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The Church of Fear: Inside The Weird World of Scientology

The Church of Fear: Inside The Weird World of Scientology [Kindle Edition]

John Sweeney
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)

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'A bold and swashbuckling reporter...let him shout: at least he shouts the truth' MAIL ON SUNDAY 'Gripping' THE ECONOMIST 'A brave book' LIVERPOOL DAILY POST 'Blackly comic' THE NEW HUMANIST

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Tom Cruise and John Travolta say the Church of Scientology is a force for good. Others disagree. Award-winning journalist John Sweeney investigated the Church for more than half a decade. During that time he was intimidated, spied on and followed and the results were spectacular: Sweeney lost his temper with the Church's spokesman on camera and his infamous 'exploding tomato' clip was seen by millions around the world. In THE CHURCH OF FEAR Sweeney tells the full story of his experiences for the first time and paints a devastating picture of this strange organisation, from former Scientologists who tell heartbreaking stories of families torn apart and lives ruined to its current followers who say it is the solution to many of mankind's problems. This is the real story of the Church by the reporter who was brave enough to take it on.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant investigative cult exposé 7 Jan 2013
By Betty
Format:Kindle Edition
Utterly compelling. Our own John Sweeney is practically revered in the United States for the investigations he has undertaken to expose the terrifying cult of Scientology which, because of America's enshrined sense of religious freedom, has been allowed to enter the mainstream with barely a whimper of protest. It's thanks to the courage of investigative reporters like Sweeney, Paulette Cooper, Tony Ortega, and others, and recent high profile articles in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines that the abuses of the 'church' are now so widely recognised. This is one truly scary (and powerful, and wealthy beyond imagining) cult, made famous by its policy of love-bombing (with a view to ensnaring) celebrities like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, to name but a few.

In this book, Sweeney discusses the making of his original CoS documentary where he famously exploded in rage on-screen in response to intense psychological warfare from a church determined to crush his investigation and, subsequently, have him fired from the BBC. It's a testament to Sweeney that he refused to back down, despite admitting to being more afraid at that time than he had ever been when reporting from war zones around the globe, and the groundbreaking Panorama documentary, 'Scientology and Me' (and the follow-up, 'The Secrets of Scientology'), was the result.

Seriously fascinating stuff. Highly recommended to fans of secretive cult exposés, cracking investigative journalism, and free speech.
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48 of 54 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
(Let me get one thing out of the way: I am not a neutral party, I'm part of the group that protested in England and I was in the background of the video taken from inside the Tottenham Court Rd shop for Mike Rinder's denial of David Miscavige being violent; my title refers to criminal convictions against the organisation itself, in France and in Canada.)

The main reason I recommend that people buy and read this book is to find out what it was like for John Sweeney to investigate this organisation. The information about previous lawsuits, about previous criminal behaviour and about behaviour which is presently the subject only of allegations (like David Miscavige's violence and his failing mental health) is present and correct, but it is not the new story. The story is the extents the scientology organisation would go to in order to stop John Sweeney from making a documentary at all. When John Sweeney cracked under pressure and lost his temper, the original documentary became about that event. This book is about the background for that event.

The BBC did know that the organisation would go far to stop any investigations, and they had indeed decided to see how bad the harassment would get. What makes this book interesting is that not only the private communications between the harassers and the person conveying the orders but also one of the main harassers who turned against the cult leader were available to John Sweeney for this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUPERB JOURNALIST, SUPERB BOOK 15 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
John Sweeney is a superb journalist, who combines passion for the truth with humour, an eye for nuance, and zeal for getting the story.
This book expands upon his excellent work on two editions of the BBC's 'Panorama', the first of which in 2007 led to his infamous shouting episode.
The book takes us behind the scenes, and fleshes out the background to his time spent investigating the church. It's scary, funny, thrilling and very necessary.
Sweeney is a rare beast: as good a broadcaster as he is a writer. His unfussy, self-deprecating style is a joy. His work is important. Do buy and read this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very reserved intelligent tomato. 23 Dec 2013
By Glen
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is really for those that watched and enjoyed the expose by Sweeney and Panorama a few years ago of the Church Of Scientology, in order to fully appreciate it.

It will have you shaking your head in disbelief that such an institution can freely exist in a modern society, and how so many people can be suckered into believing in its teachings when they are so obviously based on such abject fantasy.

Well worth the cover price being charged, and tenaciously written by the patient and amazingly reserved and not at all inexcusably exploding tomato he portrays himself as- John Sweeney.

A fine informative accompaniment to the programme.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting 10 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Good background to the infamous Panorama episode and subsequent events and details the extent to which this organisation goes to control criticism and public image. Would recommend you read Bare-Faced Messiah as well.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A superb piece of journalism 27 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This really is a superb piece of journalism, detailing as it does the dark and disturbing world of former and existing members of quite possibly the world's most controversial religion. How do you define religion, and is the Church of Scientology justified in calling itself that - what about their critics who state it is really more of a cult and what exactly is a cult, how are such things defined and where do you draw the line - all these things and more are discussed in this deeply disturbing piece of writing.

John Sweeney is best known for his Panorama documentary which is loosely based around this book - this should perhaps be written the other way around, for this book was written as a companion to those who watched that programme and saw his infamous "tomato" episode, where the echelons of the "Church" deliberately goaded him into losing his rag. Their covert surveillance of John's team and everything that they do is by far the most sinister and the almost Godlike persona that the Church leader has leave me in doubt as what side of the fence I sit on when deciding whether this is a cult or not. If you though really want to know, you will have to read this book for yourself.

It is somewhat difficult for me to rate this book, because on the one hand, it is difficult read, but on the other it Is most definitely one of the best written from a journalistic viewpoint that I have read in a long while. Because it does tend to waffle in places, I would probably give it 4.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A great humanistic story
This book is less about scientology than it is about authoritarianism in general. It is about the maintenance of money and power through espionage, intimidation, lies, legal writs,... Read more
Published 25 days ago by TonyS
4.0 out of 5 stars An informative yet disturbing read.
For anybody who saw John Sweeney's Panorama meltdown whilst filming their Scientology investigation, this should be required reading. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Momento.
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject, poor writing
This book is a strange beast - the subject is fascinating but the writing is terrible. Although Sweeney may be a very good investigative journalist, and perhaps his other books are... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr TT Fair
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 Stars for Bravery
I found this book fascinating but decided to give it 5 stars because of the bravery it took to write it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by R N McConnachie
4.0 out of 5 stars John Sweeney, Church of Fear
As another reviewer mentioned, this is more or less an account of the author's experiences whilst gathering information and guestioning allegations made about Scientology by... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Deb
5.0 out of 5 stars exploding tomatoes
A fascinating insight into Scientology and the events surrounding the production of two editions of Panorama back in 2007 and 2010.
Published 2 months ago by danofthewibble
3.0 out of 5 stars The Church of fear: Inside the weird world of Scientology
I heard a discussion on the radio about Scientology and I wanted to read more about it. This book is partly based on testimonies from people who have left the group. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jack Russell
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful but a bit repetitious
A really interesting review of what does truly seem to be a weird and self-obsessed and somewhat scary organisation. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Peter Mercer
5.0 out of 5 stars Weirder than you thought
The "Church" of Scientology is, apparently, a seriously odd place, which cares little for a bit of investigative journalism. Interesting, if chilling, book.
Published 3 months ago by Peter Bull
3.0 out of 5 stars Scientology
Have always been fascinated with this sect, and thought I would learn some home truths about them, however this book is so long winded and at times repetitive, that I stopped... Read more
Published 3 months ago by g gadsden
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