Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
Directed by Alex Gibney (2015)
Last night Maori TV aired Alex Gibney’s startling expose Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. People can view it free at the Maori TV website for the next two weeks: Going Clear
This documentary leaves absolutely no doubt that the Church of Scientology is a cult, founded (in 1954) and tyrannically run by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard and following his death (in 1986) by David Miscavage.
Gibney begins by tracing Hubbard’s early life as a science fiction writer and naval officer. A clear weakness of the film is its failure to mention Hubbard’s background in naval intelligence. Ex-intelligence officer Fletcher Prouty has always maintained Hubbard’s military records were falsified to conceal his intelligence activities
The documentary does, however, detail his bizarre relationship with Jet Propulsion Lab scientist Jack Parsons. Together they engaged in bizarre black magic rituals Parsons had learned from Alistair Crowley (best known as the founder of modern occultism), who worked for British intelligence.
Most of Going Clear centers around the testimonials of long time high level Scientology officers who became disenchanted and left the organization – some after 20 years or more. They all describe a highly evolved system of brainwashing, mind control and cultic manipulation, coupled with systematic emotional, physical and sexual abuse, financial extortion, psychological harassment, blackmail, stalking, covert break-ins, kidnapping and involuntary imprisonment in “rehabilitation centers.” These more extreme measures kicked in whenever long time high level officers express doubts or attempt to leave.
Describing Scientology as the largest intelligence operation in the world, the film depicts how they used these capabilities to muscle the IRS into granting them non-profit status (as a “church”) in 1993. The organization keeps massive personal files on all their members, who are required to undergo frequent “auditing” sessions. During auditing, they’re pressured to reveal their deepest personal secrets and innermost feelings an “auditor” who keeps detailed records of these sessions on behalf of the leadership.
For new members, on the surface auditing appears to resemble Freudian-style catharsis directed at resolving traumatic memories that hold people back in their lives. However as advanced Scientologists work themselves up the ranks (at great personal expense), they eventually engage in OT (Operation Thetan) level audits. At OTIII, which is only reached after many years of dedication and financial investment (OT sessions typically cost $1,000 or more each), initiates are finally brought into Scientology’s carefully guarded creation myth. The latter involves the possession of the human species by alien demons known as “thetans.” From this point forward, members are expected to use their auditing sessions to rid themselves of these thetans.
Typically it’s at this point members begin to have doubts about Scientology and are subjected to escalating coercive tactics to prevent them from leaving.
Gibney also explores John Travolta’s and Tom Cruise’s bizarre and troubled relationship with Scientology – as well as the vicious attach of the organization’s intelligence arm against Cruise’s ex-wife Nicole Kidman.