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Church of Scientology On Trial In France 890

Posted by kdawson
from the speaking-truth-to-fraud dept.
An anonymous reader sends word that a trial has opened in Paris that could shut down Scientology in France. The organization stands accused of targeting vulnerable people for commercial gain. Scientology does not have the status of a religion there, as it does in the US, and anti-cult groups have pursued it vigorously over more than 30 years. The current case is based on complaints filed by two women in December 1998 and July 1999. Three other former members who had initially joined the complaint have withdrawn after "reaching a financial arrangement with church officials." If convicted, the seven top Scientologists in France face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of €1M. The Church of Scientology-Celebrity Centre and its Scientology Freedom Space bookshop not only face a much larger fine but also run the risk of being shut down completely.
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Church of Scientology On Trial In France

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  • Hell yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MjDascombe (549226) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @05:57PM (#28102143) Journal
    This evil can't come to an end soon enough.
  • And the church? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:00PM (#28102185)

    I mean, scientologists are a bunch of loons, but take a look at the first set of Google search entries when you look up "catholic priests"

     

  • YRO? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:02PM (#28102209)

    I'm not sure how this qualifies as "Your Rights Online." Unless you think people have a 'right' to run a criminal organization.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:03PM (#28102227) Homepage Journal
    I don't have a problem with acting against individuals who break the law but if we start banning groups because of their beliefs it might be hard to know where to stop.

    How about World of Warcraft. Isn't that sort of a cult?
  • by alexborges (313924) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:06PM (#28102259)

    Its not because of "their beleives". Its because they attempted to scam a lady!

  • by alexborges (313924) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:07PM (#28102291)

    Nope.

    The other difference is that you arent CHARGED for reading the bible: try and get an "advanced" scientology text (pure bull, BTW), without forking some serious cash.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:11PM (#28102335) Homepage Journal

    Try attending church regularly and never donating a cent. Watch how the other people treat you.

  • Re:Excellent (Score:2, Insightful)

    by uberjack (1311219) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:13PM (#28102371)
    One would only hope...
  • by Reality Master 201 (578873) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:16PM (#28102403) Journal

    Try dealing with his point honestly. You know he's more right than you are.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:16PM (#28102405) Homepage

    If you're dumb enough to spend thousands of dollars on something called a 'Thetin meter' then it's your fault.. not the seller's, then again it's France :P..

    So there should be no laws against fraud? Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, Madoff ... all that should be completely legal, because it's the victim's fault?

  • by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:20PM (#28102441)

    R2-45 may go a long way to allow others to conclude Hubbard thought his religion was a joke. I do wonder if you invest your entire life saving in religion, whether you actually meant a self R2-45 but were just too squeamish.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:20PM (#28102445)

    I'm not sure if this will have the outcome you're hoping for.
    Prosecuted religions typically thrive as the "community" comes together against the perceived threat, see: Christianity, Judaism, Mormonism.

    But it'll still be fun to watch.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:21PM (#28102449) Homepage Journal

    Umm.. I agree with him, Scientology is a bunch of nutjobs. What he doesn't seem to have expressed an opinion on is the nutjobness of Christians. So who is not dealing with whom honestly?

  • by bonch (38532) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:21PM (#28102455)

    I know it's trendy and hip to bash Christianity on Slashdot (before you ask, I'm agnostic), there are significant differences.

    1.) The Bible is pretty easy to access. In fact, you can often get it for free because its believers want you to read it.
    2.) I submit that believing some creator of the universe manifested its power in the form of a sacrificial holy man long ago is far less wacky then believing an intergalactic overlord imprisoned in a volcano who attached alien ghosts to primitive humans, causing all their problems.
    3.) In spite of all the shit they get, the Christians I've met in life have generally been very friendly and nice to me. Just good folks who believe what they believe. You have your bad apples, but that's true for every group in the world. Scientologists, on the other hand, will ask you if you rape babies and are trained to believe that anyone critical of the religion is a criminal who is hiding dark secrets.

    So, yeah, very little like Christianity, to be perfectly honest. You were just going for a cheap +5 Insightful by bashing the easy target.

  • by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:22PM (#28102469)

    They are trying to ban them because they are using peoples beliefs for the monetary gain of the church.

