A week before the premiere, the Church of Scientology took out full-page ads in the New York Times and Los Angeles Times claiming the documentary is filled with falsehoods. (What A Surprise).
Based on Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book of the same name, Oscar winner Alex Gibney’s film claims that the church routinely intimidates, manipulates and even tortures its members, tracing the rise of the religion and its founder, former science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, and his successor as head of the church, Satan’s little brother, David Miscavige. Gibney also interviewed several former Scientology believers, including past executives.
Paul Haggis, the Oscar-winning director of “Crash,” left the church in 2009 after decades of membership.
“I was really stupid. I was part of this for 30 years before I spoke out,” he says in the film. “I was deeply ashamed.”
As Haggis climbed “the bridge” to the most enlightened levels of Scientology, he finally learned Hubbard’s ultimate theory: That a tyrannical galactic overlord named Xenu dropped frozen bodies from millions of years ago into volcanoes, and those spirits attach themselves to modern people today. Scientology is the means of ridding the body and mind of those spirits to become “clear.”
Another former member who left the church in 2013 said its approach is “like brainwashing.”
Several former church members featured in the film attended Sunday’s premiere. Two said they were followed to Utah by Scientology investigators, who photographed them at the Salt Lake City airport.
So what kind of cult feels threatened by a small independent film?
The Church of Scientology released a statement Sunday that characterizes these former believers as “the usual collection of obsessive, disgruntled former Church members kicked out as long as 30 years ago for malfeasance, who have a documented history of making up lies about the Church for money.”
The church says Gibney refused to meet with the 25 members it offered as sources. Gibney says the church declined all requests for interviews, as did Miscavige, John Travolta and Tom Cruise, both of whom are Scientologists.
The film traces Cruise’s relationship with the church, and claims it intentionally broke up his marriage with Nicole Kidman because she was not a believer. Scientology’s biggest celebrity spokesman was largely absent from the church during his nearly 10-year marriage to Kidman.
Members deemed to have somehow erred against the church were subject to degradation and torture, according to the film. They were deprived of sleep, fed scraps and forced to do hard labor. Sometimes they were beaten. One man was required to mop a bathroom floor with his tongue.
Gibney and Wright said the church has threatened them with litigation. Former members said they’ve fared far worse: They’ve been slandered online, followed, filmed and seen their loved ones stalked and intimidated.
Former Scientology spokesman and senior executive Mike Rinder said he hopes the film will raise public awareness about the church’s methods: “I would love it if the FBI, after seeing this film, said, `We need to do something more energetic.'”
Now the organization the properly indoctrinated celebrities see is far from the cult the common public experience. One of the SPY team’s spouse did construction at the center where the media propaganda is prepared and released.
It was like a prison farm. The workers (or believers if you will) eat slop and were “encouraged” if we use that word liberally to work extremely long hours for absolutely no money.
When they do get to rest it is on a cot. I can assure you David Miscavige does not walk the walk he talks, but lives in the world of extreme luxury as any head of a multimillion dollar contrived cult would be expected to live. He does not eat slop and certainly does not sleep on a cot. In fact when he visits a facility his food is flown in.
Just between us girls, I was having a smart lunch in Beverly hills when I sat next to a group of doctors who were discussing Tom Cruise and his “problem.” So being the girl who is known to be a good listener, I ordered another diet Pepsi (wink wink) and dug in for the full story.
And this is where the nasty rumor I had heard several times before gained a bit of foundation.
They claimed that David Miscavige the head of the Scientology snake himself may actually be the father of Tom Cruises children with Katie Holmes. Him or maybe even L Ron Hubbard via a test tube. The doctors discussed among themselves that Cruise could not father children because of his having testicular cancer problems.
Now gays have claimed Cruise was a friend of Dorthy for years but the shooting blanks theory was new, or new to me.
I have heard Tom is a charming man as is John Travolta – if you get John out of the Asian male bath houses. With three you get egg rolled.
Now I was only next to the gentlemen and not even at their table although I could hear them just fine. I have seen no documentation to validate any of this story. So for now it will just be only listed as a vicious rumor. And like vicious rumors it would be unfair to bring it up so we will not mention it. Not a word.
I believe Scientology’s practices are “a potential menace to the personality and well-being of those so deluded as to become its followers”
“Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious.”
In my judgement, it is corrupt, sinister and dangerous. It is corrupt because it is based on lies and deceit and has as its real objective money and power for David Miscavige, and those close to him at the top.
It is sinister because it indulges in infamous practices both to its adherents who do not toe the line unquestioningly and to those outside who criticize or oppose it.
It is dangerous because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning captives and tools of the cult, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others.
I have interviewed family members of victims of the cult who were not allowed to see or hear from their family member in the cult. I have seen personality changes from friends who seem to spend more to get less as they become clear. Oh yes clear of funds. I have interviewed many ex members but the cult’s headquarters all claim these people are liars. It is plain as the nose of Xenu face something is a miss.
Not every cult is all bad. There are some good things you can say about each one of them; I heard Jim Jones had very tasty Cool-Aid. You see, I can be nice.
I don’t fear freaky Scientologists picketing or canoodling my death outside my Beverly Hills home. I have a big gate, a couple of nasty dogs, a dangerous cook who is a knife thrower and I am a particularly good shot.
I don’t give a shit, but if I did, Scientologists would be the first group I’d give it to.
Well my dears, I am off to the National Schizophrenic’s Convention: Anybody who’s everybody will be there!
Stella Goldstein For Spy Hollywood
(Reporter Stella Goldstein views are her own and do not represent those of SPY HOLLYWOOD with the exception, we too believe Scientologists are one burger shy of a happy meal.)