Review: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief on HBO Will Infuriate You


Before I begin, let’s be really transparent about ALL organized religion and cults, as they are at their structural core, money grabs (some with the very best of intentions) that keep the hierarchy of said church/cult in place and well funded, allowing the proselytizing and indoctrination of more money paying members to swell their ranks, ergo political clout, power and ultimately preserving the status quo of each organization.

In “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” premiering Sunday on HBO, the entire embarrassing genesis of this cult is explored in the documentary by Alex Gibney.  It is horrifying, laughable, sad and ultimately makes me angry our government allows them to amass great wealth tax-free.

Even the affable Christ loving toothy Joel Osteen charges admission and wants you to support his ministry. He is legion. The Catholics are some of the largest land owners in the world. Jews do it too with temple fees and tickets to High Holy Days. Money seems to make God happy. Ask this guy.

The clear line here of course that with cults, if someone decides to leave, there are serious repercussions, often times ostracizing the person defecting, isolating them from their friends and family or even physical abuse. Such is the case with Scientology, an insanely well-funded cult with major legal reach that the IRS buckled to back in 1993.

Currently you can point to ISIS, who use one of the big three religions, Islam, as a divisive strategy and rhetoric to overtake towns and slaughter those in their way, but they are much more a mass murdering criminal/terrorist organization and they do not hold true to Islamic scholars and principles in the Koran, no matter what they proclaim.

For years the IRS denied Scientology was a church, but after relentless litigation and administrative dog-piling the IRS abruptly ruled Scientology was indeed a church worthy of exemption in 1993. HBO’s “Going Clear” goes into this with great detail, and it will enrage you, a taxpayer, that Scientology was given Section 501(c)(3) status when Scientology offered to drop numerous lawsuits against the IRS in exchange for this.

The documentary methodically outlines all the dirty laundry of Church of Scientology. It reveals unethical tactics, land grabs, and the disturbed ramblings of a charismatic leader who spun a sci-fi / self-help writing career into a successful religion for money. Anyone who raises a question to L. Ron Hubbard is immediately deemed a “suppressive person” and woe to those who reveal the big enchilada, the “church’s” creationist Intel only given to those who reach an operating thetan level (meaning they have invested so much money and time they would look foolish to backtrack) where Xenu, our evil overlord, watched over 1950s-like Americans 75 million years ago and somehow the act of freezing humans and tossing them into volcanoes is also woven into this morass of a whopper.

It’s so insulting to one’s intelligence that filmmaker Paul Haggis, who endured this cult for 30 years, woke up one day and decided to admit to his being caught up in this “King Has No Clothes” modern day scam after his lesbian daughters were shamed by the “church,” as homosexuality is lumped in with curable and manageable mental illnesses. Many have theorized that this insulting view of homosexuality has kept John Travolta as one of their members.

The film was the talk of the Sundance Film Festival last January, and in reaction, Scientology knee-jerked and created a PR rebuttal via their website, The church characterizes the documentary as “one-sided, bigoted propaganda built on falsehoods.”

Considering the documentary reveals that the best estimates (based on 2012 tax documents) show that the “church” has about $1.5+++ billion dollars at the ready, if you had that kind of income stream to protect, wouldn’t you be a little put out at HBO and Alex Gibney?

Watch the first trailer for Alex Gibney’s Scientology documentary “Going Clear.”

Gibney really delves into the creator, L. Ron Hubbard — “LRH” to his followers — that are sickening reveals of a megalomaniacal control freak who had atrocious behaviors and even worse relations with the people in his immediate life. He was really good at getting gullible kids to sign on for indentured servitude in his SEA ORG where comical nautical outfits were worn, and people scrubbed, sanded and repaired dilapidated ships for him to fanny around the Mediterranean looking for his lost buried treasures from another life.  Are you still with me? There’s more horseshit to sling from SEA ORG.

Hubbard’s series on Dianetics became a bestseller in the 1950s, setting the seeds for his cult of people who genuinely wanted to have answers, seek change and better their lives. These people were ripe for someone as charismatic and cunning as Hubbard, who gave them the false hope of elevating their earthly status by shedding themselves of body thetans and other thetans that jumped into them as babies. This thetan business is the root cause of neuroses and flaws according the cult’s teachings.

Scientology, which Hubbard created in the 1960s after Dianetics had petered out, added a many-step pay-to-play program that would bring a seeker to a “clear” state while navigating a costly gauntlet in “the bridge” where levels of clearness were obtained until you get the whopper of all intergalactic creationist stories and learn of the evil overlord Xenu.

This all leads eventually to Tom Cruise’s bestie and current “church” leader David Miscavige, a Hubbard suck up who was an early indoctrinate with big, BIG plans for himself. The upper echelon, high level defectors who give on-camera interviews all have interacted with him intimately.

So we have a manic acting and blathering Tom Cruise, rampant cronyism in Hollywood between well-placed members, “billion-year” contracts given to members, actual imprisonment and “reindoctrination” and outright assaults and beatings which are just some of the more interesting parts of what – I hope – will be the dismantling of this ludicrous cult that has sucked the life and money out of millions.

All the PR and lawyers in the world couldn’t put Humpty back together again.