I was a bit bemused by this opinion piece in a Canadian paper. It’s a good article, no quibble there, but it’s just so striking that it has taken the emergence of an obviously weird religion like Scientology to make someone notice that this is a general problem of all religions.
…after reading Lawrence Wright’s searing new investigative book, Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, my usual indifference has given way to concern.
On second thought, make that fright. And not just about L. Ron Hubbard’s secretive army of adherents.
Because Wright’s book demonstrates in granular detail what an organization with enough money and zealous acolytes can do once it has wrapped itself in a religious cloak: assault, conspire, burgle, forge, perjure, spy, bully and intimidate anyone who gets in its way.
Convince your flock that they are above earthly laws, and they go about their task with, well, religious ferocity.
And the real problem is that religions are by their nature “above earthly laws” — reality is no check against their excesses, so they can easily spin into dangerous lunacy, sucking their proponents into an ever-expanding cloud of the absurd. How can they believe our criticisms when the almighty all-powerful all-knowing Master of the Universe has personally told them the Holy Truth?
But at least this guy is expanding his consciousness a little bit. If Scientology promotes evil, what about, say, the Catholic Church?
Ask yourself this: If it were proved that senior employees of Microsoft, or Bank of America, had been sexually assaulting minors worldwide for decades, overwhelmingly young boys in their care, and senior company management had been complicit, either ignoring the abuse or actually taking steps to cover it up in order to protect the company’s image, how long would it be before that company would be facing a Justice Department strike force? Or bankruptcy?
Yet the Roman Catholic Church was, at most, dented by such horrific revelations. Individual priests have been charged worldwide, yes. But efforts to hold the church hierarchy responsible for the crimes that were covered up have been exceedingly rare.
Inevitably, that is because of the severe pushback that any large religious organization can command if it feels threatened.
Let’s not just pick on the Catholics and Scientologists, though. Billy Graham, the National Prayer Breakfast, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Moral Majority, Liberty “University”, the Republican Party…notice how religion is reaching out to grasp secular power and influence?