John Sweeney's book 'Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology'

Discussion in 'Media' started by Anonymous, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. Anonymous Member

    Was John Alex Wood a director of narCONon ata one time?
  2. DeathHamster Member

    I'm sure that he's been a lot of things.

    I can't figure out how he likes the movie Brazil without realizing that he's living the life.
    • Like Like x 4
  3. Anonymous Member

    I went to Cranleigh School and then the University of Surrey where I gained a BSc (Hon) in Hotel & Catering Management. I worked in hotels for a while, including London's 5-star The May Fair Hotel but then progressed into the computer industry (in sales and marketing) in the late 80s when the very idea of a PC with a hard drive (as opposed to just floppy drives) was exciting! I've sold Novell networks, Silicon Graphics computers and web applications in my time. I am also a former staff member of Mod edit: sci link: Narconon UK.

    John: There is a hotel in Cornwall that could do with your help....
    • Like Like x 1
  4. Anonymous Member

    John Alex Wood actually has a hamster wheel where his brain should be.

    That's not a Photoshop effect.
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  5. The book was excellent.

    If you want line-by-line analysis of everything wrong with the cult's doctrines, you won't find that here. But luckily, there are a shedload of ex-member and Indie blogs that can fill you in.

    If you want to hear about Scien tology abusing its members, read a book like Blown for Good, Counterfeit Dreams, or The Complex

    If you want a personal memoir of a campaign of criminal harrassment by the cult, you won't do better.

    My only criticism is that the first edition has a few typos (including getting Jan Eastgate and Rick Moxon's names wrong)
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  6. jensting Member

    "Body entheta" occurred once, I believe, where "body thetans" makes more sense (well, you know what I mean)
  7. Anonymous Member

    Are you worried about Body Entheta ?

    Well don't be!

    Xenustick antiperspirant will take care of those Suppressive Pits and keep you high on the Tone Scale!
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    • Agree Agree x 2
  8. Anonymous Member

  9. Anonymous Member

  10. The Wrong Guy Member

    CRAIG BROWN BOOK OF THE WEEK: The Church of Fear by John Sweeney | Mail Online

    By Craig Brown

    First paragraph:

    The name L. Ron Hubbard is hardly one to inspire confidence, its elongated version – Lafayette Ronald Hubbard – even less so. It’s hard to imagine Christianity would ever have got off the ground with a founder called L. Ron Christ.


    Exactly what Scientologists believe is hard to gauge. Their official website is very foggy on the issue. In answer to its own question ‘Does Scientology Have a God?’, it replies ‘Most definitely’, which is clear enough, but then it goes on to say ‘In Scientology, the concept of God is expressed as the Eighth Dynamic – the urge towards existence as infinity.’ Eh?

    A few sentences later, it tells us that ‘as one’s level of spiritual awareness increases through participation in Scientology auditing and training, one attains his own certainty of every dynamic. Accordingly, only when the Seventh Dynamic (spiritual) is reached in its entirety will one discover and come to a full understanding of the Eighth Dynamic (infinity) and one’s relationship to the Supreme Being’.

    Former Scientologists maintain that reaching the Seventh Dynamic is easier said than done, taking many years and many more thousands of pounds, and that when it is finally reached, the long-awaited revelation is a bit of a let-down.

    To save you time, effort and money, you can read it here for free: 75 million years ago, Lord Xenu, the head of the Galactic Confederacy, brought life forms called Thetans to Planet Earth and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. Thus we ordinary human beings are all infected with the souls of the dead Thetans. Worse still, Lord Xenu has brainwashed us all into believing he does not exist.

    Pay attention at the back! Only by reaching the Seventh Dynamic can you become an Operating Thetan Level 111, which means that, like Tom Cruise, you will have gained special powers galore, including the power to levitate and the power to live for ever. Or, as John Travolta once put it, in a moment of candour: ‘We are the saviours of mankind.’


    Hubbard died in 1986, his body awash with the sort of drugs of which his religion disapproved. Every Scientology centre in the world now includes a furnished office that remains unoccupied, ready for his return. Meanwhile, his earthly position has been taken by someone who goes by the even more improbable name of David Miscavige, a short man with an even shorter temper.

    It was Miscavige who acted as best man at Tom Cruise’s last marriage, Miscavige who apparently directed the campaign of intimidation against John Sweeney and his Panorama crew, and Miscavige whom Sweeney describes as ‘an absolute totalitarian leader’. Miscavige seems to have a finger in every pie and a foot in every door. Indeed, so obsessed is he with putting the world to rights that he might almost be labelled the original Miscavige of Justice.

