In Defense of Scientology

Dianetics.jpg“And that’s why I think Scientology is right not just for this city, but the entire country.” Jon Stewart (mockingly) at the 2006 Academy Awards

There’s three types of people in Los Angeles: Those who are Scientologists, those who don’t know about Scientology, and those who hate Scientology.

While I have nothing wrong with being skeptical of any organized religion, I often wonder if Scientology receives an unbalanced amount of criticism that, quite simply, may verge on bigotry. If people so viciously attacked Christianity, Islam, or Judaism with the same amount of vile, they’d be considerered racially intolerant. Especially in a city as diverse as Los Angeles, why is there a free pass to degrade and demean any particular group or culture?

Certainly there are questionable practices by the Church of Scientology, just as in any other religion. Every religion has restrictions, rules, and beliefs that, to nonbelievers, may seem unusual. For example, is their secretive nature any more troubling than the Catholic Church’s cover up of child sex abuse? Is Scientology’s apprehension to using psychiatric medication any more appaling than Christian Scientists refusal to use medication of any kind, even in life or death situations? Is there belief in an alien origin any crazier than believing Moses parted the Red Seas or that Noah was able to fit two of every animal on his Ark? Male Orthodox Jews, for example, refuse to touch most women because they’re considered uncleanly, and won’t even shake their hands in business settings.

I’m not advocating for anyone to take the time for a stress or personality test the next time they walk by a Scientology Center. Nor do I think people shouldn’t discuss Scientology… but I do think people need to reevaluate how harshly they question Scientology’s legitimacy, and come to their own conclusions by doing some research, not relying on hearsay and gossip, and having an open mind.

On a related note, Isaac Hayes recently left his role as the voice of Chef on “South Park” due to an episode that pokes fun at Scientology, saying “As a civil rights activist of the past 40 years, I cannot support a show that disrespects (religious) beliefs and practices.” (“South Park” co-creator Matt Stone’s response: “This is 100 percent having to do with his faith of Scientology… He has no problem — and he’s cashed plenty of checks — with our show making fun of Christians.” source: Associated Press/Yahoo! News)

Additional links: Church of Scientology official site, Wikipedia entry on Scientology, recent critical Rolling Stone piece “Inside Scientology”. (top image from Wikipedia)

29 thoughts on “In Defense of Scientology”

  1. Hey hey, I’m all about letting folks practice their religion openly and freely and as stupidly as they want to…but these folks seem to be a money making machine and not much else.

    And anytime anyone crosses them or begins to question or begins to whisper that Tom Cruise loves sweet backdoor action, you get sued. And not just a little sued, sued up the wing wang. You should visit

  2. I’m with nosiree on this one. It’s not just that they’re loopy. There’s plenty of loopy religions. It’s that they act in aggressive and even criminal ways towards their critics.

  3. Personally I look at Scientology as more of a pyramid scheme than a religion. Didn’t the lose their tax exempt status a few years back?

  4. Eecue, this is sorta what I’m talking about. No, no evidence that they lost their tax exempt status a couple years ago. Still, a common misperception. As is the thought that any who “questions” Scientology gets sued. And how is Scientology more of a sci-fi cult than a religion?
    One thing is undeniable: “Battlefield Earth” was one of the worst movies ever made.

  5. Common “misperception”? The church *did* lose its tax exempt status and had to go to court to win it back (in 1993), didn’t they? I’ve read about it, but maybe the stories were false. If so, what did the church win in its 1993 case?

    As for Scientology being the only religion being badmouthed, well you haven’t been reading the news lately. More than one newsmaker has equated Islam with terrorism over the last couple of years. Or, ask a Mormon about how well their church has been treated over the last century. Oh, then there’s that whole Jewish Holocaust thing about 60 years ago, in case you missed High School history. Ummmm, these don’t count?

    Haven’t church members vocally attacked psychiatrists? Should these doctors just stand by, or be allowed to attack back? What about patients? Shouldn’t they be able to tell the church why it is teachings are wrong and harmful, in their opinion?

    Hasn’t the church actually sued folks over “trade secrets”? What other church does this?

    Then there’s the fabled “enemies list” which purports to contains the names of organizations and people Scientology considers to be “suppressive” and “fair game.” If this list exists, it seems to invite criticism.

    I’m all for enlightenment, however it is obtained. But I also know that organized religion is often the most oppressive of the oppressors, regardless of its ideology. Perhaps critics of Scientology feel it is this kind of organization.

  6. I’m pretty sure there isn’t another major religion in which you have to pay upwards of $200,000 just to find out what its teachings are.

  7. This is widely quoted and may or may not be apocryphal:
    “If you really want to make a lot of money, start your own religion.” – L. Ron Hubbard

  8. Scientology is more of a sci-fi cult than a religion because it was created, or shall we say fabricated, by a sci-fi author, reads exactly like bad sci-fi, and because all the secrecy, paranoid insane members, and ulterior motives have all the makings of a cult.

