'Inside Scientology': Janet Reitman's Book Tour Starts Off With a Scientologist Challenging Her

JanetReitman2.jpg
Reitman at Book Court
There was an electric moment last night at Book Court in Brooklyn when Janet Reitman's first public appearance to support her book, Inside Scientology, was interrupted by a disruptive scene between a Scientologist and a church critic.

A Book Court employee had to step in when the two men appeared oblivious that they'd hijacked Reitman's talk for their own debate. But afterwards, Reitman expressed some excitement about the scene.

The author had told us that she was hoping this first appearance, on the date her book was officially on sale, would be a quiet affair more for close friends, who had showed up in strong numbers. It's next week's reading at Half King where she is expecting fireworks might go off as members of Anonymous have told her they plan to show up en masse.

But last night's scene was remarkable in several ways. Afterwards, we caught up with both men who stopped the event in its tracks.

Reitman had started the event by reading the opening pages from her book to a group of about 40 people who mostly filled Book Court's area for public events. She then gave some background on how she came to write the book before asking for questions. (See our own review of her book and interview with Reitman.) Reitman made the case to her listeners, as she did with us, that she did her best to bring an objective point of view that described Scientology's appeal as well as the controversies it has endured over the decades.

Reitman handled such questions as "What are the core beliefs of Scientology?" and "Why do celebrities join the church?" before a middle-aged man raised his hand.

"I've been in Scientology for more than 20 years. I'm now trying to figure out my relationship to the church. But I read your book and I really enjoyed it," he said. He then asked whether Reitman had really experienced much auditing during her brief foray into the New York org at the beginning of her research. Did she really know how helpful auditing could be, he wanted to know.

Reitman seemed both thrilled that a Scientologist had showed up and asked a question, but also taken aback by the question. She had to admit that she'd done very little auditing, and only in a group setting.

The Scientologist then responded that auditing could be very helpful. But, he added, "You shouldn't go to a church to get it. You should find an independent auditor." [Reitman reminds me that the man also then looked around the room, saying that he was worried someone else from Scientology might be there.]

An Indie! As we've been writing in numerous stories lately, this is a fascinating time to be watching Scientology because of the growing number of longtime, disaffected Scientologists who are leaving the official church without abandoning their affinity for founder L. Ron Hubbard's ideas. These "independents" are quickly becoming Scientology leader David Miscavige's biggest PR problem. And one of them, apparently, had come to Reitman's talk to speak up (and risk very much, if there were any active Scientologists in the crowd; if there were, none made themselves known).

But this scene was just warming up.

Another man, this one dressed in business attire, raised his hand to talk. When Reitman called on him, however, he said, "I want to ask that guy a question," he said, indicating the Scientologist. Reitman encouraged him to ask his question.

"Independents don't seem to get that the totalitarian structure of Scientology comes from Hubbard himself. He created the RPF, didn't he?"

The Scientologist answered that the Rehabilitation Project Force -- a notorious sort of internal prison -- was a wing of the Sea Org. In other words, official bodies in the official church, and not what Independents concern themselves with.

The other man kept up his pointed words about how it was Hubbard who was responsible for Scientology's worst practices, when the Book Court employee asked them to stop arguing with each other and allow Reitman to regain control. [Reitman herself wasn't perturbed, and said she was happy to allow the interruption to continue.]

For this Scientology watcher, it was an absolutely classic moment that almost perfectly represents what is most rocking the religion today -- longtime members falling away to become Independents, and critics like the folks in the Anonymous movement who howl at claims by Independents that they are leaving behind everything toxic about Scientology.

After the talk, I caught up with both men.

The Scientologist, who was visiting New York from Los Angeles, said he was being drawn into the Independent movement because, he said, "it bypasses the corruption of the church."

Ironically, he said that he'd come to that conclusion by judging Scientology by some of Hubbard's own policy letters.

