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In her new book, Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion, Janet Reitman offers the first full journalistic history of the Church of Scientology. She traces Scientology’s development from the birth of Dianetics to today, following its metamorphosis from a pseudoscientific self-help group to a worldwide spiritual corporation with profound control over its followers and even ex-followers. Based on five years of research, unprecedented access to Church officials, confidential documents, and extensive interviews with current and former Scientologists, Reitman exposes a little-known world.
Scientology was created in 1954 by a prolific sci-fi writer named L. Ron Hubbard. It claims to be the world’s fastest growing religion, with millions of members around the world and huge financial holdings. Its celebrity believers keep its profile high, and its teams of “volunteer ministers” offer aid at disaster sites such as Haiti and the World Trade Center.
But Scientology is also a notably closed faith, harassing journalists and others through litigation and intimidation, even infiltrating the highest levels of the government to further its goals. Its attacks on psychiatry and its requirement that believers pay as much as tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars for salvation have drawn scrutiny and skepticism. Ex-members use the Internet to share stories of harassment and abuse.
Janet Reitman is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone and her article, Inside Scientology, published in March 2006 was a National Magazine Award-nominee. Reitman also covered the war in Iraq for Rolling Stone and has reported on a wide range of other topics.
Janet will be available for one hour. After her interview, callers are welcome to share their insights and experiences about Scientology.