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It's not funny
March 19, 2006 9:21 AM   Subscribe

It might not be funny, but it's true. An educational episode of South Park, via Waxy.org.
posted by mokey (111 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
But it might be a dupe
posted by doctor_negative at 9:25 AM on March 19, 2006


That post links to a short clip from the episode, whereas this post links to the entire episode.
posted by mokey at 9:27 AM on March 19, 2006


Dude, you could have at least mentioned that it was the Scientology ep. I've already seen it, yo. Hasn't everyone?
posted by Hildegarde at 9:27 AM on March 19, 2006


Sorry, I prefer my comedy funny.
posted by boaz at 9:29 AM on March 19, 2006


I think that's why one of the tags is "scientology", Hildegarde.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:29 AM on March 19, 2006


crash: because redundancy is EVIL, like Jews?
posted by public at 9:34 AM on March 19, 2006


Tags, schmags. If I were searching for posts about Scientology the tags would be helpful, but we're not always searching for posts when we're reading mefi. It would be nice to have the content at least sort of described in the FPP. Perhaps I'm just old school like that.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:35 AM on March 19, 2006


I apologise for not mentioning scientology in the post. It was an oversight.

The more scientology is mocked the better, that's my opinion, and why I posted this.
posted by mokey at 9:38 AM on March 19, 2006


I really don't understand people who think it's noble to mock Scientology, but not to do it to Christianity/Islam/whatever. They're all equally whacked -- Scientology just happens to be newer.
posted by reklaw at 9:40 AM on March 19, 2006


Well, Christianity/Islam/whatever isn't usually *quite* so focused on the money.
posted by luftmensch at 9:46 AM on March 19, 2006


I really don't understand people who think it's noble to mock Scientology...

Aliens dude. Aliens.
posted by iamck at 9:46 AM on March 19, 2006


reklaw, The Jerusalem Fairytales are ridiculous and I certainly take every opportunity to mock them, but Scientology is somehow even crazier than Mormonism. You just can't put Scientology and the rest of the hocus pocus on the same level. Where the others can actually be a reasonable way of life, Scientology is a poorly disguised scam.
posted by redteam at 9:47 AM on March 19, 2006


I really don't understand people who think it's noble to mock Scientology, but not to do it to Christianity/Islam/whatever. They're all equally whacked -- Scientology just happens to be newer.

Exactly. The other religions you mention have thousands of years of tradition behind them, and were developed at a time when people didn't have any scientific knowledge of how the universe works. That a religion equally supernatural as, say, Christianity, could be invented in this day and age, and then be followed and believed by people makes it totally mockable.
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:47 AM on March 19, 2006


Scientologist Isaac Hayes quit Southpark due to this episode.
posted by vaportrail at 9:48 AM on March 19, 2006


I really don't understand people who think it's noble to mock Scientology, but not to do it to Christianity/Islam/whatever. They're all equally whacked -- Scientology just happens to be newer.

Scientology is a marketing scheme. It's a way to use mysticism to get money out of people's pockets. Most other religions are just founded by crazy people tripping out on logic.
posted by Laugh_track at 9:49 AM on March 19, 2006


That a religion equally supernatural as, say, Christianity, could be invented in this day and age, and then be followed and believed by people makes it totally mockable.

But surely the fact that people still believe in crazy supernatural Christianity in this day and age is pretty mockable too, no?

Where the others can actually be a reasonable way of life, Scientology is a poorly disguised scam.

Scientology is about the same things that religion has always been about: money and power.

That said, the alien thing is pretty funny.
posted by reklaw at 9:52 AM on March 19, 2006


But surely the fact that people still believe in crazy supernatural Christianity in this day and age is pretty mockable too, no?

Yes, and mocking Christians is hilarious. Christians don't mind if you mock them because they know it's ridiculous.

But to mock a Scientologist is draw attention to a hidden power structure in our society, and so it's not funny to the people trying to keep it secret. Hence the lawsuits. Hence the sobriety of this episode. Subversion is serious business.
posted by Laugh_track at 9:56 AM on March 19, 2006


reklaw, perhaps you'd like to look into some of the things Scientology is up to. I'd recommend many of the videos at xenutv.com. In particular, you might be interested in this panel of former Scientologists: The Leo J. Ryan Foundation Conference. I'm a big fan of Astra Woodward, who's the first speaker. There are good reasons to be critical of Scientology the organization; people can believe whatever they want, but a lot of this stuff is just so very much not okay.
posted by Hildegarde at 9:56 AM on March 19, 2006


The Mormon one was funnier.
posted by rxrfrx at 9:59 AM on March 19, 2006


But surely the fact that people still believe in crazy supernatural Christianity in this day and age is pretty mockable too, no?

To quote the South Park episode: "What's better than telling people a stupid story and having them believe you? Having them PAY YOU FOR IT, stupid!"
posted by Robot Johnny at 9:59 AM on March 19, 2006


Oh man, Isaac Hayes got so rocked:

Matt Stone, a co-creator of South Park, told the Associated Press that "This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology... He has no problem — and he's cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians."

