A Silent Atheist Inside Scientology IX: conclusion
We started this series by ‘rooting for the underdog’, reviewing all the ways in which Scientology claimed to make the world better. We passed by core Scientology believes and saw both its organisational structure and its main spiritual activities. Also its secular organisation, its political advances and its business practices passed our review and we dug into its core morality as formulated in ‘The Way To Happiness’. To cap everything of I personally visited a Scientology chapter to get a sense of whether the central monolithic perception of this organisation also reverberated at the local level. However limited the scope and the representativeness of the test we found that it did, more so than other churches from other religions did. Having glanced over many of the aspects from Scientology we must now arrive at a ‘bottom-line’ and formulate an answer to that question: ‘Is Scientology a force for good?’. So here it goes:
L. Ron Hubbard was not wrong when he stated that life was primarily about survival. With this idea he abandoned the fundamental and dreadful underpinning of the three Abrahamic religions, that life is just the precursor for death and subject to what comes after it.
Having reviewed what Scientology stands for and how it operates we must concede certain points. It is, for example, conceivable that there are scientologists out there that live a modest and happy life who, without Scientology, would have over-dosed on drugs decades earlier. Mental addiction is often much harder to beat than the physical one and it might be so that conventional therapy leaves the addicts more room for relapsing than Scientology does. It is equally conceivable that there exist people whose depression and suicidal behaviour was effectively addressed within the therapy and the pseudo-family-structure of Scientology. Still for some other people, a life in the Sea Org where they can only do as they are told, void of uncertainty and real responsibility, is the nearest state to happiness they can hope to achieve. Apart from these extreme cases I would hope that there were also people who, like with alcohol, can do Scientology with moderation. Certainly, if these existed, they would consider Scientology a ‘force for good’!
I am not a proponent of any type of religion nor of the proposition that religion is needed or necessarily inevitable. But if I’m wrong and it is true that there is a whole class of people who needs religion, I think there in nothing inherently worse about a religion that believes we had ‘Evil Alien Overlords’ and which uses pseudo psychotherapy to hypnotically make its followers more content. Who are we to judge which nonsense has greater value or to judge whether ‘trance’ is best obtained through dancing, meditation, drugs or through hypnotic-auditing? If we call Scientology a cult, then at least it is one reasonably unlikely to literally go drink the poisoned cool-aid. As a ‘designer religion’, if we may call it that, Scientology has the tremendous potential to reject archaic morality where other religions were inevitably affixed to some of the more nefarious principles of their predecessors. Take for instance Scientology’s lack of a doctrine stating to the inferiority of women or one demanding the mutilation of genitalia.
Finally we must allow for the possibility that there are those who are, for all intend and purpose, without a family; who have found much of a replacement for it, in the warm embrace of Scientology. It is a cold and hyper-individualistic world out-there and the Scientology-family may have a place in it for some. Still, if this is the case, it is equally likely that in time this embrace will come to resemble that of a serpent, specifically one of the constrictor family.
Because much like with its pastoral works in particular; are most of these ‘potential benefits’ and ‘positive effects’ from Scientology theoretical at best. Where its potential to keep addicts clean is real, it does not have a monopoly on this, nor anything close to the best track-record. Furthermore Scientology’s theoretical foundation of detoxification is entirely non-scientific and the practices of its NARCONON program are deemed ineffective, grounded in unnecessary suffering and very dangerous indeed. A brutal regime in 2013 where detoxing consisted of a 30 – days period of 5 hours straight in a sauna coupled with high doses of niacin, killed three individuals at one NARCONON centre alone.
While Scientology auditing can hypothetically cure a depression, this is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of depressions it has deliberately amplified with its signature ‘personality test’ and follow-up alone. A test that is designed to make people feel actually self-aware and considerably worse about themselves, all in the hope they will purchase ‘scientology-services’ to remedy this. Nor is this indirect and malignant tactic for recruitment and fundraising an exception to the way Scientology normally operates.
