Church spokesman Tommy Davis says the Times' sources admitted they left Scientology because they could not meet the church's strict ethical standards. Now they are lying, he says, and the Times is helping advance their agenda. Here is the Church of Scientology's response to their allegations, submitted as a 10-page letter:
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CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY INTERNATIONAL
15 October 2009
VIA HAND DELIVERY
Mr. Joe Childs
Mr. Tom Tobin
St. Petersburg Times
490 First Avenue South
St. Petersburg, Florida 33701
I am in receipt of your letter of 6 October 2009 and the laundry list of "new allegations," your sources are now concocting. Your letter reeks of naked bias.
The Church of Scientology is a worldwide religion comprising over 8,000 Churches, Missions and groups, made up of millions of members in 165 countries of the world. It is a globally recognized supporter of some of the most successful social betterment programs on Earth. The fact that the Church finds itself in the position of having to continue to respond to the false allegations of Rathbun, Rinder, Scobee, Bruce Hines, Mark Fisher and other members of your posse, is only because you, and other media to whom they are shopping their story, are providing a platform to impugn the name of the ecclesiastical leader of Scientology, denigrate the religion and cause undue harm to its parishioners. Some of these people have been gone from the Church for nearly 20 years; how they can be considered "sources" for a current news story regarding Scientology is preposterous.
You have a few petty allegations and are seeking to accuse the Church of dozens of instances of misconduct, an old tabloid trick to make it look like you have a "big story." In fact, all you have is a few people who left a religion after committing destructive acts and are now complaining about what they did while in the Church. Years later they are using the media to demand that the Church defend the harmful acts which they committed. Once again, your story is about Mike and Marty — they are telling you about their misdeeds.
Any claim or inference that Mr. Miscavige was involved in any way with attorney use of private investigators is false. Similarly, any claim that Mr. Miscavige ran a "blow drill," forcibly kept staff from leaving the International Base, chased them down, asked to speak to staff who had left on the phone, or was involved in any way in acts of violence is categorically denied. These statements are false and defamatory and to include them in your publication would be further evidence of your malice.
Over the last quarter century, the Church has been involved in over 2,000 lawsuits and has had to fight for its very existence on many fronts. The attacks it has faced over this time are unprecedented. The Church has been investigated by the most powerful tax collection agency in the world and false reports were disseminated from the United States to police and law enforcement bodies across the globe. There have been civil law suits with specious claims adding up to hundreds of millions of dollars filed by lawyers working hand in glove with misguided and/or ill-informed governmental agencies.
In Italy, for example, the Church went to the Supreme Court no less than three times resulting in a precedent-setting decision on the definition of religion. That was after police had raided and shut down all Churches and Narconons in Italy, with 450 gun-toting carabinieri raiding every Church, Mission and Narconon. Similarly, a battle in Spain spanned 14 years with machine gun-toting government raids of our Church in Madrid. Not only were all defendants acquitted, but the National Court of Spain later issued a landmark decision recognizing that the National Church of Scientology of Spain should be entered in the Registry of Religious Entities. In Germany the Church has won over 50 decisions during this same time period. These battles have raged on all around Germany but in January 2009, the Administrative Court in Berlin ordered the City of Berlin to remove a city sponsored anti-Scientology "STOP" sign in front of the Berlin Org holding that the poster violated the Church's right to practice its religion. The Church has been vindicated in all of these jurisdictions, beginning with the IRS recognition of the religious and charitable status of all Church-affiliated entities in the U.S. in 1993, which put to rest similar false allegations circulated by disgruntled former members. These current false allegations will similarly be shown to be false.
Your choice of a story about the leader of the only major religion to have been founded in the 20th century and the fastest-growing religion on earth is to focus on the allegations of bitter ex-members who think that Mr. Miscavige is abusive and psychotic and that he engaged in a "blow drill" to detain a cook. I have taken pains to educate you about the recent expansion of the Church and the realization of the goal set by the Founder to create Churches of Scientology that are a physical embodiment of Scientology policy and technology. You have chosen to ignore these facts in favor of the hate-filled rants of your sources.
