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Scientology Critic Arrested After 6 Years 1046

Posted by Hemos
from the running-to-standstill dept.
destinyland writes "Friday police arrested 64-year-old Keith Henson. In 2000 after picketing a Scientology complex, he was arrested as a threat because of a joke Usenet post about "Tom Cruise Missiles." He fled to Canada after being found guilty of "interfering" with a religion, and spent the next 6 years living as a fugitive. Besides being a digital encryption and free speech advocate, he's one of the original Burr-Brown/Texas Instruments researchers and a co-founder of the Space Colony movement."
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Scientology Critic Arrested After 6 Years

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  • Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by salimma (115327) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:35AM (#17890712) Homepage Journal
    Have we in the Western world become so enamored by political correctness that we cannot even take a joke for what it is? A similar double standard is happening in Britain right now: racism by the majority is rightfully condemned, but some minorities seem to be able to get away with inciting hatred [guardian.co.uk] (The Observer)
  • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garcia (6573) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:38AM (#17890766) Homepage
    Have we in the Western world become so enamored by political correctness that we cannot even take a joke for what it is?

    We've become so enamored with religion and terrorism that we can't make jokes about anything having to do with either.
  • by Cornflake917 (515940) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:41AM (#17890808) Homepage
    Seriously, it's just a pyramid scheme that takes advantage of people's unhappiness. The leaders of scientology make bank by brainwashing their followers.

    Even if Scientology was a legitimate religion, why is it illegal for someone to interfere with a religion, but it's completely acceptable for religions to interfere with everyone elses lifes.
  • Re:hm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Applekid (993327) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:47AM (#17890888)
    One of the things that makes Scientology dangerous is not that they believe in odd things, it's that they are very well organized and equipped to muzzle detractors. South Park attacked the fundamentals of belief in a way that's obvious. Nobody except Keith and that church branch really know what happened during his protest. The original trial where he wasn't able to even counter Scientology's accusations is a travesty of justice. Beleving in Xenu, thetans, and paying gobs of money for the privilage of memorizing word lists aren't in themselves dangerous, illegal, or even wrong. What IS dangerous is how much legal protection they are granted by being recognized as a religion and their willingness to exploit the law in their favor. Other religious organizations (Roman Catholic for the best example) dumped influencing governments centuries ago. Like a badly behaved child, this new religion is trying to do exactly what a lot of the old world religions did at one time and no longer consider fashionable.
  • by Tweekster (949766) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:48AM (#17890898)
    The vast majority of religions that do not require payment. Most religions will teach the beliefs regardless of whether you cough up money. Some ask for donations but that is hardly on the same level as Scientology.
  • All we need now (Score:1, Insightful)

    by oliverthered (187439) <oliverthered@hotma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:50AM (#17890928) Journal
    All we need now is for the government to arrest all the religious people for interfering with atheists (and we are all born atheists) and the world will be a better place.
  • It just seems (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DaMattster (977781) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:51AM (#17890940)
    like people are becoming more and more panicky nowadays. This whole thing is a giant over-reaction much like the Cartoon Network stunt in Boston. Our government has instilled so much fear in our everyday lives through the repetition of 9/11 and Terrorism that it has greatly our perception of safety and security. I would argue that the threat of terrorism is not as high as the government would have you believe. I am more likened to see 9/11 as a more isolated event that highlighted the critical need to improve security but not to forgo the freedoms that the constitution gives us. Let me caveat by stating that I do not take anything away from the seriousness of the event and I personally cheered as the Taliban paid dearly for their actions. The reality is that we are NOT inches away from another attack, like the Bush Administration would have you believe. In fact, given the lies used to justify the Iraq war, I would say any document issued by the Bush Administration is automatically suspect. We do not need to lead our life with hair trigger concern. This hair trigger concern has detrimental effects to the body and brain.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:52AM (#17890960) Homepage Journal
    So what's your definition of a "legitimate religion," and why doesn't Scientology fit it?
  • sometimes, i think it is wrong for countries like germany to prosecute them

    other times, i think it is wrong for the usa not too

    the issue is one of persecution: one should not be persecuted for their beliefs

    but if you are persecuting a group BECAUSE they believe they have a right to persecute people like this poor guy who is also just expressing his beliefs, the argument about freedom kind of collapses in on itself

    you are free

    we all are

    but you are not free to restrict the freedoms of others

    and across that simple philosophical divide, so much misery in this world is created, this scientology case beign but one small example

    personally, i think there is intolerance, which is evil

    and then there is intolerance of intolerance, which is a virtue

    you don't gain anything in this world by tolerating the intolerant, except more misery and intolerance

    and i think this argument applies just as much to fundamentalist christianity and fundamentalist islam

    how or why is tolerance served by tolerating the intolerant?

    being intolerant of the intolerance is actually extending tolerance in this world

    scientology should be punished, not this poor guy
  • Re:Scary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IcyNeko (891749) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:53AM (#17890988) Journal
    We've become so crack-laden that we can't tell whether or not a pyramid-scheme enterprise is a religion or now.
  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:53AM (#17890992)

    I personally hate Scientology but they are a religion and must be respected as one. If they can convince chumps to give them money, there's nothing I can do to stop that.

    I was going to say something of my own here, then I thought of this Menckenism:

    "We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart." -- H. L. Mencken

  • Re:omg (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mr_matticus (928346) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:54AM (#17891004)
    Just another faulty summary designed to promote /. comment storms. Consider it two separate components--being found guilty of harassment or slander or libel or choose your poison, but with the victim being a religious organization. The summary might as well say "sent to jail for interfering with science" when the person released the rabbits from a study, for example (when the crime wasn't "interfering with science" but rather trespassing/theft/etc.).
  • Religion ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:56AM (#17891046) Homepage
    Surely calling scientology a religion is an oxymoron ?

    They have lots of followers but that is only because they have been brainwashed. Scientology is a way of making money for the high ups. Another source of information about the crap that the scientologists peddle is the fishman affidavit [spaink.net] .

    If there was any sense in what they were on about they would argue it out in the open, rather than using underhand legalities to silence those who show them to be the charlatans that they are.

  • Hmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:56AM (#17891056) Homepage Journal

    I'm no fan of Scientology (they suck, bottom line), but after reading the article, I'm sensing there's a LOT more to this story than we're getting told. It's not like the government are typically fans of scientologists either, so I doubt just their nutty braying is going to get someone sentenced to jail. The guy's statements make him sound a little... er... paranoid and wacked out himself.

    I think this is one of those cases where both sides are crackpots. Just because the victims are scientologists doesn't mean this guy didn't do some ugly crap that we don't know about.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:58AM (#17891088) Homepage
    Freedom of religion should not be extended to religions that are clearly made up. There is ample evidence to show that Hubbard pulled Scientology's belief system out his ass, the same cannot be said of any other religion from Christianity to Taoism to neo-paganism. The "Church" of Scientology is nothing more than a roving scam that exploits the first amendment to avoid taxation. It has also been shown to be a haven for systematic criminal behavior and should be considered a threat to American society.

    Bottom line is religions don't have "trade secrets," but Scientology does. I could buy that if it claimed to be a mystery religion or a form of gnosticism, but it doesn't. Rather, those secrets are exposed as the result of a financial transaction.

