Ix-Nay on the Ult-Cay

Is Scientology a cult or a religion? I've long been suspicious of the distinction, which seems to be more a matter of time than anything else. But at least one British teenager thinks the answer is "cult," which is too bad for him, because that's the answer that gets you a summons from City of London police for violating the Public Order Act. Section 5 of the act prohibits the use of "threatening, abusive or insulting words...within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby." The punishment for violators is "a fine not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale." Prior to a May 10 protest at the Church of Scientology's London headquarters, police warned that use of the c-word would not be tolerated. But there it was on the kid's sign, which he refused to remove upon being "strongly advised" to do so. A leading civil libertarian told the Guardian "this barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain's free speech traditions."

[Thanks to Lee Gibson for the tip.]

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  • Fluffy||

    Wouldn't this mean that if they caught some Nazis who had found the fountain of youth in South America, and brought them to Britain for trial, and a crowd of onlookers yelled "Murderers!" at them while they were being brought in to the court, those onlookers would be in violation of the Public Order Act?

    After all, the words would be abusive and the target of those words might suffer emotional distress.

    Stupid England. Sometimes insults are appropriate and factual. If you meet a douchebag in the street and call him a douchebag, it doesn't really matter if he suffers emotional distress or not. Fuck him.

    Personally I don't think Scientology is any more of a cult than Christianity. But the idea that Scientologists need to be protected from the knowledge that other people think they are cultists is absurd. There are no Scientologists who are not already aware that others think their religion is a cult.

  • ||

    In one of his books ("Expanded Universe" I believe), Heinlein thanks L. Sprague de Camp for providing the best definition he's seen. Basically, a "cult" is a faith that has gotten most of its followers as adult converts, while a "religion" is a faith that most of its followers were born into.

    According to these definitions, christianity was an upstart cult when it was first founded. A few decades ago, buddhism was a cult in the U.S., but a religion in Asia.

    I imagine scientology qualifies as a cult.

  • ||

    Scientology calling itself a religion is insulting. Where's their summons?

  • ||

    A leading civil libertarian told the Guardian "this barmy prosecution makes a mockery of Britain's free speech traditions."

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Did this guy just win the thread without even trying?

    What fucking free speech traditions?

  • ||

    CULT CULT CULT!
    Filled with cultists cultists cultists!
    You Scientologists are fucking nuts! Fucking nuts I tells ya!
    Prozac! Beer! I ingest a lot of it!

  • ||

    This is a colossally stupid law, like most of these European laws that punish "bad speech" (insults to religion, racially bigoted speech, Holocaust denial). Jesus, a good reason why the USA is still number one if you ask me. Marketplace of ideas, a good idea then, a good idea now.

  • ||

    Stop attending your local Lutheran church, and compare that with trying to leave Scientology. You'll get a pretty good idea of what a cult is.

  • ||

    I'd say that the most useful definition of religion is a cult that significantly outlives its founder. Scientology is still around now that Hubbard has gone to the great con game in the sky, but for how long?

  • Episiarch||

    Religion, cult, who cares? All I care about is that Scientologists believe in this, which is fucking hilarious.

  • Colin||

    These British hate crime laws seem to be applied very oddly.

    Channel 4 in England recently did an expose called Undercover Mosque (the whole thing's on youtube) in which they filmed British imams spewing hate and threatening violence on every imaginable group of people.

    Not only was not one imam procecuted, but they tried to prosecute Channel 4.

  • ||

    "Basically, a "cult" is a faith that has gotten most of its followers as adult converts, while a "religion" is a faith that most of its followers were born into." That's a neat definition, but under it Christianity was a cult for its first decades and then became a religion. So like Sullum says it's a matter of time.

    fluffy-the proponents of such stupid laws would never to think to apply their rule as a neutral principle...Some speech makes them angry, so it's prohibited. Other speech they agree with, so it's OK.

  • ||

    The best definition I've seen of "cult" was "small, unpopular religion". Conversely, the definition offered for "religion" was "large, popular cult".

  • ||

    I've usually considered "cults" to be religion or sect with a single charismatic leader. At their start, both Christianity and Islam were cults. Scientology was definitely a cult twenty years ago. But how long after L. Ron Hubbard's death until it graduates into a religion? I have no idea.

  • Episiarch||

    But how long after L. Ron Hubbard's death until it graduates into a religion?

    You do know the basic underpinnings of Scientology, right? I mean, Christianity is crazy but Scientology is CRAZY, like, totally Gollum crazy.

  • ||

    Well, normally I'd oppose something like Scientology, but, seeing how it's the home cult, I guess I must support it. Maybe they should buy the baseball team (now that it's winning) and rename it the Tampa Bay Psycho Cultists.

  • ||

    England is known for its free speech traditions?

  • boston||

    that L is supposed to be a N right?

  • ||

    At their start, both Christianity and Islam were cults.

    Interestingly, the actual origins of both Christianity and Islam are highly debatable.

    Christianity may have started as a series of unrelated Gnostic cults among Hellenized Jews in various Roman cities. Reading Paul's Letters outside the context of the Gospels (which were compiled decades later), and it appears he was corresponding with long-established organizations in various cities of the Empire, and that he himself saw the Christ as a sort of Jewish logos, and not an actual living person.

