Category Archives: scientology

LA Times Almost Gets it Right on Scientology

Michael Shermer of the LA Times almost got it right, starting his editorial with these words: 

Imagine reading this news 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.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Shermer then indulged in his own brand of religious intolerance, passing judgement on Scientology beliefs as the self-proclaimed authority that he is not.

With the specious argument that other churches don’t “charge” for their services (No. Some tithe 10% of one’s income; some live off the interest of their 2,000-year long investiments and property; some require that one pay for attendance at high holy day services and for the religious training of their sons and daughters to be confirmed in the church or religion; some merely pass the plate), he fell into the same trap that intolerant, narrow-minded men of all ages have relegated themselves to. 

This country was founded on the philosophy of freedom of religion.

This is the country to which the Calvinists, Quakers and Huguenots fled when they found discrimination in Europse intolerable.

This is the country my own grandparents came to at the turn of the last century to escape the Russian pogroms–traveling in cattle boats, earning enough money in New York to bring over the family of eight, two children at a time.

These and so many more came here because they cherished the freedom to believe as they saw fit and the right to practice their beliefs.

Mr. Sherman succumed to the skeptic impulse (read compulsion in this case) of denigration of all belief.  He would have done well to have stuck to his first and accurate premise.

Americans in the 21st Century, and particularly those who profess to be the intellectual leaders of our civilization, would do well to recognize that the strenght of this country comes from its initial philosophical premises, and the very character of America is tainted by bigotry as it weakens the foundation of what made this country great.

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Scientologist Speaks Out

Long term Scientologist, Ken Eckersley, wrote a column for the “Faith” column of the New Statesman

Ken is an “elder statesman” of Scientology and the column makes some excellent points:

Mahatma Gandhi famously replied, when asked what he thought of western civilisation, “I think that’s a very good idea.”

I subscribe to the aims of Scientology which are: “a civilisation without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights”.

Similar aims have been held by millions of people through the ages, yet still we have insanity, crime and war in abundance – probably more than ever. One’s inclination can be to shrug and say these aims are impossible.

But my experience is that there are two fundamental requirements to being able to make some decent progress towards their achievement:

1. Recognising that each individual person has a spiritual nature and that they are basically good, no matter how “bad” they might be in their current state.

2. Having a workable technology that can assist each individual person to become his or her true, good self. Whilst it has proved impractical to help “the masses,” you can help individuals and they can help themselves and others if they know how. Then it becomes a question of increasing the numbers of individuals helped.

For me, L Ron Hubbard and Scientology have provided both of these requirements.  >>

Anonymous and Me Too: Scientologist’s Story

anon.jpg

I ran across this one on Digg.com.

I don’t know who wrote this, but I feel that way too. I’ll let him/her speak for me:

Scientologists are real people.

Wearing a Guy Fawkes mask is fun. Even in Toronto and Minnesota where they froze in sub-zero temperatures it was a lark. In fact “epic” is the description I read most.

But when you are standing outside my church, who are you really attacking?

Because it’s a who, not a what.

My church is real people, like me.

I’m a Scientologist. I’m a real person.

Not only that, I love my church and the people who work there. They are the hardest working people I know and they do it because they want to help, and are helping people all the time.

I’m a Volunteer Minister. And that’s something I’m really proud of.

A good friend who’s a Volunteer Minister (VM) went to Katrina two years ago. He told me he’ll never forget the two weeks he was there. He closed down his office and just took off for Louisiana, and spent two weeks just helping people in the shelters. He was one of about 900 VMs who went to help.

I have friends from Florida who drove out as soon as they heard the storm was coming. They thought they knew what to expect cuz they manned shelters and ran food and water out to victims of Florida hurricanes for a few years. But, like the rest of us, they were completely shocked by how brutal Katrina was and how unprepared everyone was to cope with it.

There was a Scientologist from some other part of Louisiana who’s a doctor. He and another doctor got into the quarantined part of New Orleans and brought VMs with him to help the police and rescue workers. The doctors gave them tetanus shots. The VMs helped them keep their sanity despite all the wreckage and dead bodies.

The whole Scientology Mission in Baton Rouge was turned into a relief center. Scientologists manned shelters in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Orleans and Vermilion Parish. And the Scientology church in Houston, TX manned shelters there.

