NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t



In the introduction to his new book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief, Lawrence Wright writes, “Scientology plays an outsize role in the cast of new religions that have arisen in the 20th century and survived into the 21st.” The book is a look inside the world of Scientology and the life of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986. A recent ad for Scientology claims to welcome 4.4 million new converts each year. Wright, who won a Pulitzer for his book The Looming Tower about the history of al-Qaida, has written throughout his career about the impact of religion on people’s lives. He reports that only 25,000 Americans actually call themselves Scientologists, and about 5,000 of those live in Los Angeles. This includes some Hollywood actors; Wright says that almost from the time Hubbard founded Scientology, he hoped to attract members from Hollywood. “He really said that he wanted to take over the entire entertainment industry,” Wright tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, ” … but his dream grew larger when he established the Church of Scientology in Hollywood and set up the Celebrity Center with the goal of attracting notable celebrities. … They wanted an exemplary Scientologist to show to the world, and … you know, they did get some people like Gloria Swanson, the star of silent films, became a member. Rock Hudson came in the door for a while, and, in those early days, they were constantly patrolling for someone who could be the public face of Scientology.” MORE

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