Mike Rinder is a source for Alex Gibney’s Going Clear film on Scientology, meaning Gibney is giving a platform to a paid consultant for anti-Scientology litigation, an admitted liar and a violent individual with a history of contradictions and misconduct. It is flabbergasting that he was rewarded for his lies with an all-expense-paid trip to the Sundance Film Festival to promote Gibney’s film.
Mike Rinder has a documented history of domestic abuse. He is a man who abandoned his family, shredded his ex-wife’s arm requiring surgery, and engaged in severe malfeasance in an important Church legal case for which he was removed from any position of responsibility and ultimately expelled from the Church. Rinder has admitted under oath to being paid by the hour by plaintiffs’ attorneys filing frivolous lawsuits against the Church. In one case, attorneys adverse to the Church paid Rinder more than $22,000. That, in and of itself, should disqualify him as an independent source and give HBO pause about providing him a platform to tell more lies.
The real Mike Rinder is a former external affairs staffer whose malfeasance caused the Church numerous problems that took years and millions of dollars to correct. Ultimately, the intervention of the ecclesiastical leader was needed to clean up Rinder’s final and greatest mess, resulting in his removal in disgrace. In a moment of candor, after his removal and before his ultimate dismissal from the Church, Rinder wrote about his performance and lack of truthfulness:
“Bottom line is that I have had a totally criminal moral code and operated with a totally criminal mind attitude that I have not fully confronted (even down to lying about lying and doing illegal things).
“With the justifications I have had in place, telling the truth under certain circumstances was in my universe no different than telling a lie or withholding.”
Rinder’s description of “lying… and doing illegal things” barely scratches the surface. Rinder, along with Marty Rathbun and Tom DeVocht, additional sources for Alex Gibney’s film, secretly conspired to suborn perjury. That in turn triggered a criminal investigation and a civil case in which the leader of the Church became the target. The Church was ultimately vindicated and the criminal case dismissed, but the civil case carried on for years.
In December 1995, following a tragic death in Florida, Rinder and his cohorts, Rathbun and DeVocht, were involved in suborning perjury and coaching witnesses to lie to police. Critical documents went missing. New lawyers were hired and the leader of the religion oversaw the full cooperation of the Church. Rinder and Rathbun were ordered to find out who lied and lost documents and, based on their “investigation,” innocent individuals were dismissed. The Church still had to deal with the resulting civil lawsuit and questions about other allegedly “missing documents” and a “witness” (another of Wright’s sources) who had falsely claimed they had been destroyed by order of the ecclesiastical leader. An independent search revealed the missing folders (which had never been destroyed) were in storage at Rinder’s offices—and had been there for the entire four years Rinder had allowed this false allegation to be repeated about the Scientology ecclesiastic leader.
Once the judge saw the testimony was false, she dismissed the witness who made these allegations as having no credibility. Rinder was removed from his position and later expelled from the Church. Nevertheless, the full extent of Rinder’s destructive conduct did not surface until 2009, when Rathbun confessed that he was the one who had suborned perjury. Rathbun named Rinder among those involved in the conspiracy to coach witnesses to lie. Had Rinder and his conspirators been honest, there would have been no indictment and no civil case against the Church. Rinder’s behavior not only irresponsibly put the Church leader and the Church at legal risk, he intentionally caused harm to others. Rinder not only obstructed justice, he falsely targeted others when asked to investigate, in order to cover up that he was the culprit. Moreover, he sat mute when the Church’s leader was accused of destroying documents, which Rinder himself was hiding in his own office.
Don’t take our word for these facts: Mike Rinder himself wrote in late 2003 that it was his dishonesty and misconduct toward the leader of the Church that led to his own downfall: “Many times I’ve looked at the overts [Scientology terminology for transgressions] I’ve committed when I have lied to you, and I’ve always had the idea that it was bad because it had caused upset—but not really confronted it as a basic violation of integrity, and therefore something far more fundamental and degraded—it is a reflection of my cowardice and lack of integrity that I would do this and it’s just black and white wrong … especially under the circumstances of being in the midst of a war, it’s suppressive. I don’t mean it’s OK at any time, it’s not—but the times I have done this with you have been when my ‘neck’ has been so precious to me that I have been willing to put you and the Church in danger because of it.” (See Rinder’s handwritten paper titled “My Honesty” .)
