Uncovering Scientology

scientology recruiterGive me your first guess. What publication would devote nine months to report on a super-secret, cult-like group that claims millions of adherents along with some of Hollywood’s most famous people, namely Tom Cruise?

Well if you’re thinking Scientology and guessed Rolling Stone magazine, you’d be correct.

In one of the most thorough accounts I’ve ever seen on Scientology, Rolling Stone contributing editor Janet Reitman goes to great lengths to get inside the group, and she has 13,660 words to show for her work. It’s an incredibly long article, but well worth the read. I suggest chewing on it in segments. Otherwise it’s a bit overwhelming on the eyes and the morale.

Much could be said on this article. I’m hoping my fellow GetReligion bloggers will chime in when they get a chance to read the piece along with you all with comments. Please focus your thoughts toward the journalistic issues contained in the piece.

To begin with, Reitman brings the reader inside the reporting process, explaining what she had to do to obtain interviews with people inside the group and why most of the former members quoted in the story had to be renamed or mentioned anonymously (they fear retaliation, according to Reitman).

scientology crossUnlike many Rolling Stone pieces on religious issues, the article does not immediately dismiss Scientology as completely “out there.” In this case, Reitman allows the religion to speak for itself:

Scientology is also America’s most controversial religion: widely derided, but little understood. It is rooted in elements of Buddhism, Hinduism and a number of Western philosophies, including aspects of Christianity. The French sociologist Regis Dericquebourg, an expert in comparative religions, explains Scientology’s belief system as one of “regressive utopia,” in which man seeks to return to a once-perfect state through a variety of meticulous, and rigorous, processes intended to put him in touch with his primordial spirit. These processes are highly controlled, and, at the advanced levels, highly secretive. Critics of the church point out that Scientology, unique among religions, withholds key aspects of its central theology from all but its most exalted followers. To those in the mainstream, this would be akin to the Catholic Church refusing to tell all but a select number of the faithful that Jesus Christ died for their sins.

In June of last year, I set out to discover Scientology, an undertaking that would take nearly nine months. A closed faith that has often been hostile to journalistic inquiry, the church initially offered no help on this story; most of my research was done without its assistance and involved dozens of interviews with both current and former Scientologists, as well as academic researchers who have studied the group. Ultimately, however, the church decided to cooperate and gave me unprecedented access to its officials, social programs and key religious headquarters. What I found was a faith that is at once mainstream and marginal — a religious community known for its Hollywood members but run by a uniformed sect of believers who rarely, if ever, appear in the public eye. It is an insular society — one that exists, to a large degree, as something of a parallel universe to the secular world, with its own nomenclature and ethical code, and, most daunting to those who break its rules, its own rigorously enforced justice system.

ron hubbardOne thing you cannot miss in the article is the financial drive of the organization. Nearly everything costs money. Lots of money. The second thing you’ll notice is the secretive nature of the organization. The article portrays the organization as desperately attempting to squelch dissent among and outside its ranks. Finally, one definitely gets the sense that everything in the church centers on founder L. Ron Hubbard.

One thing I was wondering about was the explanation given for Hubbard’s authority. I know some people say he is (he never died, according to Scientologists, he just left his physical body) the “coolest guy ever,” but that’s not enough for me. Christians derive their faith from Jesus Christ, Muslims from Muhammad. Ron Hubbard was a science-fiction writer. What’s the spiritual draw there?

Another thing I think Reitman could have given more attention to was the legal angle. An organization of this size must leave some type of legal imprint, or crater — especially considering its battle with the IRS for tax-exempt status in 1993, and the number of people who have alleged exploitation and retaliation. Nevertheless, the size of the Scientology movement (is it even a movement?) is certainly up for debate:

Church officials boast that Scientology has grown more in the past five years than in the previous fifty. Some evidence, however, suggests otherwise. In 2001, a survey conducted by the City University of New York found only 55,000 people in the United States who claimed to be Scientologists. Worldwide, some observers believe a reasonable estimate of Scientology’s core practicing membership ranges between 100,000 and 200,000, mostly in the U.S., Europe, South Africa and Australia. According to the church’s own course-completion lists — many of which are available in a church publication and on the Internet — only 6,126 people signed up for religious services at the Clearwater organization in 2004, down from a peak of 11,210 in 1989. According to Kristi Wachter, a San Francisco activist who maintains an online database devoted to Scientology’s numbers, this pattern is replicated at nearly all of Scientology’s key organizations and churches. To some observers, this suggests that Scientology may, in fact, be shrinking.

time cover on scientologyBut discerning what is true about the Church of Scientology is no easy task. Tax-exempt since 1993 (status granted by the IRS after a long legal battle), Scientology releases no information about its membership or its finances. Nor does it welcome analysis of its writings or practices. The church has a storied reputation for squelching its critics through litigation, and according to some reports, intimidation (a trait that may explain why the creators of South Park jokingly attributed every credit on its November 2005 sendup of Scientology to the fictional John and Jane Smith; Paramount, reportedly under pressure, has agreed not to rerun the episode here or to air it in England). Nevertheless, Scientology’s critics comprise a sizable network of ex-members (or “apostates,” in church parlance), academics and independent free-speech and human-rights activists like Wachter, who have declared war on the group by posting a significant amount of previously unknown information on the Internet. This includes scans of controversial memos, photographs and legal briefs, as well as testimonials from disillusioned former members, including some high-ranking members of its Sea Organization. All paint the church in a negative, even abusive, light.

The article suggests that the organization has incredible powers of intimidation (as the South Park incident illustrates). Is this why other media organizations have not taken a closer look at the group? I wonder. Could this article change that?

Two final questions with which I leave you: why haven’t other religiously oriented publications tackled this subject? And why did Rolling Stone run with this and spend nine months and 13,660 words on it?

Time magazine devoted a cover story to the subject back in May 1991, stating that “Scientology poses as a religion but is really a ruthless global scam — and aiming for the mainstream.” (Because I am no longer a subscriber, I was unable to access the entire article, so those of you with access, let us know what you think.) Is Scientology arriving in the mainstream? And if this is true, one would think journalists would burn some shoe leather and spill some ink in order to poke away at this group that poses as a religion, yet demands incredible sums of money from its followers.

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  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    Much of the same rehashed rumors about Scientology has been dismissed and disprovem time and time again.

    The TIME article, for example – by now it is a known fact that Mitch Daniels, former VP of Elli Lilly, was behind this smear attack, in an effort to combat Scientology activism against Prozac, Lilly’s “wonderdrug.”

    And the stories they’re writing now about Katie Holmes! It’s beyond ridiculous. Both my kids were delivered according to the Scientology birth-plan, and none of the stupidity reported by the yellow press is part of it.

    Also, not everything in Scientology is “centered on money” – as you claim. The Church has a strong history of volunteering, and I myself have been part of volunteer efforts at the World Trade Center (where we were recognized by Mayor Giulianni for our contribution), in Indonesia after the tsunami, and in Mississippi and Louisiana after Katrina. The Governor of Mississippi thanked us for our work, as did many other officials.

    Sure, there are donations for courses and counseling. Much as many of us would like to believe otherwise, it takes money to keep an organization alive. Even a non-profit needs to pay the rent and electricity.

    Not much is said in this article about our Drug Rehab centers (Narconon.org, the most effective in the U.S), our education initiatives, our moral values initiatives, etc.

    A lot of hoopla is made of Scientology being “secretive.” My religon is not secretive – you can just walk in and participate of courses and counseling, buy the books, attend a free lecture, anytime.

    The only thing we’re “secretive” about is the highly personal, individual path to Spiritual Freedom – as this is a personal journey, and it’s not conducive to one person’s growth to expose myself to anyone else’s subjective experiences on this path. Also, the media has a long history of deriding us and mocking, instead of trying to understand and enlighten the public as to what we’re all about, so perhaps we’ve grown a bit cynical of talking to the press.

    If you have any specific questions about Scientology, feel free to write me – I’ve been an active Scientologist for over two decades, raised both my kids using Scientology principles, etc. (use the feedback form on my site to get in touch w/me.)

    Greg Churilov

  • Maureen

    I seem to recall that Readers’ Digest did a series on Scientology back in the 80′s. Good stuff. Of course, they were already running series on what terrorists and KGB agents were doing, so the intimidation factor probably wasn’t so impressive…. :) Man, I miss the Readers’ Digest of the eighties.

    Also, I’ll note that L. Ron wasn’t just an sf writer. He’d been involved with the occult for years before that (Crowley’s California branch, mostly). So he did have experience in the field, so to speak. His buddy, Jack Parsons, who co-founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, was also an occultist on the side. (I believe there’s a documentary about him called JPL which talks a lot about this part of his bio. You can also get some of the flavor of California fandom in the early 40′s from Anthony Boucher’s roman a clef, Rocket to the Morgue. IIRC, both Parsons and Hubbard are in it under other names.)

    Btw, there’s comedy or sociology gold to be had in a study of the place where the LASFS (LA Science Fiction Society) used to meet, before they owned their own clubhouse. There were several other interesting organizations which also met there on different nights, including occult ones. This will probably surprise nobody who’s ever been involved in sf fandom. :)

  • http://revivalblog.com Carl

    Wow! You got a Scientology reply in less than an hour. Though I have much to comment on regarding Scientology itself, you asked for comments on the reporting.

    I like the comment by the guy who said that the reporter could not understand what the levels were about. It was the same now famous reaction that Tom Cruise gave about Matt Lauer being smug. It showed me that Tom is not necessarily kooky but that his actions are the norm for that kooky organization.

    I was a little surprised to find that only three paragraphs were spent on the financial matters. Every spiritually abusive cult uses strong arm tactics and shunning, scientology’s real claim to fame is not that it does those things but that it also shakes people down financially.

    This is a great piece in part because she was given 13,000 words worth of space. I only wish there would have been less of “Why aren’t you nice to people who do not like you?” and more “What in the world justifies $8,000 for an auditing session?” Also more info on this code book and why it does not include child neglect and financial impropriety to gain auditing.

    I am looking forward to hearing more feedback.

  • Peter

    This is in response to Greg Churilov’s reply, in which his statements are quoted:

    “Much of the same rehashed rumors about Scientology has been dismissed and disproved time and time again.”

