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December 7, 2007 5:13 PM   Subscribe

Germany Seeks to Ban Scientology
posted by chuckdarwin (144 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Good. Fuck 'em.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 5:18 PM on December 7, 2007 [14 favorites]


Newsfilter, but I hope they succeed. The leaders of Scientology are vermin that feed on the credulousness of their victims, and take them to the cleaners, financially. It's not a religion -- it's a con of the worst sort. They need to be put out of business everywhere.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:18 PM on December 7, 2007


Newsfilter

I'm aware of that, but I think that it's interesting newsfilter.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:21 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


One insanity at the time. Good news.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:21 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I love how the BBC article managed to find the ugliest picture of Tom Cruise ever.
posted by mr_roboto at 5:24 PM on December 7, 2007


You're all glib.
posted by ALongDecember at 5:25 PM on December 7, 2007


I think we all should be careful with our comments. People have been sued for merely mentioning Operation Clambake.

Besides, could Tom Cruise AND John Travolta both be wrong?
posted by Sukiari at 5:27 PM on December 7, 2007


The leaders of Scientology Judaism are vermin that feed on the credulousness of their victims, and take them to the cleaners, financially. It's not a religion -- it's a con of the worst sort. They need to be put out of business everywhere.

Can i go there?
posted by phaedon at 5:30 PM on December 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


Hasn't this been attempted before in Germany?

I do think it's a cult, but because of that, I'm not sure banning it will help. If you push a cult (or religion) underground, it can gain strength.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:31 PM on December 7, 2007


Sukiari, who got sued? The owners of the comments?
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:33 PM on December 7, 2007


It's not a religion -- it's a con of the worst sort

How are these mutually exclusive?
posted by brundlefly at 5:34 PM on December 7, 2007 [13 favorites]


phaedon writes "The leaders of Scientology Judaism are vermin that feed on the credulousness of their victims, and take them to the cleaners, financially. It's not a religion -- it's a con of the worst sort. They need to be put out of business everywhere."

Except Scientology really is a con game and a cult. I'm sure there are people who find some sort of fulfillment in it, but it's pay-for-play (or indentured servitude, forever), and they are extremely hostile to their critics, and will shut people off from their families if necessary. I don't think you can say the same of Judaism. Also, the e-meter is bunk, as is their methodology. It's a lie, and it can cost you everything.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:34 PM on December 7, 2007


Germany doesn't know the history of psychiatry.
posted by gompa at 5:35 PM on December 7, 2007 [6 favorites]


I don't know, how could Tom Cruise AND John Travolta both be wrong?
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:36 PM on December 7, 2007


How can you ban a religion? What's more, how can anyone think it's a good idea?
posted by Citizen Premier at 5:37 PM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Worthy of criticism != should be banned.

I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.
posted by ibmcginty at 5:38 PM on December 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


Citizen Premier, I'm not sure that everyone agrees that it's a religion.
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:38 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Citizen Premier writes "How can you ban a religion? What's more, how can anyone think it's a good idea?"

Well it's more of a business than a religion. No need to actually ban it, I think a 100% tax on gross revenue should be sufficient.
posted by mullingitover at 5:43 PM on December 7, 2007


brundlefly writes "How are these mutually exclusive?"

There is a difference. I know it's clever to claim there is no difference, and, sure, I can see that to some extent, but cults are not really the same thing. Of course, plenty of people use the term to describe religions they don't like. But a true cult exercises a great degree of control over its followers. It's usually headed by a charismatic leader. There is typically a requirement of large payments or the turning over of assets to the cult. There is typically shutting off outside criticism, sometimes by completely isolating the members from anyone outside the cult or by censoring any outside communications. Cults tend to recruit among the desperate and drifting, or those going through major life changes - IOW the most vulnerable and manipulatable. A cult tends to operate outside the boundaries of society, or along the edge, and there are great pains taken to prevent people leaving, sometimes with the threat of dependency or harm.

I found this Louis Jolyon West quote on Wikipedia, and I think it's about right.

"A cult is a group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control (e.g. isolation from former friends and family, debilitation, use of special methods to heighten suggestibility and subservience, powerful group pressures, information management, suspension of individuality or critical judgment, promotion of total dependency on the group and fear of [consequences of] leaving it, etc) designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community."
posted by krinklyfig at 5:46 PM on December 7, 2007


Citizen Premier writes "How can you ban a religion? What's more, how can anyone think it's a good idea?"

If some religion or whatever label you wanna give to that behavior or set of behaviors, pushed people to do insane things, should we tolerate that because it's a religion ?

If some authority ordered you to kill somebody, it is ok because the authority told you so ?
posted by elpapacito at 5:47 PM on December 7, 2007


If I started a "religion" where one of the tenants was the right of the devout (read, me) to take other people's stuff, I'm pretty sure my religion would get shut down in a hurry to absolutely no one's displeasure.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:48 PM on December 7, 2007


I know it's clever to claim there is no difference,

They weren't. They were saying that being one doesn't preclude being the other. Not the same thing.
posted by Brockles at 5:48 PM on December 7, 2007


Anyone see the building they have in Berlin?!?!?! Germany is right to be concerned.
posted by janicepink at 5:49 PM on December 7, 2007


Except Scientology really is a con game and a cult. I'm sure there are people who find some sort of fulfillment in it, but it's pay-for-play (or indentured servitude, forever), and they are extremely hostile to their critics, and will shut people off from their families if necessary. I don't think you can say the same of Judaism. Also, the e-meter is bunk, as is their methodology. It's a lie, and it can cost you everything.

So what you're saying is we should burn 'em. Cuz I'm not sure a ban's gonna work.
posted by phaedon at 5:49 PM on December 7, 2007


Scientology is a criminal fraud, not a religion, because it lies to new recruits about the central tenets of faith until they have given years of devoted service or donated absurd amounts of money. No real religion does this.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:49 PM on December 7, 2007 [7 favorites]


krinklyfig, I don't disagree that there's a difference between a cult and a religion. It's the difference between a religion and a con I'm not sold on.
posted by brundlefly at 5:51 PM on December 7, 2007


As well as what Brockles said.
posted by brundlefly at 5:52 PM on December 7, 2007


One could argue that most religions defraud people of money. Give your money to jesus so I can buy a personal jet.
posted by puke & cry at 5:54 PM on December 7, 2007


As an aside, that reminds me. A couple weeks ago some people broke into a local church and stole 8 plasma screen TVs. I couldn't decide which was worse, stealing the TVs or the fact that they had 8 plasma screens.
posted by puke & cry at 5:56 PM on December 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


phaedon writes "So what you're saying is we should burn 'em. Cuz I'm not sure a ban's gonna work."

