Oh, Xenu!

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Between Christmas, Chanukah, Solstice, and Kwanzaa, Scientologists may feel a bit left out. For them, there's a new musical based on the life of schlock sci-fi author cum Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. Read the New York Times review if you have any doubts. (Hat tip: Jeff Patterson)

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  1. Sweet!

    Is anyone interested in starting a betting pool with me to see how long it takes for the Church of Scientology to sue these guys?

  2. and it is quite odd that the play hasn’t been sued yet. they yank out lawyers for all sorts of shit.

  3. Heavens, lovey, it’s a Yale man!

  4. “and it is quite odd that the play hasn’t been sued yet”

    Yes, odd indeed…

    Say, if Hollywood became a separate city, who do you think would be the #1 landlord?

    Why is there an L. Ron Hubbard Blvd. in L.A., complete with a big traffic sign on Sunset?

    Why is there an ad in the L.A. Weekly stating that some university or other (located on that Blvd.) has a non-discrimination policy? Is that a law all universities have to follow, or the result of some legal agreement?

    Can I get an “audit” from Leah Remini?

  5. i dunno, i don’t live in LA. 🙂

  6. One time when I was in LA with a friend, we had some free time and decided to check out the Church of Scientology place. Fascinating stuff! We were browsing around the materials for sale when we were approached by some church-guy. He took us to a theater they had there and we got to watch an introductory video on what the church is all about… it even had several celebrities talking about the church! It was some bizarre stuff… I recommend checking this stuff out to anyone who has a morbid curiosity about this cult.

  7. one note to be fair to old L. Ron. While he is responsible for some execrable stuff, he did write one or two good books. Battlefield Earth is a very entertaining SciFi work, and on the whole the philosophical message is a good one (e.g. individual victorious over tyranny).

    I honestly think this would be considedered probably not top 10 but certainly top 50 best sci fi novels if the rest of Hubbards life did not turn so many people off.

  8. I saw the play; some friends of mine bought tickets as a ‘surprise.’ It was somewhat funny, but it’s best that it goes on for only an hour.

    Since the performers are about 8-12 years old, one wonders how much they understand of the play — or whether it’s some kind of mind control similar to what they’re satirizing.

  9. oh man, that video is deadly. sooooo long. actually, i don’t think the video we saw had celebrities, it was an interview with the ron from the mid 60s.

    but scientology is no more of a cult than the catholic church or most objectivist groups. they’re all equally fucking nuts. and auditing does work, it just shouldn’t require thousands of dollars.

    the FDA’s case against scientology over the e-meters would make a nice libertarian piece, maybe?

  10. “Since when do members of the Conspiracy, er, Cult, i mean “Church” of Scientology call themselves Reverend?”

    Since it got them tax-exempt status.

  11. it’s little kids?
    that’s kinda fucked up.

  12. dhex: As far as cults go though, Scientology is probably among the most dangerous, because it actually has several prominent “mainstream” celebrities like Tom Cruise as public advocates. They have seriously deep pockets. And it’s killed people, like Lisa MacPherson, and destroyed the lives of people who criticize it – the Raelians haven’t got anything on them.

    As for the Orientation video, I highly recommend it for anyone. If you ever had any doubt that these people are scary, seeing their own video is probably the best way to do it. Kirstie Alley says, total deadpan, that if it weren’t for Scientology, she “would be dead today.” They have several stuffed suits who hold high positions within the church, including the couldn’t-be-more-Orwellian-sounding-if-they-tried “Minister of Deprogramming” chuckling about how hard it sometimes is to “deprogram” all those worldly influences out of people.

    Finally, why hasn’t anyone recommended the best site on Scientology out there, http://www.xenu.net/ ?

  13. Mike, once you cleanse yourself of your bitter engrams, and attain clear, I have an E-Meter to sell you.

  14. Since when do members of the Conspiracy, er, Cult, i mean “Church” of Scientology call themselves Reverend? How about Dissembler or Retard or Crazy-Ass Freak?

  15. only as a historically oddity, of course, lest the FDA get all up in that. 🙂

    but one way to fuck with association lines towards words, images, memories and the like is through constant repetition. numbing, like watching porn for 24 hours. which can be desireable for certain things.

