Scientology: Really a Religion?

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Titan
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Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Titan » Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:39 am UTC

So recently, I've been paying some attention to the news... Shocking, I know, but there it is. What really caught my attention was the February 10th protest by Anonymous worldwide. I've been researching a lot, and I've realize that the Church of Scientology really has gotten away with way more than they should. They have done some scary stuff.

I don't claim to be an expert on the subject by any means, and if you want a lot of information I would suggest researching the topic yourself. I do however, know enough to say that I support a few goals and feel that they are worthy of organized, world-wide protests.
1) The Church of Scientology should not be tax-exempt. They operate like a business, essentially require large donations, and commission the church officials based on their ability to gain followers and donations.
2) The Church's policy of ruthlessly targeting their enemies with varied, underhanded, and questionably legal tactics is unfair and intolerable. These tactics should be exposed, invalidated, and, if possible, punished. I will cite the obvious examples of Lisa McPherson and Paulette Cooper, although there have been many others and I encourage you to research.


Honestly, I would advise everyone again to do some research into it, if you haven't already. Browse the internet, see what both sides of the debate have to say. I'm going to be getting involved in the next world-wide picket on March 15th. I'm looking to see if anyone else supports.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby theonlyjett » Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:58 am UTC

Regardless of their beliefs, they should not be permitted to behave in the way they have been. The systematic brainwashing, threatening, torturing, and using of their own members is horrible. I personally don't care if they believe that they are poisoned with thetans or that "audits" help them deal with that. The only reason I feel that they are still around is because of their aggressive conversions of celebrities and the fact that much of the public hears these people talk good about $cientology. I'm way less concerned with their tax-exempt status and way more concerned with their status in anybodies eyes that they may actually be in any way good. I say good for Anon and Operation Clambake for combating this threat.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Titan » Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:04 am UTC

Well, their tax-exempt status saves them a whole lot of money- and that money is used to pay for law suits that ruin people's lives without any intention of winning, or as bribes to political figures and judges. That is the first step in reducing their power legally: To force them to budget, and remove their ability to throw money around quite as wantonly.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby theonlyjett » Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:24 am UTC

Sorry, I'm not arguing that for sure. Yeah, every legal action must be taken. I do believe, however, that no matter what you try to enforce legally, you can't get rid of scientology unless you cut off it's membership supply. That is, you can deny them funds and maybe even disallow them their business structure (though, I don't necessarily agree with this) but they will still have the right to call themselves Scientologists, to believe all the same stuff, and to organize. When they are organized, they keep outsiders, well, outside, so then who knows what they are doing where no one else can see? Sure, you can make cases with individuals, but this will be hard every time due to attempts at cover-up. This can only be dealt properly with by education. By making it known that this is, in fact, a bad group to get involved with, and steps toward that are already being taken from the two above mentioned groups.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Titan » Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:30 am UTC

I agree that publicity is a key to bringing them down... But it is not the people that are the problem, nor is it Scientology as a whole. It s only the officials currently running the Church, and their policies. The normal everyday believers are not our enemies; They are simply practicing a harmless religion. In fact, the religion as a whole is none of my affair-- as laughable as it may seem to me, I have no problem with them believing whatever they want. However, it is only when the organization steps outside its bounds as a religion that I draw the line. The important part is to find a legal way to prevent them from taking the illegal or "questionable" actions that they exploit. How is not my problem; legislators are hired to find ways to solve social and political problems, and as such I would leave it to them. Getting these legislators to put their minds to that end, however, requires the support of the people.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sat Feb 16, 2008 9:52 am UTC

I have a few, related opinions here.

First: The beliefs of Scientology are "really a religion". People actually believe them, and while much of it was fabricated by a science fiction author a lot of it also involves a philosophy that he did actually follow. If the religion were separated from the organization, I would have nothing wrong with the existence of those beliefs themselves. I think they're silly, and obviously fabricated, but plenty of people could say that about my own religion. The fact that their beliefs are ridiculous alone shouldn't make them non-tax-exempt. (I realize nobody here is necessarily arguing this, but I've seen it stated in plenty of places).

