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Scientology headquarters
August 5, 2012 7:22 PM   Subscribe

Scientology's international headquarters - known as Gold Base - is located on a 500-acre parcel of land south of San Jacinto, California. It "has a number of unusually strong security measures, including razor-tipped fences, motion sensors, snipers nests and a large number of regular and infrared CCTV cameras." It also houses a detention center for executives referred to as "The Hole". (previously)

The use of armed guards to prevent unauthorized departures from base is detailed in the affidavit of Andre Tabayoyon in the case of Church of Scientology International v. Steven Fish and Uwe Geertz.

A differing portrait of the facility is contained in this Scientology video disputing an Anderson Cooper report on the organization.
posted by Egg Shen (125 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
It also houses a detention center for executives referred to as "The Hole".

I feel like the presence of a "detention center" in a private building ought to be perfectly sufficient grounds for shutting the organization down.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:27 PM on August 5, 2012 [60 favorites]


Possible location of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige's missing wife?
posted by clyde at 7:36 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Excuse my ignorance about American gun laws, but would they be allowed to actually shoot someone from their snipers nest for some reason?
posted by dobie at 7:37 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


They definitely have some pull in order to keep such a place open, when it is no longer a secret.

On the other hand if they shut it down, scientology will go underground and a detention center will still exist somewhere.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 7:38 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not how I'd design my James Bond villain base, but not a bad go at it.
posted by dazed_one at 7:40 PM on August 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


I bet a secret rocket/ICBM launches out from under this.
posted by dazed_one at 7:41 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hopefully with the palm tree riding atop the ICBM
posted by slater at 7:43 PM on August 5, 2012


It's hard for me to take anything in that Village Voice article seriously when they insist on using terms like "concentration camp" and "gulag." Gross.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:44 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Excuse my ignorance about American gun laws, but would they be allowed to actually shoot someone from their snipers nest for some reason?

I am not a lawyer, but my guess the is that sniper could only legally shoot who was threatening either him or someone else with deadly force. Though the first case is doubtful because, being really far away in a sniper's nest, the sniper could protect himself by just running away.

So basically unnecessary paranoid craziness, as usual.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 7:44 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like the presence of a "detention center" in a private building ought to be perfectly sufficient grounds for shutting the organization down.

These days, I think it's actually grounds to give them a juicy government contract. But who will privatize the privatizers?
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 7:44 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is there no sheriff's/police department in that area? If it is supposedly widely know that a group is operating a private prison/kidnapping ring, does anyone not have the credibility to ask law enforcement to swing by? Is no local reporter willing to go there and ask for a visit?

Confused.
posted by popechunk at 7:44 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


Is there no sheriff's/police department in that area? If it is supposedly widely know that a group is operating a private prison/kidnapping ring, does anyone not have the credibility to ask law enforcement to swing by? Is no local reporter willing to go there and ask for a visit?

The Church of Scientology basically claims the right to harass, assault, and possibly kill people it doesn't like.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:47 PM on August 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think many, if not all, of the people being held there would be unlikely to complain to the police. This is a religion that people believe in, and even if they don't agree with insane tactics like this, I don't think they want to bring any negative attention or law enforcement action. All of which is indicative of a traditional cult.
posted by PJLandis at 7:49 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


So like the FLDS, doesn't it just take a prank call that they're molesting kids in there and they'll get swarmed?
posted by CarlRossi at 7:50 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Brousseau, who put the bars in place at the Hole, recently gave a lengthy interview to Tony Ortega of the Village Voice. This is the relevant part of the interview. A number of recent memoirs have talked extensively about life at Int Base - Marc Headley's Blown for Good, Amy Scobee's Scientology: Abuse at the Top, and in less harrowing detail Jefferson Hawkins's Counterfeit Dreams. (There's a small cottage industry of ex-Scientologist memoirs that has cropped up; they're honestly fascinating books, a very Orwellian life led by some of these people.

Is there no sheriff's/police department in that area?

Law enforcement tends to not meddle with the Church of Scientology, which uses lawsuits and defamation as routine attacks against enemies. And if you get kicked out of the CoS, you are declared a Suppressive Person and can never talk to any friends, family or loved ones (even children and spouses) who are still in the Church.
posted by graymouser at 7:52 PM on August 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


I am extremely skeptical that the cops would ignore a well-known local kidnapping ring. Local cops, county cops, state cops, federal cops...all of those people are too scared of CoS to drive up and ask to look into a "secret" prison that everyone knows about?

The same cops who are willing to kick down your front door if a crack head says he bought weed from you, or grope an old lady at the airport, or ship you out of the country to be tortured, or mace the shit out of some kids, or just bust your fucking skull open for kicks are afraid to drive up to some wacko's compound and ask to tour the kidnapping room?

Extremely skeptical.
posted by popechunk at 8:01 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Possible location of Church of Scientology leader David Miscavige's missing wife?

The CoS has said basically that it knows where Shelly Miscavige is - of course it isn't exactly telling.

So basically unnecessary paranoid craziness, as usual.

The snipers are there for intimidation, of course - the people at Int Base routinely work well over 100 hours per week at wages that rarely if ever go above $50 a week; the only time off they really have, aside from sleeping and eating, is when they clean their shared living areas once a week. "Liberties" (days off) were cancelled over a decade ago.

I think many, if not all, of the people being held there would be unlikely to complain to the police. This is a religion that people believe in, and even if they don't agree with insane tactics like this, I don't think they want to bring any negative attention or law enforcement action. All of which is indicative of a traditional cult.

Some of them. But also - leaving Int Base has for a long time meant no contact with anyone you know, no support network, no money, no savings, no reliable job history outside of the Sea Organization, as well as the individual's connection to Scientology. Fortunately as some high profile people have left (see Marty Rathbun and Mike Rinder, interviewed on this segment from Rock Center) there is a bit more support network for exes. But it's still really harsh for people who've spent decades working day and night for Scientology to leave it.
posted by graymouser at 8:02 PM on August 5, 2012 [5 favorites]




I am extremely skeptical that the cops would ignore a well-known local kidnapping ring. Local cops, county cops, state cops, federal cops...all of those people are too scared of CoS to drive up and ask to look into a "secret" prison that everyone knows about?

Do you know how the Church of Scientology got their church's tax exempt status? By breaking into IRS offices and stealing documents, and then filing thousands upon thousands of lawsuits against the IRS, which would've cost hundreds of millions of dollars to deal with, and basically holding the agency hostage and offering to drop the suits if they got tax exemption.

The CoS is a criminal organization which has a long history and no compunctions whatsoever about using and abusing the legal system, harassment, and assault to silence its critics.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:07 PM on August 5, 2012 [28 favorites]


I am extremely skeptical that the cops would ignore a well-known local kidnapping ring. Local cops, county cops, state cops, federal cops...all of those people are too scared of CoS to drive up and ask to look into a "secret" prison that everyone knows about?

The Church of Scientology is secretive, wealthy and litigious, a bad combination for getting law enforcement to come out. The people held in the Hole aren't kids or young women from the local area - they're long-time members of the Sea Organization, which the CoS equates with being a member of a religious order like monks or nuns. Generally the people in the Hole or in Int Base generally have been part of Scientology for decades and barely register on the authorities' radars.

Also - this organization is a recognized, tax-exempt church. There's a lot of Constitutional law that people are leery of stepping on. When law enforcement has gone after it in the past, it's turned into a nightmare for the whole legal system, as in the debacle with Lisa McPherson in Florida. They are experts at harassing the law, to the point where they basically hounded the IRS into giving in on a tax exempt status.
posted by graymouser at 8:09 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's not clear that anyone inside these Scientology prisons would attempt to escape, even if the police knocked down the door. I think a lot of the security is to keep others out and instill fear rather than real force.
posted by PJLandis at 8:09 PM on August 5, 2012


Needs a troop of Swiss gentlemen with pigstickers. Also maybe its own navy.
posted by XMLicious at 8:15 PM on August 5, 2012


Also maybe its own navy.

Er, that's exactly what the Sea Org was formed as. Of course this proved horribly difficult for logistical reasons, and now they've got just the one cruise ship which at least until recently was heavily contaminated with asbestos.
posted by graymouser at 8:19 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


No sense of humor.

As someone who has had only minor brushes with the "church", it always struck me (and I am not the first to say this): your sense of humor is ground out of you in scn. Think this is no big deal? What part of being human are you ignoring?

Obligatory Xenu (we're not allowed to talk about him) link: ;-)
posted by pjmoy at 8:26 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry: http://www.xenu.net/
posted by pjmoy at 8:27 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not afraid, it's just professional courtesy.

I suppose that is the only rational theory if you are to believe that the The Man is no longer bound by the Bill of Rights and has the computer power to pry into all human communication, and is capable of printing up a trillion bucks to prosecute a GWOT with flying death robots and secret prisons and private armies and shit but is afraid of a movie star cult.

I'll leave the thread now, because it feels like I'm trolling. I swear that I am not. I take it as a given that these are evil fucks capable of infinite harm (ha! guess which side I'm referring to!).

I am just incredulous that they are able to avoid even casual law enforcement entanglement.
posted by popechunk at 8:32 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's hard to know for sure but the best open source information is that the FBI was recently investigating the cult not for the Hole but for human trafficking related to their shuffling staff members around across international boundaries under false pretenses. But then something political happened & the investigation got shut down. Details vary but players across the spectrum from Rathbun & Rinder to legendary anti-cult attorney Graham Berry agree there was significant interest for a while but now there isn't.
posted by scalefree at 8:37 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am extremely skeptical that the cops would ignore a well-known local kidnapping ring. Local cops, county cops, state cops, federal cops...all of those people are too scared of CoS to drive up and ask to look into a "secret" prison that everyone knows about?

As Pope Guilty points out, Scientology attacked the IRS until they were granted tax-exempt status (30 years after the FDA busted them over the E-meter and claims of healing; less than 15 years after Scientology's top executives went to jail for conspiring to commit the largest infiltration of the US government in history).

This is a powerful organization with an entire department responsible for intimidating people into shutting up. If you're a government official, Scientology's general attitude is: if you leave us alone, we'll leave you alone. If you can be an asset to us - by sending your drug offenders to our bogus rehab program (Narconon), by letting us come into your schools with our bogus drug education program (the only one that actually works! and we must mention L. Ron Hubbard!), we'll cultivate you. But if you get in our way, we will make you sorry.

Last year, we finally got news reports that the FBI is investigating Scientology for human trafficking. People have been reporting Scientology's abuses to the government for literally decades. It's taken a really long time for the government to respond.

There's been some excellent reporting about Scientology, and some of the latest books - including Janet Reitman's Inside Scientology - document the abuses and the history really well.

By the way, I have an official copy of two of the policies that mandate holding members against their will. One is called The Introspection Rundown; the other deals with "libs" (liberties, as in a naval or military context) for members, and when they may and may not have them. It's for real, and it's really followed - sometimes until the person dies, as happened with Lisa McPherson. You can read the Investigative Report by the Clearwater Police Department on Lisa being held against her will. It's from 1998. The organization itself was charged with abuse and/or neglect of a disabled adult and practicing medicine without a license. The medical examiner in the case said, on national TV, that the autopsy showed McPherson had deteriorated slowly, going without fluids for five to 10 days, was underweight, had cockroach bites and was comatose from 24 to 48 hours before she died. After incredible pressure from Scientology, she later changed her official opinion, and the case was dropped.

There is more evidence of intimidation and interference than any one person can take in. I could tell you about the case in France where all the evidence disappeared. I could tell you about the attempt to set up Jesse Prince, a former high-ranking member, then a witness in the Lisa McPherson case.

It is really hard to successfully prosecute Scientology.
posted by kristi at 8:38 PM on August 5, 2012 [45 favorites]


Also, of course, the last time the federal government tried to serve a search warrant on an isolated compound staffed by heavily-armed, paranoid cultists, it didn't end well.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:56 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


The worst part is the razor wire, etc. is to keep the Sea Org people in, not to keep you out. Read Marc Headley's book "Blown For Good", he barely escaped from Gold Base and it literally reads like a prison break novel.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:01 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Goddamn. If I were ever in the position to be both a supervillain and the head of a religion, I would totally make it just like Scientology!
posted by LordSludge at 9:13 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


You know this is only public because this religion is less powerful than most. And it is still ridiculously strong.

The Catholic church has its own mental health system with branches worldwide and the Mormons have their camps as well.

I assume the gun nests at the compound will shoot if necessary. Of course it would be the fault of a single disturbed guard, not a policy.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 9:25 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


It is really hard to successfully prosecute Scientology.

What if we set up a feud between them and Lyndon LaRouche's organization? The two cults can decimate each other, and the authorities can pick up the pieces for deprogramming and reintegration into society.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:26 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Pope Guilty writes "I feel like the presence of a 'detention center' in a private building ought to be perfectly sufficient grounds for shutting the organization down."

This isn't exactly rare or unusual. Most large stadiums, shopping malls, Universities, or anywhere else with a large security presence dealing with the general public is going to have some sort of holding facility even if it's just an office with a door that locks from the outside.

popechunk writes "The same cops who are willing to kick down your front door if a crack head says he bought weed from you, or grope an old lady at the airport, or ship you out of the country to be tortured, or mace the shit out of some kids, or just bust your fucking skull open for kicks are afraid to drive up to some wacko's compound and ask to tour the kidnapping room?

"Extremely skeptical."


This doesn't seem unlikely at all. Crackheads, old ladies, furriners and kids have no power. Nada, Zilch. Lack of power and influence doesn't describe the CoS. The CoS is dangerous as all the aware long time metafites know. Cops will harass the poor homeless guy for standing on the street corner but they sure as heck don't harass the Mayor's son for the same "offence".
posted by Mitheral at 9:27 PM on August 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


You know this is only public because this religion is less powerful than most. And it is still ridiculously strong.