  16. “Kirstie Alley says, total deadpan, that if it weren’t for Scientology, she “would be dead today.” ”

    Yes, that’s the one I saw too. I clearly remember the Kristie Alley part… other highlights were the neverending series of books you were supposed to buy to become a good Scientologist (the requisite books probably cost at least $1000)… and then there’s their dismissal of human evolution from “monkeys” (I’ve heard elsewhere that they believe we evolved from clams)… and the best part was the ending, where a guy was throwing out increasingly intimidating lines while the camera kept taking steps closer and closer to him. Brilliant stuff!

    As for Xenu.com… is that information accurate? Even with the nutty stuff I know about Scientologists, the stuff there seems nutty even for them.

  17. well, l.ron and jack parsons were both crowleyites in their early years, until elron jacked his chick and supposedly took his yacht. “love and rockets” is a pretty interesting read, according to which lron and parsons and this woman were mucking about with crowley’s moonchilde working (wee baby antichrist)

    i don’t think scientology is particularly dangerous, which may be why my attitude towards them is so flippant. even if they’ve killed a hundred people – which i don’t think they’ve come close to – they’re still far, far, far behind any major religion and most of the minor ones as well. sure, they’re expensive and somewhat exploitive but hardly dangerous. and hardly unique amongst belief systems.

  18. Could it be any worse than Rent?

  19. Oh right, the intimidating closing! How could I forget?

    Verbatim (more or less), from the current President of Scientology:
    “You could accept Scientology … or you could put a gun to your head. Either way, the choice is yours.”

  20. A few years back, I visited volunteermatch.org and expressed an interest in volunteering for an organization called the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project. Only afterwards did I do a little checking and find out that the organization with the warm and cuddly name is actually run by or affiliated with the dreaded Hubbardettes. The happy friendly recruiter left five or so messages for me, inviting me to come on down. I decided that even playing along as a joke wasn’t a wise thing to do.

    I briefly worked at Hollywood and Ivar, right across the street from the place where some say ElRon’s head is kept. Watching them come to work each day was definitely an interesting experience, especially the kids dressed in their little sailor suits.

    For more information, consult this and this.

  21. Andy D asks: “As for Xenu.com… is that information accurate? Even with the nutty stuff I know about Scientologists, the stuff there seems nutty even for them.”

    I have not looked at that particular site, but in general, the atrocity tale genre accompanies nearly all new religions that achieve significant growth. Claims by disgruntled former members of the new religion are hyped, and accepted uncritically as evidence of the dangerousness of the despised religion.

    Common themes of the anti-cult atrocity tale are sexual and financial malfeasance. In the 19th century, when Roman Catholicism was treated in the U.S. as a despised new religion, “The Confessions of Maria Monk” was widely touted as giving the true stuff re: the sexual depravity of priests and nuns (Ms. Monk claimed to be a former nun). A lot of such feverish ranting about convents and priests went on in the 19th century, stirring up anti-Catholic hatred that resulted in the arson of at least one convent and several deaths.

    Demonizing religions– old ones or new — can have bad consequences. For a time in the 70s, adults who voluntarily joined religions were being kidnapped and held in basements where so-called “deprogrammers” screamed at and harangued the prisoner about his/her religious beliefs. The public largely accepted the “necessity” of this violence and false imprisonment, but fortunately, the courts eventually repudiated it. But the point is, generating hysteria about a particular group can have some very bad consequences.

  22. I don’t want to demonize anyone’s religion; indeed, I was raised in a minority religion myself. I think that Scientologists should have the right to pracitce Scientology and advocate it’s adoption to others.

    But, I reserve the right, to say what I think. And when it comes to topics like this, I think I have a DUTY to ridicule the ridiculous.

    With that being said…

    A Scientology musical?

    Oh please let there be a scene in which John Travolta cures Kirsty Alley’s psychological problems with a tuning fork…while dancing.

    Pretty pleeeaaaasse.

    P.S. Will they be selling copies of Diarretics in the lobby?

  23. Ok, I looked at the Xenu site; typical anti-new religion propaganda. For a tolerant and civil-libertarian style look at “cults,” as well as an examination of the anti-cult movement(s) and THEIR excesses, see the University of Virginia’s New Religious Movements site. A good place to start there is here:
    http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/cultsect/cultsect.htm

  24. Schiltz writes: “But, I reserve the right, to say what I think. And when it comes to topics like this, I think I have a DUTY to ridicule the ridiculous.”

