HBO's 'Going Clear' Demonstrates How Scientology Is Suffering in the Digital Age - 2015-03-26
Scientology, the movement established by L. Ron Hubbard in the '50s, has long been known for its efforts to manipulate information about it in the public sphere. The group carefully crafts its image through widespread publicity campaigns (including a native advertisement published on this site in 2013) while suing and attacking those who portray it unfavorably. Over the past 25 years, the Church has filed lawsuits against high-profile publications such as Time and The Washington Post, as well as ex-employees who criticize the Church publicly. Hubbard himself encouraged aggressive legal action toward people who revealed secret information about the Church. According to a 1997 New York Times article, Hubbard once told his followers, "The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than win … If possible, of course, ruin [the opponent] utterly."
But the Church is losing control of its public image—in large part because the flow of information in the digital age is irrepressible. "It's the Internet that has changed everything," says Tony Ortega, the former editor of The Village Voice and founder of a website, The Underground Bunker, that's dedicated to criticizing Scientology.