Sort of true, but we actually know about all this because a lot of high-level Scientologists have left the cult in the last few years and made what they know public. This was all top secret and successfully hidden for a long time.
posted by DecemberBoy at 9:41 PM on August 5, 2012


Best. Religion. Evarr! L. Ron distilled the components of mysterious bullshit, self-service, unquestioning belief, closed circular reasoning, and material forfeiture to create an efficient way to attract and keep a flock of easily fleeced sheep, without the extra baggage of saints, history, overt sacrifice, or transparency. It really was genius. Pure genius.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:48 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am extremely skeptical that the cops would ignore a well-known local kidnapping ring. Local cops, county cops, state cops, federal cops...all of those people are too scared of CoS to drive up and ask to look into a "secret" prison that everyone knows about?

My only experience of CoS is as an investigative journalist. As soon as we started poking around in their business, we were followed, our offices were staked out, and our vehicles were mysteriously all broken into and documents are stolen. They called the police on us, repeatedly.

It was one of the creepiest experiences I've ever had. It was enough to make me swear never to have anything else to do with them ever, and I am a person who is not afraid of confrontation or litigation in the slightest.
posted by unSane at 10:01 PM on August 5, 2012 [28 favorites]


Want to know something extra wild?

Scientology and the Nation of Islam have joined forces.

No, really. Thousands of Nation of Islam members are paying Scientology so they can train as Dianetics auditors.

Farrakhan is even praising Dianetics and L. Ron Hubbard on a regular basis.

(Can you see why maybe the FBI might hesitate to intervene?)

N.B. This doesn't mean Scientology is expanding. It's still shrinking rapidly, thanks to our dear friend, the internet.
posted by Old Man McKay at 10:29 PM on August 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Thousands of Nation of Islam members are paying Scientology so they can train as Dianetics auditors.

what
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:46 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can completely sympathize with CoS people who feel like they were cheated because they were abused out of a religious experience they admit to genuinely enjoying.

I do not believe that Scientology is a cult. Like the Latter Day Saints and other new religious groups the major challenge for the CoS is presenting their doctrine coherently and publicly. They are always going to struggle because I imagine that LRH left a major archive of material he wanted to be used as the CoS progressed into the future. He may have designed marketing for the next 1,000,000 years (I do not know).

People here and elsewhere make the argument that their books should be free. All religious communities are able claim copyright and publish books for sale. CoS is treated differently because it is so new. How many religions can we honestly say sprouted up from nothing after World War 2? Scientology is a survivor of Boomer America looking for an outstanding tribulation and a strong, nuclear family. This is the same phenomena that gave the world Christian rock music, Veggie Tales, Joel Osteen, and Prosperity Gospel.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with the anarchist John Zerzan in 2010 about Christian anarchists. He wondered what was the driving force that lead them to anarchism and reflected on the experience he had in the 1960s which was so powerful that he went from Marxism into anarchism. I pointed out at that time that the tribulation Christian anarchists would have received from realizing life without government was possible under the banner of Christian salvation must be very powerful indeed.

We cannot hope to always understand what drives faithful people. As an atheist and a religion writer I feel a tinge of sadness when I come upon people who feel they were short-changed by the religious experience. Religion is faith + incorporation of the body. Once you learn that you can begin to understand why abuse in these spheres is truly inevitable.
posted by parmanparman at 1:17 AM on August 6, 2012


One must have a house where proper precautions against disturbance can be taken; this being arranged, there is really nothing to do but to aspire with increasing fervor and concentration, for six months, towards the obtaining of the Knowledge and Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel.
Aleister Crowley writing about Boleskine House in Scotland - the building on which Cine castle, at Gold Center, is apparently based (and former home of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page).
posted by rongorongo at 2:57 AM on August 6, 2012


I do not believe that Scientology is a cult.

Well, you can believe that, but you'd be wrong. The actual practices of the Church of Scientology are structured around hypnosis and mind control. When you take Scientology's "Communication Course," you do a number of "Training Routines" that put you in altered mental states and set you up to be more susceptible to the later ideas that Scientology pushes on you. This continues throughout the entire "Bridge to Total Freedom." Read up on their techniques sometime, it's as close as you can come to actual brainwashing. People end up with years of mental damage from going through Scientology, particularly when they get to the higher levels and experience severe cognitive dissonance.

Like the Latter Day Saints and other new religious groups the major challenge for the CoS is presenting their doctrine coherently and publicly.

The major challenge for the Church of Scientology is to extract as much money as possible from the public Scientologists, and as much labor as possible from the deluded souls in the Sea Org.

It's against the policy of the Church of Scientology to actually explain their doctrine and beliefs. They tell people to try the "tech" for themselves, and see if it works.

They are always going to struggle because I imagine that LRH left a major archive of material he wanted to be used as the CoS progressed into the future. He may have designed marketing for the next 1,000,000 years (I do not know).

There may or may not have been additional levels of the Scientology Bridge that Hubbard left when he was in his last years, but there's no conclusive evidence. David Miscavige has lured Scientologists on, creating and moving goalposts for the release of as yet unknown levels of "Operating Thetan" training (the OT levels are where the infamous Xenu story comes from), but there's no evidence that he isn't bluffing.

Hubbard left no massive archive; most of his prodigious writings and lectures were published during his lifetime. The CoS has gone through multiple iterations of what he did since his death, including the 2007 release of a new "Basics" series of books that had some alleged dictation errors corrected, which of course public Scientologists have bought at tremendous expense.

People here and elsewhere make the argument that their books should be free. All religious communities are able claim copyright and publish books for sale. CoS is treated differently because it is so new.

This really isn't the argument anyone here has made. At all. This thread has mostly been about the fact that the CoS locks upper-level management who fall into disfavor in a prison. You know, the inconvenient facts that your apologia has totally ignored?

Scientology is a survivor of Boomer America looking for an outstanding tribulation and a strong, nuclear family.

No, Scientology is a survivor of the self-help fads of the '50s. Hubbard's Dianetics book was briefly a popular thing, but most people abandoned it because the supposed therapies didn't work. Most accounts of Scientology include the humiliations such as when he produced "Clears," people allegedly made mentally superior by Dianetics, who manifested none of their alleged abilities. When Dianetics failed, Hubbard changed the game and made it into a religion.

Your whole long post shows that you don't understand Scientology at all. It's not a religion, it's a mindfuck in the form of pseudo-therapy, which when followed makes people extremely open to suggestion. That's how Hubbard got people to devote countless millions of dollars and work hundred plus hour weeks for a pittance. It has nothing to do with faith or spirituality or any bullshit like that. Scientology is a vicious cult and you clearly don't know the first thing about it.
posted by graymouser at 3:05 AM on August 6, 2012 [47 favorites]


stop being so suppressive, man
posted by ryanrs at 3:12 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do not believe that Scientology is a cult.

