Renowned journalist throws the book at Scientology

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lawrence wright

Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Lawrence Wright talks to Religion News Service about his new book ``Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief.'' RNS photo courtesy Alfred A. Knopf.

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(RNS) Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Lawrence Wright talks to Religion News Service about his new book "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief.''

  • Samki

    Hi Mr. Burke,

    Thank you for interviewing Mr. Wright about his book, which I have read with great interest. The CoS is a criminal organization that seems to stop at nothing to achieve the goals of its designer (and the designer’s heir apparent, David Miscavige) – it, and its adherents, truly believe the end justifies the means. They are capable of anything.

    I hope “Going Clear” reaches a wide audience and causes people to look, research, and discover for themselves what this group is capable of and what its goals are.

    If you readers out there are new to the subject, try googling (include “scientology” in all these searches) Wollersheim, Reed Slatkin, Lisa MacPherson, Patrick Desmond, Maria Pia Gardini. There are so many, many more who have been damaged by this group.

    Or just for fun, in your google search bar simply begin to type “scientology is”…. and see what google leads you to.

    Truly frightening.

    Thanks again, Mr Burke – and you too, Mr Wright.

  • Put3

    Why isnt the reference you gladly make a link to not used in the interview?
    This article and that website is schziophrenic… one man’s word against another… and no hard evidence… typical of EVERY ARTICLE YOU READ ON THIS RELIGION!

  • Rick

    I’m not really sure I understand your comment. I suspect that part of the issue is that Scientology doesn’t believe in traditional education, hence the difficulty with expressing oneself in writing, spelling, etc. Actually I think the misspelling is probably a typo. Want to try again? Surely you can say something that makes more sense….

    By the way, I used to be in the Sea Org. The stories are true.

  • If a current scientologist such as Put3 could just explicitly follow their own “doubt formula”, they would find hard evidence by the bushel.

    For instance, many of the documents from the FBI raid of the Guardian’s office in 1977 are available, which show clearly scientologists in official positions planning and executing illegal break-ins and thefts from government offices.

    The “stipulation of evidence” that the high scientology officials agreed to is eye-opening.

    And, testimony under oath IS evidence. One only needs to research the testimony and exhibits entered in the Gerry Armstrong trial to find more than enough to shake your belief system.

    Put3, it is only your self-censorship and unwillingness to LOOK that keeps you supporting scientology. Think of all the outpoints within the ‘church’ you have to ignore daily. Hubbard himself said “look, don’t listen”. You should take his advice.

  • Here is a link to my take on how ordinary caring people get into scientology and the factors that make them into fanatic.

  • Andrew Robertson

    An excellent comment Michael. Lawrence Wright’s book is a thoughtful and well balanced analysis of the Church of Scientology’s history and current behavior.

    Which, given the misery the organization has inflicted on so many of its members must be alarming information for those unfamiliar with its methods.

    If adults choose to remain in the Church their decision must be respected and not mocked.

    My concern is for the children brought up by Scientologist parents who have no choice for freedom of belief unless they have the courage to break free with the inevitable consequence of having their parents and siblings ‘disconnect’ from them.

    Inducted into the Sea Org with no formal education and compelled to work long hours in menial jobs equips them poorly for a real life.

    Derek Bloch,someone I admire, has written strongly about this awful choice.

    So has Lori Hodgson whose two children are still in the maws of the Sea Org.

    She misses them dreadfully.

    But when should the State step in to stop abusive behavior towards children? It is a difficult decision particularly in a country like America where a phrase like ‘Religious Freedom’ has quite properly a significant resonance.

    Shielded by lawyers and private investigators the Church of Scientology still enjoys protection from its malevolent practices.

    Unless crimes are discovered which make it impossible for the Federal and State agencies to ignore instigating prosecution then the Church will continue along its malevolent path.


  • I was in the Scientology Sea Org for 15 years. I was posted at the international headquarters where the “hole” is. Wright’s book just scratches the surface! There are so many crimes happening in that place, it would blow your mind.

    Scientology is good at having secrets, not keeping them.

    Soon all of the abuse and wrong doing will be exposed and Scientology will start having to pay off former members and lawsuits all around.

    More books will be coming out this year and all will say the same thing.

    Scientology is evil and ruins people and the families.

  • Elizabethan

    Thank you Daniel Burke for this article and Lawrence Wright for his book.
    As a former public member of this cult I’d like to add a note about going Clear. Once you reach that level you are really hooked into doing whatever they want you to do. If you have enough money you continue fast up the levels or you are ready to be recruited into helping the OSA department by doing their dirty tricks; lying, spying, stealing, believing they are not dirty at all. At some level you really want to help, and you are Clear about that. You help the group only and destroy yourself and innocent people!
    Scientology is a dangerous, insidious cult, I’m happy to see this exposed.

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  • Bob G

    Keep up the good work Marc. Glad you made it out.

