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Dianetics vs The Church Of Scientology

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As Anonymous battles against the Church of Scientology, some people sympathetic to the Church of Scientology raise the issue of religious freedom. What those who protest the Church of Scientology should keep clear is that they are protesting against an organization, not a system of belief. The distinction is commonly lost when people outside of a system of belief look in, and not just when Scientology is the belief system under consideration.

Religion vs. Organization

Mormonism has a similar interesting mixture of belief system and organization. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (or "LDS Church") is the organization in Utah, but there are many "Mormon Fundamentalist" groups who claim that the LDS Church has gone astray and that they better represent authentic Mormonism. Most people seem to realize that the actions of an occasional abusive polygamist should not be held against the LDS Church organization, but some assume that the LDS Church is 100% equal to Mormonism.

Christianity hasn't been a monolithic organization in more than 1000 years, splintering into too many small groups to count. Painting with broad strokes, the Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian organization, with 1.1 billion members. However, another billion Christians belong to different organizations or even to no organization at all. It is often difficult for non-Christians to identify which beliefs are intrinsically part of Christianity and which are only shared by some subset of Christian churches.

Islam (the religion) has at least two major branches of belief (Sunni and Shia), and each branch is further split into three or four "subsects." When one Imam or Mujtahid speaks, he does not represent the entire religion, and may not even represent his entire small group. Most of us have trouble tracking which views are inherent to Islam, which are part of Sunni or Shia, and which are simply isolated pockets based more on geography or politics or culture than religion.

Adherents.com labels the difference as "religion" (Christianity, Islam, Scientology) and "religious body" (Roman Catholic Church, Sunni Islam, Church of Scientology).

Religious Freedom

The U.S. Constitution's First Amendment states that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This is the fundamental declaration of religious freedom in the United States, but it does not protect every organization that claims to represent a religion. Various archdioceses of the Roman Catholic Church are legally liable for illegal actions taken by their priests, for example. If any of the criminal allegations Anonymous makes against the Church of Scientology are true, then the Church of Scientology should face the legal consequences, though the practice of Dianetics or Scientology should not be prohibited.

If someone is interested in Christianity but unhappy with the church they're attending, here in the United States the solution is simple: there is usually another Christian church a few blocks down the road. For Muslims or Mormons, finding alternatives may be more difficult.

There are also alternatives to people who are interested in the religion of Dianetics or Scientology but want to avoid dealing with the Church of Scientology. The International Freezone Association is a group of independent Scientologists who practice the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard but avoid anything having to do with the religious body of the Church of Scientology. Some people are upset with the Church of Scientology because they see it as a profit-seeking entity and believe that large amounts of money are being funneled to David Miscavage and other organization leaders. Other people blame the organization for the deaths of Lisa McPherson and others. Whether these claims are true or not, they are claims against the organization, not against the religion.

Some people may object to the very idea of Scientology, even as practiced by Free Zone Scientologists. Some people object to the very idea of Christianity, or Islam, or religion in general. The U.S. Constitution protects the right of people to practice the religion of their choice, or to practice no religion at all. Protests against a specific Roman Catholic archdiocese because of actions taken by bishops do not threaten that religious freedom. Protests against Muslims in general do.

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About pwinn

  • anonymous

    great article

  • Thanks. I’ve got a friend who left the CoS years ago and spent some time in the Free Zone. It all seems pretty wacky to me, but I’m sure my religious beliefs seem wacky to others.

  • Enron Hubbard

    Anonymous has spread some of the more outrageous Scientology texts, in the hopes of destroying the organization by discrediting the religion. This seems shortsighted. The best way to weaken the for-profit organization would be to widely publicize the lower-level texts — the ones that suck people into the Church because following them actually works to improve lives. Anonymous should be trying to give away what the Church really charges for: a strict code of operations that, if followed, will probably lead to success. It isn’t rocket science; it is stuff like “look up a word in the dictionary if you don’t know it”, “to make someone more cooperative, act just a little happier they they are”, and “don’t do illegal drugs”. Obvious stuff, mostly, but occasionally insightful. Give that info away, and you take away the Church’s true power.

  • Dag


    The fact that anonymous is criticizing the organization and not the religious beliefs of scientologists has been one of their key points for some time now- half the news reports mention this. You’re a little late with the advice.

