“Money, Mysteries, and Controversies: At the Heart of Scientology” – French TV Telling it Like it Is

Money Mysteries & Controversies pic2012 | M6 Network (French TV) | Enquête exclusive (Exclusive Investigation)
Argent, mystères et polémiques: au coeur de la Scientologie
(Money, Mysteries, and Controversies: At the Heart of Scientology)
Part One: Watch Online | Download as .mp4
Part Two: Watch Online | Download as .mp4

This is a 90-minute French television programme with English subtitles which is remarkable for its comprehensive coverage of Scientology worldwide.

At first, the programme makers film  individual Scientologists inside the Paris Org, at the invitation of  the Church.  Scientology tries hard to present themselves positively – but only succeed in providing more then enough rope to hang themselves with.

Then, they move into investigative mode – they travel to Clearwater and the London Org to cover the ‘purification rundown’, ‘volunteer’ ministers, Scientology’s anti-drug front groups and much more. Watch the programme in two video windows, after the ‘read more’ link.

Part One of Two

Scroll down for Part Two (after this text)

After a long  ‘teaser’ introduction containing excerpts from what is to come, the programme starts at 2:08 at an (obviously regimented) ‘protest’ by Scientologists, then cuts to amazing footage of a mother giving her son a ‘touch assist‘. This has to be seen to be believed. The sound track demonstrates how seriously the programme makers take the behaviour of  the ‘model Scientology family’ whom they go on to interview.

In contrast, at (06:18) they switch to the court case which, in 2012, had convicted the Church of Scientology in France of “organised fraud” after 15 years of deliberation and the stunned reaction of Eric Roux, the Church spokesman in France. This leads on (from 07:28) to a discussion of Scientology’s global influence, and the inevitable potted history of the Church.

Somehow the programme managed to obtain permission to film inside Scientology’s Paris HQ. If the Church had hoped for a PR coup, they were to be disappointed. The filming of  their recruitment and sales technique which starts at 09:40 is amazing – a religion with a portable credit card reader.

At 11:47 the e-meter makes it first appearance as part of the amazingly persistent sales pitch of a recruiter. This  is shown to be based on an official sales script. The sales pitch is not about the content of Scientology at all, but purely based on social and psychological pressure.  Coverage of the best example of this – the infamous ‘free personality test’ begins at 18:26.

at 23:44, with the words, “being a scientologist means continually having to fork out money” they follow the ‘sale’ of a new course (which seems to have been staged for their benefit) and film the activities in the ‘study room’ (including the use of a rag doll to teach the touch assists shown earlier). They suggest that this study will never end –  and reveal the price list. This brings them back to Scientology’s conviction in France for “organised fraud” (at 29:45) which they closely examine.

indian VMsAt 30:07 the programme makers examine the activities of Scientology’s Volunteer Ministers, in New York, Haiti Fukushima and especially India (which is covered in depth) .

The programme presents this involvement as a means for Scientology to improve its image and, of course, recruit (in this case by teaching L Ron Hubbard’s  ‘study tech’ to children).

At 37:22 the programme characterises the “International Association of Scientologists” (IAS) as “[…]an organisation whose true aim is to infiltrate institutions using turnkey programmes”. It gives international examples of the activities of Scientology front groups – and demonstrates how all the money made in France passed ‘up lines’ – i.e. back to Clearwater.

Finally, in this first part, (at 40:35) they cover the purification rundown, a Scientology  ‘detox’ programme which employs a dangerous combination of excessive time in an sauna with vitamin overdoses. The programmes attitude is illustrated by snatches of the “Harry Potter” soundtrack that are played when participating Scientologists are interviewed – which turns chilling when they discuss the dangers of this programme with a doctor.

Part Two of Two

Part two takes a more investigative approach – and opens with pictures of the Paris Org’s noticeboard which it captured during filming. This included disciplinary and  “Declaration” documents (formal notifications of the ‘excommunication’ of troublesome members). This was followed up with filming using a hidden camera but, even then, Scientologists were not forthcoming about this repressive aspect of their organisation.

At 01:59 they focus on this aspect, with an  examination of the “Rehabilitation Project Force” (RPF) –  the Church of Scientology’s “punitive re-education camps”, especially the alleged imprisonment of  a French Woman living in Australia, Valeska Paris on the Scientology-owned cruise ship, the “Freewinds”.

At 04:57 (to an extract from the soundtrack to ” A Clockwork Orange” ) the programme returns to France, and Scientology’s efforts “[…] to gain respectability” This includes an inept ‘Sunday service’ presided over by a ‘minister’ complete with a traditional clerical collar. At 07:25 the programme examines Scientology’s political lobbying in Poland, at a meeting of the European organisation the OSCE (accompanied by Scientology-sponsored lawyers).

Mike RinderAt 10:28 the programme jumps from Poland to Scientology’s US HQ in Clearwater, Florida. A film crew is shown around by Mike Rinder, a high-profile defector and closely watched by the Churches intelligence division.

Outside the  “Super Power” building (then still under construction) they discuss Rinder’s  defection,  the practice of ‘disconnection’, and demonstrate Scientology’s practice of keeping high profile defectors under surveillance.

At 14:18 David Miscavige the current un-elected  ‘leader’ of Scientology  is discussed including

  • His instruction to Rinder to construct a Stazi-like ‘security’ apparatus within Scientology  to maintain control over their own people.
  • Miscavige’s propensity for physically abusing his executives and imprisoning them in ‘the hole’

At 18:25 two hardy protesters are interviewed, carrying signs encouraging members of the ‘Sea Org’ to leave and offering support. This leads to a discussion of the decline of Church membership – and Rinder’s opinion that it is only their massive cash reserve that is keeping the organisation afloat.

At 21:16 the programme travels  to London in the UK and and shows  how Scientologists exploited the 2012 Paralympics (an odd choice, as disabled people are considered to be ‘degraded beings’ suffering the consequences of bad choices in previous lives). Concealing their connection to Scientology, members distribute ‘anti-drug’ leaflets on London streets. Coincidentally (?) Scientology’s London press officer is there, handing out leaflets himself, and is interviewed.

At 23:12 there is moment of comic relief, when a band of Hare Krishna devotees pass, chanting. One of the Scientologists offers the opinion that they are “actually part of mainstream Hinduism” (which would come as a great surprise to Britain’s Hindus). The whole exchange was filmed by a Scientologist.

At 23:40, the crew pass on to Scientology’s ostentatious London HQ, pausing to examine the office reserved for the organisation’s founder L Ron Hubbard and discuss the e-meter.  All criticism of Scientology is blamed on “Apostates” by their spokesman.

The programme sums up:

Scientologist claim that, under the leadership of David Miscavige, the movement has been experiencing unprecedented expansion. As for Mike Rinder, the former Scientology official we met in Clearwater, they say he was dismissed for misconduct.  The testimony of Mike Rinder and others speaks volumes about the  state of Scientology today and about its cultish hallmarks: a tyrannical leader guru with a paranoid streak, followers who are cut off from their family if they leave the organisation, and a pseudo-doctrine that serves money and power.

 

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