    The account of the rise of Islam given in the Hadiths is, to put it delicately, questionable. The Bedouin Arabs who started the religion were themselves largely illiterate, and the Hadiths were compiled centuries after the fact and were quite openly written to conform to the understanding of the religion in favor at that time. Muhammad probably existed, but the particulars of his life and work are anybody's guess.

  • ||

    Stop attending your local Lutheran church, and compare that with trying to leave Scientology. You'll get a pretty good idea of what a cult is.

    I stopped attending my local Lutheran church for a couple weeks, but then they sucked me back in with their Oktoberfest party featuring Schnitzel, Bratwurst, Sauerkraut and a delicious Hefeweizen. Now that's my kind of cult!

  • ||

    Scientology is neither a cult nor a religion. It is a giant book club and self-help course.
    the main reason people protest Scientology is because they are upset at it's tax exempt status.

  • Anonymous||

    No Pinette, the main reason people protest Scientology is it's human rights violations and brainwashing status.

  • ||

    But how long after L. Ron Hubbard's death until it graduates into a religion? I have no idea.

    Maybe when they stop acting like a totalitarian state: sending problem cases to squalid re-education labor camps (the RPF), pressuring members of their paramilitary organization to have abortions (Sea Org), routine polygraph examinations to detect doubt and disloyalty (E-Meter 'sec checks'), forced confessions with the threat of blackmail ('overts' and 'withholds' kept in 'Ethics folders'), encouraging members to inform on each other ('Knowledge Reports'), screening incoming and outgoing mail and blocking Internet sites ('Scieno Sitter'), using KGB-style dirty tricks and plain old thug violence to silence critics and dissidents (Paulette Cooper, Keith Henson, Mark Bunker, ...), full-scale espionage operations (Operation Snow White), hostility to the press involving litigiousness and physical intimidation (Richard Behar and Time Magazine, John Sweeney and the BBC, ...), a cult of personality centering around Hubbard which has transitioned into Stalin-style hagiography since his death (L. Ron the Poet, the Philosopher, the Artist, the Music Maker, the Humanitarian, the Adventurer, the Freedom Fighter, the Yachtsman), and in general an attempt to control all information about the Church by any means necessary.

    Maybe then they won't be a cult anymore.

  • ||

    Interestingly, the actual origins of both Christianity and Islam are highly debatable.

    Read "A Myth of Innocence," by Burton L. Mack. You get a pretty damn good idea of the origins of Christianity -- various Jesus groups that sprang up based solely on the Markian version of the Christ mythology.

  • ||

    If its illegal to use "insulting words within the . . . sight of a person likely to be caused . . . distress thereby," wouldn't that mean any H&R commenters located in the UK can expect a knock on the door at 3 am?

  • ||

    Scientology is a criminal nut-cult.

    -jcr

  • Colin||

    My rule of thumb regarding the difference between a cult and religion is that in a religion the donating of money is largely voluntary (and dependent on means) wherein with a cult it's largely compulsory.

  • Rhywun||

    the main reason people protest Scientology is because they are upset at it's tax exempt status

    Said status obtained when Hubbard said, "Hey, let's call ourselves a religion." Cult or religion? The real answer is "hoax". As in, Hubbard wanted to see if he could fool people into taking his grade-Z sci-fi bullshit seriously. The man was a spectacular failure at many things but he became a great success at reeling in suckers.

  • Scientology helps victims||

    Nah, Co$ is legit.

  • leTerrassier||

    The only difference between a religion and a cult is that cults makes less money and kill less people.

  • Yoni||

    Scientology is a pyramid scheme masquerading as a cult masquerading as a religion.

  • ||

    You do know the basic underpinnings of Scientology, right? I mean, Christianity is crazy but Scientology is CRAZY, like, totally Gollum crazy.

    Speaking of Gollum and religion, a millenium from now, somebody will find a copy of the Lord og the Rings trilogy and make a religion out of it. Not the fake campy things you see geeks do today, but a real, true believer religion.

    I envy those kids of the future. LOTR is much better fiction than the "Holy Bible".

  • ||

    "I mean, Christianity is crazy but Scientology is CRAZY, like, totally Gollum crazy."

    Yeah, that a supernatural Being created the world and humankind, and then sentenced all of humankind to eternal torment for one act of defiance by the first two, and then decided that killing his own son would satisfy the sentence, and that this son was somehow wholly a human and wholly the very Being that sent him down, that this man broke the physical laws of nature with regularity...Nothing Gollum crazy in that!*

    *For the record, I don't think Christianity any more crazy than any other religion, and I don't think religion actually all that crazy (in the sense that people believe all kinds of bizarre things at times).

  • ||

    We have managed to locate the man who put the boy up to it, Guv'.

    Justice Latey, ruling in the High Court of London -

    "Scientology is both immoral and socially obnoxious [...]It is *dangerous* because it is out to capture people, especially children and impressionable young people, and indoctrinate and brainwash them so that they become the unquestioning
    captives and tools of the *cult*, withdrawn from ordinary thought, living and relationships with others."

  • ||

    Heh, I strongly suspect that religious nuttiness and political nuttiness both involve the same brain mechanism. The whole concept of "natural rights" is just as faith-based as the concept of "salvation".

    Defining "cults" as having "crazy beliefs" leads very quickly to problems. "Crazy" according to whom? Who gets to decide?

  • ||

    If you want to make a good comparison between cults and non-cults, don't focus on the belief system. Focus on the practices.

