Scientologists Angry About Unflattering Documentary

'Going Clear' due to premiere on Jan. 25
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 16, 2015 1:15 PM CST
Scientologists Angry About Unflattering Documentary
In this 2004 photo, Tom Cruise, left, embraces the leader of the Church of Scientology, David Miscavige, during the official opening of a new Scientology church in central Madrid.   (AP Photo/Paul White)

A documentary about Scientology debuts at Sundance later this month, and the church is not happy about it. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, from filmmaker Alex Gibney, includes interviews with people who have left the religion behind, and starting today, the Church of Scientology is expected to launch full-page newspaper ads decrying Gibney's "journalistic lapses," the New York Times reports. Specifically, the ad asks whether the documentary is "a Rolling Stone/UVA Redux." The church says Gibney rejected a dozen requests to meet and talk about the church's problems with the film, but Gibney says all of the current church officials and members he asked to interview for the film "either declined, did not respond, or set unreasonable conditions."

The documentary is based on a book by Lawrence Wright that focuses on "how people become prisoners of faith in various ways," Gibney says. The book also features interviews with ex-Scientologists who claim physical and emotional abuse, accusations that the church denies. The church also denies the claim, featured in both the book and the movie, that Scientology is losing members; one spokesperson, in fact, claims the religion is growing. Gibney says he feels confident about the film's claims, but it is still undergoing a legal review before its Jan. 25 premiere. It will then have a limited theater release before premiering on HBO on March 16. The church has not yet seen the film, and Gibney says church reps "seem to be warning us, but warning us without knowing" what's actually in it. (Read more Scientology stories.)

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