The Bigotry Behind the Times Facade of Responsible Journalism

The Bigotry Behind the Times' Facade of Responsible Journalism

St. Petersburg Times building at 490 First Avenue South in St. Petersburg.

In recent years, the S.P. Times has worked hard to present a more honest and credible image to the public, attempting to shed its reputation for biased reporting. The newspaper’s recent “special” report exposed the facade: At its core, the S.P. Times has not changed. It is an organization that twists the news to incite hatred against Scientologists and stops at nothing to paint a false picture of the Scientology religion and the Church.

Recounting its long record of bigotry toward the Church of Scientology, its members, staff and leaders is unnecessary. That is something with which most Tampa Bay residents are all too familiar, including thousands of non-Scientologists appalled at the Times’ attempts to unfairly stigmatize Scientologists who are their friends.

But if the Times has not changed, the articles in this magazine detailing Scientology’s explosive expansion in both Clearwater and around the world show how Scientology has continued to grow. As the Church has gained greater local prominence, thousands of Scientologists have contributed to improving their community through charities and civic groups.

Juxtaposed with the day-to-day reality of friends, neighbors and workmates who are Scientologists, the hysteria of the Times’ stereotypes has become self-evident.

Scientologists work alongside friends and neighbors on civic and cultural boards, in sports and arts societies and in numerous social partnerships. The newly restored Fort Harrison regularly hosts functions for other charitable organizations; public are welcomed for tours and Church staff work hard to invite questions and provide an open response. Juxtaposed with the day-to-day reality of friends, neighbors and workmates who are Scientologists, the hysteria of the Times’ stereotypes has become self-evident.

A full and objective review of the recent allegations the Times presented to the Church from four ex-Scientologists evidences both the lack of credibility and sinister motives of these sources—people who will say anything to attack their former faith.

  • The same false allegations have been posted on the “grassy knoll” of the Internet by avowed Scientologist-haters for years.
  • Even though first-person accounts from dozens of eyewitnesses demolished the fabrications presented by the Times’ sources, reporters Joe Childs and Tom Tobin refused to hear from those eyewitnesses.
  • The Church provided an unprecedented amount of documented evidence and detailed accounts proving the sources had lied.
  • The Church also provided detailed evidence regarding the motives of these four apostates to lie about the religion and its leader: delusionary ideas of “taking over” the Church, resentment over their removal from posts and money.

In the most offensive gesture of all, the S.P. Times refused to accept an offer of an in-person interview with Mr. David Miscavige, the ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion.

The interview would have been his first in 11 years and only the third in his 25-year career as the Church’s leader. Despite purporting to seek this interview, to which Mr. Miscavige had immediately agreed, the newspaper abandoned its facade of objectivity, cancelled the interview and rushed to print. The Times reporters and their bosses knew the scheduled interview with Mr. Miscavige was absolutely essential under fundamental journalistic standards and ethics. When they turned their backs on that interview, the reporters made a conscious decision to turn their backs on the truth. After all, they knew a response would further annihilate the credibility of their sources, rendering their false story fatal.

The Church offered the reporters full and unfettered access to the Church and all facilities. Tobin and Childs refused to accept the offer. The Times decided this information “wasn’t relevant” to their story, that somehow an interview with the Church’s ecclesiastical leader was unnecessary even for a three-part series on the man.

So, in response to the Times exhibition of unprovoked malice and shredding of the truth, Freedom presents the real story of both the Church … and the so-called journalism practiced by the S.P. Times.