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« Reply #15 on: June 25, 2011, 04:10:54 PM »

          Janet Reitman: An Interview with the Author of Inside Scientology
By Tony Ortega Fri., Jun. 24 2011

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 the 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 to 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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http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/06/janet_reitman_a.php
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« Reply #16 on: June 28, 2011, 12:39:30 PM »

New book released in Germany.

Here is an English translation of the book review.

             MARK JANICELLO – A Scientologist is not allowed to sing
From NEWS.DE-Reporter Isabelle Wiedemeier
June 23, 2011
He played Elvis in a musical, and got arrested for loudly singing “Ave Maria.” Opera
singer Mark Janicello has written an autobiography that reads like an insane film
script. This is the story of an Ex-Scientologist who sang for Religious Freedom

http://www.markjanicello.net/NEWS%20DE%20TRANSLATION.pdf
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« Reply #17 on: June 28, 2011, 03:47:48 PM »

     
                          The Bat Segundo Show: Janet Reitman


Janet Reitman appeared on The Bat Segundo Show #399. She is most recently the author of Inside Scientology.

Including mp3 download...

   http://www.edrants.com/the-bat-segundo-show-janet-reitman/

and....

Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman

The New Yorker had an excellent article telling Paul Haggis' story with Scientology. Inside Scientology was brought up within that story to corroborate some of the details of the Purification Rundown, which is performed to remove body toxins that form a "biochemical barrier to spiritual well-being." Scientology is a controversial subject, due to the many powerful people that subscribe to the beliefs. This book is guaranteed to rock the boat based on the previews alone. Look for a full review in an upcoming issue of Salem Weekly.

~July 5

http://willamettelive.com/story/Shelf_Life_Once_Upon_a_River_Ours_to_Master_and_to_Own_Raoul_Walsh113.html
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2011, 08:14:18 PM »

By Kim Christensen Special to the Los Angeles Times

Book review: 'Inside Scientology' by Janet Reitman
Although the compelling, well-researched book lacks blockbuster revelations, it mostly delivers on Reitman's promise of an "objective modern history" of the church.

July 4, 2011
Small wonder that L. Ron Hubbard had the creative chops to parlay his 1950s self-help system, Dianetics, into a worldwide religion — and a very lucrative one at that. Hubbard was, after all, a science-fiction writer, a dreamer, a charming teller of tales and the inventor of much of his own history: He fabricated or embellished aspects of his military service, education and personal adventures, not least of them his purported run-in with a polar bear in the Aleutians.

His most famous invention, of course, was Scientology, a controversial religion-without-a-deity that has its own "technology," galactic story line and quirky vocabulary. It teaches that spiritual freedom — the state of "clear" — can be reached through one-on-one counseling known as auditing, aided by a polygraph-like device called an "e-meter." The sessions, along with extensive training courses, can cost Scientologists hundreds of thousands of dollars.

   

That Scientology has endured for six decades, attracting generations of devotees despite a legacy of secrecy and widespread allegations of intimidation and abuse of its own members, is in itself remarkable. Then again, as Janet Reitman demonstrates in "Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion," the church has always found a way, through a "combination of flexibility and mystery" to morph with the times: In its early days in Los Angeles, it reached out to free spirits and hippies, later to celebrities and, more recently, to African Americans and legislators.

Reitman's book, which grew out of an article the Rolling Stone contributing editor wrote for the magazine in 2006, is a well-researched and compelling read, especially for those who start with little knowledge about Scientology, Hubbard or his successor, David Miscavige. While it lacks blockbuster revelations, it mostly delivers on Reitman's promise of an "objective modern history" of the church.

Intertwined with the church's history is that of Miscavige, who spent his teenage years as one of Hubbard's cadre of young aides. He was 25 when he assumed control in 1986, when "LRH" died as a paranoid recluse on a ranch in Creston, Calif., under investigation by the IRS. Miscavige went on to be instrumental in ending "the war" with the IRS and securing the tax-exempt status that deemed Scientology a church, a financial boon.

Sometimes called "the pope of Scientology," Miscavige in the book lives up to previous reports depicting him as a small but intimidating leader, an occasionally unhinged little tyrant alleged to have frequently whomped his top execs. He is said to live much higher on the hog than anyone else, including the elite "Sea Org" members posted to Scientology's international headquarters, or "Int," a former resort near Hemet. Even his beagles, Jelly and Safi, who wore "tiny blue sweaters with commander's bars," fare better than people who have signed billion-year contracts with the church: "Miscavige was known to make his staffers salute the dogs, who held ranks higher than those of many people on the base."

