GOING CLEAR: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE PRISON OF BELIEF, the new documentary from the prolific and generally on-the-mark filmmaker Alex Gibney (shown at right, who has formerly skewered everything from Enron and our mideast wars to Jack Abramoff and the Catholic clergy), offers a two-hour crash course in what you need to know to stay away from this crazy cult. His film is well made and features a look at a number of folk -- from the famous to the not so -- who've bought into Scientology's "beliefs" only to eventually leave, disheartened and much the poorer (in ways both financial and spiritual). Gibney also piles up his evidence (often anecdotal, yes, but with plenty of history, statistics and even the so-called "ideas" from the "religion's" founder, L. Ron Hubbard, to back it up), before finally lay out as close to an ironclad case for fraud and fakery as any intelligent non-brainwashed viewer could want.
John Travolta and Tom Cruise -- two Scientology stalwarts, whom the doc shows have shamefully allowed this cult to use their image for proselytizing, marketing and near-destruction -- but also lesser-known lights of Hollywood like actor Jason Beghe (above) and writer/director Paul Haggis (below) who were for years in thrall to the powerful group.
Lawrence Wright, in his book of nearly the same name from which the film has been adapted (Wright's subtitle, interestingly enough, was Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief), also follows the money -- and we soon see where it has come from and to where it has led. The section involving Scientology lawsuits and the F.B.I. investigation proves, on its own, nearly shocking enough to seal the entire deal.
Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist (the religion that I was born and raised into), and Mrs. Eddy's own quite checkered history, which the Christian Science church has long done everything it could to conceal. Supposed religious "icons" rarely if ever stand up to close scrutiny -- except in the minds of their often brainwashed followers.
David Miscavige and one of his former henchman, a fellow named Mike, shown above, who has since left the "church." Here we learn about the infamous "disconnects" that members are forced to take from their families, as well as many of the dirty tricks played against those with the audacity to leave the fold, as well as against others in order to "blackmail" them into staying (this theory certainly might apply to Mr. Travolta's continued presence).