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Scientology is creeping me out

I’ve been reading Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright, which I have to say is one of the most frustrating books I’ve ever worked through. Not because it is a bad book, but because the author is doing his job: Wright maintains a detached, non-judgmental, even sympathetic tone while describing appalling madness. I’m about two-thirds of the way through the book, and I’m still waiting for Wright to snap and tell us what he really thinks about the evil L. Ron Hubbard has wrought — a step I would have reached by about page two.

It’s painful. Hubbard was so clearly delusional and so malevolently manipulative that you find it hard to believe people actually do fall for this nonsense, and fall for it hard. People put up with shocking abuse for years, decades even, all the while apologizing for their behavior, making excuses for the church, and even voluntarily submitting to the most degrading punishments. For instance, Scientology maintains something called the Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), which is little more than confinement and humiliation. People who question the dogma or annoy David Miscavage (the head of the religion now that Hubbard is dead) or sometimes just on a whim are tossed into basements or kept in trailers with no furnishings, no means of communication, and fed on slops, with frequent punishment drills. It’s like a horrible caricature of a banana republican prison — it is a prison.

But there aren’t locks on the doors. The inmates stay there, punishing themselves, begging for more, all in the hopes of achieving redemption in the eyes of the psychotics running the show. The whole book is a lesson on how human psychology can be warped and used by religion, leading people to submit to commands that I can’t imagine ever respecting…but they are led step by step into an earthly hell, all the while thinking it’s paradise.

One thing that struck me is that Scientology is a pathological extreme, but in substance it’s no different than other religions. And this was confirmed in a discussion of the numerous court cases that challenged Scientology. Scientology had its tax exemption as a religion stripped from it for a long while, and fought hard to get it back (and they eventually did, in a craven capitulation by the IRS). One of their allies in these trials was a former Franciscan friar and product of the Harvard Divinity School, Frank Flinn, who happily defined religion for the courts and pointed out that Scientology was just like Catholicism.

Flinn defined religion as a system of beliefs of a spiritual nature. There must be norms for behavior — positive commands, and negative prohibitions or taboos — as well as rites and ceremonies, such as initiations, prayers, and services for weddings and funerals. By these means, the believers are united into an identifiable community that seeks to live in harmony with what they perceive as the ultimate meaning of life. Flinn argued that Scientology amply fulfilled these requirements, even if it different in expression of them from traditional denominations.

Like Catholicism, Flinn explained, Scientology is a hierarchical religion. He compared L. Ron Hubbard to the founders of Catholic religious orders, including his own, started by Saint Francis of Assisi, whose followers adopted a vow of poverty. Financial disparities within a church are not unusual. Within the hierarchy of Catholicism, for instance, bishops often enjoy a mansion, limousines, servants, and housekeepers; the papacy itself maintains thousands of people on its staff, including the Swiss Guards who protect the pope, and an entire order of nuns dedicated to being housekeepers for the papal apartments.

The Catholic Church also maintains houses of rehabilitation (like the RPF) for errant priests hoping to reform themselves. Flinn saw the RPF as being entirely voluntary and even tame compared to what he experienced as a friar in the Franciscan Order. He willingly submitted to the religious practice of flagellation on Fridays, whipping his legs and back in emulation of the suffering of Jesus before his crucifixion.

One of Flinn’s most interesting and contested points had to do with hagiography, by which he meant attributing extraordinary powers — such as clairvoyance, visions of God or angels, or the ability to perform miracles — to the charismatic founders of a religion. He pointed to the virgin birth of Jesus, the ability of Buddha to “transmigrate” is soul into the heavens, or Moses bringing manna to the people of Israel. Such legends are useful in that the bolster the faith of a community, Flinn said. The glaring discrepancies in Hubbard’s biography should be seen in the light of the fact that any religion tends to make its founder into something more than human.

I found myself agreeing entirely with Flinn: Scientology is a religion, different in no substantial way from Catholicism, and I think it should be classified as such. No problem.

What irritates me, though, is that anyone can read that and argue that any religion deserves a tax exemption, or should be regarded as anything more than a self-aggrandizing perpetual money-making machine for the hierarchy. As I said, the IRS did eventually give in in an out-of-court settlement and let the Church of Scientology have everything they wanted…but the message they should have taken away is that no church deserves special treatment. Tax ‘em all. Remind the world that all of their mythologies are lies, and that all are just as corrupt and just as fraudulent as Scientology.


