Sunday, October 26, 2008

Tom Cruise, Please Don't Harrass Me

I've decided to look at Scientology in Australia.

The reason is I'm having one of my Scientology obsession days.  Every several months or so, I become really obsessed with Scientology and go googling on the Internet.

As most people know, Scientology is incredibly controversial.   Some call it a cult.  Some call it a religion.

I really don't know if I'd call it a cult or not.    I guess it would depend on your definition of cult.
Dictionary.com gives multiple definitions.

One is a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.   Most religions fit this.

Another is a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.

I think the latter is the definition most of us go by.

I think the "false" part is where things get confusing.   Who gets to decide which religion is false and which is true?    Well..... unorthodox too.   Who  gets to define that?

Who gets the role of pointing out people in the crowd?   Your religion is cool and acceptable.  Yours is too weird.

In MY eyes, a cult (in the negative connotation of the word) is a religious group that:
A) uses dishonest methods to attract members
B) feeds on people who are lonely and desperate
C) causes financial strain to it's congregants
D) works to turn it's members against family and friends who are not of the religion
E) uses various types of intimidation (ie. psychological and legal) to make it difficult for the individual to leave the religion. 

I think all religions have some of these aspects in small doses.   I think Scientology has them in much larger doses.  That's what I don't like about the religion.

I have nothing really against most of their actual belief system.   Some of it seems pretty cool and interesting to me.   I think their alien Xenu story is a bit bizarre, but no more bizarre than the tales behind Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Aboriginal religions, etc.

I think it's immature and suspicious that Scientology tries to keep this Xenu thing a secret.   But I also don't think this should be the basis of criticism of their religion.   It reminds me of when someone is in a political debate online, and instead of arguing against the essence of what the other person said, their opponent attacks them on their spelling and grammar mistakes.

I don't think there's anything wrong with a show like South Park poking fun at Xenu.   To me, jokes are fine.  Humor is good.   And a show like South Park makes fun of EVERY religion.   Anyone who tries to censor a show like that because it offends them--well, I think they need to take the stick out of their ass.   Or just don't watch the show.   There's no need to get everyone else to not watch the show.  Well, unless you have something to hide.....

There's a lot of controversy regarding Scientology because they're anti-psychiatry.  I'm not a big fan of psychiatry myself so I actually somewhat like this part of them.   I'm not against all psychiatric drug treatment.  I think sometimes it can be helpful.   But I do agree with Scientology in that there is too much diagnosis going on and too many prescriptions being handed out.   I think psychiatric drugs should be used as a last resort.  

I believe if Scientology wasn't so secretive, and didn't use such bully tactics, it would be a worthy antidote to our ovedependence on psychiatry.  

Okay I've rambled on and on and haven't even talked about Australia yet.

The official Scientology Site of Australia provides a fair amount of information but it seems fairly vague to me.  It also fails to address the issue of Xenu, whether or not it's a cult, and all of it's controversy in the news.  

Instead what they do is not just avoid  talking about this issue themselves, but use legal and other pressures to try to shut down other media that mention these things.  

Because of the Internet, there really is no way to withhold information from the public anymore.   If Scientology had the brains, they'd realize this and just be open and honest about everything.

Just come out and say.  Yes, we believe in Xenu.   Is that any more weird than believing a piece of bread can become the body of a man who died over two thousand years ago?

According to Lord Wiki, there's a huge discrepancy regarding how many Scientology followers there are in Australia.   The census put the number at 2500 while the Church itself claims there are 150,000 members.   I know a census is not always completely accurate, but that seems like quite a difference in numbers.   I am  guessing the Church is overestimating; but I also can imagine that some people might not have admitted, to the Census people, that they were Scientologists.

There's one Scientology school in Australia; The Athena School.   It's located in Newtown in Sydney.  It looks okay to me.

At Chemsfield Private Hospital in Sydney a medical treatment called Deep Sleep Therapy was used from 1962-1979.  This involved putting psychiatric patients into a deep coma.    Twenty-six people died and various celebrities and others (including Scientology) fought against it.   

This is the aspect of Scientology that I DO like.

In 1965, in Victoria, Scientology was banned from using their psychological/counseling techniques on people for a fee.   A new law was formed that said anyone providing psychological treatment must register with the Victorian Psychological Counsel.   HOWEVER, religions recognized by the government were exempt from this law.  For example, a Catholic church could provide Catholic marriage counseling without registering.  

Eight years later, the government recognized Scientology as a religion and they became exempt too.  Although according to Lord Wiki, it went back and forth via appeals court and all that.  It gets a bit too confusing for me to try and figure out.