Stone claimed that "[Hayes] wants a different standard for religions other than his own, and to me, that is where intolerance and bigotry begin."

posted by redteam at 10:00 AM on March 19, 2006


I really don't understand people who think it's noble to mock Scientology, but not to do it to Christianity/Islam/whatever.

Those people are generally Christians, Muslims or Whatevers, while Scientologists think its okay to mock those others but baaaad to mock Scientology (cf. Isaac Hayes). There's a pattern here, but I just can't quite make it out.

BTW, is there evidence that the leaders of Scientology don't actually believe in Scientology, i.e that they're just using these teachings to scam people? That seems to be an oft-repeated canard (like in this episode), but since the leaders are people who've moved up through the ranks all the way to the top, wouldn't it make more sense that they're the truest of the true believers (and handsomely rewarded for their beliefs I might add)? That is how the standard religious hierarchy works.
posted by boaz at 10:00 AM on March 19, 2006


An entire episode of South Park on Youtube? Wow. That's site is begging for trouble, huh?

For what it's worth, I think South Park jumped the shark long ago. It's crap anymore. Hell, even in the beginning it was crap, but it was mildly amusing and different crap. Now it's just garden variety, ordinary crap.
posted by teece at 10:00 AM on March 19, 2006


BTW, is there evidence that the leaders of Scientology don't actually believe in Scientology, i.e that they're just using these teachings to scam people?

This is something that it's probably impossible to know. Belief in something is only measurable by self-report, and that is not a very scientific measure. However, I think this question may also be applied to other religions:

is there evidence that the leaders of Christianity don't actually believe in Christianity, i.e. that they're just using these teachings to ________?

is there evidence that the leaders of Islam don't actually believe in Islam, i.e. that they're just using these teachings to ________?

is there evidence that the leaders of Mormonism don't actually believe in Mormonism, i.e. that they're just using these teachings to ________?

What goes in the blanks here? If we assume that no one in positions of spiritual power actually believes the things they say, do clear motives for their behaviors arise?
posted by Laugh_track at 10:05 AM on March 19, 2006


Boaz, once again I'd recommend scanning some of the videos at xenutv.com. The people they interview for these things are high level Scientologists. Because Scientology requires that you tell them all your deepest darkest secrets on the presumption that these things will be kept secret, if they suspect that you're questioning their motives they release those details and use them as blackmail. The longer you're there, the more dirt they have on you, and the more likely it is that all your friends and family (your support network) are Scientologists who will refuse to speak to you if you have a change of heart.

It's like being in an abusive relationship, actually.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:07 AM on March 19, 2006


They played the Scott Tennerman eppisode on TV last night. That might not have been educational, but even though I knew what was comming I was still shocked!

That's just good TV
posted by delmoi at 10:20 AM on March 19, 2006


An entire episode of South Park on Youtube? Wow. That's site is begging for trouble, huh?

When southpark first came out, before DVD's were released you could find entire episodes online. Matt and Trey knew about it, and said specifically that it was OK, as long as the sites weren't trying to make money.

Obviously YouTube has ads, but at the same time I doubt Matt and Trey care, because the episode is banned by comedy central.

It may eventually be put on DVD but right now the internet is the only place to find this episode, and Matt and Trey obviously want people to see it, so...
posted by delmoi at 10:24 AM on March 19, 2006


I really don't understand people who think it's noble to mock Scientology, but not to do it to Christianity/Islam/whatever.

Wait, they don't? Really?
posted by c13 at 10:39 AM on March 19, 2006


This is something that it's probably impossible to know

I'm easy. If there's evidence that they've self-identified as non-believers, referred to low-level Scientologists as 'suckers' or anything like that, I'd love to hear it. I didn't really mean it as an epistemological question.

I just think, given what I know of Scientology, that it seems more likely the leadership's mindset is more a mixture of true-believerism and expectation of being rewarded (with huge sacks of money) for their devoutness. And yet, time and again, I see it being portrayed as an outright con. It's kinda weird.

Oh, and 'scam people' goes in all the blanks, no? I mean, if you don't really believe it, and you're using it to part fools from their money, then that's a scam by definition.
posted by boaz at 10:59 AM on March 19, 2006


The more scientology religion is mocked the better.

When you get down to essentials, Scientology is no more absurd and pathetic than any other religion, and the same goes for its adherents. They're all needy, spiritual weaklings who'd rather believe childish nonsense than face reality - and the limits of human knowledge - bravely and honestly.
posted by Decani at 11:14 AM on March 19, 2006


I took the free personality test once.

I failed so badly they didn't ask me to join their religion. I was rejected by Scientologists.
posted by jb at 11:21 AM on March 19, 2006


Decani: When you get down to essentials, Scientology is no more absurd and pathetic than any other religion, and the same goes for its adherents.

