Mike Rinder’s Legacy

When I first got involved with Scientology, I remember being confused when I found out there was anyone who would attack it. I had so many life-changing, uplifting experiences with it so quickly that I just could not wrap my head around this.

I asked a staff member about someone who had been critical of the church, and I was given a short summary about this person, Mike Rinder. She explained that Rinder had worked for the church for a time and then abruptly and inexplicably left his wife and family with literally no warning and without even saying goodbye. He then began attacking Scientology in the media for personal profit.

When his family tried to see Rinder and ask him to stop, he physically attacked his wife so badly she had to undergo surgery for nerve damage. She still hasn’t regained the full use of her arm.

Battered arm
The battered arms of Mike Rinder’s former wife. Rinder first walked out on her and his children without a word, then abused her when he saw her next.

I was silly enough, at the time, to think: surely if he was “that upset” there must be something to what he was saying, right?

Two decades as a Scientologist and a little more life experience have shown me how naive that point of view really was.

Goodhearted people tend to see the best in others. If someone comes to them with a complaint or grievance about something, good people automatically assume there must be something legitimate about it because they themselves would never manufacture lies and slander about a person or group in order to make money or get attention. That’s not something a normal, sane person would do.

And that’s the unfortunate truth about the handful of people who try to make noise attacking Scientology, people like Mike Rinder. Whatever motivates a guy like that— whether he’s wrestling with (and losing to) his own demons, or it’s simply a matter of money for him—the bottom line is that he’s engaging in the kind of behavior that normal people can’t even get their heads around because they would never in a million years do what he does to other people.

The simple truth is that Mike Rinder makes his living fomenting bigotry and hate against the group whose standards he failed to live up to.

The “worst” response I’ve ever gotten when I tell a well-intentioned person that I’m a Scientologist is: “Hey, if it works for you, that’s great!”

If someone you met told you they were Mormon or Muslim or Sikh or Hare Krishna for instance, what would your reaction be? It would probably be a simple nod of your head and a smile, right?

That’s how people should react regarding the religious beliefs of others: with respect, admiration, kindness, maybe even curiosity, but always common courtesy.

People working in yellow shirts
Scientology Volunteer Ministers respond in the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

Scientologists as a group are some of the most civic-minded, community-oriented and helpful people you’d ever hope to find. Our churches around the world are staffed by volunteers who dedicate 40 hours or more every week to helping others understand themselves and life better. We actively campaign for drug education, human rights, morality and literacy. If you spend any time around a Scientology church or a group of Scientologists, you’ll likely come away remarking on how unusually nice and outgoing and friendly we are. And you’d be right.

The few who spend their time attacking Scientology are, unfortunately for them (and everyone else) actually cartoon-like in how one-dimensionally nasty they are. One for one, they have done things in their personal lives that would make your hair stand on end. If they were ever Scientologists, they’re most often people who were asked to leave the church because they were unethical and no longer welcome in the group. And they then fixate on the church and point the finger at the group that they know, deep down, is just out there trying to help other people—including them.

A man sitting down
Mike Rinder

Mike Rinder chose to abandon a son, a daughter, a wife of three decades, a brother and even his mother in the years before she died. He didn’t attend her funeral and was nowhere to be found when his son was battling life-threatening cancer. Instead, he was busy sleeping with a woman young enough to be his daughter.

What a miserable way to live.

The simple truth is that Mike Rinder makes his living fomenting bigotry and hate against the group whose standards he failed to live up to.

That’s the reality, and anything else is just smoke and mirrors. So when you hear someone refer to Scientology as “controversial,” realize they’ve listened only to bigots with an axe to grind. For the millions around the world who have used Scientology to better their lives, “controversial” is not an adjective that describes their experience. Mine has been extraordinary, remarkable, uplifting, life-changing and spiritual.

And that’s exactly what anyone honest can expect.

Bill Henderson
Entrepreneur, business owner, proud parent and happy husband.