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The crowd’s all here: What does the airing of the Scientology doc ‘Going Clear’ mean to you?


It’s the day that many people have been waiting for. Tonight, at 8 pm Eastern time, HBO will broadcast Alex Gibney’s two-hour documentary on Scientology, Going Clear. All week we’ve been counting down the days by talking to people who appear in the film. Today, we’re talking to the rest of you. We asked many familiar names in the Underground Bunker to tell us what it means to them that this documentary is reaching such a large audience today. And in the comments, we want to hear from the rest of our great community about how you’re feeling about tonight’s event.

(A programming note: At 5 pm Eastern, make sure to refresh your browsers as we put up our live-blogging post for the evening.)

Paulette Cooper: What I dreamed about and worked on for years in the 1970s and 1980s — for people to know the truth about Scientology — has finally been happening, and tonight will be the best of all. I can’t wait to see the documentary. I was so anxious I considered flying to New York to see it in the theater during its short run!

Larry Anderson: The longstanding wall of intimidation between the Church and the media is crumbling. This HBO documentary will open the floodgates and embolden other media to take on Scientology — and the BBC is right behind. Tick Tock!


Camilla Andersson: I lived immersed in lies for years, in fear of the outside “wog” world, which I have learned is actually filled with kind and caring people. I can now think for myself, and it’s the best freedom ever. I can’t wait until 8 pm. I’ve told all of my friends to watch.

Shelley Ashurst: The HBO documentary could well prove to be the catalyst which renders the church unsalvageable. This will be hastened by the church’s own superciliousness and arrogance which has blinded them to the real gravity of this situation. The independent actions of many have led to this, and to list them all would take too long. But know that to each of you who has sacrificed and borne so much, I thank you all. You are the real heroes in this story.

Jon Atack: I’m very happy to see the cult coming under public scrutiny after so many years of media terror. Perhaps the spectre of the Time lawsuit will finally be exorcised and the horrible truth about the systematic exploitation of members by Scientology will cause enough concern for a change in public policy towards this invidious cult. It might even encourage the IRS (yet another cult) to reconsider its foolish gift of tax exemption and persuade the State Department to stop accusing Germany of religious discrimination.

Jeffrey Augustine: My thoughts — 1. HBO’s global reach exceeds Scientology’s money. 2. Alex Gibney’s voice exceeds that of Scientology’s celebrities. 3. Going Clear has already proved how Scientology’s three billion dollars and “12 million members” are useless against eight former Church members telling their stories.

Nathan Baca: I’m looking forward to a national audience seeing for the first time what Scientology’s Rehabilitation Project Force is, and the pain it’s caused so many people who are now just coming out of the shadows. I hope the RPF becomes more than a well-known acronym, I hope it inspires action by Riverside County and California politicians and lawmakers.

Chuck Beatty: I’m elated over the quality coverage of Scientology these last 10 years, leading up to this benchmark documentary. I am so happy ex-members have come through and contributed so much of their time helping get this story correct. Scientology is a kind of social experiment, a sad tragic experiment of L. Ron Hubbard’s that has gone wrong and wastes so many people’s time for so much suffering.

Richard Behar: Perhaps naively, given the impact of my Time cover in 1991, I thought many reporters would tackle the subject in the years to follow. But the mega-millions that the cult spent on private eyes and litigation against us pretty much chilled the press. I think the Internet changed that, as well as additional high-level defections and now the dynamic power of Wright and Gibney. I hope the book and the documentary spread from country to country. And I hope Travolta and Cruise can somehow find the brains and the courage to take their heads out of the sand and stop using their celebrity status to suck naive people into the enterprise.

Graham Berry: This cult has never been under such a sustained worldwide media microscope; not even with the 1991 Time magazine cover story by Richard Behar. The HBO documentary will be a genie that just keeps on granting wishes, first with HBO re-runs and then with the various on-demand channels. This is a tipping point. Already doors are opening deep behind the scenes that were always closed before. All the organization has left now are the celebrities and big donors and most of them will surely be shamed into the exits.

Derek Bloch: Alex Gibney is doing the world a favor by getting these stories out to such a large audience. It will help inoculate millions more people against Scientology’s recruiting tactics, and prevent families from getting sucked in and destroyed like my family has been. Frankly, its nice to see Scientology get yet another swift kick in the nuts after the shit I’ve been through.

Kate Bornstein: I’m on the edge of my seat — as are so many ex-Scientologists — filled with great hope and anticipation that Going Clear is going to dramatically help bring down the walls between us and our loved ones, now separated by the policy of disconnection.

Roger Boswarva: It is high time the criminality of Scientology got full exposure. It has for too long been able to hide behind the cloak of religion to abuse and defraud people. Hopefully some sensible prosecutors will take notice and do the right thing to protect the innocent folks, including children, who have been trapped by Scientology’s deceitful procedures. The Going Clear documentary is a milestone of truth.

John Brousseau: I hope this documentary reaching such a vast audience will be a precedent to future exposures of what really has gone on in the past and continues still within the circles of Scientology. Proof of the emptiness and absurdity of the church’s legal threats should bolster others to be less concerned and more willing to speak their mind. I truly doubt the organization and its unscrupulous ways will ever really vanish, but they will not continue unchecked so long as their misdeeds are made public like this. And of course I also personally take pleasure in seeing the church and Miscavige deservedly get their asses raked over the coals.

Mareka Brousseau: Although there are not many Scientologists in the world, The Church of Scientology has the capacity to affect an enormous number of people and you don’t have to be a Scientologist to be hurt by them. I hear from people (non Scientologists) regularly who have been adversely affected by having a loved one, family member, or friend inside the cult of Scientology. Which is why I’m really happy that Going Clear is going to reach such a huge audience. I’m hoping more people will recognize how destructive Scientology is and want to do something about it. Scientology’s crimes and abuses are extensive and far-reaching, and therefore the exposure of them should be too.

Mark Bunker: To have one of the world’s best documentarians tackling Scientology and to have that film get such a massive showcase on HBO is very exciting. I would have loved to see the two part 4-hour Hubbard docudrama that HBO abandoned a decade ago, but this makes up for it. Just a couple days ago I was looking through some shows on my hard drives and found one on the Philip Zimbardo Human Behavior Experiments that was written and directed by Alex Gibney several years ago. So he clearly found this subject matter fascinating long before starting to shoot Going Clear. I’ll have my popcorn ready for for the airing…and for the nuclear fallout in the media as Scientology and this movie get discussed for some time to come.

Lynn Campbell: I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude to the people involved in this film. It has made — and will continue to make — such a difference to me. People can now start to understand what it was like being stuck in a cult, and begin to figure out what can be done to protect people in a vulnerable state. I’m hoping the IRS will at least take another look at Scientology’s tax exempt status and investigate how the organization has not lived up to its end of the deal that was struck in 1993. They have the power to do something about it. Come to think of it, everybody has the power to do something about it, even it it’s just signing a petition or writing to a congressman or putting a sign in your shop window.

Tory Christman: Going Clear is one more milestone of disaster for the Church of Scientology, thanks to HBO and the millions who are now going to see it. It is an education that Scientology has already proven is true. Otherwise, why would they be trying so hard to slime Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright and every single person in it? This is a milestone for the rest of us, too. And great thanks to Tony Ortega, two decades now shining a light on the abuses. My love to all.

Roslyn Cohn: I’m thrilled that HBO had the courage to make this documentary. Bravo to Alex, Lawrence, and all involved. I believe that this film will now force the IRS to re-examine the cult’s tax-exempt status — and at the very least modify it now that the abuses and con are known. I don’t see how Scientology celebrities can continue to lie about the Xenu story or keep quiet about the abuses of those who don’t have the protection of celebrity. I support their work as artists, but come on, guys and gals.

