Sunday, March 07, 2010

"Breaking With Scientology"

The NYT has a solid article, with some associated pictures and video, centered on a couple who left the Scientology organization after spending their whole lives up till then working their asses off for it. (Their parents were members, too, so that's how that were brought up.)

Hard to say where we should draw the line between respecting religious freedom and investigating what increasingly looks like a scam and an abusive, hyper-controlling cult. I mean, I know which way I lean viscerally, and I'm sure you know, too.

I guess I'll just leave it there, and let you read the article.

(h/t: Peter Daou, rt by @Johngcole)



[Added] If you're wondering why my post title is in quotes, it's because that was the NYT's headline when I started composing this post. It is now "Defectors Say Church of Scientology Hides Abuse."

[Added2] Long-time Scientology watcher Tony Ortega has a good blog post on this NYT article.


Anonymous said...

Hard to say where we should draw the line between respecting religious freedom and investigating what increasingly looks like a scam and an abusive, hyper-controlling cult.

Mr. Keefe,

I respectfully want to point out that the statement above is a false dichotomy. The crux of the issue is this: no body of people (be they a religion, nation or Elks Club) has the right to engage in the wholesale disregard for human rights and justice that Scientology is engaged in.

Religious freedom ends when human rights get trampled.

-"Bob Loblaw"
your friendly neighborhood member of Anonymous

Louanne said...

This article is dripping with badly done or even completely omitted research. Obviously the author did not bother to even talk to Scientologists!

What's left is slimy anti-religious propaganda and some nice photos.

- L

bjkeefe said...


You're just wrong. Unless you don't count ex-Scientologists as Scientologists. And if you don't, I think you can understand why I am so close to letting my visceral reaction carry the day and just flat-out label Scientology a cult that should be declared illegal, and be done with it.


I take your points, and believe me, emotionally, I share your views. My problem is that I have enormous respect for our Constitution, and without first-hand knowledge, I don't want to pass final judgment. I will say, though, that between this article, the series in the St. Pete Times I blogged about previously, and other reading I've done, I'm getting pretty close.

As you'll have noticed, people like Louanne don't do much to help Scientology's case in my mind. (I suppose, to be scrupulously skeptical, that I have to admit I don't know for sure that she's not a member of Anonymous, doing an impersonation of a Scientologist!)

BillyBob said...

Louanne is Definitely a Scientologist
and out of her mind
louanne Scietology
louann Scientology
or luana1980

you will be able to read all her thousands upon thousands of loony postings in all their glory
you'll defiantly come to the conclusion shes a Scientoligist
an off Her rocker

a small group of
real diehard Scientoligists spend all of their time at the cults expense flooding net and post their vehement defense of their crackpot religion

Anonymous said...

I'm all for religious freedom. I don't think anyone, religion or no, should be taxed. I do want to see the individuals responsible for their well-documented kidnappings, forced abortion, physical abuse, withheld medical care, forced contracts, and defamation brought to justice in the courts. To do so is no violation of any rights, whether from God or the constitution.

As for near-brainwashing and disconnection from families, I expect that's not legally actionable. But we can certainly warn others of the evils of the CoS - and we do.


Anonymous said...

Don't you think that by giving any church a degree of protection from scrutiny that doesn't apply to the rest of society, that THAT is what would infringe the Constitution?

bjkeefe said...

Thanks for the hints about Googling Louanne. And to your last question: yes -- (1) religious freedom certainly should not mean the "right" to commit crimes with immunity from prosecution, and (2) all organizations, especially those cloaking themselves in the mantle of religion, should be subject to at least as much scrutiny as any other organization.

To the extent that I know about Anonymous, I salute your motivations and your efforts. Perhaps I should learn more about your group, but for the moment I remain more worried about the various Christianist cults run amok, due to their larger numbers and greater political clout (e.g.), so I will probably continue to pay more attention to them.

However, I am comforted to know that an organized effort to expose Scientology is alive and well. So, thanks for your work.