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Jim Lynch, Scientology’s Shill, Dies at 59

Jim_LynchJust last week, news organizations around the country (and overseas) reported that Scientology’s propaganda magazine, Freedom, had placed an ad for a new writer.

Now we have some idea why the magazine is hiring.

We have learned that on July 19, Jim Lynch, Freedom‘s main correspondent, died in Boca Raton, Florida.

Lynch was known for aggressively questioning former church officials like Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder in what bordered on harassment, and we had our own reasons for being interested in Lynch’s work, as a recent article at the Atlantic explains.

We heard from a friend of Jim’s who said Lynch had died of cancer, and that a funeral was held a week ago. He pointed to a one-line obituary in the Palm Beach Post. We then confirmed his identity with Avatar Crematory Service.

Jim was born on September 19, 1953, and graduated from the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts. In the 1990s, he was a managing editor at the New York Post, an executive editor at the New York Daily News, and then had gone to work for American Media, which published supermarket tabloids like the Globe and Star. In 2006, he took a job as editor and publisher of a suburban daily in Illinois, the Naperville Sun, a job that lasted two years. In 2009, Michael Miner at the Chicago Reader wrote an interesting column on the (unsolicited) advice he was getting from an out-of-work Lynch about what the owners of the Chicago Sun-Times should be doing in the grips of the print newspaper apocalypse. (Lynch’s advice: bust the unions.)


A few months later, in February 2010, Miner was back with another column about Lynch, this time noting that he had moved to Boca Raton, Florida and was now writing for Scientology’s magazine, Freedom. Lynch had been hired to write a critical story about the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times), which had recently published a blockbuster investigation of Scientology.

Lynch told Miner that his story had taken only two weeks to report, and he didn’t want to give the impression that he had become the church’s gun-for-hire…

“I didn’t necessarily do this for the money. I’ve always had an interest in religion and this gave me a good way to examine a religion I never had a chance to examine.” However, Lynch also says that when he took the job he made it clear to the Scientologists he wouldn’t stand for any proselytizing, and as long as they understood that he didn’t care what they believed. “I told them, I said, ‘Look, I happen to be a Catholic. My wife’s Jewish. My views on religion are if people want to worship at Mayan temples, fine with me. You guys, albeit a nontraditional religion, are a religion under the auspices of the U.S. Constitution”….He doesn’t want to say what the Scientologists paid him. But he asks, “Just don’t make me look like a shill for Scientology.”

Since then, however, Lynch had appeared to work for Freedom full time, and specialized in popping up unexpectedly to confront Rathbun, Rinder, and Karen de la Carriere. His style seemed more about intimidation than reportage.

Lynch’s work was captured on video several times — after showing up to question Mike Rinder in a parking lot, for example. At the time, in 2011, Rinder was with Robert Almblad and Almblad’s girlfriend Susan Clickner, whom we have written about in the past. Rinder had been hired by Almblad to help him promote a company that made ice machines for hospitals, but the Almblads were then put under ferocious harassment by agents of Scientology. The message was clear: anyone who hires Rinder will have a hard time doing business. Lynch was clearly part of that operation, doing what he could to disrupt a business that was trying to bring bacteria-free ice to hospitals and save lives. In this video, Lynch can be seen attempting to question Almblad, Clickner, and Rinder as they get into their car…


Also in 2011, when Marty Rathbun made a trip to Los Angeles, Lynch was there to meet him at the airport, and got an earful from Marty’s wife, Monique…


Lynch shows up in yet another parking lot to interview the son of Luis Garcia. (Luis is now suing the church for fraud in federal court)…


In these videos, Lynch repeatedly asks questions about the counseling that former church official Marty Rathbun was doing at his then home in South Texas. Un-bylined stories then appeared in Freedom that seemed to rely on Lynch’s reporting, and other material that Lynch had gathered appeared on the anonymous attack websites that Scientology operates to smear its perceived enemies.

In January, Lynch showed up at the house of Karen de la Carriere, a former church member who has been very outspoken with her criticism of Scientology leader David Miscavige. She snapped a few photos of him after telling him to get off of her property.


His final assignment, however, may have been your proprietor. In March, Lynch was sent around the country attempting to interview people who had worked with us, or members of our family. This was not an inexpensive operation. After Lynch showed up at the home of a person here in New York City, three days later we heard from a person in California who had chased Lynch off of their front porch.

Based on what Michael Miner wrote about Lynch attempting to turn things around for the Naperville Sun by bringing his big-city experience to the Chicago suburbs, we have a feeling we might have enjoyed sharing a newsroom with Jim back in the day. But right about that time — 2007 — the newspaper industry went into the toilet and has never recovered. It’s a shame that a formerly serious journalist like Jim Lynch had to turn to an employer like the Church of Scientology, which will continue to hire out-of-work reporters for its smear jobs. We already have some idea who is replacing Jim, and we hope to bring that to you in a future story.


Posted by Tony Ortega on July 29, 2013 at 09:30

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