Christie Collbran: The church’s response has been pathetic and most people can see that. It’s only generating more interest in the movie. So the only thing the church can do is try to prevent its followers from watching it. But so many people are going to see it. The church cannot control neighbors, outside family, co-workers and other people in the environment who are going to be asking questions, and bringing it up with Scientologists that are in good standing. It’s going to reach them and even if they still don’t watch it, seeds will grow. This thing is big.

Bent Corydon: I love this movie! My friends of many years, such as Hana and Spanky, have amazing stories that have long needed to be exposed to a large audience in order to protect others from suffering similar horrors. They have finally been given an audience by powerful and creative professionals. The result is a thing of beauty! Thank you to Larry, Paul, and Alex and others for making this possible.

Karen de la Carriere: We’ve seen it twice. The second time with never-ins. Our never-in friends all plan to watch it again on HBO with family. Wow. In Scientology, the key question when you attest at exams is, “Would you want others to have similar gains to yours?” And it turns out the question people are asking after seeing Alex Gibney’s movie is, “Would you want others to have similar gains in knowledge to yours?” And the answer is yes!

Laura (DeCrescenzo) Dieckman: This is going to be a major turning point. There is no escaping the truth that is being spread on the largest platform yet. I will definitely be tuning in tomorrow and I am sure that anyone who is still in and has even the slightest doubt will be watching as well. The fact that all Scientology has been doing is attack, attack, attack is a sign of their guilt. They are showing their true colors on their ridiculous Twitter feed.

Jamie DeWolf: After decades of the press being bullied, threatened, and sued into silence by a cult that acts more like a mafia than a church, finally Scientology gets the film it deserves. Finally the bully is getting a fistful of its own medicine. HBO and the filmmakers are challenging viewers to ask themselves not ‘how did this happen,’ but why do we continue to allow this criminal sham to abuse any more people? Why are we allowing the American government to be complicit in L. Ron Hubbard’s long con with tax exemption? This film may be the slingshot in the eye that finally topples the giant. I only wish I was in it, and will support it in any way I can. This could be that film that changes everything, and let’s hope to hell it does.

Ramana Dienes-Browning: I’m feeling hopeful that this could bring families back together that have been long estranged. This could mean that David Miscavige is finally brought to justice, and liberation for those trapped in the Sea Org. And maybe even a real possibility for anti-brainwashing laws.

Samantha Domingo: This documentary is a dream come true for those who have fought so long and hard for justice. Finally the victims of this dreadful cult, so systematically and viciously silenced in the past, have found a voice and someone who will listen to them. It means more to me than I can express in words.

John Duignan: HBO investigators looking into the Scientology shipwreck submitted their report today. The ship hit the rocks some years ago, but the investigation had been blocked by ship’s lawyers. The report reveals that the vessel was full of holes long before it left port. It was structurally unsound and captained by a drunk, illiterate high school drop-out who could not read his charts. The ship was running a tax avoidance scam and used slave labour as crew. Paying passengers found that the astronomical passage price did not cover ‘services.’ Toilet flush, showers, food, bedding and even entry into lounge areas were charged on a ‘pay by use’ basis. Passengers were not permitted to leave the ship and kept locked in their cabins when the ship entered port. In a statement an HBO spokesman said that maritime authorities had a case to answer, this ship should have been scrapped decades ago. Its criminally negligent owners face prosecution and incarceration. The captain has disappeared; he is rumored to be hiding out in the Dutch Antilles.

Mark Ebner: I began investigating Scientology in 1995, when the cult was vociferous in its attacks on me and my colleagues who dared to investigate the criminal organization masquerading as a religion. I’m proud to have helped pave the way for the kind of mainstream scrutiny that, after Going Clear hits the airwaves, will leave the few remaining adherents clinging desperately to a diseased raft of real estate holdings.