No, I think people should be free to do completely foolish things with their lives like that, as long as any truly criminal acts are prosecuted. Some cults are relatively harmless. But no tax breaks. They're a business. And their intrusions into rescue efforts should be curtailed as much as possible.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:01 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


brundlefly writes "krinklyfig, I don't disagree that there's a difference between a cult and a religion. It's the difference between a religion and a con I'm not sold on."

Yeah, makes more sense ...
posted by krinklyfig at 6:02 PM on December 7, 2007


No real religion does this.

I'd mention a counter-example, but that would apparently prompt a mod to swoop in and close the thread.
posted by panamax at 6:09 PM on December 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


So the difference between a cult (or con, depending on your preference) and a legitimate religion is the number of celebrity members? Would people actually defend Scientology if it didn't have a Celebrity Centre? I'm not saying that the average MeFite is being blinded by celebrity worship, but I do think it's a cult that has developed a false legitimacy because of the high-profile celebrity presence.
posted by Ruki at 6:10 PM on December 7, 2007


We should outlaw the exchanged of public money for spiritual reward.
posted by Brian B. at 6:13 PM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Everything I need to know about Tom Cruise I learned from ikkyu2.
posted by arruns at 6:15 PM on December 7, 2007 [10 favorites]


When I was 20 I was kind of naive and I went into a scientology center for an IQ test, just because I felt like taking an IQ test and I was in Burbank with nothing else to do. It turned into a real hassle, as I gave them my real phone #.

First of all they start right out in the initial interview trying to basically get a confession out of you. This is obviously your first step to being blackmailed and controlled for life. Fortunately I am socially normal enough to not feel comfortable divulging that type of thing to a stranger with a clipboard in their hand. I also refused to watch the introductory movie, which was probably smart, as I'm sure there must be some subliminal shit going on in those screening rooms.

Eventually I insisted that the interview was over and I wasn't going to give her money for the privelege of coming back for a meeting (she wanted about $200). I got a call that very night from someone else at scientology asking me why I refused to come back. I said I didn't want to spend money on joining some kind of organization. He asked whether I didn't want to spend the money, or if I didn't have the money. Not wanting to hurt his feelings by saying the truth, I said I didn't have the money. His reply was to ask if I didn't have some friends or family who would loan me the money. When I said no, his answer was that it appears a lack of good support structure appears to be one of my problems, and he'll loan me the money to attend. I of course turned down this offer and had to basically slam the phone down to end the conversation.

That guy called back every couple days for about three weeks. He tried everything from anger to guilt to sadness. He tried to sell me on it as a path to self-improvement, and when that didn't work he even tried giving me the line about needing to make a recruitment quota and could I just show up so that he can meet his quota, etc.. eventually I literally yelled at him to fuck off and never call again or I would simply stop answering my phone. There were still sporadic cold-calls from other people within Scientology every couple months until I changed phone numbers.

Anyhow, that was my exposure to those fucking idiots.
posted by autodidact at 6:19 PM on December 7, 2007 [35 favorites]


David Miscavige gives my the screaming heebie-jeebies, but I'm really uncomfortable with the idea of banning a belief system, crooked or no.

Actually, it's not totally clear to me what "banning" entails. Is it just that the Religious Technology Foundation or whatever the hell the main COS corporation is called today would be barred from doing business in Germany? Post ban, could a small group of Scientologists get together and audit each other in a private home? Would Free Zone groups be part of the ban? Would it be illegal to own books by Hubbard? Would they burn his stuff like we did to Wilhelm Reich?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:24 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why not just enforce the existing civil/criminal laws being broken by the practice of scientology (or that of whatever your favorite religion is to hate)? Most all religions would benefit from that.
posted by klarck at 6:27 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


The excellent Foster Report on Scientology, 1971.

It makes sense that a usurious cult could be legally prevented from spreading. Maybe those ministers can come to the USA and put the Bush cult out of business?
posted by nickyskye at 6:29 PM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


What is religious about scientology? Seriously. I don't understand why it's referred to as a religion. Maybe there's some tenet I haven't heard about that would explain it.
posted by The World Famous at 6:30 PM on December 7, 2007


But a true cult exercises a great degree of control over its followers. It's usually headed by a charismatic leader. There is typically a requirement of large payments or the turning over of assets to the cult. There is typically shutting off outside criticism, sometimes by completely isolating the members from anyone outside the cult or by censoring any outside communications. Cults tend to recruit among the desperate and drifting, or those going through major life changes - IOW the most vulnerable and manipulatable. A cult tends to operate outside the boundaries of society, or along the edge, and there are great pains taken to prevent people leaving, sometimes with the threat of dependency or harm.
posted by Sparx at 6:31 PM on December 7, 2007 [11 favorites]


I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free.

Please ... don't even get started on that. The German government and society are a lot more honest and self-critical about their past than the US is about its present and past problems with racial segregation.

This stance by the German government does not strike me as all that different from all the recent investigation about scandals at Oral Roberts University and other recent similar events in the US.

Maybe banning Scientology is a pointless exercise, but I think that the way they harvest money from their suckers followers has to be illegal. How many religions out there require their followers to pay in order to achieve enlightenment or whatever scientologists call it? And why are they so protective of their religious texts, using copyright law to block attempts to scrutinize it?

Freedom of expression/religion is not carte blache to take advantage of people. Any organization that does these things needs to be looked into very carefully, and the way they use people needs to be brought out in the open.
posted by TheyCallItPeace at 6:32 PM on December 7, 2007 [6 favorites]


Favorited. I've got my eye on you fuckers.
posted by Tom Cruise at 6:39 PM on December 7, 2007 [16 favorites]


I find Scientology to be unnerving and creepy but I do believe strongly that the legal avenues which are available to protect citizens from scams should be the avenue to seek justice, not a ban on a religion. Censorship is not really an advisable option here as it doesn't prevent future cult-like groups from achieving the same level of success. If you can find a way to legally prosecute them for crimes committed, it will allow for strong precedent in future cases.

Freedom of expression/religion is not carte blache to take advantage of people. Any organization that does these things needs to be looked into very carefully, and the way they use people needs to be brought out in the open.

Agreed, however a ban without legal precedence does not accomplish this.
posted by scabrous at 6:39 PM on December 7, 2007


"Sukiari, who got sued? The owners of the comments?"

Chuckdarwin, just google scientology vs. the internet and you'll see.
posted by Sukiari at 6:41 PM on December 7, 2007


Yeah, fuckers, let's mark them with something so that we know who they are when . Preferably with their own symbol or something. Uh-huh.

