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Is Scientology a religion or a cult?

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William Crawley | 21:33 UK time, Monday, 14 May 2007

You can watch John Sweeney's Panorama film "Scientology and Me" here. Sweeney is the first to acknowledge that his remarkable outburst in this documentary -- notwithstanding the pressure he was facing in that moment -- is completely unprofessional and unacceptable.

I've some sympathy for him, given the frankly weird behaviour of some of those following him around. The bizarre series of events culminating in this emotional collision began when Sweeney questioned whether Scientology is a "cult" rather than a "religion".

In forming your view on that question, you may wish to view this: World in Action's 1967 documentary about the founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard.


  • 1.
  • At 03:45 AM on 15 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Who is the bigger fraud, the Church of Scientology or John Sweeney? Many who would love to see Scientology put out of business along with a lot of other "cults" have tried and found out according to the IRS that Scientology is clearly a religion as defined by the US Constitution, at least the way the courts interpret it. Sweeny on the other hand raises grave doubts over his credibility as a professional journalist. I'm not surprised. BBC's reporters often approach stories with a specific attitude, a preconceived idea of what they are supposed to investigate, the results virtually a foregone conclusion before they even start. Alan Johnston was one such person. BBC decided to create favorable publicity for the Palestinians by presenting their humanitarian plight out of all proportion to their numbers and to the severity of their predicament especially when put into the perspective of places like Darfur. Johnston's own father said he was "a friend to the Palestinian People" and a Palestinian restaurant owner in London said on BBC "he worked for us" (meaning the Palestinian cause.) BBC has revealed itself over the last decade or so to have descended from the pinacle of journalism upon which its reputation is based to the lowest of the low, often no better than a tabloid rag you'd find at the supermarket checkout counter. "Mars lander spots Elvis, government kept it a secret." How sad, Sweeney is a sympton of a much larger problem at BBC, the problem starting with top management and trickling all the way to the bottom. Anyway, CNN has had quite a bit about Sweeney and Scientology this evening.

  • 2.
  • At 10:29 AM on 15 May 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

What an odd rant from Mark. Scientology is about as much of a religion as the Freemasons. If you have to pay to join it's a club! Whether it is also a cult is a matter of interpretation of the word cult. The fact that the scientologists object so strongly is only to be expected. John Sweeney's outburst was nothing like as bad as I was expecting. In fact, it looked less like a temper tantrum and more an attempt to get his point across to a (very well trained) interviewee at the end of a long session. Reminded me very much of the timeshare salesman technique. In my opinion Mr Sweeney perhaps over-reacted. Personally I'd probably have punched the scientologist. It's also interesting that he scientologists version as posted on YoutTube is shown out of context. Even more interesting is that you appear not to be able to make a pro-BBC comment.

Your rant also includes Alan Johnston and the plight of the Palestinians. Perhaps he is held in high esteem their because he lived there during his tour of duty, In a place where a foreign government can exile a person from their own country, where if you throw stones at the occupy forces you risk being shot, where your house can be bulldozer if you are guilty of being related to a suicide bomber. Perhaps Alan Johnston reported on the way things were. And before you start, yes I am a leftie but one who was very vociferous in the defence of the Israelis in 1970. Who today thinks that the Palestinians are wrong, they should be trying to get justice, not revenge.
Finally I shall bring my mini-rant to a close by claiming that you really are a very silly person in comparing the BBC news to a tabloid paper. Have you never actually ever read a tabloid? Ye gods! Have you ever seen some of the alternatives to the BBC? It's not perfect and isn't as good as it was but at least it doesn't have the hand of Murdoch guiding it.

  • 3.
  • At 10:31 AM on 15 May 2007,
  • Mamabear wrote:

I thought the Panorama programme was excellent. I have been at the receiving end of a disconnect myself and its a nasty thing.

I think Sweeney's rant was very understandable - I thought he held it together remarkably well for the most part. I know my blood was boiling just watching it!

It seems also that the $cientology trolls are out in force today on all the sites I've read featuring this story!

  • 4.
  • At 11:15 AM on 15 May 2007,
  • Sal Ahmed wrote:

It takes a lot for an experienced journalist like John Sweeney to completely lose his calm. Definitely, the cult that 'Scientology' is, harrassed and bullied Sweeney into a corner and provoked the reaction.

It's a joke, it says so much more about the nation of America, the naivety, gullible nature, and the exploitative abusive use of the first amendment.

On an equal with Afghanistan, America too is fast becoming a hunting ground for religious zealots and fundamentalists. In which 'scientology' is merely an element.

  • 5.
  • At 11:39 AM on 15 May 2007,
  • James Tollhurst wrote:

I just tried to post this comment on the Panorama Editors blog, but he has turned off comments. Clearly Panorama and Scientology have more in common than they would like to believe; both of them dont like criticism. I managed to post the comment on the subsequent blog entry, so maybe they will see it. Here is what I said:

The fact of the matter is that you have been caught red handed by the Scientologists.

I am not a fan of Scientology, and I believe that they are a dangerous cult, but what Sweeny did with that programme was utterly despicable.

Unfortunately for you, the Scientologists are well funded, computer literate and were able to completely document the way that the Panorama programme was made.

This documentary, which The Guardian and you are not linking to (unsurprisingly, since Sweeny used to work for the Observer and you do not want to provide the other side of this sordid story) shows the bogus programmme making techniques employed by Sweeny and his crew. By all means, look at the Scientologists counter documentary for yourself reader and make up your own mind.

Just because you do not, as I do not, like Scientology (I lost a friend to it) that does not give you carte blanche to use the techniques of gutter journalism to discredit them. Simply portraying them as they are would have done the job effectively.

This programme has further damaged the reputation of the BBC, made Sweeny into an internet laughing stock, and shown that Scientologists were stitched up by a bunch of ambush journalism practitioners.

Your blog post is very telling. You say:

We're not broadcasting the clip to promote the programme because we're proud of it - we're showing it because it's been on You Tube and the BBC is being criticised for it - and we don't want to hide it.

So in the pre internet, pre YouTube world we would never have seen this astonishing and vile behaviour, because you would have had no pressure to come clean. Very illuminating.

You then say:

It's not a question of us setting out to call Scientology a cult - it's just a question of us asking legitimate questions, and their organisation being unwilling to engage seriously with us.

If you watch the counter documentary, this is revealed as a lie. For all its faults, the Scientology organization tried to engage with you, Panorama, seriously, and Sweeny was the one who failed to engage with them in a meaningful way. And their footage of what actually happened clearly shows that you went out of your way to use the word 'cult' just to get a reaction to make your programme more sensational. That alone is shameful, but that you would blog here and lie about it is even worse. That you believe that you would not be caught out is incredible.

You claim that:

I'm now dealing with a situation in which the Church of Scientology has released a video to all MPs and peers accusing Panorama, of staging a demonstration outside one of their offices in London and making a death threat - or as they call it, a terrorist death threat - against Scientologists. The BBC, accused of terrorism.

