Scientology’s fundamentalism

April 25, 2012 • 3:34 am

I was amused to discover that Scientology, like Christianity, has its fundamentalists—in the former case, those who adhere scrupulously and literally to the loony writings of L. Ron Hubbard.

A friend sent me an article from the Independent about Mark (“Marty”) Rathbun, an apostate Scientologist who left the Church because he found its methods and financial misdeeds insupportable. Rathbun was a high official in the Church: the Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center, responsible for enforcing Church discipline and order.  After he left, he helped journalists expose the Church’s questionable activities and was, of course, subject to severe harassment by Scientologists, who can’t abide people leaving their organization and revealing its dark side (the apostates are called “squirrels”).

Rathbun now runs a “halfway house” for disaffected Scientologists and a well-known website, “Moving on up a little higher,” which provides succor and information to ex-Scientologists.  Curiously, he still believes in much of what Hubbard wrote, and continues to practice some Scientology activities, like auditing with the e-meter.

Anyway, that’s a long prologue to one bit of the article that struck me:

Marty argues that “corporate Scientology” is dominated by fundamentalists who mandate literalist readings of its theological texts, including a famous piece of literature by Hubbard which argues that mankind’s problems are the work of a despotic alien called Xenu who fought an intergalactic war 75 million years ago. Marty would prefer to see that story as allegorical, in the same way many Christians view the Old Testament.  The Church counters: “This shows he is no longer a Scientologist. Scientologists are true to the writings of Mr. Hubbard.”

I wasn’t aware that there were both literalist and “metaphorizing” Scientologists!  Don’t forget, though, what the literalists have to believe about Xenu (from Wikipedia) if they are to be “true to the writings of Mr. Hubbard”. Have a gander at this nonsense:

Hubbard wrote that Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy 75 million years ago, which consisted of 26 stars and 76 planets including Earth, which was then known as “Teegeeack”. The planets were overpopulated, with an average population of 178 billion.The Galactic Confederacy’s civilization was comparable to our own, with aliens “walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute” and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those “circa 1950, 1960” on Earth.

Xenu was about to be deposed from power, so he devised a plot to eliminate the excess population from his dominions. With the assistance of psychiatrists, he summoned billions of his citizens together under the pretense of income tax inspections, then paralyzed them and froze them in a mixture of alcohol and glycol to capture their souls. The kidnapped populace was loaded into spacecraft for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth). The appearance of these spacecraft would later be subconsciously expressed in the design of the Douglas DC-8, the only difference being: “the DC8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn’t”. When they had reached Teegeeack/Earth, the paralyzed citizens were unloaded around the bases of volcanoes across the planet. Hydrogen bombs were then lowered into the volcanoes and detonated simultaneously.Only a few aliens’ physical bodies survived. Hubbard described the scene in his film script, Revolt in the Stars:

“Simultaneously, the planted charges erupted. Atomic blasts ballooned from the craters of Loa, Vesuvius, Shasta, Washington, Fujiyama, Etna, and many, many others. Arching higher and higher, up and outwards, towering clouds mushroomed, shot through with flashes of flame, waste and fission. Great winds raced tumultuously across the face of Earth, spreading tales of destruction …”  — L. Ron Hubbard, Revolt in the Stars

The now-disembodied victims’ souls, which Hubbard called thetans, were blown into the air by the blast. They were captured by Xenu’s forces using an “electronic ribbon” (“which also was a type of standing wave”) and sucked into “vacuum zones” around the world. The hundreds of billions of captured thetans were taken to a type of cinema, where they were forced to watch a “three-D, super colossal motion picture” for thirty-six days. This implanted what Hubbard termed “various misleading data”‘ (collectively termed the R6 implant) into the memories of the hapless thetans, “which has to do with God, the Devil, space opera, et cetera”. This included all world religions, with Hubbard specifically attributing Roman Catholicism and the image of the Crucifixion to the influence of Xenu. The two “implant stations” cited by Hubbard were said to have been located on Hawaii and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.

In addition to implanting new beliefs in the thetans, the images deprived them of their sense of personal identity. When the thetans left the projection areas, they started to cluster together in groups of a few thousand, having lost the ability to differentiate between each other. Each cluster of thetans gathered into one of the few remaining bodies that survived the explosion. These became what are known as body thetans, which are said to be still clinging to and adversely affecting everyone except those Scientologists who have performed the necessary steps to remove them.

A government faction known as the Loyal Officers finally overthrew Xenu and his renegades, and locked him away in “an electronic mountain trap” from which he still has not escaped. Although the location of Xenu is sometimes said to be the Pyrenees on Earth, this is actually the location Hubbard gave elsewhere for an ancient “Martian report station”. Teegeeack/Earth was subsequently abandoned by the Galactic Confederacy and remains a pariah “prison planet” to this day, although it has suffered repeatedly from incursions by alien “Invader Forces” since that time.

Sound ridiculous? But really, is it any more so than the tenets of Catholicism? If ever a religion was palpably man-made, it is Scientology, drawn directly from the science fiction fantasies of L. Ron Hubbard.

And don’t forget that Scientology, complete with the dogma above, is now a religion officially recognized by the United States government, ergo its enormous income is exempt from taxation.

163 thoughts on “Scientology’s fundamentalism

  1. Do you suppose we could get the Church of FSM and the Cult of the Invisible Pink Unicorn recognised for tax exempt status?

    1. You know, we joke about the FSM and IPU but what if someone takes it too far…

      Do you think Hubbard actually thought people would take his story so seriously? I’ve gotta believe he laughed to his deathbed.

      1. He is quoted as saying that the best way to become rich is to start a religion. That was a few years before Scientology showed up, ironically.