Dennis Erlich: The semi-permeable info-membrane surrounding the cult is in tatters on the shoulder of the info-highway, along with other trash and debris.

Michael Fairman: Viewers will be told the truth about a destructive, divisive, and enslaving cult that has been permitted to exist as a religion for the last half century. My advice to those still in the church is to see the film and then “postulate” the following: That you free yourself from the spiritual prison of fear that you yourself have created; that you will be reunited with the friends and family who love you and whom you have shunned; that you are forever removed from the yoke of financial bondage that you have allowed to be placed over your livelihood; and “postulate” that you will once again feel the exhilaration of true freedom.

Mark Fisher: I am proud of my friends, who had the courage to speak out against Scientology leader David Miscavige and the abuses in the church for the HBO Documentary. I’m looking forward to seeing it. The more the truth is revealed about what is actually going on, the more likely something can be done to stop the abuses. Thanks also to Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright, and HBO for having the guts to produce this movie.

Luis Garcia: The Going Clear documentary is yet another powerful light shone on Scientology, an organization that has done much more harm than good. Millions of people will watch it and many will be awed and shocked, some even terrified. But I really hope that some will be so disgusted that it forces their conscience into action. Thanks to Alex Gibney and the entire team who had the courage to be involved in such a worthwhile endeavor.

Sheldon Goldberg: I am very pleased that Going Clear will probably reach millions of people. I feel confident this marks the beginning of the end for the church’s insanely abusive practices. The best case would be some congressional viewers incensed to the point of opening an official investigation. I don’t think that is unrealistic.

Joy Graysen: The world needs to know what a criminal organization the “Church” of Scientology actually is. Where legal justice has been sidestepped by high-powered attorneys, the truth finally will be exposed and acknowledged in the court of public opinion. I am so very grateful this moment is upon us. May this courageous documentary free the mind-controlled slaves who are still drinking the Kool-Aid.

Pete Griffiths: I’m excited that so many more people will get the facts about the cult’s fraud and human rights abuses, and hopefully demand that the authorities take action — the IRS being a good starting point!

Steve Hall: Going Clear is the culmination of so much work from so many people who have worked as a team for these last many years. Hundreds of different people from all walks of life, from all over the world, some ex-members, some never in the Church at all (definitely including Anonymous), all with the raw courage to stand up and say no to the malignant abuse, corruption, and criminality put into play by L. Ron Hubbard’s “dark side” and expanded to monstrous proportions by David Miscavige and his degraded slaves.

Jefferson Hawkins: This is really the culmination of a lot of work by a lot of people, those directly involved in the production, as well as the many hundreds of people who have spoken out and told their stories over the years. It’s kind of like waves washing over a rock, you don’t think it’s having any effect but over time the rock wears away and crumbles. We’re seeing an escalating effect on Scientology now. To say they have lost control of the narrative is an understatement. Ex-Scientologists are no longer afraid, the media is no longer afraid, and soon, we hope, governments will no longer be afraid. And every statement Scientology makes just further confirms the vile nature of that organization.

Claire Headley: I am extremely grateful for this documentary — and for all who participated in its making. While Scientology continues to attack my friends and my family, it will continue to be exposed for what it really is. I hope this gives those still in the courage to stand up and put an end to the abuses we have all been witness to. And I am reassured that some day soon, Scientology will be denied the ability to continue to destroy families and lives, while lying to the public in general with the support of their celebrities.

Marc Headley: Scientologists are being told not to watch this and so most will tune in. Traffic on message boards and blogs are going to be at an all time high. Many who have been lurking will start posting and be replaced by a new batch of lurkers. With more people exiting will come more recent horror stories. I was just talking to an OT 8 (not yet publicly out) who says the crush “hard sell” regging has reached an all time high. Anyone who resists being hit up for money is being tagged “Anti-regging.” With this going on, it does not take much to push people over the edge. All those who produced and contributed to this film should be very proud. This film is going to save lives and reunite families.