I think persecuting those dropping out of your organisation and fencing people in so they cannot get out puts Scientology well out of religion and squarely into cult territory.
posted by sour cream at 3:18 AM on August 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


One more thing...

Scientology isn't a religion. Hubbard wanted Dianetics to be adopted as a science (the subtitle of the book is "The Modern Science of Mental Health") but when it was totally ignored because it was mostly just a made-up rehash of quasi-Freudian theories, he switched the marketing angle and started Scientology with a bit of religious nonsense added in to call itself a church. The religion angle has been a way to keep themselves out of scrutiny. The E-Meters don't work, so they put a sticker on them that says by itself it does nothing and it's just for pastoral counseling. They don't want to pay taxes, so they bully and intimidate the IRS into classifying them as a religion. They want people to work over 100 hours per week and get paid a pittance, they call it religious service. And they get the sympathy of people who say you can't judge a religion. It's all just a sham.

People buying into the "religion" narrative are enabling this destructive group that separates people from their families, ruins their lives, ruins them financially and at the extreme level locks them onto a compound where they work over 100 hours per week without a single fucking day off.
posted by graymouser at 3:28 AM on August 6, 2012 [22 favorites]


Someone needs to remind me of the difference between a cult and a religion again.

I think confinement, physical or otherwise, is half the point of a church.
posted by biochemicle at 4:31 AM on August 6, 2012


Sure, but most churches don't keep you in with machine guns and metal bars on a building called "The Hole". The metaphysics of a religion and a cult don't differ much in plausibility; but the amount of money, real estate and physcial confinement are pretty far apart.

Which is why I'm a bit worried about the independent Scientologists. I can see how doing the auditing their own way would help ease the transition back to mainstream society; but as graymouser describes above, it really is a form of brainwashing.
posted by harriet vane at 4:39 AM on August 6, 2012


Don't want to derail, have to agree that this is a pretty clear-cut and pretty vile sort of way to treat your adherents. But the Big Three have done much worse over the years and get a pass largely by virtue of their size.
posted by biochemicle at 4:53 AM on August 6, 2012


Someone needs to remind me of the difference between a cult and a religion again.

Not really a useful line of inquiry. A religion is respectable. A cult isn't. See how unsatisfactory an answer that is?

A better question would be 'how dangerous is this cult?' Cults range from the almost totally harmless (e.g. Jediism) to the implacably malign (e.g. CoS), with various Christianities and other religions and secular organizations somewhere between.

One of my favorite people* came up with a checklist for assessing how dangerous (or not) a given religious or secular group is.

* Isaac Bonewits. You have to love a man who convinces his university to give him a degree in Magic.
posted by Ritchie at 5:20 AM on August 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


Excuse my ignorance about American gun laws, but would they be allowed to actually shoot someone from their snipers nest for some reason?

Trespassers on private property? Trespassers that had to circumvent aggressive security meaasures to get onto the property? You bet. The snipers could also be used to take down people trying to escape.

Quite honestly, though, I would suspect things like the sniper nests are more borne out of an institutional paranoia that leads them to prepare for some imagined, inevitable raid by armed government forces. Given Scientology's willingness to ignore laws and act as they see fit against their perceived enemies, I would not doubt for a minute that they would mount a serious armed resistance to any organized raid.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:23 AM on August 6, 2012


Thanks Ritchie, brief and structured; that should be obligatory reading in schools.
posted by biochemicle at 5:27 AM on August 6, 2012


Someone needs to remind me of the difference between a cult and a religion again.

A religion is a cult that has gained a stable and sustainable level of political power. See also: LDS.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:28 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Don't want to derail...
posted by biochemicle at 7:53 AM on August



Yes, you do.

Seems like every Scientology thread on this site goes the same direction: we start to having an interesting, informative discussion, I'm learning a lot reading the posts, and then someone pops in and says "Yeah, Scientology sucks, no question, but Judaism/Christianity/Islam are so much worse, and have been so much worse for so much longer, why does no one talk about them?" as if no MeFite has ever, ever heard of those abuses before, and as if every religion-related thread on Metafilter doesn't go down that same road: "Yes, the Sikhs were attacked, how terrible, hey did you know that Christianity sucks?"

Can we please stick to the topic at hand? There's some good info in these posts, and everyone here already knows about the "Big Three" and their abuses, if for no other reason that some posters seem compelled force all Scientology threads in that direction.
posted by magstheaxe at 5:37 AM on August 6, 2012 [19 favorites]


the major challenge for the CoS is presenting their doctrine coherently

A challenge exacerbated by its perceived need to suppress dissemination of one of its major beliefs through lawsuits claiming it as a trade secret.

And the fact that said doctrine was developed under the influence of amphetamines - not a drug noted for stimulating coherent thought.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:47 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


> "A religion is a cult that has gained a stable and sustainable level of political power."

No, not really. A cult is a type of organization with certain characteristics, such as using psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members. A religion can be a cult, can be something other than a cult, or can move over time from originally being a cult to something else. A cult doesn't even have to be religious in nature.

There are a couple of different lists of cult characteristics, which tend to have a lot of overlap. For example, the use of deception, information control, isolation and alienation, and coercion are typical of cults.
posted by kyrademon at 5:52 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


(Quicker definition: Look at the lists of techniques that abusers use to control their lovers. If your religion is employing eerily similar methods, you are in a cult.)
posted by kyrademon at 5:59 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Goddamn. If I were ever in the position to be both a supervillain and the head of a religion, I would totally make it just like Scientology!

Funnily enough Ian Flemming did propose, when he was working at MI5, that the cultist Aleister Crowley (and L Ron Hubbard influence - see my comment above) should be used to feed false information to the Germans via Roloph Hess - using doctored astrology readings. Crowley later became the template for "Chifre" in Casino Royale.

In fact Jake Arnott's recent book "The House of Rumour" takes this plot and adds in a link to L Ron Hubbard directly. So it is definitely not impossible to see CoS' "Gold Base" as the heritage of a two way cross-fertilisation of ideas penned by Crowley and Flemming as well as Hubbard.
posted by rongorongo at 6:02 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's hard for me to take anything in that Village Voice article seriously when they insist on using terms like "concentration camp" and "gulag."

Read enough stories from those who have been inside, and it's frankly one of the few occasions where I feel "gulag" is entirely appropriate.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:02 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


A challenge exacerbated by its perceived need to suppress dissemination of one of its major beliefs through lawsuits claiming it as a trade secret.

Hubbard claimed that OT III was so dangerous that others who attempted to access it before him died - he literally called it the "Wall of Fire." Accessing it before you are ready can cause lethal pneumonia, which hasn't happened for the millions of us who have read OT III's Xenu story and boggled at it. If you wonder why Scientologists buy the space opera shit, realize that by this point they've already read Hubbard's "A History of Man" that gives the "lite" version of all this, but not the heavy Xenu stuff.