Firstly, you should have linked to this counter documentary. It is impossible that you cannot know that it is on YouTube. Secondly, the main thrust of that counter documentary is the methods used by Sweeny, and the blatant rule breaking and unacceptable bias that is obvious to any casual observer. It would have been far better for you to simply admit that the whole thing was a mistake, rather than try and bluster it out here with more lies.

Finally, it is YOU that have shoot yourself in the foot. Since, thanks to the internets, we can now actually see the other side of the story; we can now see for ourselves just what kind of people you and Sweeny really are.

The fact that Scientologists are the ones to expose you in this way is really the worst, most galling feature of this whole sad affair. When people like you fail to be truthful in the face of cults like Scientology, and they make fools of you, a very bad thing happens; they are legitimized, and made stronger. That is the worst possible outcome.

  • 6.
  • At 12:00 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Simon Henning wrote:

Having just watched poor John Sweeny put up with the lovely Tommy Davis of the Church of Scientology your gut reaction is that the whole thing seems somewhat 'odd'. Any organisation that feels the need to control so heavy handedly would lead you to suspect that there is something to hide, and something pretty big!

John Sweeny was right when he said, "You can't imagine the Church of England acting like this." Tommy Davis appeared overly aggressive and often invaded John's personal space as he stood eyeball to eyeball in his dark glasses, refusing to listen or debate, and only leaving when he was "done".

Look up "cult" in Wikipedia and amongst other things it will tell you:
"Coercive persuasion suppresses ability of people to reason, think critically, and make choices in their own best interest. Studies of religious, political, and other cults have identified key steps in coercive persuasion: [6] People are put in physically or emotionally distressing situations; their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized; they receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from the leader; they get a new identity based on the group; they are subject to entrapment and their access to information is severely controlled.[7]"

Now try and link that back to the Panorama program and there seems to be a certain amount of crossover.

The whole program left me feeling disturbed and unsettled and I applaud John Sweeny for the courage he showed while making it. His 'outburst' at the end was completely understandable, though unprofessional, as the lovely Tommy Davis was refusing to listen or take any of his points on board.

If the Church of Scientology wants people to take itself seriously as a religion, and not a cult as it so strenuously denies, maybe it should stop acting like a cult (or have I just deliberately misspelt it).

  • 7.
  • At 12:39 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:


  • 8.
  • At 12:42 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

A sect is the other guy's religion you have resigned yourself to tolerate, a cult is the other guy's religion you will not tolerate. To me they're all cults...and businesses. I don't care what religion you are in, if you've got two nickles to rub together, sooner or later someone from the faith will knock on your door and ask for one of them for "the cause" to save humanity. But to the IRS in the US, it is very critical to define what a religion is because they want a lot more than nickels and if you qualify, you don't have to give them any, you can instead spend it on candles, incense, or creating crop circles, titanium plates with the founder's words of wisdom, and a cave to protect them for thousands of years, even in the event of a nuclear war. And a compound so that the survivors can carry on when the radiation clears. That's what the Church of Scientology did out in the desert near Las Vegas. You can also hire people to destroy your enemies and that's what Sweeney fell prey to. What an elementary blunder for a professional journalist to fall into, to become emotionally involved with your subject. Looks like the BBC school of journalism needs to go back to school itself.

Keith, there is no defending the Palestinians. Had they been up against the Russians instead of the Israelis, by now there would not be a single one of them left alive. They are getting exactly what they deserve, they are reaping the bitter harvest from the seeds of hatred they have sewn for the last 60 years. The Germans perfected the big lie which has it that if you repeat the same lies about people over and over again, eventually other people will believe them. The Arabs seem to have learned that lesson well. Right now they are too busy killing each other even to worry about killing Jews. If someone turned their home into a bomb factory, an arsenal, a safe house from which to plan and launch attacks on you minding your own business in your own country, I'll bet you'd want more than just the house bulldozed, you'd want everyone inside dead. Unless there are terrorists inside, usually they give the occupants a warning to get out first. Would you be that generous?

Has BBC been reduced to a tabloid? About two weeks ago, it was preoccupied with the killings of 32 students at Virginia Tech to the point where they almost forgot to mention that there was a Presidential election going on in France and Turkey was on the verge of civil war. I'm surprised they haven't climbed on the bandwagon of the American cable news companies who are preoccupied with whether or not Paris Hilton will or should go to jail for conviction of drunk driving and two violations of her conditions of probation. Have they not sunk that low or is it that it just doesn't export well?

  • 9.
  • At 01:30 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I’m not one for writing comments on these, to be honest I just read them because it makes me laugh my tits of to see how ignorant and stupid some people can be.

If the BBC documentary was bias, (by the way every documentary ever made is bias in some way! you are looking at the views of the director/presenter as presented by the editor), then yes it would have Sweeny's and his directors point of view. But if you really believe a documentary produced by Scientology is going to be any less bias then you really are a thick S*+T.

I say believe what you want about scientology, research it yourself and develop your own views. Personally I’m not religious but see religion as a set of values, attitudes and beliefs to live you life by!

However I believe any religion which requires you to pay £100,000 to rise up the ladder is bollocks!! Its a scam, but hey if you’re stupid enough to fall for it then I call that Karma!

Scientology in my opinion scored a home goal publicising the rant by Sweeny. I’m sure like myself millions more tuned in because of that clip. After watching the show any normal thinking person who is able to create an opinion of their own would see that Scientology is a Cult (I live in Wales (A truly free country) lets see you try and sue/dig up dirt on me) and are manipulators of the truth (who doesn't these day though!). To be honest its just enough cracked up crazy religion in this crazy world! What is really scary though, are the number of celebrity endorsements they have, it only goes to show that celebrates are human after all and capable of mistakes. and looking like twats, after watching that show I believe Paramount was right to cancel its contact with Cruise, and I may even boycott all movies which feature a scientologist!

P.S James Tollhurst I think you might be out of your depth here. However I believe Cbeebies is having a very informative debate on who is the greatest Power Ranger!

Re #1 and #5

I agree with the general thrust of both of these comments.

Scientology is classified in the USA as a 'religion'. Case closed about its definition.

Panorama came off very badly in the CNN broadcast of this whole affair last night.

The fact that Scientologists are the ones to expose you in this way is really the worst, most galling feature of this whole sad affair. When people like you fail to be truthful in the face of cults like Scientology, and they make fools of you, a very bad thing happens; they are legitimized, and made stronger. That is the worst possible outcome.



  • 11.
  • At 01:51 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Aaron Loughrey wrote:

I am not surprised - and I am sure the scientologist who Sweeney shouted at was not surprised - that Sweeney went out of control.

This was an entirely expected and sought after reaction from the scientologists.

The danger with cults is not their ideals or beliefs - no matter how zany - but the manipulation that the cult leaders have over their subordinates.

Sweeney was the victim of psychological manipulation that would make Derren Brown blush.

He should offer no apology at all.

This documentary outlined clearly what the scientologist organisation is really like: a manipulative abusive bully that coerces its members to obey and to pay.

