Robert Vaughn Young (RVY) was Mike Rinder’s predecessor for many years as the head of Public Relations under Mary Sue Hubbard. He woke up from the spell of Scientology in the 1990’s and contributed some of the best critical writing on Scientology that exists.
RVY was diagnosed with prostate cancer and was dying when this open letter to Mike Rinder was written.
I post it here because it is an important part of Scientology history. I post it also because I greatly admire Robert Vaughn Young, and he asks some questions here that he, apparently, never got answered.
I also post it because this subject is very important to the recovery of any cult member. It has been largely avoided: how does the group environment which shapes totalitarian cults like the Church of Scientology make people like Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun act the way they did?
Marty has addressed many things (but certainly not too many) about his past actions as a fervent Sea Org member, working his guts out to “save planet Earth”. But Mike Rinder has said very little publicly about the critics and Ex-Scientologists that he personally tried to destroy as the head of OSA. On “Scientology and The Aftermath”, he has exposed what David Miscavige has done to people, but very little about what HE did to people.
Unlike Robert Vaughn Young, many of those people are still around for Mike Rinder to address.
Another reason I post this is because, as I move through this series on the history of Scientology criticism, Mike Rinder returns again and again. As does Marty Rathbun. There is really no way to avoid discussing Mike Rinder’s and Marty Rathbun’s behavior when looking at this history.
Robert Vaughn Young titled his letter an “Open Letter to Mike Rinder from Robert Vaughn Young”
You can find more of RVY’s writings here.
From: (Robert Vaughn Young)
Subject: Open Letter to Mike Rinder from Robert Vaughn Young
Date: 23 Feb 2000 00:30:12 GMT
An Open Letter to Mike Rinder
Sunday, February 20, 2000
© Robert Vaughn Young
It’s a very early Sunday morning in Cincinnati. I finished three posts yesterday that I will put onto ARS and this will wrap it up for me.
I’m making this an “open letter” not for the benefit of people on ARS. Except for Stacy and Jesse, they haven’t got a clue as to who you are and what really goes on. No, I’m doing this “open” so it can be found more easily by your staff, especially those who know me and the topics I’ll mention. Otherwise, it would just be excerpted, sent to DM and that would be the end of that.
You and I go back a long way, Mike. And until a moment in Tampa during my testimony, I always considered us to be basically friends. You don’t understand my side, but I understand yours because I’ve been there. That’s why I know that while I might have you asked how things or the family were, you had to “keep your hat on.”
In that regard, I’ve never held the harassment against you personally. Besides, I figured that there is some of it you actually don’t know about because you never ordered it and the PIs don’t report it to you. Besides, it’s your job. You’re supposed to make life miserable for us “suppressives,” right? So to the degree that I’ve been there, I never held it personally against you.
But there was a moment in my testimony when it changed. It was the closing hour of the last day. Weinberg was doing is “re-cross” and I was sick and in pain and having trouble following the questions and asked for a break. Weinberg pushed it saying he had only a little bit more and I said I really have to break and you shook your head (one of those I-can-t-believe-it-shakes) and laughed and I called you on it. It should be on the record. And then we finally took the break. That was when it changed, when you decided to mock my condition. That’s when I realized that you really are gone.
Then afterwards, we passed each other in that drug store downstairs. I would have normally said hello but not this time, so we just passed each other. As we did, I was tempted to turn around and tell you privately what I’ve said here, that you had crossed a line and I’m sorry for you, but I decided no, it’s no use and he’d probably just file a declaration that I had made threatening remarks and go to the judge for a hearing. At the very least, you’d make a report and I wanted it to just be between us, but that was impossible. But I was left with wanting to tell you and so I was left with having to write this letter.
Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t that what you said made me feel worse about my condition. It merely made me feel worse about yours. I’ve come to grips with my situation. You have yet to realize yours.
It’s one thing when a couple of professionals go at it. They understand the turf. It’s not personal. That’s why I’ve understood your side of it. But it is another when you cross the professional line.
I may have made a lot of comments about your professional conduct, but I’ve never slighted you personally. I guess I always wanted to pretend that it was possible that we could sit down some time over coffee and chat, if nothing else about how kids grow up and life moves on. I knew you couldn’t and wouldn’t. It all has to be reported and you can’t afford to relax around some “SP,” can you? But that was okay with me. I wanted you to know that it was possible, that even though you couldn’t be that way, I could.
