ScientologyThread Started November 6 at 12:56PM
This is a bit of a weird one, and I wondered what believers and non-believers thought of it.
Scientology doesn't seem to involve an actual deity. In many ways, it's reminiscent of odd cults like Heaven's gate, but unlike many such cults it has an incredibly large following, and is very wealthy, and established. It has proper churches, with all the tax benefits that go with that. Part of its success is due to having a high-profile founder, and is supported by many celebrities.
It seems to consist of a mishmash of ideas. Endless reincarnation, but if you progress within Scientology, you'll get the ability to remember past lives. The idea that, without Scientology, the world would somehow end (I'm hazy on that, this is rather a confusing belief system), and counselling which involves using a machine which they claim picks up your thoughts. Military ideas seem prevalent, the top practitioners, known as the 'sea org' wear navy-style uniforms.
Unlike many other religions, in Scientology, the way to enlightenment is through your wallet. You make it up through the various stages of understanding via a series of courses, which all come with a heavy fee. It is estimated that those at the top level will have shelled out over a million dollars on courses and books.
The founder, Ron Hubbard, appears to have started it off the back of responses to his sci-fi novels. I've a vague memory of seeing him interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, once, and saying he saw it as a way to make money, but I could be wrong. Whatever he intended it to be, it's certainly grown.
But it has a dark heart. Since the founder's death, David Miscavige has led the Church (his official title is Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center (RTC), a corporation that controls the trademarks and copyrights of Dianetics and Scientology) amid controversy about violence and imprisonment of church members.
Ex members definitely talk of this church as a cult, and leaving it certainly seems hard. Ex members claim to have been followed and harassed if they speak out against the church, and there is footage of this happening to prominent members who leave.
One particular ex-member, Mark C. "Marty" Rathbun is a former senior executive of the Church of Scientology who last held the post of Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center (RTC), the organization that is responsible for the protection and enforcement of all Dianetics and Scientology copyrights and trademarks.
As the lead inspector overseeing the Inspector General Network at the international level, his official duties as described by RTC were to investigate and correct "instances in which departure from a standard, policy or ethic could betray an organization?s service to its constituent public"
So, he should know, because he used to be the one who had people tailed and harassed after they left the church. Now, he is being harassed.
What I find so creepy about this is how mainstream this incredibly secretive cult appears to be. It has massive headquarters, and is very savvy to the idea that celebrities generate business. Its prime poster boy, Tom Cruise, had bought his way to the very top, apparently voluntarily.
Ex-members describe the 'brainwashing nature'. You become isolated from your peers. Soon, particularly if you work for the organisation, leaving becomes exceptionally hard because your whole life has become the church. Your friends are there, your family is there, and outside interaction is not encouraged.
For those with regular jobs, who just happen to go to the church, perhaps this side isn't so visible. But one ex-believer talked of the huge amount of money he spent on books and courses, after being reeled in with promises of a path to stardom (wannabe actors are prime targets), and says the brainwashing includes being encouraged to believe that only scientology can save the world.
Whilst the organisation claims that ex church members are bitter liars, beyond these vehement dismissals of any accusations of brutality or pressure within the Church, it is reluctant to allow anyone into its inner sanctum to see that it is as harmless as it claims. It makes many promotional films of its own, glorifying its importance to the world, but rarely do any members talk about it. David Miscavige has given only one or two interviews in the 30 years he has been in charge, and though high profile celebrity members have talked about it, it still seems very secretive for such a large group.
Despite legal action being taken against the church on many occasions, it still holds its own.
If anyone can shed more light on this organisation, maybe they know members of this church, it would be interesting.
Reply on November 6, 2017 03:38 PM
Well, I've nothing useful to add - other than my congratulations on what appears to be a well-researched piece. I think, like most people, I've just looked at the surface claims made by this organisation and thought "ok, these people are one brick short of a load".
There are a couple of high-profile celebrities in this country who are members of this organisation - people who come across and being relatively sane and normal. I guess appearances can be deceptive.
