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May 21, 2008 7:12 AM   Subscribe

A 15-year-old in London is being prosecuted for holding a sign calling Scientology a "cult", during a peaceful demonstration (0:55-1:40). The teenager refused to back down, quoting a 1984 high court ruling from Mr Justice Latey, in which he described the Church of Scientology as a "cult" ... The City of London police came under fire two years ago when it emerged that more than 20 officers, ranging from constable to chief superintendent, had accepted gifts worth thousands of pounds from the Church of Scientology. The City of London Chief Superintendent, Kevin Hurley, praised Scientology for "raising the spiritual wealth of society" during the opening of its headquarters in 2006. Last year a video praising Scientology emerged featuring Ken Stewart, another of the City of London's chief superintendents via
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 (128 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
NSFW links. In the 'holding a sign' page, the "my sign was removed" link goes to good ol' goatse.
posted by matthewr at 7:25 AM on May 21, 2008


It doesn't for me. Just a 403 error.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:28 AM on May 21, 2008


goes to "enturbulation.org" for me.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:33 AM on May 21, 2008


For those of you less familiar with the environment here, there are two police forces in London. The 31,000-strong Metropolitan Police has jurisdiction over 609 sq. mi. making up almost all of Greater London. The exception is the square mile under the jurisdiction of the City of London police, a 900-constable force controlled by the shadowy and undemocratic City of London Corporation.

Obviously, it's a lot easier and cheaper to buy out a much smaller police force.
posted by grouse at 7:34 AM on May 21, 2008 [8 favorites]


were banned by police from describing Scientology as a cult by police because it was "abusive and insulting".

So I assume he's fallen victim to the Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006.

From the Wikipedia page:

It remains our firm intention to give people of all faiths the same protection against incitement to hatred on the basis of their religion. We will legislate to outlaw it and will continue the dialogue we have started with faith groups from all backgrounds about how best to balance protection, tolerance and free speech" (Labour Party manifesto, 'Forward not back' (2005), p111-112).

So what's good for Muslims, Jews and Papists is good for Scientologists too. Fair enough.
posted by three blind mice at 7:37 AM on May 21, 2008


Actually they're using the Public Order Act
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:40 AM on May 21, 2008


So I assume he's fallen victim to the Racial and Religious Hatred Act of 2006.

No, he was cited under Public Order Act 1986 s 5.
posted by grouse at 7:42 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Uh yeah what he said.

Anyway, to me, describing something as a "dangerous cult" doesn't stir up hatred against genuine believers, it stirs up concern and sympathy.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:44 AM on May 21, 2008


Poor kid. Sounds like he could use a good auditing session.
posted by brain_drain at 7:47 AM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


how best to balance protection, tolerance and free speech

Please don't call it free speech if you're putting restrictions on it, and please don't enforce tolerance with a zero tolerance law. M'kay? Thanks.

"abusive and insulting"


And true!
posted by Sys Rq at 7:49 AM on May 21, 2008 [9 favorites]


Archbold § 29-34a says:
In Dehal v. CPS , 169 J.P. 581 , QBD (Moses J.), it was held that where a prosecution engaged Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights..., the justification for a criminal sanction had to be convincingly established. Where, therefore, the appellant had been prosecuted under section 4A in respect of a notice he had displayed on the notice-board of a Sikh temple, such prosecution was unlawful as a result of section 3 of the Human Rights Act 1998... unless it could be established that prosecution, and nothing less, was necessary to prevent public disorder. See also Percy v. DPP , 166 J.P. 93 , DC (conviction under s.5 , in respect of defacement of American flag, quashed as being a disproportionate response to the defendant's Article 10 rights).
FAIL.
posted by grouse at 7:49 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


What he meant to say was "Scientology is a religion AND a dangerous cult." Then he would have been fine.
posted by Jofus at 8:01 AM on May 21, 2008


The last thing we need is more refugees from the United Kingdom seeking religious freedom in America.
posted by iamck at 8:03 AM on May 21, 2008 [8 favorites]


I thought it was just being passed to the CPS. I'd be surprised if they don't just let the whole thing slide out of sight.
posted by YouRebelScum at 8:03 AM on May 21, 2008


I'm assuming that he refused to pay and hence it's going to trial - there was a reference to the case file going to the Crown Prosecution Service, presumably for a charging decision. So he may not end up being prosecuted. There's always the possibility that the Crown Prosecution Service decides there isn't sufficient evidence or that it's not in the public interest to proceed.
posted by greycap at 8:05 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


prosecution for telling the truth? Sad.
posted by Balisong at 8:10 AM on May 21, 2008


Your rights end where my feelings begin. This is the natural outgrowth of regulation of "hate speech" and was completely predictable. Let me check my surrealist crayon box, so you can find the one marked as "not-surprised;" you have permission to color me with it.
posted by adipocere at 8:12 AM on May 21, 2008 [22 favorites]


If the idea is that free speech shall not expose another to hatred, then I expect "Hey, I think those guys over there are Scientologists" is pretty much out, too.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:13 AM on May 21, 2008


The Scientologists are following their usual procedure - using every avenue available to them to suppress their detractors. In this case they obviously complained to the police that calling them a 'cult' might 'distress' their members. The police took them at their word.

I think that's backfired massively. Now they have a load of negative coverage, national newspapers are associating them with the word 'cult', and they are being portrayed as victimising children.

If the CPS want to kick Scientology while they are down, they could do nothing better than press charges and martyr this plucky kid. The storm of negative publicity for Scientology would be an epic win for Anonymous. Sadly, the CPS will probably just let it go.
posted by mr. strange at 8:18 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Cunts... I mean Cultists have so little sense of humour these days.

(whattaya gonna do, bitches? arrest me? HA! I'm nowhere NEAR London, you paranoid motherfuckers)
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:28 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow -- is there anything money can't buy?
posted by crapmatic at 8:32 AM on May 21, 2008


Tangential info on London/City of London
posted by hortense at 8:52 AM on May 21, 2008


His thetans made him do it. Prosecute the thetans, not the innocent host body!
posted by Project F at 8:59 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a free speech fundamentalist, I'm on the kid's side, if he wants to call the CoS a cult I say that's his right. I also think the entire City of London bit is well and truly bizarre and doesn't seem like a good idea at all, an opinion apparently shared by quite a few Brits.

Having said that, let me add this: ho hum, more 'edgy' and 'radical' types going after the weakest and most dispised religion on the planet. Wake me up when they go after the RCC, or Islam, or Hinduism, or any religion that actually has a degree of respect and power. Until then they're just jumping on the "hey, let's mock a powerless and universally lothed group" bandwagon. Big whoop. Am I the only one who is bored by all the "ZOMG I just totally pwn3d the Co$!1!1!1!!!" stuff?

I mean its hardly as if anyone (myself included) thinks the CoS is anything but a bunch of thuggish con artists, or as if they have any real power in the world. So why am I supposed to be all impressed that a bunch of bored people chose to mock them? BFD.

Salman Rushdie is a brave fighter of religious evil, he took on a religion with real power, respect, and influence, and he's paid the price for that. This kid? Not so much.
posted by sotonohito at 9:04 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is what happens when you don't protect free speech.
posted by languagehat at 9:04 AM on May 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


... the weakest and most dispised religion on the planet

Hardly. I think a better candidate would be the Westboro Baptist Church. Now those guys are easy targets.

The CoS manages to do a fair amount of harm, and has a lot of land and a lot of money. Does that mean that any attack on them is justified? Not at all, but waving a sign that says "cult" seems like a worthwhile way to spend an afternoon.
posted by gurple at 9:24 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is what happens when you don't protect free speech.