No, really. If what they're doing is harmful/illegal, prosecute the organization as such; don't 'ban' the religion. Also, exactly what scabrous said.
posted by suedehead at 6:45 PM on December 7, 2007


Germans persecuting a religion(ish)? Yeah this is going to work out well.
posted by whoaali at 6:45 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sparx writes "But a true cult ..."

Sure, some people consider the Catholic church to be a cult. However, about half my family is Catholic (I'm not), and we're all pretty laid back about that sort of thing. Their behavior doesn't strike me as like those who are in a cult, nor do most Catholics I meet. I was more worried when one of my sisters left the Catholic church and joined some revivalist church up in the mountains. She cut us all off for a while.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:57 PM on December 7, 2007


Scientology isn't a religion. It's a criminal enterprise masquerading as a religion. One of the more interesting highlights is that these people have actually broken into IRS offices to modify their own tax records.

It is, in other words, a mafia, and governments are well within their power to declare mafias illegal.
posted by Malor at 7:03 PM on December 7, 2007 [9 favorites]


The world famous: Scientology is a religion because it, in its orginal Dianetics form, could not legally continue operating as a bona fide psychological treatment after investigation and attempts to shut it down by the FDA. It sought to get itself reclassified as a religion to enjoy tax-exempt status, fighting hard against the IRS to gain it. Long story.

There are a number of interesting retellings of the tale. A Piece of Blue Sky is available online, but my personal favourite is Bare Faced Messiah, also online, because of the awesome title.

Krinklyfig: While I take your point about how different groups operate, I hope you take mine that cultism is in the eye of the beholder. A socially accepted cult is no less a cult because of numbers and history, it's just easier to fit in with the rest of the world if you have numbers and history on your side.

Full disclosure: My step-sister is a nun. This was, of course, after Jesus kicked the lesbian demon out of her.
posted by Sparx at 7:06 PM on December 7, 2007


Obviously, the people thinking about this are not clear. What they need is a program of exercise, sauna, and megadoses of vitamins. And an e-meter reading.
posted by miss lynnster at 7:13 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


I was more worried when one of my sisters left the Catholic church and joined some revivalist church up in the mountains. She cut us all off for a while.

I have definitely found some fundamentalist/born again christians to have some cultish leanings (emphasis on some I realize there is a huge variety of born agains). Lots of cutting off friends who aren't in the church, having their entire social lives revolve around the church (otherwise it was ungodly), getting very paranoid that other people were trying to lead them away from god.

I actually had a friend who was a fundamentalist and didn't drink, accuse me of trying to trick her into drinking when I offered to make her a virgin cocktail at a party. She stopped being my friend once she finally realized she was never going to convert me.
posted by whoaali at 7:17 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sparx writes "Full disclosure: My step-sister is a nun. This was, of course, after Jesus kicked the lesbian demon out of her."

Yeah, none of my family went that far with it. It's in the eye of the beholder, but none of the Catholics I know spent all their money on it, either. Although my dad's SO ended up leaving him after many years because her priest convinced her she needed a nice Catholic man, not a (casual) Protestant like him.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:21 PM on December 7, 2007


Penthouse: Your father was selling information to the Soviets?

Hubbard: Yes. That's where my father got the money to buy St. Hill Manor in East Grinstead, Sussex, which is the English headquarters of Scientology today.

Penthouse: What information did your father have to sell the Soviet government?

Hubbard: He didn't do any spying himself. What he normally did was allow these strange little people to go into the offices and into his home at odd hours of the night. He told me that he was allowing the KGB to go through our files, and that he was charging £40,000 for it. This was the money he used for the purchase of St. Hill Manor.

Penthouse: Do you know any specific information that the KGB got from your father that might have been harmful to security?

Hubbard: The plans for an infrared heat-seeking missile in the early fifties. They obtained the information by extensive auditing of the guy who was one of the head engineers. There were great infiltrations clear to this day. There has always been an inordinate interest on the part of Scientology in military and government personnel. There's no way for me to prove it sitting here, but I believe that the KGB trained East German agents who came via Denmark to London to the United States who were, supposedly, Scientologists. They made very good Scientologists. They were very well trained.

posted by Brian B. at 7:25 PM on December 7, 2007


Scientology is reprehensible and onerous, and though the comments about government persecution leading to a backlash in their favor are valid, the risk of letting them expand unmolested is the greater one, I think.

Scientology is basically what would happen if, tomorrow, Wal-Mart declared itself a religion, reclassified their low-low prices as voluntary love gifts, and defended all the horrible exploitive shit that Wal-Mart does and being constitutionally protected religious expression, while labelling anyone who disagreed as religious bigots. Every time I have this conversation, somebody makes the uh...rather glib point that 'all religions are cults', but it's just totally counter-productive in my opinion. I'm as anti-organized-religion as the next guy, but that doesn't make everything that so much as calls itself a religion equal.
posted by anazgnos at 7:26 PM on December 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


CLAY TABLE EXERCISE
posted by generalist at 7:32 PM on December 7, 2007


If some authority ordered you to kill somebody, it is ok because the authority told you so ?

If your friends all jumped off a cliff would you?
posted by nola at 7:34 PM on December 7, 2007


Metafilter: not clear
posted by not_on_display at 7:35 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


This story leaves me very conflicted. On the one hand, I hate Scientology, on the other, I hate Germans.
posted by Kattullus at 7:38 PM on December 7, 2007 [7 favorites]


"it lies to new recruits about the central tenets of faith until they have given years of devoted service or donated absurd amounts of money. No real religion does this."

If I recall correctly, the classical mystery cults of antiquity did exactly this.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:53 PM on December 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


no damn it! this is like feeding a troll on a national scale. scientologists want to feel oppressed.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:01 PM on December 7, 2007


on the other, I hate Germans.

Is this joke? If not, pull your head in, mate
posted by dydecker at 8:13 PM on December 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


Scientology: The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power.

Old, but worth the read. I'm not backing down an iota on what I said above about these bastards. True, maybe prosecution might be better than "banning," but it's heartening to see someone somewhere doing something about these charlatans. L. Ron Hubbard led a secretive life for a reason. Scientology is secretive for a reason -- because their racket does not stand the light of day. Arguments about the relative merits, or lack thereof, of other more established religions are red herrings, at best.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:14 PM on December 7, 2007


Fucking crooks.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:16 PM on December 7, 2007


So, Governor Romney, after your speech yesterday regarding religion, religious tolerance and its place in American society and governance what do you think about Scientology?

