Church claims the book’s author Janet Reitman never contacted its officials; Reitman says charges are “just wrong”
The Church of Scientology says the book “Inside Scientology” is little more than gossip-mongering and has accused author Janet Reitman of shoddy journalism.
“Ms. Reitman’s book is filled with inaccuracies,” the Church wrote in a seven-page letter to TheWrap. “It is neither scholarly nor well-researched and bears no resemblance to an ‘inside’ story.”
The church claims that Reitman, a contributing editor for Rolling Stone, never interviewed, nor requested interviews, with Scientology officials and instead relied on former parishioners who are disgruntled and members of Anonymous, the internet activist group that the church labels a cyberterrorist organization with an ax to grind against the religion.
In a statement, Reitman wrote, “I stand by my sources and by my reporting.”
Reitman previously told TheWrap that she spoke to numerous church higher-ups and members, and visited facilities, while she was researching the magazine article that eventually became the basis of her book.
“It’s just wrong,” Reitman told TheWrap of the allegations. “To say I didn’t contact them is so blatantly untrue. I spent a year working on the Rolling Stone article, at which point I had unprecedented access, so I saw no need to repeat that a year later. I didn’t go back and re-interview everyone.”
“All I can say is, you know, that they don’t understand how books are produced,” she added.
In an interview with TheWrap on Friday, Reitman said that rumors that Scientology exploits the personal information of famous members such as Tom Cruise may have some basis in fact.
“They have the goods on everybody,” Reitman told TheWrap. “A great part of the Scientology experience is the confession that happens in the auditing experience [a type of counseling members receive]. You are constantly being asked to write up your transgressions, maybe even your unspoken transgressions.”
In response, the church said that it respects the confidentiality of the information that members reveal during auditing sessions and has put safeguards in place.
“Contrary to Ms. Reitman’s false assertions, the Church’s respect of the privacy of its parishioners is absolute, whether the parishioner is a celebrity or otherwise,” the church writes. “Scientology religious counseling, called auditing, is conducted within a framework of complete trust. Thus, as with ministers of other religions, the guiding ethical code requires ministers to treat communications from parishioners with total confidentiality.”
The church also claims that Reitman relied on tabloid gossip to assemble her expansive look at Scientology and asserts that the author failed to account for the religion’s “tremendous growth.”
“Parishioners and Church staff members alike have never been happier with the direction of their Church,” the church writes.
The church said the book only gets a handful of facts correct — such as the church’s relief efforts in Haiti and New Orleans, work refurbishing old buildings, and the role that chairman David Miscavige has played in advancing Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard’s legacy.
Presumably, Reitman also got Cruise, John Travolta and Kirstie Alley’s involvement with the church correct, too, but Scientology didn't appear ready to cede the ground on that one.