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Censorship Your Rights Online

UK Teen Cited For Calling Scientology a "Cult" 995

An anonymous reader writes "A 15-year-old in the UK is facing prosecution for using the word 'cult' to describe the Church of Scientology at an anti-Scientology demonstration in London earlier this month. According to the City of London police at the scene, the teen was violating the Public Order Act, which 'prohibits signs which have representations or words which are threatening, abusive or insulting.' There's a video of the teen receiving the summons from the City of London police at the demonstration (starting about 1 minute in), and now he's asking for advice on how to handle the court case."
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UK Teen Cited For Calling Scientology a "Cult"

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:40AM (#23487842)
    naming an act the "Public Order Act."

    The next thing London will do is put up posters saying that you are secure beneath the watchful eyes [].

    Perhaps they thought Orwell was writing an instruction manual?
  • Once again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ekhymosis ( 949557 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:40AM (#23487848) Homepage
    Once again, what would seem a basic 'right' is being brutally oppressed by an organization under the cloak of 'religion'. I wonder just how much longer this will continue? Until we are all 'clears' or cleared out of our money from the lawsuits?
  • by Merls the Sneaky ( 1031058 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:41AM (#23487858)
    Whats the difference between religions and cults? As far as I can tell they really are the same thing.
  • by Soporific ( 595477 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:43AM (#23487878)
    The number of people following them is all.

  • by nacturation ( 646836 ) * <nacturation @ g m> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:47AM (#23487940) Journal
    The difference is this: a cult is an unpopular religion whereas religion is a popular cult.
  • If shoe fits... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:54AM (#23488004)
    Scientology is a cult created by a second-rate sci-fi author on a bet. El-Ron can suck my sweaty ballsack.

    The kid should move to Germany, they recognize $cientology as the dangerous cult it is.
  • Marijuana Kudzu! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:00AM (#23488078)
    Why hasn't someone crossed Marijuana with Kudzu yet?

    Come together ... right now!

    "All governments are liars and murderers" - Bill Hicks
  • Re:Thats right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:00AM (#23488082) Homepage Journal
    Just spread the word that Scientologists believe Allah is a pig-fucker.
  • Move out of the UK (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigAssRat ( 724675 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:02AM (#23488104)
    Obviously they are headed entirely too much in the wrong direction. I wish I could say you should move to the U.S., but I am not sure we are not headed down that path as least here you can call Christians anything you want with impunity. We just cant say bad about Muslims or the "Church of Global Warming" or Environmentalism. Not sure about the Scientologists, they may not be a protected class yet.
  • Re:Not censorship (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:03AM (#23488108)
    Exhibit A:

    Why the heck is this tagged censorship?

    Exhibit B:

    There's a law against insulting signs.

  • Re:1st amendment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:03AM (#23488110)

    And hopefully Americans will fix waterboarding etc. soon.
    Quite so, in the future we won't get caught.
  • by Zombie Ryushu ( 803103 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:10AM (#23488168)
    I agree wholeheartedly. Christianity, and especially Islam would be seen as completely psychotic if they were not several thousand years of tradition surrounding these religions, and countless reforms to make them remain relevant in our technologically advanced world. Christianity has changed especially in its nature drastically over the last century alone. It just seems normal to us.

    That doesn't make it any less a cult. Its still hurting us collectively.

    You should watch this video on Youtube. []

    And there are a series of videos on Youtube by a guy called Thunderf00t that is very intelligent about this topic.

  • Balls of steel (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A beautiful mind ( 821714 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:12AM (#23488188)
    From TFA:

    The teenager refused to back down, quoting a 1984 high court ruling from Mr Justice Latey, in which he described the Church of Scientology as a "cult" which was "corrupt, sinister and dangerous".
    This action hereby has the Duke Nukem seal of approval.
  • by Totenglocke ( 1291680 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:13AM (#23488204)
    I'd also say that cults tend to have more bizarre / possibly insane aspects to them. Am I the only one who remembers Tom Cruise saying he was going to eat the placenta after Suri was born?
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:14AM (#23488210) Journal
    Last time when someone critical of Scientology turned up dead [], police was happy to believe he committed suicide, even though he had given no prior signs (nor had any reason to) kill himself.

    You know that Scientology has infiltrated the police in the US in some cities?
  • Re:Once again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:16AM (#23488236)
    Well, when an organsation's income through its usual venues start to dry up, they turn for the courts to milk unwilling and/or casual bystanders.

    For reference, see SCO, RIAA...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:18AM (#23488248)
    Much like Christianity has dominated the police in nearly all US cities?
  • by blind biker ( 1066130 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:22AM (#23488280) Journal
    I think this characteristic:

    4) In order to easier manipulate them, it will try to weaken the members by severing their ties with their families and friends.

    is extremely important, for the devastating consequences it has.
  • Re:Not censorship (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Slippery ( 47854 ) <{tms} {at} {}> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:25AM (#23488310) Homepage

    Why the heck is this tagged censorship? There's a law against insulting signs.

    Because a law against "insulting" signs IS censorship, just as a law against "insulting" books or "insulting" speech would be.

    Would this still be tagged censorship if it were the Conservative Party instead of Scientology?

    Yes. Of course it would. It saddens me that you have to even ask this.

    You have the right to stand on the corner with a sign saying "X is Y!" for any values of X and Y. Any values at all. (Dictatorial governments may, of course, not recognize that right; it exists nonetheless.)

    "Scientology is a cult". "The Conservative Party is a cult." "The City of London police are a bunch of mindless jerks." "The Flying Spaghetti Monster is better than Jesus." "Tom Swiss is a dweeb."

    Anyone who attempts to forcibly stop you from saying any of these things is engaging in censorship.