I'd say it is. The origins of the Bible, Torah, Koran, etc. are at least lost to time, and even the founder of LDS has been gone a while. The guy who founded Scientology was a modern science fiction writer. Seriously, he made stuff up about aliens his entire life, for money, as his day job. So, one day, he decides to write another book on aliens, space, and other strange things, except this time he says it's real and it's a religion. Somehow, believing that seems worse than something which is at least not known to have been written by a guy who made stuff up for his living.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:25 AM on March 19, 2006



posted by sharksandwich at 11:27 AM on March 19, 2006


It would be fun to do the e-meter thing with a signal generator clamped onto one's body somewhere. Send that needle jumping. "Damn, look at that tone arm go! This PC is all *sorts* of something-or-other!"

Lots of information on the E-meter.
posted by dmd at 11:27 AM on March 19, 2006


It's like being in an abusive relationship, actually.

I think the term you're looking for is 'cult'.
posted by Jairus at 11:32 AM on March 19, 2006


I think it's ok to mock Scientology because of their secrecy and their tendency to sue people who expose them.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:33 AM on March 19, 2006


Strange, I found this episode quite funny.
posted by Jelreyn at 11:34 AM on March 19, 2006


*Waves hand in the back of the room*

I think christianity, islam and judaism are equally as ridiculous as scientology! And have just as accurate a world view! And are just as much about money grubbing!
posted by telstar at 11:36 AM on March 19, 2006


The list of abuses and quakery detailed over at Operation Clambake make it okay to make fun of Scientology.

That, and watching their DiaClearNewseticsBridgeDawnUltra(tm) gazetting drones physically lock up and have petite mal seizures after they approach you and you respond with logic and facts and they get stuck in these cute little buffer overflow routines makes it okay.

Seriously, that blank, seized look is priceless.
posted by loquacious at 11:44 AM on March 19, 2006


Wow, every single thread about Scientology seems to encompass that same theme. And I'm not sure about the summon Bevets card - if I recall correctly, in Scientology threads, that should be a summon skallas card.
posted by billysumday at 11:49 AM on March 19, 2006


And that same theme is the argument that "Scientology is no more stupid than any other religion" when in fact Scientology is much, much stupider than any other religion.
posted by billysumday at 11:52 AM on March 19, 2006


The one thing I hate most about these scientology threads are the leagues of folk who, knowing nothing about scientology, feel fit to comment upon criticism of same.

Look, guys, until you go read A Piece of Blue Sky and do some investigative research into the kinds of hijinx Scientology plays with its critics and escapees — ie. having them killed — you really don't have anything worthwhile to say. Scientology is demonstrably different from modern mainstream religions. You argue from a position of ignorance.

For kicks, though, here's some fun: the Wikipedia entry for "Xenu", the badass mofo that Scientology blames for the creation of thetans.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:54 AM on March 19, 2006


Well obviously more evil has been done in the name of older religions.

But then again, Scientology was made up by a SCIENCE FICTION WRITER.

It even reads like bad science fiction

If you are brought up as a Christian or Jew or Muslim then you generally get to go to mass for free, church, mosque and so on - all for free. In fact the more well off members are encouraged to help out those less fortunate.

Scientology requires that you spend lots of money and those with more money acheive enlightenment first.

I find it hard to think up reasons NOT to openly mock Scientology over every other religion.

I'm not sure if it is even classed as a religion in the UK - I know they stopped 'Jedi' becoming a relgion; due to the fact it's SCIENCE FICTION.


ok ok... let me just say it:

Scientology is for rubes.
posted by Meccabilly at 11:57 AM on March 19, 2006


Why is a South Park episode getting an FPP?
posted by poweredbybeard at 12:00 PM on March 19, 2006


Here are a few things that separate Scientology from other religions:

-You can't be a Scientologist for free. While other religions might like money, there's no cover charge at the door to attend one of their services. Scientology is a series of "courses," each more expensive than the one before.

-Scientologists do not reveal the basic tenets of their religion until people have already been indoctrinated. The whole "Xenu" creation story is only revealed to those who reach OTIII, something that takes a long time and lots of $$. The transubstanciation thing might seem creepy, but at least Christians know about it right off the bat.

-Members are encouraged to cut non-believers from their lives. If your family questions anything about Scientology, they are declared "suppressive persons" and you are to sever all ties. That's a classic cult move.

-They are crazy litigious. Say something negative about jewish people and the ADL will issue a statement, start a boycott and be generally vocal in their disagreement. Scientologists will quietly take you to court and keep you there so that even if they don't win, the cost of fighting them will ruin you.

That's just off the top of my head. They also like to bug people's phones, blackmail them, physically intimidate them and discourage them from seeking medical help.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:02 PM on March 19, 2006


I think people are missing an important point here: when you lightly mock Christianity, maybe a few people are offended, you might get a letter. When you lightly mock Scientology, you get sued. Hell, just mentioning Scientology can often get the lawyers after you if it wasn't in a suitably flattering manner. The media is terrified of them.