I know two of the Scientologists who went to Jakarta last year when it was hit by an earthquake and they ended up working in the makeshift extension to the hospital that had to put people on mattresses on the floor of the parking structure to cope with the overload. They trained the nurses on how to do Scientology procedures that help people recover from trauma and the nurses were amazed at how fast patients were recovering. They also trained family members because the hospital was so short-handed they were having the parents or husbands or wives take care of the victims – they just couldn’t get to them all themselves.

I could probably go on for an hour. But I think you get the point—we are decent caring people and I am proud to be part of a movement that puts out to help people who need help.

And it makes me sick to hear the lies people spread about us.

Anonymous says it isn’t attacking Scientologists.

In the same breath they say they intend to destroy my church.

If you were Catholic and someone was planning on destroy the Catholic Church how do you think you’d feel?

If you saw Anonymous videos on YouTube tracking people down and publishing their addresses and phone numbers because they criticized what Anonymous was doing, and then you saw them threatening to destroy your community, how would you feel?

This has gotten completely out of hand. And it’s NOT fun. It’s criminal and it’s nuts.

So here’s my message to Anonymous—or at least to those of you who came to our churches last Sunday. Next time you come to my church, leave your mask at home and come talk to me, or to another Scientologist and find out who (not what) you are “protesting.”

Whoever wrote this, this is right. It is personal. Don’t hide behind a mask. If you have a problem with a Scientologist, talk to someone. You would expect the same if someone was coming after what was important to you.

Scientology Church Plans Move to the South End of Boston

With the announcement that the Church of Scientology of Boston has bought the former Alexandra Hotel at Washington Street and Massachusetts Avenue, Scientologists are eagerly planning to relocate their headquarters from Back Bay to the South End.

The move won’t be happening any time soon.  As with new Scientology churches opened in other major international cities over the past few years, such as New York, London and Berlin, the Boston Church will undergo extensive renovations before moving to its new home.

The new property is the former Alexandra hotel, a luxurious establishment when it opened its doors in 1875, it faded in prominence when the elevated transit line was built along Washington Street in 1900, closed in the 1960s and was finally gutted by a fire in 1993.  It has been vacant ever since.

Advised by Staubach Co. of New England LLC, the church bought the former 50-room hotel, at 1759-1769 Washington St., and an adjacent building on Washington. The church already has a storefront presence a few doors down on Washington.  Staubach has done other work for the church around the country and will be project manager on the design and redevelopment.

“This is a very prominent building,” said Brian Smallman, vice president of Staubach of New England “It could be an absolutely gorgeous building by the time they’re done with it, and they do everything first rate.”

“The city’s been tortured with this eyesore for so long,” said Gerard Renna, public affairs director for the Boston church.  Renna, who has been with the Church of Scientology of Boston since before it opened its current headquarters on Beacon Street in 1974, did not disclose the sale price, but pledged that the Church will  “transform the hotel to its original grace and elegance.”

The Scientology religion was founded by L. Ron Hubbard.  The first Scientology church was established in Los Angeles in 1954. 

Tom Cruise — a Breath of Fresh Air

I ran across this article that put the whole Tom Cruise bio in the right perspective.Thank god there’s a journalist with the courage to see what’s going on and come out and say it.

Mugged in print by bigots in righteous masks

Miranda Devine
January 31, 2008

It is a good idea to be suspicious any time the media pack decides to gang up on someone – as they have done with Tom Cruise. Sure, he belongs to a religion, Scientology, that seems pretty kooky on face value, but that is his right, as in any country that is supposed to respect freedom of religion.

He has done nothing to deserve the ridicule and character assassination which has reached a climax with the publication this month in America of Andrew Morton’s unauthorised biography.

The premise of Morton’s book is that Cruise is a dangerous nutter in the grips of a psychotic cult, and old videos posted on the internet gossip site Gawker.com of Cruise addressing a Scientology convention and inarticulately trying to convey his passion for the religion in a TV interview seem to have sealed the impression.