    Some religion. Despite my being a libertarian, I think the Germans are right on this one. It's not a religion. It's a subversive organization that needs to be monitored by the state because it has been known to use force and criminal behavior to advance its agenda, which is not even remotely religious.
  • I don't get it? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigBuckHunter (722855) on Monday February 05, 2007 @11:59AM (#17891100)
    While not outright illegal, everyone here would give me the eyeball if I went out picketing a Jewish mosque. But if I picket Scientology, everyone cheers me on?

    That said, unless someone actually breaks a law or does harm, they shouldn't be arrested for "interfering with a religion" unless they actually "interfere". Picketing in a parking lot is about as much interference as a Jovi putting a watchtower under my wiper blade at a red light.
    I guess the point is, don't side with this guy just cause he went after Scientology (I am definately not a Scientology defender), side with this pseudo/racist whacko because the US government overstepped in his persecution.

    BBH
  • Arrest this man! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:01PM (#17891126)
    I didn't know that interfering with a religion was a crime. Could any lawyers provide some details about this law and what constitutes breaking it?

    It's covered under amendment DCLXVI of the Constitution: The Right To Never Think, which says in part:

    Endeavoring to apply rational thought or common sense or questioning any aspect of religion in any way shall be deemed a crime against religion;
  • by IdleTime (561841) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:02PM (#17891136) Journal
    Well, the real joke is "The land of the free" bullshit.
  • Seriously... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WED Fan (911325) <akahigeNO@SPAMtrashmail.net> on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:03PM (#17891172) Homepage Journal

    With out knowing the exact details of the case but doesn't this sound like an April Fools joke?

    "interfering" with a religion

    Is this still America?

    With apologies to our benighted brethern in other countries who have yet to see the light of American democracy. We have this message for you: We know where you live, and we will get to you in short order. Please consult Who's Next For a Democratic Make Over [dod.mil] to find out when we will get to you.

  • by Bastian (66383) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:05PM (#17891184)
    At this point it's no secret that L. Ron Hubbard started the Church of Scientology as a sort of get rich quick scheme. There's plenty of documentation of this, and there is plenty of information on the CoS's internal workings that has made it into the public record thanks to a number of court cases. Red flags should start flying immediately once one realizes that you have to pay the CoS thousands and thousands of dollars before they will start telling you the religion's actual theology (the stuff in Dianetics is really only the tip of the iceberg, it isn't even enough that I would be willing to say that Dianetics alone could possibly qualify as the basis for a religion).

    It's true that you've struck on an interesting semantic conundrum, though. The fact of the matter is that, as part of his scheme, LRH and his compatriots did have to construct a religion, and the fact of the matter is that anything can be a religion as long as people actually believe it. And there is a group of people, the Freezone Scientologists [wikipedia.org] who have turned the official Church of Scientology and the incredible number of crimes it has committed. This group is obviously a legitimate religion as much as any religion can be according to any objective definition that I can come up with*.

    *Since I can't personally determine the details of the beginnings of any religion, I don't feel it's reasonable to say one religion is legitimate and another isn't based on which ones I am guessing came from the imagination of one man and which ones are truly divinely inspired. Especially given that, as an atheist, I believe that all religions fall into the former group. So I won't call Scientology-the-religion illegitimate despite the fact that it was created as part of Scientology-the-pyramid-scheme.
  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:06PM (#17891218) Homepage
    But if a California court found him guilty of any wrong, then I think he should serve his time.

    The problem is that he feared for his life if imprisoned. The Scientologists have a code of ethics by which people who are identified as enemies of their organization are "fair game" for any aggression. It is not unlike a fatwa against a critic of Islam. Indeed, in some ways, Scientology is a post-modern form of Wahhabism.
  • Re:hm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LurkerXXX (667952) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:08PM (#17891236)
    Other religious organizations (Roman Catholic for the best example) dumped influencing governments centuries ago. Like a badly behaved child, this new religion is trying to do exactly what a lot of the old world religions did at one time and no longer consider fashionable.

    Umm, have you not been paying any attention AT ALL to what the religious right has done and/or tried to do to the US governments direction and policies in the past 25 years?
  • by NayDizz (821461) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:13PM (#17891334)
    "The only difference between a cult and a religion is the amount of real estate they own" - Frank Zappa
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:14PM (#17891346) Journal
    Scientology is based on science and so clearly is not legitimate.

    No, scientology is based on a science fiction novel. It's no more a religion than The Jedi Order [bbc.co.uk] or a church based on Harry Potter.

    Personally, I don't care what scientologists do, but if I can be ridiculed for believing in ID, then I see no reason why this guy should go to jail if all he did was ridicule Tom Cruise.

  • Mo free will (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:14PM (#17891352)
    I didn't know that interfering with a religion was a crime. Could any lawyers provide some details about this law and what constitutes breaking it?

    It's covered under amendment DCLXVI of the Constitution: The Right To Never Think, which says in part:

    Endeavoring to apply rational thought or common sense or questioning any aspect of religion in any way shall be deemed a crime against religion;
  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:15PM (#17891366)
    If I were to start a religion based on the preservation of copyrighted works for when they may eventually enter the public domain, employing any methods necessary to make the copies (similar to the preservation of ancient works through the Dark Ages, sort of like Digital Monks of the Internet Monastery), can I gain similar protection against the likes of the RIAA and MPAA, provided I can afford Scientology's lawyers?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:16PM (#17891394)
    Germany has a fairly recent history where an organization not unlike Scientology went from bad to worse, and ended up doing ethnic cleansing.
    While that is not uncommon for religious movements, this makes them very aware that the development of such organizations needs to be watched closely.

    Other countries often have more of a "laissez-faire" attitude where they will allow a lot until it gets completely out of hand.
  • by robably (1044462) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:17PM (#17891426) Journal

    Freedom of religion should not be extended to religions that are clearly made up.
    Name one religion that isn't made up.
  • by modemac (873654) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:17PM (#17891430) Homepage
    Wikipedia is a geek's best friend: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Henson [wikipedia.org] One ironic note about that Wikipedia article is that it was created by a Scientology sock puppet, especially to tarnish Henson's reputation with their ongoing smear campaign to make it seem as though he is a dangerous bomb-making terrorist (and a "child molester" -- they even dug up one little snippet from his divorce papers of 25+ years ago to blow it up and try to label him as that, too. His ex-wife laughed that one off and has denied the accusation as fervently as he has.) To get an idea of what Scientology has been trying to do to Keith Henson, you should go to their own hate site on the Internet: http://www.religiousfreedomwatch.org/anti-religiou s-extremists/keith-henson/ [religiousf...mwatch.org] -- but be sure to check the whole site out and see the outlandish, unbelievable BS they pile up on there. It all falls just a whisker short of libel, of course. (My own commentary on "Religious Freedom Watch:" http://www.modemac.com/cgi-bin/wiki.pl/Religious_F reedom_Watch [modemac.com] ) It should also be noted that Wikipedia's entry on Scientology is probably the most informative, comprehensive, and UNBIASED look at Scientology in the entire world today: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology [wikipedia.org]
  • Re:Scary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Reality Master 101 (179095) <RealityMaster101 ... NBSDom minus bsd> on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:18PM (#17891436) Homepage Journal

    I've read about his case, and from that I'd say the 'stalking' material would be his picketing their compound.

    According to the article I linked, he followed people from their homes. Picketing is one thing, following people around and acting weird is another. Apparently 12 people on the jury didn't think the behavior was harmless picketing. I'm just not getting the feeling that this guy is all that stable.

