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The Church of Fear: Inside The Weird World of Scientology Paperback – 7 Jan 2013

4.2 out of 5 stars 137 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Silvertail Books (7 Jan. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1909269034
  • ISBN-13: 978-1909269033
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (137 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'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

About the Author

John Sweeney is a reporter for BBC Panorama. He is the author of six previous books including the novel Elephant Moon.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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 better, in Church of Fear he is incredibly repetitive. If I hear the phrases 'space alien satan' or 'exploding tomato' again I shall punch whoever utters them. All this is not helped by the typos that litter the Kindle edition, I felt as though I was reading a rough draft rather than a published book. Nevertheless, I enjoyed this book but it certainly has weak points.
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(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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