    2. Our American colleagues are trying, to the limit of their noodly appendages. It’s a bit difficult without having more people stand up and say ‘Arr!”

  2. A couple of years ago our library received two boxes of the complete works of Hubbard. Imagine that – the cost of producing glossy covers & DVDs etc. Such waste. I am happy to say it did not reach the shelves but ended where it belonged.

    1. PS I suppose that Hubbard wrote at a time when there was no knowledge of plate tectonics, or he would know that those volcanoes were not there 75 mya…

      1. Why did they put the bodies around the volcanoes, then detonate the H-bombs *in* the volcanoes? Surely that would have tended to shield the bodies from the blast to some extent. Wouldn’t it have been more effective to put both bodies and H-bombs in the volcano craters? Or just pile the bodies somewhere on the ground, volcanoes not needed, and detonate the H-bombs above them.

        Really Xenu was kinda clueless…

        1. Um…it’s fiction. Hubbard made it up to prove he could start a religion. The amazing thing is that there are successful, educated people who embrace such fiction as sufficiently believe-worthy as to give thousands — MILLIONS — of dollars to Scientology; those are the truly clueless real-life folks!

          1. They only embrace the real loonery after a more plausible intro and years of guided self-indoctrination. The cash investment is also considerable, which creates an added pressure to believe. Hubbard was not stupid. I think he had an astute appreciation of how to manipulate people. He knew that the more zealously he got people to believe outlandish horseshite, the more invested they’d be in resisting the truth.

            1. Also, bear in mind that it is not sold as a religion to noobs. It’s pitched as a practically technology to achieve mental stability and happiness. That’s a big carrot for people looking for a way out of their unhappiness.

    2. Burning books is *wrong*. With “Dianetics”, you take it out and shoot it. (This has been done. The bullet couldn’t get all the way through it either.)

    3. Betcha those boxes didn’t contain the sekrit OTS and NOTS series of drills. Those are the ones that cost tens of thousands of dollars to access and perform.

      If anyone’s interest is piqued, google away: the OTS and NOTS texts are out there on the web somewhere. I used to have a copy but finally deleted them because I didn’t want garbage like that on my computer. Harmful garbage, I must add. Some scientologicalisitical drills have been known to cause psychotic breakdowns.

  3. ‘The appearance of these spacecraft would later be subconsciously expressed in the design of the Douglas DC-8, the only difference being: “the DC8 had fans, propellers on it and the space plane didn’t”.’

    I have never, ever, seen a DC-8 with propellers. It was a jet. How can one take this seriously when they can’t even get the simplest details right?

    I take things too literally… 😉

    1. I’d read some years ago that the airplane in question was the DC-3. Of course I read a source more recently that said DC-10. Maybe Xenu employed the entire Douglas Aircraft line of commercial transports in his Galactic Cofederacy.

      1. Well of course a DC-3 has propellers. And the fans in the turbofans on a DC-10 are almost big enough to count as propellers. But the ‘pure’ turbojets on a DC-8 could never count as such. It’s interesting that ever since the axial-flow jet engine was invented, bypass ratios have been getting higher and higher and doing their best to reinvent the propeller.

        But anyway, to ship billions of kidnapped Xenoids here would require tens of millions of DC-10-sized space planes. What gives me the impression L Ron was trying to see just how ludicrous he could make it and still get some people to believe it?

  4. I’ve never read the wikipedia entry on $cientology. That *is* a goldmine. 178 billion people living on Earth? Guess being one in a million wasn’t much of a feat back then.

  5. One thousand years from now, this will be one of the dominant religions on the planet. I have given up underestimating cynicism.

  6. I’ve been on “Moving on up a little higher” and have been gobsmacked at the writer’s loyalty to the myth of Xenu.

    As an aside, I read Battlefield Earth when I was a kid and it read like a pulp comic from the 50’s.

  7. OMG! I’m reading about the E-meter, and its capabilities. This device is amazing:
    “Hubbard claimed that the device also has such sensitivity that it can measure whether or not fruits can experience pain, claiming in 1968 that tomatoes ‘scream when sliced.'”

    1. ISTR that one man who paid his way to the top of the ‘system’, finally got to read the most holy, top secret, super copyright document of all, promised to cause instant brain failure in the unprepared, and only to be read in a locked room, being the original, hand written, single copy by L. Ron himself.

      At THIS point he realized that they were all batshit crazy – not least him. Even for Scientology it was incomprehensible nonsense. He left the cult shortly after that.

  8. ‘With the assistance of psychiatrists, he summoned billions of his citizens together under the pretense of income tax inspections, then paralyzed them and froze them in a mixture of alcohol and glycol to capture their souls. The kidnapped populace was loaded into spacecraft for transport to the site of extermination, the planet of Teegeeack (Earth).’

    This is so insane that nobody could have made it up. Therefore it must be true.

    1. Paging William Lane Craig.

      (That’s basically Craig’s argument on why you should believe in the miracles of Jesus — they’re so nutty no one in their right mind would propose them. Ergo, they’re true.).

    2. Does this document contain any words in Aramaic? If it does, that means we “have” multiple, independent accounts of these events.

      1. Now that you mention it, I’m pretty sure that ‘Teegeeack’ is early Aramaic. Or else proto-Egyptian. On top of that, we know that alcohol and glycol exist, so we have strong evidence here of historical details. But what nails it is this seemingly incompetent plot involving income tax. Who would have come up with the ridiculous idea that aliens pay income tax? An embarrassing detail like that is undoubtedly derived from the earliest sources close to the actual events, about 75 million years ago.

  9. I’m curious as to how Hubbard claimed to know all this, and why anyone would believe him.

    I really think that it is a bug of human cognition that we are so gullible and unquestioning.