Rinder’s claims of leaving the Church over alleged mistreatment are a smokescreen to cover up the real reason he is no longer a Scientologist. His is a concocted story corroborated entirely by a handful of bitter ex-Scientologists with whom he now associates. Rinder claims to have “escaped” from the Church to avoid “abuse” and says he was being held against his will. The clear evidence this is a lie is that Rinder left the Church from London in 2007 where he had been for months working on an assignment and coming and going as he pleased on a daily basis. Rinder left when his request to transfer back to Los Angeles was denied; he knew he would never rise to the position he once held ever again.
Unable to find meaningful employment, Rinder since 2009 has joined his co-conspirator Marty Rathbun at the hip to maniacally attack the Church and its leadership and to exact vengeance by continuing the conduct for which he was removed: flagrant dishonesty and suborning perjury. Rathbun has been the front man for a small group of expelled members devoted to relentless character assassination of the Church’s leader, denigration of the Church and harassment of parishioners. Even more bizarre, according to Rinder’s sworn testimony in January 2015, Rathbun anointed Rinder as a “minister” of Rathbun’s group for the sole purpose of presiding at Rathbun’s wedding! Rinder is the only “minister” of Rathbun’s followers and the “wedding” he conducted is the only one ever conducted in Rathbun’s group. Even whackier is that, with the wedding concluded, Rinder not only ended his appointment as a minister but also no longer is a “follower” of Rathbun’s South Texas “Independent” cult. (Rathbun says that his “independent” splinter group was a “failed experiment” and he “moved on.” Translation: the small Texas-based group this guru formed collapsed. Rathbun and Rinder are also notable for previously despising each other with Rathbun calling Rinder “arrogant” and Rinder calling Rathbun “a psychopath” until they became “best good buddies.” More information is available here.)
Financial motives are the key to understanding why Rinder says what he does, to HBO and others. In addition to being paid thousands of dollars a year by attorneys adverse to the Church, Rinder revealed in deposition that he has plotted with Marty Rathbun and others to launch a “class action” lawsuit against the Church, similar to the frivolous billion-dollar lawsuit another HBO source, Hana Whitfield, filed 25 years ago. Whitfield’s complaint was dismissed as meritless six times, having failed to establish a single legitimate claim. Rinder admits he expected the same (rejection by the courts).
But, either way, Rinder knows well the modus operandi of professional anti-Scientologists and seeks to profit from these despicable tactics. It starts with an orchestrated media attack involving the most heinous and outrageous allegations, “corroborated” by others who are part of the same group and willing to lie on command. Back in 1998 while serving as Church spokesman, Rinder explained these tactics to ABC’s 20/20: “They [anti-Scientologists] sat in a room, they figured out what they were going to say, they wrote their bits, they passed them around, they made sure they were consistent. And yes, they were paid for that.”
Earlier in 1994, Rinder authored a declaration under penalty of perjury describing the conduct of a group of anti-Scientologists, such as Hana Whitfield, another Wright source:
These people have gathered around them a few others who are bitter and harbor an unabiding resentment of Scientology and what it stands for and for their own failures in the Church. They view the Church as their ‘lottery ticket’ and pursue their jackpot with lies and threats at the expense of the millions of happy and satisfied members who support the Church with their time and donations. The Aznarans and Youngs are joined in that pursuit by the likes of Hana Whitfield, Andre and Mary Tabayoyon, Larry Wollersheim, Steve Fishman and Gerry Armstrong. Though they either do not know David Miscavige, or had some remote contact with him many years ago, they are willing to make vindictive allegations, not based on personal knowledge or the truth, and defame him personally and as the leader of the religion. The tactic is as transparent as it is unconscionable—spread venom in the hope that the victims of the hate campaign will eventually be forced to buy their silence so the Church can get on with its real purpose of expanding the Scientology religion and helping more people. (See Michael Rinder Declaration of April 11, 1994 )
Rinder’s Sworn Testimony, January 2015
In Rinder’s deposition of January 6, 2015, he admitted to the truthfulness of declarations he made supporting the Church and its leader while he was in the Church:
Q. In paragraph 23 you go on to say: “As I work with him often, know many of the people that know him, I’m aware of the high regard in which he,” meaning Mr. Miscavige, “is held by Scientologists and those he comes in contact with. I've never heard a negative statement made about him by anyone, other than those who seek to extort money from the church. It really is simple.” That was a true statement, wasn’t it, sir?
A. Yes, absolutely. …
Q. And so you were testifying truthfully about your feelings for Mr. Miscavige and the admiration which he [enjoyed] among the parishioners of the Church, is that fair?
A. Absolutely. …
Q. “It is because he has demonstrated time and time again his integrity and selfless willingness to serve for the good of others that he enjoys the support of the staff and parishioners of the Scientology religion.” That’s true, isn’t it?