  • 12.
  • At 01:53 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • David Nicoll wrote:

James Tolhurst says:-

"By all means, look at the Scientologists counter documentary for yourself reader and make up your own mind."

So I did... and is my mind made up.. yes it is. This "response" from the Scientologists is nothing but a collection of uncontextualised clips and comments together with some footage of their PR activities.

It gives absolutely no solid information or justification whatsoever.

Yes the Scientologists have been involved in some humanitarian work - unfortunately this is quite frequently laced with promotional activity for their own benefit.

This video is nothing but a very poor effort at discrediting John Sweeney, whilst painting a rosy picture of the activities of the "church".

The fundamental truths of this organisation remain grounded in Hubbard's original and stated ideas of creating a new religion for financial gain.

Those that have followed are either vulnerable, gullible, or downright immoral.

  • 13.
  • At 02:19 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

There seems to be a lot of short memories and little knowledge of history here. A cult coercive? What do you think Christianity is about? What do you think they do to children in all of those religious schools run by nuns, priests, ministers, and the like? What do you think happens to those kids if they don't chant the rituals, memorize the incantations, obey what the schoolmasters tell them? What's it like for a five year old child to be told if he sins he is going to burn in hell forever? How many have forgotten the quotes I cited some months ago or read Saint Thomas Aquinis? What makes anyone think that the Catholic Church of a thousand years ago was much different from extremist Islam today? It took that long to reign it in, to defang it and in some places it still terrorizes those who would resist it. Quietly in little out of the way villages we never heard of a few people, a few children at a time.

Richard, why is a church which charges 100,000 pounds for salvation any worse than one which charges one cent? How much is salvation going for these days?

I challenge anyone to provide evidence that even one person died as the direct result of their belief in Scientology yet the number of people who died because of their belief in Christianity or the belief of others in Christianity over the last 2000 years is so great it is beyond counting. Northern Ireland is a living testament to the fact that in reality Christianity is a cult of death every bit as much as extreme Islam is. How many people who cannot be fed and are condemned to starve to death has Christianity been responsible for bringing into the world? So which is the real cult?

  • 14.
  • At 02:30 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • T.J. Green wrote:

Scientology may be classified as a tax-exempt organisation (the IRS does not grant official status as a 'religion'- see Wikipedia) by the IRS in the USA, but it is not classified as a religion in the UK (where its application for charitable status was rejected), Germany, Spain and several other European countries.

  • 15.
  • At 04:28 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Joe wrote:

Micheal N Hull- Just becuase the USA have classified Scientology as religion it does not mean that it is by definition a religion. The UK has not classified it as a religion, so your faulty logic works against you in that instance. Also it does not surprise me that Panorama came off worse in a CNN reporting. Anyone who has bothered looking into journalism in the USA will know that a great deal of money passes hands and a great deal of lobbying power is exerted to influence reporting one way or another. I find it funny that you reference CNN to show how the BBC failed, and then accuse the BBC of being the gutter reporters.
Perhaps one area we do agree on is that Sweeney's outburst was a gift for the cult leaders. Sweeney left himself open to their 'fair game' policy and he only has himself to blame.
However I completely disagree that the BBC went about it the wrong way. Having read just about anything I can find on the filming of the program, I think the Panorama team did quite well. Firstly, the Scientolgists were on the scene almost as soon as the program was commissioned. Now take the example of Richard Dawkins program 'Root of all Evil'. Dawkins, under such a provacative title, spoke with people of all religious denominations and challenged them face to face. But you did not find Anglican's following Dawkins to the bloody bathroom. You didnt find Evangelical Christians stalking Dawkins for a program that was obviously going to be critical of religion. But I find it amusing that you are criticising Panorama for not being impartial. What was impartial about reporting the fact that these goons were following him absolutely everywhere. What was wrong with asking them if there religion was in fact a cult? It is a perfectly resonable question and one that any normal person would simply argue against. Bot no, the wonderful Tommy Davis simply went on a rant and then walked away.
What seems to have gotten the Scientologists all hot and bothered is the fact that Sweeney was talking to people who had negative things to say about them. That is not biased reporting. It is also not biased to ask celebrity Scientologists if they believe all that shit about Thetons and aliens 75 m years ago. So why did the Scientologists pull the plug on those interviews?
It seems to me on the evidence available that the Scientologists were crying about bias as soon as sweeney approached anyone but them. So I say well done Panorama, I think you have just ensured that those rich, idiotic, cult loving morons do not achieve religious status in the UK!!!!!!!!!

  • 16.
  • At 04:43 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

Mark just take two steps back for a second and look at these arguments again.

Firstly no one has said that Christianity is a better religion than Scientology. Personally I prefer the scientologists' believe that we are descendants of aliens, I think that’s a really cool idea. However I’m not saying its true, but it is a much better story than the Bible.

The point Im getting at here, (well trying to get at). Its not the scientologist believes I have a problem with (as I said earlier believe what you want, and as long as that makes you an ethically better person good). What I found disturbing is the control scientolgists try to exert over the media. Its 'fair game' policy is disgusting. Im sorry any religion that would actively seek to destroy someone’s reputation just because they are willing to express their feelings (part of that constitution you Americans love so much!) is a manipulation and misuse of its power. Whether its true or not, I thought most if not all religions preach forgiveness, and to turn the other cheek. Something Scientology should learn.

I hate politics for the same reason, it seems to put emphasis on discrediting the opposition, when instead they should focus on what they can offer(but that’s for another debate).

The issue for me with scientology after watching the Panorama documentary. Is that they are overly protective of itself (which only perpetuates the growing hated/mistrust around it). And resorting to the tactics that they use only makes them look petty and extremely dangerous. People should look to religion as a guiding light to live their lives. Scientology teaches us to mistrust anyone, to not have a sense of humour, and to be unable to have an intelligent ADULT discussion on its religion. Before the documentary I supported Tom Cruise over his film contract being cancelled, I believed scientologist had the right to believe what they want, and I believed that dispute what critics say, it has the right to claim a religious classification. However the panorama documentary showed me that the religion is controlled by devious, manipulating OVERLORDS! Who only serve to perpetuate its ridicule.

IN regards to the BBC, yes its not perfect, and they can sensationalise news stories, but that’s more of a response to what viewers want (I believe BBC should not bow down to the rating, but there you go) However it is still the best source of news on TV. In comparison to American News networks, it beats them hands down that is a fact, the proof? Anyone else remember the news coverage of 9/11? Shame on American news corporations for its coverage. People in America are not as free as they believe. Remember Knowledge is power!

Mark I don't know how to explain this so you understand.... but I shall try (probably in vein). Yes any religion who asks you to give money to it so that you can move up the ranks is full of s*=t whether it be 1 cent or £100,000, its called a pyramid scam, look it up.

Now Mark you don't have to agree with what I say, all I ask is have a look at all the information and take a balanced view. Now if you can't do that I submit to you are a scientologist and are simply trying to sabotage this discussion, in which case get a life! If your not I apologise for my last comment.