Much of Reitman's material is culled from, and duly credited to, earlier works including Hubbard's own writings, books by his critics and newspaper stories stretching from the Los Angeles Times' groundbreaking series in 1990 to the St. Petersburg Times' multi-part exposé in 2009.

But Reitman obviously has done her own extensive legwork too, digging deep into the details of the death of Lisa McPherson, a "clear" Scientologist who suffered a mental breakdown and died after 17 days in isolation in the church's care in Clearwater, Fla., its spiritual headquarters. Nearly 16 years later, her death is still a rallying point for Scientology's critics.

Reitman also offers up the insights of members from the church's past and present, giving the material a fresh feel and sense of fairness. She balances high-ranking defectors' eyewitness accounts of oppression, abuse and escape with the observations of practicing Scientologists who come across as believers but not robots — and ask some pretty good questions of their own.

"All the people who've come out and told the press these things were in a position to do something about it — to change things," said Natalie Walet, a young Scientologist who doesn't excuse the abuses. "Instead, they stood there and watched. Why?"

It would be easy to deride or dismiss many of Scientology's more eccentric elements, such as the long-held secret story of Xenu, the evil tyrant leader of the "Galactic Confederation." Only after reaching an advanced level are Scientologists taught that he killed his enemies with hydrogen bombs 75 million years ago and then captured their souls, or thetans, and electronically implanted them with false concepts. These altered thetans later glommed on to human bodies, the story goes, causing spiritual harm and havoc for mankind.

Even Tom Cruise, the most famous Scientologist, "freaked out" and was like, 'What the …?''' when he learned of it, according to one former member. But in a nice touch of fair play, another ex-member reminds readers that more mainstream religions also have stories that require a long leap of faith. Water into wine? Raising the dead? How plausible are those?

Hubbard made many claims during his life, but parting the Red Sea was not among them.

http://www.latimes.com/features/books/la-et-book-20110704,0,1203651.story?track=rss
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« Reply #19 on: July 10, 2011, 11:56:01 AM »


Best Books of the Month  Amazon.com

Discover our editors' picks for July--available at 40% off all month long--plus more new releases not to miss, or browse this month's editors' picks in Kindle Books


http://www.amazon.com/Best-Books-of-the-Month/b?ie=UTF8&node=390919011
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« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2011, 03:53:26 PM »

                         The Complex. 


http://shop.ebay.ie/peadar999/m.html
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« Reply #21 on: July 15, 2011, 04:24:05 PM »

          Scientology's Spies, its Prison System, and Training Jerry Seinfeld: The Spectacular Life of Nancy Many

By Tony Ortega Thu., Jul. 14 2011

​In both of the two major books about Scientology coming out this summer, Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology, and Hugh Urban's academic history, The Church of Scientology, we noticed that Nancy Many shows up multiple times. And no wonder: the former Scientologist has lived an amazing life. She happened to be in the right place to take part in or witness some of Scientology's most interesting moments, from working directly with L. Ron Hubbard, to spending time (while five months pregnant) assigned to the prison-detail RPF, to spying for both the Guardian's Office and its successor the Office of Special Affairs, to, years later, testifying in the Lisa McPherson civil trial.

Many put out her own book a couple of years ago, My Billion Year Contract: Memoir of a Scientologist that documents her career. We devoured it recently and then talked to Many about her crazy life.

You were in so many notable places and times. No wonder you show up in both Urban and Reitman's books.

Sometimes when those major things were happening, I would feel like I was in a weird movie.

We noticed that one of your many positions was to work with celebrities. You were even president of the Hollywood Celebrity Centre from 1980 to 1982. But you seemed pretty scrupulous about not mentioning any names. Can you tell us now who were some of the celebrities you worked with?

Jerry Seinfeld, for example.


SERIOUSLY? What can you tell us about Jerry in Scientology. He tends to downplay it today.

He was at the Celebrity Centre in New York. He did a few courses and he did one or two sessions. Then, the first time he want on the Johnny Carson show, in Los Angeles, before the show he came into the Hollywood Celebrity Centre and did his TRs [training routines] to prepare for it. And that's when he was a big hit and his career really took off. Then he went back to the CC in New York.