  • Re:1st amendment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wellington Grey ( 942717 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:36AM (#23488376) Homepage Journal

    why you Brits have such laws. Further why aren't you outraged that such laws exist and why you aren't actively trying to overturn them? This isn't a flame but a serious question,

    My understanding is most of these kinds of laws exist because of the Nazis. The thought process goes: "The Nazis said bad things about a group of people, so if we make it illegal to say bad things we won't have Nazis again." That's for the old laws, the newer ones that are made are usually done under the cloak of encouraging multi-multiculturalism.

    -Grey []
  • To be precise... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:48AM (#23488466) Journal
    Scientology is a Criminal nut-cult.

    Although all cults are nuts, not all cults are criminal.


  • Re:Once again (Score:2, Insightful)

    by loose_change ( 196779 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:49AM (#23488482) Homepage
    The bottom line here is that the UK has nothing equivalent to US First Amendment protections. Freedom of speech is not considered a basic right in the UK legal system.
  • by Omega Hacker ( 6676 ) < minus painter> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:55AM (#23488508)

    A fundamental difference I see between a cult and a true religion is that members of a cult are not "allowed" to leave. A Christian might decide he no longer is one, but his Christian friends will not (generally) shun him, refuse to associate with him, actively try to harm him, or just plain hold him prisoner somewhere. A cult on the other hand fundamentally is a game of mind control, and some people are too strong to be controlled, either right up front (as in a child growing up) or as a result of new information or other change. Cults can only maintain their internal consistency if people who learn otherwise are treated as "sick" or a "traitor", and dealt with accordingly.

    Situations like this case are a direct side-effect of the fact that cults cannot take any kind of scrutiny or disagreement, even from outside their ranks. Scientology is really good at silencing any kind of debate.

    At the risk of being wildly un-PC, a short list of religions that fit this description would include not only Scientology, but Mormonism and Islam. All three of these fundamentally disallow their members from choosing not to be members, up to and including outright murder. Islam in the US may be more "tolerant", but that's only (IMO) a side-effect of being forced to work within a western set of laws. In the Middle East, a convert away from Islam tends not to live very long, unless they immigrate away as fast as they can, thereby losing their entire family, etc. As well, an ex-Mormon in Salt Lake City is going to have a very hard time buying anything, anywhere.

    (disclaimer: I'm Baptist, and mostly on the Democrat side of things with Libertarian leanings)

  • by bradkittenbrink ( 608877 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @01:55AM (#23488512) Homepage Journal
    A good set of criteria, I would add the following:
    4) Exerts coercive pressure or threats on its members concerning any of
    1. their association with non-members
    2. discussion of facts about the organization
    3. their leaving the organization./li[like Scientology]
  • by ThePromenader ( 878501 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:02AM (#23488556) Homepage Journal
    Not weird at all, actually. That's actually what a democracy is supposed to be.
  • by nsayer ( 86181 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:03AM (#23488562) Homepage

    A fundamental difference I see between a cult and a true religion is that members of a cult are not "allowed" to leave.
    So Islam is a cult [], then?

  • by Anthony Boyd ( 242971 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:09AM (#23488608) Homepage
    I want to add to what cynicsreport said earlier in this topic. The word "cult" has commonly accepted definitions, and if Scientology fits that definition, then the sign was a statement of fact.

    In particular, part of my liberal arts studies at Westmont college included multiple classes on cults (it is/was a religious school, so knowing about many flavors of cults was mandatory). We had a lengthy course on the difference between cults & religion. The main difference was secrecy, not legitimacy. A religion -- whether you believed it to be true or fake -- was an institution that had open processes. You could gain access to the teachings freely, and likely audit the finances, too. This means the institutions of Catholics, Christians, Jews, and a handful of others were "religions." Then there were other institutions like Scientology, Moonies, and lots of others that had closed processes. You couldn't audit the finances, you couldn't freely gain access to the teachings, etc. Those were cults.

    It's entirely possible that you could feel a particular cult held the truth while all religions of the world were shams. The word "cult" was not intended to imply who was right. If calling something a cult was an insult, it wasn't because the cult was crappy or false; it was because of secrecy, potential for deception regarding finances, and so on. And not surprisingly, when you fall back on the dispassionate definition, it gets really hard to refute it even if you DO take it as an insult. If someone says you're holding documents in secrecy and you say "That's an insult" well... ARE you holding documents in secrecy? If so, you're feeling insulted by the truth. In such a case, I don't really feel that a state should compel people to lie.
  • by adona1 ( 1078711 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:26AM (#23488736)
    But Christianity also takes a large chunk of Judaism to make the Old Testament, which does go back several thousand years.
  • by WobindWonderdog ( 1049538 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:32AM (#23488772)
    Better comments from a guy named Zombie than Anonymous Coward.

    I mean, he's not unreasonable, he's not going to eat your eyes.
  • by nsayer ( 86181 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:32AM (#23488780) Homepage
    The "us vs. them" mentality you describe is, indeed, a regrettable one, but it transcends the definition of "cult." By your rule, lots and lots of things are "cults" - German national socialism, Soviet communism... it even underlies racism. I think it's too broad for the context of deciding whether to label something a "religion" or a "cult."
  • by IntelliTubbie ( 29947 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:39AM (#23488826)

    4) In order to easier manipulate them, it will try to weaken the members by severing their ties with their families and friends.
    If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:26

    If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" [...] do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God ... Deuteronomy 13:6-10
  • by Oktober Sunset ( 838224 ) <sdpage103@yahoo[ ].uk ['.co' in gap]> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:41AM (#23488842)
    Yea, I hear about this cult who worship a 2000 year old zombie Jew and believe they can turn bread and wine into his flesh and blood that then then devour in a cannibalistic ritual. Nutters eh?
  • by Danny Rathjens ( 8471 ) <slashdot2@ra[ ] ['thj' in gap]> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:44AM (#23488848)
    It's all about the numbers:
    • religion. >= x believers
    • cult. < x and >= 2 believers
    • nutcase. 1 believer
    • mythology. 0 believers (but was >x at some point)
    • fantasy or science fiction. 0 believers (if rises above 0, see above)
    x is obviously subjective.
  • Re:1st amendment (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:46AM (#23488872)
    You know, I first heard about our anti-hate crime laws (I'm Canadian), in my last year of University. I was arguing with a professor about why neo-nazi games should be allowed to exist (the topic was a game that had you manage a concentration camp I believe)

    I of course argued that speech should be free, and it would be a violation of those moron's right to free speech.