I'm not sure the UK ever had free speech to protect. Libel laws are often used there — with different degrees of success, for example — to try to shut down dissent or embarrassing speech.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:25 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


sotonohito: I think most people actually know very little about Scientology, and especially about the more evil aspects. Don't confuse what your average Internet-savvy person knows with what the man on the street does.
posted by grouse at 9:35 AM on May 21, 2008


But the difference it that with libel (of which this ought to be a case), the plaintiff has no case if the supposedly libelous information proves to be true.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:36 AM on May 21, 2008


it is
posted by Sys Rq at 9:38 AM on May 21, 2008


Hey, hey, you try being a public member of the other CoS and see how long you last.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 9:41 AM on May 21, 2008


Any organization with millions (billions?) of dollars cannot possibly be the weakest and most despised religion in the world-- give me a break!
posted by Maias at 9:42 AM on May 21, 2008


As a fellow Brit, I'd like to state that the Church of Scientology is a dangerous cult.
posted by seanyboy at 9:47 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wake me up when they go after the RCC, or Islam, or Hinduism

Scientology is a corporate entity which is committed to keeping its ludicrous space-opera tenets a trade secret, until large sums of money or labor has been defrauded from brainwashed victims whose pre-audited personal secrets can be used against them should they consider leaving. Hinduism, Islam and Catholicism do not attempt to keep their core beliefs secret from new initiates, so any fraud they may commit is minor in comparison.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:47 AM on May 21, 2008 [9 favorites]


Yeah, the UK, and most of Europe for that matter, have never had the equivilant of the 1st Amendment. Not that the 1st has ever been taken all that seriously in the USA.

Still, my enthuiasm for Europe is dampened every time I'm reminded that its illegal to hold certain political positions in Germany, or that the sale of certain collectables is banned in France and other European nations. For all my faulting of the US government and courts for ignoring the 1st, at least its there.

gurple You may be right, but I kinda doubt it. There are several people out there who think Phelps is extreme but agree with his ideas and goals even if they disagree with his methods. No one, except active members of the CoS, thinks the CoS is anything but BS.

And, for me anyway, the word "cult" pisses me off. The implication that *some* types of religion are valid, or legitimate, and *other* types aren't infuriates me. From my POV its all crap, its all lies, its all harmful, and its all run by thuggish con artists. I object to the word becuase I can't see any value in legitimizing the religions not identified as "cults".

I still think its wrong, a travisty of justice even, that the twit with the sign was even hassled, much less actually charged with a crime. But that's just because I'm a free speech fanatic, his message annoys me both for its content and for the fact that its pseudo-rebelism at its worst.

grouse In my experience the average person knows very little about their own religion, much less other religions. Try asking a member of any protestant sect what distinguishes his sect from [pick a random mainstream protestant sect], or for that matter what position the leadership of his sect has on any issue. Most people I've spoken with on the subject are barely even aware that there are non-Christian religions, much less anything about them.

So, I'm sure you are completely correct that Joe American knows squat about the CoS except that Tom Cruise couldn't be crazier if he had actual bats coming out of his ears.

But a sign held by a bored Londoner saying: "Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult" isn't going to educate anyone. All it does is reinforce the false "cult/religion" dichotomy and make people smug about the fact that their particular brand of thuggish con artists is a *real*religion*, not a dangerous cult.

Maias Name one widely respected Scientologist. One.

They're nearly universally mocked, ridiculed, and belittled. If they aren't the most dispised and powerless religion on the planet they're in the top ten.
posted by sotonohito at 9:49 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


But the difference it that with libel (of which this ought to be a case), the plaintiff has no case if the supposedly libelous information proves to be true.

Read about the McLibel case. It's an interesting demonstration of how powerful entities can successfully bend the UK's laws and perform economic violence to try to punish dissenting individuals into silence, even if what those people are saying is true.

Just like there is only free speech in the US for people who own a press, there is free speech in the UK as far as you can afford your legal representation.

I suspect that how this will end up is that the Scientologists will win, much like McDonalds won, but they will likely come to regret their pyhrric victory at the cost of the negative association that the press coverage will help cement in people's minds.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:50 AM on May 21, 2008


Hinduism, Islam and Catholicism do not attempt to keep their core beliefs secret from new initiates, so any fraud they may commit is minor in comparison.

Mormonism, then?

(Some of my best friends are Mormons, really... but they don't tell you about the peep stones and the Lamanites and the Children of Ham when they come a-knockin')
posted by gurple at 9:50 AM on May 21, 2008


Name one widely respected Scientologist. One.

Beck?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:51 AM on May 21, 2008


sotonohito, very few people protest against the Church of Scientology unless they have had some personal connection with it. I have not divined what the kid's connection with the COS is, if indeed there is one, but I have it on very good authority that the practices of the COS create a poor environment for raising kids. I do not know that this kid's parents are members or what have you, but I would expect there is some connection to the COS. Point being, people protest the COS because it has harmed them in some way. The same way abused altar boys protest the RCC. It doesn't matter to the victim whether the organization is popular or not, reviled or revered, the point is that a large and powerful (and the COS is both of these by any definition) organization caused them harm.

Again, this is speculation, but I expect you'll find that this person hasn't randomly decided to start protesting Scientology, just as Rushdie has an intimate personal connection with Islam.
posted by Mister_A at 9:51 AM on May 21, 2008


Beck is a well-respected musician, and he's in the cult.
posted by chuckdarwin at 9:52 AM on May 21, 2008


Paul Haggis.

Paul Haggis? Seriously!?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:56 AM on May 21, 2008


It's weird, I read about Beck yesterday for an unrelated reason, and was surprised to learn the extent that Beck is brainwashed by his cult:
"What it actually is is just sort of, uh, you know, I think it's about philosophy and sort of, uh, all these kinds of, you know, ideals that are common to a lot of religions....There's nothing fantastical... just a real deep grassroots concerted effort for humanitarian causes. I don't know if you know the stuff they have. It's unbelievable the stuff they are doing. Education... they have free centres all over the place for poor kids. They have the number one drug rehabilitation programme in the entire world (called Narconon). It has a 90-something percent success rate... When you look at the actual facts and not what's conjured in people's minds that's all bullshit to me because I've actually seen stuff first hand."[62]
Poor guy. Actually, not that poor, but still, it sucks to read about creative people who swallow that kind of bilge.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 AM on May 21, 2008


The standard exemption for Beck is that he was born into the CoS, rather than being persuaded to join as an adult.

Chick Corea, on the other hand...
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:02 AM on May 21, 2008


sotonohito, very few people protest against the Church of Scientology unless they have had some personal connection with it.

Actually, Mister_A, there is as of late a growing movement on the Internet to protest Scientology; they call themselves "Anonymous."

Granted, a majority of them may indeed have either a personal connection to Scientology or have had a personal connection to someone else who attempted to criticize it and been squelched. But, the Internet being what it is, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the movement hasn't also by now attracted a few newly-fledged idealists who are simply itching to get involved with the cause du jour, especially if -- as most of the protests have -- the publicity and public stunts are particularly good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:04 AM on May 21, 2008


What about Chef? He is a dadgum scientologist too!
posted by Mister_A at 10:07 AM on May 21, 2008


My interest in and enjoyment of Beck's music began to slide downwords the second I found out he was a Scientologist. Now I can barely even listen to Odelay.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:08 AM on May 21, 2008


Well, I'll have to concede the "respected Scientologist" point, I suppose. Though I don't consider either Beck or Paul Haggis to be what I'd call widely respected (and for that matter, I'm pretty sure most people don't even know they're part of the CoS, I didn't even though I kinda like Beck's music), I'll still concede the point.

If I can weasel a bit, what I was trying to say is that there aren't any people in positions of power, authority, and influence who are known Scientologists. In America being a Scientologist may be the one thing that can prevent political success even more effectively than being an atheist; while being a Christian and therefore believing in talking snakes, magic fruit, and beneficial canabilism is all but mandatory for political success. Until the heads of a few Fortune 500 companies are Scientologist and there's a few elected to the government, appointed to judgeships, etc, I stand by my point that they're powerless.

Mister_A Prior to the /b/tard's wildly successful "Anonymous" campaign you were likely correct, now its just another hipster trend. "What do you want to do today fellow trendy people? I know, let's go protest the CoS, its perfectly safe but it lets us look all edgy and gives us the illusion that we're doing something meaningful and couragous!"