  • AtlLiberal

    If I read this correctly only religious organizations are subject to criticism and not the underlying religion itself. The First Amendment guarantees that governments will not establish a religion. It also guarantees anyone’s right to practice any religion they darn well choose. It says nothing about a people’s right to criticize religion. There is no law or restriction concerning questioning the validity, rationality, or appropriateness of a religious idea. This article seems to imply that religions are granted a special privilege not offered to other ideas. This is simply not true. It may be impolite to question another’s belief but no law prevents it.

  • The Church of Scientology used to have a headquarters here in Columbus. I don’t think I can render a valid opinion of them because they were always ordering pizzas from us. Each time the bill’d come to $150 and the drivers would get “stiffed” every time for carrying a dozen or so pizzas up three flights of stairs…

  • Excellent, Sir Winn. Thoughtful and void of nonsense, as ever. The distinction tween belief and body is one that really needs to be taken on board.

  • If Scientology had factions, that would be amazing.

    Tony Robbins Orthodox

  • Anonymous

    THANK YOU for elaborating on this subject! I’ve had it with reading articles saying that Anonymous is critical of the religion as a whole.

  • A good and balanced article.

    As an active freezone scientologist I can tell you that the philosophy and religion of scientology is as far from the official church (consisting of the private non profit company called Church of spiritual Technology, the Religious Technology Center and the Church of Scientology International) as it is possible to get and still be on the same planet.

    When Hubbard was alive the church did indeed practice scientology and expanded and helped many people to become more aware as beings. The philosophy was promoted and people were welcomed into the church. Families and family life was promoted and the cost of the services were reasonable.

    After his death, however, a new regime took over (evidence available upon request) and all that changed. The emphasis became, money, dedication to the exclusion of all else and a paranoiac obsession that anyone not with the church was against it. Church members were not allowed to look at the internet or anything the church management deemed contrary to church (not philosophic) doctrine.

    Many of the original followers that assisted Hubbard with his research were booted out. Script and books were changed and a very effective 1984 job was done on the literature.

    Even the wife of Hubbard, a tireless supporter, has become persona non gratis with the church.

    The philosophy of scientology is not practiced in the church. The church is a vehicle for making money, not for “spreading the word”.

    It is a misnomer to say that that the church practices scientology because it does not anymore.

    The only scientology you will find is practiced outside the church in the Scientology Freezone.

    Most of the current critics are critical of the church, not the philosophy, much of which they are probably unaware. But what is of concern is that many critics, and the fellow in the street does not have a clue about what scientology is. All one gets is rhetoric and a diatribe of, “its bad”, “Scientology kills people” or “scientologists eat babies” and other such claptrap. No, the church may participate in dubious activities but certainly any self respecting scientologist does not and scientology does not kill anyone. The bald ignorant statements of, “they be all bad over there” is not a sound approach for adjudicating the merits or otherwise of any philosophy

    How many people know what the ARC triangle represents, or what is a stable datum or what the eight dynamics are and they would not have a clue. How many people actually know what scientology is? Not very many! They do not even know the basics of real scientology.

    But their criticism of the church is very different and very understandable. In the eye’s of the freezone scientologist, the church has committed the ultimate crime of suppressing the philosophy and, instead, imposed an authoritarian dictatorship totally at variance with the original philosophy.

    THAT is why it is attacked so much. Unfortunately the baby often gets thrown out with the bath water.

  • $cientology reminds me of high school when my buddies and I would get bored and do stupid little experiments. Sometimes they were simple little things like going to the mall then gather around at some random moment to look at a spot on the floor. Soon people would start walking up to see what we were looking at, then a small crowd would form – then we’d walk away and see how long it would take for the crowd to disperse.
    One time we made up a religion but then got a little carried away trying to top each other on what we could get people to believe – we had to stop cuz it was getting mean. Good lord, we were idiots…
    we never even thought to make money off it!

    Is it possible hubbard just “left his body” before he got a chance to call off the experiment something?

  • Dag (#4), you tell me I’m late with this advice, and yet comments that come long after yours, like #11, seem to still lack understanding of the distinction — or possibly just don’t care. Hmm…

  • AtlLiberal (#5), I never suggested that it is illegal to criticize religions, and I’m sorry you got that impression. I only suggested that it is counterproductive and pointless.

    I did say that such protests *threaten* religious freedom, but I believe that any protest threatens freedom. That doesn’t mean that the protests shouldn’t happen! People protesting injustice in the Sudan threaten the freedom of the Sudanese government to treat their people unjustly, and that’s a *good* thing. The freedom of the government, in that case, should be considered to be of far less importance than the freedom of the people to life and liberty.