    Indeed, they have not. Andreas Heldal-Lund, the owner of the web site, http://www.xenut.net has an open challenge to any Scientologist that if anyone can provide evidence to refute any of the web site’s claims, Andreas would remove the offending items. In the last several years, no Scientologist has come forward to do this, and, given the Church’s reputation, if anything can be evidentially refuted, they would have, by now.

    “Also, not everything in Scientology is “centered on money” – as you claim. The Church has a strong history of volunteering, and I myself have been part of volunteer efforts at the World Trade Center (where we were recognized by Mayor Giulianni for our contribution), in Indonesia after the tsunami, and in Mississippi and Louisiana after Katrina. The Governor of Mississippi thanked us for our work, as did many other officials.”

    Society welcomes volunteerism, and Scientology’s volunteer efforts, if they are truly done not in an effort to be tool for recruitment, is commendable. However, given what I know about Scientology, having been a form Sea Organization member (Scientology’s elite Corps) it is extremely doubtful, in my opinion, that any of these so-called “volunteer” programs are anything but a subterfuge for recruitment. Scientology is disparately trying for the mainstream, and if they achieve this, it will result in more recruits. My sincerest view is that not Scientology has programs because of their propensity to do good in the world, the real motivation, despite claims to the contrary, is recruitment. Hubbard, on more than one occasion, has expressed his desire for a world government, one in which Scientology would play a large role. In the seventies, every church had a lamented proclamation for this intent, laid out step by step, wherein the world headquarters would exist in Rhodesia (Hubbard claimed to be the reincartion of Cecil Rhodes, the diamond magnate whose namesake is Rhodesia’s) . In one of Hubbard’s policy directives, Hubbard wrote that the best form of government would be a “benign monarchy”.

    Despite the volunteerism, there can be no doubt that Scientology is centered on money, because the ultimate persuasive point which hooks people in Scientology is the promise of eternal “total freedom” of the soul, which they call “Thetan”. To achieve this Scientological brand of nirvana, payments of in the hundreds of thousands are not uncommon. My sister and her husband have spent over $200,000, and they have yet to achieve “total freedom.” In fact, there is no evidence that any of its followers have achieved this..

    The biggest point I try to make is that, with Christianity, one is saved merely for accepting Christ as one’s savior, no further payments of any kind are required, but in Scientology, to achieve their promise, i.e., there fundamental article of faith, payments in the many thousands are mandatory.

    “Not much is said in this article about our Drug Rehab centers (Narconon.org, the most effective in the U.S), our education initiatives, our moral values initiatives, etc.”

    Scientology’s statistics with regard to Narconon are best learned of from an impartial source. Such as this one: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Narconon.

    “A lot of hoopla is made of Scientology being “secretive.” My religion is not secretive – you can just walk in and participate of courses and counseling, buy the books, attend a free lecture, anytime.”

    This is absolutely false.

    True, every thing below the “upper levels” are publicly available. Remember, the biggest hook Scientology has, the numero uno reason why members become Scientologists, is for the promise of “total freedom.”

    All roads in Scientology lead to the “upper levels,” and to achieve “total freedom”, one must get their via the “upper levels”, and every Scientologist is forbidden to talk about them after they learn of their secret teachings.

    See if you can get a bona fide Scientology to utter out loud the phrase, “Body Thetans,” or “Xenu.”

    You can’t, because they can be excommunicated if they do.

    The focus of the “upper levels,” is this: The primary tenet is that all of mankind’s mental aberrations are the ultimate result of a psychic infestation of deceased extraterrestrial demons, called “Body Thetans,” which, essentially, are the spiritual equivalent of cooties.

    From OT III to OT VIII ( the upper levels), the focus is on the exorcising these “Body Thetans.”

    Scientologists are forbidden to even mention it. Scientology’s claim is that if a student learns of the teachings prior to being fully prepared, they could get pneumonia and possibly die. However, in my view, the real reason they are withheld is that the teachings are so absurd, only the sufficiently indoctrinated will believe it, and that prior to this indoctrination, the probability is huge that the doctrine will be ridiculed.

    Personally, I don’t mind if someone wants to become a Scientologist and spend their life savings on it. However, I believe people should be advised of the secret teachings long before they reach the point of indoctrination, so that they can make an informed choice, while still in their right mind, before they join.

    That is my only purpose in life, is to inform others who may be considering Scientology, as to just what they may be getting themselves into. If they are accepting of it, after they learn of the secret teachings, I do not have a problem with it, not at all, for everyone has a right to believe as he or she wishes, just as long as they are not hypnotized into a belief system.

    Peter J.

  • John N

    I started in Scientology years ago and have had nothing but a wonderful, enlightening experience. Any money I’ve ever donated for courses and counseling was, to me, money very well spent. The people have been friendly and helpful and very sincere in their efforts to help. A friend of my actually joined staff at one of the local organizations and she’s not evil.

    Personally, I have gained confidence, success and personal growth from what I have learned and applied. My family is happy and healthy and my work life is very enjoyable and successful. I credit what I have learned in Scientology for allowing me to access my own abilities, conquer my fears and succeed in life to a level far above where I was otherwise headed. Its hard to describe to anyone who has not had such personal gains. My gains are certainly far above what I could have ever imagined when starting out.

    The several friends and family members I have invited to Scientology services have had similar experiences. No ones has been ‘abused’. Quite the opposite.

    Let the media say what it wants to, there seems to be a hidden agenda in the press. They only seem of offer criticisms and fear, while Scientology offers answers. Scientology is genuine and I recommend it to anyone who would like to put a little more order into their lives.

  • Johnboy

    Thank you Rolling Stone for trying to give the long, complex answers. Your own comments are also interesting. Greg Churlilov’s dismissive comments can help a reader understand why some people say Scientologists are brainwashed– he is no longer capable of critical thinking on the subject.

    Time was sued for about 1/2 billion dollars after there article on Scientology. While the case was thrown out of court, it cost them about 10 million dollars to defend themselves. That was sufficient warning to any other journalists who wanted to go to press on the “cult of greed and power”. Even Time was meek as a mouse when they mentioned Scientology after that.

    And if it matters, I am a former staff member who left many years ago. I have no desire to return. I don’t want any other seventeen year olds to find themselves on this misguided and expensive path.

  • ccv

    Well, I can see that this discussion is certainly going to focus on the merits of the journalism!

    I have many questions about Scientology itself (most of which would probably be considered supressive ;-) but I wondered why the article made reference to the erection of a huge cross in Clearwater, when the “religion” itself seems to have very little to do with Christianity?

    It’s certainly possible that certain practices contain elements of truth and beauty (I think we can all agree that helping hurricane victims and others in need is objectively good, for example), but why build a monument to Christianity’s most visible symbol if your religion is not Christian?

    If I were the reporter I would have asked that.

    And I also found the quote amusing that Scientology charges high prices “because we don’t have 2000 years of acquired wealth to fall back on.”

    Heh. Someone should really alert my pastor, who is struggling to use insufficient offertory gifts to pay our parish’s outrageous utility bills this winter, about all that acquired wealth he could be falling back on! Maybe if he started charging admission for Confession he’d be getting somewhere ;-)

  • Brooke Schneider

    I have studied scientology off and on for 16 years and can only say that i have encountered nothing but good from all my contacts. I have learned a lot about handling life. For me the big wins came from Marriage courses i took. They helped me understand why my first marriage ended in failure and what makes a successful marriage. Now happily married for 15 years the proof is in the pudding. Best advice I was given a long time ago was to go and look for myself and not beleive what i had read about the subject. Lucky for me I did just that.

  • mmaes

    Peter J
    “That is my only purpose in life, is to inform others who may be considering Scientology, as to just what they may be getting themselves into. If they are accepting of it, after they learn of the secret teachings, I do not have a problem with it, not at all, for everyone has a right to believe as he or she wishes, just as long as they are not hypnotized into a belief system. ”
    People have dedicated their lives to inform others considering Judaism, Catholicism and so forth. What makes you think that you know the whole truth about this religion? and, What about the MOrmons? They have secretive things too not everyone can go into their Tabernacle, the Catholics and the Vatican. Many religions have upper levels that not everyone can have access to.
    The Scientologists have not made any attempts to take on the challenge from Xenu because what is the point? There are better things to do.
    There are a lot of conjectures to make for things that we do not understand.

    It is a waste of time to pursue the goal of discrediting other people’s religion especially if they are not trying to shove it down your throat.

  • http://dpulliam.com dpulliam

    Enough of the comments on the merits of Scientology. We’re not here to discredit Scientology or support it, rather, we’re here to discuss the journalistic merits of the Rolling Stone article.

  • Jeffrey Anderson

    OK. The journalistic merits: I’ve been a Scientologist for over 30 years and was a staff member of the Church for several of those years. As such I can see, journalistically, the author has chosen to bias the article severely towards the negative. However, when you emphasize (and/or make up) the 1-2% of negative and nearly entirely neglect the 98% of positive, then you are considered doing your job as a journalist. The job of a journalist is to stir controversy and sell papers. This has been well done by Ms. Reitman. Has she shown what Scientology is all about? No. But that wasn’t really her intent anyway. If you, the individual, would like to know more about Scientology, then simply read a book by Hubbard (“A New Slant on Life” is a good simple book to start with). Learn for yourself, not through Ms. Reitman’s story. She was PAID to write it. The Media stirs controversy. When you watch TV or read the newspapers, are the stories calming and full of good news or are they threatening and full of bad news? Rarely do you find an author who will write good news even if it is staring them in the face. It doesn’t sell papers.

  • dan crawford

    The comments on this posting have removed any doubts I may have had about Scientology’s being a dangerous cult.

  • kelly

    I’m with you, Dan. The comments on here by faithful scientologists are radically unlike comments by those of other religions. They are frightening in their lack of circumspection and their cheerleading for their own ‘faith’. I applaud and yet fear for any journalist willing to step out and write about it. Truly a dangerous cult.

  • http://www.CigarVideoPodcast.com Calee

    I’ve always wondered what it would be like to follow the Scientology greeters inside. I think this article did an outstanding job of giving an unbiased look into an intriguing religion. I just wish the editors had sprung the 4 grand for the counseling sessions.

  • http://sanskritboy.net Ryan Richard Overbey

    Ah, the “dangerous cult” mantra.

    We scholars of religion love Scientology. Why? As a new religious movement, it provides a great deal of fodder for comparative reflection.

    When Christians were just getting noticed by Roman intellectuals, the religion was called a “superstitio.” It was new, the believers were defensive and cultish, their practices were bizarre (something involving eating flesh and drinking blood), and their beliefs were just obviously ridiculous, peddled as they were by a convicted criminal. They were a “dangerous cult.”

    Sound familiar?

    Scientology is great because it is new. You get to see the sausage being made, and it isn’t pretty. But if stories about Xenu and Body Thetans are just obviously wacky, what makes them more or less wacky than magical insemination of virgins, or the ascent of an animated dead guy into the sky?

    That’s the great part of Scientology: with the exception of its aggressive litigation strategy, it is more or less like any religion I have ever studied. It gives order and structure to people who need it, it decrees a set of lofty goals which help some folks shed addictions, fix their marriages, etc. It tells unprovable stories about invisible entities and epic supernatural battles, and it leaves plenty of folks people damaged, bitter, and filled with regret. Just like any religion.

    I think people are likely to hate any religion they see being constructed before their eyes, precisely because their own faiths so often require them to imagine that their beliefs are not similarly constructed. Like the Romans, they must imagine their faith to be a timeless, transcendent given, and anything new to be fraudulent and dangerous.

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    It’s interesting that, when a Scientologist posts anything positive about our religion, the members of the forum rally to trash him/her. (See “enough of the posts about merits of Scientology!”)

    But when some uninformed n00b without any knowledge of the philosophy, dogma or practice of Scientology goes on about how they’re now convinced we’re a “dangerous cult” there’s actual cheering from the masses.

    A bit one-sided.

    I write in defense of Scientology because, for over twenty years, it’s been a positive influence in my life. It was Scientology principles that allowed me to bring my Mom back from deep depression when her sister died of bone cancer. It was my training as a Scientology counselor that allowed me to help tsunami survivors overcome their post-traumatic shock. And it’s Scientology knowledge that allows me to raise my kids with love and wisdom – and everyone says “that’s a terrific kid you have, so social, so friendly, so well-mannered and kind” and I know that it’s because of treating a child with respect and decency, per the writings of Ron Hubbard.

    The LA Times writer should have spoken to actual Scientologists.

    And to those that wonder what would happen if you “followed a Scientology greeter inside”, well, nothing macabre would happen. You’d be offered a free personality and IQ test, if you’d want to do them, and you’d be shown a free Introductory Film or Intro Lecture, if you wanted to. And they’d probably try to sell you a $10 book on the subject. And you could say “sure” or “no way, dude” or whatever you’d want to.
    It’s actually pretty “what-you-see-is-what-you-get” in a Scientology organization. It’s not a kooky “put on the robe and chant” cult or the like. We have an academy where peole study, and there’s marriage counseling, and individual counseling for those that want it, and there’s a lecture room and a bookstore, and that’s about it. If you went in “on a dare” or any such nonsense, you’d probably be disappointed at how ordinary we Scientologists are.

    Greg Churilov

  • sam

    Calee, one should not reject the existence of destructive cults simply because they share characteristics with other religions. I would also like to point out that Scientology is not faith-based; the doctrines are supposedly founded on Hubbard’s scientific research. One who successfully completes Scientology auditing and achieves the state of clear is said by Hubbard and the church to gain abilities such as perfect memory and immune response. However, to this day, the church has not been able to produce a single person who demonstrates either of these attributes. If they had, I think critics of the church would have a tough sell. In summary, the church is advertising something cannot honestly deliver and, in the process, making a fortune off the good, trusting people who join. Is this deliberate exploitation? Yes. Does it warrant all the backlash? You bet. Anyone wanting first hand accounts of the exploiation that goes on inside the church should watch the interviews at http://www.xenutv.com

  • akmak

    Every sidewalk psychologist and wannabe therapist who has finished Psych 101 will tell you that the amount of anger and put-downs that a person evinces toward others is only indicative of his/her own dissatisfaction with self.

    If the psychs are right about that, the Scientology haters are the most self-loathing bunch of sick SoBs I have seen on the Web. The Scientologists are at least trying to build something. If you explore all the sites, they hold literacy workshops and anti-drug lectures in schools, etc.

    Yet others are so obsessed with crunching others’ dreams that they spend their evenings in repetitive slams and slanders. Some song-writer said it best: “Why people tear the seams of anyone’s dreams is over my head.”

  • http://dpulliam.com dpulliam

    Greg Churilov,

    Please take care to read my entire post. When I stated “enough of the comments on the merits of Scientology,” I was referring to both sides of the issue and both sides are at fault. My next sentence states, “We’re not here to discredit Scientology or support it,” rather we’re here to discuss journalism.

    We’re also not talking about a LA Times article, we’re talking about a Rolling Stone article who actually, if you read the article, did talk to plenty of real Scientologists. Perhaps that’ll be my follow-up post on the subject.

  • http://revivalblog.com Carl

    I can now see why the article stressed the backlash someone will get when they say any disparaging remarks about scientology. The comments on this post are proof positive.

    There are lots and lots of blogs by people that talk about how they came out of Christianity and now call their old faith a farce. You rarely see a comment on their site. But this site just sought to comment on the reporting of an article about scientology and the comment section gets inundated by people attacking anyone who dare to have an honest conversation about the obvious problems this group has.

    You can say that scientology does good, but you have to admit that the shear volume of strikingly similar stories about abuse shows that the organisation has some serious problems. To deny this is dishonest.

    This leads to a good point. In writing this piece, RS has shown a certain amount of bravery. They have to know that there will now be litigation and reprisals. If this site is getting this than I can’t imagine what RS is getting.

    Is this normal for newsrooms these days? Or, as has been reported about Time, does the intimidation work to shift newsroom priority?

    Just curious if there are any reporters out there who could respond to this.

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  • Lynn

    I think, as dpulliam pointed out in the original post, the great strength of this story is that it lets Scientology speak for itself. There are plenty of comments from not only official spokepeople (Rinder) but also current members. Plus the reporter went through the initial inquiry process herself. My main question for the Scientology cheerleaders here would be, once you go through the “free” initial inquiry and shell out your $10 for the book, does it or does it not cost $4,000 to $8,000 to take the first substantial steps into entering this “religion?” You don’t have to be a “religion scholar” like Ryan Richard Overbey above (and I use that term loosely) to recognize a bait and switch tactic when you see one.

    And I would say that because it is so very clear that what we are talking about here (regardless of how many satisfied adherents there are) is expensive self-help masquerading as religion, that’s why so many religious publications don’t bother to cover it. It’s ain’t religion, and covering it as such would lend it substance it doesn’t deserve.

    My .02.

  • jowil89001

    As the eldest child of former devoted members of this cult I can personally say that I suffered terribly growing up. The educational philosophy of Scientology appears reasonable on the surface but once you are locked into the cult a horrible reality appears. As a child I was expected to teach myself how to read and write and I spent very long hours in complete isolation. As my parents worked for the church, they were away 16 hours a day and I only saw them on rare occassions. Scientologists believe working for the church (where my parents earned $30 on a good week), ‘donating’ enormous amounts for mind wrecking courses and contributing to the growth of the church is more important than raising children.

    If the reporter had only seen the conditions the offspring of fulltime staffers survive in; she would have included it in the article. Thats my only critiscm of the report.

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    If the psychs are right about that, the Scientology haters are the most self-loathing bunch of sick SoBs I have seen on the Web.

    But wait, Scientologists reject psychiatry!

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    Hi Daniel,

    Yes, sorry, I did mean Rolling Stones article – miswrote it.

    In response to your latest post:
    There are several people posting rabid inaccuracies about my religion on this board, and expressing bigoted sentiment without any real clue about what Scientology is, does, stems from or where it’s going. My purpose was simply to balance things a bit.

    Specifically about the RS article:

    1) Scientology is not nearly as controversial as the media tends to portray. It’s laughable how every journalist who writes about this Church feels obligated to squeeze the word “controversial” in there. In actual fact, the Nation of Islam, the Jehova’s Witnesses, are a lot more controversial. And by far the largest controversy about religion in America in the last ten years has had nothing to do with Scientology, dealing instead with the issues of pedophilia within the Catholic priesthood and its coverup.

    2) Scientology has no Hinduism roots. Scientology in fact has little “root” in any previous religion, having originated strictly from research into human behavior, human spirituality and human awareness done by L.Ron Hubbard. Scientology has *kinship* with Buddhism, in that it has points of commonality. Scientology is not related to Christianity at all.

    3) Dericquebourg was correct in his description of “regressive utopia” – in fact, that’s a really apt term. The journalist of RS however is wrong when he claims that the Church of Scientology is “secretive”. There are many lectures available to all Scientologists (and the public at large) where the findings of L.Ron Hubbard’s research in terms of subjects such as past lives, pre-Earth civilizations, Man’s history as a spiritual race, etc. are discussed at length. The only thing that Scientology does not disclose are the specific processes (and their desired results) that seek to improve the individual’s spiritual awareness. And this is not a practice limited to Scientology – a University does not disclose the answers to the tests, a Yoga master does not tell you what realization you’re supposed to experience. The answers must come from within, the journey needs to be an individual, subjective journey.

    4) Scientology is not by any stretch of the imagination a “closed faith” – anyone can walk into any Scientology organization at any time and participate in services. This is quite different from, say, the process it takes to participate in Jewish rites. Anyone can read Scientology books, listen to Mr. Hubbard’s lectures, take a course or attend Sunday services. So where the heck does RS get off by calling it a “closed faith” is beyond me.