Obviously a person who has been personally harmed by the CoS has a perfectly valid reason for focusing on that group. I'm just saying that in the grand scheme of things the CoS is nothing, and I see the obsessive focus on them as being a distraction from the harm caused by the "legitimate" religions. The RCC kills thousands of women via judicial murder, Islam can enslave women in every nation it dominates, Hinduism can continue to perpetuate a ruinous caste system, etc but people get their panties in a bunch over the fact that the CoS is secretive? WTF?
posted by sotonohito at 10:10 AM on May 21, 2008


Re: Paul Haggis–Crash was the worst best picture winner ever.
posted by Mister_A at 10:14 AM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


there aren't any people in positions of power, authority, and influence who are known Scientologists

No, but there are people in positions of power and authority who are known to be influenced by Scientologists. For example, two of the chief superintendents of the City of London Police.

That is the most alarming thing about this incident. It is a naked exercise of power on behalf of the Scientologists.
posted by grouse at 10:21 AM on May 21, 2008


Well look at that, it's right there in the article, the kid was part of an Anonymous protest. That does change things a bit. It's still not right to prosecute the kid, but he may well have been going along for a lark on this.
posted by Mister_A at 10:22 AM on May 21, 2008


Wasn't the (successful) US ISP Earthlink founded by Scientologists?
posted by acb at 10:23 AM on May 21, 2008


while being a Christian and therefore believing in talking snakes, magic fruit, and beneficial canabilism is all but mandatory for political success

*sigh*

When will you get off this tired old canard? The vast majority of Christians worldwide view all of those things as allegories that speak to a different truth. The fact that your little corner of the world is infested by fundamentalists has seriously warped your view.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:27 AM on May 21, 2008


Please don't call it free speech if you're putting restrictions on it

By that standard, there isn't free speech anywhere in the world, except perhaps on the high seas. Everyone puts some restrictions on it. The particular restrictions vary from country to country, of course, but I'm not aware of any country that has no restrictions at all.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:35 AM on May 21, 2008


Re: Paul Haggis–Crash was the worst best picture winner ever.

Surely this honour goes to Titanic?
posted by tapeguy at 10:40 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Precisely, DevilsAdvocate. Americans like to go on and on (and bloody on) about how amazing their First Amendment is. That's great and all, but you can't say 'fuck' on regular TV, for example.

In the real world, where real people live, restrictions on speech are both reasonable and warranted. Indeed, so are restrictions on hate speech. The line may be drawn too sharply in some places, and it's probably true that such laws should err on the side of more freedom, but they are necessary.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:41 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


the square mile governed by the independent City of London

Amazing stuff, thanks! According to Wikipedia, The City of London has been ruled separately since 886 (though the C.O.L. Corporation wasn't founded until 1141), and stayed independent even through the Norman Invasion. The 10,000 residents don't have votes, but local businesses do.

However, two Inns of Court, equivalent to US bar associations -- the Middle Temple and the Inner Temple -- are independent enclaves within the City of London, not governed by the Corporation. They are also the last two remaining extra-parochial areas and share The Temple Church, a "Royal Peculiar" originally built in 1185 by the Knights Templar on the site of an old Roman temple, as their headquarters.
posted by msalt at 10:46 AM on May 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


while being a Christian and therefore believing in talking snakes, magic fruit, and beneficial canabilism is all but mandatory for political success

As a Christian I will tell you about how wonderful it is to believe in the talking snakes, magic fruit, and well, the cannibalism part is a Catholic thing, we Protestants treat it as symbolic, but the fact that I can say all this publicly and welcome you to partake of it for free without being audited, disconned, rehabilitated, and charged cash for it, says it all.
posted by brownpau at 10:52 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


When will you get off this tired old canard? The vast majority of Christians worldwide view all of those things as allegories that speak to a different truth. The fact that your little corner of the world is infested by fundamentalists has seriously warped your view.

But the virgin birth and zombie saviour, that's all true, right?

Good thing I don't need your permission to live my life the way I fucking want to, douchebag.

Way to forgive, Mr Holier-Than-Thou. And, uh, according to (insert religion here), you do need someone's permission to live your life how you "fucking want to," as even the most permissive PresbyMethodist sects still have dogma.

The one thing I enjoy about the Co$ is that it is essentially a parody of religion: They somehow convince followers to sign over their life savings and give Co$ control over their lives, all based on empty promises and the most ridiculous bullshit imaginable.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:25 AM on May 21, 2008 [2 favorites]


sotonohito: Still, my enthuiasm for Europe is dampened every time I'm reminded that its illegal to hold certain political positions in Germany

I'm not sure exactly what makes you ineligible for German political positions, but as an atheist I can't hold public office in my home state of Tennessee. Even in the US where the Bill of Rights has the force of law, there are widespread abridgments of First Amendment rights.
posted by workerant at 11:35 AM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


But the virgin birth and zombie saviour, that's all true, right?

Again, the vast majority of Christians worldwide believe those are allegory and symbol.

Way to forgive, Mr Holier-Than-Thou. And, uh, according to (insert religion here), you do need someone's permission to live your life how you "fucking want to," as even the most permissive PresbyMethodist sects still have dogma.

Interesting that you assume I'm Christian. I'm not, as it happens. Dogma doesn't play a part in my religious life.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:41 AM on May 21, 2008


Interesting that you assume I'm Christian.

You appear to be commenting on their behalf, so, yeah.

Dogma doesn't play a part in my religious life.

Then I hate to break it to you, but you haven't got one.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:46 AM on May 21, 2008


Then I hate to break it to you, but you haven't got one.

Really? That's news to me. Huh. Well, thanks I guess. Clearly you know more about what happens in my life than I do.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 11:47 AM on May 21, 2008


Precisely, DevilsAdvocate. Americans like to go on and on (and bloody on) about how amazing their First Amendment is. That's great and all, but you can't say 'fuck' on regular TV, for example.

In the real world, where real people live, restrictions on speech are both reasonable and warranted. Indeed, so are restrictions on hate speech. The line may be drawn too sharply in some places, and it's probably true that such laws should err on the side of more freedom, but they are necessary.


Personally, I don't really think that laws which keep you from saying "fuck" on public airwaves are entirely comparable to laws which ban the public and private expression of entire segments of political thought. Yes, some speech is certainly restricted in the US, in some venues, and IMHO that's a shame... but there's no question that our speech laws are a lot less severe than those in much of Europe, especially with regards to private speech.

I also think that the jury is still out on the question of whether hate speech laws are "necessary"; many countries get by just fine without them.
posted by vorfeed at 11:49 AM on May 21, 2008


Please do keep going. Nothing fills a MeFi thread with epic lulz and win faster than atheists thoroughly knowledgeable of all faiths, trying to draw false equivalencies between Scientology and other religions. After all, all religions are just conservative Roman Catholicism with different names!
posted by brownpau at 11:53 AM on May 21, 2008 [3 favorites]


What atheists?
posted by Sys Rq at 11:59 AM on May 21, 2008


Again, the vast majority of Christians worldwide believe those are allegory and symbol.

DNAB, you're making assumptions that aren't correct. The vast majority of christians, by shear numbers, do believe in the Virgin Birth and the resurrection of Christ since the vast majority (in terms of numbers) of Christians do adhere (or claim to adhere) to the early Church councils of Nicea and the like. Origen was condemned for his extreme use of allegory and to label the virgin birth as mere allegory is to cross into territory that "most Christians" would not agree with.
posted by Stynxno at 12:00 PM on May 21, 2008


*shrug* okay, if you say so. I'll tell that to the priests I know.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:03 PM on May 21, 2008


*shrug* okay, if you say so. I'll tell that to the priests I know.

some of your best friends are christians, amirite?
posted by Stynxno at 12:04 PM on May 21, 2008


shrug* okay, if you say so. I'll tell that to the priests I know.

I don't think priests are a very representative sample of Christians.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:10 PM on May 21, 2008


*shrug* okay, if you say so. I'll tell that to the priests I know.