There's a case to be made that the OT levels are actually harmful, though. A number of memoirs, such as those by Margery Wakefield and Nancy Many, have shown incidents of psychotic breaks after going through them. But this may be because the levels have you sitting there, telepathically communicating with imaginary entities all over your body. In any case, I think the OT levels set people over a weird edge.
posted by graymouser at 6:03 AM on August 6, 2012


"Yes, the Sikhs were attacked, how terrible, hey did you know that Christianity sucks?"

Who said that? Was it deleted? That thread has mostly been about gun control.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:04 AM on August 6, 2012


From the Village Voice link: Cook testified that Miscavige wanted Marc Yager and Guillaume Lesevre, two of his longest-serving and highest-ranking officials, to confess to having a homosexual affair. The men were beaten until they made some forced admissions. When Cook objected to what was happening, she herself was made to stand in a trash can for twelve hours while insults were hurled at her, she was called a lesbian, and water was dumped on her head.

This sounds like crazy despot shit a la Kim Jong Il; you imprison and torture your highest ranking officers to keep them from overthrowing you. Short term it works but long term it creates a dysfunctional power structure staffed by paranoid individuals who would rather create elaborate displays of loyalty than serve the best interests of the country/religion.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:22 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


You people are just jealous of the tech. Hack your lives!
posted by Wolof at 7:45 AM on August 6, 2012


I think a lot of this has to do with the truly vast sums of money that CoS and related entities at thought to have accumulated, but that is now at risk.

Tithing membership has to be in terminal decline, and the leadership is in a crisis since it hasn't figured out how to get the money out and move into something profitable. Even a couple of billion dollars will be spent if the CoS has to support a global network of progressively emptier facilities and subsistence costs for SeaOrg members -- they have to find a way to dump all that cost and convert the funds.

I wouldn't be surprised if they figure it out soon and announce what amounts a huge windown. This will incidentally get them out of the audit contribution and SeaOrg staffing businesses and so take much of the heat off them. Take expenses down to $10 million a year and all of a sudden that $2 billion in the bank will last forever...
posted by MattD at 7:46 AM on August 6, 2012


Aleister Crowley writing about Boleskine House in Scotland - the building on which Cine castle, at Gold Center, is apparently based (and former home of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page).

I have been to Crowley's house. There is no similarity whatsoever. It's a B&B now.
posted by njohnson23 at 7:56 AM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think a lot of this has to do with the truly vast sums of money that CoS and related entities at thought to have accumulated, but that is now at risk.

There is, I think, a certain dynamic at work in the CoS. On the one hand, Miscavige is a bully and a power addict, in a way that is pretty well documented by this point. He sees power as something that is assumed and taken very seriously - there's a very good document of his rise in Janet Reitman's book Inside Scientology, and in the recent John Brousseau interview. On the other, he's got to recognize that auditing and Scientology aren't ever going to pull in money like they did for LRH. I think the Ideal Orgs are about selling the properties eventually, and that he's dismantling the Sea Org executive structure so no one will be able to call him on it when he cashes in.

But I'm cautious about seeing it like that. Miscavige loves power more than money and might simply contract the org to a smaller cult that he controls instead of winding it down entirely. And the compound mentality has a nasty habit of ending in a certain way...
posted by graymouser at 9:20 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]






How is this different from monastic orders or cathedrals of more established churches.
posted by humanfont at 11:09 AM on August 6, 2012


How is this different from monastic orders or cathedrals of more established churches.

when people choose to leave, they simply leave. duh.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:17 AM on August 6, 2012 [9 favorites]


How is this different from monastic orders or cathedrals of more established churches.

"razor-tipped fences, motion sensors, snipers nests and a large number of regular and infrared CCTV cameras"
posted by malocchio at 11:35 AM on August 6, 2012 [12 favorites]


How is this different from monastic orders or cathedrals of more established churches.

RTFA. Or any of the half-dozen or so memoirs that have come out in the last few years. Or the "Truth Rundown" where it first came out that Miscavige physically assaults Sea Org executives. Or any of the multiple exposes about how the Int Base is basically an armed compound where escapees are hunted down and harassed, and if possible brought back under duress. If there are other religions with orders like that, they're also criminals and human traffickers who deserve to be shut down.
posted by graymouser at 1:42 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Which is why I'm a bit worried about the independent Scientologists. I can see how doing the auditing their own way would help ease the transition back to mainstream society...

Reading some of the commentary by so-called Independent Scientologists makes me think that they're kind of like a fundamentalist break-off sect. They're trying to get back to The Word (as in LRH's words) and see Miscavige as the primary anti-Hubbard who has ruined it all. Should Miscavige drop dead or something, I wonder what all those Indy-Scientologists would do. Would they go back for the Great Reformation? Are they going to form a rival cult (that may even perhaps not be as cult-like since they seem bent on opening up Scientology for the masses rather than closing it up and silencing people)?

It's an interesting development. And I hope for god's sake that somebody rescues those poor people in The Hole. I mean, sure--open the door and maybe they wouldn't want to leave because they've totally gone Stockholm Syndrome like the whole fucking bunch, but it seems terrible to think that then we just abandon them to their fate.

Also, I think there should be systematic shaming of all the "stars" who are profiting from Sea Org slavery. Awful awful stuff. I don't know how they live with themselves.
posted by RedEmma at 2:37 PM on August 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


And Jesus Christ reading all that jargon makes my head hurt.
posted by RedEmma at 2:40 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Reading some of the commentary by so-called Independent Scientologists makes me think that they're kind of like a fundamentalist break-off sect.

Most of the Indies fall away after a year or two. This is related to the whole mechanism of how Scientology works on practitioners: they think that the "tech" works, so they decide internally that the problem is Miscavige's CoS and its interpretation. Then they gradually realize that Hubbard went bad - there's sort of a backward sliding scale, where they think that things went wrong with the introduction of NOTS (an acronym that contains other acronyms, New Era Dianetics for Operating Thetans), or the OT levels, or Ethics, until eventually they work their way out of the entire trap and realize that Dianetics itself was a scam. It takes a long time to break free of the mind control mechanisms.

Some of them are not like this; I think Marty Rathbun is trying to change this pattern and there are some people around him who want to create a real "Independent Scientologist" movement as a counter to Miscavige's Church. I think that this is potentially harmful, although the Free Zone has really just been a sort of "methadone for Scientologists" - getting them the auditing, which grows into a sort of addictive exercise, without the whole structure of the CoS. There's some controversy among exes and anti-Scientology activists as to whether they should support indies or condemn them.
posted by graymouser at 3:01 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]



I think Marty Rathbun is trying to change this pattern and there are some people around him who want to create a real "Independent Scientologist" movement as a counter to Miscavige's Church. I think that this is potentially harmful, although the Free Zone has really just been a sort of "methadone for Scientologists" - getting them the auditing, which grows into a sort of addictive exercise, without the whole structure of the CoS. There's some controversy among exes and anti-Scientology activists as to whether they should support indies or condemn them.


