Letters to the Editors

©St. Petersburg Times, published December 11, 1997


Spreading pure innuendo

As if your article of pure innuendo (For some Scientologists, pilgrimage has been fatal) weren't enough, you've also continued to use discredited sources as "authoritative consultants" to forward your bigoted agenda.

I won't detail how a similar article could be written about any religion. Indeed, I'd bet money that no newspaper in the United States has ever started isolating the death of the members of a religion. If you were to do it with the local Catholics, I am sure it could be a real scandal. I can just imagine the young kid who got in an auto accident and died and was found intoxicated while his grieving parents said, "He was such a good boy and we never saw him drink," only to have Medical Examiner Joan Wood 10 years later say, "Well, then what was he doing drinking? We may never know -- this should be further investigated."

But let's stay with specifics.

You quoted Margaret Singer as an expert on cults. To begin, she's a psychologist -- not a psychiatrist -- and therefore, by law, is prohibited from prescribing any drug. For her to be giving an opinion about the effects of someone on or off drugs indicates she has been committing the offense of practicing medicine without a license. Moreover, she is no expert on cults or Scientology. It is true that she testified from time to time, but she finally submitted her thesis on coercive practices of cults to the American Psychological Association, which promptly rejected it out of hand and called it one of the worst pieces of research ever conducted. Specifically, it said that "the report lacks the scientific rigor and even-handed critical approach necessary for APA imprimatur" and the report had "significant deficiencies," and cautioned the author of the report against implying "APA support or approval of the positions advocated in the report," and ordered that Singer not "distribute or publicize the report without indicating that the report was unacceptable to the board."

So incensed was Margaret Singer that she sued the American Psychological Association and accused the Church of Scientology of conspiring against her. Your reporters may get a lot of things wrong, but one thing they certainly know is that the last people we'd ever conspire with are the members of the American Psychological Association.

Since the APA rejected her theories, she has been prohibited from testifying in court as an expert on these practices. So much for your expert. Where did you find her -- your morgue files where you've probably quoted her extensively before?

The second point concerns Vaughn Young who, again, is referred to as an authority while making a bunch of vicious, slanderous and unfounded allegations. To begin, Vaughn Young was not the official church spokesperson -- that's just a complete lie. Second, he's never testified in a trial against Scientology. Third, this is an individual who just testified that all of his anti-Scientology statements have been paid for and who only last month received $230,000 in funding from Robert Minton, the same individual who flew in all of the anti-Scientology protesters who just staged a sham vigil. Not coincidentally, that same Robert Minton is also funding the Lisa McPherson civil case.

It must be a violation of some code of journalistic ethics to utilize tainted sources in spreading pure innuendo. If you were honest, you could have at least stated the above facts and let the reading public make their own decision about the credibility of these individuals you quote. Or do you also think they're so stupid they have no right to make up their own minds and come to their own conclusions?

Factually, that's how you manipulate news. While hypocritically stating that others don't want news coming out and that you have a duty to inform your readers, you make sure they don't get all of the information but only get your predigested vomit.

I've met with you people and if I hadn't, I would never have believed how incensed a reporter can get when given the truth that just so happens to conflict with a conclusion he had already predetermined. One day you're going to realize how despicable the harm is you've inflicted on Scientologists with your innuendo and it will hit you so hard, you will pray for forgiveness from the hand of God. I pray you are worthy of that forgiveness, for your sake.
-- Mike Rinder, Office of Special Affairs, Church of Scientology International, Los Angeles

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