    Me and my friends can sit around and believe the stupidest shit ever, but that's not a cult.

  • ||

    Me and my friends can sit around and believe the stupidest shit ever, but that's not a cult.

    Whatever El-Ron, you just haven't figured out how to pass the collection plate around yet.

    :)

  • Douglas Gray||

    Zany beliefs are one thing, conspiratorial criminal behavior something else.

    Some years ago, Scientology's leaders set out to destroy investigative journalist Paulette Cooper's life, after she wrote something negative about them.

    It began in 1968 when she wrote an article on Scientology for a British magazine. Despite receiving a death threat, Cooper decided to write a book, "I was naive and had no idea of the horrors that lay in store for me," she writes.

    A series of lawsuits by the Church of Scientology convinced the publisher of Cooper's book to issue an apology and a recall, but they didn't stop there.

    First, Cooper discovered her phone was being tapped. Then, her cousin was assaulted by a man who, posing as a flower-deliveryman, gained entrance to her apartment and pulled a pistol on her. (The gun jammed.) When Cooper moved to a more secure building, someone sent 300 of her neighbors an anonymous letter claiming she was a prostitute and had molested a child.

    Cooper was arrested and charged with mailing an anonymous bomb threat to a Scientology spokesman. In front of a grand jury, the prosecutor revealed that her fingerprints were on the letter.

    Certain she was going to prison for a crime she hadn't committed, Cooper contemplated suicide.

    Her luck finally turned after a Scottish professor provided prosecutors with information about "fair game"-the Church doctrine that encourages Scientologists to attack their enemies by any means. The government dropped its case.

    In 1977, an FBI raid on Scientology offices revealed the truth: Cooper was the target of something code-named "Operation Freakout," a scheme intended to land her in jail or in a mental ward. She concluded that a man who had stayed in her apartment prior to her arrest had been a Scientologist who had stolen paper with her fingerprints on it to forge the bomb threat.

    There is a lot more to Scientology than weird ideas.

  • Episiarch||

    Yeah, that a supernatural Being created the world and humankind, and then sentenced all of humankind to eternal torment for one act of defiance by the first two, and then decided that killing his own son would satisfy the sentence, and that this son was somehow wholly a human and wholly the very Being that sent him down, that this man broke the physical laws of nature with regularity...Nothing Gollum crazy in that!

    I am in no way defending Christianity, but compare and contrast to this craziness.

  • ||

    Cultists are, however, sexier than mere religionists.

  • Yahoo Answerer||

    "Is Scientology a cult or a religion?"

    When I lived in Columbus, Ohio there was a Scientology "Org" near the corner of Broad and Main. I walked in curious one day and saw some books about Scientology that interested me. I asked how much they were. I was told I had to enroll in a class to get them. I wanted them and had quite a lot of money in my bank account because of a student loan. I enrolled in the intro class but had no intention of going. I just wanted the books. Several weeks later I got a phone call and someone said what sounded like a code word. I forget what it was but it was weird. I said I didn't understand. They guy told me I had agreed to volunteer for some event and he repeated the word. I said no I didn't and hung up. I kept getting their junk mail for several years. I still have the book. After reading this tale you can probably figure out my answer to this question.

  • robc||

    boston

    that L is supposed to be a N right?

    N. Ron Hubbard?

    Im just pissed because I was going to make a similar joke. Only based off of

    police warned that use of the c-word

    Apparently the c-word is different in Britain.

  • ||

    Well, to be fair, plenty of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish religious authorities have set out to destroy those who criticized them. True, simply burning someone at the stake or stoning them isn't as intricate and mind-blowing as the Scientologist stuff, but still.

    To me, the main thing that sets Scientologists apart from all real religions is the fact that they hide their beliefs from outsiders, and indeed even from low-level Scientologists.

  • ||

    Heh, I strongly suspect that religious nuttiness and political nuttiness both involve the same brain mechanism. The whole concept of "natural rights" is just as faith-based as the concept of "salvation".

    Any political beliefs are faith-based. Indeed, any knowledge whatsoever must be based on something that can't be proven.

  • ||

    Christianity may have started as a series of unrelated Gnostic cults among Hellenized Jews in various Roman cities. Reading Paul's Letters outside the context of the Gospels (which were compiled decades later), and it appears he was corresponding with long-established organizations in various cities of the Empire, and that he himself saw the Christ as a sort of Jewish logos, and not an actual living person.

    That is quite silly. For just one example, 1 Corinthians 15:12-19:

    12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.



    and indeed there are many other passages where Paul explicitly mentions Christ's humanity. I don't have a problem with non-Christians not believing in this; just don't misrepresent what Christians believe.

  • Libertarian Librarian||

    "When I lived in Columbus, Ohio there was a Scientology "Org" near the corner of Broad and Main. I walked in curious one day and saw some books about Scientology that interested me. I asked how much they were. I was told I had to enroll in a class to get them. I wanted them and had quite a lot of money in my bank account because of a student loan. I enrolled in the intro class but had no intention of going. I just wanted the books. Several weeks later I got a phone call and someone said what sounded like a code word. I forget what it was but it was weird. I said I didn't understand. They guy told me I had agreed to volunteer for some event and he repeated the word. I said no I didn't and hung up. I kept getting their junk mail for several years. I still have the book. After reading this tale you can probably figure out my answer to this question."

