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Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology 426

Posted by Soulskill
from the gloves-are-off dept.
eldavojohn writes "It's a lengthy read, but Lawrence Wright at The New Yorker has released a 26 page expose on Scientology. In a world where such innocuous sounding words as 'squirrels,' 'security-checked,' 'disconnection,' 'contra-survival,' 'suppressive persons,' 'clear' and 'open season' carry very serious and heavy baggage, director Paul Haggis has exited after thirty four years of membership and massive funding. Now he speaks at length of Scientology's controversies. From how celebrities were recruited with a 10% commission by a worker at Beverly Hills Playhouse to the current investigation by the FBI of physical abuse and human trafficking, Wright draws surrounding histories and accounts of the Church including Anonymous' crusade. The length of this article reflects the unusually large number of individuals (12 cases of physical abuse) cited as testimony of Scientology Leader David Miscavige's inurement and physical violence. The case remains open as the FBI collects data and testimony — especially in relation to Sea Org. Most disturbing are the disappearances of people that the New Yorker piece enumerates. The piece concludes with the author's interaction with the Church that results in several conflicting foundational statements from its stance on homosexuality (Haggis' original reason for publicly leaving it) to almost all details of L. Ron Hubbard's naval service and discharge. The article ends with Haggis' quote: 'I was in a cult for thirty-four years. Everyone else could see it. I don't know why I couldn't.' You can find summaries of the lengthy article and its suspected results along with corresponding reports listing politicians involved with the Church. Copyrighted work, leaked government documents, PS3 encryption keys and everything else has been posted on Slashdot but only the Church of Scientology has forced comments out of existence."
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Paul Haggis vs. the Church of Scientology

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:03PM (#35203066)

    It didn't even mention the Fair Game [wikipedia.org] practice, Operation Snow White [wikipedia.org], Operation Freakout [wikipedia.org], or the numerous other nasty bits [wikipedia.org] from the history of this organization.

    Of course, that probably won't stop Scientologists from calling the author a child molester and sending private detectives out to his house to harass him and try to dig up dirt on him. They don't seem to do measured responses very well.

    Of course, anyone who believes such attempts to discredit Haggis and Wright probably also believes that Julian Assange is a rapist.

    • by iluvcapra (782887) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:05PM (#35203088)

      Of course, that probably won't stop Scientologists from calling the author a child molester and sending private detectives out to his house to harass him and try to dig up dirt on him. They don't seem to do measured responses very well.

      They have 35 years worth of audits, they don't have to hire PIs to keep their own people quiet.

      • That would only work on the dupes.

        The higher-ups have no illusions and would never reveal anything.

        Even this rat deserting the sinking ship is spinning. He was a victim, not a grifter.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          That would only work on the dupes.

          The higher-ups have no illusions and would never reveal anything.

          That's why they get the dirt on you while you're still a newbie.

          • When was L. Ron a newbie? Muscarage? The Pope?

            Grifters spot each other early and never have to tell each other that they are scamming.

            • by Culture20 (968837)

              When was L. Ron a newbie? Muscarage? The Pope?

              L Ron was never newbie to Scientology, but the Pope most assuredly was a newbie in Catholicism. He didn't invent Christianity six years ago.

    • by zaivala (887815)
      My guess would be that Haggis himself didn't have the information on those things. It was a good read, and I read it all the way to the end.
  • Innocuous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:10PM (#35203138) Journal

    In a world where such innocuous sounding words as 'squirrels,' 'security-checked,' 'disconnection,' 'contra-survival,' 'suppressive persons,' 'clear' and 'open season' carry very serious and heavy baggage...

    'Security-checked', 'contra-survival', and 'suppressive persons' are innocuous sounding words? One of us doesn't know the meaning of that word.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:35PM (#35203374) Journal
      Well, you're free to disagree with me but here are my initial reactions to these words prior to reading the article and what they mean to a scientologist:

      'Security-checked'

      To me: Checked for security. Maybe used to say you checked out a building for how safe and secure it is or even referring to the process everyone goes through when they fly or enter a sports arena.
      To a scientologist: when someone "blows" (or flees the church) they recover them ("blow drill") sometimes physically against the persons will and subject them to an E-meter test which the article says is a powerful form of thought control.

      'contra-survival'

      To me: Contrary to survival. Doesn't sound like you're committing suicide but maybe smoking or drinking? Making bad choices that jeopardize your health? Hell, driving while texting on a cell phone could be called 'contra-survival.'
      To a scientologist: when someone explodes violently, often hitting someone or throwing things at them that is contra-survival. The article mentions that this often traces back to prior lives where the person was a violent or disturbed individual.

      'suppressive persons'

      To me: Anyone who suppresses you. Probably a jerk or bully. Maybe an evil tyrant?
      To a scientologist: anyone in your life that says anything negative about scientology. It's always only someone you have a personal relationship with. The church determines who this is and oftentimes you must cut off contact with them completely or you will never be clear. The article lists tons of stories of families and lifelong friends being separated because of this. I'm sure Haggis is probably an SP now. If I ever meet a scientologist, I plan to announce immediately that I am an SP.

      To me these words seemed harmless and tame until you realize what these labels function as inside the church. It's so arcane and ridiculous. I can't believe people don't recognize the easily abused power system here that has very direct and serious consequences in your life. The article was a real eye opener as to how that crazy O.T. III shit is gobbled up by people because by that point they've maybe signed a billion year contract and have easily spent $400k on course work and auditing so they have a huge investment and desire to keep the lie going in their mind.

  • Operation Clambake (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheGreatAvatar (49772) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:15PM (#35203204) Homepage

    The obligatory link when discussing $cientology:

    http://www.clambake.org/ [clambake.org]

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:17PM (#35203224)
    I've personally known someone who was, for a decade along with his wife, a scientologist. He now has no qualms about calling them cultists and thieves and is glad to be out of there, though he deeply regrets the years he wasted there. I'm pretty sure that the drones of the church of happiology will be pretty pissed off at me for this, but hey, since this article is purely an opinion, there's no law they can pull to force this comment off slashdot.
    • by 0racle (667029)
      All they have to do is threaten with big words. Most places will not risk having to prove a challenge was bogus.
  • by gazbo (517111) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:21PM (#35203250)
    ...but only the Church of Scientology has forced comments out of existence.

    I could have sworn that several years back some comments were removed because they contained a threat to the US president?

  • Copyrighted work, leaked government documents, PS3 encryption keys and everything else has been posted on Slashdot but only the Church of Scientology has forced comments out of existence

    One of the groups behind each of those bits of information will kill you for doing it. I'll let you guess which one.

    • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@nOSPAm.yahoo.com> on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:28PM (#35203306) Journal

      Copyrighted work, leaked government documents, PS3 encryption keys and everything else has been posted on Slashdot but only the Church of Scientology has forced comments out of existence

      One of the groups behind each of those bits of information will kill you for doing it. I'll let you guess which one.

      But the whole story is about Scientology, and it even talks about Scientologists killing people, so what's to guess?

      • by Altus (1034)

        Are you telling me you actually read the article?

        • by alta (1263)

          Those with low UID are more likely to do that from time to time.

        • by spun (1352)

          No, we who have four digit IDs do not need to read the article, we already know what it will say. I was really just messing with OverloardQ, who obviously wanted everyone to guess "Teh ebil Gubermint!" Some people can't resist an opportunity to express their hatred of democracy and collective action.

    • by glwtta (532858)
      One of the groups behind each of those bits of information will kill you for doing it. I'll let you guess which one.

      Sony?
      • Only on slashdot and other tech blogs can something so trivial as the PS3's DRM be considered as bad as what happened to Lisa McPherson, or any other number of deaths, morbidities or other horror stories to come out of the COS.

        Hell, once I saw someone say that we should riot in the street Egyptian style because of what Sony's doing. Here's a bit of perspective. Egyptians rioted on the streets because they couldn't eat. Not because they can't play Xbill and Nethack on their consoles.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        No. They will, however, kill your box.

  • Hrmm... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SniperJoe (1984152) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:30PM (#35203330)
    When did freedom of religion become freedom from rule of law? As an incredibly disenfranchised Catholic, I am disgusted by some of the things that my church has done and failed to do. Where are the criminal charges related to the many abuses that people (especially children) have suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church? I ask the same question about Scientology. I am not trying to troll, I'm just trying to understand.
    • Re:Hrmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TrancePhreak (576593) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:35PM (#35203372)
      I think part of the difference is that much of the things that happened with the church were the work of individuals. However, the church entity did try to conceal the abuses.

      Contrast that with the CoS who has organized the abuses at the hands of several members.

      I could be wrong about the churches. Any thoughts?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by HornWumpus (783565)

        You might want to look into that claim 'However, the church entity did try to conceal the abuses.' because they've got a smoking gun in Ireland.

        The cover-up of the chester priests was started and run from Rome. If their was an activist god like many Christians choose to believe she would smite many of their asses. She has done much worse for less (their claims).

      • by blair1q (305137)

        The Inquisition was coordinated by an office of the Vatican that has since changed its name to something that doesn't actually say "Inquisition". Technically, the Inquisition still exists. It just hasn't burned anyone at the stake since the 1830s. No, not the 1630s, the 1830s.

      • Re:Hrmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday February 14, 2011 @10:57PM (#35205872) Journal

        My personal take on the differences is this:

        With Catholic child abuse scandal, your average Catholic believer does not condone it in any way, shape or form - it's entirely contrary to what they believe in. Many of them do refuse to believe that things like that happened, but when they finally realize that this is all true, they are disgusted. In other words, this is a case of Church hierarchy deviating from the very things they teach.

        With Scientology, concepts such as "squirrels" and "suppressive persons" are taught to the rank-and-file, and their persecution is the doctrine of the church, fully supported by all its members (because those who don't are kicked out). Thus, the entire Church, as a single entity, stands behind all this - which makes the whole thing evil, and not just some people (or even all leaders).

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      The Federal Government gave Scientology religious/tax exempt status through some shady backroom deals.

      The full story could fill a book, but this timeline gives you the rough outline
      http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Cowen/essays/timeline.html [cmu.edu]

    • by Trogre (513942)

      Remember folks, it's never Christ that was the problem - it's the fan club.

  • by Thud457 (234763) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:31PM (#35203334) Homepage Journal
    what Anon can't, Paul Haggis delivers
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Trying to defeat a religion's organization and beliefs by using logic has been tried many, many times before and never stops people from being convinced they are right. If you think this will have any impact whatsoever, I think you need to open your eyes.

      You'll have forgotten about this in a week.

  • Slashdot has deleted other posts due to DMCA (Microsoft also comes to mind).
  • I always thought that mixing fruits and nuts together to be a bit iffy...
  • by Bemopolis (698691) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:35PM (#35203376)
    Reading that list of charges and tactics, I may finally be ready to accept Scientology as a member of the fraternity of religions.
    • There are other religions that have a problem with people who leave it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostasy#Countries [wikipedia.org] The Christian churches have been and would be the same when and where they can get away with it.

      The problem is that in the US, today, only the Church of Scientology seems to be getting away with this kind of abuse of its former members just for leaving the church, so it is appropriate to expose and criticize it.

    • by pkphilip (6861)

      I know you think you are pretty smart for making that observation - and those with mod points on slashdot here will be falling over themselves to mod you up because of the hivemind.

      However, there is a huge difference between scientology and other religions - especially the more benign ones such as Christianity, Buddhism etc..

      For one thing, every rite/ritual/creed of scientology is given on a pay-as-you-go basis.. no other religion does that.
      For another - no other mainstream religion actively seeks to "disco

  • It's too bad Slashdot made the (difficult) decision to remove that comment, but at least they went down with guns blazing and provided lots of links to places the content could still be found.

    It's always been a mystery to me how an organization that is so clearly a cult managed to get status in the United States as a legitimate religion. I'm willing to argue 'til the cows come home that all religions are cults, but there's another degree of crazy the Branch Davidians, the Peoples' Temple, the Scientolog

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by glwtta (532858)
      It's always been a mystery to me how an organization that is so clearly a cult managed to get status in the United States as a legitimate religion.

      Can you provide a workable definition of both 'cult' and 'legitimate religion' that allows to differentiate between the two?

      Hell, to a lot of people the Branch Davidians are a perfectly legitimate church that was unlawfully attacked, and its members murdered, by the US government. Once we accept that "legitimate religions" get a pass on pretty much anything
      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        The most dangerous idea known to man is "The end justifies any means." All cults tend to believe this is true. Most "legitimate religions" tend to frown on using unethical means to achieve their end. For example, the organization Lifespring used to tell adherents that it was okay to lie to people to get them to attend the recruitment events -- that makes them a cult.
      • by hyades1 (1149581)

        I think I pretty much covered that in the "level of crazy" sentence. My personal belief is close to what you said...that there's not much to choose between organized groups of people who get together periodically to engage in the exercise of self-delusion.

    • by c6gunner (950153) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:02PM (#35203704)

      It's always been a mystery to me how an organization that is so clearly a cult managed to get status in the United States as a legitimate religion.

      I've always wondered how people can use the phrase "legitimate religion" with a straight face.

      • by Asic Eng (193332)

        As an atheist, I'd say a legitimate religion is one where the leaders also believe in that religion, and where the leaders believe that their religion benefits their followers.

        A religious leader being legitimate does not preclude him from being intellectually lazy, full of hate, dumb or ignorant. It just means he'll honestly believe what he says. I think that's a fair and important distinction to make.

        Also there are many religious people who are really nice, educated and intelligent - who I genuinely ad

        • by c6gunner (950153)

          As an atheist, I'd say a legitimate religion is one where the leaders also believe in that religion, and where the leaders believe that their religion benefits their followers.

