"THE THRIVING CULT OF GREED AND POWER" is an article, written in 1991
by U.S. investigative journalist
Richard Behar , which is highly
It was first published by Time magazine on May 6, 1991, as an
eight-page cover story, and was later published in Reader\'s Digest
in October 1991. Behar had previously published an article on
Forbes magazine. He stated that he was investigated by
attorneys and private investigators affiliated with the Church of
Scientology while researching the Time article, and that investigators
contacted his friends and family as well. Behar's article covers
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard and the development of Scientology,
its controversies over the years and history of litigation , conflict
with psychiatry and the U.S.
Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service , the suicide of
Noah Lottick , its status as a religion , and its business dealings .
After the article's publication, the Church of
Scientology mounted a
public relations campaign to address issues in the piece. It took out
USA Today for twelve weeks, and Church leader David
Miscavige was interviewed by
Ted Koppel on
Nightline about what he
considered to be an objective bias by the article's author. Miscavige
alleged that the article was actually driven by the company Eli Lilly
, because of Scientology's efforts against the drug
Prozac . The
Scientology brought a libel suit against
Time Warner and
Behar, and sued
Reader's Digest in multiple countries in Europe in an
attempt to stop the article's publication there. The suit against Time
Warner was dismissed in 1996, and the Church of Scientology's petition
for a writ of certiorari to the
Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States was
denied in 2001.
Behar received awards in honor of his work on the article, including
Gerald Loeb Award , the
Worth Bingham Prize , and the
Conscience-in-Media Award . The article has had ramifications in the
current treatment of
Scientology in the media, with some publications
theorizing that journalists are wary of the litigation that Time
Warner went through. The article has been cited by
Anderson Cooper on
CNN , in a story on Panorama 's 2007 program "
Scientology and Me " on
BBC , and has been used as a reference for background on the
history of Scientology, in books from both the cult and new religious
* 1 Research for the article
* 2 Synopsis
* 3 Post-publication
* 3.1 Church of Scientology\'s response
* 3.3 Awards
* 4 Analysis
* 5 Legacy
* 6 References
* 7 External links
RESEARCH FOR THE ARTICLE
George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush congratulates Richard Behar
upon his receiving the
Worth Bingham Prize for writing the Time
Before penning "The Thriving
Cult of Greed and Power", Behar had
written a 1986 article in
Forbes magazine, "The Prophet and Profits of
Scientology", which reported on the Church of Scientology's business
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard 's financial success. Behar wrote that
during research for "The Thriving
Cult of Greed and Power", he and a
Time contributing editor were themselves investigated by ten attorneys
and six private investigators affiliated with the Church of
Scientology. According to Behar, investigators contacted his
friends and previous coworkers to ask them if he had a history of tax
or drug problems, and obtained a copy of his personal credit report
that had been obtained illegally from a national credit bureau .
Behar conducted 150 interviews in the course of his research for the
Behar wrote that the motive of these operatives was to "threaten,
harass and discredit him". He later learned that the Church of
Scientology had assigned its head private investigator to direct the
Church's investigation into Behar.
Anderson Cooper 360° reported
that Behar had been contacted by Church of
numerous times while doing research on the article. The parents of
Noah Lottick , a Scientologist who had committed suicide, cooperated
with Time and Reader's Digest.
The full title of the article is "The Thriving
Cult of Greed and
Power: Ruined lives. Lost fortunes. Federal crimes.
as a religion but is really a ruthless global scam — and aiming
for the mainstream". The article reported on the founding of the
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard and controversies involving
the Church and its affiliated business operations, as well as the
suicide of a Scientologist. The article related the May 11, 1990,
suicide of Dr. Edward Lottick 's son Noah Antrim Lottick . Lottick
was a Russian studies student who had taken a series of Scientology
courses; he died after jumping from a hotel tenth floor window. The
Scientology and Lottick's family have differing positions on
Scientology coursework had on him. While none of the
parties assigned blame, they expressed misgivings about his death.