    What kind of a book was it? What did it teach?

  • ||

    As for the other arguments about the origins of Christianity, keep in mind that us trying to determine what Christians were doing in the first century AD while ignoring the New Testament, is like aliens trying to figure out late-20th century American politics by throwing out all the political documents of the time, and instead trying to glean bits and pieces from a few random Sports Illustrated issues.

    You can think the New Testament is unreliable if you want; but then you have no basis for knowing what was really going on with Christianity at the time.

  • ||

    Episarch-That is rich. I took a Sociology of Religion class as an undergrad where they extensively covered the history of Scientology. I actually agree with you that it's nuts.They are indeed nuts. I just don't think they are that much nuttier than many other religions, even the "big" ones. And I think that Scientology, like Mormonism or Christianity, seems to have many good effects on its followers. I also think everyone is full of irrational beliefs and thoughts (my intro psych class demonstrated that to me, and life).

  • Yahoo Answerer||

    Libertarian Librarian,

    As I recall it was called a "Personal Efficiency Course" or something like that. The book itself was large but thin - part of the book explained how to remember things you are thought in the course. It was weird which is why I found it fascinating. But the weirdness was also cheesy - kind of like the cheesiness one finds in Chick Tracks.

  • ||

    I don't see many crying Catholic mothers dispatching unmarked vans full of former police officers to rescue their bug-eyed children from a life of feudal servitude.

    Look, religion sucks (atheist here) but by and large, priests, rabbis and whatever aren't calling on their congregations to pay up in order to reach a state of holiness. They aren't waging war on government institutions, freaking out when anyone criticizes them, and hiding their core beliefs from outsiders.

    Sure, Catholic priests mass-molested tens of thousands of innocent children but that doesn't make them a cult. Just criminals.

  • Libertarian LIbrarian||

    Mr. Nice Guy,

    What college has a Sciantology Religion class? Or was it taught by the COS itself? Was your prof. a Scientologist?

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    "I kept getting their junk mail for several years."

    Did you mail them back bricks in their return envelopes?

  • WWGBD?||

    What Would Gaius Baltar Do?

  • Yahoo Answerer||

    PIRS, they were at least smar enough to send me SASEs. I would have!

  • ||

    The kid should explain to the judge that he had been misheard. He had actually called Scientology a cunt.

  • ||

    Librarian
    We used Scientology as a "case study" of how NRM (New Religious Movements) evolve and develop. The teacher was an athiest.

    How can you be a libertarian librarian? Aren't libraries something libertarians would be against (I don't know of any private ones apart from private college libraries)? I'm not trying to screw with you, just wonderin'

  • Yahoo Answerer||

    Take Two:

    PIRS, they were at least smart enough NOT to send me SAEs. I would have!

  • ||

    Zany beliefs are one thing, conspiratorial criminal behavior something else. ... There is a lot more to Scientology than weird ideas.

    You could say the same about the Catholic Church and its (past?) relationship with young boys. Point being that Scientology's dark side isn't that different from the dark side of other organized religions, or organized groups in general.

  • ||

    "I don't see many crying Catholic mothers dispatching unmarked vans full of former police officers to rescue their bug-eyed children from a life of feudal servitude."

    Yeah, because they constitute the "mainstream." As noted above, if you look at entire Catholic history vs. Scientologists, the latter come off smelling like roses, man, f*cking roses...

    You know, a lot of "de-programmers" have been prosecuted for trying to "de-cult" folks. Often what's going on there are parents that just "can't believe" their kids believe in or get something from the "cult."

    You know, a great deal of people think of libertarians as being as strange as Scientologists (I'm not one of them, I actually think a "great deal of people" are as weird as Scientologists).

  • ||

    "Point being that Scientology's dark side isn't that different from the dark side of other organized religions, or organized groups in general."

    I think this says it better than I have been...

  • Libertarian Librarian||

    Mr. Nice Guy, I work in a private medical college. There are actually quite a few librarians who work for private corporations (i.e. Disney) and some who work for newspapers and magazines. There are even a few "freelance libertarians" who use their skills to dig up information on a piece-work basis. Not all librarians work in a public library and go "shh" all day.

    As a group, librarians tend to be left-liberals. As a group, we are almost universally strong privacy advocates and pro-free speech to an extreme. Where I differ with most of my colleagues is on economics, gun control, and the role of government. I also am one of those weird people who think the U.S. Constitution aught to actually be followed.

  • Libertarian Librarian||

    There are even a few "freelance libertarians"

    replace libertarian with librarian.

  • Emotionally invested in organi||

    I took a Sociology of Religion class as an undergrad where they extensively covered the history of Scientology. I actually agree with you that it's nuts.They are indeed nuts.

    Wow, what a cool course. Understand that my point was not that Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or whatnot isn't nuts, but that Scientology is just so fucking badass nuts that it really takes the cake. It's one thing to have voices in the sky. It's another to have gold DC-10's transporting dead thetans through space. I can (obviously) see people believing that there's this dude named Jesus who died 2000 years ago for our sins, even if it is ridiculous, because there are like a billion people who believe that. Xenu, on the other hand, is just so goddamn out there that it boggles the mind.

