Should the U.S. Emulate Germany's Campaign Against Scientology?

In a recent Tablet piece, Jamie Kirchick defends the German government's campaign against Scientology, arguing that the church, founded by American science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1952, "is not a religion" but is instead "a cult and a threat to democracy." Can't it be all three? The distinction between cults and religions has always struck me as arbitrary and subjective, if not meaningless. In practice, the difference is mostly a matter of time. Weird, disreputable cults become bona fide religions if they stick around long enough. A century from now the Scientologists may be just as respectable as the Mormons, who not so long ago were widely perceived as a barbaric, brainwashing cult bent on overthrowing the government.

No, Kirchick insists, Scientologists are different. He portrays them as loony, avaricious, vindictive, and, most damningly from the German point of view, authoritarian. "Because of its history of Nazism," Kirchick explains, "Germany believes it has an obligation to root out extremists, and not just those of a political flavor. In the eyes of most Germans, Scientology is nothing more than a cult with authoritarian designs on the country’s hard-won pluralistic democracy." Hence the German government not only refuses to recognize Scientology as a religion but even considered banning it altogether—a policy favored by 74 percent of the public, according to a 2007 poll cited by Kirchick (who notes in passing that "a handful of sober German critics allege that their country’s attitude to Scientology resembles a societal panic akin to the McCarthyism of the 1950s"). The major German political parties are closed to Scientologists, "sect filters" exclude Scientologists from government contracts, and leading politicians routinely denounce the church. In 1996, Kitchick notes, "the youth wing of the Christian Democratic Union (then and now Germany’s ruling conservative party) called for a boycott of Mission Impossible," because the movie's star, Tom Cruise, is a Scientologist.

To American eyes, Kirchick concedes, all this looks like religious intolerance:

For obvious reasons—beginning with the Constitution, and the fact the United States was founded by Europeans fleeing religious persecution—most Americans are loath to do anything that would appear to infringe upon someone else’s religious liberty. Though some of us may find each other’s religious convictions, or religion itself, strange, few believe that it should be the government’s role to tell other people how, if at all, to pray. And so while the consensus in the United States may be that Scientology is a bit nutty, the general attitude, owing to Americans’ dedication to individual liberty, seems to be: live and let live. 

Reflecting that attitude, the U.S. State Department regularly criticizes the German government for its hostile treatment of Scientology. But Kirchick believes such criticism is misplaced, since Scientology is not really a religion. Indeed, he concludes, "it's long past time Americans stopped joking about Scientology and started treating it like the Germans do."

Although the article is peppered with allegations of criminal conduct by Scientologists, including physically abusing members and holding them against their will, Kirchick is not merely arguing that religion should not be a shield for breaking the law. When he urges us to treat Scientologists as the Germans do, he is asking us to embrace a brand of anti-authoritarian authoritarianism that is antithetical to the classical liberal values reflected in the First Amendment. The same government that has targeted Scientology because of its alleged threat to "pluralistic democracy" also uses that rationale to justify bans on hate speech, Holocaust denial, symbols and books associated with the Nazi regime, and ethnically divisive political groups. All those policies would be unambiguously unconstitutional in the United States, where the government is not allowed to suppress opinions, religious or not, based on the harm that might flow from them.

The cult/religion distinction drawn by Kirchick is not only dubious but irrelevant. The question is whether the government should harass an organization because the ideas it promotes are deemed to be dangerous. The Germans say yes, while Americans traditionally have said no. Kirchick dismisses this crucial philosophical divide as a mere quibble, saying "the differences in historical traditions of American individualism and European communalism should not be used to discourage a tougher American approach to dealing with the Church of Scientology." Let the rooting out of extremists begin.

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  • Daniel||

    Scientology is not a religion and the tax exempt status should be revoked. Let them exist as a business. If they can...

  • ant1sthenes||

    Why isn't Scientology a religion?

  • Marc St. Stephen||

    Of the many reasons, a good example would be - a religion does not require payment to climb the ladder of enlightenment.

  • Marc St. Stephen||

    ... in other words, I think a good way to define religion vs not a religion is a religion does NOT have a compulsory membership fee.

    Having said that, I wouldn't deny scientologists their ability to exist, as long as they don't break any laws.

  • ||

    Why are any religions tax exempt? Get rid of that entirely and there is no problem.