    5) Scientology does not “withhold key aspects of its central theology” from anyone. The key aspects of its theology are present in even the basic “Hubbard Qualified Scientologist” course, which is delivered in the Public Division’s academy. The key aspects of Scientology are on the http://www.scientology.org website, for crying out loud. The problem here is that the reporter believes, incorrectly, that the more arcane aspects of Scientology (such as past lives, recall of earlier lives in session, including pre-Earth spiritual history of Man, etc.) are “key aspects” – they’re not. Sure, they’re more *colorful*, more exploitable by sensationalistic press. But they’re just as mundane for the average Scientologist as any other Scientology teaching. There’s no “merit badge” for recalling a past life in session. If it happens, so be it, especially if it’s germane to an issue the session deals with. But it’s no big deal.
    And speaking specifically of the Scientology concept that our civilization is predated by an earlier civilization which was destroyed by a catastrophe millions of years ago, this is not something “hidden”, since anyone can buy Mr. Hubbard’s “Ron’s Journal” where he discusses it in detail.
    What Church officials object to is to the posting on the Internet of confidential data about the specific processes that are used to untangle a person’s spiritual problems. Such data is the legacy left by Mr. Hubbard, and it belongs exclusively to the Scientology movement, and is meant to be used with proper stewardship.
    Stealing is not a good thing. But beyond that, delivering such processes incorrectly can cause negative effects.

    6) Scientology is not hostile to the press. I’ve met and worked with several of the Scientology officials that work with the Press, while volunteering in Louisiana, etc. They’re totally willing to speak to the Press. They’re probably reticent to speak to Rolling Stone, though, since Rolling Stone already did publish a grossly inaccurate and lopsided smear-job on Scientology less than a decade ago.

    7) Much is said about Scientology supposedely “sueing and persecuting critics”. What is not said is that these “critics” are not people that have merely expressed their 1st Ammendment opinions. These are people who have stolen from the Church, or people who have threatened us with bombings, or people that have actually exercised violence againt Scientologists. THOSE are the critics we defend ourselves against, not just some poster on the Net. See http://www.religiousfreedomwatch.org

    8) I find it interesting that the reporter focuses so intently on the cost and the donations – but nothing is said of the humanitarian initiatives that these donations pay for – such as Narconon.org, the Nation’s most effective drug rehab program, or Applied Scholastics, or Criminon, or The Way To Happiness Foundation, etc.

    9) Esbach’s supposed Hubbard quote was disproven years ago in a Court of Law. The quote about “starting a religion” is actually from George Orwell.

    10) The RS reporter is inaccurate when saying the Mr. Miscavige portrayed Mr. Hubbard’s death a “dropping a *healthy* body” (emphasis added). The word ‘healthy’ was not used, and there was no attempt to make Mr. Hubbard’s death any more mysterious than the natural passing at old age of our beloved Founder. I was at the event when this was announced. Referring to someone’s passing as “dropping the body” is a common Scientology slang, intent on placing emphasis on the spiritual nature of the Soul.

    11) The reporter’s inability to give himself to the experience in the Scientology seminar is natural. He’s got a hidden agenda, is there for an ulterior purpose, and is not disclosing any of this. Under such stress, nobody can properly participate effectively in counseling.

    12) The RS reporter is incorrect about homosexuality and Scientology, I have several gay friends who are also Scientologists. A good friend of mine, a Scientologist, is a gay activist in West Hollywood. The reporter is fixating on writings that date back to the 1950s, which was a different era. In subsequent years, Mr. Hubbard wrote a lot more about human sexuality, and made specific mention of the fact that a person’s homosexuality is not a barrier to spiritual freedom. (See http://www.liveandgrow.org/scientology_and_the_gay_community.pdf)

    Primarily what I see is that Janet (the RS reporter) never experienced Scientology – in an effort to remain dispassionate and objective, perhaps, she remained so detached and so heremetic against it that she is describing it clinically without any understanding of its philosophic aims, tenets or practice.

    Greg Churilov,

  • Jaz

    The article seems pretty level-headed. It didn’t degenerate into a CultBashFest. But it might rate a “very negative” from Scientologists, because it wasn’t fulsome in its praise.

    To any Scientologists reading this, what are the three things you’d like most to change about your organization?

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    To Jaz:
    I know what that question has as a goal.
    If I say there’s nothing I want changed, then I’m a fanatic. If I name three things I’d like changed, you use those to ridicule my beliefs.

    So I won’t take the bait. There are several things about my Church I’d like to see changed. I use standard Church petition lines for that – not an Internet board. There are several things I’d like my wife to change too – that doesn’t mean I don’t consider her an amazing woman and and a great wife.

    Greg Churilov

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  • http://iidb.org Andy

    I read the article, nothing new there, the same ol xenu stuff, seemed fair though, given the new original research done by the reporter.

    Every one should search out the South Park episode, its available for net viewing, and so damn funny I could hardly stand it.

  • http://iidb.org Andy

    just read my post, blaring contradiction noted.

    there is truly nothing new there, but the fact that new research was done, makes the nothing new somewhat credible, make sense?

    I guess I will just leave now…(slapping my forehead.)

  • Jaz

    Mr. Churilov, I know nothing about Scientology beyond what was in the Rolling Stone article. Thanks for your kind answer.

  • John Smith

    Though not the place for theology discusisons, Jaz’ challenge to Greg to name three things that he’d change about his religion is a valid one. Most people here have a rational, honest view of their religion’s negative side(s) and seeks to correct them.

    And religion reporters should seek to expose them. That’s just what this RS reporter did, just like reporters have done on the Catholic abuse story and others. We can be angry about the exposure, or honest about the faults exposed.

    As for the religion itself, Ryan’s right, it’s just like every New Religion, except for the obsession with charging huge sums of money for its “sacraments” and crippling, retaliatory lawsuits (“aggressive litigation strategy” as Ryan put it.)

    I think that speaks for itself.

    One last thing, I’m devastated that the South Park episode will NEVER be run again. I hope that’s not true, but I suspect it is. I wonder why the one bashing Mel Gibson – tarring him as a lunatic and his Christian followers as brainwashed neo-Nazis – is run over and over again? Not enough threats from Christians? Or is Scientology TRULY different, and this is just one more piece of evidence?

    I’d like to see some reporting on this, because Hollywood doesn’t usually “cave” to religious pressure groups. This is NEWS!

  • D Rathan

    Well, I just wanted to point out that some of the paranoia against Scientology is well deserved.


    What that is about, is how the church gave its members a “Web Starter Kit”, telling them they could use it to make their own scientology web pages. What they church didnt disclose, is that the Web Starter Kit was actually censorware, that covertly blocked certain websites, or certain pages based on whether they had keywords like “xenu” on them. Why would a religion whose goal is to free people’s mind, hide censorware into a innocuous-looking Web Starter Kit?

    See, when I saw someone in this thread point to religiousfreedomwatch.org, I remembered that religiousfreedomwatch.org site actually -belongs- to scientology. Was that very important disclosure made clear? Because from the name alone you would think its an unbiased third party. Same for “Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights”. That sounds unbiased too. But they’re owned by Scientology too. Shortly after Tom Cruise had his debate with Matt Lauer about psychiatry, Bill O Reilly invited a spokesperson from the “Citizen’s Comission on Human Rights” to his show, which of course, defended Cruise and attacked psychiatry. But just like religiousfreedomwatch above, they never identified that they belong to the Church. The church has 27-pages of wikipedia’s worth of front groups: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Scientology_organizations with names like “Concerned Businessmen Association of America” or “Citizens for Social Reform”, etc.

    While you’re there in wikiland, check out the “Operation Snow White” for real Men-In-Black scary stuff.

    I guess I could go on and on. I have researched this church for a while now, because I have a thing against mind control, and I didnt even link to some of the worse stuff..

    Fortunately, the internet is a very hard thing to silence. Before I rant some more, I just want to tip my hat to the Rolling Stone for having the bravery and the smarts to do what they did. Reporters have a tough time with Scientology. Every reporter needs to know how Scientology deals with the media, as described by someone who was their PR guy for 20 years: http://www.xenu.com/archive/media/young-quill.html

    My message to everyone is: be very careful who you listen to. Dont let anyone steal your capacity for independent thought.

  • Peter

    Hubbard’s own words, and these are quotes of L.R.H Reitman missed, but should have investigated:

    Show me any person who is critical of us and I’ll show you crimes and intended crimes that would stand a magistrate’s hair on end.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin, 4 April 1965

    “Somebody some day will say ‘this is illegal.’ By then be sure the orgs [Scientology organizations] say what is legal or not.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 4 January 1966, “LRH Relationship to Orgs”

    “If attacked on some vulnerable point by anyone or anything or any organization, always find or manufacture enough threat against them to cause them to sue for peace.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 15 August 1960, Dept. of Govt. Affairs

    “The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win. The law can be used very easily to harass, and enough harassment on somebody who is simply on the thin edge anyway, well knowing that he is not authorized, will generally be sufficient to cause his professional decease. If possible, of course, ruin him utterly.”


    “When we need somebody haunted we investigate…When we investigate we do so noisily always.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, MANUAL OF JUSTICE, 1959

    “People attack Scientology, I never forget it, always even the score. People attack auditors, or staff, or organisations, or me. I never forget until the slate is clear.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, MANUAL OF JUSTICE, 1959

    “So we listen. We add up associations of people with people. When a push against Scientology starts somewhere, we go over the people involved and weed them out. Push vanishes.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, MANUAL OF JUSTICE, 1959

    “ENEMY SP Order. Fair game. May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 18 October 1967

    [SP = Suppressive Person a.k.a. critic of Scientology]

    “The practice of declaring people FAIR GAME will cease. FAIR GAME may not appear on any Ethics Order. It causes bad public relations.

