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Going Clear-ly Bat Shit: Inside the World of Scientology

  • Maureen Elsberry


What do you get when you take a science-fiction writer, add a desire for money, and sprinkle in a little insanity? Scientology. That’s the premise behind the HBO documentary, Going Clear: Inside the Prison of Belief, which aired in the spring of 2015. The film, directed by Oscar-winner Alex Gibney, sent the Internet into a schizophrenic whirlwind prompting a plethora of ridicule and parodies against the Church.

Scientology was founded in 1953 by prominent science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard after his book sales began to decline. According to his first wife, Hubbard remarked that the only way to make real money was to have a religion since the government couldn’t tax you. So, I guess he said, why the hell not? He took a page or two out of the countless fiction he had written and translated them into a “religion,” or, some might prefer the word cult.

So you might wonder how this guy got anyone to join his religion. His 1950 book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, spent significant time on the NY Bestsellers list and attracted many supporters. Dianetics is basically a pseudo-psychotherapy in which one reveals their deepest secrets to an “auditor” in order to relieve psychosomatic disorders, increase intelligence, and lead to a happier life.

That happier life doesn’t come free though. Hubbard set up a series of levels that when completed, would reveal more secrets of the religion. Each level cost an exorbitant amount of money but for some reason he had no problem getting people to hand over the cash. Over the years Scientology has turned into a massive organization worth billions but little was known about the inner workings of the group, until now.

Through the testimony of former officers as well as celebrities who left the church, Going Clear outlines a dirty laundry list of pretty bizarre allegations. Here are a few of the gems:

75 million years ago, this galactic alien overlord Xenu was ruling over this planet which was basically a time-warp of the 1950s. He took all of the people that were misbehaving and froze their bodies and then sent them off on a spaceship bound for the prison planet (Earth). The frozen bodies were dropped into volcanoes before the “Thetans” or “spiritual beings,” as they were called, would leap inside newborn babies and become their fears and anxieties. This is Hubbard’s creation story.

The assorted back story of Hubbard involves some time in a black magic cult, in which he served as an assistant in attempting to create the Anti-Christ, as well as kidnapping his own daughter and claiming that he murdered her . . . you know, normal stuff. 

When you join the Sea Organization you have to sign a billion year contract and members reportedly get paid 0.06-0.40 cents an hour to do things like work on Tom Cruise’s car.

Punishments for any diversion of the church’s methods include tossing people overboard, musical chairs to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and actual physical imprisonment in horrid conditions. 

The church worked to break up the marriage of Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman because she was luring him away from the church. They even wire-tapped her phone and tried to turn her kids against her.

Members who had family who left the church were forced to disconnect and cease contact with them.

Operation Snow White was a project aimed at infiltrating government agencies to purge unfavorable information about the Church. This also stemmed the investigation by the U.S. government into the religion.

It should come as no surprise that the Church of Scientology is pretty pissed off and denies every single statement in the film. On, the online voice of the church, they posted this statement:

“Alex Gibney’s film is bigoted propaganda built on falsehoods invented by admitted liars who remain bitter after having been removed in disgrace and expelled a decade ago after they secretly conspired to suborn perjury and obstruct justice. They cannot be trusted, and no statements they make can be believed.”

They further utilize the website to take out public attacks on every individual appearing on the film. What’re we in high school Scientology? Their response reeks of a juvenile gossip war. At least John Travolta responded in more mature manner. Although he did not watch the documentary he claims that the religion is ‘beautiful’ and has been a community which has provided him with so much. Some might question the motives of his statement after claims that the Church has been blackmailing the actor with a file folder of his secrets they could expose.

If you haven’t seen Going Clear yet, I suggest you do, it’s a riveting look into a bizarre world originated by Xenu, the Galactic commander.