I’ve been a but MIA due to binge watching a documentary about scientology. I watched Leah Rimin’s documentary and “Going Clear” and found it all to be such a rabbit hole.
When I was 8 or so, I remember the Dianetics commercials with the erupting volcano. I remember telling my mom that I would like to read it. She immediately told me it was a cult. I don’t remember the news headlines about the FBI raids and the IRS, but once my mom called it out as that, I had no interest in it and went on my happy way.
In 2007, I started following the 4chan actions against scientology, completely fascinated and horrified by the things that were just starting to come out about the cult. (I refuse to call it a church and everyone else should too.) A lot of major people were leaving, claiming abuses and things that happened within the cult. I was going to go to the protests in Hollywood and LA, but didn’t. Stories of protestors being followed, filmed and stalked afterwards started coming out, so I was a bit relieved. (Now, I wouldn’t care less. If they found anything interesting that I wasn’t willing to openly admit, good on them!) I still kinda wish I had gone, to be honest.
The three seasons of Rimini’s show was really good in showing the expansive and rampant abuse of the cult. Rinder always seems to have this fake sincerity about him, like a greasy used car salesman, though, and the both of them making things about them, their work, the show, when people are expressing really painful things that happened to them, just comes off as show boating in a rather disgusting way. But the stories of the exmembers are allowed to be told, fully, as far as I can tell, and I think that is the most powerful part. Rimini and Rinder are just kind of token vehicles, in a way.
“Going Clear” is *really* amazing! It goes through a lot of Hubbard’s history before his cult and after, the aftermath of his stroke, and the celebrity importance and how far they went with it. I highly recommend watching it, if nothing else. In 2 hours, it covers a lot of ground and highlights things in a very informative perspective, over the tear jerking methods employed by Rimini’s production.
I think the things that stood out to me the most in these two documentaries was the dancing around certain facts. Like how the cult dosen’t allow psychiatric help and minimal medical help, unless you are in critical condition. The two shows play this up to Hubbard’s bitterness that his writings weren’t just rejected by the AMHA, but ridiculed, however, completely disregard that the reasons are actually more to cover up their cult conditioning. A mental health provider would see brainwashing having taken place, gaslighting and other mental health damages, called it to attention, bringing the cult’s abuses to the forefront. The same with medical professionals. They would see the tell tale signs of neglect, malnutrition, and other physical damages and bring these to be accounted for. It may have started out as Hubbard’s distain, but it became about protecting the cult conditioning.
When they discussed the forced abortions on women members, they claimed it was because the member had to commit themselves 100% to the cult and a child was a distraction. They failed to acknowledge that the child labor camps and child prison camps the cult had created to contain children were constantly at risk of being discovered and the cult accused of child abuse, child labor law violations and serious legal actions. Abortions were cheap, easy and convenient. Government investigations and law enforcement are long, messy, and potentially exposing. I think this needs to be said and acknowledged by those doing these documentaries. Otherwise, you are making excuses for the cult and allowing them an out.
Religion is weird and most often deeply personal, to the point peope will defend lies and allegories with no proof or any other conviction other than they believe. It gets dangerous when it becomes blind.
I found a lot of interesting parallels between what has happened in this cult and in America. So much so, it’s rather scary. How quickly and readily people have fallen into conspiracy theories and “patriotism”, without recognizing they are 100% being drawn in by “otherism” language that forms a cult.
It’s horrifying, really…