The Church of Scientology has posted online an eight-page letter its lawyers sent to Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter on Aug. 16 vehemently denying the allegations contained in its October cover story in which the magazine claimed that church officials had organized secret auditions to find a wife for Tom Cruise in 2004 before he met Katie Holmes.
The missive launched a full-scale attack on the article's writer, special correspondent Maureen Orth, accusing her report of being filled with "shoddy journalism, religious bigotry and potential legal liability." It also asserted Vanity Fair's staff and contributors lacked journalistic integrity by relying on "demonstrably false" insinuations about Scientology leader David Miscavige, particularly the notion that the latter is somehow a "kind of third wheel" in the "Top Gun" actor's relationships and marriage, while purposely ignoring magazine employees who knew the church leader personally.
"If rabid anti-Scientologist/anti-David Miscavige apostates long ago kicked out of the Church are considered 'sources' of information, then certainly a respected and objective Vanity Fair employee with no axe to grind and who has seen Mr. Miscavige at Church convocations and celebrations year after year in the present time is a far better source of information," wrote attorney Jeffrey Riffer.
The letter added that Orth's inquiries into the religious organization, especially its auditing practices, are "blatantly bigoted."
"Ms. Orth shows no sensitivity to Scientology's religious beliefs as she apparently hasn't a clue what those beliefs are," continued the letter, adding that the "very tenor of Ms. Orth's questions concerning such matters, on the order of 'By the way, do you take sugar in your coffee?' evidences her total ignorance and lack of respect for the beliefs of Scientologists."
The legal eagle went on to add that the magazine research relied on a "rogues' gallery of unreliable 'sources'" and amounted to nothing more than "tabloid gossip."
A publicist for the magazine told E! News that the letter by Riffer was written during the time Orth was writing the article, not in response to the story. Vanity Fair previously told CNN, "we absolutely stand by Maureen Orth's story."
Cruise's attorney, Bert Fields, has also blasted Vanity Fair's piece. While Oscar-winning writer-director, Paul Haggis, who renounced the church several years ago in a highly public split and is now considered an "apostate," stuck up for Nazanin Boniadi, the ex-Scientologist who is reported to have gone through the church's audition process before briefly dating Cruise.