Everybody's idea of what people in <insert some religion or freehtought group here> is like is founded on what those people in that group that they've been affected by personally are like.

Me included, of course. A lot of my attitudes about religion were formed when I was growing up in Utah. Those attitudes have changed a lot since I've moved to greener pastures.

My point, I guess, is that it doesn't make as much sense to talk about "what Christians believe" as it seems like it ought to.
posted by gurple at 12:15 PM on May 21, 2008




After all, all religions are just conservative Roman Catholicism Scientology with different names!

FTFY. Pssst, your bias is showing.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:29 PM on May 21, 2008


the cannibalism part is a Catholic thing

Well, in fairness, Catholics are delicious. You have to season them a bit, but it's worth it.
posted by quin at 12:36 PM on May 21, 2008


Most religions don't infiltrate the U.S. Government. Well, except maybe for fundamentalist Christianity.
posted by JHarris at 12:43 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


dirtynumbangelboy My only point is that I don't see the fuss over the CoS. What are they doing that the Catholics, the Hindus, and the Muslims aren't doing? They take people's money for "services" that are non-existant. They threaten non-believers. They have a severe reaction to the apostate. I'm just not seeing a difference here. Enlighten me.

Let me put it in stark terms. How many people have been killed due to belief in the CoS this year? The bodycounts for various religions are, of course, a bit difficult to pin down but I think it is quite safe to put the RCC's bodycount, for the past 365 days, at well over 1,000. We've got the obvious cases, like Olga Reyes and the hundreds of other victims of murder by spreadsheet in Catholic controled areas, and you've got to add in those who died from AIDS because of the evil lies of Archbishop Chimoio and his subordinates. I think its safe to put the floor at 1,000.

How many "honor killings" have been committed in the Muslim controlled areas? As always its hard to say, no Muslim nation keeps accurate records of such things, or if they do they don't report them to the outside world. Over the past few months I've seen stories about dozens of such murders, and implications of hundreds more. Then there's the issue of executed homosexuals, apostate, etc. Again, I think its fair to put floor for Islamic bodycount at 1,000.

I am wildly underestimating the lower bound for both Catholics and Muslims. I'd guess its orders of magnitude higher in both cases. But for the sake of argument let's go with the absurdly lowball guess of 1,000 each for Catholics and Muslims.

So, how many have been killed by the CoS this year?

As far as power goes, how many nations are controlled by the CoS? How many nations make it a capitol offense to leave the CoS? How many nations torture people who deviate from the teachings of the CoS?

And given that why do you want to argue that the RCC and Islam are "legitimate" religions? I say there ain't no such thing as a legitimate religion.

The CoS expresses the unavoidable and inevitable evil of religion in a different manner than either the RCC or Islam does, but different evil doesn't mean more evil. If the CoS is a cult, so is Christianity, so is Islam, so is Hinduism.

So screw the /b/tards. Its their right to protest, and I argue that if they want to call the CoS a cult that's also their right.

But let's not for even one moment pretend that they're doing something honorable, couragous, and brave. They're in it for the lulz and like all people of their type they're attacking the target least likely to have defenders because they want approval and publicity. Why do you think they go after furries so often? It isn't because furries are particularly dispicable, its becuse no one really much likes the furries so when the /b/tards go furry bashing no one really complains and a lot of people think its actually a good idea. The CoS is the furry of religion that's all.
posted by sotonohito at 1:21 PM on May 21, 2008


Oh. Forgot to add. My statement re: Christianity and its absurd beliefs is hardly based purely on anecdote. Poll after poll shows that over 50% of Americans believe in Young Earth Creationism, which implies *literal* talking snakes and magic fruit.

Further, a belief in the literal resurrection is quite widespread, close to 80%, as shown by this poll. I can understand the desire to believe that the majority of Christians don't believe patently silly things, but the facts show that they do.
posted by sotonohito at 1:24 PM on May 21, 2008


Let me put it in stark terms. How many people have been killed due to belief in the CoS this year?

Well, in fairness you should normalize the statistics to the number of each religion's members. Catholicism and Islam are each orders of magnitude larger than CoS.

Now, maybe Catholicism and Islam come out worse even after you do this. I haven't looked up the numbers myself. But to say that they are worse than CoS just because they're responsible for more deaths would be like saying California is more dangerous than Wyoming because there are more murders in California. Maybe California is more dangerous, but the proper way to make that comparison is by looking at the per capita murder rate, not the total number of murders.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:34 PM on May 21, 2008


Belief in the literal resurrection

Here's my favorite part of that poll: % who believe in physical resurrection
1994 Christians 85% Non-christians 52%
2000 Christians 95% Non-christians 47%

WTF? 47% of non-Christians believe he rose from the dead, but that's not enough for them to worship him?!?!?
posted by msalt at 1:40 PM on May 21, 2008 [4 favorites]


True. But I'm fairly sure that the number for the CoS this year is zero, and any way you figure it that's got to be lower than even the incredibly low guess of 1,000 for the other two in my comparison. Even if we figure it for a decade or two, and toss in every single body the tinfoil hat crowd wants to assign to the CoS I'd be stunned if it worked out to an equivilant number even when distributed for believers. And its possible I'd be stunned, but to the best of my knowledge the CoS bodycount is quite low even when expressed as a percentage of believers.

For that matter, we have to ask: is murder considered to be an acceptable religious tool by the CoS? Islam and the LDS both preach that killing for religious reasons is sometimes necessary, but I'm fairly sure that isn't an accepted part of CoS dogma. Of course, I'm not a CoS expert, so I might be wrong.

Again, my point isn't that the CoS is a great organization run by fantastic people. I'm sure its a gang of thugs. My only point is that I don't see how this is different from all the other religions. I hear a lot of shrill screaming that this is not the case, but no one saying that seems to be able to produce any facts to back up their position. I see a lot of the True Scottsman falacy in those arguments.
posted by sotonohito at 1:43 PM on May 21, 2008


but as an atheist I can't hold public office in my home state of Tennessee.

This is false. The words remain on the books but have no legal effect.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:47 PM on May 21, 2008


WTF? 47% of non-Christians believe he rose from the dead, but that's not enough for them to worship him?!?!?

Well, we don't know the exact wording of the question on that poll, and we don't know how many of those "non-Christians" are of the believe-in-God-but-don't-go-to-any-church variety.
posted by D.C. at 2:00 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, we don't know the exact wording of the question on that poll, and we don't know how many of those "non-Christians" are of the believe-in-God-but-don't-go-to-any-church variety.

True. But once you adjust for that, any percentage above, say, 0% seems bizarre. And yet, if I think about it intuitively and not rationally, I don't doubt it for 1 second. I've similar results for belief in the Virgin Birth, too.
posted by msalt at 2:15 PM on May 21, 2008


Poll after poll shows that over 50% of Americans believe in Young Earth Creationism

America is not the world, no matter how much you may wish it to be so.

Your hatred is disgusting. Tarring everyone with the same brush, and refusing to see that there can be any nuance, is hardly an adult position.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:56 PM on May 21, 2008


I'm sure its a gang of thugs. My only point is that I don't see how this is different from all the other religions.

Talk to your average Buddhist. Or, better.. the Jains. Ever heard of them? I thought not.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:57 PM on May 21, 2008


Again, the vast majority of Christians worldwide believe those are allegory and symbol.

dirtynumbangelboy: Let me be clear on this. You are totally, completely, absolutely, wrong.

In fact, it is about as wrong as anyone could be on this subject. It is meta-wrong.

The "vast majority" of Christians, worldwide, by a 2-to-1 margin, are Catholic. And Catholics most assuredly do believe that Jesus was, literally, born of a Virgin Mother. For Christ's sake (truly), the Virgin Mary is the penultimate figure in the Catholic faith!

Catholics also do most assuredly believe that Jesus, literally, rose from the dead. Easter is, indeed, the ultimate Catholic holiday.

