Scientology, created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard, claims to be the world's fastest-growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of "volunteer ministers" offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center. But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of government to further its goals. Its attacks on psychiatry and its requirement that believers pay as much as tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation have drawn scrutiny and skepticism. And ex-members use the Internet to share stories of harassment and abuse.
Now Janet Reitman offers the first full journalistic history of the Church of Scientology, in an even-handed account that at last establishes the astonishing truth about the controversial religion. She traces Scientology's development from the birth of Dianetics to today, following its metamorphosis from a pseudoscientific self-help group to a worldwide spiritual corporation with profound control over its followers and even ex-followers.
Based on five years of research, unprecedented access to church officials, confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, this is the defining book about a little-known world.
A fascinating book. It tells the story of Scientology in roughly 5 parts: the story of its founder L. Ron Hubbard, the succession of David Miscavige as leader of the Church of Scientology, the scandal surrounding the death of Lisa McPherson, Scientology's involvement with celebrities like John Travolta and Tom Cruise, and personal spiritual journeys of current and former (non-celebrity) Scientologists. Reitman incorporates the stories of many former Scientologists who have also written books like Nancy Many and Marc Headley and draws heavily from the experiences of former top Scientology official Marty Rathbun.
I originally wanted to wait for the forthcoming book on Scientology by Lawrence Wright, the guy who wrote the amazing article "The Apostate" in the New Yorker about the famous director Paul Haggis leaving Scientology, but I had a long car trip coming up and couldn't wait. I was not disappointed. The question posed to the reader in this book is: "What is Scientology?" Is it a religion? A cult? A business? The only hope for the salvation of mankind? A secret society bent on world domination? Whatever it is, its worse than you think (if even half of what's in this book is true).
Facinating and Scary
For decades I've seen the headlines and reports concerning Scientology and decided to learn more about the church. Reitman's book places all the events a well documented and facinating timeline of events. Unbaised and detailed, this book is a must read for anyone in the church.