Oy. So The Atlantic decided it was a good idea to run an advertisement for the Church of Scientology masquerading as an news article about explosive growth in the church:
Note the yellow “sponsor content” label. That, and a blurb at the bottom, are your only clues that this was essentially written by the PR department at the CoS. But probably worse than the article are the obsequious comments:
The article lasted less than 24 hours before being pulled. There’s a Freeze.it snapshot available.
Probably the best response comes from Boing.boing:
The issue here is that The Atlantic played fast and loose with its journalistic integrity, allowing the CoS to post a press release on their site and call it an article. What’s more, they seem to have allowed the CoS to moderate the comments, or at least set the guidelines, because there is no strongly negative comment in the bunch. Bad show.
As for the CoS, they’re probably smarting from an actual article with actual content from the Tampa Bay Times, “FBI’s Scientology investigation: Balancing the First Amendment with charges of abuse and forced labor.”
The FBI authorized some church defectors to covertly record certain conversations. At least one witness agreed to wear a wire, if needed. The FBI obtained aerial surveillance video of the church’s remote facility outside L.A. Agents even talked of raiding the property.
Through it all, the church continued to tout itself as mankind’s only hope, a beacon for human rights. Miscavige christened more than two dozen multimillion-dollar churches, calling them “islands of sanity” for a troubled world. And the church’s PR machine credited him for leading a “Renaissance” of the religion L. Ron Hubbard started in 1954.