Slate on Scientology

Well, it’s time to put my Monty Hall woes to one side for the moment and get back to some regular blogging. A heartfelt thnaks to everyone who left comments. I’m a bit behind in replying, but all have been read and pondered.

So, while I was busy moping last week Slate posted this interesting article about Scientology. The basic point is that while Scientologists claim to believe some odd assertions of dubious validity, the whole thing isn’t really any sillier than what more mainstream religions claim to believe:

Some Americans may consider Scientology perhaps a cult, maybe a violent sect, and certainly very weird. And, like many, I find the Church of Scientology odd, to say the least. But Scientology is no more bizarre than other religions. And it’s the similarities between Scientology and, say, Christianity and Judaism that make us so uncomfortable. We need to hate Scientology, lest we hate ourselves.

Sounds about right. But here’s the part that really caught my eye:

Does Scientology embrace pseudoscience? Absolutely — but its “engrams” and “E-meter” are no worse than what’s propagated by your average Intelligent Design enthusiast.

As I said, sounds about right.


  1. #1 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    August 6, 2007

    And when some of those Scientologists embezzle, lie, and steal – as they surely will – they’ll seem no worse than Christians, Jews, or Muslims who have done the same.

    He is misrepresenting the case against Scientology. It is not that a few Scientologists happen to have committed crimes, it is that the leadership of this cult isolates converts from their friends and family and engages in vicious retribution against those who would leave the cult and inform the public about it.

    Scientology is Scary

  2. #2 Greg
    August 6, 2007

    Except it doesn’t.

    The people that claim such things about Scientology largely are a small mob of discontents that were ousted during the early 80’s cleanup of Church management.

    Scientology is cool

  3. #3 T. Bruce McNeely
    August 6, 2007

    Greg, cut the crap.

    Scientology is insane.
    Its leaders are thugs.
    End of story.

  4. #4 llewelly
    August 6, 2007

    Why don’t you just call them squirrels, Greg?
    All religions go through phases when much of the current generation of fresh-faced devout realizes their predecessors were vile charlatans. In this respect, Scientology is no different from Mormonism, Catholicism, or any number of others.

  5. #5 Crudely Wrott
    August 7, 2007

    If someone told me he had spent time and money and invested the efforts of others to find pirate treasure stashed in a previous life and, having failed to find it, proceeded to tell me that he nonetheless knew secret stuff about all the really deep questions and that god sits not on a throne but in the operator’s seat of a saucer and that clams cry and that I had better listen up, I would not.

  6. #6 csm
    August 7, 2007

    The only difference between a cult and a religion is the number of people that “believe” in it and society’s acceptance or rejection of it. Just look at the Mormons. They have made the leap from cult to religion – there is even a Mormon running for president of the USA.

  7. #7 David D.G.
    August 7, 2007

    To csm:

    In the first place, the number of people who believe something have nothing to do with whether or not it is true; just because a cult has become a mainstream religion doesn’t mean its beliefs represent any reality. That goes double for a “religion” that reads like bad sci-fi, created whole by a hack sci-fi author who had publicly said that he always wanted to create a religion “because that’s where the money is.”

    In the second place, Scientology’s methods of economic and emotional blackmail make most mainstream religions look like the selfless charitable organizations they claim to be. Scientology IS a cult in the worst, most meaningful way — just a really big, powerful cult that also happens to have some of the most charismatic public figures any religion could want (and I think that is no accident).

    In the third place, the qualifications for president are notoriously lax. Mental fitness is no requirement — just look at who’s been in the Oval Office for the last 6 years.

    ~David D.G.

  8. #8 Tegumai Bopsulai, FCD
    August 7, 2007

    Inside Scientology
    by Janet Reitman in Rolling Stone
    Feb 23, 2006

    Including reports of how Scientology attempts to control information received by its recruits, and information received by the press. And did I mention that was written in 2006, not back in “the early 80s”?

  9. #9 JohnnieCanuck, FCD
    August 7, 2007

    Scientology is better characterised as organised crime than as anything religious. There’s nothing very religious about e-meters or ancient aliens that possess human bodies and travel back and forth to Venus.

    Name any other ‘religious’ cult whose leaders have been criminally convicted for infiltrating the IRS and other Federal offices. The cult called it ‘Operation Snow White’ because they intended to clean out any records that were detrimental to them.

    The following is taken from the Sentencing Memorandum of that trial:

    The defendants rewarded criminal activities that ended in success and sternly rebuked those that failed. The standards of human conduct embodied in such practices represent no less than the absolute perversion of any known ethical value system.
    In view of this, it defies the imagination that these defendants have the unmitigated audacity to seek to defend their actions in the name of ‘religion.’
    That these defendants now attempt to hide behind the sacred principles of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and the right to privacy — which principles they repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to violate with impunity — adds insult to the injuries which they have inflicted on every element of society.

    They have many ways of recruiting victims, including their Narconon and Criminon front groups which sometimes get tax dollars to help with the recruiting. Also, if someone offers you a free ‘stress test’; run, don’t walk away.

    They were recently at the bridge collapse, offering one on one ‘counselling’ to victims and family.

    The parallels between Scientology and more respected religions do not legitimise Scientology. Rather they show the seamy side of the other religions, taken to an extreme.

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