  10. The Wikipedia page on Hubbard is amazing. If you want to learn about hagiographies, this is the place. I love how the page contrasts the facts with the story of his “exploits” and wisdom.
    What a story he’d woven around himelf. I don’t recall what sci-fi books of his I read way back when, but I recall I much preferred Asimov and many other authors over Hubbard.

    1. Imagine the really cool religion Asimov might have come up with!!!11!!!It would have been so much better than Hubbard’s, which is just stupidly, needlessly crazy.

  11. I was born into a $cientology family. When it’s all you know, you think it’s normal (I had *no idea* about all the Xenu stuff until reading about it on the internet almost 20 years after being free of the cult – day-to-day $cientlogy is mostly pseudo-self-help type stuff, though its ‘Purification Rundown’ did make my mum seriously ill).

    When I was about 7 or 8, I started to have strong doubts about it all, and a few years after my parents divorced, my mum left it behind for good. Of course when we left we lost most of our ‘friends’ too – cut off and hassled for a while afterwards.

    I comment here occasionally but have changed my account for this post because I still live in the small town where $cientology has a main base and would not like to be identified. I’ve seen first-hand some of the stuff they get up to.

        1. Small town, major centre – can’t be too many of those. I worked in the accounts dept at AOSH UK for a while in my early 20’s. Interestingly, I was assaulted by the locals while walking back into town down the hill.
          Eventually the cognitive dissonance proved too much and I blew. There were some tenets just too at odds with reality and I could only swallow being instructed to look for the ‘misunderstoods’ so many times. The weeks restricted to a diet of beans and rice because of the low ‘stats’ (i.e. not enough of the readies rolling in) didn’t help.

          1. Ah – AOSH! I was put to work for some similarly-named acronym when I was about 8 years old in the 1970s. And I sympathise with the ‘misunderstoods’ (and the clay models, and labels etc etc.). We also had to write letters to LRH and post them in a little box in a building just off from the castle. We got a signed photo of the man in return quite regularly. Signed by whom, I do not know. Glad you got out, old chap.

            1. At least my association was voluntary, and brief. Working in accounts, I associated quite a bit with Sea Org and got to see a lot more of what goes on behind the scenes than your average Joe. All of the staff I met were believers. I wouldn’t be surprised if that were true right up to the top. It’s amazing what you can justify to yourself if you are responsible for ‘clearing the planet’. I did notice, though, that some of the older offspring of staff were downright hostile to the CoS. Is that your experience; does the indoctrination generally not last into adulthood?

              I assume that you went to the Scientology school.Oddly enough, I think that the ‘mass’ idea may be one of LRHs better ones. Studying subatomic physics, for example, can do your head in as you are dealing with unintuitive concepts that can only be described mathematically and can’t be visualised. A bit of clay might be almost therapeutic.

              The Castle? Is that the meeting hall behind the Treasury and Admin? When I left they were doing it up in mock castle style.

              The grounds and countryside were great for walks in summer. Saint Hill is wasted on that lot.

    1. My child dated a kid who, with his mom, spent a LOT of money, enrolling in the courses, getting the audits.

      That was a decade and at least two phone numbers ago.

      Scientologists still call her, and nothing she’s tried so far has made them stop.

      1. They won’t stop. It’s policy. They work on the principle that 1000 rebuttals are rendered immaterial by the possibility of the 1001th approach being successful. I know, I once worked in accounts at an Advanced Org and the Sea Org types would trawl through long dormant accounts looking for prospects.

      2. This illustrates how atheism is itself just another religion, as the religious often claim. You see former atheists posting under pseudonyms all the time to avoid harassment from those still in the atheist cult.

        No, wait, you don’t…

        1. Actually I post things under a pseudonym that just happens to be the same as my real name ( I don’t think anyone has caught on yet;) so, as you can see, I’m all ready to leave the cult if I discover a better God not to believe in.

    1. From here:

      Isaac Asimov commented in a 1980’s interview that the bet was informal, and not JUST between Hubbard and Heinlein. Supposedly, it was Asimov, Heinlein, Hubbard, and Frank Herbert, more of a dare than a true bet. “Who can make the best religious story.” Resulting stories: Nightfall, Dune, Job, and supposedly, Dianetics.

        1. I haven’t seen a religion’s scripture yet that isn’t tedious and unreadable. It appears to be a requirement. Perhaps if it is written clearly, the fact that it is untrue will be too apparent. When a bunch of people tell you something unreadable is great, that might also have some interesting psychological effect… tapping into your insecurity or whatever (I don’t even understand it, but these people say it’s the best yet).

          1. I think you’re right about the psychological component. Dianetics even tells you up front that if you’re having trouble following the text, it’s because you’re not paying close enough attention, so go back and re-read it until it makes sense to you. In other words, there’s nothing wrong with the book; there’s something wrong with you.

            I don’t think I made it to page 100. Too boring.

            1. Interesting. I wonder how universal this idea is in “successful” religions, that there is something wrong with you if you don’t get it? It seems like a good hook.

              Christians have a whole collection of these sorts of things:

              “The fool says in his heart, There Is No God”

              (More proof that it must be God’s word because He predicted people wouldn’t believe it!)

              And elsewhere,

              “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him”

              It couldn’t be because they actually are foolishness, now could it?

              Actually, there are dozens and dozens of Bible references that assert, in one way or another, that “the text seems crazy only because you are defective”.

              I think this is a powerful psychological trick.

          2. You might be onto something.

            If something is hard to read, some part of you might suspect that it really does make sense and you’re just too stupid to understand it.

  12. The very fact that the US government has set itself up as the arbiter of what is and what isn’t a religion is a HUGE violation of the First Amendment. It’s pretty amazing to me that this has never been challenged in court as far as I know.

