the most part as ignorant of the actuality of Scientology as are the 'still in' Scientologists.

Whatever else he is, Marty Rathbun is no Martin Luther and Mike Rinder is no hero.  Rinder announced more than 2 years ago that he knows enough to 'put David Miscavige behind bars'; yet any information that could actually lead to that kind of criminal prosecution is completely lacking.  Instead, both Rathbun and Rinder are adept at 'suggesting' and allowing people to 'assume' that they are somehow in contact with law enforcement and telling the truth they won't tell publicly to the authorities.

There is *no* evidence for that.  In fact, any close reading of Rathbun's own words makes it obvious that the *last* thing he wants is a criminal prosecution of the 'Church' of Scientology as an organization.  

And, that's the only thing that will stop Scientology abuse; criminal prosecution.   Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder are still performing the same kind of PR spinning they practiced for more than 20 years for the 'Church', whether for some putative 'Independent Scientology' movement or as a false-flag operation for the 'Church' itself.

I would hope that any reporter using them as 'sources' would be aware enough of the history of the 'Church' and its manipulation of media to examine those sources carefully.   And, yes, I do mean reading Rathbun's blog and Rinder's contributions to it with an appropriatelay cynical eye.  An eye open to what's *actually* being said (and, what's not.)

If nothing else, the current direction, including the 'new enemies' lists for the 'New Independents' should be setting off bullshit detectors for anyone, but, most especially for reporters. 

There is nothing 'good' about rehabilitating the Scientology Brand, because any such rehabilitation will of necessity be a rehash of the Same Old Lies.

Epicurus
Epicurus

Agreed on all points. Reforming CoS  is not much different from what the Catholic Church did with the Holy Office of the Inquisition: renaming it to the "Doctrine of the Congregation of the Faithful".

True, as society evolved and became less fearful and more educated, the Holy See could no longer impose the "auto da fe" or persecute witches, but in substance the church is not much different, and if they could get away with it, they'd still be burning heretics and Jews at the stake.

Back to CoS: my ideal "reform" would be to immediately and retroactively revoke its Tax-Exempt status and make the "elect" return their ill-gotten gains to their flock, offer apologies for selling junk-science, a bogus faith with "no answers", divest their properties and holdings to charities, then disband and become the embarrassing foot note in history which is only what 'it' richly deserves.

MarkStark
MarkStark

Being a critic of Scientology, when you drive past a cult, it's not like anyone else. It's, you drive past, you know you have to do something about it. You know you are the only one who can really help. That's what drives me. 

My opinion is, look, you're either on board or you're not on board, OK? Which is it? If you're on board, you're on board, just like the rest of us. Period.

It's rough and tumble. It's wild and woolly. It's Xenu galactic, DC8s and freight trains on Venus. It's smoking more to prevent cancer. It's Hubbard's 22 year old son killing himself to get away from Hubbard and the nutty mind control. It's David Miscavige beating his staff.  It's brainwashing, child slavery, and hard labor prison camps. It's knowing about the dazed zombies working 100 hours a week in the Sea Org, hard-selling Scientology, and then doing time in a prison camp for having "unkind thoughts about Hubbard."

It's a blast. It really is fun, because damit, there's nothing better than  going out there and fighting the fight and suddenly you see. You know. You just know.

Thanks to Janet Reitman, I will know the history of Scientology and you won't!

Bwa ha ha. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha.

Scientologee
Scientologee

I am thrilled that more and more sane people are brave enough to speak out and tell the truth about Scientology, Inc. We need more people like Reitman and Ortega! Maybe I wouldnt have been caught up in the "church", and ruined several years of my life, and my family's life through Scientology, if I had read her Reitman's book, or Ortega's blog, or found Marty's blog. So, thanks! You are doing a great thing. By simply reporting the truth. Bang, zoom, I mean.. WHOOSH!

Official Barea Blog
Official Barea Blog

Meh, I'll wait for the movie version.  My attention span is that of a gnat.

Steve
Steve

I cannot believe how many wankers come on to comment, to bu&^sh*t, about things they know nothing about. Their main concern is to make sure that a certain percentage of the population will think Scientology does not work. It is an amazing technology, and for those few who are willing to ignore the blabbering of the idiots quoting absolute nonsense on this site, it can be a way of improving oneself.

That is the truth. More importantly, however, you should decide for yourself.

guest
guest

ok, decide for myself that it doesn't work. You know why it can't work? It is stolen bits and pieces that have been strangely combined by a drug abusing con.

Joe Lynn
Joe Lynn

Steve, part of the irony here is that some of the Scientology 'Tech' *does* work; but, it's exactly that part that makes it far more likely for an 'untrained Wog' to comprehend Scientology than for someone 'trained' in it.

Because a large part of the Scientology Tech that *does* work is the part that blinds the unwitting target to what is being done *to* him.

Admittedly, most 'Wogs' don't have a lot of information on Scientology, but, given equal access, the Wog is far more likely to recognize the deliberate assault on his sanity than the Scientologist who's spent years learning not to see.

Guest
Guest

Steve,

What makes you think the posters here know less about $cientology than you?  How can you be sure the critics don't know more about it than you?

bewreslippyslope
bewreslippyslope

By what they are saying.  These are professional Scientology hate posters.  They are not critics just critical.   

Gary Lee-Nova
Gary Lee-Nova

Steve; 

There are posters here who have already forgotten ten times more than you will ever know about the $cientology $cam. What they have remembered is legion.

It's you who are full of bullshit, and it shows. 

Your posts expose you as a completely programmed person who has lost any aptitude for critical thinking you might have once had.

$cientologee
$cientologee

Wow, so jaded. People know ALOT about $cientology because the jjig is up. Your ponzi scheme has been exposed. Realize that. Now tun, fast. 

candace6
candace6

Oh really?  Show us a clear.  Just one clear.  Or someone with OT powerz.  Waiting........

Alan Scott
Alan Scott

Hopefully you have some empirical evidence to back this up. And no, anecdotes don't count.

Gary Lee-Nova
Gary Lee-Nova

You had better start typin' up a storm of corrective ideology, Steve. 

That certain percentage of population is rapidly approaching about 95%. The sky isn't falling. It's just the cult, imploding, caving in, dying.

Just sayin'...

John
John

Janet.

I wil lndeed get your book, because your insights of Scientology philosophy beliefs (which I respect after years of betrayal) still have me hooked.  Your interview is very interesting. You did a very good job of diging in deepin to this interesting religion.

Guest
Guest

 Its not a  religion, foo.  Money making enterprise, preying on the vulnerable, perhaps.

LocalSP1
LocalSP1

Hubbard claimed that he came up with Dianetics while curing himself of his injuries from WW IIThe New Yorker story on scientology proved that the injuries Hubbard claimed he sustained during WW II were false. That is all that needs to be said I think. He was a liar, drug user and conman of the highest order.

bewreslippyslope
bewreslippyslope

The New Yorker proved nothing.  It did not show any equal documents.  Listen to his NPR interview on how he went about it  Just another failing mag trying one last attempt to get readership by attacking something that is expanding and moving across the world.  It just found someone upset with a public statement because of his daughters.  Hubbard never needed Scientology to be rich and factually could easily been famous in any number of things.  Scientology has a new look at this world.  

Guest
Guest

 Gasp!  I cannot believe what you imply!  It is well known that Hubbard, the "cannot tell a lie" founder of scientology, was the INVENTOR of the US Air force!

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