    Or to put it another way, if this guy was, say, an abortion protester who was following doctors between their homes and the hospital, would you give him the same benefit of the doubt?

  • by Buddy_DoQ (922706) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:22PM (#17891498) Homepage
    By that logic, there might as well be no freedom religion at all. It's all "made up" by man at some point or another.

    You don't have to like them, even the obviously wacky ones (I've been touched by his noodle appendage!) but you should respect their rights to exist.

    Should we be a bit more aggressive in limiting their manipulation of the law? Sure, but that goes for any unjust manipulation of the law by any party.
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:28PM (#17891604) Homepage
    All religions look like they are "made up" when they are getting started, are small, and the core tenets are associated to a single leader, who claims to have received them by divine revelation.

    The LDS Church (Mormons) have been around for a century and a half... old enough for some people consider it a "religion," but young enough for some people to feel that Joseph Smith just "made it up." Don't expect to see the golden plates in a museum the next time you visit Salt Lake City: Smith gave them back to the Angel Moroni.

    How do you support Christianity looked during the lifetime of Jesus of Nazareth? Do you think the Roman authorities saw it as a religion? Or as something that Jesus just made up?

    Deciding what counts as a religion and what doesn't is a very tricky business.
  • by drxenos (573895) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:28PM (#17891608)
    Freedom of religion should not be extended to religions that are clearly made up.

    Um, wouldn't that be all religions?
  • by raju1kabir (251972) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:39PM (#17891828) Homepage

    It's true that you've struck on an interesting semantic conundrum, though. The fact of the matter is that, as part of his scheme, LRH and his compatriots did have to construct a religion, and the fact of the matter is that anything can be a religion as long as people actually believe it.

    But that's what's great about Scientology, and why I hope to see it flourish.

    The fact that something which was started in our lifetimes as a get-rick-quick scheme, could become considered a "legitimate religion" on legal par with Christianity and Islam and all the rest, is the most striking demonstration to date of why religion is a crock and in fact deserves no special legal recognition whatsoever.

  • by Moofie (22272) <lee&ringofsaturn,com> on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:41PM (#17891874) Homepage
    Wow. I have no idea what churches YOU'VE been going to, but the fact that you believe there is a "Christian party line" leads me to believe you've not gone to very many.
  • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edwardpickman (965122) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:41PM (#17891876)
    Comforting to see it's not just the US. Here what is percieved as the majority have to watch every word but minority groups are largely allowed to say what they want so long as it's about the majority. There is some condemnation if they insult other minorities. Intolerance and hatred is pretty color blind and virtually all groups have issues. Offhand the only major religion that doesn't condemn anyone or anything is Buddism. Most factions have some issue with some one or some thing. Even most racial conflicts tend to be more ethnic or social than racial. In the US we even have a north south division that is a hold over from the civil war. It isn't spoken of very often but there's still tension. Intolerance should never be tolerated by any group and people need to take intent into account. I remember a fuss made about a town called Fish Kil. An animal rights group was demanding they change the name of the town to something fish friendly. When locals pointed out it meant Fish River in Gaelic the group wasn't impressed and still wanted it changed. Intent is everything and sometimes the insult is in the eye of the beholder.
  • by Belial6 (794905) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:46PM (#17891964)
    I would think that threatening a person with unimaginable torture for all of eternity if they did not deny the existence of their gods would be considered a threat. Shouldn't the police start arresting the door to door Christian recruiters?
  • Re:Scary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Alchemar (720449) on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:50PM (#17892036)
    The problem is that no where in your reasoning is there a determination that he was likely to do harm. Hypothetically; If there is a group of people that I am worried about, I might be interested to know what they are doing. If I can't afford to hire a PI then I might have to do it myself. If I am worried about the actions of a group I also might be likely to tell jokes at their expense. Those two items together or seperately do not mean I am a threat. It probably send up a flag to investigate, but only if the investigation turns up that there is an actual threat should action be taken. Maybe start with a restraining order instead of an arrest warrent. If he violates the restraining order, then he should be arrested. In the rare cases where it it can be proven that there is a history or pattern that would cause a restraining order not be followed, then a warrent should be issued. The problem is that you are treading very close to thought crimes. You want to put someone in jail because he "followed you" (still a free country to move around), "told jokes" (he has freedom of speech), and "hates your religion" (sound like that is his religious choise and is also protected). Not because it is beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime will be commited.
  • the courts sure do (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @12:58PM (#17892184)
    when an abortion protester follows the clinic doctors home, the best the doctors ever get is an order requiring the protester to keep X feet away from them.

    They sure don't sentence such protesters to jail.
  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:07PM (#17892356) Journal
    So basically what we're talking about here is crackpot versus crackpots.

    Ad Homenim. You lose.

    Just think about it: Many people would consider a Slashdot poster to be a crackpot. (Especially if he has strong beliefs about something like the unsuitability of the massively-market-accepted mainstream OS, for instance.)

    Does this mean such a poster should be unable to exercise free speech when his postings annoy an organization with significant funds and political connections?
  • by freakmn (712872) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:12PM (#17892474) Journal
    I see the point you are trying to make, but Christians don't have the power to damn someone to Hell. Usually it is said that God will damn you, or something like that. It is more of a warning, as it is not within their control. It is similar to someone telling you that if you lie in the middle of the freeway, you are likely to get hit by a car. They aren't threatening you with a car, but warning you of the car's coming. Whether you believe in what the Christians are saying or not isn't relevant, just that the message they are bringing isn't a threat.
  • Re:hm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:13PM (#17892496)
    The "religious right" is an oxymoron. Religion is only a tool to them, as far as they're concerned it's their ticket to wealth and power. Pat Robertson is NOT a Christian in any meaniful way at all. He worships MONEY - look at his neck; he's wearing Satan's leash (a necktie, the symbol pf money and power) and wearing $4k suits, bad-mouthing the poor and homeless, opining that we should assassinate foreign dictators we don't like, and so on.

    Christ taught that we should feed the hungry and house the homeless, that we should love one another as ourselves, and that it is "as easy for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven" as it is to get a camel to go through the eye of a needle.

    I doubt Robertson even believes in God, even though Satan has most certainly bought his soul.

    The right are anti-poor, anti-homeless, anti-drug. Christianity is for the poor and homeless and neutral about drugs (and yes, drugs such as opium and marijuana existed then); drugs aren't even mentioned. The Baptists especially piss me off with their anti-alcohol stance, since on Christ's last night before his execution his disciples were all stone-drunk.

    Now excuse me while I go to the Church of Jack Daniels and bitch about the neocons while getting shitfaced.
  • by Buzz_Litebeer (539463) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:18PM (#17892572) Journal
    I would argue the grandparent to your post is a protestant, so thus his statement that "just X" being John 14:6 is correct. Sorry you had to lose on that one!
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:48PM (#17893080)
    "He fled to Canada after being found guilty of "interfering" with a religion."

    I certainly hope the law is more precise (and just) than that phrase implies, although given who was arrested, and how long they've hounded him, I rather doubt it.

    So we can't "interfere" with religion. What, pray tell, constitutes "interference?" Speaking out against the irrationality of religious belief? (Better arrest most of the brightest 5% of the country then)

    Speaking out against specific religious practices? If so, which ones? Catholicism's stance on gays and women? Mormonism's stance on women and polygamy? Islam's stance on women and jihad. Sounds like women are screwed regardless.