  • Yahoo Answerer||

    "As noted above, if you look at entire Catholic history vs. Scientologists, the latter come off smelling like roses"

    Let us suppose I showed you a medical doctor who refused to use anesthetic but was otherwise competent. Would you say "If you look at this medical doctor vs. medical doctors in the middle ages, the latter comes off smelling like a rose."?

  • ||

    You could say the same about the Catholic Church and its (past?) relationship with young boys.

    Oh, enough with that. That wasn't a policy of the Church like suppression of criticism is with the CoS. The Catholic Church has gotten plenty of blood on its hands during the centuries, pick an example that actually makes sense.

    Yeah, because they constitute the "mainstream." As noted above, if you look at entire Catholic history vs. Scientologists, the latter come off smelling like roses, man, f*cking roses...

    Well, the most heinous abuses by the Church came when it had a lot of secular power. It's behaved pretty well since losing that power, I think you'll agree. Power doesn't just corrupt, it also attracts the corrupt.

    Now, if Scientology is this ruthless when they're a despised minority, imagine what they would be like if they had power over an entire continent like the Catholic Church did at one time.

  • Emotionally invested in organi||

    Now, if Scientology is this ruthless when they're a despised minority, imagine what they would be like if they had power over an entire continent like the Catholic Church did at one time.

    No one expects the Scientologist Inquisition!

    Our chief weapon is E-meters. E-meters and lawyers.

    Our two weapons are E-meters, lawyers, and a fanatical devotion to L. Ron.

    Our three weapons are E-meters, lawyers, a fanatical devotion to L. Ron, and Tom Cruse.

    I'll start again.

  • An Honest Question||

    "Our three weapons are E-meters, lawyers, a fanatical devotion to L. Ron, and Tom Cruse."

    I think Tom Cruse has severely harmed the COS in the same way that Michael Jackson has severely harmed the plastic surgery business.

  • ||

    Libertarian librarian-I like librarians, whether public or private. I worked part time for a library once. I noticed that as a profession they had a real devotion to the First Amendment. Good for them.

    "I also am one of those weird people who think the U.S. Constitution aught to actually be followed." You are weird, but God luv'ya.

    "Wow, what a cool course. Understand that my point was not that Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or whatnot isn't nuts, but that Scientology is just so fucking badass nuts that it really takes the cake. It's one thing to have voices in the sky. It's another to have gold DC-10's transporting dead thetans through space."

    Thanks, it was a great course.

    I will not disagree with you over Scientology's craziness. We learned about Hubbard dressing up in the naval costume and living on the yachts in International Waters with these women in naval costumes...I mean, it's laughable. But any more laughable than Mormonism ("dumb, dumb, dumb" to quote South Park)? Or Catholicism (some of the ideas about the relics, the saints, etc. are hilarious)? And it really seems to help people. I really believe Tom Cruise when he says it has made him happier with himself. Good for him.

    "That wasn't a policy of the Church like suppression of criticism is with the CoS."

    1. There did seem to be an at least unwritten policy of some Catholic organizations to engage in minimization and cover-up of Fondlegate. But I see what you mean, which leads me to
    2. You really walked into this one, I think. The Number One "suppression of criticism" official policy of all time was a Catholic one, not a Scientology one.
    3. I'm not sure it is "official policy" to supress criticism within the COS the way you are implying. Every organized group tries to discredit and act against those attempting to discredit it.

  • ||

    "I think Tom Cruse has severely harmed the COS in the same way that Michael Jackson has severely harmed the plastic surgery business."

    LOL. I happen to like Tom. Anybody seen his performance in Magnolia? Oscar-worthy.

    I think he honestly believes in his bullshit about taking psychological medication (and I think it is total and complete crazy btw).

    That guy is so good looking he could get straight guys to sleep with him. He could just roll around in money and pussy like most of us could only imagine, but he believes in something bigger than himself. Good for him, and that in itself says something for the COS IMO.

    The press tries to mark him because he actually said something. If he had just gone on the Today show and pretended to drink coffee, smiled, talked about the weather and his new movie, then everyone would love him.

    Imagine if he had come on the Today show and given an excited speech about why Ron Paul was important to resotre our Republic. The press would have crapped on him for that too...

  • This was not a question||

    I think Tom Cruse has severely harmed the COS in the same way that Michael Jackson has severely harmed the plastic surgery business.

  • An Honest Question||

    "Imagine if he had come on the Today show and given an excited speech about why Ron Paul was important to resotre our Republic. The press would have crapped on him for that too..."

    Celebrities talk about politics all the time. Usually the press does not crap on anyone for that. Tony Shalhoub came out against the war in Iraq. Oprah came out for Barak Obama. Celebrities taking positions on political issues tends to be a norm. People expect it. But when someone famous tells people with an illness not to get proper treatment for that illness that is quite different.

  • An Honest Question||

    TWNAQ, An Honest Question is my handle for Reason's Hit & Run.

  • ||

    I'm not sure it is "official policy" to supress criticism within the COS the way you are implying. Every organized group tries to discredit and act against those attempting to discredit it.

    It's there, and it's called "Fair Game".

  • A valid point||

    The problem with psychiatry is that the science is still pretty much at the level of leaches and humours.

    And there's been lots of abuses in the last 150 years or so.

    However, it doesn't mean there's a medical establishment conspiracy, nor that the hubbardians are any less odd

  • ||

    "Celebrities talk about politics all the time. Usually the press does not crap on anyone for that."