That's why this episode is funny and admirable to most of us, even those of us who have no opinion regarding the tenets of Scientology. No one likes a bully, and everyone likes seeing a bully get a wedgie.
posted by Simon! at 12:03 PM on March 19, 2006


I really don't understand people who think it's noble to mock Scientology, but not to do it to Christianity/Islam/whatever. They're all equally whacked -- Scientology just happens to be newer.

ok. several reasons why this statement is kinda ill-informed and stupid.

1) scientology is not a religion so much as a pyramid money-making scheme developed to prey on the weak minded. really, look up the prices (which rise as you progress) for their auditing. churches, mosques and temples may ask a small tithe and accept donations, but only cults require you give up your belongings and possibly bankrupt yourself.

2) as previously stated, this "religion" preys on the weak minded and insecure. you might argue all religion does, except for one thing... i have not seen any real moral bases in scientology. its not founded on the basic moral and social principles of society so much as it is anti-psychiatry and a cheap-excuse for a self-help program.

3) Fanatics of Islam, Christianity, etc. may be whacked. Some may even be cults! and some may just be in it for the money. the difference is the over arching theme incorporated into all their religious texts which all fanatics seem to overlook - "don't be an asshole, please co-exist." If some exploit that, fine. the vast majority of most religions don't listen to that crap in reality - if they do, its most likely an excuse for an ulterior motive(Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Inquisition, etc).

4) it denounces not only other religions, but psychiatry and psychology as well. anyone who has taken an introductory psych course knows that, for all the fuck-ups in its history, the concepts studied have been fairly scientific, and well tested. not just that, but the methodology behind psychological counselling is more of a human approach than anything... medication is almost always a last resort (unless you're a sell-out to a pharmaceutical company). measuring "thetan" levels with a mock-up of a voltometer is just ludricous. denoucing a study of human behavior and thought isn't just a cover, its an attempt to decry a victim seeking help after being abused by scientologists.

5) finally, L. Ron Hubbard was a hypocritical, child-molesting, torturing, manipulative, acid-dropping, totalitarian, satan-worshipping fake (not calling him names, just going on a lot of news articles i have read about him). not to mention a terrible science fiction writer(read any book of his, come away feeling like you have wasted 2 hours of your life). anyone who takes anything he has said seriously has got some seriously problems with reality.


rant over.
posted by Doorstop at 12:22 PM on March 19, 2006


This is a great bit of video if you want to get more details about how Scientology works.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:25 PM on March 19, 2006


reklaw: Scientology isn't a religion. It's a blatantly criminal organization that just happens to use religion as a front, because of religion's special status in most societies. Their personality tests are explicitly designed to find nasty, selfish people... they're the prime candidates for recruitment.

One of the 'revealed truths' of scientology, later on (they have to hide most of this stuff, because it takes years of conditioning before most people will swallow these things) is that non-scientologists aren't human. It's okay to lie to, cheat, steal from, or even kill non-scientologists, because they're controlled by their Thetans. This is explicitly spelled out in their 'moral' code.

They will take any steps to silence their critics, starting with smearing them with the most vile epithets imaginable. ("Person X is a child molester!"... you'd have to read some of these screeds to believe them.) They'll take you to court on a whim, and I've seen reports of people actually being stalked/harassed by Scientologists becuase they criticized the organization.

They're not a religion. They're a mafia. Read Operation Clambake for tons of info.
posted by Malor at 12:30 PM on March 19, 2006


They're all needy, spiritual weaklings who'd rather believe childish nonsense than face reality - and the limits of human knowledge - bravely and honestly.

Or, they use a different language than you to describe their experience, a language which you do not understand.
posted by Laugh_track at 12:40 PM on March 19, 2006


As someone who feels that organized religion is a Bad Thing and definitely needs to be mocked and ultimately torn down and at least modified if not thrown away -- I agree with most of the posters here that Scientology is substantially worse than most other major religions.

I agree with the other points brought up above (that L. Ron clearly made it up and didn't believe in it, that it's very expensive, that they are very litigious and engage in "dirty tricks"); I'd also like to add that it has destroyed the lives of at least two people I know.

Most of these "cults" are overrated as to their coercive status. For example, the Hare Krishnas are a little weird but basicallly good people (though they certainly have had their problems with charismatic weirdos at the top); I have friends who've come and go with them for years without feeling any pressure. Scientology is a coercive cult and needs to be mocked mercilessly until not one idiot feeds them money.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:41 PM on March 19, 2006


Freezone.
posted by moonbird at 12:47 PM on March 19, 2006


While there are points being made and discussion being had, I feel I should say that the post itself could have included a lot of things regarding the current controversy, news about Tom Cruise and Isaac Hayes' recent bitchiness, previous threads on scientology, etc...
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 1:00 PM on March 19, 2006


I recognise the problems of organized religion as much as the next person, but if you think most/all major religions are cults then you don't know what a cult is.

