Note by Celebitchy: We’ve had a lot of requests to cover the HBO documentary “Going Clear,” a kind of comprehensive overview of the Scientology cult and their bizarre origins, mistreatment of members, celebrity ties and many crimes. The truth is that almost none of the revelations in the documentary were new to us. We’ve heard and often reported on these stories over the years. It’s reassuring to see that a major cable outlet is taking on the cult and that they’re presenting the information in a way that will get more mainstream coverage. HBO adds legitimacy to stories that have been buried and which Scientology has worked to hide. Bedhead has seen the documentary, I have not, and so she will be covering this story. We hope that this will help revoke Scientology’s tax free status in America, which was achieved through legal threats and harassment, as Going Clear reveals.
From Bedhead: Overall, Going Clear did a fine job of presenting the history and abusive practices of Scientology to the masses. The documentary is based upon Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Lawrence Wright’s 2013 book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief. We’ve already talked about the general CO$ reaction to the movie. We’ve also covered all of the book’s material on prior occasions. I think the HBO delivery of this film worked well. Viewers spread the word on social media. A lot of people weren’t aware of the CO$’s history. One problem is that Wright’s book is already dated by a few years. The documentary could have provided updates about Leah Remini and gone more into the Katie Holmes tale of terror. Remini did describe the movie as “brave.” Here are several topics covered by HBO’s Going Clear.
* Hubbard’s early adulthood: L. Ron told tall tales of his military accomplishments during World War II. He didn’t really earn a Purple Heart or the other medals he claimed. The military didn’t even have a record of his alleged injuries.
* Hubbard’s money-making designs & celebrities: He learned his salesman trade as part of a cult called Ordo Templi Orientis, which was based upon the teachings of Aleister Crowley. Hubbard was part of a scheme to create the anti-Christ by impregnating a “goddess.” When Hubbard created Scientology, he specifically planned to use celebrities as recruiters. Countless celebs fell for the elevated status the cult had to offer.
* The Xenu story: The doc covered the top-secret manilla folder containing the Operating Thetan Level III materials. This is the tale of volcanoes and disembodied thetans put into motion by the galactic overlord Xenu. South Park deserves credit for revealing this to the masses years ago.
* Scientology’s discipline: Early on, Hubbard (while enjoying the company of young messenger ladies) made a practice of throwing CO$ members off his ship. The documentary discussed the Rehabilitation Project Force, which is located in prison camps where members go to be re-indoctrinated. They do hard labor in the desert and sleep in crowded trailers filled with ants and vermin. When David Miscavige took the helm, he tortured high-ranking execs with “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
* All of the legal shenanigans: Hubbard preached about attacking foes with lawsuit after lawsuit. The cult filed thousands of suits against the IRS and its employees to regain their tax-exempt status back in the early 1970s. Then (during Operation Snow White) the CO$ infiltrated the Department of Justice and IRS to destroy incriminating documents.
* Scientology’s homophobia: Paul Haggis departed CO$ after a 30-year run because his two gay daughters were harrassed by the CO$. Paul’s famous resignation letter was dissected.
* Jason Beghe is still a cool dude: Beghe talked about how the CO$ swindled him out of far too much money. He dropped plenty of f-bombs while discussing how he was treated like Miscavige’s star pupil. When Beghe got into a car wreck, the CO$ told him it was his fault.
* Tom Cruise & Nicole Kidman: The cult conspired to bring Tom back after he got really upset at the OT Level III story. They saw Kidman as a suppressive person who tore Tom away from the organization. CO$ pulled Tom back in, wiretapped Nicole’s phone, and orchestrated the divorce.
* Tom Cruise’s slave labor: Former member John Brousseau discussed how Cruise had his homes and cars tricked out by Sea Org members who made $0.40 cents per hour at most. Some of them worked for free.
* Tom Cruise’s rent-a-girlfriends: The doc went into the story of Nazanin Boniadi, who was physically altered (teeth, hair, and clothing) at Tom’s direction. The CO$ informed her that she was Tom’s girlfriend, and they dumped her (for him) when she offended Miscavige.
* John Travolta’s “black PR package”: The cult created a file of Travolta’s auditing sessions. They also taped everything, so they can hold this info over his head if he ever tries to leave.
* Scientology is still rich? According to Going Clear, the cult holds around $1.5 billion in assets. Much of this amount comes from the cult’s tax-exempt status and signficant property holdings. Liquid assets are a problem, as people aren’t falling for the sales pitch anymore.
In response to the documentary, Scientology has kept with their usual “fair game” game plan, which is to attack and insult critics (just like Danny Masterson did). They’re going off on director Alex Gibney but also pretending not to care. I hope the CO$ is toast soon.
— Freedom Media Ethics (@FreedomEthics) March 29, 2015
— Freedom Media Ethics (@FreedomEthics) March 30, 2015
— Freedom Media Ethics (@FreedomEthics) March 29, 2015
Photos courtesy of Getty & WENN