From his gleaming halo, to his screeching tomato, right down to his iridescent poo, BBC journalist John Sweeney is a hero of mine.
Of all the books that have been written about Scientology recently, if I had only one shot to communicate to someone what Scientology was all about, I would give them John Sweeney’s “Church of Fear”.
This is a review I wrote for Amazon when his book first came out in 2013. It was the tail end of an era when too few journalists had the courage to take on Scientology. Thank God, or John Sweeney, that time has passed.
My Review of John Sweeney’s “The Church of Fear” for Amazon.com back in 2013
Title: “Portrait of a Brutal Totalitarian Brainwashing Cult”
I was a dedicated Scientologist for 16 years. I got out 12 years ago, once I’d had enough experience and information to realize that I was lied to, each of my spiritual vulnerabilities used against me, and was exploited for everything of value that I had willingly given in service to a cause that never existed.
When I first began reading John Sweeney’s book “The Church of Fear”, I laughed out loud at the hilarity of his searing satirical portrait of bumbling brainwashed fanatics, completely unconnected from anything real. I cheered and vengefully pumped my fist at the thought that a mainstream journalist, with such reach as Sweeney, had experienced Scientology’s brainwashing techniques first hand, and was intent on poking this particular crocodile in the eye.
But then I read this, an internal email that Sweeney’s assigned Scientology inquisitor had written to his master, David Miscavige:
”So I’m focused on getting the job done and not having it be a flap and fixing my treasonous caving in and my total betrayal of setting up COB [Miscavige] yesterday. I caused it so I have to fix it. I have no right to criticize Mike or bitch about being where I am with him. It’s up to me to be responsible for both of us and not only handle myself but Mike as well, ML Tommy”
I know this language. It is one that I spoke as a Scientologist for too long. Reading this brought back my own self-debasement which resulted from years of being viciously debased by my own Scientology seniors. All of a sudden none of this was funny anymore. I stopped reading, and only by forcing myself to continue, could I get through the book.
What started out as a triumphant validation of my own battle for justice, turned into a painful realization of my own deep wounds.
Scientology deserves all the ridicule and derisive satire that can be heaped upon it. But Scientology is not funny. It ruins people utterly. It takes a person’s highest hopes and ideals, and his most divine impulses, and it exploits these, and uses them against him, until all the life has been sucked out of him. And then it gives him his own gun, to insert into the roof of his own mouth, to pull the trigger.
John Sweeney’s book is brilliant. Every time he calls them a cult, he proves it. Every time he says that they brainwash people, he proves it. He exposes every lie they told him – for everyone to see.
But if no law enforcement official reads this book and acts, if all other global media pros read this book and continue to hide behind their corporate lawyers, then Scientology will continue, and more people will be harmed. And more people will die.
Thank you, John Sweeney, for this book. Words cannot express the depth of gratitude that I have for what you have done.