Second: The Church of Scientology does not operate in a way that any other churches do. No other church actually charges money in exchange for information on their beliefs. They are more than willing to share any information about their religion with you, all their tenets are freely discussed among many different people. Churches may request donations, but they don't require them, and nobody goes broke by donating to their church. Scientology, on the other hand, keeps every aspect of their religion hidden, and charges exorbitant amounts of money for that information. The entire religion operates as a business model under a single business entity, which is directly responsible for crime in a way no other churches are. Scientology actively participates in and condones violence against anybody who speaks out against the church, or who attempts to expose their criminal practices. They operate, more or less, as organized crime. I don't have links at hand, but just do some research. People's lives have been ruined, people have been killed, by actions directly sanctioned, commanded, and executed by the Church of Scientology. This isn't something that happened in the past, this is something the Church is currently and actively participating in.

In short, no, they shouldn't have legal status as a religion, and it has nothing to do with the nature of their beliefs. Religious book publishers aren't tax-exempt, even though they are religious, why should the Church of Scientology (which markets religion much more heavily, and makes much greater profits) be exempt?

Third: I don't think churches of any sort should be tax-exempt. Separation of Church and State, and all that.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby theonlyjett » Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:38 am UTC

First, I'm not at all trying to argue with you about how to fix this. I believe both ways are valid. But here's what my focus and PoV is.
Titan wrote:But it is not the people that are the problem, nor is it Scientology as a whole.
Absolutely,... and then no. I am of the opinion that the people, even the ones at the top, are more than likely products of this self perpetuating system. They are not the root of this problem. But the system is. And this system IS the CoS. Anybody who wants to disassociate themselves and go start The Reformed Church of Scientology is more than welcome to do so and more power to them. But, at this point, the CoS IS the system that not only condones, but supports and even may require robbery, torture, murder, and other wrong doings to members of our society.

The goals stated by Anon are not to prevent people from having whatever religion they want, but in educating these people to the dangers of this organization. The goals of Operation Clambake is to make public the "high level" knowledge of the CoS so that potential recruits can be aware of the dangers here. I know that OC is fairly negative towards the beliefs of CoS, but nevertheless, the info is out there for the public to make of as they like without having to involve themselves in the dangerous system leftover from a psychotic cult founder.

To this end, education of potential recruits, I believe, will be more effective than fighting legal battles.

Lastly, I feel that we should refrain from the money issues in so far as how they handle their money as a religious group. We don't want to come to the point of saying that religions don't have the right to ask their members to handle money in a certain way. Personally, money is an important topic in my beliefs and if I started a religious organization that involves primarily money related topics, I wouldn't want to feel that I couldn't ask my members to give to a certain cause or to promote them to handle their money in a certain way. I realize there is a difference between asking for money and demanding and scheming for it, but demanding and scheming for it can be dealt with in a nonreligious context. I don't think it would necessarily be wise of us to go there with it concerning religions specifically.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Insignificant Deifaction » Sat Feb 16, 2008 2:34 pm UTC

In answer to the topic question:

Yes, Scientology is really a religion. It is 100% the Real Deal in modern times. It meets all the criterion, supernatural (or otherwise scientifically iffy) events, deities or magic (or, again, scientifically iffy experiences), assembled into a common structure, with believers.

Due to the fact that it is, underneath, a scam to make the highest members extremely wealthy and their underlings extremely poor, they are generally and rightfully classed a cult. However, cults are generally considered to be small scale operations, with most being centered on a single compound with no outlying ones, which suggests that they have earnt the term religion. However, as being extremely cultlike, it doesn't earn tax-exemption, and if we're stepping forward on this issue, none of them deserve tax-exemption.

Fin
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Sir_Elderberry » Sat Feb 16, 2008 7:09 pm UTC

The problem here is that they're a religion, technically, but they abuse the rights that come with that--and that is, after all, the point of the Anonymous protests.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby ohboyotero » Sat Feb 16, 2008 7:28 pm UTC

Let me preface this by saying I don't mean to offend anybody, and have done my best to be objective. I am also non-religious, and therefore cannot be accused of particular bias against Scientology.

However, I'd like to point out that any "religion" started as a bet between science fiction authors can't be taken seriously. Even without knowing that, I would argue that a religion whose texts discuss "Martian bishops driving steamrollers" and "giant space walruses" (speaking of which, does anybody have any ideas for what I can do with the domain spacewalr.us?) is inherently ridiculous. So what about this comment:

TheAmazingRando wrote:...but plenty of people could say that about my own religion.

