Posted on | January 21, 2013 | 12 Comments
A week ago, the secretive Scientology cult accidentally invited closer media scrutiny by paying The Atlantic to publish a “sponsored content” article so over the top that it generated a massive backlash. It wasn’t difficult for journalists to figure out why the creepy sci-fi “religion” was trying to buy good publicity: Award-winning reporter Lawrence Wright was about to publish a new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief. On Sunday, the Washington Post published a review of Wright’s book on the front page of its “Outlook” section:
Newfangled religions, outre theology, secret rituals — these are threatening and titillating in equal measure; the more a religion’s leaders block or deflect reporters’ probes, the more the public wants to know (and the more sinister the faith can seem). . . .
[Scientology founder L. Ron] Hubbard was a voluble, charismatic, imaginative man, a writer who liked to spin fantastical stories. He was also a liar, according to Wright. The author builds a case that Hubbard lied about his health, his age and his military service . . .
He was married thrice and had innumerable extramarital liaisons; his second wife, Sara Northrup, accused him in divorce papers of “systematic torture” including “sleep deprivation, beatings, strangulations, and ‘scientific torture experiments.’?” . . .
Hubbard’s famously paranoid worldview is extensively documented here as well. When a negative reputation began to taint Scientology worldwide, he launched what was perhaps his most grandiose and outrageous scheme. He called it the Snow White Program. Starting in 1973, Wright asserts, Hubbard placed as many as 5,000 Scientologists as spies in government agencies all over the world, charging them with unearthing official files on the church, “generating lawsuits to intimidate opponents, and waging an unremitting campaign against mental health professionals.”
In the United States, Wright says, the spies penetrated the IRS; the Justice, Treasury and Labor Departments; the Federal Trade Commission; and the Drug Enforcement Administration. . . .
You can read the whole 1,600-word article by the Post’s religion editor, Lisa Miller. Obviously, Miller would have reviewed the book anyway, but would it have been featured at the top left on the front page of the “Outlook” section if it hadn’t been for that stupid Atlantic “advertorial”?
As of 2 p.m. today, Wright’s book was No. 9 on the Amazon bestsellers list. I’ve sold several copies via Amazon Associates, as well as copies of Janet Reitman’s 2011 book Inside Scientology: The Story of America’s Most Secretive Religion. And readers can also make advance purchases of the soon-to-be-released Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, by Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige.
When truth is cheap, secrecy becomes expensive, and Scientology simply cannot afford the price of protecting its esoteric nonsense. Thus, 2013 may become known as the year that finally bankrupted Scientology. Another victory for “The Streisand Effect.”
- Jan. 19: Scientology ‘Advertorial’ Scandal Exposes Atlantic Executive as Truthless Swine
- Jan. 16: ‘Streisand Effect’: Scientology Imploding?
- Jan. 15: The Problem With ‘Sponsored Content’: Atlantic Unpublishes Scientology Article