On one level, I don't think the success of the Church of Scientology is all that surprising. They've simply taken the aspects of religion that appeal to most people, and honed them so that they do a better job of promising delivery than most mainstream denominations. I'm referring to greed, of course, and the promotion of the idea that members are part of some special group, the recipients of enlightenment that the common folk just don't understand. The fact that they are vilified only helps reinforce the martyr complex that so many such groups seem to get off on.
Those are just my suspicions, I haven't made any detailed study of the sect.
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Reply on November 6, 2017 10:20 PM
I live nearby one of their headquarters here in Clearwater, Florida. What a scam! Ask tiny Tom Cruise...
it seems he is having difficulty slithering away from
Now we are supposed to give credence to a sitcom gal who was part of that ridiculous cult for 32 years and broke away and now has a series about how bad the "religion" is.
What a joke!
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Reply on November 6, 2017 11:51 PM << Modifed November 7 at 12:12AM >>
I tried to read one of L.R. Hubbard's book Dianetics years ago. It didn't make sense to me. The whole engram thing was just a little bit far-fetched in my opinion. Although I have never met a Scientologist, at least not that I was aware of, their church does seem to have significant covert influence. The name is wrong as it has nothing to do with science except I suppose a highly developed process for brainwashing.
Speaking of, and maybe not as off topic as it might seem, it's interesting watching Alex Jones try to spin the Texas church murderer as an atheist with a deep interest in animal welfare.
It appears it's also CNN's fault too. Another CNN Incited mass murderer. CIA/CNN are so happy and proud of their incited Violent followers mass shootings. Will they be held responsible. CNN instructed Devin to strike at the Heart of the Conservatives, Get them in their Christian Churches CNN's operatives Had instructed Devin. Will the mass murdering conspiring inciting CNN be held to account.
LOCK THEM UP!!!
Reply on November 7, 2017 01:14 PM
Thanks all. Interesting what you say about Tom Cruise, Linda. Of course, the danger with targeting celebs is that if they wake up to the nature of an organisation, good luck trying to harass THEM into silence about it. I hope he speaks out.
Reply on November 7, 2017 02:04 PM
I've been to the Church of Scientology in England. The big one is in East Grinstead / Forest Row... right opposite my old rugby club. It's not as bad as you'd think given all the 'secrecy' and 'propaganda' people like to spew about it. Both Tom Cruise & John Travolta were there whilst I was on the grounds (they both have property nearby). Cruise was refurbishing it earlier this year, I believe.
I've read quite a few bits and pieces as well and. to be fair, I've been harassed more from 'mainstream' churches by 'born-again' Christians than I ever did by the scientologists.
the whole money thing is interesting as the same kind of thing still goes on in some Christian churches and used to go on in most under the guise of 'tithing'.
Anything that people don't understand or is different / private is treated with scorn. To illustrate this, I work as a Camphill Community for children & adults with special needs based on the principles of Rudolph Steiner and Waldorf and it's seen as a cult in my country too... couldn't be further from the truth
Reply on November 8, 2017 02:16 AM
Thanks Gman. I think a lot of the problem is that the most discourse about it tends to come from ex-members of the inner circle of the American group, and centre upon the leader and his actions, which is not necessarily representative of the whole.
The ex members who report harassment tended to be very senior. I doubt it's as seriously difficult to leave if you're just an ordinary member.
On the money front, you are right about the Christian churches, but to be fair, paying out isn't a requisite of the faith. The difference is if I go into a Christian church and only put 10 pence in the collection plate, I'm no less 'enlightened' than the believer who donates a million quid. In Scientology, to achieve any level of deeper understanding, you have to pay. Not donate. Pay. I can still be a Christian without paying a penny. Not sure if I can be a recognised scientologist with all the spiritual benefits without shelling out. That's up to the individual, though, if that's what they want to spend their money on.
But I AM strongly against billion-dollar organisations being given tax exemptions just because they call themselves a religious group. Doesn't matter which religious group it is. if you're running on a business model with a tidy income, it should be tax-deductible, like any other business.
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Reply on November 12, 2017 12:02 AM
I like your point about paying for spiritual enlightenment vs. voluntarily giving an offering.
There is a huge difference between them.
Yes, there is control and manipulation in both
"religions" and might I add....in all religions.