    Or do they imprison you for picketing a church these days? If so, better go arrest all those civil rights activists who, in the 1960s in the US picketed their churches (protestant and Catholic alike) for not allowing blacks to worship in the same building as whites.

    Religions have absolutely no compunction when it comes to interfering in our lives, whether it is sending missionaries to our doors to harass us, organizing boycotts to impose their choice on what products, music, television, and films are available to us (often in censored form), passing laws that define sizeable portions of us as second class citizens (gays being denied rights the rest of us enjoy, women losing out when the Equal Rights Amendment was squashed, largely as a result of Mormon and right-wing Christian mobilization), imposing their beliefs on our school systems ("intelligent design", anyone?) or even threatening our lives when we dare disagree with their dogma (as numerous cults, including $cientology, are reputed to have done).

    Seems to me that allowing religions to interfere with the rest of us the way they are, and then disallowing the rest of us from interfering with their often toxic agendas, is a sure-fire recipe for a theocratic hell-state.
  • by gsn (989808) on Monday February 05, 2007 @01:55PM (#17893228)

    The jury rejected Henson's claim that he was exercising his First Amendment right to criticize a dangerous cult, and convicted him of interfering with a religion, one of three counts against him.
    his "crime" -

    Henson seems undeterred. "After court today, my wife Arel and I picketed outside the court with signs about the women killed out at the cult's place last summer," he said in an e-mail. "We also gave away about 200 flyers about how Scientology is hurting people and breaking the law."
    1) Why is interfering with a religion even a crime. What if I chose to not believe in a god, can I argue that door to door evangelists that claim I am going to hell unless I convert are interfering with my religion?

    2) Also even if interfering with religion is a crime - how is picketing with signs or giving away flyers interfering with it. He didn't forcibly go yank emeters out of peoples hands did he. He didn't take someones copy of OTIII and burn it or something. He didn't try and sink their stupid boat? He picketed and distributed flyers.

    "It was not just the postings themselves," said Deputy District Attorney Robert Schwarz. "He had been engaged in other odd behavior -- chasing down buses, taking down license plate numbers."
    Since when did odd behavior become illegal??? Seriously how is taking down license plate numbers illegal?

    The jury was hung on the other two counts against Henson: 9-3 for conviction on the count of terrorism, 10-2 for conviction on the count of attempted terrorism.
    HOW THE FUCK WAS HE EVEN CHARGED WITH TERRORISM??? The man said we should aim cruise missles at them. I've heard radio hosts talk about nuking the democratic convention? WTF is going on? And whats up with

    The site says that Scientology has a suspiciously close relationship with the prosecutor: "What kind of Alice-in-Wonderland Court is it that allows organized criminals to sit in the prosecutor's chair bringing charges against the honest citizens, in which a heavily-armed cult has Mafia lawyers direct the activities of the District Attorney?" "A dodgy District Attorney, with cult lawyers sitting at the prosecutor's table, set him up for absurd charges of threatening the cult with cruise missiles," says Dave Bird, another Scientology critic. "Virtually all the defense evidence was excluded.... Even when Henson quoted L. Ron Hubbard's violent words, it was presented as his own speech without quotation marks."
    Man was smart to go to Canada - maybe he should have tried someplace further away.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:00PM (#17893308) Homepage
    ...and a stupid defendant for going on the run. I find his claim of fearing for his life just as unfounded as the "threats" used to convict him; It's not like there are huge scientology gangs in prisons.

    Unfortunately, having been exposed to these nut jobs, I can completely sympathize with him. These people are 11 shades of fucked up, the "religion" attracts the type. Further, they tend not to be too concerned with actual law and have proven merely by being a member that they are extremely gullible. Further, if you've read some of the things these people believe in, you'd have no problem believing that they can and would kill you simply because they think you are a suppressive person ( which, amusingly, most of their members fit that definition to a tee, but I digress ).

    I'm sure he could have followed proper channels and had this resolved in a more amicable fashion, but don't fault him for fearing for his life. Scientologists really are as wacky as they claim.
  • by ArcherB (796902) * on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:01PM (#17893322) Journal
    You could say the same about the bible...

    No, you couldn't. The Bible, all religion aside, is at least a historic text. Many of the stories and accounts in the Bible can be and have been verified. Regardless of your religious preferences, you don't contest the fact that pharos existed, crosses were used for execution or that Caesar was in charge of Rome. Contrasted to scientology, there are no pyramids built buy Xenu!

  • by lbbros (900904) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:14PM (#17893496) Homepage

    is the most striking demonstration to date of why religion is a crock and in fact deserves no special legal recognition whatsoever.

    Why was this modded insightful? While extremization of religion (but also of many other things) can be bad by itself, I don't see why there is such a hatred for that in these posts. This "intolerance" mostly comes out of people that are "tolerant", or say they are. However, respecting religion when it doesn't cause harm to you or your country (I'm talking about religion by itself, not fanatism) would be a real sign of tolerance.

  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:18PM (#17893542)
    Co$ are master deceivers and masters of half truths, as well as exploiters of the legal system in the most unprecendented damnable manner. They have been rebuked by courts and judges all over the world. Unfortunately the California law enforcement and judicial branches have been infiltrated by Co$ members so it would be no surprise that Hensen faced a partial judge who was symphatetic to Co$. The only reason the IRS recognizes them as a "church" is that the Co$ infiltrated IRS offices and bullied them into submission with thousands of lawsuits.
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:23PM (#17893622)
    We're at *war* with people of a much more "legitimate" religion, with a MUCH longer heritage, for similar beliefs!

    Oh, come on. If we were at "war" with Islam, I do believe things would take on a slightly different appearance, don't you? We probably wouldn't have just had a lenghty academic argument over whether or not a newly elected (Muslim) federal legislator should get to use Thomas Jefferson's old copy of the Koran while being sworn in, or have trade relations with all sorts of primarily Muslim countries. Similarly, I don't think Scientologists have dispatched loony suicidal types to kill thousands of people, or pump money, supplies, and deluded basket cases into operations that drive truck bombs into vegetable markets full of women and children (notably, other Muslims).

    Don't confuse this with any sort of defense of Scientology (hah! not hardly), but rather a defense against the notion that we're at war with Islam, in its entirety. It's just not the case, at least in that broad of a context. We should be, though, as modern western cultures, completely horrified by our own smilig tolerance of a rapidly expanding theocratic movement that causes things like this [signonsandiego.com] to even be in the news. To even be an issue at all. Honestly ... Sharia court establishments that talk in terms of putting people in jail because they want to stop being Muslims? There's no point being 100% tolerant of movements that consider tolerance to be a crime. But that's not the same as "being at war" with the religion, per se.
  • Re:hm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LurkerXXX (667952) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:24PM (#17893626)
    So the Catholic church hasn't had tried to influence the direction of any governments lately? I guess before the last presidential election when the Bishops and Cardinals were urging their followers to not support anyone pro-choice, and were refusing communion to any politicians who were pro-choice (though not refusing it to any non-politicians in the congregation who happened to be pro-choice), that was all my imagination that the Catholic church was trying to influence government policy. Right.
  • Re:hm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RexRhino (769423) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:24PM (#17893632)
    Umm, have you not been paying any attention AT ALL to what the religious right has done and/or tried to do to the US governments direction and policies in the past 25 years?