    Scientology is nuttier than a fruitcake, but as long as they're not harming anyone, they should be able to believe whatever crazy shit they want.

    THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE

  • BarryD||

    I have long wondered why religions are tax-exempt. Isn't that, in itself, a violation of the First Amendment? In order to decide what is and what isn't tax exempt, Congress has to make laws respecting the establishment of religion.

    We have various ways to operate non-profit corporations legally. Why shouldn't religions simply organize themselves in the same way?

  • Hugh Akston||

    The distinction between for-profit and non-profit companies is largely illusory.

    If you're gonna collect taxes, you ought to collect them from any revenue-generating enterprise.

  • BarryD||

    Well, that's true. A low, flat rate on net revenue would be the best way, I think, something like local sales tax. "We don't care what you buy, or what you do with it. The tax is x%." Eliminate other taxes, obviously.

    But then we wouldn't need a whole lot of highly-paid lawyers and accountants, and they'd be out in the streets. Upper-middle-class professionals need welfare, too!

  • Almanian 1||

    dum, dum, dum dum dum dum....

  • SKR||

    Smart smart smart smart smart smart.... :)

  • Marc St. Stephen||

    While we appreciate that South Park reference - it was actually for Mormons, not Scientologists. Good effort, though.

  • ||

    Why are any religions tax exempt? Get rid of that entirely and there is no problem.

    Epi gets it. Who cares what people believe? If Tom Cruise et al. want to spend their money and daydream about their alien overlords then let them. But why the fuck should any religion get a free pass on taxes?

  • Killazontherun||

    Better question, why don't we all get a free pass, and kill the income tax monkey on our backs?

  • Killazontherun||

    Do you really want to live in a world where they don't make an example out of Kirchick?

  • benji||

    I would like to ask our lawyers here, RC Dean, Randian and co, how does Scientology "get away" with what they do on the legal front?

    Is it simply whatever the contract is?

    Apologies if I misrepresented or did not represent any registered Reason member who may or may not engage in practice of the law and who may or may not consider my comment to be an opening for billing practice or mere casual advice.

  • R C Dean||

    Much of what they do is just voluntary exchange with their members, I believe. The outrageous fees, the various counselling sessions and whatnot, you can't really distinguish from what any (other) church does (on a legal basis). The restrictions on members are also pretty contractural in nature.

    Now, the stories of intimidation, etc., if true, should definitely have gotten law enforcement attention. Why they haven't, I have no idea.

  • ||

    Now, the stories of intimidation, etc., if true, should definitely have gotten law enforcement attention. Why they haven't, I have no idea.

    In Clearwater, FL, Scientology has taken over. The own vast amount of property all over Pinellas County and the surrounding area. Most locals view them as some sort of cash cow for the region and thus give them a free pass on many of the allegations of abuse that pop up.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    I've seen a lot of stories suggesting that if the counterparty ever stops volunteering to exchange, the church begin pursuing various forms of involuntary exchange.

  • SIV||

    If Randian is a lawyer he has fools for clients. I'd rather be represented by MNG.

  • benji||

    I believe he is, I just offered up a couple names and had read his comment prior, no disrespect to John, Pro Lib, etc.

    He can, of course, correct me.

  • Randian||

    Not an attorney yet.

    SIV, shouldn't you be off fellating Marcus Bachmann or something?

  • Tulpa the White||

    RC has pretty serious gaps in his legal knowledge at times too. Like when we were discussing whether perjury was an exception to the first amendment, and he claimed that you can't be forced to testify at a criminal trial, which I had to read three times to make sure he wasn't trying to make a joke.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm not a lawyer, but I would think that with perjury the punishment doesn't comes from the fact that you don't have a right to lie, but that you are breaking an oath or affirmation. So perjury is illegal the same way fraud is illegal, I guess?

  • tarran||

    My brother's law firm represented some early defectors from the "church" and the partners were subjected to a vicious campaign of harrassment and sabotage.

    It included distributing leaflets to their neighbors warning of the lawyers being convicted child molestors, letting air out of tires etc.

    They also almost succeeded in framin a critic for an attempted bombing which would have put her in a federal penitentary for 20 years.

    It is this balls to the wall willingness to terrorize people that has enabled them to avoid criticism and significant legal prosecutions.

    Most of their victims are so unwilling to endure more harassment that they do not seek recourse in the courts but instead limp off to rebuild their shattered lives.