He knew that speaking up at Reitman's reading was risky, but felt compelled to do it after reading the book. He was also very familiar with this blog, and said that Scientology is, too.

The other man also asked not to be named for this article. He described himself as simply a critic of the church who had never been involved in it but reads about it voraciously. Like other critics, he's wary of the Independent movement.

"I don't trust Marty Rathbun or Mike Rinder. But I do see that many of them seem sincere. There have been other independent movements in the past," he pointed out. But Rathbun and Rinder, who until a few years ago were high-level executives in the church -- "they were the ringleaders, and they're just trying to get David Miscavige out so they can get control again," he said.

After we interviewed the two men, they went to a bench in front of the store and appeared to have a calm and lengthy discussion.

Now that's inspiring.

Update I talked to Reitman this morning, and she said the scene was the talk of her friends after the event: "The fact that the guy said what he did, and then he was looking around, expressed paranoia that someone in the room was after him -- that was such a confirmation of everything that I've been reporting and writing about. Just that alone should have answered a lot of questions for the people in the room."

Second Update Marty Rathbun just sent me this reply to the critic's accusation about him wanting to replace Miscavige: "If I wanted to take over the church of Scientology I would have done so long ago. The church is dead. The only hope for the subject is humane, independent practice."


tortega@villagevoice.com | @VoiceTonyO

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


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48 comments
Stat
Stat

Janet did her homework, she knows about possible repercussions.She has balls, OSA only like to postulate they do. Grow up and really think for yourself.Defend your beliefs, not the abuses. Re-evaluate "the greatest good" for once.

mjm
mjm

did anybody see The Talk today? OSA spy Jenna Elfman (with some bad plastic surgery) was on there as a guest host to keep Leah Remini in check. can we see if there's any Scientologists who have infiltrated ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox (well, we all know about Fox News), so we can get these dingbats blackballed from the networks?

MarkStark
MarkStark

Review in the Wall Street Journal now....it's a winner. I'm guessing they're saving the NY TImes review for Sunday, but I don't know.

Brussell1000
Brussell1000

Janet's book should help the Indie movement, because they are primarily rebelling against the authoritarian nature of organized Scientology. I don't believe LRH's BS, but as long as Marty and his group don't lie, cheat or otherwise abuse their members he can beleive whatever he wants. Miscavige is utterly incapable of saving his dying empire and we should all be grateful to the Indie's for helping to make that happen.

danlocke
danlocke

I've had lots and lots of Scientology and Dianetic auditing. There's lots you can get right out of  one of the books. 

Years ago there was a nice little book called "Introductory Auditing and Assists". I don't think the church sells it anymore, but it's probably ebayvailable (new word?)(smile) 

Dianetics is a bit rough to read and a lot of it unnecessary to know and likely not true (even though I am convinced that most of the "research" Ron claimed for the book, I am convinced occurred only in his own mind, bizarrely enough, it still often "works", even in the hands of "unbelievers" ): there's "how-to" videos that the Church made available in the 80's or early 90's that I recall to be easy to follow. (probably on ebay, too.)

And "Fundamentals of Thought" has a dozen or so processes. Lots of the basic books have some processes. 

All of these do not require a meter. You can read them first, and, if you are willing to be a little more analytical than you are skeptical (i.e., having at least a hope that something good might come of it), you can benefit.  

I don't think that it was the auditing that drove Lisa M. around the bend. It was the corrosive manipulative environment; the "management", "ethics" and pressure that current Scientologists endure whilst getting and giving their auditing that drove her round the bend. That's what sucks about current Scientology.