It's the human part that messes it up every time.
Gman...Cruise and Trovolta...I heard about their affair too...lol
Reply on November 15, 2017 11:05 PM
I thought I'd seen reference here in one of these threads to a Louis Theroux documentary, but I can't locate it now.
Anyway, this week I viewed his documentary entitled "My Scientology Movie". Not sure if that's the one that was being talked about. It's done nothing to allay my misgivings about the organisation. They came across as a bunch of real crackpots - for reasons too numerous to list here. If you want to know more, you'll have to view it on Netflix or something similar.
One guy who featured prominently was at one time a very senior member of the church. Although he's been out for a while now, he doesn't seem quite all there.
Anyway, it's quite interesting to get an idea what goes on inside, and there is a short section featuring Tiny Tom that's way more scary than anything I've seen in any of his movies.
Reply on November 16, 2017 12:22 AM
I saw that documentary, but you have to be very careful about these things. They are cut together for a very specific purpose. I remember watching a documentary on a Camphill Community in the UK which made it look really atrocious. I'd been to the place many times and it was cut together to do a hatchet job. The community was for people with special needs. They filmed them at their worst. I was there when some of the documentary took place and they filmed some lovely scenes which never made it into the finished edit...
I'm not saying this is necessarily the case here but when something is presented with having little to no redeeming qualities, it makes me wonder about it...
Reply on November 16, 2017 01:48 PM
I've referenced a few Theroux documentaries, but not that particular one, though I have seen it.
Point taken, Gman, but it is worth noting, since it has been mentioned, that in the Theroux documentary about Scientology, whilst the church were none too happy about Louis speaking only to the naysayers, despite repeated requests, the church refused to offer a spokesman, and, to be fair, that seems to be consistent with any approaches made.
It's absolutely fair enough to point out that documentaries often offer a biased view, and when given access may still present negativity like in your example, gman. But the church of Scientology cannot really get too upset about its biased representation when nobody who might offer a positive view appears to be allowed to actually speak.
Those who have left the group, however, DO speak out. Bitter and twisted they may be, but can we honestly say they are lying? What would they gain, since speaking negatively about the church seems to cause them a world of trouble.
The chap on the Theroux documentary who was once very high up in the church has been the subject of a documentary before, and it is absolutely clear that he is being harassed for speaking out. And he knows all about the harassment, because he openly admits to holding the role which organised such harassment in the church for many years. There's documented footage of the harassment against him. Yes, it could have been staged, but to what purpose?
I'm a (as you've probably guessed) big fan of Theroux and his technique (basically, he's perfectly pleasant, quiet, and allows his subjects to speak for themselves, sometimes hanging themselves with their own rope). I've seen him in violent prisons, talking to hardened gang members, drug dealers, you name it, over the years. But I've never been as nervous for him as when I watched the Scientology documentary, and saw him being ordered off what was actually a public highway, and obviously feeling rattled at the possibility he was being followed.
Does this mean I think he's always an honest film maker? Absolutely not, but I'll tell you, his documentary about the Westborough Baptist Church was less unnerving than this one.
But, again, he wasn't looking at what the scientology churches look like in the UK, or elsewhere. He was looking at what goes on at the top, in America. He may have gotten a different picture at grass roots level, and isn't that true for many churches?
At the end of the day, an imaginative author invented a religion. He appears to have borrowed a fair bit from Buddhism and a variety of self-help and psychology manuals, and during his lifetime, it made him a lot of money, and now it is making money for others. If the majority of people aren't endangered by it, and enter into it willingly, that's up to them. But when there is harassment, and even violence suggested, I think there should be more investigation, and I also think, like many religions, Scientology is very good at buying its way out of trouble. Lawsuits have been filed, but how do you win against an organisation that has accumulated a huge amount of wealth and influence?
We know big, wealthy religion get away with a lot. Catholicism successfully minimised the extent of paedophilia in the Priesthood by silencing victims, and having a certain level of financial and moral standing, for many years. But, as they found out, not even a well-established religion is untouchable.
If there really is something rotten at the heart of Scientology, they won't be able to buy their way out of trouble forever.
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