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Journalist Tony Ortega talks Scientology at ASU lecture

Cronkite building

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is pictured on the downtown campus on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015.

Journalist Tony Ortega lectured on the downtown campus Tuesday night about the investigative book, "The Unbreakable Miss Lovely," on the Church of Scientology. The book was published in May of this year.

“I am just so fascinated by the way they use American ideals, really, as weapons rather than as shields,” Ortega said to a small auditorium at the downtown campus.

Ortega has been following Scientology since 1995, when he wrote an article for the Phoenix New Times on an intervention specialist, Rick Alan Ross, who was locked in a legal battle with the Church of Scientology.

The lecture was part of Barrett, the Honors College's lecture series. Ortega's lecture was titled, "Scientology's Dirty Tricks — Then and Now."

"Developed by L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology is a religion that offers a precise path leading to a complete and certain understanding of one's true spiritual nature and one's relationship to self, family, groups, Mankind, all life forms, the material universe, the spiritual universe and the Supreme Being," Ginny Leason, director of special affairs at the Church of Scientology of Arizona, wrote in an email.

The book chronicles the life of Paulette Cooper, who wrote critically about Scientology in 1971 and was subsequently impacted by what Ortega’s called a “campaign of terror” by the church.

Cooper experienced harassment through the work of what Ortega called the “Guardians Office,” who monitored, followed and infiltrated Cooper’s life for years. Ortega said these members of the Church of Scientology affected Cooper financially, through slander and by framing her for a bomb threat.

Ortega's answer to being critical of Scientology is simple. "We don't like bullies," reads his Q&A-style information page on "The Underground Bunker."

“Reporters who take the time to learn about Scientology usually get it right,” Leason wrote.

Ortega writes about Scientology online on "The Underground Bunker," and is the executive editor of TheLipTV. Previously, he was the editor of "The Village Voice" in New York.

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated the day on which the event took place. It took place on Tuesday night. 

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