Scientology, on the other hand, is very much a cult.

And how about this? If you think having a spiritual side to your relationship with the universe means you're necessarily weak minded or a rube, then you're writing off an awful lot of great historical figures and, IMHO, demonstrating that you don't know what science or religion are supposed to achieve.
posted by Drexen at 1:16 PM on March 19, 2006


lupus, it's not a religion. Don't use that word with them. They're a racket... not even a cult, just a racket.
posted by Malor at 1:19 PM on March 19, 2006


Are there any good celebrity Scientologists? I have looked at some lists of supposedly current Scientologists and I didn't see any whose death would bother me, not one whose obituary in the paper would make me say, "Aw, that's too bad. Poor old X."

I did see a couple of supposedly former Scientologists I kinda like.
posted by pracowity at 1:25 PM on March 19, 2006


I think it's ok to mock Scientology because it's a criminal enterprise and its leaders should be arrested and imprisoned. Some of them should be shot in the face just on principle.
posted by 2sheets at 1:30 PM on March 19, 2006


Best of the Web basic cable!
posted by aaronetc at 1:32 PM on March 19, 2006


Deja vu
posted by Smedleyman at 1:33 PM on March 19, 2006


Would Hubbard stating repeatedly that he was going to 'make a million dollars' by starting a religion beforehand be sufficient proof that he wasn't starting it with the best of intentions?
posted by Orb2069 at 1:33 PM on March 19, 2006


"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun! Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu!!!"

The duo signed the statement "Trey Parker and Matt Stone, servants of the dark lord Xenu."


- South Park's response in a Variety article about Comedy Central banning the Scientology episode
posted by fungible at 1:47 PM on March 19, 2006


Is it possible that some people have made science their religion?
posted by Cranberry at 1:57 PM on March 19, 2006


Is it possible that some people have made science their religion?

Yes, but none of those movements (like the Positvist Church founded by Comte and still going in Brazil) are Scientology or have anything to do with it.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:03 PM on March 19, 2006



posted by kika at 2:43 PM on March 19, 2006


I've already seen it, yo. Hasn't everyone?

Nope. Well, now that I have perhaps everyone has. Thanks for the post mokey.
posted by caddis at 2:48 PM on March 19, 2006


Aside: Whenever I see scientologists in Times Square offering me a "free stress test" while i'm transferring from one train to another, I respond by stating (quite loudly) "No, I will not sleep with you."

I'm hoping it will make the L. Ron Hubtards eventually get scared off from the location.
posted by piratebowling at 3:50 PM on March 19, 2006


You guys are gonna get so sued.
posted by crunchland at 3:51 PM on March 19, 2006


One of these days we are going to see CNN covering the attack on $c1entology center or whatever the hell it is, after somebody pushed over the edge bombs the place. What goes around comes around, eventually.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 4:12 PM on March 19, 2006


A circa-1995 Wired article about the Church of Scientology's early efforts to restrict information about it on the internet.

Choice quote:
"In mid-January, Klemesrud reported a truly bizarre incident: he claimed his apartment was smeared with blood by a woman he'd met in a bar."
posted by MarkO at 5:25 PM on March 19, 2006


The origins of the Bible, Torah, Koran, etc. are at least lost to time, and even the founder of LDS has been gone a while. The guy who founded Scientology was a modern science fiction writer.

Sooo.... obvious nonsense is more reliable when it's ancient? Woah. That's logical. I shall start worshipping Anubis at once.
posted by Decani at 5:42 PM on March 19, 2006


But then again, Scientology was made up by a SCIENCE FICTION WRITER

And Christianity was made up by a failed carpenter. Which is better how, exactly?
posted by Decani at 5:43 PM on March 19, 2006


Or, they use a different language than you to describe their experience, a language which you do not understand.

Mmm, mmm, that's a good vegetable. Pat them on the back some more whilst offering precisely no rational justification for belief in obvious, unproven bullshitl
posted by Decani at 5:45 PM on March 19, 2006


Gee, Reklaw and Decani, do you realize what idiots you sound like when you say such stupid things? Sure, St. Paul, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas are just as "whacked" as Tom Cruise and Kirstie Alley.

Yeah, that's right, with a few smart-ass remarks, a couple of nobodies jabbering on Metafilter can show the emptiness and absurdity of ideas that have occupied the best minds of our culture for hundreds of years.
posted by jayder at 5:50 PM on March 19, 2006


No, Paul, Augustine and Aquinas were truly visionary whackjobs, like L. Ron Hubbard himself. Tom Cruise & Kirstie Alley are only Mel Gibson-level whackjobs, tops.
posted by boaz at 6:00 PM on March 19, 2006


And BTW, the actual period of time when culture's best minds were occupied with Christian theology was called 'The Dark Ages'. Coincidence? Uh, no.
posted by boaz at 6:04 PM on March 19, 2006


Boaz, even though you're ridiculing my comment, you made me laugh.
posted by jayder at 6:16 PM on March 19, 2006


cease & desist in 5... 4... 3... 2... 1...

quite amazing -- quite a counterpunch to all of the "balanced" coverage scientology has gotten via Cruise, Travolta, etc... in the mainstream press over the past few years...
posted by VulcanMike at 6:28 PM on March 19, 2006


There is a big difference with scientology.

