May 13, 2007

Crazy Mother Hubbards

Scientologists… I know berating someone’s “beliefs” isn’t very politically correct, but what a bunch of nutters!

This Monday’s Panorama looks like being a bit of a humdinger, as John Sweeney confronts the people who believe the teachings of an American sci-fi writer. Only Tom Cruise… you might think.

The best bit about Scientology is that it’s only open to the wealthy. And if you hand over enough cash, you get told the baffling stories of Ron L. Hubbard secrets of the cult religion:

Xenu is introduced as an alien ruler of the “Galactic Confederacy” who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and blew them up with hydrogen bombs. Their souls then clustered together and stuck to the bodies of the living. The alien souls continue to do this today, causing a variety of physical ill-effects in modern-day humans.

It’s like Toy Story, albeit scarier.

The documentary’s already causing controversy, after the reporter John Sweeney lost his cool – to put it mildly – while interviewing a Scientologist. The situation wasn’t helped because the Scientologists were filming everything the BBC were filming – standard procedure for arguing against common sense.

Of course you can watch the Scientologists’ version or the BBC’s version. I know which I believe.

Panorama’s on BBC One, Monday at 8.30pm.

- 10 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. ‘Tommy’ is a bit of an arse in my opinion. “Are you recording? Good. Raaaaaargh rargh ragh I’m angry Raaaaaaaaargh” runs

    Hmm I think the only reason Sweeny was shouting was so that the bloke would shutup and listen, as he seems quite controlled and calm when his voice drops.
    Ah, (some) Americans. Gotta love em. “mergh you’re being rude about the crap I believe :( “

    13 May 2007, 13:01

  2. Paul

    I’ve just emailed the BBC with the following comments about last night’s program -I was really disappointed with the beeb over this

    “Like many viewers I was disappointed not only with John Sweeney’s outburst, but with the apparent bias of the program in general.

    Personally, I agree with many of John’s sentiments, and can’t help but think that there is indeed a sinister aspect to the scientology organisation. I fully appreciate that after a week of hard work, agressive confrontations and being stalked 24/7,

    that any reporter would be at the end of their tether.

    This is why I desperately want the BBC to redeem itself with another, more in depth report on the topic. The BBC owes this to the British public, and this time, hopefully it can be conducted without the outbursts and use of provocation (John’s use of the word ‘cult’ as a deliberate attempt to rattle the Scientologists cage).

    The world desperately needs the BBC to regain its relative impartiality (lost in the last panorama show) to show more objectively and explicitly how this organisation conducts itself.

    Please re-investigate. “

    I’ve had friends get into religions whilst they’ve been feeling shit, and have nothing but resentment for people who take advantage of such people under these circumstances.

    What do think of this as a suggestion?

    Perhaps Warwick TV should take up the challenge? I’ve love to see Alan Garrec interview a Scientologist =]

    15 May 2007, 15:10

  3. Yeah, I’m not sure what I thought about the documentary. I think you have to ask what it was setting out to achieve. Was it supposed to reveal what Scientology was about, or how Scientologists behave? Or was it supposed to be about the families whose lives have been ruined by the cult?

    I suspect the BBC would have had trouble achieving these aims properly, and in the end had to settle for what the Scientologists threw at them – an investigation into their methods of controlling the media. Perhaps this was a deliberate ploy by the guy at the centre of the film, to stop the documentary from being about what the religion believes in. If so, it worked.

    But I suspect it was just a little too ambitious. I don’t blame Sweeney for his outburst, and his behaviour before and afterwards suggests he raised his voice in order to be heard rather than to be aggressive. Earlier on, the Tom Cruise look-a-like had pretty much squared up to him.

    It wasn’t a great documentary in some respects, but it was entertaining.

    15 May 2007, 17:53

  4. I wasn’t aware that a documentary had to cover all aspects of it’s subject. I imagine that it was probably originally going to be about how Scientologists are removed from their family etc as Mr DoiDge says, but after Sweeney was followed etc and hounded by that Tommy chap (blimeh he was annoying, and threatening too) the production team gave air-time to that.