    Let me put it this way: if protests do not constitute a threat to freedom, there is no point in protesting! That people engage in protest means that they recognize the power of protest.

    Does that make sense? I’ve been up all night with a toothache, so I may not be expressing myself well.

  • moneen

    Scientology knowledge is fine when a person can discriminate what is wanted & what is rejected.
    Scientology churches though have policies that can be very undemocratic & despotic.
    Keep a watch over Scientology so that it is never allowed to take any democratic right from any person.

  • Rosemary Thyme

    It is not true that when the Miscavige took over Scientology changed.When Hubbard was alive back in 1967, he was paranoid,he thought the whole world was against him and guess what they were.

    Hubbard was thrown out of Rhodesia,on The Royal Scotsman he ran a totalitarian regime with daily overboardings,children were put in the chain locker,heavy ethics was enforced,crew worked long hours and were often put in lower conditions with little food and sleep.The ship,by then name changed to Apollo was thrown out of Corfu.Disconection and the splitting up of families was rife.

    Hubbard set up the Guardians Office,run by MSH to infiltrate governments,media,banks and he aimed to obliterate Psychiatry.In the 70s 11 members of the Guardians Office including Mary Sue Hubbard were jailed owing to the biggest infiltration of USA government in history.It was during this investigation into Scientology that the plot to ruin Paulette Cooper was discovered.She had written a book exposing Scientology and the Go(Guardians Office) had tried to frame her for making bomb threats against the church.The “Church” of Scientology has always been a money making enterprise.Hubbard got fed up only making a penny a word writing Science Fiction books.
    For more information visit xenu.net and xenutv.net.

  • CultHater

    Nothing can change the fact that Scientology is a cult

  • alessandro

    There’s a new Church of Cult on the block. It shall be called Fictionology.

    Who’s in?

    No gnomes allowed.

  • CultHater (#16) You’re probably referring to the Church of Scientology and not the Free Zone, yes?

  • AF

    Phillip —

    I’m sorry, but your article seems badly flawed because you are (as far as I can tell) using “freedom” to mean something far different from what any of your readers will think you mean by it. A human being’s freedom is considered (by most of the First World, anyways) that human being’s right; therefore, that which is not that human being’s right is therefore excluded from being their “freedom”. I may have the capacity to rob a jewelry store; if I am clever and lucky, I might even get away with it. This does not mean that I have the “freedom” to rob a jewelry store, which is being infringed by the police who would prevent me, because I do not have and never had the right to commit that robbery.

    I think that perhaps you may want to rethink this subject after you’ve recovered from the toothache. Civilization is built upon the idea that we can recognize and respect boundaries, and an aphorism that is often cited to illustrate this concept is that “my right to swing my first ends where the other fellow’s nose begins.” But if you talk about having one’s “freedom” “threatened”, I feel certain that no one is going to understand that your use of the word “freedom” deliberately includes behavior which transgresses those civilized boundaries, which represents not the acting party’s exercise of his rights, but his violation of another’s rights.

  • orthodox

    scientology is the most random thing i’ve heard of – jesus was an alien???

  • AF (#19), the toothache bothered me while leaving comments, not while writing the article. I feel quite certain I expressed myself correctly, and that very few people will randomly assume that I include freedom to commit illegal acts when I refer to “freedom of religion,” despite statement to the contrary within the article itself.

    That I twice said that “freedom of religion” does *not* include freedom to commit illegal acts (using the example of Roman Catholic priests) might have something to do with that, in fact.

    I’m not sure how you could possibly have read that and still come away with the idea that my use of the word freedom includes criminal actions.

    In comment #13 I did use a wider definition of “freedom” in order to demonstrate that ArtLiberal was misunderstanding my statement about protests. If that’s where the confusion came from, I’m sorry. I’m not sure how else to clearly explain that protests can infringe somebody’s idea of “freedom” but still be beneficial.

  • culthater

    Actually to me anyone who follows Hubbard is in a cult.
    “Trapped in the Closet” is my favorite South Park episode by the way.

  • AF

    “I feel quite certain I expressed myself correctly, and that very few people will randomly assume that I include freedom to commit illegal acts when I refer to “freedom of religion,” despite statement to the contrary within the article itself.

    That I twice said that “freedom of religion” does *not* include freedom to commit illegal acts (using the example of Roman Catholic priests) might have something to do with that, in fact.”

    Knowing now that you intended to make such a distinction, I can go back over the article and locate the places that you thought you were making such a distinction clear. However, I still feel that, especially as you actually expressed yourself, you are using a meaning of “freedom” that simply does not match what a normal educated reader would consider the rightful meaning of the term.