You are clearly aware of what is happening in the Church. The recent edition of Freedom magazine laid out a brief overview of some of the Church's current activities worldwide. Not only are things in the Church better these days since your sources have been gone, they are sensational! The Church is not just expanding, it is exploding! Mr. Miscavige is the driving force behind the worldwide expansion of Scientology. He works for and answers to Scientology's millions of parishioners and serves their interests by implementing Mr. Hubbard's plans and strategies, while devoting every spare moment to the restoration of Mr. Hubbard's technology and its dissemination to the public. It is his far-reaching vision and unrelenting dedication which have brought the Church so far and so fast. He redefines the term "religious leader."
In light of these facts, you write to me in 2009, to answer these false and petty allegations of a man who saved up his money to have sex with under-aged girls in Thailand and hosted a web site coaching others how to do the same thing? Or the demonstrably fraudulent accusations of a man who was engaged in voyeurism and exhibitionism, and was summarily dismissed from his position when a woman he was ministering reported an inappropriate sexual advance towards her? Or the individuals who were removed from their positions by Mr. Miscavige and are guilty of suborning perjury, obstruction of justice and wasting millions of dollars of parishioner funds? The same individuals who admitted to you they are liars: they admitted to lying under oath and lying to the media. What basis do you have to believe they are telling the truth now (which I assure you they are not)? It is apparent your sources are straining to come up with new allegations and have apparently exhausted their own vivid imaginations, but if the use of private investigators by attorneys representing the Church, which use Rathbun and Rinder personally oversaw, is their newest complaint, it is well past the time for the St. Petersburg Times to stop acting as their mouthpiece.
As they would do for any worldwide organization that employs attorneys, lawyers do what is needed to effectively represent their clients, including the use of private investigators. (Attachment 1, Attachment 2, Attachment 3) Asking the Church to respond to why an investigator might have been looking into somebody who was involved in a legal case with the Church 10 or 20 years ago is ludicrous and I cannot believe you are serious. Perhaps you should ask Rathbun and Rinder, this was their responsibility. If Rinder used PIs to harass, that was his decision and was certainly not done under the direction or with the knowledge of Mr. Miscavige. He was expected to do his job correctly, and, of course, within the bounds of the law. He was dismissed for not doing so. The policy of Church lawyers is unequivocal: private investigators may only operate within the bounds of their own rules and regulations and in accordance with all state and local laws. If Rinder and Rathbun used PIs to "abuse poor innocent people" they are the only ones to blame. Other Church officials were not involved in their duties.
As for the "blow drill," your real question should be to ask Rathbun and Rinder whether anyone tried to prevent them from leaving or came looking for them after they left the Sea Organization. The answer is a resounding NO! Their own personal circumstances belie these tall tales. You are once again trying to turn Scientology policy inside out. The HCO Policy Letter, Blow Offs, makes clear that anyone who leaves the Sea Org has overts and withholds. (Attachment 4) It is offensive in the extreme for you to denigrate a religious service by attempting to redefine Scientology confessionals as something used to punish. Giving an individual the opportunity to unburden himself of transgressions is as old as religion itself. In Scientology, not only can one seek and find forgiveness for past misdeeds free of the threat of punishment, but one can also take responsibility for those acts — something which your sources have proven they are incapable of doing.