    I think one reason Tom Cruise caved so quickly, though, is that there are so many ex-scientologists with dirt on them that the church is one bad viral-news-story away from having their critics coalesce into an unstoppable publicity machine. If that were to happen, the church would be completely discredited and collapse.

  • John||

    From what you are saying Tarren, they really are a criminal enterprise that needs to be subject to RICO prosecution. That said, it is not a question of if but when the scenario you lay out in your final paragraph finally happens. At some point an organization like that gets a critical mass of enemies such that the enemies realize they are not alone and if they all attack at once there is nothing that can stop them.

    I think that point is getting closer.

  • tarran||

    Well, they were prosecuted in the 1970's when the FBI raided them. Hubbard's wife and a bunch of his associates were convicted of a bunch of crimes and jailed.

    The current leader of the church, Miscavinge, survived that era. I think they have been more circumspect since. Since then, they've focused their violence at current members.

    IIRC by most measures they do retain the most capable non-state intelligence network in the U.S.

  • John||

    Didn't Hubbard's wife divorce him and go heretic or was this a second wife?

  • tarran||

    I think it was his second wife.

    Hubbard's family life was a confusing train-wreck.

    Actually, Hubbard's life was a confusing train-wreck.

    His actions in the Navy in WW-II read like a German operation in Hogan's Heroes.

  • John||

    He was a lousy science fiction writer. I made the mistake of trying to get through the Mission Earth Series once. What a boring set of books.

  • Trespassers W||

    I am not proud to say that I did it. But I was a teenager with a long attention span.

    That series of books is where I learned the word "catamite".

  • BarryD||

    I don't think that "religion" should EVER be an easy cloak to hide racketeering, or anything else. I don't believe that religions should get special deference, either, in any way.

    If I wanted to wear a balaclava for my driver's license picture, I'd be laughed out of the DMV. If I were a female islamic fundamentalist, that should not change the scenario one bit.

  • Randian||

    RICO charges are incompatible with libertarianism.

  • Tulpa the White||

    In practice, they are almost always misdirected against powerless unpopular organizations, because unfortunately that's how the law works. Not sure how they're incompatible in theory though.

  • Randian||

    The way that RICO charges work is that you simply take two predicate offenses and *voila* RICO.

    Via Wiki:

    "Under RICO, a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes—27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes—within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering."

    In other words, guilt by association. If I am a ranking member of say Penn State, even though I had no foreknowledge (or any knowledge) that they were engaging in any predicate offenses, I could be charged on RICO.

  • benji||

    Yeah, this is the type of thing I'm talking about. How are they getting away with it? I know they are going after people in the courts, but how are they? How can you bind someone to something like this?

    Why can't the Catholic Church do the same thing? I really don't get the law on this stuff.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    The Catholic Church probably CAN, it just that it DOESN'T.

  • Restoras||

    So, they should have declared Judaism a cult before they banned it, and we're all good?

  • sarcasmic||

    anti-authoritarian authoritarianism

    huh?

  • R C Dean||

    You know, like intolerant tolerance.

  • sarcasmic||

    Gotcha.
    Tolerant people do not tolerate intolerance, and anti-authoritarian authoritarians do not tolerate any authority but their own.
    That makes sense.

  • Juice||

    We will not tolerate this intolerance!

  • Trespassers W||

    Anti-[religious-]authoritarian [government-]authoritarianism, i.e. fighting one sort of authoritarianism with another. That's what I took him to mean.

  • Hugh Akston||

    most Americans are loath to do anything that would appear to infringe upon someone else’s religious liberty

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • MisterDamage||

    Relatively speaking, he's right. Not that you don't have a point from an absolute point of view

  • John||

    We have RICO laws in this country. If Scientology is some kind of criminal enterprise unlawfully intimidating and harassing its enemies, then use the RICO laws and go after them. Otherwise, being stupid is not and should not be a crime. If they can come after the Scientologists they can come after any of us. No thanks.

  • Juice||

    In most German states it costs you a fee if you want to officially leave the church. Why can't you just leave without doing it officially? Well, by "leave" they mean change your tax forms so that the Kirchensteuer (church tax) is no longer withheld from your paycheck.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Scientology is a weirdo cult. But, they should be free to be as weird and culty as they want to be.

  • IceTrey||

    So virgin sacrifices are ok?

