back to article Scientology tries to discredit BBC documentary

The Church of Scientology has launched an online campaign against the BBC, ahead of the broadcast of a Panorama documentary investigating the organisation as a "cult". Journalist John Sweeney has been targeted with a DVD made by the Church, which has distributed copies to MPs. Sweeney got a little over-excited, during one …


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  1. Greg

    Fades out rather quickly...

    Was he about to prove his point?

    I don't get why this discredits anything. Sure, it's weird, and probably didn't help him, but they obviously weren't listening to him. The fact that he's shouting doesn't stop him being right, and being misquoted can really get up peoples' noses.

  2. Lawrence

    This is my fav bit about bollocksology

    Off wikipedia, of course.

    "Xenu (sometimes Xemu) 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. Hubbard called these clustered spirits "Body Thetans," and the advanced levels place considerable emphasis on isolating them and neutralizing their ill effects."

    Make you think that all this has been thought of by some omaginative science fiction writer.

  3. Rob

    I was already interested in watching this...

    ...and if anything this just makes me MORE likely to watch it.

    Anything that gets up the noses of scientologists is fine by me. Good on him I say

  4. Gilbert Wham

    nothing wrong with shouting...

    "The fact that he's shouting doesn't stop him being right"

    I tell people this all the time. Loudly. Makes 'em extremely cross.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    countdown to scientology drones in 3...2...1...

    I expect we'll soon see some generic replies from the armies of Endor, trying to cleanse the world of the evil Thetans.

    All scientology needs is George Lucas to get into it, imagine that, a never ending run of films, tons of merchandise and thousands of new recruits.

  6. Steven

    If it were me...

    I would have just stuck one on the annoying t**t (The Scientology guy not John Sweeney) and had done with it.

    I'm sure given the context of the whole program more people will be sympathising with John than the Scientologists by the end of the program.

    Still I think its a style of questioning Paxman should adopt in the future "MR BROWN WILL YOU LISTEN TO ME!!!!"

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I for one applaud John Sweeney...

    I've already written to Panorama congratulating John Sweeney on the outburst. Considering that the Scientology 'representative' always insisted on talking over John Sweeney, not letting him finish etc, I think it is only fair and right to tell the git to shut the hell up and listen, even if it means dialing up the volume to 110 dB and, in John's words, sounding like a jet engine.

    Scientology is a dangerous thing. I know people who left because of various reasons, and I totally understand why they would want to. Seeing said 'representative' using the whole US constitution thing about freedom of religion (search for "Scientology John Sweeney" on YouTube - you will find a much longer interview snippet) to stop John Sweeney from continuing his questioning only leads me to believe that Scientology would prefer its members from shutting up, paying up, and singing from the same Xenu hymn sheet as the big kahunas do.

    Good on ya John! You're human. You proved it. You don't have any thetans clinging to you! :-)

  8. Chris Simmons


    I had a friend from school that joined the scientologists (I prefer FZ's Church of Applientology - oooh, those vacuums) - before they could disconnect us, the friend was disconnected by us; probably a bit cruel, but when they won't listen to advice and common sense, when they continually try borrowing money for their "studies" then I see no other option: a loss of a friend, but I got over it.

  9. SmokeyMcPotHead

    Enter the church...

    ...the 7th Church of the Apocalyptic Lawnmower...

    It costs a minimum of £1000 to believe...and you must mow your lawn daily...

  10. Colin Jackson

    Yeah but...

    I hadn't heard of this program. Now I have and shall definitely be watching. There's no such thing as bad publicity.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Attn: SmokeyMcPotHead....

    SmokeyMcPotHead, there is good reason why the One True Church of the Apocalyptic Lawnmover has branded the 7th Church heretics:

    Mowing a wet lawn is very bad for grass, thus daily lawn mowing is a grievous sin.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bad Sci-Fi

    L. Ron Hubbard was basically exactly that - a bad science fiction writer. At least the Church of the Subgenius promises "eternal salvation or three times your money back".

  13. Dillon Pyron

    Bittorrent or BBC America

    Any chance someone will post this on Bittorrent? I've never used it before but this might be a start. Or do you think BBC America will carry it? Or will BBC post it on their webiste (do the stream anything?) As you might guess, I just have to see it. You see, I'm a beneficiary of the psychiatric/psychological system.