Nobody seriously doubts that the leaders of the Christian church hold sincere belief in their own religion. The same is true in Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and just about every other -ism you can think of up to and including Mormonism.

On the other hand, most people who seriously investigate the teachings of scientology, their business practices, and their treatment of their own current and former members, come away with the impression that it's cynically-designed wealth creation machine.

This is demonstrated by the answers of the various world religions to the big questions. Generally religions don't hold secrets. Ask a priest or a guru or an imam what the greatest truth of their faith is, and you'll get an answer. It may not be convincing to you. It will certainly vary depending on who you ask. But it will be given enthusiasticly, happily. You can take yourself to any library in the world and read the holiest books and laws and commentaries of these faiths. In fact, with certain of them, you will be pressed to take your own copy of these books. You will be invited to consider them critically, with eyes wide open.

If you ask a scientologist the same question, the answer will, however stated, essentially amount to this: "how much money are you willing to spend finding out?". Getting to the "upper levels" of knowledge will cost $300,000 to $500,000 according to xenu.net. Much of what you get for that money appears to be psychological conditioning so that you are prepared to fork over ever larger amounts of money for ever crazier pieces of so-called theology. If you share any of this information with other people, you will be sued for copyright infringment.

Have a look at http://www.xenu.net/archive/ot/ to see some of what you'd be paying for.

If at some point in this process, good sense returns and you begin to question the truth of what you're being sold, better keep quiet about it. If you publicly criticise scientology you'll be declared a "suppressive person" and scientology staff and members will make it their job to destroy you, financially, legally, in any way they can think of. The fact that they have written records of ever illegal or immoral act you ever committed (which you supplied as part of the "auditing" process) makes this a little easier for them.
posted by thparkth at 6:55 PM on March 19, 2006


Drexen said, "if you think most/all major religions are cults then you don't know what a cult is."

Check a dictionary. 'cult' and 'religion' are synonyms. Modern parlance tends to utilize 'cult' if it's a 'bad' religion or a religion which is not generally accepted by the public. A religion is a cult that HAS allegedly been accepted by the general public. A religion involves the belief in a higher power. Whether that power is a supernatural godhead or a race of aliens from outer space, it still qualifies as "higher" than homo sapiens suffering from that horrid commandment from yet another religion knows as 'physics' more commonly known as the Law of Gravity.

Personally I happen to believe in the possibility of both gods and aliens, so I can't in good conscience make fun of Christians OR Scientologists. I CAN however question any follower of any belief telling me I have to pay them to learn what they believe, cuz no human being on this planet knows any better than the rest of us what's going on beyond what we can see.

The word 'cult' can also be used as "An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest. " Again, usually this is in a derogatory tone. Like fans of science fiction television series who enjoy the show so much they dress up like characters from the show and hang out in comic book conventions.

As for the South Park episode? I thought it was funny. The bit where Cruise wouldn't come out of the closet had me in stitches.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:31 PM on March 19, 2006


My experience with Scientology and the internet dates back to the early 90's escapades on alt.religion.scientology.

The clams (a caustic reference to their belief that humans evolved from freakin' clams!) started out by issuing fake ops-channel cancel-message commands; then crap-flooding the newsgroup; and finally taking actual message-posters to court, with the commitment to bankrupt them. It was surreal.

During the lawsuits, which took forever to really get moving, the clams made the most of their command-from-Hubbard claiming open season on "suppressive persons." From pickets and pamphlets claiming the SP was a criminal, a pervert, and even criminally perverted; to the slaying of pets (including a Judge's dog!); to endless petty harassments; to death threats; and on and on. They drove at least one person to suicide, and bankrupted a few others.

The entire thing is well enough documented on the net and was fascinating to witness at the time.

I eventually quit paying attention, and have no idea if they're still engaged in their insane war against the internet. If they are, I'd not want to be in Matt's shoes. This thread exposes all sorts of things that they'd rather you not know.

Believe you me, the cult is every bit as weird as you can imagine, and then some. Go do the research: it's absolutely fascinating.

zach, words having meanings. do us the favour of using them correctly. conflating 'religion' and 'cult' does us no service at all.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:38 PM on March 19, 2006


LOL at "crazy litigious"

nice one, jrossi4r
posted by redteam at 10:30 PM on March 19, 2006


Let me first say that I love nothing more than making fun of Scientology (except perhaps for eating cake), but it isn't that much different than other religions.

My understanding is that the Church of England was founded by a guy who wanted a divorce and the Catholic Church wouldn't give it to him. He beheads Charlton Heston and there you go, new religion. Some of the other offshoots of Christianity have similarly odd origins. The Jeovah's Witnesses and Mormons, I'm looking at you.

