the official site of Michael Shermer

top navigation:

Scientology, Anonymous

February 2008

Imagine reading the following press release:

Hello, Jews. We are anonymous. Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye… Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind — for the laughs — we shall expel you … and systematically dismantle Judaism in its present form…

The rantings of crazed neo-Nazis, right? No. Substitute “Jews” and “Judaism” with “Scientologists” and “Church of Scientology” and you are reading from a statement issued by a group of anti-Scientologists calling themselves “Anonymous.” This statement was released Jan. 21 (read in a YouTube video by a Stephen Hawking-like computerized voice). It was followed by another on Sunday Feb. 10 that coincided with demonstrations at Scientology centers around the world at which protesters donned masks (the Guy Fawkes variety from the movie “V for Vendetta”) and waved posters that read, among other things, “Honk if you hate Scientology.”

Again, imagine if that sign read “Honk if you hate Jews.” How innocuous would such a protest be in that case?

And yet this latest turn against the organization founded in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard has an air of farcical comedy to it. Why? Why aren’t civil-rights organizations and antihate-speech activists pouncing on these protesters? The reason, I suspect, is that most of us do not consider Scientology a religion, at least not a religion that resembles in the slightest the world’s major faiths.

One clue to this interpretation can be seen in other protesters’ signs: “Religion is Free, Scientology is Not” and “Trade Secrets are for Business, Not Religion.” I’m a scientist who studies belief systems for a living, so take it from me: Scientology is unlike any other religion in history. Although the Church of Scientology is recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt religion (despite years of litigation by the IRS to collect taxes on its income), no other religion I know of considers theological doctrines and core religious tenets to be intellectual property accessible only for a fee.

Envision converting to Judaism but having to pay to learn the story of Abraham and Isaac, Noah and the flood, or Moses and the Ten Commandments. Or imagine joining the Catholic Church but not being told about the crucifixion and the resurrection until you have reached Operating Theological Level III, which takes many years and many tens of thousands of dollars.

That is, in essence, how the Church of Scientology dispenses its theology, leading ex-members, critics and journalists to divulge Scientology’s sacred myth all over the internet, and in such national publications as the New York Times and Rolling Stone magazine, and even on the animated TV series “South Park.” The story centers on Xenu the galactic warlord, who 75 million years ago was in charge of 76 overpopulated planets. Xenu brought trillions of these alien beings to Earth (called Teegeeack) on spaceships that resembled DC-9 planes, and placed them in select volcanoes. He then vaporized them with hydrogen bombs, scattering to the winds their souls, called thetans, which were then rounded up in electronic traps and implanted with false ideas. These corrupted thetans attach themselves to people today, leading to drug and alcohol abuse, addiction, depression and other psychological and social ailments that only Scientology classes and “auditing” employing “e-meters” can cure. Paying customers, by the way, do not get to hear this story until they reach Operating Thetan Level III.

This peculiar story helps explain, in part, the often inexplicable Tom Cruise, whom we’ve all seen renouncing the evils of psychiatry and the drug industry on the Today show and more recently in a viral YouTube video. There’s nothing wrong with being skeptical of psychiatry — I publish Skeptic magazine, which recently included an article by a psychiatrist who took his colleagues to task for overmedication and for overlabeling as diseases what may just be unusual behavior. As well, self-help gurus such as Anthony Robbins have developed techniques that may very well surpass psychiatry in helping people. But psychiatrists, drug companies and motivational speakers pay taxes on their products and services; they do not masquerade as religious leaders. This is yet another aspect of Scientology that provokes the type of animosity we are seeing in these recent attacks.

Humans are by nature tribal and xenophobic. We evolved a natural tendency to look askance at those who are different from us, and especially to be suspicious of activities beyond our purview. Transparency and fairness are the key to trust, and trust is the social glue that binds a diverse society such as ours. This is why we insist on so many checks and balances in government, so many rules and regulations in markets, and equal treatment under the law.

The reason people are suspicious of Scientology is because of its cult-like secrecy, its overly aggressive response to and legal attacks against critics, and especially the hypocrisy of comporting itself as a faux religion in a society willing to reward corporate success but not religious greed.

This article was originally published in the Los Angeles Times.

read or write comments (121)
topics in this post: , , ,

121 Comments to “Scientology, Anonymous”

  1. Ólafur S. Sigurðarson Says:

    Dear dr. Shermer. I havebeen a long time fan of yours and just about agree with everything you say (with do skepticism, of course). But Scientology is the most frightening thing to hit the stands in any small community like Iceland. I am truly terrified of what kind of damage such a corrosive cult can do. I mean, haven’t you heard of ‘fair game’ ? All the elements of a cult are there: information control and censorship, alienation and isolation of member, deifying of a single person, love bombing. Read about ‘exercises’ – they are basically just mind-control and brainwashing 101 – all built up to disassociate a person from reality and get rid of over all cognitive function, especially skeptical thinking capacities. As for psychiatrist, they have arrived at the right conclusion for the wrong reasons – I think psychiatry is basically just overmedicating and overlabelling now a days, but they oppose it because it could fix the people who get out alive, making more survivors to tell about the sick practices of the Cult of Scientology.

  2. Santiago Says:

    I think all religions would be treated this way, if only people realized that the old testament is about as harebrained as dianetics. Therein lies the point: religions have the veneer of old age, tradition and an aura of authority, strip those away, and people would be putting up signs outside mosques and synagogues in no time.

  3. Terryols44 Says:

    As a member of a flying saucer cult based on the writing of a science fiction writer (I am a proud DUNEologist)I feel some kinship with the $cientologists however I feel that I must point out that while Frank Herbert’s awards were honestly won the only reason that L Ron Hubbard ever got his books on the best seller list was by having his cult followers buy up truckloads of copies and put them into storage.
    His dwarfish successor David Miscavage has decided that the easiest way to make money is to rearrange the periods and commas in L Ron Hubbard’s earlier work and then to make buying the new works mandatory. You will not see any shenanigans like that among DUNEologists or any of the more respectable flying saucer cults.

  4. Greg Says:

    Just substitute the word jews in the above hypothetical with “al-qaeda” and you can understand the animosity. It’s not a religion, it’s a front to excuse their deplorable behavior. You can sell scientology somewhere else Mr. Schermer. I am not buying it!

  5. Anonymous Says:

    To Santiago. Rest assured, that the moment organized Judaism successfully has the Torah and Old Testament pulled in the name of copyright, and begins charging for it’s doctrines, we will be all over it. Until then, I think it’s clear that, 1. At the very least, re-read this blogpost, and 2. Your bias against Judaism is well and duly noted, bigot.

  6. Kaizen Says:

    To Ólafur S. Sigurðarson & Greg:

    Did you not read the entire page? This is not an argument to support Scientology for equality among other major religions. Shermer is pointing out how it’s different from the major religions and why people do have such different reactions to it.

  7. Devushka Says:

    This is a very interesting perspective you’ve put forth here. However, would you be willing to consider the other issues about the Church of Scientology that Anonymous is speaking out against, such as the exploitation of children for manual labor and their attacks upon critics and ex-members?

  8. Lisa Bauer Says:

    I think what upsets people so much about Scientology, and I think Dr. Shermer delineated this well, is that unlike other religions who are upfront about their teachings and philosophy (and therefore permeable to criticism) the church of scientology aggressively maintains secrecy about their practices. I think this exacerbates the level of hostility people, who would otherwise just be peacefully opposed to their beliefs, demonstrate. I, like many other skeptics/agnostic/non-believer types write blogs and attend discussions about the potential harm of fundamentalist dogma. However, I also often write about the need to maintain freedoms that enable me to quote and criticize religious text, in that these freedoms also make it possible for people of faith to spread their values. Rarely have I seen within a respectable, skeptical community the same level of aggression towards christianity (and other religious organizations) that we have seen demonstrated against scientology. But, like Shermer describes above, the church of scientology does not behave like a typical, religious institution. The clandestine and Draconian nature of their practices raises their “threat” level, angering opponents further, to the point where they are treated as an enemy and not just an oppositional point of view.

  9. J.P. McLaughlin Says:

    A story has it that Ron Hubbard won a bar bet back in the early ’50s by inventing a religion out of his own fevered sci-fi imagination. That there are so many adherents today is testimony to P.T. Barnum’s adage, “There’s a sucker born every minute.” But, then, exactly how does Scientology differ from our other major religions except in its age?

  10. Bill Webb Says:

    I think all religions would be treated this way, if only people realized that the old testament is about as harebrained as dianetics.

    Interesting that Santiago would limit his remarks to the Old Testament. Is the New any less so? Water into wine, raising from the dead, impregnation by a God, virgin birth, walking on water, resurrection and ascension into heaven make the vaguely schizophrenic tales of the Old Testament look pretty tame, it seems to me.

  11. Carol - psychiatrist Says:

    I’m concerned about Dr Shermer’s comments about psychiatry. Psychiatry is a medical practice that is meant to treat mentally ill people, not a competition for self-help gurus such as Anthony Robbins. The fact that psychiatry is still in its infancy does not diminish its importance. We have a lot to learn, scientifically.

    I also wish you had stuck with your point that Scientology is a business cloaked as a religion. Only most businesses don’t brainwash their employees and strip them of their savings, their freedom of thought and sometimes their lives. I think this point was lost but it is the reason that most of us and, no doubt groups such as Anonymous, believe Scientology should be investigated and subject to whatever financial and criminal penalties are appropriate.

  12. Freeman Says:

    EPIC FAIL! Wikipedia and Time magazine can give you a clue as to why comparing COS to Judaism is in no way appropriate. Although I suppose if you believe the holocaust was faked to increase the spread of zionism that could work.

    Anyways, Anonymous does not have a problem with the Religion of Scientology anymore than local police prosecuting priests have a problem with Catholicism. Call them crazy, but for some reason they get all up in arms about an org that has conspired on multiple occasions to commit crimes and according to former members, institutionalizes child abuse.

    I can see how as a professional skeptic you see any and all religious folk as equally wacky weirdos that live in constant fear of a wizard in the sky, but not everyone is so simple minded.

    Again, COS is different from the people themselves. The aim is to re-unite families and help the suffering. I mean, do you know of any other “Religions” that require followers to sign release forms? If you do, please be kind to inform Anonymous so we can bring those .orgs down as well.

  13. StarGazer Says:

    Scientology is a false religion. There is one God, and that is…well…God. The Creator of the universe and you and me. You are free to disagree at your own peril. We will all know for sure at the instant of our death (yes, you and I will die, count on it). We can intellectually argue all we want and rationalize all we want. Listen to your heart, not your head. You will get the answers you have sought. It is so simple. You will be amazed. I was.

  14. Randy Says:

    All the other religions in the world have at least some Jungian syncretism behind them. Anyone who’s familiar with mythologies at all could see why the “established” religions are considered “real”. There’s a shared common human-heritage link-back that cults like Scientology just don’t have and never could.

  15. IA Says:

    Dr Shermer
    Thank you for your very interesting article. All the points you make are very valid. The CCHR – a Scientology front organisation that has a rabid anti-pyschiatry streak – tries to manipulate public opinion towards its dangerous and unproven activities in any public forum it can. The article below started off as a typical CoS puff piece but the ‘comments by readers’ section quickly showed most sensible people can smell BS from a mile away!!!

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2167008.htm

  16. Clive van der Spuy Says:

    Whatever the ills of scientologists – they are all subject to criticism. Whether they are secretive, manipulative, greedy, aggressive or cult-like. Whether their religion is true or false, or qualifies as religion or not; it can all be vigorously criticised.

    But the press release from “anonymous” is NOT vigorous criticism. It is calculated to intimidate. It is designed to engender hate. It intimates violence. It identifies a minority and then assails them oppressively, unfairly and in my view illegally.

    We ALL deserve protection against this kind of behaviour. Even the worst of us. Even scientologists. We better afford each other (ALL of us) protection against this. If we fail we would have dismantled a fundamental human right. A right much more important than the perceived ills allegedly emanating from an inconsequential minority. A right which demands tolerance and restraint when satisfying our xenophobic passions may be an overwhelming urge.

    I am referring to the right to freely associate with whomsoever you like on whatever terms you choose. The right to live without fear when exercising that choice.

    Dr Shermer I find myself very seldom in disagreement with you. But in this case I do find your approach disappointing. You appear to find reasons that justify criticism of Scientology and equate these with a justification of the outrageous threats by “anonymous”.

    Clive van der Spuy

  17. Frederick Rotgers, PsyD Says:

    It seems to me that we could substitute another name for “Scientology” in Dr. Shermer’s article–”Mormons”. That they profess to believe in the icon of one of the world’s dominant religions seems to have shielded them from criticism on the same grounds as Scientology–being a secret society, etc. (of course, it never hurts to have a major presidential candidate from your religion to promptly defer most criticism!). The Mormons also have a history of slaughtering innocent people in cold blood to protect themselves from perceived takeover (the Mountain Meadows massacre), discrimination, and aggressive proselytizing from other religions. It seems to me that all religions share the same basic problem–a belief in the supernatural (although Scientology clearly has a strong belief in the higher power of the almight dollar), yet we have decided that we will criticize some and not others, ban some, and not others. Is it any wonder the Scientologists cry “foul”!? I’m no fan of theirs, but it seems to me that as societies, we are clearly singling out this religion (and increasingly Islam, but that’s another story) for our negative attention.

