Home / News / Scientology May Sue Support Group Over Use of the Term 'Cult,' Dismisses Reitman's Inside Scientology Book Research
Scientology May Sue Support Group Over Use of the Term 'Cult,' Dismisses Reitman's Inside Scientology Book Research

Scientology May Sue Support Group Over Use of the Term 'Cult,' Dismisses Reitman's Inside Scientology Book Research

Senator Xenophon

Sen. Xenophon

Operating out of Australia is the Cult Information and Family Support group, a network of parents, families and friends that is putting on a conference this August.  One of the presenters is Senator Nick Xenophon, a critic of Scientology. He labelled the church a criminal organization in November 2009, citing allegations of members experiencing blackmail, torture, forced imprisonment and so on.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the church may sue, saying that the group's brochure citing Xenophon's criticisms are defamatory and that the church does not fit the definition of a cult.

Inside Scientology:  The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion.

Inside ScientologyIn other Scientology news, the Church is not pleased with Janet Reitman's new book, Inside Scientology (hear the GodDiscussion interview with the author here, along with a 2-hour live call-in from supporters and critics of Scientology, including one who was interviewed for the book.  Some of the calls were shocking; others generally supportive of the Church).

The Church of Scientology International issued an official statement on July 8, saying that the book was filled with interviews of ANONYMOUS; however, the book only devote a couple of sentences to the group.  It also attacks Ms. Reitman for the wrong date of L. Ron Hubbard's death, apparently a printing error because other sections of the book give the correct year of death.

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.

About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • nestcepas

    I think this is a great opportunity for Scientology to right some wrongs. Rather than get upset or defensive, they should come to the table and talk with all their defectors and critics. Even those inside Scientology want to be honest and open, they are just not permitted to be that way without serious consequences to their family. So it's a choice between honesty and keeping your children.

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      I agree, Nestcepas. Some of the callers to our show had some very positive experiences with Scientology. It sounds like it is the leadership where the problem lies, and the leaders have the power to address the wrongs.

      Deborah

  • http://www.myeverygaylife.com Duncan Scrymgeour

    I "married" into a huge family of Scientologists, at least two of whom are among the celebrity spokespersons often cited in support of Scientology. I am a lapsed Anglican and have absolutely no interest in joining the church. None of my family members have proselytized or promoted the church, even when I have dined with them at the infamous Celebrity Center in Hollywood. They are among the nicest, most well-adjusted people I have ever met and they have accepted me into the family with open arms. It is true that they don't discuss the church openly or frequently, but I sense that is more for my benefit than any attempt to keep secrets. Whenever I have asked them questions, they have answered honestly. My thought are that the church is similar in some ways to the LDS/Mormons, (i.e., odd to non-believers in its theology; subject to continuing change or "prophecy"; somewhat shady beginnings and very family oriented and closed in its more sacred practices; the object of resentment among many of its former members.) Since the GOP is about to nominate a Mormon for President, I think it's time we lighten up on the Scientologists, who many of my otherwise liberal, humane friends, feel it's still perfectly acceptable to bash with impunity.

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      As with everything, I believe there is both good and bad. Personally, I find the Christian dominionist agenda much more disturbing. I think Janet's book gave a fair shake, presenting both points of view.

      Deborah

    • Gallo

      As a "lapsed Anglican" who has no interest in joining a religion, would you mind if I asked how you happened on a blog called GOD DISCUSSION?

    • Dan

      Clearly the celebrity experience is different than the average public Scientologist or the Sea Org members. Celebrities are the face of Scientology and as such they are treated with great care so they don't lose their PR value. But when celebrities open their eyes and see that they are pawns for this organization even they come under attack (for example: Paul Haggis, Larry Anderson and Jason Beghe). We don't care that Scientologists follow the incoherent ramblings of someone who was mentally ill. We care that they are lied to and coerced into financial and emotional ruin by unscrupulous hucksters. Justice Anderson, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia may have said it best…

      "Scientology is evil; its techniques are evil; its practice is a serious threat to the community, medically, morally, and socially; and its adherents are sadly deluded and often mentally ill… (Scientology is) the world's largest organization of unqualified persons engaged in the practice of dangerous techniques which masquerade as mental therapy."

      • Fred Milker

        Dan really hit the nail on the head there. The celebrities have a very different life than the public or sea org scientologist; that's why, of the thousands that have left scientology and now speak out about abuses and immoral behavior, only a few are celebrities, who mostly left because they were aware of the problems, although they were generally insulated from seeing them.

        But I've found that most scientologist are warm, wonderful people who really want to help the world- it's management that's holding the organization back. Duncan wanted to really see who's suffering- ask to see the RPF facility, without notice.

        • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

          Hi Fred!

          And to paraphrase what Karen said when she called the show, one evil thing can wipe out all the good. If I remember her analogy correctly, she said something about an abusive husband who gives nice things to his wife but in the end, smacks her so hard she dies.

          I really don't understand why the management cannot change the negative practices. It would certainly change perceptions about the organization.

