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The Church Of Scientology Has To Go.

June 22, 2008

Normally I am a skeptic of all things supernatural but more specifically with religion, I reserve my polemics for creationism (biblical literalism/fundamentalism). It seems to be the right area for me to oppose because of the huge impact of the consequence of allowing creationists to infiltrate schools and teach their creation myth, but also because it just feels like so much of an insult that this abhorrent nonsense could be served up under the auspices and label of science.

Scientology is a belief system I have never bothered with so much, because creationism is just so rampant and as the predominant form of anti-intellectual nonsense, I have always had more than enough woo woo banter to keep me amused and my debate skills sharp.

But there comes a time when you want to do more than just debate with people on-line. You wonder if all your words are just falling on deaf ears (or blind eyes) and if there ever will be a mass exodus that sees religion falter and dwindle to naught. In the more traditional denominations there has been a gradual diminishing of congregations over time, but I think this is more than compensated by the rise and rise of evangelicals and charismatic brands of faith in the USA.

That is disappointing because the kind of denominations becoming popular espouse even more irrational literalistic belief systems and their philosophy owes more to dogma. I have long regarded religious beliefs and super-naturalism of all kinds with contempt, but I had shifted my interests towards religion and for obvious reasons fundamentalism, because these belief systems cross a crucial, ethical boundary. They prosper by ‘indoctrination’. There, in that one word is a justified reason for anybody to take to the street and challenge an irrational belief system on a sound ethical basis. The adult walking into the fortune tellers tent and having his or her fortune for told, is a willing victim. Playing on naivety is not very ethical admittedly, but there is no compulsion to believe that a gypsy can tell what will happen to you in a month by gazing into a crystal ball.

In so far as religions target children and people with intellectual handicaps, we have justification to challenge them over something other than the nutty things they believe. Coercive tactics will on average be more effective on children and the intellectually challenged. The great Abrehamic Monotheism’s, incorporate emotional blackmail and bribery. They appeal to wishful thinking and provide emotional crutches for weak minds. It also seems to me, that religions should not be spared from intellectual criticism, while all other ideas are debated openly. I think I should be perfectly entitled to think (and say), that belief in the tooth fairy is silly and childish. I think I am quite within my rights to espouse the abominable snow man as an absurd myth. I will criticize some political views and advocate Linux over Windows. I will not apologize for my opinions but I will stand corrected if I have gotten my facts wrong and made some error.

It is often both fun and fair to ridicule religion and other supernatural systems for their absurd beliefs but that is attacking the unfortunate effect and not the cause. I do believe it it is important to get to the bottom of what causes these irrational beliefs and try to prevent them from happening. Atheists and skeptics, are better off concentrating on effective responses to the unacceptable ethical outcomes of these beliefs, or the organizations that promote them.

To that end, I believe the latest campaign on the Church of $cientology, is a keystone historical event that needs to be adopted and supported by atheists, skeptics and secular humanists of every variety and flavor. Who can deny that the real enemy is willful deceit and coercion or that naive people believing nutty ideas, is just a secondary consequence? The CoS has painted a bright red target on itself, by being so desperate to protect is bullshit laden inner mysteries, which it $ell$ for ultra buck$ to the brainwashed zombies that fall into its clutches. Its wake is littered with examples of heavy handed bully boy tactics towards individuals and it just wreaks with the stench of death.

I will admit it can be hard to draw a practical distinction between a cult and a ‘normal’ religion but for the best clear cut example you will find on the international scale, you couldn’t go past The Church of Scientology. Deliberately designed by a charismatic leader to rip off followers, hoard massive wealth, and guilty of innumerable crimes, slander and litigious actions to silence critics and protect manuscripts which are full of woo, but must be given out only with a large financial (and therefore emotional) commitment. If anybody could just read this nonsense they would just laugh and throw it in the garbage. It is the use of the subjects own self-conditioning that makes this cult so clever. Brainwashing – is making somebody want to believe something, rather than demonstrating some logical plausibility of the idea.

People (in the absence of critical thinking skills), can believe the craziest things, on the virtue of their will to believe it. It may be hard to see from the rationalists point of view, but ‘buying into’ something is much easier when you have literally bought into it with your hard earned money. Despite how tempting it is to ridicule peoples silly woo woo beliefs, the real issues are with the organizations that hide behind religious freedoms and whether they should have a right to brainwash people, send them broke by selling worthless ‘knowledge’ and exercise insidious social and psychological control measures, to make obscene amounts of money.

The CoS is an ideal starting point to draw a definitive line in the sand and show as critics, that we are not interested in challenging anybodies right to believe their stupid woo, but that we won’t tolerate the insane consequence of their churches jealous greed and disregard for the life of its followers. It is the reprehensible actions of the CoS, that have been taken on by Anonymous and Co, not the beliefs it teaches.

I have looked at a number of the anti-CoS websites and if they are to be taken at face value the mortality and financial ruin in the wake of Scientology is astounding. Deaths aught to be showing up as a statistical anomaly around the CoS and in the families of it’s followers. Surely this kind of evidence is good enough to be used in the courts. The CoS provides a good opportunity to take down a religious organization on fair ethical grounds. It is not such a Goliath as biblical fundamentalism, it is more clearly a greedy, divisive cult and it is doing things far more inhumane than propagating harmless woo. It is also small enough to give fair hope that it can be conquered with collective might. Such a victory might give us all hope in other areas.

The approach by Anonymous is somewhat analogous to the ‘open source’ movement. Its proponents and volunteers come out of nowhere and use the ubiquity and anonymity of the Internet to share information, coordinate and cooperate, without the need for a central authority. Truth, honesty and fairness, do not need to be owned or monopolized by any one person or central authority. Anonymous is legion, because Anonymous is each and every one of us and it is greater than the sum of it’s parts. The worldwide protests on Sunday the 10th of Feb, were great success and a credit to Anonymous.

One of the strategies I would like to see employed by Anonymous, is to take all of those documented teachings in the CoS (which have already been leaked and are more or less, freely available on the Internet) place them on DVDs and distribute them to the beginners in Scientology for free. This could seriously undermine the power of financial leverage in the CoS. Before they pay a cent for the teachings, they can read them for free and see what they would be “buying into”. This is altogether subversive and benevolent. It may breach copyright laws, but Anonymous is not a formal organization that can be dealt with by law. DVD’s can be handed out to people seen leaving the CoS. This would require surveillance and covert intervention methods, but I believe it would nip in the bud quite a lot of new prospects from returning to CoS out of pure curiosity.

It would also serve Anonymous well to be very benevolent to ex-scientologists in the Freezone. These are scientologists that have broken away from the CoS but still believe in and practice Scientology. It would be a show of good faith that Anonymous does not have an issue with people believing the beliefs themselves or practicing the so called “techs”. I hope I have developed a good argument for why all skeptics / atheists / secularists should rise to the occasion. The moment is upon us and the push is on, to educate people and put the thumb screws on the CoS and with your help we will bring it crashing down.

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