    In any case, a group as opposed to free speech as Scientology probably deserves whatever hatred it gets.

  9. I think you see more Scientology-bashing than any other religion because Hollywood is pretty much the only town that is full of Scientologists – and they’re movie stars, who are already considered fair game (which is another discussion). Sure, we’ve got more Jews than anything else, but they had a Holocaust and are therefore off-limits. Scientologists, though? They’re rich and famous! We can’t hurt them.

    (Do I have to say that the views expressed in this comment are not necessarily my own? Gee, I really hope not.)

  10. Unlike other religions, I think Scientology lacks real history and humanity.
    I mean, if you can imagine Scientology influencing and thriving in (positively or negatively) parts of Africa or Middle East as Christianity or Islam has, then maybe it merits some reevaluation.

  11. Wow, am I chiming in late… but really, If this post is in regards to the SP shenanigans…I deeply regret loosing Chef because of such a dopey reason seeing that the show is an equal-op offender. Catholicism, Judaism, Mormonism and Barbra Streisand have all taken a turn at getting mocked.
    I totally agree that the absolute hatred of Scientology is silly at best. I quote DB “…organized religion is often the most oppressive of the oppressors, regardless of its ideology.”. Um, duh…The inquisition, the bombing of abortion clinics, no sex-ed in schools, etc…All are real obvious examples of real bad and dangerous acts or ideas brought to fruition by religion and don’t even get me started on the fact that the CoS recieves “generous donations” for their brand of salvation or clearing or what ever you wish to call it. Have you heard of the tithe, collection baskets, having to pay to attend temple on high holidays and one of the 5 pillars, the ZakƒÅh.
    I can only say that you should go with your bliss and let others do the same…of course you’ll get the very vocal (Mr.T”I’m sueing”C)(Mr.”we should take that there Hugo Chavez out” and “9/11 is just Gods wrath for purple teletubies”[ples.note the last is paraphrased for effect.-]) but if we let the voice and acts of so very few speak for the many then what does that make us? There’s also the whole cast the first stone thing too.
    In short, we’re pretty much pokin’ fun at the new kid, but the kid ain’t that different from us.

  12. Marita, you’ve missed the point entirely. Go back and read the posts above. Then do some research. It’s not as simple a picture as you have painted.

  13. Actually, Julio, I think Marita totally does get the point and is keeping an open mind to the issue.
    There’s a huge anti-Islam backlash going on, and many people feel justified in mistrusting Islam because a) almost every terrorist attack is connected to Muslims and b) we hear of very few Muslims speaking or acting positively on behalf of Islam.
    Does this make the whole religion bad, or excuse the bigots? No, not at all.
    Christianity has also had its share of participation in world evils and once hung anyone who didn’t claim belief.

    I do think part of the skepticism is indeed Scientology’s own fault by not allowing more members, and not just its high level members, speak on behalf of the Church and its faiths.

  14. I recall a period when the press had a lot of stories about young people being effectively kidnapped by Scientologists. When I was younger I joined a political group with a charismatic leader and an agenda for not tolerating being soft on criminals and I learned the way in which a person like myself can find difficulty in backing out of something. I moved town and that was finally that. It is this aspect that got Hubbard’s lot a bad name I think.

  15. scientology has absolutely no altruistic base. at least idealistically the other major religions are at their core about peace and love. scientology is nothing of the sort. it’s a cult that promotes narcissism and greed. it’s a cult that, if you try to leave it, you will be punished for it (and some have died). it’s a cult that makes you cut off ties with your family and friends and give you all its money. even though its name says otherwise, it is deeply against “science.” hubbard himself was a follower and friend of alastair crowley and wanted to be the anti-christ. i think we need to stop calling it a religion when in fact it is a dangerous cult that has its own military and intelligence system that rivals that of the FBI.

  16. Among other (numerous) criticisms of the religion, The Church of Scientology fired some of the earliest salvos in the online copyright wars, suing a Dutch ISP, XS4ALL, into oblivion for hosting sites critical of the Church but allegedly violating the Church’s copyright to do so.

    Even without the urban legends, there is plenty of real, very well documented antisocial behavior. Where the medieval Catholic church would send inquisitors, the COS sends its lawyers. Every religion has its odd beliefs and extremists, but COS seems peculiarly paranoid.