    1. How exactly is that a violation of the First Amendment? In order for that clause to have any meaning, religions must be distinguished from other endeavours, or else the amendment has no meaning. And who else will make the determination except the government?

      1. Government is supposed to be neutral when it comes to religion. Where in the Constitution is government given the power to decide what constitutes a religion and what doesn’t? The Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster fits all the perameters of a religion… texts, credos, creation stories, followers, etc. Does it have tax exempt status? (Actually I just emailed the founder to find out).

        The point here is that if Scientology can get this status, then what IS the defintion that is used by the government and upon what does it base it’s power to decide this question?

        I have a friend who tested this by setting up a religion in terms of the characteristics of tax exemption approved institutions. Note that just about anyone can set up a church that is not affiliated with any national group, call it “christian” even though no one has any oversight on what is actually taught, and get their status. You see dozens of these “churches” in warehouses and read about people in the mountains of KY starting them in their own homes (it’s a great deal to make your house tax exempt). Anyway, this friend was turned down by the IRS because THEY decided what he set up was not a church and not a religion. Again, what guidelines are being used by the government?

        1. Government is supposed to be neutral when it comes to religion.

          That’s correct, but since it doesn’t have to be neutral about some other entities, it has to be able to decide what is a religion and what isn’t.

          For example, religions currently get tax-exempt status. If I declare myself the founder and sole adherent of the Church of Tulse, it is well within the government’s right to determine whether such actually constitutes a religion, or whether it is just a tax dodge. How else is the government supposed to avoid corporations and individuals simply declaring themselves religions for tax purposes? There has to be some criteria for something to be a religion, and the government applies those criteria.

          1. You may find this article on how the IRS makes its determination. The 14 points they use…


            On another similar site, an attorney who posts these guidelines makes the cynical statement:

            “Because of First Amendment religious freedom concerns, Congress has never passed any statute anywhere which defines what a church is (beyond saying “a church or convention or association of churches”, which is like saying that the definition of a duck is “one or more ducks”). The IRS, which apparently is unconstrained by the First Amendment, has nonetheless ventured where angels fear to tread, and has established criteria which, in its view, define a church as follows:”

            He then goes on to provide the same list as the first site I posted.

            Note his comment about the First Amendment.

            1. 26 U.S.C. § 7805 gives the Secretary of Treasury authority to “prescribe all needful rules and regulations for the enforcement of this title, including all rules and regulations as may be necessary by reason of any alteration of law in relation to internal revenue.” So, Treasury has the authority of make regulations, including ones that define terms. You’ve given no explanation why that is supposedly in conflict with the First Amendment religion clauses.

              1. In the link I provided, it was mentioned that the IRS uses an “unofficial list” of 14 perameters in order to avoid raising First Amendment issues. This seems to indicate that there is an awareness on their part that the First Amendment may have a prohibitive role in all this.

                Also, if you read the quote I provided by another tax consultant on this issue, you see I’m not the only one who questions all of this in terms of the First Amendment.

    2. The way it happened in Australia was actually quite good – the High Court didn’t rule that Scientology was a religion, it ruled that the government couldn’t rule it wasn’t – and that if they didn’t want to give Scientology a tax break, they had to stop giving churches in general a tax break. (The head of the High Court, Lionel Murphy, was an avowed atheist.) And it’s pretty clear Scientology is a religion – the test they applied was that Hubbard was a charlatan, but the believers are sincere – but that’s quite separate from whether its behaviour is acceptable.

      1. How did the court determine that Scientology’s followers were “sincere” and not Hubbard if he and they all believe and espouse the same stuff?

        1. Here‘s the decision itself. The relevant quote is: “Charlatanism is a necessary price of religious freedom, and if a self-proclaimed teacher persuades others to believe in a religion which he propounds, lack of sincerity or integrity on his part is not incompatible with the religious character of the beliefs, practices and observances accepted by his followers.”

        2. It’s also pretty clear Hubbard didn’t believe it (though there is some question as to whether he died screaming about being tormented by body thetans). Compare Joseph Smith, who was really obviously a charlatan, and Mormons, who are generally sincere.

          1. Yes, however I’d use the terms “generally sincerely delusional and easily conned”. Good thing I’m not a judge.

      1. I’m aware of this case and the fact that there are over 200 laws giving tax exemption to churches. The question still is what gives the government the power to set up the definition of a religion?

        1. Article 1, Section 8 gives Congress the “Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises”. Under that power, Congress can impose taxes however they please as long as some other Constitutional provision doesn’t prohibit it. I don’t know if Congress has ever tried to define the term “religious organization” or “church” but IRS and courts certainly have.


          I don’t know what question you are asking here, but laws are written in language and ultimately regulators and courts must interpret them.

        2. I am a tax lawyer.

          It isn’t that the government has the “power” to define what is or isn’t a religion. We have lots of federal laws (Frank Zappa said, “The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced”), and some of those laws distinguish between (a) organizations that must pay federal income tax on the net income from their operations and (b) organizations that are exempt from those income taxes because they are organized and operated “exclusively” for charitable, artistic, scientific, religious, or educational purposes, etc.

          First Amendment (Free Exercise clause) principles led the Congresss and the federal courts to conclude, long ago, that “churches” and certain other “religious organizations” should be free from some of the requirements and procedural hurdles that apply to other non-profit organizations who want tax-exempt status. And so various parts of the Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations have freed true “churches” from the obligation to file a formal application for tax-exempt status (Form 1023)under Code section 501(c)(3).

          Therefore, the federal government has a practical need to define what is and is not a “church” and a “religion,” so that the distinctions drawn in federal statutes can be sensibly and consistently applied.