  • 17.
  • At 04:47 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • am wrote:


"I challenge anyone to provide evidence that even one person died as the direct result of their belief in Scientology."

On (post 5) below John Wright links to an interesting site,


The crimes that many religeons/cults have commited are apauling, but of these religeons most have the dignity to admit they were wrong.

Ok. What a hot potato. As usual, valid points are being made by both those who are critical of the BBC's handling of the issue AND those who thought Panorama were accosted in the most incredible way by Tommy Davis and the Scientologists. I for one agree to an extent with both. Some of the comments above include:

"BBC's reporters often approach stories with a specific attitude, a preconceived idea of what they are supposed to investigate, the results virtually a foregone conclusion before they even start."

I presume what Mark means here is that Sweeney (and his producers) knew how he would feel about Scientology, what to expect of dealing with them, and how he would report their aggressiveness and general style before he made the documentary. To an extent I agree. Scientology is not new by any means, and the Church of Scientology (CoS) has been the focus of much journalism over the years, notably the Life Magazine piece, the ABC interview with Scientology leader David Miscavige in 1992 and more recent pieces like the Rolling Stone article. In this sense, it may be a valid point to say that the Panorama team's preconceptions of Scientology made this less 'investigative journalism' and more simply the writing of a play about a BBC reporter wanting to find out what would happen if he poked a stick into a hornet's nest.

" John Sweeney's outburst was nothing like as bad as I was expecting."

Well we all knew what the outburst looked like, thanks to the CoS and YouTube. But by the time this occurred in the documentary I understood it much more. It doesn't seem as outlandish or as bizarre a reaction to me after seeing the process which led to it. Davis was incredibly annoying and, I think, incredibly childish - something which brought out the worst in Sweeney in a manner which was not perhaps defensible but at least was understandable.

"[Scientology is] a joke, it says so much more about the nation of America, the naivety, gullible nature, and the exploitative abusive use of the first amendment."

What a bizarre comment, Sal, and one which only displays your prejudice and ignorance. L Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, ran and cultivated the international CoS from his headquarters at Saint Hill Manor near East Grinstead in Sussex, England. That wasn't America. The Panorama piece was prompted by the opening of a new Scientology centre in London. That wasn't America either. And I'd rather live in a nation whose freedoms have produced the rich, diverse, cosmopolitan society of the United States where people can do whatever makes them happy than anywhere else, thanks. Next time keep your anti-American dogmatics to yourself... it makes you sound like a rancorous old moron.

"And their footage of what actually happened clearly shows that you went out of your way to use the word 'cult' just to get a reaction to make your programme more sensational."

Unfortunately I have to agree here. One of the conditions Panorama was given access to Scientology was that they would not use the word 'cult' to describe the religion. If Panorama couldn't live by this rule, it should not have accepted the invitation of Davis for interviews. It was disingenuous to accept the invitation and then break the conditions under which it was offered for the sensational footage it would gain them.

"I may even boycott all movies which feature a scientologist!"

I'm sure they'll be heartbroken.

"Scientology is classified in the USA as a 'religion'. Case closed about its definition."

As TG Green points out, in the UK its 'pay-as-you-go' nature precludes it from being regarded a religion. Nevertheless I think the line of questioning 'cult or religion' was unnecessary for Sweeney to pursue, particularly given the prior arrangement he had with the CoS. Its only possible purpose was to provoke sensational footage, which they got.

Joe #15 says: "...rich, idiotic, cult loving morons..."

I'm not defending Scientology, but the fact that you use the word 'rich' as an insult tells me everything I need to know about you and where you're coming from.

  • 20.
  • At 05:54 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Michael James wrote:

I have watched all the online vidoes regarding this programme, and I find it interesting that The Church of Scientology have at the same time released online a counter-documentary.

I watched this and found that it was not convincing (after all they really DO have a bias), but what really caught my attention that one of the interviewees, a Dr Colin Ross, is a psychiatrist. This is a huge blunder on their part. Scientologists are extremely anti-psychiatry, blaming them for World-War 1, the rise of Hitler and other ridiculous claims.
So why are they seeking the opinion of a psychiatrist and then broadcasting it?

I think the BBC did a great job trying to get access, I hope there is more to come!

  • 21.
  • At 06:32 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • turiara wrote:

Watched Panorama last night and came to the following conclusions:
a) Americans are completely gullible
b) Scientology is not a religion as members cannot choose to leave, question the teachings or continue to associate with family members who have left the cult
c) Scientology has much to hide
d) Scientology is a get-rich-quick scheme for some (El Ron and Tommy Davis at a guess) on a par with pyramid selling and other dubious business practices.
e) John Sweeney was doing a public service exposing Scientology for what it is - however, it won't catch on here, even if they do allow it to call itself a religion, people are far more cynical and a lot less gullible than in America.

  • 22.
  • At 07:05 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Richard #16
Humans descended from space aliens 75 million years ago? What a laugh. How about the result of experiments aliens had crossbreeding themeselves with earth animals like monkeys???? Let them fight it out with Wilder-Smith's young earther friends. That would be a fight worth paying admission for. Well if it was 75 million years ago, why didn't they get wiped out by the meteorite which killed the dinosaurs? I prefer Dr. Miller's explanation much better fusion of a pair of chromosomes from apelike ancestors creating 23 pairs instead of 24. Now that makes sense and fits with all of the other evidence. It also fits with Darwin.

You don't think all religions try to exert as much control over people as they can? Which one doesn't? Which hasn't tried? Which doesn't continue to try? They all do, the complaints to the FCC from religions about both on air broadcasting and cable broadcasting are endless. They even try to influence the Courts by bringing all kinds of law suits. Who do you think leads the charge against pornography? BTW, I understand that somewhere in the basement of the Vatican, they have just about the world's largest collection of "erotica." Erotica is pornography for sophisticates. Try a visit to Salt Lake City and then tell me the Mormon Church doesn't try to influence the media.

I've just been told that Jerry Falwell died. Tsk, tsk. One night Jeraldo Rivera said to him on his show, Reverend Falwell, you've been trying to destroy Bill Clinton since he was elected President. No Mr. Rivera, since he was elected Governor of Arkansas. In the US there is a limit to what you can do or say. There are libel and slander laws and anti-stalking laws. The former carry civil penalties, the latter, criminal penalties as well.

PBS has far superior news broadcasts to BBC's. Their nightly news reports present facts and then there is a panel discussion with the best experts the producers can find to explain and present all arguments from all sides. It's left for the viewer to decide for himself. The difference between good journalism and what BBC does is advocacy. You cannot be an advocate and a good journalist at the same time, you are one or the other. It is a fundimental flaw in all BBC reporting which pervades everything it does and it is contemptable. This is not its mandate and when PBS headed in that direction, Congress yanked their leash real tight and got them back on course. Commercial television news has more freedom and can lower its standards to cater to a particular audience segment if it wants to.

All religions want money. Money is power. All religions want as many adherents as they can get. What about Chirstianity? What do you think a tithe is?

