There’s already a lot of interest in Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary, Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, with many wondering if the Church Of Scientology will try to suppress it (indeed some wondered if they’d attempt to do so before its Sundance premiere), as it doesn’t exactly paint a rosy picture of the ‘religion’.
One of its claims, according to Buzzfeed, is that once the Church had converted John Travolta, it used its resources to try and ensure he stayed in the closet (it has long been suggested Scientology is pretty homophobic), and would go out and try to silence those who suggested he might be gay. It’s something they were only partially successful with, as over the years numerous people have come forward saying John prefers men, whether it’s former colleagues, alleged male lovers or those who, a couple of years ago, tried to sue him for sexual assault.
Travolta himself has rarely directly addressed the rumours, but the documentary suggests that may be because Scientology was doing the job for him behind the scenes.
Ex-Scientologist Marty Rathbun, who is now one of the organisations most vociferous critics, says “On many occasions, we were sent out to get with his [Travolta’s] publicist, to get with his lawyer to help squash or intimidate these people who were making accusations against him.
It’s also suggested that the Church keeps ‘a black PR package’ on Travolta, which includes private confessions that he is gay, gained during the ‘auditing’ process that is central to Scientology.
As Lawrence Wright, co-producer and author of Going Clear, the 2013 book on which the film is based, puts it, “Once that happened, I think he was really the church’s captive.”
However Wright is certainly not keen to see Travolta as a victim, adding, “When they were facing lawsuits and stuff like that, he’d be brought forward and make his testimony about how great Scientology is. He had the opportunity to affect the behavior of the church. And he chose not to.”
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief premieres on HBO in the US on March 29th.