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The Church of Scientology Responds to "The Tip of the Spear"

Los Angeles magazine received this letter to the editor in response to our January feature about how investigating the Church of Scientology changed journalist Joel Sappell's life

Photograph courtesy of scientology-losangeles.org

Joel Sappell’s article “The Tip of the Spear” is egocentric, rambling tabloid babble. More than a quarter of a century ago Mr. Sappell spent five years writing intolerably long and factually inaccurate stories on the Church of Scientology for the LA Times. Then media critic James Warren of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the series “became the butt of jokes among colleagues” and that “few heads probably turned” when the results were published. Mr. Sappell forgot to mention this amid all his self praise.

Fast forward to today and Mr. Sappell’s proposed “cold case” grassy-knoll theory that the Church of Scientology may have played a role in the death of his 13-year- old dog 27 years ago is bizarre. Mr. Sappell might as well add that he believes we “shot J.R.” and cause global warming. To reiterate what we told Mr. Sappell in preparing his story we had nothing to do with the 1985 death of a 13-year-old dog nor any other pets of anyone else, nor anything to do with his reporting partner being pulled over by the California Highway Patrol or any traffic or parking tickets Mr. Sappell may or may not have received during the five years he “investigated” the Church of Scientology as well as the last 27 years.

This level of paranoia expressed in Mr. Sappell’s article is exactly what one would expect when a writer deifies his primary source, Marty Rathbun, a self- promoting anti-Scientologist in Texas who is bitter and consumed with resentment and cannot move on with his life (just like the writer himself). Rathbun has been revising his stories to fit any media and his latest exemplifies the revisionist history:

•           Rathbun misrepresents his history in the Church claiming a high position to inflate his status. Rathbun was never part of the Church’s international ecclesiastical management. Contrary to his delusional belief, he was not well known to parishioners, he did not speak at Church convocations and Sappell did not disclose that his only connection to Rathbun was meeting him once nor did he name Rathbun in his 1990 five-year-in-the-making opus illustrating Rathbun’s insignificance in the Church’s hierarchy.

•           The real story is Rathbun was simply a failed external affairs staffer, removed a decade ago for malfeasance, who left the Church in disgrace. He was obsessed with creating and fighting legal cases. In 2003 he self-originated and self-authored a description of his misconduct and admitted to his efforts then to misrepresent his position, stating he masqueraded as “being important or working on important things. It is all the more insidious because that ‘importance’ has been by association with COB [Chairman of the Board Religious Technology Center, Mr. David Miscavige].” Rathbun further described the “fraud” (his word) he perpetrated, “Each and every time on major situations, COB has had to intervene to clean up wars I had exacerbated. For example, left to my own devices in handling IRS litigation, the end result would undoubtedly have been no exemption, a billion-dollar tax bill, and possible shutting down of the Church. I have developed a slick false PR technique of positioning myself as having been integral in handling threats during and after the fact, when they are actually terminatedly handled by COB. By calculation I have lost the Church 43 million dollars on losses and expenses that could have been avoided.” (The entire document can be found at: http://www.freedommag.org/special-reports/sources/marty-rathbun-public- announcement.html and his malfeasance is detailed at www.freedommag.org/special-reports/sources/marty-rathbun-brief- chronology-of-monumental-disasters.html).

Sappell relied on a man who will tell him what he wants to hear. We are the first to admit Rathbun has a history of delusional grandeur with respect to the Church and that no unauthorized, rogue actions he undertook on his own would surprise us. But that doesn’t justify Sappell’s failure to note that his source has shown he lacks a moral compass by admitting in both broadcast and print interviews to having lied in the past, suborning perjury and also to having obstructed justice. Los Angeles Magazine knew and failed to convey that anything said by this man—who carries both a chip on his shoulder and a huge ax to grind—must be taken with an enormous grain of salt.

We are not the Church we were 27 years ago when Mr. Sappell began his story. In those same 27 years the Church has moved on. The kind of warfare Marty Rathbun relished then and apparently desires today is not the direction of our Church.