I'd say that while this is true of any religion, Rando, my guess is that your religion is at least old enough that nobody can definitively claim that its basic tenants, and more importantly, its founders and fundamental texts, are entirely concocted. The Bible, for instance, is sufficiently old and has endured generation after generation of change and reinterpretation such that there is no telling what actually happened around 1 A.D. Skeptics can frown all they want, but nobody can deny that there could have been a man known as Jesus who could have been the son of God and could have done some miraculous things. Scientology, on the other hand, has a well documented history as a result of its relative youth. Yes, it has many of the mystic qualities associated with other religions, belief in the supernatural, etc., but that doesn't change the fact that the whole thing was fabricated as part of an elaborate hoax.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Durandal » Sat Feb 16, 2008 7:50 pm UTC

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Last edited by Durandal on Thu Jul 09, 2009 5:18 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby panda_express » Sat Feb 16, 2008 11:12 pm UTC

You can agree that many of us have viewed and experience many religions. This one is by far radical.
Tax exempt seems like a bribe.
Their followers "donations" are probably just a way to keep the" dog on the leash"
They are known to follow those who protest.
And yes, they can sue you.

Scientology claims to be a "religion"
Yet it seems like they aren't willing stand for what they "believe" in.

The world wide protesters did them a big favor by standing before their buildings, but no one comes out.
Don't allow them to hold any more lives. Their hands are stained with innocent blood.
Let us put more attention to Scientology's shadow.
Let's end this.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Hypotemoose » Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:15 am UTC

For those of you looking for places to research the topic, here are a few links for you to check out:

http://xenutv.com/
http://xenu.net
http://theunfunnytruth.ytmnd.com/
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Scientology

There are many more places to look and I encourage you to do so.
YouTube has become a fairly important piece of this "war" and as such, you will find many related videos there.

For those of you who have already done the research, please don't just state that you agree. Do something about it! Every person helping the effort can make a difference. Call your senators or congressmen. Join any nearby pickets. Speak to the people around you. Word of mouth is an incredibly powerful tool. Verbally supporting those who are actively participating is wonderful, but it would be even more help for you to involve yourself as well. Action is the key to change!

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Gelsamel » Sun Feb 17, 2008 5:27 am UTC

Insignificant Deification wrote:In answer to the topic question:

Yes, Scientology is really a religion. It is 100% the Real Deal in modern times. It meets all the criterion, supernatural (or otherwise scientifically iffy) events, deities or magic (or, again, scientifically iffy experiences), assembled into a common structure, with believers.

Due to the fact that it is, underneath, a scam to make the highest members extremely wealthy and their underlings extremely poor, they are generally and rightfully classed a cult. However, cults are generally considered to be small scale operations, with most being centered on a single compound with no outlying ones, which suggests that they have earnt the term religion. However, as being extremely cultlike, it doesn't earn tax-exemption, and if we're stepping forward on this issue, none of them deserve tax-exemption.

Fin


I wouldn't call it "Cultlike", and I don't think "small scale" or their acceptance is a defining attribute of cults.

The defining attribute of cults is that they use techniques that are in violation of human rights and are abusive (brain washing, degradation etc). Another defining feature of cults is that their intent is to make the leader/leaders rich as hell. I knew CoS demanded money and did a bit of Brain Washing, but when you read the stories from Ex-Scientologists about how they were paid almost nothing to do heavy labor with little to no sleep and little to no food, and how if they did something wrong or if they were abused by OTHER scientologists it was THEIR FAULT for being abused (be it sexually/physically/emotionally, and yes all have happened in this cult).

Their MASSIVE attacks on their critics is just to cover up their cult behavior.


Edit: Here is a video so you can see how serious this shit is
http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=c9ypC029ZPo

Here is the script from that video (large):
Spoiler:
Hello. I am writing this in attempt to appeal to the folks out there who are mislead about Scientology.

This is for those of you who feel that Scientology is harmless. If you feel that they are a religion that just needs to be left alone. For those of you who think that people who are Scientologists are just idiots.

Let me ask you this:

Have you ever been physically abused?
Have you ever been mentally abused?
Have you ever been sexually abused?
Have you ever been emotionally abused?

Well I have. All of the above. No, I have never been incarcerated in a prison. No I did not grow up in some 3rd world country. I grew up right here in the grand old United States of America. I had the misfortune of being born into the cult of Scientology. I never stood a chance.