Was he in much longer after that?

He probably just dribbled out.

You were important to the Lisa McPherson civil lawsuit because you worked as an operative for both the Guardian's Office and its successor the Office of Special Affairs, the covert operations wings of the church. You were able to testify that OSA, despite what the church said, was largely continuing the same policies. In other words, you were able to say with some authority that Scientology has practiced spying operations over a large part of its history. How would you explain to someone unfamiliar with Scientology why it would even NEED a spy wing?

I have no idea why a religion needs a spy organization, especially one that rivals the FBI in sophistication -- as one FBI agent stated after the [1977] raids. I have worked for both and even though OSA says "we are not like the Guardian's Office," they are. They always attack both covertly and overtly. The operation we see on Marty Rathbun is the overt one. There is a corresponding covert action being taken. I do think Marty of all people, is aware of this.

Your experience in the Sea Org's internal prison, the RPF, was so incredible, having to sleep in a smelly parking garage while you were five months pregnant. Later, when you faced the prospect of going back in, you and your husband Chris chose to escape instead. That suggests to me that in some ways, the RPF is something of a mental prison, rather than one with bars. Do you wonder about how many people are on the RPF today, and what would you say to them to help them escape?

No, believe me, Chris and I had to escape. We were being kept separately and with different guards. They had taken our son, and we knew they could make him disappear or hold him hostage. At the time we escaped before we got him, we did not know if the church had already taken him elsewhere to be able to coerce and manipulate them. I am so sorry to say that these days they have motion detectors, cameras everywhere, in addition to the usual separation from the group and being kept under watch. It is disgusting. No pay, or if we got some it might be $10. Illegal living conditions. The best way to get out is like Daniel Montalvo and call someone on the outside and have them work to help you out.

You worked directly with Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard. How would you contrast him with what you know of the church's current leader, David Miscavige?

I also did know Miscavige. I first met him at Saint Hill [Saint Hill Manor in West Sussex, England] when he was about 14, then at Flag [in Clearwater, Florida], and then when he would come down to Florida from Gold [Scientology's secretive International headquarters near Hemet, California]. In fact when I was spying for RTC/OSA, they pulled me out...They knew I was burnt out and possibly going to turn. [This was during the time Scientology was suing David Mayo, a man running a rival Hubbard center in Santa Barbara. Many had been sent in to spy on it. She was then asked to help in the ensuing trial, in which Scientology was suing Mayo for copyright infringement.] I was prepped as a witness, but never took the stand. After they won, Miscavige and one of his assistants walked over to me and gave me one of those half hugs, shook my hand and had his arm around one shoulder. He thanked me for my work.

My basic view of the difference is that Hubbard was a human being. Yes, he had his faults, he could get angry. But he also had another side to him. He would go back and help clean up the damage done [by his temper].

Miscavige, on the other hand, feels that Tom Cruise is the greatest Scientologist and doing the most. That hit those of us out (even after many years) as a slap in the face. In Hubbard's time the most important people in Scientology were the Sea Org members. If a celebrity felt the urge to do more, he could work to gain the status called "Honorary Sea Org member." Miscavige denigrates Sea Org members while raising celebrities and other wealthy people to the level of being catered to by Sea Org members. Hubbard would never have done that. Never. Miscavige hurts people in anger, but then never goes back to repair things. Hubbard lived well, he had perks and privileges, but not the ostentatious life that Miscavige is building.

I met Tory Christman very shortly after she left Scientology. Those first months were very difficult for her. You seemed to be "recovering" from Scientology for years. What is it about Scientology, do you think, that makes it difficult to leave and recover from it?

It is very difficult to leave Scientology for many reasons but one of the main ones is the incredible friends you have made. You think: how can I leave them behind? In addition, if you leave you are left in limbo. No Scientologist, whether family, friend, or simply another member, will speak with you, let alone help. Most people after years in this group have lost all contact with any non-scientologists. So where do we go?

What's next for Nancy Many? You figure prominently in Reitman's book. Are you being asked to speak? Are you done with this subject? Are you experiencing any harassment?

