Jobs in US journalism may be hard to come by these days, but at least one publication is hiring: Freedom, the in-house magazine of the Church of Scientology, is looking for investigative reporters to join its team.
A recent job listing on the website journalismjobs.com says Freedom is seeking “experienced investigative reporters” for assignments in the Los Angeles area. The role is for a freelancer, and the salary is negotiable. Applicants are invited to send their CVs to the editor’s email address. According to the advertisement, “Freedom, published by the Church of Scientology since 1968, covers human rights, social betterment issues and does investigative reporting in the public interest.”
The magazine is perhaps unique in the amount of column inches it uses to attack other journalists, specifically those who have reported negatively on the Church and its activities. The New Yorker magazine’s lengthy profile of filmmaker and former Scientologist Paul Haggis, for example, was described in a Freedom editorial as “a twisted farce told through the eyes of a Felliniesque cast of liars and misfits.”
Another issue of the magazine, from July 2010, was devoted to CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who several months previously had run a series of reports about the Church, “Scientology: A History of Violence”. Criticising the “positively dishonest” host’s “utter lack of investigatory acumen”, Freedom accused Cooper of airing “salacious, false allegations to try to salvage a program whose ratings have been so anaemic that at times only about a half-million viewers tune in”.
The BBC’s Panorama was denounced for its “desperate lies”, and Freedom also maintains a long-standing feud with the St Petersburg Times – now called the Tampa Bay Times – a newspaper close to the Church’s headquarters in Clearwater, Florida.
The magazine reserves its most damning criticisms, however, for a group of former leading Scientologists who are now its most outspoken critics, including Marty Rathbun, ex-Inspector General of the “Religious Technology Center”, and Mike Rinder, who was once the Church’s chief spokesman. The front page of its website, freedommag.org, is still taken up by a 2011 cover story about this so-called “Posse of Lunatics”, and their “apocryphal tales” about Scientology.
The job opening at Freedom comes little more than a week after it was reported that Leah Remini, star of the sitcom King of Queens, had left the Church and joined Haggis on the list of celebrity Scientology apostates.
In a 2011 interview with the Village Voice, Mike Rinder said he believed the attack on The New Yorker had been orchestrated personally by the Church’s leader, David Miscavige. “I believe it is a measure of the depths of desperation that they have, and Miscavige in particular has, because all he can do is try, through twisting and distorting photographs and distorting facts, to make the people that are exposing him seem like they're unreliable,” Rinder said. “He [Miscavige] won't go out in the media himself and say, ‘No, that's not what happened.’ He won't do that. He wants to snipe from the bushes and hope that people will think, 'These people can't be trusted.'”