By the age of 5 I was receiving regular sessions. If you don’t know what a Scientology auditing session is, google it. I was in a courseroom studying Hubbard’s materials by age 7. At the age of 12 I was removed from school and placed in a courseroom full time studying Hubbard’s materials. By the ripe age of 13 I was recruited into the Sea Org. It was then that my life turned into a living hell.

I bore witness to countless atrocities. I was the victim of quite a few myself. I will not go into great detail now because I still do not want to let the cult know who I am. I am not prepared to become another victim of “Fair Game”. I have suffered enough at the hands of the cult and I am not willing to suffer anymore for now.

I will say this, the enforced abortions really do occur. The days on end with no sleep do occur. The withholding of food does occur. The disconnection policy is still very much in effect as is the fair game policy. The screaming, name-calling and degrading happens daily. I cannot even begin to count the number of cases of sexual abuse that have occurred in the cult with no consequence to the offenders. On the contrary, if you have been abused it is the cult’s belief that you must have done something to deserve it. You will then be punished accordingly. The mental mindfuck occurs in Scientology’s auditing rooms. Children of the cult are horribly exploited as are the adults.

There is another policy not as well known because it was written only for Sea Org members – if you are an outspoken critic of Scientology then you MUST have crimes. Anyone who vocalizes their feelings against Scientology is said to be a “baby-rapist” a murderer, wife-beater etc. You are taught to yell these accusations at any critic you may encounter.

People who are “willing” members of the cult are not truly willing. They are in fact under the influence of mind control. I would say at least 75% of the members have no clue about Xenu. They have not reached the level at which that information is disclosed. They are taught that receiving that knowledge prematurely can very well kill them or at the very least make them very ill. It sounds absurd but it is true. Yes, people actually believe this because when you are brainwashed you will believe just about anything.

The real shock for those of you out there who are still skeptical about whether Scientology is a cult or whether it is doing anything wrong will come when you google OT 8. Read about how Hubbard believed that Jesus was a pedophile. Read about how Hubbard believed that the coming of Lucifer will be good.

I am not part of Anonymous. I am not part of any group because frankly, these days the thought of being in a group is quite nauseating to me. You could say I have had some bad experiences being a member of a group.

I urge you though – if you can stomach stepping up to bat for victims like me (there are countless thousands) please do. Get out there for the protests. Write to your government officials. Spread the word. I implore you – do it for those of us who cannot. Help us get back on our feet. Help bring down the cult of Scientology. Help take part in making history.

Please help to make this world a better place.

Thank you.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby biolution » Sun Feb 17, 2008 7:56 am UTC

Perhaps scientology is a religion, though I'd classify it a cult. Its essentially a giant pyramid scheme, and I suspect all the celebrities that have signed on are probably getting money from the church. The church has a rather disturbing history, and you don't have to look far to find this out. The YTMND link summarizes some of their worst atrocities. Skim through the wikipedia article and you'll have a dozen tabs open about the illegal things they've done, everything from infiltrating governments, to human rights abuses, to possible murder.

To be honest, they border on a terrorist organization. The only thing they aren't doing is hording weapons and outright killing innocent people, though I guess the latter is debatable.

A friend of mine went and watched their movie for shits and giggles last week. Afterwards, they wanted him to buy their book...for $200 (which is just the first level, it gets more expensive for subsequent teachings and material).

Anyways, some interesting tidbits of information:

* If you watched the Tom Cruise video, he says they're the experts and drug rehabilitation. This is because they recruit drug addicts as members. Their drug rehabilitation is brain washing people and then, afterward they're cured, those people spread the Good Word and give all their money to the church.
* I'm not exactly opposed to paying for something to be taught, however, they charge exceedingly high fees. On the order of hundreds to thousands of dollars. Life ruining amounts of money.
* They frequently engage in aggressive and illegal activities against critics. They'll do things like ruin your credit rating, get you fired from your job, or simply sue you into oblivion.
* They take advantage of people. Just read any of the links. You'll find lots of people who have sold their homes, fortunes, children, and lives to these people (then you hear about them killing themselves).
* They engage in, what I would call, treason. Infiltrating government agencies and stealing information. There are cases of this in the United States and Canada. I believe I remember reading about some in the UK, too. I'm sure if you do some digging you'll find more. To be honest, it baffles me how they can still exist when they've been caught several times doing this. I guess its not until they do something that threatens national security that the government will take a serious look at them.