Initially, his father had thought that
Scientology was similar to Dale
Carnegie 's self-improvement techniques; however, after his ordeal,
the elder Lottick came to believe that the organization is a "school
Mike Rinder , the head of the Church of
Office of Special Affairs and a Church spokesman, stated
"I think Ed Lottick should look in the mirror ... I think Ed Lottick
made his son's life intolerable".
The article outlined a brief history of Scientology, discussing
Hubbard's initial background as a science fiction writer, and cited a
California judge who had deemed Hubbard a "pathological liar". The
Church of Scientology's litigation history was described, in addition
to its conflicts with the Internal Revenue Service, with countries
regarding whether or not to accept it as a religion , and its position
against psychiatry . Behar wrote of the high costs involved in
participation in the Church of Scientology, what he referred to as
"front groups and financial scams", and harassment of critics. He
estimated that the Church of
Scientology paid US$20 million annually
to over one hundred attorneys. Behar maintained that though the
Scientology portrays itself as a religion, it was actually a
"hugely profitable global racket" which intimidated members and
critics in a
Mafia -like manner.
Cynthia Kisser, then director of the
Cult Awareness Network , was
Scientology is quite likely the most ruthless, the most
classically terroristic, the most litigious and the most lucrative
cult the country has ever seen. No cult extracts more money from its
CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY\'S RESPONSE
The Church of
Scientology responded to the publication of "The
Cult of Greed and Power" by taking out color full-page ads in
USA Today in May and June 1991, on every weekday for twelve weeks,
denouncing the Time magazine cover article. Two official Church of
Scientology responses were titled "Facts vs. Fiction, A Correction of
Falsehoods Contained in the May 6, 1991, Issues of Time Magazine", and
"The Story That Time Couldn't Tell". Prior to the advertising
campaign, Scientologists distributed 88-page bound booklets which
disputed points from Behar's article. The "Fact vs. Fiction" piece
was a 1⁄4-inch-thick (0.64 cm) booklet, which criticized Behar's
article and asserted "Behar's article omits the information on the
dozens of community service programs conducted by Scientologists ...
which have been acknowledged by community officials". One of the
USA Today accused Time of promoting
Adolf Hitler and
Nazi Germany , and featured a 1936 issue of Time which had Hitler's
picture on the front cover. The Church of
Scientology sent out a news
release condemning Time's "horrible history of supporting fascism",
and said that the article was written because Time had been pressured
by "vested interests". When asked by the
St. Petersburg Times
St. Petersburg Times whether
this was the case, Time Executive Editor Richard Duncan responded
"Good Lord, no".
Heber Jentzsch , at the time president of Church of
Scientology International, issued a four-page news release which
Advertising is the only way the church could be assured of
getting its message and its side of the story out to the public
without the same vested interests behind the Time article distorting
After the advertising run critiquing Time magazine in
USA Today had
completed, the Church of
Scientology mounted a $3 million public
relations campaign about
Scientology in USA Today, in June 1991. The
Scientology placed a 48-page advertising supplement in 1.8
million copies of USA Today. In a statement to the St. Petersburg
Scientology spokesman Richard Haworth explained "What we are
trying to do is put the actual facts of
In response to the Church of Scientology's claims of inaccuracies in
the article, a lawyer for Time responded "We've reviewed all of their
allegations, and find nothing wrong with the Time story." In June
Newsweek reported that staffers for Time said they had received
calls from a man claiming to be a paralegal for Time, who asked them
if they had signed a confidentiality form about the article. Time
editors sent staffers a computer memo, warning them about calls
related to the article, and staffers told
Newsweek that "sources named
in the story say detectives have asked about their talks with Time".
A Church of
Scientology spokesman called the claims "scurrilous".
