Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Jul 5, 2011 - Religion - 464 pages
8 Reviews
“A masterful piece of reporting . . . Reitman tells a spellbinding story of a larger-than-life personality whose quirks, ticks and charisma shaped America’s newest homegrown religious movement.” — Washington Post

Scientology is known for its celebrity believers and its team of “volunteer ministers” at disaster sites such as the World Trade Center; its notably aggressive response to criticism or its attacks on psychiatry; its requirement that believers pay as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach the highest levels of salvation. But for all its notoriety, Scientology has remained America’s least understood new religion, even as it has been one of its most successful.

Now Janet Reitman tells its riveting full story in the first objective modern history of Scientology, at last revealing the astonishing truth about life within the controversial religion for its members and ex-members. Based on five years of research, confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, this is an utterly compelling work of nonfiction and the defining work on an elusive faith.

“A meticulously researched history and revealing exposť, a frightening portrait of a religion that many find not just controversial, but dangerous.” — Boston Globe

“This book is fearless.” — Wall Street Journal

A New York Times Notable Book Best Books of 2011, Nonfiction
San Francisco Chronicle Top Ten of 2011

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This book reveals the behind-the scenes details about Scientology and exposes the underlying myths about Scientology.

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Q. What did you think of the book? A. I think Janet did an excellent job. I fear for her, since Scientologists may do her like they did another journalist, Paulette Cooper. Q. What did they do to Paulette Cooper? A. She had written a negative book on Scientology and as retribution, Scientologists literally drove her to a nervous breakdown. I hope Janet has back-up, and I should be pretty sure she does. Q. Does she paint a negative picture of Scientology in this book? A. Mostly, but she is fair. She interviewed young people who have grown up as second or third generation Scientologists and appear to have benefited from the philosophy of L. Ron Hubbard. Q. What is that philosophy? A. Well, Janet put it the way I see it also. She said Scientology is fundamentally a narcissistic philosophy that demonizes doubt and insecurity as products of a reactive mind. Narcissism scares me, because narcissistic people are basically out for themselves, regardless of others. That is how Hubbard is depicted in this book. But Janet did note some of his products, such as Narcanon, his learning philosophy, and his management philosophy, seem to have wafted in a positive way through parts of society. His study technology seems useful, especially looking up words in the dictionary. That could be real useful. Q. So you are scared of Scientologists? A. Well, not the individuals, since I cannot actually say I know any, but the idea of stepping on others to reach your own goals, that turns me off. Hubbard seemed to espouse that philosophy. What is odd about Hubbard is that, although he believed in reincarnation, he never touched on the idea of karma, having to pay back debts you incurred for hurting or using others. Without the idea of karma, reincarnation does just become a narcissistic venture. That is where the thetans of Hubbard differ from, say, the astral bodies of mystics. Q. Who promotes the idea of paying back karmic debts through reincarnation? A. Oh many, many philosophies and religions, but of course Hinduism may have started such thought. I recently read a book about Macro Philosophy by Don Pym that promotes the philosophy. Hubbard seemed to believe in reincarnation but if he had believed in paying back for those he harmed he would have lived his life differently. Maybe he will come back and make amends. He has to come back and make amends and maybe he is already with us somewhere in the world in another body.  

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About the author (2011)

JANET REITMAN is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone.†Her work has appeared in GQ, Men's Journal, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine,†and the Washington Post, among other publications. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, and was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2007 for the story "Inside Scientology."

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