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Saturday, 18 June 2011 15:19

by Thoughtful

The first mainstream book to expose the truth about David Miscavige

Something has happened — Janet Reitman’s new book, Inside Scientology. This book has opened doors that few serious journalists have dared peer behind, much less open wide.

Dozens of Scientologists and former-Scientologists representing a panorama of opinions, pro and con, contributed their knowledge and data, and many are quoted throughout the book. Among them (in no particular order): myself; Dan Koon; Sinar Parman; Mark Fisher; Steve “Sarge” Pfauth; Tom De Vocht; Don Jason; Jason Knapmeyer; Amy Scobee; Mat Pesch; Jeff Hawkins; Bruce Hines; Mark and Claire Headley; Stefan and Tanja Castle; Jason Beghe; Greg Barns; Chuck Beatty; Mike and Donna Henderson; Anne, Jeffrey and Anthony Aylor; Nancy and Chris Many; Jesse Prince; Maureen Bolstad; Kendra Wiseman; Jenna Miscavige Hill; Astra Woodcraft; Caroline and John Brown; Jana Daniels; Donna Shannon; Gale Irwin; DeDe Reisdorf; Glenn Samuels; Teresa Summers; and many more whom I have yet to meet, such as Karen Pressley and Art Cohan. (If I left anyone out, please let me know and I will add).

Melanie Stokes and the late Alan Walter provided firsthand insight on the infamous Mission Holder’s conference and the dismantling of the mission network in the early 1980s. Larry Brennan explained the corporate restructuring of the CoS.

Janet also found a wealth of information through the writings of others on Scientology-cult.com. And through posts on Moving On Up A Little Higher, she used information from Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, although neither granted Janet an interview. Some of those posts included, “Funeral for a Friend” and “Miscavige Black Ops Squad Hits Corpus Christi,” “The Reformation,” and “Murder Outs.” She also used “What Impinges:  Survey Results” published on both websites in which Mike so aptly described “the vulture culture.”

In addition to Scientology-cult.com and Moving On Up A Little Higher, Janet also drew from other authoritative websites including, Leaving Scientology and Ex-Scientology Kids.

Janet also garnered key information from luminaries including detectives, attorneys and key law enforcement personnel, not to mention journalists such as Joe Childs and Tom Tobin of the St Petersburg Times.

I don’t know how she pulled it off, frankly. It was a Herculean task. I myself received 101 emails from Janet, most of which I answered in detail. How she managed to digest all that information… amazing. In addition, my telephone interviews with her in 2009 were something like 6 hours, as I recall.

Dan Koon and I spoke almost daily throughout 2009 while I was building Scientology-cult.com. And we often spoke about Janet’s book. Since she was interested in our data, we saw her book as a chance to make the truth about David Miscavige known more broadly.

As you may know, LRH’s opinion on journalists was not too high, having been burned I guess too many times by “writers” who already had their hatchet sharpened and angle written before they even interviewed him.  

As Janet pointed out, LRH was a showman and a storyteller. That is something we Scientologists overlook because against the value of the tech, such personality faults are trivial… because the only thing we rate as important is the workability of the tech. Against that, others factors simply cannot be compared.

However, journalists routinely stumble upon LRH’s personality faults and his human errors and never actually duplicate the value of the tech. They weigh in so heavily on personality faults the net effect is to invalidate the whole subject.

I’m sure some of those journalists were simply trying to be fair. Others were paid to write a hatchet job by vested interests — happens all the time. A few were simply malicious.

In retrospect, perhaps the correct handling by LRH when caught in a white lie such as not really being a “nuclear physicist” would have been to freely admit the error.  Easy for me to say. I wasn’t there. The remarkable thing is LRH was there. He carried Scientology a long, long way alone. He helped tens of thousands of people. Millions today are thankful he lived. Instead, LRH stopped communicating with the media, violating one of his golden rules: “Motion comes in, use and win.” No one is perfect. I appreciate him none the less.

In Inside Scientology you’re going to get a good dose of LRH’s faults. Are these things healthy for you to see? Yes. If you are so shaky on Scientology that learning about LRH’s faults is going to knock you out of orbit, then it’s bound to happen eventually. You might as well get it over with. Not all of his alleged faults are true by any means, but many are.

And if you survive learning something about LRH’s faults, the bright side is you will be all the stronger for it because nothing can trip you up.

Others of us are immune to personal criticism of LRH for reasons already stated. We aren’t Scientologists because LRH was a good guy. We are Scientologists because the technology works and it enables us to solve problems nothing else can fix. But with a subject like Scientology, of course the founder’s life is going to remain under the microscope for centuries to come. So get used to it. LRH wasn’t perfect. So what? Who is?