If Scientology were not a religion, people would not be attempting to replicate the ritualistic experience of the church after leaving it. The replication of experience is a very significant marker that Scientology is not a cult (or not one any longer).
posted by parmanparman at 3:13 PM on August 6, 2012


re: Independent Scientologists:
As someone who left an intense church, half way houses are a lifeline. As greymouser indicated, if you're deeply invested in a belief system it's almost impossible to leave cold turkey. Also, you're deeply suspicious of fakery (ironically). So you really need those half way groups that are genuinely sincere.

Plus, craziness is good. As long as the crazies are sincere and transparent, and don't, y'know, imprison and torture people.
posted by EnterTheStory at 3:16 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Scientology were not a religion, people would not be attempting to replicate the ritualistic experience of the church after leaving it. The replication of experience is a very significant marker that Scientology is not a cult (or not one any longer).

...what? Why would the attempt by the outcasts to recreate some of the teachings mean that the initial organisation is not a cult?
posted by jaduncan at 3:49 PM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Scientology were not a religion, people would not be attempting to replicate the ritualistic experience of the church after leaving it. The replication of experience is a very significant marker that Scientology is not a cult (or not one any longer).

Again, you do not understand the tech. It's not a "ritualistic experience," it's outright hypnosis. The first thing you do as a Scientologist (TR-0 for those unfamiliar) is to stare at another person for two hours without any external expression; this puts the student in a trance state that is repeated throughout their Scientology careers and makes them deeply susceptible to suggestion. Further training includes being able to be yelled at for hours straight (TR-0 Bullbaiting) and learning to tell an ashtray to stand up and sit down by yelling at it (TR-8). These are mind control techniques, and are part of the total power that the cult exerts over a person.

Very few people get out of patterns of mind control easily or right away. This is in no way a marker that it's not a cult, and doesn't make it OK. The whole structure of Scientology is a trap, set up so that by the time you get to any of the insane stuff you're heavily invested and have gone through extensive brainwashing so that you'll accept it. You really need to research this stuff instead of making off the cuff judgments based on incorrect assumptions about how Scientology really works.
posted by graymouser at 3:49 PM on August 6, 2012 [7 favorites]


david miscarriage yelling at an ashtray
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 4:23 PM on August 6, 2012


I think David Miscavige should retire and they should put Beck in charge.
posted by ian1977 at 7:09 PM on August 6, 2012


I think David Miscavige should retire and they should put Beck in charge.

Or see if they can lure Neil Gaiman back to give it a makeover.
posted by acb at 7:47 PM on August 6, 2012


There is no room for prophets within religious institutions—indeed within any institutions—for as Paul Tillich knew, all human institutions, including the church, are inherently demonic. - Chris Hedges, 2007. (Repeated in recent interview with Bill Moyers).

The symbol most impressive for our time, comprehending the final depth of holy demonry, is the "Grand Inquisitor," as Dostoievsky visualized and placed him opposite Christ: the religion which makes itself absolute and therefore must destroy the saint in whose name it is established—the demonic will to power of the sacred institution. - Paul Tillich

(Not to suggest that CoS is any any sense sacred or even religious.) Compare, e.g. the apparatus of the modern security state.
posted by Twang at 7:49 PM on August 6, 2012


"razor-tipped fences, motion sensors, snipers nests and a large number of regular and infrared CCTV cameras"

You mean like Vatican City?
posted by humanfont at 9:04 PM on August 6, 2012


Maybe the medieval Vatican City would have had those things if they'd been available, or monasteries where Torquemada was in charge, but here's Vatican City currently. I'd certainly be interested if you could point out the sniper nests or even non-razor-tipped fences.
posted by XMLicious at 9:45 PM on August 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thousands of tourists troop in and out of Vatican City every day. I've got some serious issues with the Catholic Church, but this is a stupid comparison.
posted by harriet vane at 2:14 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


Graymouser, have you been through the auditing process? I have only watched videos of actual audits that were sent to me by a person in Washington DC in 2008. It did not seem as your described and the gentleman and woman who were being audited were older, having been in the movement for 10-plus years each. Maybe that is how it for older members? I don't have the basis for understanding the difference. That couple was facing the challenge of whether they would have a baby or adopt from a CoS approved adoption center.
posted by parmanparman at 3:30 AM on August 7, 2012


Graymouser, have you been through the auditing process?

No, although I've read Hubbard's documentation that has been made public and the accounts of many Scientologists who've been through the various courses on the Bridge. I'm not describing auditing, which is a very different can of worms than the Training Routines. Actual auditing is something you don't get to until you've been through the TRs, and they train you to put yourself in a trance. You actually reach this again in auditing - that's what the E-meter is there for. When you're in this state, you have what they call a "floating needle" (F/N, as it's frequently referred to) and can actually feel somewhat blissful, but if you were hooked up to an EEG your brain waves would look flat. Typically in hypnosis, you leave this trance at some point and "wake up" - in Scientology the point is to stay there, sort of like the protagonist in Office Space. This is why in Scientology auditing people freely invent "past lives" and later think they are real, and hallucinate that they are leaving their bodies, which is a phenomenon they call "exteriorization."

Here is a link to a good discussion of what the hypnotic techniques involved in Scientology auditing are and how they work. I wouldn't participate in an actual session because I've read enough on the methods Hubbard used to know that they are actually deceptive and what seems to be "counseling" is actually a crude form of amateur hypnotherapy which leaves the subject in a trance.
posted by graymouser at 3:52 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is like asking an atheist why religion is a cult. I just think Scientology is a religion. Deal with it.
posted by parmanparman at 4:06 PM on August 22, 2012


I don't think responding to arguments with "I just think _______, deal with it" is any way to participate in, uh, anything.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:35 PM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, we deal with it by assigning a zero-weighting to such an opinion.
posted by unSane at 9:37 PM on August 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the time I worked as a religion journalist I dealt with people on a regular basis who believed Scientology is a cult, that Reconstructionist Jews are cultists, that Mormons are a cult, and so on and so forth ad infinitum. This kind of bald anti-religious sentiment is nothing more than a right wing acid trip. I never met a religion person who could not spit poison venom at their rival. The simple fact is that there is always going to be someone who flags the behavior of "the other" as devious, dangerous, or deceptive. In this case, the other is Scientology. I understand that Scientologists use lawyers and internal exile to quell activism, but this is not new or different from what many other American religious faith groups regularly do to quell activism. Catholic and Mainline Protestant churches regularly hold private tribunals bestowing discipline, including defrocking, on members of their community. Do churches go so far as Scientologists to discipline their members? We do not know the answer. We can try, we can ask. We cannot assume to know. I can recall a case where a Catholic (Jesuit) priest was barred from living and working in Washington, DC and sent to a farm in Massachusetts because the church did not enjoy his activism to stop the killing of nuns and priests by right-wing militias in Nicaragua. My point is that abuse of people by religious groups is much more common than you may be aware.