The Church enjoys peace today thanks to Mr. David Miscavige, the ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion. Our energies and resources are dedicated to the growth of our Churches and serving our communities through our social and humanitarian work. Mr. Miscavige has led the Church through the most difficult time for any religion, the passing of its Founder, to where it is today. Some of the accomplishments since Mr. Sappell’s previous article are covered below. (A full description of Mr. Miscavige’s work on behalf of the Scientology religion may be found at www.scientology.org/david-miscavige.html.)

•           More than 30 new Ideal Churches opening in major cities throughout the United States and around the world. This year those new Churches opened in Hamburg, Germany; Florence, Kentucky; Sacramento, Orange County, San Jose and Los Gatos, California; Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; Buffalo, New York; Padova, Italy; and our first in the Middle East, in Tel Aviv, Israel.

•           This past September the inauguration of the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office in Washington, D.C.

•           Church sponsored and supported humanitarian initiatives and social betterment programs reach millions of people all over the world addressing the fields of drug abuse prevention, drug rehabilitation, education, human rights and morals education. Scientology Volunteer Ministers have been active in more than 200 disaster relief efforts nationally and internationally.

•           The Church completed a massive 25-year program to recover all of its Scripture and make it available to our parishioners, with nearly a hundred million books and lectures distributed in the last decade.

•           The establishment of the world’s largest religious all-digital publishing house in Commerce, California capable of producing some 67 million books and 52 million CDs annually.

•           A new 185,000 square foot Church of Scientology International Dissemination and Distribution Center, also in Commerce.

The future will see even more growth with some 50 Church buildings in design, planning or construction set to open on five continents, the opening of a Scientology religious broadcasting and media hub in the former KCET historic studio lot and the inauguration of the soon-to-be complete 377,000 square foot Flag Building, our spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida.

The Church works to make Los Angeles and the world a better place by achieving the aims of Scientology: “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where Man is free to rise to greater heights.” Anyone can find information about Scientology by visiting our website at http://www.scientology.org or visiting one of our Churches.

Sincerely,
Karin Pouw


 

RELATED: Read The Tip of the Spear

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  1. XenubarbG posted on 01/04/2013 01:50 PM
    This is kind of funny:
    " The Church completed a massive 25-year program to recover all of its Scripture and make it available to our parishioners, with nearly a hundred million books and lectures distributed in the last decade."

    They did this ten years ago and called it GAT, the Golden Age of Tech. Everyone had to buy all new books, as the "flawed transcription" of Hubbard's works (a man who micromanaged EVERYTHING) had been corrected.

    Comes now, GAT 2, yet another revision that will cost members $$$$$. Unfortunately for Miscavige, he moved too fast on it. People do remember things from ten years ago, especially if it involves buying thousands of dollars of new books to replace the old ones that were flawed!

    And now, GAT 2. Apparently Scientology has nothing new to sell, so they're sifting through the musty Hubbard tomes to seek ways to extract a few more shekels from their remaining True Believers. HAH! HAH! HAH!
    1. Bob Dobbs posted on 01/05/2013 03:34 AM
      @XenubarbG How DID all those transcription errors get past ole eagle eye, eagle scout, operating thetan Mr. L. Ron Hubbard?
      Ms. Pouw? Mr. Miscavige? Bueller? Anyone?
  2. John P posted on 01/04/2013 04:39 PM
    Scientology spokesperson Karin Pouw has improved her vocabulary lately, with some more catchy phrases than the usual. I particularly liked "egocentric, rambling tabloid babble." However, the three metaphors mixed together in the middle of the article, "anything said by this man—who carries both a chip on his shoulder and a huge ax to grind—must be taken with an enormous grain of salt" was a bit much. I was also saddened that you left out your stock phrase of denunciation of former members -- "bitter, defrocked apostates" -- which sounds positively medieval.

    One question, Karin: if Marty Rathbun were so colossally insignificant and inept in your organization, how come cult leader David Miscavige spent several million dollars in a years-long campaign of harassment and intimidation, one that has been well documented in multiple independent fora? Or could it be that you're lying about Marty's role in the organization? Your actions speak a bit louder than your words.