  • ||

    If by "sacrifices" you mean hot, sweaty, kinky sex, hell yeah. Unless they're minors. That would be bad.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    No, IceTrey, virgin sacrifices are not ok.

  • ||

    No, IceTrey, virgin sacrifices are not ok.

    But sacrificing virginity is.

  • SKR||

    Now there's a blood cult I could get into.

  • ||

    "... "is not a religion" but is instead "a cult and a threat to democracy.""

    Yes, and that's clearly for you to determine, asshole. Liberty is liberty.

  • John||

    I have no doubt it is a cult. But these things have a way of working themselves out. There is an upper limit to the number of people who will fall for their bullshit. And that number is well below any number high enough to be a threat to democracy.

  • ||

    Sure, but even that's beyond and besides the relevant point.

    1) This is why constitutional republicanism, not democracy, was supposed to be ascendant -- you can't be a threat if the political system prohibits you from exercising your stupid religion in political form. Democracy can go fuck itself sideways.

    2) It's nobody's place to determine what's permissible and what isn't outside of violations of other people's equal rights. Period.

  • John||

    2) It's nobody's place to determine what's permissible and what isn't outside of violations of other people's equal rights. Period.

    What about groups whose entire purpose is using the Democratic system to destroy it like Nazis and Fascists?

    For any democratic system to function, everyone has to agree up front to the system itself. The system has to have a way to fight off people meant on destroying it. If democratic people take your attitude, it is just a matter of time before a critical mass of fascists or other undemocratic forces come along and take over the system for the single purpose of destroying it and setting up a dictatorship.

    That is what happened in many third world countries and why democracy has failed in more places that it has succeeded. If one side sees the Democratic process as nothing more than a means to an end of ceasing permanent power and the other side does nothing to stop them, you won't have a democracy for very long.

  • ||

    Demonstrating the foundationally illiberal and self-destructive nature of democracy.

  • John||

    That is why you have to have checks on the majority and a dogmatic commitment to the institutions of government. If you don't have that, then you end up with the same rule by the gun you always had.

  • ||

    But republicanism is for libertards and Rethuglicant racist homophobes and militias and stuff. DEMOCRASY IS SO GR8!

    /NYT columnist

  • C. Al Currier||

    Cult (from OED) Etymology: Latin cultus worship ( colĕreto attend to, cultivate, respect, etc.)

    Cult=religion and religion=cult (if you use Oxford English Dictionary)

    I'd say democracy is a threat to respect (cult).

  • Old Mexican||

    In a recent Tablet piece, Jamie Kirchick defends the German government's campaign against Scientology[...]


    This is the same Jamie Kirchick who was so concerned about the sensibilities of all people of good conscience when he threw mud at Ron Paul by publishing out-of-contexts snippets from 20 year old newsletters few back then read. Am I right?

  • tarran||

  • Randian||

    OOOOOOllllld Trollxican!

    Rehashing the Ron Paul where'er he goes

    OOOOOOlllld Trollxican!

  • R C Dean||

    "Because of its history of Nazism," Kirchick explains, "Germany believes it has an obligation to is expert at rooting out extremists undesirables, and not just those of a political flavor, but most especially those who follow the wrong religion.

    Authoritarian lack self-awareness and a sense of irony. I know, I know, a dog-licks-balls story.

  • sarcasmic||

    The main difference between a cult and a religion is numbers.

    Scientology is really expensive.

    I mean, like really fucking expensive.

    It will remain a cult as long as you got to be super rich to join the club.

  • Ice Nine||

    A religion is a cult that made it.

  • Raven Nation||

    I think one of the earliest separations of cult/religion was made by Protestant Christians. Usually, a cult was determined by where they stood on the deity of Christ i.e. was God, is God, will always be God.

    So, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, etc. cults.

  • sarcasmic||

    Many Protestants consider anything other than their particular flavor of Christianity to be a cult.

    Outside Protestant Christianity the word "cult" seems to be used to arbitrarily describe a religion with fewer than x number of members, whatever x may be.

  • Lord at War||

    "I am indebted to L. Sprague de Camp for this definition of the difference. A "religion" is a faith one is born into; a "cult" is a faith an adult joins voluntarily."- R. A. Heinlein

  • Bill Dalasio||

    "not a religion" but is instead "a cult and a threat to democracy."

    Okay, can I declare modern progressivism not really a political philosophy but a cult and a threat to liberty?