    This P/L does not cancel any policy on the treatment or handling of an SP.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 21 October 1968, “Cancellation of Fair Game”

    “A truly Suppressive Person or group has no rights of any kind and actions taken against them are not punishable.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 1 March 1965, HCO (Division 1) “Ethics, Suppressive Acts, Suppression of Scientology and Scientologists”

    “The names and connections, at this time, of the bitterly opposing enemy are: 1. Psychiatry and psychology (not medicine). 2. The heads of news media who are also directors of psychiatric front groups. 3. A few key political figures in the fields of “mental health” and education. 4. A decline of monetary stability caused by the current planning of bankers who are also directors of psychiatric front organizations [that] would make us unable to function.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 16 February 1969, “TARGETS, DEFENSE”

    “There are only two answers for the handling of people from 2.0 down on the Tone Scale, neither one of which has anything to do with reasoning with them or listening to their justification of their acts. The first is to raise them on the Tone Scale by un-enturbulating some of their theta by any one of the three valid processes. The other is to dispose of them quietly and without sorrow.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, SCIENCE OF SURVIVAL, p. 170

    “The sudden and abrupt deletion of all individuals occupying the lower bands of the Tone Scale from the social order would result in an almost instant rise in the cultural tone and would interrupt the dwindling spiral into which any society may have entered.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, SCIENCE OF SURVIVAL, p. 170

    “A Venezuelan dictator once decided to stop leprosy. He saw that most lepers in his country were also beggars. By the simple expedient of collecting and destroying all the beggars in Venezuela an end was put to leprosy in that country.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, SCIENCE OF SURVIVAL, p. 171

    “Unfortunately, it is all too often true that suppressors to a creative action must be removed before construction and creation takes place. Any person very high on the Tone Scale may level destruction toward a suppressor.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, SCIENCE OF SURVIVAL, p. 159

    “In all the broad Universe there is no other hope for Man than ourselves.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, “Ron’s Journal” 1967

    “Now, get this as a technical fact, not a hopeful idea. Every time we have investigated the background of a critic of Scientology, we have found crimes for which that person or group could be imprisoned under existing law. We do not find critics of Scientology who do not have criminal pasts.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Bulletin, 5 November 1967, “Critics of Scientology”

    “This is the correct procedure: Spot who is attacking us. Start investigating them promptly for felonies or worse using our own professionals, not outside agencies. Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them. Start feeding lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press. Don’t ever tamely submit to an investigation of us. Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 25 February 1966

    “We’re playing for blood, the stake is EARTH.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 7 November 1962

    “THE ONLY WAY YOU CAN CONTROL PEOPLE IS TO LIE TO THEM. You can write that down in your book in great big letters. The only way you can control anybody is to lie to them.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, “Off the Time Track,” lecture of June 1952, excerpted in JOURNAL OF SCIENTOLOGY issue 18-G, reprinted in TECHNICAL VOLUMES OF DIANETICS & SCIENTOLOGY, vol. 1, p. 418

    “When somebody enrols, consider he or she has joined up for the duration of the universe – never permit an ‘open-minded’ approach… If they enrolled, they’re aboard, and if they’re aboard they’re here on the same terms as the rest of us – win or die in the attempt. Never let them be half minded about being Scientologists… When Mrs. Pattycake comes to us to be taught, turn that wandering doubt in her eye into a fixed, dedicated glare… The proper instruction attitude is, ‘We’d rather have you dead than incapable.’”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, KEEPING SCIENTOLOGY WORKING, 7 February 1965, reissued 27 August 1980

    “Advanced Courses [in Scientology] are the most valuable service on the planet. Life insurance, houses, cars, stocks, bonds, college savings, all are transitory and impermanent… There is nothing to compare with Advanced Courses. They are infinitely valuable and transcend time itself.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard speaking of his Operating Thetan Courses, Flag Mission Order 375

    “’Psychiatry’ and ‘psychiatrist’ are easily redefined to mean ‘an anti-social enemy of the people‘. This takes the kill crazy psychiatrist off the preferred list of professions…The redefinition of words is done by associating different emotions and symbols with the word than were intended…Scientologists are redefining ‘doctor‘, ‘Psychiatry’ and ‘psychology’ to mean ‘undesirable antisocial elements‘…The way to redefine a word is to get the new definition repeated as often as possible. Thus it is necessary to redefine medicine, psychiatry and psychology downward and define Dianetics and Scientology upwards. This, so far as words are concerned, is the public opinion battle for belief in your definitions, and not those of the opposition. A consistent, repeated effort is the key to any success with this technique of propaganda.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 5 October 1971, PR Series 12, “Propaganda by Redefinition of Words”

    In my view, the real L. Ron Hubbard is anything but someone who could be characterized as “religious”.

    Peter J.

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    Wow, Daniel.

    *THAT* post passed moderation?

    I could reply with a twenty-mile long post extolling the virtues of my religion and copy-pasting material, but, honestly, I consider it very poor forum manners.

    I could also take a few choice out-of-context paragraphs from, say, Leviticus, to prove that Christianity is evil. But again, I consider that to be cheap shots.

    Daniel, if we’re going to engage in religious debate, some standards must be maintained.

    Greg Churilov

  • http://dpulliam.com dpulliam


    Unless it can be proven that those quotes are inaccurate, I’m afraid they will have to stay. Posting a twenty-mile long post extolling the virtues of Scientology is obviously an option, but do you think it would accomplish anything? I just got around to glancing at those comments posted by Peter and it didn’t impact my views of Scientology one bit, nor do I think they influenced anyone else to a great extent.

    I think a better way to engage in this issue is with openness, transparency and with accurate discussion of the article at hand.

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov


    I am all for openness, transparency and with accurate discussion of the artice at hand. Frankly, it irks me that you would even state this, as it if to imply I am for anything else.

    My objection is to the long cut-n-paste of out-of-context quotes to try and build a false image of Scientology.

    I too could quote Jesus as saying “I do not bring you peace but the sword!” and claim that Christianity extols violence, or “let he who is exempt of sin cast the first stone” to indicate that ritual stoning is an accepted part of Christian dogma.

    Or I could have fun with some Pat Roberston quotes!

    My point is that, one thing is to have an open debate about religion – another is to use out-of-context quotes to attack a faith.

    Greg Churilov

  • D Rathan

    Greg, are you saying that:

    “This is the correct procedure: Spot who is attacking us. Start investigating them promptly for felonies or worse using our own professionals, not outside agencies. Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them. Start feeding lurid, blood sex crime actual evidence on the attackers to the press. Don’t ever tamely submit to an investigation of us. Make it rough, rough on attackers all the way.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard, Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter, 25 February 1966

    is alike

    let he who is exempt of sin cast the first stone


    Because I know that Christians dont stone a lot of people lately, but Scientology does in fact follow something akin the quote above, today, for example, in the site you mentioned above religiousfreedomwatch.org. So if you could, please, explain in which context is the above quote meant to be understood?

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    No, D Rathan.

    Interesting quotes.

    What I said is that people should not quote things out of context to try and create a sinister image. And you went right ahead and did just that. So much for respecting my wishes. That’s cool, I’m getting used to the rough-housing that the moderator tolerates on this board.

    Would you like me to address the LRH quote above?

    Christianity is over 2000 years old. In its first three centuries of existence it was faced with persecution and struggled for survival. Early Christians had to resort to survival strategies such as tight security, secret signs on walls telling of secret meetings, martyrdom, etc.

    (In actual fact, early Christians were such an unrully, rowdy and disturbing bunch, apparently, that the Emperor of Rome passed several decrees curtailing their activities in Roman territory. But that’s another topic.)

    Anyway, Scientology is still in its first Century. We’re still struggling for survival.

    In 1963 L.Ron Hubbard got tired of the seemingly endless string of smears and lies in the media about us, and decided to hire a team of professional evaluators and private investigators to find out who was attacking the Scientology movement and why. One of the things that they found was that primarily the sources are always the same, the channels are always the same, and the tactics are similar. A strategy was worked out on how to deal with the attacks.

    It was also found that in many cases the people who were behind the attacks were special interests with profit motives, skeletons in their closets and shady history. A strategy was worked out, whereby when we get hit with an attack, we uncover the motives and the dark secrets of the attackers.

    This is not really applicable to nasty posts on a Net forum. it’s applicable to PR attacks like the TIME Magazine story of 1991.

    It’s not even applicable to the Rolling Stone story, I think, since I did not see it as a smear job, just a piece of “controversy-driven” journalism where the reporter was more in love with the controversy than in learning anything about the truth or the bigger picture.

    In the case of the TIME mag, it is now a proven known fact that the people behind that article were the execs at Eli Lilly, who were concerned about their sales of Prozac declining due to Scientology activism. And those people have blood on their hands.
    They have bribed the FDA, they rushed the drug to market, they have hidden for years the number of suicides and homicides associated with their drugs, etc. etc.

    D Rathan, Scientology is not a “turn the other cheek” religion. When attacked, we hit back.

    But we don’t go randomly picking fights.

    We just believe we have a right to exist, and we oppose the notion that special interests such as Big Pharma would get away with wiping us out to protect their money-making empires.

    You can disagree. Feel free to.
    I am not embarrased by that quote. I stand by it proudly. When hit, we hit back.

    The interesting thing about http://www.religiousfreemdomwatch.org is that it proves the point. The people that threaten us with bomb-threats or attack us on the Net DO have criminal pasts.

    Greg Churilov

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    Question for the Board in general:

    Are we going to devote 100% of this thread to badgering the one Scientologist present with any and all allegations against Scientology, or is there any chance for actual healthy dialog, toward learning something about what Scientology all about?

    I’m not seeking to proselytize, but I’d much rather engage in good comparative-religion discussion than fend off one attack after another.

    I’m not sure why some of you seem to be under the impression that my religion is on trial.

    Greg Churilov

  • Cole


    Your religion is on perpetual trial because (i) it’s an obvious scam, (ii) its teachings are beyond laughable, (iii) it harasses people, makes threats, files countless frivolous lawsuits, isolates people from their families (oh, those “suppressive persons”!), breaks into government offices, and generally behaves just as unscrupulously as its pitiful drug-addled hack of a founder.

    Of course, many religions have had ludicrous teachings and have behaved like violent criminals. But yours is under fifty years old, so it’s still easy for people to see the emperor has no clothes. But time will tell. Perhaps Scientology will be able to disguise itself in the holy mantle of piety and and wind up as accepted and above criticism as all the other demented religions that pollute our planet.

  • D Rathan

    Greg, if you feel like you are on trial, feel free to stop defending from these questions.

    I have better things to do myself than attacking someone’s beliefs just for the kick of it. The reason I ask you these things, is because I want to know if the inner you is really like the outside one, if you truly are what you are appear. For example, in your reply, you said that you stand proudly by the LRH quote, and at the same time (or maybe in a different paragraph) you said the quote was out of context. I’m having trouble reconciling both statements. Eithers its out of context, or you stand proudly by it?

