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One Cult Leads to Another

Cue up The Fixx on the iPod. Here’s an example of where belonging to one cult can lead to another. I had no idea Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam was involved with the “Church” of Scientology, but it appears that there are some significant connections between the two.

Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam for more than three decades, has said that he first heard about Scientology 35 years ago from a former Nation minister who became a Scientologist. But the story of how Farrakhan came to embrace it concerns a Nation minister in Los Angeles named Tony Muhammad. In 2005, Muhammad was beaten by the LAPD at a prayer vigil he’d helped organize for a young man killed in a drive-by shooting. The incident plunged him into an agitated, depressed state. A concerned friend introduced him to Scientology, which he credits with saving his life. When Farrakhan later met with Muhammad, he was amazed by the transformation and, as Muhammad tells it in an audio clip posted on YouTube, exclaimed: “Whatever you’re on—I want some of it.”

The first large-scale introduction of Scientology to Nation members took place in August 2010, when hundreds of believers from around the country traveled to Rosemont, Illinois, near the Nation’s headquarters, for a seminar in Dianetics, a foundational belief system of Scientology. There, they were guided through auditing sessions—a kind of hybrid between hypnosis and confession—in which a Scientologist purges painful experiences from his subconscious in the presence of an “auditor.” At the end of the seminar, Farrakhan told the group he wanted everyone in attendance to become a certified auditor…

However, there are some striking theological overlaps that might help explain how Farrakhan came to adopt a religion invented by a white man. There is, of course, the attachment to science fiction: Scientologists believe in an alien dictator, Xenu; the Nation holds that the white race was created by a mad scientist named Yakub. More significantly, though, at the core of both religions is a never-ending pursuit of a better self. In the case of Scientology, that best self is “clear” of residual traumas buried in the subconscious. In the Nation, that self is free of the hang-ups of white culture that black people have internalized to their detriment. Scientology, Farrakhan seems to believe, provides a new path toward black empowerment. “I’ve found something in the teaching of Dianetics, of Mr. L. Ron Hubbard, that I saw could bring up from the depth of our subconscious mind things that we would prefer to lie dormant,” he said to his Chicago congregation in early summer. “How could I see something that valuable and know the hurt and sickness of my people and not offer it to them?”

I see some very awkward joint conventions in the future. The Moonies are gonna want in on some of this action.

Comments

  1. bmiller says

    LOL. Amazing. I had no idea that the Farrakan cult was so far away from standard Islam.

    There is a new “metal” musical project out now called Sabbath Assembly which is an attempt to take the liturgy and theology of The Process Church of the Final Judgement and put it to music. Now the Process Church was an interesting 1970s cult….also derived indirectly from Scientoloy (they use a P-Meter, LOL), which believes that Satan and christ will be united at the end of time. Interestingly enough, the remnants of the cult evolved into a respected animal rescue group

  2. chisaihana5219 says

    As a former Scientologist in the 1960’s and early ’70’s, this fit perfectly with what is going on now in Scientology. They really are losing members. The proof is that they are calling people who left the “church” decades ago trying to get them back. They called me last year. I asked the caller where they got my number. They said it was “in the file” – but it can’t be because I have moved to four different states since I left them and have never communicated with them. They also called my ex-husband, in another state, and asked for me. He called to tell me about it (they are harassing him as well). The interesting part of the New Republic article is at the end, which you did not print. They gave the Nation members an introductory discount and then came back at them and asked for more money. They gave them certificates in “Dianetics”, which have not been used by the “church” since the 1950’s. Dianetics does not include any of the later weirdness of Scientology. It was strictly talk therapy. And, as mistakenly stated by the author of the article, neither has ever used hypnosis. Hypnosis was specially cited by L. Ron Hubbard as one of the sins of psychotherapy. Scientlogy uses “love”, hints of the secrets of power and special abilities, recruitment of the vulnerable, isolation, followed by threats. Real cult stuff.

  3. busterggi says

    I’m sticking with the Raelians – they’ve got the hottest women of these cults, and yeah, I know that’s sexist but its theologically sound.