  • Almanian 1||

    I'll allow it

  • Old Mexican||

    The same government that has targeted Scientology because of its alleged threat to "pluralistic democracy" also uses that rationale to justify bans on hate speech, Holocaust denial, symbols and books associated with the Nazi regime, and ethnically divisive political groups.


    Or to ban homeschooling.

    "In our increasingly multicultural society[,] school is the place for a peaceful dialogue between different opinions, values, religions and ideologies," said Berlin's education minister, Juergen Zoellner.

    You can just smell the bullshit from thousands of miles away.

  • ||

    The link's missing.

  • Old Mexican||

    Damned open tags...

    Pull my finger

  • ||

    Germany can go fuck itself.

  • R C Dean||

    Given the dot de porn I have, um, heard about, I think this is a given.

  • ||

    On many porn sites, the locals' equivalent of a gross meme like Lemon Party for us is German scat porn and the really, really extreme BDSM stuff German pornographers are often fans of making.

  • o3||

    "Europeans fleeing religious persecution"
    _
    yea if by fleeing jacob means the crazy-ass pilgrams were tossed outta 3 countries...who then, in turn, killed und desecrated the burial grounds of friendly natives who showed the pilgrams how to survive.

    much of why this country has such weird religious values is rooted in crazy-ass pilgrams.

  • John||

    I wonder if one of the ways Scientology keeps its bigger name members is by collecting blackmail dirt on them. Someone as rich and famous as Tom Cruise would be pretty much immune from efforts to frame him for a crime or embarrass him in front of his neighbors or family. So how do they keep so many of their really famous and powerful members in line? I think it has to be some kind of blackmail.

  • ||

    Probably because they're genuinely enthralled/interested by/in the Church. True believers.

  • John||

    some of them. But not all of them. There are so many actors who are members. Hard to believe one or two haven't come out and told the truth.

  • sarcasmic||

    The "truth" comes with a price. Scientology has many levels that you literally buy into. I'm sure that this comes with non-disclosure agreements and such.
    I'm inclined to think they might really believe it or they wouldn't spend thousand and thousands and thousands of dollars to move to each next level.

  • John||

    How pathetic do you have to be to think that paying these losers increasing amounts of money will gain you access to the "truth"?

  • sarcasmic||

    How pathetic do you have to be to believe that a dunk in the water combined with eating bread and a sip of wine every week will guarantee you everlasting life after death with your invisible master?

    It's all a matter of perspective.

  • John||

    How pathetic do you have to be to believe that a dunk in the water combined with eating bread and a sip of wine every week will guarantee you everlasting life after death with your invisible master?

    Except no one actually believes that.

  • ||

    Except devout Catholics.

  • John||

    Nope RPA. Even the most devout Catholic would argue that attendance at mass alone would guarantee you salvation or that even frequent communion, as opposed to church, is even necessary. For most of the Church's history actual communion was only taken on special occasions.

  • Almanian 1||

    John's right - it's not eating the bread and drinking the wine that saves you - that's just part of the ritual.

    The Lord already knew you, before you were born...you don't pick Him ®...He picks you. it's right there in the Bible™. Mysterious, it is...

    PS In Soviet Russia, religion practices YOU!

  • SKR||

    The payments are the incentive to believe, because once you stop believing you are hopelessly embarrassed by the donations. For people with celebrity sized egos, such embarrassment is a bridge too far.

  • SKR||

    Dammit, i should have scrolled down just one more comment.

  • sarcasmic||

    Scientology costs a ton of money.
    Wheelbarrows worth.

    Perhaps members stay "in line" because they've got so much invested in it?

    I mean, Tom Cruise has to have spent millions and millions of dollars to get to the level he's at.

    He's not going to just walk away from it.

    Just a thought.

  • John||

    And a good thought. I am sure there is some of that going on. But I also wonder if there is not more. The way most organized crime organizations work is they get you to commit some kind of crime to be a member. Then they have you. You can't go to the cops without admitting you are a criminal. I would imagine they work on something of the same principle. Once you get so committed, they get you to do something that creates the possibility of real blackmail. And then they have you.

  • sarcasmic||

    I draw a distinction between people who attend the church and people who run it.
    Perhaps the people who run it are as you describe, but followers are followers.

  • John||

    I am talking about the high level ones not the average loser paying so much of a percent of his income hoping for enlightenment.