Andreas Heldal-Lund: It is good to see the transformation of the Church of Scientology from a very efficient machine against media and critics. As we’ve nailed the final nail in this coffin many times I’m reluctant to do so now, but we see a severely damaged or weakened organization in a new environment they do not control. While they always will find new victims, the question now is when David Miscavige will take what he can get and leave the sinking ship.

Bruce Hines: I’m definitely excited to see the film and that it is airing in prime time on HBO. I actually don’t know how big of an audience and HBO show gets, compared to, say, Nightline or CNN. But already the media coverage of some of the abusive practices of the cult has been phenomenal. I expect this documentary to expose the real nature of Scientology in a particularly powerful way. I don’t think the church will be able to fully recover.

Lori Hodgson: I am so excited for the documentary to air. It’s going to reach so many people, and they will see the real truth about how Scientology destroys families. Thank you Alex Gibney and everyone in the documentary, and HBO. I hope my Jessica and Jeremy get the chance to watch it.

Gregg Housh: Honestly, I am just so happy HBO is actually airing it. It’s a sign of just how much things have changed in the last seven years since I personally joined the fight against Scientology. I am so happy that every time I go to the grocery store I see something negative about Scientology on the magazine racks. It’s awesome stuff.

Geir Isene: I see Going Clear as an interesting documentary of a waning cult — it’s important to have such a documentary for posterity before Scientology implodes fully and fades into oblivion.

Jeff Jacobsen: Public opinion is important, but so long as Scientology holds tax exempt religious status, they have the upper hand. Scientology has weathered their top people going to prison, their leader on the run, and exposure from the likes of the LA Times and Time magazine. I’m afraid they will survive HBO too.

Jonny Jacobsen: It’s only this last week, reading the stories you’ve been filing in the run-up to the HBO premier, that I’ve begun to realize just what an event this documentary has become. I knew that a major film from an Oscar-winning film-maker — based on a book written by a Pulitzer-prizewinning journalist — was bound to be good. But the level of media coverage it has been getting in the run-up to Sunday’s night broadcast strikes me as unprecedented for a documentary about Scientology. When I do finally see it, I expect Gibney’s documentary to be every bit as good as the hype. I don’t know if it will be enough to make an impact in the corridors of power — but it’s about time somebody in Congress pulled their bloody finger out. Now where’s my DVD copy?

Haydn James: I’m very glad it’s been done and would have willingly appeared in it had I been asked. The church has to be brought to heel, its tax-exempt status ended and all abusive practices ended. But I’m sure I won’t agree with everything portrayed in it. But then, just like a court case, it’s about some form of justice and not about the full or accurate truth. Since I lived it for the last 40 years I have my own observations.

Anette Iren Johansen: People should find it horrifying what really goes on behind the facade of Scientology: a greedy, manipulative and criminal business cult.

Bert Leahy: This is a huge step forward to show that we’ve been telling the truth about this organization. A special thanks to all the early pioneers like Paulette Cooper and others who had the courage to come forward attempt to right what they thought was wrong.

Robbie Levin: 35 years ago, when I finally realized that L. Ron Hubbard was nothing more than a flim flam artist, I could not imagine that such a monumental documentary could reach so many people in one fell swoop. I think the only event that could top this would be an Academy Award nomination and watching Alex Gibney’s acceptance speech for winning an Oscar.

Meshell Little: I’m so happy to see that Scientology’s intimidation and threats are not going to stop the truth from being told, finally. There’s still so much more that needs told, and I hope it gets said soon. People need to know the truth behind the PR campaigns that this cult hides behind. Sickening how they try to make people believe only insane people “attack” an organization that does so much good! Horse shit, as my uncle would have said!

Paulien Lombard: Never before has Scientology been exposed from this many angles in one documentary. May this thoroughly fact-checked body of information become a resource for the wanderers, the seekers, as well as the researchers of all social sciences, political sciences, and those who want to save mankind from going down under.

