I found it difficult to read Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright (Random House, 2013): it gave me a sense of unease, forcing a frequent over-the-shoulder glance to see if someone was following me just because I was reading it. But nonetheless, it proved compelling – so much so that I dropped all other books and read it cover to cover, uninterrupted earlier this summer.
It is by far the most complete, detailled expose of the church I’ve read to date, and it made me wonder, why hasn’t all of this come to light before? Or did it and I just missed it?
It’s definitely not a flattering look at the church and if you know nothing about Scientology, it’s a real eye-opener. A scary one, at that.
Gibney’s film convincingly argues that their methods and practices are exploitative, abusive and dysfunctional on a massive scale.
And the review in The Independent concluded:
Gibney is too subtle and diligent a film-maker to indulge in a one-sided hatchet-job. The tone of Going Clear is inquisitive, not sensationalist. The documentary is painstakingly researched. If its accusations are “entirely false” (as the Church claims), it is surprising that quite so many former members continue to make them.
(The documentary isn’t on HBO Canada, by the way, but is on HBO USA – one of the reasons I don’t have cable any more: too much of this exclusive, anti-Canadian nonsense.)
Even if you look for it on YouTube, it’s not there (only the trailer is). You will, however, find several pro-Scientology rebuttals, some of them very acerbic and confrontational. Which is to be expected, if Wright’s claims in the book about the church’s paranoid and aggressive responses to any criticism are true. That also jives with the BBC reports I’ve linked to YouTube videos here.
And in my experience, I have reason to believe at least some of the claims for aggressive defence are true.