Welp, I think it’s safe to say that executives at HBO have been added to the Church of Scientology’s lengthy suppressive persons list, as the cable network is poised to turn Going Clear into a documentary. Due out in 2015, the documentary will be directed by Alex Gibney and be based on Lawrence Wright’s impeccably researched book about the cult (yeah, I’m just calling it a cult from now on, because I’m done playing nice) and its ties to Hollywood. But given CoS’s well-known litigiousness, HBO isn’t taking any chances and has apparently hired a whopping 160 lawyers in anticipation of a lawsuit. Hey, as far as I’m concerned, if CoS is mad at you, you must be doing something right. Bring on the epic entheta! I wonder if “Elaine” will be seeing it? [Defamer]
Yesterday, I wrote a response to a Refinery 29 profile of an anonymous Scientologist named “Elaine” which I believe glossed over very serious allegations of abuse within the Church and ultimately served as a piece of PR masquerading as “journalism.” I took issue with a number of aspects of writer Kelsey Miller’s reporting on this story, which she said occurred over the entire summer, namely that she went to the Church directly and requested that they select an “average, regular member” for her to interview and then granted that person anonymity. (For what it’s worth, Tony Ortega at the blog the Underground Bunker has a pretty solid theory on who the real “Elaine” is and she’s hardly your “average regular member.”)
There aren’t just “rumors” about the Church of Scientology being horrible; there is more than enough evidence to support that claim, the most damning being the detailed, corroborated testimonials of actual members. These are the alleged victims of the Church of Scientology. There are many. I believe them just as I am inclined to believe all victims who come forward about abuse. I take what they say seriously. And what bothers me the most about this whole kerfuffle is that it’s clear in their approach to this profile and their response since that Refinery 29 really doesn’t take them as seriously as they should. But I don’t think they’re necessarily alone in their dismissiveness towards victims of cults. Keep reading »
The lifestyle website Refinery 29 is in a bit of hot water after writer Kelsey Miller published a profile of a young, female Scientologist called “Elaine” (not her real name) that, frankly, could have been ripped from the pages of Freedom magazine. (Freedom is the Church of Scientology’s propaganda magazine.) Former Scientologists — including a number of ex members who have been excommunicated from the Church — descended upon the post’s comments section accusing Miller of essentially penning an endorsement for the controversial faith, while others implied that Miller might be a Scientologist herself. Miller defended herself in the comments, writing, “I’d only heard the story from an outsider’s perspective, and I was curious about what an average, active member might have to say. The piece was meant to present — not endorse — her opinions and experience to the reader.” While I believe Miller’s intentions were good (and I don’t believe she’s a member herself), I’d like to join those ex members in calling bullshit on her methods. Her “profile” of “Elaine” reads very much like straight up propaganda, not journalism. Keep reading »
I haven’t thought about Michelle Pfeiffer in a while, but regardless, she is the last person I would expect to admit she was once a member of a cult. Pfeiffer told the UK’s Telegraph newspaper that back when she was just starting out in Hollywood, she “got involved” with a couple who fancied themselves “personal trainers.” They put their “clients,” including Michelle, on strict diets they called “vegetarianism,” but ultimately believed that people in their “highest state” were breatharians. Breatharians believe they can survive on sunlight alone. I’m guessing they’re a hangry crowd though. Keep reading »
Something you may not know about me: I’m really into anything involving cults, save actually being in one. I can’t get enough of books, internet chat rooms where former members meet to discuss their stories, and, of course, movies and documentaries about cults, real or made up. Frankly, I wish there were more movies about cults, but consider this an essential list of the best ones out there. If there’s one I missed that you think is worthy of being on the top 10, please weigh in! Together, we can form a cult of cult obsessives.
I’m willing to bet most of you have Monday mornings that go something like this: alarm goes off at 6:30 AM, you hit snooze 3 times before rolling out of bed at 6:49, you shower, get dressed, walk the dog, and then grab a banana or breakfast bar before heading out to fight traffic on your way to work. But what if you mornings began, say, lying “naked from the waist down,” in a velvet-curtained room, with your eyes closed, “while clothed men huddle over [you], stroking [you] in a ritual known as orgasmic meditation — ‘OMing,’ for short”? That’s exactly how a core group of 38 men and women start each day at a small commune in San Francisco called One Taste. Keep reading »