This half hour episode on Scientology relates itself to the story that Scientologists want their crazy little cult to be recognized as a proper religion in Britain, however, a court ruling had been passed a few years ago in which it was deemed unfit to fall into the category of a real religion, on account of it being corrupt and sinister. So not at all like other religions then.
Anyway, this normally sobering staple of BBC discharge begins as usual with that walking face Jeremy Vine standing all huddled up in his scarf and mack looking every inch the concerned journalist. (Why does it feel like winter whenever he appears on screen?) Normally Vine himself dominates proceedings, but thankfully this time the reigns are handed over to John Sweeney, but not before Vine sardonically bellows – “Whatever you do, don’t call Scientology a cult.”
For the first half of the show Sweeney attempts to meet and interview some of those disilliusioned by Scientology, who, for whatever reason, have little good to say about life in the cult. It seemed though, that wherever Sweeney went, sinister man-in-black Tommy Davis lurked somewhere close behind. Davis is a spokesman of the church of scientology and frequently appears out of nowhere to besmirch someone’s name. That is his job.
If you saw the programme, you’ll have seen Sweeney at one point interviewing a man who was quite reasonably criticizing Scientology, only to be interrupted by the menacing Davis, who got out of a nearby car with a list in his hand comprising of minor crimes the man had committed, which he proceeded to read to Sweeney. Obviously he was trying to discredit the man in order to render his testimony untrustworthy. These crimes included smoking a bit of pot. This is what they do. Criticize the weirdos at your own risk.
Even taking into account the BBC’s traditionally sneaky methods of editing, Davis comes across like a nasty little fascist who never shuts up. Not only is he a brainwashed numpty but he appears incapable of having a conversation. Several times he would make a point but when Sweeney tried to comment he was drowned out by an agressive Davis yelling – “Now you listen to me for a second!”, before embarking on rants that sounded like Hitler’s might’ve after a botched lobotomy or two.
Given this, it’s not surprising that Sweeney finally cracked and screamed at Davis like a broken torture victim. Although this sequence didn’t make it into the show in full, you can see the clip on YouTube (posted there by some of Scientology’s own documentary makers as part of a smear campaign against Panorama). Even though Sweeney goes demented, Davis continues to ramble inanely all the way through it, regardless. It’s quite surreal.
This episode was advertised on the promise of interviews with some of Scientology’s celebrity disciples, including Juliette Lewis (whom I had thought better of) and Kirstie Alley, (whom I hadn’t) but the most we were allowed was a real dopey quote from the massive-faced John Travolta, who claimed that Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe could have been saved by the cult. If this means that Travolta isn’t going to die any time soon then I may really start hating Scientology. The other interviews apparently went a bit skew-whiff due to Sweeney’s unsympathetic line of questioning. By this I mean that he asked them for their thoughts on L. Ron Hubbard’s flannel-juice fairy tale about the warlord Xenu, who was, according to Hubbsy, an intergalactic dictator back in the day. 75 million years ago to be precise. The story goes that Xenu brought billions of aliens to earth, stuffed them into volcanoes and blew them up with hydrogen bombs (he didn’t fuck around). Their souls then merged and stuck to the bodies of the living (?), and they continue to wreak havoc today (something reeks, but it ain’t havoc). Disappointingly we don’t get to hear Lewis or Alley’s reactions to Sweeney’s questions, but their bewildered expressions said it all. Unsurprisingly, Tommy Davis was present, barking at Sweeney that he sounded ridiculous for asking.
Quite where Hubbard gleaned this information from is beyond me, but to procure the name of a 75 million year old spaceman constitutes some impressive research.
Scientologists are clearly embarrassed about this little stain on their belief structure and are now backpeddling in an attempt to edit their core beliefs, Although i don’t know why, because to me it’s no more unbelievable than most religious ideologies anyway.
So now I’ve said my piece about Scientology I have to change my identity and flee the country. They don’t like being criticized y’know…