Consisting almost entirely out of converts, the actual percentage of Scientology’s ‘recruits’ that themselves sought out Scientology is virtually non-existent! Virtually all of its recruits have been ‘assimilated’ and most by using the same tactics which also drug-dealers employ: Sending acquaintances out to invite targets into the sub-culture, using free samples of something rewarding, belittling those hesitant of joining, infiltrating and picketing schools and trainings institutions and generally by actively preying on the young, the grieving, the depressed and the unsecure. Based on this statistic and their tactics, Scientology is as much an appropriate defender of the ‘War-on-Drugs’, ‘Human-Rights’ or ‘Literacy’ in the classrooms, as would be a hypothetical organisation of unrepentant paedophiles. While it’s hard to prove anyone’s motives, society tends not to give the latter the benefit of the doubt. I would propose a very similar stance towards Scientology is in order and long overdue!
Scientology clearly objects to its auditing being associated with hypnotic therapies. This ignores the fact that LRH established its core practices shortly after having followed a written training in hypnotics. The monotony, uniformity and repetitiveness that is comprised in auditing itself is enough proof of the fact that at least some level of hypnosis is taking place. Testimony from former converts confirms this aspect even though this is not generally a point of contention or a reason for them to leave the church. Considering the integration of Scientology’s core irrationalities into this therapy, there is justified scepticism to question whether people come to believe Scientology’s tenets because of religious convincing rather than because of convincing hypnotics. It does not speak well for the church that she has not been willing to advance in time the disclosure of its core beliefs to its new recruits or to the wider public nor address auditing’s potential for hypnosis.
Usually in an assessment whether a religious organisation is a force for good or bad there is a lot of mercy thrown onto the followers of that religion; even if the judgement of the religion itself often isn’t as positive. For instance the discriminating stance toward women and homosexuals may disqualify Christianity as a force for good, but many Christians are still good people even if they occasionally endorse the twisted tenets of their religion. 99.9% of Muslims are not terrorists even though, going by their scriptures, they probably had better be. It is remarkable that the Abrahamic religions are seemingly slightly more benign in practice that they appear to be in theory. The Bible doesn’t want us to allow witches to live, yet the last supposed witch to be condemned on the European continent died more than a century ago. For Scientology however we must conclude that there is a significantly smaller chance that a random scientologist would compromise on the instructions of his or her religion in equal fashion. Scientology, which perhaps replaced ‘witch’ by the much less demonic ‘suppressive person’ still employs a permanent ‘ethics’ staff which, among other things, forms a perpetual witch-hunt in search of them. Although a floating needle in this case can deliver you, where a floating witch would do very much the opposite, the reasoning behind both is equally unscientific and frighteningly similar despite the latter happening in the 21st century.
Kaufman goes on to say how Richard never invalidated Scientology ever again… since he never woke from this episode.
It appears that, as an organisation (because I’m still not sure if one should really call it ‘a religion’), Scientology is so internally focused that its centre of morality has shifted with it. ‘What is good and what is moral’ gets replaced by ‘what benefits Scientology’ and the members (are expected to) align their personal interests with those of the organisation. The ‘Way To Happiness’ may contain precepts against lying. When WOG’s are concerned, lying is norm rather than exception and members are trained in ways of optimising deceit.
The European Christian crusaders may have believed, with varying degree, that God wanted them to chop peoples’ heads of. A scientologist will not likely think like this. Instead your opposition to Scientology or even just your professional occupation are themselves sufficient and irrefutable proof of your quasi-demonic evil nature and irredeemable spirit. So Scientology will consider it morally just and generally a swell service to the world,… to chop your head off. There is a distinction if not a difference. Although, while Scientology is not in possession of supreme governmental powers, they will often suffice in loudly trying to illicit a confession from you for all the ‘messed-up stuff’ they are convinced you have done. Nothing could be wrong with Scientology, so something must be very wrong with you!
From the “Handbook for Preclears”
Like other religions, Scientology’s ignoring of science (or just facts in general) imperils it morally. It would be perfectly possible to create a religion based on the Xenu mythology that used auditing-therapy at its core and based itself on actual science regarding neuro-psychology. Especially if they were willing to occasionally adjust for new evolutions. Instead LRH has recorded an un-transparent, internally contradictive paradigm that, even when followed to the letter, especially when followed to the letter, leads the scientologist into a quagmire of contradiction and uncertainty. Since there cannot be fault with Scientology the only acceptable ‘solution’ for Scientology is to reprogram, punish or banish the faithful subject until the contradiction is gone. Since it has replaced morality with self-interest the means applied are only limited by their cost and their potential back-lash.