Further, Catholics believe that the Eucharist, literally, becomes the body and blood of Christ.

All other major Protestant denominations also believe in the Virgin birth and the Resurrection.

I can't see how you would take 2 of the things that are perhaps the minimum threshold of entry to the Christian faith, and dismiss them with the wave of your hand.

Your misunderstanding of this is so profound that I would hope you go speak to those Priests you are talking about and try to educate yourself. I assume they must be Buddhist or Shinto priests, because no priest of a Catholic or Protestant religion would be able to seriously say their faith considers the Resurrection of Christ to be merely an allegory.
posted by Ynoxas at 2:59 PM on May 21, 2008


Well, this is certainly going well.
posted by garlic at 3:08 PM on May 21, 2008


You know, I'm a pretty big apologist for religion, and even at times for organized religion. But in this one small way, I've got to agree with sonohito: There are people in other churches who behave worse than the Scientologists behave, and we should direct our outrage there too.

On the other hand, secret practices and (sometimes expensive) initiations aren't limited to the Scientologists. If we tolerate Freemasonry, Santeria, Tibetan Buddhism and the O.T.O., there's no reason we should put "secrecy" on our list of Scientology's sins.

Where I disagree with sonohito is in his blanket condemnation of religion.

Look: it's like sex. There are rapists and pedophiles and STD-laden slimeballs out there, who cause enormous and widely publicized suffering. In fact there isn't a single sexual demographic that's free from these creeps — there are creepy straight folk, creepy gays, creepy celibates, creepy foot fetishists, creepy blowjob enthusiasts, creepy people who like it in the missionary position in a dark room... And yet, we acknowledge that there are individuals, couples, families and even whole social networks in all those demographics who have perfectly healthy sex lives.

Religion is the same way. There's exploitation, warmongering and idiotic policy coming out of every damn religion out there. (Yes, even the Buddhists, who for some reason tend to get a free pass in these conversations.) AND YET there are people, families, and even whole congregations whose religious life is as healthy, functional and beautiful as anything going. You wouldn't know it if you don't read past the sensational headlines, but they're there.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:33 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Further, Catholics believe that the Eucharist, literally, becomes the body and blood of Christ.

no-true-Scotsman-Catholic fallacy
posted by oaf at 4:38 PM on May 21, 2008


dirtynumbangelboy Actually, as religion is one of those subjects that fascinates me I'm quite well aware of the Jains, thanks. They're one of the better religions, and as such are a tiny little religion, less than 5 million followers. Religions that put that many restrictions on people tend to be incredibly small. They've also got their unpleasant side, one of the major schools of Jainism is outright misogynist, for example. Give 'em more power and I'm sure they'd turn just as nasty as all the ones that have power.

So, the existance of Jainism is supposed to make me say "oooh, religion is hunky dorey"? They account for 0.000714% of the global population, even atheists outnumber Jains.

As for Buddhists, your comment shows you a) know very little about Buddhism as it is actually practiced, and b) haven't spoken with many Buddhists yourself. It really is amazing how many Westerners think Buddhism is some super-amazing peace-love-and-enlightenment group. Its a religion, it has some cool philosophy, some dedicated monks, and a lot of believers who aren't much different from Joe Baptist except they worship various Bodhistavas instead of Jesus.

They aren't all monks in saffron you know. And, for the record, many of the monks in saffron are pretty personally unpleasant. As an interesting anecdote my sister was once chewed out by a Buddhist monk becuase she happened to brush against him in a crowded space, he was forbidden to touch women so she'd made him "unclean".

nebulawindphone Individual members of a religion can be decent people. That doesn't mean religion is good, it just means that some individuals are sufficiently nice people that even religion can't corrupt them. I argue that they are good despite religion, not because of it.

My condemnation is of the practice, the structure, the dogma, not necessarially of the individuals.
posted by sotonohito at 5:43 PM on May 21, 2008


Do you know anything about the CoS, sotonohito? Based on my reading of "A Piece of Blue Sky" and several years of alt.religion.scientology back when the cult first started recognizing it as a threat to their secrets-keeping, I'd have to say you know exceedingly little about the cult and how it operates.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:13 PM on May 21, 2008


For that matter, we have to ask: is murder considered to be an acceptable religious tool by the CoS? Islam and the LDS both preach that killing for religious reasons is sometimes necessary, but I'm fairly sure that isn't an accepted part of CoS dogma. Of course, I'm not a CoS expert, so I might be wrong.

In fact, there's proof positive you don't know shit about what you're arguing.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:16 PM on May 21, 2008


sotonohito writes "For that matter, we have to ask: is murder considered to be an acceptable religious tool by the CoS? Islam and the LDS both preach that killing for religious reasons is sometimes necessary, but I'm fairly sure that isn't an accepted part of CoS dogma. Of course, I'm not a CoS expert, so I might be wrong."

That is true. You are wrong.

I understand your beef, but I have heard this from you before (more than once), and this argument is getting sort of tired. I was raised agnostic and consider myself to be antagonistic to religion in general, but I have had some spiritual experiences that have changed my view of these things to some extent, at least as far as the experience itself. I now believe that some people have "genuine" religious experiences, or as genuine as it can get to someone - I'm not convinced they are "real." I still agree with Frank Zappa when he sang,

Eat that pork, eat that ham
Laugh till ya choke on Billy Graham
Moses, Aaron 'n Abraham:
They're all a waste of time
'N it's your ass that's on the line
It's your ass that's on the line

Anyway, It's very easy to lump all religions together, and in many ways, there is truth to the comparison. I think it's better to say, there are many paths to the top of the mountain, if that's what you're talking about. But if it's not, then it's really a bit lazy to think of them all the same way, in all ways. They're all a waste of time, more or less, but they are not all the same thing. When people criticize the Church of Scientology, it's not also necessary to criticize all other religions at the same time. It's also possible to agree that all religions are more or less shams, and recognize that some are cults and some are not. About half my family is Catholic. I know some Catholics who could be described as cultists, seriously, and there are some sects which are very cult-like, complete with charismatic priests. They will take your money and control of your life, and shut you off from people who might open your mind to secular ideas. But not really the people in my family, who are liberal, American Roman Catholics of the Kennedy sort. The Catholic Church is not a cult by design. The Church of Scientology is, deliberately so, and you can read all about it in the founder's own words.

I will never convert to Catholicism, but I've been to plenty of masses, first communions and confirmations. They don't seem to mind, and in fact welcome me there. That's not really possible in cults. I agree that the Catholic Church has done a lot of damage, but that doesn't change the fact that Scientology does, too, although the degree and type of damage may be of a different sort. It doesn't mean we can't discuss it, or that people who have been affected can't speak out. At least it's not up to you.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:20 PM on May 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please, when will people stop comparing what other well-established religions have done over their thousand year history with scientology?

It's a stupid comparison. No two religions or belief systems are the same. BUT we are NOT comparing what scientologists "believe" (which is ridiculous) with what catholics "believe".

We are talking about what scientologists are doing, right now, and why that is dangerous to a free society. It's use of lawsuits as a first resort, it's manipulation (unchecked) of public officials, bribery, blackmail, to celebrities as well who are then indoctrinated in order to spread influence. Murder, disconnections, harassment, intimidation, and requiring all of people's material assets just to learn what it is they actually believe in.

I have no problem with people believing in xenu and thetans and so on. But do not confuse my objection to the practices of their organization (which, in any NON-RELIGIOUS context would see immediate government and legal intervention) with objection to letting people believe what they want.

Please stop bringing up other religions. They are not part of the discussion and you are only lowering the level of discourse by hijacking the thread from the issues in question. If catholicism emerged now with the same insidious practices as scientology we would likely be having a similar debate.

Please forgive me if i wasn't around to complain about the practices of the catholic church in 300AD. Get a grip. Just because followers of islam have done some stupid things in the last thousand years doesn't mean that I can't crticize what scientologists have done, in following exact rules laid down by their founder in the recent past.

