Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Sweeney v Scientology: round two

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Three years ago, BBC journalist John Sweeney's bold attempt to break through the Church of Scientology's evasive façade and challenge some of its leading lights on its abuses and the sheer ludicrousness of its doctrines ended in infamy as he lost his cool and ranted at Church spokesman Tommy Davis.

Nevertheless, Sweeney's resulting Panorama documentary was a huge success, providing a rare mainstream media insight into the litigious cult. Since the programme was broadcast, some of Scientology's then-top figures, including Mike Rinder and Marty Rathbun, have left the Church, citing irreconcilable differences with leader David Miscavige (they continue to be "independent Scientologists"). So, John Sweeney has gone back for more, with Rinder and Rathbun as whistleblowers.

Panorama: The Secrets of Scientology is broadcast tonight on BBC One at 9pm - what more could you ask for on a Tuesday night?

It seems one of the people Sweeney speaks to in the programme will be Marc Headley, a Scientology defector who I interviewed earlier this year for New Humanist – he told me about the forced labour and sheer madness at the heart of Scientology, so it might make a good preview read before tonight's documentary.

Also, it's worth noting that, on the same day as the Panorama is broadcast, John Dixon, the Cardiff councillor accused of breaking the council's code of conduct after calling Scientology "stupid" on Twitter, faces his "standards and ethics committee" hearing. Good luck to him. Hopefully he'll be able to sit back in peace tonight and watch Sweeney demonstrate just how stupid Scientology is.

And in case you need a recap, here's the video of Sweeney's 2007 meltdown:

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