Disney Falling From Trust By Sponsoring Religious Hate

Our ministers and parishioners have provided relief in disasters around the world, helping victims of floods, riots, bombings, tornadoes, tsunamis, brush fires, and countless other natural and man-made disasters.

October 15, 2018

Ms. Latondra Newton
Senior VP & Chief Diversity Officer
The Walt Disney Company

Dear Ms. Newton:

When you were appointed Chief Diversity Officer at Disney, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Jayne Parker: said “Diversity and inclusion are critical to who we are as a company. When we have a multitude of voices, ideas and sensibilities, we produce more engaging, more memorable, and more relatable experiences for all of the audiences we serve.”

Apparently Leah Remini never got the memo.

I am a Scientologist, a retiree, living in rural Oregon, and even I have heard of our parishioners having to deal with distraught children disparaged at school for being Scientologists, of poison pen letters circulating in our neighborhoods, and of our members being harassed on the streets. This is the true “aftermath” of Ms. Remini’s show on Disney’s A&E Network.

Consider, for example, Erin McMurtry who had no experience with or knowledge of our Church, but Leah Remini’s message struck a chord in her anyway. She was so “inspired” that she drove her car through the front of the Austin Church of Scientology, stopping just short of the children’s nursery. When informed by the arresting officer that nobody had been hurt, she responded “That’s too bad.” Leah Remini’s silence on her protégé’s atrocity was deafening.

Or consider Andre Barkanov, another person afflicted by Remini. He was arrested for making repeated, lengthy telephone calls threatening to kill just about everyone in Scientology. His motive? As he told the LAPD, “That King of Queens lady.” Again, no attempt at moderation from Remini.

These are not random instances. Brandon Reisdorf threw a hammer through the window of our U.S. headquarters building. After his conviction for felony vandalism, Ms. Remini brought him on her show and showered him with praise.

Sociologists understand this phenomenon. Stuart A. Wright covered in a book he edited called Armageddon in Waco:

“Atrocity tales about religious movements or organizations are commonly traced back to disgruntled apostates. Some famous historical examples include Six Months in a Convent by Rebecca Theresa Reed (1835), the Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery or Montreal by Maria Monk (1836), The History of the Saints, or, An Expose of Joe Smith and Mormonism by John C. Bennett (1842), and the anti-Shaker work, Portraiture of Shakerism, by Mary Dyer (1822).

All of these works were inflated, scurrilous accounts giving alleged details and facts about events from former members. Such ‘facts’ however, tend to be less than objective when placed in the context of motives and circumstances of leaving. Apostates may leave under unfavorable conditions and voice their grievances as a form of retaliation.”

Does this sound familiar? Does Disney want its name added to this black list?

Christopher G. Ellison and John P. Bartkowski wrote in a chapter from the same book: “Apostates—whose material and ideological interests frequently shift with their defection—may offer pejorative accounts or highly inaccurate information about the internal workings of marginal groups.”

That is exactly what is happening on your network.

Consider for a moment what isn’t being said. Our ministers and parishioners have provided relief in disasters around the world, helping victims of floods, riots, bombings, tornadoes, tsunamis, brush fires, and countless other natural and man-made disasters. The simplest of Scientology tools have rehabilitated criminals and saved lives. There are thousands of such people, such stories, and this is what “Aftermath” is really attacking. We are human beings, good people.

Vilification is always a herald for violence. The FBI has reported that, in terms of frequency, hate crimes motivated by religion rank second only to hate crimes committed because of race. Aftermath has contributed to that statistic. This is combustible stuff you’re dealing with. Will a Scientologist have to die to get Disney’s attention?

Ms. Remini has said she’s doing this for the money. I would hope that Disney could rise above such motives.


Leland Thoburn
McMinnville, Ore.

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