The Church of Fear 207


I attended a launch last night for John Sweeney’s exposure of Scientology – “The Church of Fear”. Get down your bookshop and order a copy now. Carter Ruck and intense legal pressure was only the most “legitimate” form of the threats directed at John to stop this book, including a determined effort to have him sacked from the BBC. Every major UK publisher turned down the book and in the end John’s agent effectively self-published.

I met several escaped (that is the right word) Scientologists at the reception and I have to admit I had not previously realised just how vicious and dangerous this cult is.

I know that some regular commenters here are baffled at my friendship with John Sweeney, particularly after the mocking tone of some of “The Ambassador’s Last Stand”, his BBC documentary of my 2005 campaign against Jack Straw in Blackburn. On that one, no other tone would have got it on screen but after half an hour of fun at my expense, it socked you absolutely between the eyes with the harrowing truth of Jack Straw’s complicity in torture. You may recall that it was shifted at the last moment from 8pm to late night – there was a reason.

I disagree with John about quite a lot – most sharply about Julian Assange. But he is a big-hearted, passionate and honest man, which is what really matters. I have never confined my friends to those who share my political opinions – or I might not have any!


207 thoughts on “The Church of Fear

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  • Michael Stephenson

    Kempe: Do you see the State banning people with certain beliefs from entering our country as a desirable thing?

  • Arbed

    Completely O/T (well, except Craig does mention he and Sweeney don’t agree on Assange)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/us/new-evidence-to-be-introduced-against-bradley-manning.html?_r=1&

    “The prosecutors also said they would present logs of Internet chats in February 2010 between Private Manning and Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, including one in which the two men appeared to be “laughing” together about a New York Times article. The March 17, 2010, article said that the Pentagon had listed WikiLeaks as a threat to military operations and security.”

    Manning and Assange laughed in February about an article printed in March? How is that possible?

    These chat logs are, presumably, those where the US Govt claims the Nathaniel Frank alias is Julian Assange. There’s a lot of problems with whether those chat logs can be authenticated as not being overwritten at a later date. I’ve said before that Nathaniel Frank – an actual person, btw, a campaigner against the US Army’s policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – doesn’t strike me as an alias that Julian Assange would choose. Maybe Bradley Manning (or an Army “forensic investigator”), but not Assange.

    Back on topic: I’ve read some of the stories by Scientology defectors and/or adherents’ families. Absolutely heartbreaking some of them. Scroll down to “personal accounts”:

    http://www.xenu.net/

  • DtP

    @John Goss – ah, aleister crowley, the only chap who’ve i’ve ever read where I literally puked from reading a book – marvellous stuff for an under graduate. I think Satanist maybe a bit strong though, more just a massive pervert.

  • Arbed

    PS to previous post.

    Even worse, the US Government is asking the judge to take “judicial notice” (ie, effectively treat as fact) that New York Times articles and a June 2010 New Yorker profile of Assange as authenticating the chat logs. From Alexa O’Brien, one of the few journalists who has covered the Bradley Manning trial in person from Day 1 and who has produced the only close-as-dammit transcript of proceedings:

    https://twitter.com/carwinb/status/289076311975145474

  • Keith Crosby

    Honest? That rant against the Scientologist was so bogus he nearly lost his Equity card.

  • Neil

    John Sweeney’s stand against the evil cult is very brave. I watched both of his BBC programmes about scientology; the first one where he blew up and the second one where he met his tormentors and the cult’s intimidation and surveillance tactics were exposed.

    The guy who runs the “church”, a poison dwarf called Miscavage (Miscarriage?) , is a thoroughly nasty sociopath who governs by fear and intimidation.

    Presumably they have lots of juicy info on their celebrity donors from hours of auditing. These sessions are routinely audited and used against people who want to break out of the cults forced labour camps (Sea Org and Gold).

    Lawrence Wright’s book on Scientology will hit the shops in a couple of weeks. I’ve pre-ordered it. (http://www.amazon.com/Going-Clear-Scientology-Hollywood-Prison/dp/0307700666/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357834003&sr=1-1)

    And another book that will give you nightmairs is “Blown for Good – Behind the Iron Curtain of Scientology” by Marc Morgan Headley

  • Pan

    Would very much like to see the 2005 documentary “The Ambassador’s Last Stand” but it’s as though all references to it have been eradicated from the internet.

    Does anyone know where it can be viewed?

  • Kempe

    “Kempe: Do you see the State banning people with certain beliefs from entering our country as a desirable thing?”

    In the case of scientology I might be prepared to make an exception besides it’s not so much what they believe but what they do.

  • Michael Stephenson

    People being able to make “exceptions” is the root of all evil.
    It’s very difficult to force yourself to try to never make exceptions, most never try, and those that do will always fail in some way.
    It is still important to try, even for things you viscerally dislike like Scientology or the BNP.

  • Pan

    @Michael Stephenson – I know where you are coming from, but I think the matter of making exceptions to rules (moral, legal or otherwise) is a very tricky one and certainly not a ‘black and white’ issue.

    As an example, take abortion – I am not advocating any moral standpoint here, merely using it as an example of a law-maker’s dilemma – suppose a government decides that abortion is so morally reprehensible that it should be illegal – is it then wrong to make an exception for women unfortunate enough to have been raped?

    But I do generally agree that making exceptions can be a ‘slippery slope’.

  • Techno

    The trouble with Scientology is the L Ron Hubbard never predicted the rise of the internet.

    His business model cannot cope with a medium that can’t keep a secret, and where users cannot be intimidated into silence.