Kylie Sturgess has a documentary on the Australian Scientology RPF. Another thing brought up is how they keep children in ignorance, a point also brought up in Wright’s book with an example of one young woman.

Lauren was told that Scientologists shouldn’t look at negative stories about the religion. She was supposed to be saving the planet, so why was she wasting her time reading lies? Because of her isolation, and the censorship imposed on her education, when Lauren finally graduated from high school at the age of twenty, she had never heard anyone speak ill of Scientology, nor did she question the ban on research about her religion. She thought, “I guess I’m not supposed to do these things. I will stay away.” Like her father [Paul Haggis], she learned it was easier not to look.

Comments

  1. Acolyte of Sagan says

    Respect to you, PZ. I’ve been trying to read L. Ron’s ‘Scientology 8008′ for about four years; every time I pluck up the courage to pick up where I left off I manage a page or two before the stupid hurts too much to continue. To put this into context, I read Ronald Weisland’s ‘Prophesised End Times’ in two days, and that was…….painful.

  2. raven says

    It’s painful. Hubbard was so clearly delusional and so malevolently manipulative that you find it hard to believe people actually do fall for this nonsense, and fall for it hard.

    We do owe Mormonism, Scientology, and Moonie-ism for one thing.

    Thanks to them, we know where religions come from. People just make them all up.

  3. The Mellow Monkey says

    The irony of Christian friends mocking how absurd Scientology is aggravates me beyond words. Yes, it’s some evil asshole atheist thing to talk about Christianity as a fairy tale, but it’s perfectly reasonable and hilarious to talk about how stupid Xenu is.

    Just because you believe it doesn’t mean it’s a sensible, rational thing to believe, but that’s exactly what everyone thinks of their own religion.

  4. raven says

    People put up with shocking abuse for years, decades even,

    We also need to thank the LDS, Moonie-ism, and Scientology for one other fact.

    People put up with shocking abuse for lifetimes. And pay for the privilege.

    Mormonism wants 10% of your income, Moonie-ism wants your whole life, and Scientology isn’t cheap either.

  5. raven says

    The glaring discrepancies in Hubbard’s biography should be seen in the light of the fact that any religion tends to make its founder into something more than human.

    One question not addressed in the book, how did Elron Hubbard know what happened with Xenu and the Thetan ghosts, tens of millions of years ago.

    Someone once told me that Scientologists believe that Elron was really an extraterrestrial, an alien from another planet. That could explain it, all right.

  6. mnb0 says

    If the believes don’t necessarily have to be spiritual in the narrow meaning of the world Flinn’s definition applies to stalinism and nazism as well. The obvious conclusion is that lack of skepticism leads to all kinds of atrocities – and all religions display at least some lack of skepticism indeed.

  7. chrislawson says

    I’m quite happy for religions to be tax-free…for their charity work, provided it conforms to secular laws and is not just proselytising with window dressing. Everything else should be taxed at the normal rates.

  8. Randomfactor says

    how did Elron Hubbard know what happened with Xenu and the Thetan ghosts, tens of millions of years ago.

    Drugs. His writing on how he came up with the Xenu story is classic.

    Actually, the core of Scientology dogma is that we’re ALL aliens from another planet, reincarnated and brainwashed and infested with the souls of other deceased aliens who failed to find a body to inhabit. Before that, we were omnipotent beings who got bored so they intentionally forgot how to do it.

  9. IslandBrewer says

    I just saw Kylie Sturgess’ piece over at Token Skeptic and was horrified. Why aren’t there SWAT-like raids of these compounds going on? Holy fucking crapppity fuck!

  10. comradebob says

    Man is hard-wired for religion be it Catholicism (organized Christianity, remove the Bible from pews, taxation, etc.), the American State Religion (evolution occurred in man, and then magically stopped 30,000 years ago, electricity can be stored in amounts capable of backing up the bulk electric system, education changes human IQ, etc.), or Scientology.

    The superior man acknowledges this human characteristic and seeks to participate in a more healthy religion, such as Paganism.

  11. paulburnett says

    “Flinn defined religion as a system of beliefs of a spiritual nature. There must be norms for behavior — positive commands, and negative prohibitions or taboos — as well as rites and ceremonies, such as initiations, prayers, and services for weddings and funerals.”

    So why do so many creationists insist that Darwinism is a religion?

    We don’t have “beliefs of a spiritual nature” or “norms for behavior — positive commands, and negative prohibitions or taboos” or “rites and ceremonies such as initiations, prayers, and services for weddings and funerals.”

  12. tbp1 says

    @4: Indeed. I will always remember hearing the “Bible Answer Man” and a guest on his radio show, going on and on and on about those whacky Mormons. I mean, the bizarre theology, the unbelievable origins myth (gold tablets? magic seer stones? c’mon!), the contradictory archeological, genetic, ethnographic and other physical evidence, the essential doctrines changed for obvious political expediency, the racism…

    And yet somehow neither of them connected the dots.

  13. comradebob says

    A force greater than all of us is omnipresent, and those who deny it and substitute themselves as God do so at their own peril. One good example is exploding smart meters which, in my opinion, are a sign of disapproval from Deity. If you encounter a representative of the American State Religion who approaches you and attempts to attach one of these smart meters to your house, it is best to repel him, as your house is primarily constructed of cellulose, a flammable material.

    http://emfsafetynetwork.org/?page_id=1280

  14. Arren ›‹ idée fixe oblique says

    Bob, you could play that off as satire, and it’d be nigh unto brilliant…..

  15. Arren ›‹ idée fixe oblique says

    Is it just me, or is the use of “hard-wired” pretty much a dead giveaway with regard to crackpottery of the first degree?

  16. Tyrant al-Kalām says

    I find the workings of this group shocking and fascinating to no end, and I have a hard time keeping anger in when reading or thinking about it as well, and I would be unable to write souch a book neutally. On a related note, was anyone else as appalled by Brian Dunnings beautiful libertarian-flavoured treatment of scientology?

    p.s. it’s Miscavige

  17. says

    comradebob, you either need to go spend some time reading about evolution, amongst many other things, or go come up with a funnier act. If you’re trying to be funny,, you’re not.

  18. grumpyoldfart says

    After 600 years of torturing their opponents in church basements around the world, the Christians were eventually forced by secular Governments to stop the practice. One day the Government will pluck up the courage to stop the Scientologists (probably not this century though).

  19. marcus says

    People put up with shocking abuse for years, decades even, all the while apologizing for their behavior, making excuses for the church [spouse] and even voluntarily submitting to the most degrading punishments.
    You just described the dynamics of many abusive, dysfunctional relationships. One of the people that I love the most has just freed herself from a marriage/relationship just as you describe. Sometimes there are rational reasons that we submit: protection of a loved one, actual physical captivity, limited alternatives. How do we understand and resolve the irrational ones?

  20. marcus says

    @22 me I really should have said [souse, parent, family, community]. I’ve seen this phenomenon manifested in all of these, as well as religious cults (as all religions are, IMHFO).

  21. comradebob says

    A common trait of orthodoxy in all organized religions is intolerance of humor, as frequently humor can bu used to convey Truth. Science is another enemy. Take, for instance, the mechanics of the bulk electric system.

    In an Logical system, electrical generation is governed by demand through the use of frequency, and the people are happy. In contrast, generation in an electric system celebrated by American State Religion Believers is governed not by demand, but by celestial rotations. This defiance of Logic necessarily leads to imbalances which are then artificially to be addressed through smart meters thereby causing fires, explosions, and blackouts (wrath?). Oh ye who Believe, BEHOLD your Greater Symbol, The Windmill, and your Lesser Symbol, The Solar Panel. Come forth, and take a loan out for college where we will change your IQ.

    The tools of the superior man include his senses, his sciences, and the ability to divorce his conclusions from his self-interest.

  22. Ing:Intellectual Terrorist "Starting Tonight, People will Whine" says

    @19

    GOD YES.
    convinced me skeptiod was a worthless source. See also DDT and several other issues. Some I know are wrong or poorly researched (he never seemed to think to actually find out why anonymous targeted scientology or of Op Snow White) and others I can no longer trust as he has in the past basically lied about issues (DDT).

    Is his comments on fraking right? Considering blatant lies and propaganda against ecology and environmentalists I’m forced to doubt it.

    Worthless podcast

  23. raven says

    One good example is exploding smart meters which, in my opinion, are a sign of disapproval from Deity.

    No.

    Exploding smart meters are a sign of:

    1. Cheaply made smart meters from third world countries and,

    2. Using a fuse with too high an amperage rating.

    A well made smart meter with the proper fuse will never explode.