(The voice in the crowd from the critic is right. The seeds of all of this were sown by Ron himself. He created the RPF and a lot of policies that were just plain arbitrary and against the very nature of the technology of Scientology.  There were lots of characters very similar to Miscavige before he hit the scene and Ron himself was not always a "nice man". Ron validated in the Sea Organization an environment where the tough unreasonable guy or gal who "got the job done" was the one to be admired and compassion to a team mate in trouble was often viewed as a weakness. Ron could be very arbitrary in the meting out or his "justice" and so could many of the execs beneath him when he was the man in charge. Miscavige has just managed to be at the helm longer than the others and there is no one to check him. In the SO you are indoctrinated into a point of view that "Duty is the highest motivation" and you are indoctrinated in allowing all manner of evil doings to just go on and on.)

You'll find a high percentage of people who have had Dianetics and Scientology auditing (even its most avid critics) generally respectful of the auditing technology. It is a product of some genius, and even better, it is revelatory of genius; as an auditor or a pre-clear, the realizations one can have about life, self and others are often profound. 

Ron had a manipulative aspect and this is evidenced in the OT levels. The events that he described there as "truth" are his own invention. Many Scientologists will disagree with me on that point, but 'tis true. However, expounding on this would take a lot of time and this is not the venue for that discussion. 

Janet is clearly smart. She's smart enough to read this stuff and see the "sense" that is a good part of it. (Read Scientology 8-8008 or Axioms and Logics; these are fascinating books that seem to codify metaphysics in large part.) I would not be surprised at all to hear that one day she received some auditing from an independent. 

sizzle8
sizzle8

Scientologists posting here criticize Janet for not getting auditing.  They conveniently omit the fact that church policy would forbid her from getting auditing as she was a journalist writing a story. The "Sources of Trouble" policy is pretty specific.You can't have it both ways.

Regardless, in the book there is very little judgment about auditing and personal benefits. The book, however, contains a factual and verifiable history of scientology and does not need to involve subjective opinions.

MarkStark
MarkStark

According to Tory, when Bill Yaude was adopting his dozens of identities on the OSA sock, he enjoyed writing like he was naive/retarded. That had a purpose then. He could post recipes or do anything on ARS and it didn't matter. The point was to push critical comments to the next page.

Of course, now I suppose the point of "Louanne," is to divert topics of conversation, draw everyone to her level. But this is not ARS. The web has opened up. When the public sees comments from a person like Louanne, using the logical and cognitive skills of a 10 year old, what does it say about Scientology? She's Scientology roadkill!

MarkStark
MarkStark

If a real Scilon shows up at the reading, and challenges Janet on something, she should ask him:

"Have you read my book?"

If he lies and says yes, then she should ask him:

"What is on page 147?"

When he can't answer, she should say: As a Dianetic clear, he should have a perfect memory. Then talk about how the scam shifted from miraculously curing the blind, to making the "able more able."

Hugh Ursery
Hugh Ursery

This unnamed Scientologist got it right -- Rathbun and Rinder cannot be trusted -- they pose as heroes who seek to unveil "the truth", when they really are publicity sharks wielding glory and power for themselves. I love that Reitman was exposed for the fraud she was in this interview -- assuming Scientology expert status when all her knowledge was handed down from biased sources, and having never really experienced Scientology for herself. I heard she got the year of Hubbard's death wrong and she's claiming a "reformation" lead by Rathbun and Rinder, when these two individuals are nothing like Luther in what they aim to achieve for the church.

CofS Exit Zone
CofS Exit Zone

Kudos to the two men for having a discussion afterward - that s inspiring!

And thks for the coverage Tony, as always - You Rock!

Sandra Gortez
Sandra Gortez

Janet Reitman attempted to write a definitive book about Scientology. Well, Scientology auditing is an integral part of the Scientologiy experience and yet, Janet Reitman never underwent one on one auditing? I fear that this lack of factual awareness of that which she was writing about is a sustained problem throughout the book. She simply did not fully know or comprehend what she was writing about. I'm afraid that people who read this book and assume it is fact, will be in error, and that is where the author let them down. 