I have had minor harassment, but truly none to speak of since Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun are providing cover. [The two former high-level executives seem to be bearing the brunt of OSA activities. That we know about, at least.] I have gone back to graduate school for the needed degree and training to be a chaplain. I am still being asked to speak, but I pick my avenues. I am still working with the mentally damaged people Scientology creates, and am saddened each time I learn of another suicide. After going through what I went through, one is never fully recovered, you simply have to integrate what happened into your past and move toward the future. It is a work in progress.


tortega@villagevoice.com

http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/07/scientologys_sp.php
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« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2011, 05:48:57 PM »

         Scientology reviews "Inside Scientology" by Janet Reitman

    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 talk 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 http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/07/scientology_is.phpto keep its teachings secret, do we?

    http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/07/scientology_is.php

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« Reply #23 on: July 18, 2011, 07:01:05 PM »

                                  The Washington Post

                            Is Scientology a religion?
By Janet Reitman

Since 1993, Scientology, which many people have long considered to be a “cult,” has been a religion in the eyes of the United States government, with the tax exemption that goes along with that. But whether it is actually a “religion” in the way that most of us think about religion is a wholly different matter.

To address the basics: there is no God in Scientology.  There is also no prayer, no concept of Heaven or Hell, no turn-the-other-cheek forgiveness or love, nor any of the other things we typically associate with religion, at least in the Judeo-Christian context. There is also no “faith” – no concept of belief. Instead, there is knowledge, a certainty beyond a shadow of a doubt that Scientology’s doctrine, all of which was authored by the church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, is the absolute truth.

 I like to describe Scientology as a global spiritual enterprise – a religious corporation with a far greater emphasis on the “corporate,” profit-making side of the ledger. Since its founding in 1954, Scientology has appealed to people initially as self-help, something Americans, and many others, have been more than willing to pay for.  And as self-help, Scientology essentially promises that there are techniques one can learn – through the rigorous study and exact application of L. Ron Hubbard’s ideas– that can, for instance, help a person overcome their shyness, or empower them to end a bad marriage, or help them sell themselves more effectively in the workplace. But there is also a spiritual component to Scientology, which has to do with people realizing, through the counseling known as “auditing,” that they have lived many past lives. That’s where the religion comes in.

When I was reporting on Scientology, I was amazed by the number of ordinary people I met who truly knew – not just believed, but claimed to know – that they had lived before and would live again. That meant death was no longer scary! It also meant that we might even remember our prior lives so saying goodbye to friends and family would not really be a “goodbye.”  Even to me, a person who is agnostic about most religion, it was attractive.

That is what draws people deeply “in” to Scientology. And once in, Scientology becomes different things to different people. One woman I know compares Scientology to an onion. The outer layer, where the celebrities tend to be, is a place where people experience the church as
Oprah Winfrey shares a laugh with actor Tom Cruise during the taping of "Oprah's Surprise Spectacular" in Chicago May 17, 2011. (JOHN GRESS - REUTERS) self-help and community. For stars like Tom Cruise or John Travolta, it is the safest of communities because celebrities are catered to in Scientology in both a material way, with added perks and private counseling sessions, but also in a way that shields them from critics or intrusion into their private lives.  Wealthy Scientologists are also considered “celebrities” because they tend to donate the most money and involve themselves most in Scientology causes, all of which raises their status.

Much is made of the celebrities in Scientology, though their numbers are very few – there are maybe a dozen actual “celebrities” who belong to the church. But these people serve a promotional function, and because of it are treated like rare birds, put on pedestals by all members, including church staff who endeavor to keep their experience in Scientology positive. This leads to profound isolation from some of Scientology’s harsher truths. Celebrities certainly would not be aware of any abuse or harsh treatment of Scientology staff, which, though Scientology officials deny it, has been alleged numerous times by ex-officials over the years. While they would be obliged to obey the policy of “disconnection,” by which church members shun anyone, including their closest friends or family members, who leave Scientology on bad terms, they would also tend to believe the word of church officials far more than “apostates,” as those who have left Scientology and spoken out are called.