          In other contexts, the federal (and state) governments may define “religion” differently, or more broadly. For example, in the context of the Free Exercise rights of people in prisons, atheism can qualify as a “religion.”

          1. Thanks for your input. The whole tax code that has been added to over the years to benefit churches is incredibly corrupt. James Madison worried about this possibility in his Essay on Monopolies, and I am sure he would be appalled at how our government essentially underwrites religion by using our tax dollars. Do you realize how much extra we all pay in taxes because of the myriad of exemptions given to religious institutions? And on top of that we give them grant monies!

            As the link I provided above shows, the IRS has been careful to not have any official guidelines on what is or is not a religion for tax purposes, but they operate under a list anyway to “avoid First Amendment issues”. I frankly think that the whole tax exemption system is so corrupted that we should throw the whole thing out, not only for churches but for all entities. I had a local arts group that could not get the status because of the geographic numbers of exemptions in the area we were living in. What kind of guidelines are those? In the meantime, ALEC (look it up) has tax exempt status.

            Go figure.

            1. I’m familiar enough with exempt organization law to know there is no “geographic numbers of exemptions” limit imposed by IRS. I honestly have no idea what you are talking about.

              You’re also free to not like the current state of our non-profits law–I don’t like it much myself–but that is completely different from your previous claim that the government didn’t have the authority to define “religious organization” or that it was unconstitutional to do so.

              1. The accountant who helped us write our application for tax exempt status was told by the IRS that because there were so many groups in the Chicago region with tax exempt status that they had to deny our application. This was a little cultural arts groups that had worked hard to stir up arts walks and generally sponsor help for all the cultural arts. We even had a website. We were hoping to attract contributions to our work by becoming tax exempt. You may not have heard of this regional limit thing, but that is exactly what our accountant was told.

                By the way, it is my OPINION based upon my readings of the founding of this nation and the writings, opinions and debate that led to the creation of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights that the government does not have a Constitutional authority to define what constitutes a religion. You can agree with me or not. Your choice.

            2. The UK Charity Commission is quite hard-arsed about this sort of thing: just being a religion isn’t enough, you have to show that you are actually of charitable purpose and benefits. Scientology has consistently failed to pass muster.

    3. That’s an important point. At present, any number of frauds, fakes, and con men are flying the religion flag, hence getting away with murder thanks to the overly broad interpretation of the First Amendment. Freedom has become licence.

      There needs to be a legal principle established that simply calling something “religion” doesn’t mean it is a religion.

      A troika of Joe Jervis (of Joe.My.God. blog), P-zed Myers, and the estimable Jerry Coyne could be established to rule on the matter.

      A new career for you, Jerry, when evolutionary issues lose their luster.

      1. Better yet, apply the tax-exemption only to non-profits that do documented charitable activities that benefit people, instead of giving it to all “religions”.

  13. Is it true that both Tom Cruise and John Travolta are members of this insane cult?? There really has to be a problem with the “wiring” in some brains….

    1. Yes, they are members and quite open about it. So is Kirstie Alley and I believe that Priscilla Presley also is or was an adherent.

      After Cruise became so aggressive about his beliefs in public and criticized Brooke Shields for taking anti-depressants for post-partum depression I found myself unable to watch him in movies. Brooke was supposed to hook herself up to some e-meter apparently. In my view Tom could use some psychiatric medical help himself because the e-meters appear to be failing him.

  14. Inspector General of the Religious Technology Center, responsible for enforcing Church discipline and order

    ‘Religious Technology’: That’s just too funny!

    ‘enforcing Church discipline and order’ however sounds REALLY REALLY scary! If I read ‘enforcing Church discipline’ I read ‘burning at the stake’ and Inquisition.
    (Glad the guy left that post).

    1. Don’t be too glib. There are stories that apostates have been assaulted and continually harassed.

      One spot on 60 Minutes some years back featured an ex-$cientologist claiming that rattlesnakes were put in his mail box to try to shut him up.

      They’re nasty, nasty people.

      If you’re confronted by one of them, their number 1 tactic is to accuse you of being a child molester. They start with a mild accusation of “what are you hiding” and then go straight for the “child molester” accusation. Of course, the tactic is designed to intimidate you into backing down — and it used to be quite effective until the world started glomming on to their schtick.

      Be very wary around these people.

      1. A starting place to learn of their tactics is:

        ‘Suppressive Persons’ were and still are subject to ‘Black Propaganda’, false accusations, intimidation, lawsuits and economic ruin. These actions are also applied against their target’s family members, etc.

        Remember that part where theists speculate (falsely) that atheists and apostates have no reason not to do terrible and immoral things?

        This is a ‘religion’ that requires its followers to do so.

  15. If I was going to pick a sci-fi writer to go all religious over, I’d pick Phillip K. Dick. I mean, at least, Blade Runner was based on one of his books. Or, was that Mike Hammer?

    1. Agreed. It isn’t surprising to me that a science fiction author could write a series of books to found a religion. It’s surpising to me that such a *bad* science fiction writer could do it.

      Battlefield Earth has to be one of the worst books that I have ever read.

      1. People still read Asimov’s original “Foundation” trilogy with pleasure, even though it was written in the 1940s. (On re-reading the original trilogy some years ago, I was surprised that it wasn’t as badly dated as I’d anticipated.)

        OTOH, no one reads L Ron Hubbard’s 1940s SF: for the most part, it’s pulp dreck of the lowest order.

        It’s been speculated that all or most of Hubbard’s later SF was ghostwritten, just as the infamous NOTS was ghostwritten by David Mayo. Scientologists think the late stuff is the cat’s meow, but that merely proves that using an e-meter can be dangerous to one’s ability to think critically.