  • Michael Stephenson

    If abortion is to be equated with murder, if we take that at face value, not question it. WHy should a woman be allowed to murder her child, just because she had been raped. We don’t allow death sentence for the rapist but we allow it for an entirely innocent child just because the mother has hurt feelings? That’s monstrous.

    From the point of view of someone who doesn’t view abortion as murder the idea that exceptions should be made for a rape is silly too, because the law is bad in the first place. the Law needs to be changed, not exceptions made.

    In my opinion making exceptions is universally bad, unless you can come up with a better example, I’m always open to being swayed.

  • Michael Stephenson

    I wonder if L Ron Hubbard started out as an atheist making a point about stupidity and just got sucked in by all the cash he made.
    He did state the best way to get rich was to start a religion. It does seem rather church of the flying spaghetti monster.

  • Pan

    @Michael Stephenson – I just don’t think a sweeping statement like “making exceptions is universally bad” can be true.

    An example – “No dogs allowed (except guide dogs)”.

  • Pan

    I’m no medical expert, but I’m sure there must be cases where a woman’s life can be threatened by pregnancy or childbirth. If a woman is going to die in childbirth, AND she was raped, it follows that the rapist has now become, effectively, a murderer. Under these circumstances, should the baby, if it survives, have more of a right to live than the mother? If so, how does the motherless baby benefit?

  • Pan

    Actually the “motherless” baby will most likely be completely parentless – I don’t think rapists generally take responsibility for the offspring of their actions.

  • Michael Stephenson

    ” I just don’t think a sweeping statement like “making exceptions is universally bad” can be true.

    An example – “No dogs allowed (except guide dogs)”.”

    I think you know by context that I was referring to exceptions made to a persons rights based on some arbitrary criteria, you’re being a bit pedantic here.

  • Michael Stephenson

    “it follows that the rapist has now become, effectively, a murderer”

    I don’t accept this premise at all.

    “Under these circumstances, should the baby, if it survives, have more of a right to live than the mother? If so, how does the motherless baby benefit?”

    You’re forcing a position I don’t actually hold, but I’d imagine that if you believe that a foetus is as much a human being as the mother, taking any action to reduce either’s chance of survival over the other is immoral.

    However this situation is totally contrived and irrelevant.

  • glenn

    At about 17 I bought a couple of copies of “Dianetics” mail-order. It was a thick paperback, cost £1.00, and I thought it would make a good xmas present at that price. Some books make impressive claims, this one was unsurpassed – you’ll be able to fly, make yourself invisible, make your eyes glow in the dark, and that was just for starters!

    It arrived, gave my friend a good laugh too when he got his copy, but after about 20 pages we had to abandon the read – it was just too ridiculous.

    However, for the next 15 years we got bombarded with mail from the “church” of Scientology, and they started getting loads of calls at my parents house too. They claimed to be friends of mine, and were anxious for details of my whereabouts.

    That’s how keen on follow-up they are if you buy a £1.00 book off them. Lord knows how they get on your case if you’d officially joined.

    Included in their voluminous bumf were price lists for “courses” they offered – tapes on how to succeed in business, have a successful marriage, dress properly, impress people and so on – these cost upwards of a thousand pounds each even back then. Let’s not get started on their Engram Eliminator machines which costs a fortune per session, so that one could eventually become a “clear”.

    What an absolute scam – they really are having a laugh with this.

  • Pan

    Thank you for your reply Michael Stephenson.

    Brain not working well today.

    I’ll shut up now.

    (“Good”, says Mary).

  • thatcrab

    “People being able to make “exceptions” is the root of all evil.”
    An unsecureable hyper-statement imo, and hinging uncomfortably on the mere freedom to except.

    Pan, The documentary “The Ambassador’s Stand” does seem be missing from the internet…

    Glen -very interesting account of scientology bothering/marketing. I could easily have signed up myself, at a similar wide eyed age.

  • Iain Orr

    Craig

    Delighted you’re back and I endorse how you see John Sweeny. Those who only have friends who agree with them do not understand friendship.

    Iain

  • Fred

    “You’re forcing a position I don’t actually hold, but I’d imagine that if you believe that a foetus is as much a human being as the mother, taking any action to reduce either’s chance of survival over the other is immoral.”

    I am reminded of the old dilemma of the runaway tram. The brakes have failed and it is hurtling towards five workmen on the track who will surely be killed. You are standing next to the lever which will move the points and turn the tram onto a side line where there is only one workman working. Do you save five lives by pulling the lever?

    The answer, of course, is no. Thou shalt not kill is the rule, by pulling the lever you would be murdering the one workman.

    Now if only we could get this into the heads of people like William Hague who talks of saving lives in Syria by killing innocent people we might get rid of a lot of the evil in the world.

  • Kempe

    “I am reminded of the old dilemma of the runaway tram. The brakes have failed and it is hurtling towards five workmen on the track who will surely be killed. You are standing next to the lever which will move the points and turn the tram onto a side line where there is only one workman working. Do you save five lives by pulling the lever?

    The answer, of course, is no. Thou shalt not kill is the rule, by pulling the lever you would be murdering the one workman.”

    No sorry, I don’t follow that logic at all. By not doing anything you’re complicit in the deaths of five.

  • thatcrab

    You want to not have such decisions made, yet a decision is made regardless. The one which kills more for the sake of passivity. Passive aggression is possible, doing by not doing.
    I think a root of alot of evil, is people can care more about their laws than they care for people.

  • Fred

    “No sorry, I don’t follow that logic at all. By not doing anything you’re complicit in the deaths of five.”

    So let’s take a different dilemma. A doctor has six patients in his hospital all of the same rare blood group. Five of them will die soon if they don’t receive a transplant, the other is healthy apart from a broken leg.

    Do you think the doctor should kill the one to save the five?

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