Screenwriter/director Paul Haggis, for instance, believed a senior Scientology official when he pledged that the Church of Scientology did not back the California anti-gay marriage bill, something the church – along with many other religious organizations – did in fact support. When Haggis discovered the truth, it propelled him to leave the church altogether. But Haggis is, so far, somewhat unique in that he did discover the truth. No Scientologist – be they celebrities or ordinary members – is supposed to read general media reports about the church. These pieces – anything critical – is considered off-limits or “entheta” in the lexicon of the Church of Scientology, and thus harmful to a member’s spiritual progress. The truth is what they know via L Ron Hubbard; media criticisms of Scientology, on the other hand, are to Scientologists, lies or “religious bigotry.” Thus they remain very much in the dark; they will not, assuredly, be reading my new book “Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion.”

Beyond celebrities, the average middle class person, who for most of its history has formed the bulk of Scientology’s membership, has a different far different experience in Scientology. For them, the deeper they are drawn into Scientology, the more indebted to it they become.  In some cases, members have been driven into bankruptcy, forcing them to work for the church to continue to afford Scientology counseling.  Once they sign up to work for Scientology, their experience turns more punitive: they work extremely long hours, at very low pay, and are expected to adhere to a paramilitary-style discipline that is absent in any workplace I’ve ever heard of outside of the United States military. At the innermost level of this management, within the Sea Organization, which is the senior management body of the church, there is far more, if not total, ideological control over members, strict adherence to the demands of a leader who has cast himself as a sort of pope, and many other things that would define Scientology, in that context as a more traditional “cult.”

But it is only a cult to some. To others it is a community. To others it is self-help. And to others, it is absolutely religion – and in the case of young people who’ve grown up in the church it is the only religion they’ve ever known.  I think the future of Scientology, if it has one, lies in its ability to retain its identity as religion and community, and even self-help, while losing the ideological totalism that makes it cultic for many.  It is a significant challenge, and one that the church in its current incarnation may not be able to shoulder, but it is also the only way, in my opinion, that Scientology will become an enduring, and evolving, religion.

Janet Reitman is the author of the brand new book INSIDE SCIENTOLOGY: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. She was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2007 for the Rolling Stone story “Inside Scientology,” from which this book grew, and is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/is-scientology-a-religion/2011/07/17/gIQATEnSKI_blog.html

And this one in Jewish Journal
http://www.jewishjournal.com/twelve_twelve/article/scientology_secret_no_more_20110718/
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« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2011, 05:12:36 PM »

               Janet Reitman: Unflappable as Scientologists Question Her Motives
By Tony Ortega Mon., Jul. 18 2011

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!
See photo here...
http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2011/07/janet_reitman_u.php


http://www.religiondispatches.org/books/atheologies/4885/a_peek_inside_the_onion_of_scientology/
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« Reply #25 on: August 03, 2011, 05:08:15 PM »

             Scientology Hits Back: 'Inside Scientology' Filled with Inaccuracies

 

By Brent Lang at TheWrap

Mon Aug 1, 2011 1:26pm EDT

The Church of Scientology says  the book “Inside Scientology” is little more than gossip-mongering and has accused author Janet Reitman of shoddy journalism.

“Ms. Reitman’s book is filled with inaccuracies,” the Church wrote in a seven-page letter to TheWrap. “It is neither scholarly nor well-researched and bears no resemblance to an ‘inside’  story.”

The church claims that Reitman, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, never interviewed, nor requested interviews, with Scientology officials and instead relied on former parishioners who are disgruntled and members of Anonymous, the internet activist group that the church labels a cyberterrorist organization with an ax to grind against the religion.

Also read: 'Inside Scientology' Author: 'They Have the Goods on Everybody'

In a statement,  Reitman wrote, “I stand by my sources and by my reporting.”

Reitman previously told TheWrap that she spoke to numerous church higher-ups and members, and visited facilities, while she was researching the magazine article that eventually became the basis of her book.

“It’s just wrong,” Reitman told TheWrap of the allegations. “To say I didn’t contact them is so blatantly untrue. I spent a year working on the Rolling Stone article, at which point I had unprecedented access, so I saw no need to repeat that a year later. I didn’t go back and re-interview everyone.”

“All I can say is, you know, that they don’t understand how books are produced,” she added.

In an interview with TheWrap on Friday, Reitman said that rumors that Scientology exploits the personal information of famous members such as Tom Cruise may have some basis in fact.

Also read: Paul Haggis Denounces Scientology in New Yorker Opus

“They have the goods on everybody,” Reitman told TheWrap. “A great part of the Scientology experience is the confession that happens in the auditing experience [a type of counseling members receive]. You are constantly being asked to write up your transgressions, maybe even your unspoken transgressions.”