Even if we were comparing religions, scientology and it's practices are so far removed from the practices of any reputable religion that it is pointless to even enter into debate. Stop wasting everyone's time by starting it again and we might come to realise that just because something declares itself a religion doesn't give it a free pass to do whatever it pleases with it's followers and influence, and that just because some other religions did some fucked up things a thousand years ago, in totally different societies and cultures than our own, with different values, where we would not even be having this debate because discussion of such things was not done, that it is essentially the same thing so scientology should get a free ride. Sigh.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 7:31 PM on May 21, 2008 [6 favorites]


because no priest of a Catholic or Protestant religion would be able to seriously say their faith considers the Resurrection of Christ to be merely an allegory.

You'd be astonished.

Give 'em more power and I'm sure they'd turn just as nasty as all the ones that have power.

Ah, right. You know this. Sure, ok.

As for Buddhists, your comment shows you a) know very little about Buddhism as it is actually practiced,

Wrong. Certainly my stepfather, a Zen Buddhist, knew nothing about his own religious praxis.

and b) haven't spoken with many Buddhists yourself.

Aaaaaaaand wrong again. See above for one example among many.

It really is amazing how many Westerners think Buddhism is some super-amazing peace-love-and-enlightenment group.

I didn't say that. Could you please stop putting words in my mouth? I know you only do it because the rest of your argument consists of ill-informed diatribes against some bugaboo you have, but still.

Individual members of a religion can be decent people. That doesn't mean religion is good, it just means that some individuals are sufficiently nice people that even religion can't corrupt them. I argue that they are good despite religion, not because of it.

Huh. Sounds a lot like the racist claptrap that gets thrown around.. "Well yeah he's black, but he's one of the okay ones, knowwhatimean." Hatred is hatred is hatred. And all hatred is blind.

I feel sorry for you. Perhaps one day you'll grow up and develop a nuanced worldview. Until that time, talking to you is pointless.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:39 PM on May 21, 2008


nebulawindphone Individual members of a religion can be decent people. That doesn't mean religion is good, it just means that some individuals are sufficiently nice people that even religion can't corrupt them. I argue that they are good despite religion, not because of it.

You miss my point. It's not just that there are religious individuals who are good.

It's that there are individuals whose religious practice has a net positive effect on their life and the lives of others.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:22 PM on May 21, 2008


I hate to break up a hammer fight, but may I point out that "religion is always stupid" vs. "No, dude, sometimes it's cool" is a pretty foolish discussion? This was a pretty interesting topic about free speech, Scientology and the odd legalities of the ancient City of London. Please feel free to take it to email, or step outside and have at it.
posted by msalt at 10:08 PM on May 21, 2008


oaf: Are you serious? Transubstantiation is pretty much the defining belief of Catholicism as I understand it. If you don't believe in that, you might as well be Protestant.

dnab: I can't wrap my head around what you're saying. If most Christians view the virgin birth and resurrection as simply an allegory then what makes them Christians and not Muslim or Baha'i or whatever else?

Explain to me the "Profession of Faith" or Confirmation. I really don't understand.
posted by ODiV at 12:08 AM on May 22, 2008


Yeah, seriously guys, if you want to have a discussion about what Catholics do or do not believe, could you please do it in MetaTalk? Because it has very little to do with this post.
posted by grouse at 12:19 AM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eh, we go on tangents a lot. It's not like there's a comment limit.
posted by ODiV at 12:28 AM on May 22, 2008


No, but it would be nice to actually talk about the event in question without someone going OMG CATHOLICS KILLED MORE PEOPLE STOP HATING ON COS every three posts and more anti-intellectual thread hijacking bullshit.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 1:01 AM on May 22, 2008


Speaking as a Ken Stewart, I'd just like to say, we don't all go around praising dangerous, litigious, retaliatory, money-grubbing brainwashing cults. Thank you.
posted by kcds at 4:02 AM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I discussed the event, there really doesn't seem to be much to say except a) the kid got a raw deal and its insanely stupid that he can seriously be charged with a crime for calling the CoS a cult, and b) damn that City of London deal is massively fucked up. Seriously, what else is there to say on the subject?

I can't agree with the premise that somehow it is necessary, or desireable, to discuss the CoS and its practices in a vacuum, that it should be forbidden to discuss other religions in that context, etc. I'm sorry to interrupt the warmfuzzies you apparently get when you feel all self righteous for bashing the CoS while simultaniously thinking that "real religions" are really great things. I don't think the purpose of metafilter is to provide a platform for people who hate the CoS but luv "real religion".

And, for the record, Dillonlikescookies, my comments were limited to discussing evils done by non-CoS religions in the past year or so; not 300AD [1].

Again, my core disagreement is with the idea that the term "cult" has any genuine distinctive meaning. If you mean "religion that does harmful things" then they all fall into that category. In effect "cult" just means "a religion that lacks the political power and popular support to keep me from calling it a cult". You want to say the CoS is evil and run by thugs, I'll agree, they're pretty nasty.

My secondary argument is that they're small fry on the evil front. I mean, the RCC is murdering hundreds, possibly thousands, of women by its manipulation of the legal system of countries in which it has great power, its encouragin the spread of AIDS and the torture and murder of foreign aid workers, and no one bats an eyelash. But you're shrieking because the CoS gets a mite rough with people dumb enough to get involved with it? I'm not saying we should ignore the CoS, I'm just saying that I percieve an obsessive focus on a lesser evil that seems hard to explain unless we consider the CoS bashers to be cowards unwilling to confront the greater evil. Or just people who are terminally trendy possibly.

Islam has enslaved, pretty much literally, the entire female population of the nations it controls. It *routinely*, admittedly, and proudly, kills the apostate, any person who deviates even slightly from its insane demands, tortures those it doesn't kill, etc, but that's ok, its important to focus on the fact that the CoS, unsuccessfully, planned on infiltrating the US government. The fact that major Christian groups have already succeeded in such infiltration is, apparently, not even slightly of concern to the CoS phobic crowd.

That's why, from my POV, it looks like the anti-CoS crowd has got to be opposing them, not because they genuinely worry about religiously motivated evil, but because the CoS is new, vulnerable, and has beliefs that they can see are silly. Or for other equally bad reasons.

Look at what Dillonlikescookies wrote:
BUT we are NOT comparing what scientologists "believe" (which is ridiculous) with what catholics "believe".
Note that he doesn't comment that what the Catholics believe is rediculous, just the CoS. Now, for the record, I think what the CoS believes is patently stuipd, that no one could possibly believe that crap unless they'd been seriously brainwashed, and that every single aspect of their belief system is incredibly silly. But, the truth is that what *any* religious person believes is patently stupid, stuff that no one could possibly believe unless they'd been seriously brainwashed, and that every single aspect of their belief system is incredibly silly. The only reason Christian beliefs aren't similarly thought of as rediculous is because we're so used to them. Believe me, to an outsider Xenu is no more ore less silly than Jehova.

So, I see comments like that, I see the evil done, and I mean recently done, in the name of dozens of religions, and I find it unlikely that people like Dillonlikescookies are really concerned about the CoS because the CoS is uniquely evil. I find it much more likely that they're worried about the CoS almost entirely because it simply hasn't been around long enough for the "real religion" filter to kick in and cause them to completely ignore its evil.

It seems like gaping at gnats and swollowing camels to me. They give the big, mainstream, massively evil, religions a complete pass in order to throw a fit about some little pissant religion? WTF?

Scientology is a "cult", so its OK to say anything bad you want to about it. But Islam is a "real religion" so when I criticize it I'm a bad person. The RCC is a "real religion" so when I say it does evil shit I'm a pitiful soul consumed by irrational hate. Can you see how I'd be a mite annoyed with this nonsense? I get crapped on for daring to suggest that maybe, just maybe, Islam and the RCC are pretty evil, but people can, and do, say anything about the CoS and they get lauded as steely eyed heroes daring to stand up to the awesome (pathetic) and all encompassing (nonexistant) power of the CoS. WTF?