        1. Hubbard has one actually good novel: Fear, a psychological horror novel, which Stephen King strongly recommended in Danse Macabre. Of course, Fear was good because John W. Campbell was the editor and made damn sure it was good.

          In the pulp era, Hubbard was popular with editors because he turned his copy in on time reliably. He could type a first draft and have something suitable to the market of the day. It’s only in later years that we see how dreadful it is. Sturgeon’s Law.

          The later novels (Battlefield Earth and Mission Earth) really were written by Hubbard, as testified by Robert Vaughn Young, previously the CoS communications director, who was the poor bastard stuck with editing them. The trouble is that when you have thousands of people worshipping you as a living god, it’s hard to accept the need for proofreaders or editors.

          1. Speaking of John W. Campbell: he was very fond of pushing pseudo-science in his magazine (Astounding Science Fiction). When he serialized Dianetics in Astounding around 1950, it was just another piece of Campbellian looniness on a par with rhodomagnetics and Hieronymus machines. Little did he know what a evil genie he’d let out of its bottle.

            I used to own the issues of Astounding in which Dianetics first appeared; too bad I didn’t keep them; probably worth a great deal now. Though it wouldn’t surprise me if the scienos have bought up every copy they can find to suppress the fact that Dianetics started life in a science fiction magazine.

            1. They’re actually quite proud of Ron’s career as a successful pulp writer, because Ron was. (Hence his later delusions of adequacy at something he hadn’t done for over thirty years.)

      2. Battlefield Earth is freaking Hugo material compared to Mission: Earth.

        I still don’t know how I made it through the series

  16. I believe that a ‘squirrel’ is someone who tries to monkey with the Tech. Part of the doctrine of Scientology, and repeatedly emphasised by LRH, is that there can be no deviation from the Tech as laid out in the source works. To deviate would diminish results and compromise the integrity of the Church. There is no split in the Church as a non-fundie is by definition not a Scientologist.

    It’s actually not that difficult to become involved, in fact it can be seductive to people who find the Jesus fiction ridiculous and are looking for something more logical to believe in (it’s all realtive). The introductory courses are very simple but can produce compelling results. For instance, there is a procedure where 2 people sit opposite one another in chairs and look straight at one another until they are comfortable just ‘being there’. They then pick out flaws in one another and repeatedly vocalise them. The end result can be a profound rise in confidence. They do a procedure with the e-meter called a pinch test where the auditee (or ‘pre-clear’) is pinched while watching the motion of the e-meter needle. Asked to recall the memory of the pinch the needle is observed to respond in the same way. This can be quite impressive to some people. LRH gave explicit instructions that the truly whacky advanced BS is only revealed at the appropriate level of advancement (or indoctrination). It’s a crafty application of the lobster in the pot effect. There are plenty of people on the OT levels (OT=Operating Thetan)who will confirm when asked that they routinely experience out of body experiences. These people are not insiders and they clearly believe what they are saying. That kind of evidence can be quite convincing.

  17. those who adhere scrupulously and literally to the loony writings of L. Ron Hubbard

    Centuries from now, we’ll have sophisticated theologians debating which writings are literal and which are allegorical.

    1. I’m referring to his entire bibliography, of course, not just the Scientology stuff.

  18. Apostates from Scientology, sheesh …
    If only Flannery O’Connor was alive to take a shot at this and John Huston, or maybe David Lynch, to make a film based on the book … I guess Brad Dourif is still weird enough to play Hazel Motes. Damn, where’s the rat poison?

  19. One word comes to mind:


    OTOH, it would certainly fulfill the criteria of embarrassment; therefore, it must be historical.

    – evan

  20. I find observing Scientology at once kinda disgusting/alarming and oddly illustrative.

    The funny thing: the same old patterns as in all religious movements. So now we’ve got these guys who, realizing what a downright appalling pile of sleaze is the organization as a whole, decide that, hey, what must have happened is they’ve just wandered away from the original, pristine vision, profaning it. And/or how, y’know, the ‘tech’ has real value, is truly part of some deeper truth, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater. And now we’ve got this ‘metaphorical’ school… Wherein the question becomes: realizing the founder cosmology is a load of codswallop, how do we back away from having to defend it without having to face the painful fact, that, rather obviously, we’ve just been fucking had?

    You even get bizarre apologetics for Hubbard himself. As he’s such a recent figure, and as the process of mythologization was so very hurried (and initially the byproduct of his own incredibly self-aggrandizing habit of, essentially, constant resume padding and the telling of wildly-inflated versions of his own rather humdrum at best and at worst even downright seedy exploits), it’s leaking out all over what a generally unpleasant sleazeball he was… So now you get folk having to face this, even through the fog of hard-sell indoctrination into the cult of personality, saying things like, ‘Sure, maybe he didn’t quite do that… But maybe others misreported what he said… Or, y’know, maybe he really did and the eeevil gummint is covering it up to disgrace him…’

    Watching such a thing up close, I think it’s really pretty incredibly illustrative of how religions in general come to be. As to whether it’s always such a downright ugly business: my suspicion would be: frequently, at least, yes…

    My reasoning for that last conjecture being: well, see also ‘Mormonism’.

    1. “The funny thing: the same old patterns as in all religious movements.”

      One observation, Scientology is starting to ‘crossify’ itself. Crosses, which have nothing to do with Scientology, are appearing on the buildings and literature. How long until the claim that “Jesus was the first Clear”?

      1. ‘How long until the claim that “Jesus was the first Clear”?’