In response, the church said that it respects the confidentiality of the information that members reveal during auditing sessions and has put safeguards in place.

“Contrary to Ms. Reitman’s false assertions, the Church’s respect of the privacy of its parishioners is absolute, whether the parishioner is a celebrity or otherwise,” the church writes. “Scientology religious counseling, called auditing, is conducted within a framework of complete trust. Thus, as with ministers of other religions, the guiding ethical code requires ministers to treat communications from parishioners with total confidentiality.”

The church also claims that Reitman relied on tabloid gossip to assemble her expansive look at Scientology and asserts that the author failed to account for the religion’s “tremendous growth.”

“Parishioners and Church staff members alike have never been happier with the direction of their Church,” the church writes.

The church said the book only gets a handful of facts correct -- such as the church’s relief efforts in Haiti and New Orleans, work refurbishing old buildings, and the role that chairman David Miscavige has played in advancing Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard’s legacy.

Presumably, Reitman also got Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley’s involvement with the church correct, too, but Scientology didn't appear ready to cede the ground on that one.
Related Articles:  'Inside Scientology' Author: 'They Have the Goods on Everybody' Paul Haggis' Break With Scientology Over Gay Rights

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/01/idUS246156887420110801
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« Reply #26 on: August 31, 2011, 12:26:41 PM »

                                              Book Review

Secrets, scandals, and the rise of Scientology
Controversy amid quest for religious status
Tom Cruise (pictured, with church leader David Miscavige in 2004) and John Travolta are followers of Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard.    Tom Cruise (pictured, with church leader David Miscavige in 2004) and John Travolta are followers of Scientology, founded by L. Ron Hubbard. (Paul White/Associated Press/File 2004)
By Glenn Altschuler
August 31, 2011

   

The “whole agonized future of this planet, every Man, Woman, and Child on it, and your own destiny for the next trillions of years,’’ L. Ron Hubbard declared, “depend on what you do here and now with and in Scientology. This is deadly serious activity.’’

   

THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY:

A History of a New Religion

By Hugh B. Urban


Princeton University, 268 pp., illustrated, $27.95

Hubbard, Scientology’s founder and a writer of science fiction, meant what he said. The Church of Scientology, an immensely successful enterprise with Tom Cruise and John Travolta among its celebrity converts, has gone to great lengths to protect its secrets. The church has been, and remains, controversial, not least over the basic question of whether it is a religion or, as its critics charge, “a swindling business and a brainwashing cult.’’

In “The Church of Scientology,’’ Hugh B. Urban, a professor of religious studies at Ohio State University, provides a fascinating account of how a healing practice called Dianetics came to define itself - and become officially recognized - as a religion in the United States. Urban strains to strike a balance between what he calls “a hermeneutics of respect and a hermeneutics of suspicion,’’ grounded in a firm belief in freedom of worship and an obligation to ask tough questions about alleged misbehavior by Scientologists, including espionage against government agencies, attacks on critics, abuse of members, and attempts to alter entries in Wikipedia.

That Scientology flourished during the Cold War, Urban argues, was not a coincidence. Hubbard’s “space opera’’ narratives, he writes, reflected a preoccupation with safety and security, mind control, UFOs, time travelers, and the threat of nuclear war. Offering Dianetics as a means to combat communist infiltration, Hubbard designed systems of surveillance to thwart enemies from within the organization and defend it from external threats.

The greatest threat, Urban reveals, in the most intriguing and important chapter of his book, came from the Internal Revenue Service. Forced to decide (despite First Amendment strictures against a government “establishment’’ of religion) what is or is not a valid church, the IRS revoked Scientology’s tax-exempt status in 1967, igniting a 26-year battle that resulted in thousands of lawsuits. At first, the IRS decreed - and the courts concurred - that despite its clerical collars and crosses, its doctrine and discipline, the Church of Scientology was not a bona fide religion because its activities had a commercial character and served the private and pecuniary interests of its members.

But in 1991, five years after Hubbard’s death, following negotiations shrouded in secrecy, the IRS reversed itself. And the State Department began to defend Scientology operations abroad. In a triumphant speech, church leader David Miscavige hailed the about-face as a “historic victory for religious freedom.’’