David Edgar Love: I think this movie will have a major impact on millions of viewers around the globe for quite some time. For many, Scientology is some weird cult that Cruise and Travolta are members of. Now people will see what Scientology really is and does. This film really is the talk of the town — one source told me of their visit to a therapist last week, and physicians gathered around to hear details of what Going Clear is about, with them writing in their notepads the dates, and affirming they will be watching and telling all their colleagues to tune in and learn.

Claudio and Renata Lugli: We think this is a day for celebrations. A lot of actions and intentions made this major event possible. Every single person that had the guts to stand up and fight the abuses, the craziness, the violence, the brutal disconnections, the forced abortions, human trafficking and exploiting contributed to this, and all of them are heroes in our book. This thing that we knew as Scientology morphed into a vicious cult, and dreams have been broken, families have been broken, souls have been broken. Tonight justice is coming, big time. Thanks to all of you.

Jamie Sorrentini Lugli: It really hit me last night when I was watching HBO and saw an ad for Going Clear. This is not just an article somewhere, this is HBO! Who doesn’t watch HBO? This will be playing in the homes of millions of families…all month. It’s going to be hard to miss it. Scientology may have survived a lot of little earthquakes, but this is going to be “the big one.” People are going to empathize with these stories. Because we have all been lost, we have all been in a place of wanting to belong, and wanting answers to the challenges that life brings us.

Tiziano Lugli: While The Master hits you in layers that peel off with time, Going Clear leaves no blurred lines between what’s good and what’s bad. Ignoring or condoning the abuses in this cult is now as bad as having committed them. My hat’s off to everyone who helped create this masterpiece. Its waves will crash hard, and the result of this HBO tsunami is hard to predict. To quote David Miscavige, “The War Is Over.” Now let’s get busy surveying the damage.

Steven Mango: Knowing that Going Clear will reach a massive audience Sunday is incredible. It feels rewarding knowing that the truth about this harmful organization will be revealed on a platform such as HBO. The film is truly remarkable and will make you wonder how this organization is still recognized as a tax exempt religion.

John McGhee: This film is much needed and long overdue. We’re finally going to get the exposure we’ve been looking for, and that will reach beyond just the critic community.

Patty Moher: Tony, I am verklempt! I am so looking forward to watching the HBO special. All the work we’ve all done over the years to expose this crazy cult is finally coming to fruition. I’m experiencing a severe case of schadenfreude and enjoying every minute of it.

Gary “Jackson” Morehead: I’m pretty sure FED EX is making daily deliveries to David Miscavige of the finest Irish Spirits to keep his own spirits up over the media bitch-slapping he’s been getting. The media has been corroborating the facts about mental and physical abuse in Scientology — each article I’ve read has concluded how obvious it is that the church is guilty of abusing good people and is continuing to do so to this very day. Thanks to you and other media outlets, lives are being saved — lives are being saved, Tony.

Frank Oliver: From the perspective of a former member of the Office of Special Affairs (Scientology’s spy wing), this movie looks to me like an unrecoverable body blow. It will keep those on the outside from joining, and it will have those on the inside looking for a way out.

Martin Padfield: The media interest has been incredible and I would like to thank each and every person who has been brave enough to go on camera. It’s clearly a game changing moment. You can’t ignore film makers of the stature of Alex Gibney. And I just hope and pray the BBC or at least ITV have the vision and balls to buy the UK rights.

Melissa Paris: I’ve lived through the truth that is Scientology. I’ve seen what it’s done to my family, my friends, and what it did to me. How it affects us even to this day. This movie is for all of us who managed to escape. The fact that it’s going to reach such a large audience for me is closure in a way. It’s like my voice is finally being heard, even though I’m not part of the documentary. It’s for all of us who have spoken out. I don’t know if this is the end for Scientology, but it feels like it’s a start. It’s the beginning of the end for a cult that has destroyed so many lives.