There is ample testimony that when faced with adversity Scientology will use both legal and illegal coercion to obtain what it considers to be the optimum result. Apart from many testimonies indications such as its WISE-infiltration-program, its choice as to where it locates its headquarters, the clandestine meetings it holds with politicians or the way it maintains an ‘Office of Special Affaires’ demonstrate a clear politic of seeking leverage regardless of its legality.
Up to this point however most of this criticism of Scientology is based on theory. It is what is wrong with Scientology in principle. Although all of it is directly responsible for what is wrong with Scientology in practice, it can also conceal the direct way in which this is true, from sentiment. No measure of cataloguing Scientology as ‘an extremely hierarchical organisation with fascist tendencies lacking any sense of humour regarding doubt or criticism’ can convey the innumerable tragedies it has directly and often wilfully caused at the lowest level. A four-figures ‘donation’ -cost on a Saint-Hill-pricelist for hypnosis-therapy is theoretical. It hides the father who sold his house to redeem the debt of the son who ended up disavowing him and joining the Sea Org slaves after all. Theoretically speaking Scientology is not an end-times cult, at risk of Jonestown-scenes or worse. In practice its mechanistic view on ‘reincarnation’ has begotten it a death-cult in which the ruined and the subversive choose suicide at a shocking rate, both by their own initiative or glaringly otherwise, as a means to escape their dire conditions. In practice many of these suicides tend to greatly benefit Scientology even if theoretically speaking they were not involved. And although we will not say that Scientology slew them, we
From the “Handbook for Preclears”
Part of why this question, ‘Is Scientology a force for good?’ of why it seems like such a plausible question, is because of the assumption that if it weren’t so, that legal matters would be taken to quickly make right where Scientology goes wrong. This assumption however ignores both historical examples involving organised-crime-syndicates and current experiences of the global governments’ routine failing to curb manifest wrong-doings by multinational organisations. If Scientology isn’t recognised as an ‘international crime syndicate with cultish aspects’ it is because individual law enforcements have failed in getting it convicted, not because they haven’t tried! The latest acquittal in Belgium being just another example of how difficult it is to stop an organisation when those responsible do not commit the crimes and when those committing the crimes are not responsible.
Another reason why Scientology often gets the benefit of the doubt is the very successful celebrity-program. It is hard to believe these ‘admirable’ people being part of something so nefarious. The explanation of course being that they simply are not! Scientology has installed an absolute segregation between those it uses as walking PR-commercials and those it exploits in slavery. Tom Cruise is a victim of Scientology, but not as much as most. Meanwhile several television-actors have never the less experienced first-hand that their celebrity classification did not reach high enough to entirely shield them from the displeasures of vertical discipline.
A less parochial variation of the proverb ‘does a bear relieve himself in the woods?’ inquires after the religious convictions of the Catholic Pope. Implying both that ‘yes, the bear does do that there and yes, the Pope is indeed Catholic’. The same question with regard to Scientology cannot imply the same certainty since no-one actually knows if Scientology’s leadership, past and present, are actually themselves Scientologists. Consequently it cannot be determined whether Scientology is a religious organisation with criminal tendencies or if it is a crime-syndicate or mafia which coldly exploits irrational vulnerabilities in people. Although this theoretical difference may be wasted on non-atheists.
Secrecy, although the main reason, is not the only reason why Scientology only occasionally features in the press. The other reason being that it is small and currently even appears to be withering. Consequently any danger it poses to society is widely and enormously underestimated. However, I feel its size and all appearances of its inevitable demise should comfort no-one; Scientology has demonstrated both unprecedented resilience in the past and an ability for raising influence and money that surpasses most ‘conventional’ religions as well as most conventional imagination! We would be ill-advised to forget the historical lessons embedded in Christianity that once was considerably smaller and widely more unpopular than Scientology still is today.
Scientology purports to want to make this a better world. Perhaps this is not very wise of them; Since I would think that in a better world, Scientology, or rather more specifically the things Scientology does, would quickly become outlawed. In a better world they would not be able to benefit both from laws protecting international business corporations as well as those protection religious liberties. In a better world witnesses could not be intimidated so easily and its plaintiffs would not commit suicide quite as often. In a better world no-one seeking ‘Total Freedom’ would come to find himself hopelessly indebted to an organisation with an army of lawyers, an intelligence agency, a fleet, a paramilitary organisation and hundreds of affiliated enterprises standing by to protect its interests by any and all means available. In a better world one would always have a choice not to ‘volunteer’ for a reprogramming facility that was inspired both by Nazi-extermination-camps and Pol Pot’s day-dream. In a better world, those that died, They Should Not Have Died!!
