Journalist Tony Ortega, who is interviewed in Going Clear, recently revealed that some of the more hardcore members of the Church see Cruise, and their other celebrity spokespeople, as merely ornaments. As quoted by Yahoo Movies, Ortega said at a recent luncheon with the doc’s filmmakers,
Sea Org [a wing of the church] members in particular think of celebrities as useless — they don’t have a lot of respect for them. In fact, when Cruise got that medal and [church leader David] Miscavige stood up and called him ‘the best Scientologist I know,’ I’ve talked to several former Sea Org members that were in that audience that night who said it was like a slap in the face. Because these people work 17 hours a day, they completely give up any relationship with outside family — they are hardcore. And they think of the celebrities as ornaments. They don’t take them very seriously. So when Miscavige started taking celebrities more seriously, that was actually controversial inside the church.
This isn’t the first Cruise-related claim that Going Clear has lodged against the Church. Those who have already seen the film at its Sundance premiere reported that he plays a major part, specifically regarding allegations that the Church was highly involved in the actor’s split from Nicole Kidman. According to Scientology defector Marty Rathbun, Scientologists turned Kidman’s kids against her through re-education, and tapped her phones upon request from Cruise and a high-ranking Church official. Going Clear director Alex Gibney said that the reason the doc is spotlighting Cruise and celebrities in this manner is not to victimize them. He explained during the luncheon that celebrities like Cruise are given an enormous amount of power and influence, and with it comes a certain degree of responsibility.
As expected, the Church has been firing back. Since the film’s premiere, it established a site called FreedomMag.org. Its main goal is to debunk every claim Going Clear lodges against them. In a lengthy statement on the site, the Church says that those featured in Gibney’s film are known liars "whose living depends on the filing of false claims." The Church has even thrown a lot of money and effort into promoting their site through social media and SEO promotions. For instance, if you Google phrases like "Alex Gibney" or "Going Clear," Freedom Mag is the first search result that pops up. And that’s not a coincidence.
Going Clear premieres on HBO on March 29.