While Scientology certainly appears eccentric, with its talk of extra-terrestrials and “thetans”, so, too, does most New Age claptrap. Many traditional religions have oddball elements, strictly speaking, and among the most bigoted and dogmatic people around are atheists.

But if Scientology makes Cruise happy, and he doesn’t mind donating large chunks of his fortune to the church, so what? From what we have seen of Cruise, and the account Morton gives of his life, there is much to admire about him. >>

She goes on later to state:

Morton also describes a series of events in which Cruise has played good samaritan – in 1996 he stopped to help a hit-and-run victim in California and paid her hospital bills; he rescued two children being crushed in the crowd at a Mission: Impossible movie premiere in London, he sent the tender from his yacht to help five people who had abandoned a sinking boat and he “consoled a sobbing housewife” who had just been mugged near his house. While in New Zealand he stopped on a road to change the flat tire of a stranded couple.

What can we make from that? That he’s a nice guy, who doesn’t think he is above helping people he sees in distress. Why make it weird? Morton tries to weave these good deeds into his book as an example of Cruise’s Scientology induced monomania. But if that’s what his religion makes him do, there should be more of it.

She really hit the nail on the head here.

There have been times I’ve walked by someone who needed help. I’m not proud of that. I admire Tom Cruise so much for not being “above” helping people. And I know it’s not a status thing with him–it’s just that he does care about people. It is so obvious in the way he treats his fans. He spends hours signing autographs, and talking to people’s kids or folks on their cell phones. He’s just a genuinely nice person.

With so many celebrities who are bad examples, you have to ask yourself why there would be such a concerted effort to try to make Tom Cruise look odd because he is enthusiastic about his family, his religion and helping people. Do we really want to live in a society where you’re considered a nut because you care enough to express your views and help people? I sure as hell hope not.

South Africa Weighs In for Scientology

Today’s story on the IOL.co.za web site is great news for Scientology and South African Scientologists:

A tax exemption has been awarded to the SA Church of Scientology by the SA Revenue Services (SARS), the Church said on Tuesday.

“We are ecstatic, this is a memorable and historic day for us as it provides us with an even better opportunity to serve our community and scientologists,” said President of the Church, Ryan Hogarth.

He said that SARS issued the Church with a certificate on Monday approving its status as a ‘Public Benefit Organisation’.

“This was after 42 years and 26 applications to the South African Revenue Service,” Hogarth said.

He said the approval followed similar recognition in countries such as Sweden, Germany, Spain, and New Zealand, as well the European Court of Human Rights.”

My two cents: Although South Africa was one of the earliest Scientology communities, it obviously couldn’t get recognized as a religion under the oppressive apartheid government. But since the rebirth of the new South Africa the Church has been working closely with civic and government groups as well as the private sector to help people all over the country, especially with their Volunteer Ministers program.

Several years ago Mr. David Miscavige dedicated the new Scientology church in Johannesburg and that launched a major expansion for the Church in that country and throughout Southern Africa.

Scientology in Texas

Cool article in the University of Texas newspaper about the Scientology church in Austin.

Austin’s a really interesting town. Not at all what I thought Texas would be like. I always had the idea Texas was all desert–from too many Westerns no doubt.

When I first went to Austin I was shocked to find it was as humid as my native New York and way hot. It was green, with rolling hills, lakes and rivers. Nothing like I thought it would be.

Austin is the state capital, so there are the traditional American buildings that look like anytown capital USA.

And the college campus of UT was very much like any other college campus I’d ever seen.

But I also loved the friendliness and hospitality of the town, and the eclectic atmosphere that comes from a college town.

And then of course, there’s Willie!

Here’s a bit of the article:

The Church of Scientology of Texas is located across from the heart of UT’s campus, but there are few students who come to the center, said Director of Special Affairs Cathy Norman.

“Although we’re located near campus, we’re not exclusively students,” said Norman, who got involved with Scientology in the 1970s when she was a UT student. “The outreach is to everyone.”

There was a higher percentage of student involvement and interest when the center moved to its current location in 1980 because the Scientology movement was fairly young then, she said. There are not any certain programs aimed towards students now.

Scientology literally means “the study of truth,” according to the religion’s official Web site. It is about a set of ideas connected to the human mind and spirit and a set of practices that can be important to people, Norman said. >>