Lawrence Wright's sprawling expose of Scientology in this week's New Yorker is dominating media discussions. But Esquire's Mark Warren says that, however mockable journalists may find L. Ron Hubbard's outlandish belief system, the core beliefs of the Catholic Church — which "wields influence incalculably greater than Hubbard's itty-bitty religion" — are just as absurd. Catholics' "finances, earthly corruption, and raw power," should be catnip to muckraking writers; its wide-reaching pedophilia scandal, for instance, was a "monstrous crime" that deserved far more attention than it got. But talented reporters keep coming back to celebrity-driven Scientology, which "statistically doesn't even exist" compared to the world's biggest faiths. Here, an excerpt:
"Obviously, any religion that cultivates "celebrity centres" for its elite members deserves a good whacking in the press every once in a while. And frankly, it is Scientology's A-list membership (as well as its state-of-the-art, police-state tactics for dealing with critics) that makes it an evergreen subject of fascination for the press. I understand this.
But it is an outsize attention that Scientology attracts, akin to routinely and pitilessly investigating Djibouti for its role in confecting the flawed intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq, rather than giving Dick Cheney a call.
Can not some of this journalistic industry be trained on the church of my birth, whose chief vicar, an infallible man, lives in a palace in the middle of his own city-state while still claiming a vow of poverty and a simple Christ-like existence? The same vicar who presided over revelations — long-known but secretly guarded, that many of his employees were criminals and child molesters — not with the mien of the keeper of his flock but rather with the ruthless demeanor of the CEO of a massive corporation lawyering up against the barrage of lawsuits to come?"