In 2007 BBC panorama journalist John Sweeney traveled to Los Angeles to investigate the Church of Scientology. Soon after arrival it would become apparent that exploring the inner-workings of the organisation wasn’t going to be easy. What followed was a constant campaign of stalking, harassment and intimidation. He even had his hotel room broken into, and whilst filming his family and neighbours back home in London were harassed by British based representatives of the church. Those events were documented in the 2007 TV feature Scientology and Me.
The Secrets of Scientology is a 2010 follow-up and features interviews with several people who had managed to escape the church, perhaps most interestingly a man named Mike Rinder who was actually assigned the task of following Sweeney while he filmed the first feature. Rinder confirms to Sweeney that he was followed throughout filming. He also discusses his ‘disconnection’ from family, a process that the church purposely go through to get members to cut their families out of their lives.
An interview with another former member, Amy Scobee, revealed that the organisation enacts revenge on those that leave the church. Details of her sex life were disclosed to an American newspaper in an attempt to discredit her after she began to publicly criticize the church. Sweeney returns to America for filming once again and is once more followed by Church representatives, who this time do not attempt to hide their filming and instead attempt to intimidate Sweeney and his crew.
John Sweeney authored the 2013 book The Church of Fear: Inside The Weird World of Scientology, published by Silvertail Books and available in paperback, kindle, and audiobook editions. In the book he tells the full story of his experiences reporting on the Church for the first time.