Also, Governor, do "atheists and other non-believers" have a place in America?*

* -- "Freedom requires religion just as religion requires freedom. Freedom opens the windows of the soul so that man can discover his most profound beliefs and commune with God. Freedom and religious endure together, or perish alone."
posted by ericb at 8:18 PM on December 7, 2007


Speaking of Scientologists....does anyone remember the wonderful comment a medical mefite made about Tom Cruise not being able to have children? It was on a post about Katie Holmes announcing that she's pregnant. (The post was deleted, as was, mysteriously, the comment itself, but there's a copy of it here.) Why does do references to these people mysteriously disappear, even on metafilter?
posted by Hildegarde at 8:27 PM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


First of all they start right out in the initial interview trying to basically get a confession out of you. This is obviously your first step to being blackmailed and controlled for life.

It's not that difficult to imagine what they might have on Tom Cruise and John Travolta -- two of Hollywood's "leading men."
posted by ericb at 8:29 PM on December 7, 2007


So what you're saying is we should burn 'em. Cuz I'm not sure a ban's gonna work.
posted by phaedon


I'm pretty sure Scientologists don't catch fire.
It's an easy test. If they do catch fire, burn and die, they were innocent.
posted by Balisong at 8:32 PM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Favorited. I've got my eye on you fuckers.
posted by Tom Cruise


Just get off the fucking couch.
posted by jonmc at 8:38 PM on December 7, 2007


scientologists want to feel oppressed.

Why do references to these people mysteriously disappear, even on metafilter?

Because they are much more comfortable being the oppressors than the oppressed. Much of the organization is designed specifically to feed on "Freedom of Religion" as it is practiced in the U.S.ofA.
posted by wendell at 8:39 PM on December 7, 2007


South Park: It's Always Free at First -- Trapped in the Closet -- video clips*. [Previously -- 1.]
posted by ericb at 8:46 PM on December 7, 2007


dydecker: Is this joke?

Do you have any idea how hard it was not to respond with a joke about Germans not having a sense of humor? But then I figured it was probably better not to start anything with Germany, that never goes well.
posted by Kattullus at 8:46 PM on December 7, 2007


"C'mon Jews, show them who really runs Hollywood" [Comedy Central advertisement in Variety, August 1, 2006].
posted by ericb at 8:48 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Why does do references to these people mysteriously disappear, even on metafilter?

'Cause people keep bringing it up.
posted by carsonb at 8:53 PM on December 7, 2007


It has always been an all too easy answer for german authorities to ban everything that seems to go against the "freiheitlich demokratische grundordnung (free democratic constitutional order)" as stated in the constitutional law of germany, starting with the ban of the KPD in the 1950's, till the attempted ban of the NPD which backfired pretty badly recently. It probably won't do any good for scientology victims either.

That said, scientologists will likely not get sent into concentration camps anytime soon, so you might stop using holocaust allusions already. However authoritarian the motion of banning a religious cult might seem to your libertarian mindset.
posted by kolophon at 9:01 PM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Devils Rancher: ...the leaders of Scientology are vermin that feed on the credulousness of their victims, and take them to the cleaners, financially.

And in what way is this unlike every other cult/dogma/religion in all of history? You put it perfectly: [they] "feed on the credulousness of their victims." This is the epitome of irrationalism which, if garbed in the vocubulary of religion, is generally considered a virtue, not the embarrassment it should be in the twenty-first century. Credulousness and self-righteousness is the very essence of all religious thinking whereas it is constantly and always the target of proper science.

It's not a religion -- it's a con of the worst sort. They need to be put out of business everywhere.


Whereas 'religions' are no different, no less irrational but older and thus somehow respectable as a result, the Scientologists are a recent invention of the limited imagination, so they must be suspect, we are told. Isn't this indeed why most Protestants and Catholics in America find Mormonism questionable -- it isn't old enough to become unquestionable orthodoxy? Isn't this exactly why the superior methodology of science still has so much to prove ordinary people despite a few hundred years that have demonstrated more progress than the previous many thousands?
posted by inoculatedcities at 9:01 PM on December 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


the classical mystery cults of antiquity

. . .would also be a good name for a band. A Siouxsie-and-the-Banshees-meets-Robert-Graves sort of thing.
posted by flotson at 9:04 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


it lies to new recruits about the central tenets of faith until they have given years of devoted service

. . .and then it puts the lotion in the basket?
posted by flotson at 9:06 PM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Kattulus: Ja, don't start anything with germany, I'm thinking about invading you for your bad jokes.
posted by kolophon at 9:12 PM on December 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


All religions are lies. The e-meter isn't any more ineffective than prayer.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 9:16 PM on December 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


anazgos wrote: "Scientology is basically what would happen if, tomorrow, Wal-Mart declared itself a religion, ..."

I think a better comparison might be if some Diet-Pill Pyramid scheme declared itself a religion. At least at Walmart I can buy a 10 pack of beef jerky for $5, .i.e, no matter how bad Wal-Mart is, at least they actually sell something.

Scientology is just "Pay us money, get 10 others to join, and you will reach The Next Level!" I think what the Germans need to do -- instead of banning Scientology outright -- would be to just levy a, I dunno, 85% tax on the income of religious organizations. Harsh? You bet. But Scientology will wither on the vine when its no longer profitable.

On a larger note, maybe its time that religious groups stopped enjoying their tax-free status at the expense of everyone else. If these churches, synagogues, mosques, whatever are serious about believing in God or whatever, then they'll continue to operate even under burdensome taxes. If not, we'll know who their real "god" was all along.
posted by Avenger at 9:22 PM on December 7, 2007 [6 favorites]


their tax-free status at the expense of everyone else

That's WHY Scientology claims to be a religion.... to avoid taxes.
posted by Malor at 9:54 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


Religions invented by egomaniacal science fiction writers are typically suspect.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:12 PM on December 7, 2007 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else incredibly irritated that any religion gets to operate tax free? You bring in money, you pay taxes.
posted by maxwelton at 10:19 PM on December 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


"it lies to new recruits about the central tenets of faith until they have given years of devoted service or donated absurd amounts of money. No real religion does this."

EMRJKCNF, this is Freemasonry. Freemasonry, meet EMRJKCNF.
posted by rokusan at 10:24 PM on December 7, 2007


Is anyone else incredibly irritated that any religion gets to operate tax free? You bring in money, you pay taxes.

