Marvin's Reviews > Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion

Inside Scientology by Janet Reitman
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's review
Dec 01, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction
Read from November 28 to December 01, 2011

I am going to tell you something that nobody believes.

In the early 70s I was dating a girl who was into Scientology. (no, that's not it. Anyone who knows me know I've dated some really weird girls and the only normal one I've dated is the one I'm married to now). She was always giving me tracts about Scientology. I read them and wasn't too impressed. It seems like watered down Freudian psycho-babble to me. But I remembered that every single pamphlet said in bold letters "SCIENTOLOGY IS NOT A RELIGION!. Shortly after this I stopped dating this chick. She really was pretty weird and it wasn't just because she was into Scientology. I could tell you some stories...but I digress...

Anyhow, the part I can't get people to believe is the part where the tracts said that Scientology was not a religion. I wish I still had these pamphlets to show people. This was way before Scientology received tax exempt status as a religion and I expected my former girl friend was smart enough to use these particular pamphlets to try to impress a young guy who was showing some strong ambivalence regarding organized religion. This also shows how far Scientology went to market its ideas for everyone.

Janet Reitman does an amazing job in chronicling the history of what she calls the world's most secretive religion. It is becomes clear in her work that marketing is the organization's strongest suit starting from when Dianetics was a gleam in L. Ron's eyes to the later method of using celebrity endorsements. While this book has been called a even handed approach to Scientology, Reitman realizes you can be only so evenhanded when you are writing about an organization that uses secrecy and heavy-handed tactics to control both its members and its critics. But overall, it is a fascinating look at Scientology, its founder, and those who managed the organization after Hubbard. There's even a long chapter on Tom Cruise, way too long in my opinion, but it does illustrates the extremes Scientology will go to in using and controlling celebrities to promote their ideas.

Overall, a strong book highly recommended for those who want to get a detailed look at a controversial subject.
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