Scientology Film Causes Controversy With Tom Cruise and John Travolta
One of the most talked about films from the Sundance Film Festival is Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief and buzz is continuing to build after the movie’s creators appeared on TimesTalk.
Two well-known critics of the religion appeared in the film to discuss its controversial qualities. Moderator Logan Hill said he was surprised to discover that much of the work was centered on Tom Cruise and John Travolta’s involvement in Scientology .
“I was struck by the film’s focus on Travolta and Cruise,” Hill said. “It seemed designed to and really put specific pressure on Travolta and Cruise to either reform or apostatize.”
But Director Alex Gibney explained why the documentary focus was on the two high-profile members, stating that the two actors have “power” because of their special A-list status.
He went on to explain: “The fact is they are the front of the church. They are the reason a lot of people join, particularly Tom Cruise. They have a recruiting power that’s enormous. To put in the film the fact that they are abusing the power they have by not talking out about the Church or not even exploring the abuses I thought was absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you have a lot of innocent people that are tumbling into the church on that account,” he went on to explain.
Scientologist have slammed the documentary, calling the film “dishonest.” They are claiming the film is based on accounts by “admitted liars and professional anti-Scientologists.” In a statement to People Magazine, the Church has said that to imply that Travolta and Cruise have “recruiting power is ridiculous.”
“Certainly Mr. Cruise and Mr. Travolta are prominent Scientologists but that is due to their prominence as celebrities and their professional accomplishments,” a spokesperson from the Church told the People Magazine. “They hold no position within the Church. They are parishioners who like other parishioners are busy with their careers and families. This is no different than other religions who have prominent members.”