    It’s all a bit like something out of The Avengers, complete with eerily empty headquarters, zomboid men in dark suits, and very peculiar things happening in very conventional places (the world centre of Scientology, where Hubbard used to live, is outside East Grinstead, of all places). And just when you are beginning to think things can’t get any odder, they do: towards the end of the book, Sweeney visits the site of a ‘Space Alien Cathedral’ built deep underground in New Mexico. The Cathedral is apparently H-Bomb-proof, and sealed behind three 5,000lb stainless steel airlocks. Its vault is home to – tarantara! – all of Hubbard’s lectures in the original mumbo-jumbo, now on gold discs, locked in titanium caskets sealed with argon, not to mention jargon.

    Sweeney has written a book less about Scientology than about his own brushes with Scientologists. After a while, these stories become a bit repetitive: he mentions the famous Shouty Incident over and over again. ‘I apologised then and I apologise now,’ he writes, in two different places, but his shame comes coated with pride.

    His prose, too, has a shouty quality. He is a stranger to understatement. ‘The paranoia grew and grew like a giant spider with hobnailed boots on acid and tequila,’ he writes.

    His interview technique is the opposite of softly-softly. ‘Some say Scientology is a sinister brainwashing cult’ is his ice-breaker to a lifelong Scientologist; he then appears surprised when the ice is broken over his own head.

    In a funny way, the world of Sweentology mirrors the world of Scientology in its stark division of the world into goodies and baddies. Every bean-spilling former Scientologist demonised by the Church is given an immediate thumbs-up by Sweeney: Mike is ‘a gentle giant’, Marc ‘struck me as a good man’, Amy is ‘a lovely, bubbly woman’ and Jason ‘seemed like a good bloke to me’.

    But perhaps it is unfair to ask such a bold and swashbuckling reporter to write more daintily. If he wants to shout, let him shout: at least he shouts the truth.

    Comments are open below the entire article, at
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  11. Random guy Member

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  12. DeathHamster Member

    PUBLISHED: 22:00 GMT, 12 January 2013 | UPDATED: 22:01 GMT, 19 January 2013

    I wonder what the update was?
  13. The Wrong Guy Member

    I noticed this below the comments:

    We are no longer accepting comments on this article.
  14. Anonymous Member

    NYT review is my fav so far.
  15. wolfbane Member

    I've noticed that on other Daily Mail scilon articles - comments only open for the first day or so.
  16. Anonymous Member

    The Craig Brown article was in The Mail on Sunday paper today, full page
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  17. jensting Member

  18. The Wrong Guy Member

    The Church of Scientology: In search of answers | The Economist

    A provocative look at a young religion

    Feb 9th 2013 | From the print edition


    Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief. By Lawrence Wright. Knopf; 448 pages; $28.95. Buy from

    The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology. By John Sweeney. Silvertail Books; 336 pages; £12.99. Buy from

    What draws people to Scientology? Outsiders are as baffled as followers are devoted.

    Continued at
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  19. The Wrong Guy Member

    John Sweeney: Why Church of Scientology's gravest threat is the 'net • The Register

    A beautiful machine for free speech, says BBC reporter

    By Ollie Henry

    Back in 1995, when the net was still young, the late Robert Vaughn Young, an ex-scientologist, said the internet would be to Scientology what Vietnam was to the US: an unwinnable war.

    Vaughn-Young, a former spokesman for the controversial organisation, believed that the internet would create the first place where Scientology could be discussed openly.

    Free speech has been an issue for the Church of Scientology (CoS) for a long time, and the internet has become the battleground of choice for those who want the church to be more open about its teachings. Not least, online activist groups, such as Anonymous, that targeted the church in a campaign against cyber-censorship.

    In 2008, Anonymous organised a massive denial-of-service attack on CoS websites, and announced a wave of ongoing online harassment, outlining plans to spam their fax machines and Google Bomb their search rankings. Their campaign was prompted by the church’s attempts to remove a video of Tom Cruise extolling the virtues of being a scientologist from YouTube and various other media outlets. Members of Project Chanology, meanwhile, regularly protest against the CoS in the real world, invariably wearing Guy Fawkes masks as seen in the film V for Vendetta.