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing the example of Scientology’s creepy/thuggish side, chisaihana. Having a commentator with a personal anecdote makes it a bit more real to me, since I’m fairly distant from the topic. I knew they did a lot surveillance of critics, ex-members, and other “threats” but it’s been a while since I’ve heard/seen an example.

  5. illdoittomorrow says

    It’s crank magnetism for religions/cults.

    A bit O/T- from descriptions I’ve read of it, the Mormon bible* seems like a kind of 19th-century Christian fanfic. Is it that way with the Nation of Islam’s belief system too? Or are they just kind of co-opting Islam’s brand and subbing in their own content? Or something else altogether?

    *I haven’t actually read the Mormon bible…

  6. davem says

    Scientologists believe in an alien dictator, Xenu; the Nation holds that the white race was created by a mad scientist named Yakub.

    Yes, but they wouldn’t be told about Xenu for a few years, after they’d spent many thousands on courses. I need some cash; it must be time to create a religion based on Star Trek…

  7. Sastra says

    When Farrakhan later met with Muhammad, he was amazed by the transformation and, as Muhammad tells it in an audio clip posted on YouTube, exclaimed: “Whatever you’re on—I want some of it.”

    It’s surprising how many people seem to think that “it helped me become a better or happier person’ equates to “therefore the supernatural claims must be TRUE!” The actual beliefs can be, as we see here, the most amazing tripe. Do they really think that religions in general contain no extraneous secular elements of morality, community, charity, or philosophy which would “work” regardless of whether any God has really revealed itself in any way any religion claims it has? Do they really believe that discipline, inspiration, and commitment = magic?

    Yes, apparently they do.

    A friend of mine likes to refer to herself as a “former atheist.” What persuaded her that God exists? I guess you might say that her mind was changed when she came across the Argument from “Whatever You’re On — I Want Some of It!”

  8. chisaihana5219 says

    For ‘illdoittommorow: Check out the Book of Mormon at your local library. Try reading it. (Bet you can’t get past the first page). Then think about the “fact” that Mitt Rommney believes (or says he believes) the fan/fic. Be afraid, be very afraid.

  9. Michael Heath says

    Sastra writes:

    It’s surprising how many people seem to think that “it helped me become a better or happier person’ equates to “therefore the supernatural claims must be TRUE!” The actual beliefs can be, as we see here, the most amazing tripe. Do they really think that religions in general contain no extraneous secular elements of morality, community, charity, or philosophy which would “work” regardless of whether any God has really revealed itself in any way any religion claims it has? Do they really believe that discipline, inspiration, and commitment = magic?

    This is where Christianity in general, even beyond conservative Christianity, poisons our education. It should be imperative for all high school students to have introductory courses in both sociology, comparative religions, and anthropology.

    “I know my religion is true because I’ve witnessed ‘changed lives'”, is a common defense of the truth of one’s faith in lieu of evidence. I don’t think this conclusion comes from delusion or even a lack of critical thinking so much as mundane ignorance when it comes to understanding the human experience, including the transformation from juveniles into adults, both the similarities and differences across cultures and class.

    You’d think comparative religion would be taught within all faith communities, but then you’d be wrong since they’re too busy defending the faith with redundant mind-numbing activities rather than actually seeking objective truth. And if they did, can we all say, “bias”?

  10. Michael Heath says

    chisaihana5219 writes:

    For ‘illdoittommorow: Check out the Book of Mormon at your local library. Try reading it. (Bet you can’t get past the first page). Then think about the “fact” that Mitt Rommney believes (or says he believes) the fan/fic. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    I’d be very surprised if Mitt Romney believed his religion’s bullshit. Mr. Romney comes across as a perfectly cynical social dominator. He merely exploits the levers at hand, where Mormonism has served him well as has the Republican party. This could make him even more dangerous than say, George W. Bush, who frequently attempted to justify the moral rightness of his cause. That’s a compunction I’ve yet to see demonstrated in Mr. Romney.

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