  • ||

    Maybe Tom's waiting for Cosmic Satan to revitalize his career.

  • SKR||

    Couple that with the celebrity egos and they would rather remain deluded than admit they are fucking morons.

  • tarran||

    I wonder if one of the ways Scientology keeps its bigger name members is by collecting blackmail dirt on them.

    Yes.

    The church helps people by subjecting them to very thorough questions about their life, including stuff they're embarassed about.

    The subject is required to answer truthfully in order to clear themselves of bad thetans.

    So the true believers give up the dirt. IF a person than back-slides, the file will be published to embarrass them. This has happened to several high-profile defectors.

  • John||

    That is what I figured. And most people who are confused enough to walk in the door are probably going to have something they would like to leave behind.

  • Scarcity||

    Do you have examples? Would love to read about them.

  • oncogenesis||

  • Lord at War||

    Scarcity-

    Lots of links at Operation Clambake.

  • ||

    Cult

    With extra words to get it through the spam filter.

  • sarcasmic||

  • John||

    Encouraged by her family, 14-year-old Astra Woodcraft signed up to one billion years of service to the Church of Scientology's Sea Organisation and set in motion a shattering series of events that led to her clandestine escape from the secretive religion.

    Suffering sexual and physical abuse at the hands of fellow members, when Astra was 19 she resolved to leave the Church the only way she knew how - by secretly becoming pregnant, which went against the rules of the authoritarian Sea Org.

    Pressured to have an abortion, she fled to relatives in England, leaving behind the 26-year-old husband she had married at 15, her mother, who she has spoken to only once since and a brother who has disowned her.

    Inevitably it comes down to marrying teenagers with these people.

  • sarcasmic||

    It is as if, deep down, all religions are sex-cults.

  • tarran||

    Inevitably it comes down to marrying teenagers with these people.

    Well, Hubbard exclusively used teenage girls to staff the Commodore's Message Organization.

  • sarcasmic||

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh, and Kate Beckinsale still looks hot in leather pants!

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvs.....-hair.html

  • Mensan||

    She said in an interview that she never wears underwear.

  • ||

    Try visiting Clearwater, FL and stand outside the Ft. Harrison Hotel (Scientology HQ) while taking pictures. The cops will soon be there to politely ask you to move along or haul your ass to jail for disorderly conduct.

  • sarcasmic||

    In the name of Homeland Security, anyone taking pictures of any big building is a suspected terrorist until they prove otherwise.

  • ||

    In the name of Homeland Security, anyone taking pictures of any big building is a suspected terrorist until they prove otherwise.

    Yeah but they were doing this in Clearwater long before 9/11.

  • Mensan||

    I can confirm that. It was happening when I lived there from '99-'01.

  • John||

    They are annoying as hell. This is one area where I actually am tempted to go Tom Friedman and be the Chinese for a few days and go full Fulong Gong on their asses. They are a boil on the ass of society. Granted one we have to suffer as a price of freedom. But a boil none the less.

  • ||

    Rumor has it that there are microphones all around the building on Ft. Harrison Blvd. so they can listen in on the conversations of their followers when they leave the HQ.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Take away CoS's ability to enforce copyright and they'd wither away in five years. It's not an issue of religious freedom, it's an issue of a pseudo-religious organization using the coercive power of the state to prop itself up.

  • John||

    How so?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Because people pay big bucks to get access to Scientology's advanced tracts. If they weren't copyrighted, anybody could access them for free.

  • John||

    Ah.Thanks.

  • John||

    That adds another thing to the list of things I would do if I were ever in Congress. Get a copy of all of the advanced tracts from one of the dissidents and read them all into the Congressional record, thus making them publicly available to all.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Take away CoS's ability to enforce copyright and they'd wither away in five years. It's not an issue of religious freedom, it's an issue of a pseudo-religious organization using the coercive power of the state to prop itself up.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Take away CoS's ability to enforce copyright and they'd wither away in five years. It's not an issue of religious freedom, it's an issue of a pseudo-religious organization using the coercive power of the state to prop itself up.

  • mikesswimn||

    The difference between a religion and a cult is found by looking at their members. Here's how you tell the difference:

    Ask member about their religion/cult.
    If the member doesn't shut up about it, it's a religion.
    If the member doesn't tell you anything of substance, or only vague points/promises, it's a cult.