  18. Kenn Says:

    Read daily updates on Scientology here:

    http://www.cultnews.net

  19. Frank P. Araujo, Ph.D Says:

    Michael Shermer’s thought-provoking article has raised the hackles of many embracing a pro- and con-position on Scientology. As an anthropologist who also makes his living studying religion and ideology, I note that Shermer’s observation that as a “religion,” Scientology is clearly out of the mainstream and much of the flap raised by the chorus of Anonymous protesters stems from sharing this view. When one seeks to define an ideology within the constraints of a given framework of subscribed beliefs, it becomes, by definition, an instition, because that what institutions are, organized behavior. On the other hand, most of us mainstreamers resent having an entrepreneurial organization with a decidedly capitalistic focus flying under the flag of sacredness, in Durkheim’s sense of the term. Frankly, I see Scientology as an outgrowth of the maintream American love of capitalism, religion and corporate management. In fact, Michael, I found it amazing that more Republicans haven’t joined, as Scientology clearly embraces the principles of profit, capitalism and private ownership that they consider sacred. Where else but in America could an ideology based on a mythology spawned by a rather mediocre writer of science-fiction be so successful? The fact that it has been packaged and exported so successfully to other countries bespeaks its very Yankee capitalist nature.

  20. John Shuey Says:

    Given just how fruit-bat crazy Scientology and Scientologists are, it would not surprise me to learn that the whole “Anonymous” protest was merely an inside scheme hatched by the “victims” to gain sympathy and support. After all, what’s one more bit of fiction for an organization founded on nothing but fiction.

  21. James Randi Says:

    Karen Morrissett has discovered – perhaps via the deep insight with which L. Ron Hubbard provided her – that Michael Shermer hasn’t studied Scientology, and thus should not offer opinions on it. Knowing Shermer, I can assure her that she’s quite wrong; he’s first a scholar, second a commentator. Merely opening at random any of the massive Scientology tomes in our library – some 30+ inches of shelf space – and trying to make sense of any given paragraph, challenges any intellect. I hate to say it, but Scientology makes even Christianity, believable by comparison!

  22. RHM Says:

    Very true, Mr. Randi. Michael Shermer doesn;t simply make assertions. He offers criticism and backs it up with evidence and in-depth analysis. And he’s one of the few doing it today.

  23. Andrew Says:

    “Honk if you hate Scientology” is not the same as “Honk if you hate Jews.” One is a religion; the other is a religion’s adherents. The equivalent would be “Honk if you hate Judaism.” I disavow (perhaps “hate” is too strong a word) Scientology, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism and all forms of belief but science, and I wish they would dry up and blow away, but I harbor no animosity toward the individuals who profess them.

  24. Leo T Says:

    Why read anything about any religion at all?

  25. Chris Bonds Says:

    Michael Shermer argues that it may be justifiable for the group “Anonymous” to publish material advocating the “destruction” of Scientology, on grounds that in the eyes of most people, it isn’t even a religion. He invites comparison with a similar message substituting “Jews” and “Judaism” for “Scientologists” and “Church of Scientology.” As Andrew quite correctly points out, an institution of religion isn’t identical with its adherents. But there is still a question as to whether “Honk if you hate Scientology” is on a par with “Honk if you hate Judaism.” The problem with this particular analogy is that Judaism (the religion) and the Jews (as a historical people and culture) are related in complex ways that aren’t analogous to Scientology and Scientologists. Scientologists (as yet) have no distinct cultural characteristics or historical credibility.

    Shermer is on target in observing that Scientology bilks its members out of large sums of money in exchange for useless information about the “secret” beliefs of its “theology.” This point was nowhere addressed by Jean Rosenfeld in her LA Times rebuttal. She chose to view Shermer’s piece as singling out Scientology for the assumed ridiculousness of its belief system, thus missing his real point.

    However, in addition to that, Rosenfeld gets herself into some murky waters by stating that “religious truth sustains and organizes human societies and gives identity — and thus, sanity — to human beings. . . . Myth will always be with us . . .” She therefore implies that since we can’t argue that the myths of Scientology aren’t any more preposterous than those of the Abrahamic faiths, they are deserving of respect as “symbolic expressions of existential truths.”

    Rosenfeld seems to be arguing that if Scientology helps some people make their way through life by giving meaning to their existence, it is good for those people and should be allowed to continue. But suppose there are ultimately better ways to make your way through life, including being free of the shackles of religious dogma. Rosenfeld doesn’t seem to think that is possible, since “myth will always be with us.” But the mere fact that a phenomenon such as myth and religion can be fascinating social phenomenon is not in itself a justification for its continuation.

  26. Scott M. Moody Says:

    Your statement “campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature” simply does not apply to either Jews in general or Jewish religious organizations. However, this statement most certainly does apply (lots of evidence) to the Scientology Religious (sic) movement! So I feel that your analogy is absurd – perhaps the NRA would have been a better comparison.

  27. D. Perse Says:

    This country is based on the Constitutional rights of freedom of speech and religious freedom. We have no right to threaten the followers of Scientology or any other cult or religion for those reasons. However, the organization is breaking laws and robbing people- that needs to be proven and that is how the organization should be taken apart.

    Anonymous is promoting religious hate and violence, and I don’t agree with that, no matter how wrong and twisted Scientology is. Remember that most of their followers are brainwashed (except the ones making the money).

    And for all of you who say that religion is crap: it is here for a reason. Religion goes far beyond organized religon and it is up to every person to make it their own. Just imagine the suicide rate if everyone followed the cold and clinical religion of science. A person can’t live off of facts.

  28. KR Bearman Says:

    Many, many years ago, when the Golden-Agers were still quite active, RAH hosted a party at one of the many Science Fiction Conventions. Much liquor was consumed according to the late Dean of SF writers.

    Hubbard was overheard telling Heinlein of an idea that had been percolating around in his mind for quite a while.

    “If you want to become quite wealthy and hold influence over many people’, L. Ron said, “Then found yourself a religion.”

    Looks like Hubbard listened to himself. And Heinlein rolled merrily along with him, even to including mention of Scientology, somewhat favorably, in a couple of his novels. (See “Friday”). To the best of my knowledge Heinlein never actually denounced Hubbard for his little megamaniacal plan.

  29. Dennis Says:

    To inhabit the moral high ground all one needs is a belief. In the supercharged atmosphere of a rapidly changing world I personally believe that the existence of so many forms of ‘religion’ effectively negates them all, but still there is a persistent desire to be ‘right’ through superior spirituality . I’m sure that the american indians, as well as the Incas and Aztecs would understand. Maybe the right path to follow is one that says that there is something wrong with all of the religious concepts, but there is also something right about all of them as well. It is our moral duty to find out what this thing is.

    Also, there seems to be a lot of talk about ‘brainwashing’ as it relates to scientology. Dominic Streatfield’s latest book ‘BRAINWASH’ clearly points out that it does not work, but the torture aspects of it create temporary control. And if you read up on hypnosis as well, you will find that the definition of hypnosis is…”all hypnosis is self hypnosis”. If you don’t want to be hypnotized you won’t be. But a lot of people do. Oh, yes. Tell me what to do, and I will do it. It’s so difficult to use my mind.

  30. Been there... Done that.. Says:

    How on earth can you compare Scientology to any actual religion? You obviously do not know the harm it has caused people and is still causing in the name of money. The all mighty dollar is what the religion is about.

    You really need to do some research and question every aspect of Scientology before you use your position to give Scientology any credibility, especially;

    * Scientology’s harassment and litigious policies against its critics. Why? Protection of copyrights? What church has copyrights? It’s because they won’t be able to get people to sign up if the truth was out. Can you imagine the Mormon Church or the Pope ordering private investigators to research your background looking for anything they can use to discredit you? The answer is no, but the Church of Scientology does.

    * Scientology’s attempts to force search engines to omit any websites critical of them. Now they’ve even gone after eBay saying that I, as a person and the rightful owner of an e-meter can’t sell it on eBay. Why? Who are they to tell me I can’t sell something that I bought with my own money?

    * Scientology’s belief that they are the only ones that can help the world ( they want to make the world “clear” – i.e world domination ), thus being intolerant of other religions – something they fight for when it’s their religion being attacked. (cults believe that they are the only ones that know the “truth”). The US against THEM mentality.

    * Scientology’s disconnection policy, which requires members to cut all ties to friends and family considered “antagonistic” towards the religion (a basic practice of all cults). No other religion does this. This alone is enough to cause red flags. It has broken so many families and separated love ones from each other. Why? Because they don’t want to lose anyone, that’s why. Do you really think that a Jewish daughter would be told, by any Christian church, to “disconnect” from her family if she wants to be a good Christian? No. But Scientology does. It forces you to, or guess what, you can never get over the “Bridge of Total Freedom”. They even make you play with clay and put images of your family in front of a clay bridge for you to understand the impact. They are in the way. You need to get them out of your way or you’ll never be able to complete the bridge.

    * Scientology’s affirmation that anything written by L Ron Hubbard is the true and definitive word. It can not be altered or disputed (a single messianic figure, another basic practice of all cults). Is he really that much starter than everyone else in the world? Come on… really? Always question authority! LRH was a paranoid psychopath along the same lines as Howard Hughes. Smart? Definitely… but this man had one goal. Make Money. Make More Money. Have Others Make Money for You.

    * Scientology’s organizational structure ( OSA – Intelligence division, RPF – Justice division ; free labor for the church), ethics policies and security checks. No other religion does this. Imagine a pastor asking you questions about your conversations with friends or family to see if you’ve said or done anything against the Church, then writing them down and keeping it in a file. This is Scientology’s Sec Checks. If you fail, you go to the RPF to get right.

    * Scientology’s auditing, which the Church says is like a confessional but it’s more like talk therapy used by psycs, only the Church keeps track of what you say. They keep everything on file. They keep a file on everyone. They even write up reports ( KR- Knowledge Reports ) on you and put these into the file. Does the Catholic Church keep a file of all your confessions? No. Scientology does. They use this information against you if you ever say anything negative about the Church. And if you ask for your file back, they won’t give it to you.

    * Scientology’s military uniforms and ranks. Naval uniforms to be specific because Hubbard always wanted to be a big Naval officers and he failed. So this was his way to accomplish his dream. Question why military? No other religion does this. Always be aware of any military groups, especially those that want to conquer the world. I’m sorry.. “Help” the world, because they are the only ones that can.

    * Scientology’s attack on psychiatry solely because psychiatry attacked L Ron Hubbard for practicing medicine without a license and having no scientific proof that his form of psychotherapy worked. ( To this day, the only proof they have is Scientologists saying that it does…There’s no science behind Scientology ) Scientology was once said to improve your memory… but, a person declared as “clear” couldn’t even remember the color of Hubbard’s tie. L Ron Hubbard turned Dianetics into Scientology in order to continue to make money and avoid criminal charges. Ask yourself, why psycs? Hmmm.. Do you think that maybe it’s because they are in direct competition for psychotherapy dollars. Yet, Scientology can’t cure any metal illness. Naronon and Criminon are staging platforms for new recuits. If you pass these orgs.. then maybe you’ll be able to handle Scientology, otherwise they don’t want you. Did you know that Hubbard himself requested psychiatric assistance from the V.A.?

    * Scientology’s contribution scheme which requires you to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach the highest level of their “Bridge to Total Freedom”. Making money is the sole functions of each “org” – organization – aka “mission” ( KSW – Keep Scientology Working is their motto). Ask yourself.. why charge if the purpose is help people and clear the world? Wouldn’t the world be clear quicker if was free? Wouldn’t people gladly give ( donate ) money for “saving” them? We’re not talking $300. We’re talking $300,000.00 This “contribution” is mandatory ( see attachment ). It isn’t optional. If you don’t pay it, you can’t be helped, that is unless you join the Church staff. In that case, the Chruch still counts it and charges you for “services” if you ever leave the church. Imagine having to pay to learn about Abraham, Isaac, or Moses if you were Jewish, or about the crucifixion and the resurrection within a Christian church. Jews and Christians don’t charge for their “secrets”. Even other religions like the Mormons will send you a copy of their “Book of Mormon” for free and Jehovah Witnesses will come to your house and talk to you freely about their religion.