I don't agree with anything you said and I think if you read my other postings on this or any website or ask anyone who has read them, the last thing anyone would think of when describing me is a Scientologist. It's laughable. I still don't see where there is any evidence that they killed anyone, perhaps I missed your reference but you will have to be explicit, I'm not going to wade through a mountain of words so that you can make your point. Frankly, there are much worse cults out there, some truely dangerous...like Islam...and Christianity. It seems to me all this one really wants is to make money and there are enough suckers out there looking to be saved so that they have no problem finding them.

Turiara #21 says: "Americans are completely gullible" and "[Scientology] won't catch on here, even if they do allow it to call itself a religion, people are far more cynical and a lot less gullible than in America."

There are an estimated 55,000 Scientologists in the United States. You are willing to generalise about "Americans" based upon what less than 0.0002 percent of the population believe. I suggest that shreds your credibility from the beginning. But your second statement is even more inaccurate. You say Scientology won't catch on in the UK, yet much of Scientology was devised in the UK!

I think the reason we Brits do this judgement thing with America is that we're used to a much smaller pond. A nation of 300,000,000 people, all with constitutionally protected rights and freedoms, will contain just about every imaginable human behaviour possible, and will do so on a scale that makes Brits think it proportionally significant in the general population. As I've demonstrated here, though, that's simply incorrect, ignorant, and illustrative of a general lack of understanding America. As I said above, the more diversity I see around me in America, the more confident I am in the principle of freedom that this nation has been responsible for advocating like no other in history. If that means that there's room here for Scientologists and Mormons and Muslims and Jews and Amish and blacks and whites and the cultures of the world, then it is a better nation for it.

  • 24.
  • At 08:17 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I'm always amused at what people will say on the internet. It's fascinating to see another point of view from an entirely different direction.

Britain has a monarchy financed by public tax money where people who do nothing but travel around the world, shake hands, and make the most forgettable speeches live in the ultimate lap of luxury for doing it, while others scrape by, has an officially recognized aristocracy with priveleges, has a state church with the monarch as the head of it, has an upper legislative house of Lords which is not elected by the public and can essentially veto whatever the lower elected house passes, and after all this they tell you Britain is a democracy and you believe it and then someone like turiara comes along and tells me Americans are gullable?

Two Churches in Northern Ireland one of which was created 400 years ago as an offshoot of the other because a King of England had to break away from the existing one in order to legally remarry so he could provide a male heir to the throne, and yet all these centuries later after the whole thing has been so long dead and burried, tens of thousands of people on both sides were persuaded to sacrifice their very lives by going out and killing for this and turiara says Americans are totally gullible?

Yes we are very different no matter what one-worlder idealists would like us to believe.

  • 25.
  • At 08:26 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • magwich wrote:

Err.. what's 'scientology' ?

  • 26.
  • At 09:13 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Cultwatch001 wrote:

Don't fall in to the trap of discussing whether John Sweeney got annoyed and shouted, it is a non-issue.

The real issues that need to be investigated are all possible breaches of the law by the self-styled "Church of Scientology".

Warning: To anybody who has not come across Scientology before, enter the following search terms into your favourite search engine: "Fair Game" and "Scientology"

Finally, don't ever buy a book on Dianetics(TM), walk away.

  • 27.
  • At 09:17 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Shea wrote:

The only reason the CoS got the "religious" tax-exemption from the USA is because the CoS broke into the offices of the IRS and stole information. The information then was used against the US as blackmail.

Some "religion", huh?

Do not be deceived, this cult is plainly a "Organized Crime Syndicate".

  • 28.
  • At 09:46 PM on 15 May 2007,
  • Alison Jay wrote:


I'm glad I'm not the only person who thought Tommy Davis was sooooooo cute!

Re: Scientology breaks up families and one is not permitted to leave Scientology.

My wife’s best friend joined the Jehovah’s Witnesses in Belfast and then announced that she would no longer associate or speak to her. She also informed her family that she would no longer communicate with them either. Several years later there was an attempt by the family to ‘rescue’ her which failed miserably. The woman was quite happy with the life she had chosen!

I had a colleague who joined the Free Presbyterian church in the 1960s and dropped his association with me because I was not ‘saved’. He is still quite happy and I am still not 'saved'.

Here in the USA if one is an adult one is free to believe whatever one wants including separating oneself from one’s family. Individuals are responsible for their own actions. They are also free to give away all of their money if they so desire.

What exactly was the BBC trying to show that isn’t known already?


I hadn’t looked into the basic beliefs of Scientology until this came up but it strikes me that it is a lot like early Gnostic Christianity and their beliefs that divine aeons had become trapped in this wicked world and needed gnosis to understand how to escape from it. In that early Gnosticism there were 5 stages of knowledge. Gnostic Christianity is about the same size as Scientology in membership and the present day Gnostic Christians believe the following:

Understanding the modern theory of reality is the key to Stage IV in Paul’s five stage model of rational consciousness. It justifies a nonjudgmental system of logical laws, and in turn, nonjudgmental reasoning and a consciousness of oneness.

STAGE I: In Paul’s Letters to the Romans 8:28-30, the “foreknown” are prehistoric, non-rational beings. Neanderthal man, for example, was a nonrational humanoid—human. The key to this stage is life itself.

STAGE II: The key to Stage II, those of us in the “image” of Jesus, is the idea of self, i.e. the “me me” we learn as toddlers. In practice, the sense of self we accept in Stage II mirrors the ancient theory of reality. Again, this theory justifies civilized man’s present system of judgmental logical laws, hence, judgmental reasoning. Those of us in the image are rationally similar to Jesus, but lack his ability to reason nonjudgmentally. At this stage, we also lack a conscience. Those of us in this stage think in terms of punishment and reward. Sadly, most governments to this day are governed by those of us in Stage II.

Stage III: The key to Stage III, the “called”, is the law. Laws establish a criteria of right and wrong, hence the ethical and moral standards of our conscience. In this stage, we are rational and have a conscience, but because judgmental laws of logic are the only standards available to us, we tend to accept immoral acts as right, even though we know in conscience they are wrong. Given nonjudgmental laws of logic, III’s would no longer participate in immoral acts.

STAGE IV: The key to Stage IV, the “righteous” (from the Greek word right minded), is understanding the modern theory of reality. This theory justifies a nonjudgmental system of logical laws, and in turn, nonjudgmental reasoning and oneness. This is the missing link to Stage IV, right mindedness—enlightenment. Gnostic Christianity’s goal is to reveal this missing theory and its consciousness-raising potentials.

STAGE V: The key to the fifth Stage, the “glory”, is that time when all reach right mindedness of Stage IV.

I believe Stage V represents synergistic consciousness; a consciousness in which the sum of both judgmental and nonjudgmental reasoning equates to the mind of Christ.