    Oh, and that's unique to the scientologists right?
    If thats what it is, they've got a long road ahead of them, and scientology is just the beginning.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:23PM (#28102483) Journal

    One thing I've noted is that you don't actually have to pay large sums of money to be a Christian. In fact, I don't know of any mainstream churches that will toss you out or suspend you if you don't put any money in the collection plate.

    So, while the claims of both can be pretty stupid, Christianity actually is a religion, while $cientology is just a scam.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:25PM (#28102499) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, that whole indoctrination of the young thing is irrelevant, right?

    Christianity is just as wacky and weird.. it's just that we all know that stuff.. if Scientology lasts 100 years we'll all be able to recite their theology too.

    In the mean time, save me zombie Jesus!

  • by srobert (4099) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:28PM (#28102541)

    The organization stands accused of targeting vulnerable people for commercial gain.

      Other religious groups might want to render an opinion to the courts defending Scientology. How many religions can't be accused of targeting vulnerable people?

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:29PM (#28102545) Journal

    I don't think it's necessary for anyone to get into a dick-measuring contest with $cientologists. I don't find Christianity's claims any more credible, per se. But you do hit on one key difference. $cientology is basically a shell game where the believer has to keep paying more and more money to get all those deep secrets. For better or for worse, one can go to a Catholic priest or a Protestant minister and get lessons on their branch of Christianity for free. These guys mass produce for free or for very little cost their holy books, and they even let people into their houses of worship for free. Yes, most churches send around the collection plate, but I don't know of any churches that would deprive someone of the Sacraments because they didn't give their church money.

    It's not about qualitative aspects of either religion, it is really about the fact that one is a religion, and one is simply a cult/marketing scam that uses the size of one's pocket book as the only real determinant of salvation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:34PM (#28102609)
    Cults and religions have equivalent dogmas, but the business models and tactics are different. The cult isn't on trial because told someone a tall tale. They're on trial because they ripped someone off. If you think that what the popular religions do is just as bad as Scientology, then you haven't looked at Scientology.
  • by jcr (53032) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:37PM (#28102647) Journal

    It's pretty clear that he considered it a joke at the beginning, and then he went bat-shit insane.

    -jcr

  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:38PM (#28102659) Homepage Journal
    It's not about nutjobness. By pointing out how ridiculous some story about Xenu (or Jesus) is, you distract people from the crimes that Scientologists are committing. Lying to people by saying they're inhabited by thetans, or that they're going to spend eternity in the lake of fire if they don't accept Jesus, is not the crime we're talking about here. This isn't what Scientology has been accused of.
  • by Psyborgue (699890) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:38PM (#28102667) Homepage Journal

    But you have an informed choice to believe in Zombie Jesus or not to. In Scientology, by the time you find out what it's really about, you've spent hundreds of thousands, all your friends and contacts are Scientology, and leaving means cutting off contact with all of them (starting an entire new life). Generally, Christians won't shun you if you leave (but they might try and convert you back, which is just persuasion).

    There is also the fact that scientology practices thought reform [rickross.com] (brainwashing) and ericsonian hypnosis, something that does not happen in legitimate religions. The difference, again, is that there is a lack of informed consent. They modify your thinking in ways you do not realize.

  • by evil_aar0n (1001515) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:41PM (#28102695)

    True enough. But if I go to a Roman Catholic church, I'm not going to get hit up for money if I ask to see their sacred texts. Heck, they'll probably just give me one - whether I ask or not. And tithing is optional, in practice.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by x2A (858210) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:41PM (#28102707)

    "but leaving these con artists on the street while harassing scientology just seems unfair"

    That's not how civil cases work. You can't just go after anyone and sue for damages based on them doing something not right to someone else. These are personal complaints against scientology by people who feel they've been wronged by the group. If someone else has been conned out of money by another group, it's up to them to try bring it before a court.

  • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:44PM (#28102745)

    Nope.

    The other difference is that you arent CHARGED for reading the bible: try and get an "advanced" scientology text (pure bull, BTW), without forking some serious cash.

    No, of course not! [greatsite.com] The Church has never been aboutmoney [wikipedia.org] or power ever [wikipedia.org].

    It's always been about saving the little ones from a lake of fire and doom.

    I'm not standing up for Scientology, but regardless of the saintliness you hold your own beliefs, Christianity (as most organized religions have) has had a very checked past when it comes to what those with power and influence in it have done.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:48PM (#28102797) Homepage Journal

    But you have an informed choice to believe in Zombie Jesus or not to.

