Mike Rinder, a former member of the Church of Scientology’s Sea Organization, was for almost twenty years the chief public relations and legal affairs executive of the Mother Church of the Scientology religion. In 2005, he was finally demoted due to his on-the-job incompetence, terrible public relations and increasingly violent temper toward his wife and coworkers. After steadfastly resisting all attempts at rehabilitation and counseling, and unable to effectively serve even as an assistant to public relations executives, he finally walked away from the Church of Scientology and his family.
Given the offensive photograph above, it’s certainly hard to picture this man as ever having been a religious leader—even Rinder’s fellow anti-Scientology comrades, before his disavowal of Scientology in 2007, considered him to be the worst possible representative of the religion and condemned him for his attitude and behavior. Even Jason Beghe, now apparently his best friend, practically called Rinder an out-and-out psychopath in his highly offensive 2008 anti-Scientology video—Beghe goes so far as to state that he was “so happy” Rinder had left Scientology because he was “the worst piece of PR you guys [Church of Scientology] had, because I would look at that guy and you could just tell that guy was … he was bad. He had done a lot of bad things. I mean, I just saw it. You could tell, you know? I mean, they put him on to defend Scientology? You put the Dalai Lama on, and you look at him and you say ‘There’s a sweet guy, I don’t know what Buddhism is,’ but you could tell that he’s good. Deepak Chopra, you know, ‘Okay, he wants a couple of bucks because … he’s trying to help’ … but [Mike Rinder], this is a guy who’s like, he’s dark and he was like, ugh, you look at him and you think he’s someone you’d cast as a villain in some cheap B-movie … what are you crazy? But, you know … that’s what I saw.”
Though Beghe views other Church executives—current and former—with scorn and contempt, his harshest, most severe words are squarely aimed at Mike Rinder.
Racism and Islamophobia
However, Rinder’s antisocial behavior has only gotten worse since leaving the Church. In a July 2014 blog post, in referring to Iranian American Scientologist and Church staff member Behnam Bozorgi’s surname, Rinder writes “where do they get these names?” Now, it’s one thing to criticize Scientology or Church staff members for being Scientologists, but it’s quite another to attack a Scientologist based on their ethnicity or national origin. I don’t care how anyone in the anti-Scientology crowd wants to spin this, it’s totally uncalled for. It’s bad enough to attack people due to their religious beliefs, it’s that much worse to attack them because of their race or ethnicity. Bozorgi, for those who are curious, literally means “greater one” or “one who is greater” or “more famous” in the Persian language, depending on the context of the surname’s origin. Of course, Rinder wouldn’t know this and according to his own statements, can’t even fathom how one could come up with a name like that.
Obviously, Mike Rinder doesn’t know anything about Iranian or Persian culture, heritage and civilization, and certainly has no respect for them, which puts him in the same boat as anti-Iranian bigots like certain members of Congress, Benjamin Netanyahu and Sheldon Adelson who want to use the United States military to nuke Iran into oblivion. It makes sense now why former Scientologists of Iranian or Persian descent have avoided Rinder and his comrades like the plague.
In the same post, he refers to Muslims as “Moslems,” which is the preferred spelling used by notoriously Islamophobic bigots, and this is true for all other posts in which he talks about Muslims, and obviously he’s not referring to them in positive terms since like most in the anti-Scientology cottage industry, he’s ultimately against religion in general.
After speaking with a number of Rinder’s former coworkers and associates, it seems his bigotry toward Muslims extended further to American Scientologists he perceived to be as generically “Muslim,” including individuals of Lebanese, Iranian, and even Armenian background, despite the fact that these ethnic groups are religiously diverse, with the exception of Armenians, who are overwhelmingly Christian. But apparently Rinder thinks Armenians are predominantly Muslim.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone then that Rinder’s Islamophobia and bigotry toward Iranians, Lebanese, and Armenians relates to his unabashedly pro-Zionist and pro-Israel views, which firmly aligns him with Rupert Murdoch, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton and the other pro-Netanyahu hawks in the American media and Congress who want to wipe out the religiously and ethnically diverse peoples of Iran with nuclear weapons.
While I am personally critical of Zionism as a political ideology and the pro-Israel lobby in the United States (and all other such foreign lobbies in general), I am not at all anti-Israel and I am very supportive of anti-extremist pro-Israel efforts such as J Street that advocate for peace and reconciliation.