The consciousness of oneness that Jesus and today’s science support, then, is not reached through divine intervention, grace, meditation, or any other mysterious means. This consciousness of oneness is reached through factual knowledge (gnosis) about our judgmental/separating system of logical laws based on an ancient theory of reality and the need for an additional oneness/nonjudgmental-based system of logical laws based on the modern theory of reality. In actuality, to achieve a consciousness of oneness, we need to accept the modern theory and develop a system of nonjudgmental logic based on that theory.

All of this sounds a bit like the stuff Hubbard was reciting in the YouTube video from the 1960s. The interviewer claimed he could not follow what Hubbard was saying about consciousness etc.

At least the Gnostic Christians don’t require one to pay to advance in the stages – you do this by study.


Michael- Yes, I've seen Scientology compared to gnosticism, and I agree there are some similarities. Interesting, huh?

"At least the Gnostic Christians don’t require one to pay to advance in the stages – you do this by study."

Well you know, one must pay to get Microsoft Office, but there are 'open source' versions you can pick up for free. Similarly there are 'open source' versions of Scientology involving groups who don't believe one should have to pay to get access to Hubbard's brilliant mind, collectively known as 'Free Zone' Scientology (see for an overview).

  • 31.
  • At 01:32 AM on 16 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

There are many routes to the same end. Some are very expensive, some are very cheap, and some are free. In a free society, it's up to you to choose the destination and the route you want to take to get there. You can pay the Church of Scientology a hundred thousand pounds or whatever they charge these days to teach you to use your mind to control your skin's electrical resistance. You (or an insurance company) could pay a psychologist thousands, even tens of thousands to use your mind to control your alpha brain waves, they have a meter to sell you too. You could read a book about "the relaxation response" and learn how to spend 20 minutes twice a day in a dark quiet room, in a comfortable chair, breathing slowly and regularly, repeating a phrase to yourself over and over again to clear your mind and get exactly the same results. Doctors have demonstrated that the relaxation response gets the same physiological result as deep meditation mystics sell with their religions. Self hypnosis works very well too. A tape will run about ten or fifteen dollars, a compact disc about twenty-five. I've used them for all sorts of thing from improving my memory to losing weight and they work if you stick with them religiously. Or you could join a group with the same neuroses you have and pay someone a fortune to share your experiences and play their little games. Or you could see a psychiatrist. In America, the pursuit of happiness is largely all about money, freedom to make it, to invest it, to spend it, and to keep some of it from the grubby hands of the government. Face it, a church is a business, nothing more. I still don't see where the Scientologists have actually killed anyone yet. That makes them somewhat relatively benign IMO in the scale of how dangerous cults are. Some cult leaders take their cults down in flames and their followers and anyone with the misfortune to be in the area down with them. Of course they still use mind control to keep their followers in line but then again, so do the Catholic and Anglican churches. Why are they any better?

Mark says: "I still don't see where the Scientologists have actually killed anyone yet."

Why are they dead?

  • 33.
  • At 01:56 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Graeme Mulvaney wrote:

I got collared by some Scientologists in Birmangham a few months ago, very nice people who invited me in for a free stress test and a coffee.

I got to play with some metal cans for a bit and then we got to talking about how terribly meaningless my life was and how it wasn't really my fault (damned theatens or whatever).

I managed to upset them when I asked if abortion was morally acceptable (apparently unborn babies don't have a soul) - they suggested I leave and I was escorted from their building.

I guess you know you're beyond salvation when even the scientologists won't have you.

  • 34.
  • At 02:05 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

From the link, I see four people died and all of them the result of possibly criminal activities. One died being confined against their will in a place where there was a defective boiler which gave off carbon monoxide. Another the result of medical malpractice. One apparantly kept against her will evidently beaten but starved to death on a self inflicted hunger strike. And one apparantly drowned in a bathtub, possibly scalded as well. All of these may have been prosecutable crimes and all were subject to wrongful death civil suits. Lots of people including district attorneys and judges would be only too happy to throw the book at these people by putting them in jail and taking their money away. But are these crimes if they were crims typical of this cult? If they were, we'd see far more of them and they would raise public alarm. They instead appear to be isolated cases, not only unrepresentative of practices of the cult itself but hardly unusual in a large population sample of any group. People can and do successfully leave this cult when they want to. Which of the four deaths could be attributed to the cult's usual theology? IMO, not the medical malpractice or the defective boiler. Those were not only unintended but one the result of sheer stupidity in the medical case, the other of an accident due to unrelated negligence. Two dead possibly from Scientology, hardly a good afternoon's work for the IRA or its Protestant counterparts in NI. I'm afraid it will take much more than that before we can legally get rid of them as a danger to the public under Amrican law.

Now were you to talk about the Christian Scientist cult which eschews much modern medical practice such as transfusions, I think you'd have a better case comparing it to the example of the epileptic. As for the boiler, a good case could be made for wrongful death due to failure to maintain, inspect, and install carbon monoxide detectors as required by law. This occasionally happens in all kinds of buildings to all kinds of people.

  • 35.
  • At 03:57 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Simon Henning wrote:

Alison #28

My comment about the "lovely Tommy Davis" was intended to be slightly sarcastic lol.

I'm glad that you see some redeemable features re him (though behind his sun glasses it was hard to see any features at all!)

  • 36.
  • At 05:02 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • am wrote:

Hi Mark

could you please name me one church of christian belivers in N.Ireland who support either the IRA or any other terrorist organisation? The implictions you make are outlandish. The conflict in ireland has ulitmately been about a boarder and not religeous belife.

I think many of the churches in northen Ireland have done amazing work to premote peace and build trust between prodestants and catholics.

Most religeons have been gulity of terrible crimes. But most of them have the dignity to admit they were wrong.

I am happy for you to voice youre concerns about christianity, but mabey it would be more constructive if you focused on Jesus Christ rather than criticies his followers.

also why are you so quick to possibly excuse these scientology murders as untypical of the cult? you notice that these are just people who died in the one building. You dont seem to have a problem criticising most other well respected world religeons.

  • 37.
  • At 06:39 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

First of all, what does Jesus Christ have to do with Christianity?

Second, if you read my other postings on Scientology, I made a scathing denunciation of it as a screwball cult which seems to me obsessed mostly with making money. While it is regrettable that they fleece a lot of people out of as much money as they can, they are hardly alone in that in the religion business and as religions go, there are those which strike me as far worse.

Did the churchs in Northern Ireland have anything to do with all of the murders and crimes committed in their name? You're damned straight they did. People who say all of the Imams should denounce the terrorists who commit murder in the name of Islam should have said the same all along about both sides in the war in NI. Where were the so called religious leaders denouncing these crimes committed supposedly for them? They should have been up there on their pulpits week after week spending almost all of their time at it. Why didn't the Catholic Church say that those who committed murder in their name would be excommunicated when they were found out? They were as guilty as sin. Same with the Protestants ministers, whether they were secretly cheering it on or just looked the other way.

