A Frightening Look at Scientology

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By Ben Cohen

This is a serious piece of journalism from 1991 in 'Time Magazine' looking at the cult of Scientology. It's very long, but engrossing and highly recommended if you want to understand more about the increasingly ubiquitous organisation. It's still completely relevant for today:

Monday, May. 06, 1991


Cover Story: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power

By  RICHARD BEHAR

By all appearances, Noah Lottick of Kingston, Pa., had been a
normal, happy 24-year-old who was looking for his place in the world.
On the day last June when his parents drove to New York City to claim
his body, they were nearly catatonic with grief. The young
Russian-studies scholar had jumped from a 10th-floor window of the
Milford Plaza Hotel and bounced off the hood of a stretch limousine.
When the police arrived, his fingers were still clutching $171 in cash,
virtually the only money he hadn't yet turned over to the Church of
Scientology, the self-help "philosophy" group he had discovered just
seven months earlier.

His death inspired his father Edward, a
physician, to start his own investigation of the church. "We thought
Scientology was something like Dale Carnegie," Lottick says. "I now
believe it's a school for psychopaths. Their so-called therapies are
manipulations. They take the best and brightest people and destroy
them." The Lotticks want to sue the church for contributing to their
son's death, but the prospect has them frightened. For nearly 40 years,
the big business of Scientology has shielded itself exquisitely behind
the First Amendment as well as a battery of high-priced criminal
lawyers and shady private detectives.

The Church of Scientology,
started by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to "clear" people of
unhappiness, portrays itself as a religion. In reality the church is a
hugely profitable global racket that survives by intimidating members
and critics in a Mafia-like manner. At times during the past decade,
prosecutions against Scientology seemed to be curbing its menace.
Eleven top Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife, were sent to
prison in the early 1980s for infiltrating, burglarizing and
wiretapping more than 100 private and government agencies in attempts
to block their investigations. In recent years hundreds of longtime
Scientology adherents -- many charging that they were mentally or
physically abused -- have quit the church and criticized it at their
own risk. Some have sued the church and won; others have settled for
amounts in excess of $500,000. In various cases judges have labeled the
church "schizophrenic and paranoid" and "corrupt, sinister and
dangerous."

Yet the outrage and litigation have failed to
squelch Scientology. The group, which boasts 700 centers in 65
countries, threatens to become more insidious and pervasive than ever.
Scientology is trying to go mainstream, a strategy that has sparked a
renewed law-enforcement campaign against the church. Many of the
group's followers have been accused of committing financial scams,
while the church is busy attracting the unwary through a wide array of
front groups in such businesses as publishing, consulting, health care
and even remedial education.

In Hollywood, Scientology has
assembled a star-studded roster of followers by aggressively recruiting
and regally pampering them at the church's "Celebrity Centers," a chain
of clubhouses that offer expensive counseling and career guidance.
Adherents include screen idols Tom Cruise and John Travolta, actresses
Kirstie Alley, Mimi Rogers and Anne Archer, Palm Springs mayor and
performer Sonny Bono, jazzman Chick Corea and even Nancy Cartwright,
the voice of cartoon star Bart Simpson. Rank-and-file members, however,
are dealt a less glamorous Scientology.

To read the full article, click here.