    And how come your vaunted "management tech" that supposedly makes organizations super-efficient and "on purpose" didn't detect Marty's ineptitude and perfidy in a decades-long career? That failure to see what a "suppressive person" you had in your midst doesn't make you guys sound terribly swift when it comes to minding the store.

    I also enjoyed the usual boilerplate list of "accomplishments" that purport to show how fast you're growing. In the time I've spent in front of your New York "org" as a protester, I typically have observed only a handful of non-employee types entering the building in a given evening. I can only conclude from direct observation that you have very few members actually going into any of these numerous facilities you have opened. Why do I never see people on street corners selling books or offering free personality tests, which used to be somewhat common when I moved to Gotham City several decades ago? Could it be that all your blather about expansion is just made up?

    I'm afraid your "withering blast of Truth" didn't exactly impinge on the newsroom at LA Magazine. Instead, it just reinforces the status of your cult as a laughingstock... that is, if it didn't do so many heinous and immoral things.
    1. John P posted on 01/05/2013 08:21 PM
      @John P One other detail that escaped me in my original comment: the heavy-handed bloviating in the prose style of this letter doesn't sound like the old Karin Pouw, nor even the combative Tommy Davis (who's no longer in the cult, apparently).

      It sounds a lot more like the pompous pretension of Danny Sherman, the official speechwriter for cult leader David Miscavige. Without Sherman writing the words, Miscavige would be as pathetic in front of an audience as recently deceased North Korean strongman Kim Jong-Il, who was only heard to utter one sentence in his own voice in all the years he ran that decaying carcass of a country.

      With Sherman, Miscavige is still pathetic, but for different reasons: nobody ever talks like that in real life, especially not a high school dropout. And while Miscavige must think his Sherman-supercharged speeches are the mark of genius, nobody in the audience remembers a single word of the hours-long wall of sound that assaults their eardrums when they hear Il Supremo speak.

      So given the virtual certainty that this over-the-top phraseology is not written by the real Karin Pouw, that begs one to ask: where is Karen? In the RPF, the cult's "voluntary" prison facility? At the "Hole," the even more secret prison camp for senior execs at the base in Hemet? And why does the cult go through media spokespeople the way the band Spinal Tap goes through drummers?
  3. BrianR_1352 posted on 01/04/2013 09:09 PM
    Well, I for one am convinced. Scientology is so good at PR! Nobody could possibly think they're a creepy cult now.
  4. Bob Dobbs posted on 01/05/2013 03:29 AM
    "...this man—who carries both a chip on his shoulder and a huge ax to grind—must be taken with an enormous grain of salt."

    A chip, an ax, AND a grain. The trifecta of trite is in play. Brilliant! A Pulitzer I tell you.

    And this continues to get my goat:

    “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where Man is free to rise to greater heights.”

    What about the disabled?
    And you know what? The dishonest also have rights. Ever hear of the Constitution of the United States?

    Could the press release have been ghost written by a certain high-school drop-out cult leader perhaps?
    1. SuzannaN posted on 01/05/2013 03:39 PM
      @Bob Dobbs Could the press release have been ghost written by a certain high-school drop-out cult leader perhaps?

      ^^^It's either that or OT VIIIisGrrr8 decided to take Mocking the cult to a new level.
      I am good either way.
  5. PattyM_1163 posted on 01/05/2013 04:39 AM
    Scientology-- lying liars that lie.
  6. ScnEthics posted on 01/05/2013 10:44 AM
    This "church" has a policy of never admitting anything, denying everything, and of attacking anyone who dares to say something negative about them, true or not. I've read more of these categorical denial / hit pieces this year than in any year previous. It is very much a broken record, from a broken and corrupt organization.
  7. Bob Dobbs posted on 01/05/2013 12:04 PM
    John P.: "And how come your vaunted "management tech" that supposedly makes organizations super-efficient and "on purpose" didn't detect Marty's ineptitude and perfidy in a decades-long career? That failure to see what a "suppressive person" you had in your midst doesn't make you guys sound terribly swift when it comes to minding the store."
    Super powers!
    Even Karin Pouw knows there are no OTs. Not one.
  8. SuzannaN posted on 01/05/2013 03:37 PM
    That was hilarious. That was as pathetic and transparent as the 'Riffer" letter to Vanity Fair.
    Dang David, that's all you got?
    It sure is reckless when you try to make this seem like it came from Karin Pouw.