    It is not just the effect of #13, where you talk about “the freedom of the Sudanese government to treat their people unjustly”; it is also your assertion that protesting against a religion or other belief system could threaten someone’s freedom to believe in or practice that religion. If someone were to protest against Roman Catholicism, or even all varieties of Christianity, I can’t see how that would be any threat to my religious freedom, not within the correct meaning of the word “freedom”. My freedom does not include any guarantee that anyone has to be happy with what I do, or remain silent with their feelings about it; the idea that my “freedom” could restrict someone else’s rights to such an extent is abhorrent.

    So, frankly, I don’t know what you do mean when you say “freedom”; I just know that it doesn’t match what I, and I daresay the majority of your readers, understand “freedom” to be.

  • AF (#23) do you believe that there is any point to protests whatsoever? Are they always a waste of time, or is there ever any chance of a result? Are protests only intended to make the protestors feel better?

    If protests ever have a chance of effecting change, and I believe that they sometimes do, then they must, by definition, *threaten* the freedom of people to remain as they are. They don’t inherently infringe, but they inherently threaten to do so.

    I really don’t think this should be a difficult point to grasp.

  • Anonymous

    Sure “Anonymous” is against the organization, but it’s more than that. It have to be. It’s a religion created by IRS, giving it tax exempt status. So we have to discuss whether it’s a religion or its a cult. I wasn’t born thousands of years ago so I had no say about many religion. But I have to ask how can one create a religion nowadays. As LRH said, it’s the way to get rich.

    Time and time again, we are too politically correct to call somebody cult, until they killed all their followers. Do I need to quote a few examples? Waco, Heaven’s gate, etc.

    Scientology is another doomsday cult. Life isn’t that important to them. They sign billion year contracts. They have nuclear proof shelters to store their scriptures – it’s well documented on TV. They believe LRH will come back to earth any time, to use any of the office reserved for him in any of the “churches”.

    What made Scientology different from other old religion is that the Scientology “scripture” is textbook case of NLP – neuro-linguistic programming. A form of brain wash you can say. That’s why they sue everybody who reveal too much of their Operating Thetan courses. And it’s too obvious even if you watch a minute of their internal video. That’s why they tried so hard to suppress the Tom Cruise video.

    Actually half of their scripture, OT courses, are not written by LRH, who said that only his writings are to be followed. We know that because there was a court fight between CoS and the author of the new courses. CoS won because the author was “working” for CoS while he wrote the courses. He went on to create another for profit organization based on NLP.

    Of course, we don’t have problems with Scientologist. They are free to believe what they believe. As long as they don’t try to eliminate psychiatry for us. And don’t turn up with a private army when disaster strikes somewhere – creepy.

  • AnonymousAleph

    We know who our enemy is. It is not the free peoples of the world, but the CSI, and its organized crime syndicate.

    Be There – Be Eveywhere

  • waaahnonymous

    I hear that David Miscavige plans on squirreling the severely flawed L Ron Hubbard “tech” and release the OT IX and X levels around the time of the next protest. Kinda funny that the policies are so broken that the violent megalomaniac has to revise it to keep the “Church” afloat. Spread the word, it’s gonna be a fun party. Go Xenuphiles, go! See you on 03.15.08

  • AF

    “AF (#23) do you believe that there is any point to protests whatsoever? Are they always a waste of time, or is there ever any chance of a result? Are protests only intended to make the protestors feel better?

    If protests ever have a chance of effecting change, and I believe that they sometimes do, then they must, by definition, *threaten* the freedom of people to remain as they are. They don’t inherently infringe, but they inherently threaten to do so.

    I really don’t think this should be a difficult point to grasp.”

    Are you sufficiently convinced of the perfection of your opinion, that you cannot conceive of any possibility lying between “does not grasp my opinion” and “does not agree with my opinion”? I grasp your point; I simply disagree with it.

    Again, go back to my first comment. Most people would not count as part of a person or organization’s “freedom”, anything which is not part of that person or organization’s right. Right? So let’s suppose, only for the sake of argument, that every public protest is aimed at directly effecting change (rather than, say, indirectly effecting change by educating people about things they may not have known) and therefore, a public protest inherently leads to the possibility that things may have to change. But … who among us can say that it is their right to not have things change? Not you, not I, so why the Church of Scientology? Why all Scientologists whether Free Zone or CoS? Why Roman Catholics? Why the Unitarians? Why the atheists? No one can be deprived of a “freedom” that they didn’t possess in the first place, and that seems to be exactly the kind of “freedom” you are referring to.