    * Scientology’s misleading images of using the crucifix ( a symbol of Christianity ), the words “Mission” and “Minister” to promote their psychotherapy as a religion (Scientologists do not believe in Christ. L Ron Hubbard once said “there was no Christ”. He said that religion was created in 600 BC by people “using a piece of R6” implant. L Ron Hubbard also implied that Christ was a pedophile). Scientology is not tolerant of any other religion. It can’t be because it goes against everything L Ron Hubbard teaches and he isn’t wrong… is he? Ask yourself… why the cross? I know about the 8 dynamics, but why not just 8 lines intersecting each other or an 8 side figure? Why use something that looks like a crucifix? It is maybe to mislead people into thinking that Scientologists are in some way Christians?

    * Scientology’s deceptive marketing strategies used to lure you into the church to take courses intended to help you achieve your “full potential”. These include the “Free Personality Test”, that always points out problems they can help you with but only if you paid them, and through frontline organizations such as WISE, ABLE, The Way to Happiness and Applied Scholastics which introduces potential members (including school age children) to the teachings of L Ron Hubbard and his made up terminology (which requires a Scientology dictionary to understand). Ask yourself… why “courses”, books and videos and lectures that you have to pay for? Why not just teach the religion for free in churches? Why deceive people like this? Why? Because it’s the only way you’ll get their money!! Get them in and then intimidate them not to leave.

    * Scientology’s criminal activities committed on behalf of the Church and directed by Church officials such as Operation Freakout and Operation Snow White in which L Ron Hubbard’s wife was sent to prison. Granted, these were all in the early years of the formation of the Church when LRH was still alive, but it shows you the level of his paranoia. To this day, the Church distrusts the government.

    * Scientology’s conflicting statements about L. Ron Hubbard’s life, in particular false accounts of Hubbard’s education (he flunked out of George Washington University and never attended Princeton), credentials (he was never a Civil Engineer nor a Nuclear Scientist), military career (he was never a WWII Hero. In fact, he was decommissioned twice, once for accidentally ordering his ship to fire upon Mexico – It wasn’t until he created the Sea Org that he gave himself the title of “Commodore” and made everyone wear naval uniforms that he finally achieved his dream of being a great naval officer) and lastly his great expeditions (2 failed attempts one trying to make a movie and the other searching buried gold). He also abandoned his first wife and children while he went on these “adventures”, cheated on his wife, committed bigamy, tried to kidnap his daughter from his second wife and was himself on medication at the time of his death. If the man lied about himself… and is a “great” Science Fiction writer… ask yourself, can you really trust him to tell you the truth? Why did all his explorations and accomplishments stop after founding the Church? Because he didn’t need the money.

    Scientology is based on lies and the ego of one man. It is a global scam. Unfortunately people still get sucked in and trapped into it.

    Question everything the church tells you before you print opinions in favor of it.

    Find your own truth.

  31. Fred Says:

    At first I felt Dr. Shermer’s article was completely wrong-minded in claiming qualitative differences between Scientology and other religions. Certainly, other religions have lots of secrets known only to insiders, have coerced money from the faithful, have tried to surpress unflattering publicity, etc. Scientology does it in a more up-front business manner with explicit prices, lawyers, … This seems a little more honest (but not less offensive) that the more subtle traditional means.

    Clearly Dr Shermer feels that some religions are worse than others, and many of his readers would probably agree. Perhaps it would be most instructive if he just clearly came out and rated them on an “evilness” scale.

    Wouldn’t a harmfulness rating be useful to potential users?

  32. Alex Says:

    Wow, Been there… Done that.., you truly are amazing. You have succeeded in making a post that is longer than the original, criticizing the original, obviously without having read the original post.

    You deserve some sort of special award.

  33. Paul Gallagher Says:

    Heber Jentzsch – President of Scientology claims:
    [QUOTE]After years of discrimination in Australia, the Charity Commission uses Scientology as the benchmark for the definition of religion.[/QUOTE]
    Well, as an Aussie may I point out we do not have any “Charity Commission”. England and Wales do and it is true to say the topic has been explored. Yet, “recent articles” on this move are four to eleven years old.

    From 1997:
    Australia does not have any administrative body such as the Charity Commission for England and Wales that administers charity regulation or other quasi judicial functions. Page 2. [http://preview.tinyurl.com/yulzhw]

    From 2000:
    The initial decision, made by the Commissioner of Pay-Roll Tax in Victoria, was that Scientology was not a religion. This decision was upheld in the Supreme Court of Victoria and on appeal in the Full Court. The judgments against Scientology as a religion relied on the premise that Scientology was a philosophy rather than a religion and that the trappings of religion had only been acquired after its establishment in order to give the organisation the
    semblance of a religion. This assertion was rejected by the High Court. Instead, the High Court supported a broad definition of religion, while cautioning against too broad a meaning.
    Page 176 – [http://www.cdi.gov.au/report/pdf/31_chap20.pdf]

    Yet, the decision outraged Australians. Today no such decision would receive a cursory nod as the overwhelming percentage of Aussies are offended by a.) the claim we’re possessed by alien souls and b.) that unqualified identities dismissed post natal depression, autism, depression, anxiety, obesity, etc, etc as “alien possession” for which astronomical monies can magically fix all.

    The following paragraph plainly states immunity is not sound if the canon “offends the ordinary laws”. May I suggest the claims made by Scientology – and hidden away – are a fine example of “offending” ordinary laws. Attacks upon our ill and vulnerable were not foreseen when this sad mistake was made. Scientology did not reveal it planned to sabotage Psychiatry in an ad-hoc manner. Consider “Rev” Vicki Hanna’s submission – Word doc:[http://www.cdi.gov.au/submissions/183-ChurchofScientologyAsiaPacificRegion.doc]

    Clearly, the good “Reverend” was not totally forthcoming and abuses the status of “a religion” – which then led to abuse of what constitutes “a charity”.

    Four years ago, we still had no “Charity Commission”:
    From 2004 “The International Journal
    of Not-for-Profit Law
    Volume 6, Issue 2, January 2004″:
    The Australian state and federal jurisdictions have adopted and closely followed the English definition of charity, based on the Elizabethan 1601 Preamble. English case authority is consistently used as the basis for Australian law in both federal and state courts. Australian courts and regulators rely on the classification of charitable purposes by Lord Macnaghten in Income Tax Special Purposes Commissioners v Pemsel [1891] All ER Rep 28 (Pemsel’s case) into four heads: the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the advancement of religion, and other purposes beneficial to the community.
    Source: – http://www.icnl.org/knowledge/ijnl/vol6iss2/special_2.htm

    Could the good President please explain these disparities, indicate relief of poverty, advancement of education [not fiction] and “beneficial” contributions to our community. So far we have a horror carnival display . Scientology can surely do better than allude to obscure organisations that don’t exist – or ever have. More so, may we have Scientology’s view on it’s status as a “scam” in Australia.

    In plain English? Today, your organisation is known as fraudulent. So please do not lean on documented errors to justify legitimacy.

    Thank-you,
    Paul Gallagher
    Investigative NBP – non-believing practitioner.

  34. Tom J. Lawson Says:

    D. Perse said: “Just imagine the suicide rate if everyone followed the cold and clinical religion of science. A person can’t live off of facts.”

    Let’s see about that…

    Scientist/Atheist: “If I kick this stool away and hang myself then I had better be sure it’s what I want because otherwise I’m wasting the only existence I’m going to get. Hmmmm. Interesting fact. Maybe a little Seinfeld will cheer me up…

    (Removes noose. Steps down. Turns on TV.)

    Religious Person: “If I kick this stool away and hang myself then God is going to be pretty pissed at me for wasting my mortal existence. Hmmm, oh well, we’ll talk about it, maybe He’ll see my side of things…

    (Kicks stool, breaks neck, wets self, then dies.)

    Ultimately, suicide is chosen because the person believes they will attain: 1) an all-expenses-paid trip to heaven, or 2) knowledge of what happens after death, which is essentially one of the greatest mysteries of life. Being that science is used to discover the other great mysteries of life, leaving death as the final mystery, no science-minded individual should be ready for suicide until the other mysteries are solved. The cold reality of science beats the warm, cozy delusion of religion any old day of the week…

    This FACT saved my life when I was a suicidal teen. Had I been religious, and certain of God’s mercy, I would not be typing this comment today. Thank Me I listened to reason.

  35. Boudin Says:

    Oh come on. How is “honk if you hate Scientology” analogous to “honk if you hate Jews”?? You’re being manipulative: “I hate Judaism” would be more accurate, but even that is assuming that Scientology is analogous to Judaism. But seriously what do they have in common? I strongly dislike all religions (but certainly not their followers, mind you) but Scientology is way more insidious and dangerous. I find it disturbing that you would spend your formidable energy defending nazis and sect gurus.

  36. David Fleming Says:

    If “all religions have origin myths,” what is the point in believing in any of them?

  37. RHM Says:

    Boudin Says: I find it disturbing that you would spend your formidable energy defending nazis and sect gurus.

    Who defended nazis? Are we reading the same blog?

  38. Jake Says:

    I think many people spend far too much time concentrating on Scientology’s rather far-fetched creation myth and wind up missing the more important issues. I agree with several previous posters that the Xenu story, while being completely ridiculous, is no easier or more difficult to believe than the creation stories of most religions.

    The reason I find the Church of Scientology detestable is because of their actions in the here and now. Brainwashing, “Fair Game”, disconnection policy, criminal activities to suppress information about the church. These are the reasons I wholeheartedly support the Anonymous campaign against the church.

    Anyone who has actually listened to the youtube videos and read the information on the movements web site (www.partyvan.info/index.php/Project_Chanology) should know that the current campaign against the church has nothing to do with what they believe. There are free alternatives to Scientology which teach the same doctrine and nobody has an issue with them. However the Church of Scientology has gone far too long under the radar and it’s about time people started to learn what they’re really doing.

    Search Wikipedia for some of these terms:

    Lisa McPherson
    Operation Snow White
    Operation Freakout
    Fair game
    Arnaldo Lerma

    The COS has a well documented history of behavior which would get just about any other organisation outlawed, but in the name of religious freedom we’re all supposed to ignore it? This is not an example of religious persecution, it’s an example of a cult which has gone unchecked for far too long finally being brought to task.

    How many people like Lisa McPherson and Noah Lottick need to die because Scientology prohibits them getting psychiatric care they need? How many times do high-level COS members need to be found guilty of breaking into government offices to steal documents on behalf of the church? How many people like Shawn Lonsdale and Keith Henson have to have their lives ruined for speaking out against the church? How many times do these things need to happen before we stop treating them like just a silly religion and start seeing them for the dangerous organisation that they are?

    Thankfully the Anonymous group have started the public education campaign. I only hope everybody’s paying attention.

  39. Steve Says:

    I don’t know how Scientology could be seen as any less valid than Mormonism, Catholicism or any other ism. It is just newer and easier to sniff out the farce.

    As far as selling secrets, Mormons can’t enter the temple and receive many other rituals without tithing. Not much different here either.

  40. anesthesi Says:

    (Sorry for any English mistakes. It’s not native to me)
    I just wanted to support the opinion you expressed in this post and thank you for ir.
    I’m a Scientologist for almost 10 years by now in the Israeli organization. It has only done good things for me. I did not meet people who were killed, brainwashed, kidnapped, bankrupt, and all the horror stories being told on us, Scientologists.
    As a Jew it also reminds me of stories that were told on Jews (that we use Christian children blood for cooking, and ridiculous stuff like that).
    Yes, in any huge organization with tens of thousands of staff members – sh*t can happen, and Lisa’s case was probably something like that. But it’s definitely not the intention of any Scientologist to harm in any way another person, and statistically speaking – bad stuff can happen anywhere. The difference here is that with Scientology – there are always some “good souls” just waiting for it to happen in order to make a celebration of it.
    Regards.

  41. Jason Says:

    Scientology…aisde from the obvious problem with the name, sounds in every respect just as fictional as every other religion. So lets just say it is equal with all other Major mass delusions. But, if we were to find documented evidence that Abraham (If he existed) was not a prophet, but a second rate story teller – would that shake the credibility of three monotheistic religions that plague us? And if tomorrow I am able to seduce a following to “Know” the real tuth of the world we are in. That human kind was really created by beings of energy far superior to us, but just after the beginning of our race they left – to return one day and grade our progress (and that is why we must grow, and help others to grow in mind, body, and…well mind and body is all you get) If I tell people this is true, I’m crazy. If 100 people say it’s true, we’re a crazy cult. If 10,000,000 say its true, then it’s religion, and you MUST respect what we “know” is true. I may not be religious, but I stand by an ideal far greater then religion. Freedom of mind. I want everyone to think as he/she feels is right (As long as you don’t block someone elses freedom) and thats where religion becomes a blight. It must spread – right or wrong – and all religions seem like competeing infections. None of them will win, and many will suffer, because all of them want to be deemed “truth”. Yet none of them can – because you can fool some of the people all of the time or all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool us all forever…

  42. Outsider Says:

    If I may say…

    That you are equating the /religion/ of Judaism to the /organization/ of the Church of Scientology is bad enough.
    That you are doing it with the sole intent of comparing Anonymous with the Third Reich is morally bankrupt.

