E.J. is a Scientologist who has read a substantial amount of critical information and participated in direct debates with critics. Though he is not the only Scientologist to have done so, he has submitted a synthetic summary of his experience in this field. It largely reflects the failure of the critical movement to reach out to reasonable members.
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A Brief Introduction
I have been a practicing Scientologist for nearly my whole life. I am a public member, that is to say, Im not staff. Critics typically think Im working for the OSA [Scientology's Office of Special Affairs], but that is simply not true. (I suspect they see it as a way to discredit me among their fellow critics.) In any event, I have known a great many Scientologists and have spent much time in their presence. I have trained and gotten auditing. I am very familiar with the teachings and beliefs of the Church. I can only speak to what I know to be true. Some have raised questions about the motivations of the upper echelons of the Church, but I cant speak to that at least not in more than a limited way. I only know what I see.
Welcome To Hateville
Ive invested some time on a critical web site called Operation Clambake. I actually cant recall how I first came across the site. But as a practicing Scientologist, I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. There was so much misinformation and odd statements here I was shocked.
It’s not as though O.C. is the only anti-Scientology site around. There are several. But most are shoddy affairs - poorly laid out, difficult to navigate, utterly rabid in content. And as, by most accounts, OC is the most visited site on the subject, I decided to direct my attention to it.
Do Your Own Homework
The O.C. site is somewhat deceptive, in my estimation. When one first visits, they might think it is intended to present a balanced view of the Church of Scientology. Of course, this is not the case. As the sites creator, Andreas, clearly says, It is not unbiased or objective, and it never claimed it was. But everything is presented as if it is factual not the product of a biased opinion. One should be careful not to simply believe everything one reads. I encourage all to do their own research.
One good place to start would be Bernie's site.
On Bernie’s site, [which by the way, is not linked on Operation Clambake for some reason], youll find a well researched site, which is far more balanced than OC. Bernie has also taken up some of the myths that are so commonly put forward by anti-cultists and proven them wrong.
Further, the Church of Scientology has it’s own rather extensive web site which will provide a decidedly positive viewpoint on the subject. There is a massive amount of information available there.
Andreas has linked to this site, but you’ll have to hunt to find it. Why do you suppose he doesn’t put this link on the front page?
If you wanted to continue your research, you might want to visit: http://www.theta.btinternet.co.uk/
Mike’s site is a pro-Scientology site that further debunks many of the popular myths.
Or you can explore my own collection of pages, HERE.
Vigilance is required when you undertake an investigation of Operation Clambake (and all the critical data regarding Scientology, really). A cursory view will leave you thinking that the Church is totally evil and must be stopped. But nothing could be further from the truth.
The Anti-Cult Mentality
When I first came to O.C., I was very naïve. I thought these critics had just misunderstood things about Scientology and I thought I could help them better understand this group they were viciously attacking. Boy was I wrong.
I soon found my way onto the Message Boards and began posting. I was immediately attacked and railed against for my beliefs. But I persevered.
What I have come to find, is that despite their claims, these critics are not interested in the “truth”.
The Myth of Critical Thinking and The Double Standard:
If you hang around anti-cultists much, you’ll hear lots of talk about “critical thinking.” It’s a catch phrase they love to throw around. But you’ll quickly find, as I did, that they are not so interested in engaging in it themselves.
Just try to get an answer about the nefarious activities of the anti-cult hero Bob Minton around here. No one wants to talk about it. Here’s a prime example:
I then posted several examples of the sort of actions critics are taking. Some legal and relatively benign activities, some, as with Bob Mintons unprovoked physical assaults on Scientologists, not so harmless.
But I went on to underscore my point:
Bob Minton and the LMT are hardly ‘noble’. But the larger issue is that they can’t even investigate it for themselves. Further, they can’t even concede that it is hypocritical.
The Anti-Defamation League, whove been fighting Anti-Semitism, Bigotry and Extremism for many years published their perspective on The Internet as a Hate Tool.
Religious tolerance is of vital importance to all races, creeds, and peoples of the world. And you’ll find most critics will pay tolerance some lip service as well. But their actions betray their true feelings.
There is some commonly used slang among the Scientology critics. “Clam”, “Co$”, “L.Con. Nutbard”, and plenty of others. They are used to dehumanize Scientologists, plain and simple. And once you dehumanize a group you can do anything you want to them. The parallels to the treatment of other minority groups is clear. It conjures imagery of graffiti on synagogues and racial epithets.
There are anti-cultists who have no other interest than hate, bigotry, and violence.
Here are a few examples of some particularly threatening hate posts I received on the OC message board:
This sort of behavior is not as uncommon as one might believe. I found that many critics simply could not confront the idea that this is the way many of their brethren think. A ‘clam’ is just a ‘clam’ to many of them, after all.
Just look at the name of the site! Operation Clambake? What if it were a Klu Klux Klan site called “Operation Niggerbake?” Or a neo-Nazi site called “Operation Jewbake”? I ask you, would you visit such a site looking for information on those groups? Would you expect it to be an accurate representation of the beliefs of Judaism, for example?
The level of religious intolerance is incredible. And even more incredible than that, is they will DENY that it is intolerance when applied to Scientology. Of course, the critics will jump in with all the tired old arguments: “But Scientology is not a religion!”
I’m amazed anyone even tries to make this claim. There are several sites with a thorough analysis of this point. But the summation is quite simple: Scientologists, members and leaders alike, sincerely believe that they are spiritual beings who take on other bodies after they die and can improve through Scientology. This alone already qualifies Scientology as a religious group.
And even if it were not a religion, that does not excuse hate and bigotry. Tolerance should extend to all groups whether religious, racial or of sexual preference.
But around Operation Clambake a “clam is a clam.”
a•pos•ta•sy n. 1. Abandonment of one's religious faith, a political party, one's principles, or a cause.
The anti-cult movement is largely [with a few notable exceptions] made up of apostates: ex-members of Scientology. One might think, as is commonly implied, ‘who better to know the truth about what goes on behind closed doors.’
But in reality the reverse is often true.
One must treat with some skepticism the personal accounts that are related on O.C. This should not be taken to mean that they are pure fabrications. I don’t believe that is the case in the majority of incidents. However, the temptation to exaggerate may be too much to resist for some. And at best they seem to leave out the role they may have played in any difficulty they have had.
Most critics consider the choice of Scientologists to believe and practice their religion to be the result of mind control. They have no respect for their fellow man, and his ability to make his own choices. It simply isn’t possible that someone could honestly believe something that conflicts with their critical point of view. Of course, this is precisely the kind of elitist thinking that leads toward forcible deprogramming and is in direct conflict with religious freedom and tolerance.
I’m not suggesting the Church is perfect. In fact, neither did L.R.H.
I’m sure mistakes are made. And the technology is misapplied sometimes. In fact, I’ve experienced that myself on occasion. But to throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater is a bit extreme.
The Blatant Lies
There are so many its hard to even count them all. But one I hear a lot in critical circles is that Scientology doesnt permit any discussion or debate among its members. This is simply not true. Hubbard himself, in The Dynamics of Life says "The most desirable state in an individual is complete self-determinism." So, to suggest that the Church's objective is to create docile robots is absurd. Freddie T's site is a good example of a public Scientologist who has entertained much discussion and analysis of various aspects of Scientology and yet has not been attacked, sued or excommunicated.
Then there are fantasies of frivolous lawsuits undertaken by the Church against any critic who speaks his mind. Of course the reality is quite different. The Church aggressively protects its scripture from copyright infringement, this is true. They intend to preserve the orthodoxy of the practice, and use the copyright laws to do so. And just as the laws of the land condemned Napster for facilitating the theft of intellectual property, so is it the Church’s right to pursue people who violate their rights. The critics distort the facts of the matter in their favor.
This is yet another example of the hypocrisy critics are so often guilty of. They will violate the law, and call themselves freedom fighters on one hand, while accusing the Church of any and all manner of wrongdoing, often with little or no hard evidence.
Other lies concern the claims made by critics regarding the ‘secret scriptures’ of Scientology. There is a popular belief among the critics that the philosophical core of the Church is hidden from its parishioners. But this is inaccurate at best. There is a gradient scale of enlightenment in Scientology, just as there is in many other religions (such as Buddhism). Scientology was developed to be a path that could be walked by many, not just a chosen few. And as such, one must crawl before he can walk, walk before he can run, and so on.
But the critics believe that if people knew the ‘truth’ about these beliefs they would never engage in the activity. Specifically, critics take issue with the ‘science fiction-like’ nature of these beliefs. While you may not agree with these beliefs and you may find them ‘crazy’, they are certainly not hidden. One need only pick up a book. They are widely available. In fact, the free introductory video shown to any new parishioner addresses these beliefs openly. And as far as ‘un-believability’ goes, one could say the same about most spiritual belief systems. Who are they to judge what someone else can believe?
Another common critical argument regards the lack of a public demonstration or scientific proof of the miracles supposedly promised by Scientology.
Of course, there are countless written testimonials from Scientologists regarding the positive gains they have personally experienced. But the critics totally discount these.
As for demonstrating super-powers, I believe L.R.H.’s views were similar to the one illustrated in this story from Buddhism:
In Scientology, one need only learn and apply the data and then decide for himself. There is no faith required.
The Other Side of The Coin
Certainly, it’s not fair for me to paint all critics with the same brush. Just as it’s not fair to consider all ‘clams’ equal. And I must acknowledge that some critics are more moderate than others. The critics are motivated by different things and to different ends.
Some seek reform of the Church. They hope to inform current and potential members of the ‘truth’ as they see it.
These moderate critics are more apt to engage in an intelligent debate. And perhaps consider some logical arguments. They usually advocate only legal means of resistance against Scientology. I have little to complain about when I consider the moderate critics. They are totally free to have their own opinions and I support their right to pursue any legal means to get their message out.
But many seek the utter destruction of Scientology and its beliefs. They advocate legal injunctions against belonging to the religion or the ability of the religion to exist at all. And I cannot support any act which attempts to curtail my right to believe what I will.
If you don’t agree with the critics, then you’re either an apologist or brainwashed. There is no other explanation for them. And so, it’s difficult to have an intelligent conversation with an anti-cultist. They simply discount anything you say. It doesn’t matter to them that there are literally millions of written testimonials over the last fifty years from Church members extolling the virtues of Scientology. They would rather put undue weight on the tiny minority of ‘horror stories’ that can be dredged up.
In the mind of an anti-cultist there is simply no room for any positive information regarding Scientology. So you will never gain any ground on any issue. I would suggest you not waste your time trying.
There are legitimate issues regarding Scientology. And reasonable people can disagree. But the fervent, malicious, extremists who frequent the Operation Clambake site and others like it are not interested in anything but their point of view - and IMPOSING IT ON YOU.
For a more thorough look at the myths surrounding Scientology click HERE.
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