          Deborah

          • Fred Milker

            Darn, lost my post. Oh well, here we go again! :)

            Hello, Deb! Good to see you again, sorry I was away for so long!

            You hit the nail on the head- there's two ways that reform can happen- top down or bottom up. Already, Scientology has seen its own "Martin Luther" (in the form of Marty Rathbun), and his growing movement is putting pressure on the organization to reform or risk losing even more members. Hopefully, this may cause current members to push for reform, as they're the only ones with any REAL power. The members are the one that keep the organization alive, and the ones that can demand change.

            Without any incentive to do so, management WON'T change, especially if there's some personal benefit for keeping the status quo. Sure, they may change strictly for the betterment of the organization, but that depends on the individuals involved.

            Any organization, by its nature, becomes a personified extension of the ultimate leader, if one exists. In this case, consider the allegations- take a look at a picture of the current leader of scientology, David Miscavige. He wears fine, expensive clothes and custom shoes. He has expensive vehicles, including a motorcycle that he uses to ride with his buddy, Tom Cruise. He's built expensive homes, and has a large staff dedicated to his comfort. These are all very pricy luxuries. Now consider the personality of the organization, and the allegations of financial pressure, and the convictions for fraud, etc. Consider the pressures put even on the most public of the members, many of whom have gone broke or committed suicide.

            That's the problem with the "top down" approach. While the fastest and most effective, it doesn't work if the leadership doesn't want to the change.

            • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

              Exactly right, Fred. Looks like Miscavige could care less what others think. However, from a business point of view, if people keep quitting and not paying money into it, how does he benefit?

              Deborah

          • Fred Milker

            That's actually a great question, Deb. It's called "Private Inurement", and it's strictly against the Law for non-profit organizations. Essentially, no one can directly benefit from the proceeds of non-profit activities. For example, if this website were a formal, tax-exempt non-profit, then you, as the primary admin, could draw a salary, but you couldn't draw money from the tax-exempt activities to buy yourself a car for your personal use. Basically, any purchases made by the organization has to support the non-profit goal of the organization, and not solely a single person. Consider this when watching David Miscavige sport around on his Harley which was purchased for him by a subordinate ecclesiastical entity.

            Now there's exceptions, of course- such as "unrelated business income", in which certain services MAY be taxed, and that can be considered to be, basically, business income. For example, if they're taxed on certain book sales, then those funds may not be covered under the same rules. Unfortunately, the details of their tax agreement aren't fully public (some may say rather secretive, quite the contrary of their claims).

            In short, David Miscavige, the only single person that could really force change has no real motivation for doing so, until they lose so many members that he can no longer maintain his lifestyle. I just don't think that he considers the long-term impact in gaining new members (which is rare, given the perception) and losing existing ones. When he decides to change… it may be too late.

            • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

              The tax implication side of all of this is quite interesting, Fred.

              Then again, if he is some sort of "deity" (I don't know what else to call LRH's successor) within the movement, wouldn't supporting him be the same as supporting the non-profit goal of the organization? I'm not sure how these loopholes work, but there are so many televangelists out there who are raking it in, too, with supposedly little salaries but living in mansions, having the finest autos and so forth, like Benny Hinn. And then there's Peter Popoff, selling magic manna and spring water to the gullible and once again living a lavish lifestyle.

              I'm certainly not as informed as you and many others; however, from what I have read, watched and listened to, I think it's highly unlikely that Miscavige will change what's happening within that Church on his own motivation.

              Deborah

            • Fred Milker

              Yeah, it's a pretty complicated situation, made more difficult by the fact that the IRS won't release any of the tax documents, even given several FOIA requests. Makes you wonder what's going on there. And, of course, scientology won't release any of the agreement information, either, which isn't exactly "open".

              Some things I could support- Benny Hinn travels a lot, so maybe a private jet is cheaper, versus buying tickets for the entire staff each time. Okay, that one might make sense from a financial perspective. But a huge mansion… that might be a little much. Especially when there are so many in the world with so little.

              I think that the only chance that scienotlogy has is forced reformation- it's the same reason why you can't purchase an indulgence from the Catholic Church today. The Pope, then, didn't want the change, but the members (and the public) demanded it.

  • Gallo

    If Paul Haggis were still in the cult, would that statement by the cult have prevented him from reading Janet's book? Probably.

    However, to an outsider, I think it would appear curious, even if they knew little about Scientology. For example, use of the word "defrocked" twice, makes a person wonder what kind of frock they all wear. Space suits perhaps?

    The stuff about building newer churches that are bursting with new members. Obviously, she couldn't bore readers to death by insertion of promotional materials in her book.

    Also, how easy it is today for people to read a wiki, watch a video of Hubbard, or the Tom Cruise video which is at the top of a video search for "Scientology."

    What would lead any sane person to think the "inside story" of any religion is to be found on their official website? Especially an odd one that follows the writings of someone like Hubbard.

