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Scientology Charged With Slavery, Human Trafficking 802

Posted by kdawson
from the to-name-but-a-few dept.
eldavojohn writes "A formal complaint was filed in California (caged PDF) last week by John Lindstein naming David Miscavige and the Church of Scientology International as defendants. Lindstein claims that for sixteen years (from age 8) he was forced to work as a slave at Gold Base, a secret CoS site run by Golden Era Productions with 'razor wire, security guard patrols, surveillance posts, and three roll calls each day.' The pay was $50 a week. The allegations include 'Violations of wage and hour laws as well as unfair/illegal business practices actionable under California B&P 17200 Et. Seq.' and a complaint under the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, which abolished slavery. Members of the group Anonymous praised the summons."
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Scientology Charged With Slavery, Human Trafficking

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  • I love it! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:31PM (#30289186) Homepage Journal

    Now if we can see a slashdot article saying that they were found guilty and someone went to prison for it... the fat lady ain't sang yet, boys.

  • by guruevi (827432) <eviNO@SPAMsmokingcube.be> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:33PM (#30289204) Homepage

    Since they are classified as a religion (thanks to infiltration of CoS into the IRS) wouldn't his service be considered 'worship' and 'volunteering'. However it wouldn't surprise me if they actually were actually doing much worse than just killing people.

  • by poetmatt (793785) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:35PM (#30289230) Journal

    what do you mean? they already had some kind of formal document about shooting people when necessary, there isn't much more out there. CoS needs to be gone, period.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:37PM (#30289254)
    I don't believe you actually did check. Every definition of slavery has nothing to do with compensation or lack thereof, and everything to do with being bound, out of your control, in service to another.
  • Re:I love it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:38PM (#30289272)
    Sorry, that won't happen. The Co$'s lawyers will ensure that they get off. Not only that, but they've infiltrated the government and justice system to the point where I'm surprised they don't have laws exempting them from these types of charges.
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:40PM (#30289304)
    It isn't religion that is the problem, it is organization and trust. Take any group of trusted people and you will find that a minority want to use their trust for personal gain. In America, corporations, schools, etc. are all looked at pretty thoroughly for abuses, religion usually isn't.
  • by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:43PM (#30289326) Journal

    I can't imagine the DA would refuse to prosecute for slavery.

    Are you kidding? What does a prosecutor have to gain from prosecuting CoS for slavery? A little publicity for prosecuting on hearsay? You think he'll get warrants to investigate the tight-as-a-witches-bum CoS? Likely to backfire.

    What do they have to lose? Credibility? Their career? Personal safety?

  • by Old97 (1341297) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:43PM (#30289338)
    Of course it belongs. Didn't you notice the reference to "science" in "scientology"? BTW, Scientology liberally uses lawyers and law suits to intimidate and silence its critics - including the on-line critics.
  • by Suiggy (1544213) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:45PM (#30289356)
    Pay as meager as $50 is similar to the allowance given to indentured servants back in old times. He was also forced into labor, he couldn't leave. That $50 had to be spent on the compound at the canteen. It was slavery.
  • by Xtravar (725372) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:46PM (#30289382) Homepage Journal

    Hmm, how come every Scientology story must have some post diverting attention to Catholicism, trying to lend legitimacy to Scientology as a religion?

    Let's stick to the topic at hand, shall we? And that topic is that Scientology apparently enslaved this person.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:48PM (#30289398)
    no.
  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:50PM (#30289442)
    I think you started a little late. The Muslim crusades. The Catholic crusades. The Inquisition. (What a show...) The common thread is people... A corrupt person has no problem using anything as an excuse from religion, to communism, to security, to social justice. No "idea" stays pure once people start to use it.
  • Re:really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Narcocide (102829) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:52PM (#30289466) Homepage

    I hate those motherfuckers and I live right in their neighborhood but seriously, it was a surprise to me.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:52PM (#30289472) Journal
    Religions, though, have the unpleasant architectural problem of (in the vast majority of cases) coupling social and organizational power with strongly implied, or even overt, assertions of trustworthiness.

    Because they purport to deal in moral and divine matters, those who have power within the organization generally(either as an official point of doctrine, or in lay understanding) tend to be imbued with greater "goodness" or "holiness" or access to divine command, or whatever. Priests and CEOs are both potentially dangerous, and quite likely to cover for their buddies; but you don't generally tell children that CEOs are trusted authority figures who deserve their respect and obedience.
  • by multisync (218450) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:53PM (#30289500) Journal

    Please stop this Scientology bashing. We know its a kooky scam, but it sure as hell doesn't belong on this site

    Hmmm ...

    You don't think a story about a religion that was founded by a science fiction writer, teaches that we are from some other planet and uses something called an "E-meter" to locate and eliminate "engrams" in its followers belongs on Slashdot?

    I must be new here.

  • by houstonbofh (602064) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:56PM (#30289554)
    The key is consent... By your definition, they can make rape OK. Doesn't work for rape, and we have lots of case law supporting that. (Even if you are "married" to that 14 year old.)
  • Re:FLSA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by LOLLinux (1682094) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @05:58PM (#30289570)

    For the slavery charge, he would need to prove that he tried to quit/leave but was forcibly prevented from doing so. Did he call the police on such occasions?

    Yes because when you are held captive against your will somewhere the people holding you there will make sure you have ready access to phones so that you can call the police.

  • by Vindicator9000 (672761) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:01PM (#30289612)
    modded funny, but R2-45 is actually documented Scientology scripture, explained in exactly the same way as the parent post. It's funny because it's 100% true.
  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:02PM (#30289628) Journal

    I think the bad reputation marks against Scientology are getting a lot of press, but in defense of the poor guy getting beat up, are there any good things to say about Scientology?

    That's really hard, because the benefits of most religions are often highly subjective. The only defense I can think of is that they could be a lot worse (ie. Jonestown, Heaven's Gate), and they certainly aren't worse than the TV evangelist types who also rake in obscene amounts of money from the True Believers.

    I remember one article I read on them stated that their biggest problem is their intense paranoia of the outside world. A lot of the reasons they've done some of the nasty things they've done (like infiltrating Ontario government offices in the 1970s) are ill-informed and misjudged attempts at security.

    L. Ron Hubbard was most certainly a con artist, but he was also a bit of a paranoid type, not to mention the self-aggrandizing that he got out of a lot of the cloak-and-dagger bullshit. The problem for $cientologists after him is that I think a lot of them didn't get the joke. In short, their inheritors of L. Ron's madness, but in a more pure and fanatical form.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto (415985) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:05PM (#30289660) Journal

    Dude - there are (and were) cults out in the US today that do much, much worse. Past examples? Branch Davidians (Waco), the SunYungMoon group during the 1980's ("Moonies"), and the recent polygamy compound in Colorado City, Arizona. They all stand out as some rather egregious examples, and I don't doubt there are more of 'em out there today.

    They don't have barbed wire and guards per se, but I'm willing to wager that their denizens are brainwashed enough that none of the fencing and such is necessary.

  • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:05PM (#30289666)

    Sticky subject that is likely to insult somebody, no matter how you approach it.

    I can say that I have met some Jewish people with questionable business morals, but then again I've met people with NO religious beliefs that are far worse.

    As far as slavery and forced labor goes, the long-running genocide in Darfur is essentially Muslim controlled militias attacking indigenous tribes-people, people that have been a source of slaves for Muslim slavers for hundreds of years.

    The rallying cry for some of the Janjaweed (means "devil on horseback") militia forces has been "Kill the slaves, kill the slaves!"

    But then again, the region where the Janjaweed are killing defenseless, unarmed villagers also happens to center around a government-held oil pipeline that sends 80% of the regions oil to China.

    So maybe religion has nothing to do with it? Maybe some people are just assholes?

    And to complicate matters, some people seem to feel compelled to put Scientology in the same group as Christianity and Islam when we ALL know Scientology is just a big SCAM. It is NOT a religion just because they say it is. It is a scam disguised as a religion.

    Oranges and Apples, my friends...Don't give them the credit they so desire.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:07PM (#30289694)

    Slavery actually connotes a position of involuntary servitude rather than one where payment is withheld. That is, it is the lack of freedom that is the main attribute of slavery, not the lack of compensation.

    Slavery actually connotes a position of involuntary servitude rather than one where payment is withheld. That is, it is the lack of freedom that is the main attribute of slavery, not the lack of compensation.

    The barbed wire at Gold Base is on the inside of the fence not on the outside.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:08PM (#30289704)
    You don't count being held in a compound surrounded by razor wire and forced to work 16-24 hours a day at age 8 as "involuntary servitude"? Wow, you must have had a much rougher childhood than me.
  • by mlawrence (1094477) <martin@@@martinlawrence...ca> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:15PM (#30289806) Homepage
    My parents forced me to go to church every week, then sunday school, and during the week I would be forced to work as an altar boy for no pay. All the time I was brainwashed with repetitive prayers and actions. A cult is a cult is a cult. It doesn't matter that here in North America we tend to be fond of a particular one.
  • by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:19PM (#30289894) Journal
    I wish Acts 17:11 would get preached more: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true."

    Healthy skepticism is part of a noble character.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:20PM (#30289918)

    Dude - there are (and were) cults out in the US today that do much, much worse.

    Yes there are, but nothing on the scale of Scientology. The bigger the group the bigger the target, the harder to keep secrets.

    That's what I mean by being surprised. A local compound in one city? Zero information coming out of that would surprise me. But again, for something as large and well known as scientology... it is odd to me that this has not come forward before and is being practiced at all. They don't need to do this after all, they are making money hand over fist as it is.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:21PM (#30289924) Homepage Journal

    Quite right. GP also referred to the CoS as 'mainstream'. There is nothing mainstream about them. Most other countries don't even recognize them as a religion. They are a money making / power grabbing scheme dreamed up by a second rate megalomaniac science fiction author that has now taken on a life of its own.

  • Re:I know, I know! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sorak (246725) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:21PM (#30289926)

    The Religion of Anthropogenic Global Warming...! :)

    Right, because you never hear criticism of that!

  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:23PM (#30289938)

    Hmm, how come every Scientology story must have some post diverting attention to Catholicism, trying to lend legitimacy to Scientology as a religion?

    I believe you have it backwards. I think the post you reference is trying to point out that there is really no reason not to treat catholicism with the same utter contempt that we treat scientology.
    I personally think it should be taken one step further than that. All organized religion should be treated with utter contempt.

  • by ChipMonk (711367) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:25PM (#30289972) Journal
    "You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt.
    Saint Peter, don'tcha call me 'cause I can't go,
    I owe my soul to the company store."

    That song reflected the reality of tens of thousands of people in Appalachia.
  • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:26PM (#30289986)
    Forgot this:
    Q: What is the difference between a religion and a cult?
    A: Time.
  • by Vindicator9000 (672761) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:26PM (#30289990)
    Yes, in the context it was written and referred to by LRH, it's very easily written off as a joke. The problem is that in courtroom testimony, former COS members have, on a few occasions, admitted that COS management had at least *suggested* that they R2-45 someone, in contexts that could be construed as being serious.

    Hubbard himself gave the order on 6 March 1968, referring to *specific people* in an HCO Ethics order that was seized during an FBI raid. Referring to these once valued Scientologists, LRH said, and I quote, "They are declared Enemies of mankind, the planet and all life." ... " They are fair game." ... and "Any Sea Org member contacting any of them is to use Auditing Process R2-45."

    Would you consider that a joke? If so, it's a pretty bad one.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:27PM (#30290022)

    For those of you who are interested, you can read the original court complaint filing here:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/23175190/Complaint-filed112509 [scribd.com]

    Wow, how did you get that link? Did you read the first sentence fragment of the summary or something?

  • by Literaphile (927079) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:27PM (#30290026)

    My parents forced me to go to church every week, then sunday school, and during the week I would be forced to work as an altar boy for no pay. All the time I was brainwashed with repetitive prayers and actions. A cult is a cult is a cult. It doesn't matter that here in North America we tend to be fond of a particular one.

    That's a very poor argument. You can swap out "church" for almost any other childhood activity. For example, soccer:

    My parents forced me to go to soccer every week and play a game on saturday, and during the week I would be forced to go to soccer practice for no pay. All the time I was brainwashed with repetitive stretches and drills.

    In other words, equating Sunday school and being an altar boy to doing film editing production is silly. The former are childhood activities, not jobs. But I suppose most Slashdotters take any opportunity to bash Christianity (note: I am not a Christian).

  • by greywire (78262) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:32PM (#30290082) Homepage

    I think most nerds are interested in a lot of topics beyond computers, sci-fi and anime. Thats the only reason needed. News for Nerds, stuff that matters... thats potentially everything, but with a nerd bias.

    In other words, intelligent news.

    If you want news about a cute doggy that's adopted a litter of kitty cats, then watch TV. If you want news about a study of inter-species social interactions, read slashdot.

  • by TheHawke (237817) <rchapin@pelicancoas t . net> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:36PM (#30290116)

    Barb wire can be laced just under the top of the wall, and be observant of any narrow trails leading up to and around the inside perimeter of the wall.

    I'd suggest that you open your eyes further more, look for odd things that appear out of place.

  • by syousef (465911) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:37PM (#30290138) Journal

    It isn't religion that is the problem

    I disagree. Religions all require you to believe in things that cannot be proven, despite their being unlikely. Religion requires that you leave your brains at the door, at least on certain points. So when something damaging or wrong is suggested it can be justified or endorsed based on fantasy/fiction, and you're left without the defense of common sense or scientific method.

    "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. " - Steven Weinberg

  • by osu-neko (2604) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:39PM (#30290152)

    I wish Acts 17:11 would get preached more: "Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true." Healthy skepticism is part of a noble character.

    I don't think examining the Scriptures to see if something is true can be reasonably considered "healthy skepticism". This would more properly be described as an unhealthy skewing of the meaning of "skepticism". Someone with a healthy level of skepticism would not consider examining the scriptures as a means of verifying truth. At best it can uncover contradictions, but proving that what Paul said was consistent would in no way indicate whether what Paul said was true. The Bereans, it appears, suffered from some very unhealthy misconceptions

  • Re:I Was Surprised (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:43PM (#30290210)

    I hope Lindstein is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

    I hope he's lying, and that they really aren't that terrible. But if they are, CoS will soon have its own Waco.

  • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:43PM (#30290212) Homepage

    But is still higher than that required for a warrant.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) * on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:44PM (#30290222) Homepage Journal

    Yes, please, define "mainstream". Just because an organization makes the news frequently doesn't make them "mainstream". Take a hard look at the people who claim to be Scientologists. Fringe freaking element, all around. Huh? You point to some celebrity or other? Your point being what, exactly? Whoa, dude, you need to look at those celebrities again. We make celebrities out of people like Roman Polanski, who likes little girls. We make celebrities out of the likes of Michael Jackson, who liked - uhhh - sleepovers with little boys. We make celebrities out of rap singers who "sing" about killing cops. We make celebrities of other "singers" who celebrate gang raping little girls. Just because Tom Cruise happens to be in movies, people like his movies, does NOT make CoS "mainstream".
    America worships freaks, but that worship doesn't make them "mainstream".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:44PM (#30290224)

    What are his qualifications, beyond "has been fighting Scientology & cults" long enough to be a self-titled expert? On the website I see no educational background, no references I can talk to first.

  • Yeah, my parents had me in church a lot as a kid. As an adult, I pretty much stopped going. Know what? My mom still likes me and I still have plenty of friends who go to church, and as far as I know none of them have shunned me as a pariah. I don't think you can really give a group "cult" status when there's no penalty for leaving and they're still nice to you afterward.

  • by Kreigaffe (765218) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:54PM (#30290348)

    I personally think you took one step too far when you afforded the CoS the respect of referring to them as an organized religion. They're not, catholicism is, there's a huge difference.

  • Re:I Was Surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thagg (9904) <thadbeier@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @06:58PM (#30290398) Journal

    They're really that terrible. Sorry.

    The very first thing that happens when you're brought into Scientology is that they convince you that all that money you're spending on doctors is wasted, that Scientology will fix everything. Some people with actual life-threatening problems don't survive this phase. Doesn't bother Scientology a bit, though.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:04PM (#30290468)

    "They are a money making / power grabbing scheme dreamed up by a second rate megalomaniac science fiction author that has now taken on a life of its own."

    You could probably say this about any religion really.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:10PM (#30290534) Journal
    I nowhere said that all religious people suffer from misplaced trust problems, or even all religious organizations exhibit pernicious hierarchical trust. I do say, though, that religious organizations are markedly more likely than other organizations to couple trust and power(In the sense that the powerful are trusted, not that the trusted are made powerful) which makes them particularly vulnerable to problems of that flavor.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:11PM (#30290546)

    I personally think you took one step too far when you afforded the CoS the respect of referring to them as an organized religion. They're not, catholicism is, there's a huge difference.

    Yep, about two thousand years and a few million followers.

  • by mathx314 (1365325) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:12PM (#30290566)
    Christians, for the most part, don't rape young boys, so stop lumping them all together. According to Wikipedia, 76% of the US population identifies as Christian. Do you really believe that 76% of Christians rape young boys? Yes, it does happen sometimes. When it comes to light, though, those responsible have been brought to justice. That hasn't happened yet for Scientology's crimes.
  • by WarwickRyan (780794) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:16PM (#30290626)

    Is it implied that you're refering to the first subject (i.e. the children) and not the second (the CEOs)?

    I don't know the rules for English, but I do know that the grammar's pretty forgiving when it comes to the subject. Or at least it is when compared to dutch (and german / other germanic languages). That's what allows a lot of british humour (and it's why you don't see much German humour - the language it too precise for it).

  • Slaves rescued? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by thelonious (233200) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:17PM (#30290642) Homepage Journal

    Does anyone have a post to the corresponding story where the D.A. takes some police officers to bust the slave camp up? You know, where people rush up to him and yell "we are free! finally someone to set us free!". Hasn't that happened yet? No?!?! You mean they are just going to let the slaves who haven't escaped rot in there? Oh, the humanity

  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:17PM (#30290648)

    "Mainstream" does not at all exclude abusing the flock.

    Note the HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of dollars paid by the Catholic Church to dampen the scandal caused by their decades-long support of rampant pedophilia.

    Given the lawyers such money would buy, the willingness to hand out that level of settlement/hush money is telling.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:20PM (#30290670) Journal

    Most other countries don't even recognize them as a religion. They are a money making / power grabbing scheme dreamed up by a second rate megalomaniac science fiction author that has now taken on a life of its own.

    So how are they not a religion? Just substitute "science fiction" with "fantasy" and you have pretty much every religion out there.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:27PM (#30290774)
    Yes, of course. But consider that Catholicism is both mainstream and infamous while Scientology is still a cult and most people don't really know what it is except that Tom Cruise joined it and went nuts.
  • by Richy_T (111409) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:30PM (#30290790) Homepage

    So the government decided that only the government can own slaves. Quel surprise

  • by Xtravar (725372) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:31PM (#30290812) Homepage Journal

    You don't start a Scientology debate when Catholicism is in the news, so you shouldn't start a Catholicism debate when Scientology is in the news. It's completely asinine, and it's what the Scientologists want to 'legitimize' their organization. Whether you think the Catholic Church is more or less legitimate is irrelevant.

  • Re:really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr@mac. c o m> on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:31PM (#30290816) Journal

    Was this a surprise to anyone?

    No surprise that they did it, but I'm a bit surprised that someone finally filed the charges. Most Scientology escapees just want to be left alone.

    -jcr

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:32PM (#30290844)

    I personally think it should be taken one step further than that. All organized religion should be treated with utter contempt.

    That's an interesting thought, I'd like to hear more. Actually, no, I'll just blindly follow your authority. Could I give you money? If I treat all other organized religions with utter contempt, maybe declaring a holy war against them, will I go to some type of pleasurable afterlife?

  • by AgentPhunk (571249) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:33PM (#30290858)

    Fraiser (to Niles): "Remember Niles, that which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger."

    Nile: "Yes, but what about the people that don't make it into that second group?"

  • Re:Yes... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:35PM (#30290890)

    What makes them mainsteam is that their actions are given tacit approval by the state with tax exemption, and that people are so complacent that they hear the stories and think "Someone should do something about that... Oh well, not my problem."

    Everyone has heard of these guys by now and almost no one is doing anything.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:36PM (#30290892) Journal

    I've seen $cientologists use the reasoning "Well Catholics believe in Zombie Jesus, so our beliefs aren't really any worse." On a purely metaphysical level, they're right, of course, it all looks like outrageous bunk. But Catholicism (and Christianity in general) has long been an integrated, and for a long time integral part of the wider Western society. What that generally means is that whatever cultish aspects may have been present in Early Christianity were pretty much paved over as the Church became more closely aligned with the State and with the wider society.

    As goofy as Catholic beliefs can appear to the non-believer, they are indeed more mainstream, and as we can see by the vast amounts of money paid to victims of abuse, they are, in the long run, anyways, more willing to admit their complicity in criminal acts. $cientology's leaders have yet to come to that point yet, and maybe never will. I really doubt that the cult will be much of a force in 50 years. Other cultish groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses are already in a bit of a nosedive.

  • by Xtravar (725372) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:39PM (#30290936) Homepage Journal

    I don't really care if it was light-hearted or not. Associating the two followings, even through satire and jokes, only makes things worse. We all can agree that Scientology is bad. We all can't agree that Catholicism is bad. If we confuse the two, we end up with both in the end. If we focus on Scientology, we all are better off.

  • by AlXtreme (223728) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @07:53PM (#30291100) Homepage Journal

    In empirical science, we accept that the observations of our senses is real (at least at some level), even though we have no "proof" that anything outside our thoughts is really real (remember DeCartes?)

    Except that science only requires observation as a postulate and no other 'leaps of faith'. That is the difference between science and religion. Science doesn't expect you to believe in a bearded man on a cloud that watches your every move, or in angels or in eternal damnation. Observation and thought, that's it.

    But as long as your religion doesn't condone those slaves in the basement, that's fine with me.

  • by Obfuscant (592200) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:04PM (#30291264)
    You don't like Scientology, but you like your religion of choice, therefore Scientology is not a religion, in spite of sharing many similar characteristics.

    It would be easy to respond to such a statement in kind. You don't like any kind of religion, so you fail to discern the differences in your attempt at lumping them all together as worthless and meaningless.

    Yes, scientology and any real religion share "certain characteristics". They are made up of people. That's the main one. They believe in things you can't prove (but then, doesn't everyone?) They get together to meet with like-minded believers. All very damning similarities, I know.

    This does not mean that others cannot make the discernment. For example, cults which have "secret handshakes" or require payments to achieve various levels of "salvation", versus religions that don't.

    Go to a tent meeting sometime and ask the people there what their religion is about. You'll walk away having been told just about everything you need to know, and what you weren't told you can ask and find out. (I didn't say you'd believe it or understand it yourself, but the information will be made freely available.) Try the same thing at a Scientology meeting. Apples and rutabagas.

  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:25PM (#30291488)

    I don't think you can really give a group "cult" status when there's no penalty for leaving and they're still nice to you afterward.

    Except that they often aren't nice to those who do not share their religion. Think about how many wars have been started over religion. There have been polls that clearly show that the most hated "religion" in the US is atheism - much more so than islam. I've seen with my own eyes discrimination and even brutality against those who are of a different religion. There are copious recent examples of muslims being assaulted and castigated even though they have no association besides their faith with a group of terrorists.

    Your mom is nice but don't be lulled into thinking that everyone feels the same way. There are places in this world I would be killed if I said I did not believe in a god at the wrong time. The only difference between a religion and a cult is how accepted it is in society.

  • by grcumb (781340) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:28PM (#30291524) Homepage Journal

    Allow me to re-phrase that for you:

    Contrary to popular culture, most livestock in the US where fairly well taken care of. It was an enormous investment to purchase and maintain livestock, and the owner wouldn't risk that lightly.

    The problem wasn't the conditions in which slaves were kept; the problem is that human beings were indistinguishable from livestock in the minds of their owners.

    You ought to learn about what the loss of liberty does to a human being before you trot out this useless tripe again.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:32PM (#30291556)

    They examined the Old Testament to see if what Paul said was true. The Old Testament had been distributed among them a few generations beforehand.

    +5 Insightful, nice troll.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:40PM (#30291630)

    I feel compelled to point out one key difference between the catholic priests who liked little boys and the CoS. The abuses exacted by the the catholic priests were neither organized or endorsed by the catholic church organization. The fact that it became so widespread was little different then dirty cops or corruption in unions. Positions of power tend to corrupt unless specific safeguards are put in place to prevent it. Ultimately the problem was with the individuals who happened to be part of the organization, the organization was only indirectly responsible in that they created the position of power that the individuals took advantage of. The CoS on the other hand, is engaging in human trafficing and other illegal activities as a core part of it's organized operations. There is a big difference between an organization that basically does good but has some individuals in it's ranks that engage in illegal activities outside the scope of the organization, and an organization that is engaged in egregious and pervasive illegal activity as a part of it's core operations.
     
    Posting anonymously as I don't want a scientologist getting all illegal on my buttocks.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:42PM (#30291636) Journal

    They're recognized as a religion by the IRS, so they couldn't use charitable tax breaks, because they get the best tax break there is.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Noren (605012) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @08:52PM (#30291770)
    Considering that the FBI pumped 77 pounds [austinchronicle.com] of a flammable aerosol [wikipedia.org] into the compound, you might want to rethink who was to blame for the fire. But I do agree, it was "pretty harsh".
  • Re:Wage and Hour? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache (459504) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @09:30PM (#30292146) Homepage Journal

    Really? It took Wage and Hour to bring down these guys?

    WTF?

    Al Capone got caught over taxes.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LihTox (754597) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @09:34PM (#30292192)

    The distinction between a religion and a cult, to my mind, isn't the quality of their beliefs-- we all believe utterly ridiculous things. (Do you actually believe in the *electron*? Or that we're all actually collections of waves? Quantum mechanics is as ridiculous as the virgin birth-- in fact, quantum mechanics ALLOWS for the virgin birth, since everything is possible (if highly improbable) in quantum mechanics). The difference is in the sincerity of the religion/cult's founders and leadership: do *they* believe in what they're saying, and are they primarily motivated by their belief? I personally think that Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha'i, Buddhism, etc were founded in all sincerity, and even through the contempt I feel for the evangelical Christian movement, and for the Pope (speaking as a Catholic), I think they are acting from a position of sincerity.

    Scientology, on the other hand, was founded by a science fiction writer who is on record saying that founding a fake religion would be a great way to make money. Now, I think there are a number of Scientologists who are sincerely so, but I don't trust their leadership, and that makes them a cult to me.

  • by zooblethorpe (686757) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @09:42PM (#30292278)

    The etymology of the word "crusade" [wiktionary.org] arises from the word "cross", so on that basis alone I don't know if the term "Muslim crusade" makes much sense. Perhaps there's a different term you'd like to use?

    (NB: Some reference material for those so inclined -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam#History [wikipedia.org])

    Cheers,

  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:27PM (#30292656)

    You don't have to pay, but I believe you still have to file.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asaz989 (901134) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:53PM (#30292856)
    Just because they're a nut job cult doesn't mean they're automatically guilty of every offense they're accused of.
  • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @10:54PM (#30292862) Journal

    And confusing "Charged with" with "Found guilty of".

    I think you're confusing "not found guilty" and "not charged" with "innocent"

    Either all these former Scientologists are in some kind of multi-decade conspiracy to slander CoS
    OR the CoS really has been doing horrible things since its founding.
    Which is the more plausible proposition?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:05PM (#30292928)

    Since they are classified as a religion (thanks to infiltration of CoS into the IRS) wouldn't his service be considered 'worship' and 'volunteering'. However it wouldn't surprise me if they actually were actually doing much worse than just killing people.