Islam was founded by a guy who had "angelic visitations" while in a cave. Also, when you look at it, even Judaism's origins are a little shady. The prophets in the Old Testament seem about one hair short of batshit crazy and their word is, by definition, LAW.

As for religions' less than savory practices, well glass houses and all that. Islam, for example, seems to have many examples of less than exemplerary behavior. Iran seems like a good place to start.

Which is not to say that Christianity is blameless either. It seems as though you can't swing a cat in the US without hitting someone horribly scarred by something the Catholic Church has done. Additionally, I personally know one family that has been shunned by a very lovely Southern Baptist church. If I lived in a small town, that might actually mean more, but the intent is still there. Christian churches are just subtle about the crazy shit they do.

So, although Scientology is indeed most likely a big scam, it's not really any worse than any other religion, it just has celebrities associated with it, and like everything else, that puts it under more scrutiny.

And on preview, for anyone who thinks that the origin of other religions and the origins of Scientology aren't similar, that no one at the beginning of those religions didn't believe, well maybe, maybe not.

In other times, money didn't mean as much as it does now. Influence did matter. Coincidentally, the key to converting people to your religion requires gaining greater influence.

I'd certainly like to think that Jesus or Muhammed believed what they were saying and so sought greater influence to better spread the message, but what about the Apostles or the leaders that came after Muhammed? Why did they do what they did?

Whether you believed in the religion or not, it would be hard to walk away from a gig that made you more powerful than a king, with, literally, the will of God, or Allah, behind you.
posted by BeReasonable at 10:44 PM on March 19, 2006


Southpark has a 'cult like' following.....

... so i watch it religiously.


(fff said -> "words having meanings. do us the favour of using them correctly. conflating 'religion' and 'cult' does us no service at all.")


Except when a noun becomes a verb or verb clause.
posted by rawfishy at 12:51 AM on March 20, 2006


...and what ZachsMind said.
posted by rawfishy at 12:54 AM on March 20, 2006


Christians don't mind if you mock them because they know it's ridiculous.

Do you actually think that's a consensus Christian viewpoint?
posted by oxonium at 1:50 AM on March 20, 2006


Jason Lee is apparently a Scientologist. That's one actor I do respect.

I wonder, with a fair number of prominant adherants, is there something Scientology might offer to help people deal with stress and thus be more successful? Same effect as meditation? Or is that the CofS conciously seeks out celebrities to up its profile?

And why didn't they want me?
posted by jb at 2:05 AM on March 20, 2006


Jb: see wikipedia, another wikipedia article, and CoS itself. Short answer is : they recruit.
posted by oxonium at 2:12 AM on March 20, 2006


BeReasonable, even if I grant your claim that Scientology is a religion (and it isn't, it's a racket)... it's also worth pointing out that young religions are dangerous. See: history.

You seem to believe that it's just more of the same, business-as-usual for religions... but it's not. Do some research into the organization. It's a seriously scary outfit.

I question that any sane, reasonable person could carefully examine the evidence and conclude that they're anything but a criminal organization masquerading as a religion.

I'm getting to the point now where I just assume that anyone defending the outfit is either ignorant or a shill. That's exactly the kind of approach Scientology takes.. their attempts to censor Usenet are legendary.

Or, I suppose, they could be insane or completely unreasonable, but that never happens online. :)
posted by Malor at 3:11 AM on March 20, 2006


My understanding is that the Church of England was founded by a guy who wanted a divorce and the Catholic Church wouldn't give it to him.

There's a lot more to it than that. If this is and example of the rigour by which we're judging these complex ideas and organizations, I can see why some people accept that Scientology is a legitimate religion.
posted by Hildegarde at 3:40 AM on March 20, 2006


jb: The celebrity Scientologists are treated far better than the rest of them, the ones that actually end up doing all the work and paying all the money.
posted by sonofsamiam at 5:33 AM on March 20, 2006


Strange, I found this episode quite funny.

That is pretty strange, since the only "joke" in the entire episode was the extremely tiresome repetition of "Tom Cruise come out of the closet". Unbelievably boring and trite, just like the six or seven other South Park episodes my defenses have been lowered enough to watch in its (what?) ten year run now.
posted by dgaicun at 6:01 AM on March 20, 2006


Also, I find the psychology of religious leaders endlessly fascinating. It is a surprisingly difficult question to what extent people like Joseph Smith, who made up shit and tried to cover his tracks throughout his entire life, actually believe their own intentionally crafted fictions and deceptions. On some level these people have to know and recognize that they are liars, but on another level my intuition is that they are deep believers as well.