  24. robro says

    When I first moved to San Francisco (1974), my partner and I were briefly caught up in something like Scientology. It was a small cult dominated by a man and woman, both apparently theatre people. The belief system was a lot of the usual mumbo-jumbo, but apparently centered around conspiracy theories over the death of John Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King. They demanded a lot of time, work, and basically any money you had. It was impressive how easy it was to get sucked into it. The leader was a raving sexist and my partner, who is an staunch feminist, lost it when he started talking about the proper role of women. Fortunately, we only went to one session and lost about $200. Some years later, there was a bit of a stir about this guy, his various quack cults, and his sexual abuse of women followers.

  25. neutrinosarecool says

    Comradebob, you’re just listening to your inner chimp (or inner common ancestor shared by chimps and humans, to be more precise).

    The best evolutionary explanation for religious (or even political) belief in an all-powerful all-knowing entity is that it is an extension of the social structure of ape communities, which tend to revolve around alpha males. If one’s little tribe is run by an alpha male, than it would be natural to extend this concept to the entire world, and assume that it is also run by an alpha male god-figure. Frightening natural phenomenon can then be explained as the actions of an enraged alpha god-being, who is exerting his dominance over the universe in the same way that an alpha male exerts dominance over lower-ranking males and females in chimpanzee groups. Indeed, alpha males posing as priests with a direct line to their invented god can use this little charade to help achieve dominance in their social group (the Christian priest, the Judaic rabbi, the Islamic cleric, and the grand hoo-haas of Scientology, etc. etc. all tend to fall into this category).

    This concept is not limited to religion – one can see it in the attitudes of 1950s-era atheists who believe in the natural superiority of the white male archetype (i.e. their archetype, which is quite naturally, they conclude – superior – evidence being that all their college classes only contained white males, QED, but there is a flaw in this reasoning, not hard to spot) though instead of using the explanation of ‘divine privilege’ they turn to Social Darwinism and pseudoscientific rationales for social privilege.

    One can also see it in the rantings of conspiracy theorists who believe that all events in politics are run by a vast, secret conspiracy of government agencies with black helicopters, or X-files type UFO conspiracy buffs, etc. It’s just easier and less mentally challenging to ascribe all events to the actions of a sole controlling entity than it is to accept the chance and complexity inherent in the real world.

    It all seems to arise from the basic social biology of the ape family – of which Homo sapiens is a member – but the nice thing about language and reason is that it can allow us to recognize and reject unconscious hormone-linked biological drives in favor of a more rational approach to life, one that doesn’t revolve around ape-like domination and submission. Give it a shot, why don’t you?

  26. says

    Incidentally I don’t think Hubbard was crazy so much as crazy like a fox. He targeted the things that get people to appeal to his religion. He himself said that a cult was an excellent way to make money.

    He also wrote precisely how to defend a cult in a modern age. By lawyering up and mud raking. Pretty much the only people who can go after them are fucking saints. In order to fight them you have to be willing to trade your name and all the goodwill attached to it.

    They are basically like animal lib except they won’t firebomb your car or set your chickens lose to get mown down by traffic but they will trawl through your family and harass you till you stop. The only people who have tangled with them and survived without a horrific bully campaign are those who have nothing to hide and those who write under pseudonyms.

    It’s why anonymous was successful. Group of faceless nameless individuals. Nothing can be done to track them down with mere lawyers and most computer nerds read science fiction enough to know the tropes.

    Come on! It’s a faith based on an evil space emperor and you may be the chosen one in a struggle against him. If you heard that aged 12 you would be asking where the Death Blossom button was or at what level did they give you a lightsaber.

  27. David Marjanović says

    […] comradebob […] why is xe so hung up about electrical storage?

    Because, as everybody knows, solar energy can only be turned into electricity precisely when the sun shines, and it shines at the same time everywhere, so excess electricity must be generated during sunshine and then somehow stored so it can be used at night or in winter. Similar things apply to wind power.

    Which is exactly why Germany has been having a permanent blackout since its most ancient nookular power plants were finally switched off in the wake of Fukushima, and I’m not actually writing this (sitting, as I am, in Germany). You’re hallucinating, or maybe I’m telepathic and can directly communicate with the FtB servers by sheer force of will.

    comradebob is one of those people who are capable of logical thought but lack any knowledge to funnel into that process. Logic is like everything else: garbage in, garbage out.

