Scientology Mounts Vicious New Campaign To Discredit HBO Enemies

The Church of Scientology building in Los Angeles.
Jan 27, 2015 at 4:26 PM ET

Hell hath no fury like the Church of Scientology scorned. Following the premiere of an HBO documentary that depicts the church as a secretive, vindictive cult, the embattled institution responded with what amounts to more than 15,000 words of potentially defamatory mudslinging.

No sooner had HBO’s Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief come to a close at the Sundance Film Festival Sunday night than a torrent of ad hominem attacks against the eight ex-members who appeared in the film (as well as a handful of other vocal critics) began to appear in Freedom, a magazine published by the church. Assigning each target a crude nickname, the publication attempted to undercut their credibility through a series of character assassinations, which we’ve excerpted below. The outburst comes less than two weeks after the church took out a more level-headed full-page ad in The New York Times to denounce the film, which was adapted by filmmaker Alex Gibney from Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book.

While Scientology has a longstanding tradition of successfully torpedoing its enemies—its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, famously initiated what he called the “Fair Game” doctrine—few attempts have been as nakedly ruthless while coming from an official mouthpiece of the church. Though the smears seek to refute many of the claims put forth in Going Clear, they seem to only reinforce them.

Here’s a sample of the church’s efforts to discredit its HBO enemies on the Freedom website this week:

Paul Haggis: “The Hollywood Hypocrite”

Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director

“Paul Haggis is a selfish status-obsessed screenwriter who cannot be trusted and whose only interest is doing anything it takes to get attention.”

Mark Rathbun: “A Violent Psychopath”

Former high-ranking church official and spiritual counselor to Tom Cruise

“Rathbun is an admitted liar, as well as a self-confessed suborner of perjury and obstructer of justice…a lunatic with a history of psychological problems, arrests and admitted criminal acts.”​

Mark Headley: “The Soulless Sellout”

Former Scientology employee

“[Headley] is a professional anti-Scientologist, making up stories like his human trafficking claim that are so unreliable he can’t even tell them the same way twice. …It should come as no surprise that Headley is an active member of the ‘Anonymous’ cyber-terrorist hate group.”

Jason Beghe: “The Raging Bully”

Film and television actor, star of Chicago P.D.

“Ever the self-centered actor with the ability to cry on command…Jason Beghe has a documented history of violence and is now on a crusade against his former Church that tried to no avail to help him attain personal peace. Now he simply craves attention and money. Beghe is unreliable, dishonest and biased.”

Tom DeVocht: “Consummate Crook”

Former construction manager for the church

“Once dressed in Armani suits with a beautiful wife from a prominent family, DeVocht today lives the life of a bum looking for his next con, living in a shack with no money and no decent job. He hovers around the Internet lunatic fringe.”

Graham Berry & Garry Scarff: “The Harassment Suitor & Con Artist”

Vocal Scientology critics

“Berry’s sordid history includes…an unstable personal life afflicted with debauchery, substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. …Scarff was never a Scientologist and has a sordid history of attempted deprogramming of members of various religious denominations for his own profit.”

Yvonne “Spanky” Taylor: “The Drama Queen”

Former publicist and friend of John Travolta

“This woman is a celebrity sycophant who loves to make up stories. …After three decades, she still can’t get over her bitterness and move on with her life.”

Mike Rinder: “The Lady Killer”

Former Scientology spokesman

“An admitted liar and a violent individual with a history of contradictions and misconduct. …He is a man who abandoned his family, shredded his ex-wife’s arm requiring surgery and engaged in severe malfeasance in an important Church legal case.”

Sara Goldberg: “Crocodile Liar”

Former member who was allegedly forced to cut ties with her family

“Sara Goldberg has her own secret she didn’t tell HBO or Gibney. She, too, like Wright’s other apostate sources, has committed criminal acts.”

Hana Whitfield: “Can You Spare a Billion?”

L. Ron Hubbard associate and one-time captain of his ship

“Her track record consists of failing at a $1 billion coup attempt against the Church, working for an anti-religious hate group (the Cult Awareness Network) that the Church put out of business, and being exposed as participating in a family plot to kill her father.”

Jesse Prince: A Liar for Hire”

Former high-ranking church member

“[Prince] has a history of bizarre, deviant personal behavior, including engaging in oral sex with his sister when she was a minor, and was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for impregnating a child. He also was arrested for walking naked down the street while high on drugs and pled guilty to disorderly conduct.”

Mark Fisher: “The Sex Tripper”

Former high-ranking church member

“Fisher had been kicked out of the Church nearly 30 years ago, and since then has been a proud sex tourist who even offers advice, via a blog, on exploiting young Thai women for sex.”

Karen de la Carriere: The World’s Oldest Professional”

Ex-wife of one-time Scientology president Heber Jentzsch 

“By way of background, de la Carriere has a long history of instability in supporting herself. …She worked as a casino croupier at a gentleman’s club and as a call girl, admitting later in a self-written life history that during that time she had one-night stands with as many as 50 men. She also engaged in a long-term arrangement with a married British parliamentary advisor.”

Ervin Scott: Defective Character”

Former member

“Ervin Scott…was expelled from the Church not once, but twice. His invented tale [about a 12-year-old child of Scientologists attacking his parents] even defies the laws of science and medicine.”