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Just Because Your Weird Superstitions Are Older...
Doesn't mean there's any more reason to believe in them. It's all weird -- Christianity, Judaism, any belief, sans evidence, in god, and all the rest...burning bushes, the Red Sea parting into a giant sidewalk, and all the Jesus mythology taken as real. On Slate, Mark Oppenheimer writes about Scientology, "a bizarre faith invented by a sci-fi hack":

Some Americans may consider Scientology perhaps a cult, maybe a violent sect, and certainly very weird. And, like many, I find the Church of Scientology odd, to say the least. But Scientology is no more bizarre than other religions. And it's the similarities between Scientology and, say, Christianity and Judaism that make us so uncomfortable. We need to hate Scientology, lest we hate ourselves.

...But when it comes to Scientology, there's a hunger for the negative. I suspect that's because Scientology evinces an acute case of what Freud called the narcissism of small differences: We're made most uncomfortable by that which is most like us. And everything of which Scientology is accused is an exaggerated form of what more "normal" religions do. Does Scientology charge money for services? Yes—but the average Mormon, tithing 10 percent annually, pays more money to his church than all but the most committed Scientologists pay to theirs. Jews buying "tickets" to high-holiday services can easily part with thousands of dollars a year per family. Is Scientology authoritarian and cultlike? Yes—but mainly at the higher levels, which is true of many religions. There may be pressure for members of Scientology's elite "Sea Organization" not to drop out, but pressure is also placed on Catholics who may want to leave some cloistered orders. Does Scientology embrace pseudoscience? Absolutely—but its "engrams" and "E-meter" are no worse than what's propagated by your average Intelligent Design enthusiast. In fact, its very silliness makes it less pernicious.

And what about the "Xenu" creation myth anti-Scientologists are so fond of? Scientologists have promised me that it is simply not part of their theology—some say they learned about Xenu from South Park. Several ex-Scientologists have sworn the opposite. Given his frequent conflation of science fiction, theology, and incoherent musings, I think that Hubbard may have taught that eons ago, the galactic warlord Xenu dumped 13.5 trillion beings in volcanoes on Earth, blowing them up and scattering their souls. But I'm not sure that it is an important part of Scientology's teachings. And if Xenu is part of the church's theology, it's no stranger than what's in Genesis. It's just newer and so seems weirder.

As a regular reader of this blog writes about this piece by Oppenheimer:

It reminds me of my parents’ recent trip to Brooklyn to attend my cousin’s orthodox wedding. All they could talk about was how weird everything was about the event. I told them that, as an atheist, it’s all weird to me and they’re just splitting hairs.

Posted by aalkon at August 4, 2007 9:39 AM

Comments

I think what makes Scientology distinctive is that it selects its flock based on a short list of character quirks. All those "personality tests" and so forth that you see on Hollywood Blvd are designed to figure out whether you're needy enough --sufficiently contentious, credulous, humorless and proud-- to be worked into their machinery.

If you don't enjoy squabbles, or you dislike tall tales, if you're quick with a punchline or you don't take yourself too seriously, then Scientology has no use for you. Not so the Catholics: They'll accept you for whatever obeisance they can harvest. But Scientology has standards.

This morning we read that a whole bunch of these fuckers are descending on Minneapolis to exploit the nerves raw from tragedy. Scientologists are by definition impossible to like, and I wish their tax exemption could be revoked. But there literally aren't enough assholes in the world for us to be afraid of them.

Posted by: Crid at August 4, 2007 7:51 AM

Exactly, Crid.

I had a similar conversation with an ex girlfriend who was a fallen Catholic and she would make fun of Tom Cruise's religious beliefs. My response was how odd it was to eat and drink the body of Christ? A little wine, wafer and few magic words... the blood and body of a dead carpenter.

Here is a 7 minute cartoon (by ex-Mormons) on the belief system of the Mormons, America's First Sci-Fi Cult:

http://tinyurl.com/29v6me

This is the current belief system of a major contender for the POTUS.

