Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive

Newsnight, 17th September 1996 BBC2 22:30

Video continues in part two

Transcription by Lance S. Buckley.

This section is a brief introduction to the controversy, and introduces the issues and protagonists prior to a studio debate. The transcript of the studio debate will follow soon. This bit took me ages, I'm phuqued and in need of sleep. Believe me, if you think this bit is damaging to the reputation of the CoS in the UK, just wait 'till you read the studio discussion. It's a classic. One thing I couldn't get across just by typing this in, was the tone of disbelief in the voices of the anchorman Peter Snow, and the reporter Jeremy Vine. At some points in the proceedings I'm sure that Jeremy had to do many retakes due to uncontrollable giggling fits. When Peter Snow was talking, you could hear the incredulity in his voice and you -knew- he just wanted to blurt out ".. and get this!...". It's a crying shame we were unaware of HJ's visit. A picket outside the London Org or CC would have got nation-wide coverage today. Enjoy! -Lance.

[Medium shot: Newsreader Peter Snow at desk]

Peter Snow: "It calls itself a church and it claims some eight million adherents around the world, but it's methods have been causing controversy for more than three decades. And tomorrow it starts to advertise itself on British television. The Church of Scientology has been told that it's been cleared to advertise by the Independent Television Commission. As Jeremy Vine reports, this has aroused a lively debate about just what the limits of freedom should be."

[Cut to: British Scientology commercial. Cheesy music, and a collection of beautiful people of all races saying the word "Trust" in their own language]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "Here is the face of Scientology the controversial church would like everyone to recognise. This is the new approved advert, it's shiny happy message will run on cable TV channels tomorrow. It's a big breakthrough for the church. One that may broaden it's congregation, perhaps even bring it's message into the mainstream."

Advert's voice-over: "On the day we can fully trust each other, there will be peace on Earth..."

[Misc shots of US Scientology billboards]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "The question of just how accessible Scientology actually is, initially held up the Independent Television Commission's decision to allow to allow the church to complete it's move from American poster sites to British TV. But there's also Scientology's rather strange image."

[Cut to Close-up of Woman. Caption says "Reconstruction of Therapy"]

Woman: "Stand up!"

Male voice (out of shot): "Acknowledge it as loudly as you can."

Woman: "Thankyou!"

Male voice: "Command it as loudly as you can."

Woman: Sit down on that chair!"

[Cut to: A chair, with an ashtray obediently sitting on it.]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "So is this a real religion that merits advertising space?"

[Cut to: Interior of a London taxi. Heber Jentzsch is talking to an unnamed woman who I recognise as Rachael Ryerson, who along with her husband Greg (They are joint Directors of Special Affairs) was allowed to stomp all over Martin Poulter during their appearance together on the show Cyber.Cafe.]

Heber Jentzsch (Gesturing): "The closest we come to it is..."

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "A signal of the importance of the ITC decision was the presence in London of Scientology's world leader..."

[A little sandwich-board style sign outside the rather tatty London Celebrity Centre in Ladbroke Grove]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "... who's in charge of defending the religion."

[Taxi arriving outside the London Celebrity Centre. Heber Jentzsch alights and talks in the street to the reporter Jeremy Vine]

Heber Jentzsch: "What I'm going to do is, um.. I'll go up here and er.. see what er.."

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "Given that the church is said to be accessible, we asked the Reverend Heber Jentzsch if he'd takes us into one of his outlets. Having arrived without warning he said we'd better wait outside"

[Heber Jentzsch and Rachael Ryerson enter the CC]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "The high pressure sales tactics reputedly used to attract new members..."

[Cut to: Exterior shot looking up at the CC]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "...were not much in evidence on this occasion. Eventually the message came back. Access was being denied..."

[Cut to: Heber Jentzsch exiting the CC onto the street. He is alone.]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "...because the staff felt private."

Heber Jentzsch: "I just spoke with the executive director and she said, you know, this is a surprise visit. They didn't even know I was coming of course."

