New York Daily News -

Lloyd Grove - Daily Dish
Wednesday, November 19th, 2003.

[ snip ]

Getting blunt with Razor

The Church of Scientology - never one to take criticism lying down - has been rattling sabers at Razor magazine.

The male-oriented mag's latest issue contains a muckraking article about the religion, which claims among its members powerful Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and was founded in the 1950s by the late science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard.

Razor's story, headlined "The Curse of Scientology - Lawsuits, Death, and Finance," chronicles the strange death of church member Lisa McPherson, and was written by David S. Touretzky and Peter Alexander, a disaffected former Scientologist.

"Imagine a church so dangerous you must sign a release form before you can receive its spiritual assistance," the authors assert.

This week, Scientology spokeswoman Linda Simmons Hight left several urgent messages with Razor publisher Richard Botto and sent a tough E-mail to editor in chief Craig Knight. The Los Angeles-based Hight, communications director for Scientology International, made what a Razor spokeswoman tells me are "veiled threats of legal action."

Hight's message: "You and your magazine do not understand the agenda of the people who wrote this article ... I suggest you return my call immediately."

Razor is "treading on serious ground," she added.

Hight's E-mail to Knight was more explicit: "A moment ago, I logged onto your Web site and saw the highly offensive promotion for the story. Until we connect with each other by phone, I strongly urge you to remove it from your site. I can only assume you do not know the persons who authored the story, nor what their actual agenda is, nor how inaccurate and slanted the story is. Please do return my call as soon as possible."

Yesterday, Knight said: "Her message certainly sounds aggressive to me ... I've called her back twice and left two messages for her, but we haven't connected."

Hight, for her part, told me: "I have called the publisher and the editor. I told them my name and my phone number and that I'd like to talk to them, but I haven't heard back."