Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


United Kingdom sees Scientology documentary ‘Going Clear’ tonight on Sky Atlantic


Finally, the time has come! After a considerable delay caused by nagging legal concerns, Alex Gibney’s Emmy Award-winning HBO documentary, Going Clear: Scientology & the Prison of Belief, will air tonight on Sky Atlantic at 9 pm local time.

“So glad the UK is finally getting to see the film. Maybe now, they will publish Larry’s book,” Gibney tells us. His documentary is based on Lawrence Wright’s book Going Clear, which has never been published in the UK because of the country’s plaintiff-friendly libel laws.

“I am proud to say that the film is playing without cuts – as far as I know – although with a few more printed disclaimers than on this side of the pond,” Gibney adds. “Even with reforms, the British libel laws are the handmaidens of power which predatory organizations like Scientology use to their advantage. Yo, denizens of Great Britain and Eire: lose the official secrets act and change those libel laws!”

“I’m delighted the film is being shown. Sure hopes it opens publishing possibilities,” Wright chimed in.


After the film airs, we hope a new rush of folks lands here at the Underground Bunker, which gets prominent mention in the film along with its proprietor, who was very fortunate to be included. For those new folks, we’re happy to help you find more information about the fascinating people in the movie.

Gibney and Wright cover a lot of ground in the documentary, from Scientology’s earliest beginnings up to the current scene. In order to build that narrative, they make use of eight former Scientologists with remarkable stories to tell. We’ve provided additional details about each of them.

Jason_Beghe3Jason Beghe. Jason was the first Scientology celebrity to defect and then go public, posting a damning condemnation of Scientology on YouTube in 2008, three years before another celebrity, Paul Haggis, was profiled in the New Yorker. We got to know Jason in 2008 when he made his very public exit from the church, and we explained in a recent piece how Beghe’s subsequent cross-country search to find other former members led directly to the wave of exposes which subsequently showed up in the press.

Tom_Devocht_GC3Tom DeVocht. Tom’s role in the Sea Org was to oversee building and renovation projects at Scientology’s headquarters in California and Florida. During that time, he became very close to Scientology leader David Miscavige, and watched as Miscavige had Tom Cruise’s most private information from confessional auditing sessions delivered to him every day. He tells us even more about the relationship between Miscavige and Cruise than he revealed in the film.

Sara_Goldberg_GC2Sara Goldberg. Sara was introduced to readers by the great Joe Childs of the Tampa Bay Times, who told her full story. But for our countdown to the movie’s airing, Sara shared with us previously unpublished documents and other details that helped fill in the background to what you see on the screen.

Paul_Haggis_GC2Paul Haggis. Paul was the subject of Lawrence Wright’s New Yorker profile as well as his book, Going Clear. But for us, Paul wrote one of the clearest expressions of what the Scientology experience is like and how difficult it is to read. If you haven’t seen it, you really must.

Marty_Rathbun_GC2Mark “Marty” Rathbun. We’ve denuded entire forests writing about Marty Rathbun over the years. But in our countdown to the airing of Going Clear on HBO, we asked him about how far he’s come from the days he first started his blog in 2009 and over time re-examined his relationship with the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard. His answer may really stun you.

Mike_Rinder_GC2Mike Rinder. We’ve written extensively about Rinder, the former top spokesman for the church. We have a piece about his background which includes a series of videos we took about his experience in The Hole and escaping Scientology. He also helped us decipher a bizarre memo written by Scientology leader David Miscavige just before Rinder walked away in 2007.

Spanky_Taylor_GC2Sylvia “Spanky” Taylor. We’ve known Spanky a long time, and we were thrilled to see her featured in Lawrence Wright’s book and Alex Gibney’s film. She agreed to talk to us to fill in additional details about her life story and experience in Scientology, and she saved for us some really fascinating new facts.

Hana_Whitfield_GC2Hana Eltringham Whitfield. Hana was the Deputy Commodore, the woman who L. Ron Hubbard trusted to captain his vessels as he ran Scientology from sea from 1967 to 1975. As we revealed in a story about her, she plans a new book to discuss the “family cult” she was in before Scientology, and then her experiences as an interventionist (1987-2004) helping others escape the church.

There’s so much more about Scientology that we cover here at the Bunker, and we hope you stick around to learn about Scientology’s scheme of courses, its essential source text, and many other things.

As for the rest of our frequent commenters and experts who have already seen the film, what are your favorite scenes? Of the amazing new footage found by Gibney and his team, which surprised you the most? What Scientology stories were you most disappointed to see left out? (We can guess what the most frequent answer to that one will be.) Alex has mentioned making a sequel — what would you like to see in it?

Hey, and for our UK readers, please give us a little live-blogging in the comments as the movie plays. It’s the next best thing to being there.


Bonus photos from our tipsters

NYC rapper Tameek Williams, better known as “Teemonee,” helped out Drug-Free World in a Harlem parade this weekend. Speaking of Harlem, we had a couple of correspondents go by this weekend and ask questions about when the new Ideal Org might be opening. One was told a week, the other a month. Both said the latter seemed more realistic.


When one whale recedes, another beaches himself. Jim Mathers now picks up where Tom Cummins left off in Taiwan, as David Miscavige regges the Chinese to their last dollar…


Kelly Preston in Mexico — you can glimpse here on this video. What a Scientology fiesta!



We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Tony Ortega’s upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

Sept 23: Cleveland, Parma Heights Library, 7pm sponsored by Center for Inquiry – Northeast Ohio

Sept 24: Minneapolis, Grumpy’s Bar & Grill, 2801 Snelling Ave, Roseville, 7 pm, sponsored by Minnesota Atheists

Sept 27: Portland, Friendly House, 1737 NW 26th Ave, 12:45 pm, sponsored by Humanists of Greater Portland

Sept 28: Seattle, Razzi’s Pizzeria, 7 pm, with Seattle Skeptics and Seattle Atheists

Sept 29: Vancouver, BC, Seven Dining Lounge, 7 pm

Oct 23: Sydney, Giant Dwarf Theatre (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 25: Melbourne, venue secured (announcement coming later)

Oct 28: Adelaide, Wheatsheaf Hotel, (with Sen. Nick Xenophon)

Oct 30: Perth

Past dates: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15)


Posted by Tony Ortega on September 21, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com 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


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email