In conclusion: It must be undeniably clear to anyone that Scientology is the best of all religions, unless one were to consider any of the others or even none at all! For if it is indeed to be called ‘a religion’, it must stain all others in this category, rendering them even less appealing in so far that these had not already soiled their own hands.
In any hypothetical debate regarding the relative values of theism versus atheism, once all facts are laid bare, the mere mention of ‘Scientology’ should give any theist pause on his way to the moral high ground. I fear that in this case most theists would revert to denying that Scientology is, or ever was, ‘a religion’. However, whatever its merit as an argument in future debates I suspect that most atheists would gladly sacrifice it and help Scientology further along its withering demise, condemning it to History. While it may in our time escape any definite legal conviction we are morally mandated to further starve it from obtaining any new and unwitting recruits, starving it from its ‘raw meat’, by laying bare and repeating over and over what those who went before have experienced. We must in our poems and prose mercilessly rake together these last remnants of a church, burn these remnants, burry the ashes and then nuke the entire site from orbit. As Ripley said in an entirely different space-aliens story: “It’s the only way to be sure”.
It is but the surface I have scratched here! Relying solely on the work of others, matching sources against each-other to remove bias at best as could be done. One could easily dedicate, as some so nobly do, to investigating and laying bare all aspects of Scientology for the rest of one’s life and this would be an honourable life! But those that do, are so renowned for it, that at least they are immunized against the worst of Scientology’s wrath. I have not that luxury. Still, coming from a distant past where I held a positively biased opinion on Scientology I can now no longer defend the motion ‘that Scientology is a force for good in the world’.
Allow me, in honour of Christopher Hitchens, to imitate the counts with which he put the Catholic Church in its place.
I argue, against the motion ‘that Scientology is a force for good in the world’, for:
- The misuse of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a recruitment tool.
- The usurpation of Governmental anti-drugs policies to prey on the weak.
- The imitating of actual NGO’s and the posturing as mental health-professionals during disasters.
- The direct targeting of children by various infiltrations into the national education systems.
- The exploitation of celebrity members’ reputation for propaganda purposes.
- The despicable unequal treatment of different classes of members.
- The portraying of homosexuality as an illness and an aberration.
- The unrelenting financial extortion of its affiliates through brainwashing and social engineering.
- The wilful social destruction of thousands of families.
- The thousands of remorseless abandonments of financially ruined Scientologists
- The institutionalised violation of at least 11 articles of the aforementioned Universal Declaration among which, but not strictly limited to (Art.3, Art.4, Art.5, Art.9, Art.12, Art.18, Art.19, Art.20-2, Art.23-3, Art.24, Art.30).
- The active role in the deaths of Lisa McPherson, Heribert Pfaff, Josephus Havenith and several suspected others whose names also deserved mentioning, if time would have allowed.
- The hundreds of times Scientology was held sole responsible in suicide-notes across the globe.
- The active infiltration of businesses for recruitment motives through use of covert consultancy firms.
- The shameless corruption of democracy by targeted recruitment of elected officials.
- The corruption of justice by infiltration into government institutions.
- The coerced abortions by Sea Org members.
- The deadly neglect of Sea Org-infants and the physical and mental abuse of its children.
- The commitment of children to forced-labour-programs.
- The maintaining of illegal ‘voluntary’ incarceration facilities.
- The fraudulent misuse of its religious exemption to avoid taxes on otherwise purely commercial activities.
- The employment of mob-intimidation practices to thwart any and all legal- and media-investigations.
- The abuse and non-earnest use of legal means to silence and intimidate journalists and former members.
- The dishonest portrayal of its global ambitions, its absurd tenets, its coercive means and the number of members it has enslaved.
I accuse!, Ich Klage An!, J’ACCUSE!
Allow me to end on a quote from one of history’s most famous letters:
I have only one passion, that of the light, in the name of humanity which has suffered so much and is entitled to happiness. My ignited protest is nothing more than the cry of my heart. So may one dare bring me to criminal court, and may the investigation take place in broad daylight!
I am waiting. “ – From “J’accuse” Emile Zola’s open letter addressing the Dreyfus affair.