Going back for a second helping and relishing the dish that’s best served cold was Panorama
’s John Sweeney, who in 2007 made a holy show of himself while making a documentary on Scientology. Then, the normally calm investigative reporter lost his temper and shouted with such in-your-face abandon at the Scientology spokesman that it became a YouTube sensation. This Panorama
documentary was his revenge, and his ammunition was Mike Rinder, one of the spokespeople who had so thwarted him the last time but who has since left Scientology and is willing to spill the beans – sort of. All that Sweeney really got out of him and the others he spoke to who have left Scientology was that Sweeney wasn’t being paranoid in 2007 – he really was being followed by Scientologists who filmed his every move. Furthermore, they developed (obviously excellent) psychological strategies to make him lose his temper so that he’d look ridiculous.
The Church of Scientology still denied everything, of course, although this time the surveillance was obvious. Everywhere Sweeney went, so did several camera-carrying Scientologists. So far so creepy; this bizarre behaviour added weight to Sweeney’s contention that this is a brainwashing cult, not a religion. He talked to the actor Jason Bighe – Scientology is big in Hollywood – who had given over €1 million to the organisation but has now left it. Sweeney asked if he thought it was “a cult or a racket”. “They’re not mutually exclusive,” Bighe said.
By the end I don’t know if it was the swanky headquarters, the celeb converts, the fact that it was sunny everywhere he went or that everyone looked handsome in a clean, toothy Tom Cruise sort of way, but Scientology looked quite attractive – that’s if you don’t mind having your thoughts “audited” by an “E-meter”, a gizmo Captain Kirk might have had in his drawer, and paying a fortune to rise up through the ranks and make yourself believe in Xenu and his intergalactic confederacy that existed 75 million years ago. At least you get to live for a billion years or more, which is about how long we’ll be paying for Anglo Irish Bank.http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/weekend/2010/1002/1224280149687...