The Atlantic Apologizes for Scientology Advertorial: 'We Screwed Up'
The Atlantic has issued an apology for a piece of sponsored content posted Monday night that praised The Church of Scientology and its leader, David Miscavige. The advertorial, which hailed the Church's "historic" growth, was pulled later that night.
"We screwed up. It shouldn't have taken a wave of constructive criticism -- but it has -- to alert us that we've made a mistake, possibly several mistakes," the magazine's statement reads. "We now realize that as we explored new forms of digital advertising, we failed to update the policies that must govern the decisions we make along the way. It's safe to say that we are thinking a lot more about these policies after running this ad than we did beforehand. In the meantime, we have decided to withdraw the ad until we figure all of this out. We remain committed to and enthusiastic about innovation in digital advertising, but acknowledge -- sheepishly -- that that we got ahead of ourselves. We are sorry, and we're working very hard to put things right."
The controversial church is the subject of harsh criticism in a new book by Lawrence Wright titled Going Clear, which details the religion's seduction of Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. The Atlantic advertorial, which was marked as a "Sponsor Post," hailed Miscavige for helping the church open a record number of new branches, and was replete with shiny images of the new, world-spanning locations.
"The driving force behind this unparalleled era of growth is David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion," the story read. "Mr. Miscavige is unrelenting in his work for millions of parishioners and the cities served by Scientology Churches. He has led a renaissance for the religion itself, while driving worldwide programs to serve communities through Church-sponsored social and humanitarian initiatives."
Sites such as Gawker and Salon slammed the post, and Twitter was rife with mockery as well. Gawker termed the advertorial "bizarre, blatant Scientology propaganda."