Scientology Responds to Catholic Online's Coverage of Press Conference

Catholic Online/February 17, 2010

Washington, D.C. - Catholic Online has received correspondence from Tommy Davis of the Church of Scientology International dated February 15, 2010. The letter was in response to our request for any comments they wanted to make regarding a press conference held in Los Angeles by ex-Scientologists. The correspondence expressed severe opposition to our report "Ex-Scientologists Speak Out at LA Press Conference," which we published that same date.

The article in question reported on a newsworthy event which occurred in Los Angeles, California and was covered by a number of media outlets. The event was also video streamed over the internet. We felt the event was newsworthy in particular because of the huge interest of our readership in the Church of Scientology. The organization has gained much notoriety in recent months.

Attached to the correspondence from Mr. Davis was material intended to defend the legitimacy of the Church of Scientology as a religion. Additionally, information was provided which sought to compare Scientology´s "Sea Organization" to religious communities within our own Catholic Church.

That material has little bearing on the report to which Mr. Davis objected. As a News Service, we report on events such as this L.A. conference. The report of February 15, 2010 took no position on the veracity of any of the statements made by participants but simply reported brief summaries of their comments within the news story.

Putting aside the unfounded allegations, strongly expressed irritation of the author and incorrect analogies which were intended to cast aspersions on the author of the article to which Mr. Davis objected - and redacting collateral material which addressed people and matters which were not mentioned in the story - we present portions of the letter below. We do so in the interest of continuing to report on the Church of Scientology.

"Your February 15 piece is offensive. Your clear intention is to forward an anti-religious agenda that has nothing to do with conveying the truth. To forward on a Catholic site the vicious and false allegations of disgruntled ex-members of any religion is the epitome of hypocrisy. No constructive purpose is served whatsoever, and you are in fact promoting religious hatred and violence. Your entire article is so un-Christian, it boggles the mind!

"In our last conversation I noted that it is the firm belief of the Church of Scientology that only by all religions working together to assist mankind do we hold any hope for Man´s salvation. Your support of antireligionists and hatemongers evidences that you find some benefit in railing against and defaming a religion you know nothing about. By your own admission, you have never visited one of our churches, despite a longstanding open invitation. This, sir, is most definitely the antithesis of brotherly love. I hope that you may one day find it in yourself to be more tolerant and truthful in your actions, a duty which you are meant to uphold, not only as a Catholic but as a journalist.

"You appear to be acting as the publicist for the hate group Anonymous and the ex-Scientologists you cite. Your benign identification of Anonymous as an "Internet-based group" is tantamount to calling the KKK a "community-based group," without mentioning their history of white sheets, burning crosses, lynchings, violence and hatemongering against blacks, Jews and Catholics. (N.B. The analogy is not only inflammatory but inaccurate. To the writer and editor of the article to which Mr. Davis objects and in their own self description, "Anonymous" IS an "internet-based group.")

"...The "press conference" you report was not a press conference at all, but a shameless and transparent effort by plaintiffs involved in a lawsuit against the Church to flank a frivolous legal action. Your obvious disappointment that, as you state, "reporters preferred to focus more attention on the two lawsuits and the work of Anonymous" than on the speakers´ stories, tells the tale; the performances from the stage were transparently coached and rehearsed to prop up the legal case. One member of the media left irate a few minutes into the show, remarking that "I was tricked—I thought I was coming to a news conference, not a deposition."

The press conference in question was covered by a number of Los Angeles area reporters, including the major TV network affiliates in LA as well as KTLA. Reports and footage of the conference were aired on these stations during their evening news cycle, which also included interviews with Tommy Davis for his response.

Other material in the letter concerned legal matters in which the Church is involved but which were not germane to Mr. Davis´ objections to our article. The letter also contained material in which he refuted certain claims made by some of the speakers from the conference reported on in the article, as well as others who were not mentioned at all in the article. He specifically takes exception to their credibility. It is not our role to provide a forum for the airing of a dispute which is already being aired in another forum, namely the Courts and the Justice system.

Mr. Davis ended the letter with these closing words: "I believe the above should answer any question you may have regarding the reasons these individuals left staff and renounced their former religion. You owe it to your readers to report the truth. Please correct your publication."

We have published the redacted sections of this letter in the interest of the truth. We will also continue to cover news stories regarding the Church of Scientology with the same purpose in mind.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.