    And fortunatly for the Christian Right, the Progressive Left has been promoting the concept of Social Democracy, where by society is socially engineered by the state in order to better address social issues. Years ago, the Christian Right had to go through pretty extreme lengths to enforce their will (for example, in the 1920s the prohibition of alchohol needed to explicity constitutional amendment to be enacted), since the role of the federal government was so limited. Nowadays, most law is essentially dictated by the executive branch (in regulations created by the EPA, the DEA, the FDA, the Department of Energy, etc., etc.), and completly bypasses congress, state and local governments, etc.

    The thinking of the Progressive Left was "We need to make a super powerful federal government, where the president and the executive branch have nearly total power over all affairs of our nation, because then the president will be able to do a lot of 'social good' with all that power. It isn't like a right wing christian nut will ever be elected president!".

    The greatest allies the Christian Right has ever known in their struggle for power in America is the Progressive Left.
  • by Durandal64 (658649) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:27PM (#17893678)

    I see the point you are trying to make, but Christians don't have the power to damn someone to Hell.
    Some do, depending on how you read the Bible. Jesus, after all, told Peter that whatever he said on Earth goes in Heaven. So if the Pope excommunicates someone, he's basically damned the person to Hell. If you believe that the Pope really is the successor to the apostle of the son of God and not just some delusional lunatic in a funny hat, that is.

    As for their message not being a threat, it's not a threat in the sense that the law requires. But it's still a threat. They basically come to your door and say, "Gee, that's a nice eternal soul you've got there. It'd be a real shame if something were to happen to it" and imply that unless you pay them protection money (i.e. tithing) and worship their thug of a deity, said thug will send you to Hell for all eternity.
  • by dr_dank (472072) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:28PM (#17893688) Homepage Journal
    He probably ruined his case by going on the run, as I can't believe that a higher court would not have overturned the decision on appeal.

    If the context of his words that could have exhonerated him was thrown out, whos to say that an appeal would be granted? Hell, even a "accident" involving a shiv in the prison shower room while awaiting an appeal is reason enough to get the hell out of dodge. I don't blame him for fleeing. When the game you're playing is rigged against you, theres no use to sticking around to play.
  • by jotok (728554) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:31PM (#17893732)
    When it comes to issues of intimidation, don't you think there is a difference between "If you don't adhere to my beliefs, I think you're gonna be running through hell with gasoline drawers on" and "If you don't adhere to my beliefs, I'm going to do my best to disenfranchise you politically, interfere with your job, and quite possibly burn your house down?"

    These are all things that religious and "non" religious people have done to each other, and it is usually frowned upon whereas anyone making pronouncements about the hereafter is generally accepted.
  • by Phyvo (876321) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:42PM (#17893924)
    That, my friend, is a problem caused by taking a simple analogy too far. You just revealed one of it's flaws. That doesn't mean that a Christian who warns you about Hell is not concerned about your well being.

    The line is drawn, I think, with the attitude and vocal tone of the speaker. You could say "STOP STEALING OR YOU'LL GO TO HELL" or you could speak like friends (in which case the Christian probably would not mention Hell). The former wants to merely control you, the latter wants to protect you and help you make the right choice. Seriously, there are already "hells" in the material world, like sex-trafficing, drug abuse, and kids growing up in dysfunctional families. People write books all the time about how to be happy in this life. Can you blame Christians for telling you that whether or not you're happy in the next depends on decisions you make here? Isn't that what most religion is about?

    Is it so heretical to say that, in the same way not all actions you take are good for you (such those that lead to drug abuse), not every religion is good for you (such as one which let's you murder my family)?

    'Course, you might believe that Christianity is not one of those good religions, but I'm just saying this in case you dislike it based on the idea of pluralism.
  • by SimHacker (180785) * on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:53PM (#17894080) Homepage Journal

    If you're getting offended that people lump you together with Ted Haggard and the Pope, then maybe you shouldn't be calling yourself a "Christian".

    The term "Christiantity" is very well defined and widely understood, just like the words "Scientologist" and "Nazi". So what if you decided on your own personal reinterpretation of the Nazi ideology, that left out all the stuff about hating jews, taking over the world, eugenics, heiling hitler, etc. So what if you call yourself a "Good Nazi" because you don't believe in its bad parts? Then you should certainly expect for people to lump you in with the "Bad Nazi" and not make a special distinction for you as a "Good Nazi". You can't label yourself with the word "Nazi" and then get all huffy when people don't give you the benefit of the doubt. You need a new term to label yourself!

    Maybe Tom Cruz is a "Good Scientologist" who doesn't believe in all the stuff about the xemu and body thetans and space aliens flying over in the dc-10s and living in the volcanos, etc. But that's the Scientology Party Line (even though you have to pay lots of money before they're tell it to you). So if you label yourself as a Scientologists, then people are going to naturally assume that you're a brainwashed member of a mind control cult.

    So here's another question: Do you support gay marriage? If not, then justify. If so, then why do you label yourself with the same name and associate yourself with people who overwhelmingly don't?

    -Don

  • Re:Scary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday February 05, 2007 @02:54PM (#17894094) Homepage Journal
    "In the US we even have a north south division that is a hold over from the civil war."

    Did you mean to say "the war of northern aggression"?

    :-)

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday February 05, 2007 @03:14PM (#17894352) Journal

    Or is there some reason you would present to support the idea that the infiltration of one religion is of more concern than of another?

    I wasn't aware that Scientology was a religion.

    There, I said it. Kinda shocked that nobody else had the guts to do so in the first 100 posts.

    Tom Cruise won't come out of the closet.....

  • Re:Scary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Monday February 05, 2007 @03:30PM (#17894568) Homepage Journal
    Something like asking thousands of dollars for the religious scriptures?

    Oh. You mean like selling of "indulgences", a common Christian practice over most of the time Christianity has been extant, until just recently? Or do you mean like getting a blessing because you put something in the collection plate, or contributed to the build-a-cathedral fund? Or do you mean like the money one pays when one purchases any Christian book at the bookstore? Or do you mean when one pays to be educated at a Christian univeristy? Or do you mean when one donates at a tent revival? What about when a religion keeps art from the masses, as per the Catholic repository of great artworks? Does that count?

    What about when certain behaviors - compliance with the religious tenets - are rewarded with the concept that the individual who does not so comply will have extracted from them the payment of eternal suffering?

    What about when Christianity gets into the legal system and manages to prevent citizens from going about their business according to Christian notions; for instance, you can't marry more than one person, you can't perform this or that sexual activity, you can't open your store on Sunday... are these costs, or payments, extracted from the manifestly unwilling, of the same nature as those the Scientologists extract from the willing participants in their operations? Or are they actually worse, as they certainly seem on close examination?

    I mean, if you are a Christian, and you accept that one spouse is the norm, and you willingly comply with this, isn't this the same as a sscientology adherent who willingly pays the cost for the documents you refer to? Isn't it more critical that those who are not Christian are being forced to adhere to Christian ideas? No scientologist has ever tried to force me into any scientology-related mode of thinking or behavior that has a real cost in terms of life experience; yet I am constantly faced with such costs emanating from the Christian ethos.

    It appears to me, at least, that while I am not prepared to give either system of thinking a pass as even slightly rational, that Christianity is far more guilty of interfering with people than Scientology is, at least, to date.

  • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Monday February 05, 2007 @03:40PM (#17894734) Homepage Journal
    Scientology is not just a bunch of wacky walking wallets providing money to their leaders, some are criminals

    Some Christians are criminals as well. You know, blowing up abortion clinics, burying newborns in walls, molesting children. So one could just as easily, and correctly, say: "Christianity is not just a bunch of wacky walking wallets providing money to their leaders, some are criminals."

