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Publisher's Summary

Tom Cruise and John Travolta say the Church of Scientology is a force for good. Others disagree.
Award-winning journalist John Sweeney investigated the Church for more than half a decade. During that time he was intimidated, spied on, and followed, and the results were spectacular: Sweeney lost his temper with the Church's spokesman on camera, and his infamous 'exploding tomato' clip was seen by millions around the world.
In The Church Of Fear, Sweeney tells the full story of his experiences for the first time and paints a devastating picture of this strange organisation, from former Scientologists who tell heartbreaking stories of families torn apart and lives ruined to its current followers who say it is the solution to many of mankind's problems.
This is the real story of the Church by the reporter who was brave enough to take it on.
John Sweeney is a reporter for BBC Panorama. He is the author of six previous books including the novel Elephant Moon.
©2013 John Sweeney (P)2015 Audible, Ltd
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Critic Reviews

"A bold and swashbuckling reporter...let him shout: at least he shouts the truth." (Mail on Sunday)
"Gripping." (The Economist)
"A brave book." (Liverpool Daily Post)
"Blackly comic." (The Humanist)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Graeme on 05-29-16

The Church of Intimidation, Deviousness and Evil

I would recommend choosing the audiobook over the printed version of "The Church of Fear" as you can hear in the authors own voice his mix of outrage, paranoia and sense of seemingly impending insanity as he details his encounters with this sinister religious scam. John Sweeney is the BBC journalist who went viral on YouTube in 2007 after he lost his temper in a shouting match with scientology (I refuse to capitalise this evil organisation's name) representative Tommy Davis. "The Church of Fear" details the behind the scenes tale of the making of BBC's documentary on scientology.
Unlike other recent books on scientology, particularly Janet Reitman's "Inside scientology", where the authors make a decent stab at impartiality, John Sweeney's book is deliciously biased, and to be fair, he's completely justified to take this approach - the evidence he presents of intimidation, spying, threats, "legal" bullying and psychological warfare perpetrated by scientology to scuttle the BBC documentary left him in a state of paranoia, confusion and awe at his subject's cunning and deviousness.
If you already know about the evils of the people running scientology then there's nothing new here, but the account of someone who finds themselves caught in a maze of despicable, tawdry and sinister behaviour makes this account well worth the listen / read. It will leave you wondering at the appalling cowardice of US government organisations like the IRS who continue to refuse to put scientology in its place - which should be a bizarre footnote of history, but instead continues to function as an untaxed business / scam started by a bad science fiction writer who has proved that vulnerable people will literally fall for the craziest stuff imaginable.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By J. E. JORDAN on 02-24-16

Real Life Suspense

Usually, I don't like when authors narrate their own books, but this one works. I found the whole thing suspenseful and I couldn't wait to get back to it each evening. I'd seen the Panorama broadcast long before choosing this audio book. I can report that the book had more in depth. It was probably made better because I could see the interviews he relates in my mind's eye. So I think the film and the book complement each other.

All in all an exciting story.

In a lot of ways, it reminds me of Michael Moore and Bowling for Columbine.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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By David on 07-16-15

Truly Bonkers

Any additional comments?

This is a great insight into a truly bonkers world. Although John Sweeney makes it clear that there was much more that could have gone into the book, due to the litigious nature of the church the content was restricted. For me, this actually worked really well as it made the book far more powerful and personal because everything was based on hard, in your face evidence.

And John, don't feel bad about exploding like a tomato, I thought you were really rather restrained!

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By Dallas Winston 9 on 02-08-17

Scientology is worse than a War Zone!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Church of Fear to be better than the print version?

Yes, the text was personal to the narrator, who was also the author, so you could tell how personal the whole situation became. How he and Scientology were at war with one another was good, though it was such a aristocratic war I couldn't help but laugh at how pompous they all were at times.

Who was your favorite character and why?

This is a personal account so I'd have to say Sweeney. Paranoid at times, angry at others he was also genuine and passionate, if a little dorky now and again. He knew his subject well and was able to highlight how he struggled during some interviews, what he had to deal with who can blame him, but he also used hindsight effectively to elevate his arguments later on. Just for the record, I think he won the war of words.

Did the narration match the pace of the story?

Yes. John Sweeney drew on research effectively he described the scenes vividly.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There were some moments of shock for me. I could also understand why John became so angry.

Any additional comments?

The book is basically exploration of Scientology as a cult. It highlights how the system works, mind control, mental prisons etc it covers what scientologist believe, that is, if you can believe what they believe, it's a bit out there. It was a informative listen. Though I would like to have heard him interview Scientologists from a wider range of people. enjoyed this listen.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By P. Hall on 12-07-17

Brilliant Narrative of a Journey Into Terror

What did you like about this audiobook?

As ex-members and critics of Scientology will tell you: "Scientology is ALWAYS worse than you think". I was never bored by this and have found it has even amused those who have dropped by and heard a little of the narrative despite the grim subject matter. I found John Sweeney's performance gripping and honest.

How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

I was already very interested inthe dynamics of High Control religious groups, in particular Scientology. Therefore, I cannot claim that it has actually piqued my interest!

Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

Yes. Yes I would. I found John Sweeney's descent into "unprofessional journalism" entirely understandable, the story riveting in it's rawness and bleak honesty. It is a direct look into his unfortunate experiences recording the 2007 BBC Panorama program and his own personal aftermath of those traumatic experiences.

What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

Very little. I like the cadence and style of the narration.

Do you have any additional comments?

Yes. This is really a must hear audiobook, in my humble opinion. I particularly enjoyed the part when he spoke to Mike Rinder after his 'defection'. I am so glad I got the audiobook rather than the book, which is unusual for me.

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