On February 14, 1992,
David Miscavige gave Ted
Koppel his first interview on
Scientology on the
ABC News program
Nightline . The program noted that
Scientology has vocal critics and
cited Behar's 1991 article. Behar appeared on the program and gave his
opinion of why individuals join Scientology, stating that the
organization's "ulterior motive" is really to get people to take
high-priced audit counseling . Behar stated on the program that he
had evidence that members of the Church of
Scientology had obtained
his personal phone records. Later in the program, Koppel questioned
Miscavige on the Church of Scientology's response to the Time magazine
article, particularly the $3 million the church spent advertising in
USA Today. Miscavige explained that the first three weeks of the
advertising campaign was meant to correct falsehoods from the Time
article, and the rest of the twelve-week campaign was dedicated to
informing the public about Scientology. Koppel asked Miscavige what
specifically had upset him about the Time article, and Miscavige
called Behar "a hater". Miscavige noted that Behar had written an
Scientology and the
Internal Revenue Service
Internal Revenue Service three years
before he began work on the Time piece, and made allegations that
Behar had attempted to get two Scientologists kidnapped. When Koppel
questioned Miscavige further on this, Miscavige said that individuals
had contacted Behar after an earlier article, and Behar had told them
to "kidnap Scientologists out". Koppel pressed further, noting that
this was a serious charge to make, and asked Miscavige if his
allegations were accurate, why he had not pressed charges for
attempted kidnapping. Miscavige said Koppel was "missing the issue",
and said that his real point was that he thought the article was not
an objective piece.
Miscavige alleged on
Nightline that the article itself was published
as a result of a request by
Eli Lilly and Company , because of "the
damage we had caused to their killer drug Prozac". When Koppel asked
Miscavige if he had affidavits or evidence to this effect, Miscavige
responded "You think they'd admit it?" Miscavige stated that "Eli
Lilly ordered a reprint of 750,000 copies of Time magazine before it
came out", and that his attempts to investigate the matter with Eli
Lilly and associated advertising companies were not successful.
Docket of Church of
Scientology International v. Time Warner,
Inc., Petition for
Certiorari to the Supreme Court of the
United States denied.
The Church brought a libel lawsuit against
Time Warner and Behar,
seeking damages of $416 million. The Church alleged false and
defamatory statements were made concerning the Church of Scientology
International in the Time article. More specifically, the Church of
Scientology's court statements claimed that Behar had been refining an
Scientology focus since his 1986 article in Forbes, which
included gathering negative materials about Scientology, and "never
accepting anything a Scientologist said and uniformly ignoring
anything positive he learned about the Church". In its initial
complaint filing, the Church quoted portions of the Behar article that
it alleged were false and defamatory, including the quote from Cynthia
Kisser, and Behar's own assertion that
Scientology was a "global
racket" that intimidated individuals in a "Mafia-like manner".
Bound volumes of documents from U.S. federal court proceedings, in
case Church of
Scientology International vs.
Time Warner Inc. and
Noah Lottick's parents submitted affidavits in the case, in which
they "affirmed the accuracy of each statement in the article"; Edward
Lottick "concluded that
Scientology therapies were manipulations, and
Scientology staff members attended the funeral" of their son.
During the litigation, the Church of
Scientology attempted to subpoena
Behar in a separate ongoing lawsuit with the Internal Revenue Service,
and accused a federal magistrate of leaking information to him. Behar
was questioned for over 190 hours during 30 days of depositions with
Scientology attorneys in the libel case. One question was about
Behar's life in his parents' home while he was still inside the womb.
St. Petersburg Times
St. Petersburg Times explained that this question was prompted by
Scientology teachings that certain problems come from prenatal
memories . Behar told the
St. Petersburg Times
St. Petersburg Times he "felt it was
extremely excessive". In a countersuit, Behar brought up the issues
of Church of
Scientology private investigators and what he viewed as
harassment. By July 1996, all counts of the libel suit had been
dismissed. In the course of the litigation through 1996, Time Warner
had spent $7.3 million in legal defense costs. The Church of
Scientology also sued several individuals quoted in the Time article.
