“Will HBO’s “Going Clear” Change the Church of Scientology forever?” by Kimberly Winston, The Huffington Post, March 26-2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/26/going-clear-scientology_n_6950122.html
Once again the Scientology is under the fire of popular media, this time in HBO’s new explosive documentary about the church, “Going Clear”. The documentary which is based on Lawrence Wright’s popular book of the same name, highlights the church’s origins by creator L. Ron Hubbard, the celebrities who made the religion intriguing to the world, and provides allegedly “horrific abuse” stories from the former members.
The church traces its origin to Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer who created it as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics. It incorporates a set of beliefs, self-help system that’s aimed at providing individuals with understanding of their true spiritual nature and relationships with self and the surrounding world. According to Hammer and Rothstein (2012) one of the most striking features of this religious movements that it does not prevents its members from participating in other religions (p. 134. The Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements) as long as they exercise their loyalty to the Scientology and its beliefs.
Up to this day Scientology remains as one of the most controversial new religious movements. It is often criticized for enforcing strict control over its members, financial manipulations and is notorious for filing countless lawsuits against organizations and individuals that publicly criticize its work. Not surprisingly, a considerable amount of investigations by several groups such as media, freelance journalists and government agencies has been aimed at discrediting the church.
Although advertising itself as an international success, it is believed by many that on contrary Scientology is entering the age of decline. Kimberly Winston thinks that critique media productions such as “Going Clear” are to blame for it. Such documentaries allow the audience to “look into the eyes of former Scientologist as they describe the years of abuse they suffered..” which then helps individuals to make informed decision on whether they want to join the church or not….and according to Winston this has become a major concern for Scientology. American Religious Identification Survey shows less and less people joining the church every year, with a scant amount of 25,000 members total in America. And if movie stars like John Travolta and Tom Cruise that belong to Scientology definitely heighten its profile, critique documentaries like “Going clear” may eventually cause the church to “become no more than the Real-Estate holding Company”.