    Your point then, being?

    I'm not in the least contesting the idea that Scientologists aren't loony to their very core; I'm just curious why you seem to think that Scientologists are worse than Christians somehow. Most of the differences I can think of leave the Christians as the worse offenders. Don't recall any scientologists blowing up any abortion clinics, for instance, nor can I think of them trying to tell me, a non-believer - or worse, getting a law put in place that coerces me - such that I can't marry two willing people.

  • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot AT ideasmatter DOT org> on Monday February 05, 2007 @03:42PM (#17894772) Journal

    I wasn't aware that Scientology was a religion.

    After landing here on Rhene 01-3 (called 'Earth' by the local dominant species), my investigation into this issue led me to the following conclusions:

    If the founder of an ideology is still alive, then it's a cult.
    If the founder is dead, then it's a religion.

    Since the founder L. Ron Hubbard is dead, Scientology is therefore a religion.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Monday February 05, 2007 @04:04PM (#17895158)
    I really don't think so - truly bad SF with the good bits plagerised from the ramblings of someone writing during psychotic episodes in Chicago in the 1930s is still distinguishable from religion. I do however think they must have really good lawyers since they can get a ponzi scam labelled as a religeon.

    The way they treat women in childbirth and the mentally ill is truly evil - the most fanatical of religions at least look after their own when they are in trouble.

  • by dosquatch (924618) on Monday February 05, 2007 @04:07PM (#17895198) Journal

    You can marry a person of the same sex all you want in a religious ceremony. The state will just not recognize it as a real marriage, and you won't get tax breaks or spousal benefits.

    True, but it should be exactly the opposite. The state should take no particular position on the issue as long as all parties are consenting adults. One man, one woman. Two men. Three of one and two of the other. Whatever. You don't have to like it, I don't have to like it, but as long as they are all happy with it, it ain't none of my business. Or yours. Or the state's. And I don't expect any particular church to condone it.

    Quite simply, the conjoining of incomes for tax purposes and the assignment of benefits should be an automatic, simple, and painless event. It is not the state's place to say "Ewww", or "But God says...". It is the state's place to serve its citizens.

  • by sacrilicious (316896) on Monday February 05, 2007 @04:11PM (#17895266) Homepage
    The Bible, all religion aside, is at least a historic text. Many of the stories and accounts in the Bible can be and have been verified. Regardless of your religious preferences, you don't contest the fact that pharos existed, crosses were used for execution or that Caesar was in charge of Rome.

    Is Harry Potter an historic text because children really do attend schools, and take multiple classes teaching them different subjects, as depicted in those books?

    While the bible uses settings that may be mappable to various locations on earth, the bible's point has never been to assert that pharoahs existed, or that crosses were used. The bible is basically one giant assertion that there is a god, a heaven and hell, and most of the rest is detail about how to get on the right or wrong side of said heaven/hell dichotomy. To declare the bible an historic text based on its inclusion of a few possibly-verifiable but completely-beside-the-point elements seems somewhere between misguided and manipulative.

  • by killjoe (766577) on Monday February 05, 2007 @04:19PM (#17895364)
    The trial was in a scientology town, the judge was a scientologist.
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy.tpno-co@org> on Monday February 05, 2007 @04:30PM (#17895508) Homepage
    You won't get any real arguments from me; Organized religion is in the business of selling the afterlife to gullible people.

    And they've made a mint.

    However, consider this when weighing scientology; They believe that millions of years ago, the evil lord Xenu packaged up all the useless cruft of society into giant space planes ( which, coincidentally looked like DC10s ), and flew them to Earth. There, he crashed these jets into volanos. But that wasn't good enough! No, then he built huge soul capturing centers to attract the wandering "thetans" and confuse them. Once released from these spirit reeducation camps, the thetans floated around confused until they found a prehistoric us. In which they found a host, and have been living in us ever since.

    Now, the virgin mary, jesus on a stick and moses are pretty spectacular, but this is just plain bonkers. No less for the fact that their prophet was a Sci Fi writer. A very very bad sci fi writer.

    So while jesus-centric religions are pretty nutty, you have to account for 2000+ years of history rewriting and folk tale telling to account for the weird shit. This crap is weird right out the gate.
  • by svyyn (530783) on Monday February 05, 2007 @04:33PM (#17895564)
    To refine the analogy further: there is not simply one person on the tracks, but many, and they are living happily and productively there. People not on the tracks may warn them that the train is coming and that they will die; this is admirable. However, we must consider why the sadistic train conductor does not apply the breaks, why the people warning the track-dwellers are smug when the train comes, and why the warners continue to see the train conductor as as anything other than evil.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @04:47PM (#17895780)
    It's simple. Don't allow political or religious leaders to do bad things in your religion's name, then people will be tolerant of your religion. If you are religious, you should be the first people out there protesting their abuses. But that never seems to happen. Doing nothing simply shows your support for the acts they committed in your name. And makes you an accomplice. They are intolerant of you when you are weak, and silently support those who wish to harm them or take away their rights. Your silence is contributing to their harm. Either ostracize those who harm others in the name of your religion, or deal with the fact that others may hate you for not doing anything.
  • by cparker15 (779546) on Monday February 05, 2007 @05:09PM (#17896132) Homepage Journal
    Many of the stories and accounts in the Bible can be and have been verified.

    Tell you what. Let's all write down a summary of things that have happened within the past hundred years or so, and then add something asinine into the mix, like, say, flying pink elephants, the re-creation of the Dodo bird, or a man splitting a large body of water in half with a walking stick. Then bury these writings in a time capsule and wait a couple thousand years.

    For all you know, the religious aspects of "the Bible" are nothing more than some sort of practical joke some people (read: apostles/disciples) devised as a way to really screw with people in the future. Sort of like a mass-scale e-mail hoax chain letter type of thing. Just because it's really, really old doesn't make it true. And just because some tidbit can be cross-referenced elsewhere in other historical works doesn't make it factual. Don't forget that the people who wrote these religious texts are also the ones who wrote the contents of our ancient history books.
  • by freakmn (712872) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:02PM (#17897072) Journal

    It's the equivalent. In other words, if you get excommunicated, you might as well be damned to Hell.
    I would say that the cause flows the other way. If you are excommunicated, you are likely on the path to Hell, not because of the excommunication, but it's a sign of what's on the way.

    Any religion whose leaders preach about how terrible materialism is from gigantic churches filled with priceless art doesn't get to claim they're not in it for the money. Some Christians actually take those teachings seriously, but the larger churches obviously do not, especially the Catholic Church. I don't buy this "We build giant churches to glorify God" nonsense for one second. They do it to glorify themselves and skim a little off the top of the donations.
    Like I said, not all people who take those vows follow them completely. In my opinion, having things isn't bad, it's the reason for having them that can be malicious. If your goal is to accumulate as many material goods as possible, then that's materialism to the extreme. If your goal is to reach out to others, and you happen to use material goods, then that's totally different. Also, the Church building is there for the people, not the clergy. If it saves souls, then it's worth it.