    His response was rather simple, and silenced me. To this day, I'm still not sure if I agree or not. In some cases, infringing upon one person's right to free speech is creating freedom to enjoy life for another, which is another freedom granted by our bill of rights. (I think the exact terminology is something akin to the right to enjoy your property)... but the point was well taken.

    I would agree that someone has the right to not be constantly harassed. And that is what the law strives to protect. And I have to agree that giving up a small part of one freedom in exchange for a much bigger freedom, might not be such a bad idea.
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:55AM (#23488924) Journal
    More bizarre and/or insane than what? FFS man, talking telepathically to an imaginary friend who is solely responsible for all that happens in the universe (including putting dinosaur bones in place as is to fool us) compares to evil galactic rulers and volcanoes in a better light in exactly what way?

    I have often spoke when I shouldn't have, but I have to say that there are far too many people who 'know' about religion, or think they do when in fact they know about some parts of ONE religion.

    Yes, the CoS is a cult, so is the CoE, by technical definition all religions are cults. That is what makes the entire censorship here totally ridiculous. It's rather like saying that there are dangerous humans at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue, or 10 Downing street.

    Drinking blood and eating flesh? Is that bizarre enough for you? How about sacrificing your own children? Incest? Genocide? The Christian Bible is full of examples of things that would just not work in today's society.

    I fail to see how CoS is any more bizarre than Christianity.
  • Re:Once again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:00AM (#23488966)
    Yes, I would certainly bring up the Human Rights act in any court case.
  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:03AM (#23488996) Homepage
    And I avoid to call them "Church", just "Scientology" is sufficient.

    Calling them "Cult" will also lend them credibility for something they aren't.

    And by the way, isn't "Church" a Christian designation? But Scientology is a completely different thing, and has really not much to do with Christianity.

    And by the way - My opinion is that you should be able to have a religion, or copyright, but never both.

    Anyway - one person's view can be "Religion", another "Cult" and a third it can be "Lifestyle".

  • Re:Once again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:04AM (#23489006)
    Actually, scientology spends quite a bit of money in the courtsystem fighting cases they cannot win. This will put a burden on whoever they sue this time, whilst having a chilling effect on other critics.
  • by Dasher42 ( 514179 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:09AM (#23489042)
    A fundamental difference I see between a cult and a true religion is that members of a cult are not "allowed" to leave. A Christian might decide he no longer is one, but his Christian friends will not (generally) shun him, refuse to associate with him, actively try to harm him, or just plain hold him prisoner somewhere.

    Having been subjected to an exorcism and been hit with versus like:

    "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew then again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame." ...I assure you there are some extremely cultish groups within the bounds of christianity that do shun friends and family who don't believe as they do.

    Cultishness is cultishness, no matter what label, and it's ugly.
  • by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:27AM (#23489162)

    Simplified: A cult is what we think is a cult.
    Or would be, if there weren't those other criteria... But there are, so just labeling something a cult does not make it a cult.
  • Re:Once again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:44AM (#23489276)
    I really do not think they fit any definition of religeon apart from their own. Misrepresenting the IRS giving them charitable status as being government acceptance of them as a religeon is one of the confidence tricks.

    They are a financial pyramid scheme and a fairly nasty cult as well. IMHO people should not be prosecuted for warning others about Scientologists. We have a really bizzare situation where a heavy handed approach is applied against Islam which has a tiny minority of dangerous criminals and have a hands off approach to Scientology which has the behaviour of being a criminal orginisation to the core (and is not a religeon in the first place).

  • by weston ( 16146 ) * <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @03:50AM (#23489294) Homepage
    At the risk of being wildly un-PC

    More like "wildly inaccurate." At least on the Mormon front.

    a short list of religions that fit this description would include not only Scientology, but Mormonism and Islam. All three of these fundamentally disallow their members from choosing not to be members, up to and including outright murder.

    The Mormon church not only allows people to leave, there is an established process for removing your name from the records. You *will* be hassled about this if you opt to try it -- most leaders will make you ask a few times, they'll ask you if you're sure, they'll try to talk you out of it -- but in the end, they will drop you.

    There's also the easier option, which consists of simply not going anymore and avoiding the people who periodically come by to try to reactivate you. I've heard a few outlandish tales of machinations in member's lives, but for the most part, the only tool the Mormon church has is outright preaching and a bit of peer pressure. It is remarkably easy to do whatever the hell you want, especially if you have even the smallest idea of when to keep your mouth shut.

    an ex-Mormon in Salt Lake City is going to have a very hard time buying anything, anywhere.

    I'd be interested to hear how you came by this the idea that everyday purchases are affected by religious affiliation with any real frequency in Utah, because it's complete bullshit.

    There are a variety of problems I think someone who publicly leaves/denounces the Mormon church in Utah is likely to encounter, but with a few exceptions, they're pretty much all going to be directly related to coloring of social interactions with former peers inside of the church. But not only is there a significant enough non-Mormon presence inside of Utah that this wouldn't matter from an economic perspective, I don't believe I've met the Mormon that would actually refuse to sell to an ex-member.
  • by Adambomb ( 118938 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:01AM (#23489368) Journal
    Thats the thing many people like to forget, middle-east born religions are all about code reuse.

