Lawrence Wright on Scientology, 'Going Clear'

'Going Clear' by Lawrence Wright
Book cover courtesy of publisher

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright's latest book investigates the world of Scientology. In "Going Clear," Wright takes a look at the religion through a number of characters, exposing some of the inner workings of the organization.

From The A.V. Club review:

In accessible, straightforward prose that does a fine job of rendering Scientology's sometimes convoluted core concepts understandable, Wright captures its horrors and abuses, but also the seductive glamour. It's a belief system with a sense of infinite possibilities in this world and the next, wedded to a life-affirming sense of community among true believers united in fighting for our planet's salvation.

In spite of its occasional excesses and redundancies, Going Clear is simultaneously a fearless, compelling, exhaustive work of muckraking journalism and a masterpiece of storytelling. It's a ripping yarn about ego, money, abuse, faith, and the corrupting nature of power when wielded by the wrong people. It's as lurid, pulpy, and preposterous-seeming as anything Hubbard or Haggis ever wrote, but it's much better, because it has the benefit of being true.

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Wright joined The Daily Circuit Monday, Feb. 18, to discuss the book.


Hollywood hot shots, Scientology and a story worth the risk in 'Going Clear' (NPR)

New York Times book review The Apostate: Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology (New Yorker)

Lawrence Wright on Scientology (WNYC)

The Church of Scientology International provided this statement about Wright's book:

Mr. Wright's book is so ludicrous it belongs in a supermarket tabloid. The book is an error-filled, unsubstantiated, bigoted anti-Scientology book. The Church has produced a white paper identifying the more than 200 errors so far discovered in Mr. Wright's book. See,

British and Canadian publishers chose not to print Mr. Wright's book, which speaks volumes about their confidence in its facts and allegations. Mr. Wright ignored the real story of Scientology in favor of taking the lazy path by relying on stale allegations and ever-changing bizarre tales invented by a handful of confessed liars.

If objectivity and truth are the hallmark of an ethical journalist, then the only words to describe Lawrence Wright are corrupt and bigoted. A self-described atheist, Mr. Wright apparently feels that Scientologists have no rights to express their religious beliefs. In a letter of October 14, 2011, a full 15 months before publication, the Church offered full cooperation to answer any questions so as to provide all information Mr. Wright would need to accurately represent the religion, the Church, its leadership and Founder. The Church repeated this request 15 times, as many of the letters went entirely unanswered while others resulted in only about a dozen fact-checks consisting of obscure or mundane subjects out of context. As a result, Mr. Wright produced a travesty of falsehoods--from getting wrong the date of the wedding of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes to falsely claiming the Church owns a bank in Florida.

Millions of Scientologists around the world embrace the religion. Since Lawrence Wright began his research, 30 new Churches of Scientology, known as Ideal Organizations, opened across the world--12 in 2012 alone--and our humanitarian programs are bringing help to thousands of people from all walks of life on a daily basis.