The Church, of course, is interested in giving members who have failed in performing their duties a chance to reform and rehabilitate themselves. That is Scientology's purpose. On the other hand, the policy (and it is policy) is that the Church will not keep people on staff who want to leave. Mike Rinder is the best illustration of this policy. As he well knows, nobody attempted to bring him back. The same is true for Marty Rathbun. They are complaining about a blow drill that was only conducted by them. They are speaking of their own efforts to keep individuals on staff who were unfortunately destructive and/or suppressive. Marty admitted this was his operating basis in the attached excerpt from his writings. (Attachment 5)
After four articles and over nine months it is unbelievable that you are now coming to us with more allegations of "abuse." Why weren't these raised from the outset?? It is clear your sources are not motivated by anything other than the desire to "get somebody" — old fashioned bitter revenge. When their attempts to "get Mr. Miscavige" resulted in both ZERO effect on the Church and a massive response from Church leadership making it clear that we could not be happier that Rathbun and
Rinder are gone, their response now is to "get everyone." This time it is not Mr. Miscavige who is the focus of the attacks, it is Russ Bellin, Angie Blankenship and Jenny Linson (two women who could easily be sent flying by a strong gust of Santa Ana winds). They allege Russ Bellin is guilty of "abuse by water bottle?" Oh, please! I am not sure if I am supposed to answer your allegation or the similar one related to ABC Nightline. Nightline advises that Marty Rathbun witnessed the water bottle incident and that this is his allegation; while you advise the "incident" took place in 2006/2007, years after Marty was gone. Nightline also tells me that Mr. Weiland suffered from hypothermia. The storytelling clearly gets mixed up in the telling. The changing stories are the mark of liars whose lies you have chosen to advance. At least you should request they keep their lies straight among the media to whom they are shopping their story. (Attachment 3) And perhaps you could also request that Rinder stop whining. The real source of his bitterness is his realization, now that no one made any attempt to keep him in the Church, that he was despised in the Sea Organization. He is arrogant and contemptuous of everyone. Mike is capitalizing on the opportunity you are giving him to "get everybody": He is not the head of the Office of Special Affairs anymore; he does not fly around the world anymore; he does not "run with the big dogs in the tall grass" anymore; he is resentful and seeking vengeance.
With respect to your allegations regarding "disconnection" and breaking up of families, expulsion or excommunication is a practice as old as religion itself. The Church strongly believes that it is a fundamental right of any being to communicate. There is no Church policy mandating that a member of the Church of Scientology must disconnect from anyone. To the contrary, it is a self-determined decision made by an individual with respect to someone who is antipathetic to them and/or their beliefs. There is a distinct difference between someone who has different religious beliefs and someone who is attacking them for his beliefs. It is a common ploy of those attacking the Scientology religion, or any other Church for that matter, to cry foul about "disconnection" when it is, in fact, the attacker who by his or her own actions causes others to desire to sever the connection. These anti-Scientologists then try to create sensational stories about the "practice" to further harm the Church. Scientology policy is no different from the practices of any faith.
I am advised that Mike Rinder's family did write to him. I am really appalled that he shared their personal communications with you. I understand the correspondence detailed his family's concerns about his actions. I have been advised the letters were forwarded to Mike per their request, via the International Justice Chief, in accordance with Church policy. I have checked with his family and understand they have not received an answer to their letters. One would think that if Mike Rinder valued their relationship enough to complain about it to you, he could have found a spare moment in between plotting his attack on them and their religion to send a note back.
The St. Petersburg Times has made itself the advocate for anti-Scientologists on the lunatic fringe who refer to the Church's respected religious leader as a "madman," "Jim Jones," draw comparisons to Hitler and describe Scientology religious events as replete with "Hitlerian backdrops," deride the Church's International headquarters as "Abu COB prison," claim that senior Church Management "drink the Kool-Aid" and that Mr. Miscavige's "mission [is] to drive Scientology in the direction of the People's Temple."
The references included above may be found in Marty Rathbun's most recent postings on the Internet. These postings not only evidence that Rathbun is a card-carrying member of the lunatic fringe, they also lay bare his agenda being forwarded by your newspaper to baselessly attack the Scientology religion, its practices, its ministers, its ecclesiastical management, its leader and its Founder to serve his own delusional interests. That he purports to only speak of Mr. Miscavige is, of course, because Mr. Miscavige is the most famous name in Scientology and to defame him is to defame the character of the religion. As you have repeatedly been told, Rathbun lives for battle, is abusive, is violent, is a liar and, in his own words, was the cause of major catastrophes within the Church. That he is directing his attacks at Mr. Miscavige is just part of his attempt to cause the most damage to the Church. Unfortunately for him, he has not been able to restrain himself and his true motivations have now come to the surface as he rails about virtually every Church executive, assassinating their character along with Mr. Miscavige's.