    Islam extends Christianity extends Judaism extends Zoroastrianism

    Then theres the fork of what some would call the Edge Christianity such as jehovas witnesses, mormons, etc.

    but somehow they all see themselves as "us", and the others as "them".
  • Re:Once again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ortega-Starfire ( 930563 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:05AM (#23489398) Journal
    >I couldn't say that about George W Bush without being arrested.

    Yes you can. If we could not, 80% of the country would be in prison right now.
  • by LKM ( 227954 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:10AM (#23489432) Homepage

    "I fail to see how CoS is any more bizarre than Christianity."

    For all they do wrong, at least Christians believe in something that was always meant to be a religion, while Scientology believes in a science fiction novel.

    And of course, it's quite obvious that nowadays, Scientology is more detrimental to their members and to society in general than modern Christianity is.

  • by 91degrees ( 207121 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:10AM (#23489434) Journal
    He was charged for carrying a sign saying "Scientology is not a religion, it's a dangerous cult".

    Specifically he was charged for carrying a sign likely to cause alarm, distress or harassment. Use of the word "Cult" is largely irrelevant.

    It's still a trumped up charge, but saying it's for calling Scientology a cult is completely misrepresenting it. Misleading stories are counter productive when you already have a fragrant abuse of the law.
  • by knutkracker ( 1089397 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:20AM (#23489474)

    Of course, many groups show one or more of these tendencies
    • Typically follows one or more highly charismatic politicians, whose word is taken to be unquestionable.
    • Clearly divides the world into "US" and "terrorists".
    • Believes that the world outside the "US" group is fundamentally bad/evil.
    • As a result, believes that interaction with liberals/foreigners/muslims is dangerous to members of the "US" group and is to be avoided when possible, or carefully supervised.
    • As a result, tends to form more or less isolated enclaves to minimize contact with outsiders, or mediate such contact through trusted group members in positions of military authority.
    • As a result, believes that untrained persons interacting with the outside world are unpatriotic and need to be carefully reassimilated to the group.
    • Typically holds beliefs radically different from what is considered mainstream or acceptable for the immediately-surrounding global society.
    • As a result of the above, typically experiences a high degree of political conflict with the outside world, which can create a feedback loop (above tendencies lead to political conflict, which aggravates above tendencies, which leads to military action...).
  • Re:Once again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anspen ( 673098 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:29AM (#23489546)

    Remind me what "Free Speech Zones" are again? And how many people have been arrested for having anti-Bush/war T-shirts or placards during rallies and refusing to leave?

    No, they generally weren't convincted of anything, but I'd hardly call being arrested and spending time in jail "a right to free speech.

    Ultimately the existence of constitutional protection is only as strong as the enforcement mechanism.

  • Re:Oh, Great. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Britz ( 170620 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:41AM (#23489610)
    They realized which police to bribe and infiltrate in order to get those results. And they did. That shift is no accident.
  • by Stellian ( 673475 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @04:45AM (#23489632)


    1. a. A religion or religious sect generally considered to be extremist or false, with its followers often living in an unconventional manner under the guidance of an authoritarian, charismatic leader.
          b. The followers of such a religion or sect.

    2. A system or community of religious worship and ritual.

    3. The formal means of expressing religious reverence; religious ceremony and ritual.

    4. A usually nonscientific method or regimen claimed by its originator to have exclusive or exceptional power in curing a particular disease.

    5. a. Obsessive, especially faddish, devotion to or veneration for a person, principle, or thing.
          b. The object of such devotion.

    6. An exclusive group of persons sharing an esoteric, usually artistic or intellectual interest.
    The Scientologysts themselves always claimed to be 2. & 3. The whole point is that they are not, they are a profit-seeking corporation.
    I think the teen can use meaning 1. without qualifying as "threatening, abusive or insulting". This was, after all, an anti-Scientology demonstration. There's nothing insulting or abusive in calling your religion false, most form of orgnised religion claim that every other religion is wrong.
    Otherwise, it should be illegal to use any kind of signs of religious nature: if I have a poster declaring Cthulhu the only God and savior, that would imply you belief in The Spaghetti Monster as the only God and savior is wrong, thereby insulting or abusive.
  • by EasyTarget ( 43516 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @05:10AM (#23489752) Journal
    I fail to see how CoS is any more bizarre than Christianity.

    At a 'technical' level you are right, the bible is no less crackpot than the scientology 'technology'.

    One difference is that a lot of the various testaments have a good historical basis. For Instance I have no doubt about the existence of Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha etc.. they really existed! - Whether they were the son of god/prophet of god/being of divine light/etc is another question.. I believe they were just charismatic good people who others naturally followed. None of them seem particularly evil; that comes from those who followed them and wanted to assume that power over others for their own.

    The difference is in attitude, reputable religions want to spread the word. eg. I have a bible, a translation of the qur'an, and other texts; all of which were given to me for free by believers who genuinely believe that by reading the words I'll become converted.

    Compare and Contrast that to how Scientology spreads it's word...

    Even the nastiest promoters of mainstream religion (the religious right, jihadists, etc.) are very open about their beliefs. Unfortunately their methods are often similar in terms of infiltrating institutions and crushing dissent.
  • Re:Once again (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Capsaicin ( 412918 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @05:15AM (#23489766)

    However, this guy has to go in front of a jury.

    If it gets that far. IANAUKL, but I would assume you have some sort of commital proceedings prior to a jury trial? Looking at the text of the legisation (though admittedly without any familiarity with relevant curial authority) this case looks so completely without merit that no prosecutor could ethically proceed and no magistrate would allow it to proceed. Methinks justice would best be served by publically horsewhipping (at least verbally) the arresting officer.