Posted by: Joe at August 4, 2007 8:44 AM

How dare you be agreeable when I'm trying to stay pissed off at you. How dare you.

Listen, it's true that transubstantiation is probably as weird as Xenu. But let's read between the lines and admit that these enterprises speak to a need for something transcendent in a way that NBC's Must-See Thursday never did. It's a little churlish to give people a hard time about it.

But these distinctions are worth making. Here's a short list of faiths in descending order of wretchedness. (Keep an eye on the newspaper, this list is always subject to revision)

1st, 2nd (Tie): Islam
1st, 2nd (Tie): Scientology
3rd: Catholicism
4th: Mormons

Some religions kill you, some just take your money, and it's good to know which is which in the short term.

Posted by: Crid at August 4, 2007 9:12 AM

Listen, it's true that transubstantiation is probably as weird as Xenu. But let's read between the lines and admit that these enterprises speak to a need for something transcendent in a way that NBC's Must-See Thursday never did.

Well, Must-See Thursday may not do it for you, but for a lot of guys the Superbowl, or the Ohio State v. Michigan game, sure does . . .

Posted by: jenl at August 4, 2007 9:35 AM

I'm just a churl, what can I say?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 4, 2007 9:37 AM

Agreed. But people don't know the exact details of the LDS. How many are going to crack open the Book of Mormon and read it from cover to cover?

Still angry at me? What I am doing is a typical trick of cults called 'Love Bombing' the Crid without the gushing and group hugs via text messages.

You should check out YouTube channel: XENUTV. They have an entire collection of TV shows, exposes and interviews on Scientology. If you haven't already.

Posted by: Joe at August 4, 2007 9:46 AM

I was raised Catholic. From my earliest memories, I had issues with church doctrine. My mother refused to put me in public school so I attended only Catholic schools, taught by priests and nuns. Oh, sure I loved the stories and had fun in the church singing and doing holiday activities but I did have serious issues with the methodology. Whenever I would question, the answer was, "That is the way it is, you must believe."

I was suspended from school before graduation because we studied an intensive 6 week program on the holocaust. At the end of the course, on the last day, the point the Priest made was that 6 million Jews died and in the last few years 6 million abortions were performed in the United States. I stood up and said in disbelief, " THAT is what this has been about? You are equating ripping families apart and slaughtering millions of men, women and children to aborted fetuses?? How dare you compare taking the lives of millions of people with the destruction of tissue that has not yet come to be? It has not a home, a family and LIVED in the world! These people were HERE and were tortured and brutalized and you are trying to equate the two issues???" The rest of the class was in SHOCK and I was removed from the school and threatened with not being allowed to graduate. This is one of MANY negative moments with the catholics.

For many years I quested. Why did I question so much? Why was I not comfortable in any religion I tried? I went through dozens of religions, reading their doctrine and trying to find that enlightenment. For 10 years I tried and when the revelation hit me, I felt all of the same enlightened feelings that the other followers felt. I was an atheist.

Everything about my life and world became very clear to me. Everything came into focus. I found true happiness with that and I've never looked back. I had to actually 'come out' to my family and I'm rather ostracized as a result. My family went WAY CRAZY deep Catholic in a resurgance 5 years ago and they do everything they can to claw their way into the minds of my children. I have 3 freethinking children and I raised them with no religious doctrine whatsoever. Guess what? they are good kids and never had to do anything out of fear of what might happen to them after they die!(like I grew up) They are decent people because it's the right thing to do, not because they'll look good in the eyes of a magical sky fairy and expect a payoff upon death.

Scientology is one of the most frightening organizations I've ever researched. I remember being thoroughly disgusted when the government granted them the same tax free status as religions. ( I'm all for taxing the churches. They put their nose in influncing our politics, you want in, buy in like the rest of us) The grip scientology holds on its followers is downright scary and the pervasive way they can get into the personal lives of their opposition is terrifying. The largest known breach of US security came from within, by scientologists. By all means, look at youtube and see what clips are out there. I was surprised at how nicely they have compiled information I read about years ago. I agree with Crid's list.