    Sure. I was raised in an opressive sect of Roman Catholics who had broken with Rome after Vatican II, which they regard as a Jewish/liberal/communist plot to liberalize and destroy the “true faith.” It would be fair to say I can wax pretty vitriolic and critical of extreme Catholicism. I have huge, huge issues with Catholicism, but the Maria Monk and Know-Nothing bullshit was just that.

    But that said, there is a difference between criticizing a religion, and accepting overwrought and hysterical rants by people who basically are religious bigots. Many religions present more than enough practices and doctrines to legitimately criticize without having to descend into false and wildly infammed lies. The latter can cause a hue and cry to arise that “something must be done.” Those somethings are seldom good for civil liberties.

  25. Mona-

    #1- Did that sound like some sort of coherent argument in your head? Were you actually claiming that Catholic atrocity somehow makes a pyramid-scheme-pretending-to-be-religion any more acceptable?

    #2- Having been to XENU.COM, I saw a well researched, footnoted web-site that linked to verifiable stories. However, a number of those stories had been removed due to the repressive, PROMISCUOUS use of “trademark infringement” SLAPP’s. You feel however you want, but don’t come on here claiming that devoted enemies of Free Speech deserve “tolerance”, while defenders of their own right to freee speech merely peddle propaganda. I call “Bullshit”.

    #3- Re: your issues with Catholicism- get a Therapist. I don’t say that out of any particular concern for you, I just tire of reading your pretentious screeds regarding it.

    #4- Finally, saying that “Lisa McPherson case appears to be an anomoly…” merely shows you to be as compassionate as you are intelligent. Yeah she was basically murdered, but she was just anoutlier.

  26. Well Strident, clearly my comments, and perhaps also my style, royally pissed you off. Look, I did not relate my experiences with Traditionalist Catholics in order to elicit anyone’s sympathy. I did that to demonstrate that I am fully aware — at more than just the intellectual level– that religion can fuck a person up.

    Further, I did not mean to suggest that what happened to Lisa Mcherson is not awful. But as libertarians should well know, there are pockets of kooks in many movements; I do not much like being tarred with the antics of libertarian survivalists who play games in a Northern Michigan woods every weekend in anticipation of war with the government. Libertarianism is a lot bigger than that, and we are not all nuts.

    Similarly, Scientology has not been the cause of a slew of deaths for failure to obtain proper medical attention of kidnapped church members. Of course its lawyers and head honchos are not much inclined to let anyone and everyone into their inner workings. In general, the mdia and the population at large are quite ready to slant anything learned about a new religion in the most invidious terms possible. This makes the adherents of new religions pretty defensive.

    In any event, I am genuinely sorry if my tone seems pretentious. I have a background in religious studies and a deep concern (that encompases my libertarianism and opposition to kidnapping adults whose friends and family dislike their relgious choices) with the issue of cults, and anti-cult movements in particular. These issues are important to me and I suppose I can sound a bit pedantic or arrogant when stating my case.

    What I am hoping to communicate is that there *IS* more than the one side we all get from the media, namely, that new religions are dangerous and bad and anyone critical of them is fighting the good fight. Again, I commend to you the UVA New Religious Movements site. Read what scholars — sociologists and cultural anthropologists — of religious movements have to say about sites like Xenu and the better known anti-cult groups and activists. Surely you would understand that the popular sentiment supported by the media is not usually all that a thinking person and civil libertarian needs to know.

  27. I saw part of a documentary on scientology a few weeks back on either tlc or discovery channel I think it was. The part I saw showed them being harassed by the IRS and then fighting back. Anyone who fights the IRS can’t be all bad.

  28. It is claimed: “As far as cults go though, Scientology is probably among the most dangerous, because it actually has several prominent “mainstream” celebrities like Tom Cruise as public advocates. They have seriously deep pockets. And it’s killed people, like Lisa MacPherson, and destroyed the lives of people who criticize it – the Raelians haven’t got anything on them.”

    dhex is correct in saying Scientology is no more a cult than the RC Church, and neither is Scientology particularly dangerous. A cult is nothing more than a new religion, but the term is pejorative, and most who employ it mean “a new religion I don’t like.” Catholicism, of course, is not new, but when scads of Catholic immigrants inundated the U.S. in the 19th century, the WASP reaction was quite hostile. The anti-Catholic hysteria many fomented was, in sociological terms, entirely like that which is directed at despised new religions.

    The Lisa McPherson case appears to be an anomoly. Moreover, Catholicism has killed people as well, or at least its tenets have. Women died in chidlbirth having babies they had no business conceiving cuz the Church forbids birth control. Indeed, Catholic teachings on sexuality have ruined lives. (Not so much today in the West, where Catholics largely just ignore that bullshit.)