Another thing you will find in the book is the OT III story. If you haven’t heard of it, well, you might as well get used to that too. The data was leaked out on David Miscavige’s watch and it isn’t going to go away. However, contrary to popular belief that LRH said the data can make you ill, the fact is only mis-auditing the level can make you ill.

These sorts of issues more or less go with the Scientology territory. Here’s what doesn’t work: sticking your head in the sand. Here’s what else doesn’t work: trying to censor freedom of speech. Here’s what does work: go ahead and learn about LRH’s failings — they have nothing to do with the workability of the tech he developed.

As I have said before, if a car designer lied about where he went to school, does it mean the car he designed won’t work?

So when it came to “talking to the media” in 2009 (meaning Janet Reitman), Dan and I discussed the matter and it was basically a no brainer: By speaking out, could we in fact make Scientology’s PR any worse?

No — nothing could make Scientology’s PR any worse!

We also felt it was significant in that we were presenting a new viewpoint: that the philosophy of Scientology had almost nothing in common with the inexplicable and ever offensive behavior of the Church. We made it clear the organization was in fact being run by a madman, who’s actions were criminal at best.

Janet Reitman
Photo by Deborah Lopez

Dan spoke with Janet in April 2009 and told me about her. I sent her an email in April 2009 introducing myself. By that point Janet already had a rough draft of her book, but she said it was in desperate need of improvement. It was missing crucial points, both contextual and factual. The last third of the book was to deal with a subject nearly every other writer had shied away from, and continue to shy away from to this day… David Miscavige, his rise to power, his deeds and even life at the infamous Int base!

Janet said she wanted to look at LRH as both a man and as the founder of Scientology, and she also wanted to look at DM. Unlike so many before her, she had the courage to ask, “Who is this guy (DM) and how did he get where he is? And, what is he doing with his power and position? Is he truly a steward of the church, or is his controlling instinct destroying the church?”

She needed someone to help shed light on his character, particularly the early years 1984-89. She wanted to understand how this hostile takeover of sorts really worked. Who was Pat Broeker, and did he have supporters or a Pat Broeker “camp.” And conversely, was there a David Miscavige “camp”?

In speaking with Janet over the phone, she seemed honest and rational. Yet, like moths to a porch light, few journalists are able to avoid mischaracterizing LRH and the tech and Janet is no exception. In my opinion, she does mischaracterize LRH and fails to appreciate the tech. Joe Childs and Tom Tobin, well, they are exceptions and for that I hold them in high regard.

Still, I decided if she got nothing right but at least helped expose DM, that would be a step forward since mischaracterizations of LRH and the tech itself are nothing new.

Her book includes a huge section at the back entitled “Notes.” She stressed that not a single one of the people who contributed information like myself “had every spoken publicly prior to my interviewing them, nor had any of them pursued legal actions against the church or written a book.” Except where specifically noted, all references to these people, their stories, and their quoted words came from her own interviews and conversations with them.

Inside Scientology is probably the best definitive work on the Church yet produced. It does what the church's book, What is Scientology? never could: namely, tell the truth.

Yes, David Miscavige micromanaged the writing of What is Scientology?

Janet spent five years researching and writing Inside Scientology. Some contributors, like Mark and Claire Headley began to help her as early as 2007.  Included in the book are factual but harrowing tales of abuse and escape.

Of course, as with any work of this nature, the reporting is colored by the input. But as an Independent Scientologist, it’s incredible she got so much right. We are recognized as “part of a new ‘Independent Scientology’ movement: people who’ve remained true to the original theories and teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, though not to the current management of the church.”

Janet reveals the FBI is currently investigating Scientology over the abuse allegations made by numerous Sea Org staff; the agency is also reportedly investigating David Miscavige for “inurement,” or allegations that he has personally enriched himself with church funds… perhaps his $100,000 stereo system, or his numerous cars and homes.

Janet takes the reader into life at the Int base and documents the massive exodus of senior staff and executives throughout the 2000s. She covers intimidation and efforts to buy the silence of ex-Sea Org members. For example, David Miscavige’s personal lawbot, Elliot Ableson, handed Stefan Castle a check for $25,000 to keep silent.

Considering that Janet is not a Scientologist, she is remarkably fair and evenhanded, but not perfect. Then again, who is?

Some errors: I think her history of LRH is slanted toward the idea that LRH used marketing and advertising to promote the religion. Well, duh. Since the beginning of time, everything uses marketing and advertising to promote anything. Early Christians used word of mouth, testimonials, letters of recommendation, tours, rallies, talks and more. So to me, it’s a silly point to make and just seems to suggest that Scientology expanded because of good marketing, instead of due to the value of tech.