The Church of
Reader's Digest in Switzerland,
France, Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany for publishing a condensed
version of the Time story. The only court to provide a temporary
injunction was in
Lausanne , Switzerland. In France, Italy, and the
Netherlands, the courts either dismissed the Church of Scientology's
motions, or set injunction hearings far beyond the date of actual
publication. The company defied the injunction and mailed copies of
the article, "Scientology: A Dangerous
Cult Goes Mainstream", to their
326,000 Swiss subscribers. Worldwide editor-in-chief of Reader's
Kenneth Tomlinson , told
The New York Times
The New York Times that "a publisher
cannot accept a court prohibiting distribution of a serious
journalistic piece. ... The court order violates freedom of speech and
freedom of the press". The Church of
Scientology subsequently filed a
criminal complaint against the Digest in Lausanne, and Mike Rinder
stated it was in blatant violation of the law. By defying the Swiss
court ban, the
Reader's Digest risked a fine of about $3,400, as well
as a potential three months' jail time for the Swiss Digest
editor-in-chief. A hearing on the injunction was set for November 11,
1991, and the injunction was later lifted by the Swiss court.
Certiorari record in
United States Reports
United States Reports
In January 2001, a
United States federal appeals court upheld the
dismissal of the Church of
Scientology International's case against
Time Warner. In its opinion, the United States Court of Appeals for
the Second Circuit ruled that
Time Warner had not published "The
Cult of Greed and Power" with an actual intent of malice , a
standard that must be met for libel cases involving individuals and
public groups. On October 1, 2001, the Supreme Court of the United
States refused to consider reinstating the church's libel case Church
Scientology International v.
Time Warner Inc., 00-1683. Time
Warner said it refused to be "intimidated by the church's apparently
limitless legal resources." In arguments presented to the Supreme
Court, the Church of
Scientology acknowledged that church officials
had "committed improper acts" in the past, but also claimed that:
"allegations of past misconduct were false and distorted, the result
of the misunderstanding, suspicion and prejudice that typically greet
a new religion". Of the rulings for Time Warner, the Church of
Scientology complained that they "provide a safe harbor for biased
journalism". Behar commented on the Church of Scientology's legal
defeat, and said that the lawsuit had a chilling effect : "It's a
tremendous defeat for
Scientology ... But of course their doctrine
states that the purpose of a suit is to harass, not to win, so from
that perspective they hurt us all. They've had a real chilling effect
on journalism, both before and after my piece".
Gerald Loeb Award
Worth Bingham Prize
Conscience-in-Media Award Awards received by Time and Richard Behar
As a result of writing the piece, Behar was presented with the 1992
Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business and financial journalism,
Worth Bingham Prize , the
Conscience-in-Media Award from the
American Society of Journalists and Authors , awarded to "those who
have demonstrated singular commitment to the highest principles of
journalism at notable personal cost or sacrifice," and the Cult
Awareness Network 's Leo J. Ryan Award, in honor of Congressman Leo J.
Paulette Cooper was also awarded the 1992 Conscience-in-Media
Award by the American Society of Journalists and Authors, for her book
The Scandal of
Scientology . This was the only time in the history of
American Society of Journalists and Authors that the award was
presented to more than one journalist in the same year.
In a February 1992 issue of Time, editor Elizabeth Valk congratulated
Behar on his Conscience-in-Media Award, stating "Needless to say, we
are delighted and proud". Valk noted that the honor had only been
awarded seven times in the previous seventeen years of its existence.
Managing editor Henry Muller also congratulated Behar in an April 1992
issue of Time.
