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So, even though I haven't been spending much time on the Internets, I've heard about Anonymous and their efforts against Scientology.

There's a really well-done video that someone did about the story so far that's been put on YouTube (in two parts, due to time limitations) here and here.

I've been watching this battle from a distance for some time, probably ever since I read an article in Wired magazine about the battle between the "Church" of Scientology and the Usenet group alt.religion.scientology.

The fact that I put "Church" in quotes should pretty much tell you where I stand on the issue. But I've been pondering it for a while and the one thing that bugs me the most about this is this:

Scientology is not a religion.

Scientology is an organization that claims to be a religion in order to reap the legal benefits of religious organizations, from tax exemption, to the ability to deny someone medical treatment, to the ability to claim "religious persecution" when they are called on their horrific behavior.

Now, of course, defining what makes a religion is a tricky enough business as it is. The dictionary definition is forced to be especially vague because of the diversity of religious belief. The one on dictionary.reference.com, for example, reads a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

This definition seems a bit flawed to me, because one can, in fact, have a set of beliefs and even perform rituals about those beliefs, without belonging to any particular religion. Indeed, you could define atheism as a religion by that standard, if you concede that "especially", "usually" and "often" mean "but not always".

I submit this definition--a religion is an organized structure designed to teach and practice the tenets of a spiritual path. Granted, such organized structures have an unfortunate habit of becoming corrupted to the point that they end up subverting or even contradicting the spiritual path that they set out to propagate, but at the heart of them, there is a core of spirituality, the surrender of the ego to the infinite.

This is why you find folks who are "spiritual, but not religious" -- they prefer to walk the path of spirit by their own means, instead of through religious structures. I personally draw a certain distinction between my religion (Roman Catholic) and my spiritual path (which includes a larger notion of the universal, but finds a certain comfort and clarity in the rites and rituals of the faith I was raised in.)

So what the heck does all this have to do with Scientology? Precisely my point. Scientology is indeed an organized structure, but it lacks the sweet, creamy center of a spiritual path. There is no there there. There are purportedly rites and rituals, but there is no sign of a soul at the heart of it, no embrace of the sacred, the holy, the infinite.

It is common knowledge that Scientology was created not for the purpose of enlightenment, but because L. Ron Hubbard got it in his head that if a man really wanted to make money, he needed to start his own religion. This is a fraud and a travesty and an insult to the First Amendment and the hard-won freedoms that religions in America have.

This is why I want everybody to stop treating Scientology as if it's just another religion with some odd notions. It is not a religion. It never was. And as long as it continues in the way it has, it never will be. Even "cult" is too kind a word for it--that still implies a level of spirituality that it does not possess. It is a tax dodge and a fraud and should be treated as such.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 17th, 2008 12:33 am (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2008 04:33 am (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2008 11:16 am (UTC)
Very well put!
Feb. 18th, 2008 09:09 am (UTC)
Brava! :)

(I also find it a quirky twist of fate that I, who am more of a Myers-Briggs T than an F, posted a rather F-y, grouchy post about CoS, whereas you, who tend to be slightly more F-y than I am on the same scale, wrote a lovely and very T blog entry.)

The CoS gets more upset at any potential threat to their income than they do people having a good laugh at Xenu and Thetans. Ever noticed that? And the main objection to people busting them by posting their OTVIII Sekrit Knowledgez is that someone out there no longer is going to be in their clutches long enough to pay the $160k US it typically takes to get to be OTVIII.

I do disagree when you say they aren't a cult. They pass my Cult-dar nicely. A group is called a cult because of their behaviour - not their doctrines. Something important to remember here: Anonymous is, for the most part, not attacking what Scilons believe, but what they do (that is harmful). In fact, if someone wants to grab a pair of tin cans and be asked WHAT ARE YOUR CRIMES? or chant HIP HIP HOORAY to a bronze bust of Elron, or even enjoy a rousing session of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," Anonymous may laugh, but they aren't trying to stop people from believing what they want.

Cult stuff:

(a) The group will have an ELITIST view of itself in relation to
everyone else is wrong.

See also: the cult labels non-culties "wogs," and anyone who does not go along with every aspect of the CoS a "Supressive Person." CoS claims that their melange of appropriated (and mostly discredited) psych experiments and theories, repackaged, is the one true way to happiness and success.

(b) They will promote their cause actively, and in doing so, abuse
God-given personal rights and freedoms. This abuse can be

See also: CoS gulags (the RFP), and their illegal activities (harassing others, Operation Fair Play which suggests that anything up to and including bodily harm, lying, and so on, bugging homes and offices, getting CAUGHT trying to steal and alter government records, etc.), the vast number of strange deaths, the vast number of families bankrupted and / or torn apart, and the depressed state most supposedly enlightened and free scilons find themselves in.

They are so enlightened and free that they are not permitted to read certain books, the CoS likes to install a "Net Nanny" type web blocker (a.k.a., "The Scieno Sitter") and contact with non-scilons is not only discouraged but, often, not even permitted.

There are other traits, such as subverting language so that it has different meanings to people and and out of the CoS, using brainwashing techniques, and so on.

All done to efficiently enslave people to the CoS, and separate them from their money as efficiently as possible. The "hook" is the Auditing, which apparently feels GREAT. You feel like you're making progress and becoming more unburdened and growing spiritually. Auditing is incredibly coveted and sought after. It's the carrot on the stick. Actually getting Auditing done, however, is complicated. Just know it is going to take much longer, and cost more, than you were promised. It is inevitable. And you'll be sticking around, digging in your wallet, and getting more and more acclimated to the lingo, rituals, and culture of the CoS, all to MAYBE get some Auditing.

And there's even MOAR beyond that, but I can tell my gears are shifting into Rant Mode, so I'll let you GoogHoo the pertinent data yourself. ;)
Feb. 19th, 2008 05:58 am (UTC)
Can't recall if I had the right or wrong CURRENT CoS address for you.

This is current:
4480 N Shallowford Rd
Dunwoody, GA 30338

It's on the MARTA line. (How conVEEEEnient!)

Ask, if you need infoz.

I hate being far away.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )