The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Archive for March 28th, 2010

Scientology: A History of Violence

Posted by mattusmaximus on March 28, 2010

While surfing the interwebs over at the JREF Forum, I was made aware of an upcoming CNN special with Anderson Cooper called “Scientology: A History of Violence” which is to air for four nights starting on March 29th.  Details to be found here.

I’ve made few posts here before about the Church of Scientology, which I consider to be a dangerous cult, and I’m all for having mainstream media outlets challenge them openly.  And I think CNN’s Anderson Cooper is a good person to do the sleuthing on such nonsense (just recall how well he publicly debunked psychic Sylvia Browne).  The biggest problem I personally have with Scientology isn’t their outright goofy beliefs about the alien-god Xenu and space-ghosts called “thetans”, though that’s some pretty damn weird stuff, but the manner in which they deceive & cheat their followers out of literally hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time they learn the Church truths (which are little more than a really bad sci-fi story).  Not to mention, the organization actively works to conceal these “truths” from their members until they’ve paid so much money to the Church that it’s very difficult for them to extract themselves from it.

In addition, those who dare oppose the Church and publicly criticize them are often subjected to all manner of personal attacks and/or harassment under the Church’s policy called “Fair Game” which declares such critics (using very Orwellian lingo) “suppressive persons”.  I am also opposed to the Church because they encourage their followers to “disconnect” from their families & friends who might otherwise attempt to talk some sense into them.  And then, as the CNN expose is likely to show, there are other things done in the name of the corrupt & power-hungry Church of Scientology which the Church would rather not have you know.

Here are some details, provided by Anderson Cooper, about what the program is all about.  I wonder if he’ll be listed as an SP anytime soon?…

Next week we begin a four-part investigation into allegations made by a number of former high ranking members of the Church of Scientology. The allegations are about physical abuse they say took place within the Sea Organization, the international management branch of the church.

These former members, many of whom dedicated their lives to Scientology, allege that the leader of the church, David Miscavige, has used physical violence against a number of Sea Organization members. The church adamantly denies these allegations, and back up their denials with numerous affidavits and testimonials defending Mr. Miscavige and attacking those who are speaking out.

Interestingly, the church spokesman, Tommy Davis, admits there was a history of violence in the Sea Organization, but the people he blames for it are those who are making the allegations against David Miscavige. He says they were demoted by Mr. Miscavige, and are bitter and disgruntled. Some of those making the allegations admit they did engage in violent acts, but say it was at the urging of Mr. Miscavige.

There is no real proof offered by either side, but viewers can make their own assessment. We have spent several months working on this series, and believe it is a fair look at the allegations and the counter claims made by the church.

I have already received a number of emails from church members complaining about the series, and accusing me of attacking the church, its beliefs, its membership, and its activities.

Given that the emails are all very similar in content, I assume this is some sort of organized email campaign. None of those writing the emails have seen the series, but I appreciate hearing from all concerned viewers, and I certainly understand any church member, of any religion, being concerned about the portrayal of their beliefs.

For the record, I just want to point out that this series is not about the beliefs or activities of the Church of Scientology. It is not about the religion or the vast majority of Scientologists. This series simply has to do with what some former high ranking church officials say went on within the upper management of the church, and what happened to them when they left the church.

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