"Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief," a documentary heavily critical of the organization will debut on HBO on March 29, and the Church of Scientology has responded to it with a five-page letter expressing its views about the movie and what it says to be false claims made by the film makers.
"In two hours this film racks up more falsehoods, errors, embellished tales and blatant omissions than were committed by Rolling Stone, Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly combined," the letter to The Hollywood Reporter stated. "By our calculation, the film on average includes at least one major error every two minutes."
However, "Going Clear" director Alex Gibney defended his film, which is based on the book by Lawrence Wright. He explained that THR "asked [the church] 20 fact-based, reasoned questions. The church didn't respond to any of them. Instead, they sent a five-page letter full of nasty invective character assassinations and innuendo, which is very typical of the church," he said on CNN's "Reliable Sources" on Sunday.
The Church of Scientology has stepped up its defense in the wake of media speculation ever since its debut at the Sundance Film Festival. The organization has purchased advertisements that show up when a user searches Google for the film and leads to a website that also goes after "Going Clear." There have also been several tweets accusing Gibney of lying and simply making the film to slam the organization.
"You know, there's a doctrine in the church called 'fair game,' which means that if there are critics of the church, it's fair game to go after them in any way you can to slander them," Gibney said. "It's interesting to me that a church, which is a religious organization in theory, would spend so much time trying to provoke hatred."
The documentary also calls out members of the Church, including Tom Cruise and John Travolta, who have spoken passionately about their beliefs in the organization. Gibney said that the celebrities are "the reason a lot of people join … they have a recruiting power that's enormous," he said at a Times Talk event.
"To put in the film the fact that they are abusing the power they have by not talking out about the church or not even exploring the abuses I thought was absolutely necessary. Otherwise, you have a lot of innocent people that are tumbling into the church on that account," Gibney added.
"Going Clear" airs on HBO on Sunday, March 29.