The Church of Scientology has a problem with free speech, according to three speakers who have dared to question the Church’s self-certification of itself as a religion and the claim made by its apostles, Tom Cruise and John Travolta, that it is a force for good. N.B. We have contacted the London branch of the Church of Scientology to send a representative, but have not had a reply from them. We’ll have an open chair on stage if they change their mind.
US journalist Tony Ortega, author of an acclaimed biography, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, John Sweeney, the BBC Panorama journalist and author of The Church Of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology and the publisher of both books, Humfrey Hunter, explain what it is like to question the word and the worth of the Church that likes to wear dark glasses.
Tony Ortega has written about Scientology as a journalist for nearly 20 years, and began working with Paulette Cooper about her life story while he was still at the Voice. Ortega appears in Alex Gibney’s HBO-produced documentary about Scientology, Going Clear, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
John Sweeney is a writer and journalist. His philosophy as a reporter is: ‘I poke crocodiles, if crocodiles they be, in the eye with a stick.’ He’s helped free seven people falsely accused of killing their babies and reported on wars, revolutions and trouble in 80 countries, but he’s most famous for doing an impression of an exploding tomato while investigating the Church of Scientology.
Humfrey Hunter previously published John Sweeney’s book, The Church of Fear: Inside the Weird World of Scientology, and last year brought Russell Miller’s landmark biography of Scientology’s founder, Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard, back into print for the first time in 27 years.