        This has kinda already happened. Tho’ he wasn’t clear on whether they were the first or nothin’, when he was flogging his new ‘Operating Thetan’ courses, Hubbard reported that, see, Jesus and Buddha hadn’t even got to where sending him proper loads of money for those could get you… But they *were*, clear, see:

        (/Quote: “Neither Lord Buddha nor Jesus Christ were OTs according to evidence. They were just a shade above clear”.)

        1. (Goggles at unintentional, vaguely punlike usage of ‘clear’ in the first sentence…)

          Observation: In addition to religion poisoning everything, creators of obfuscatory cultlike jargon really make languages a mess.

    2. Another interesting new religion is Elvism, the worship of Elvis Presley.

      Having in my youth known a girl who was absolutely nuts about Elvis, to my intense bepuzzlement, I haven’t dared investigate any more deeply, so I can’t tell you what their tenets, scriptures, rites, and ecclesiastical hierarchy, if any, are like.

      1. Numerous independent eyewitnesses reported seeing him after his death. So we already have the beginnings of an Elvis resurrection myth.

  21. Two people who I am certain had (have) no ‘faith’ in Scientology: L. Ron Hubbard and David Miscavige.

    Scientology does prove one thing; it seems there is no idea so mind numbingly stupid that it will never have adherents. And, of course, that religion poisons everything.

  22. My favourite part was: “then paralyzed them and froze them in a mixture of alcohol and glycol to capture their souls”

    This would be easy to test. Wouldn’t this be something other religions would be interested in using? After it is easy to obtain alcohol and glycol.

    Perhaps we can capture Mr. Pope’s soul with the right mixture of alcohol and glycol.

  23. I can’t find any truth in this gospel. But who am I to judge? Bart D. Ehrman might have more success at distinguishing history from myth.

  24. The Church of Scientology has been called a cult by the French Government and many prosecutions of its officers for fraud have been pursued with considerable success. This seems a far more reasonable stance than that of the US government which classifies scientology as a religion and grants it tax benefits. On the other hand David Koresh and company were attacked with guns, so it is clear that there is a line that can be crossed, even here in America.

    1. Scientology is very fond of playing corporate shell games so it’s difficult or impossible to pin the tail on the correct donkey when misdeeds are prosecuted.

      In Canada, this led to the legal judgment that Scientology was a unitary whole, regardless of any croporate structure and that that whole is a criminally convicted organization. [I may have slightly garbled the details.]

      1. They are sneaky bastards. They have various innocuous sounding front groups pushing their anti-psychiatric BS and education programs. They have apparently managed to get the Met police in London to endorse some of their ‘educational’ programs. I recall reading somewhere that they sued, and then took over and ran a cult awareness organisation.

  25. Gosh, what’s next? Reformed Church of $cientology? $ophi$ticated Thetanology?

    Sometimes I really think there’s no hope for our species 🙁

  26. All y’all who’re laughing at the Co$ should take a moment to read the letters of Pliny to Trajan discussing the Christians. I kid you not, they thought the exact same thing of Christians we do of $cientologists.


  27. The litigious nature of Scientology resulted in an addition to the Irish blasphemy law designed specifically to prevent them taking advantage of it to stop criticism.

    (4) In this section “religion” does not include an organisation or
    (a) the principal object of which is the making of profit, or
    (b) that employs oppressive psychological manipulation—
    (i) of its followers, or
    (ii) for the purpose of gaining new followers.

        1. Given the scandals about the Irish RCC that have emerged in the last few years, that may change real soon now.

  28. I should add, long as I’m on the topic, that this apparent syncretism was rather blatantly *not* coming out of some sort of vaguely po-mo ‘why can’t we just get along’ ecumenism…

    Hubbard and Co. were (and remain) pretty much predatory about finding useful vulnerabilities in their targets for conversion. I expect the notion there was more just: hey, they like Jesus, they like Buddha, we can trade on that. Whatever works.

    … it’s funny, come to think of it. One of the criticisms of so-called ‘mainstream/conservative’ religion I’m somewhat fond of is that look: they still might rather soften the head, opening up thereby a gateway to potentially far more immediately damaging stuff. Your mainstream church is, after all, really just a cult that made good in the first place, picked up enough adherents to become ‘respectable’, possibly shed or softened some of the more obviously antisocial practices that were initially deemed necessary to keep the flock together in a more actively hostile host culture. Much of the underlying need to talk around and mangle reason, find excuses to believe things that may be profoundly self-contradictory is still there, and less ‘tamed’ movements might, possibly, find that infrastructure useful, when they go looking for new members…

    Now, whether or not that’s actually true, these cultists seemed to think they could use that mythos as an in, at least… Dunno how well they did with it, mind.

    (/And, also as a qualifier: I recall also that they were pretty good at finding vulnerabilities lots of places, after all. The first blob of suckers were mostly readers of pulp sci-fi, pulled in, quite possibly, broadly through this notion that this was somehow a revolutionary ‘scientific’ approach to the mind.)

  29. aliens “walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute” and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those “circa 1950, 1960″ on Earth.

    The main advantage of this is that it made Star Trek episodes remarkably cheap to shoot.

  30. The Galactic Confederacy’s civilization was comparable to our own, with aliens “walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute” and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those “circa 1950, 1960″ on Earth.

    Now I get an old Halloween episode of The Simpson’s, when the Simpson’s are abducted by aliens and taken away, either to be eaten alive by them, or to live a life free from want on a planet in another galaxy (which is itself a parody of a Twilight Zone episode).

    Anyway, one of the Simpsons is surprised that the aliens speak English. The aliens answer, no, we actually speak [alien language] which, by an astonishing coincidence, is exactly like English! hahaha! Already a funny line, it’s even more so knowing that they were reaching into the ol’ L. Ron Hubbard archives!