    I’m sure your answer will be “both”, but, regardless, do you also stand proudly by the techniques described by Robert Vaughn Young, in my link above? He was apparently the Church’s man in charge of dealing with the media for 20 years, and surely dealt with many reporters just like the Rolling Stone article we’re discussing. I invite you to read Young’s message about what he did, and then tell me if you stand by it too, or if the techniques have since changed, or if Young is making it all up. But if Young is making it all up, why does religiousfreedomwatch.org uses those techniques almost to the letter? I invite anyone to see that site, and click, for example, in the “False Experts” section. These are religious scholars who have spoken against scientology. Compare the alegations against them, with Robert Young’s recipes for dealing with critics, and tell me if they match or not.

    So Greg, do you stand proudly by those techniques too?

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    I won’t respond to Cole, as all he’s articulated are the most basic xenophobe’s rantings against someone else’s religious affiliation. You could take what he wrote and apply it to any religion, when viewed from a prejudiced outsider’s viewpoint.


    D Rathan:

    First of all, I did not say I’m on trial. (twist, twist…)

    Secondly, no, I don’t believe the right course of action for this bashing to cease would be for me to stop replying to xenophobic bigotry, I believe the thing that would make it stop would be for you to stop posting bigoted comments in the first place. Sequential logic 101.

    There is hardly an “outer me” and “inner me” – I am a fairly transparent person. I am passionate about my religion, as I am passionate about many other things. I would speak just as passionately about what farce and racket the Iraq War is, or about how much the third Matrix movie sucked, or about the accomplishments of my kid.

    In terms of the quote, I believe I made myself quite clear. I explained the quote, and I stated I don’t at all find any embarrassment in it. I also stated you’re posting it out of context in an attempt to attack my religion, and you are.

    So, it IS out of context, and still, I stand proudly by it.

    Robert Young is an apostate who hates Scientology. I believe the man to be dishonest and bismirched by a complete lack of scruples or decency. I certainly don’t stand by anything he does, did or represents. I don’t believe he’s a credible witness, either.

    D Rathan, this is tiring for both of us and fairly pointless. I could ask you what your religious affiliation is, and then proceed to poke at it with pernitious arguments. What would that gain either of us?

    I’m happy being a Scientologist. Scientology is an effective philosophy, and I’ve seen it successfully help hundreds, thousands of people.

    By focusing on the garbage, you miss the larger picture. Sure, a Hummer SUV is a polluting gas-guzzler. But somebody must find some benefit in these vehicles, otherwise there would be no market for them. Sure, Jefferson had slaves – but he also left a powerful legacy behind. Sure, Jesus did hang out with prostitures and tax collectors, sure, he promoted the drinking of alcohol, violently attacked merchants with a stick, mocked the religious establishment, and was found guilty of crimes and executed. But if that’s all you wrote about it, then you might miss the reason Christianity is a World Religion. You can probably find someone who has written trash about Mother Teresa, for pete’s sake.

    If you don’t care for Scientology, simply don’t participate in it. Nobody’s forcing you to.

    Greg Churilov

  • D Rathan


    I’ll certainly stop when I’m tired enough or bored enough. I dont mean to offend you, and I dont take offense at your referring to my posts as bigotry. I disagree with that characterization, of course, but I assume your reaction is the product of training and comes almost automatic, so I dont hold it against you.

    What I do find interesting, is that you’ve managed to talk about Christianity three times now, first when resenting the LRH quotes, then when explaining the context for religiousfreedomwatch.org and now when asked about Robert Vaughn Young. Why do you keep bringing christianity up? No one else is talking about it. Without meaning to offend, all three times you’ve mentioned christianity, sound like “you say my house is on fire now, but -the neighbor’s mansion- burned 100 years ago and look at it now!”. It doesnt change the fact that your house is on fire now.

    So my question remains: Robert Vaughn Young, who is now an apostate, worked for 20 years as Scientology’s top Public Relations person. He has described what he did during those 20 years. Either he’s lying, or he’s saying the truth. If he’s lying, why does religiousfreedomwatch.org still use the same techniques he describes he used during those 20 years? And if he’s saying the truth, do you stand by it? Not by him. By it. By the techniques of media-manipulation, attack-the-attacker, misdirect, sue, stall, front groups, everything religiousfreedomwatch.org currently does today. That is my question.

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    D Rathan,

    When speaking about religion with people of various denominations, I believe it is worthwhile to place things in the context of comparative religion. Since Christianity is a religion with which most westerners are familiar, I find that it lends itself for analogies. That’s all.

    My house is not on fire.

    Scientology is a new religion. All new religions have gone through a difficult period in their first century or two. Mormons, Baha’i, Protestants, Christian Scientists, etc.

    Even Christianity… (oh no! I’ve done it again! Mea culpa.)

    I’ve already said Vaughn is lying. Please don’t busy up the board with reposts.


    Incidentally, if anyone has a legitimate question that is RELEVANT to Scientology practice, feel free to chime in.

    Greg Churilov

  • D Rathan

    Your house is not on fire, is just that “all new religions go through a difficult period in their first 100 years”. Well, thats what I mean by fire. It doesnt excuse anything.

    Greg, I’ll be replying in the thread for the most recent Scientology post, as to not busy-up the boards.

    Have you read what Vaughn wrote, or do you just know that he is lying without needing to read it?

    If you have read it, how does religiousfreedomwatch.org differs from what Vaughn describes?

    See you in the other thread.

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    I found this interesting transcript of the CNN interview with Mike Rinder, about the Rolling Stone article:

    COOPER: Well, in a “Rolling Stone” article just out tomorrow, Janet Reitman gave — gives an inside look, or what she says is an inside look at the Church of Scientology. The director of the Church of Scientology International, Mike Rinder, joins us now to give us his reaction to the article and to talk about the church.

    Appreciate you being with us.

    First of all, how do you feel about this “Rolling Stone” article? Is it an accurate portrayal of the church?

    MIKE RINDER, DIRECTOR, CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY: Well, I was disappointed, Anderson. I think that Janet was given very broad access to the church. Unfortunately, it took several months before we could set up her tours because she just wasn’t available and people from “Rolling Stone” weren’t available.

    But what she did was, instead of telling the story “Inside Scientology,” which is the title of the article, she really told a story that was outside Scientology because, rather than using the interviews that she had with the people in the church, she interviewed Kirstie Alley, she interviewed Kelly Preston, she interviewed many, many people.

    We took her through tours through churches in Los Angeles. And in Clearwater she saw thousands of scientologists. She talked to many of them.

    Unfortunately, they didn’t make it into the article. So I think that people are still left wondering, you know, what is Scientology? Why are people — so many people involved in Scientology, what do they find in Scientology? And her article just didn’t answer the question.

    COOPER: Well, let’s talk about a couple of those things.

    First of all, you know, a lot gets made in print about Scientology’s creation myth. And frankly, I think it’s unfair. Any religion’s creation myth can sound, you know, far out there or loony to those who don’t believe. So I’m not — I’m not going to ask you about space aliens or whatever I’m sure people always ask you about.

    But the church does keep certain aspects of their beliefs secret. Why?

    RINDER: Well, it’s very much like many Eastern religions, even parts of Judaism and Mormonism. When you have attained a certain level in Scientology, then there are certain materials that are then accessible to you. But the vast majority of material in Scientology is available in the books and writings of L. Ron Hubbard. Anybody can walk into a library or bookstore and get those materials, read them, and understand what Scientology is.

    And just to put one thing into context, because much of what Janet talked about or much of what you may see is completely taken out of context and is a total mockery, in fact it is not the creation theory of Scientology. That is contained in one of the many fundamental books of Scientology that anybody can get from any library or bookstore.

    COOPER: So what do you think the appeal is? I mean, for the people who do believe in Scientology, what is the essential appeal?

    RINDER: Scientology provides answers, answers and solutions to the problems of life. Scientology gives you a way of attaining spiritual enlightenment, spiritual freedom and solving the problems that confront everybody in their day-to-day life, relationships.

    COOPER: And to do that, you take these classes repeatedly. I mean, it’s a graduating system of classes that gets you to higher and higher levels, is that correct?

    RINDER: Well, that’s certainly correct, although one can get — as I said, one can get a book. You can go and get the “Dianetics” book or any other book by L. Ron Hubbard, study the principles that are contained in there and apply them in your life right now. And those principles give you way of resolving the difficulties that you have, perhaps with relationships, resolving upsets that you have. You don’t know where they come from or why you have those upsets.

    You know, in Scientology there is a fundamental concept that man consists of a spirit, a mind and a body, that man has lived through countless lifetimes, that his experiences of the past affect him today and cause him to have unwanted reactions to things, upsets, difficulties and inhibitions that he doesn’t want. And “Dianetics” and Scientology address those things and resolve them.

    COOPER: Well, again, the interview comes out tomorrow in “Rolling Stone.” And we wanted to give you a chance to respond to it. And I appreciate you coming on to talk about it. It’s rare that we are able to talk to people, and I frankly wish we had more time. We’ve got these two breaking stories.

    But I would love to go more in-depth with you, because there are so many aspects of this which is just interesting and a lot of people have questions about. So we would love to have you on another time.

    RINDER: OK, Anderson. Well, I appreciate your time.

    COOPER: All right. Take care. Thank you very much, Mr. Rinder.

  • John Smith

    Greg, Did I miss something or did you just say that the Roman Emperor somehow had a point when he was murdering Christians, because they were such an “unrully, rowdy and disturbing bunch”?

    Maybe you missed Sunday school as a kid, but let me assure you that the early Christians REALLY DIDN’T drink blood and eat human flesh. It was just what they were accused of doing.

    So in a backhanded way, I have to say I understand and am sympathetic with the analogy you tried to make with these unhistorical comments – the idea that new religions get pegged with things they simply don’t do. Good point.

    But the evidence is so overwhelming that abuses DO occur within your faith, and that official texts SEEM to encourage some of these abuses, that if false, this must be a mass delusion or a mass conspiracy against Scientology. (I can imagine either would be an acceptable explanation to you.)