Well, I was wrong. You really were one of those people who high-fived when you heard about the cancer and you really are glad that I’m dying. I’m sorry about that, Mike. I’m sorry that I was really wrong about you, that I thought that underneath it all, we were really friends.
It also teaches me that none of this will get through to you. It might some day, but not now.
It reminds me of a woman I was speaking to on the phone a few years ago. I don’t recall who she was or how she found me but she called me to talk to me about her daughter (I think it was) who was in Scientology and she (the mother) was concerned. Well, I answered her questions as well as I could (always tempered with the caution that I have another plant being run in on me) until there was one question she asked. No one had ever asked me this one and it really rocked me back on my heels.
“When you were in there,” she said, “was there anything anyone could have said to you that would have changed your mind?”
The question really rocked me. I went silent and thought about it for a few seconds and then the answer hit me even more.
“No,” I answered. “I’m sorry to say this but there is nothing anyone could have told me or said to me that would have changed my mind. There might be something that someone can say to your daughter, but for me then, no.”
That was a stunning realization. I wasn’t able to explain to her why. I just left it there.
It was true. After all, being in Dept 20 PR and having to deal with all the criticism, I had read everything starting with the Australian inquiry back in the 60s which was probably the first real serious “organized” assault. I read the books by Paulette Cooper and the rest. Like you, I read every newspaper article and the accounts of defectors. Even after the FBI raid of 1977, I managed to read the seized Intell files. Those were the worst. What I read there made me sick. I had no idea how far over the edge B1 had gone. Attacking the “enemy” was one thing but what they were doing was another. It was like being a soldier in a war and finding that some of your fellows have taken to killing women and children. Even in war, it crosses the line. That’s how I felt when I read those files finally one day. We (collectively) had really crossed the line. Yet even then, I didn’t change my mind. I haven’t thought about it that much, as to why I didn’t. Maybe I thought they didn’t represent us. Maybe I explained it away as being overly zealous. After all, I believed in what I was doing. These guys just went over the edge and now we were all paying the price so let’s get thing back on the rails and get on with it.
So I did. I parked it and got on with it and continued for another 11 or so years and in the process, I continued to look the other way. That’s how one moves up the ranks, isn’t it? It’s not how well you apply policy, but how well you can look the other way.
I don’t know, Mike. Maybe I would have gotten to the point that I would have laughed at some “SP’s” cancer. It turns my stomach to think I would have, but maybe I might have. I really don’t know. I just know I never did get to that point when I really made it personal, when I really took on a former “friend” and really tried to degrade that “friend” personally. The closest I came was Gerry Armstrong, when I was called to testify against him. They really wanted me to come after him but I wouldn’t. I tried to couch my testimony as they wanted it, that Gerry hadn’t done certain research, but I wasn’t able to use the language that they wanted because, as little as I knew him, I liked him and it didn’t matter what he was doing or saying, that didn’t change my personal feelings about him.
But it did for you and I have to call you on it, even though I know it won’t reach you.
And something that just occurred today, Sunday. The girl that Dept 20 sent in on Stacy at the car wash. One of her lines was how Stacy was killing me, a clear reference to the cancer and a clear attempt to hit some button on her. You really have no scruples at all, do you Mike. I’m sure you gave DM a woodie on that one but all you prove is how low into the slime you really can go.
Little things like that show it is worse in there now than it ever was under Mary Sue, when it comes to the equivalent of wartime atrocities. B1 went over the edge because of the pressure and there has been more pressure these past years than there ever was back then. You’ve got DM breathing down your neck, not to mention Marty. He’s a hatchet man from way back but he broke once and he might break again. In fact, I think there is a better chance of Marty coming to his senses and taking off than you.
There’s another thing that’s different now. You’ve got the threat of the Internet, and I don’t mean ARS. (By the way, I have to compliment you professionally on how you guys finally figured out what to do about ARS with people like Enzo and various goons and shills and double agents. Not bad at all. The problem is that ARS is still there and still works. You’ve reduced its effectiveness but you haven’t stopped it.)
