Over the several months that I spent last year researching Scientology and its detractors, I learned that there is no shortage of former church members who are eager to speak with reporters. Whereas journalists (from what I understand) used to have difficulty convincing subjects to speak out against former fellow believers (and, more specifically, leaders), they’re now eager to detonate public bombshells. The St. Petersburg Times (which dutifully covers the church's Clearwater, Florida Graceland) this week dropped one of the most damning and dynamic exposes on Scientology yet, complete with updates on former Pulitzer-winning coverage and video interviews with high-level defectors. Their stories are outrageous; one alleges that the leader of Scientology, David Miscavige, forces inferiors to compete for his affection by playing full-combat games of musical chairs to “Bohemian Rhapsody." Really!
Check the Times coverage HERE, and, of course, go back and read last year’s Phoenix feature on the protest group Anonymous, which set out two years ago on a mission to defame Scientology worldwide. And, finally, since the church is always adamant that their side is given equal space when journalists use facts and sources to discredit them - here’s a summary response to the latest media developments:In response to the allegations of the four defectors, spokesmen for the Church of Scientology vehemently deny that church leader David Miscavige ever hit anybody, not even a single time. They say the defectors are liars whose allegations should not be given a shred of credibility. They produced "confessions" the defectors wrote while in the church in which they admitted transgressions and praised Miscavige. The church says the defectors were all demoted, washouts who left the church and now are bent on revenge. Also, the church says it has enjoyed a "renaissance'' of growth since the defectors left, in improvements to the religious texts and in the opening new churches, thanks to the hands-on leadership of Miscavige.