I don't know.

Personally, I think there are changes that need to be made on both sides.

First, Scientology needs to be more open and stop trying to suppress information.  They need to act less defensive.  It's only making them look bad.

Second, (if the above is done by Scientology) than I think us outsiders need to give the religion more respect.  I think if we're going to attack it, we need to do so only on valid grounds (such as the above if it is not changed by Scientology) and not their beliefs, lifestyle, Tom Cruise jumping on a couch, or isolated incidences of members dying from medical neglect.  

Third, Scientology should get a sense of humor because a few jokes about Xenu are not going to hurt anyone.  

You know what would impress me?  If Scientologists all had a day where they wore t-shirts that said We Love Xenu.   This would prove that they have a sense of humor about it all, and are not a bunch of uptight bullies who shut down websites they disagree with.




19 comments:

Anonymous said...

"isolated incidences of members dying from medical neglect."

How many people would you say need to die before we can start paying attention?

Dina said...

Anonymous,

I think people should start paying attention after the very first death. However, I do not think a religion needs to be condemned after this first death. How many deaths need to happen before a religion or group is condemned? I don't know.

I think people have died in other religious groups because of medical neglect. I'm sure most religions have cases of deaths by medical neglect.

AND...medical neglect can happen within the medical community themselves.

I had a friend in high school who told a chilling story of her childhood. She had a bad stomach ache and her mother took her to the doctor. The doctor sent her home saying the child was fine. Fortunately, the mother believed in seeking a second opinion. She went to a second doctor and was told the child had appendicitis and peritonitis. The child would have been dead within a few hours if the mother had followed the advice of the first doctor.

As for the cases I read about in Australia...they involved a woman from a family of Scientologists who slayed her family and a man who went on a shooting spree weeks after obtaining Scientology therapy.

The idea behind these is that if these people had seeked proper psychiatric treatment, the murders would not have taken place.

I think that's pure speculation. There's no way to know that if these people did not have Scientology influences that they would have
a) seeked psychiatric treatment
b) taken their prescribed medicines
c) whether the medications would have prevented them from killing.

Bona Fide Mama said...

This was very interesting and informative. I don't know enough about Scientology in order to form an opinion but I agree with you for the most part. Especially about how people outside of the religion need to find more valid reasons to criticize. I have experienced these types of criticism myself from practicing an alternative parenting style and I don't like my decisions being judged based upon one isolated incident (like with homeschooling, nonvaxing, cosleeping, extended breastfeeding, etc).

Dina said...

Mandy,

I know what you mean. One person in the attachment parenting community makes a decision that ends up causing harm and the whole community is condemned and judged.

I think critics of Scientology need to concentrate on other issues within the religion.

Bettina said...

interesting.

Anonymous said...

If you are interested to know more about Scientology, drive by Scientology Orgs during any global protest in Dallas or Austin, or visit whyweprotest.net.

I don't know what you google, how about going to Wikipedia? They have a neutral point of view to uphold. The first thing Anonymous will say that they are not attacking the religion, but the leaders of the criminal organization calling itself the "church" of Scientology. Members of Free Zone, believers of Scientology, regularly protest along side Anonymous and others. The impression that the religion is being attacked because Scientologists try to make it appear that way, and that the media do that too - it's easy to make fun of celeb's, and that many feels Scientlogy is crazy. As for protest, it's very difficult to make large signs saying that "The Church of Scientology should be dismantled" "But we are not against the religion."

So it's a diversion to discuss about what is good or what is bad about Scientology, the religion.

Where's the money from donations, and from business run by Scientologists? To support criminal activities that you can google, past and present.

Have you come across Dr Drew, who gave some open advice for Tom Cruise? Tom immediately sent his lawyers against him. Drew said in another interview, with great sadness "That people should not be afraid of speaking their minds." This is what the "Church of Scientology" is about. Dr Drew can stand up for himself. Can you imagine how many little people are crushed like flies? You have to google for the 1991 Times Magazine about Scientology. It started a 400+ million lawsuit and no serious journalist dare to write something like that since.

Dina said...

Anonymous,

I use Wikipedia a lot. For this post, I looked at their entry on Scientology in Australia and the Scientology Portal--the legal section.

I do think the worst thing about Scientology...or the Church of Scientology is the whole lawsuit thing. I think THIS is where the criticism needs to be focused.

I think these people need to understand that they can launch as many lawsuits and bullies as they want. But with the Internet, there's no way they're going to be able to silence everyone.