    Evangelism by its very nature is intrusive. It requires that the target make a conscious effort to ignore you.
    My wording in the previous comment was bad, I apologize for that. What I mean is that evangelization should be done in a way that does not excessively intrude. It should be aimed at helping, not annoying. There's a lot of it going on that isn't that way, and it burns people so much that they refuse to participate in rational dialog. I've been pleasantly surprised with how rational people are being in not flaming me for my beliefs, and I'd like to thank not only you, but the others who are responding rationally.
  • by monkeydo (173558) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:03PM (#17897088) Homepage
    Quite simply, the conjoining of incomes for tax purposes and the assignment of benefits should be an automatic, simple, and painless event. It is not the state's place to say "Ewww"

    "Single me out for a benefit, but don't ask what I did to deserve it!"

    Either the state derives a benefit from marriage, and in return should allow certain benefits to married couples, or it doesn't. We seem to have made a decision a long time ago that marriage does benefit the state. Does the type of marriage that you want recognized (and you must admit that gay marriage is fundamentally different than traditional marriage) bestow the same benefits on the state?

    Personally, I don't give a shit who you want to marry, and if you can get a Priest, a Rabbi, or a homeless guy to marry you, more power to you. The tax code, rules of testate, etc., should be simple and the state should just get out of the marriage business altogether. It' absolutely hipocritical to say that you want the state to butt out of your personal choices, but at the same time to want the state to honor those choices with official recognition.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:08PM (#17897172)
    What motive would CoS have to expend so much energy attacking it's critics??? Consider that prior to the existence of the net it was highly unlikely that an average potential recuit would have had any easily available oportunity to become aware of the ultra wacky secret doctrines of the "church" (most of which are today relativley public knowledge via the net, south park etc.).

    It would seem that a key element to the "personal growth and development" strategy of the organization is the psychological effect of having this information revealed at an appropriate point during the indoctrination process. (this notion is supported by accounts from former members: http://www.xenu.net/ [xenu.net] )

    People who dissemenate these secrets, and other damning information, present a real threat to the continued ability of Scientology to exist and gain new members, through it's normal method of proseletyzing, recruitment and indoctrination along with the obscurity factor that many of their actual teachings are not supposed to be public knowledge.

    And now the court cases...

    Viewed in this light Scientology is acting very much like the RIAA or MPAA in it's struggle for continued existence based on a (now demonstrated to be failed) business model which is structured upon attempting to restrict the unbridled flow of information.

    It seems to me that this is the only rational explanantion for why there is such a rabid animosity coming from this group towards it's critics. They must actually have something to hide.
  • by freakmn (712872) on Monday February 05, 2007 @06:56PM (#17897852) Journal
    The truth is that nobody truly knows without a doubt if God exists until death. That's why it's called faith. Belief without the ability to find absolutely solid proof. On the same token, can you prove that there is no God?
  • Re:Scary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Monday February 05, 2007 @07:06PM (#17897990) Homepage Journal
    because Christians actually do a heck of a lot of good in the world as well (www.tearfund.org) (www.christianaid.org) despite what your dawkinist convictions have led you to believe whearas scientology is stuck up its own ass?

    I judge neither organization (nor any other, nor any individual) by what they do to or with the willing; I judge them by what they do to the unwilling. You understand the distinction?

  • by freakmn (712872) on Monday February 05, 2007 @07:51PM (#17898506) Journal
    That's absolutely true. But the truth is that God (assuming his existence), is the only one with the power to damn anyone. People can say whatever they want, but that doesn't make it true. Nobody sees God damning people, mostly because that step happens after death. Being that you haven't yet died (assumption based on the fact that you're posting here), you wouldn't have seen that. Basically, people can say that anyone's damned, but that doesn't make it true.
  • Re:Scary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Valdrax (32670) on Monday February 05, 2007 @09:08PM (#17899264)
    I think it is just as fair to write "Christianity views those who interfere with Christianity to be fair game" or "Islam views those who interfere with Islam to be fair game."

    No, I think it's quite unfair. The very source that Christianity springs from -- Christ -- explicitly does not sanction visiting wrath upon your enemies. Jesus repeatedly makes the point that you should love your enemies, that you should turn the other cheek, and that you should in general be far more concerned about your own flaws than those of others.

    The very source that Scientology springs from -- L. Ron Hubbard -- explicitly stated that it was fair to go after enemies of Scientology, and his retraction of said policy is suspect because of both the way it was worded (mostly reflecting on the negative PR of the policy) and the fact that he stated that it was okay to lie to non-Scientologists. (Also, the fact that the policy was in effect into the 80s when a more public repudation came out belies the fact that it may not be retracted).

    The fact that Christians rarely live up to the standards of their own religion does not imply that the religion itself is harmful and actively sanctions the persecution of non-believers. Every major human institution fails because of the petty self-interests of men who are willing to twist their people's beliefs for self-gain. From Christians vowing to never forgive and never forget to Buddhists supporting samurai to Muslims turning on Muslims to Communist leaders hording wealth for themselves to anti-drug officers taking and dealing drugs on the side, there have always been people willing to compromise the prinicples of their culture or organization for personal gain. The failure of leaders and followers to stick to the spirit of their avowed beliefs does not make said beliefs hollow and valueless in and of themselves.

    To use as an underlying presumption that "Christianity = love your enemy" is, in my view, disingenuous. Christianity is demonstrably all over the map when it comes to core moral and ethical beliefs.

    The Bible is very clear on the matter. The Sermon on the Mount is the most central sermon in all of the New Testament on how Christians are supposed to live. It's the central thesis that binds everything else. Furthermore, when asked what the most important commandments are, Jesus replied, "Love God," and "Love your neighbor as yourself." From "judge not" to "turn the other cheek," Christianity is fundamentally about foregiveness and love. Anyone who misses that is quite simply an off-shoot from the faith. I'm not being a fundamentalist here; it's the core doctrine of the faith. If you miss out on that, you're not a Christian.

    Instead, you're a member of a human tribe that ritualizes Christianity as cultural binding without actually practicing the faith. You're free to hate and clash with all other cultures outside of yours, but you'd be doing this anyway without Christianity -- there would just be some other excuse to divide and hate. Maybe you'd be a Muslim. Maybe you'd be a polytheist. Maybe you'd be a militant atheist. It doesn't really matter -- you'd probably just be militantly xenophobic no matter what you were. There are biological reasons for this, after all. Anyone who doesn't appreciate that has neither and appreciation of world history nor of evolutionary sociobiology. Again, you should not blame Christianity for the unwillingness of people to actually practice what it preaches.

    It is simply unacceptable to castigate Scientology for what it has not done. Guessing doesn't count. Stick to reality here.

    I'm sorry, but the cold hard reality is that every single group in human history has at some point demonized outsiders and acted on it. Most of the successful ones got there by acting violently on those impulses. It's human nature. We're a pack animal. For better or for worse, that means that it's wired into our psychology to smooth over the flaws of the groups we identify
  • by dbIII (701233) on Monday February 05, 2007 @09:54PM (#17899622)

    Unless you are arguing that age alone somehow imparts validity, a presumption I cannot go along with.

    Bullshit crafted during our lifetime with plenty of living witnesses to say so in my opinion makes it invalid.

    As for naturopaths and others doing weird and harmful voodoo - just becuase one group does stupid stuff doesn't justify another. Interesting that you threw all of Islam in there with the African practice of mutilating women and the post-revolution Iranian practice of stoning people to death. I don't understand their religeon but I'm not going to throw them all in one boat - not all Christians and agnostics are followers of Jim Jones either.