  14. therealvicz

    Faith v Brainwashing

    Of course scientology and the Xenu story are absurd, but all scriptures are absurd (although it seems that only scientology makes you buy their 'bible' one book at a time). And all religions rely on brainwashing to prevent their followers questioning their absurdity, only in traditional doctrines we call this 'faith'.

  15. Greg Nelson

    It's Dragons, Dragons All The Way Down

    Earth is a dragon's egg. The proof is in plate tectonics and global warming. As the dragon embryo develops the once stable surface of the planet is being driven apart in preparation for the newborn dragon bursting forth. Global warming is just a sign of the dragon embryo maturing.

    Usually life doesn't form on dragon eggs but earth's location in the solar system and the moon has allowed life to form on the planet feeding off the magicallictically developing dragon life. Only once in a galaxy far far away did a dragon embryo die on a planet like yours supporting intelligent life. It was a two headed dragon. We now travel the universe seeking out life on dragon eggs and attempt to kill the dragon embryo before it hatches and destroys the planet.

    Unfortunately we need more money to further our efforts. If you want to survive sending us money is your only hope. For Gold Card Dragon Killers we offer a ride off the planet should our efforts fail. Send us all your money! Don't let this offer pass you and your love ones by. btw early subscribers get a two headed dragon crest and a nifty sword (offer invalid where swords are prohibited)

  16. Will

    South Park did it best

    The South Park take on it - illustrating the tale of 'Xenu' and his spaceships and nuking all the thetans in volcanoes whilst superimposing "THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE" - is still the best; illustrating exactly what they take for granted whilst not in any way altering it. At its purest, it is hilarious.

    (In before "YouTube makes all its money from copyrighted footage")

  17. Lawrence

    He Mowed For Us

    Don't you realise that He mowed for our sins?

    He was placed in a garage, taken apart, its pieces cleaned and polished, and put together with a few extra nuts and bolts remaining unutilised... to never start again.

    Only to appear again a few days later as a Qualcast Power-Trak 3400.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apocalyptic Lawnmover

    Mowing wet grass can be v. bad when using an electric lawnmower.

    Personally, I find the Jehovas more tiresome than the Scientologists (they always seem so incredibly shy to mention the name of their Church when they pop round, bang on the door and invite you to a service).

    Maybe that's because the Scientologists don't even have a Church (?) here.

  19. Chris Haynes

    A psychedelic menagerie of intergalactic bobbins...

    What a load of tosh. Xenu? Thetans? Bobbins, the whole lot.

    How can people seriously believe this crud? Where's the proof? A (bad) SCIENCE-FICTION WRITER invented it all, and the nonces actually believe it's true?

    To quote that English guy from Buffy, "The Earth is doomed".

  20. William Donelson

    BBC journalist falls for intentional provocation

    Unfortunately, John Sweeney fell into a standard Scientology trap: Provoke the journalist severly, including invasion of personal space, to try to get a reaction. Journalists who fall into this trap are easily discreditted by the astounding Scientology propoganda machine.

    We need (many) more exposes of Scientology.

  21. Edward

    Power is the problem, not religion

    Faith and spirituality are not the poblem, it's people who, for their own advancement and wealth, use (abuse) the faith and spirituality of others. Scientology was, if the stories I've heard are even half-true, founded to enrich its priest-class, making it one of the worst of the worst.

    However, not all religions brain-wash or even ask their members to believe some specific stories. Unitarian Universalists and Quakers, for example, encourage their members to think for themselves and look at things from multiple different perspectives. Early Quakers decided not to have any clergy, partly because they felt that clergy were in the faith business to make money.

  22. Jan Buys

    Steve Ballmer

    Now come on... was I the only one to think about Steve here?

  23. Norman Webster

    Panorama Documentary on Scientology

    Having watched the Panorama documentary on Scientology, I must agree with the statement that it is a "Cult", where brainwashing is carried out on vulnerable people, so much so that they cut off all ties with their families. I find the bullying tactics used by the " Church of Scientology" against poeple who disagree with their teachings absolutely disgraceful. We live in a democracy which allows us freedom of speech, and in my opinion anyone who wishes to become a member of the "Church of Scientology" needs medical help!