    The question is, now that the net has matured, was Vaughn-Young right?

    “WH Auden wrote a beautiful poem – September 1, 1939 - in which he describes a dark moment in history, the start of World War Two. But there is a line towards the end in which he describes the Just as winking at each other 'ironic points of light' and I think this is a beautiful description of the internet,” journalist John Sweeney told The Register this week. Sweeney, you may recall, is the BBC Panorama reporter who spectacularly lost his temper with CoS officials while he was making a documentary about the organisation.

    “In particular what is happening is that ordinary people who leave the church have an opportunity to talk to each other instantly. They can go online and see me, a Panorama reporter, a war reporter: if somebody like me can lose my temper because of the emotional and psychological pressure the church can bring to somebody, then they can say, 'that happened to me as well'. So the internet is really great for breaking the hold of fear that the church has over people, in particular the people who have been inside it all their lives, who are second-generation scientologists.”

    As for the behaviour of Anonymous and related groups – who are not without their critics - Sweeney said they have an impact and that, by and large, it is a good one. But anonymity is not something Sweeney is instinctively comfortable with.

    “I do feel that in a civilised society, one should be able to speak freely of things you criticise. Indeed, part of making our society civilised is having the courage to say, ‘I disagree with you and I am going to say so using my own name and my own face’, and that creates a climate in which we all do that. I have been to parts of the world where that is not possible, so there is a slight farcical aspect to some of this. I could say these people are fruitcakes, but I think they are on to something,” Sweeney said.

    How Anonymous mirrors church members

    “I think in particular the way in which the CoS has behaved in the past - terrifying legal threats, the use of private eyes and so forth - creates the paranoia that Anonymous have, in a sense, mirrored. Anonymous are not the source of the paranoia; they are mocking it through mirroring. I am not anonymous, how can I be? So I don’t want to do what they do, but I am not saying it is a bad thing.”

    The church, Sweeney feels, should be able to ignore criticism of its beliefs and let the activities of a group such as Anonymous wash over it. After all, he pointed out, there is a musical opening in London that takes a satirical look at the Mormon faith. The Mormon Church – often accused of cultish behaviour itself – has handled the fun-making rather well. It issued a statement suggesting that people may be entertained by the show but that the scripture would change their lives for ever.

    “These people [Anonymous] might be fruitcakes but they don’t have any money and they don’t have much power so let them do their thing. If Scientology aspires to be a big religion, it should let them do their thing and just carry on and ignore them. But instead you have these counterattacks and so on and so on. I’m not going to be wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, but I think they are mirroring how creepy Scientology is and that is not a bad thing to do.”

    John Sweeney has a unique perspective to offer on Scientology. His loss of temper during the filming of what would become the 2007 BBC documentary Scientology and Me makes for slightly uncomfortable viewing, and Sweeney has apologised unreservedly for it. But he said that at the time he was worried he was losing his mind.

    He claimed he was stalked and spied on by the church for attempting to investigate allegations made by ex-members, who described the organisation as a cult. The journalist said that the pressure of that period felt like a battle for his mind. He wrote about the experience in his new book Church of Fear.

    “They [church officials] made me lose temper and I almost lost my job. Professionally, there will always be a question mark over me. I found writing the book therapeutic: it helped me understand what they did to me and it helped me understand what they did to other people,” he said. “People say a lot of Scientology is silly, but it is also dark, the stuff about disconnection, the way they can get to you - get into your mind.”

    CoS investigation 'more terrifying' than a warzone

    Sweeney was a war reporter in Iraq, where he came under fire in between filing reports, but said he had never been so frightened for his sanity when he was investigating the Church of Scientology. He said that when he began his investigations, he had no idea “what the depth of it would be”.

    The church, of course, denies that it is a cult, and denies it followed Sweeney around. It branded him a bigot and a liar, and in one memorable blog a church member described him as “genuinely evil”.

    “That is what they think of me. My view of them is that they’re in trouble,” Sweeney said. “The internet is a beautiful expression of free speech and that power is - all it is - is a mechanism; a nice piece of engineering that enables people to speak freely, quickly and effectively and without fear. And the problem, the deep problem the church has, is with free speech.”

    Sweeney argued that the root of the CoS’s trouble with free speech lies in its claim to be a religion. In 1993 the authorities in the US ruled that the church was a religion, giving it tax exempt status, and perhaps more importantly, providing a constitutional protection from state interference as the freedom of religion is enshrined in the US Constitution.