    If he had talked up a non-mainstream libertarian candidate like Paul they would have. They are allowed to talk about politics as long as it is "Hollywood mainstream."

    "But when someone famous tells people with an illness not to get proper treatment for that illness that is quite different."

    I think you are right about this. Cruise is wrong, and you are right. I just think he did not deserve the dumping he got considering some of the nonsense other stars talk while getting a pass...

  • ||

    "The problem with psychiatry is that the science is still pretty much at the level of leaches and humours."

    I think they are doing the best they can, and progressing...Maybe that is all we can ask?

  • Another good point||

    I think they are doing the best they can, and progressing...Maybe that is all we can ask?

    Yes.

  • ||

    You really walked into this one, I think. The Number One "suppression of criticism" official policy of all time was a Catholic one, not a Scientology one.

    I'm not denying the Inquisition (though I think its #1 status is not as clear cut as you make it seem -- Stalin and Mao would give it a run for its money). But keep in mind that was at a time when the Church was extremely powerful in the secular realm, and indeed the Inquisition was largely co-opted by the Spanish monarchy for their own political purposes.

  • ||

    I think they are doing the best they can, and progressing...Maybe that is all we can ask?

    In your own paltry and limited way, you have no idea how far you have to go. Time may be eternal, Mr Nice Guy, but our patience is not.

  • ||

    "In your own paltry and limited way, you have no idea how far you have to go. Time may be eternal, Mr Nice Guy, but our patience is not."

    What else can we ask? For a number of policy reasons, folks are going to ask "is that guy crazy or not, and what does that mean and what should we do about it?" I think the'yve come a long way from saying "they had a demon cast upon them."

    I clicked on the handle, are you THE Crimethink? I haven't seen you around for a while man!

  • ||

    Look, religion sucks (atheist here) but by and large, priests, rabbis and whatever aren't calling on their congregations to pay up in order to reach a state of holiness. They aren't waging war on government institutions, freaking out when anyone criticizes them, and hiding their core beliefs from outsiders.

    Read about tithing in the New Testament.

    Read about what certain Muslims have been doing to government institutions in the mideast.

    Insult some basic tenets of the faith of fundy Christians or Muslims, and see if they are calm and "whatever, dude".

    Ask some Mormons about Kolob, and whether they believe they will become actual gods if they do the right stuff.

  • ||

    crimethink is all about the transparency these days. No more hiding in the shadows.

    Oh, and that "Judge Q" was a paraphrase from the final TNG episode.

  • Libertarian LIbrarian||

    Thanks :) And I like Nice Guys. Actually, I think public libraries are one of the least harmful things a government does. Although there have been libraries historically even when they were not government funded. One of the most important historical libraries is "The Library Company" of Philadelphia which was funded sort of like "Blockbuster" today.

    http://www.ushistory.org/FRANKLIN/philadelphia/library.htm

  • ||

    Read about tithing in the New Testament.

    That's totally different. Christianity doesn't assign spiritual status based on the amount of money you've donated; it also offers the entire teaching to anyone free of charge or waiting periods, which is not the case with Scientology.

  • ||

    "Oh, and that "Judge Q" was a paraphrase from the final TNG episode."

    I love that episode, or any episode with Q. He's so, so, Galactus merged with Adam Sandler (noone will get that I'm afraid).

    "Actually, I think public libraries are one of the least harmful things a government does."

    I could swear M. Friedman once argued that public education was OK, since an educated public would protect certain values better than a non-educated one (certainly more reasonable than Ayn Rand's declaration that support for Israel & Tawain was in our self interest). Libraries get an amazingly high return and bang for the buck.

    "Read about tithing in the New Testament."

    Dude, yes! People were STRUCK DEAD over this!

  • Libertarian LIbrarian||

    "Ask some Mormons about Kolob, and whether they believe they will become actual gods if they do the right stuff."

    Kolob is simply a planet near where god lives. This does not sound any crazier than "heaven" in mainstream Christianity. I am no Mormon (I am atheist) but I have to say that of all the Christian movements who's members I have come in contact with they are some of the most respectful and open minded and - frankly - intelligent. Their culture is similar to Judaism in their respect for learning and education. Smith's concept of attaining godhood heavily influenced Robert A. Heinlein's works - especially "Stranger In a Strange Land".

  • ||

    Acts 5:1-10:
    "1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2With his wife's full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles' feet.
    3Then Peter said, "Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God."

    5When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

    7About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter asked her, "Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?"
    "Yes," she said, "that is the price."

    9Peter said to her, "How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also."

    10At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband."

  • ||

    Libertarians really like Heinlien. I actually read Starship Troopers and liked it.

    But I am really into P.K. Dick. To me, there is no science fiction, no matter how imperfectly done, that competes. Heinlen seems very pedestrian...

  • ||

    "in comparison"

    Compared to Assimov he seems quite fluid and modern.

    P.K. Dick seems like a near perfect marriage of Bukowski and Kant.

  • Libertarian Librarian||

    "But I am really into P.K. Dick. To me, there is no science fiction, no matter how imperfectly done, that competes. Heinlen seems very pedestrian..."