Valeska Paris: I feel very excited that the crimes of Scientology are being exposed. My family was torn apart and my sister, brother, and my childhood were robbed from us. This is the fate of many, and all I can say is karma is catching up with Scientology and its criminal activities.

Sinar Parman: After this week’s series at your site, this film now seems like a grassroots movement. It will change the way Scientology is treated by the government and its own “friends.” It may not visibly be an immediate change, but it is coming.

John Peeler: I’m hoping that “Going Clear” is the catalyst that gets the IRS to realize that their decision to grant Scientology a religious tax exempt status was a huge mistake. I also hope the movie will convince law enforcement agencies to investigate human trafficking allegations. Thank you, Lawrence Wright and Alex Gibney for doing such a brilliant job with the book and documentary. I’m very grateful as I’m sure there are many others who feel the same.

Scott Pilutik: As an old-time critic I’ve learned not to get my hopes high for anything touted as Scientology’s last coffin nail. But it’s hard not to be excited for this, even if it falls short of being just that. Most attempts to explain Scientology leave neophytes with more questions than answers. But the reviews of Going Clear suggest that Gibney delivered on the most compelling question of all: Why do smart people join and stay in? Most critics intuitively understand why people join and stay, but find it difficult to transcend listeners’ prejudice that there’s something you’re just not explaining right. If nothing else, it sounds as if Gibney conveyed an understanding of Scientology in very human terms, and if that’s the case, that would be a promising nail.

Cindy Plahuta: I am confident that this widely watched documentary will change the way the world views Scientology forever. A very big light is exposing the secrets of this cult. My hope is, as a result, families will be reunited — including my own family. And in the future, no families will ever be shattered by this cult again.

Jesse Prince: I am endlessly grateful that new and old members of Scientology are now speaking out. I have fought Scientology in my own way for nearly two decades and I enjoy the company.

Rick Ross: Anyone can potentially be brainwashed by groups called cults given the right set of circumstances. Hopefully, Going Clear will not only raise awareness concerning the sordid history of Scientology, but also serve as a warning about the broader potential threat of destructive cults and how they often trick people into compliance to exploit and abuse them.

Joel Sappell: Thanks for asking me to share some thoughts on “Going Clear”– and thanks for your long commitment to exposing the truths behind the myths and misdeeds of Scientology and its leaders. I’m proud to be among the small band of journalists who, over the decades, would not be deterred by the organization’s tactics of intimidation. Welcome, Alex Gibney. I think Gibney’s greatest contribution to the public’s understanding of Scientology will be in his searing portrait of the man at the top — David Miscavige, who has ruled for nearly 30 years without the wide exposure we’ve come to expect of powerful people who control the lives and fortunes of others, especially those simply searching for self-betterment. Because we’re a culture obsessed with celebrity (as L. Ron Hubbard astutely knew), I suspect that one of the most damaging legacies of the film for Scientology will be in giving audiences a face behind the group’s curiosities and abuses, someone to hold accountable. I remember my one encounter with Miscavige. It was in the mid-1980s, and he was a young man who’d already proven his cunning and ruthlessness by seizing control of Scientology after Hubbard’s death. When I approached to ask a question, he stiffened and stared — a dark stare. He said nothing, as his aides whisked him away, out of public view. He no longer has that luxury.

Amy Scobee: I wish I could personally meet and congratulate both Alex Gibney and Lawrence Wright from the bottom of my heart. Their work in exposing the nightmare world of Scientology is saving people around the world from ever entering the trap of this destructive cult. I am immensely encouraged that with such a competent and far-reaching production, people the world over will see the severity of this dangerous group and hopefully cease supporting them in any way. I see a bright light at the end of a long tunnel.