Finally, people are free to believe what they want, spend their money how they want, and read what they want. However, not everyone has good judgment, and not everyone has a good life, and everyone is susceptible to their techniques. For these people, when someone comes around saying "for just $200, we can solve all your problems," well, they're likely to believe it. You through another hundred people around them claiming why its so great, they're move likely to believe it. When you're a drug addict, and someone is offering free rehab, something that'll change your life, you'd have to be stupid to turn it down. This is why scientology works so well, they're preying on vulnerable people in society.

As an exercise for the reader, go out and buy a self-help book. One of those "change your life books." Next time you're depressed and feel like shit, try reading it. You'll feel great by the end. Filled with hope, enlightenment, and you'll be thinking the writer of the book is a genius. If you don't like reading, sign up for one of those motivational seminars. Same deal. Whats really going on are a bunch of subtle psychological techniques that work really well.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Freakish » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:06 am UTC

To be fair Christianity has done all of these things. Where is the line between cult, and religion.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby TheAmazingRando » Mon Feb 18, 2008 2:39 am UTC

Freakish wrote:To be fair Christianity has done all of these things. Where is the line between cult, and religion.

To be fair:
A. There is no single governing body for all Christianity.
B. No it hasn't.

EDIT: To expand a little bit, "Christianity" has never done anything, because unlike the Church of Scientology, it isn't a single entity. It has never existed under a single entity, even less so now than ever before. I will say that, in the past, some representative organizations of Christianity have done some things similar to some of the actions of Scientology.

The difference is Scientology is currently doing these things. If there were a single governing body of Christianity, and it were doing those things, it would be evil. Yes, atrocities have been committed by the Church (which, by the way, occurred when it was a political, as well as a religious, institution) but they are not currently committed or condoned. Saying "at one point in time, some representative bodies of Christianity did some similar things" isn't exposing some double-standard that people attacking Scientology are ignoring. The crusades, the inquisition, were terrible things. No Christian organizations today with any weight condone them.
They are generally seen as very non-Christian things to do.

And again, Christianity has never done "all" of these things. Some things similar to some of them, maybe.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby N.K. » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:08 am UTC

Scientology is not a religion. Ignoring their beliefs, as ridiculous as they may be, the amount of money one must spend for the CoS has, "Scummy scam of a business," written all over it.

If some atheist posted a video criticizing the Pope, the Catholic Church would do jack-all-squat about it. But anti-Scientology videos on Youtube? Different story.

Also, go read up on operation snow white. Government infiltration is serious business. *Slapped for repeating this*

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Titan » Mon Feb 18, 2008 7:11 am UTC

What I've seen here so far is really encouraging! It's good to know that others support the cause. Bravo! I hope that at least some of you will be helping out with the struggle.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby jobriath » Mon Feb 18, 2008 11:52 am UTC

How can we help take down Scientology?

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby e946 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:02 pm UTC

jobriath wrote:How can we help take down Scientology?


youfoundthecard.com

Go there, print out business cards, and leave one half-hidden wherever you go. The idea is that random people will find them and then go to youfoundthecard.com to find out what it is.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Hypotemoose » Mon Feb 18, 2008 5:25 pm UTC

jobriath wrote:How can we help take down Scientology?


Take a look at a few of the previous posts.
Go to the pickets if you have the time. Design or distribute fliers, pamphlets, business cards, etc. Talk to people about it but make sure you know what you're talking about!

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Feb 18, 2008 8:51 pm UTC

Perhaps we should criticize those who are brainwashed a bit more. The hyperbolic counter argument is blaming a rape victim, so lets not go to far out on a limb here, but Yes, Scientology is twisted and evil and corrupt, but aside from being aggressive in their recruitment and 'tithing' demands, are they doing anything that different from any other religion?

Perhaps we should look to Scientology as a warning for what religion can become if unchecked (or if it cries back to the 14th century)
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby biolution » Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:40 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Perhaps we should criticize those who are brainwashed a bit more. The hyperbolic counter argument is blaming a rape victim, so lets not go to far out on a limb here, but Yes, Scientology is twisted and evil and corrupt, but aside from being aggressive in their recruitment and 'tithing' demands, are they doing anything that different from any other religion?