Sorry for babbling on so much. I've enjoyed Amy's work for many years I'm just rather new posting here and I thoroughly enjoy this group of posters. I'm off to mow my yard now. Buhbye!

Posted by: Cathleen at August 4, 2007 10:22 AM

I place Scientology on the same level as the Church of Christ, Scientist - and any other religion that actively discourages it's members from using modern medicine. It really boils down to what people do with their faith. People want to have faith, live and let live - not really something that bothers me. But when people refuse medical care for their children or sorely needed psychiatric care, I have serious problems with it. The same is true of people who, based on their religious dogma, actively seek to restrict the rights of others, or commit acts of violence.

I am not anti-religion, I am anti dominionism, bigotry, ignorance and denialism. Having a couple of neurological disorders, Scientology's brand of denialism strikes an especially raw nerve.

Posted by: DuWayne at August 4, 2007 10:31 AM

I think more people should consider this part of Cathleen's story:

I have 3 freethinking children and I raised them with no religious doctrine whatsoever. Guess what? they are good kids and never had to do anything out of fear of what might happen to them after they die!(like I grew up) They are decent people because it's the right thing to do, not because they'll look good in the eyes of a magical sky fairy and expect a payoff upon death.

There's no need to bring religion in to teach morality. Consider that it's actually in our self-interest to be moral and good (in terms of how we're received in society and in our own self-esteem), and we have evolved, built-in moral guidance.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 4, 2007 10:36 AM

Man, are you an optimist.

Posted by: Crid at August 4, 2007 10:42 AM

Actually, I'm not. I'm guessing you don't believe in god, yet you don't lie, cheat, steal, and club your neighbor so you can get a better parking space. What we consider morality -- checks and balances on behavior -- is built into humans as social animals.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 4, 2007 11:44 AM

Mormons are the one group of people that always annoyed me. I have read the book of Mormon. I know the details. Most atheists have no clue about the LDS. Give me a Catholic, Muslim, Evangelical or even a Scientologist any day. Those guys are jerks. But Mormons are so damn polite. It just plain annoys me.

Posted by: PurplePen at August 4, 2007 1:21 PM

What are some of the noteworthy things about Mormonism? For the uninitiated like me. (I only started paying attention to Islam after it became a rather regular reason for a lot of people to blow a lot of other people up.)

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 4, 2007 2:40 PM

Why thank you, Amy. I frequently am told by other parents that, "Oh, you have such good boys! I have never dealt with a more easygoing, wonderful young man." Then it usually goes wrong when they invite us to join their church and we decline as being non religious. The looks of shock and horror I get are amazing. They just CAN'T accept that it is possible to raise good kids without fear of hellfire and damnation and their lord.

I am a native NYer that chose to live in the country (for having horses)and I live in a small town in northern VA, not far from DC but far enough to be quaint and over-religious. Many parents have discouraged socialization with my children, DESPITE the fact they complimented them, because my house is not a house of god. Their kid is on probation for vandalism of a local park, I got A/B honor roll kids and I'M the problem because I'm raising my kids 'the heathen way'!! The hypocrisy is unbelievable!!

My former employer was a Mormon and used to stink because of his 'magical temple underwear' and was a hard line 'kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out' kind of guy. Years ago, we were once discussing a tragedy (unfortunately it happened again the other day) where an elderly grandfather forgot to drop off his granddaughter to day care and she died in a hot car. His reaction was so vehement to kill the old man as penance for taking the girl's life, that I could not believe I was speaking to a supposedly religious man!! Tithe away!!

