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Former Scientologist featured in new documentary 'Going Clear'




(L-R) Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright, Mike Rinder and Paul Haggis attend TimesTalks Presents An Evening With
(L-R) Alex Gibney, Lawrence Wright, Mike Rinder and Paul Haggis attend TimesTalks Presents An Evening With "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" at The Times Center on March 2, 2015, in New York City.
Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

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Is it a religion or a cult? New Yorker journalist Lawrence Wright  takes on the Church of Scientology alongside renowned documentarian Alex Gibney in the upcoming HBO documentary film "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief," based on Wright's book of the same name. 

"Going Clear" — which open in theaters in Los Angeles this weekend and on HBO later on March 29 — details the interstellar dogma of Scientology, weaves through its history, the dramatic life story of founder L.Ron Hubbard and condemns the organization for abusing and exploiting its followers.

On-camera interviews with former members include Hollywood screenwriter Paul Haggis and former church liaison to John Travolta, Sylvia "Spanky" Taylor, who claims she was imprisoned in horrible conditions after trying to leave the church.  

In response to the documentary, the church of Scientology has taken out full-page newspaper ads arguing that "Gibney, co-producer Lawrence Wright and HBO have intentionally covered up relevant facts discrediting their sources speaks volumes about their bigoted agendas and the bias they hold toward people of any faith that doesn’t carry their stamp of approval."

Why did Gibney and Wright want to take on the notoriously litigious church? Why does Scientology continue to be cloaked in mystery?

Guests:

Sylvia "Spanky" Taylor, former member of the Church of Scientology featured in the documentary; former church liaison to actor John Travolta

Lawrence Wright, Producer of the documentary "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief," based on Wright's book by the same name