  • http://www.scribd.com/anonymary/collections Mary McConnell

    On Scientology's response to Reitman's book, well, it's so predictable. Except I don't think Reitman expected this kind of response from it. Her kid gloves (unbiased,noncommittal )approach in writing the book has backfired. The church would have attacked her anyway because this is what Scientology does to anyone majorly forwarding critical information about it. It would have been better to just admit in the book that Scientology a cult as the research states. Admit that internet posting & protesting exmembers and critics, and later the Anonymous movement, have been instrumental in helping expose Scientology for what it is. But she kept all that out of the book, as I mentioned in my call to your show last week.

    This response by the church is a Welcome to Scientology's Fair Game Tactics notice, where the goal is to ruin a career, a life, a family, a livelihood. This could have been prevented by writing the whole truth.

    Have you read the book yet, Deborah?

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      I enjoyed talking with you on the show, Mary! Sorry the phone lines got so busy that I couldn't get you back on. We definitely need to do another one.

      I am reading the book right now. I did a fast flip through/scan and am now reading it in detail. It was delivered by UPS to the wrong address, and the people who received it just brought it over on Saturday. It's pretty interesting stuff.

      Deborah

      • http://www.scribd.com/anonymary/collections Mary McConnell

        Hi Deborah, thanks for replying :) Glad you finally got the book and are reading it. Yes, it's interesting stuff but much to digest for the unfamiliar, lol.

        BTW, No apology needed. It was a busy night with many callers, so I understood. I'm glad you remembered me :) I have been meaning to email you a summary of the issues on Narconon and how they relate to Scientology, so that you could have the information to review and investigate for yourself. I'll get that out soon, I promise. Best wishes .

  • SarahinZurich

    LRH said that Scientology means the science of knowing. I think like everything else in the cult this word has a new meaning – the science of suing and harassing.

  • http://www.houseofbetazed.com Mriana

    It sounds to me like they are angry and trying to cover up something. It does not sound like they are being honest with what they are saying. Maybe it's a case of "the truth hurts" so they are retaliating.

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      Exactly. In reading Janet's book (I finally got it, UPS delivered it to the wrong address), I can see where the seeds of paranoia came from. My impression is that the "regular" members — not leadership — such as those who called into the show are nice folks who genuinely seem to enjoy the practice. The problem is with the leadership. The call from Karen, who was split from her son and went through all the hell that she went through, was disturbing and shocking. It is stories like what she says happened to her that discredit the entire organization and inspire protests.

      Deborah

  • Gallo

    I don't see the problem as being with the leadership, except when Hubbard was leader and wrote all the policies, and made it a crime to have "unkind thoughts" about him, or to doubt "the tech works 100% of the time."

    It is a fascist, dystopian system and would be a catastrophe if they were able to grab the political power they crave.

    There are serious problems with their beliefs and policies, because they have already led to one power-hungry violent individual, able to impose his will over all these supposedly enlightened and super empowered OTs.

    Until they drop their goal of total world domination, they need to be dismantled, and people given their money back, especially the people who were enslaved, impoverished, or hurt. The cult has more than enough to do that, in spite of the ego-blow that it would be for the celebrities.

    If they want to audit in living rooms, fine. Go for it. I'm counting on the information availability on the web to eventually cause havoc in new enrollment.

    Pretty hard to keep selling high priced secrets that are no longer secret. And people can read any number of stories of what it is really like in the Sea Org.

    As far as hoping for reforms, that's about as likely as hoping Scientology will save the planet with Hubbard quackery.

  • Heather G

    Deborah, your article is misleading. The church has only threatened to sue. Frankly, we'd love them to do it because then we'd be able to prove in court the kinds of abuses that have been going on. They don't have the courage to sue!

    Of course, one of the problems they would face is proving that statements about them damaged their reputation. How is it possible to ruin a reputation as degraded as that of the church of scientology, given recent media and criminal convictions (France)?

    • http://www.goddiscussion.com admin

      Thanks, Heather!

  • http://www.dannyhaszard.com Danny Haszard

    A cult does not require any set number of leaders, only the inerrant belief that they are the ONLY TRUE RELIGION. Nothing else matters once that ego kicks in and messes with their heads. Once that engages, it usually takes a life-changing event or change of circumstances to get them to reconsider their beliefs

    The definition of a destructive religious cult is like alcoholism-if booze controls you instead of the other way around you are an alcoholic.

    Religion can be benign then there are hard core Fundy groups that want to rule & control you like hard core alcoholism.
    The Watchtower society Jehovah's Witnesses as an example is not benevolent and won't let you leave their organization in peace.
    If they try to ruin your reputation and break up your family for trying to get out then they are a cult!
    Whenever you surrender your logic and reason to anyone who asks you to believe something on "faith" and to trust them because they know better and to please donate generously, it's a cult. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck….

    Danny Haszard born 3rd generation JW 1957 dannyhaszard (dot) com

  • Duncan Arthur

    Let's face it. This farce of a 'religion' is unacceptable to anyone who isn't prepared to drink the Kool Aid and can think for themselves

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