The Church of Scientology has hit back at filmmaker Alex Gibney’s exposé “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief,” which aired Sunday night on HBO.

Based on Lawrence Wright’s book of the same name, the documentary portrays Scientology as a nefarious, highly secretive organization whose abuses of its members include intimidation, physical violence and blackmail.

Former members interviewed in the movie — including filmmaker Paul Haggis — allege the forced “disconnection” of family members, slave labor on Scientology’s Sea Org ships, physical abuse by church leader David Miscavige, and the existence of a prison camp to punish and control senior church officials. In allegations involving the church’s most famous members, “Going Clear” says church authorities made efforts to undermine Tom Cruise’s marriage to Nicole Kidman (they eventually divorced) and retained an extensive blackmail file to keep John Travolta in check.

Since the film’s January debut at the Sundance Film Festival, its participants have reportedly received threats of physical violence and financial devastation. Gibney told The Wrap:

“Most of the real vitriol is for the people who were in the film. They’ve received threats of physical harm, threats of having their homes taken away, threats of being forced into bankruptcy. They’re being followed by private eyes and surveilled.”

In response, a church spokesperson issued the following statement:

Alex Gibney is proving to be exactly like the sources in his film–no accusation is too irresponsible to make. It doesn’t matter if he lacks corroboration and proof, it’s all about promoting his movie.

Each and every one of the allegations in your questions is absolutely false and rejected. Alex Gibney is getting desperate and is now resorting to ludicrous, made-up claims. The Wrap should ask him for his proof.

First, there has not been one physical or financial threat of harm from the Church to anyone. These are more lies from the same admitted liars who Gibney glorifies in his film.

Second, I have in my hands court records where Monique Rathbun [wife of ex-high ranking Scientologist Mark “Marty” Rathbun] stated under oath that she has no idea who sent those items to her at her office. She also conceded she had no evidence and had made the allegations against the Church without specific or direct evidence. In other words, court records contradict the accusation Alex Gibney made, which is exactly what he did during the entire making of this film – ignore facts and court records. There are countless more examples if you are interested.

Finally, as for [former member] Spanky Taylor the Church has not made one threat against her. Again that is made-up garbage.

The full statement provides links to Freedom, Scientology’s online magazine, in which the documentary’s participants are subjected to what can only be described as a smear campaign.

–Posted by Roisin Davis

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