Guest
Guest

 It's nice some people had some placebo effect with this psychopath's teachings, you could have the same effect with ritual sugar pill taking.  The man was crazy, and he worshipped satan.  If that isn't enough of a turn-off to you, then, well, it should be.

choocho
choocho

Louanne, I guess Scientology can't do anything for multiple-personality disoreder?

I've seen the OSA complaining about getting Hubbard's death date wrong, in fact this whole commment is probably just copy-pasta that has been posted on every article about Reitman's book. I guess in the trillion of years that a thetan has been reincarnated millions of times they should be allowed one mistake, right? She's probably made other mistakes like not admitting that cancer is caused by not smoking enough cigarettes, right?

billy bob
billy bob

Yet, if an author was in Scientology for 30 years and wrote a book based on their experiences that was unfavorable toward the subject of Scientology,( for instance, "Blown for Good" by Marc Headley, or "Abuse at the Top" by Amy Scobee) you'd dismiss them as an apostate, right?

SFF
SFF

While the electronic version of the book contains a typo with regards to the year of Hubbard's death, this is correct in other places in the book and in the print edition. One can only assume that, as with the various "corrections" made to Scientology books under David Miscavige that the error was down to the influence of a suppressive typesetter.

Additionally, while I personally feel that Rinder and Rathburn are inclined towards a self-serving depiction of events they are demonstrably more honest than David Miscavige, Tommy Davis or various spokespeople for the Church of Scientology.

TonyOrtega
TonyOrtega

It wasn't the Scientologist who said that Hugh, it was the critic.

Mnnat
Mnnat

I didn't need to practice catholicism to comprehend that sexual abuse was occurring within the priesthood.  It is no different when it comes to the abuses and human rights violations occurring within the Church of Scientology.  Inside Scientology is not about being for or against the workability of Scientology.  It's about the long term abuses and cult like practices of the organization perpetuated against its own members, and those who choose to leave.

The organization known as the Church of Scientology has done more to discredit the religion of Scientology than any critic or ex-member ever has.

Old OT7
Old OT7

 Google:  "Operation Freak Out;"    "Operation Snow White;"    "Lisa McPherson;"  "Xenu."

Old OT7
Old OT7

Google:  :Operation Freakout;"    "Operation Snow White;"  "Lisa McPherson"

To see this cults core beliefs, go to:  www.xenu.net.  Scroll down to the bottom where it says, "Always Remember To Laugh."  Click on "South Park Takes On Scientology."  Let it ramp up and enjoy the show.  What you will be seeing for free is what members pay up to $100,000 to learn.  Why do they keep their most sacred scripture a secret?  Because is they told you upfront what they actually believe (that every man, woman & child have several thousand disembodied alien spirits attached to their bodies), you'd be ROTFLYAO (rolling on the floor laughing your ass off!).  After which, you'd be walking out the door with your family and back accounts still intact.

choocho
choocho

 ROFL, bornez liked this, you like yourself, Louanne? A person does get something for $300,000.

Jes Bauman
Jes Bauman

Louanne Gortex, where is your freaky eye?

xoxoxoxoxoxox
xoxoxoxoxoxox

The guillotine was an integral part of the French Revolution. Must any informed historian of the French Revolution have had their head chopped off?

Gary Lee-Nova
Gary Lee-Nova

"I fear that this..." "I'm afraid that...."

Yeah, we get that part. After all, you're posting on the Runnin' Scared Blog.

Must be heart breaking for you, Sandra; watching it all cave in, be held in such contempt by so many people.

Your precious cult is a train wreck and you can type on this blog until you're blue in the face, but that won't stop the train wreck. Your creepy cult is doomed. Get over it.

Mark Miglio
Mark Miglio

Sandra---- I agree. Some people cannot see pictures in their subconscious. I would say that them getting auditing could be difficult to confront and that they need to do some textbook study and take some classes like the Communication courses and the Scientology Handbook.