  • by yotto ( 590067 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @05:19AM (#23489774) Homepage
    I'm not a native English speaker; in Romanian, my mother tongue, we call all religions, including ours, a "religious cult". I really cannot grasp the offensive term in "cult". Does it sound that offensive in English ?

    Here in the US, at least, the word "cult" implies a large group of followers and a shaggy-haired leader, usually having sex with all the followers. He takes all their money, they live on a commune, and at his word they'll all happily commit suicide in order to transfer their souls to a passing comet. They also stockpile weapons and molest children.

    Yes, this is all stereotypical and there are plenty of cults that are simply communes, but there have been a decent enough number of the bad cases that it's not exactly a stretch to not want your cult to be called as such.
  • by Catapultam habeo ( 1075401 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @05:21AM (#23489796)

    I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. Let me start by saying that I'm by no means religious. However, when I read such short-sighted and superficial comparisons between Scientology and mainstream Christianity I really want to smack somebody. The thing is this:

    Scientology makes its members pay to be involved in the church and to gain access to their "teachings." For example, modern Catholicism does not do this. You can go right now to your local church, go in, pick up a copy of the bible and there it is, free of charge. You can ask the priest pretty much anything and guess what, you are likely to get halfway straight and honest answer, without coughing up hundreds of dollars.

    Further, most people don't really buy into the whole cannibalism thing or take everything the bible, especially the old testament, seriously. Rather they tend to use the bible as sort of a set of guidelines. Of course were making points on Slashdot so it must be the case that the most extreme members of anything == all the members of anything.

  • by spazmonkey ( 920425 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @05:21AM (#23489798)
    that state unequivocally that COS is a cult. Members were or are even banned from emigration into the UK. It is not recognized legally there as a religion.
    Operation Clambake has a just a few of them here; []
    This should be more than enough fodder to fight the matter on if CPS even decides to press it to test.
  • is, by logical and moral extension, intolerance itself

    meanwhile, intolerance of intolerance, is, by logical and moral extension, tolerance

    now you can say that intolerance is a loosey goosey term that can be applied to anyone's actions. but, no, intolerance is not a random pejorative. it can be concretely and precisely defined in all situations: "i fight against xyz" "what is xyz?" "xyz stands against abc" "what is abc?" etc... your terms can be iteratively reduced to find at the root of any instinct fundamentally intolerant or tolerant impulses

    example: at face value, fighting scientology can be called intolerant. but we must iteratively examine what your terms are. here the next object before us is scientology, which most definitely does intolerant things. going further then, can the objects of scientology's intolerance be defined as intolerant as well? no. scientology stands against liberal notions of freedom of expression. so here the iteration ends: scientology fights against tolerant principles. therefore, to be intolerant of that which is intolerant of tolerant principles is, by logical extension, tolerance

    so the actions of the teenager in this situation is intolerance of intolerance, which, by logical and moral extension, is a form of tolerance

    or rather, its a good definition of tolerance in a better world, a world where those who take real world action against intolerant organizations and governments in this world are supported by liberalism. well, according to a classical definition of liberalism, such freedom fighters are supported

    but such fighters are not supported by the inert fungus that has infected the academia and cliquish so-called intellects of western liberalism. these so-called liberals embrace indifference or outright acceptance of real liberalism's enemies: virulent forces of religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism that hold sway over vast parts of the globe. and they do this, with the highest of ironies, in the name of tolerance, of all concepts

    i await the awakening of true classical liberalism in the childish naive confused west. virulent religious fundamentalism and authoritarian regimes must make more victories and inroads against the dying west before the old spirit is shocked and awakened, and the current fashionable "tolerance" of vile ideologies is dethroned. you spread tolerance by fighting that which destroys tolerance in this world. do not make any mistake about that

    religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism are not going away on their own. on the contrary, they are growing, and they are your enemy if you embrace the ideals that rose in the enlightenment. these enemies must be fought, in the name of tolerance, in the name of liberalism. understand that, or understand nothing about your world

  • Re:Once again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Hal_Porter ( 817932 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @05:49AM (#23489944)

    However, this guy has to go in front of a jury.

    If it gets that far. IANAUKL, but I would assume you have some sort of commital proceedings prior to a jury trial? Looking at the text of the legisation (though admittedly without any familiarity with relevant curial authority) this case looks so completely without merit that no prosecutor could ethically proceed and no magistrate would allow it to proceed. Methinks justice would best be served by publically horsewhipping (at least verbally) the arresting officer.

    That really is a classic piece of slashdot bullshit. You're not a UK lawyer but you use a lot of legal terminology to make it sound like you know what you're talking about.

    This guy has been arrested. He's 'facing prosecution'. I think that means he has been arrested but the Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether to prosecute him. He was arrested under this - []
    The Public Order Act 1986, Section 5 states:
    (1) A person is guilty of an offence if he:
    (a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or
    (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
    within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.

    What makes you so sure the case is without legal merit, other than (like you) me you sympathize with the protestors and dislike Scientology and thus don't want it to have merit?
  • by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @06:12AM (#23490078)
    No it doesn't. It may have copyright to a particular translation, but not to all (the KJV is UK Crown Copyright, for instance) and certainly not to the original documents which are public domain (no matter what the religious may say about the Author not being dead).
  • Re:Once again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @06:50AM (#23490308) Homepage
    Try standing next to Brian Haw and saying that about Gordo. Actually, try saying it in any public place. Plod can and will bag you under section 5 for doing anything that they don't like, including doing nothing. Perhaps you meant "prosecuted" or "convicted" rather than "arrested".
  • Re:Once again (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dintech ( 998802 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @06:57AM (#23490350)

    Oh please, if everyone who said something bad about GWB was arrested, they would have to turn half the country into prison.
    Now that's irony.
  • Re:Once again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vidarh ( 309115 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @07:04AM (#23490396) Homepage Journal

    Which the police will ignore, protesting that they are independent of the legislature, and will continue to follow their own agenda.

    If they do, they open themselves to investigations resulting in disciplinary action and/or lawsuits for harassment. The government may not do much, but the judiciary in the UK really, really hate it when anyone ignore their opinion on the matter.

    And admit that they were wrong, and appear soft on crime? The press would never allow it!

    Which is why they'll probably leave it to the courts to sort out the mess and interpret the law in a way that makes this go away and/or strike it down based on human rights legislation, after which the politicians can whine about "activist judges" or "Europe" like they usually do when pretending to be offended the court didn't care for their tripe.

  • by Xeirxes ( 908329 ) < minus pi> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @07:20AM (#23490460)
    Pretty hard to pull off though. How can you accurately represent EVERYONE?
  • by pmbasehore ( 1198857 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @07:39AM (#23490574)

    Yeah, keep your cult-ish ideas to yourself!

    Cult? Cult! I take offense to that, you insensitive clod!

    Prepare for your court summons!
  • by FireFury03 ( 653718 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @08:02AM (#23490714) Homepage
    For all they do wrong, at least Christians believe in something that was always meant to be a religion, while Scientology believes in a science fiction novel.

    Not meaning to be disrespectful, but how do you know the bible wasn't supposed to be a sci-fi novel? :)
  • Re:Once again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by digitig ( 1056110 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @08:21AM (#23490856)

    Which the police will ignore, protesting that they are independent of the legislature, and will continue to follow their own agenda.

    If they do, they open themselves to investigations resulting in disciplinary action and/or lawsuits for harassment.

    Not if they're operating within the law -- or, at least, the investigations will clear them. There have been plenty of cases lately of the police ignoring what parliament says about the intent of legislation, and continuing to apply the letter of the law when they want to. The judiciary are also pretty much tied by the letter of the law, too. Anyway, the way the politics is going in the UK at the moment, the standoff is between the judiciary and the government, not between the judiciary and the police.

    Even if the police are found to be in the wrong, they never seem to get more than a slap on the wrist -- [], for example, doesn't indicate any penalty for the police other than court costs (does anybody know if the police did get anything more than a telling off for this?).

  • by Sobrique ( 543255 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @08:29AM (#23490926) Homepage
    Now you've said that, I could probably draw some parallels between the Bible and the current Sci-Fi anthology I'm reading.

    There's a whole bunch of stories, that have a a bit of 'what if' to them, including a few where something believed impossible becomes possible.

    They're all in some degree a matter of society and human reaction, as that's what Sci-Fi is mostly all about - new possibilities, and it's impact on everyone else. Some have mysterious happenings, and stuff beyond the understanding of man.

    Some are carrying an interesting underlying message, moral or otherwise.

    *shrug*. There's a certain basis of argument that the Bible isn't the literal truth, but has value as fiction which educates. Not so very different to a Sci-Fi short story anthology.

  • Re:Once again (Score:3, Insightful)

    by j0nb0y ( 107699 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:13AM (#23491386) Homepage
    A jury trial can establish case law, and stop this happening again.

    No, actually, it can't. To have case law, you have to have a judicial decision. Juries don't write judicial decisions. You could possibly get a judicial decision from pre-trial or post-trial motions, but those would be completely independent from any jury decision.

    There's so much misinformation on /. about precedent.

    The other common one I see *all the time* is when people point to a settlement agreement and say that it sets a precedent. Again, for settlements, there is no judicial decision, so there is no legally binding precedent. Period.
  • by BobTheLawyer ( 692026 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:27AM (#23491542)
    Actually there's a good chance the Human Rights Act will provide much the same defence (although it may not even be necessary to cite the HRA as the Public Order Act itself has a defence of "reasonableness" which I'd expect to apply to most political speech).

    Hopefully the guy involved will stop asking for advice on bulletin boards and find himself a decent human rights lawyer (many of which I am confident would take this on for free).
  • Hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PalmKiller ( 174161 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:36AM (#23491624) Homepage
    But Scientology is a cult by the dictionary definition, so why are they suing him? It at least fits 1, 4 and 6 (at least the extreme part) and perhaps others from the definition.



    1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
    2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
    3. the object of such devotion.
    4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
    5. Sociology. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
    6. a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
    7. the members of such a religion or sect.
    8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.
    9. of or pertaining to a cult.
    10. of, for, or attracting a small group of devotees: a cult movie.

  • by pnewhook ( 788591 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:37AM (#23491636)

    I agree. Every religion in the world can be considered a cult by other religions because their beliefs are not mainstream in the other society.

    Even within a religion you can have cult references. American Christian Fundamentalists are certainly considered a cult by most Catholics and Anglicans that I know.

  • by AGMW ( 594303 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:38AM (#23491672) Homepage
    Because most religions are self-propagating

    There is a theory that religion gained a foothold in the human mind due to a side effect of something useful, and evolution did the rest.

    The idea is that it is a useful trait for small children to believe, without question, things their parents, and other adults, tell them. This has all sorts of useful safety aspects (don't go near the edge - water/cliff), and obviously helps the young to learn other aspects of life far more quickly than the other method, and its inherent dangers (ie - trial and error!).

    So if a parent, or other adult, tells a kid that the Tooth Fairy will replace their old teeth with money, or that Father Christmas/Santa Clause will leave them presents if they are good they will, and do, believe it is so. Similarly, if your parents are religious you are likely to have been brought up to believe in the same religion as them. The difference is that when you get a bit older they let go of the Tooth Fairy and Father Christmas, but continue to reinforce the idea of their particular brand of religion!

    Interestingly, the same predisposition to believing adults is often what paedophiles use to groom kids. So, perhaps if we changed the name of "Sunday School" to "Religious Grooming" it might be more obvious what is going on!

  • by Deadstick ( 535032 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @09:56AM (#23491904)
    Cult: A small, unpopular religion.

    Religion: A large, popular cult.

  • by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @10:06AM (#23492026) Homepage
    I don't honestly know that I want the people to decide how the people are governed in a broad sort of way. In general, people as groups tend to panic. Things like the Constitution and UK Common Law may be fragile protection, but they are protection. If you'd actually asked them, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that a majority of Americans would have favored an even more knee jerk reaction to 9/11 than actually occurred.

    Besides, I'm not sure how it would help in this case. Even if "the people" were making the laws there would still be a need for enforcement therefore still something resembling police. This, so far, is not a case of "government overreaching", but rather "police overreaching". The police are part of the government, but ultimately they are individuals. It becomes a case of "government overreaching" if and only if the young man is prosecuted and found guilty. I wouldn't be half surprised if the the Crown Prosecutors drop this like a hot potato.
  • by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @10:17AM (#23492148) Homepage

    The thing is, the fact that this kid was prosecuted says to me that any British subject can be thrown in jail at any time at all for saying anything at all.
    You know, had you read the article, you'd have seen the last line:

    We did not advise on this specific case prior to the summons being issued - which the police can do without reference to us - but if we receive a file we will review it in the normal way according to the code for crown prosecutors.
    He hasn't been prosecuted. His file hadn't even reached the Crown Prosecutors' (British equivalent of the DA) desks at press time. It is entirely possible that the whole thing will be laughed at and ignored. Hopefully he'll sue the London PD in that case. So far this is only an example of a police officer overreaching her authority. Unfortunate, but it happens. Should prosecution proceed, that would be something to make me worry about the future of free speech rights in Britain.
  • Re:No, Correct (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Joe the Lesser ( 533425 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @10:18AM (#23492160) Homepage Journal
    Which therefore means the song is actually extremely ironic, and she is a genius.
  • by Malevolyn ( 776946 ) * <signedlongint@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @10:20AM (#23492188) Homepage

    cult (noun)
    1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
    Wait, so why was this kid cited? Some kind of "fact-based slandering" laws no one knows about or something?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @10:45AM (#23492530)
    I feel like that was many hundreds of years ago? I also feel like that practice was adequately addressed during a schism, a reformation, a counter-reformation, and several very bloody wars? I feel like none of this has much bearing on the CoS's practices today, other than to perhaps illustrate that western society has already decided they are unacceptable?
  • Re:I forget... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:19AM (#23492982) Journal

    How do you mod someone Bushy-bearded nut job on the street corner?

    In today's world? +1, Insightful.
  • Re:Once again (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:28AM (#23493126)

    2) "George Bush should be shot". Not constitutionally protected speech. Expect the Party Van.

    Actually, you're mistaken. For speech not to be protected it has to advocate criminal violence, not just state an opinion about it. For example, writing that "G. Bush deserves to be shot" is legal, whereas writing "I want you to all go shoot G. Bush" is not legal (at least in most context). You'll also note, in the previous poster's blog, he claimed G. Bush should be impeached, convicted of treason, and shot. That is not illegal violence any more than saying a convicted murderer in Texas should be executed.

    It's a sign of a degraded and tribal approach to politics that you are unable to criticise the policies of the Bush administration without stepping over the incitement line by calling for Bush to be killed.

    I disagree. It is a perfectly valid opinion to think Bush is both a traitor and should be convicted and punished with death. I'd like to see a lot more politicians convicted as traitors and executed, particularly when they sell out the American people by taking lobbying dollars from foreign governments. I think it would be a step in the right direction for cleaning up or dreadfully corrupt political system.

    I'm sure once President Obama or Clinton is in office you'll complain that the other tribe keep crossing the line in their attacks too.

    You're assuming an awful lot. Not everyone blindly buys into the democrat vs. republican nonsense.

  • by tigerflag ( 648615 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:48AM (#23493444) Homepage

    It's ironic to prosecute a kid for using the word "cult" when in the U.S. the government freely uses the label "cult" to denigrate a group of people in the public's eye. Refer to citizens as "cultists", get the media to refer to citizens as "cultists". Do this enough, and people who don't see the propaganda for what it is will come to view them, not as citizens anymore, but as dangerous Threats to Society.

    "Citizens" are good. "Cultists" are bad. Not entitled to the same protections as the rest of us. Then it's not only easy, but proper to violate their Constitutional rights and even kill them without due process, with the public's blessing.

    Words are powerful. If, during the months of the Waco siege, the media had referred to the victims there as "Citizens" instead of "Cultists", do you think people would have been so accepting of the government's actions? Hell no! In my opinion, Waco was a test, and the government learned that if it can sufficiently demonize and marginalize people in the public's eye, it can do pretty much whatever it wants to them and people will accept it. So now we have the Mormon raid in Texas, and everybody applauded. Child abuse sucks, but government agents tearing children away from their families without due process is downright scary!

    I despise religions that wield their beliefs as weapons to control their followers in destructive ways. But I'm wary when words like "cult" are used to label citizens who live differently from the norm. Next time it could be you or me and and our families, and people will have been conditioned to accept it when we're killed or hauled off to the camps.

    For the record, I also despise laws that infringe upon freedom of speech and action. And governments that try too hard to protect everybody from everything. Big Brother is far worse than any ills it tries to protect us from. "Utopia is not an option."