Despite vast financial resources, new building projects, and boasts that Scientology is the fastest-growing religion in the United States, however, Urban suggests that membership may actually be declining in the 21st century.

Either way, it matters a lot whom society delegates to settle claims regarding religious status. And so it is disappointing that Urban concludes by asking his readers to resolve that question for themselves. He asks them to decide whether the Church of Scientology is a legitimate religion, entitled to First Amendment rights applicable to civil and criminal cases, and control over (lucrative) copyrighted material. And he asks readers to determine whether American citizens require protection from religious groups (and cults) or, conversely, whether minority religious groups need greater protection from government intrusion.

When presented with these head scratchers, most readers are sure to need some help.

Glenn C. Altschuler, the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin professor of American studies at Cornell University, can be reached at gca1@cornell.edu.

http://www.boston.com/ae/books/articles/2011/08/31/the_church_of_scientology_by_hugh_b_urban_chronicles_the_controversial_rise_of_a_religion/
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« Reply #27 on: September 03, 2011, 12:41:30 PM »

                                New Book out.  Now


In its vetting of new members, the Church of Scientology once demanded not only the confession of misdemeanours in the current lifetime, but interrogated "the individual's subversive activities along the great time track going through myriad past lives". Among the questions asked were: "Have you ever enslaved a population?"; "Did you come to Earth for evil purposes?"; "Have you ever eaten a human body?"; "Have you ever zapped anyone?" It's easy to see why Hari Kunzru – in his Pynchonesque novel Gods Without Men – is the latest in a procession of authors to use the bizarre world of 20th-century cults as a setting for fiction. Rather more difficult is performing the kind of academic and anthropological inquiry into Scientology that Hugh Urban attempts in The Church of Scientology.

    The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion
    by Hugh B. Urban

    Buy it from the Guardian bookshop



   

Urban's book is self-consciously scholarly and dry, weighed down by its wealth of footnotes and repeated references to Bourdieu, Simmel and Lévi-Strauss. Maintaining such learned disdain in the face of some seriously juicy material is clearly something of a strain. Urban draws readers' attention to the fact that his work "could probably serve as the basis for a spy novel or a thriller film" or that "the history of Scientology's quest for tax-exempt status is surely worthy of a book or even a detective novel of its own". He gives the impression that, having set out to write this scrupulously recondite account, he wishes for nothing more than to redraft it as a new Da Vinci Code.

Another problem for Urban is Scientology's ruthless pursuit of its detractors. In 1976, under the codename Operation Freakout, Scientologists allegedly carried out an orchestrated attack on a critical journalist, Paulette Cooper, aimed at getting her "incarcerated in a mental institution or jail". Since then, Scientology has gone after its enemies aggressively, using its vast wealth and army of lawyers to suppress the stories of disaffected former members and investigative journalists. Urban's portrayal of the workings of the cult is insistently measured, following what he terms – in a phrase as ugly as it is clumsy – a "hermeneutics of respect and a hermeneutics of suspicion". There are repeated references to "unexplored rabbit-holes" of narrative, blocked up for fear of antagonising Scientology's paranoid information police. This nervousness means that Urban's book has a strangely neutered feel, often passing off to other authors the job of interpreting the seamier sides of the religion.

The anxiety also has a formal effect, with Urban's style, already reeking of the lecture hall, muddied by hedging and equivocation. Nothing is firmly stated; everything is "arguable", "possible", "perhaps". The book sweats from fear of litigation.

These grumblings aside, The Church of Scientology is a fascinating book. Indeed, it may be the case that the arid prose and timid approach are the price we have to pay for the deep and often brilliant anthropological dissection that Urban carries out. Where more populist authors might find it difficult, for instance, to take seriously a religion that makes its most devoted followers sign a "billion-year contract", Urban is po-faced throughout. As a result, he is granted exceptional access to Scientologists and their detractors, and builds from the often barmy material a compelling picture of the birth of a new religion. For this is the book's central thesis: that by analysing how new religions emerge and flourish, we may better understand those whose origins are lost in the haze of time.