    Note that Judaism has no central authority. There are rabbis in synagogues the world over who all teach from the same texts, but who do so with their own interpretations.

    If you don’t understand something in Judaism, you are encouraged to ask questions to enhance your understanding. If you do not understand the texts in the church of scientology, you are told that YOU are the problem, because the writings, the tech, and the system is perfect. You are then forced to pay more money and work hard, thankless hours with only ‘time off’ to study the texts you don’t understand.

    Charity is a Miztvah in Judaism. It is a sign you need more audits in Scientology.

    Scientology may be as valid as any other as a system of faith, but the church of scientology is a horrific organization dedicated to exploitation of its faithful for profit. That is what Anonymous is after.

    You also do not understand Anonymous. It is solely made of criminals or synchophants. It is not being led by a single person.
    Anonymous, as they claim, is legion. It is a mob, with every member able to make their own decision on participation in the anti-Co$ raids.

    This is not a nazi organization. It is not a group of terrorists with a singular desire to destroy. You can see the dissent for yourself, with those who participate exchanging insults with those who don’t think that Anonymous should be doing this. They all are internet-savvy, sharing information, disagreeing, making their own decisions based not on the stereotypes of a single leader, but on their own morals and ethics.

    To try to paint them as neo-nazis betrays great ignorance of the nature of the protests, and the amount of research that Anonymous has done, the amount of internal debate that continues as individuals post comments and links and, yes, some even engage in cybercrime. But to try putting them all into the same category as those who were trying not to stand out in an oppressive, hate-spewing authoritarian environment is both reprehensible and an accusation better leveled at the ‘church’ of Scientology.

    Faith does not need a price tag, nor a legal strategy, nor holy texts that are under constant revision and resold.

    So why does belief come with a pricetag in the co$?

  43. Jerry Walters Says:

    Hold on one minute!
    I realize that proponents of religious superstition and institutionalized ignorance don’t like having their beliefs challenged but, as a skeptic, I can’t let Mr. Jentzsch get away with his comments in e-skeptic. Mr. Jentzsch wrote, “Shermer argues that because Scientology is a new religion, its members are not entitled to the rights afforded other religions, and that different beliefs justify the hate crimes of the cyber-terrorist group Anonymous.” He also wrote, “No matter one’s personal beliefs, hate crimes should never be condoned against any religion” Dr. Shermer in no way stated or implied the he advocated or condoned the actions of Anonymous. He merely stated why people tend to be suspicious of groups that surround themselves in secrecy but will let you in on the secrets if the price is right.

    The first amendment does however apply to everyone. I’ve never agreed with the notion of so-called hate speech and history has shown that there’s a lot more to be lost by curtailing speech than allowing everyone to speak freely. Furthermore, if hatred were a crime then religion would have been criminalized (as it should be) a long time ago. But, ignorance merchants should have the right to try to dupe people into believing that their particular brand of snake oil will heal any wound and those that are allergic to snake oil should have the right to complain that it’s a rip off. Perhaps, Mr. Jentzsch, if you new more about actual science and less about silly superstition you wouldn’t be so easily frightened.

    Jerry Walters, Morristown

  44. Open Season for New Cons « Semi-Sane Rantings About Society Today Says:

    [...] 9, 2008, 8:52 am Filed under: Uncategorized Michael Shermer does a great op-ed piece for the LA Times. A good critical examination of Scientology and the “Anonymous” movement that has [...]

  45. Casey Says:

    From my understanding, Scientology is a totalitarian organization. I’ve read many webpages that document the experiences of previous Scientology members. (Tory Christman is a good one.) Most of them, who are not afraid to come forward, say it is akin to the Nazi party of Germany. So shouldn’t the paragraph read, “Honk if you hate Nazis.” I think there would be a lot of honking going on–and rightly so!

  46. Kahalachan Says:

    I really wish people would read the entire article before assuming Michael Shermer is touting off any pro-Scientology propoganda.

    I agree with this article and the anonymous vs. Scientology trend caught my attention off youtube.

    Anyways, I think it’s interesting that we are almost looking into the past when we see Scientology. We are seeing the effects and public outcry of when the Catholic church sold indulgences mirrored with Scientology’s use of religion to gain a profit.

    The unethical use of indulgences contributed to the Council of Trent and reform of the Catholic church. I almost wonder if we will see history repeat itself and the public outcry of Anonymous would lead to a reformation of Scientology.

    One can only hope……

  47. Whodi Says:

    I don’t think any of you understand Anonymous at all.

    Anonymous, by definition, is a leaderless organization. There is no spokesman for Anonymous. There is no agreement on any subject by all members by Anonymous. By definition, Anonymous is anyone who posts anonymously on a series of image boards like 4chan. There is no membership application. Any actions by Anonymous emerge through a general consensus.

    Hopefully you now understand that the “threat” cited by Dr. Shermer was the work of one person speaking for himself. ANONYMOUS DOES NOT HAVE A SPOKESMAN! It can’t, by definition. The “we have decided your organization should be destroyed” video was the work of one individual. Any yokel could post a video anonymously and say they speak for Anonymous, but it will always be patently untrue.

  48. jb Says:

    This article was written very clearly.
    For those that disagree, calm down and read it again.

    Anyone that bases their beliefs on a book of
    opinions/fairy-tales, such as the bible(or any other religious text), has no business commenting on a article that was written from a logical standpoint. It is pointless for a person who’s beliefs are so influenced by emotion, to engage in a debate of logic.

  49. Michael Says:

    I have never had direct contact with COS. My first reaction after recently studying COS by reading through a few of its books and also some debate that I found on the net, is that it seems to have a pattern of being pretty strict, controlling, codified, eccentric, cultish, and relatively expensive. There is a sense of science fiction to its vocabularies and taxonomies.

    It seems to have fantasy-like premises and practices, irrational magic-like rituals, guidance of people to believe that there are beings not located in bodies and then also guided to have conversations and relationships with those beings, and a designed future reward motivation for obediently following protocols.

    I also have found these to be common characteristics of most other religions.

    Why would these aspects be considered illegitimate elements for COS but legitimate elements for other religions?

    Some things that I do not hear in the dialogue …

    A comparison of factual current operating revenues for the more popular IRS-recognized churches (I use Catholic here just as one possible example) so that we may have a backdrop of facts for cash flow and bypassed taxes for the different religions. The thread includes very energetic money judgments in the absence of the money facts in a comparative sense.

    Over the years the Catholic Church has openly taken property and life from many people which did not share their point-of-view. This destructive activity was planned, organized, and conducted by it’s leaders and followers with a tendency toward secrecy and cover-up. Senior Catholic leaders live wealthy lives in safe warm homes (some are very large and opulent), eat gourmet food, wear fine clothing, and command blindly obedient servants. A significant percentage of Catholic followers live in poverty. Why exempt the Catholic Church from taxes when they obviously own and enjoy a large treasury of funds and assets?

    When questioned about factual basis for their beliefs and teachings and rules, Catholics offer self-referential arguments, myths, and legends, many of which include magic and fantasy as support. How is any of this significantly different in an operational sense than COS?

    It seems that this money domain is a core concern for people What is the total value of the real estate owned by the Catholic Church in our communities? How much untaxed property appreciation have they enjoyed? What is the total of directly owned and indirectly owned assets of that religion, and what capital gains have they enjoyed tax-free? Is this information private and secret? Are non-Catholics required to help pay for the Catholic Church to operate? (revenue tax balancing, property tax balancing)

    Has the catholic playbook ever been proven to be an unembellished account of actual activity? Do we know who wrote it and why? Any facts and data available that answer these questions?

    Without considering some of these questions the conversation for vilifying COS seems to take on the spirit of a lynch mob with tunnel vision.

    There are tax-exempt foundations in our society that enjoy tax-free operation – they go by the names of Ford, Carnegie, Kellogg, Rockefeller, etc. They in fact operate much like money-laundering operations for a few very wealthy people, with a small veneer of goodwill activity on the surface so as to appear benevolent. Why single out the COS and not point an inquiring eye at these other organizations with misleading superficial purposes which are in fact operating primarily to evade taxes and launder wealth for powerful owners? Many of these foundation owners are open about their extremist perspectives and purposes which are not very comforting and not very nice. I am much less worried about potential negative purposes and influences of the COS than I am about these foundations.

  50. Craig Duckett Says:

    It never fails to amaze me that folks will passionately embrace and righteously defend a worldview–or ‘other’-worldview, depending on the case–not based on any experience or empiric common sense, but solely on words in a book! I’ve found that the simplest test to determine whether something is real or not (i.e., part of the ‘real’ world)is to see if it can be experienced or analyzed without having to rely on words. If it can, then it is real. If it can not, then it is not real but something else entirely: a mental construction, a linguistic contrivance, a rhetorical abstraction, a figment, a fiction. If all the words in the world were to disappear tomorrow, what would remain? Simply, reality. All the rest of it–culture included–is one long and ongoing reification error.

  51. Gary Says:

    There is an important difference between Jews and Scientologists: Jews are an ethnic group. Most would agree that secular Jews are still Jews.

    Although the IRS may call Scientology a religion, most would consider it a philosophy (if not a delusion). And many would consider it a scam, especially for its leaders

  52. Anthropol Says:

    The fact is whether or not Scientology is a religion or a cult can not be debated because anthropologically it is not a religion. Mr. Shermer has made the comment about belief being that in believing something is true means you can possibly still be wrong. Knowing something is totally different. Scientically, Scientology does not conform to the set of standards which defines religion but instead is consistant with cults. Why is the cult permitted to continue? Money. They publish their books, they advertise, they use pretty famous people to smile and wave and make it sound like a happy religion with all the answers.
    Oxford Dictionary defines religion as:
    1 the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods.

    2 a particular system of faith and worship.

    3 a pursuit or interest followed with devotion

    That same Dicitionary defines “cult” as:
    1 a system of religious worship directed towards a particular figure or object.

    2 a small religious group regarded as strange or as imposing excessive control over members.

    3 something popular or fashionable among a particular section of society.

    I am disappointed in Mr. Shermer (in that I am such a fan of his works on critical thinking). I have read his small essay and comparing Anonymous to Nazis is harsh. Placing Scientology in the same page as Judaism is disrespectful to Jews. The Hebrew culture has exited in one form or another for over three thousand years and has contributed to the creation of modern society and forming global history. Scientology is akin to Stephen King creating a religion based on the ideologies held in his Dark Tower series. It has existed for a few decades.
    As long as Anonymous continues to protest legally they are merely protesting what most of Europe already agrees…Scientology has no worship, no cultural value, and should not be treated as a legitimate religion. Germany declared Scientology an illegal cult.
    Mr. Shermer, as a fellow scientist I wont get on the bit about psychiatry. As one fellow blogger wrote it is still young and imperfect but it is a scientific field which at its best is meant to be used with the Scientific Method.
    As a champion of critical thinking, history, and science, it is not okay to be merely skeptical but instead to take a stand against a small group of powerful elite who are in the habit of spreading ignorance, hate, and fear. They are corrupt and you could help bring that awarness to the table. You could help prevent families from loosing their loved ones or lives being financially ruined. They use scare tactics, they threaten, they have been responsible for the largest infiltration of the US Government by illegally worming their way into the IRS posing as IRS agents. They have even been suspects to murder. Anon is not out to bring down anyones faith, they are out to bring public attention to corruption and allow the culture at large to make up its mind concerning scientology with the best available information.
    Again…Anthropologically…scientifically, Scientology is not in any form a religion. At best it makes its self resemble a “mystery” religion such as Mithraism but what it really is nothing more than corrupt business that looks more like celebrity froted maffia.

  53. George Says:

    If you do not like COS don’t join it. Leave it alone and it will go away. As long as they do not break the laws of the US, I don’t care what they do. I feel there should not be any tax exempt organizations. If you earn income you should pay taxes. As for charities, the difference between the actual money collected and actual money given away should be taxed. Even, churchs use public water, sewer, fire, police, roads, etc, etc,and etc. If COS meets the requirements for tax-exemption, so be it. Don’t like it, change the rules. Remember this is a representitive republic, if enough people become COS members to elect enough representitives to change the goverment to one nation under COS, so be it. I will be on the last plane to Canada. If they take over illegally and force me to join their church, I will throw the first fire bomb.

    Remeber: You get the government you deserve.

  54. jan voght Says:

    the broad experience with “differences” in my early childhood have served to shape a healthy dose of skepticism as well as an open, adaptable, acceptance and tolerance which have enriched my life and provided a varied backdrop full with many reasons not to be bored. from all the information you have provided and all the media and coverage of this issue with scientology, i have chosen to take the evidence of providing full lives, sober and prosperous as well as improvement techniques as indication that in the 52 years that this secretive and even shady like group, has not hurt anyone…they have no reports of robbing anyone of their fortunes and except for the fact that most complaints seem to stem from their tax exempt status they are not so scary. just not transparent. i choose to involve myself in relationships based on trust and minimal secrets, but i don
    ‘t mind if others feel differently! thanks for your continued curiosity and brilliant information..i find it very facinating.