    The arguement that Bobby can punch Sally because Jimmy punched Jane is something that should be left in the playground soon after you learn to talk - but it's amazing how many people try it. Also things that look similar may not be.

  • by kavau (554682) on Monday February 05, 2007 @10:46PM (#17900000) Homepage
    sometimes, i think it is wrong for countries like germany to prosecute them other times, i think it is wrong for the usa not too the issue is one of persecution: one should not be persecuted for their beliefs but if you are persecuting a group BECAUSE they believe they have a right to persecute people like this poor guy who is also just expressing his beliefs, the argument about freedom kind of collapses in on itself

    They aren't persecuted for their beliefs. They are prosecuted for manipulation and extortion.

  • by Darby (84953) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @01:28AM (#17900980)
    On the same token, can you prove that there is no God?

    It's not the same token though.
    Prove there isn't an invisible rabbit tailing your footsteps.
    That's exactly as stupid as god.
    For your question to even be reasonable you'd have to address *any* insane crap anybody spouts as if it was gospel.

    The onus is on the ones claiming some complely ridiculous idea and then using that idea as an excuse to shove their small minded hatred on others to show one damn thing to base their delusions on.

    Saying stupidity is stupidity is just sane. It is in no way symmetrical.

  • by dosquatch (924618) on Tuesday February 06, 2007 @08:37AM (#17903430) Journal

    The tax code, rules of testate, etc., should be simple and the state should just get out of the marriage business altogether.

    Go back and re-read what I wrote - it is not so far off from what you say here. The primary difference is that I'm saying the state, being the registrar for such unions, should just get on with that simple duty. I never used the phrase "tax breaks", I said "tax purposes". There's no reason why a household should not be able to file cumulatively. Quite often this increases the tax burden (see marriage penalty [google.com]), but this is offset by the reduced bills that come with running a single household for multiple occupants.

    The real problem is assignment of benefits. There's a lot more to the legal realm of "marriage" than taxes and child rearing. There's being able to claim inheritance. There's being able to speak for another in a medical crisis, and having that person able to speak for you. Health insurance. Car insurance. Life insurance. On and on. And if you think any of this is trivial, look at what James Brown's widow, and mother of his son, is going through at the hands of lawyers because they were never "properly married".

    It' absolutely hipocritical to say that you want the state to butt out of your personal choices, but at the same time to want the state to honor those choices with official recognition.

    No, I'm just saying that the state should consistently apply an already commonly available benefit/official recognition. I don't think the state should butt any further into the matchmaking process of any union than it currently does into allowed unions.

  • by dangitman (862676) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @01:17AM (#17917262)

    I wish people would stop with the "criminal" bullshit. We have been around for almost sixty years.

    And Scientologists have been lying to people and taking their money for just as long. It might be technically legal, it might not be. I don't really care. The lying is so immoral that it's as good as criminal. After all, there are some things which are illegal which should not be (drug use, consensual sexual acts) while there are other things which are legal, but are worse than "criminal" acts. Lying to influence people, especially when it involves radical lifestyle changes and money, is one of these things.

    It might not be technically criminal, but it's despicable and immoral.

    If our activities were truly illegal, we would have gone the way of Enron.

    Huh? Many criminals and criminal organizations last forever, and get government and police protection. Why is the mafia still around? Why is Dick Cheney not in jail?

    Just because you cannot stretch your head to see how someone could believe something you don't, don't immediately label them as criminal.

    That's not what I'm doing. Believe whatever you want. But Scientology lies to vulnerable people, takes their money, and often forces them to cut themselves off from their non-Scientologist families.

    But, since confusion and lack of knowledge and mystery can be physically painful sometimes ("I just have to know what's behind that door!) he or she will just pick up an easy-sounding answer, like, say, "God hates me," or "those people are nuts, anyway", rather than confront it and find out the real truth.

    Or "Scientology can solve my problems."

    You do not always know that you have them. Scientology can help you find them and discover the real truth.

    And herein lies the real problem. As you have just stated, Scientology takes advantage of confused and vulnerable people, offering them "truth" - but they do not. They are offering a lie. Otherwise, why do they have to hide their recruiting behind "personality tests"?

    It's the oldest trick in the book. Religion preys on the weak and vulnerable, offering easy answers, and then trying to control their lives.

    That's enough. You have already made up your mind. You have the attitude that this is a cult, and I am brainwashed, and all the Church is in it for is the money.

    But you really need to show some evidence that they aren't all about the money. If it isn't about money - why won't they tell you all the teachings free of charge? You can believe all you want. You can accuse me of having a closed mind, but it really seems you are the one who has a closed mind, and thinks just believing something makes it true. Are you open to the idea that you may be being exploited?

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Wednesday February 07, 2007 @06:54PM (#17928176) Journal

    Reduces aids (this story is from the BBC, but the reference is from "Lancet."

    Reduces chlamidia (Oxford Journal.)

    So as a circumcised male are you comfortable fucking chicks that you know are HIV positive or whom have chlamydia? Hell no I suspect. Safe sex practices would seem to me to be more appealing then slicing off a functional part of your body.

    From the AMA on Penile cancer (summary... only uncircumcised men get penile cancer):

    It's interesting that you decided to quote the AMA twice to back up your case to failed to quote some other lines from this [ama-assn.org].

    The AMA supports the general principles of the 1999 Circumcision Policy Statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which reads as follows: Existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits of newborn male circumcision; however, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision.

    I could also point out a quote from the ACS on the subject [cancer.org]:

    However, it is important that the issue of circumcision not distract men from avoiding known penile cancer risk factors -- poor hygiene, phimosis, having unprotected sex with multiple partners (increasing the likelihood of human papillomavirus infection), and cigarette smoking.

    In weighing the risks and benefits of circumcision, doctors consider the fact that penile cancer is one of the least common forms of cancer in the United States. Neither the American Academy of Pediatrics nor the Canadian Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine circumcision of newborns. Ultimately, decisions about circumcision are highly personal and depend more on social and religious factors than on medical evidence.

    And of course, circumcision prevents one from ever suffering from phimosis.

    And the appendectomy prevents one from ever having appendicitis, yet I don't see newborns undergoing this procedure as a preventive measure.

    As to function, as a circumcised male, I can assure you that full functionality is present, as is lots and lots of enjoyment. Anecdotal reports speak to an additional ability to control ejaculation, and to that I can only say I've never had a problem holding off until my partner's orgasm and then going with them; so for my part, if indeed this has anything at all to do with being circumcised, I consider it a huge positive. Functionally speaking, I'm one happy camper, as have been my partners. One thing I can definitively say is that the condition itself does not bring lack of function, or reduced function. No question about it.

    As an uncircumcised male I can assure you that I have my fair share of enjoyment. I also couldn't help but notice how you said "anecdotal reports" and " if indeed this has...." I would make the claim that I've never had a problem lasting long enough to satisfy my partner. I also like how you can make the claim that it doesn't bring about reduced function. Were you cut as an adult? Did you have sex prior to being circumcised? If not then I highly doubt you are in a position to make that claim.

    Well, in many ways I agree with that statement. However, if there is 100% certainty that a procedure results in lack of functionality, while providing no known benefits for the subject (benefits for others notwithstanding), then I think we have a human rights issue that transcends culture

    The very first thing you learn in anthropology is not to judge other cultures by our standards. I don't see how you can reconcile your position on this issue while simultaneously saying that it's ok to slice up the penis of a newborn male for perceived health benefits. Isn't it for him t

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