    What part of indoctrination of the young don't you understand?

    Generally, Christians won't shun you if you leave

    Have you never heard of ex-communication?

  • by jd (1658) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:55PM (#28102879) Homepage Journal

    Define "willingly", given that cults are exceptionally good at applying brainwashing techniques. Is it possible to voluntarily do something when you are no longer medically competent to make such decisions?

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:56PM (#28102891)

    How about World of Warcraft. Isn't that sort of a cult?

    How exactly is a video game like a cult? What belief system does "World of Warcraft" have? I'm not talking about the lore of the game, because they don't represent dwarves and elves and magic as reality, they represent it as fiction within the universe of the game. That is a distinct difference between entertainment and religion.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:56PM (#28102895)
    At one time, Catholic rites were always performed in Latin, a language even most Europeans no longer spoke. Translation of the bible into native languages was considered heresy. Why? To force people to support a priest caste who had a monopoly on reading and interpreting scripture. So yes, effectively people WERE charged for reading the bible, as well as charged for indulgences. The Protestant Reformation was a reaction to the monetization of religion. Sounds like CofS could use a little reformation as well.
  • by x2A (858210) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:58PM (#28102915)

    "Yeah, that whole indoctrination of the young thing is irrelevant, right?"

    Yes. That's what happens when you're young, whether your "indoctrination" is about being christian, vegetarian, not dropping litter in streets, not stealing, learning to write, learning maths... you can be brought up christian, yet drop the religion when you grow up enough to think for yourself. I, many in my family, and many of my friends, are living proof of that. If people believe in their religion, of course they're going to share it with their kids, it's not "evil conspiracy against children", that's a stupid argument, it's just the way things are going to happen. Like people are going to believe their religion is 'The True Way' yet hide it from their children. That's ridiculous. And the religion's ridiculous to begin with... so that's like... ridiculous squared!

  • by pwizard2 (920421) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @06:59PM (#28102923)

    The problem with your argument is that you treat all denominations as the same.

    If you want to talk about indulgences, that's more of a Catholic issue. Protestants do not believe in that doctrine; rather, they believe that once you accept Christ, all sins are forgiven (past present, and future) and no further payment is required.

    Also, don't make the mistake of thinking that all evangelicals are like the ones that have been discredited. It's just that the press thrives on scandal and you very seldom hear about the good ones.

  • by SdnSeraphim (679039) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:05PM (#28102983)

    I do attend a church regularly, and more than half of the people who attend regularly with me never contribute a cent. They are loved just the same as others who do contribute. The only person who knows how much is actually donated is the treasurer. I'm the council president and former treasurer, so I know of what I speak.

    On the other hand, I have had friends that attend churches where the whole sermon is about giving money to the church. It was disheartening to them. However, just because it is this way in one, some, many or most, does not mean that it is universal. It is important to note that sacrifice is a part of most religions, in some way or another. The Christian New Testament has a parable about the widow and her two mites, and the rich man an his wealth. This is about sacrifice and not about volume. If you belief in something but are not willing to sacrifice for it, do you truly believe? Or are you there for some side benefit. You don't have to frame this solely in religion. Patriotism (whose concept was abused by our previous president), science, public safety and other noble pursuits are often characterized by sacrifice.

    I my church there are many things required of us to be members. Only one of them has to do with money, and all of them have to do with helping humanity (note: not just those of my religion).

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tautog (46259) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:07PM (#28102999)

    Spend some time researching the history and methods of the religions for which you hold such regard...

    I think that you'll find the similarities to be quite striking.

    You give the general populace entirely too much credit.

  • by City AnG3lu5 (1562913) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:17PM (#28103113)
    Christianity doesn't tear people away from their families. It doesn't steal its followers money or follow and intimidate anyone trying to investigate it.

    Perhaps if you knew something about christianity you might be able to post something vaguely truthful about it but you haven't so let me inform you.
    Christianity is an open religion, not a mysterious and closed cult.

    Christians believe that Jesus died so that we don't have to get punished for all the shit we've done, and if you ask to be forgiven you can go to heaven when you die.

    Scientologists believe that: "Xenu (sometimes Xemu), introduced as an alien ruler of the "Galactic Confederacy." According to this story, 75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and detonated hydrogen bombs in the volcanoes. The thetans then clustered together, stuck to the bodies of the living, and continue to do this today." - Wikipedia (otherwise known as fact)

    Scientology is not only full of crazy beliefs and ideas but it is dangerous. It is run by an incredibly charismatic conman who splits up families, takes children from their parents and cons as much money as it can out of its followers. If you read about all the damage this cult has done you'll realize why it is NOTHING like christianity.
    And if you find out the truth about christianity rather than relying on what you think you know or what you've heard then you'll realize that scientology is nothing like the love and forgiveness you can find there.

    In other words, you're wrong on the internet. So very, very wrong.
  • by wealthychef (584778) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:17PM (#28103123)
    What I'm confused about is this:

    Scientology does not have the status of a religion there, as it does in the US,

    This seems to me to imply that if it were a religion, then a different set of standards for its behaviors would apply. I'm sorry, but why does religion get a pass when it comes to promulgating crazy ideas that suck money out of the unwary? It's just bad policy to go on protecting religions like that. IMHO

  • by petrus4 (213815) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:18PM (#28103133) Homepage Journal

    Supporting those who seek the abolition of Scientology is one thing, and I support such an end goal myself.

    Calling for the end of theism in all forms, however, is something else entirely. I realise that atheism (or at least fashionable agnosticism) is part of the established groupthink here on Slashdot, but as difficult as this may be to comprehend, for some of us, theistic belief is nothing but positive, and it doesn't inspire us to go out and rape, murder, or rob anybody either.

    Most people here support the concept of entirely customisable cognitive environments in terms of shells, window managers, and so on; from the perspective of mechanistic atheism, a form of theistic belief doesn't need to be perceived much differently.

    If you choose to go without one, for whatever reason, that's fine; I'm not evangelical in the slightest, and I endorse the right of anyone to be totally atheistic who wants to be. All I want is recognition of the same right of freedom of belief myself. If people aren't using theism as an excuse to commit crimes, (and I don't) there is no reason why theism should not be permissible.

  • by bobetov (448774) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:41PM (#28103365) Homepage

    That's a fine generalization, and may or may not be generally true, but my folks and I attended a presbyterian church for 4 years. We stopped when we were told not to return until we wanted to tithe appropriately.

    It's a tax, enforced by social ostracism and in our case at least, direct pronouncements from the pastor. Calling it anything else is disingenuous.

    That being said, the Xenu guys are way more obvious about it.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @07:49PM (#28103451) Homepage

    I submit that believing some creator of the universe manifested its power in the form of a sacrificial holy man long ago is far less wacky then believing an intergalactic overlord imprisoned in a volcano who attached alien ghosts to primitive humans, causing all their problems.

    They both seem equally wacky to me. If you grew up in Western society, you were immersed from birth in a culture that historically had Christianity as one of its foundations. That's likely to make its wacky myths seem more plausible to you.

    In spite of all the shit they get, the Christians I've met in life have generally been very friendly and nice to me. Just good folks who believe what they believe. You have your bad apples, but that's true for every group in the world. Scientologists, on the other hand, will ask you if you rape babies and are trained to believe that anyone critical of the religion is a criminal who is hiding dark secrets.

    I don't think it's valid to judge the validity of a belief system by whether its believers seem nice to you. For example, in 1209 an army of crusaders led by the Cistercian abbot Arnaud invaded the French city of Béziers, where some of the population were heretical Cathars. When the abbot was asked how to tell the orthodox Christians from the heretics, he said, "Kill them all, the Lord will recognise His own." They killed all 20,000 inhabitants: men, women, children, and babies. If I were judging by Abbot Arnaud, I'd judge Christianity to be a pretty scary religion.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:00PM (#28103571)
    "Scientology Survives by Recruiting Losers"

    "Interesting thing is I later made the plastic parts for the e machine auditing. (2 plastic parts, 2 resistors, 2 connector pins and wires). Later ran into the molder who makes the training case for their dvds and printed materials. Once the box was filled with $20 worth of materials, the loser had to pay near $2000 for it as I recall (It has been 5 years or so)".

    It must feel good knowing that you sold a manipulative cult tools to help them keep on destroying vulnerable peoples lives. Loser, indeed.

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:00PM (#28103579) Homepage

    Or, to put it another way, a checkered past is at least 50 percent better than a black past.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by youngone (975102) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:04PM (#28103621)
    Mormonism was established in the late 1820's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mormonism [wikipedia.org] by a convicted fraudster http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Smith [wikipedia.org]. Hardly thousands of years. All Churches operate in much the same way. They all prey (pray) on the hard of thinking.
  • by shellster_dude (1261444) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:11PM (#28103671)
    You know what I can't stand? The irony between this thread and the one on gambling. Many of the same people are posting here, about how Scientology should be banned for being a scam, and relieving people of their money, but they are all for the unbanning of gambling sites online.
  • by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr&bhtooefr,org> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:18PM (#28103721) Homepage Journal

    Because Scientology won't let you walk away, casinos will.

  • by NIckGorton (974753) * on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:22PM (#28103729)

    All the source documents for Christian theology are publicly available

    Depends on what you call source documents. If you mean the Hebrew scriptures and the NT (including newer archaeological finds), sure. However since you are a dead language fan, three words for you: Archivum Secretum Vaticanum. But then the whole point of a secret archive is that its.... well.... secret. We don't know what source documents may be in it any more than people knew in the 80's about Xenu and the DC-8s.

    However you might be one of the ones who argue RCC != Christian. But since they are the oldest school on the block for the most part I'll assume they have some goods the newer kids might not have. (Though as an atheist the goods in question are about as valuable to me as a wet kleenex or Vista.) However my original point was that there is just as much secrecy in Christianity (more now really since the Vatican has done a better job keeping their stuff off of WikiLeaks) than in the CO$.

    And its just too unfortunate that you didn't go to school in West Virginia.... the potential for sheep rather than goat jokes would have been enormous. But I'm just not that lucky.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:37PM (#28103831) Homepage

    All the source documents for Christian theology are publicly available, and well out of copyright. What are copyrighted is modern translations of documents... which I sort of hate, but then again theology professors have to eat too. If you're willing to take the time and effort to learn Greek and Latin, you can read them more-or-less for free.

    And the source documents for Islam are out of copyright, available for free, and written in a language that's isn't dead.

    So, I'd say Islam has you beat.

  • by Zordak (123132) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:39PM (#28103869) Homepage Journal

    Because Scientology won't let you walk away, casinos will.

    Well, theoretically anyway. Addiction can be a funny thing.

  • At this point you're wilfully conflating Catholicism with Christianity in order to "prove" your point. I've seen several others point out to you that they are two different things. You've constructed a strawman by taking an implementation of an idea, showing its faults, and then claiming that the idea itself is bad. Doubly so because you're wilfully ignoring an entire swath of Christianity under the Protestant umbrella, and which never had most of the problems you're talking about.

    The fact is that yes, the Catholic organisation has had problems over the years. They've abused the trust that people put in them, they've used it as a racket to fleece people of their money, and they've done bad things to little boys. However, NONE of that speaks to the idea of Christianity. It speaks to the disgusting people who have used it as a vehicle for their own personal agendas -- always IN SPITE of what Christianity teaches.

    Christianity is, and always has been, based on the idea of free will. This was borne out several times in the story of Jesus, who is looked to as the model of behavior for Christians. That Christians many times come nowhere close to living up to that standard is a sad commentary on the Christians, but not of the standard.

    Consider that the early Christians and Jews at the time expected that he would lead an armed revolution against Rome. Instead, he told them to love their neighbors and their enemies, to pay their taxes ("Render unto Caesar..."), and to dedicate their souls to God. The only force involved there would be that of the Romans toward people who don't pay their taxes.

    Consider the story Jesus told about the rich man. Jesus told him to sell what he valued and follow him. The guy walked away, and Jesus let him.

    Consider the very act of "getting saved." You need to ask Jesus to save you. You need to make the request -- no force involved. You agree to try to follow a certain set of rules to govern your life, but the only consequence of refusing to do so is whatever your actions directly lead to (jail time, bad health, etc.)

    Nowhere in the story of Jesus is force involved, except when it is used against him. The one time someone picks up a sword to defend Jesus (in the garden when Judas betrays him to the Romans), Jesus tells him to knock it off.

    So I ask you again, where is the fault in that model of behavior? Or is it the people in certain positions using their influence to advance their own interests? Yes, they may be "representatives" of Christianity, but they're acting in direct opposition to it -- the same as crooked cops don't prove that the rule of law is bad. And, like cops, there are a lot more good pastors and priests out there than bad ones, but you only hear about the bad ones.

    Now, I know you'll bring up the idea of Hell being the unspoken threat. There are a couple problems with that though. First, Jesus didn't invent the idea of Hell, nor did the Jews. It's been around in one form or another at least since the early Egyptians had Hades (different, but analogous), possibly before. Second, Jesus was not threatening to send people to Hell. The idea is that you're going there by default, but if you ask him to, he'll save you from it. It was an offer of salvation, not a threat of damnation. It's only natural that an offer like that should come with strings attached. After all, he's asking people to live in his house for eternity, and I doubt you'd invite just anyone to your house for that long either -- especially the unrepentant scum of humanity.

    Another point is that you don't need to believe the supernatural aspects of Christianity to find it a useful model of behavior. Don't steal, don't murder, be infinitely forgiving, even if it costs your life, never coerce people, and lots of other ideas most liberals should identify with rather than rail against.

    The effects on society without such a standard of behavior are much worse than the paltry things that Slashdotters complain about. Cr

  • by Fished (574624) <amphigory@gmail. ... m minus language> on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @08:45PM (#28103923)

    The Vatican secret archives wouldn't really be source documents for theology. More like a presidential library. But hey, who knows, maybe how many Ducats Pope Innocent XIV spent on hookers really IS relevant for YOUR theology. It's sure not very important to mine. And in any case, everything prior to 1922 is open to non-clerical scholars anyway--and archives from 1939 and before from the department of state are available as well.

    Now, when I refer to "source documents of Christian theology", I'm referring to:

    • Scripture--Hebrew Bible, New Testament, and Apocrypha
    • The Apostolic Fathers
    • Patristics--i.e. Christian theologians from the 2nd-5th century.
    • Subsequent theological works of interest--e.g. Boethius, Anselm, Thomas Aquinas, Occam, Gregory Palamas, Balaam, etc.
    • The writings of the reformers and the counter-reformers, and the Anabaptists
    • Theology since the time of the Reformation--Pietists, Liberal Theology, Existentialism, Fundamentalism, etc. etc.

    Since you're looking for "hidden sources", I assume you've read all that?

    Oh... you haven't? Why not?

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @09:12PM (#28104129) Journal

    how Scientology should be banned for being a scam, and relieving people of their money, but they are all for the unbanning of gambling sites online.

    There are two things here.

    First of all, Scientologists actively harass those who try to leave the Church. I've yet to hear of casinos forcibly dragging people to the tables to gamble.

    Second, casinos do not false advertise. They don't promise you eternal salvation, perfect mental and physical health, and so on.

  • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @09:16PM (#28104153)

    Wow, that's not even close to correct. No taxation without representation was English law, not US law. In the US, we eliminated the need for such a clause by eliminating the kingship and building the entire system around representation. We also did not put taxation in the hands of the executive (not sure if the English did or not, honestly), and territories of the US get non-voting representation in Congress. The clause is not required because it is built into the system.

    Churches are tax-exempt because they have charity status. I'm not sure precisely how it is built into the law, but it does not apply to everything the church does, and the assumption is that the church is a net benefit for society.

    The reasons religions don't get persecuted, and are in fact very difficult to prosecute for wrongdoing is because of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In a nutshell, it says Congress can't make a law that prohibits or even negatively influences the free exercise of any religion. Cults in the US are on shaky ground, but once you achieve Religion status - i.e. have your own church and can be considered tax exempt - you are on very solid ground legally.

    In theory, even cults are heavily protected by the first amendment, in practice they don't fare as well as those belief systems that are considered full blown religions.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gd2shoe (747932) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @09:18PM (#28104173) Journal

    Mormonism was established in the late 1820's...

    It was 1830, formally speaking.

    ... by a convicted fraudster...

    Not true, but it's hard to prove one way or the other. The chain of custody for the historic documents in question is scandalous at best. Even if it were true (I have no reason to believe that it is), it would not surprise me. He was repeatedly arrested on false charges and subsequently released. People like to complain about recent abuses of power and the failings of constitutional protections. Gitmo has nothing on Missouri. (historically speaking) Hate and prejudice were rampant compared to today. That included the judiciary.