    In that spirit…

    Man is hard-wired for religion

    …if you stretch that term way beyond recognition, maybe.

    the American State Religion (evolution occurred in man, and then magically stopped 30,000 years ago,

    Whut? Lactose tolerance (several times independently!) and blue eyes are much younger than that, less than 10,000 in fact.

    education changes human IQ

    Guess what, it does – measurably. You can train for IQ tests. Go ahead, try it!

    The superior man acknowledges this human characteristic and seeks to participate in a more healthy religion, such as Paganism.

    You, sir, aren’t a pagan either. You are a Bokononist: “there is no truth, everything is lie, so pick the lies you like best and believe them”. That’s what you’re proposing.

    Have you no shame? At last, have you no shame at all?

    A force greater than all of us is omnipresent

    Evidence?

    your house is primarily constructed of cellulose, a flammable material

    The fuck it is. I’m not an American, the house I live in isn’t made of wood!

    And, really, attributing exploding electricity counters (is that what a “smart meter” is?) to a miracle is an enormous failure of intelligence. Tell us how you’re all superior again.

  28. David Marjanović says

    The best evolutionary explanation for religious (or even political) belief in an all-powerful all-knowing entity is that it is an extension of the social structure of ape communities, which tend to revolve around alpha males.

    I wouldn’t even go that far (or gloss over the bonobos). At bottom, religion is an attempt to make sense of the world – based on our innate (evolved) overactive search for patterns and agency.

  29. No One says

    Fuck scientology. And islam, the dead jewish carpenter, yaweh, budda, all the hindu gods, the mormon what ever you call it, paganisim, and the 12 gods of Olympus. Fuck ‘em.

    Did I miss something?

    Fuck that too…

  30. The Mellow Monkey says

    neutrinosarecool:

    The best evolutionary explanation for religious (or even political) belief in an all-powerful all-knowing entity is that it is an extension of the social structure of ape communities, which tend to revolve around alpha males.

    With how flexible primate social structures are and the many exceptions to the “alpha males rule” idea, there’s no reason to think this is something that is innate or even something present in our most recent common ancestors with other apes. We’re pattern seekers and we’re highly adept at analyzing social behavior. Religion projects that onto the natural world instead of other humans. These abilities are wonderful and useful, but it all comes down to how they’re used.

  31. billingtondev says

    Hi PZ – I have been a lurker for a wee while now – and am learning heaps by hanging here.

    One of the things i appreciate most is the clarity around victim blaming and the calling people out on it. It makes this place a saner place than lots of other places on the web. Victim blaming is not ok.

    “But there aren’t locks on the doors. The inmates stay there, punishing themselves, begging for more,…”

    IMO people who get conned, manipulated and abused by the dishonest and coercive psychological bullying tactics like those employed by scientology are NOT “punishing themeselves, begging for more”. They are victims of fairly well researched methods of cult recruitment. Robert J. Lifton was one of the earliest

    http://www.reveal.org/library/psych/lifton.html

    “how human psychology can be used…. leading people to submit to commands that I can’t imagine ever respecting”

    Yes – this was exactly my reaction when members of my immediate family were conned into participation in a High Demand Group (not scientology). I couldn’t imagine that they believed this shit either. They were my family. I knew them. I knew they knew better than this. What I learnt was that I HAD to start imagining it. I had to start understanding it and I had to start researching it. What I found is that if it could happen to them – it could happen to me. Once I got that – then I stopped blaming them for what had been done to them. Deliberately, maliciously done to them. We are all humans with human psychology and – given the right circumstances and conditions – we are all vulnerable to being manipulated into mad and ‘hard to imagine’ behaviours and beliefs.

    I am not just talking specifically about religious beliefs here. It could be weird beliefs about almost anything. “Religion” just happens to be the content in religious cults. I am talking about the use of deliberately abusive psychological techniques which many people have become the victims of. They are not to blame for that.

  32. raven says

    At a university I was at, two new graduate students were supposed to show up, an engaged couple.

    Due to circumstances, the girl came first and was supposed to find them an apartment.

    Then she disappeared. The guy was frantic and initiated a search.

    There was some thought that the Scientologists got her, based on the fact that they were around and recruiting students.

    It turned out to be almost correct. The Moonies got her and her fiance never saw her again.