A. Oh, absolutely.
Rinder further testified in this deposition that during his tenure in the Church he was familiar with litigation brought by plaintiffs with meritless causes, and that those individuals were “getting together and making false accusations against the Church and corroborating one another.” In doing so, Rinder perfectly described what he and Rathbun are now doing. And it’s impossible for either to deny it.
Even more shocking is Rinder’s current relationship with another source for Lawrence Wright, the attorney Graham Berry. It was Mr. Berry who filed court documents falsely alleging that Mr. Miscavige had murdered his own mother-in-law. When questioned about this in his recent deposition, Rinder said:
A. This primarily, and you will see in here, the subject of these spiteful allegations and falsehoods was that David Miscavige had been somehow involved in the death—the death of his mother-in-law, Shelly’s mother, and to this day I do not believe that that is true and I think that that’s a terrible allegation to make about someone that is not only not true, is spiteful and misleading, and I would say that today. I do not believe that David Miscavige had any involvement with the death of his mother-in-law. I will—no one will ever convince me otherwise and I would never say otherwise. These people were saying that and I disagreed with that.
Yet today Rinder is Facebook friends with Graham Berry, the disgraced attorney who made these claims against Mr. Miscavige. Since Berry is a source for Wright’s book of anti-Scientology diatribes, Rinder apparently now has no problem with Wright’s use of Berry’s false allegations, as long as they defame the Church.
Here is what Rinder swore to in 1994, which he recently testified under oath remains truthful:
While these so-called experts have no personal knowledge concerning David Miscavige, I do. I have known and worked with him since 1976.
The sheer volume of despicable allegations made about him are intended to create the false impression that where there is smoke there is fire. These ‘witnesses’ know only too well from their experience in the Church that the tactic of telling bigger and bolder lies has been a strategy employed against the Church in litigation for years. Tell enough lies, and make enough allegations, and an impression will be created which accomplishes the end of destroying a reputation no matter how untrue the allegations are. Public figures are especially susceptible to this fraud as any study of history shows. Jesus Christ was crucified based on the false accusations of Judas Iscariot and the prejudice of the Romans.
I know David Miscavige personally. As such I know him to be completely honest, and sincerely dedicated to helping people. For what he has done to expand our religion, he has the respect and admiration of millions of Scientologists. And for this same reason, he has earned the enmity and particular scorn of those with a vendetta against Scientology.
In the last decade, he has personally done more to ensure Scientology is standardly applied and made more widely known and available than any other single individual. After L. Ron Hubbard, the Founder of Scientology, passed away in 1986, the religion entered a new phase. While there will never be another L. Ron Hubbard, his death marked a time of potential disruption and upheaval, and Mr. Miscavige shouldered the responsibility for not only keeping the Scriptures pure, but for guiding our religion into a time of great stability and rapid growth. He never sought personal power or aggrandizement; he was thrust into the position he currently holds precisely because he is so dedicated to helping others through our religion. It is because he has demonstrated time and time again his integrity and selfless willingness to serve for the good of others that he enjoys the support of the staff and parishioners of the Scientology religion. (See Rinder Declaration of April 11, 1994)
This is only one of more than 20 declarations made by Rinder under oath over a period of more than 10 years, outlining the tactics of anti-Scientology litigants and praising the work of Mr. Miscavige in leading the Church.
Rinder’s Bias & Bigotry
Rinder’s bias toward the Church leader who removed him could not be clearer. Rinder maintains a personal weblog that is filled with crude, obscene rants about the Church leader:
- “Vampire Emperor” and “Vulture Culture” [references to the Church leader and the Church itself]
- [The ecclesiastical leader]“rules over a stinking corpse of a church that has hit the bottom.…”
- [The ecclesiastical leader is] “the emotional equivalent of Jeffrey Dahmer.” (A statement Rinder made to The Hollywood Reporter in September 2012. Rinder is comparing the leader of a worldwide religion to a convicted mass murderer and cannibal.)
- “I have often made comparisons between the cult of the RCS [a term of derision in reference to Scientology] and North Korea … the moniker ‘Dear Leader’ sure seems to fit Chairman Miscavige.”
- “Well, duck and cover Dave because you might just get what you are asking for you demented little dictator.”