  55. Anonymous Says:

    Please visit enturbulation dot org for scientology primary sources and organized picket news.

  56. RW Spryszak Says:

    I hope I am not too late to the party and that Dr. Shermer does, indeed, read his comments though late. I would like to agree with Kahalachan and jb (above) that the many people pouncing on the article assuming it is pro-Scientology should really read it one more time.

    However, there being no clinical documentation besides a failed UCLA test in 1950 as to the efficacy of Hubbard’s claims (as well as no peer review nor published documentation of the process to show the logic of making the claims), Anonymous seems, to me, to be more like an active group of Skeptics more than haters of a religion.

    And relative to the notion that until Scientology does anything illegal they should be left alone, while a good and correct policy, I think the jury is out on that score. How Scientology has garnered the protection of government agencies is a matter much in need of further investigation.

  57. Anonymous Says:

    RW Spryszak,

    There have been judicial inquiries into the efficacy of Dianetics and the Practices of Scientology as far back as the 1960s. Here are just a few examples.

    A federal court ruled in 1971 that Hubbard’s medical claims were bogus and that E-meter auditing could no longer be called a scientific treatment.

    - Time Magazine, May 6, 1991 [source:http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,972865,00.html

    The ruling, by Judge Gesell:

    The device should bear a prominent, clearly visible notice warning that any person using it for auditing or counseling of any kind is forbidden by law to represent that there is any medical or scientific basis for believing or asserting that the device is useful in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease. It should be noted in the warning that the device has been condemned by a United States District Court for misrepresentation and misbranding under the Food and Drug laws, that use is permitted only as part of religious activity, and that the E-meter is not medically or scientifically capable of improving the health or bodily functions of anyone.

    -United States (FDA) v. An Article or Device “Hubbard Electrometer.” (Scientology) et al., 333 F. Supp. 357 (D.D.C. 1971)

    Vist Enturbulation.org for more verifiable information on the CoS and picket news. visit wikileaks.org for primary CoS documents.

  58. RW Spryszak Says:

    Thank you for those!

    For me, more proof that Anonymous are (is??), as I say, active skeptics and NOT haters of religion.

    So though I would still say that the gist of Dr. Shermer’s article is by no means pro-Scientology, I would have to say that the opening of this article putting Anonymous in the light it does, is clearly wide off the mark.

    Dr. Shermer… perhaps you were too skeptical of your skepticism?

  59. Glenn Davey Says:

    I get the feeling a few less-perceptive people were mis-led by Shermer’s careful effort not to pass judgement on his subject matter. The comparison drawn at the beginning was a thought-provoking device to illustrate how Scientology is regarded very differently by our community than other more mainstream faith systems. He’s right, you would not – nor should you – see people protesting against Judaism the way they are against the CoS. He then goes on to elaborate on why Scientology is so different and in fact isn’t really a religion as much as it is a business – and an unethical one at that.

    Those who feel strongly against Scientology may have been expected a harsh editorial, when what they got was a skeptic’s objective observations. The only criticism I could make is that the essay lacked any main hard-hitting points. He gives us some information, and then backs away.

    Therefore, there have been some – as seen in the comments – with a ‘whose side are you on?’ attidude. Almost as if to say: ‘You can’t just state the obvious, you’re either for us or for Scientology – which is it, buddy?’

  60. Anonymous Says:

    ^ I agree with this message ^

    Michael Shermer is one of the greatest advocates of reason and skeptical inquiry, one would hope that he would not waste his reputation on this subject by going halfway.

  61. Michael Says:

    For those of you that are interested, the core “science” underneath the COS process and use of E-meter is outlined in a book. “Physiological Psychology”, written by William Burridge (1933). I have read the book twice and find it interesting.

  62. Jaime Perez Says:

    RE: $cientology and mental illness.
    Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Those who don’t believe that mental illness exists are NOT all $cientologists. The pharmaceutical industry started a disinformation campaign to make all their critics look like $cientology nuts. There’s a youtube video where an industry insider explains that she was instructed to associate all critics of psychiatry with $cientology. Dr. Thomas Szazz is famous for criticizing the myth of mental illness and has written some very important works on the subject. He has no association with $cientolgy. Shills in the pharmaceutical industry spend hours online trying to associate all critics of psychiatry with $cientology.

    RE: Anonymous
    I have spoken with several of the young people who are doing the Anonymous protests at the University where I work, and I support what they are doing. They want to make people aware of a dangerous, irrational cult and feel that they need to be anonymous becuase of the tacitcs (well documented) of this cult. I can’t fault them for that. They are entirely within their first amendment rights in doing this. There is no reason for your alarmism here.
    If you do a little reading, you will find that this country was founded on the right to anonymous speech. I suggest you look into why anonymous speech was edssential in the founding of this country.

    You have constructed a specious analogy. It’s just too easy to associate everything you dislike or don’t understand with the Nazis. I usually respect your thoughts, Dr. Shermer, but you skrewed up big time on this one. More research on the subject before forming an emotionally driven opinion would have been advisable.

  63. Selfloving Says:

    Wow, here is another prophet Michael – and is out here to sell something that he branded as Dr. Schemer’s sceptic truth.

    Dr Schemer’s statements like “Humans are by nature tribal and xenophobic”
    “When creationists or Buddhists speak of God or karma, they mean it as the actual cause and end of their searching.”
    “I propose that we lift the ban on all research into cloning–including humans–and see what happens. My hypothesis is that nothing evil will befall society.” reveal that he’s been truly God inspired.

    This guy knows it all !!! He is anthropologist, psychologist, scientist, linguist, economist
    you name it – maybe a reincarnated Ron Hubbard.

    Michael, had you ever truly inquired into anything, you would have more humbleness than what you present in your close-ended arguments.
    Inquiry is about inspiring and stimulating thought process and not about instilling prejudices. You are toying with shells, truisms, recycling the thoughts of others.

    but then again, when would you have time to be attentive to what little people post in your comment box – the world is awaiting you….

    “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge in the field of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.”

    —Albert Einstein

  64. patty Says:

    Scientology is a hot debate these days as it should be! It is a dis-ease to society, another cult that hides behind the guise of being a religion.

    Michael your article is logical, though it only skims the surface. Being a skeptic, a man of science you wrote an article that appears to be not researched with depth. Your underlying premise of what “you” see anonymous doing based on what you believe and think anonymous is may seem logically correct, though underneath it is not.

    Please take time to read and research. Check out http://www.xenu.net, exscientologykids.com and the hundreds of critical websites. You will find a depth of information and you might realize the destructiveness of Scientology and what Anonoymous is really up to … helping to bring awareness of the destructive aspects of Scientology.

    There is much more than meets the eye to both Scientology & Anonymous Michael Schermer. I hope you research both sides of the situation before you comment further.

  65. Jesper Says:

    “Jew” is an ethnic group. “Scientologist” is a chosen religion. The comparison is apples and oranges. I have trouble understanding how you can make this comparison with a straight face.

  66. Brian Says:

    Mr Shermer…..

    Your article was interesting….particularly the comparison of “Honk if you hate Jews.”

    Much of what you said concerning Anonymous as a hate group I agree with….although you missed the boat on what Scientologists actually believe.

    Also….Scientologists offer lots of free services…..

    Yale, Havard and Columbia charge much more for their Academic services by the way…..and no one is calling for their destruction.

    Scientology is a religion in the fullest sense of the word.

    The fact that Scientology’s enemies do not believe or understand this will in fact be their downfall…..in that they have “mis-estimated” who and what we are and therefore in essence aren’t really fighting “us” at all…..rather….they are fighting “their idea” of who “they think” we are.

    A major tactical error on their part.
    (fortunate for The Church of Scientology)

    However the comparison to the propaganda operation used against the Jews is a very astute observation.

    Its a subject called Semantics……or more specifically “General Semantics” (the Science of how words affect the mind)…..and is a Psychological Tactic used by Psycho-politicians through the mass media to “prepare” a population for brutal treatment and denial of basic human and Constitutional Rights to a minority group through dehumanization.

    Key words are used repeatedly in the media in order to “dehumanize” individuals or minority groups so that the denial of basic human and constitutional rights and abandonment of the Law seems justified to the majority.

    This is a technique employed through the media….it works.

    It works repeatedly.

    It has been used successfully against Jews, Muslims, Mormons and Scientologists….as well against various Politcal groups across the spectrum.

    By using “key words” which “dehumanize” an individual or the members of a minorty religion in the eyes of the populace….such as “cult,” “sect,” “mind controlled,” “brainwashed,” “compound,” “radical,” “extremist”…. etc

    These words give the recipient the “feeling” that the people to be denied their Rights as Citizens or brutalized are not “fully human” and therefore can be acted upon more forcefully and without due process.

    It in itself is a “Psychological Operation” used populations via the mass media as a form of Mind Control…..and it works.

    Basic Human and Constitutional Rights can be suspended…..but only after the population is convinced via the media channels that their target is not “fully human.”

  67. Yahzi Says:

    I think Shermer’s point that the public accepts a different treatment of $cientology than it would of any other religion is valid. However, I think the goal is to get the public to realize that $cientology really is a valid religion: the amount of harm and stupidity it generates is nothing compared to the Crusades, the ban on birth-control, or the hatred of gays/jews/catholics/protestants/muslims/hindus/etc/etc/etc that all established religions have spent generations spewing forth.

  68. Christoffel Says:

    Getting back to the Anonymous campaign: I’m wondering whether the tame reaction to their KKK type of protest, so well organised wordlwide, is not perhaps due to a sneaking suspicion (which I certainly have) that this is a clever ploy by $cientology itself to elicit sympathy from the gullible, later to be used as evidence of their “persecution” by other religions/interest groups. Otherwise why the total anonymity, masks and total absence of any lead to the people/organisation behind it? It’s just the kind of thing CO$ would dream up…

  69. Senstock Says:

    ok, lets be real about religion. It’s all just a load of $hit anyway right? Scientology is just a new age version of any mainstream religion. All the good ideas were taken two thousand years ago and further, only in Scientology, the bull$shit is just very easily detectable. If you can take the bible totally serious then face it, you can take anything you’ve ever heard seriously.

  70. anon Says:

    church – cult, cult – church… what’s the difference?
    scientology reads like bad science fiction because it is. hubbard was a bad science fiction writer that turned his crap into a religion because he was prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license with his “e-meter” garbage. it started off like any snake oil salesman and evolved into a cult.
    i support the protest, but i protest any kind of religious indoctrination. and the fact that i could be labeled a bigot for criticizing jewish mythology is very telling, especially considering the bigotry in orthodox jeudaism.

    oh and thanx to penn and teller’s bullshit, for introducing me to micheal shermer and james randi.

  71. anon Says:

    Christoffel,

    Anonymous is not an army for hire.

  72. asdfasdfadsfas Says:

    yes, anonymous is a hate group. only hate groups make videos like this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncob8pgKB2c

  73. Al Says:

    No religion, or cult, as the case may be, would ever reconsider its beliefs because a bunch of kids hold up signs that say they should. Once a person has formed and structured a belief system, they rarely change it (or even entertain the idea of changing it) based on the belief system another person has formed for themselves. It really is unfortunate that most of us feel the need to believe rather than think or know. All we can do is ponder the absurdity of it all, and hope that someday more people will think crically rather than believe unquestioningly.

  74. Richard Hertz Says:

    The Germans got it right with Scientology. They know the smell of totalitarian fascism when they get it on their shoe.

    And I’ve “been there and done that,” so this is not an idle conclusion.

  75. Bueller Says:

    This is one example of why I dislike Shermer:

    ‘…waved posters that read, among other things, “Honk if you hate Scientology.”

    Again, imagine if that sign read “Honk if you hate Jews.” How innocuous would such a protest be in that case?’

    Well there Doc, you’re comparing apples with oranges.

    -”Jews” are a religious and ethnic group of people. “Hating Jews” requires stereotyping a whole group based on a single character attribute.
    -”Scientology” is a *belief system*. One can understand it and hate it without any stereotyping, and indeed without hating those who buy into it.

    If you were attempting to be academically honest, you would have drawn the comparison with “Honk if you hate Judaism.” But I guess that doesn’t reek enough of antisemitism for you to make your point, so you fiddled with it a bit, yeah?

    “Honk if you hate Jews” and “Honk if you hate Scientologists” are offensive.
    “Honk if you hate Judaism” and “Honk if you hate Scientology” are not.

  76. Galen Says:

    Scientology and Judaism are two different systems of belief which I do not believe can be compared as the above article has done. While both belief systems are equally ridiculous, The Church of Scientology has mislead people about their criminal background.