    How can anyone take seriously that it all started from "Descendents of Thetans from outer space"? Get real everyone! Lets face it Ron L Hubbard the founder of Scientology was a Science Fiction Writer! Enough said I think!

    Dr Norman Webster

  24. Nordrick Framelhammer

    Bad pulp Sci-Fi

    L Ron Hubbard could not get any of his rubbish stories, even by the lowest standards of pulp sci-fi, to sell in the bookstores so he converted that same pile of fetid dingoes kidneys into the "scriptures" of a new "religion" and found a bunch of suckers who would believe anything couched in spiritual terms.

    I suspect that a lot of $cientology's victims are theree mainly because "I have sunk all my money into this and I want to see something for that"

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Boston Legal did it too

  26. JayB

    Sweeney was a......

    ...silly pillock, but the man is only Human. Faced with what I can well imagine was quite possibly the single most irritating and sly person the Church of Sci could find, Ghandi would probably have lost it. Anyone want to bet that wasn't actually what they were trying to acheive?

    This so called "religion" has got to be one of the most insidious bunch of pseudo-religious whackos on the planet! Their methods are brutal (they've regualrly retained one of the most dubious and nasty PI firms in the US), they think nothing of shredding families (this whole "disconnect" business is just plain scary) yet they have the finest PR on the planet, and frankly access to some serious cash!!! Countries have been invaded for fewer excuses.

    These are a bunch of sadly misguided, emotionally screwed people, run by some seriously nasty and intelligent, emotionally screwed people.

    Sorry - i'll stop stating the painfully obvious now.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stand up & Expose them!

    A few years ago a friend got involved with the scientologists. She had a difficult time getting out, received many threats and despite the initial promises made at indoctrination, was unable to recover any money. She was severely psychologically damaged.

    A psychologist I knew treated many ex-scientologists. She described the scientologists methods as brain washing and said that getting someone to function normally after an in depth spell of scientology treatment was a major and difficult task. I wasn't able to see the program, but I hope that John Sweeney was able to interview psychologists involved in treating the victims.

    This group preys on the gullible, bleeds them of hard earned cash, damaging it's hosts. Biologically they're parasites. Cult is too good for them. They should be closed down and their accumulated wealth used for charitable purposes.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I for one finds believe in Scientology ridiculous. DC-8s? Space opera? Train simulators? Evil carnival people?

    Where did they get all that? Sounds like someone smoked too much crack.

  29. Richard Cross


    I came in late from work and only caught the shouting scene in the programme. I can only come to one logical conclusion from seeing these 2 mins of footage.

    i) People don't become BBC Investigative Journalists by having a track-record of screaming and shouting at people, losing their temper, by being wildly irrational.

    ii) So, my logical conclusion is that the Scientology guy is an exceptionally well-trained and practised irritater of journalists. Harassing, invading, domineering, threatening, malicious and manipulative.

    Given L.Ron Hubbard's dubious past and poor record as a creative writer, given that the COS feels it is necessary to employ and train the person who got under the skin of the Beeb journalist, it makes me quite sure that they are dangerous and scary people who are on a deliberate campaign to integrate themselves into society, so they can continue to exploit the feeble of mind and feed off their money. This should be strongly opposed at all levels.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dillon Pyron you can watch the whole documentary on the web

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep, it hit torrent-land

    I don't think el Reg would appreciate me telling you exactly where to get it so google eztv and you'll find it

    Well worth watching

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police endorsement?

    Forget all the histrionics. The really scary thing is that this organization persuaded a senior police office to endorse its development in the UK.

    ... and for all you lovers of Bill Gates and his pernicious influence, here's a cute soundbite:

    "Microsoft is the IT equivalent of Scientology."

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Enough said!

    Having watched the programme last night, I think anyone would find it difficult to keep their cool with the CoS representative! He continually invaded the reporter's personal space, failed to listen to anyone or anything else, and talked over the top of everyone - he would'nt last 5 minutes on a Friday night out with that attitude!!

    Just take a look at el reg's previous headlines on the CoS to see what a bunch of over zealous, control freak zealots the BBC were dealing with!!

    Related stories

    * Scientologists drop copyright case (8 July 2005)

    * Scientologists gag Google (22 March 2002)

    * US Scientology critic free in Canada (8 June 2001)

    * Online Scientology critic jailed in Canada (30 May 2001)

    * Online Scientology critic seeks political asylum (19 May 2001)

    * Who's afraid of the CoS? (23 March 2001)

    * Slashdot caves in to Scientology loonies (16 March 2001)

  34. Alan Davies

    Re: Bittorrent or BBC America

    It's already available on some UK torrent sites, not that I would encourage this.