  33. Tethys says

    Psst, hey comradebob. It’s not the smart meter you should be worrying about. They have been watching you for years through your television.

  34. Arren ›‹ idée fixe oblique says

    @ Tethys

    Don’t forget the vapor-trails and the fluoride in the drinking water!

  35. randy says

    @mickmctiernan

    You’re not the only ones left out. Those of us who live on this side of the pond above the 49th parallel (i.e., Canada, aka The Great White North) can’t get it either, though I think it has to do with protectionist laws rather than libel ones.

  36. says

    Minor point — Buddha does not have the ability to “transmigrate a soul into heaven.” He has no supernatural abilities, he was just an ordinary man. He taught that the soul does not exist, nor does heaven.

  37. noastronomer says

    “…Scientology was just like Catholicism”

    It’s interesting that no-one, here at least, appears to dispute that.

    Mike.

  38. Ermine says

    Yep, total agreement. That bit about “Scientology is the extreme, but no different from other religions” is absolutely right. It was following their tactics online that really gave me the clues I needed to get out of Mormonism, as I started to see the similarities in history and behavior. See? Scientology helped ME!

    The really scary thing is that all the horror stories appear to be the absolute truth. I started observing and questioning $cientology just about the time when they were trying to spam Usenet into submission, including forging ‘cancel’ commands for whole newsgroups, trying to get alt.religion.scientology deleted from usenet servers around the globe, and and tracking down protesters so they could leaflet and picket their homes and neighborhoods. Really despicable stuff. Fun times! I went to a couple of protests, just two as far as I recall, but that was enough to get them following me in cars, and to get my name onto the list of names blocked by the Internet filter that they tried to sneak onto all their members’ computers, (they sent all their members a CD offering them a “free web site”, the filter program was installed silently and without permission when they tried to sign up and fill out the ‘free web site’ forms – really!)

    It was a real shock to see my name in the list of filtered terms when that list was cracked! Any “religion” that puts so much effort into stifling even the smallest criticism should definitely be subjected to the very sharpest scrutiny.

  39. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    Bunch of suppressive persons the lot of you are.

    Except comrade bob, I’m not sure what comrade bob is.

  40. stevem says

    comradbob, yes a few smartmeters have burst into flames. ALL were installed mis-wired. How is that evidence of a Diety? What is the relevance of electricity shortage to Scientology?

  41. Cyranothe2nd says

    @ 37–your point is well taken.

    One of the things i appreciate most is the clarity around victim blaming and the calling people out on it. It makes this place a saner place than lots of other places on the web. Victim blaming is not ok.

    “But there aren’t locks on the doors. The inmates stay there, punishing themselves, begging for more,…”

    IMO people who get conned, manipulated and abused by the dishonest and coercive psychological bullying tactics like those employed by scientology are NOT “punishing themeselves, begging for more”. They are victims of fairly well researched methods of cult recruitment.

    I don’t feel comfortable with blaming brainwashed people for their victimization either. But its hard to know when its okay to blame people for this shitty things they do, too. Like, I grew up fundamentalist and I absolutely believe that a lot of that mindset is enforced by brainwashing and the Bible Bubble. But I still blame my siblings and parents for failing to be decent people. Maybe because they have access to other ways of thought, and still reject them?

    Just wanted to say that your post is making me thing, and that I agree with you that something seems off there.

  42. Simon says

    I highly recommend Janet Reitman’s Inside Scientology as well. I could not put the book down it was so well researched and compelling.

  43. crayzz says

    @billingtondev and Cyranothe2nd

    It’s not that the victims are at fault; it’s that the victims are convinced that they are not actually victims. They do punish themselves, because they’ve been abused and lied to often enough to think they deserve it.

  44. billingtondev says

    Hi Cyranothe2nd,

    Thankyou – and yes I understand this whole thing gets very tricky – when to hold people accountable etc?

    I don’t know the answer to that.

    It was partly about access to other ways of thought, to facts, to critical thinking skills, to just basic questioning etc that meant eventually my relatives ‘moved on’ and extricated themselves from this particular deceitful and manipulative group. There is actually quite a high turnover of ‘members’ there – hence the fanatical need for ongoing recruitment. (The group has its origins in scientology). It was also partly due to the fact that their lives turned to shit. They simply couldn’t function anymore – the demands on them outweighed any percieved benefits they were getting.