    The Church itself has been guilty of the largest infiltration into the United States government during the Church-approved ‘Operation Snow White’ in the 1970′s. Additionally, the Church has many other questionable policies which, unlike Judaism, openly admits to supporting including ‘Operation Freakout’ and its ‘Fair Game’ policy for the Church’s critics. Both Lisa McPherson and Elli Perkins died due to official decisions made by the Church of Scientology and have suffered federal convictions for them. The Church constantly and consistantly defies approved medical practice guidelines and insists on treating members of their church their own way, resulting in death as the two above eamples show.

    In addition to all of this the Church of Scientology is a business which Dr. Shermer states in his article. However, Anonymous initially started their campaign not against Scientology (the belief) but against the Church of Scientology (the company) for their internet censorship of the embarassing Tom Cruise video. While Judaism has their fair share of crimes on their hands from many, many years ago, it is clear that the Church of Scientology not only has much more recent crimes which they still must own up to, but also support the same policies today which resulted in their crimes of the past.

    http://www.xenu.net
    http://www.whyaretheydead.net
    http://theunfunnytruth.ytmnd.com/

  77. FatherJ Says:

    I’m pretty sure there’s no law anywhere that protects people from being offended. In fact, laws protect the protesters just as much as the “religion”.

    People have violent protests of abortion clinics and that gets pushed under the rug. I personally would rather see the “Honk if you hate X” sign than having to pass the holier than thou with 10′ posters of baby corpses on my way to work every day.

    People protest the “Creation Museum” which is a complete farce – the museum I mean. Nobody seems to have a problem with them protesting an absurd display of religion.

    So what I’m wondering is, what’s the point of this blog? Are you trying to call attention to some protesters? What makes these people any different from any other protesters?

    As far as Scientology goes, the simple fact that it was “discovered” by a science FICTION novelist should tell you something. And as with all religions that have only been around for a few hundred years, they really don’t have any backing for explaining the origins of life. I mean, how would you know if you weren’t there and have no evidence to support your claim?

  78. Hot Fossils and Rebel Matters 146 - Hacktivists at Pride « NinjaRadio Says:

    [...] Ninja didn’t exactly expect to run into members of Anonymous during Pride but since she did and had her interest piqued by their handsome Guy Fawkes masks, she decided to talk to a few of them.   But before she shares the interviews, she provides a bit of background first.  She really intended to have Special K in the studio, but once again got carried away in the moment and excitement of her own particular agenda. Links: You Found the Card  Xenu  Ex-Kids  Truth About  Ex-SeaOrg  Enturbulation  Hacktivism  Lost Socks Insanity Skeptic Magazine Essay on Anonymous [...]

  79. God is for Suckers! » Blog Archive » What Price, Vendetta? Says:

    [...] I disagree with Michael Shermer’s take on this particular ballyhoo. These people are dangerous – more so than most of the other [...]

  80. Michelle Says:

    You got me, at the beginning of your article I actually was afraid you might be a scientologist. They are always comparing anyone who speaks out about them to Nazi’s.

    I actually find the way they act toward psychiatry a lot more disturbing than you seem to however. Their aim is “the global obliteration of psychiatry” (google for vid from the horses mouth) and it you’ll recall in the leaked Cruise video when he was ranting about psychiatry, he said he was fed up and it was time to “go to guns.” (This was a “church” video remember? And he doesn’t know why people are terrified/freaked out by him and his “church?” Puhlease.)

    Of course it is a business, anyone with critical thinking skills can clearly see that. What I don’t understand is how the IRS let them become classified as a religion in the first place.

    I’ve read the stories in the Times and other places about the tons of lawsuits filed by scientologists and all the documents scientologies private investigators supposedly had on people in charge that made them decide to grant them their tax-free status.(That is also how they shut down the original Cult Awareness Network that they now own and control, so I’m inclined to believe it.) But surely there should have been someone there that could have stopped this from happening? Where are the checks and balances in our government? I think there should be an investigation into this as it seems like blackmail of the federal government. OUR government.

    Do you have any ideas about what it would take to get a reversal of that decision? There has to be a way of fixing this. With all of the information we have from people who have spoken out about the abuses of the “church”, it seems like the “church” uses mind control tactics on their clients/members, and I can’t believe our government will let that stand. Do you think there is hope for their tax-exempt status to be revoked?

    I would really like to hear an opinion on this. Now that this group Anonymous has gotten people all over the world discussing what is wrong with this fake religion, I am curious to hear any opinions on what can be done about it. I think the strategy the protestors to shed light on the facts is all well and good, but people with power are ultimately going to be the ones who have to make some hard decisions.

    Also, I’ve read that they are moving into India and other unsuspecting places under their “volunteer ministers” program to keep spreading scientology. There has to be a time when someone (besides Anonymous) says “enough, no more victims for this greedy cult.” But who and when??

  81. anon Says:

    Please, you think no other religion has secrets that only the initiated believers hear, or that no other religion charges money for healing, books, or other materials they suggest to you, or has any internal secrecy? Actually most religions have several levels of doctrine, the first level is what they use for the unsophisticated masses and a higher level for initiates… for example the catholic church has something closer to platonist idealism as their true doctrine but for their mass consumption they concentrate on traditional stories. Another example is the mormon church has a really wacky story for full initiates about everyone being able to create their own planets in heaven or something like that. As for secrecy, the catholic church does not reveal its finances, because it is based on exploitation and a fair amount of blood money during the centuries of its existence, including forced payments for forgiveness, the creation of a fascist party in spain modeled after the nazis (CENTO) which helped in a civil war that forced the country to stay religious for decades. many religions in the united states recommend to parents to send their kids to private schools, where they will pay relatively high amounts in order to limit their childrens education to receive propaganda instead of science.

    i’m not a fan of any religion, but it disgusts me to see religious persecution of any kind, especially the hypocritical kind that singles out scientology while apologizing for the mainstream churches. scientologists should be protected by the same rights that any other religious believer or organization has. I believe Michael made a good point with the beginning of this article, but then inappropriately ended the article on a note that apologized for the bigots.

    this is the real solution to reduce religious belief and prevalence of cults:
    1. that all religions should be treated as businesses. (including the catholic church which is given preferential treatment as a “sovereign country”) Treat them as recreational groups that are renting buildings, owning property, and charging money for services.
    2. that everyone receive an education that would enable them to see what is wrong with the logic behind religions. such an education would need to include giving students access to logical arguments, the scientific explanation of the world including about evolution, scientific arguments against religion, information about the history of religion, and lastly information about human psychology. Knowledge of evolution removes one pillar of religious belief, the need for an origin explanation. The other pillar of religious belief that remains even among many who understand evolution is “personal religious experience”, often related to some intense psychological sensations they experienced while singing in a group, praying, meditating, or doing some other activity known to have neurological effect. The best way to combat that is by giving information to all children about altered states of consciousness, how we have better physical explanations for how the brain works now, so that the most likely explanation for anyone’s personal religious experience is a neurological phenomenon rather than external spiritual phenomenon.
    3. Private schools must be banned so that no more money is diverted from creating a real quality public education system. Children are victims in two ways from private schools, both by being sent to one with inferior religious education, and by going to a public school which receives less funding because of parental donations and even government money being diverted to private schools.
    4. religions thrive on poverty. poverty must be eradicated with programs of full employment, training, and busing integration for students from poor and minority areas. the US has the highest poverty rate and the highest rate of religion in the industrialized world. such an arrangement is bad for the future.

  82. JoeBlow Says:

    @stargazer
    I disagree. You claim the one true God is God, I claim it is The Spagetti Monster. See that, I can argue like you do. Saying “It’s true, I know it” isn’t exactly a proof.

  83. Anonymous Says:

    Hello, Michael Shermer. We are anonymous. Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of valuable information; suppression of psuedo-science; your objective nature, all of these things have caught our eye… Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be promoted. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind — for the good of science — we shall support you … and systematically dismantle bad science in its present form…

  84. John in San Diego Says:

    WHY DID HE USE THE TERM “CHURCH” OF $CIENTOLOGY INSTEAD OF “CULT” OF $CIENTOLOGY? INTERESTING.

  85. Aetheist Says:

    I think if you step back and look, all of the worlds religions deserve the same cult status as $cientology. They are all archaic in there belief systems. If we abolished all religion the world would be a much better place.

  86. Clive Says:

    Wow, How many of you know what an Engram is? What is the Dynamic principle of existence? What is a the difference between a Thetan and Static? What is the 8th Dynamic? What is a body?

    Wow – such a mishmash being quoted as “scientology” – and none seem to talk about or know what Scientology is – ROTHLMAO! Any scientologist would laugh at you if told him he was the member of a secret cult !!! Or even that he followed a “Belief System”. LOL for Christ’s Sake !! Next you will talking about Rituals and Sacrificial Eating of Babies.

    One the one hand people are offended at so called “secret scriptures” and at the same time offended when scientologist try to tell people about scientology!!

    That is the “Mystery” !! – Those guys who are just trying to suppress a philosophy that other find works for them.

    Try this – for free, if you dare :))
    May you never be the same again!

    Sit on a chair in a quiet room. Close your eyes. Find and put your attention on the corners of the room behind you. Hold on to them. Continue to do this. Do this for at least 15 mins, or better, an hour. Do this each day for a week.

    Good Luck! Clive

    :0))

  87. Chuck Says:

    I’ve had 6 telephone calls over the past week from the Church of S.. 4 of them last night. All of them questioning me about whether I’m recieving mail. First of all no stranger has the “right” to ask that, but last night the Church of S. was demanding this personal info in a belligerent manner. I took one course over 20 years ago and wasn’t impressed, couldn’t stand the literature or the strict authoritian structure. Not something I wanted in the bargain. I’m a student of religions and taking this course was self-directed study of a relatively new religious phenomenea. Out of the blue, 20 years later, they’re demanding personal information from me. Weird isn’t it? My take from all this, S. is in financial ruins, these are difficult economic times and the Church is loaded with real estate holdings which are fully depreciated, no tax advantage there, and are losing value precipitously in this stagnant market. They’re examining there ancient records and contacting everyone they can to create new revenue streams from sold courses, and that’s not working for them. Hence the calls to me, but never the less belligerant questioning doesn’t advance them in achieving the new membership. That’s terrible Public Relations policy in itself, another bad problem for the Church and a consistant one. So they’re failing as an entity. Which has lessons for other religions. I suspect S. will be a footnote, if that, to history. Certainly much more historical events are unfolding than the meltdown of S.. Oh well, Karma, or just you can’t piss everyone off and expect a good outcome.

  88. Chuck Says:

    There are rituals in S. Like an unused room maintained daily with coffee and cigarettes, nicely appointed furniture and uncluttered, in which the long dead Ron L. will arrive and do what exactly is anyone’s guess. That’s a ritual, or fetish in anthropological nomenclature, interesting but not especially productive. I couldn’t accept that as a reality and was told to vacuum the floors of the Westlake ORG. I wouldn’t comply, too tired on that day actually. Nope, authoritarian structure is not my thing.

  89. Chuck Says:

    Then, when I tried to get the mailings stopped, my mailbox was stuffed with S. phamphlets, I went down to the big blue building on Sunset and 3 thugs tried to physically remove me to a back room for God know’s what. I was an active boxer at the time and literally fought my way out of that building. So, you can see why I’m weirded out by these people contacting me 20 years later and getting belligerant about mail and wanting to know the answers to questions about my mailing address. It’s an odd bunch that is so determined to acquire private information out of a free citizen. But they don’t scare me, a ship of fools will not survive.

  90. mikekoz68 Says:

    Stargazer- “there is one god…creator of the universe,you and me.”

    Well finally! The mystery is over, Stargazer has the answers. Ok which god is it and show us your proof.

  91. 37047734 Says:

    If Cruise and Kirsty Alley and Beck secretly want to kill or enslave everyone why are you freaking out? I mean how about a little honesty from the scientology and mormon critics, isn’t your hate or fear a tad overdone?

    You must be super mega bonkers then, over the madoff ponzi scheme and lowering interest rates and the systematic raping of this country by special interests. If scientology makes you do backflips standing still you must be that much more livid at the REAL problems in the world. I don’t see the levels of their corruption relative to any other organization or religion justifying the crazy reaction recently, namely, I sense an agenda, or just a new pc excuse to unleash that rage you have inside.

  92. 4nnonymous Says:

    Dr. Shermer,

    I have followed some of your work for the past 10 years or so and tend to be a fan of most of it. However, in reading this article, I must wonder why the most destructive practices of the church of $cientology are mentioned almost as an afterthought in your article and completely without the details that would anger any reader. I noticed that others mentioned the “fair game” policy of the church, which really needs to be looked at more closely in any mention of this organization.

    I found your comparison of them to the Jews in the beginning to be a bit of a flame tactic, when what you should be saying is “why aren’t we out there with signs like that focused at Christians or Jews or Muslims?” YOur flame tactic suggests the protests be viewed has a Nazi racist march, when in reality it is more like a Amnesty International protest.