What bothers me most about people who pick on Scientology is that they make no effort to understand the deep leap of faith that is required for faith to take hold in the first place. All religions are guilty of some kind of hypnotherapy. I do believe it was Jesus who said, "I'll tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it." (Mark 10:15). Don't ask questions might as well be the motto of every religious community, so stop this senseless Conservative BS now.
posted by parmanparman at 12:15 PM on August 23, 2012


bald anti-religious sentiment is nothing more than a right wing acid trip

Anti-religious = right-wing acid trip? WTF?
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:17 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


So believing Scientology is a cult is 'anti-religious' and 'nothing more than a right wing acid trip'.

Okaaaaay, then.

What bothers me most about people who pick on Scientology is that they make no effort to understand the deep leap of faith that is required for faith to take hold in the first place.

And you know that how?
posted by unSane at 12:19 PM on August 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


My entire adult life history is online here and in various places. I welcome you take a look at my previous statements on this issue.
posted by parmanparman at 12:42 PM on August 23, 2012


Oh, you mean 'because I say so'. Right.
posted by unSane at 5:46 PM on August 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good comeback!
posted by parmanparman at 12:49 AM on August 24, 2012


My entire adult life history is online here and in various places. I welcome you take a look at my previous statements on this issue.

...or you, being you, and thus (one would assume) an expert on your opinion could avoid him tracking down and reading tens of thousands of words by using new words to summarise your point.

Since you haven't even bothered, oh, I don't know, even linking the "various places".
posted by jaduncan at 5:35 AM on August 24, 2012


Well, I have been in the public eye since 1998 (first year of college) to 2002 when I was a radio host at KSOC and then KSOR in Ashland, Oregon. I also edited a newspaper there, archives at Southern Oregon University, Rogue Valley Television and Jefferson Public Radio.

Then I was briefly at ESPN doing ice-skating coverage before landing at www.globalvision.org to research grants for documentaries, 2003-2004.

Then I was at BBC Asian Network, 5Live and Voice of America. I covered South Asian religion for Asian Network, but also did a number of music and talk shows from 2004-2005.

Interfaith Voices is the radio show I produced for public radio from 2005-2007. I have positive memories about my time here, especially producing memorable segments such as Christopher Hitchens and John Doerr. I also wrote for Jewcy.com

Then I went here, or back to here, mainly, as I navigated the tricky world of not doing journalism while I tried to wrap my head around learning every aspect of investment and donor fundraising. In that time I wrote for George Washington University (http://www.gwu.edu) and TraceSF, an architectural magazine.
posted by parmanparman at 12:54 PM on August 24, 2012


So, um, you know more than we could possibly imaging about religion why again?
posted by unSane at 3:52 PM on August 24, 2012


Why does Scientology fail the religion test for you? and who came up with the religion test you put to use?
posted by parmanparman at 5:06 PM on August 24, 2012


I am fine with you not accepting any of my expertise. I have accepted that you will never believe that I am right.
posted by parmanparman at 5:16 PM on August 24, 2012


Arguments from authority don't generally work around here. Just so you know.

We like reasons.
posted by unSane at 5:39 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


(For example - I'm a former evangelical christian, and long after I gave that up I wrote, produced and directed a TV series about the Church of England, which involved meeting and interviewing hundreds of priests, including the Archbishop of Canterbury. I've also been involved in investigating the CoS as a journalist, which involved being followed and having my car broken into a papers stolen. Oh, and my best friend's a monk. So we can both play the authority game, but in the end it means nothing unless you can actually argue your position).
posted by unSane at 5:44 PM on August 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a rilly, rilly smart guy, in spite of my handle, so I know things. So many things.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:08 PM on August 24, 2012


How can I believe you're right if you won't explain *why* you have a particular opinion? This (lefty, drug-free) atheist doesn't take things on faith.

I think the difference between religion and cult is better thought of as a spectrum than a bright dividing line. Scientology's emphasis on lawsuits and tax evasion isn't what puts it on the cult side of the spectrum, nor does it's unique cosmology. Its the way they cut people off from their families, forbidding members from talking to non-members. It's the extreme secrecy, and physical restraint and punishment of members by higher-ranking members. To the best of my knowlegde none of the major or minor religions do those sorts of things. If someone leaves a religious group, they shouldn't have trouble adjusting to life outside it.
posted by harriet vane at 5:48 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


(one would assume) an expert on your opinion could avoid him tracking down and reading tens of thousands of words by using new words to summarise your point.

I really wasn't looking for your CV so much as pointing out that you might as well just state your opinion rather than noting that unsane should review untold amounts of data to guess what it might be.

In general it is best to assume that Mefites also have subject expertise.
posted by jaduncan at 7:43 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really shouldn't do this, but I did actually LOL.

Then I was briefly at ESPN doing ice-skating coverage

I will buttress my own non-relevant credentials by noting that I once completed an Ironman, and when I was at school I was once met Timmy Mallet whilst on a national competition swimming team. I have also appeared on Georgian TV commenting on the Georgia/Russia war during that war, and even referenced the (Georgian) Patriarch.

I hope this is relevant to my claim that Vatican II was and is a mistaken doctrinal shift, and you should not question me further.

FEAR MY BADLY EXPLAINED OPINIONS ON RELIGION, MORTALS. I AM THE MOST SPECIAL OF SNOWFLAKES.
posted by jaduncan at 7:55 AM on August 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The point I want to make is this: the post is about a place and to a higher degree the person leading CoS now. The issue of the religion itself comes into it in the tread. I engage the issue of religious freedom existentially. We can agree, the leadership of Scientology stinks and seems knowingly corrupt. The people who are linked to who have left are, for the most part, still Scientologists. They practice Scientology in much the same way that they did before but under total freedom. That Scientology is 50 years old and is undergoing a schism where religion writing and technology has been taken is a remarkable occurrence. All religious groups in early stages underwent these kinds of episodes of violence and suppression. It is never easy to predict what will happen next. The Church of Latter Day Saints, for example, underwent what was a political assassination after which, the family of Joseph Smith started a more mainstream church, now the Community of Christ. Mormons founded a new state and reorganized more cohesively only by threat of invasion and loss of tax-free status.

Here are Marty Rathbun's own words, Since Miscavige is a suppressive person, and since his orders influence every aspect of Sea Org life, the group itself has been subverted and has become to that degree a suppressive group because they enforce suppressive orders instead of Scientology. Link.

Will Herberg in Protestant-Catholic-Jew (1955) writes, the other-directed man is eminently religious in the sense of being religiously identified and affiliated, since being religious and joining a church or synagogue is, under temporary American conditions, a fundamental way of "adjusting" or "belonging".

Scientology is a young church. Tom Cruise is 50. We don't know how much money CoS has, but as long as it keeps operating dormitories in downtown LA it will probably remain in business. Independent Scientologists will be held together in small groups and some cultural novelty value. They still have to make a living and do not seem to be abandoning their beliefs. Given that independent Scientologists will have a three day convening in Lake Tahoe next month makes me hopeful they will turn into a new American religion with the same rights and protections.