    But if they hadn’t left….?? If they had become so embedded in the group and its dynamics (as a small percentage of people do) and they became more perpetrators than victims…?? Then – I don’t know…

    I’m glad I was never put in that position. And for me it was only a matter of a decade or so as an adult – which is a bit different than your situation as a child. That seems like it might be a whole other kettle of fish.

    But I also know that knee-jerk victim-blaming across the board regarding people involved in High Demand Groups like scientology, the moonies etc because they are ‘religious’ is not helpful. Well it was not helpful to me when I felt like that. It made things worse and closed potential doors. So I have a rather big trigger regarding this – and feel the need to call it when I see it.

  45. zetopan says

    “Elron” Hubbard?? His name was actually L. (for Lafayette) Ron Hubbard.

    The only association that I have had with him is that I once read a really dreadful pulp
    sci-fi (as opposed to science fiction) book of his titled “Battlefield Earth”. While that
    is likely of very little general interest, how I came to read that book might be of more
    interest.

    Many years ago a coworker (now deceased) told me that his son had married L. Ron’s
    daughter, and L. Ron, being the humble and generous person that he was, had given
    them a copy of Battlefield Earth as a wedding present. The largest and most important
    thing in L. Ron’s mind was always L. Ron. He was what we used to call a “professional
    jackass”, as opposed to the amateur versions. There are a lot of other examples still
    living.

    My coworker had tried to read it but was unable to finish it so he loaned it to me to see
    what I thought about it. I did finish it and it was pure (as in sewage) pulp. L. Ron liked to
    include himself with the science fiction greats and he routinely claimed that psychology
    was just a religion that would soon die out in is sci-fi crap. Yet, simultaneously he was
    forming a new religion based on using psychology. L’ Ron was doing this since he had
    gotten into legal trouble for giving out medical advice without a medical license. I also
    recall reading at least one sociologist who had stated that he expected scientology to
    eventually become a full-fledged religion, and this was well before it did exactly that.

    It really does not seem possible to overestimate the credulity of the general masses.
    Someone, somewhere, will believe absolutely anything, no matter how absurd you
    try to make it. Once you have one fervent believer they will recruit others and your
    work is complete.

  46. zetopan says

    Rats!! I left something out that I had intended to include. When my coworker’s son
    had married L. Ron’s daughter, her opinion was that scientology was bunk. After a
    number of years she fell headfirst into the “argumentum ad populum” fallacy and
    decided that there must really be something to it since so many people endorsed
    it as time increased.

  47. billingtondev says

    @crayzz

    Yes, I think thats about right.
    Kind of like women in violent relationships – abused often enough that they beleive they deserve it and will even punish themselves – even though there are no locks on the door. I don’t think those women should be characterized as “inmates” “begging for more” though.
    And I don’t think the victims of scientology should be either.

  48. texasaggie says

    On another blog I saw the suggestion that a lot of the people who might have fled but didn’t, had no place to go. They were estranged from their families or didn’t have families to start with. They had no credit cards, no money, no transportation from out of the middle of nowhere, and they didn’t know how to function in the outside world. When you add that on top of the psychological pressure that they were under, you begin to sort of understand why they didn’t run.

    Another thought is that the definition of a religion proposed by that priest also applies to many social organizations – the Masons, the Elks, Scouts, and others.

  49. randay says

    To get a better idea of the horror of Scientology, you can look up http://www.xenu.net/ It gives extensive information about Scientology’s misdeeds and crimes. Not only members are in danger, but so are outside critics. Read the article “Looking over my shoulder, The inside story that almost killed me.”, written by a journalist. Also scroll down to Xenu TV.

  50. Runcible Fungo says

    As regards ‘Elron’ vs. L. Ron…maybe somebody was thinking about Frank Zappa’s parody,
    the Church of Appliantology, founded by Elron Hoover.

  51. Rev. BigDumbChimp says

    As regards ‘Elron’ vs. L. Ron…maybe somebody was thinking about Frank Zappa’s parody,
    the Church of Appliantology, founded by Elron Hoover.

    The white zone is for loading and unloading only.

  52. rr says

    comradbob, yes a few smartmeters have burst into flames. ALL were installed mis-wired. How is that evidence of a Diety?

    How could sinful humans wallowing in depravity possibly invent something as smart as a smartmeter?

    /ratzingermode