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Scientology TV, a network dedicated to the religion, officially launched Monday evening at 5 p.m. PT with a message from Church leader David Miscavige, making a rare on-camera appearance.
“We’re not here to preach to you, to convince you or to convert you,” he said. “No, we simply want to show you, because after all, the first principle of Scientology is that it’s only true if it is true to you. So, take a look and then decide for yourself.”
Promising to answer questions about the religion, programming began with the Scientology Network Launch Special, an hourlong episode showing off the interior of Scientology churches interspersed with brief interviews with members. Immediately following the special, the half-hour program Meet a Scientologist profiled Deering Banjo Company founders Greg and Janet Deering.
Other programming offered on the network’s first night included Destination Scientology, a half-hour showcasing the construction of a church in Inglewood, California; Voices for Humanity, which followed a brother and sister duo who are attempting to end violence in Colombia; and L. Ron Hubbard: In His Own Voice, the first in a three-part series featuring personal audio from the Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
In response to the launch of the network, Investigation Discovery aired an episode of Vanity Fair Confidential focusing on the disappearance of Miscavige’s wife, Shelly.
Rumblings about a Scientology network gained momentum in early 2017, with several rumors about the impending launch running on the website of longtime Scientology chronicler Tony Ortega. Scientology TV officially launched Monday on DirecTV (channel 320), Apple TV and Roku.
Although it represents a significant investment for the group, this is not the first time Scientology has used TV as a recruitment tool. The church annually drops millions on a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl, something it ran for the sixth consecutive year last month. Like the latest ad, branding for the network comes with the same “Curious?” tagline.
Scientology TV comes at a time where the controversial church has seen a spate of high-profile projects attempting to discredit it with accusations of abuses from former members and their family members. Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief won a Peabody and three Emmys, and A&E has made headlines with its serial exposé on the church, Scientology and the Aftermath, from former member Leah Remini.
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