  • Beneva

    There are two sides to every story aren’t there? Unfortunately, the other side is missing in this article. A former sea org’er like marc hedley says “evil cult’, while thousands of active sea org members do what they do BECAUSE they know they are helping make the world a better place and they lead the fulfilling lives that they want to lead. I know, because I’ve talked to many of them with several, in as long as, or longer than marc hedley. Additionally, why is no one mentioning that there are prominent scientologists who have relatives and loved ones in the sea org. Why would this be if it was an evil organization? The answer? it’s not. Why is there no law enforcement agency prosecuting if they are a “criminal organization?” The answer? It’s not. Why do so many of the ex-members attacking the church have either a history of asking the church for money or are part of a law suit to extract money? (Which many, including marc hedley, have lost.). Why did lawrence wright and/or not talk to or include the scores of happy, satisfied scientologists and sea org members? Why do Lawrence Wright and not mention that the church of scientology runs the worlds largest anti-drug program which is also endorsed and distributed by the worlds largest law enforcement agency. Lawrence Wright and this article offer only ONE side of the story when in fact, there are two. Why is an article on “religionNEWS” not getting BOTH sides of the story? Where are the journalism ethics here? Isn’t it in your best interest for ALL religions to offer a comprehensive view on accusations towards ANY religion? Haven’t ALL religions been persecuted? Haven’t ALL religions had both good and bad members? Of course the answer is yes. Using the logic of lawrence wright and religionnews, I am then to conclude that because ALL religions have had bad members that have made mistakes therefore all religions are bad? Of course not. I’m truly disappointed in the biased, one-sided approach to reporting here on

  • I can tell from the way you have written that you have deep internal conflicts between what you see, the everyday outpoints within the ‘church’, and what you have to tell yourself to keep supporting it.

    You are not bad for defending it. After all, you were taught falsehoods to get you to support it. Someday soon, you will really begin to look. And then you can discover for yourself what was real and what was a sham. Read my essay linked above. Read as much of both sides as you can.

    Try not to do thinks you will be embarrassed about when you wake up.

  • Bob G

    And why did not Lawrence talk to more Scientologists? It seems like COB will not allow members in Sea Org or others to talk openly without being monitored and told what they should parrot. And it seems like your PR person has not been too cooperative since the incident with Becky Cook

  • Bob G

    As for drug treatment i am in that field. There is no scientific proof that long saunas and mega doses of niacin can cure drug addiction, and in fairness it is hard to treat addicts. But some have died as has been documented by these treatments and by poor management. But COS is not able to rationally evaluate what works or does not work in Drug treatment or in other areas as COS members are not encouraged to evaluate other approaches as COS members treat LRH as their only source of knowledge and the tech must be applied without question or alteration.

  • Beneva

    Bob G, the program I was referring to is . It is the world’s largest private anti-drug program.

  • Km

    It’s funny but sad that all critics of scientology are liars, apostates, bigoted’ etc. Don’t defend but attack, attack, attack you critics. When will scientology realize these tactics don’t work anymore?

  • Steven B

    “Why is there no law enforcement agency prosecuting if they are a ‘criminal organization?’ ”

    Ummm, THEY ARE! Google…

    “Belgium to bring fraud charges against Scientologists”

    “Turin Police Raid Scientology Chapter”

    “Moscow Police Raid New Scientology Centre”

    “French Court Convicts Church of Scientology for Fraud”

  • Steven B

    “Why do Lawrence Wright and not mention that the church of scientology runs the worlds largest anti-drug program”

    Are you talking about Narconon, which was shut down in Quebec for health, safety and labor law violations, facing civil suits for the deaths of several patients there (Stacy Dawn Murphy, Gabriel Graves, Kaycie Werninck, Hillary Holten, Patrick Desmond and others) and a criminal investigation for insurance fraud in Georgia?

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  • Bob G

    nice PR but the truth is that patients have died from long saunas due to overheating and they have also been likely harmed from large doses of niacin which can be toxic to the liver. A rational person would ask honest questions of what works not just follow LRH like a puppet. Your response Beneva and the available research out there on the dangers of Narcanon indicates that the so called Tech makes it more difficult for people to think rationally and to consider alternative approaches to solving problems as COS members are forbidden to question the master’s teachings.

  • Bob G

    And as COS members are indoctrinated to believe that all critics are liars, apostates, bigoted, or under the influence of evil body thetans, etc they are programmed, ( and remember LRH though the human brain was like a computer) to not believe any information from non COS sources. So the information which may be of help to them is denied or their minds shut it out. The only hope for most COS members is that things get so bad in the org or they get so broke that they are forced to look outside the org for truth. Sort of like an alcoholic that must hit bottom first before they are open to help and to reality.

  • Bob G

    And for those lurking who are in COS, when you go broke taking expensive courses or get tired of constantly being pushed to pay more for new books, building funds,, etc. If you find yourselves being emotionally abused or worse by the org, experience disconnection from family members or from friends you love and you may be feeling confused by being told by the org that these things don’t happen or you cannot talk about them, and are feeling only pain and no gain from the org. When that happens there is help out there but you must have the courage to google ex Scientologists or to read their stories first and to begin to learn another viewpoint. Some have made it out.

