Information available on the internet regarding Scientology is extremely polarized. On the one hand, you will find plenty of overly critical web sites. On the other, you will find web sites made by the Church of Scientology that depict a rosy situation.
There are very few independent web sites that attempt to present a more realistic approach.
This is one of the aims of the present web site. It is made by a Scientology ex-member, critical of Scientology, but also critical of abuses and distortions on the part of Scientology critics.
I aim to bring a criticism that is not tainted by sensationalism. I also aim to balance the gross exaggerations to be found on critical web sites with a more down-to-earth presentation.
Note that independence does not mean neutrality. Someone neutral is somebody who does not take position. I do take position. However, the stand I take is against abuses on both sides.
You will find a disclaimer on the bottom of each page that goes like this:
I put this disclaimer because readers who arrive on a page of this web site may not have the full background and because some Scientology critics make this false allegation in an attempt to discredit what I have to say. They are unable to substantiate it because it simply isn’t true. The only thing they base themselves on is that I criticize them. This reinforces my contention that anti-cultists tend to mirror the mindset of cultists: if you disagree with them, you must be one of THEM.
This being said, what is, you may ask, my criticism towards Scientology?
In two words, I oppose Scientology because :
Of course I go into more details in my section on cultism, but that’s the gist of it.
The sort of things I claim Scientology does NOT engage into, however (and that’s where I differ with my fellow critics) is :
These are only some of the myths I disagree with.
Why do I find important to make that point?
The examples of myths provided on this web sites should be regarded as samples. This web site cannot cover all possible subjects. However, the sample provided should help readers to see through other myths for themselves.
I also hope to encourage moderate participants on all sides, as well as encourage them into what I refer to as “The Third Way”. The Third Way is an approach to the cult issue that distances itself from both cult and anti-cult organizations. I provide quite a few samples for this as well.
The samples of bigotry among Scientology critics I provide are there to warn others, but also to help Scientology critics to become aware of their own behavior.
The cases of abuses and discrimination I present, however, may unfortunately not have a large audience. Many people don’t really care about these, until they themselves become a target, of course. However, if this web site can make even but a small difference in this area, it would not have been in vain.
You will find that quite some pages on this web site use posts from the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup. If you are not familiar with what a usenet newsgroup is, you may need to fill up for this.
Newsgroup posts make an issue more “lively”. At the same time as the discussion digs into the heart of the matter, it shows the mindset of the people involved. In the present field, I believe that this is about as important as the content, because questions about ethic, critical thinking, and mindsets, are part of the core issue altogether.
The one thing nice you can say about the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup is that it truly is a free speech forum. There is no effective way to prevent someone to express his opinion. This is not the case for Internet Relay Chat (IRC), as channels owners can ban others from participating.
Just as newsgroups are useful to show the actual mindset of participants, IRC channels are useful to test how self-proclaimed “Free Speech activists” live up to their professed ideals. Unfortunately, it is another source of disappointment. Some Scientology critics who may sound wise, rational, and even charming, will show themselves no better than the more fanatical among them when they are given the opportunity to kick/ban those whose opinion they dislike. As the saying goes, “a good test on a persons character is to give them a position of power...".
IRC transcripts make for more lively illustrations than usenet posts. However, they cannot be as easily verified. Usenet posts are archived on Google groups, whereas there is naturally no archives for IRC transcripts. I therefore limit my use of them to a minimum. There is also is an unresolved privacy issue. To go around this problem, and contrary to what critics and Scientologists alike have done in the past, I edit out the nick name of those who do not wish it to appear in the transcript.
Much of this web site presently focuses on the negative aspect of anti-cultism. The reason for this is that I consider it to be of a more immediate threat to basic civil rights than cults themselves. It also puts safeguards before tackling with the subject of cultism itself.
Once the fallacious aspects of anti-cultism is recognized and discarded, however, we can better deal with the part that is true in their claims. By itself, it is a vast and fascinating area. What makes people to fanatically believe into something? What brings them to engage in destructive behavior while believing they do the utmost good?
The subject, in my opinion, goes beyond groups that can be labeled as “cults”. It would include the phenomenon of fanatical Islamists who find it justified to kill thousands of innocent people in the name of God. It would also include the phenomenon of fanatical Evangelists who find it justified to impose their values using violence.
I do host a few texts on that topic. In the future, however, I am interested to give a wider space to this issue.
Likewise, once safeguards have been set regarding the dangers of cults and Scientology, one can more safely examine whatever value may lay in these systems. This is also a fascinating but vast area for which I reserved place on this web site.
People turn to cults because they long to find lasting value and meaning. They turn away from cults because they discover that what cults offer is not genuine.
That’s the gist of it. But is it the end? I don’t think so, because these are only episodes on one's spiritual quest. It still does not answer the existential questions people started their quest with. Ultimately, I think it is important for seekers to resume their spiritual journey. It they use their cult/anti-cult experience wisely, it could make their pursuit more potent.
Cults provide a positive experience because, for a while, they ignite that sacred flame. They provide participants with a sample of what it would feel like were their longings fulfilled.
Anti-cult groups have also a positive role to play, in that they put these groups to the test. They teach us something about the kind of illusions we can get into on the way.
Both could be a positive influence, eventually, were we to simultaneously have that cult-like flame and use that anticult-like sword of discernment in our continuing search for Truth.
If you feel that this web site brings something of value to the issue at hand, then just drop me a few lines :-) This is always appreciated and keeps me going.
Do not hesitate to write if the feedback is not positive, though. Of course it would help if you were to address specific issues ;-) If you find some inaccuracies, let me know. Don’t forget, however, that a difference in opinion does not automatically qualify as inaccuracy.
To tackle such a subject without offending at least some people is difficult. Certain things need to be said and there are not that many ways around it. However, if you feel that I have been unfair or overly harsh, please let me know. I will change or rephrase it if jusitfied. I apologize, however, if I can’t submit to such request without losing the meaning of what I mean to say.
I usually try to answer emails within a week. This may not always be possible, though, so please be patient. I maintain this web site on top of a demanding full-time job and, believe it or not, I also have other interests :-)
More important even than feedback is linking.
Anti-Scientology web sites have a network of links to push some sites on top of Google. Likewise, web sites made by the Church of Scientology link to each other.
Independent web sites such as this one are more isolated.
If you feel that the Third Way voice of this web site deserves to be heard too, please link to the entry page at http://bernie.cncfamily.com/ars.htm
Thank you :-)
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