Why do YOU think Scientology is so secretive. Do you think it was started by criminals--a scam to make money? A business leeching off people seeking meaning in their life?

Or....

Do you think it's run by people who truly believe and have some kind of persecution delusion? And does this persecution delusion make the religion more attractive to its leaders and followers? Is there something thrilling about persuing media professionals they feel are attacking the religion?

It's a mystery to me.

Retarius said...

I first learnt something about Scientology in the late 70's when I read a book titled Cults of Unreason. It also dealt with the "Moonies" and some other entities which I can't recall now. I think it's out of print, but it's worth reading if you could find it.

The real eye-opener was Barefaced Messiah which is a very detailed biography of L. Ron Hubbard. After reading this persuasive and thorough work I jumped determinedly from the fence. Goes to show; I'd never have imagined I'd support the German government in persecuting a religion, but I now believe that they've pegged this one correctly as an evil and provably false influence which should be discouraged strenuously.

It's a damn shame that John Travolta and Kate Ceberano, who seem to be genuinely nice people, are ensnared in this thing.

(And bedamned to Tom Cruise!)

Dina said...

Retarius,

The Barefaced Messiah sounds like an interesting book.

As for false influence...couldn't any religion be labeled that?

What religion contains the truth?

Hubbard is dead now so I think he has lost some importance. I think what's more important is what the current leaders and followers do and believe.

The same goes for Christianity. Jesus has been dead a long time. What matters is the acts and beliefs of his followers.

One interesting thing I read is that there's very homophobic writings in the Hubbard stuff. So Scientology is a homophobic religion. But the stuff was written fairly long ago. And there's also homophobic stuff written in the Torah and Christian Bible. I think there's homophobic stuff written in other religious texts as well. But it doesn't mean all modern day followers are homophobic.

I've heard they do try to convert homosexuals into heterosexuals. The same could be said of some Christian groups though. I'm not sure how much of these rumors are true (in terms of Scientology) and whether it's a Church wide practice or not.

I guess what I'm saying is Hubbard could be a completely evil selfish greedy asshole with no good intentions. But by some miracle, a religion could have formed around his ideas that ended up being actually good. Kind of like putting it all through a strainer--throw out the bad and keep the good.

Unfortunately, I don't think that's the case with Scientology.

I think it's hard to get balanced & reasomable information from cult websites and books. I think you really need to know who is writing the website and where they're coming from.

If they're Christian, they might see any nonChristian beliefs as being evil--the occult.

If they're Atheist, they might see any religion and spiritual belief as being dangerous delusions.

Anonymous said...

dina, you are reverting into discussing goods or bads of the religion again. I tried to stay away from this. But if you look at the full bio of LR Hubbard with supporting references, you can see that he is not a good man, at least not as the founder of a religion. And like any other religions, his words ARE the scripture! But this isn't the point. Many writers stopped apologizing for the cult in their columns because they just invite opponents a good chance to tell their side of the story in comments.

Say psychiatric, like everything, there's good and bad, and that's all we have now, after years of research, and professional undergo years of training. We can try to improve it but Scientology (the church) wants to eliminate it completely since the 50's, as the chairman said on video, together with visual explosion of a grenade.

Like Narconon, the drug rehab treatment by Scientology (the church). There are absolutely no medical peer review and data to support their worthy existence, but they have been a major cash cow for the cult, until now.

There are numerous front groups trying to infiltrate everything. From politics to schools to neighborhood after school art class. If you pay for harmless art class for your kids, 10% goes to support Scientology while staff recruited from art schools are mistreated and trapped.

Dina said...

Anonymous,

How have I started discussing the goods and bads of the religion? What have I said that has made you think that?

I just said that having a bad leader does not guarantee the religion itself is bad.

I do think Scientology is bad, but not because of their beliefs.

Look at Psychiatry. Yes, they are strongly against that. But look at all these anti-Scientology people--dedicating their lives to stopping Scientology. Forming anti-Scientology websites. Staging protests in front of Katie Holmes performances.. Googling Scientology in the blogging world to find blogs that talk about Scientology so they can have a chance to tell their side of the story.

I am NOT for Scientology. I think it's a cult--in the negative sense of the word. I think there are some aspects of it that are terrifying.

I DO support information being provided that tells the truth about Scientology.

What I do question is people spending so much time and energy being anti-Scientology.

Where do you cross the line between religion and cult?

Where do you cross the line between being against something and being completely absorbed with your hatred for it?

Here's a question for you. If Scientology was honest and upfront. If they did not use front organizations to trick people into giving them money (And I have encountered these before--at a homeschooling fair) and they did not bully the media, would you be okay with them?