Yes, the CoS does bad shit. No, they shouldn't get a pass for doing bad shit. But on a bad shit scale of 1 to 10, if we put the RCC at 5 then the CoS has to rank in at, what -5000 or so?

Let me make an analogy. Let's say that we're in a house that is on fire. Flames everywhere, smoke choking us, etc. That's "real religion". Also the toilet is clogged up. That's Scientology. I don't at all claim that the clogged toilet is not a problem, I don't like clogged toilets. But I'm saying that it is not a particularly urgent or threatening problem. Let's deal with the fact that the frickin house is on fire, then, after the fire has been put out, we can worry about clogged toilets. But no, say some people, the clogged toilet is all important and fixing it cannot wait even an instant. Moreover, they say that anyone who observes that the house is on fire is obvuiously filled with irrational hatred of fire and can't be taken seriously.

[1] And, for the record, you don't know your Church history so well. It wasn't until around 400AD that the Church got the power to become truly nasty. In 300AD it was still a proscribed religion in Rome, though in 301 it did become legal and the persecution of Christians officially ended.
posted by sotonohito at 4:44 AM on May 22, 2008


So, in other words, you intend to continue derailing every single thread that has anything to do with religion with your interchangeable and interminable ALL RELIGIONS SUCK, MAN!! screeds?
posted by languagehat at 5:33 AM on May 22, 2008 [4 favorites]


Nope. Just the threads that are interchangable and interminable OMG THE CoS IS LIKE SO AMAZINGLY MORE EVIL THAN ANY OTHER RELIGION EVAR!!!!

We all get that some people are amazingly freaked out by the powerless and insignificant CoS. The fact that we keep coming back to this looks like a pattern to me. It looks like a pattern of legitimizing non-CoS religion by focusing exclusively on the CoS when it comes to religious evil.

In the past week Pope Benedict gave a major speech preaching hate against homosexuals, urging his followers to oppose equal rights for homosexuals, etc. A woman in Iraq was brutally murdered by her father due to the teachings of Islam, and he was released with no charges by the Iraqi police, again due to the teachings of Islam. Significant stuff, no? Not discussed on metafilter.

What gets posted on metafilter? A kid is hassled by England's massively messed up "free speech" laws for protesting the CoS.

So, yeah, while people making crap posts about the fact that the insignificant and whimpy CoS is evil I'll keep saying "um, guys, you seem to be ignoring the much more significant and powerful evils of other religions".

I mean, sheesh, the LDS and its FLDS branch don't get a tenth the hate that the CoS does, and they pretty much own Utah and rape little girls. But the CoS is, apparently, so very much more evil and important that *I'm* out of line for daring to suggest otherwise.
posted by sotonohito at 6:26 AM on May 22, 2008


Also, what is there to derail? This thread, like any other thread containing the word "Scientology" exists purely so people can post screeds about how all important and uniquely evil the CoS is. You can't derail crap.

The CoS is evil, yup. We all get that. We all know that. We all agree that is the case. Neither I, nor anyone else I can recall in any of the those threads has ever claimed otherwise.

Can we talk about more interesting and/or significant stuff now? Do we really need a new LOLXENU thread every few weeks? Do we actually need an update on every hipster who gets sued by the CoS? Because if that's the case maybe we need weekly posts on how the furry community has been attacked by the /b/tards. Its at least as significant.
posted by sotonohito at 6:39 AM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm quite well aware of the Jains, thanks. They're one of the better religions

YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. ALL PEOPLE OF FAITH REPORT IMMEDIATELY TO THE SUPREME ARBITER OF RELIGIONS FOR RANKINGS AND REVIEWS OF YOUR RESPECTIVE DENOMINATION'S GOODNESS.
posted by brownpau at 7:14 AM on May 22, 2008 [2 favorites]


And, for the record, you don't know your Church history so well. It wasn't until around 400AD that the Church got the power to become truly nasty. In 300AD it was still a proscribed religion in Rome, though in 301 it did become legal and the persecution of Christians officially ended.

sotonohito, this isn't right. Your dates are off and there were several persecutions of Christians even after Constantine began to give it special priviledges as several emperors after him tried to revert their empire back to their pagan beliefs. And the experience of the Donatists in North Africa and their releveant militant groups show that "evil stuff" didn't really start once Christanity began to gain political backing - rather it started once Christians began to schism in various ways.

It seems like gaping at gnats and swollowing camels to me. They give the big, mainstream, massively evil, religions a complete pass in order to throw a fit about some little pissant religion? WTF?

This isn't right either - look at all the LOLchristian threads on the blue. Atheism receives the free pass on metafilter because they have the numbers and the cheerleaders to push it.
posted by Stynxno at 7:25 AM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


You'd be astonished

Actually, I would be.

In my lifetime I've spoken to probably 200-300 priests, ministers, and preachers on religious topics. I've been to the State Conventions of three denominations, and the National Convention of one.

I've been to church services, revivals, tent meetings, foot washings, brush arbors, midnight mass, anointings with oil, laying on hands, and ice cream socials.

I have never, ever heard of a Catholic or Protestant authority figure saying that the Resurrection of Jesus was just an allegory. It is the defining characteristic of being a Christian.

If you do not believe in the divine nature of Jesus, then indeed you are not a Christian. You would be, at best, a follower of the personal philosophy of the human named Jesus of Nazareth.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:36 AM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gimme an A!
posted by tehloki at 8:43 AM on May 22, 2008


Just because a thread topic being deleted once or twice does not make it a pattern; more LOLchristian threads stay up than are deleted.

No, not really. LOLXTIAN posts get cleared out regularly and quickly. But as you look down on the rest of us from your perch, keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:07 AM on May 22, 2008


dnab: I don't know if you're an idiot, but you are just plain wrong. Some priests you talked to does not translate into your STRONG statement of "the vast majority of Christians worldwide". It is not only demonstrably false, but laughable. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the core values of these groups. I would make an analogy, but I am not creative enough to conjure one anywhere near as profoundly asinine as "Christians who don't believe in Christ". The American Society of Flat-Earth Astronomers?

You're wrong, badly wrong, got called on it, and are embarrassed over it, but still clinging to the edge for dear life, for whatever reason I can't imagine.

Regarding this back and forth at the end of the thread, I'm not sure which side is which anymore, and some of the participants don't even understand what a religion is apparently.

All I know is that I personally feel that *ALL* LOLXTIAN and WTFSCIENTOLOGY threads should stay up. If someone posts a LOLZOROASTRIANISM that should stay up too.

Please understand I don't have a particular preference. I think ALL religions are to be equally mocked and ridiculed. Anything that requires belief in something that cannot be proven, and promises rewards that cannot be verified, is a snake oil job as far as I am concerned.

Anyone want to buy my rock that wards off tigers? I've had it 20 years without a single tiger attack.

But, some influential members of MeFi got the admins' ears on this topic, and now yes many of the LOLXTIANS threads get deleted. I guess the offended are so firm and steadfast in their beliefs that a few people making wisecracks amounts to persecution and alienation from their belief system of choice.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:11 AM on May 22, 2008


I don't think you understand the rationale for the deletions. It is not that the delicate sensibilities of Xians need to be protected; I myself am an atheist and hate those threads, and there are many more like me. They are deleted because they are bad MetaFilter threads. The posts are made not because there is something interesting out there on the internet but because "ho ho, some Xians did a dumb thing and now we can mock them!" and the entire thread consists of LOLXIAN bullshit repeated for the millionth time. There is no point to it except as a bonding experience for haters of religion, and that's not what MeFi is for.
posted by languagehat at 10:38 AM on May 22, 2008


lh: I do accept your "not something interesting on the web" argument, but if strictly applied, surely half of the front page would be deleted.

