Written by a Pulitzer Prize-winning author Going Clear is based on more than two hundred personal interviews with both current and former Scientologists –both famous and less well known–and years of archival research. Lawrence Wright uncovers the inner workings of the Church of Scientology from its origins in the imagination of science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard to its struggles to find acceptance as a legitimate religion around the globe.
Wright centers the book on two leaders of Scientology. L. Ron Hubbard whose mind invented a new religion tailor-made for the spiritually troubled post-World War II era. And his successor, David Miscavige who had the unenviable task of preserving the church in the face of ongoing scandals and continual legal assaults after Hubbard’s death.
We learn about Scientology’s esoteric cosmology; about the auditing process that determines an inductee’s state of being; about the Bridge to Total Freedom, through which members gain eternal life. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how young idealists who joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, whose members often enter as children, signing up with a billion-year contract and working with little pay in poor conditions. We meet men and women “disconnected” from friends and family by the church’s policy of shunning critical voices. And we discover, through many firsthand stories, the violence that has long permeated the inner sanctum of the church.
In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion and has given us an evenhanded book that uncovers the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.