POLITICS

Scientology author talks of church's presence in D.C.

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Lucy Westcott

Scientology's newest foe, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright, spoke at the Politics & Prose bookstore in Washington on Thursday about his new book, "Going Clear: Hollywood, Scientology and the Prison of Belief." It was 27 years to the day of church founder L. Ron Hubbard's death.

Scientology is infamous for tracking down those who speak out against it -- including journalists and former Church members -- something Wright has experienced. The threat of guaranteed intimidation was too much for Wright's British publisher, who backed out at the last minute. "I've had innumerable legal letters [from Scientology lawyers] but I'm not intimidated. My last book was about al Qaeda, and they don't have lawyers. If they did, they'd be a very dangerous organization," Wright quipped.

In order to protect himself from being bad-mouthed by Scientology, Wright purchased a number of domain names, but missed the most obvious one: lawrencewrightgoingclear.com. That site is now a dedicated page for Scientologists to refute claims made in his book.

"I think the church is at a crisis point ... it faces a reckoning," Wright said. Wright blames celebrity spokespeople such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise for luring people into the religion. "Nobody else has done more to bring people into Scientology than them," Wright said. He believes these high-profile figures should be held more accountable, especially as many former Scientologists fear speaking out about their experiences.

Wright's previous works include "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11," for which he won a Pulitzer Prize.

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