  • Critical Thinker

    We all have a right to think, believe, and say what we want, provided that our BEHAVIOR is respectful of others’ rights to do the same. Scientologists are free to have an idea, and I am free to criticize it, protest it, discuss it, and write about it. Any retaliation must come within the marketplace — or the battlefield — of ideas. If it’s a good idea, it will sustain attack. Ad hominem attacks (attacking the critic) in no way establish those ideas as more worthy, or more credible. Those ad hominem attacks are just attempts to shut down debate.
    That is the most criminal aspect of all, in my opinion, of the Church of Scientology’s behavior. The Protestant Reformation, the United States Constitution, the Enlightenment, and our modern concept of civil society all owe their existence to free debate of ideas. It is the perfecting process of ideas, and it is a gift to mankind. None of us can be protected from being offended, or having our ideas challenged, without infringing on all of us.
    I will join protests of the behavior of the Church of Scientology 3/15/08. It’s my right, and doing so is in no way hateful, bigoted, or oppressive. It is freedom and democracy in action.

  • This is a rarity to have someone actually speak so objectively on principles and not practices, which relate to the practice of principles…

    Excellent work… on this article.


  • Pretty good article. The focus is and should be on the crimes of the church of scientology, rather than of the religious philosophy of scientology itself. As a scientologist myself (outside the church), it’s obvious that the church practices very little scientology these days.

    Even criticism of the philosophy is fine by me, but as the auditing is a spiritual pursuit, and often very subjective in the results attained, intellectual criticism of the philosophy in terms of auditing (the tech) can come up short of what it’s really like.

    There is a great documentary called the Beginners Guide to L. Ron Hubbard which shows a UK TV presenter getting auditing in the freezone, which is about as close to seeing what auditing is, without having some yourself.

  • Gigaplex

    “Again, go back to my first comment. Most people would not count as part of a person or organization’s ‘freedom’, anything which is not part of that person or organization’s right. Right?” – AF

    Right, most people would not as most people get the word “liberty” confused with the word “freedom”. A couple of the definitions of the word freedom on dictionary.com mean the exact same thing as liberty. This alternative definition of freedom only shows up in the realm of politics. The closer proximity a word has to politics, the more likely it’s meaning will get distorted over time 😉

    Obviously, they wouldn’t have created the term liberty if the word freedom already meant the same thing. Nearly all the other 17 definitions of freedom on dictionary.com refer to the original meaning of the word. For example:

    Freedom – the power to determine action without restraint.

    That definition of freedom would include anything and everything. The freedom to kill my neighbor and the freedom to rob people, for example. If there are no restraints, no regulations, etc. keeping me from doing something then I have the freedom to do it. It does not matter what the action is. The definition does not apply to only certain actions.

    Liberty is a better word for what you are trying to describe, AF. Liberty is a limited subset of freedom that has the restrictions you refer to: namely, the freedom to initiate aggression against another is not included in the subset of freedoms defined by liberty. Liberty basically means you can do whatever you want as long as you are not hurting another’s property (their body also being their property).

    You could of course define other subsets of freedom besides liberty. For example, “freedom of religion”. This is defined in the US Constitution which is built on the base of liberty. So freedom of religion is exactly what that amendment says and would not include those freedoms outside the scope of liberty.

    So really, both the author and AF are correct in their statements but each of you are using different definitions for the same word thus creating the confusion.

  • Gigaplex

    If a person is protesting against the religion as a whole, they may be doing it because they want to raise awareness of their belief that the religion is not logical or right or whatever. That is certainly legal to do and in itself does not infringe upon anyone’s right to religious freedom as defined in the US Constitution.

    The problem occurs though when that person is also protesting to get the government to do something. Maybe they want the government to shut down the organization because of their illegal activities or fine them or whatever.

    If they are trying to protest both of these things or if there are two different people there protesting these two different things, then the protest can easily be interpreted as though the group is protesting because they want scientology the religion banned which would be an infringement on the freedom of religion. This hurts credibility, hurts the chances of actually getting anything done, makes it harder for scientologists to get out (because the protesters look crazy), and can warp the movement into a movement that really IS about destroying a religion rather than an organization.

    Making the differentiation between an organization and a philosophy is just being a responsible adult. I hope to see more responsible adults in the anon movement because certainly some already have it down.

  • cwbell

    I like your analysis and pointing out the different aspects of the issue.