Does a church bring in money in the sense that you mean? My understanding is that churches typically solicit contributions from members, and contributions of cash by a member of an organization to the organization often aren't taxable, even if the organization is a business.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 10:31 PM on December 7, 2007


I don't think that religion deserves a free ride. Virtually any faith-anchored belief can, and ultimately will, be used used to justify evil. For evil, let's use the definition of causing physical, emotional, or economic harm. Scientology can do it. Roman Catholicism can do it. Your homeopathic physician can do it. Your insurance salesman can do it. Any quack who sells a book encouraging a belief in astrology, biorhythms, numerology, or abduction by aliens can do it. Should we ban them all? I posit that if we can justify banning Scientology due to potential or actual harm, then we can ban all religions, or all faith-anchored belief systems. We can ban John Edward (and all psychic mediums). We can ban all faith healers who require donations. Would this be a good thing, or a bad thing?
posted by Chasuk at 10:51 PM on December 7, 2007


Religions invented by egomaniacal science fiction writers are typically suspect.

Is there any other kind?
posted by contraption at 10:53 PM on December 7, 2007 [4 favorites]


Religions invented by egomaniacal science fiction writers are typically suspect.

What sort of person invents a religion, if not an egomaniac? The fact that you have to declare yourself a messenger of God tends to weed out the shy, self-effacing types.

Inoculated cities pretty much nails it in his / her second paragraph. All* religions are human inventions, usually the invention of a single man (Judaism had a sort of boom-bust succession of prophets). Of course, we don't remember these founders as egotists. We remember them as their own stories tell, as selfless heroes who often faced great odds for their vision of the truth. But only an egotist or a lunatic can think himself a god (messiah, buddha, what have you). As for the "science fiction writer" quip, most religious texts are basically sci-fi minus the sci anyway.

So many people are in effect arguing, "Scientology can't be a religion, because Scientology is ludicrous and bad." Talk about your nonsequiturs.

-----
*almost all, if you're religious.
posted by grobstein at 10:56 PM on December 7, 2007


"EMRJKCNF, this is Freemasonry. Freemasonry, meet EMRJKCNF."

Wait, so you think Freemasonry is a real religion?

Or that it's a cult?

Weird as Catholicism may be, at least you can read their central texts for free, and find a large body of scholarly work on their history and theology. Mormonism more than Scientology, but still no for both.
posted by klangklangston at 11:05 PM on December 7, 2007 [3 favorites]


If you're against banning Scientology, you either don't know enough about it or are perfectly fine with both its bodycount and its long history of criminality.

Seriously, read Operation Clambake and stop making asinine comparisons to other religions. Other religions may be frauds, may siphon money away, may have members involved in criminal activities- but none of them, to my knowledge, were created in order to legitimize fraud, theft, and murder.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:11 PM on December 7, 2007 [5 favorites]


I mean, the Freezoners, fine, they can rip themselves off I suppose, but the Church of Scientology has nothing but their tax-exempt status standing between being considered a religion and RICO prosecution.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:14 PM on December 7, 2007


Come on, Pope Guilty. From your link:
The Church of [redacted] is a vicious and dangerous cult that masquerades as a religion. Its purpose is to make money. It practices a variety of mind-control techniques on people lured into its midst to gain control over their money and their lives. Its aim is to take from them every penny that they have and can ever borrow and to also enslave them to further its wicked ends.

...

[redacted] is a confused concoction of crackpot, dangerously applied psychotherapy, oversimplified, idiotic and inapplicable rules and ideas and science-fiction drivel that is presented to its members (at the "advanced" levels) as profound spiritual truth.
Except for the science fiction bit, that description is apt for most any religion. Maybe that's the point, though. The Internet hates Scientology because it abused science fiction.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 11:24 PM on December 7, 2007


Better to ban practices they don't like. Enforce open church practices, with complete disclosure of all rules, finances, etc. If Scientology or any other group breaks the rules, they pay fines or get shut down.
posted by pracowity at 11:36 PM on December 7, 2007


"Hey, these two relatively innocuous cherry-picked paragraphs aren't incriminating! There must not be a crime!"

That's so fucking dishonest. Linked right off the main page you can read the harrowing experiences of Paulette Cooper, who the Church of Scientology systematically harassed, defamed, and tried to kill. Or there's Keith Henson, who picketed Scientology and mocked it on Usenet and is now doing jail time for "interfering with a religion". Or hell, read about Scientology's paramilitary wing, Sea Org. And of course there's the long list of criminal charges filed against the church and its members.

Lastly, let's have a moment of silence for Lisa McPherson, who the Church of Scientology succeeded in killing.

It's a hideously criminal organisation, and the fact that its leadership isn't behind bars is a testament to the dangers of letting religious tolerance blind you to reality.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:42 PM on December 7, 2007 [6 favorites]


What religion hasn't killed a bunch of people? You're going to have to point to more than just carnage.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 11:45 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


We're not talking about a religion. We are talking about a church- a singular organisation. The Church of Scientology is guilty of numerous crimes around the world. The Branch Davidians stand as an example of the fact that being a chuch does not exempt one from the law. Chuches that are run as criminal organisations get shut down, and the Church of Scientology should be no different.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:55 PM on December 7, 2007 [1 favorite]


You keep telling me that we're not talking about a religion, but you've yet to point out a single difference between Scientology and your typical religion.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 12:00 AM on December 8, 2007


You keep telling me that we're not talking about a religion, but you've yet to point out a single difference between Scientology and your typical religion.

The difference between Scientology & your average religion is that the former keep the central tenets of their faith secret from members. And you have to pay to find them out.
posted by dydecker at 12:02 AM on December 8, 2007


You keep telling me that we're not talking about a religion, but you've yet to point out a single difference between Scientology and your typical religion.

Goddammit, why are you being so dishonest? I'm talking about an organisation- the Church of Scientology, singular. An argument can be made that there is no religion of Scientology without the Church (though the freezoners would dispute that), but the fact remains that the CoS is a criminal organisation. We are talking about a Church that spent the 70's breaking into IRS offices in search of blackmail material hoping to extort their way into a tax-exempt status.

People are free to believe whatever they want, and that includes the tenets of Scientology. But criminal organisations, be they mafias, businesses, or churches, need to be shut down, and the Church of Scientology is just such an organisation. I'm not against the religion of Scientology any more than I am against any other idiotic religion. I'm against the Church of Scientology, no matter how badly you want me to be talking about the religion itself.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:06 AM on December 8, 2007 [4 favorites]


We are talking about a Church that spent the 70's breaking into IRS offices in search of blackmail material hoping to extort their way into a tax-exempt status.