Posted by: Cathleen at August 4, 2007 3:05 PM

* America is the Chosen Land
* Israelites originally inhabited the good ol' U.S. of A and S.America. They floated here by boat and in barrels. They built great cities, waged wars, cured diseases, where visited by the Lord Jesus Christ and Saved but the evil Red Man killed them off and replaced them.
* Men are Gods who will eventually have their own private planet to populate.
* Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon, brought to him via an Angel who gave him the Golden Plates. He translated the words of the Golden Plates (which were written by Jewish Indians) (they wrote in a language called "Reformed Egyptian"). He translated via a "Seer Stone".
* An evil woman stole the first version of the Book of Mormon, saying that if it was divine revelation then Joseph Smith could create a second exactly written Book of Mormon for comparison.
* Joseph Smith could not create another exactly written Book of Mormon because the DEVIL had miraculously changed the first version so it would appear to be diffrent than the later version he wrote.
* You can hold ceremonies to save your dead ancestors.
* God lives with his many Wives and has alot of Sex.
* Joseph Smith is the Greatest man that ever lived.
* Black skin is a curse.
* Women are here to Breed.

This religion is becoming popular in other countries via the zealous missionary work they force their youth to do. They ship them off to the corners of the world to preach the word of Mr. Smith. I believe it is mandatory.

Posted by: PurplePen at August 4, 2007 4:24 PM

My wife and I are expecting our first child on Oct. 19th. My mom (who has never stopped trying to bring me into "the fold") asked me about taking the child to church after she's been born. I said "nah." She immediately came back with "don't you want her to know God?" I said "nope." She replied "that's not what the bible says." I said "1. the bible doesn't say anything about taking your child to church every sunday, that was invented later. 2. If I don't attend church, and don't care to have my child join your religion, why would I care what the bible says?" We changed subjects soon after.
I do my best to avoid discussing politics or religion with my parents, as we get along SO much better on other topics.

Posted by: Jamie at August 4, 2007 6:34 PM

Jamie, it is best to avoid it. I can not begin to describe the shit I got for not taking my kids to church or baptizing them. My mother's logic was, "If he is not baptized and, God forbid, something happens to him, he won't get into heaven."

I said, "OK Ma, using your logic and teachings of the church, God will always forgive me and wouldn't hold it against the baby that his mother was too stupid to baptize him. The way I see it, all bases are covered anyway."

It's been about 15 years since I 'came out'. She knows not to discuss it with me anymore.

I think the most frustrating part of being non religious is the stigma you get from others who are; co-workers, neighbors, etc. It's sad that I often hide my feelings because I'm petrified of backlash and religious discrimination in the workplace. They'll make concessions for Muslim headscarves, spots on your head for Ash Wednesday, but if I say the wrong thing to the wrong person I'll get shunned. People equate Atheism with Devil worship. I actually have to choose my words and I often say 'not religious'. The very word Atheist is just too shocking and hateful to those who do not understand the term.

Posted by: Cathleen at August 4, 2007 7:04 PM

Hey, PurplePen, don't forget the magical underwear that Mormons get once they hit a certain status in Temple. It's a one piece long underwear to the mid thigh along with 3/4 sleeves.It is worn UNDER the bra for women, it must be the closest thing to your skin. It must be worn under all clothes, always including during sex, for which it has these handy lil flaps! I forget the particulars on bathing, but I believe there is a time limit for how long it can be off the body for washing yourself. The garment itself is not to be washed, or washed often I forget how it goes. FUNKY!!
Mormon Comedy: see Orgazmo

Posted by: Cathleen at August 4, 2007 7:28 PM

Cathleen I loved Orgazmo! South Park had this great ep. called "All About Mormons", it outlines all of their beliefs pretty well.

Posted by: PurplePen at August 4, 2007 8:09 PM

Howdy, Raised Reorganized LDS in Independence , The "True keepers of the word and lineage of Joseph Smith". That pesky Brigham Young ran the church clean outta the United States to Utah after Joseph was killed. Great town to be raised in, (ask Harry Truman}. Great religion to grow up with. Don't practice it anymore. Got to be an Eagle Scout and Army officer. Good practice for life. Life turned out a little differently in California in the '60s. But, I could live in the woods, kill and skin a rabbit, and take care of myself when I was 13. So. the religion didn't play out in the long run but it worked for me.

