John Sweeney, the journalist that has been investigating the church of Scientology for pretty much ten years, addresses a seminar in Dublin in a few days
John Sweeney understands he might continually be recalled for a moment that is single. While shooting a study regarding the Church of Scientology for the BBC current-affairs programme Panorama, in 2007, the journalist felt he had been being obstructed, harassed and spied on.
This provoked a sense he defines as â€œunendurable pressureâ€ until, during a exchange that is terse a Scientology spokesman, Sweeney cracked and destroyed their mood. The footage through the documentary, Scientology and me personally, went viral around the globe.
â€œFor an occasion we felt hunted,â€ he claims, describing the way the feeling of intrusion lingered after the showâ€™s manufacturing. â€œPeople resulted in at our wedding. They called to my mother-in-lawâ€™s house, in Devon, asking concerns. Individuals stumbled on our home, making fake deliveries to our neighbors. It had been uncomfortable, scary and dark. No concern. You donâ€™t come out because of the Church of Scientology and lightly do it.â€
Although Sweeney routinely expresses regret whenever the outburst is mentioned â€“ â€œPeople when you look at the general public attention should be civil to those they disagree with. Itâ€™s area of the motor oil of democracyâ€ â€“ he claims a curious thing has occurred when you look at the years since. Former Scientologists have actually come to cite that incident as emblematic of Scientology when you look at the twenty-first century.
â€œThat image is really what the church does to people,â€ he claims. â€œI was once a war reporter. Iâ€™ve been to numerous, numerous bad places in the entire world, and I also had never ever undergone such a thing like this.â€
Undeterred, Sweeney later on began focus on a novel called The Church of Fear: within the Weird realm of Scientology, drawing from their experiences making the initial Panorama programme and its 2010 followup, The Secrets of Scientology. Itâ€™s the main reason heâ€™ll be speaking at Scientology: adequate will do, a two-day meeting in Dublin next weekend.
The eventâ€™s organisers claim it’s going to â€œreveal the abusive conditions, economic exploitation . . . and broken families that lie behind the Scientology organisationâ€™s veneer of religiosityâ€.
Sweeney has accurate documentation of tackling subjects that are controversial having additionally written publications on Britainâ€™s arming of Iraq, Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu and tyranny in North Korea. But finding an outlet for an exposÃ© of Scientology proved hard.
Media protection surrounding the divorce proceedings of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Sweeney states, did actually claim that Scientologyâ€™s track record of aggressively analysis that is stifling diminished. Nevertheless the publishing industry nevertheless appeared daunted by the outlook of legal actions.
â€œNobody would touch the guide,â€ says Sweeney. â€œNo major publisher in Britain dared to get it. Fundamentally my representative stated, publish it,â€˜Iâ€™llâ€™ and weâ€™ve managed to offer 25,000 copies through Kindle and print-on-demand. But youâ€™re maybe not likely to think it is on any bookshelf. The situation aided by the church is so it yields fear and incapacitates individuals who would typically report in it.â€
In 2013 great britain book of getting Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, plus the Prison of Belief, because of the Pulitzer journalist that is prize-winning Wright, had been terminated on legal services. The guide became a bestseller in the usa and Canada before being adjusted into a forthcoming documentary by the Oscar-winning film-maker Alex Gibney.
So whatâ€™s the fascination? Exactly what attracts individuals towards refuted claims about a organisation that is religious sees itself as a force once and for all? Sweeney states that in a world where weâ€™re always in search of something which can be larger or higher meaningful, the theology that is esoteric celebrity recommendations behind Scientology can be alluring.
Or possibly people naturally become fascinated, he indicates, whenever previous people have a tendency to characterise Scientology as â€œsomething just like the Coca-Cola organization or a brainwashing cult or a zombie that is weird or all three mixed into one anotherâ€ as opposed to as a religion.
Tries to achieve the Dublin branch of Scientology for remark with this article had been unsuccessful.
Sweeney is becoming buddies with seven previous high-ranking Scientologists, including Mike Rinder, previous mind of their workplace of Special Affairs, whose task it absolutely was to denounce the claims being built in the initial Panorama broadcast.
That some of those former people nevertheless have confidence in the teachings of Scientologyâ€™s creator, the science-fiction author L Ron Hubbard, does not have any bearing on the relationship. Sweeneyâ€™s primary problem has for ages been that everyone, whether inside or outside of the organization, should take a moment to show doubt or pose questions without getting dismissed as detractors participating in discriminatory behavior.
â€œPeople have actually a right to think in whatever they wish to rely on, and I also protect that,â€ he states. â€œBut along side a right to belief there is the ability to be a sceptic, to be mocked, to scrutinise and to criticise. You have got the right to think in anything you want, but others have actually the right to say, â€˜This is bonkers.â€™
â€œWhat weâ€™re seeing now because of the jihadis is a propensity to state, â€˜This is really what i really believe in, and you also canâ€™t criticise it.â€™ Thatâ€™s a thing that is frightening. Within you close your mind down that you get to a state where. I believe then he can put up with a little bit of criticism if you believe in a God, a good and all-powerful being. That ought to be accepted: the freedom to trust, the freedom to criticise. Those two legal rights must occur similarly.â€
Offered the value that Sweeney places on transparency, it is found by him appalling that any reference to Scientology appears to be ruled off restrictions as soon as the loves of Tom Cruise show up on high-profile platforms such as for example talkshows.
â€œWhatâ€™s wrong with this is here are people on the market who will be susceptible and whom, young fans in specific, connect Tom Cruise with a jet-setting lifestyle,â€ he claims. â€œAnd behind that is something called Scientology. Well, this plain thing is not good in my opinion. But it, why canâ€™t we ask some questions if youâ€™re so proud to be a member of? Into the world that is modern must be able to work out scrutiny.â€