At which they ultimately succeeded, it must be noted. They eventually figured exactly whose pets they had to poison, and they got through.
posted by anazgnos at 12:10 AM on December 8, 2007


Yes, religious organizations typically commit crimes. Look at the Catholic church raping kids and covering it up (I guess the Morman organizations are in that business too), or the massive embezzlement and money laundering by the Protestant churches. Muslim organizations have cornered the high-profile murder market lately, but we'll see how things develop.
posted by "Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys at 12:11 AM on December 8, 2007


You keep telling me that we're not talking about a religion, but you've yet to point out a single difference between Scientology and your typical religion.

I'll tell you the many differences as soon as you send me your life savings.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:12 AM on December 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


you have got to be fucking kidding me
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:13 AM on December 8, 2007


The Shadowy Story Behind Scientology's Tax-Exempt Status
New York Times, 9 March 1997

posted by anazgnos at 12:16 AM on December 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


The main difference between Catholicism/Christianity and Scientology is this:

You can walk into any church in America and get a free copy of the Bible, and with a little more polite asking they could give you either paper copies or links to all of their denominations confessions/statements of belief. You could walk in to most any bookstore in the US and buy a copy of the Baltimore Catechism, which contains everything Catholics are taught.

You can't do that with Scientology. When people have tried to publish that stuff, they've been sued into oblivion. It's all under copyright. They won't let you see what they truly believe until you pay the cash. Try walking into a bookstore and asking for a book on what Scientology teaches O.T. VII candidates.

You can walk into a Catholic church on Sunday, hear the homily, not drop a cent into the collection bucket, and 99 times out of 100 the most forced interaction you'll have with any of the other parishoners is when they pass the peace -- none of them will call you. Ditto 90% of all Protestant churches. Just try doing that with Scientology.

Most churches are like NPR -- twice a year they'll remind you that if the church is important to you that you should consider pledging your support; and every Sunday they'll probably pass the bowl around if you want to drop some money there. Of course, you don't get the tote bag or umbrella by pledging, but then they really only pester you two Sundays a year, where NPR pesters you Until The Pledge Drive Is Over. Scientology is like NPR in that way, only they never stop with the pestering.

Scientology is a mystery cult. A very, very expensive mystery cult. One that can afford to use litigation as a weapon.
posted by dw at 1:36 AM on December 8, 2007 [5 favorites]


The Scientology business just shows how flawed tax law is, to give exemptions to religious organizations.

Having an exemption like that just begs for it to be abused. Were Scientology not to exist, tax law makes it necessary for somebody to create it.

If we don't like Scientology (and there's no reason why we should, they're a bunch of psychopaths), we need to stop letting them get a free ride. Ditto for other religions. I'm glad to hear that some of our illustrious do-nothing Congresscritters are finally deciding to take a look into the finances of the so-called "megachurches" -- they're not much better than Scientology.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:53 AM on December 8, 2007 [2 favorites]


I, for one, am just glad that this thread is still here.
posted by chuckdarwin at 2:10 AM on December 8, 2007 [3 favorites]


That's no moon, that's a space station.

I'm not a Scientologist, and neither have I ever been one-- I have, however, encountered some of Hubbard's material.

The material is interesting in two respects: firstly, Hubbard's prose is profoundly and probably deliberately confusing-- it is circuitous, blunted, awkward, as though badly translated from a foreign tongue, and with strange coinages and portmanteau phrases popping up every few lines; secondly, some of the techniques look as though they might be rather effective-- depending on one's intent-- which leads to the next point...

The intent of the organization really does seem, well, rather... malign. The techniques, and the structure of their application, bring to mind a python, whose inwardly curving teeth prevent the swallowed animal's escape. They appear designed to simultaneously relieve stress and foster dependence... as all religions do, of course, but with, perhaps, a particular difference:

Whereas most religions seem the product of a sudden neurological firestorm, some wild unwilled epiphany, Scientology seems consciously, neatly, and precisely engineered. It is designed to find new "seekers," to elicit from them blackmail worthy information, to extract from them money, and to impress on them the importance of recruiting new seekers. It is religion not as accident but as virus.

For that matter, most religions devolve over time into bureaucratic, oppressive edifices. Scientology's emphasis on "security" and retribution puts vindictiveness and oppression into the organization's blueprint.

If you've ever wondered what a shrewd but paranoid fabulist with a thing for hypnosis, meth, and Crowleyan magick would do to make a buck and build an empire-- you already have the answer.

I do have a certain respect for Hubbard, though. He took Crowley's mystic power-mongering fantasies, devised and added some potent-seeming techniques, stirred in a lot of increasingly weird stuff, and actually built something--which is certainly more than you can say of Crowley's wrinkly sorry junkie self.

So, yeah, Hubbard's blandly fascist Great Work is sort of hideous, but there's something awe-inspiring about it as well. It's like the Monolith in 2001, only it hooks you up to a lie detector, hits you up for money, and gives you wedgies into the bargain.

In a fluffy New Age universe of Unicorn Reiki, Wishful Attraction, and Balanced Chakras, Scientology is the dark and balancing weight-- it's the friggin' metaphysical Death Star.
posted by darth_tedious at 2:13 AM on December 8, 2007 [13 favorites]


"Tex" Connor and the Wily Roundup Boys writes "All religions are lies. The e-meter isn't any more ineffective than prayer."

That's bullshit, because the two are completely different. Praying is repetition of a litany by which the beliefs expressed in the prayer are reinforced by repetition , while the e-meter is a theatrical device, used to give more "scientific" appaerance to a process, more or less like the sterotypical doctor isn't a doctor if he doesn't wear a lab coat and a stetoscope.

It exploits the same faith that a person exercises when visiting a legitimate doctor or a rabdomant using some kind of diagnostic stick or device , and the diffused ignorance on the facts behind why something works or not, which are often unaccessible without a long training.

Now we can assert that praying to invisibile nonexistant entities doesn't cause the entity to do shit, but it certainly reinforces the belief such entity has to exist otherwise one would think "am I crazy I am talking to the wall ? ". And then, there are different kind of prayers

"I believe in only one God, omipotent father ..yadda yadda ya" ...there are articles of faith

and

"The Lord says that thou shalt not kill, for I don't want to be killed " ..these are rules...

and if you skip the Lord part, you may consider how reasonable the rule is and reach the conclusion one MUST follow it , with exceptions/limites that are ruled by the very same reasoning that built the rule, which is use of human reasoning skills.