Likewise, she says the E-meter is not a new invention “contrary to Hubbard’s claims” because it is actually a variation of a Wheatstone Bridge — a fact every Scientologist knows because LRH said so himself. But it’s a small point.  There are other such minor errors here and there. She quotes ex-Scientologists such as one who knew LRH in the 1950s and later decided his only motivation was “money.” Okay, whatever.

But on what I consider really, really important — the subject of David Miscavige and his rise to power, his abuses and excesses, Janet Reitman wins with a TKO.  Here Janet finally published what even the St Petersburg Times failed to print: that David Miscavige’s handwriting was allegedly all over Lisa McPherson’s auditing files. Janet covers the whole saga, weaving together data from eyewitnesses.

There are many other pluses, and of course a few minuses. She ends the book with the opinion of Natalie Walet, a college-age Scientologist currently taking courses at Flag. Natalie rejects defectors’ claims that the environment was too corrosive. “So it really floors me that people saw DM doing this, if he did this, and didn’t do anything. Shame on them for not fixing it.”  Well, Natalie (she hopes to become a judge one day — God save us) what the hell do you think we are doing?

Personally, I think all clueless 23-year old Scientologists who “have heard terrible things” yet who are themselves doing nothing to correct those “terrible things” should simply decide they know best about everything and dismiss those who are actually working to correct the situation. Please feel free to assume we are just complaining (when in fact, we are actually using Scientology to audit the 3rd dynamic). I mean, why actually take responsibility for Scientology when you can just kinda play like you are taking responsibility for it, right, when in fact you are just doing some courses and not applying what you are learning? Kewl, right? Right? Just let the whole thing pass right over your head.

All told, Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology is a must read. She has sent an enormous boulder crashing through the glass house of Miscavige; those pink legs sticking out… well, I think you know whom they are attached to. It’s a strong statement that ultimately will help further our cause as Independent Scientologists. Read the book for yourself and see what you think.

Written by Thoughtful



+3 # Centurion 2011-06-18 15:41
I have not read any of the non-church books on Scientology so far. I do plan on it but I think I will start with this one. Thank you so much for the cogent, intelligent and eye opening review..

+3 # Karen#1 2011-06-19 01:32
Damned good book review.
Fair and balanced.
Kudos to you Steve.
My leaving the Church was a year ago so I was too late to contribute. Would love to have told her more about the Apollo days and LRH.


One thing I want to state in black and white.
Any further malicious vindictive retaliation on me, further *ANONYMOUS* phone calls to set me up, further visits to my home, further malicious tabloid lies on the hate web site, will be countered with full revelations to future journalists, authors and media.
+2 # RJ 2011-06-19 12:18
Thanks Thoughtful Steve,

I'll definitely check the book out.

I found her article in RS quite fascinating and I have no doubt her book will be the same.

Problem I see is that the press has tended to lie and exaggerate about Ron it's hard for many Scientologists to believe that Miscavige could actually be so suppressive.

They just think it's just more of the same.

What they fail to see is how the tech and policy has been intentionally perverted over the years.

Something a reporter is really not going to be able to report on since they themselves have no actual understanding of the subject.
+4 # Mike Laws 2011-06-19 16:13

Thank you for this review and the deeper thoughts and conversation it will stimulate.

If there is to be a sustainable future for Hubbards work, it requires an honest and unbiased understanding of the past.

We can not take a meaningfull step into the future with out one foot firmly placed in the past.

The Scientology culture has left us with many ideas and "truths" that were partially or completely false. The lies seemed to build upon the lies until lies were told, perpetuating more lies, until more where the untruths did not even make sense, weren't necesary and had no value.

Understanding the truth about our history is essetial for placing things into context, understanding strengths and limitations, and building a stable future. Critics feel vindicated because the truth is known, and supporters understand what the man went through and what was happening with him as he took specific and sometimes unclear or controvercial actions.

I know many critics and Anonymous members. Almost all of them have no desire to stop anyone believing in Scientology, but feel the need to ensure the whole truth is out so that people can honestly evaluate for themselves. A real scientologist should have no issue with the truth. No one, other than those hiding from the truth should care.

Janet should also be acknowledged as the first main stream author who has published a book exposing David Miscavage. Even the most powerful media outlets in the world such as BBC bowed to the COS pressure. Some day I would love to meet the woman!
+3 # Mark Fisher 2011-06-19 19:01
Great review Steve of a really important book. I am still reading it and have spent a few late nights without sleep.

Janet has done an amazing job in my opinion of telling the story and facts without coloring them one way or the other. In the current media culture on cable TV, every reporter injects their opinions and editorializes what they are reporting.