Posted by: Nick at August 4, 2007 10:28 PM

Being raised a mormon myself I got to say I am offended. Not that you guys are criticizing, but that your criticizing things that arent true

Hey, PurplePen, don't forget the magical underwear that Mormons get once they hit a certain status in Temple. It's a one piece long underwear to the mid thigh along with 3/4 sleeves.
- Cathleen

It is actually at set much like a simple tee shirt and grippy skin tight boxers, and you dont have to wear them while having sex, you can take them off to bathe and my parents washed them all the time

* America is the Chosen Land
- true, but many christian sects also say the same thing
* Israelites originally inhabited the good ol' U.S. of A and S.America. They floated here by boat and in barrels. They built great cities, waged wars, cured diseases, where visited by the Lord Jesus Christ and Saved but the evil Red Man killed them off and replaced them.
- kinda true, some Israelites came across, though they never originally came from the Americas to begin with. Members contend, that given the many great civilizations of mezo and south america, and archelogical evidence of passage between the new world and old after the submergence of the bering land bridge, that such a claim is plausable.
* Men are Gods who will eventually have their own private planet to populate.
- The saying goes 'man is as god once was and god is what man might be' I could give you probably a dozen biblical scriptures which seem to validate this postition but the two most commonly referenced are John 10:34-35 and Romans 8:16-17 and they acctully get their own universe
* Joseph Smith created the Book of Mormon, brought to him via an Angel who gave him the Golden Plates. He translated the words of the Golden Plates (which were written by Jewish Indians) (they wrote in a language called "Reformed Egyptian"). He translated via a "Seer Stone".
- again kinds true, he was directed to where they were buried and then the angle kept them for about 4yrs, and there were two stones the Urim and the Thummim mentioned in exudous
* An evil woman stole the first version of the Book of Mormon, saying that if it was divine revelation then Joseph Smith could create a second exactly written Book of Mormon for comparison.
* Joseph Smith could not create another exactly written Book of Mormon because the DEVIL had miraculously changed the first version so it would appear to be diffrent than the later version he wrote.
- Actually the woman was the wife of the guy financing the publication, she let someone borrow it and Smith was told not to write that book of the text again because if he did so then whom ever had the original would claim they wrote it as a story and it was plagurised - not considered doctrine, just history
* You can hold ceremonies to save your dead ancestors.
- true, and again they claim biblical sripture s the source
* God lives with his many Wives and has alot of Sex.
- sex is never mentioned, but everyone assumes, only one heavenly mother is really mentioned but again everyone assumes more wives, something about there being 1 man for every 7 women in heaven because women are more virtuos and more likley to get int heaven - polygamy in the afterlife encouraged on the basis that since marruge is required for godhood it would be unfair to all the women who made it to heaven without mates, so its only fair to let a bunch of them marry one guy
* Joseph Smith is the Greatest man that ever lived.
- please
* Black skin is a curse.
- at the time the LDS church held this position(cruse on Ham son of Noah's lineage cause he saw his druch ass dad naked) a number of other churches said the same - some still do
* Women are here to Breed.
- kinda true, men and women are here to have kids

So please if your going to slam, slam the things they acctually belive, like
3 of the apostles of the church christ set up in america in the 1st century are still roaming the earth
there is no hell
there are three levels of heaven
the highest level of heven is splt into three levels as well
there are other lost tribes of Isrel still to be discovered

Posted by: lujlp at August 4, 2007 11:57 PM

lujlp thanks for the corrections. I read that over 6 years ago. I think I confused it with the Mormon Doctrine. Also most of what Mormons are taught today has changed over the years, just like all other pseudo Christian sects.

“kinda true, some Israelites came across…”

The original claim is that all/most Amerindians came from Israel.