Rinder added a comparison to “Hitler” and characterized the leader of Scientology as a “sociopath” in his sworn testimony of January 2015. At the same time he admitted to his own conduct, which reflects his contempt for and no-holds-barred harassment of his former religion and its parishioners: On November 17, 2013, Rinder flew in a helicopter over the Church of Scientology facilities in Clearwater, Florida, to disturb the more than 10,000 Scientologists who had gathered for the grand opening of the new cathedral of the Scientology religion. Rinder boasted publicly about his stunt and his harassment of members, even reporting that he hoped the helicopter noise had disturbed the public religious gathering. Two weeks later, Rinder attempted to disrupt another religious gathering, this time of the International Association of Scientologists, by flying a plane with a banner harassing the ecclesiastical leader and his wife—all after he had conspired to file false reports with law enforcement that were discredited widely in the media. These are not childish pranks; they are biased harassment and religious bigotry by any standard.
Rinder: A Destroyer of Families
Rinder’s despicable conduct does not end with the Church. Rinder left his wife of 30 years, abandoned his children, his brother, his sister and his mother. Rathbun played matchmaker with a quasi “marriage counseling” service, destroying the marriage of Chris and Christie Collbran. Rinder then moved in with Collbran, a woman half his age. Collbran became the first “member” of Rathbun’s “independent” movement (and “failed experiment”), and was foisted on the media by Rinder to make up false claims about her family, destroying her relationship with them in the process. Ms. Collbran was deposed on January 8, 2015, where she admitted that although she was once an “independent” and the main organizer of the group’s gatherings (one such gathering was attended by Lawrence Wright), she is no longer part of that movement, attesting to Rathbun’s “failed experiment.” Ms. Collbran is now married to Rinder and materially benefits from his anti-Scientology activities.
Rinder’s Abusive Conduct
Tellingly, Rinder (and Rathbun) for decades inside and outside the Church never said one word about their current allegations of so-called “abuse.” Numerous individuals, both current and former members of the Church’s ecclesiastical order, have signed affidavits under penalty of perjury confirming Rinder’s stories are made up. Rinder’s former wife, Catherine Bernardini, declared under penalty of perjury and in a nationally broadcast television interview that her ex-husband is a pathological liar.
What Rinder is apparently talking about is his own criminal conduct. Documentary evidence supports how Rinder abused his family, his former wife and even his co-workers—men and women:
- When Rinder’s ex-wife went to see him to inform him that one of their children had been stricken with cancer, he physically attacked her. Ms. Bernardini underwent surgery for nerve damage, and to this day experiences pain and has not regained full use of her arm and shoulder. (See EMT report at the time of the injury and photo of Ms. Bernardini’s injury .) Note that Rinder has repeatedly ignored this documentary evidence of wife abuse, causing Ms. Bernardini to obtain current medical records from her attending physician and physical therapist.
- Internal reports support the fact that Rinder has abused several other woman, including hitting one with a clipboard and pushing another female he worked with under his desk.
- Rinder has harassed Church parishioners by storming into a Church in London and taking pictures and video footage while Church members were practicing their religion. He has made similar appearances at other Scientology Churches.
- Rinder and several cohorts went to a Church facility in Florida and attempted to storm their way into the lobby, conveniently accompanied by a camera crew. When they ignored requests to leave, police issued a formal trespass citation. (See trespass citation .) Rinder admitted he staged this incident for a UK media organization so the Church “can stop saying I don’t want to see my kid, because now I’ve proven you won’t let me see my kid!” (That is exactly why his son did not want to see him, as this wasn’t the act of a father, but of an opportunist.)
- In July 2010, Rinder tried to gain similar unauthorized entry to a Church in Australia, attempting to force his way inside, with cameras rolling. During this trip, which was paid for by Channel 7 TV Australia, Rinder also trespassed on the assisted-living facility of his own mother, a Founding Scientologist in Australia. His mother was away at the time and extremely upset about her estranged son’s actions. She was equally upset by his attacks on her faith. (See Letter from Barbara Rinder .)
Rinder is emulating the very tactics of Church litigants whom he formerly criticized: smearing the Church and its leader in the press, instigating lawsuits, breaching the waivers and covenants that he signed with the end goal of achieving financial gain. In addition to being a bitter and disaffected former member who spews religious hatred against the Church leader, the Church and virtually anything Scientologists do, he is compensated for his support of anti-Scientology litigation in violation of his fiduciary duty to his former religion.
It is apparent that HBO is not just sponsoring Rinder’s travel to support its anti-Scientology film; HBO is in bed with a source paid to bring and assist in litigation against his former faith. This source lies when it suits him, has created an entirely false story to explain away his malfeasance, and now bands together with others to spread hate. Together with his bias, bigotry and harassment of Church leaders, Mike Rinder is the perfect HBO source: someone unqualified to talk about anything having to do with Scientology today. HBO and Alex Gibney need to address this documented evidence and the con they are perpetuating.