    15 May 2007, 18:40

  5. Paul

    I see what you mean regarding the subject of the documentary. As you say, if Sweeney/his producer/his editor wanted to make the subject how they control the media then I guess they got it spot on. I was just under the impression that, given that they started with a scene of a couple upset about their family (surely aimed to pull at the heart-strings), that the program was biased right from the start.

    Secondly, although he’d been followed/harrassed by ‘Tommy’, he was still out of order calling their ‘religion’ a ‘cult’. That’s enough to wind anyone up.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Scientologists DO have something to hide, but if this is the case, then the only way to show unequivacably to the license paying UK public is to conduct the interview again; this time without the screaming bias. As such, I still think they should re-commission the documentary.

    18 May 2007, 00:18

  6. Didn’t he just say that “some people call Scientology a cult” rather than accusing it of being one himself?

    18 May 2007, 08:21

  7. John Waller

    ...given that they started with a scene of a couple upset about their family (surely aimed to pull at the heart-strings), that the program was biased right from the start.

    Given that brainwashing young vulnerable people, fleecing them of their cash and encouraging them to disown their family is a fairly significant thing, they were quite right to start with it.

    Scientology is a cult, they behave in a cultish way.

    18 May 2007, 08:45

  8. Paul

    You’re right Chris, I don’t think he did explicitly say ‘your religion is a cult’, but I think he could have been a little more careful about what he said given that he knew how much it wound the guy up to mention the word cult!

    BUT I suppose he was only presenting what others thought about it to him.

    I agree with you too John, in that they do behave in a cult-like way, but I just felt that given that this is the BBC, more effort should have been made to seem more impartial than the program came across as being. That brings us back to the debate about what the aim of the program was in the first place I suppose!

    Fundamentally, I have nothing but resentment for religions/cults/organisations that prey on vulnerable people. Its just the serious bias that came across in the documentary that concerned/disappointed me.

    If anything, this bias might even help such an organisation’s cause. Those who are in a vulnerable state of mind might assume that everything that is written/broadcast about them is so biased that when they meet a Scientologist in person, they don’t feel that they’re as bad as everyone makes out.

    Showing the workings of Scientology without a reporter screaming, and without continually referring to the word ‘cult’ may just have produced a better program, and showed without question what they are up to (as John mentioned the fleecing, disowning of family etc.).

    I think one of the final few phrases summed up what the program wanted to acheive:

    “They’ll never present songs of praise any time soon”.

    The fact is that they don’t want to present/be part of songs of praise, and such sarcasm draws attention away from just how seriously worrying prospect Scientology is, and that’s why I want to BBC to re-commission it.

    How many times did I use the word bias in that post?
    Answers on a postcard


    18 May 2007, 16:35

  9. The best bit about Scientology is that it’s only open to the wealthy.

    That’s not necessarily true. Although Scientologists are known for targetting the wealthy for brainwashing (read “conversion”), they’ll latch on to anyone with a penny and get them for all they’re worth. There have was an example of a debt-free home-owning widowed pensioner being “encouraged” into mortgaging her house through a scientologist broker so that they could fleece her for more money.

    I’ve been writing a blog post on this since just before the Panorama episode aired – but there’s so much to write about. It’s not just the OT crap. It’s about their notorious history of litigation, their ability to infiltrate US government organisations, their expansion into Europe, their scare tactics, their war against psychiatry, L. Ron Hubbard’s history of being a rogue and a scoundrel etc. etc.

    It’s extremely worrying that they’ve set up shop in the UK. They’ve been busy too. I received one of their flyers in Wimbledon: I’m presuming they’re targetting what they regard as affluent areas. I just count it as a blessing that England does not consider it a religion.

    24 May 2007, 21:32

  10. Oh – I forgot to mention that there are plenty of scientology resources on the Internet. Wikipedia contains much of the information on their litigation and Operation Clambake (tp:// is always an eyeopener.

    As for John Sweeny’s outrage… it was very, very silly. He should have foreseen what the scientologists would do. I don’t know if anyone’s yet seen it, but here’s a link to “Panorama/BBC Exposed” – – It’s almost scary because of its high production value and the money clearly thrown into it.

    24 May 2007, 21:36

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