    I also like Dick. I mean, I also like the author Phillip K. Dick. But not everyone like's a particular author's style. Each to his own. Heinlein was path breaking in many respects. He is the modern Sci Fi writer who really brought technical detail to science fiction. He also created works that are respected as literature in their own right (not just as sci fi.). Have you read Time Enough For Love? It is, from a literary standpoint, Heinlein's best IMHO. I think it is even better than SISL. Time Enough for Love is emotional, philosophical, and brilliant prose. Frankly, I think it is better than Victor Hugo.

  • ||

    Librarian
    As I said, I liked Starship Troopers. I will really check out Time Enough For Love. I just read his Wiki and it was VERY interested.

    I'm not much of fan of Victor Hugo, or Ayn Rand, but I see why the latter liked the former. There was a lot to like there!

    Have you read Charles Bukowski?

  • (giggles)||

    I also like Dick

  • LIbertarian LIbrarian||

    "Have you read Charles Bukowski?"

    His poetry is hilarious!

  • LIbertarian LIbrarian||

    ""Have you read Charles Bukowski?"

    But have not read his fiction.

  • Libertarian Librarian||

    At least most of what I have read of Bukowski's poems are funny. SOme are nto intended to be but are deep.

    Like this:
    the riots

    I've watched this city burn twice
    in my lifetime
    and the most notable thing
    was the arrival of the
    politicians in the
    aftermath
    proclaiming the wrongs of
    the system
    and demanding new
    policies toward and for the
    poor.

    nothing was corrected last
    time.
    nothing will be corrected this
    time.

    the poor will remain poor.
    the unemployed will remain
    so.
    the homeless will remain
    homeless

    and the politicians,
    fat upon the land, will live
    very well.

    5/5/1992

  • ||

    Bukowski hated communist and the spoiled hippie opportunists who made up much of the radical left, which was quite a feat since a lot his early paychecks came from that direction...

    "I also like Dick"

    Guy Montag, is that you??? I always knew it ;)

  • Libertarian Librarian||

    Bukowski also "performed" a version of "Star Me KItten" on the soundtrack to the X-FIles called "Songs in the Key of X." He has a great performance voice.

  • robc||

    1. Tithing is not mentioned in the new testament.

    2. A&S died for lying. Or, as a friend of mine once put it, summarizing Acts 5 succintly: He lied, he died. She lied, she died.

    3, Okay #1 may not be literally true, but it isnt mentioned other than in reference to jewish law.

  • Hacha Cha||

    support anonymous, check out their protests against scientology.
    check out the book, it's online free, called Ali's Smile / Naked Scientology

  • ANGRY RENTER||

    MY POEMS AREN'T PROSY ENOUGH TO SELL TO A MILLION MORONS AND BUY ME A FUCKING BUNGALOW!

  • ||

    the main reason people protest Scientology is because they are upset at it's tax exempt status

    I would say it has more to do with the people they've killed, the families they've torn apart, and the rotten things they do to people who criticize them.

    -jcr

  • wage slave||

    Hey Libertarian Librarian, it's an excellent song but it was Bill Burroughs, not Bukowski (pretty close on the library shelf though). Burroughs also did that terrific piece about the stages of death in the last season of the Sopranos - and thanks to your post it's now stuck in my head...

  • rechoboam||

    "threatening, abusive or insulting words"

    I will destroy you, fuck you, you're a bunch of girls.

    Does that qualify? Not that I would ever cause disorder.

  • ||

    . I can (obviously) see people believing that there's this dude named Jesus who died 2000 years ago for our sins, even if it is ridiculous, because there are like a billion people who believe that.

    So the reason Scientology's beliefs are "crazier" than Christianity's is not what Scientologists believe, but how many people believe it, and how long they've been believing it? Catholics believe you must literally eat the body of Jesus and drink his blood, and that if you do, you will be immortal. I don't know if gold DC-10s and space beings are objectively any more bizzare than that.

  • Taktix&#174||

    The world would be so much better off if L. Ron Hubbard simply wrote a letter to be read after his death, saying "just kidding, everybody. You can go home now."

    In the wise words of Malcolm Reynolds:
    "It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of him was one kind of sommbitch or another. Ain't about you, Jayne. 'Bout what they need."

  • Episiarch||

    I don't know if gold DC-10s and space beings are objectively any more bizzare than that.

    Sorry, they are. Again, I am not defending Christianity, but Xenu is crazier than Jesus. It's one thing to believe that you are drinking mystical blood--if you believe in magic (which is crazy), then it has a sort of logic to it. But there's no magic involved with Scientology--those people are believing stuff that is theoretically scientific but objectively nonsensical.

    To put it simply, if I believe in the supernatural, then believing in ghosts (Jesus) isn't that crazy. However, if I supposedly believe in science (dianetics), then believing in gold DC-10's travelling through space (in what, hyperspace? wormholes? Hello?) is crazy.

  • ||

    A&S died for lying. Or, as a friend of mine once put it, summarizing Acts 5 succintly: He lied, he died. She lied, she died.

    For a bit of fun, read the Biblical passage again, except this time consider the possibility that Peter personally strangled both of them and just told the "young men" et al that they "fell down dead." It's convenient that this little miracle happened while the others were "at the door" instead of inside with Peter and the victims, yes?

    "And great fear seized all who heard what had happened." No shit! If you were in a cult whose leader had just cold-bloodedly murdered a couple of your friends for failing to fork over every penny of their net worth, you'd be "seized" by "great fear" as well!

    (I have no evidence that this is actually what happened. I've just been reading a lot over at the Crime Library lately.)

