Scientology is a little like Fight Club: Rule number one is that you're not supposed to talk about it. That goes for people outside of the church as well. So when freelance writer Paulette Cooper penned a piece, titled "The Scandal of Scientology," about the organization for New York magazine in 1971, the organization and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, took notice.
What followed sounds like a conspiracy-theory action flick or a season-long X-Files story arc. The church kept her under surveillance, watching her every move as they plotted how to destroy her life. Eventually, they framed her with writing bomb-threat letters, charges that could put her away for 15 years. After an FBI raid in 1977, she was exonerated, and 11 Scientology officials were sent to prison.
Journalist Tony Ortega, a longtime investigator of the Church of Scientology (and former Village Voice editor in chief), explores the ins and outs of Cooper's strange and intense story in his new book. The Unbreakable Miss Lovely (church documents referred to her as "Miss Lovely") recounts the years leading up to the FBI raid, covering newly discovered documents and eye-witness accounts, as well as the experience of Cooper herself, who continues to speak out against Scientology.
Ortega, who has been covering Scientology since 1995, has been part of some of the more recent takedowns that have overshadowed the church in the news as of late. In addition to extensively covering the organization's activities over the years, Ortega recently appeared in Alex Gibney's award-winning HBO documentary, Going Clear.
Ortega will be in town this week to talk about Scientology and his book over beers this week at Grumpy's Bar & Grill in Roseville. The reading and chat starts at 7 p.m. this Thursday, September 24. The event is sponsored by Minnesota Atheists. For more info, click here.