What I mean by a threat is that any staff member or even a public can go onto the Net and get things that you can’t control. Back in the “old days” we could control what the members and staff knew. When there was an entheta article in Philadelphia or East Grinstead, it could be contained. Now the damned things get thrown on the Net, not to mention court rulings and videos! It used to be that Dept. 20 was the only ones who knew about the entheta stories or adverse court rulings. Now they are right there for anyone to find, thanks to the Net. And nearly every public library has a connection to the World Wide Web so one of your staff or a public can walk in and log on and do a search and bingo, there it is. (And for the record, a good record of ARS is kept at , just to make your work even more enjoyable. – smile)
So you’ve got a chronic worry. It won’t go away. Even this message and all of mine are preserved and my middle name is unique enough to allow an easy search. So you can’t control any more what your staff and public comes to know. You can put secret little programs into their computers, but even that takes a chance. Some may not like being told what they can’t read.
I have told Jesse time and again – and this last trip I said it several times – I am SOOOO glad that I am not a PR in there now. Lawdy, what a headache! And to have DM screaming the way he can scream. I can only imagine what he is like now that he has been named as a defendant in the McPherson case. We know that your ass is on the line and what your orders are. That’s what it was like when LRH was being named and why B1 went over the edge and why you and your “B1” have done the same.
So the only question remaining is, who will be your Michael Meisner?
Who will finally say, I’ve had enough of this shit, and talk to the authorities? Hey, it might not even be in the US! You’re already in deep kaw-kaw in Belgium and France, not to mention Germany. And from what I hear, you ain’t exactly winning friends in Russia. Oh, and don’t forget Greece and Spain.
And meanwhile, what’s DM’s #1 priority? Why, DM, of course! If he is served, all hell will break loose.
And THAT is why I don’t envy you at all! I know what working with him is like. If anyone brings you to your senses, it will be David Miscavige.
Frankly, I don’t think I’ll be alive when that happens. I’d like to be. I’d like to see it happen. I just know that there is nothing I can say to you that will reach you. The only one who can change your mind is you and the only one who can prompt that is DM. He is personally responsible for more top staff leaving than anyone or anything else. Make a list in your head some time. You’ll even know of some that none of us know about. It’s just a matter of time before it is you. I hope it is sooner, rather than later.
In the meantime, I really am closing this out. I know you won’t believe me and there is no reason for you to believe me, given the world of suspicion that you have to live in. But I’m retiring, as I said in the “hello & goodbye” post. And I really am looking forward to my new effort. I know what it is that I’m going to do. I just declined to spell it out in the post because I need to work out some details and they might change. No, it doesn’t mean it is some “secret” (laugh) although you’ll think that and be working diligently to find out. That’s fine. Work away. What you might find out now is what you’ll hear about later, hopefully, if I do this right. It’s all in the direction of cancer education and has nothing to do with you guys. If you want to spend more IAS money there, go for it. And yeah, there are various ways that you can work to drag me back in, if you want to. But you’re going to be chasing another dead end. (No pun intended. – laugh) I have better things to do now, things that I find more inspiring than playing stink finger with RTC. And as I said, you’ll see or hear about my efforts in my new enterprise, or at least I hope so. There’s a lot to be done in the field of educating men about prostate cancer and I just happen to have the skills, the initiative and the qualifications for what I want to do. (No, I haven’t written any “scholarly” articles or have any degrees nor have I had a “peer review. – ROFL) You see, the only credential one needs to have to speak about living with cancer is cancer. It helps to have some writing skills and PR skills to know what to do with the experience and I have a little there. (smile) That’s why my new enterprise excites me so much. I merely decided to use what I have – including the cancer – to make a contribution that I can be proud of.
So if you ever change your mind and want someone to talk to, you can call me. You’ll know where I am. Just check the last surveillance report. (laugh) My only function will be to lend a sympathetic ear. But you’ll have to apologize to me for the personal shit. That’s for your benefit, Mike, not mine. Otherwise, I’m out of the loop now. I’m off to fight a cancer for which there is no known cure.
I do hope that when you hear about what I’m doing that you think it is valuable. It will mean that you have some shred of true decency, compassion and humanity left in you.
Robert Vaughn Young