Several authors have commented on the article and used it as a
reference for background on Scientology. Not all analysis of the
article has been positive. David Healy 's book criticizing the
pharmaceutical industry , Let Them Eat Prozac, was critical: "The Time
article was way over the top. Even
Saddam Hussein was portrayed less
badly." Healy addressed the article's claim that lawsuits were one of
the Church's key tactics against enemies. He noted that the Citizens
Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a Church of
group discussed in the article, had filed a petition with the Food and
Drug Administration inquiring what it was going to do about
Healy dismissed the notion that CCHR engaged in "orchestrated
campaigns", writing that very few of the 50 lawsuits filed against
Prozac were related to the Church of Scientology. Mark Silk
criticized Behar's article in his book Unsecular Media: Making News of
Religion in America. Silk classified the work among what he referred
to as the "false-prophecy topos ", and characterized Behar's account
of Noah Lottick's suicide as an "atrocity tale ".
Insane Therapy noted that
Scientology "achieved more notoriety ...
with the publication of the journalist Richard Behar's highly critical
article". Larson\'s Book of World Religions and Alternative
Spirituality described the cover design of the article as it appeared
in Time, writing that it "shouted" the headline from the magazine
cover. In a 2005 piece,
Salon.com magazine noted that for those
interested in the Church of Scientology, the Time article still
remains a "milestone in news coverage", and that those who back the
Church believe it was "an outrageously biased account".
The Church of Scientology's use of private investigators was cited in
a 1998 article in the
Boston Herald , and compared to Behar's
experiences when researching "The Thriving
Cult of Greed and Power".
After the paper ran a five-part series of critical articles in 1998,
Heber Jentzsch confirmed that a
private investigative firm was hired to look into the personal life of
Joseph Mallia, the reporter who wrote the articles. In a later piece
titled "Church of
Scientology probes Herald reporter—Investigation
follows pattern of harassment" this investigation was likened to
Behar's assertions of harassment, as well as other reporters'
experiences from 1974, 1988, and 1997.
Because of the history of conflict between
Reader's Digest and
Scientology, the writer of a 2005 cover story on
Tom Cruise agreed to
certain demands, including giving
Scientology issues equal play in the
writer's profile of Cruise, submitting questions for Cruise to Church
Scientology handlers, and sending the writer of the article to a
one-day Church immersion course. Also in 2005, an article in Salon
questioned whether the tactics of the Church's litigation and private
Time Warner and other media sources had succeeded in
decreasing the amount of investigative journalism pieces on
Scientology in the press. A 2005 article in
The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times cited
the article, and came to the determination that the Church of
Scientology's lawsuit against
Time Warner "served to warn off other
potential investigations", and that "The chill evidently lingers
Cult of Greed and Power" continues to be used today by
journalists in the media, as a reference for historical information on
the Church of Scientology. In April 2007,
CNN anchor Anderson
Cooper interviewed former
Office of Special Affairs director Mike
Rinder , in a live piece on
Anderson Cooper 360° titled "Inside
CNN story was prompted by the May 2007 airing of a
BBC Panorama investigative program, "
Scientology and Me ". In the
Anderson Cooper quoted directly from "The Thriving
Greed and Power" article, when asking Rinder about the history of
Operation Snow White , and if those tactics were currently used by the
Church. Rinder answered by stating that the individuals involved with
Operation Snow White were no longer involved in Church of Scientology
activities, and that the incident was "ancient history". Cooper then
again referenced the Time magazine article noting that Behar asserted
that he was illegally investigated by
Scientology contacts during
research for his article. Cooper questioned Rinder on the dismissed
Time Warner , and Rinder acknowledged that all of the
Church of Scientology's appeals against
Time Warner were eventually
The article has been cited as a reference used for background on
Scientology in books which take a critical look at cults such as
Larson\'s Book of World Religions and Alternative Spirituality and
Insane Therapy: Portrait of a Psychotherapy Cult, those that analyze
new religious movements including Understanding New Religious
Movements and The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements, and in
a work that includes researchers from both schools of thought,
Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for Objectivity in a Controversial
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