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  • Suzanna

    please just keep reading both sides. Don’t automatically discount all former members. They were once true believers.
    What changed? The information is out there…All of it.
    LRH said….Look, don’t listen.
    Please keep looking.

  • Suzanna

    Actually Bob, Many have made it out. And those numbers have been growing steadily (especially lately).
    There are resources out here in the WOG world. There are many who will help. Use that Google resource.
    It is the way to freedom.

  • Midwest Mom

    Thank you Daniel Burke and Religion News Service for this informative interview.The comments attacking this article are obviously Scientology OSA trolls. They usually use the “all religions are equally ridiculous” argument and usually attack and mock Christians and most often, the Catholic Church, hoping to deflect commentary away from the subject of Scientology’s abuses to derail into arguments about all religions.

    Anyone with use of the internet can read about the corrupt and abusive organization which is the Church of Scientology. Read about Operation Snow White and Operation Freakout and you’ll realize that L. Ron Hubbard was an evil and vindictive man; not a “humanitarian” as the cult claims.

    Another factor we should remember, is that this cult preys on those who are seeking help with addictions and they use this opportunity to recruit rehab patients with Hubbard teachings as part of the program.

    They also use Hubbard’s teachings to recruit those people in third world nations who are devastated by tragedy and natural disasters and are orphaned. They don’t provide the normal help Christian missionaries provide, but teach children to stare at each other for hours, to yell at inanimate objects and at each other (bull baiting) and other brainwashing techniques and punishments.

    Thank you again for the great job, Daniel. I can tell that you did your homework for this interview and it shows! Kudos to you!

  • Still On Your Side

    The Church of Scientology will be shut down by the federal government when it realizes that ending FBI and DHS investigations because Miscavige’s lawyers have DC connections and because of “religious immunity” is no different than allowing Warren Jeffers to molest young girls because of “religious immunity.” The difference is that Miscavige is abusing a lot more children. It’s been settled for decades in the US, by the Supreme Court, that religious freedom does not extend to actions that abuse children or take away their human rights. It makes me sick to hear federal officials using the religion card to excuse their lack of action.

  • Still On Your Side

    Add the State of Georgia.

  • Still On Your Side

    I was trying to reply to Steven B when I wrote above “add the State of Georgia.” Narconon is being investigated for criminal insurance fraud by the State of Georgia, and I predict when law enforcement follows the money trail to Miscavige and the Church of Scientology, they too will be investigated for criminal acts.

  • Beastie

    I just want to note that CoS can also stand for “Church of Satan”, and that unlike the Church of Scientology, the Church of Satan is in no way an evil cult whose teachings are contrary to Christianity.

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  • Bob G

    Beastie perhaps I should have used CO$ as some have. As for as COS you referred to this is a bit off topic but not really. My understanding of Satanism is that one group worships a personal satan and the other branch of Anton Levay uses satan as a myth to exalt the self. And we Christians believe we can choose hell by either worshipping satan or by making an idol of the self. As for Hubbard, in reading Wright’s book it is clear that LRH exalted himself and with his study of the Magick of Aleister Crowleys works, along with Jack Parsons, and their practice of occult rituals, it is clear to me that they and satanists are heading in the same general direction. Perhaps Satanism does not deny the teachings of Christianity any more than a person jumping off a cliff without a parachute proves the law of gravity wrong. That is, I believe on judgment day when we stand before God we will prove God right by facing either His mercy or His justice. I pray my readers and yourself choose His grace and His mercy while there is still time.

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  • Lola

    Wow u smell like some scientologists I know. Scientology didn’t have over 500 years to do harm like other religios.but hey, they are doing way more damage already! They are efficient at destroying people. their unethical way of doing “business ” can b compared to the mob than religion. Have u thought of that? I think you are being bias.

  • they are obviously making use of, and are developing mind energies and psychicsm through its followers, it’s not a bad thing to take control and realise the true human design when we are over run by corrupt heads of state and other mindless entities

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  • Ferris Bueller

    David Miscavige did take over in the 1980’s; however, he was not handpicked by Ron Hubbard. Through trickery he usurped power that would have gone to someone else after he died. At least that is what I read. And why not believe that assertion,especially since the Church is into buying “Ideal Orgs” and hitting members up for a lot more money than it costs to buy and renovate the buildings, and when the buildings do finally open, if at all, almost no one comes to the building (Ideal Org.) to take a course. They mostly sell extension courses now, very little auditing and in-house auditor training is done anymore. So the situation has gone from bad under previous management to really bad under Mr. Miscavige.

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  • Rick

    Huh? Did that make any sense at all?

  • Rick

    OK, maybe English isn’t your native language. In that case, I apologize, I guess….

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