    This is not the case in England, Sweeney explained, because under English charity law a religion must be open about its core belief system in a way that the Charity Commission in England says the CoS is not.

    “Scientology has a problem with the internet because the web says 'secretly, you believe in the space alien Satan, don’t you?'” he noted.

    Sweeney is talking about what is effectively the origin of Scientology, which he summarised as follows: “They believe they are fighting a space alien Satan, [Xenu], who five billion years ago brought space aliens to Earth and blew them up with hydrogen bombs inside volcanoes.”

    At various times, the CoS has officially denied that Xenu exists in its theology, attempted to have court records mentioning Xenu sealed, and occasionally appeared to acknowledge that it might true but only in the same way that the Revelations are part of the Christian belief system.

    It is certainly true that most religions have stories that seem crazy to outsiders. Why not let the CoS have its Xenu mythology and let it get on with being a religion?

    “Now the point is, you walk into a church, they’ll tell you about Jesus. You walk into a mosque, they’ll tell you 'follow the prophet'. There are problems that Christianity and Islam have and have generated, that’s true, but both of them, all of them – Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism etc - want you to become part of them and tell you their story. Jesus is the saviour of mankind, the prophet is the one you must follow. These are things you walk into with your eyes open, they’re open and honest about it.”

    He argued that it is the church’s misrepresentation of itself that is the problem. It doesn’t tell you about Xenu when you go in.

    “It is like the horse-meat scandal,” Sweeney said. “You think you’re buying beef, the packet says beef, but you’re eating horse. And another problem is that the church reacts to this criticism in the most extraordinarily aggressive way, following people like me around. If you believe that what you are doing is for the good of mankind, you don’t have to do that.”

    Sweeney said he once met the Dalai Lama (“a good bloke”) around the same time as Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie for writing a "blasphemous" book.

    “The Dalai Lama said if you want to be critical of Tibetan Buddhism, then go ahead. If you want to criticise, then go ahead, because it is not the end of the world. It is not going to kill me. My belief is strong enough to sustain you against scepticism. But with Scientology, you cannot be sceptical. I am, so I am a bigot.”

    The Church of Scientology did not respond to a request for comment.


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  20. Anonymous Member

    The cult that wants to be a religion
    From its sacred text to its absurd creation myth, Scientology is far closer to recognised religions than its critics allow. Just with a therapeutic twist.
    by Alexander Adams

    Books discussed:
    Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright and The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology by John Sweeney
    • Like Like x 1
  21. The Wrong Guy Member

    For anyone who may have missed it, here's John Sweeney's 2010 documentary.

    The Secrets of Scientology is a documentary which was broadcast on September 28, 2010 as part of the BBC's Panorama documentary strand. Presented by John Sweeney, it is a follow-up of his 2007 investigation into the Church of Scientology, and features interviews with former high-ranking members of the organization.
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  22. Anonymous Member

    "Once applicants have signed a billion-year contract, it is alleged, they are assigned to a Sea Org centre on low pay (subject to deductions for infractions). The Sea Org is reportedly under the direct command of Miscavige who, according to these accounts, is allegedly a vain, unpredictable man who bullies, humiliates and physically assaults staff. It is said that Sea Org members are imprisoned in isolated properties for months, even years, to discipline them. "
    Such an obvious admission that the writer has really done no research into the subject whatsoever (how fucking hard is it to do an image search for the contract?) and is petrified of being sued.
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  23. The Wrong Guy Member

    Definition of chuffed (adj)

    [ chuft ]
    1. pleased: very pleased or satisfied
    Synonyms: pleased, content, satisfied, happy, delighted, thrilled, gratified

    From Twitter:

    john sweeney@johnsweeneyroar
    Chuffed by first review that covers the book on #Scientology, not my shouting. The Church says I am a bigot, blog: evil

    The second-last paragraph from the review:

    Sweeney spends little of The Church of Fear analysing the tenets of Scientology, and rightly, these being less interesting than what the church does to its members, and with its members’ money. And at any rate, Scientology’s foundation beliefs are no sillier than those of any other religion, and indeed it’s almost tempting to admire Hubbard’s fuck-it-why-not approach to assembling a mythology: as long as we’re making stuff up, you might as well command people to worship a volcano-dwelling alien deity who dispatched legions of tormented pupae across the galaxy in a fleet of inexplicably propeller-powered DC-8s, in the hope that they might metamorphosise into radiant celestial beings after having their palms read by a trouser press (or whatever it is: this reviewer confesses to haziness re the details, but offers in mitigation of this dereliction the defence that it doesn’t matter).
    • Like Like x 4
  24. afternon Member