    That would be "balderdash"...I want to speak in terms you understand.

    Quote: "The Church enjoys peace today thanks to Mr. David Miscavige, the ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion."

    ^^^^This is just beyond delusional and into psychotic break territory

    The attached air of desperation smells like spring.
    I LIKE IT.
  9. HoTai posted on 01/05/2013 08:00 PM
    Incredible blather from Pouw. Typical response from Co$, an ad hom attack against a person, followed by a litany of "accomplishments" of the "church". Although Pouw belittles Rathbun as a nobody, when I was a Co$ staff member I and all other staff were required to watch a video of Rathbun presenting the Golden Age of Tech, a supposedly monumental step forward in $cientology technology. Anybody who has had any association with her vile organization knows she is simply a mouthpiece living by the rule that if you say something often enough, people will believe it.
  10. LizM_9312 posted on 01/05/2013 10:10 PM
    How this PR person expects to have any credibility just boggles the mind.

    When there are dozens of Scientology magazines and documents verifying that Marty Rathbun was at the very highest levels of management and reporting directly to Miscavige for decades, all this letter does is underscore, with highlights and in bold capital letters, what a pack of liars Scientology management is.

    Another foot bazooka.
  11. DeeE posted on 01/05/2013 11:38 PM
    What a fancy elaborate piece of PR. They help no one but themselves. They need more $$$. Having been a member for 13 years, I know how much they twist and lie. They have opened new buildings by having the members pay twice what was needed and they remain practically empty, called Idle Orgs. They don't seem to know or care that the world is laughing at them. Their BS has become known and they are losing members everyday. So sure, they up the PR and attack those telling the truth. Standard procedure for them.

    From a scientological viewpoint: Where are all the new auditers (counsellors) and OT's which the founder LRH said was the most important statistic of all in supposedly helping mankind? They won't give out real honest numbers, because they can't. Buildings are all they have to promote, with robots to slave in them, let alone the innocent children. Mind-controlled to the max. The IAS, International Association of Scientology with the dangerous cult plan to take over the world. Ha!
  12. HeatherG_2591 posted on 01/06/2013 05:50 AM
    Oh, man! Their deceptions are so easily disproven.

    "Rathbun misrepresents his history in the Church claiming a high position to inflate his status. Rathbun was never part of the Church’s international ecclesiastical management."

    Uh, that's true only if David Miscavige was also "never part of the Church’s international ecclesiastical management," because the Wayback Machine proves that Marty Rathbun was a member of the Board and Inspector General Religious Technology Center.

    The evidence:

    i.imgur.com/SsXmnDOTjpg

    web.archiveDOTorg/web/20041012190703/http://www.rtcDOTorg/mark-rathbun.htm
  13. poet13c posted on 01/06/2013 12:31 PM
    Poet13c commented 6Jan13:

    Most decent people will agree with 'humanitarian efforts' and 'a civilization without insanity,' etc., but not with:
    guilt-ridden slave labour staff kept under armed guard, behind razor wire fences and without passports, medical treatment or pension;
    publicly humiliating, personally degrading and extremely lengthy terms in the RPF, and usually ordered on whim - Gang Ethics;
    enforced abortion, and cynically at cost to the public purse;
    enforced family disconnection;
    secret Suppressive Person Orders;
    valid fear of vicious reprisal for anyone speaking up within and without the organization;
    stalking (in one case, 25 years), covert surveillance, petty, vindictive harassment, frivolous and vexatious lawsuits, perverse and illegal dirt-digging, mud-slinging, and public disclosure of confidential confessions, used to cow dissenters and critics into silence;
    savage, retaliatory treatment for thoughts or disclosures said in private confessional;
    a $2000+ membership fee in order to qualify to pay for services;
    paying for access to your religion;
    a 'boutique' religion where charges, fees and sundry costs are deliberately pitched to exclude all but the super-rich, whom the rank-and-file members must service while themselves living in squalid conditions with virtually no pay, existing on diets of beans and rice, and not allowed to say so;
    an option to join staff where services are offered, but after 20 or more years of unflinching loyalty and dedication still not allowed the services;
    obligatory, lifetime vows of silence on pain of multi-million dollar penalty written into contracts for staff, members and public on services;
    copy of legally binding contracts denied the signatory;
    staff exit procedures arbitrarily long, and incurring intolerably high financial penalties to discourage leaving;
    children of staff denied knowledge of the outside world, including a basic education;
    Hubbard's writings and lectures issued by him during his own lifetime banned as 'old and not used now', and only the expensive, sanitized works available;
    refusal to publish actual, meaningful statistics about completed Church services, sales, membership and paying public numbers to justify the real estate projects of the last 27 years;
    concealment of for-profit with non-profit entities in the organization.

    In reality, the empty buildings, invisible 'social betterment programs' and Volunteer Ministers, and laughably unverifiable 'millions of people all over the world', prove Karin Pouw's statement to be vacuous posturing. Scientology is in fact, the world's fastest declining religion since Miscavige 'The Thug' took over.

    Not a word in Karin Pouw's statement as to the actual religion itself, but only to the organization. The Church of Scientology is a self-serving commercial enterprise first, and a religion, in the negative sense, second. Scientology is, to be fair, a factually unprovable product; its sole value lies entirely in the mind and hopes of its practitioner, hence the opportunity for exploitation taken by the Church's leader.

    Richard Kaminski
    Independent Scientologist UK
  14. JenniferL_6312 posted on 03/08/2013 05:40 PM
    When in doubt, dissemble, is that it Karin?

    Joel Sappell is a serious journalist, and I admire his guts and tenacity in the face of all this Scientology gaslighting and psychic terrorism.

    When a Superior Court Judge calls to tell you his dog has been drowned, around the same time yours has been poisoned, and investigating Scientology is the common thread between you, then you can draw your own conclusions.

    Wonder if anyone noticed the occult symbolism on the front of the church, starting with the Maltese Cross, moving to the pyramid(All Seeing Eye) on the left wall, and what looks like the Horns of Baphomet above that, all symbols of
    the Freemasons/Illuminati and the Knights of Templar or Malta.

    Scientology is allegedly a CIA infiltrated mind control organization. Why these symbols?

    L. Ron Hubbard's connections before Scientology to Anton La Vey's Church of Satan are well known.

    For an added thrill, read Jenna Miscavige Hill's letter to Karin Pouw on the xenu-directory.net website, telling how Scientology has splintered the Miscavige family.

    Good luck with the peace and love, Karin.
  15. Robert C. posted on 08/28/2013 02:12 AM
    The best thing to do first with Pouw's missive is to subject it to logical analysis; that is, note the many, many logical fallacies she employs in her letter. One of the most common in her rant bing, of course, argumentum ad hominem, circumstantial and (most prominently) abusive. After the personal attacks on her critics, she moves on to fallacies of relevance, such as enumerating the many buildings, services, programs, and most particularly emphasizing the growth of the "Church" around the world. There really is nothing in her foggy defense of the "church" that isn't either logically invalid or simply horn-blowing for all the great things that "church" is doing, or building, or areas into which the church is expanding. What if Hitler had defended all of his murderous operations by pointing out the number of new installations his party was building on the French coast, or the number of technical innovations his Nazis had come up with in rocket science -- or mass exterminations. Before Ms. Pouw claims that I am calling her a Nazi -- I am not. I am merely pointing out the bad logic of her attack. This "church" has a long history of involvement in very sinister behavior, whenever it feels "threatened." The worst thing about this organization is that it receives tax exemptions because of its claim to be a "church."
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