  17. Oh Julio, I do get the point, and yes it is that simple. Any belief held to a point of close mindedness is dangerous. When you can not look beyond your 5×6 picture of what the world and the people in it should be like you lose. I understand that within the CoS machine there are warped individuals who are extremists and lash out against any real or imagined impugnation of their deeply held belief. Not unlike some within the Catholic Machine that “defended” itself by hiding pedophiles in their ranks just shifting them from one Archdiosis to the next.
    Now Penny, truth be told, religion, mostly western Judeo-Christian religions, are a means of control, the rules of Kosher are sanitary measures to protect and ensure the survival of people, in feudal times, organized religion was used to aviod clashes of power and to appease the individualist Ethos. Better life in the here after if you do as your told today.
    So yeah the CoS is a bit defensive to say the least…um yeah duh…look at all these posts, it’s not paranoid if you are kinda-sorta getting trashed. Does it make them good? Nope. Does it make them bad? Nope.
    So you ask : What does it make them??? They are what they are.
    Sometimes I envy those deeply religious people that find a nice fluffy warm blanket in their beliefs, but I can’t seem to hold an absolute belief…(I can hold my Absolute well enough though ;) I just can’t think that everyone else is wrong. But that’s just me. That’s why I love a nice juice topic to debate intelligently.
    Maybe I’ll learn something new.

  18. A nice fluffy blanket (or opium in the words of Karl Marx) is indeed what some people need (my siblings included). As a newbie to all this, I apologise if the following is out of order. May I possibly draw your attention, Marita, to my piece NATURAL AFTERLIFE (NO THEISM NECESSARY) on my blog (if that is what it is) EARTH BASE PRIME. Again I am sorry if I am committing a faux pas by self-advertising. Please advise. (Cy H-Q is a pen name until I understand security better.) Cy/Andrew

  19. The thing to input in order to read my blog is (sorry to intrude and forget the input thing yesterday). Is that what URL means?


  20. Scientology is at its core a deeply anti-Christian organization. Am I too harsh? Am I berating an entire class of people because of “a few bad apples”?
    FACT: The symbol of The Church of Scientology is a Christian cross with an “X” through it.
    FACT: Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard practiced black magick with Jack Parsons and referred to Satanist Aleister Crowley as “my very good friend.”
    FACT: Although many times Scientology has stated it is not a religion and people of any religious tradition can join, members are all expected to cut ties with whatever previous religious organizations they belonged to. If they do not do this, they are (eventually) rejected from Scientology.

    I appreciate all of those who wish to remain “open minded” about Scientology and not “condemn” people. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to do some research about the Church of Scientology and their actual activities. In spite of their efforts at censorship, there are many web sites and publications about the dark side of this group. Just do a search with the words “anti Scientology” and see what pops up.

  21. Who cares if they’re anti-Christian?
    How many Christian churches would allow it’s members to practice Islam, or Judaism, or Scientology?
    The fact that they’re inclusive to their own belief system does not make their religion a bad thing. It makes their religion just like all the rest.

  22. Most of these pro-Scientology arguments seem to be along the lines of “they’re not any worse than fundamental Christianity/Judaism/Islam.” No offense, but that’s not really winning me over. Are you all arguing in favor of religious zealotry?

    I’m surprised that nobody’s posted this, but Operation Clambake is a long standing clearinghouse for information related to CoS. I’m sure that there are equally comprehensive CoS responses out there, but I don’t know what they are so I can’t provide them.

  23. Some good discussion points have been raised here… if I may interject some personal experience, it may add to some of what has been said.
    Fifteen years ago, I lost a fiancee to Scientology. Long story short, she had been in it as a child, with her family. Her mom became disgusted with their focus on money (I have copies of bills -er, donation requests- for teaching the kids how to brush their teeth, clean the rooms of higher officials, etc. at the Clearwater Org). She got the family out. Fast forward a chunk of years – mom dies of cancer in ’89. Within a few months, Scientology is offering dad some help with his grief, and he’s back in it (they have an office that monitors obits). We move to CA and live with dad for a while. He tells my fiancee that Scientology can help cure her epilepsy, through a process called the ‘purification rundown.’ In a series of steps I won’t detail here, they get her to move to the land org in LA, put her through the purification and – in a couple of weeks – she goes from beeing deeply uncomfortable to apathetic, to gung ho with Scientology. (In the midst of this transition, she spent time in the Guardian’s Office to be chastised for committing ‘subverts’ and ‘overts’ against the church in our phone conversations. At the end of that two week transition, the church convinced her to break off, and she married a member of the Sea Org (Scientology’s Navy). Oh, the cost of this miraculous transition? Roughly 20k.
    This is not a religion. It is a scheme. It feeds off of people’s fears and weaknesses, and siphons cash in exchange for some placebo security. I strongly recommend people read “A Piece of Blue Sky” – it was sued into the ground, but is now available online for download. It was written by a scientologist who was supposed to write a pro-LRH bio, but learned too much.
    Check out for a LOT of info…

    “Let’s go sell them all a piece of blue sky” -L Ron hubbard, before greeting a group of scientologists in UK.

    Please feel free to contact me if you’d like any more details, or sources for info.

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