    The trouser press never lies- it is for religious purposes to rid the body of wrinkly engrams and body thetans that need ironing.
  25. The Wrong Guy Member

    Panorama journalist and former UK drugs adviser blocked from holding lecture in Cardiff - Wales Online

    By Peter Law, May 9, 2013

    It was hoped John Sweeney, known for investigation into Scientology, and controversial drugs adviser Professor David Nutt would speak at Cardiff Central Library event


    Mr Sweeney, who would have discussed his book Church Of Fear: Inside The Weird World Of Scientology, today said he was “astonished” at the decision.

    The award-winning journalist said: “Surely this is a matter of free speech. I’m a BBC reporter, but I’m speaking in my capacity as a private individual who lives in a democracy.

    “The ratepayers of Cardiff live in a democracy and I would have thought that the council has got a job and duty that it doesn’t host events which are inimical to public order.

    “Banning the English Defence League is a matter for them, but this? Professor Nutt, I believe, is a sceptic on the question of whether hard drugs should be completely banned.

    “That, in a democracy, is a perfectly proper opinion for him to have. He may be wrong, he may be right, but surely in a democracy it’s perfectly fair to address this.

    “The Church of Scientology, I think, are entirely aware of who I am and what my book says, but this is an issue of free speech and I do not believe anything I would say would cause public disorder.”

    Cardiff Skeptics organiser Jonathan Stabler said while no reason was specified for the booking refusal, given the earlier email exchanges he assumes it was because of the controversial nature of the speakers.

    More at
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  26. A library afraid of controversial speech. That's a first.

    There are libraries in the States that fight for the right of adults to look at pron using library computers. Sad that this library cowtows to a cult.
  27. wolfbane Member

    Wasn't Cardiff the home turf of the politician who made the infamous 'Scientology is stupid' tweet that went viral?
  28. jensting Member

  29. wolfbane Member

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  30. Horseradish Member

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  31. Random guy Member

  32. Horseradish Member

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  33. afternon Member

    I'm sure that John Sweeney, being the jounalist and experienced media man he is, will get some good publicity out of the stupidity of the Cardif library to not host his talk.

    "Staffing issues" my arse, cowardice more like!
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  34. DeathHamster Member

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  35. The Wrong Guy Member

    john sweeney@johnsweeneyroar 5h
    My Welsh grandfather did not fight in WW1 for [his] grandson to be 'banned' from Cardiff Library talking on Scientology.

    John Sweeney on Cardiff council’s decision not to allow him to speak at Cardiff Library - Wales Online

    ‘This rigmarole feels wrong,’ says journalist at centre of free speech row

    Ahead of his talk about the Church of Scientology at the Senedd on Monday, BBC Panorama journalist John Sweeney says Cardiff council’s decision not to allow him to speak at Cardiff Library is a matter of free speech
    • Like Like x 4
  36. The Wrong Guy Member

    Winchester Skeptics In The Pub

    John Sweeney - Inside The Weird World of Scientology

    Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 7:30 pm

    Winchester Discovery Centre
    Jewry Street
    SO23 8SB

    Tom Cruise and John Travolta say the Church of Scientology is a force for good. Others disagree. Award-winning journalist John Sweeney investigated the Church for more than half a decade. During that time he was intimidated, spied on and followed and the results were spectacular: Sweeney lost his temper with the Church’s spokesman on camera and his infamous ‘exploding tomato’ clip was seen by millions around the world.

    John Sweeney tells the story of his experiences for the first time and paints a devastating picture of this strange organisation, from former Scientologists who tell heartbreaking stories of families torn apart and lives ruined to its current followers who say it is the solution to many of mankind’s problems.
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  37. RightOn Member

    "During that time he was intimidated, spied on and followed "
    "paints a devastating picture of this strange organisation, from former Scientologists who tell heartbreaking stories of families torn apart and lives ruined to its current followers who say it is the solution to many of mankind’s problems."

    yes spread it far and wide
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  38. The Wrong Guy Member

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  39. Anonymous Member

    Sweeney has a new target: the asshole Trump.
  40. The Wrong Guy Member

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