    Using this rule, here's a short list of religions:
    Christianity, Judiaism, Islam, Atheism, CrossFit, ComiCon, Both major US political parties.

    I'm pretty sure it's a foolproof method.

  • John||

    That is a good way to look at it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Using this rule, here's a short list of religions:
    Christianity, Judiaism, Islam, Atheism, CrossFit, ComiCon, Both major US political parties.

    You forgot the Marine Corps.

  • rac3rx||

    You also forgot modern liberalism/progressives and global warmists.

  • MisterDamage||

    And libertarians (c'mon, you know it's true) :)

  • ||

    Both major US political parties.

    All the campaign brochures I've received so far this season could be described as "doesn't tell you anything of substance, or only vague points/promises".

  • Loki||

    Don't forget about ecomentalism.

  • CE||

    The difference between a religion and a cult is how long it's been around.

  • Tulpa the White||

    The main difference between Scientology and regular religions is that Scientology keeps its beliefs and practices secret.

    Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists believe some whacky shit but they'll talk your ear off about it given the chance and thus are rendered harmless. Scientology, not so much.

    My remedy would be to ban any organization claiming religious status from possessing copyrights, which is the usual way CoS tries to keep its crap secret.

  • perlhaqr||

    What's your take on the LDS religion, then? (Mormonism)

    The Temple Ceremonies are supposed to be secret (although they really aren't anymore). They don't use copyright, though, to attack those who talk about them.

  • ||

    Google pretty much ended any effective attempts at religious secrecy.

    And it's not like Mormons won't tell you what goes on in general at their Temple Ceremonies, they are just mum on the fine details.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Copyright really shouldn't protect secret works anyway. The whole point of it is to encourage authors to make works available to the public while ensuring that they can get paid.

  • perlhaqr||

    You'd think the Germans would be a bit more careful at this point about stomping on a religion.

  • Enough About Palin||

    My very exceptionally socially retarded brother-in-law almost got nab by the scientologists. He called from the airport saying he was flying to LA (from Minneapolis) to live the dianetic life, so I and my wife went to the airport. He was with a guy in a Hubbard costume who had taken care of everything for him (e.g., was arranging the sale of his assets). But here's the thing -- I'm pretty well off and that was apparent to the scientology guy. So rather than try to prevent my brother-in-law from leaving, I told the scientology guy that I was also very interested in scientology (a few years in a road band taught me how to lie without a trace).

    Well the scientology guy lights up like a neon sign and we end up agreeing to all go to the dianetics place downtown in order for me to get more info on their fantastic religion (the premise being both my brother-in-law and I would go to LA together - more money for hubbard), which got my brother-in-law out of the airport, allowing his dad time to drive down from North Dakota and talk him out of going to LA.

    25 years later and I still am on their crap mailing list.

  • John||

    That is a great story.

  • John||

    a few years in a road band taught me how to lie without a trace).

    I picked up that skill in law school.

  • Enough About Palin||

    Two very similar disciplines.

  • Anacreon||

    The other thing about Scientology -- which they are really good about cloaking -- is that they believe that psychiatry is evil. At many medical conferences you can see Scientologists protesting outside, using smokescreen names along the lines of "victims of psychiatry" (pick your own moniker, they change every conference). Of course, their desire is that people become Scientologists rather than seek more established mental health assistance.

    Note that in Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's novel "Battlefield Earth," the evil alien race are the "Psychlos". You don't need a PhD in comparative lit to figure that reference out.

  • CE||

    The other thing about Scientology -- which they are really good about cloaking -- is that they believe that psychiatry is evil.

    So they're not all bad.

  • ||

    "Because of its history of Nazism," Kirchick explains, "Germany believes it has an obligation to root out extremists, and not just those of a political flavor.

    Because nothing repudiates Nazism like using the government to root out and label as extremist a minority that some people don't like.

  • CE||

    Jamie Kirchick -- continuing his fight against freedom.

  • RightNut||

    So, the same country that banned circumcision in an effort to kick Jews and Muslims out prevent child "abuse", has no problem waging a campaign against Scientology. I'm SHOCKED!

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    Germany persecutes homeschoolers to the extent that the US granted asylum to a homeschooling family.

    http://ow.ly/cyIdq

    The flat ban on homeschooling dates to the Nazi era, by the way, so maybe there's still a few places their anti-Nazi scrubbing brush didn't quite reach.

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