Perhaps we should look to Scientology as a warning for what religion can become if unchecked (or if it cries back to the 14th century)


First, don't use "X, but Y, but Z" constructs. Its bad form, but more importantly, you've successfully chained together distinct ideas and made them read as if they were related. Being twisted, evil, and corrupt isn't the same as aggressive recruitment, but I would say their tithing demands are (I don't know why you lump that in with not evil/twisted/corrupt). Second, don't quote words without explanation, I can only guess you're trying to draw a parallel between church donations and scientology donations when they're quite different. Third, simply because a religion did it hundreds of years ago doesn't mean it is acceptable, or should be acceptable, today. Fourth, sure, if we put aside all their bad things and just focus on their recruitment and donation demands, they're not much different. Of course, then corporations and companies aren't much different, either. We're not doing that, though. The exact issue is how they are a evil, twisted, and corrupt organization.

Lastly, and these have all been mentioned here already, none of the major religions are:
* Harvesting their followers for more money than they can handle,
* Evading taxes and committing fraud with that money (L Ron Hubbard died before the IRS brought on tax evasion charges),
* Suing, harassing, and destroying the lives of their critics,
* Have an active and official policy about the above, including entire divisions dedicated to it,
* Infiltrating government agencies across the world,
* Bring members out to sea and abuse them, "Sea Org",
* Responsible for the deaths of dozens of people,
* Responsible for the ruined lives of many more.

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby 22/7 » Mon Feb 18, 2008 9:46 pm UTC

As to the "they may have killed (innocent) people" arguments, check out http://whyaretheydead.net/
Totally not a hypothetical...

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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby JayDee » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:50 am UTC

biolution wrote:Perhaps scientology is a religion, though I'd classify it a cult.
Sometimes I wish I knew a word that meant pretty much the same as cult, but without the negative connotations. Anytime I've tried to come up with a definition of religion, I've included a 'must have 100 or so years of tradition', and anything without that would be a cult. By my thinking, Scientology isn't a religion, but if it's still around in a couple of generations it would be.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:21 am UTC

I don't think time plays any part in the definition of religion or cult.

Cults are abusive and exist solely for extorting money. This is what Scientology is.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Feb 19, 2008 5:36 am UTC

JayDee wrote:Sometimes I wish I knew a word that meant pretty much the same as cult, but without the negative connotations. Anytime I've tried to come up with a definition of religion, I've included a 'must have 100 or so years of tradition', and anything without that would be a cult. By my thinking, Scientology isn't a religion, but if it's still around in a couple of generations it would be.


Don't confuse what some religious institutions call a cult with what an actual cult is. A cult involves secrecy and control. The cult slowly assumes control of all aspects of a person's life, starting with innocent little things and the end result being that the member severs ties with anyone they knew before joining, and only associates with people within the cult. Often times the person will end up selling most or all of their possessions and either buying cult-approved things and property (usually from the cult itself) or just directly giving their money to the cult. Any outside contact is supervised.

Some people confuse cults with communes. The difference is that members of a commune are free to interact with the outside world. Phone calls, e-mails, that sort of thing. And they're actually free to leave whenever they want. A cult's goal is to create an unbalanced mental state in the individual so it can step in and provide the balancing factor.. so that in many cases while the person is technically free to leave whenever they want, they do not have the emotional capacity to do so. Outside of the cult, they start to have a mental breakdown as they no longer know how to interact with the outside world.

If you want a definition of religion - A set of freely examinable beliefs that require faith and usually have either no evidence or circumstantial evidence to back up their claims.

Freely Examinable meaning that one not of the religion is free (and often encouraged) to read most, if not all, of the religious texts.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby JayDee » Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:41 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:Don't confuse what some religious institutions call a cult with what an actual cult is.
Like I said, I don't know a word for precisely what I mean. I'm sure I've seen cult used in other ways in talking about history. As in early Christian cults, Dionysian cults, etc. What you say about secrecy sounds right.

@Gelsamel: I think time can play a part. Someone mentioned earlier how ridiculous Scientology is because of it's origins in science fiction. If enough time passes that those origins are lost, I'd say it would be perceived differently. I'm only really considering Scientology as a groups of people acting according to a set of beliefs, and only with regards to classification. That aside, I agree that they're a dangerous bunch of nutters.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:02 pm UTC

JayDee wrote:@Gelsamel: I think time can play a part. Someone mentioned earlier how ridiculous Scientology is because of it's origins in science fiction. If enough time passes that those origins are lost, I'd say it would be perceived differently. I'm only really considering Scientology as a groups of people acting according to a set of beliefs, and only with regards to classification. That aside, I agree that they're a dangerous bunch of nutters.


