Tell-all book from Scientology leader's father ruffling feathers in cult

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Luke MacGregor)Chairman of the board of Religious Technology Center and leader of the Scientology religion David Miscavige speaks during the opening ceremony of the Church of Scientology's new building in London October 22, 2006.

LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – Lawyers for David Miscavige, the secretive leader of Scientology, have threatened to file a defamation lawsuit against the publisher of the forthcoming tell-all from Micavige's own father.

Ruthless: Scientology, My Son David Miscavige, and Me by Ron Miscavige and Dan Koon will be released in the United Kingdom next week, and the letter has done little to change the release date for the book which chronicles the younger Miscavige's rise to power.

According to the publisher's detail of the book, David Miscavige "hasn't always ruled with a dictator's iron fist – nor was Scientology even part of his destiny. It was his father, Ron Miscavige, who signed his family up, and David bought in totally, even as a boy. Years later, Ron could only watch with dismay as his bright, carefree son transformed into the ruthless leader he is today."

As the leader of a worldwide religion, our client is entitled to an appropriate degree of respect, and not least an objective analysis of allegations made by or on behalf of individuals who have an obvious motivation and hostility towards a religious institution of which they had previously been willing and enthusiastic members.
- Attorney's for David Miscavige

David Miscavige's attorneys responded to the news of the publication by threatening the publisher with a libel suit in the United Kingdom, where "libel laws offer more extensive protection to individuals, and indeed religious organizations, than those in the U.S."

The letter also outlined what the cult leader said were "malicious, false, misleading and highly defamatory allegations" within the book. Included among those is the charge that L. Ron Hubbard did not select Miscavige as his successor, but that he outmaneuvered his rivals to seize power. It also alleges Miscavige lives lavishly while his staff live in "poor conditions" and that he is "erratic and abusive" – charges also alleged in the recent anti-Scientology documentary Going Clear.

The letter also considers as false allegations the charges that "The Gold Base" – Scientology's international headquarters 90 miles from Los Angeles – is surrounded by inward-facing spiked fences, that working conditions there are poor, and that people who question the authority of church leaders are placed in "The Hole."

Attorneys for Miscavige also noted that Silvertail Books, the publisher behind the work, appears to have a vendetta against the church because it publishes other "anti-Scientology" titles.

"Indeed it appears that at least a quarter of your titles are publications which are zealously critical of the Church of Scientology. In such circumstances, the only reasonable inference that can be drawn is that you are pursuing a malicious and vindictive agenda against our client and the Church," the letter from David Miscavige's attorneys said.

According to the letter, Ron Miscavige is seeking to capitalize on his son's fame for "blatant commercial gain."

"As the leader of a worldwide religion, our client is entitled to an appropriate degree of respect, and not least an objective analysis of allegations made by or on behalf of individuals who have an obvious motivation and hostility towards a religious institution of which they had previously been willing and enthusiastic members," the letter said.

Full legal due diligence has been carried out on the manuscript, and I am both confident in its integrity and very proud that Silvertail is publishing it. Ron's story is an important one, and he is a brave man to be telling it.
- Publisher Humfrey Hunter

The Church of Scientology has been somewhat successful in Britain in curtailing the publication of works detrimental to its cause. The book Going Clear, from which the 2015 documentary was taken, was first published worldwide in 2013, but not in the U.K. where libel laws might have given the church standing to file a lawsuit, the Hollywood Reporter said.

Silvertail now plans to release the book since the documentary already aired on Sky Atlantic. It was the most watched documentary on the network in three years.

Humfrey Hunter, who leads the publishing house, told the entertainment news site that the publication of the book will proceed despite the legal bluster from David Miscavige's attorneys.

"Full legal due diligence has been carried out on the manuscript, and I am both confident in its integrity and very proud that Silvertail is publishing it. Ron's story is an important one, and he is a brave man to be telling it," Hunter said.

Other prominent figures, including Hollywood actress Leah Remini, have departed Scientology in recent years, but have been hounded by the organization when they speak out. Remini told her story in 2015, after which the church issued a scathing missive against her.

The church's most prominent ambassador is actor Tom Cruise, who enjoys near messianic status in the group.