Thursday March 26, 2015

Ex-Scientology spokesman Mike Rinder on 'Going Clear'

A new HBO documentary, directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Alex Gibney, documents allegations by former Church of Scientology members.

A new HBO documentary, directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Alex Gibney, documents allegations by former Church of Scientology members. (HBO documentary films)

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Mike Rinder was once a very public face of the Church of Scientology. For years, the former spokesperson made the media rounds, defending Scientology against detractors — but in 2007, he left the church and became one of its critics. 

Rinder is now a key voice in Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, a new HBO documentary directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Alex Gibney (The Armstrong Lie) ​and based on the book by Lawrence Wright. The film documents allegations by former Church members, including Rinder's claims that he endured beatings and other punishments while still a member.

Today he joins guest host Piya Chattopadhyay to reflect on his longtime commitment to Scientology, why he didn't go quietly, and why he thinks people should believe him, despite the Church's vehement denials.

Going Clear airs on HBO in the U.S. this Sunday night, and will be playing in movie theatres in Canada in the next few weeks.

Scientology's response

When we reached out to the Church of Scientology for comment, we were directed to a letter written by a Church representative to the President of HBO Documentary Films. That letter alleges Mr. Rinder is a "known liar" who is "a rabid anti-Scientologist who was removed in disgrace" from his role in the Church. They also allege Mr. Rinder has been paid by enemies of Scientology for his testimony against the Church.

They have also said that all of Mike Rinder's claims, including that of ongoing abuse and the Hole prison, are unsubstantiated and they deny them; and they claim that Mike Rinder has "a personal vendetta" against David Miscavige.

The Church of Scientology's lawyers have also indicated that Alex Gibney's documentary is "misleading and defamatory."