I would like to speak now about the RPF.  The "Rehabilitation Project Force" is an all voluntary force (a group of people) working on various projects (daily actions to maintain the gardens and help with simple building maintenance) for the purpose of helping former staff members by getting them out of and away from their work difficulties and immoral situations that they were having during their disastrously failings as staff member.

The program includes classroom study to help the individuals rehabilitate themselves (to restore themselves to normal staff activities). 

The individuals working for the RPF are the very people that would ordinarily have been fired (or indicted) in businesses, as a response to their extremely immoral activities. 

Their rehabilitation provides them with a second chance.

Scientologists re-assume respect for these former staff members because they know that the individuals working for the RPF have made amends -- and can be trusted.

Sanddancer
Sanddancer

Remember folks, you're not going to get answers to your questions from the lying Ms. Gortez. Church policy on criticism is to "Always attack, never defend." So, they'll discuss the typographical errors, but won't actually discuss the actual content of the book.

Guest
Guest

By your same logic, Reitman would have done a better job with the book if she took out some clay and made clay models of her ideas, to help give her ideas "mass."  That's scientology practice too.  

Guest
Guest

That's like saying I can't write a book on Santanism without_actually_practicing Satanic ritual.  Actually, my analogy is excellent on many different levels. 

Schockenawd
Schockenawd

Nice try, but it is obvious from reading her book that Reitman has done her homework and that she stuck around for extra credit, too.  There is no logical basis for suggesting she cannot have done a dispassionate investigation of Scientology unless she had experienced auditing.  As far as I am aware, brain surgeons do not need to undergo brain surgery in order to study and/or teach about the history of brain surgery or facets of operative procedure.  Same for observers of Scientology. 

SFF
SFF

So if she had undergone auditing she would have realized that Lisa McPherson was still alive?

MarkStark
MarkStark

Golly gee, it's like Gore Vidal writing about Aaron Burr. Vidal never served as a continental army officer in the Revolutionary War. How dare he!

So Louanne, what do you say about the ex-members and THEIR books? They are all  "psychos," like Marty Rathbun? You have all the answers, just like Hubbard, and just like Hubbard, your answers stink.

dagobarbz
dagobarbz

Scientology auditing? Isn't that where you hold the cans and answer probing questions that go into your PC folders for staff to giggle at later?

And the "auditor..." no degree, just a bunch of nonsense training from some old sci fi pulp hack, right?

They don't have degrees, but are playing psychologist. Amusing, considering Scientology's attitude towards the mental health field. So much better to get advice from some nerk who's never been to college, innit!

What's in YOUR PC folder?

bornez
bornez

I agree, Janet Reitman should have been more thorough in her investigation. She is trying to sell a book that is not accurate, and the public is being led to believe things that are not true. 

wog-o-rific
wog-o-rific

Janet Reitman can't write about Scientology shes not a "Homo Novis".Because she has had no real auditing shes full of body thetans and therefore is a degraded being.and far from being clearthis lack of auditing Is proof shes an SP/PTS and is incapable of enlightenment,silly WOG  womanbecause of the Alien Parasites inhabiting her Meat body there is now way she can ever comprehend what she is writing about!come in for the implant and proper brain scrubbing Janet!

billy bob
billy bob

What facts do you think she didn't comprehend? 

It doesn't take auditing to understand the facts of how Lisa McPherson died while in the care of Scientology.That she died because they were too embarrassed to admit that their auditing practices had driven Lisa beyond the brink of sanity, so they locked her up for 17 days instead of seeking proper medical care for her.

You know, Scientology should be grateful for what Janet did not write about, such as the physical beatings of Gold Base staff at the hands of Scientology's Spiritual Leader, David Miscavige. Or the mystery of his missing wife, Shelly, who has not been seen in years, all the while David Miscavige traipses around with his new girlfirend Laurisse Stuckenbrock on his arm. David Miscavige ordered Laurisse's husband, Uwe Stuckenbrock, who suffered MS, to the Scientology hard labor camp to die in horrid conditions, with no medical care, and ordered Laurisse to divorce him so that he could lay claim to her.David Miscavige is what they call in Scientology "out 2d" (which means an adulterer to the rest of us.)

