“Religion” is a word I object to. It covers way too much to mean anything, really. It covers Christianity which is (mostly, Calvin can take a hike) fundamentally based upon free-will. It includes Islam which is a totally deterministic faith based on the absolute control of Allah. It includes Asian belief systems that don’t even have a god. It includes (it is often claimed) atheism. It includes Hinduism that has millions of gods. It can even include the ramblings of Hitler, Marx, Carson, Gore or Hubbard.
Religions are like cities in the rural USA. You don’t need a royal charter, you just call it yourself and put up a sign which states the place’s name, population and elevation above mean sea-level. It don’t make it a city though, not in the real sense of “city”. Manchester, MS is not a city the way Manchester, England is and I’m sure that while the inhabitants of the former have great civic pride and care for their little town they, if you ask them nicely, would say that they live in a small town without the usual civic trappings: the international airport, the universities, the sports teams that are known half a world away…
Similarly calling your scam a religion doesn’t make it so. Religions have been started by fine and noble people. Even the guy who sentenced Christ to death had no problem with him, personally, and I have heard little criticism of Buddha. They have also been started by the demented, the thoroughly unhinged and, of course, absolute charlatans. I have no idea if a great many religious characters were deranged or just on the make. It’s easier to figure out the closer their lifetime was to the modern-day. Rasputin was clearly a charlatan and almost certainly completely unhinged as well. G I Gurdjieff was quite clearly a con-artiste of the first water. Such conclusions are harder to make about earlier religious types: there is less evidence.
The Church of Scientology though, was founded by L Ron Hubbard, very much within living memory. It is therefore utterly fiskable. I could do this but the Southpark guys have already done a number on it:
It’s all “true”. Next time you see a Tom Cruise movie just remember the trans-galactic DC-8s and that he, as an “Operating Thetan”, believes that utter hogwash. Hubbard was a dreadful Sci-Fi author in an era when, even if you were good, it paid peanuts. Philip K Dick got hooked on whiz and went raving mad because he had to write all the time to make a living. Hubbard had a cuter scheme…
“Science fiction editor and author Sam Moscowitz tells of the occasion when Hubbard spoke before the Eastern Science Fiction Association in Newark, New Jersey in 1947: `Hubbard spoke … I don’t recall his exact words; but in effect, he told us that writing science fiction for about a penny a word was no way to make a living. If you really want to make a million, he said, the quickest way is to start your own religion.’”
- that’s from here.
Hubbard wasn’t demented. He wasn’t mentally ill and I actually don’t think he started a cult, exactly, even though his methods were essentially the same. He was a failed author who became a con-man.
Christ was tortured and killed for his religion. Hubbard did it purely to make money. How can the two things be called the same thing? Scientology is a balls-out racket. It is a scam. Scientology’s auditing process (and this is where the cultic, once your in, your in, for the duration thing comes-up – doesn’t the mafia work like that too?) means revealing your deepest secrets, regrets and sins to the “church”. Unlike the Catholics who rigourously enforce the confidentiality of the confessional the Scientologists will, if you ever threaten to leave, use it against you.
Everyone has things that they would destroy them if they were publicised. I once orchestrated a coup in a small African country from a base in an extinct volcano with the aid of a lot of fit-birds in 1960′s specs and very short lab coats, holding clipboards for no apparent reason, whilst I stroked my Persian cat. That should never be revealed. Oh, bugger! Like all Bond villians I give it away towards the end.
That, as my bijecting of the Set of Felis catus, domiciled in a certain African city, with the set of Natural Numbers colleague posted just below, it is therefore obscene to drag a fifteen year old (or anyone) before the beak for slagging off what any reasonable person would regard as organized crime. My (limited) understanding of English law is that it ain’t a libel if it’s true and to call Scientology for what it is is therefore fine. It’s great that a fifteen year old was prepared to protest on this score. It gives me hope for the younger generation.
But, as Pilate said to Christ, “What is truth?”
Proper religions, whatever that means, but for practical purposes, I guess, I mean the major historical faiths that don’t want me dead or enslaved, must be subject to criticism and rational debate. If not, they aren’t rational and should be junked. The modern world. The world of antibiotics and Kylie’s ass and powered flight is predicated on us being able to debate, argue and protest. It started with Copernicus challenging dogma and Martin Luther nailing a thesis to a door. It started with the printing press and people reading scripture for themselves.
Dragging a brave kid into court on the spurious charge of having an opinion (and incidentally calling a bunch of cunts, a bunch of cunts) is repugnant beyond belief.
This is in danger of becoming an essay. I will therefore wind it up. When an “artist” stuck a crucifix in a urinal and photographed it, calling it “Piss Christ”, he upset Christians. Fine, I can understand them being a bit annoyed. They, though, never uttered blood-curdling threats or used either personal or judicial violence against the guy. I am I right in saying that “religions” which are dubiously founded are the first to resort to violence?
The actions of the Police are actually worse than that. They are an outrageous, systematic, betrayal of the traditions of English Common-Law, the Rennaisance, The Reformation and The Enlightenment. They are a betrayal of civilization.