          We're talking about different uses of the phrase, apparently. I'm sure that witch-doctors honestly believe that sacrificing a goat, pouring it's blood in a circle, and shaking some rattles will cure a guy dying from dysentery, but I wouldn't consider them to be legitimate medical professionals. You can say that the individual is legitimately expressing his beliefs - not that the beliefs themselves are legitimate.

          Also there are many religious people who are really nice, educated and intelligent - who I genuinely admire. They are honest in their beliefs - I disagree with them, but I respect that they are genuine.

          Ditto, but that's rather irrelevant.

    • by blair1q (305137) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:30PM (#35204018) Journal

      Not the first time religions have embargoed their own literature.

      It used to be illegal to own a bible that wasn't in Latin. The Priests thought that if people could read it for themselves they'd (a) figure out they were being lied to about what it contains and (b) not need priests even if they told the truth.

    • Religions are cults practiced by a majority. Cults are religions practiced by a minority.

  • Too Bad... (Score:5, Funny)

    by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:42PM (#35203458) Homepage Journal
    You know, it's too bad that the average, God fearing, America loving, violence glorifying redneck didn't care enough about nuance to pay attention to the Church of Scientology. It would be fun to see the Church of Scientology try to play one of its smear campaigns/depowering operations against a group like the Westboro Baptist church. The ensuing holy war would be a thing of song and poem. Hell, they could probably make an MMO out of it.
    • by PPH (736903)

      It would be fun to see the Church of Scientology try to play one of its smear campaigns/depowering operations against a group like the Westboro Baptist church.

      It'll never happen. Honor among thieves and all that implies.

  • by slshwtw (1903272) on Monday February 14, 2011 @05:44PM (#35203480)
    Here is the definition of a cult according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
    1. 1: formal religious veneration : worship
    2. 2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
    3. 3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
    4. 4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator
      • 5a: great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad
      • 5b: the object of such devotion
      • 5c: a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion

    Note that all of the above could easily apply to first-century Christianity; indeed it is difficult to think of *any* definition for a cult that wouldn't (and yes I'm well aware there is an abundance of /. users who don't particularly care for Christianity, or any other religion). Here is the definition of a cult as people really use it: "A religion I don't like" I don't personally have any warm fuzzies about scientology, but to label it "a cult" doesn't describe anything substantive about the organisation except your opinion of it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by slshwtw (1903272)
      OK, obviously my first time using HTML list tags in slashdot. When I previewed the submission there was no auto-numbering, hence the repetition above. I guess I should have known better than to think the preview would actually render accurately.
    • by maxume (22995)

      I think most people that distinguish between cults and religions actually use "cult" to mean a worship group that seems to have a negative impact on the members lives.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday February 14, 2011 @06:17PM (#35203878) Homepage

      Yes and no. There is such a thing as a dangerous cult, and there's also such a thing as a totally harmless new and/or tiny religious group. Many researchers have done work on how to tell the difference, and created tools like this questionnaire [neopagan.net] to tell the difference (Disclaimer: The author of that questionnaire, the late Isaac Bonewits, was a close friend of many people I'm acquainted with). And yes, the official Church of Scientology rates very badly in nearly all of those measurements.

    • by Zorque (894011)

      Scientology is entirely and utterly deserving of all the hate speech we can muster. This organization drains people of their entire livelihoods, forces them into human bondage, and ends in their untimely deaths.

      These are documented facts.

    • Well duh, early Christianity WAS a cult. One charismatic leader with 12 in his inner circle and who knows how many followers. He preached radical ideas contrary to the establishment. It eventually turned into an established religion, mostly thanks to Paul, but it certainly had more humble origins.

      Likewise, Ron Hubbard founded Scientology, somehow got some people to believe in it and him, and had ideas contrary to established psychiatry.

      The difference being that the established views weren't all that g
    • by geekpowa (916089)
      Here is a better definition

      Cult: A group or movement exhibiting a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing and employing unethically manipulative techniques of persuasion and control . . . designed to advance the goals of the group's leaders to the actual or possible detriment of members, their families, or the community.

      I accept your broad point about the word "cult" being a heavily emotionally loaded word; and as such it is difficult to have a rational discussion of this nature with the "c" word being dropped. But I disagree that the word to be sufficiently powerful/tainted enough to implicate any notion of "hate speech". Personally, I have no emotional reaction to the word; it is a neutral, useful adjective to me and when I use it my intent is to convey a factual, rational description (at lea

  • For those who have been reading up on CoS, most of this is stuff you've known for years (though some of the perks that Haggis alleges Mr. Cruise has received over the years were news to me).

    The best bit comes in the last few paragraphs. A CoS rep says that everything in their church doctrine was 100% pure from the horses mouth, the words of Hubbard. Then Wright asks about the church's views on homosexuality. Suddenly the rep responds that some bigot must have, while dictating it from Hubbard, added bigoted

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