Religion is an almost frightening topic to me, because of the way it turns human behavior on its head. the more I read, the less I comprehend it really.
posted by dgaicun at 6:13 AM on March 20, 2006


everyone even only remotely interested and / or amused by scientology should read bare faced messiah the unofficial biography of hubbard. it may start a bit boring but picks up the pace and will make you laugh a lot about the sheer absurdity of it all.
posted by namagomi at 6:33 AM on March 20, 2006


your favorite tv show sucks
your favorite religion sucks
your god is dead
posted by fungible at 6:40 AM on March 20, 2006


Malor: you said "I question that any sane, reasonable person could carefully examine the evidence and conclude that they're anything but a criminal organization masquerading as a religion."

That just assumes that I think other religious organizations are anything other than "a criminal organization masquerading as a religion." Just because it's an old criminal organization doesn't make it any better. However, for the record, I do not support or endorse Scientology. It's crap. I just think other religions are just as crap.

If you look into the early history of many religions you will see that the founders did some things that today we would definitely not be okay with. I'm talking persecution, character assassination, killing, the works. Those things happened back then though, so people don't get as worked up about them.

Me, I know that history tends to repeat itself and whatnot, so I don't trust any religion and am proud to look skeptically at all of them, young and old.

That being said, what's your opinion of the Universal Life Church? To dgaicun's point, I think it's founders completely believed in what they were saying and doing, but it is completely set up like a scam.

Also, I really liked "Battlefield Earth." It doesn't have anything to do with Scientology, but that's actualy a shame, because it is better written than Dianetics.
posted by BeReasonable at 7:03 AM on March 20, 2006


ZachsMind : Check a dictionary.

Yeah, under 'glib' it says 'trying to win an argument by pointing to dictionary definitions'.

No, really, a religion is not necessarily a cult in any meaningful sense. There are cults based on (I presume) all of the major religions, but if e.g. 'Christianity is a cult' then e.g. 'Metafilter is a cult'.
posted by Drexen at 7:15 AM on March 20, 2006


A 'cult' is understood as a fairly new religion with little prestige (along with certain thematic elements that seem to follow such startups). Christianity certainly could fairly be called described as a cult up until about Constantine. I don't think it would fit the generally understood usage of the term today, but then again I would understand what someone was getting at who described it as such (suggesting it has valid alternative usages).
posted by dgaicun at 7:32 AM on March 20, 2006


Awww dammit.

I took there whole personality test thing. Took me about an hour. And then at the end the image was broken! They couldn't even get the form to work!

Wasted an hour of my life.

I'm sticking with good 'ol United Church of Christ.

"About the UCC

Intelligent dialogue and a strong independent streak sometimes cause the United Church of Christ (UCC) and its 1.4 million members to be called a “heady and exasperating mix.” The UCC tends to be a mostly progressive denomination that unabashedly engages heart and mind. And yet, the UCC somehow manages to balance congregational autonomy with a strong commitment to unity among its nearly 6,000 congregations—despite wide differences among many local congregations on a variety of issues. "

posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:20 AM on March 20, 2006


Aww, I just took their Oxford Capability Analysis(TM) and it's broken! After 200 questions and data capture n' all that (fake addresses, of course) the image that should give me my prognosis is broken!
posted by flameproof at 9:21 AM on March 20, 2006


their.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:24 AM on March 20, 2006


flameproof are you mocking me sir? or was that just a weird coincidence?

You're mocking me.

damn you.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:25 AM on March 20, 2006


Snap, Balrog!
posted by flameproof at 9:29 AM on March 20, 2006


(OK, did anyone else other than Baby_Balrog and myself give it a go? And if so, did it work for you? I'm really upset that I can't find out whether I'm a suitable mug mark parishoner or not.)
posted by flameproof at 9:32 AM on March 20, 2006


dude, there is simply no way that we both finished that lame-ass test at the same time. Maybe L. Ron is using his thetans to ... meh.

I'll tell you if you're a parishoner - how much money do you have in your wallet?
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:35 AM on March 20, 2006


Except when a noun becomes a verb or verb clause.

Well obviously. [bfg]
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 AM on March 20, 2006


Isaac Hayes did not quit "South Park" - his church quit for him after Hayes suffered a stroke (fox news)

also, Tory Christman Speaks at the CFI West - March 7, 2005 ... In Scientology for 30 years. Out of it for 5... an inside look at the organization.
posted by crunchland at 5:40 PM on March 20, 2006



posted by boaz at 6:52 PM on March 20, 2006


A little video about Hubbard/narconon that I found on pot tv.
posted by hortense at 9:44 PM on March 20, 2006


If anyone is still reading this thread, Fox news is running a story that Isaac Hayes didn't quit... because he had a stroke on Jan 17.

Not many details available, but it's looking entirely possible that Scientology may have quit him without his knowing about it. That's the kind of thing they do, this would be RIGHT up their alley.

Sucks about the stroke. :( :(
posted by Malor at 6:39 AM on March 21, 2006


Related:
Showbiz unsure if YouTube a friend or foe
posted by Otis at 10:38 AM on March 21, 2006


Trapped in the Closet (South Park episode) on Wikipedia
posted by Sharcho at 8:58 AM on March 30, 2006


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