Would you be okay with a group of people who were anti-psychiatry, believed in some strange scripture, had a not-so-long dead Messiah who was a science fiction writer, and believed in an alien named Xenu. Would you accept this?

I guess my feeling is I think critics of Scientology should concentrate on the truly negative stuff (and I think Scientology has plenty) and not the weird stuff.

Dina said...

Anonymous,

Hey, how do I know you're not a Scientologist trying to play reverse psychology with me?

I'm a little suspicious here.

Hey, are you Tom Cruise????

Anonymous said...

dina, I can give you some quick answers and I'm happy to answer all if given the chance later.

See, you ask again what is the line between cult and religion. I'm sure this is a good discussion point but you can't convince all people one way or the other. It's also irrelevant as Anonymous is not supposed to protest against the religion. Really, who cares what the Scientologists believe in?

Are you trying to be suspicious when you ask those what if questions? Anonymous try to deal with facts and what you should about it.

Narconon is a scam, and if the "Church" Scientology use it as one of their cash cows, should you close down Narconon and Scientology because of fraud? IF Scientology says tomorrow they made a mistake and close down Narconon, then there's no reason to close down the "church" because of Narconon. BUT they are not going to do that, and asking what if questions are not relevant. You decide and act base on facts.

Why so many people are so much against Scientology? A very good question. Because Scientology is best in making enemies. In the 70's, it's the author Cooper(?), whose finger print was stolen and planted on a bomb, together with a fake bomb thread. She was finally proven innocent, but lost everything. Currently, there's a active lawyer Graham Berry, whose fault was to help and represent a Scientology victim. The cults standard response was to attack and lie, attack him, attach all his law partners, pressure their clients and the guy lost everything, even can't have a car. He only live for suing the cult now because every cent he earns will go to the cult, because he lost a law suit and owed them.

Now it happened globally on a personal scale since Feb 10, the first recent protest. Haven't you seen the videos in these 10 months across the globe? They take your pictures, they hire PI or send nutty believers to follow you home. They picket your home after dark. They flying your neighborhood with lies about you. See the cops response on video? At best they don't want anything to do with the "church", they are sick of them crying wolf, using them against the protesters. Most cops act funny, as if they are owned by the "Church". There is perhaps only one cop in London who earned a negative record because of his actions. All other got away. And by now many many repeat protesters get threatening letters from crooked lawyers hand delivered to their door.

Just today, at whyweprotest.net, a protesting guy was arrested for trespassing and now in jail overnight because the cops go slow on him. That was Gold Base, the worst place to protest. So far it looked like a trap. I can tell you that there were only a few protesters, probably the majority are very mature woman. The security guards out numbered them. I'm not so sure the guy actually trespassed, but there trespassing means he stepped over some unmarked property lines in a desert near some bush on the road side, several security immediately jumped on him, knee on his neck pushing his face onto the dirt, he begging for the guards to let him breath. It's got on video and if cleared by lawyers it will be on youtube tomorrow.

He must have got something important in his camera before and during the assault. A little mature lady answered his call to get his camera from the guards. The little lady was banged hard on a car by the guards, again caught on video.

Many times Scientologists attack protesters physically, including outright punching on the same guy last month. Usually Scientologists lie and claim they are being attacked. If they can they dread you into any lawsuits they can make up, which can destroy you. That time the cops actually handcuffed the attacker on video, but the protesters didn't press charge because it means giving up all their identities as witness, they will find many more witness that lie, and the possibility of law suits or counter suits.

Being threatened, the natural reaction is to fight back. That opens up for Scientology to attack harder. That's how many people involve from causal to fanatically against the cult. Or, you see injustice right in front of your face, as many did for the Tom Cruise video incident. For criminals you call the police, for gangsters call the cops, for fire you call the fireman, but for Scientologists who can you call?

Many ex-scientologists do find out that they lost millions to the cult, and many years of their lives. Worse many lost their generations of family because of disconnection. Did I get the idea across why so many are so dedicated against the cult?

CherryBlossom24 said...

That was interesting. it makes me think especially since there is a Church of Scientology down the street from where I live, every time I pass it it makes me think what is going on in there.

Dina said...

Anonymous,

Do you have a blog of your own where you can talk about these things?

It seems like you really need a place to talk about them and get them off your chest.

It just seems you're very eager to find this blog entry and get this chance to talk about how evil Scientologists are.

I feel you're trying to prove to me that Scientologists are bad and dangerous. But if you carefully read my original post, you will see that I already thought they were bad and dangerous.

