Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive

[Interview with Mike Rinder]

BBC News 24 (TV), 14 May 2007

[I didn't find out the reporter's name - apologies to him!]

Reporter: Good afternoon to you. You must be delighted by all the publicity this is generating for you.

Mike Rinder: Oh, we're certainly not delighted by all the publicity. What we are delighted by is the fact that we are able to now show what really goes on behind the scenes in a programme like this.

We're not the first people that have experienced the exploding tomato. This is something that has been going on for some time. I'm sure that there are others who have had similar experiences. And now we are able to show what really happened.

We documented everything that occurred, everything that occurred with John Sweeney, and just to correct a couple of things that Sandy Smith said in your earlier report: First of all, we offered very broad, open access to John Sweeney and Panorama. He refused it. He refused to come in to our churches. He refused our offers to accept broad access.

We wanted to show him everything about the Church. It messed up his story that we were not... that he was unable to listen to what it was that we were saying and unable to apparently accept our invitation to come into the church.

R: Do you always film every journalist, every reporter who wants to write a piece about you, or make a programme about you?

MR: No we don't. No.

R: Why did you in John Sweeney's case?

MR: Because we had offered him very broad access and in fact asked him to provide us with a list of places that he would like to go, that we could open up for him.

I flew over from the United States to meet with him when he first said that he was doing this programme, in order to be able to arrange this. He said that we was going to provide us with a list of places to go so that we could make those arrangements. He did not.

He showed up at our spiritual headquarters in Clearwater where we have two million square feet of buildings, forty buildings, ten thousand Scientologists, and he didn't go into one of the buildings. He didn't speak to one of the Scientologists there.

At that point, we knew that there was something wrong; that there was something which was astray with the way that John Sweeney was approaching filming the story.

R: The problem is, Mr Rinder, I mean, you wanted control. He's making an independent documentary about the Church, he wants complete carte blanche, doesn't he? Surely you would accept that there is a legitimate interest, a legitimate exercise in making a documentary about a church that was described in the High Court as "corrupt, sinister and dangerous"?

MR: Well, first of all, with respect to that quote you just gave. That quote has been completely and utterly discredited, subsequently. That is from 1984, in a case that the Church was not involved in.

Certainly, Panorama and any other documentary film-maker has an absolute right to make a documentary about the Church of Scientology. That was why I flew to the United Kingdom in order to make all of our information available to him. We were not trying to control John Sweeney's activities. We were trying to give him access.

He was the one who was making the demands about how that would be done. We said, "Look, we'll let you in. We'll take you anywhere that you want to go. Any place in the church; any of our church facilities. We'll take you through them." He refused.

R: But you say that goes back to 1984. Just on that quote, it's only about ten years ago, isn't it, that the former executive director of the Cult Awareness Network said that Scientology was "quite likely the most ruthless, the most litigious and the most lucrative cult the country has ever seen." Do you dispute that quotation as well?

MR: I don't dispute that quotation. That comes from someone who subsequently was found to have been involved with a ring of people who were deprogramming and kidnapping people. They in the end went out of business after they deprogrammed and kidnapped a Christian man in Washington State in the United States and got hit with a seven point five million dollar verdict against them. So I don't think there is much credibility... I mean, you can pull statements from people all over the place that are little critical statements. What we're trying to show...

R: Yeah, but what it does say though, Mr Rinder, about your church, is that you are pretty defensive and pretty aggressive, aren't you, when it comes to defending the Church? You had a big battle with Google, I think, last year. You threatened court action against them. They had to remove web sites which criticised the group.

One thinks back... you talk about pulling quotes from history but your founder L. Ron Hubbard, said that anyone could be "tricked, sued or lied to and be destroyed" if they disagreed with the Church of Scientology.

MR: That is a quote that is taken entirely and utterly out of context from the 1960s, that when it was misinterpreted at that time, Mr. Hubbard...

R: What did he say, Mr Rinder?

MR: What he said was that people who have left the Church are no longer entitled to the internal ethical and justice procedures of the religion. That is it. That was the entirety of that quote, which has now been...

R: He didn't say that it was "fair game" that they could be legitimately "tricked, sued or lied to"?

MR: No, he did not, the interpretation... You have to understand that there is a church policy which says that a scientologist may not sue another scientologist in civil court. They have the right to resort to internal Church justice procedures.

If you leave the Church, if you denounce the Church, you no longer have those rights. So, a Scientologist could sue someone who has actually left the Church without resorting to internal Church ethical and justice procedures beforehand.

Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive