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Church of Scientology Enlisting Followers In Censorship 628

DrEnter writes "Apparently, the recent very public divorce of Katie Holmes and devout believer Tom Cruise is reflecting negatively on the Church of Scientology. Adding to this are other recent issues causing problems for 'church' leadership. In response, the 'church' has decided to encourage its followers to censor online chatter and comments about the 'church' and the divorce. This Yahoo blog post sums it up nicely. In short, they are encouraging members to complain about people posting negative comments about the 'church' as violating the Code of Conduct' in the posting venue. I can only imagine they are hoping these complaints will just be rubber-stamped and respected without investigation, but I think the campaign deserves a bit more attention."
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Church of Scientology Enlisting Followers In Censorship

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  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:26PM (#40570413) Homepage Journal

    I'm glad Katie dumped his ass and is doing her best to protect Suri from that cult.

    Yeah, but I can only feel so much sympathy for someone who walked right into that mess anyway, and if you believe the papers, she married him for cache down and a salary, plus bonuses for offspring. Bet they'll throw every lawyer and dollar they have into the battle to discredit her and rip that child away from her. Her best defense would be to blog everything so people can see how it really works when the Co$ is on your case.

  • by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:36PM (#40570543)
    We already did that. The internet won. The direct damage to the CoS was just a minor annoyance, but the social media saturation exposing so many of the sordid stories told by ex-members and leaked documents destroyed their reputation to the point that they are impossible to take seriously any more. It seriously hurt their recruitment efforts.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:44PM (#40570625)
    Look. Up there, in comment 40570317 [] at 06:18PM, where an AC posted:

    Sounds just like what "climate scientists" are doing to scientific skeptics.

    And then look up there, at comment 40570443 [], at 6:28PM, where another AC posts as soon as the 10-minute window is up:

    I really hope that everyone who comments here, do not follow any other (moronic) religion?... Because if you do, you are just as utterly underdeveloped as the rest of them.

    Hello, Scilon operative! Welcome to the Internet. (Don't worry, we won't bite. In fact, when you finally blow, we'll be here to help.)

    The internet is a big place, with millions of other threads for Theists-vs-Atheists, and Global Warming-vs-Deniers, and Obama vs. Romney, or whatever you'll be posting in your next round. But this isn't one of those threads. This is a thread about the abuses your organization has been conducting against free discourse on the 'net [] for the past 20 years.

    And no self-respecting theist, atheist, environmentalist, nor climate change skeptic, will fall for this classic attempt to threadjack the discussion. (Next time, try Apple vs. Microsoft, or emacs vs. vi. You'll still fail, but you'll provide us with much more amusement on your way down.)

    "Standard Scientology Practice" indeed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @06:54PM (#40570715)

    That's religion in general, Scientology just ups the ante.

  • by pitchpipe ( 708843 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:13PM (#40570933)

    It's not like the church you think doesn't need quotes is any more valid than this 'church' which you think needs quotes.

    Well see, if you go to a 'church' you believe in silly things like Xenu [] dictator of the "Galactic Confederacy" who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to Earth in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs.

    But if you go to a church, you believe in completely unsilly and credible things like a god who created us to worship him, but is really going to throw most of us into a burning lake of fire to be tortured for ever and ever because he loves us unconditionally, and well... He really tried to prevent this from happening by lovingly being born of a virgin so he could sacrifice himself to himself so that we could be forgiven for our sins against him (which we've all comitted because someone ate a forbidden fruit a long time ago), and the he tried warn us by sending all kinds of really sane, down to earth people to tell us that this was going to happen. Oh, and no trace of him has ever been found. You believe all of this because other people told you, so it must be true.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:27PM (#40571065)

    I'm the first anon above, and I have no idea what your post is about.

    (I'm a very self-respecting climate skeptic though)

    "Then why'dja bring up climate change in a thread about Scilons?" :)

    If I mistook you for one, please accept my apologies.

    Those of us who've been in the trenches have seen this before. Basically, when something comes up that's embarassing to the cult, the cult tries to make it about anything other than the topic at hand. The easiest way to accomplish this is for the Scilon to pick a similar inflammatory topic, about which many people hold sincere and impassioned beliefs, and to sit back and munch on popcorn as both sides of the (climate change | abortion | religion-vs-atheism | emacs-vs-vi | mac-vs-PC ) debate jump in on their respective sides and tear each other apart. (There's a guy a few posts down who tried to drag Israel-vs-Palestine into it, and for bonus points, he mentioned abortion, LOL!)

    As long as everyone's talking about that, nobody's talking about the cult, and the cult wins.

    To give a non-Scilon-related (and therefore off-topic!) example, governments use the same technique; the PRC has the 50 Cent Party [], Russia has Web Brigades [], and I'm sure our adversaries have their own word for the web equivalent of VOA []. But I'm not interested in talking about those. At least not today.

    This thread is about how Scientology is enlisting its followers to report discussion of its practices as "off-topic" and/or "abuse" in order to sway the perception of Scientology on discussion forums. Not about the practices of other groups, however repugnant.

  • by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:37PM (#40571151)
    The origin story I once read is that L. Ron Hubbard and a friend were at Hubbard's home one night getting drunk and talking together, Hubbard had already made money as a sci-fi writer by then. Hubbard say's to his friend, "I could start a new religion if I wanted to. It wouldn't be hard." His friend bets him $50 that he can't. Hubbard takes the bet, writes the book "Dianetics". Eventually Hubbard's friend paid him the fifty bucks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @07:42PM (#40571203)

    I was there on Usenet when the whole thing started. They were not successful when measured against the huge amount of information that became available that cast Scientology in a bad light, and that made some of the worst of its nonsense well-known to people on (what eventually became) the web. On top of that, the people kicking off the church attempts to mitigate the problem were grossly incompetent and had no real understanding of the forum they were working with. They seemed to have no clue they were playing an impossible game of whack-a-mole, or that the harder they tried to censor, the more it pissed people off. People on the Net are kind of interested in free speech and being able to discuss whatever the hell they want on public forums. Other than using their usual litigious practices to shamefully hassle a handful of people, they may as well have called it the Church of Streisand for all the good their attempts really did.

  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @08:12PM (#40571491)

    Not exactly the same, but pre-reformation Catholicism almost fits the bill. They just had all their texts in latin, and forbid translating it into any language the common people knew. The only people who had the time or opportunity to learn latin were the priests, so the reading and interpretation of their holy texts was exclusively the domain of the clergy. They didn't have law suits back then, but they did issue legal bans against the translations.

  • by LordLucless ( 582312 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:12PM (#40571949)

    "Cult" is one of those words that used to have a meaning, but has been so thoroughly divorced from its roots through perjorative use, that it now has no more actual meaning than any other curse word.

    A "cult" was originally a subset of a religion; it was most applicable to pantheistic religions (like ancient Greek religion). You'd have, within the overall religious framework, the "cult of Diana" or "the cult of Dionysus". They were all part of the same religion, but there were specific rituals and observances that related to specific deities within that framework.

    Within the rise of monotheism, "cult" became a lot less useful as a term. It basically came to mean a "branch" off of an existing religion, that is, a subset of religious believe that eventually came to be a distinct religion - you can see the similarity between this and its original meaning. Thus, Christianity would be a cult of Judaism, and Islam would be a cult of Christianity, as would Mormonism, Protestantism and the Latter-Day Saints.

    Of course, the dominant religion doesn't like it when people break away from it (see: the inquisition), so at this time, cult began to take on a negative connotation. Previously, it had been purely descriptive. Cults were outlawed (the church at this time was a political player, so it had the power to do this), disbanded and demonised. Over time, the church's political power waned, and it no longer had the opportunity to squash its cults.

    Nowadays, the perjorative connotation of the word "cult" is about all that remains. Technically, Christianity is still a cult of Judaism, but nobody (except atheists pushing the "all religions are cults" agenda) really describes it that way (and even the atheists are just using it as a perjorative, not in the technical sense).

  • Re:First Thetan! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:53PM (#40572305)
    Christian doctrine is about making humans more empathetic and forgiving (do unto others as you would have them do unto you). Scientology doctrine is about making humans more sociopathic and heartless (release the thetans [conscience] holding you back, and you'll be superhuman, able to achieve any goal). That both of them use faith as a foundation of their respective goals makes them no more alike than if they had used sandwiches as their foundation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 06, 2012 @09:54PM (#40572319)

    No, really, they weren't successful. That's according to Jurian Massena, who was Scientology's first webmaster and who left the cult when he found out that the people on the "other side" of that Usenet warfare were pretty nice people and the cult had been lying about them. (I met him about 10 years ago: he was speaking to student groups about cults and their dangers, having broken free of one himself.)

    Most of us who jumped into that battle were protecting turf and free speech, and some of us were trying to block spam. (The cult sent 1/2 Terabyte of randomized, forged spam to the Usenet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology in about six months, and reman the worst Usenet spammers in history.)

    We tracked them, we got their sock puppets kicked off ISP's, and eventually we got standard Usenet behavior changed to include the IP address of the sending host. We are the people who invented the word spam, and our battles with Scientology, while not lethal to the cult, helped establish political freedom of speech in the growing web. ISP's learned not to take cash and cashier's checks for modem access without any verifiable address because they *will* be abused by spammers and scammers, so the Scientologists actually gave us a great inoculation against even worse dangers. They were so clearly unacceptable that a lot of ISP's at the time finally enacted real policies against obvious abuse by their own customers, and they were so lawyer equipped that the ISP's did it *carefully*..

    In a weird way, I'm grateful that they were so very offensive and so abusive so fast. It brought *enormous* publicity to their critics at the time and helped expose the cult's inner secrets and abuses in a way that convicting Mary Sue Hubbard for faking bomb threats against Paulette Cooper did not.

  • by DeadManCoding ( 961283 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:09PM (#40572431)
    So what I'm gathering from you is that the moral decline of the US is due to a lack of religious communities? I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to strongly disagree with you there, and point out Westboro as well as anti-abortion protesters. I will agree that there are a number of good people in the world attempting to good deeds, but there are more than enough idiots with "God Hates Fags" posters absolutely destroying our ability to communicate effectively. Yes, while some atheists detest religious organizations, there are a greater number that simply don't care. They just don't feel a need to believe in some arbitrary Judeo-Christian lifestyle.

    As an aside, I've seen plenty of Radicals around the world. In my opinion, the original Bill of Rights got things right the first time around. You believe in whatever invisible sky man you want, I'll take mine, and we'll go about our merry way. Blaming a decline of morals around a lack of religious communities, honestly, reeks of religious superiority. You take your sky man, and leave me alone. I'm a good enough person without religion, and I'll continue to be that way despite of your mongering for more religion.
  • by jthill ( 303417 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:40PM (#40572671)

    This is just my take, but: in real religious texts you find metaphor for what works long-term, stories that just show how people behave, basically a catalog of the human soul from lots of different perspectives. Gods are the usual stand-ins for what happens for no apparent reason. Care to explain the patterns and gaps in the logistic map [] without using math? Jesus spoke openly of the reason so much is told as metaphor. "A village is made up of stories about itself", and the stories in fake religions do not describe the real world.

  • by Nadaka ( 224565 ) on Friday July 06, 2012 @10:50PM (#40572741)

    The vast majority of religious sects DO burn out in one or two generations following the death of their prophet. There are probably over 100 thousand cults and sects right now and the majority of them are less than a hundred years old. They rise and fall, mutate, evolve, and spawn spontaneously from the minds of prophets. Only a handful of religions stick around for the long haul, and most of them branch, merge and change radically over time.

    Religion does not have to have a specific set of beliefs about the cosmos, or particular classes of rituals, morality or even a belief in the supernatural. Each one will have different dogmas that focus on different things.

    Again, deities are not required for religion. Many faiths do not venerate gods. And in the case of Mao (more than Stalin or Lenin, but they did get some of this as well) the prophet is deified and worshiped.

    You can not honestly claim that religion is accepted freely and without duress. For millennium conversion at the point of a sword was the standard operating procedure. Children are brainwashed before they have formed independent thought. People at the end of their rope are offered the illusion of salvation while in a compromised and impressionable mental state. And individuals converted by the inordinate amount of influence by spouses and lovers.

    Religion is fundamentally a memetic complex that takes advantage of the mental illness of faith to infect and compromise the minds of a population. Another defining characteristic is that the complex changes thought processes and behaviors of its hosts to propagate itself and resist competitive memes even if it is harmful to the host or the population to which it belongs. This often results in faith so strong that ignorance and acceptance of objectively wrong (both logically and morally) behaviors becomes routine. Religion is a virus of the mind and the prophet of every religion is patient zero.

    Both Maoism and Stalinism have exactly those characteristics. There is no fundamental difference between the non-magical irrational faith and devotion and magical irrational faith and devotion.

  • Re:First Thetan! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nyder ( 754090 ) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @01:04AM (#40573385) Journal

    ... Christianity doesn't require you to pay money before they will reveal all of the church doctrines...

    True, but once they suck you in all Christian organisations want your money and they want it tax free.

    But it is still a believer's choice to give or not, unlike scientology. And you should be glad that they are tax exempt. That's the only thing that keeps them from being able to tell their followers who to vote for. Being tax exempt means they can only speak on the issues, not the candidates.

    Ya, except some church's go on and on about giving, and Give to God and God will Give to You. tithes and offerings, and tithes means like 10% plus you got to give more for offerings.

    They badger you so much on Sundays and if it was a holiday like easter or Xmas that pulled people in, omg, they would keep harping about it. Sort of like when you get them "free" vacations but you have to listen to them timeshare seminars while you are there? It is exactly like that.

    That of course, was like 30 years ago when I was forced to go to church. Has it changed since then? I doubt it. It's a way of some Christians to feel even better about themselves because they give to the church and are religious.

    What I do know is, the pastor bought a new car ever 6 months (caddies of course) and most the upper church management lived very very very comfortably.

    Pretty good for a bunch of people who used to be drug addicts and "got religion".

    In case anyone wonder who am I talking about, I'm mostly referring to Christian Faith Center in Seattle, and the red headed paster, Casey Treat.

    I could tell you stories about them and their fake beliefs. Life how they would have someone speak out in "tongues" then someone "randomly blessed by god" with the interpretation of what they said. One day, some guy says the interpretation of it, and I see by the look on Casey Treats face, that this guy isn't supposed to be talking. So what does Casey do? He says that god just told him that wasn't the interpretation we were to hear and then one of the deacons (and good buddies of Casey) said what the interpretation of the tongues where. Apparently they think I'm stupid as the rest of them, because I'm supposed to accept the blatant lie that just went on?

    Ya, fuck that.

    In these times of economic struggle, the Government should just take away the Tax Exemption for Religions. It would only be fair and if the religions have a problem with that, then they can pray to their gods for help with money.


  • Re:First Thetan! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @02:36AM (#40573801)

    "As always, most of my contempt falls onto the suckers. Entirely there fault. Just like people who respond to spam."

    While as a generalization I would be inclined to agree with you, it doesn't so much apply to this church. And here is why:

    The church leadership -- especially early on, including Hubbard -- were very, very good at PR and BS. That's why they established a completely separate part of the church for rich and famous people, where they get treated completely differently than everybody else.

    As a result, you have lots of rich and famous people thinking it's a GREAT institution, and telling everybody about it. But those who fall for all the hype, and aren't rich and famous, get bled of their possessions and shipped off to a work camp.

    As I say, if it were just up to individual judgment, I would tend to agree with you. But they have this very well-engineered PR machine set up to make people believe.

    Morally, that's fraud and deception. So far, they seem to have avoided legal consequences.

  • Re:First Thetan! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @04:04AM (#40574087) Journal

    There are actually plenty of evangelical churches that consider the tithe to be mandatory for membership. A friend of mine was a pastor in one such (he's an atheist now).

  • Re:First Thetan! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @04:07AM (#40574105) Journal

    You realize that the whole "information for free" part of Christianity is relatively modern, right? There's a reason why the Church flipped out about first the Gutenberg Bible and then even more about the Luther Bible - they didn't want just anyone being able to read the thing, you never know what damn fool ideas those laymen are going to get into their heads

    You realize that this only applies to the Roman Catholic Church, and even that was a later "innovation"? Originally, the Church was spreading literacy far and wide precisely so that laity could read the Bible. And Greek Orthodox Church, which didn't try to focus so much on a single language, went even further and specifically created a writing system [] for languages which didn't have any until then, just so that they could write down the Bible in those languages to spread it further.

  • by lightknight ( 213164 ) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @04:51AM (#40574231) Homepage

    Indeed. While the printing press had not been invented (which is heralded as the major change that made the Bible cheap enough for the common man to own), I have reason to believe that the monks / scribes of old new how to use stencils. I spent some time recently reviewing illuminated manuscripts, and having reviewed the scans in a proper imaging programming with zoom functionality, I noticed an odd repeating error. The areas painted blue where offset from the outlines they were intending to fill, but in every case they were shifted upwards by, I'd guess, 4 mm. Every one of them. Examining it in more detail, I realized that while a printing press was out of the question, a stencil could easily have been made at the time, with a team of monks / scribes simply using a paintbrush / roller brush to achieve the same result. Given the nature of the error, the monks / scribes probably used multiple stencils per page, say one stencil for the writing, and one stencil for every layer of color. When the monk / scribe fitted the stencil to the page, he must have accidentally aligned it too far upwards (it was probably clamped, or held in place by some other means). Anyway, I figure the reason for the mistake escaping, was not due to the lack of the monks / scribes noticing it, but because the blue ink was expensive at the time, and was probably the second to last, if not the last layer to be applied. Since creating a new page would still take time (for all the layers to dry between the applications of the stencils), and since the monks / scribes probably didn't think anyone in the populace would notice, out it went. Since books went for so much at the time, the monks / scribes probably made out pretty well for themselves. They could make hundreds of books a month, using this process, and offload them to various sellers on their journeys into town / elsewhere, so no one caught on.

    Think about it. Stencils are so trivial to make that school children make them for fun everyday. And it's not hard to find some paper, even at the time, that would be heavy enough to withstand repeated use. Why would anyone know? Because monasteries draw in certain kinds of people into their fold; people who can keep their mouths shut. What more, they are getting something out of it: a lot of money, for very little work. Why were the prices so high? Because people really thought that monks / scribes would spend months making a single book. Finally, the church, in all of its incarnations, and despite what it sells the common folk, loves science, loves to be the only person on the block with knowledge that no one else has. If you're a commoner, and you own a shop, they want a discount; if you're a commoner and you do not, they want free labor / money put in brass dishes. If you're a soldier / knight, they want you to fight for them in other lands. If you're a lord / noble, they want land. But if you're a scientist, they want you to keep your discoveries secret, tow the line, and give them first access to the good stuff. Shrewd businessmen, from what I can tell; I'd crack a joke about their leader being jewish, so that all makes sense, but someone might miss the joke, and call me anti-Semitic. Still, were it not for the fact that they treat their followers worse than many people treat their dogs, I'd almost have to applaud the amount of cunning / intelligence that lets them pull one over the common man; it's truly something extraordinary, and it's taken them millenia to perfect. The thought has occurred to me that joining their ranks, even in the present day, is a 'good deal' that many take, long after they realize (if they had not at the beginning) that their relationship with God / the people is a little...less holy than they thought it would be. I mean, think about it, you work for only 30 minutes to 2 hours, perhaps twice on Sundays, and twice on Saturdays, make a few appearances at various functions to remind people about their religion, then spend the week counseling people while hearing all sorts of profitable information. A catholic priest wil

  • by Pfhorrest ( 545131 ) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @05:28AM (#40574331) Homepage Journal

    Religion is defined by faith.

    Any appeal to authority is ultimately an appeal to faith in said authority. "It must be right, because such-and-such said so."

    So authoritarianism is inherently religious (based on faith), even if devoid of the trappings we associate with "traditional" religion, e.g. the supernatural.

    What makes the supernatural in turn inherently religious (based on faith) is that nothing can be known about it from evidence, and so any opinions on it must be based on faith, and whoever you have faith in (as in, whoever's word you take as 'gospel truth'), you are taking to be an authority.

    If you have faith only in things that come to you directly by some sort of inspiration, then you are simply taking yourself as the authority of your own religion.

  • by KarlIsNotMyName ( 1529477 ) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:51AM (#40574727)

    Consider Scientology an experiment, that shows just how easy it is to get people to believe in nonsense. And that it suggests not only to be wary of religion, but to be sceptical of everything, if you want to avoid delusions.

  • Re:First Thetan! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Saturday July 07, 2012 @07:58AM (#40574759)

    Anyone who doesn't hold that criminal enterprise in contempt is just not paying attention.

    Religion, criminal enterprise, has there ever been a difference? For any of them?

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