    What would you think of a religion that invites young women to join a sealed community of other women where all dress in identical bizarre clothing, shave their heads, participate in a “wedding ceremony” to purportedly marry a dead Jewish carpenter, and from which community they seldom if ever leave to see a family they have largely renounced in order to be the bride of a god? Cloistered convents are no weirder than a lot of stuff people cite as dangerous or bizarre in so-called cults. But the Catholic Church and its convents have been around a long time, so CNN isn’t going to run a hyped story about the daughters lost to the bald sisterhood.

  29. dhex astutely observes: “i mean, fucking please, give me a break. you don’t have to like scientology – i certainly don’t do much more than giggle about it – but if you don’t see just how freakin’ flimsly the line is (mona’s example of the mormons is pretty good, cept no one’s shooting scientologists) between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” religions then there’s not much hope for you.”

    And to continue with the Mormom thing, before founding the LDS, Joseph Smith did not enjoy a reputation for stability and honesty. His claims to have received gold tablets with the whole truth on them from an angel, Moroni, and that these tablets just, somehow, could not be accessed anymore, certainly should raise a skeptical eyebrow.

    But yes, a lot of folks nevertheless converted to Smith’s notions, and Mormons were widely persecuted, unto incidents of shooting at them and mob violence. Today, Mormons are pretty well main-streamed and certainly powerful. Orrin Hatch, as a Mormon, would certainly not have been sitting in the Seante in 1900, anymore than an avowed Scientologist (or atheist) could be today.

  30. Mona is pulling out all the classic stops; using all the standard disinformation arguments recommended by Scientology to “handle” their detractors. Read over her material closely; compare it to the drivel spouted by any sufficiently brainwashed $cientology member you might run across. It’s all the same pseudo-sophisticated bull, all the time.

    Scientology is so paranoid about any bad press that they actually have high-ranking members search chat rooms and bulletin boards for anything said against them. Mona is just one more typical case.

    My own experience with Scientology includes a family member “inside,” a few years spent working for a Scientology-run art studio (almost succeeded in sucking me under), and a good amount of reading Scientology materials on my own time. I think I know what I’m talking about (whether Mona does or not, lol).

  31. Worth saying while we’re on this topic: Citizens Campaign for Human Rights (CCHR), an oft-referenced source for psychiatry-bashers, is a Scientology front group. Note the Travolta appearances at their public events.

  32. speedwell writes: “Mona is pulling out all the classic stops; using all the standard disinformation arguments recommended by Scientology to “handle” their detractors. Read over her material closely; compare it to the drivel spouted by any sufficiently brainwashed $cientology member you might run across. It’s all the same pseudo-sophisticated bull, all the time.”

    Disinformation? So, presumably you feel the religious studies dept at UVA is also part of the evil cabal of Scientologists who are brainwashing people?

    I’ve been posting on this board since about last spring, and in several contexts have noted that I am a non-theist and skeptic, which is certainly the case. I belong to no religious group at all, and personally am a rationalist. My opinion about the substance of Scientology is that it is laughable.

    Brainwashing, however, is a meritless concept almost unanimously rejected by ACADEMICS. And yes, that, too, is a subject well covered and documented at the UVA site. The fact is, many of your fellow human beings make *choices to believe things we find absurd. Ad hominem spewings at and about me will not change this reality, and one would think that a libertarian site in particular would be interested in protecting the right of human beings to make their own choices, without appeals to the equivalent of claiming some religionists operate under a false consciousness.

    You could engage my arguments rather than attack me, and that is how the more productive discussions on this board proceed. I’ve linked to a very fertile site containing the most scholarly thinking about the subject under discussion. I have also pointed out that, to take just one mainstream religion, Catholicism, certain of its manifesations (cloistered convents) could very easily be hyped to terrify the population.

    So, I’ve offered some arguments and supporting, neutral research for my positions. And your “response” is to ignore all that and simply assert I am practicing so-called disinformation techniques. Very compelling, all that.

  33. There’s a big difference between Catholic religious orders and cults. First, even the Church only envisions a vanishingly small % of the population ever joining one. The other 99+% are presumed to go about their lives. This is different from, say, the People’s Church, in which all church members were supposed to live in a cloistered group. Second, virtually every culture in history has had monks, nuns, hermits, and their equivalent – it seems to be a universal that there is a segment of humanity that wants to drop out of society and devote themselves to the quiet life.