As I read the book, I feel like I am being told the story and facts and I am left to make up my own decisions about what I just read.

By interweaving the personal stories with the cold hard facts, it makes a compelling read and a page turner.

Janet approached me in Feb 2007 and I drove to Palm Springs to meet with her for several hours of interviews. I tried to tell her what it was like working for DM and how he rose to power. While I knew the basic story, I am glad to see other voices (finally) speak out on the record and fill in details that I didn't even know. At the time, I told her to not use my name, but after all that has changed over the past 4 years including the Anonymous protests, internet blogs, Government actions etc, I told her a couple of years ago to go ahead and use my name. What did I have to be afraid of for telling the truth from my perspective?

Yes the book is not perfect. But I am amazed at how accurate it is covering so many years and so many occurances that brought Scientology to where it is today. I think for a non Scientologist, they will be able to read it without any problem.

Finally, I must say that I read the treatment of Lisa McPherson in detail for the first time in this book and I was physically sick to my stomach over how she was treated and was ashamed that this could ever happen. Now I am more convinced than ever that DM is capable of almost anything!

I highly recommend the book to everyone and agree with you wholeheartedly Steve that it is better to confront the truth and learn the data, than to keep heads in the sand.
+1 # Fat Freddy 2011-06-20 10:28
Beautiful women :-)
Sorry for the off topic, but I must mention it.
+1 # Kirsi 2011-06-21 01:37
Excellent book review, Thoughtful. Thank you.
+1 # Ed Rhett 2011-06-25 19:39
I am readig the book, rght now, becase of the review on this webpage. Great book. I am actually starting to see David Miscavage's point of view, but having said that I feel that I must say, the Church just isn't big enough for the two of us. I don't claim to be a leader, but I am not a follower of DM.
+1 # Zhongjianren 2011-06-28 05:18
I just finished Reitman’s book. In the Acknowledgements on page 424, after thanking many named and unnamed “former and current Scientologists who shared with [Reitman] their joys, sorrows, fears, hopes, and disapointments during [her] five years of research” Reitman goes on to say:

“That a number of them still value L. Ron Hubbard’s techology, if not the organizational management of the Church of Scientology — and were eager to differentiate between the two — is a testament to the growing number of Scientologists who hope to form an independent, and free, movement. I wish them all the best of luck in doing so.”
+1 # Les Warren 2011-07-17 14:03
Hi Steve,
Excellent review. I have not read the book yet, but it will be in my library any day.
Only one comment at this point. I was reading the Co$ whining response to the book on the Village Voice. They are alleging that thier staff were not given ample input, so the truth could be told.
It occurred to me that Janet wanted the truth. And current church members are strictly forbidden from researching, looking for or talking to anyone who actually knows the truth. So why bother asking them? Everyone who is paying attention knows Tommy Davis lies through his teeth except current cult members.
Janet was looking for truth.
+2 # Sid 2011-07-18 08:55
There are many scholarly definitions of what constitutes a "cult".

One of the common elements is something like "the leader is considered the Messiah, a special being, an avatar—or the group and/or the leader is on a special mission to save humanity".

By dealing with the reality of Ron the less-than-perfect-human, Scientology is much more likely to one day escape the cult tag.

You can't read Reitman's book and say on the one hand "yes I believe the evidence presented that DM is a maniac" and then say "no I don't believe the evidence presented that LRH had all these faults and flaws".
# Tara 2011-07-27 21:07
Great book review. Wish I'd read it before but oh well. You reviewed it exactly as I read it.
It was worth the read and did a good job telling much more of the story of DM and other facets of Scn. I would definitely stay away from the church, or at least a Sea Org org after reading it, but might read an LRH book out of curiosity, I think. But I'm biased...
# Your Humble Servant 2011-07-27 23:26
I really don't know why people seem quick to believe that Ron was a great exaggerator and told falsehoods. I have never found this to be the case at all. Ron never really claimed to be a "nuclear physicist," although he may have referenced himself as such lightly or jokingly. He mere said many times in his lectures that he studied atomic and molecular phenomena at
George Washington University, and I believe that is factually correct.
# Chuck McCanns beagle 2011-08-07 08:24
Reitman did a great job. The research is excellent. There's a sufficient quantity of material in the book that the reader can be certain if factual, either a la 'you can't make stuff like that up', or one, in the case of ex SO, saw those things take place or witnessed occurrences just like them on a firsthand basis, giving the book strong credibility. Further, she writes with both a lack of hyperbole and with an air of compassion for those that endured these travails.

I was never posted at Int, but elsewhere, where dealings with 'dept21
# joenas 2012-02-12 03:30
hmmm...Nice post, thanks for sharing...,
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