    All religions are a detriment to our species and they should be eliminated indiscriminately. $cientology is currently under attack because there are no examples, good or flimsy, of them helping anyone in anyway, but rather they seem to wreck destruction on everything they touch, and they don’t have the numbers to create taboos in our society.

    The Jews simply want to take care of their own, the Christians think they are morally obligated to “save” as many souls as they can, the Muslims believe it is their mission to turn the hearts of everyone on the planet to Allah, all of them want opposition to be put to death. But the $cilons want your money, which their founder has stated plainly and repeatedly. With other religions, their is a morality of sorts at work at the very least. The $cilons want to kill their opposition to protect their financial gain.

    To be fair, your article should have included the years of oppression (and their tactics) from the $cilons to their members and the general public which led up to Annonymous reacting. It should have included the documented deaths that are the direct responsibility of the organizations actions that make this criminal organization stand out from the crowd of religious nutters. It should have discussed a fuller history with them and the IRS, as well as other governments perspectives on this group (such as Germany).

    Islam teaches it’s followers to kill themselves in the service of some higher cause, but the $cilons are taught to commit atrocities for personal and financial gain. This “religion” doesn’t even deal with a higher power or an afterlife or any other trademarks of the larger faiths. In fact, the only way in which it is similar is that they ask you to believe fantasy and they need your money, only they take a different and more lucrative approach. It’s funny that Christians would only accept statements from scientists in their favor as valid, but I don’t know that the churches actively pretend to practice and have a monopoly on certain sciences the way the $cilons do.

    The only thing I am left being skeptical about after reading this article is your research skills and/or your biased positions when writing such articles and the motives that drive them. I’m sure you will say my response is biased, as I make liberal use of colorful adjectives in my attempt to convey what I have learned about this group, which I am comfortable with because I find it morally acceptable to detest any group that would indulge in the behaviors that this one does. Which leaves one to wonder, “did he read about them at all and if he did, does he find their actions acceptable?”

    Your truly,
    Staying 4nnonymous to cover my behind from $cilon retaliation.

  93. Ginny B. Says:

    Harlan Ellison has said he was in the room the night Ron Hubbard invented Scientology. His account can be read at: http://www.islets.net/faq.html#Anchor-Was-47857

    How can Scientology have so many believers when it is so obviously a hoax? I just don’t get it.

    – Ginny.

  94. JH Says:

    And to recap… and summarized, and inform:

    First, Anonymous is you and me. Really. If you don’t think you are, that’s fine, but if you go to 4chan.org and /b/, before long, you will find yourself appalled at first, then realize that since all is anonymous, you get the worst of the worst in racism, sexism, smut, etc. It’s actually an awesome social psychology field study opportunity. Anyway, once you get through all of that, you start coming across the rare moment when someone posts a ‘
    this person wronged me’ story and it gets a frenzy. You might even find yourself engaging in ways to deal with wrong doers (if you can interpret the means to surf the site and follow threads). Anonymous is the group of ALL users of 4chan (logins are not allowed, and all users are named ‘anonymous’). Users, could be you or me, make posts about how we got wronged by someone…. and one day, one story resonates or ‘sticks’. This means that the story is interesting enough that enough other users, again this could include you and me, get worked up about it and begin doing online research in the individual who did the nasty deed, and then return to 4chan and post the info (one of several such stories was when a girl left her blackberry on a bus, and when she called it, the person on the other end demanded money in exchange. The victim posted this info. What I describe next is what happened). Other users do the same thing and do their own research on whatever tiny bit of info that could get about the thief or wrong doer.. before long, with the collaborative effort of thousands of users (again, this could include you and me), every tiny bit of information about that person that would otherwise be impossible or take too long to research, is posted within hours. In the aforementioned episode of the Blackberry thief, her full name, birthday, address, land line phone number, parents phone number (where the thief lived), picture, and place of work and school, were posted. Of the thousands of users that were on top of this, several lived near the thief. Late night drive by’s with shouts of “A Thief lives here!!”, calls to the house (typically of the type ‘you should be ashamed of yourself”) at all hours, and complete and thorough full-scale harassment ensued to the point where it was reported that the thief had to move. The Blackberry was returned, and the harassment stopped.

    That is anonymous, and how it works.

    Anonymous is amazingly civil for the complete anarchist means that it works as an organism, and how horrid the postings are on 4chan. All anonymous contributors are unrestrained and completely anonymous. One might think this would lead to the one in a few thousand that would actually do something horrid. But typically, the response is measured against the wrong doer, and it stops when the wrong doer makes it right. Yes, there might be a few outliers who make death threats to a wrong doer, but the vast majority of interactions with the wrong doer do not include such threats, and there has not been a verified case of any anonymous user trying to seriously threaten someone or even maim them. It almost is exclusively harassment.

    At one time, abotu a year ago, some nnonymous users got enough other anonymous users angry about Scientology, justified anger in my opinion, and began a campaign like we saw. However, anonymous works best with short term goals, and as we have seen, the huge force that anonymous was has petered out over the year. It’s unlikely a new surge will take place as it won’t garner as many users as before when it was a ‘new’ thing to do.

    That being said, and to change the subject a bit, I am appalled myself at how some comments on this article made it apparent the poster did not read the article before posting, or has such limited reading comprehension skills. I guess I’d expect more from a MichealShermer.com readership.

  95. cake Says:

    Crazed neo-Nazis? Anonymous is the whiny internet nerd group that basement dwelling teenagers that use t3h 1337$p34k like to call themselves. Some of the whinier ones bear Guy Fawkes masks and protest against Scientology because they like to feel part of something.

  96. AlphaScorpii Says:

    good grief, a lot of the readers did not get past the first two paragraphs. This was NOT a pro scientology op-ed, people. PLEASE READ THE WHOLE THING.

  97. Mez Says:

    I think the point that we’re all missing here is that we have no evidence for any religious beliefs, and that all religions exist only because of fear, mob mentality and outright stupidity.

    Scientology just happens to be more insultingly stupid than most religions, and it’s existence irks a lot of people, myself included. I would like to ask my countries legislators why it’s legal. Why can’t we follow Germany’s good example and outlaw it as the cult it is?

  98. Chris Says:

    Mr. Rotgers, you’re undermined by your biased argument against Mormons. You mention their flaws, but you fail to mention their virtues (for example, being among the most generous of charitable organizations in the United States). Not everything that results from organized religion negatively impacts humanity. In fact, the influence of the major Christian denominations (at least in our day) is largely positive. Truth will not be discovered when only one aspect of the available evidence is considered.

  99. Famous Mortimer Says:

    Michale Shermer once again proves why he is such a reliable source of earnest skepticism.

    Reading through the various comments on this site, I am reminded why I eventually abandoned visiting forums related to skepticism. They are haunted by far too many individuals with axes to grind, and individuals who can’t see that their passion for a particular cause has led them down the same path to cartoonish behavior that they often chide their opponents about.

    As someone has already wondered, did most of you read past the first couple of paragraphs? The entire point of the essay was to hold a mirror up to those who react with the same sort of misplaced fervor that their opponents do. Ultimately, these types of attitudes do very little to damage groups, and can often encourage people to sympathize with them if the harassment is perceived as going too far.

    You can oppose, and disagree with Scientology. I do. However, keep in mind that taking that opposition to the extreme can sometimes lead to unintended consequences, and at the very least you will be guilty of being unreasonable.

    Unfortunately, the skeptical community is full of far too many Fundie Atheists, and other naive forms of enraged skepticism.

  100. Yin Says:

    Dear Mr Shermer,

    I am completely against scientology, yet I found your work quite thought-provoking. May I please note though, on the layout of your work- making it at first seem a pro-scientology attack on the movement anonymous. The disanalogy you use at the beginning damages the anonymous movement without just cause- as I assume from reading the rest of your article, you are a nuetral party. I recommend that in future you write with more conviction, so that your message is clear, and cannot be used as an attack on either side of the scientology vs. anonymous debate. Despite the fact I am against Scientology, I wish for them to be brought to justice for who they really are, not testostrone-fuelled exaggerations. Overall, please be more clear in future of your message so that you are not misquoted.

    I wish you all the luck in the future and I hope that your comments on Scientology’s corruption do not bring you any harm, as very bravely, you have not remained anonymous.

    Total regards,

    Yin

  101. Mr.XXX Says:

    HYPO 2: Imagine reading the following press release (circa 1935).

    Hello, Nazis. We are anonymous. Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye… Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind — for the laughs — we shall expel you … and systematically dismantle Nazism in its present form…

    It is a moral imperative that the parasitical operational structure of Scientology is exposed insofar as its hosts may be set freed.

  102. sam Says:

    I think scientology has lot of good in it. I just think it is too advanced for our times. Aliens probably practise scientology as every day habit for self healing but we humans are too dumb to understand it. But what bothers me is if it is so good why not do it for free or a very reduced costs. I think because nobody knows how it really works(full potential), therefore corruption is starting to give it a bad name. The Spirit can only know GOD when the spirit does not want to play a game/or is serious. Scientology is the doorway to realise the self. But scientology is not all answers.

    But nobody can see their self at will. Why?
    Because we have to break all habits, seeing, doing, analysis. and thinking.
    One day I asked myself how would I feel if I died and had no thought(after meditating for teenty years some days as intense as 4-8 hrs per day). I had no thought for 4-6 seconds. The spirit was seen as a bright light so was GOD communicating. GOD is very rich. One who gives and becomes richer. This is why you all feel good if you give. The world is programmed. Thoughts are travelling faster than light. We must know GOD to end this suffering. That is why I meditated for twenty years. I Have enough data points from GOD to say he exists. Remember the child in OH GOD movie. How come the skeptics never saw GOD. They had turned
    their switches/montors off and did not even knowledge of it. Scientology may help turn this switch on.

  103. Margo Says:

    The difference between Scientology and Judaism, or any other major religion you care to name, is a) they have a much better story, and b) they don’t charge converts for every step along the belief path.

  104. Tom Says:

    How many of the 104 respondents here have read 1 book on either Dianetics or Scientology in its entirety with the intention of reading it in an unbiased manner? Probably none as most of the comments had a bias to them from word one. That is a good way to learn something if you think you know all which is exactly what most of the respondents sound like. People who know all. What a shame. Did you know that Scientologists were on scene at the horrible tsunami in Indonesia 4 years ago and hundreds came from all over the region to help those who lost everything in the Tsunami. Do you know how many Scientologists were at Ground Zero to help the rescue workers with stress reducing assists so they could do their jobs more effectively? There were over a 1000 who came from all over the US and the world to offer themselves in service to those in need. How many Scientlogists were in New Orleans helping the victims of Katrina and Rita later in the year. I was there along with more than 500 others from my church who came from all over the US. There were also 1000′s of other volunteers of every faith at all these disasters helping there fellow man in his time of need. Were any of you there helping or did you send money or clothes to help. If you were, wonderful, if you weren’t well okay. I am not here to condemn you because you didn’t help, or couldn’t help or had to work and couldn’t go to help. But before you start condemning people because they have a label on them like a jew, or a mormon, or a jehovah’s witness, stop to think about where you are and what America stands for. That was the point the author was making in the beginning. He also has other fish to fry with Scientology. That can be remedied with a willingness to read a book like “A New Slant on Life” or Problems of Work”. Scientology helps one to see life more analytically to make better choices to improve conditions. It helps one win at the game of life. One can learn to give and receive the auditing in a much cheaper way than doing it with a professional auditor. If one has big problems in ones life, Scientology and Dianetic auditing can help rid oneself of debilitating disabilities that can feel like ones life is doomed. Many people have such disabilities. Many hide from them as putting them on the shelf is the only way to cope with them. Some use antidepressants to hide from them and make the pain go away. Most people on this planet have something in their life they would love to get rid of that they feel it is ruining their life. Some never marry because they are extremely shy. They make excuses they cant meet the right guy or girl. Some people feel like they have to be the class clown to feel alive. But they know it makes them look like a fool. Other’s fear confrontation with people or with red haired women or bald guys with mustaches.
    All people have something going on in their lives they can not explain or fix. They feel it is ruining their life. They want to fix it but do not know how. So they turn to drugs or alcohol for a quick forget it fix but the “pain” of the ruin so to speak comes back the next morning.
    That’s where Dianetics and Scientology come in. It helps you to fix you. It helps you to start living the life you want to live but feel you can not. And, yes it costs money. Those big churches the Baptists have were not free. Many gave thousands in tithes for their church. So do Scientologists. Their religion helps them in every aspect of their loves, both spiritually and materially. Many succeed in business because they have a solid foundation of confidence and self determinism to operate with. Many have said Scientology is actually free from the amount of financial success they attained after experiencing the wonders of auditing and courses of training in the spiritual technology of Dianetics and Scientology. There are millions more like me out there. They just choose not to participate in these hate filled forums. Scientology is helping people in every aspect of life from drug abuse to criminality to human rights to education, to instilling morals and values back into society and many more projects.
    I hope this sheds some light on what Scientology is. I am not naive by any means. I am sure there are those who will say I am brainwashed or an idiot but then again, I am participating in a hate forum, what else should I expect right? If this gets through to one person and he she reads a book and realizes there is some truth to this thread, well hell, I did a good job. If you are a hater of things you don’t understand, knock it off and learn something you don’t know.