It is in making it an unvariable absolute rule given by an external entity, say God, that one risks making people think the rule is stupid because it cannot be ALWAYS be respected, or fear any conflicting notion because God will burn you in hell or your new "family" of scientology will kick you out leaving you pennyless, friendless and with a bunch of fears that would crack any soul.
posted by elpapacito at 3:44 AM on December 8, 2007


Also, goddamn motherfuckers need Kant , a lot of Kant, a little more Kant with fries please !
posted by elpapacito at 3:45 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Only religion that charges for confession. End of story
posted by A189Nut at 4:09 AM on December 8, 2007


Germany wants to ban a religion? How could this possibly go wrong?
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:10 AM on December 8, 2007


Interesting that some say CofS is a religion to avoid taxes, while someone else said they did that to avoid regulation by the FDA (and other, similar bodies in other countries than the USA).

It is very important that it has been pointed out, CofS is an organization, even a company, rather than a religion. Christianity is a religion. The Roman Catholic Church is an organization. How can that be unclear?

Dianetics is bullshit disguised as psychology masquerading as a religion, while using the usual menu of abuse typical of religious cults. Their special book, "Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health" isn't even stable. It gets edited from time to time, and they they deny the edits. I know this because I originally read it in the 70's, then noticed changes when exposed again in the 80's, and I asked about the changes.

I am delighted the Germans have decided they are better off without that organization. It is nothing but a waste of time and resources.
posted by Goofyy at 6:24 AM on December 8, 2007


All these jokes about Germany are completely missing the point. German democracy is free up to the extent that parties or organizations want to subvert the democracy. Tolerating everything except fascism and intolerance.

As the patient who lived through the disease, German democracy carries the antibodies, and I think is stronger for it.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:19 AM on December 8, 2007 [11 favorites]


How many lives could the Catholic Church save if they stopped lying about condoms? Why are Jews allowed to ritualistically mutilate babies? Remember the line "Every time a coin in the coffer rings, a soul in heaven gets its wings?" Hey, why is Islam so popular these days?

No, religion should not be above secular laws and they should be subjected to scrutiny by all. But in 500 years, we may be debating e-meters in schools.
posted by Citizen Premier at 7:24 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


Germany wants to ban a religion? How could this possibly go wrong?

Perhaps they understand the dangers in tolerating a militant social organization more than we do. Democracies often camouflage their impotence to such threats as a great strength, when it is a crippling weakness instead. Freedom of religion cannot exist without defining religion, which is a limitation to it. If anything can self-define as religion to enjoy an exempt or protected status, then such an elevated status is meaningless. What is threatened in that case is the non-belief and non-association of citizens, which is real freedom from tyranny, and is something we all have in common in regards to each others beliefs. There must be neutral ground in religious discourse, and the freedom to leave it. If most people feel the need to belong to a secretive organization in order to protect their individual rights, then we have degenerated to a feudal state again.
posted by Brian B. at 7:47 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


All of my atheist fellow travellers who are bundling Scientology in with any of that other religion stuff are completely missing the point.

It's not a religion, it's an organised crime syndicate. The difference is that it's only an organised crime syndicate, and that being an organised crime syndicate is its primary purpose.

Also, those USians above who are thick enough to believe that the US is somehow anywhere close to being as Free as Germany these days?

"Lol," as I believe the kids are saying these days.
posted by genghis at 7:48 AM on December 8, 2007 [10 favorites]


It's not a religion -- it's a con of the worst sort.

The Roman Catholic church had been bilking its adherents (tithing, indulgences, etc.) based on voodoo superstition for a millennium before the Reformation. A cult is nothing more than a religion that's been around a few centuries, isn't it?

Scientology neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If people want/are stupid enough to devote their time and money to it, that's their business.
posted by psmealey at 9:06 AM on December 8, 2007


Your least-favourite cult sucks.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:23 AM on December 8, 2007


Scientology neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If people want/are stupid enough to devote their time and money to it, that's their business.

Tax exemption is public business. We can't extend favors to corruption without becoming corrupt.
posted by Brian B. at 9:42 AM on December 8, 2007


Good point.
posted by psmealey at 9:48 AM on December 8, 2007


The Roman Catholic church had been bilking its adherents (tithing, indulgences, etc.) based on voodoo superstition for a millennium before the Reformation.

psmealy, if you actually think that Scientology is in any way comparable to the Catholic church, then you simply don't know enough about Scientology (or maybe you are a brainwashed Scientologist yourself.)
If you have a little time, just hunt around this site a little. I think you'll see that you cannot really compare Scientology with today's Catholic Church.
posted by sour cream at 9:58 AM on December 8, 2007


Actually, I wasn't comparing Scientology with today's Catholic Church. If you'll read a little more carefully, you will see that I was referring to the pre-Reformation Catholic Church. In that case, it was even more criminal, as people were forced by law to tithe to the church. As far as I know, the idiots who support Scientology do so by choice.
posted by psmealey at 10:08 AM on December 8, 2007


As far as I know, the idiots who support Scientology do so by choice.

Only insofar as they wish to continue being members of CoS. If they wish to continue, they have two options -- dole out thousands of dollars, or sign the rest of their lives + the next billion years or so away in a contract to work it off.

You can say, "Sure, but they can always leave," but if they wish to leave, many face harassment, litigation/threats of litigation, intimidation tactics, etc., and if they've worked their way high enough in the ranks before leaving, even death threats. It's almost as bad as trying to quit a street gang, for many. You live in fear for a long time.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:38 AM on December 8, 2007


Actually, I wasn't comparing Scientology with today's Catholic Church. If you'll read a little more carefully, you will see that I was referring to the pre-Reformation Catholic Church.

It's still a bad analogy, because the pre-reformation was a lot closer to a de facto government than a criminal gang.

Again, real religions want desperately to tell you the central tenets of their beliefs. They want to shout it from the rooftops and erect large signs expressing whatever their central truths are. Some real religions, like mormonism, do want to keep the content of particular rituals secret. But there's a huge, yawning chasm between wanting to keep a ritual secret from outsiders, and wanting to keep what your religion actually believes secret from outsiders.

And when you cross into the realm that Scientology operates in, trying to keep the tenets of the faith secret from its own members, you cross over yet another yawning chasm wide as the Grand Canyon.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:01 AM on December 8, 2007


Catullus on what it's like to belong to a mystery cult. An excerpt from Haruki Murakami's Underground that deals with the same issue, though the major part of it deals with what it's like to be a victim of the Aum Shinrikyo's sarin gas attack.
posted by Kattullus at 11:16 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


1. All religion everywhere, churches, temples, synagogues, and prayer breakfasts should be taxed

2. You guys are just pissed you're not rich enough to be Scientologists :o)
posted by Athabasca at 11:23 AM on December 8, 2007


Mostly, I was just playing devil's advocate, in that I was thinking that the differences between some cults and religions are only matters of degrees and stage of development rather than black and white differences, but you raise some excellent points, ROU_X.