“I could give you probably a dozen biblical scriptures….and they acctully get their own universe’

Yes another popular one is 1 Cor. 8:5 . I could give you the Christian interpretation of these scriptures, but I fear that it will bore all the atheists. The general concept is that Christians do not believe in gods, they believe in the Trinity. This is a hard concept for non-Christians to comprehend. God is not Three gods but One. An example often used is water. Water is a solid (father), liquid(son) and gas(holy spirit). Three different “forms” but it is still water (god).

“true, and again they claim biblical sripture s the source”
The specifically claim 1: Cor. 15: 29 "Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?"
Since Paul did not say “we” but “why then are they baptized” Christians traditionally took “they” to mean pagans preformed this practice. Therefore this is not a Christian practice.

"God lives with his many Wives and has alot of Sex."

God is married to his goddess wife and has spirit children, (Mormon Doctrine p. 516.)

"Christ was begotten by an Immortal Father in the same way that mortal men are begotten by mortal fathers," (Mormon Doctrine, page 547.)

Meaning the Virgin Mary wasn’t a Virgin after god visited her.

Posted by: PurplePen at August 5, 2007 3:00 AM

“…cruse on Ham son of Noah's lineage cause he saw his druch ass dad naked)..”

Yes but the LDS differs because of the following (from wiki)
“repeated indication in the Book of Mormon that Lamanites were "cursed" with a "dark" skin or a "skin of blackness" as a result of their "iniquities" and "transgressions" (e.g. 2 Ne. 5: 21; Alma 3: 6), an effect that has been interpreted by some LDS Church members and leaders, including former church president Spencer W. Kimball , to apply to modern Native Americans”

Another favorite tidbit is:

"At the time the devil was cast out of heaven, there were some spirits that did not know who had authority, whether God or the devil. They consequently did not take a very active part on either side, but rather thought the devil had been abused, and considered he had rather the best claim to the government. These spirits were not considered bad enough to be cast down to hell, and never have bodies; neither were they considered worthy of an honorable body on this earth." --- Elder Orson Hyde.


These spirits (who lived on another planet) became black people when they came to earth. Traditional Mormon scripture states that we Pre-Existed in another planet as Spirit children of God and his Wife. Those that have white skin were good spirit children, those that have any other skin are bad. However it was revealed to the LDS in 1978 that blacks could indeed now hold the priesthood. And by 1981 the Book of Mormon was revised.

I have generally found Mormons to be polite, fantastic neighbors, and hardworking people. As an atheist the reason I feel such ambivalence towards the LDS is because it has the potential of becoming another Catholic Church. Despite the power of Evangelicals, they will never form one church because they bicker too much with one another and they are generally distrustful of the idea (stemming from their admiration for Martin Luther, and the fear of the Anti-Christ).

Posted by: PurplePen at August 5, 2007 3:12 AM

Sorry, but if you believe in god and angels and all the rest, you need to turn on your rationality, to put it politely. Parsing what "god" did or didn't do...that's like arguing about what color shoes the tooth fairy wore, isn't it? I mean, considering you have the same evidence for the existence of the tooth fairy that you do for god, the angels, and the burning bush.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 5, 2007 11:55 AM

Well to be fair Amy many people have expereinced the burning bush, its just than no man ever has and it isnt a message from god

Sorry, I just cant resisted my perverted wit

Posted by: lujlp at August 5, 2007 1:12 PM

Cathleen said "People equate Atheism with Devil worship."

??? I thought people equated paganism with Devil worship? But that doesn't mean it is. Paganism doesn't recognize the concept of a "Devil" per se. Evil, yeah, but not evil incarnate as the "Devil" or "Satan".

Posted by: Flynne at August 5, 2007 1:32 PM

??? I thought people equated paganism with Devil worship? But that doesn't mean it is. Paganism doesn't recognize the concept of a "Devil" per se. Evil, yeah, but not evil incarnate as the "Devil" or "Satan".