  105. Mike Says:

    Tom, must we know the details of your religion to ‘know’ it is false? Most religions do some good. This is the base of religion in general. Would people not do good deeds without religion? I am certain they would. The main problem I see in any myth is the possibility of doing harm even as one thinks he is doing good. This can happen to Atheists as well,but history shows that gods command war and suppression of rights and this is to be perpetuated for all time.When a deity makes a rule and the followers think the deity is all knowing, critical thinking stops.
    I also think all religious organizations should be taxed. They are all effectively income generating,for profit businesses.There contributions to disaster relief could be a deduction.
    I do think though, that religion should have freedom to organize and practice,as long as no one is really being harmed.Speaking out on religion is not the same as not allowing religion.Citizens need freedom of our speech protected to warn others of possible dangers of religions.This does not mean they hate but are simply concerned.

  106. Jason G Says:

    D. Perse Says:
    – Just imagine the suicide rate if everyone followed the cold and clinical religion of science.

    In Christianity and Islam, this life serves no purpose. The entire purpose is to worship the God in order to receive a ticket to heaven in the afterlife. That is why we have suicide bombers. Imagine the suicide rate if people really believed in heaven and thought they were going there. Humanism gives meaning and importance to our actual lives here on Earth.

  107. Bob Says:

    That line of argument is silly.

    Imagine that Michael Shermer eats babies. Horrific right? Well He actually eats hamburgers. Now transfer that feeling of horror from what I posited to what he does.

    Is there any valid reason to listen to that?

  108. kelly Says:

    Wow, at 108, I’m thinking that quite a few commenters didn’t read very much of this.

    I think scientology definetly qualifies as a religion. Really, I don’t want to leave anyone out, because there are none of these that don’t have some pretty heinous stuff in thier past. The term fag, originally refered to the stick that you light a pyre with. The refrence to gays comes from how many were burned at the stake, right here in america. Islam, yeah bad stuff commited in the name of allah too. The cast system of tibet. The spanish inquisition. Ect.

    Hate and violence is simply a bad way to respond to anything. Intolerence is not hate, and doesn’t require violence or coersion. It does require that you see an injustice and speak up.

    I do not need any form of religion to feel just fine about my day, but I can’t say that for anyone else.

    I do think that any church that engages in politics should be taxed immediately for violating the seperation of church and state.

    I do not think that churches should be outlawed. that is a bad policy, and really is a form of censorship. I want to speak freely, and so I must tolerate the right of others to do the same. Some of those posting here are offensive to my way of thought, free speech is going to have that drawback. The free exchange of ideas and rational thinking will prevail in good time. And if you’re looking to add a mandatory class, my pick would be critical thinking. There is a ready supply of ideas, but not so many ways to analize them.

    Does this discussion really need all the references to nazis? Many groups face opposition, some of it pretty hateful, but the nazis were the nazis, unless any of these groups are willingly wearing swasticas, just drop it.
    If you disagree with something, speak up, but don’t deface property, blow stuff up, throw paint on people, or any other damaging or hateful act.

  109. jaxton Says:

    Time is a great story teller and you mr writer are complete fail in regards. !000′s of ex members are saying abuse has been carried out and your an apologist just because your mind can’t grab the concept that “religion” is just a sound-byte when it comes to this cult. Look at it from a different perspective. We are standing up to the nazis and you are protecting the world from seeing the crimes against the jews. Did you ever consider that scenario? Well lurk moar.

  110. Hubbardianen Says:

    I’m a Swedish Scientologist. First and foremost, I would like you to differentiate between the Church of Scientology (CoS) and the philosophy of Scientology, two different things as of today. The CoS doesn’t function well today mainly because of a dictatorial leader called David Miscavige.

    The philosophy however is the most interesting I’ve come across so far and incorporates the basic ideas that man is a spiritual being (thetan) with no location in space or time but with the ability to postulate. We, as spiritual beings, live life after life and live our lives. There’s something called the reactive mind where unconsciousness, disemotions etc are stored and which can be restimulated. Therefore, in auditing these incidents are viewed over and over again until they blow and the energy is released, which can be observed on the E-meter and also be felt very clearly. I’ve done auditing myself.

    Regarding reincarnation, let me present to you three very interesting YouTube videos. Feel free to debunk them.

    Reincarnated WWII pilot:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EWwzFwUOxA

    Reincarnated painter:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lB_j-chZvR0

    Reincarnated general:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQHp9bGVDB8

    Regarding the Xenu story, is it true? Who knows? But some interesting scientific evidence has come forward in the matter. Layers of Iridium and shocked quartz have been found in the K/T-layer (65 million years ago). Iridium of that quantity is only found in asteroids and vulcanos, and shocked quartz is only found at nuclear sites or asteroids.

    Hubbard claims that nuclear bombs was dropped into volcanoes about 75 million years ago which support the Iridium/shocked quartz findings from the K/T-layer 65 million years ago. However, Hubbard did not know about the Iridium in the K/T-layer since it was found in the 80′s, and Hubbard wrote the OT III story in 1967. This is very interesting. Could it be that the 65 million year dinosaur extinction is the same catastrophe Hubbard described at 75 million years ago? I welcome more research in this subject.

    Well, there’s lost more to say about this but I’ve got to tell you, Scientology is the only religion that (basically) doesn’t go against scientific evidence such as many other religions does.

    I like skeptics, it’s just that they sometimes are a little bit closed minded regarding the spiritual world.

  111. Hubbardianen Says:

    There are (more or less wild) speculations that the date of 65 million years regarding the dinosaur extinction is wrong since the (alleged) nuclear bombs added lots of radioactivity.

    When dating the K/T-layer with some kind of radioactive isotop dating method there are more radioactivity than it should be, thus the 65 million-year-date is wrong and should be further back, perhaps more cloer to 75 million years?

    However, I do not know if nuclear radioactivity would affect radioactive dating techniques in that way. Perhaps somebody with more knowledge could confirm/deny this?

  112. S. Adelsburg Says:

    You’re comparing a corporation responsible for the deaths, broken up families and poverty of so many people to Jews? Never knew you to be an anti semite.

  113. ungodly Says:

    in response to Hubbardianen:
    yes very interesting, but its the writings of a science fiction author. its not the answer to the universe. he might be close, or he might be way off, but the truth, can only be known once we are dead.

    regardless of how interesting these superstitions/beliefs/delusions are, to make money off, or to otherwise corrupt people for the benefit of a few at the top, shows that as spiritual beings, we have no limits to our cruelty to our fellow thetans, or souls, or whatever, and there is also no limit to our ability to believe in the most ludicrous of propositions.

    i also believe its immoral to not be anti-semite, to believe that you are chosen by an all powerful zombie, and by default, all others are lesser beings, well thats just plain evil.

  114. R King Says:

    When Stargazer writes ‘listen to your heart and not your head’ on a skeptical site . . . I think that’s pretty funny . . . It’d be like me going on a Christian site and writing ‘try not to be so flipping irrational’!

  115. Kenn Duncan Says:

    Your Wish Is Your Command is a course sold by Kevin Trudeau. No one can say that he is not a compelling salesman and his infomercials hawking various products are legendary. This latest product targets the natural desire for wealth that most people obsess about while also pushing conspiracy theories that blame “secret societies” for keeping the secret of wealth and prosperity from the masses.Your Wish Is Your Command

  116. LOL Says:

    Greg hit the nail on the head. Scientology is a SCAM. It’s a front. They are not a legitimate religion. Also, read Hubbard’s (founder) journals. He was a RACIST. And he says clearly that he created it to make money and have power.

    So your substitution technique does not work here. FAIL.

    I HATE Scientology. HONK HONK HONK!

  117. Konrad Says:

    It is unfortunate that society is not ready to accept things that in SCN are quite normal.

    1) SCNists KNOW that they have had past lives;
    2) SCN auditing can create a stable Out of Body experiences (exteriorization);
    3) SCN can help increase those perceptions that would deemed “psychic or paranormal.”
    4) SCN technology has the ability to actually change events.

    This I have experienced myself all of these things.

    I wish that rational people would actually look at the evidence instead having a preconceived notion that they know people are ONLY one time bodies. THis is simply not true.

    Also most people on the internet are so thoroughly caught up in the disinformation of the religion that they cannot carry on a sane conversation about the subject.

    IF actual OPEN minded Scientists examined the data instead of having an agenda the world would see that the religion could change the world & make it a sane place for everyone, even the skeptics & nay Sayers.

    best wishes
    K

  118. Julian Rodha Says:

    With all due respect, what’s your point? Do you want to denounce the unfairness of anonymous position or the weirdness nature of scientology?

  119. Mystery Voice Says:

    First, many years ago I read “Dianetics” and attended a Scientology “Church Service” (more later).
    What I have to say and the Challenge I now put forth to all agnostics, athiests, evolutionists, etc. is only motivated by love for all of you and not for any other reason.
    I was born and raised as a Jew and had a conservative (vs. reform or orthodox) Jewish education. I was a pre-dental and biology major and took a special class in evolution.
    I put forth 2 challenges to you in the hopes and prayers that at least one person will be touched.
    1. The Old Testament (which others above have said is a manufactured fairy tale would make Nostradamus’ prophecies look like chid’s play in comparison. If the Bible is so contradictory (and there are many apparently contradictions), and mythological, then please explain how hundreds of Biblical prophecies, some written hundreds, even thousands of years earlier, have come to pass. (Also, one of the best proofs for the existence of God is the survival of the Jewish people against all attempts to annihilate them. Jews worldwide represent less than 1% of the world’s population, and yet despite being persecuted, expelled, and murdered in many times and countries, they are still here.)
    Lastly, and this I pray will affect at least one person, is the true (short version) of how I miraculously became a believer in Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach in Hebrew). (Only a small percentage of Jews believe as I do that Jesus is the Jewish (and the Christians Messiah). Many years ago, after my wife left me, and my life was filled with problems, I challenge God from my heart telling Him basically that if I really am His child and if He really did love me, that I had a right to feel His love and presence personally. I also challenged God that if this didn’t happen very soon, I would go my own way. At the end of the prayer, I added a footnote in passing which paraphrased said that I really wanted to know the truth about Jesus: is Jesus a false Messiah (Saviour) as Jews are taught? or is He the Messiah of the Jews and of all humanity? was he really born of a virgin birth or not?
    Now, here is where my challenge to God became even more challenging: I said to God (the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). Whatever you tell me to believe about Jesus, I will accept and believe, and I don’t want anybody knocking on my door, quoting Bible scriptures to me, or giving me anything to read. You tell me!. Now, I never had any lightning bolts nor did I hear an audible voice, nor did an Angel visit me. Over a period of several weeks, I had a very brief (a minute or less) dream which repeated 3 or 4 times. I saw a person (couldn’t tell the sex, couldn’t see a face, or hands, or feet) in a light colored robe from head to feet (not even clearly or in color). I woke up weeks later one day as a believer in Jesus with no apparent explanation of how that happened, and I was scared to death because I had no proof or evidence, and I was also afraid of the rejection from my family (all Jewish). Within 30 days I then received all of the proof I needed from dozens of Old Testament prophecies relating to Jesus, which were written many hundreds of years before he was even born.
    So, my second and final challenge to anyone reading this is that if you sincerely from your heart want to have God bypass your religious and scientific educations and go staight to your heart (bypass your mind), you can receive this from God also. (When I was in high school, a friend who didn’t believe in God, said if God really exists, He can strike me with a lightning bolt.). God doesn’t generally work that way, but if anyone truly and sincerely wants to know that God is real, and that Jesus is our Saviour, then God will find a way to prove himself to you.
    Lastly, about my brief experience with Scientology. When I went to the “service” mentioned above, it was really dead. (no life at all). I did notice, on a blackboard or wall in a classroom, some writings concerning aliens. At that time I thought it was a bunch of crap, and so I never went back.
    I am still strongly against Scientology, but I now have seen sufficient evidence to prove the existence of UFOs and aliens (even the possibility that aliens are on the Earth currently).

  120. Fragment Says:

    “You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”

    - L. Ron Hubbard.

    Kind of a difference between this and the Jewish faith. Wouldn’t you say?

  121. ullrich fischer Says:

    Another well thought-out article. Too bad so many posters here only read the first couple of paragraphs.

    IMHO, all religions are cults. It is just a matter of the degree to which they manage to control the lives of their victims. Scientology is one of the worst in this regard. Fundamentalist Islam is even worse, and Fundamentalist Christianity is a close 2nd to Fundamentalist Islam. Scientology, as far as we know, has not murdered anyone, while the other two cults mentioned have.

Leave a Comment