No wonder Scientology are losing faith in the leadership and defecting to a growing independent movement. And even though I think Hubbard is a lot of gobbledegook, I fully support their right to practice their auditing and other Scientology practices in whatever way they choose - that's freedom!

Old OT7
Old OT7

ROTFLMAO!!!  Mark, you should do stand-up!

Guest
Guest

" Scientologists re-assume respect for these former staff members because they know that the individuals working for the RPF have made amends -- and can be trusted."

Wow.  Just wow.  There are so many things to pick apart in this statement.  I'm gonna let  the sharks get it.

choocho
choocho

 Hey Terryeo, why do you have to simulate a conversation in here when Louanne is probably sitting next to you in the OSA internet room in a Scientology office building in downtown LA?

Guest
Guest

Mark,

By your description, the RPF is more of a recovery group.   Could you describe from which they are recovering?

RPFsurvivor
RPFsurvivor

thinking about leaving the Sea Org..we will re-educate you for this immoral activity!remember your indentured for a billion years!

choose to leave and "loose your eternal salvation"

and get slapped with a "totally illegal" and burdensome "freeloaders debut"

your family in Scientology will be forced to "disconnect" from youleaving before you billion year obligation is up Is a "high crime"!

confess your crimes and submit to the RPF

for this privilege you can only speak only when spoken too..have your already meager substandard wages cut in halfand be forced to eat a strict diet of rice and beans...which is great if you're overweight!volunteer *cough* and you'll work 20 hour days.and discover the benefits of "sleep deprivation" and physical exhaustion enjoy the daily berating's,degradation verbal and physical abuse..its for the "greatest good!"live in degrading inhumane living  conditions

or leave the Sea Org and you;ll die of pneumonia in the wog world 

its totally your choice!

now salute the pooch

SFF
SFF

I'n sure that's pretty close to how the Chinese government describes it's "Re-education Through Labor" program.

roger weller
roger weller

i wish i was in brooklyn last night.first of all janet did auditing when she went in the org, she told me it wasnt for her,the keys part of her book were about abuses in the sea org and people being pressured to fork out 100s of thousands of dollars. kids being conned into joining the sea org, people being isolated for years in a prison setting. my 19 years in scientology saw how peoples lives were ruined, for the good of some of the auditing gets washed away in all the bad,they dont have a bridge to total freedom people have to get hip to that.doing auditing can be helpful in your life to get you un stuck , i did thru ot7 in 1970, it was useless. janet in some ways knwes more about scientology then i do and i was in 19 years. she spent 5 years of her life doing this book , she could make more money just writing her story's about haiti, the middle  east,as an ex scientologist i am grateful to her  for writng the book and telling our story, she was vey repectful and wrote down the truth of what is going on, if scientologists dont like it, change all the bad ,like slavery in the sea org, billion year contracts, family disconnets, forcing people to give all there money, more books will be out,more stories in the papers like tony is writing.if they dont change they will get lower and lower in the dust bin

Arielle
Arielle

Louanne - it's kind of cute how your sock puppets rhyme. Gortez and Bornez.

billy bob
billy bob

Can you give an example of what Janet wrote that was not true?

And don't trot out the pre-publication typo of LRH death date.I mean, a substantive untruth.

If not then we will all know that you didn't read the book, and in fact you are a Scientology operative working diligently to post negative comments containing broad declarations, under orders of your OSA masters, right?

Mark Miglio
Mark Miglio

The RPF is not punishment for leaving SCN -- you have entirely missed my point.  You are not going to loose your "eternal salvation". 

If you don't like the RPF, please leave.  They don't want bottom feeders, and neither do I.

choocho
choocho

She's going to be even cuter when she says, "Who's Louanne?, never heard of her.".

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