Do you recall the Panorama reporter John Sweeney who had a yelling match on camera with some folks from that truly evil cult, Scientology? Well guess what, there is an update on it all on tomorrow nights Panorama. [Tues 28th Sept, BBC 1 at 9pm]
Just to put this in context, here is a bit of background. Scientology has been described as a cult that financially defrauds and abuses its members, charging exorbitant fees for its spiritual services. Here are some references that prove this:
- Melton, J. Gordon (2000). The Church of Scientology. Salt Lake City: Signature Press. ISBN 1-56085-139-2 …. see pages 59-60
- Beit-Hallahmi, Benjamin (2003). “Scientology: Religion or racket?”. Marburg Journal of Religion 8 (1): 1–11. http://www.uni-marburg.de/fb03/ivk/mjr/pdfs/2003/articles/breit2003.pdf.
- Marney, Holly (2007-05-20). “Cult or cure?”. Opinion. Scotsman. http://news.scotsman.com/opinion.cfm?id=782292007. Retrieved 2009-01-04. “Labelled a cult by its critics, defended as a bona fide religion by devotees [...]”
Mallia, Joseph (1998-03-01). “Powerful church targets fortunes, souls of recruits”. Inside the Church of Scientology. Boston Herald. http://www.apologeticsindex.org/s04a01.html. “It is just such tactics that cause critics to call the church – founded in 1953 – a cult and a money-grabbing machine that separates thousands of ordinary church members like Covarrubias from their free will and their money.”
Huus, Kari (2005-07-05). “Scientology courts the stars”. MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8333804/print/1/displaymode/1098/. Retrieved 2009-01-04. “[...] Scientology, recognized by the federal government as a religious organization but denounced by critics as a cult that extracts tens of thousands of dollars from its followers.”
So what’s with all the references? Well, the Church of Scientology has consistently used litigation against all critics, and its aggressiveness in pursuing its foes has been condemned as harassment, so I need to give solid published facts when dealing with these gobshits. Remember, a month or two ago some councilor from wales tweeted a brief comment about them being stupid and found himself the subject of a formal complaint. But beyond the aggression, what they teach is complete bollocks. For example, they believe that souls (“thetans”) reincarnate and have lived on other planets before living on Earth.
- Sappell, Joel; Welkos, Robert W. (1990-06-24). “Defining the Theology”. Los Angeles Times. http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-scientologysidea062490,0,7631220,full.story. Retrieved 2008-10-26.
Former members say that some of Hubbard’s writings on this remote extraterrestrial past, included in confidential Upper Levels, are not revealed to practitioners until they have paid thousands of dollars to the Church of Scientology
- Ortega, Tony (2008-06-30). “Scientology’s Crushing Defeat”. Village Voice. http://www.villagevoice.com/content/printVersion/487758. Retrieved 2009-01-04. “Former members say that today the typical Scientologist must spend several years and about $100,000 in auditing before they find out on OT III that they are filled with alien souls that must be removed by further, even more expensive auditing.”
- Kennedy, Dominic (2007-06-23). “‘Church’ that yearns for respectability”. The Times (London). http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article1975105.ece. Retrieved 2009-01-04. “Scientology is probably unique in that it keeps its sacred texts secret until, typically, devotees have paid enough money to learn what they say.”
Another controversial belief held by Scientologists is that the practice of psychiatry is destructive and abusive and must be abolished.
- Kent, Stephen A “Scientology – Is this a Religion?” (1999). Retrieved 24 November 2008.
However, if you wish to see a well-researched firsthand account about the fraud and deceit, then tune into Panorama tomorrow. Back in 2007 the church accused John Sweeney of bias and it attempted to stop the documentary from being broadcast, that campaign was backed by Scientology A-lister John Travolta, but it went on air anyway. Still, they did their best to kill it all … as described by the journalist John Sweeney …
I never meant to shout.
Strangers had been on my tail. Scientologist Tommy Davis and his colleague Mike Rinder – my handlers – had been on my case, day in and day out.
They had taken me to an exhibit called ‘Psychiatry: Industry of Death’ on Hollywood Boulevard, where a Scientologist told me psychiatrists set up the Holocaust. I feared I was being brain-washed.
And then I lost it – big time.
The Church of Scientology put out my impression of an exploding tomato onto the internet which millions had a laugh at courtesy of YouTube.
So what is in this latest update? John Sweeney outlines it on the BBC website here …
Shortly after that programme, Scientology & Me, aired in 2007, I received a tip-off that Mike Rinder had left the church.
Three years on and my old adversary came to me to shed some light on what had been going on behind the scenes in the days leading up to my infamous meltdown and screaming session in Los Angeles.
Now an independent Scientologist, Mike is critical of the church and of its leader David Miscavige, who was actor Tom Cruise’s best man at his wedding to Katie Holmes.
Mike, 55, wanted to meet and talk about his life in the church, which he was a part of from the age of six.
During our investigation in 2007, black SUVs with tinted windows appeared to be following our team as we carried out interviews. A mystery man who we suspected was from the church also appeared to be keeping tabs on us at breakfast in our LA hotel each morning.
At the time, I put my suspicions of being under surveillance to Tommy Davis. He responded: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. It seems to me you’re getting a bit paranoid.”
Mike Rinder has since given me a different answer.
“Was I being paranoid?” I asked him when we met again.
“No, you were being followed. No doubt whatsoever,” he told me.
Mike said he should know as it was he and Tommy Davis who were doing some of the covert surveillance.
Mike said he and Tommy were reporting back on our movements to David Miscavige’s office every few minutes or so.
Through its UK lawyers, the firm Carter-Ruck, the church deny spying on us and reject Mike Rinder’s version of events dating back to 2007.
The church said it is a religion and is recognised as such in America for tax purposes. It denies emphatically that it is a cult and has maintained that I am biased.
Many ex-Scientologists disagree with the celebrities who defend the church.
Amy Scobee, now in her mid-40s, is a former member who said she believes it is “a dangerous cult”. She was a member from the age of 14, much of her time in the church was spent as part of what is known as the Sea Org – the highly-disciplined wing that effectively runs the church’s day to day operations.
When Ms Scobee left and began to criticise David Miscavige and the church intimate details of her sex life before she was married leaked to the St Petersburg Times in Florida newspaper.
The church admits sending the newspaper material about Ms Scobee’s sex life, but said it was acceptable because the information was contained in an affidavit signed by her. They say it was not confidential.
Ms Scobee said she had disclosed those details but she believed they would remain confidential.
During our time in America for the latest Panorama, we were once again followed by people filming us, this time more openly than before. When we approached the people with cameras to ask them who they were with and what they were doing, they refused to answer our questions.
That is why I was somewhat grateful to Scientology’s UK lawyers at Carter-Ruck when they sent the BBC photographs of me hugging Amy Scobee at the end of a long and at times harrowing series of interviews about her experiences.
The photographs were meant to demonstrate to my bosses at the BBC, once again, that I must be biased against the church as I was overly familiar with its critics.
This was, oddly enough, welcome proof that the people who had been following and filming us in the States were indeed working for the Church of Scientology. As Mike Rinder had said, I was not being paranoid – I was being followed.
So tune in to BBC1 Tuesday 28th Sep at 9pm and see the one thing that this evil cult hates the most … factual disclosures about what really goes on.