Last night, HBO premiered Alex Gibney's documentary exposé Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. How fucked up, dangerous, intimidating, and crooked is Scientology? Let Gibney count the ways. The doc was undoubtedly full of revelations for those who haven't read Lawrence Wright's 2011 New Yorker piece "The Apostate," or its 2013 expansion into book form that gave Gibney's movie its name, Going Clear.
It's hard to summarize the (alleged) toxicity of Scientology—just set aside two hours and watch the doc if you haven't already. But the clip above comes close to having it all. It details John Travolta's participation in Scientology and the blackmail-not-blackmail that keeps him active in the religion/social club/wish-granting service/cult. Former members of the church and Wright say that Scientology keeps files on its members full of their deepest secrets collected during "audits" by superiors. Per Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's logic, the private information shared could be used to control somebody from speaking out about Scientology without being considered blackmail since no money was being sought.
"As far as Travolta's concerned, they'll say, 'There's all these things that we know about that have been rumored in the tabloids,' but in fact it's more of a two-way street," explains Marty Rathbun, who served as Scientology leader David Miscavige's Top Lieutenant from 1987 to 2004. "He's provided with an auditor whose shoulder he can cry on, but he's also provided with the muscle of the church in the form my myself and [fellow former Scientologist] Mike Rinder. On many occasions we were sent out to get with his publicist, to get with his lawyer and to help squash or intimidate people who were making accusations against him."
"Once that happened, I think he was really the church's captive," adds Wright.
Oh yeah, and Tom Cruise once had a secret Scientology girlfriend. Allegedly.