  34. joe writes: “There’s a big difference between Catholic religious orders and cults. First, even the Church only envisions a vanishingly small % of the population ever joining one. The other 99+% are presumed to go about their lives. This is different from, say, the People’s Church, in which all church members were supposed to live in a cloistered group. Second, virtually every culture in history has had monks, nuns, hermits, and their equivalent – it seems to be a universal that there is a segment of humanity that wants to drop out of society and devote themselves to the quiet life.”

    Early Xians tended to live in segregated communities and rejected the dominant culture: they were treated as a dangerous cult by Rome. And yes, the equivalent of cloistered convents is found in many cultures. So is the functional equivalent of the nonsense Scientology preaches. Kirstie Alley’s saying Scientology saved her life is not materially distinguishable from the born again Xian who claims his life was turned around by Jesus.

    Born agains who really think Jesus is about to come back have a whole industry of novels, and now films, pandering to this absurdity. There is far, far less mockery and alarm about them as compared to the ridicule aimed at Scientology because the born agains are Xian, and thus regarded as somewhat mainstream. Scientology, being new, is exotic and thus regarded with a greater degree of suspicion and hostility than are the Rapture fanatics. Almost all new religions are treated with anger and suspicion, and this was the case with Xianity until it became the dominant belief system.

    Scientology now is where Mormons were in 1900; still despised and not well tolerated by the dominant culture.

  35. Scientology is not a religion. And from those who knew Hubbard, scientology is a SCAM. And a funny one at that. Never underestimate the way people love to be flim-flamed

  36. Eric writes: “Scientology is not a religion”

    It is considered to be one by sociologists of religion and by cultural anthropologists. And also by the American judicial system.

    Hubbard may well have been cynical in his founding of Scientology; that is, he may not have believed any of what he claimed. (There is some evidence he announced his intention to found a religion at a conference of sci-fi writers.) But that is irrelevant to the role Scientology plays in the lives of its adherents, which very definitley is the same role of any other religion.

  37. the day someone can demonstrate to me the the line between a religion and a scam is the day i can finally pick one of them. 🙂

    religion or scam, that is.

    i mean, fuck, why do you care? i’ve been in the belly of the scientological beast and they’re no more frightening than any political or religious group of adherents. in fact, they’re dreadfully boring in parts, and remind me most of apple computer evangelizers.

    like i mentioned earlier, no one has brought RICO charges against the rockville centre or boston dioceses, yet their leaders ACTUALLY HELPED PEDOPHILES VICTIMIZE MORE PEOPLE AND EVADE PROSECTUTION.

    being an established religion with scads of cash is helpful in cases like this. moreso the establishment than the cash, i think.

    i mean, fucking please, give me a break. you don’t have to like scientology – i certainly don’t do much more than giggle about it – but if you don’t see just how freakin’ flimsly the line is (mona’s example of the mormons is pretty good, cept no one’s shooting scientologists) between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” religions then there’s not much hope for you.

  38. to help make the distinction a bit more clear, most americans think anyone who isn’t a republican or a democrat is either an idiot or crazy – calling yourself a libertarian will not help matters any.

    are you crazy or are you merely not what they are?

  39. For a slew of dead scientologists, one has to look only here: http://www.whyaretheydead.net

    And for ‘Religious’ child abuse and neglect http://www.taxexemptchildabuse.net

  40. As a result of the discussion on this board, I undertook some research into the Church of Scientology, including some extensive exchanges with its critics at alt.relgion.scientology. I had told them of my particiaption in this thread, which is how Mike Gormez knew of it and thus posted links to his web site where he argues that the CoS kills people.

    I do not agree with Mike on that subject, but he and I have been having friendly and respectful exchanges on the entire topic of the CoS at ARS.

    I have changed my mind in one important area: the CoS implements a doctrine known as “Fair Game,” and this has caused them to employ literally criminal methods to destroy anyone who criticizes them. A web search for “Paulette Cooper” is one place to start to learn of their vile practices, but it goes even deeper than that.

    So, while I remain adamanant in my refusal to demonize them for holding unusual beliefs about e-meters and such, I have come to condemn them for their outragous abuse of the judicial system, their attempts to end free speech on the Internet, and their willingness to destroy anyone — including judges adjudicating cases where they are parties — whom they deem to be an enemy.

    –Mona–

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