    As we all know downloading TV shows is against some kind of law and would probably result in the offenders in being hydrogen bombed or something equally wacky.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I am waiting for someone to invent a pest spray for these half wits.

  36. Spike Ravenscroft

    Quite Scary

    It just so happens that I was in Clearwater, FL last year and walked some of those very streets.

    Yes, the whole Xenu thing is totally barking but it doesn’t stop what is happening down there being very, very scary.

    Many of the ‘followers’ have military style uniforms and the ‘Church’ is redeveloping the whole area to its own specifications. They are paranoid and aggressive and very well funded.

    If these people had links to somewhere in the middle East they would have been banged up by Homeland Security long ago.

    Joking aside kids, its scary down there.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    LRH on record

    I'm fairly sure that L Ron Hubbard is on record as having discussed the creation of a religion as being a surefire means of getting rich.

    I think I read something about it in a book or online piece by the late discordian, Robert Anton Wilson. Robert Anton Wilson was involved in the creation of the Discordian religion and is allegedly an inspiration for the Church of the Sub-Genius. He's quite prolific when it comes to writing about cults and brainwashing (amongst many other things). I think he knew LRH before he founded the Church of Scientology although I don't believe RAW had anything to do with that particular cult.

    "Dianetics junior, much better than Krishna" - Tenacious D

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    they really are a scary bunch

    Admittedly, a lot of the info was sourced on the web, but here's a few pointers about how mad they are:

    * Thetans. Xenu. Etc. You can't get more wacky than that

    * Once you reach Auditor level (very few people have ever been deprogrammed after getting this high up their "church") you're told the Xenu myth is crap, and you're in charge of money and maintaining belief.

    * Where do you see Scientology advertised? Nowhere directly, unlike normal churches. They're sneaky bastrds. Outrside Harrods, doing their "stress testing", looking for the vulnerable or weak to sell on Dianetics. They even turned up to do same in Dublin from the back of a lorry on St Stephen's Green. People actually got into a truck with them to talk - I thought they'd drive away with them.

    * L Ron Hubbard seems to have gotten posessed by power towards the end, moving his navy from port to port, until they were barred from each in turn. It's alleged that he shot a 21 year old recruit on deck with a pistol fatally, and successfully covered it up. Her family have never been able to make it stick.

    All in all, a "church" that makes the ills of the old school churches seem slight by comparison!

    Note: I'll be posting anonymously for this one... these freaks are creepy parasites, from what I've heard about them they sound dangerous

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He has nothing to apologise for

    I don't see any reason why Sweeny should apologise. He was clearly pushed over the edge by that arrogant little scientology twerp. Clearly they feared him to go to those measures.

    One thing though about scientology is they (the people who run it) are not just crazy fools. It's a well organized confidence trick hiding under the pretence of being a church (thankfully the UK won't recognise them as such). I only feel sorry for the poor souls who get conned into handing over a fortune to these scammers.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Bridge

    For more Scientology craziness check out the low budget movie 'The Bridge' - - directed by Brett Hanover, a young film student who, after being investigated by the 'church', has withdrawn his support for the film with the following statement on his website: "due to copyright issues, I ask that this film be withdrawn from circulation... Do not contact me concerning this film, I am no longer supporting it".

    You'll find some sources for the film at and there are copies floating around on torrent sites:

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No apology needed Sweeny. He would test the patience of a saint.

    Haven't had a lot to do with Scientology beyond knowing that a few A listers from Hollywood are totally into it.

    Are they mad????

    Saw the first part of this doco tonight and I am very concerned. It is sad to think that people can be so desperate to latch onto something so manipulative and dangerous as this cult.

    Surely, with all that money and PR expertise, the CoS could have found someone better as their representative than that smarmy, arrogant, evil man they put forward. If his mother, in her dillusional state, truly believes in the "church" then she should be ashamed of the way he portrayed himself and the damage he has done to their cult.

    Back to the real world now. Hopefully, this documentary (and the many more that should follow) will be enough to warn people to stay out of harms way.

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