Scientology Expose From Pulitzer Prize Winner Levels Accusations Against Church, Draws Controversy

A Scientology expose written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist has unloaded some heavy claims against the church, saying that its founder lied about much of his background and its current leader is known for brutalizing subordinates.

The widely anticipated book from journalist and author Lawrence Wright, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, was released on Thursday.

Among the revelations in the Scientology expose was news that founder L. Ron Hubbard frequently beat his second wife and once hit her with a pistol because she was smiling in her sleep. The Daily Beast highlighted other claims in the Scientology book, like how leader David Miscavige was known to beat subordinates.

The Scientology expose caused controversy even before its release. In late 2012, the church worked with Atlantic magazine to run an advertising campaign to coincide with the book’s release. The magazine published an advertorial on Monday lauding the church’s accomplishments.

This led to widespread criticism and mockery of the article, especially when it became clear that the magazine was closely monitoring comments on the article. Within 12 hours, the magazine pulled it from its website. The Atlantic also admitted that running the article was a mistake.

Wright himself has come under attack from church leaders, as have other journalists who wrote unflattering accounts of it in the past. On January 11, the church released a statement saying it was “nothing more than a stale rehash of allegations disproven long ago.”

But others in the media have stood behind him. The winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for his book on al Qaeda, The Looming Tower, Wright is widely respected among media members.

“Wright is known for his thoroughness and for his legal pads and his filing-card system, which in the computer age is as complicated and as antique as the historian Robert Caro’s,” New York Times writer Charles McGrath noted in an article about the Scientology expose.