From this report, I see four people dead in one building, one died of an accident due to a defective boiler, one of a hunger strike, one of meatball medical science resulting in quack medical malpractice, and one drowned. I regard the first and third as having not been a direct result of the religion and the other two as suspicious, all four possibly the result of crimes. I don't dismiss them but I do not agree that these were the result of a systematic criminal organization which deliberately went out of its way to kill people or has a criminal disregard for the value of human life either. By contrast, other religions, notably those which call themselves Christian have been responsible directly and indirectly for countless hundreds of millions of deaths and it continues to this very day. The Catholic Church's position on AIDs prevention, even on the use of condoms is a prime example. Where is its admission of wrongdoing? How many lives might have been saved had it been more concerned with those already living than the "unborn?"

  • 38.
  • At 08:47 PM on 16 May 2007,
  • Matthew wrote:

I, like most rational people here, am in full support of John Sweeny. The scientologists had, in their you tube debut, completely removed his outburst from ist context, heavily suggesting he began the confrontation. Throughout the entire programme Tommy Davis makes irate and petty attempts to constantly talk over the reporter, i only once saw him allowing John to speak.

The BBC has produced high quality and unbias reports for years, they have dared to stand speak the fare and reasoned arguments against Scientology, let this be the begining of the United Kingdom's reaction to this ridiculous cul...'Religion'

  • 39.
  • At 11:07 AM on 17 May 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

OK firstly I’d like to commend everyone who has commented on this thread, purely because, as far as I can see, no one has resorted to petty insults, which is a first on a forum for me! Its nice to have an adult discussion, I respect your views Mark and I am really enjoying this debate, however, I apologise for some comments I made about someone else in an earlier post, but I was really wound up by his post! (Im not going to mention his name), it was petty of me (although true, and it made me laugh my tits off).

Mark I probably didn't explain myself properly, firstly Im not religious, but I am very interested in religion, I love the differences, they have, but also I love drawing similarities between them, at the end of the day they are human thoughts about the a spiritual unknown, and lets be honest we will never know.
But they can give a very important outlook to the beliefs of a culture at different times in history.

I admit it I know next to nothing about scientology (I haven't even seen the southpark episode), I don't know when aliens were supposed to have come down and populated the world, I don't much about it at all, what I was saying is I prefer that idea, to the book of Genesis (although I believe the book of Genesis should not be taken so literally, such as created the world in 7 days, is this something like dog years? where one God day is the equivalent to one billion years? who knows? The flooding of the planet (Noah's Ark) could that have been a climate change? I don't know, Im not saying it was, but keep an open mind?

What I found disturbing about Scientology is not the religion, but the people who control it, well at least Tommy Davis, if Scientology need to do one thing straight away, its to get rid off him from public view. I originally made comments on here really to stick up for Sweeny. He was wrong, professionally, to lose his cool, but come on who really would not have reacted in the same way, had they been put through everything he went through? In fact many people on many website's have said they would have punched the guy, I would have! So in that respect he kept his cool. However I also noticed that Sweeny slipped in the word 'cult' and swiftly moved on, he was trying to get a rise, and that was wrong, if your going to say they are a cult get some balls and say it to their face (not under your breath looking at the floor), that is a cheap shot. However Scientology needs to grow some thicker skin, so what if someone calls you a cult, surly its what you and your members think that is important.

Lastly Mark before you go on about Christianity being cloak and dagger, as well as other religions, yes I agree with you all religions are like that, but scientology (to me) are too defensive of themselves, to the point where they appear malicious and devious

  • 40.
  • At 05:37 PM on 17 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Richard, funny how people think. You say Scientology needs a thicker skin...but after seeing Sweeney, it's hard to imagine whose skin could be thinner. Punching the guy out would have been the worst move Sweeney or anyone else for that matter could have made and the best gift he could have given the Scientologists. Then it would have become a criminal matter, one of assault and there would be no doubt who was the victim and who was the perpetrator. As amateur and incompetent as BBC is at the profession of journalism, I think even BBC would have fired Sweeney for that.

I don't know what kind of people you think you are dealing with when you refer to other religions besides Scientology but many if not most are control freak tyrants who would impose their screwball ideas on the world if they had the chance. It's only modern laws in the Western world which stays their hand these days. Surely, in other parts of the world even today, that notion is the prevalant one. In much of Islam for example, the crime of apostasy is punishable by death. Go back a few centuries and the crime of heresy in the catholic church was punished similarly. In small villages in more primitive times where all economies were local, the practice of ostracism such as by excommunication could be tantamount to a death sentence. Are Protestants immune? Anyone ever hear of the Salem witch trials in Massachusetts? Look at the Mormon church today. Nice folks....until you cross them once. I had a Catholic boss once who was born and grew up in Salt Lake City and he told me as far as they were concerned, he was from the wrong side of the tracks. To religous Jews, those who marry outside of the religion might just as well be dead, they don't exist. Just look at the rancor over homosexuality in the Anglican church. Isn't that another example of what "nice people" religious leaders often are? No these are not nice people once you get to know them. They'll be the first to tell you that if you don't do exactly what they say, you're going to spend all eternity burning in hell and they start when you are five years old.

I hear all of these excuses about how the churches in Northern Ireland were not responsible for "the troubles" the term you use to sugar coat a religious war punctuated by countless murders by organized mafias going back 400 years. I guess it's hard to accept that those murders were committed for religious causes and those who control them as you put it were responsible because they did not do everything possible to put a stop to it and to disavow it in the strongest terms and persistantly. By turning a blind eye to it, by winking at it, they were very much responsible. By the way, what do you have to say about the Catholic Church helping Nazi war criminals escape to South American after World War II? I know,.....there is no documented hard proof.

Those who have read my prior postings know that I am an atheist. Actually the word athiest is too pallid, what I KNOW is that there is not only no proof but no credible evidence for the existance of god. What I believe is that god does not exist. And I will be grateful to my parents all of my life for not having saddled me with the psychological burden of religion which is a lifelong affliction incubated almost from birth by a contagion caught by most people from their parents. No guilt, no doubt, no anything really. How nice to know that ultimately there is no hell, no heaven, just eternal unconscious peace.

  • 41.
  • At 10:44 AM on 18 May 2007,
  • Richard wrote:

I agree with a lot (if not everything) you say there Mark. However lets not forget for all the bad points we see in religion, it still has its positives, we can't say there are no positives (purely because the only religious belief I do belief in is the Yin Yang). Basically wherever you go there will always be good and bad, when something bad happens I always try to look for the good in the situation, and when something good happens, I prepare myself for the bad.

However the problem with religion (again in my opinion), or any mass organisation, is that you are always going to get (as Eddie Izzard says) 'organised dick heads' who will seek to subvert messages and pray on the emotionally weak or fragile to their own gains. The question is how do we get rid of these people? Or do we have the right to get rid of them? I mean if people are that ignorant, and are willing to follow these people. How far do we go before we are a nanny state? Do we have the right to tell people what to believe? Even if it is for their own good? This is why we will may never be able to improve our society, surly we are on a slippery slope.