  • Prexz

    Scientology stresses the similarities between itself and major religions.

    Having been a staff member, I notice the differences.

    Scientology is more like a storefront run by a crystal ball reading psychic than anything resembling a church. I believe that the American Supreme court felt similarly though the American tax office, under a great deal of pressure, only recently decided to give it tax exempt status.

    Scientology likes to scream “bigot” to stop debate, but most of their detractors aren’t bigots. They just don’t like to see people people become victims of fraud (these people would agree with the French decision sentencing L.Ron Hubbard to four years in jail for fraud).

    Here is a question for you Greg. When I was a member in the late sixties, Scientology claimed 15 million followers worldwide. Today it often claims 10 million followers and that it is the worlds fastest growing church. Rolling Stone notes statistics (stats?) saying that there are 55,000 members in the USA and that worldwide the membership could be between 100,000 and 200,000. How do you account for these contradictions? Is it the suppresives at it again? Is it a PR mechanism gone wild? Is it something else?

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    Hi “Jonh Smith” (way to be anonymous, dude):

    1) Yes, you missed something.

    2) No, I didn’t just say that murdering people is cool.

    3) Sunday school is NOT a definitive, unbiased historical source of historical information about early Christians.

    4) The fact is, early Christians were such a political and social problem for the Roman Empire, that many times decrees were passed to curb their activities.

    This was a combination of many things. One needs to understand the historical context. Back in those days, if you were a Roman you were a first-class citizen, and if you were a Briton or an Iberian or a Jew you were a second-class citizen. You basically got yourself a “green-card” into the Roman Empire by virtue of being a memeber of its occupied provinces.
    Well, the Jews did not allow pagans and barbarians to become Jews. It was a pretty exclusive religion.
    But under the tutelage and direction of Saul of Tarsus (Paul the Apostol), the newly founded Christian sect, which officially had to be considered just as jewish as the Essenes or the Zealots, DID allow pagans, barbarians and basically ANYONE to become a Christian basically overnight.
    This created an immigration nightmare for the Roman Empire. This is just one example of the problems associated with early Christians.

    And you have to imagine the alarm and concern in a respectable, middle-class Roman household about thee secretive Christians, who held secret meetings in catacombs (gravesites) at night, who left bizarre markings of fish and other cryptic symbols on public walls, who spoke of a Jewish King and disrespected the Roman gods, and who were *rumored* to engage in cannibalistic rituals (they didn’t really, but if there had been a Rolling Stone then, the article would have said they did.)

    Meanwhile, the Mithraists, the Zoroastrians and other sects were badmouthing the Christians in order to gain adherents and avoid Christian expansion. And of course each Roman Emperor had HIS agenda, such as preventing social anarchy (Tiberrius), keeping Roman culture (Claudius), pleasing his fanatical wife (Constantine) or keeping the Empire united (Julian)


    Back to my faith:

    The evidence is NOT overwhelming. There is some hearsay evidence from people with a profit motive, or a personal vendetta, and that has very, very little weight except on the pages of National Enquirer or some rumor-mongering anti-religious site.

    If there WAS overwhelming evidence Scientology engages in abuses, then our Churches would have long been shut down by law enforcement. Instead, we are honored by Senators and Governonrs for our charitable work.

    There is no mass delusion.
    There are a few people who leave the Church on bitter terms.

    And there IS a conspiracy, as confirmed by Mitch Daniels, former VP of Eli Lilly, to smear the Church of Scientology in the media.

    When Tom Cruise spoke up against Ritalin, Zoloft and other psych drugs, what do you think happened? Do you really think that the Board of Directors of Glaxo got together and said, “guys, the biggest start in Hollywood, while promoting a mega-summmer-blockbuster, just told the American people and the World that our product is harmful and people shouldn’t take it. LET’S DO NOTHING ABOUT IT, NO BIG DEAL.”?

    Sales of major antidepressants fell a whooping 21% accross the Nation after Cruise spoke. Even that giant sloth the FDA ordered all drug makers to place black labels on antidepressants bottles stating the side-effects (suicidal ideation, violence, etc.) DO YOU REALLY THINK THESE CORPORATE GIANTS WOULD DO NOTHING ABOUT THIS?


    Of course they hurriedly hired PR firms. Of course the started making Tom Cruise into a joke. Or course they started commissioning stories on Scientology. Duh.

    Right this minute, Scientologist Kirstie Alley and Scientologist Kelly Preston are testifying before Congress for the passing of House Bill HB1213, which would COMPELL schools to check with the parents, and inform the parents of potential side-effects, before putting a kid on Ritalin or another addictive drug.

    Do you think the maker of Ritalin isn’t worried?

    Then you must live in a very, very innocent world.

    Do a Google on “ritalin sales”, or “prozac suicide” or “adhd fraud”.

    Greg Churilov,

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    First of all, I’m sorry your staff experience was a negative one.

    I’m not sure to what extent you can compare what happened forty years ago to today’s Scientology, though

    I doubt I can change your negative perception of Scientology doctrine. You say it’s a “psychic with a crystal ball.” And you say this does not resemble a Church. Have you ever been to a Buddhist temple? Have you ever seen Russian Orthodox mass? You’d probably comment that it’s a bunch of hocus-pocus with incense and robes, and that it’s “not a real Church” either.

    The IRS did not fall under pressure. This government agency has more budget, more personnel, more power and more clout than the CIA and the FBI combined.

    The IRS performed an exhaustive investigation of Scientology, which lasted three whole years. That’s the largest and longest investigation of any organization in IRS history. They looked at 24 truckloads worth of legal documents. Their findings: NOBODY is profiting off of Scientology. It is a charitable organization that uses its money to fund Churches and social-betterment programs.

    The U.S. Supreme Court (as well as the Govt of Sweden, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Venezuela, etc. etc.) have formally recognized the Church of Scientology as a bonafide religion, to be treated no different than Catholic, Jewish or any other faith.

    Yes, we scream bigot when someone calls us names or makes theats against us. Like the man who shot our receptionist, in Portland OR, or the man who called a bomb-threat in one of our Los Angeles Churches. Or the skin-heads who beat us Scientologist children in Florida. Yes, we call them bigots.

    Establishing the numbers of Scientology adherents is difficult because many people practice Scientology AND their chosen faith. And, in a census, a Scientologist who is also a Catholic writes “Catholic”, and a Scientologist who is also a Baptist writes “Baptist.” There is no room in a census form for “what other religion do you practice.”

    Or course proponents of Scientology will try and count as many as possible to make the flock look bigger, and detractors will try and count as few as possible to make the flock look smaller. Public Relations pissing wars.

    I don’t think any of this really matters, at least to me. If there were six Scientologist on the whole planet, I’d be one of them, and that’s good enough for me.

    The facts are, however, that we have ten times as many buildings and Churches as we did a few years ago. Unless all these are empty buildings just for show, the inescapable conclusion is that Scientology is expanding.

    Greg Churilov

  • http://dpulliam.com dpulliam

    OK, I can’t let this one slide.

    The IRS does not have “more budget, more personnel, more power and more clout than the CIA and the FBI combined.”

    Rather, the IRS has a budget that’s about twice that of the FBI at $10 billion and while the CIA’s budget is classified, it’s estimated to receive at least $30 billion annually.

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks, I stand corrected. My point was that the IRS is an 800lb. Gorilla, and is not likely to be pushed around by Scientology or any other religious group.

    Nice to see you actually read the posts. :-)

    Greg Churilov

  • http://dpulliam.com dpulliam

    Of course I read the posts Greg. I have enjoyed this discussion very much and have found it very thought provoking on a variety of fronts.

    I tend to withdraw from commenting on my posts unless I feel I have something I can add that’s beneficial.

    The thing about the IRS just jumped out at me because covering news out of the federal agencies is what my day job entails.

  • Prexz

    For Greg:

    I am sure Scientology has changed over the years but the claims in the “Scripture” have not. Dianetics still offers perfect memory, perfect vision, a computer like mind, a raised IQ by one point per hour of auditing and you know I have just scratched the surface. The real superpowers come with the Scientology OT levels. The other important way that Scientology hasn’t change is the emphasis on money.

    And no, I would not comment negatively on the Buddhists or the Russian Orthodox unless there was a real reason to do so ( I know of none). I compare Scientology to a storefront offering psychic readings because of Scientology’s emphasis on money with a small religious element.

    The IRS was felled by personal lawsuits, which were settled in an unprecedented secret agreement when Scientology was offered tax-exempt status. Search on google: Douglas Frantz/ New York Times/ Scientology. While you’re at it search Supreme Court/ Scientology. The last time the Supreme Court looked at Scientology they decided that it was not a religion. So did the countries of England, France, Spain, Germany, Israel and most other Western nations. In Sweden it is a religion but Sweden grants religious status to all groups that request it and there IS NO ADVANTAGE there in being a religion. In Canada Scientology has some status as a religion but (at least as of a few years ago) it does not have the same tax advantages as other religions do. I have been told that it is not even considered a charitable organization, but I must admit that my sources are not always reliable on this. But, if you do want to call it a “church” in Canada I must ad that it is the only criminally convicted church in the history of the nation. I am sure of that. I have little knowledge of Australia (where there are more people who state that their religion is “Jedi Knight” then there are people who call themselves Scientologists—this may be left over from the bans that were imposed on it about the time I was a staff member). I have no knowledge of the situation in Venezuela or South Africa at all.

    I assume that the bomb threat in LA that you speak of was Keith Henson threatening to attack with a “Tom Cruise” missile. He had already been sued by Scientology, with them spending two million in legal and private investigator fees to extract a settlement of under a hundred thousand dollars from him, which sent him into bankruptcy. He was charged with several counts for the “Tom Cruise Missile” threat when Scientology presented his previous history against them as well as the fact that he had worked for a fireworks company as an engineer forty years earlier. He was found guilty of an obscure law, “religious interference” which isn’t on the books in most states. I believe he is living in New York State, which will not extradite him because they have no parallel law.