Bryan Seymour: In 2007 I filed my first report on Scientology. Eight years and 80 stories on I am delighted that a tipping point has arrived. Scientology has followed me, (possibly) bugged me, tried to get me sacked, taken me to court. When I interviewed Mike Rinder in 2010 in Sydney, Scientology hired a young guy named Chris to fly out from LA for the sole purpose of filming us 24/7. I came out of a pub at midnight one evening, and there was Chris filming me. The plan was to catch me embarrassing myself, publish the video then claim that my work was unreliable. All it did was convince me to focus on helping the victims of Scientology and hope that one day an Oscar Winning film maker would produce a movie that would hold Scientology and its celebrities to account… oh wait… that’s today!

Chris Shelton: I am hanging on with bated breath in anticipation of tonight’s airing. I’ll be watching Twitter and this blog all day Sunday to see the reactions. I’m thinking this is going to make Debbie Cook’s email look like a faint whisper in a tornado. I have high hopes that this is going to blow the house down.

Aaron Smith-Levin: Enforced disconnection that separates families is truly the most disturbing reality within Scientology. Every Scientologist of my generation knows at least one family (if not their own) that has been dismantled by Scientology’s disconnection policy. The documentary does a huge public service by shining a bright light on this disgusting practice. With the tremendous groundswell of public support the documentary has been getting, it’s my hope that the church just might be shamed into cancelling this practice. I have no doubt that the film will speed up the exodus that the Church has been experiencing. The more people who see it the better.

Michelle “Emma” Sterling: When I left the church in 2001, I was happy to find a Usenet Newsgroup (a.r.s) and a messageboard (OCMB). It seemed like these were the only folks in the entire world who would understand me and where I’d come from. I never dreamed that 14 years later my community, that community I joined 14 years ago, would all be preparing to watch a feature length documentary film, directed by an Academy Award winner, based on the book written by a Pulitzer Prize winner, exposing the cult that tried to ruin all our lives. It’s a magical day. A massive thank you to everyone who has made this happen.

Christian Stolte: It’s probably hard for outsiders to grasp what’s so exciting about this. A documentary produced by HBO and aimed squarely at a mainstream audience, that dares to tell the world Scientology’s ugly truths. I anxiously await the aftermath of this film. Is the coast clear now? Can we get started on the film versions of Blown For Good? My Billion Year Contract? Beyond Belief? The Unbreakable Miss Lovely? What are we waiting for? The world is finally ready to hear these incredible stories. I hope the church is paralyzed by all this scrutiny. They’re certainly not prepared to defend themselves; that’s just not in their playbook.

Yannus Sufandi: It’s so great that this movie is explaining what really happens inside Scientology and how good people get fooled by its front groups. Following a human being name Ron Hubbard? Who was he? He was just a pulp writer. And for those who want to hear about my story, follow the link on my name. I support the movie — the public needs to know about this menace known as Scientology.

John Sweeney: Bruce Hines, a former auditor of Tom Cruise, told me on tape in 2007 that he had been beaten up by David Miscavige — this is denied. A combination of British libel laws and the Church’s ferocious attacks on the BBC and me kept that out of Scientology and Me. By 2010, we had buckets of sources, including Mike Rinder, saying that Miscavige was violent — again, this is denied. But for fear of UK libel laws, our 2010 film, The Secrets of Scientology left this out. Stories of Miscavige’s violence fill my book Church Of Fear – again, they are denied – but it feels good that a big US media company has finally had the courage to take on the T Rex of cults. Well done to Going Clear.

Simi Valley: I hope the publicity generated by Going Clear will unleash an unstoppable force to finally rid this prison planet of the vile cancer known as Scientology. And that its victims – at least the ones still among the living – can finally heal and get on with their lives.


Paulette Cooper in the Daily Beast

Very cool story by ML Nestel on Paulette Cooper at the Daily Beast today. Paulette’s been getting several mentions this week, and it’s great to see her getting her due as this documentary as coming out.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 29, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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