It's kind of like you're singing to the choir.

All I said was I am with them on being anti-psychiatry and I have nothing against their Xenu stuff.

I'm guessing someone in your family was harmed by Scientologists or that you yourself used to be one. I'm truly sorry for the pain you've been through. And if you don't have a blog, you're welcome to talk about the stuff on here as much as you want. I just don't want to debate it because you seem to be working so hard to get me to agree with you. I ALREADY agree with you.

I know about the bad stuff they've done. I've read about it on the Internet. I think I saw a documentary about it a few years ago. Maybe Dateline or something? One of those news shows.

You did answer my question from the last comment well and I thank you. It seems you don't have anything against the religion itself.

I think we really are on the same page. Neither of us are against their beliefs. It's about being against their bullying behavior. I'm less passionate about it than you, but I've not been personally hurt from them. To me, they're just one of many scary groups out there.

Dina said...

Cherryblossom24,

Your comment reminds me of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory--Charlie walking past the factory and wondering what's going on.

Maybe the Scientologists will pass out golden tickets so five lucky winners can get a tour ; )

Anonymous said...

dina, thanks for allowing the wall of text, and perhaps excuse me for that.

I don't have more to say about Scientology than already on the internet, like xenu.net. We do have a few places to get things off our chests, but a personal blog is too much risky if I talk too much. Scientologists do monitor all discussion boards and know who's who. Lawyer letters comes with real names and most of the handles being used in the internet.

I was worrying about my friend above, who was in jail last night. (though I hardly know him) So what I did while waiting was googling for "scientology" in news and then blogs. I do that on occasions, and I know your blog is the first one that is not written by Scientology operatives. Really, scientologists in general are not supposed to read things on the internet, they have their own internet filters, etc. Most Scitology blogs are PR's where comments are disallowed. In case you can comment, negative comments will never get through. You know how it is. So most likely I won't bother you again, unless next time I google and you turn up again.

Before the Tom Cruise video this January, I hardly know anything about Scientology. I thought it was something compatible with the Christian cross!

At my age I never thought I would go out and protest something, but I did. I was rage about what I read in their past, and what they did since Jan. Most of all, they made an enemy out of me, that I rather not become.

While I'm still here, the protest on Sunday on Hemet California was attended by about 5, a mix of ex-scientolgists, old critics, new activitists whose ID are known or still anonymous. The tough old little lady who got banged on the car hard was protesting at the same place about a decade ago, when Tracy Moxon was electrified in an underground vault. She was the daughter of Ken Moxon, until now is the top Scientologist lawyer and attack dog. Officially Tracy was chasing a squirrel and try to save it inside the vault. Unofficially it was suicide - she was kept away from her husband and her father don't bother about her. To Scientologists, children are adults, who have many past and future lives.

This tough little old lady called Ida for help, who lives in Hemet, so they have a place to stay in the middle of the night, so they can keep track what's happening at the police station. Ida is in her eighties, still came out to protest in Feb and a big supporter of Anonymous. She lost her son to Scientology some 30 years ago. Her son did not contact her since because she tried to talk him out of the religion. She had a Senator who tried to help her a lot, but he was killed when he visited a cult to investigate, along with most cult members and some other politicians.

I'm sure you are basically against Scientology. I just like to point out that some "religion" are just as crazy, but why we don't go against them. And why it concerns everybody, now. Politicians, police, FBI, aren't going to do anything so far. Who to call?

A scientology school looks OK? But they are doing mind control for another generation, look at exscientologykids.com, and studytech.org. It's OK if you don't take your kids there, right? They have a whole lot of front groups to try pushing some of the tech into school curriculum by stealth. They are happy to give out Dianetics to anybody who don't mind having a copy in the classroom.

You may not agree with psych, all the meds, but eliminating all of them? with what? Purification rundown? This is what used in Narconon. In psych there is basically a scientific approach, and laws governing it. Narconon is a total scam, no peer reviews, no unbiased results and they will sue if you speak against them.

A harmless school that you won't use, and Narconon is just for drug addicts. But at least 10% of school revenue goes to Scientology to license the tech, and much more for Narconon. These money, together with your hard earned dollars (they are tax free in most of the world), goes to support Scientolog (the "church") to do more evil.

Andrea Luttrell said...

OMG! We have got to get lunch. I, too, am obsessed with Scientology. Plus, I have crazy stories from when I lived in L.A. It was like Scientology Mecca!

Dina said...

Andrea,

I definitely want to hear all your LA Scientology stories!

I think Los Angeles IS their Mecca.