    It wasn't infiltration, though I'm not saying they didn't try that too. They basically said "give us religious status for tax purposes or we'll all misfile out forms and delay payments as long as possible, good luck finding the resources to pursue even a fraction of our members", and the IRS conceded that it would cost less to let them have their way than to try force them to behave.

    I doubt very much that was the whole story.
    The IRS would happily put 10,000 people in jail for not paying taxes. They'd do it in a heartbeat. 10,000 is a lot of people but they wouldn't break a serious sweat. 100,000, if the COS actually had that many followers willing to go to jail? Maybe... Still, I think the IRS would push it anyways.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) * on Tuesday December 01, 2009 @11:13PM (#30292978) Homepage Journal

    Cult: n, A small, unpopular religion.
    Religion: n, A large, popular cult.

  • by Hucko (998827) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:03AM (#30293292)

    Thank you Mr Coward, we'll be in contact should we have further questions.

  • by TheoMurpse (729043) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:08AM (#30293312) Homepage

    Like it or not, Catholicism is considered to have legitimacy and be a religion. By comparing Scientology to Catholicism, you imbue Scientology with some of Catholicism's legitimacy. You'd be a fool to deny that Catholicism has legitimacy. Ever been outside your little world and seen how many adherents it has? It has its own country for friggin sake.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @12:26AM (#30293410) Journal

    Sure, nowadays. But the Catholic Church once required prompt payment of various fees to gain forgiveness of sins; and many smaller churches and cults have demanded tithes on a regular basis. Though it is true that other religions aren't nearly as money grubbing as the CoS is. Instead, the older ones just go for the real goods: power and devotion. With enough of those, you don't need money.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Meski (774546) * <meski.oz@NosPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @01:15AM (#30293790)

    So how are they not a religion? Just substitute "science fiction" with "fantasy" and you have pretty much every religion out there.

    With the exception of The Church of the flying spaghetti monster. You've pretty much got to accept that one as genuine. :^) {1]

    [1] I feel unclean, putting the tongue-in-cheek emoticon there.

  • by Anti_Climax (447121) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @03:38AM (#30294628)

    "That which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger."

    "Tell that to someone with Polio"

  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by loutr (626763) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @05:52AM (#30295188)
    Well for starters mainstream christianity and islam don't make you work for fifteen fucking hours a day for $200/mo against your will. Oh, and they also didn't organize "the single largest infiltration of the United States government in history [wikipedia.org]".
  • by 1800maxim (702377) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @10:44AM (#30297092)
    The misconceptions are in you.

    The Beroeans were already believers in the scriptures existing prior to the writings of Paul (Hebrew scriptures). They verified everything that Paul wrote by comparing and referencing what they already believed.

    They were skeptical within the context of what they believed.

    Just because you have different beliefs, doesn't change the course you'd take if you came across something new. You would verify against what you already believe.
  • Re:really? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @11:49AM (#30297930)

    i once read an excellent comment wherein a commenter made note that by comparing the ridiculousness of scientology texts to the ridiculousness of other religions' texts, you are in fact granting scientology a legitimacy that it does not deserve.

  • Re:Yes... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by operagost (62405) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @02:59PM (#30300462) Homepage Journal
    These people didn't lead an armed rebellion, Captain Fascist. They broke some serious laws, but were not a danger to anyone outside their compound.
  • Re:Yes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday December 02, 2009 @03:17PM (#30300692)

    The social workers claimed at the time there was not sufficient ability to prosecute. They had been out to the compound on a number of occasions, had the sense that it was going on, but had not yet been able to act.

    The order of events, then, was:

    1) Children being abused. Can't roll tanks in and burn them alive, yet.

    2) Taxes allegedly not paid on guns (some of the guns alleged were never found there)

    3) Meth lab alleged to exist (which was also never found)

    4) Stand-off and seige

    5) Reno says we can roll tanks and burn them alive because children inside need saving

    To me this DOES NOT make sense.

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