He maligns Scientology ministers as a "priesthood of Reverse Dianeticists" because they deliver Scientology religious services purely as Mr. Hubbard intended but not as Mr. Rathbun would like. He accuses the highest trained ministers in ecclesiastical management of "warped interpretations" of Scientology, stating that he would not let them "audit my dog." He rants that he and his "posse" are attempting "to break through" the "Dark Ages" in delivery of Scientology religious services, that ecclesiastical management is composed of "nothing but weaklings" and that it is incumbent upon him and his gang of apostates to "do what they can" to make Scientology "available outside of the control" of the ecclesiastical hierarchy and its leader. He condemns that leader for following the policy of the Founder of the religion and keeping the ranks of its religious order clean. It is now blatantly clear that Rathbun has altered his delusion from "taking over the Church" to destroying the Church in order to greedily attempt to line his pockets by starting his own bastardized version of Scientology. All these postings provide unequivocal evidence that Rathbun is a bitter apostate who has inserted the media into his maniacal attempts to denigrate his former faith and all those associated with Scientology.
Not only are you forwarding the anti-Scientology agenda of Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun, you have now made yourselves their advocates and part of the story: You insisted on rushing to press after refusing to speak to the executives that were standing directly in front of you; you cancelled your interview with Mr. Miscavige for no time sensitive reason; you provided chauffeur service for Rathbun when he visited Clearwater; you coordinated meetings with Rathbun and Rinder in Denver to plan your next story, working with them for months and then coming to the Church with your story set and giving us a fraction of the time to respond; you came to Los Angeles and surreptitiously sneaked onto our property in Hemet that clearly has a "No Trespassing — Private Property" sign. You were previously invited to tour any Church location in Los Angeles and instead came with a person who is currently suing the Church, Claire Headley. The moment you were seen by a security guard, you jumped in the car and fled. Joe, I would have given you a tour if you had told me you were there; there was no need to break the law.
It is also no coincidence that after working on this "new" story for over two months, you write in with a demand for answers on the date of the 25th anniversary of the International Association of Scientologists. Of course, that is the same pattern you followed this past summer: Wait until you know that no one is available to respond, and then propose an artificial deadline when it is impossible for anyone to be interviewed who could speak to your allegations and do so on the eve of a major church convocation. There is not a prayer that either of you are objective.
You should be aware that a number of ex-reporters and employees from your newspaper who have worked with Joe Childs have contacted the Church to share details of what they termed as your bigoted and biased behavior regarding the Church. Some said they were compelled to contact us after seeing your original three part series on Mr. Miscavige, appalled that you had canceled your scheduled interview with him. Others contacted us after reading Freedom magazine, stating they could not believe Joe Childs was allowed anywhere near a story about Scientology given his long-standing bias against the Church and Scientologists. These factual accounts about your anti-Scientology agenda are further evidence of your malice toward the Church.
The remainder of your sources and allegations not addressed in this letter are addressed in the enclosed attachments.
Finally, I accept your interview request. We are available anytime during the week of November 9–13. Prior to that week we will be heavily involved in the 25th Anniversary of the International Association of Scientologists events outside London and the opening of new Ideal Churches in Rome and Washington DC. Please let me know next week which specific dates work for you and where you would like to conduct the interview, unless, of course, you plan to rush to press again without conducting interview, with no news peg and no time sensitivity to your story.
With Kind Regards,
Church of Scientology International
cc:Paul Tash, Editor, CEO and Chairman
Neil Brown, Executive Editor
George Rahdert, General Counsel