  • 42.
  • At 06:08 PM on 18 May 2007,
  • Susan wrote:

I can't believe this is an issue. Sweeney was obviously trying to get his point across after frustrating attempts at being heard by a professional bully. This "religion" is sketchy at best and having lived in LA for six years, let me say it scares the bejeezus out of me. I sympathize with Sweeney - he was merely mirroring the behavior of his interviewee, a fact that seems to be lost on the audience. He never "lost it" - he just used a rather unorthodox and unsuccessful method to get through to the man in question. Notice how he never even engages John, but just checks to make sure they got it on tape. If people actually look, I think they will see an unfortunate choice, but an understandable one.

  • 43.
  • At 07:51 PM on 18 May 2007,
  • The Sweeney wrote:

Let's have a lot more John Sweeney on TV! The beeb should send him off to make a series exposing other cults. I'm amazed at scientology's reaction to this investigation; that tells you all you need to know about that wacko outfit.

As I said before, Scientologists represent less than 0.0002% of the American population. You seriously think this is a "slippery slope" of the kind of proportions you've been talking about? Don't be ridiculous. People are rational individuals for the most part, able to see truth for fiction. You seem to think that vast portions of the population are falling for cultish ideas and are gullible idiots. Have a little more faith in your fellow human being; there's some evidence that Scientology may actually be shrinking slightly! There's nothing new in this documentary and nothing noteworthy or predictive of social trends.

  • 45.
  • At 11:26 AM on 20 May 2007,
  • Lisa wrote:

2 thumbs up and a hurray for Mr. Sweeney!!!! He deserves a medal.
Certainly gets my praise.

I certainly would have shut the tv off if this was another wishy washy brain dead report about this CULT with all it's so called hollywood glamourpusses.

It has helped me see in greater detail and clarity the truth of this group of thugs and manipulators - named "the church of scientology".

Comments from other postings here relating Scientology to religion is ridiculous at best. Justifying being a sham, con artists and bordering on criminal while using the USA constitution, which was crafted by some Freemasons and slave owners, is a sick joke.

Land of the free - NOT LIKELY. Land of the ultra rich corporations who enslave still, with groups like the Freemasons and Scientology in the mix of criminals and thugs. Hats off to Enron and here's to the WTO, World Bank, IMF and other world thugs. I believe they are all related. Here's to the war machine/military industrial complex setting up PERMENANT SHOP(bases) in the middle east for the resources and access to Eurasia.

I believe the FBI & CIA as well as the USA attorney's office should investigate Scientology! Unlikely since there already are members of Scientology who are in the CIA and FBI. I have hope that because of truth seeking journalists who show media like this things will change. Democracy through free press - hardly any found in the USA.

The truth will set you free.
Lisa in Canada (usa corporate take over of Canada's resources is well underway-probably a few scientologists invovled)

  • 46.
  • At 04:10 PM on 20 May 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Lisa, you forgot to add that AmeriKa is a nation of gun toting shoot first and ask questions later macho misogynist fascists who are out to rule and enslave the world. And by the way, did I forget to mention that AmeriKa is a nation of gun toting shoot first and ask questions later macho misogynist fascists who are out to rule and enslave the world? And you are right, the Attorney General should forget about Al Qaeda, the war on drugs and illegal aliens and focus on what really matters, the Church of Scientology. Already 4 people have died in a hotel, maybe even two of them directly because of the Church's doctrine and practices. We're doomed. In case he or the President have any doubts, I'll tell them to give you a call so you can straighten them out. By the way, you'd better hurry, within weeks, even days, the Attorney General may be out of a job. It looks like some Senate Republicans are about to sell him out and join the Democrats in a no confidence resolution. Act now Lisa, don't wait! You'll be sorry if you do.

Land of the free - NOT LIKELY. Land of the ultra rich corporations who enslave still, with groups like the Freemasons and Scientology in the mix of criminals and thugs. Hats off to Enron and here's to the WTO, World Bank, IMF and other world thugs. I believe they are all related. Here's to the war machine/military industrial complex setting up PERMENANT SHOP(bases) in the middle east for the resources and access to Eurasia.

Yeah it's all a big conspiracy, man. Scientology is a big old conspiracy along with all those things, hell it's probably funded by Bush, if you look hard enough. Cheney shot a guy, and the guy was to do with a business, and business is linked with Scientology. 'Nuff said. Land of the free? NOT LIKELY.

  • 48.
  • At 05:04 AM on 21 May 2007,
  • Katie wrote:

Poor John! I just watched the Scientologist's response and if anyone believes that to be an unbiased view then you really are...well dumb. They don't report the other side of the argument properly at all. It's ridiculous. At least the BBC reported what some of the member's views were(I'm not saying it wasn't biased but if you were having those people follow you would you be able to remain unbiased?). I know I would've punched that guy loong before Sweeny exploded. I still want to! I am sure that most people have had many good experiences with Scientology as it does seem to try to help you live a better life, but any 'religion' that intimidates people and breaks up families because the other party doesn't have the same beliefs is to me on the same level as any evil dictatorship.

Have a good day!

  • 49.
  • At 12:39 AM on 31 May 2007,
  • Clear of Clearwater wrote:

Poor John Sweeney did his best to maintain an English reserve in the face of incessant surveillance and calculated provocation from Scientology's gang of brainwashed thugs. Notice they all intone the same words and phrases, as if thinking with a group mind like insects. And the blokes all wear the same regimented Tom Cruise hairstyle. How can the creed deliver on its promise of personal fulfillment, when any gesture of individuality or spontaneity is anathema?

If Scientology isn't a sinister cult, why are its buildings decorated with the symbol of a crossed-out cross created by Alestair Crowley, the notorious Satanist? The Devil is a deceiver -- just like L. Ron Hubbard.

  • 50.
  • At 09:25 PM on 16 Jul 2007,
  • R Flower wrote:

I know little about John Sweeny and about the same of The Church of Scientology. But if this organisation is able to manipulate a top BBC journalist into this rage, just think how they could manipulate your average gullible person.

  • 51.
  • At 12:40 PM on 18 Sep 2007,
  • David wrote:

I've read many comments, not specifically on this page, but all over the internet describing how John's outburst was a "win" for Scientology. This is quite simply confusing.

What struck me, and many others it seams, was the extent to which the "church" made John's investigation near impossible.

Journalists are not saints, rather human beings. In such a situation as John found himself in (with excessive intrusion in to his personal life) I feel he handled himself as to be expected.

For the BBC or general public to expect a reasonably education person to have no preception of a relgion formed by a science fiction writer who has claimed to be a "nuclear physicist" whilst not holding any undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications in the field is highly questionable.

I felt the programme was well balanced and neutral. John asked the questions which needed asking, the relief work undertaken by the scientologists was shown, celebrities given their chance to contribute, whilst the darker sides of their activities where also highlighted.

Before this program my view on Scientology was quite simply "it is odd but harmless belief system", however after the programme (like any well presented documentary motivates one to do) I spent time researching to an extent issues raised within it.

In a rare moment of glee on the part of a UK citizen I am delighted that Britan, and it seems the EU in general have raised serious questions about this so-called religon.

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