The Church of Scientology has denounced the documentary "Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief" by award-winning film director and producer Alex Gibney, calling it a "bigoted propaganda piece" whose sources "spew false, embellished and hyperbolic tales to create sensationalistic hatred toward the Church with a portrait none of its parishioners, staff or clergy recognize."
The documentary, based on Lawrence Wright's book with the same name, premiered in theaters on Thursday last week and will be aired on HBO on March 29. It tries to shed light on the controversial Church of Scientology by interviewing its former members.
In a letter to The Hollywood Reporter, Church of Scientology spokesperson Karin Pouw said the documentary "racks up more falsehoods, errors, embellished tales and blatant omissions than were committed by Rolling Stone, Brian Williams and Bill O'Reilly combined."
"By our calculation, the film on average includes at least one major error every two minutes," she said.
Pouw's letter was in response to questions sent by The Hollywood Reporter.
However, Gibney told CNN that The Hollywood Reporter sent 20 questions to the Church of Scientology but "the church didn't respond to any of them."
"Instead they sent a five-page letter full of nasty invectives, character assassinations and innuendo," he said.
The documentary presented interviews with eight former Church of Scientology members who disclosed what goes on in the church. They include Mark Rathbun, Paul Haggis, Sara Goldberg, Tony Ortega and Mike Rinder.
Instead of answering questions on the church, Pouw blasted the supposed motivations of its critics who, she claimed, wanted "to spread hatred, religious bigotry and lies."
"We are not trying to discredit these people," she claimed. "It is simply that Mr. Gibney is miscrediting them."
She added, "Mr. Gibney has no first-hand knowledge of these allegations and never visited the property. He never even asked to visit, or to film there. Instead Mr. Gibney uses stale, made-up stories and portrays them as the truth."
Pouw said Wright "is obviously suffering from an acute case of jealousy of Mr. (L. Ron) Hubbard and thus has tried to slander him out of spite."