I am happy that all of this took place here. What I find useful about Metafilter is the challenge of operation in a culture with experts and moderators in constant rotation, though some hovering for hours at a time. To be able to put out my religion 'expertise' in such a way allows me the strange and rare feeling of disrobing in public that most only encounter in their dreams.
posted by parmanparman at 1:16 PM on August 26, 2012


And you're using that expertise to defend murderous, exploiting criminal scumbags, so well done there.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:21 PM on August 26, 2012


yes, and missing the point in the process. Journalists don't get religion, to paraphrase William Schneider.
posted by parmanparman at 1:54 PM on August 26, 2012


Seems like that shits on a lot of religious journalists.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:58 PM on August 26, 2012


Scientology was openly created as a religious scam. For how that works see this.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:15 PM on August 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


Journalists don't get religion

I was very definitely a journalist and I very definitely got religion, so I'm not sure where that leaves your assertion.

Your desire to elide the distinction between a cult and religion is kind of worrying. There are certainly cultish sides to (some) religion and religion-ish sides to (most) cults, but the distinction is worth preserving. I happen to (now) believe it's all handwaving woo and to be considered harmful, but nevertheless there is a real category distinction between Scientolody and (say) Presbyterianism.
posted by unSane at 4:38 PM on August 26, 2012


Agreed that the get religion was ill-chosen. But, unSane, Presbyterianism is now just a branch of Protestant Christianity, and the other is characterized as a religion. Of course, one would find a real categorical distinction between a religion and what is now a sect. Presbyterians were established out of Scotland's official break from Rome and became the state church, the king having right to appoint bishops and ecclesiastic courts recognized by government, a state of affairs that eventually lead to a series of wars and a revolution. One could really argue that outside of Scotland and the Scottish community, Presbyterianism needed to evolve for 200 years (from 1560 to 1760) before it caught the vision of other nations and people outside of the British Isles. Presbyterians suffered as well when its churches in England separated en-mass after 1719 to become Unitarians, which you must admit is sharply different from Presbyterianism.

What is your issue?

how has Scientology grown so quickly? How did something that was explicitly started as a money making scheme become a non-profit organization? No religion would be here without the people responsible!

Why pick Presbyterianism with Scientology as a measure of religiosity? As I said, violence in religious groups at their beginnings is common. The two Bishops' Wars fought over the future of the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland and its believers were 80 years after John Knox helped start the church and almost 40 years after they were given legal authority by the king. These battles lead directly to the English Civil War. No amount of intervention stopped the Church of Scotland from losing people and property for years to come while maintaining its basic Calvinist theology in its subsequent branches. The independent Scientologists now do this today with the writings and technology of L. Ron Hubbard and have started churches outside of the main body. As a nod to your distinction, I am going to further define the Scientology religious schism as Scientologism.
posted by parmanparman at 6:20 PM on August 26, 2012


Scientologists for Ron Paul
posted by homunculus at 6:38 PM on August 26, 2012




So you really see no category distinction between a 'religion' made up out of whole cloth by a drunk science fiction author fifty years ago which is run essentially as a business, and employs deeply cult-like tactics, and a mainstream branch of a 2000-year old faith, which does not?
posted by unSane at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2012


I take it your objection comes from explicit fees for service. The Watchtower Bible and Tract Jehovah's Witnesses make their members pay for the books they distribute for free. Are they a cult? You are clearly are bigoted to Scientoligists and people who practice Scientologism. Evidence, I argue, for the essentially right-wing nature of your attacks on people who call for religious liberty - which I should remind you is different from ecumenism.

Luther was famously objecting the payment of indulgences in exchange for absolution. But his views come protest the power of canon law as a state body. Scientology uses non-canonical courts to enforce writs of judgement, which is frustrating, but it seems they are now on the losing side. That is because the schism of independent Scientologists is more pronounced than ever before.

Ask the Scientologist posits:
The reason that Scientology outside of the totalitarian control of the Church of Scientology cannot and will never thrive is because Scientology cannot coexist with open communication. Scientology cannot coexist with full access to all the information. Scientology cannot exist without its cultic thought-control.

We simply do not know if that is now true or not, because Scientologism has not been around long enough to form a cohesive religious doctrine using LRH to address the change in succession; the apostolic rite of legitimacy that all religions seem to vie for, and, seems to be the cornerstone of your argument against religious status. Let me be clear: I do not believe Scientology is a Christian body. I believe Scientology is a new religion.

Presbyterianism was clearly faced with the same threats, when its adherents rose up against Charles I and threw off the apostolic charter that allowed the king to appoint bishops it caused a major international war. 450 years later, many different Presbyterian churches exist with apostolic and non-apostolic corporations. Considering that some post-Carlist Presbyterians became Remonstrants over the issue of confession and were subsequently suppressed and driven underground by Calvinist powers in Ireland and Holland, I would hasten to say that your definition of cult is based on some contemporary test. I would enjoy it if you finally showed everyone the consistency of the test and please, when you do, could you tell me why Scientologism cannot be considered to now be a new branch off-shooting from the religion that is the Church of Scientology?
posted by parmanparman at 2:09 PM on August 27, 2012


P.S., is Summum a cult for you, unSane?
posted by parmanparman at 2:25 PM on August 27, 2012


unSane says: ...made up out of whole cloth by a drunk science fiction author fifty years ago which is run essentially as a business, and employs deeply cult-like tactics...

parmanparman says: I take it your objection comes from explicit fees for service.

You've missed about two-thirds of what he was saying. Fraud and cult-like tactics are also pretty damn objectionable.

I don't see why we have to follow a historical test for cult/not-cult either. It started as a term used to denigrate people who disagreed with you about the specific details of your religion, but we already have the word 'heretical' for that. The modern usage is focused on the way a group cuts off their members from their non-group loved ones, thus enabling all sorts of physical, sexual and financial abuse to go unreported and unpunished. It's not about the beliefs, but about how they administrate their group. Garden-variety manipulation is well within the range of religion; but when you start telling members they can't see or speak to their family, that they will work 80 hours a week for a $50 allowance, that if they're part of an internal organisation they will abort any pregnancies, that sort of thing (all of which are documented abuses within CoS)... that's not just another flavour of religion.

At this rate, it's much more likely that Scientologism will become a genuine religion than Scientology will. They're explicitly abandoning the worst of the abusive practices and sincerely believe Hubbard was onto something. They're wrong, but no more so than any other religious group.
posted by harriet vane at 11:48 PM on August 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Church of Scientology has a policy and history of harassing and destroying critics and holding people against their will. That is not a legitimate organization that sane societies should tolerate.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:23 AM on August 28, 2012


You are clearly are bigoted to Scientoligists and people who practice Scientologism. Evidence, I argue, for the essentially right-wing nature of your attacks on people who call for religious liberty - which I should remind you is different from ecumenism.

I'm done here.
posted by unSane at 12:49 AM on August 28, 2012 [3 favorites]




Tom Cruise’s Scientology Marriages: The Secret Wife-Auditioning Process Before Katie Holmes, Revealed

No, definitely not a cult. Not at all.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:58 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Harriet Vane for /thread.
posted by jaduncan at 11:13 AM on September 3, 2012


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