Time can definitely play a part in it's acceptance as a serious religion. But I don't think it has any part in the initial defining of religion/cult.

If the FSM bunch suddenly ACTUALLY started believing in FSM then I would consider them a religion because they don't extort people and their message would be free and they would openly preach it to people and they wouldn't extort money.

Because it's had less time it is slightly more ridiculous - but not a cult.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby JayDee » Tue Feb 19, 2008 12:24 pm UTC

The Pastafarians frighten me sometimes. There are some that truly believe, or at least claim to. I can never tell if they just keep going far beyond the point where it's funny, or...

If the Scientologists were to open up, and stop only giving the 'truth' to those who pay handsomely for it, would you then consider them a religion?
SecondTalon wrote:If you want a definition of religion - A set of freely examinable beliefs that require faith and usually have either no evidence or circumstantial evidence to back up their claims.
Taking a quick look at a couple of online dictionaries, I see the definition of religion as a system of beliefs concerning particular topics (creators, souls, and the like) but no mention of these being freely examinable. Nor is there mention of any age or notability requirement. Huh.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Ari » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:27 pm UTC

Scientology: Really a Religion.

Church of Scientology: Not really a Church.

I think that sums it up nicely.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:29 pm UTC

JayDee wrote:The Pastafarians frighten me sometimes. There are some that truly believe, or at least claim to. I can never tell if they just keep going far beyond the point where it's funny, or...

If the Scientologists were to open up, and stop only giving the 'truth' to those who pay handsomely for it, would you then consider them a religion?
SecondTalon wrote:If you want a definition of religion - A set of freely examinable beliefs that require faith and usually have either no evidence or circumstantial evidence to back up their claims.
Taking a quick look at a couple of online dictionaries, I see the definition of religion as a system of beliefs concerning particular topics (creators, souls, and the like) but no mention of these being freely examinable. Nor is there mention of any age or notability requirement. Huh.


Yeah, you never really will find a definition requiring the tenets of the religion to be freely examinable. That was something I threw in there, but it's a useful thing to differentiate it from a cult. Nowhere will you find age a requirement, nor notability. Nor will you ever see that there be more than one believer.. it's perfectly acceptable to have a religion of one.

As for the early Christian Cults... the word cult's pretty much been hijacked to have negative connotations. When used in reference to a current religious group, it's rarely if ever in a positive way. At this point, sect might be a better word for small, fringe groups.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:54 pm UTC

JayDee wrote:If the Scientologists were to open up, and stop only giving the 'truth' to those who pay handsomely for it, would you then consider them a religion?


If the CoS gave their information freely to those willing to listen. If they stopped heavily black PRing their critics (well, they'd only have people making xenu jokes if they stopped being abusive).

If they decommissioned OSA, SeaOrg, and the RPF and advertised Narconon and Criminnon for what they really are (ie. public announce and explain Hubbard's tactics for Narcotic and Criminal rehabilitation).

If they scaled down their attack on psychiatry (lots of religions forbid certain medical procedures, but they hardly actively attack a whole science and ruin psychiatrists lives. And yes, Psychiatry is a science).

Basically if they were exactly like any other religion. Except replace Christian/Jewish/Islamic/etc myth, with scientology myth. Then yes, I would consider them a religion. Though looking at what they believe with context to modern culture I would probably consider their beliefs slightly more ridiculous WRT today's culture. But no more than any other religion from a logical standpoint.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby hestia » Tue Feb 19, 2008 1:57 pm UTC

JayDee wrote:If the Scientologists were to open up, and stop only giving the 'truth' to those who pay handsomely for it, would you then consider them a religion?


I certainly would. I think their beliefs are strange but honestly, I am sure many people find my beliefs strange as well. In my mind, the big thing that I think is wrong about CoS is that you must pay money to belong. Although my church encourages donations, when I joined, they gave me tons of books for free. It got to the point that I was joking that I joined the Church to get free reading material.

On that note, there is a break-away group which believes in Scientology but is not connected to the CoS.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Zone_(Scientology)
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Ari » Tue Feb 19, 2008 3:16 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:If they scaled down their attack on psychiatry (lots of religions forbid certain medical procedures, but they hardly actively attack a whole science and ruin psychiatrists lives. And yes, Psychiatry is a science).

