Everyone’s favourite wacky rich people cult takes centre stage in this documentary for Channel 4’s new director strand First Cut. Joseph Martin directs this frightening insight into the Church of Scientology and the sinister way it treats its defectors and critics.
We meet Marty Rathbun, once a high-level member of the Church of Scientology, now a Squirrel. Oh yeah, Squirrel is Scientologist for defector or heretic. Remember, this is a Church who charge you $100,000 to learn sci-fi writer L. Ron Hubbard’s creation myth which is something to do with a super alien called Xenu.
Rathbun had spent many years loyal to the church’s leader David Miscavige, having signed a billion year contract (seriously). He specialised in “auditing”, the process of pseudo-therapy described by Hubbard in his canonical book Dianetics, and enlisting celebrities to the church; he was the man responsible for converting Tom Cruise (to Scientology, I hasten to add). But Rathbun then fell out of favour with Miscavige and was sent to an institution known as “The Hole” for “correction.” He managed to escape and began to blog about the church’s disturbing practices, but soon found himself and his new wife harassed by members of the church calling themselves “The Squirrel Busters.” In a cruel twist of irony, Rathbun found himself the victim of methods he had once helped to develop.
Scientologists at War is an intriguing and creepy insight into the disturbing behaviour of the Church of Scientology. Apparently Hubbard taught that critics of Scientology must be silenced by any means necessary; we meet one defector who found herself wildly accused of child trafficking. Defectors will be spied on, bankrupted and disconnected from their friends and families. Rathbun himself was harassed for 200 days. It sounds almost biblical. Sorry, dianetical.
Scientologists at War airs on Channel 4, Mon 17 June at 9pm.