Jeremy Vine: "That would be a big thing for them?"

Heber Jentzsch: "Well it's a big thing for them but um..."

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "So we had our sermon on the street."

Heber Jentzsch: "Close your eyes for a second. OK. Think of a cat. OK. Did you see a cat?"

Jeremy Vine: "Yes."

Heber Jentzsch: "What did it look like? What was it doing?"

Jeremy Vine: "It was black."

Heber Jentzsch: "A black cat. OK, good. Now your eyes were closed, so what was looking at the cat?"

Jeremy Vine (at a loss): "I suppose I was."

Heber Jentzsch: "OK. Your eyes were closed, and you were looking into the mind. The mind is composed of pictures, and you saw a picture in the mind. So what people do up there is, they're able to look into the mind, and find those moments of pain and unconsciousness or trauma or loss."

[Cut to: Graphic. Green on Black "What is Scientology?"]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "Scientology was set up in 1950 by the science fiction writer Lafayette, or L. Ron Hubbard. In essence he thought humans were vessels for immortal souls called Thetans, who created the universe. The Thetan's enemies are called Engrams. They're disruptive forces. Someone's engrams can be measured with electrodes, and it's said purged through a practise known as Dianetics, an intense form of therapy."

[Jeremy Vine outside the London Celebrity Centre]

Jeremy Vine: "Some though have very clear memories of the 1984 high court judgement in which Scientology was described as 'A religion based on lies and deceit, whose real objectives are money and power' and that was a judge speaking! But Scientologists are very keen to make sure remarks like that do not stick, and they're prepared to use the law to counter-attack."

[Claudia Milne: Executive Producer of 20/20 television who made the infamous UK documentary on the CoS using a secret camera in St. Hill]

Claudia Milne: "As soon as they found out about our interest, they deluged us with faxes, with spurious so-called facts in them. Threatened us with legal action if we didn't include those spurious facts. They tried to stop the program by issuing a private prosecution against myself and a reporter claiming we had obtained services by deception."

[Cut to: Graphic. Green on Black "What is Scientology?"]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "In fact critics of Scientology say the religion's devotees are positively litigious. Intimidating detractors by following the advice of L. Ron Hubbard, who's on record as saying 'The purpose of a lawsuit is to harass and discourage, rather than win. Don't ever defend, always attack. Be alert to sue for slander at the slightest chance'."

[Martin Poulter and Jeremy Vine at a PC running Netscape. Martin's WWW pages are on display]

Martin Poulter: "...there's also information about the Scientology attack on the Internet."

Jeremy Vine: "Containing lots of emails and so-on?"

Martin Poulter (recovering well): "That's right, um... "

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "This Internet user says he's been on the receiving end, ever since he wrote a notice criticising Scientology."

Martin Poulter: "I'm one of tens of people around the world who've been threatened with legal action via email by the Scientologists, about things we've posted to the Internet, and in fact there are eight major court cases going on now in different countries, arising from the Scientology discussion group."

[Cut to: Medium shot of Bonnie Woods]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "And ever since this ex-Scientologist left, she says she's been pursued by lawyers"

Bonnie Woods: "Well in my own personal experience, I'm currently involved in litigation with Scientology, in libel actions. Those were a result of the work that I began to do five years ago as "Escape" which is a Christian ministry."

[Cut to: Interior of Taxi. Heber Jentzsch is talking to Rachael Ryerson, who is listening oh-so intently]

Heber Jentzsch: "... and with Mr. Hubbard's quote at the end, 'On the day you can... we can fully trust each other there will be peace on Earth'..."

[Rachael Ryerson nods sagely]

Jeremy Vine voice-over: "The Scientology bandwagon rolls on regardless, but its big break into television has reminded some they would like to see it leave town."

[Cut to: Taxi containing Heber Jentzsch and Rachael drives off into London's traffic]

Forward to Part 2: Studio Discussion

Up: Martin Poulter > Scientology Criticism > UK Media Archive