I think it is beyond argument that threads on religion, obesity, and women's rights are held to a different standard here. And maybe that's not a bad thing, but there it is, and it comes across to users like me as pandering to a specific segment of the audience.
posted by Ynoxas at 10:53 AM on May 22, 2008


Well, I suggest you recalibrate your pandering metric, because that's not what's going on, and continuing to believe it is will only result in gastric problems. Seriously, if you accept the "not something interesting on the web" argument, that's pretty much set, game, and match. The other two categories you mention are more complicated, but obesity threads, even when they start from interesting links, invariably devolve into LOLFATTIES messes. It's not a different standard, it's the basic MeFi standard for threads, it's just that certain subjects are practically guaranteed to create fucked-up threads. I'm sure the admins are as unhappy about it as we are, and believe me, I'd like nothing better than a MetaFilter in which we could have civilized discussions of gender issues, but until the knuckle-dragging "I would/wouldn't hit it!" crowd grows up or learns to STFU, it's going to be very difficult.
posted by languagehat at 11:06 AM on May 22, 2008


Holy crap - this whole thread did a complete and utter turn away from the subject in question - criticism of Scientology - to a discussion on the failings of other religions.

CoS - 1
Everyone Else - 0

"What are YOUR crimes???"
posted by jabberjaw at 12:19 PM on May 22, 2008


It does seem as if the CoS has more success using the courts to muzzle opponents and ex-members that just about any other religion around. Any ideas why that is? It's not as if there aren't other well-funded churches with attorneys.
posted by msalt at 12:40 PM on May 22, 2008


msalt I'd guess its simply because the CoS is more aggressive about using the courts. Also, very few other religious institutions have a similar "trade secrets" type of setup. The LDS is the only other one I can think of offhand.

The whole thing, from my POV, is damn stupid tactics on the part of the CoS, it gains them lots of bad press, confirms everyone's view that they're paranoid lawsuit happy assholes, etc.
posted by sotonohito at 6:26 PM on May 22, 2008


"So, I see comments like that, I see the evil done, and I mean recently done, in the name of dozens of religions, and I find it unlikely that people like Dillonlikescookies are really concerned about the CoS because the CoS is uniquely evil. I find it much more likely that they're worried about the CoS almost entirely because it simply hasn't been around long enough for the "real religion" filter to kick in and cause them to completely ignore its evil."

Oh please. Get over your "all religions are equally stupid" diatribe. You're throwing the spanner in the works of our debate again so you can flog this dead horse.

Yes, I think the beliefs of scientology are ridiculous, and I think the views of a lot of other religions are ridiculous. If you'd actually read my comment properly without your knee-jerk filter on you would have seen that I said quite clearly, as I'm saying again now, that I object to Scientologists not because of their beliefs but because of their dangerous and insidious practices. You are clutching at loose ends to justify your poor strawman argument. I am not giving other religions a "free pass" because they are older, as I have said previously, and you are being disingenuous in continuing to assert so. I don't care what someone believes, they could sincerly believe in the flying spaghetti monster for all I care, but when they bribe public officials for favours, manipulate vulnerable people out of all their material goods, and use textbook mind control to maintain coherance and power I object as should any rational person, regardless of whether they decide to claim to be a "religion" "spirituality" "alternative to psychiatry" or whatever hat they decide to put on that day in order to spin PR.

In short, get a grip. Stop trying to stir debate away from Scientology and onto other religions. It doesn't matter what Christianity or Islam is doing 500 years ago or NOW because they are INDEPENDENT ENTITIES. The sooner you realise that the less painful reading this debate will be. If scientology does something bad, then they do something bad regardless of how good or bad christianity, islam, mormonism or buddhism is.

Try to use the rational part of your brain for five minutes and stop trying to stir up a shitstorm.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 11:21 PM on May 22, 2008 [1 favorite]




Dillonlikescookies I ask again, what debate? This was just another LOLXENU thread, an excuse for people to post about how horribly, uniquely, and all importantly evil the CoS is. We know that. We've had dozens of posts for the CoS-phobics to express their horror at the very existence of the group. Its over, its done, there is nothing new or interesting to say on that subject.

And, as I've said, I'm not here to defend the CoS, it is evil no doubt. But it's small time evil, its evil that only affects a tiny fraction of people. I'm sorry for the people harmed by the CoS, but there aren't that many of them compared to those harmed by other religions.

Obviously someone who has been personally affected by the CoS will have a good reason for focusing their attention on it. But for the vast majority who haven't been personally affected by the CoS the obsessive focus on it, and the eagerness to completely ignore the more numerous people harmed by "legitimate religions" in order to focus on the "cult" is not reasonable.

Given that big religions hurt more people than small religions do, the only reason to focus on small religions is because they are small, because its socially acceptable to bash the CoS but it isn't socially acceptable to bash the RCC, or Islam, or Hinduism. Even among atheists there is often an extreme reluctance to admit the evils done in the name of "legitimate" religions. Its cowardace pure and simple.

"Cults" are fair game, anyone can say absolutely anything about a "cult" and no one will blink. Want to claim that Scientologists eat babies? Go ahead, not a single person will say you are somehow filled with irrational hate for anything, and you'll get a large group of people cheering you on for your bravery in confronting the dread cults.

But "real religions" are another matter, they are due super-hyper-mega respect and a failure to accord them this special respect pisses off most of society. So yeah, feel all superior because you bash the cult, enjoy your self righteous smugness at how horrible a person I must be because I've violated society's rules and dared, horrors, to suggest that maybe it isn't just the "cults" that are the problem.

But your smug condemnation of me as a close minded hater won't bring all the people killed by the RCC and Islam back to life. And it won't change the fact that "real religions" kill more people, torture more people, hurt more people, and ruin more lives than the CoS can even dream of.
posted by sotonohito at 4:53 AM on May 23, 2008


[A few comments removed. THAT'S IT - go to metatalk for your "you're an idiot" comments, ffs. Thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 6:43 AM on May 23, 2008


...kill more people...than the CoS can even dream of.

OT3 material estimates 13.5 trillion thetans. That is more.
posted by brownpau at 7:11 AM on May 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


Thanks for the update, grouse.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:05 AM on May 23, 2008


sotonhito: You have made your point, and we get it. You are the only one who feels that way, apparently. So it's not especially cool to hijack any post that touches on Scientology and try to shout it down, or keep repeating your same point here.

Better idea: If you find a thread useless, ignore it.
Another way to put it: this place is about the discussions, not the objective truth or facts being discussed. So even if you are 100% right, shutting down discussions still sucks.
posted by msalt at 9:45 AM on May 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


msalt I am discussing. My position in the discussion happens to be different from the position of many other people, but that doesn't make what I say non-discussion. Unless, of course, you're defining "discussion" as "echo chamber".

Apparently in your universe discussion is impossible unless everyone agrees on all points and no one dares to suggest that maybe the subject being discussed is framed incorrectly for any meaningful debate.

I fail to see how I shut down anything here, except maybe a circlejerk of "ZOMG SCIENTOLOGY IS LIKE WORSE THAN ANYTHING ELSE EVAR!" If all it takes to upset your discussion is one person saying "ya know, the other religions are bigger and just as nasty" then maybe your basic theme is wrong. If your ideas can't withstand even mild criticism, and compared to the vitriol thrown my way in this thread I think my comments have been the model of restraint, then maybe your ideas are wrong. Maybe, and I know you don't want to even consider this possibility, maybe when compared to the actions of mainstream religions, the CoS isn't really much more evil?

If I'm wrong, show me evidence, show me statistics, show me the bodies of those murdered by Scientology, and show me that Scientology kills more, hurts more, and does more damage than the RCC, or Islam, or any of the major religions do. Show me that it really is so vastly much more horrible that we really need an update every time the CoS does anything. I don't think you can.
posted by sotonohito at 10:29 AM on May 23, 2008


You offer a half-dozen straw men, bait for a stupid argument over Catholic Church "murders", insults and narcissistic self-justification. No thanks.

/ignore
posted by msalt at 11:27 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's great that the police wised up and dropped charges. Good thing this case got all the attention, including here, and put the heat on.
posted by msalt at 11:29 AM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


You got any other hobby horses you could be riding, sotonohito? 'cause I'm thinking this one's pretty much done for.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:18 PM on May 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


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