    (Of course, I must admit that I'd certainly be skeptical of anyone who claimed "The guy was in the tent with me, and he... uhh... suddenly died! Then his wife came in, and she... umm... suddenly died, too! God killed them, by the way, not me. Now where's everyone else's money?")

  • Libertarian Librarian||

    "it's an excellent song but it was Bill Burroughs, not Bukowski (pretty close on the library shelf though)"

    OK, my mistake. Sorry, I am only human. I don't claim to be a diety.

  • ||

    Libertarian Librarian,

    Re: PKD (In case you haven't heard.)

    What do you do? You're not a cataloger, are you?

  • ||

    Scientology is a cult, with the intention of bilking gullible people out of life savings while brainwashing them into robots -- super beings -- to take over the world.

    They set up a tent at the Virginia Tech massacre to "counsel" students, into taking expensive courses, to get over their trauma. College students avoided them like the plague, but according to Scientologists their effort there was heroic and compassionate.

    Scientologists lie when asked about their basic beliefs, and mislead at every opportunity. You can't get a straight answer out of any one of these zombies.

  • robc||

    Jake Boone,

    Having just watched Goodfellas recently, there is some similarity between Acts 5 and the scene were Pesci gets whacked.

    Also, especially in the OT, God often uses people as his tool for punishment of other people, so Peter strangling Ananias wouldnt necessarily change anything.

    I will stick with a more literal reading however.

  • Geotpf||

    1. Cults are just religions that are less than 100 years old.
    2. Britain has a tradition of allowing free speech? Since when?

  • Rhywun||

    Y'all are missing the point that Scientology calls itself a "religion" ONLY for the tax break. Before 1960-something, it did not call itself a religion. One needn't bring in any "real" religions or wrestle with the concept of religion at all.

  • parse||

    Episiarch, what is the objective test you are applying to rank the craziness of various beliefs?

    Also, refer to the Catholic encyclopedia for an explication of "the scientific development of the concept of Transubstantiation."

  • Libertarian Librarian||

    "Re: PKD (In case you haven't heard.)

    What do you do? You're not a cataloger, are you?"

    I have never read Ubik. I will have to give it a try. I do a little bit of everyting because the library I work in is so small. It is a small Osteopathic Medical School.

  • ||

    If you're interested in the details of how Scientology cloaked itself in the trappings of religion, read this recent affidavit from Larry Brennan (former CoS bigshot): http://evil.scientology.googlepages.com/

  • Jamie||

    I can only assume the people who are making snarky comments about Britain's free speech have never done any reading about the origins of their own Constitution. J S Mill wasn't a Yank.

  • Index expurgatorius Anglicanus||

    A document relating to Britain's strong free speech tradition.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=qowIAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Index+expurgatorius#PPP1,M1

  • Mom||

    All those front groups are nothing more than a way to weasel into your community with good PR, and stomp all over free speech, and try to execute there well documented plans to infiltrate your media & local government, schools....

    Narconon * Applied Scholistics * ABLE * WISE
    (CCHR) The Citizens' Commission on Human Rights * Criminon * and your tax money

    "Scientology is a cult, with the intention of bilking gullible people out of life savings while brainwashing them into robots -- super beings -- to take over the world.

    They set up a tent at the Virginia Tech massacre to "counsel" students, into taking expensive courses, to get over their trauma. College students avoided them like the plague, but according to Scientologists their effort there was heroic and compassionate.

    Scientologists lie when asked about their basic beliefs, and mislead at every opportunity. You can't get a straight answer out of any one of these zombies."
    http://www.studytech.org/home.php

    Expect Us
    Join our 5th Worldwie protest 06-14-08
    http://seaarrrgh.com

  • ||

    I'll tell you some of the things that make a cult that apply to Scientology but don't apply to Christianity or Judiism:

    Deceptive at entry-- Christians tell you about Jesus on the cross right off the bat, Jews tell you about Moses and the burning bush, finding out a Xenu takes years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. At the start you think it a free stress test.

    About money-- I can get a seat at the synogogue even on the high holidays for free if I can't afford it, or at the church without putting money in the plate. At Scientology it is no money, no salvation.

    Separates you from community-- There is no disconnection in Christianity or Judiism. There are no suppressives. There are no potential trouble sources. There is no ethics office. There is no office of special affairs. There is no order on "joking and degrading".

    Top down: Christians and Jews have a bible but anyone is free to interpret its meaning. Only David Miscavige can interpret L.Ron's holy scriptures.

    Look up cult. It means something.

  • Gayanashagowa (Great Binding L||

    "I can only assume the people who are making snarky comments about Britain's free speech have never done any reading about the origins of their own Constitution. J S Mill wasn't a Yank."

    Or perhaps they did more than Jamie. The Iroquois were not British - they still are not.
    http://www.thebirthoffreedom.com/iroquois-constitution

  • ||

    I would like to point out that this case was thrown out of court. The question was "is calling scientology a cult, offensive"?

    The decision was infact no, calling scientology a cult is a matter of fact and/or opinion.

    London Police called this a testing grounds for the law in question...which is very vague.


    Hurrah for Epic Nose Guy!

  • Yahoo Answerer||

    "When I lived in Columbus, Ohio there was a Scientology "Org" near the corner of Broad and Main."

    Broad and High I meant.

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