Basically if they were exactly like any other religion. Except replace Christian/Jewish/Islamic/etc myth, with scientology myth. Then yes, I would consider them a religion. Though looking at what they believe with context to modern culture I would probably consider their beliefs slightly more ridiculous WRT today's culture. But no more than any other religion from a logical standpoint.


Psychiatry is a form of medical practice. It's psychology that's a science.

But yeah, critics claim they attack both, so...

That last bit was basically what I was getting at when I made my post. (although, I would've said that talking about "logical standpoints" with regards to religions is deliciously oxymoronic, given that religions are based on faith, not logic :) )
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:04 pm UTC

Are we criticizing scientology for believing in alien civilizations and related wackiness, or for its practices?

It seems like believing what they do about the aliens and the soul and the 80-trillion year old galactic council isn't really that outlandish (So this God dude, right, he sends his son and floods the earth and created everything from nothing and then took a nap!), but their outright legal assaults are.

But my point earlier that was pretty soundly whoomped on, was that Church officials have done some heavy manipulation of politics in the past, as well as act with impunity and committed some pretty heinous crimes. Just as that is not representative of ALL Christians, is it possible that these very scary reports of scientologists are not representative of scientologists as a whole?

As subversive as they may be, and as organized and skilled in their ploys, can some of the blame be placed on the easily coerced masses they target? If someone feels the route to salvation is through donating huge sums of money, they've been swindled, but if they were swindled by a pyramid scheme or some such, we'd think them stupid.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Ari » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:20 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:But my point earlier that was pretty soundly whoomped on, was that Church officials have done some heavy manipulation of politics in the past, as well as act with impunity and committed some pretty heinous crimes. Just as that is not representative of ALL Christians, is it possible that these very scary reports of scientologists are not representative of scientologists as a whole?


That speaks to the (il)legitimacy of that Church, not its beliefs, unless the beliefs sanction that kind of action.

It's quite hard to talk about what Scientologists believe in, as the materials leaked are old, they are coded in scientology jargon, and they are very unspecific, and the ones that ARE specific are usually viewed as jokes (such as the procedure of shooting people to "audit" them) or bad for PR by the Church. (such as the condemnation of homosexuality and other religions)

I think we can still talk of individual and organisational responsibility, however. Let's set aside the individual responsibilities and look at the organisational ones. There is an organisational responsibility for religious transparency. Faith should be free, and it should be spread overtly or not at all. A price tag on salvation is... disturbing. There is an organisational responsibility to respect the law, specifically tax law. This is not being lived up to, at least in the USA, where they are inconsistently granted tax exemption on religious education. There is an organisational responsibility to improve society, both for themselves and non-scientologists, implied where they have been granted tax exemption. Most of their charities (but not all) seem to be partially or fully operated as covert recruiting organisations.

I want to see the church address these issues themselves without attacking their critics- however wrong their critics might be on an issue, it is the issue itself that is important, and the church owes itself and its members the moral conviction to deal with those issues where they exist. (and to reassure the public that they existed and have been dealt with as appropriate, instead of always claiming no issue exists) I feel extreme sympathy for those individuals who need to attack others to hide their own insecurities, and the Church of Scientology is no exception.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby Gelsamel » Tue Feb 19, 2008 4:44 pm UTC

Ari wrote:(although, I would've said that talking about "logical standpoints" with regards to religions is deliciously oxymoronic, given that religions are based on faith, not logic :) )


Well what I mean was ignoring culture/history. And just looking at which axioms are more ridiculous you'd find that all religions are essentially equal in how ridiculous they are.

Also, I would say that while there is a novelty effect of a religion popping up in recent times (which is what makes it slightly more ridiculous). I would also say that NEW religions are "more likely" (please note the quote marks) to be "right" than older ones because they're beliefs have been tailored to fit into a much more modern society which has much more information and knowledge then 2000 yrs ago.

I hope you get what I'm saying... it's 3:41am and I'm tired haha.
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Re: Scientology: Really a Religion?

Postby ++$_ » Tue Feb 19, 2008 8:26 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:I would also say that NEW religions are "more likely" (please note the quote marks) to be "right" than older ones because they're beliefs have been tailored to fit into a much more modern society which has much more information and knowledge then 2000 yrs ago.
This presupposes that religions are things invented/made up by people, which is not what most of the religions in the world today preach about their religion. (Except Buddhism.)

If God really does exist and hand down knowledge to the people, then the older religions are more likely to be right. Would God really have waited around for 2000 years to give out the Truth rather than doing it right away?


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