    I heard about the very sad case of the LA receptionist being shot. My understanding is that this was done not by a bigot but by a former Scientologist, frustrated beyond hope by losing so much of her money and her life to an organization that, she had come to realize, gave her only false dreams. Not having the money left to sue, nor the time (it took Larry Wollersheim 20 years to get his 8 million in damages) she saw little recourse. Her actions were horrible, but sadly, if America had gone the way of France, Germany, Spain, Russia or Greece in its reaction to Scientology she might have found herself with other options.

    I am not familiar with the other cases. Certainly bigotry does exist and no doubt Scientology is the target of some of it. But most of the people whom Scientologists call bigots are merely concerned about what they see as the excesses of Scientology. Scientology, I’ll say it again, likes to call people bigots to stop discussion and debate.

    I am glad you agree that Scientology pumps up its numbers. The Scientology statistics are there to make it look like it is as big as Mormonism or Judaism. Look in the yellow pages under churches. How many synagogues and Mormon temples are there in your town? How many orgs are there. ? Go down to the org any day of the week. How many people are in it?

    You doubt that you will change my perception of Scientology doctrine but I think your views will change. Almost every Scientologist eventually leaves the group, including L.Ron Hubbard’s eponymous son, the first clear John McMaster AND EVERYONE I WAS ON STAFF WITH ALL THOSE YEARS AGO. I do not exaggerate. There is not one local scientologist that predates me.

    When I talk to Scientologists and they go on about their wins, I think of a fish nibbling on a worm. Sooner or later they hit the hook. Then, it takes a few months before they even admit their huge mistake. And then they wonder how they could have ever been involved in such an endeavor at all.

    Read Dianetics, the first book of Scientology. Underline all the claims. Confront what is written. Ask yourself how many of Hubbard’s measurable claims you have actually witnessed. Then act accordingly.

    Good luck with it all.

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    Hi Prexz,

    Well, we can agree to disagree.

    I was not referring to Keith Henson but to a bomb-theat that happened way before he posted a known Scientology center’s coordinates all over the Internet and asked for someone to blast it.

    And no, the case in Oregon was a male, and not a Scientologist. Get your facts straight.

    Sorry you had a bad experience, dude.
    My experience is a positive one. I’ve seen Dianetics in action and it “do what it do” pretty darn well.

    Bringing up DeWolfe is a pretty desperate grasp. The kid was not raised by LRH but by his estranged wife. And he took off shortly after e-metered confessionals were announced. Hmmm.

    Census numbers on religion and politics vary. Of course each group wants to see large numbers. And of course the detractors claim it’s less. No news there.

    Anyway, here’s the thing, Prexz, obviously you had a bad Scientology experience. I’d recommend (a) asking yourself what you yourself did poorly – such as why didn’t you avail yourself of the counseling and courses that were open to you as a staff member, (b) finding some closure and (c) deciding to do something else with your life, something happy and hopeful, instead of living in the past.

    Greg Churilov

  • John Smith

    Thanks for your response re: early Christian history. I don’t fully agree with the analysis but I do appreciate hearing your views.

    I have to remain anonymous because, unlike some of the accusations that appear quite extreme (the alleged deliberate death of people on your Church’s watch, for example) the fact is undeniable that you have a church policy of attacking with ALL means at your disposal those who dare to criticize the church, making it quite a scary religion indeed.

    The Smith moniker is an homage to the South Park episode someone on GR said your Church has threatened to sue Comedy Central over if it ever runs again. Allegedly, they caved to your demands (though I see ads hinting it will in fact run again soon.) Care to clear this rumor up?

    As for the 21 percent drop in drug sales following Tom’s outbursts, please show some facts for that, because that hasn’t made the news.

    As for Cruise’s effectiveness, he came across as a madman, not at all an effective proponent of a Cause. Many commented that something seems to have let loose in his psyche and he was jumping on couches and making inappropriate comments about his girlfriend and others even before he lashed out at Lauer and others over the drugs. (Note that I largely agree kids are over-drugged.)

    Regarding drug companies, surely they WILL do something about these attacks on their drugs. They will use the PR firms you mention to point out their benefits and emphasize their effectiveness. What they will NOT do is sue Scientology for $40 billion (or some other wild number), declare (literal) “war” on the religion, or vow to utterly wipe it from the face of the earth – all language expected from those in your camp, however, in their “scorched Earth” war against critics.

    While I understand the need to respond to critics, I also wonder why the Church doesn’t simply IGNORE them, largely. I mean, why spend all of these resources fighting critics in the courts and online when you could be spending that time, effort and money bettering society, according to your belief system?

    One final thing about Rolling Stone. As a source of religious or even political reporting, it’s shown itself to be shallow, cynical and biased in the last few years (We’ve talked about it here on GR before.) It’s aiming for the “hipster” audience and really doesn’t care who it slimes in the process. Just ask some conservative U.S. politicians. That it got major facts wrong or didn’t do a thorough job reporting your religion is NOT a surprise.

  • http://www.liveandgrow.org Greg Churilov

    Hi John,

    Well, feel free to be anonymous but your fear is unfounded. My Church pursues legal means to prevent people from posting copyrighted confidential materials on the Net (there’s a reason for this, read my thread at http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1439) – But my Church has no interest in attacking you for expressing an opinion. I know that some specific people have tried to create a different perception, but those people are not like you. And their actions are not like yours.

    In terms of sales of antidepressants being low, a simple Google of “antidepressants + sales”, “antidepressant + risks” etc. gets you the data. It DOES make the news. (CNN, etc.)

    I am flabbergasted by your incredibly naiive view on the drug companies. We all take for granted that Big Tobbaco buys lawyers, manipulates politicians and lobbies in Washington, falsifies data and silences critics. You don’t think Big Pharma does any of this?

    Do you REALLY think that all their PR campaign is benign? P-l-e-a-s-e. Wake up and smell the profits.

    It amazes me you’re so eager to accept that the Church of Scientology would do unethical things, but are apparently a staunch believer in the good heart of corporate pharmaceutical cartels.

    Cruise’s portrayal as a flake was an orchestrated media campaign. It’s incredible that they’ve successfully turned being in love into a thing to sneer at. Cruise did at no time make “inappropriate remarks about his girlfriend” – I don’t even know what you’re referring to with that.

    You should read my posts at http://www.getreligion.org/?p=1439. Because the Church does not go after critics, it largely DOES ignore them. The Church specifically opposes those that actively harrass our parishioners. And it actively sues those who steal confidential copyrighted materials and post them on the Net. That’s all.

    Thanks for what you wrote about Rolling Stone. It does put things in perspective.

    Greg Churilov

  • SP

    Scientology is a litigious, paramilitary quasi-fascist business, a brainwashing cult of psycho-terror, and the treatment they are (hopefully) getting in Germany and many other countries is what the Nazies SHOULD have gotten in the early 30′s. Their claim “likening themselves to Jews being persecuted during the Nazi era”, is absolutely cynical and disgusting.

    As in numerus previous cases, scientologists are urged (and coersed) by their military superiors, to write/phone the press or net over and over again in order to give an impression of some vast following, which of course does not really exist- the supposed 8 million followers they claim? 200,000 at the most would be more likely.
    The web is full of fascinating and accurate info about this most lying of cults- and guess what- that info is NOT to be found within the cult’s own propaganda sites; Most scientologists don’t know jack about the real history and facts regarding their group or dead paranoid Leader. Not only are they convinced that all critical writings about Scn. are part of a Cosmic Conspiracy trillions (thats right!) of years old, they actually are not allowed to come in any contact with the evil originators of said criticism- the SP’s- (thats short for “Suppresive Person”)- the “anti social personality”, best recognized by the mere fact that he or she are anti Scientology. Scientologists that do communicate with an SP are dealt with by the “Ethics officer” or “Master at arms” , are “handled” at their OWN expense by a self created “Justice System” that would make any decent person’s skin crawl, and could face Ex-communication by the “Church”, their own family and former buddies. Worse, that would be for them the equivalent of banishment from any chance of spiritual freedom.

    One should be aware of the belief system they espouse. In their unbelievably high priced “services”, the (at one time) secretive higher levels, and in his over-the-counter Scientology books and tape recordings- Hubbard talks about aliens and “galactic civilizations” constantly- he gets into great detail about the subject. It’s ludicrous. The sheer quantity and depth of the idiocy found in Hubbard’s writing is way beyond the scope of this letter. The net provides ample examples and proof to anybody who is not already a brainwashed fanatic.

    ALL (new) scientologists are lied to by their “more advanced” colleagues regarding this and other ridiculous “scientific” claims, and are led to believe that they can for the time being, avoid making a personal decision about the subject. This goes on until THEY TOO have been brainwashed, at which point they will treat the totality of L.R.Hubbard’s writing and opinions as absolute truth, NO ifs and buts. Any scientologist saying otherwise is lying: He knows the truth- NO ONE may go up the “Bridge To Total Freedom” with any other opinions than those of the “Source”, Hubbard. The True Believer lies to himself too, but that is what being brainwashed is all about, and where the biggest betrayal takes form.

    Do you suppose I would have wasted my time writing this
    letter had I (and thousands of others who HAVE BEEN THERE) not
    felt very strongly about this? Just hope your that your own kids don’t fall into such a scam. Thanks.

    By someone who is too scared to sign his name. (Like so many others.)

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  • mariann

    you people are nuts… go play with your kids or take care of something more important than get sucked into arguments about someone’s beliefs.. Just steer your kids in the right direction, whatever that may be, and hope for the best. Can’t we all play nice? Seems if we don’t find a way, Islams aren’t the only people that will be shooting others over beliefs/religion.

  • Ken Guffin

    Religion is here to stay no matter what. But I ask people do you believe in the Ten Commandements? If so then I also ask you, do you think saying my Lord Jesus is they right thing to do? If you ever read them you would see Thy Shall Not Put No Other God Before Me. Uh, I think this means if you worship Jesus then you put him before God himself. Jesus is suppose to be Gods son, not worshiped like God himself. I read this and believe it is little out there but it makes more sense than the Catholic Church and the Christian Faith.

  • http://dpulliam.com dpulliam

    Um, Ken Guffin,

    Jesus and God (and the Holy Spirit) are one, according to the Christian religion. Please consider accuracy when citing the strangeness of other religions.