    Hardly thousands of years. All Churches operate in much the same way. They all prey (pray) on the hard of thinking.

    You judge rashly and falsely. Don't worry, you're hardly the first to do so. (I'll even admit that many denominations cater to the dim witted.) Unless you're a theology major (at a bare minimum), and have exposed yourself to as many religions and churches as possible, you're not in a position to paint with such a broad brush.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zordak (123132) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @09:21PM (#28104197) Homepage Journal

    I guess I missed the part in your link where Joseph Smith was convicted of fraud (or anything else for that matter, ever). He was responsible for a failed effort to raise money for the Church through a quasi-banking corporation (a widely accepted practice in Ohio at the time, and something that he did on the advice of competent non-Mormon legal counsel). And when it failed, some people became very angry about their losses. But he was never very business savvy, and never claimed to be. The Church in his lifetime was a financial mess. It survived and even thrived, and now operates without any debt. But it still doesn't make anybody personally wealthy. Joseph Smith's current successor (Thomas S. Monson [wikipedia.org]) is not personally wealthy and never has been.

    So I'm curious---in a church where even the very highest leaders are not wealthy, and where, in fact, you can't choose to be in the upper leadership (there's no campaigning or posturing; you are simply called to the position)---where's the scam? What's the payoff? With an unpaid lay clergy, who's getting rich off of my tithing money?

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @09:28PM (#28104249) Homepage Journal

    So the best comparison we can make to a Scientologist is a compulsive degenerate gambler?

    Sounds about right.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @09:37PM (#28104321)

    JackieBrown wrote:

    As much as you like to believe religion is being forced on you, it's not.

    And, incidentally, repent or suffer for all eternity in the fires of hell! Accept gods love and forgiveness, infidel, or know gods wrath as you bath in relentless torture, torment and agony for all time!

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @10:08PM (#28104541)

    Which religion has the right path?

    Surely they can't all be the right path, because several of them are mutually exclusive.

    Further, which "God" is the path for? The God of the Jews/Christians/Muslims is a singular entity, trinities aside, but Hindus worship several deities. Some branches of Buddhism don't have a god, and neither do the Scientologists.

    Name one thing religion offers that non-religion can also offer without invoking supernatural entities that may or may not exist.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @10:16PM (#28104597) Journal

    Umm. Do you believe in zombie Jesus or not? Do you believe in an omnipresent father-like God? Do you believe in an afterlife? Cause if you do, you're insane. Maybe not clinically insane.. but you're clearly susceptible to bullshit which makes you behave in a way that is irrational.

    Boy, you must have paid the LRonites a lot of money to be this miserable. What a pity you hadn't spent that money on some schooling, so you didn't come off as a complete fucking retard.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by amoeba1911 (978485) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @10:22PM (#28104641) Homepage
    Very true, religion is not being forced on anyone. Just a knife being forced into the throat of anyone who happens to have better sense or just doesn't believe in the same religion.
    Too many have died at the hands of men supposedly doing God's bidding following His word. You can't just dismiss thousands of years of massacres: because it's still going on today.
  • by fluffy99 (870997) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:03PM (#28104899)

    That's my impression of most large churches. When they have a board of directors, a CFO, run gift shops, have a private school, and invest in real estate its really hard not to call them a BUSINESS. A business that gets tax-free status just because they sell religious products and services.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:27PM (#28105075)

    So as "a child who had to go to church" you had full access to the detailed accounting of the church you attended, and remember the actual figures to this day? I think it's far more likely you're just full of crap.

  • by Livius (318358) on Tuesday May 26, 2009 @11:30PM (#28105097)

    With a religion, not everyone involved is a charlatan, or at least it's hard to prove. Scientology is a demonstrable fraud thinly disguised as a knock-off of gnosticism with some 1950s technology buzzwords.

  • by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr&bhtooefr,org> on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @12:00AM (#28105301) Homepage Journal

    Oh, I certainly thought of that.

    But Scientology uses various tactics to FORCE you to stay in the organization. Putting you deeply in debt, isolating you from all of your friends and family so that it's hard to reconnect with them if you leave Scientology, harassment, suspected murder, etc., etc.

    Casinos do none of that. Sure, there's psychological pressure to keep gambling, but you can walk away at any time with no repercussions, and they don't do anything to actively make walking away painful.