Don't get me wrong, Scientology is a crock that does seem specifically designed to rip off its own followers while demonizing non-believers, but "real" religions seem to contain at least a few of those elements in common as well. But, yeah, similarity is not sameness
posted by psmealey at 11:32 AM on December 8, 2007


That's why all of you should join The Church of the SubGenius. We're the only church in the world that's proud to pay our taxes! Reverend Ivan Stang was once visited in his own home by two IRS agents dressed in black suits. They knocked on his door filled with bile and vinegar, thinking they were gonna rope them in a steer that day. They left Stang's house as full fledged converts. They even paid HIM their thirty dollars a piece to be lifetime members. The SubGenius Foundation: The Church of Love AND Money, and love of money. Saving the world from itself, one taxed dollar at a time.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:32 AM on December 8, 2007


Athabasca writes "2. You guys are just pissed you're not rich enough to be Scientologists :o)"

I know some Scientologists. Not one of them has much money of their own to speak of. They pretty much give it all to the Church.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:33 AM on December 8, 2007


Or, the Church of Stop Shopping
posted by psmealey at 11:41 AM on December 8, 2007 [1 favorite]


By saying things like "Muslim organizations have cornered the high-profile murder market" Tex Connor is trolling some nonsense. Best ignored.
posted by algreer at 11:46 AM on December 8, 2007


Stay out of Clearwater, Florida, folks...
posted by Rajamadan at 1:19 PM on December 8, 2007


Scientology neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If people want/are stupid enough to devote their time and money to it, that's their business.

You haven't pissed them off. Anger them enough by exposing their crimes to public light, and The Church of Scientology will destroy your life and try to kill you.

It is not a church. It is a mafia.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:51 PM on December 8, 2007


As far as I know, the idiots who support Scientology do so by choice.

I agree with that...I've always said anybody dumb enough to turn over a single cent to the Co$ deserves whatever they get. THAT SAID, it doesn't mean that I therefore consider the coercive, abusive practices that are hardwired into the very foundations of the organization to be beyond scrutiny or opposition.
posted by anazgnos at 2:31 PM on December 8, 2007


psmealey writes "Scientology neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. If people want/are stupid enough to devote their time and money to it, that's their business."

Ok neither do I , but suppose I am start to bring friends away from you by convincing them some people are evil ; it happens that you really look like that evil people, even if I never say it openly. Consequently, your friend start avoiding you or whatnot. Also suppose I pass some law that makes it harder for you to find a job, but as I am not openly targeting you, singling you out, you don't notice it.

Now would you agree that you may NOT be aware of how something is going to affect you , yet it IS going on and IS going to affect you anyhow ?

Obviously if the answer is yes, I don't see why you can't see any danger for you in people joining an organization whose purpose is proselitizing, harrassing and basically enjoying their own freedom while reducing yours, even if they never openly assault it.

What I can see is how people can be obtusely blind, selectively choosing not to see a problem because even THINKING about its likely implication bothers them to no end, up until the problem shows on their front door and then , not surprisingly, they rarely are ready to handle it at once.
posted by elpapacito at 5:09 PM on December 8, 2007


Well, at that level of effect, you should be concerned, but not legally so. I shouldn't pass a law against something that far removed from what is allowed, even if my friends are affected (by their own free will, of course). Otherwise, you could pass a law against anything that harms the society. I'm not trying to be slippery slope here; I do agree that you can attack Scientology the organization (if not the religion), but the basis of that is through already legal means like fraud, abuse, etc. Not because it fills people's heads with falsehoods and danger.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:08 PM on December 8, 2007


I've always said anybody dumb enough to turn over a single cent to the Co$ deserves whatever they get.

ORLY?
posted by middleclasstool at 7:24 PM on December 8, 2007


Lord Chancellor writes "through already legal means like fraud, abuse, etc. Not because it fills people's heads with falsehoods and danger."

And when possibile, it's certainly a better remedy. Yet I doubt the people behind S are so clueless they are leaving traces and clues that would lead to an incrimination , considering the legal experience and determination showed in some circumstances. One shouldn't be looking at the believers as the problem, but as hostages held by well engineered organization whose purposes is that of exploiting each and every legal loophole to get the most they can out of the people that fall for them.

As for the pseudoargument that the faithful deserve whatever they get because nobody forced them to join , it should be noted that nobody forces anybody to work to earn a living, they are also free to steal and do whatever and then, of course, pay the consequences if they get caught. Freedom isn't necessarily free of unpleasant consequences.
posted by elpapacito at 7:35 PM on December 8, 2007


Woah. If the Church of Scientology is like a mafia, I'm in major trouble. My roommate posted a YouTube video awhile back ridiculing John Travolta, that Hubbard movie he was in, and Scientology, not necessarily in that order.

Should I be afraid for my life, now?
posted by ZachsMind at 7:51 PM on December 8, 2007


Woah. If the Church of Scientology is like a mafia, I'm in major trouble. My roommate posted a YouTube video awhile back ridiculing John Travolta, that Hubbard movie he was in, and Scientology, not necessarily in that order.

Should I be afraid for my life, now?


Probably not. If your roommate publishes a critical article in a major newspaper, I'd move out of town, though.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:31 PM on December 8, 2007


Should I be afraid for my life, now?

The Office of Special Affairs, formerly the Guardian's Office, is the PR/legal/intelligence branch of the Church. It uses a point system to prioritize threats & measure how effective it is in handling them. The wider the scope of a criticism & the greater its impact on the bottom line, the higher its point value will be. A YouTube video will have international reach so it would be handled at OSA INT, but unless it gets thousands of hits it would have a low point value so it would have a low priority & likely wouldn't merit more than a form letter from RTC's lawyers to YouTube asking for its removal for violating their TOS. But if it went viral & copies started appearing all over the place, you can bet the researchers at INVEST (short for "investigations") would open a dossier on your roommate with the intention of finding out what crimes he was hiding that made him post the video, then using that information to enlist his support in a campaign to remove the video from any site that hosted it. He'd certainly be required to sign a series of letters, one apologizing for the video & one authorizing Scientology to take whatever steps were necessary to remove it from the Internet. Refusal to do so would escalate the pressure against him until a level is reached that achieves the desired result & wipes the points representing your roommate's video off the board.
posted by scalefree at 12:06 AM on December 9, 2007 [5 favorites]


Blame the victims. That way nobody has to rethink their handy slogans about religion or freedom.
posted by Brian B. at 8:34 AM on December 9, 2007 [1 favorite]


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