Flynne...some churches equate EVERYTHING that doesn't follow their precise take on Christianity as being Satan worship.

Play D&D? Worshippin' Satan.

Mormon? Worshippin' Satan.

Catholic? Worshippin' Satan.

Listen to Rock music? Worshippin' Satan.

Listen to Christian Rock music even? Worshippin' Satan.

Any religion other than Christian? Definitely Worshippin' Satan.

Atheist? Worshippin' Satan.

The list goes on, ad nauseum. When a church, mosque, cult, whatever, really wants to get their claws into you...demonify anything that isn't what they approve.

Posted by: Jamie at August 5, 2007 2:18 PM

Well to be fair Amy many people have expereinced the burning bush, its just than no man ever has

I could give you a list, actually.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 5, 2007 2:52 PM

I don't worship Satan (or anyone or anything) but I do think he dresses much snappier than the average Angeleno.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at August 5, 2007 2:53 PM

I'm guessing you don't club your neighbor so you can get a better parking space

I do! Parking sucks in SF. Makes me pine for LA parking. (really)

Posted by: justin case at August 5, 2007 9:02 PM

Well to be fair Amy many people have expereinced the burning bush, its just than no man ever has

You obviously don't know a lot of men who have smoked from bongs in the buff. At least from bongs that have that annoying tendency to drop burning embers. Lighting off my beard sucks, lighting off the pubes. . .lets just say, I'll never hold a bong in my lap while nude again and leave it at that.

Posted by: DuWayne at August 5, 2007 10:45 PM

Flynne...some churches equate EVERYTHING that doesn't follow their precise take on Christianity as being Satan worship.

Yeah, I kinda figured that, Jamie, but it's good to have it verified! Now I don't feel so eeeeeeeeeeeevil just for being pagan! o_O


lets just say, I'll never hold a bong in my lap while nude again and leave it at that.

hehehehee! Excellent visual, DuWayne! o_O

Posted by: Flynne at August 6, 2007 5:36 AM

I, for one, have a much bigger problem with Scientology than I do with any of the other religions I've experienced. And it has NOTHING to do with its doctrines/beliefs of its followers. You want to believe in thetans/auditing/emeters, fine. If it makes you a better person, great. Likewise, if you believe Jesus died for your sins, and it allows you to live in a more compassionate and giving manner, wonderful.

What really irks me about Scientology is its objective to separate its followers from their money, whether they can afford it or not.

Religion fascinates me. I have attended services with friends who follow several of the major world religions. For a journalism class that required an "under-cover" project, I "joined" the Church of Scientology for 1 month, beginning w/ a personality test and progressing through my first class (cost: $35). Never have I been so disgusted.

Although I have never totally accepted any of the teachings and doctrines of any other religion (and I'll be the first to day I get creeped out by the Jesus-is-cool songs they sing at teen-oriented Christian services), Scientology enraged me. Although I was promised 12 hours of teaching and auditing for my $35, I was guilted and pressured after the 1st 2 hours to spend $300 on a different class, as I had a "pretty good grasp" on the material of my first class. I refused to progress until I'd received my 12 hours, however, and was nagged mercilessly.

I attended class with a woman, who hadn't been to classes for 2 weeks b/c she couldn't afford gas to make the hour drive. Within 10 minutes of lecturing her for missing class the instructor informed her that she'd learned enough from the $300 class she'd JUST BEGUN and could now progress to a class that cost upwards of $500. When she said she couldn't afford it (crying), they sold her a book ($15) that would "help her manage her money better."

I'm aware that Catholics are encouraged to give 10% of their income. A couple months of Scientology classes (which involve sitting in a tiny room reading a book to myself) would cost at least 20% of my income.

Other religions I have experienced encourage you to donate what you can afford, and NO OTHER RELIGION besides scientology (at least those I've experienced) would shut their doors to you if you can't pay by the hour.

Posted by: sofar at August 6, 2007 12:11 PM

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