  31. The Co$ was given tax-tempt status (having previously had it and then had it revoked) after years of legal wrangling with (read “harassment of”) the IRS. Basically the US Government caved because the whole thing became too time-consuming and costly to continue. I think it’s a perfect example of how effective Co$ is at organized harassment, be it of individuals, families, or whole governments. Their litigious nature (not to mention their illegal activities, like breaking into the IRS offices in Washington and stealing reams of documents) is well established. They’re an organization to be feared as well as despised.

    BTW, the quest for tax-exempt status was a very calculated move after LRH lost control of and was nearly bankrupted by his pre-$cientology “Dianetics” scam.

    Speaking of being despised, I think LRH must be pretty high on product X , though of course someone like Mao (or Pope Ratz) most beat him pretty handily on the second term of the product, especially given how inflated the membership numbers of Co$ are (their claims are exaggerated by at least a factor of 10, I think).

    Finally, here’s the first paragraph of the OT3 “scripture” that I always think illustrates just what a lazy pathetic writer LRH was:

    The head of the Galactic Federation (76 planets around larger stars visible from here) (founded 95,000,000 years ago, very space opera) solved overpopulation (250 billion or so per planet – 178 billion on average) by mass implanting.

    “250b or so per planet – 178b on average.” WTF does that even mean? What is the 250b figure if it’s not the average? The median? He’s just trying thrown in numbers to make it seem more plausible and ends up sounding like an even bigger idiot that he have would anyway.

    1. Darn. A misguided use of angled brackets made some of my text disappear (how about a preview feature JAC?!)

      It should have read:

      …on the product despicableness of leader’s character X number of blind worshippers

      Sorry about that.

  32. I think L. Ron Hubbard (and Joseph Smith too) did us all a favor. By inventing their religions so recently and under fairly well observed circumstances, and filling them with such obvious bullshit, they have provided the perfect example to help lift the scales from the eyes of believers of much older cons. When I was a kid, all I knew about was the Christianity that everyone I knew adhered to. It just didn’t feel credible that *everyone* was wrong. In my idealistic child’s mind it was hard to believe that people would just make up the stuff in the Bible. Much later, learning about Mormonism and Scientology it became a LOT easier both to imagine that large numbers of otherwise functional people can come to believe total nonsense and that there are people out there who will invent and sell such fiction.

    1. One of the most unintentionally funny things I’ve ever heard was a group of Mormons talking about what an obvious con-job $cientology was.

    2. Don’t forget the Moonies!!!

      Unlike Elron H., Joseph Smith, Reverend Jim Jones, or David Koresh, the Reverend Moon is even still alive.

      The central claim of Moonieism is that Moon is jesus christ the second. Who knew jesus was divorced excon Korean?

      Yeah, it doesn’t take much to start a religion. Facts are unimportant.

      One of my old colleagues lost his financee to the Moonies. They were living in different cities due to finishing up school at slightly different times. She suddenly disappeared. As she was living in SLC, Utah at the time, the thought was the Mormons got her. It turned out to be the Moonies. He never saw her again.

      1. I think this highlights why FSM or IPU probably won’t accidentally become real religions, as someone worried (a bit tongue in cheek). Real religions spring out of the talents of the con-man and include the whole pallet of psychological tricks and pressure tactics such a person can bring to bear. It’s the leader that makes a religion, not the beliefs or texts.

        1. That doesn’t, unfortunately, preclude a charismatic conman from taking something like FSM or IPU and using it as the basis for his religious con game.

          I don’t know if that’s likely to happen, but it’s certainly possible.

  33. Looks like another take over bid has entrenched itself. Just as the vulnerable escape they get offered shelter from another Arch-Psycho. The whole thing is horribly sinister. Did he really ever leave or his is mission truly a mop-up scam?

  34. My understanding is that the people who’ve left the church but still practice Scientology (is it really correct to say apostates?) say they are in the ‘Free Zone’, and that they are Free Zoners. This is not too different from people who left the Catholic Church calling themselves Free Thinkers centuries ago.

    1. It’s a Tektronix 535A. All tubes. Kitteh probably won’t be able to stand the heat once it’s been on for a little while. 15 MHz bandwidth, I think.

      Tin can looks like the kitteh is getting an e-meter ready for the auditing.

      Maybe this comment on the scope will last longer than the last one I made here.

  35. I was curious whether Scientologists believed in evolution. Googling that question led me to this site:

    It is interesting that belief in aliens, Xenu, and so on is explicitly denied by this website. The ability of religions to deny their own beliefs or sacred texts is probably an important survival trait.

    Anyway, on evolution they have made it comparatively easy to suss out since Hubbard wrote a book on the topic, Scientology: A History of Man, which one can easily get from Amazon for a quarter (yes, a quarter!). They believe in evolution of a very crazy sort. Human teeth evolving from clam reproductive spores arranged on the edge of a clam shell. Subconscious memories of our earlier evolutionary stages… memories of being kelp, or a jellyfish or of a clam struggling on the beach and harassed by a bird. Disturbing memories that, of course, Hubbard is here to help us cope with. It’s worth the time to skim some of the absurd, childishly absurd, content of this very non-secret book, both for the laughs and because it is harder to deny than the content of secret books they can claim are forgeries. One quick review is here:

  36. I find it interesting that “recent” religions eg scientology, christian science and mormonism are so obviously started by con men, it certainly raises suspicion about the more ancient ones…

  37. Found this site that says Scientology has nothing to do with Xenu, Xemu, or Zenu:

    While Hubbard may have written some sci-fi, I don’t believe there’s a guarantee he meant for it to be included in his religion. I do believe, like others, however, that the tax-exempt and religious statuses were obtained with interest towards getting rich, however. But if people are that stupid in parting with their money….

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