  • by shutdown -p now (807394) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @01:27AM (#28105685) Journal

    Mormons, pentecostals, Christian Scientists. Religions weren't built on attrition rates.

    Those churches don't sell salvation though. They claim they have it, but you're free to come and take it. You don't have to pay for it in cash, on the spot.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @02:08AM (#28105905)

    Still holds water. In both cases, you can be in there voluntarily. You can choose to be in Scientology, as well as you can choose to be gambling.

    The difference is when you want to quit. A gambler may be forced, by his "inner demon" to keep gambling, even if he wants to quit. A Scientologists will be forced. There is no chance. Just as much as there is no chance that the night is dark. The night simply is dark.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @02:11AM (#28105919)

    What are the odds that the Scientologists are right? Hell, even the Mormons' faith makes more sense than that harebrained mumbo-jumbo SciFi story.

  • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @04:45AM (#28106977) Homepage Journal

    With Scientology, you'll be fucked 100% of the time.

    To all the horny virgin geeks round here, that sounds like a plus point!

  • by somersault (912633) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @05:13AM (#28107141) Homepage Journal

    In theory, even cults are heavily protected by the first amendment, in practice they don't fare as well as those belief systems that are considered full blown religions.

    Yeah, it's easy to laugh at a small group of crazy people. But when they become a large group, they for some reason are meant to be respected.

    As someone who recently realised what a crock religion is, I find it sad that people are not taught about brainwashing in school, not to mention natural selection and evolution. If I'd studied biology then I'd have been taught more on evolution (though being religious actually made me want to avoid the subject because it was seen as heretical by most people I knew), but it should be taught to *everyone*, fairly early on - if you see that humans are in essence the same as animals, then you can at least discard the religions that think humans were created as special beings. It is perhaps possible (but to me it doesn't seem very likely) that some magical consciousness pervades all things, but IMO anyone who believes that only humans have souls while all other forms of life do not, is not looking at things logically. Especially if they believe we were made in the "image of God", unless their God did in fact evolve from a giant space-monkey.

    ( Cue mostly crazy responses. *sigh* )

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Clovis42 (1229086) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @06:06AM (#28107487)

    I'm a Mormon, you insensitive clod!

    Memes aside, I really am a bit offended by this. Not so much what youngone wrote, but the fact that it was modded 5, Insightful. The inference that someone joins a church just because they are an idiot should bother most people. He also failed at HTML and made a terrible joke. How is this a 5? And below, someone got marked a Troll just because they gave a simple defense of his accusations.

  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:4, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:26AM (#28108659)
    Tribalism in general is dying, and this is a good thing. The world is shrinking. And every day we're closer to a time when people think of themselves as human (rather than Tutsi, Arab, Jew, etc.) is a better day. There was a time before these tribes where created, and there will be a time after they're long gone.
  • Re:Hell yeah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:36AM (#28108747)

    I will agree with you only to the extent that I think *ALL* religions are pretty much equally stupid. Believing Joseph Smith recieved a angelic revelation is no stupider than believing Mohommad or Abraham received a similar revelation--and all those pale in comparison to the general belief that a first-century illiterate Hebrew peasant who happened to be crucified by the Romans as an insurgent was somehow the human incarnation of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God.

    To me you ALL sound like a bunch of ass-clowns.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @08:39AM (#28108775)

    Atheists and other so called heretics have been persecuted, tortured, and murdered by the church's minions throughout the course of history, thousands of years. Not to mention the strong grip the christian church has on politics and "science" even today in the US and Europe. So stop this pathetic "we're a minority" stuff please, because in fact you have been and still are the (oppressive) majority.

  • by dave420 (699308) on Wednesday May 27, 2009 @09:10AM (#28109141)
    Most folks on Slashdot support rational thought. Religion isn't rational in the slightest. That's why they don't approve of religion. To them, anyone who's willing to believe with all their heart that one or more gods exist, without a single shred of evidence to even suggest it, let alone support it, is not thinking rationally. And they're right. I guess if you deal with logic all day fiddling around with computers, the idea that you can just believe in something without evidence is at odds with what they see and experience all day every day. So religion is fair game on Slashdot, as is belief in Chupacabra, Santa Claus, Unicorns, honest politicians, etc. etc. etc. Sorry.

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