Urban's conclusion is unappetising. Scientology's development from L Ron Hubbard's cod-psychoanalysis Dianetics in the 1950s to a bona fide religion given tax-exempt status by the IRS in the 1990s seems to have been driven almost exclusively by profit. In a 1972 policy letter circulated to senior Scientologists, Hubbard makes this explicit: "Make money… make more money… make other people produce so as to make money." The structure of the religion, with its relentless teleology and gradually revealed esoterica, appears to be designed principally as a way of extracting cash from its followers, with the cost of attaining the upper reaches of Operating Thetan status (don't ask) running into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But to dismiss Scientology as mere spiritual snake oil is too easy. There is clearly something about Hubbard's syncretic bricolage of cold war paranoia, new age spiritualism and sci-fi pulp fiction that continues to convince its followers in ways that traditional religions cannot.

Urban persuasively suggests that it was Hubbard's talent as an author that enabled him to create a religious narrative that spoke to the age of the nuclear bomb and space exploration and Wall Street. Hubbard's novels are not in the league of his peers Philip K Dick or Robert Heinlein, but he was a major contributor to the golden age of pulp fiction, averaging between 70,000 and 100,000 words a month, and his best book – Final Blackout – is a fine example of the genre. Scientology is what happens when the novelist's role as God of his created worlds spills over into everyday life. Hubbard realised that he could control real people, particularly Hollywood actors used to assuming fictitious roles, as he controlled the characters in his books. If we buy Urban's argument, then religions are formed out of the same creative ordering of the world as literature.

Despite the infelicitous prose and a certain mildness in the face of the worst excesses of the cult, Urban's portrayal of the birth and boom of Scientology is absorbing and impressive. That he managed to write it without incurring either lawsuits or a dagger in the back is more remarkable still.

Alex Preston is the author of This Bleeding City (Faber).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/02/church-of-scientology-urban-review
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« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2011, 03:57:19 PM »

                                A Queer and Pleasant Danger:

The true story of a nice Jewish boy who joins the Church of Scientology, and leaves twelve years later to become the lovely lady she is today [Hardcover]
Kate Bornstein (Author)

http://www.amazon.com/Queer-Pleasant-Danger-Jewish-Scientology/dp/0807001651/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317646658&sr=1-1
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« Reply #29 on: October 06, 2011, 01:01:37 PM »

       Book Review: The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion by Hugh B. Urban



Earlier this year, The New Yorker published a devastating article about Crash director Paul Haggis, and his disillusionment with the Church of Scientology.  Six months later, the Church responded with an elaborate parody, complete with videos, attempting to smear Haggis and writer Lawrence Wright for their alleged dishonesty.

This is not an organization known for taking criticism lightly.  If the Church of Scientology is famous for anything aside from Tom Cruise and John Travolta, it's for aggressively using the justice system against its many detractors. Founder L. Ron Hubbard explained his legal philosophy in 1955: “The purpose of the [lawsuit] is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway... will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.”

The reclusive Hubbard died in 1986, his bloodstream full of the very pharmaceuticals denounced by his Church, but Scientology critics should still brace themselves for long, difficult, and expensive defamation actions brought by the organization. Time magazine and its parent company spent millions of dollars in legal fees defending its 1991 cover story “The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power.” Church lawyers have demanded that Google remove anti-Scientology web sites from its search results. Most notoriously, the venerable Cult Awareness Network was forced into bankruptcy after years of litigation against Scientology — and then its name was purchased by a Scientologist who started up a Hubbard-friendly “New Cult Awareness Network.”

The organization really devoted its energies to a long, brutal legal battle with the Internal Revenue Service, trying to restore its designation as a tax-exempt religious organization. In The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion, Ohio State University religious studies professor Hugh Urban notes that Hubbard initially made no effort to claim he had founded a religion, and in fact made several comments disparaging religious belief. Dianetics, the founding text of Scientology (which initially appeared, fittingly enough, as an article in Astounding Science Fiction magazine), was subtitled “The Modern Science of Mental Health,” and the “religion angle” (Hubbard’s words, not mine) was only approached when the IRS started sniffing around.

Suddenly, Scientology buildings were adorned with an eight-pointed cross, Scientologists were sporting clerical collars, and a book of Scientology rites was hastily produced. The U.S. government remained suspicious, however, and things only got worse after “Operation Snow White,” an elaborate intelligence-gathering operation in which Scientologists infiltrated the IRS, was uncovered in 1977.  Hubbard's wife went to jail for her part in the operation, while the messiah went into hiding.
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Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-the-church-of-scientology/#ixzz1ZxW6HiEN
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