Scientology Leader Gave ABC First-Ever Interview


On Feb. 14, 1992, ABC News aired what Scientology leader David Miscavige said was his first-ever interview.

Today, in Italy, Miscavige was the best man at the wedding of actor Tom Cruise, a Scientologist.

Following is a transcript of his 1992 interview.

Ted Koppel, ABC News: Stars such as John Travolta and Tom Cruise say that Scientology has changed their lives, but critics charge fraud, that the Church of Scientology is nothing but a scam to take millions from unsuspecting believers. Tonight, we'll take you inside the Church of Scientology, as we bring you the first-ever interview with David Miscavige, the head of the church. Some of you may recall that last May, Time magazine did a cover story on the Church of Scientology. To say that the leaders of that church did not like the story would be a case of wretched understatement. As you will hear in a moment from my colleague, Forrest Sawyer, the Scientologists launched a multi-million-dollar campaign to counter the impact of that Time story. It was during that general period and in that context that we got in touch with the man who now runs the church, David Miscavige, to discuss his appearance on "Nightline." The process has taken nine months. Mr. Miscavige tells us that he has never done an interview before. And I think it's also fair to say that he and the men and women who run the Scientology organization are somewhat leery of the media. The Church of Scientology, for reasons that we will also be presenting, does not generally get a very favorable press. David Miscavige is described in one article as "ruthless, with a volatile temper," in another as being "so paranoid that he keeps plastic wrap over his glass of water." I was pleasantly surprised, then, when Mr. Miscavige first came to my office a few months back. He came alone, without any staff, and we had an amiable, if intense, conversation. I believe he even accepted a cup of coffee without plastic wrap. We'll let you make up your own mind about David Miscavige. We do have some things to tell you, however, about the Church of Scientology. Here is the first of two reports from Nightline correspondent Forrest Sawyer.

Forrest Sawyer, ABC News: After decades of seeing church officials arrested [and] after hundreds of lawsuits with critics and defectors, the Scientology business is now booming -- led by a 31-year-old high-school dropout who seized control of the church 10 years ago and charted an aggressive campaign to make Scientology a household world.

David Miscavige, October 1990: Tonight's event is being televised around the world, to every continent on the globe.

1st Actor, TV Commercial: Let's take a look inside the human mind.

2nd Actor, TV Commercial: Are you using your mind to the fullest?

Sawyer: The church's rapid growth is built on selling one single message: "Scientology has uncovered the secret of human potential." The Scientologists have built their own TV and film studio.

Miscavige: You can't be back in the dark ages of mass communication and be heard in this world today.

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