Mike Rinder was acutely aware of the credibility gap created by dishonesty when he spoke to reporters on behalf of the Church of Scientology. At that time, he frequently used the argument that a liar is a liar.
“You know, as the old saying goes, if you lie about one thing then what’s to say you didn’t lie about everything else that you’re saying?” Rinder rhetorically asked one reporter, in 2005, in response to false and unsubstantiated claims made by antagonists of the Church.
The question is valid and one Rinder himself has been asked multiple times since he left the Church and flipped his role into a paid attacker of his former religion, along with a narrative to match.
“Mike Rinder, I mean, you were the public face and said, ‘Believe me, I am telling the truth’ for many, many years on behalf of the Church of Scientology,” said one radio host in 2015. “Why should people believe Mike Rinder now?”
Rinder’s response to being called out as a liar: “They [listeners] have got to make up their own mind. They’ve got to look at me. They’ve got to say, ‘OK, what we see here is someone that we believe is telling the truth.’ Or, ‘What we see here is someone who seems to be just a liar.’”
“They have got to make up their own mind.”
In so many words, Rinder casts himself as a contestant on To Tell the Truth and leaves his unsuspecting audience in a guessing game. The difference is that the game show audience knows contestants are paid to convincingly lie, whereas the incentive behind Rinder’s public misstatements is never revealed.
When Rinder was in the Church, he served voluntarily in the religious order, where not only did he have zero financial motive for deceit but had every incentive not to lie in his public appearances. Rinder himself had once explained, during testimony in a legal case, how lying was viewed in the Church and by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard:
“He says that telling lies…well, it’s doomed to failure. It’s a bad thing to do. It’s sort of despicable….In fact, there are many other writings by Mr. Hubbard which conform with this concept of always telling the truth.”
Rinder knew lying is detested in the Church. Yet, he violated that cornerstone of Scientology with an incentive to retain an executive position and status. But, as he acknowledged, his lies were doomed to failure and he ultimately wound up under internal investigation. Rinder conceded a shocking pattern of deception and ostensibly sought to get honest and straight.
In a handwritten dispatch entitled “My Honesty,” written to the Church’s ecclesiastical leader, Mr. David Miscavige, in August 2003, Rinder wrote of his lies to the leader and how he had realized they were “a reflection of my cowardice and lack of integrity” and “just black and white wrong.”
Rinder acknowledged that lying had become such a way of life, his sense of right and wrong was thoroughly warped. As he wrote to his Church’s ethics department in September 2003: “[I’m] actually saying there is something wrong with telling the truth. It is really what I have thought…I have had a moral code of what is an acceptable truth.”
Still plumbing the depths of his unethical and dishonest mindset, on January 29, 2004, Rinder wrote to his staff superior at the time: “Bottom line is that I’ve 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).”
In February 2005, Rinder wrote once more to Mr. Miscavige, admitting that dishonesty had been ruining his life, and acknowledging the leader’s attempts—ultimately in vain—to make an honest man of Mike Rinder:
“I owe you something way beyond and in addition to an apology—my gratitude for saving my life. Your insistence, for months and years, that I get straight is the only thing that has actually brought me to my senses….I wasn’t honest with myself, you or anyone else, as I continued to operate on a ‘moral code’ (justification) of what I could ‘get away with.’”
Rinder’s dishonesty was so ingrained that years after leaving the Church, questioned under oath by an attorney during a deposition, he stated he had lied so frequently to the Church’s leader he could not quantify the number of times:
Q [Attorney]. You believed you were a liar?
A [Rinder]. Correct.
Q. You believed you had lied about many things, correct?
A. To him, yes….
Q. And you’ve told him lies on dozens of occasions?
A. Oh, I have no idea.
Q. Hundreds of occasions?
A. I have—I just said I have no idea.
Q. You can’t—you can’t quantify in any way by estimate the number of lies you told to Mr. Miscavige?
A. No, I can’t.
While Rinder was still in the Church, the accumulation of his lies and their destructive consequences led to his removal in total disgrace. The humiliation reverberated through Rinder, who left the Church and has been pursuing revenge against the Church in general and Mr. Miscavige in particular ever since.
In these circumstances, Mike Rinder has had every incentive to lie. He found he would be paid to attack his former religion and he has used that to make a living, or try to—from selling himself as a consultant in litigation against the Church, to joining his fellow expelled former Scientologist Leah Remini on her reality TV series.
Rinder’s incentive is the same as the vituperative former Church members he once spoke of when he was in the Church. Rinder put it to one journalist at the time: “The critics will say almost anything.…that little core group of people who I’ve been describing to you, that little clique of people who have decided that this [lying] is a way of making a living.”
Or as he testified in a legal case about such individuals: “They view the Church as their ‘lottery ticket’ and pursue their jackpot with lies.”
Since leaving the Church, Rinder has pursued his jackpot along a twisting, money-marked road with duplicitous turns in almost every aspect of his narrative, lying whenever it suits the occasion.
Nothing is immune to his lies—not even his city of birth. Mike Rinder was born in Adelaide, Australia, where he was raised to the age of 10—a fact he affirmed untold times while in the Church. In 2018, a decade after being out of the Church, Rinder wrote that it was his “duty” to criticize a new Scientology TV show about the Church in Melbourne, Australia, “As I was born in Melbourne.”
Mike Rinder has long since answered his own rhetorical question: “If you lie about one thing then what’s to say you didn’t lie about everything else that you’re saying?”