  • by garyrich ( 30652 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:51AM (#23493496) Homepage Journal
    This was my first thought when I heard this story. Their de facto ownership of the Clearwater PD seems to have worked well enough that the program is being expanded globally. I assume, true to style, that most/all of the Co$' "private" security for this demonstration were off duty constables? Lovely legal way to buy the hearts and minds of the cops. If the cops are recruited to the cult they can even count on getting their money back from them.
  • by Mister Whirly ( 964219 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:52AM (#23493512) Homepage
    Because that is how Scientology works - say something they don't like, and they will harass you with everything they can, quasi-legally. It is their entire strategy for defending themselves - attack their attackers.
  • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @11:54AM (#23493530) Homepage
    Just wanted to get it out there in case the U.K. wants to bring me up on charges. Come on you authoritarian assholes, I dare you. Scientology is a cult. Mormonism is a cult. Christianity is a cult. Islam is a cult. (and by leaving them out, my intent is that followers of Judaism feel insulted for being excluded (chosen at random) (and yes, they too are a cult))

    Aside from the heinous idea that a person feeling insulted should be sufficient to inhibit free speech, how about the anthropological (as opposed to bullshit media bigotted "big means good, small means bad") definition of cult:


    In anthropology, an organization for the conduct of ritual, magical, or other religious observances. Many so-called primitive tribes, for example, have ancestor cults, in which dead ancestors are considered divine and activities are organized to respect their memory and invoke their aid. A cult is also a religious group held together by a dominant, often charismatic individual, or by the worship of a divinity, an idol, or some other object. (See animism, fetish, and totemism.)

    Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Science Dictionary []. Here's a quick note: they're all cults. They all engage in brainwashing too. Look up the definition, then tell me what those repetitive chants and rituals are. If you can come up with a consistent definition of brainwashing that does not include the ritual repetitive chanting at Sunday morning services, I will concede the point. Feeling insulted by the truth is all real sad and everything, but, um, tough shit. Stop being a cult and I'll stop calling you a cult.

    And blow me, England. Hey, there's an idea! What say The Queen blows me? She's got a purty mouth. No, I'm not talking about Charles. I would never use queen as a derogatory term for a poofter - being a poofter like Prince Charles is a personal choice and I fully support his lifestyle (though I am not sure I support his closeting of it).

    And with that, a little bow. Thank you for playing, England.
  • Professionals (Score:3, Insightful)

    by azzuth ( 1177007 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:01PM (#23493640)
    it is interesting to me how adept the Scientologists are at all of this. Despite the number of critics and the widespread information about the strange beliefs of the religion, not to mention that it was started by a Sci-Fi author, and a whole laundry list of questionable practices, the church has a large following and tons of money at its disposal.

    It will be interesting to see how all of this plays out over the course of the next 100 years... Would be a shame to see it emerge as a new world wide religion.
  • by Richard Steiner ( 1585 ) <> on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:13PM (#23493824) Homepage Journal

    Pretty hard to pull off though. How can you accurately represent EVERYONE?

    And do you really want to? Is mob rule really something you want?

  • Protests (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kellyb9 ( 954229 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:18PM (#23493898)
    I think you are all missing the point. Protests are only a useful tool of public disobedience if it garners media coverage. Protests of 10 or 20 people are gigantic wastes of time. In this case, I think we should look at this as a HUGE victory. I've read about this story on just about every major media related Web site. The majority of them mention the police received gifts from the church, and the basic violation of human rights. Regardless of whether this person is fined or not, big victory in the court of public opinion.
  • Re:Hmmmmm..... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:40PM (#23494214)
    Sects within the major religions certainly practice brainwashing and mind-control. Just look at an area where fundamentalists live. Either fundie Christians or Muslims. Children are raised in a secluded environment, only able to make friends with children whose parents are members of the same sort of cult.

    The difference is that there are moderate Christians and moderate Muslims, but there aren't any moderate Scientologists, either you're a nut, or you left the church after you found out how crazy it really was.
  • by the phantom ( 107624 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @12:59PM (#23494486) Homepage
    You seriously want the people to vote on every single bill that is signed into law? Nothing would ever get done. The entire budget would be spent on elections. And no one has time to read through every bill that goes before congress and understand it. That is why congressmen have huge staffs -- to help them wade through the legislation that they have to deal with. I'm sorry, but your system is completely impractical.
  • by AGMW ( 594303 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @02:11PM (#23495388) Homepage
    3) The group grants teachings that are not the Bible equal or greater standing than the Bible.

    Do what now? So this berk's list of tests for whether or not you're in a cult uses the bible as some sort of yardstick?

    Anyone else uncomfortable with that please raise your hands!

    Here's my take on the whole religion affair:
    There are multiple religions and they mostly don't like other religions, each saying they are the true religion and the others are false. From this I can conclude that the chances that your religion is the correct one (if indeed there is a correct one) is small, therefore it is tantamount to child abuse to brainwash^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hteach your religion to children, your own or anyone elses.

    Let's not enforce any religion on children. Let's wait until they are old enough to decide for themselves. Anything else is religious grooming and should be frowned upon by a modern society.

  • by Gnavpot ( 708731 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @05:11PM (#23497664)

    You know when you're in a cult when:

    I think it is strange that his list don't even touch two very significant cult behaviours:

    1. What they do to attract new members from the surrounding society.

    2. What they do to isolate those new members from the influence from the surrounding society.
  • by fugue ( 4373 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @05:42PM (#23497974) Homepage

    I basically agree with your (Martin's?) definition of "cult". However, (1), (2), and (4) are just the definition of "religion" (with the addition of the word "charismatic").(3) is really "objective", there, christ-boy :P

    (5) I like. It makes a great deal of sense and rings true, although it happens far too often in mainstream religions as well (although it might still make sense to call them cults when this happens).

  • Re:Professionals (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JoshJ ( 1009085 ) on Wednesday May 21, 2008 @08:48PM (#23499432) Journal
    Strange beliefs, a laundry list of questionable practices, a large following, and tons of money at its disposal? Man, this reminds me of a conversation I was having about the Catholic Church.

"I think trash is the most important manifestation of culture we have in my lifetime." - Johnny Legend