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10. Dec. 2001, by Grasso: It´s unbelievable that in the USA Scientology is a respectable institution. Imagine if your encyclopedia said that "mafia" was the term for "economic enterprises with strong informal components". Must we copy the official point of view, can´t we deliver our own opinion? Most people here are convinced that Scientology is a crime organisation, so why not express this within the first or second paragraph?

Crime Two key issues seem to have been omitted. First was that Hubbard had on several occassions admitted to starting the "church" as a joke / tax write off system.

Several claims along those lines appear in the article - if you can provide more specifics why don't you do so? --Robert Merkel

Second is that to this day recruitment is by means of screening likely candidates and then indoctrination in controled physical environments (temp, thrist, peer presure) designed to sway these people into switching their identity for that of the 'church'.

If you've got specifics, this *needs* to go in the article. --Robert Merkel

Instead the article does appear to be mostly a Scientology pamphlet.

Personally, I think Scientology is one big con. However, a neutral point of view here means that we can't just rag on them because we think their particular set of beliefs is nonsense (because there's no more or less direct evidence of their correctness or otherwise than Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and so on). Pointing out that, their founder and leaders don't seem to believe in it themselves, b) they are ridiculously secretive about their practices, c) they use the legal system to attack their critics, d) they use dubious techniques to gain adherants, and e) church leaders seem to be more interested in enriching themselves than anything else, is entirely

appropriate and if you think these points haven't been adequately covered (or you have more criticisms that I haven't mentioned here) them IMHO go right ahead. --Robert Merkel

I moved the page to a free link style page, but the page seems very one-sided, more like a Scientology pamphlet than an encyclopedia entry.

If you read any of the entries on any of the religions mentioned here, hare krishna, christianity, tao teh ching, buddhism, you will not find any effort to do more than recite what the adherents hold as being the parts of their faith. It is not our place to praise or bash beliefs here, nor to seek out and repeat controversial utterances by others about a given faith or practice. In Catholicism we could repeat polemics by Martin Luther, in Lutheranism we could rave on about how Luther's own writings in some cases depict him as a psycho drunk and woman-hating womanizer, decry the snake-handling practices of some Pentecostals.

If we are not going to do it to everyone, let's don't do it to anyone.

In general, see neutral point of view. The principle I crusade for is that controversial views be attributed to someone--or that it be obvious (as in Scientology it is) that the views and practices in questions are attributed to someone. Beyond that, as long as competing theories are portrayed sympathetically, the sky's the limit. So, there's absolutely nothing wrong (IMO) with adding some mainstream criticisms of Scientology, Christianity, Buddhism, etc.--but really, if the criticisms deserve to be in an encyclopedia article, they must either be really quite common criticisms (and identified/attributed as such; e.g., "One common criticism...") or else credited to the person who originated it. I can imagine a separate page, Scientology/Criticisms and replies as well as Scientology/Public perception, in which what seems to be the cult-like nature of Scientology is described--and attributed to, well, someone or other. --LMS

Thank you, Larry. You put it much better than I could. I just thought the last paragraph rather glossed over the endless arguments and controversy about Scientology over the last several decades. And since there has been so much controversy, it seems reasonable to have some account with summaries of the two sides - at least report that group A says X, group B says Y. (for comparison, there's a nice entry for the Book of Mormon that summarises Mormon doctrine, and reports other theories of the origins of the book)

And all I originally set out to do was remove a couple of CapitaliseDLinKs...

I have re-written the last paragraph from a Scientology-positive point of view to a Scientology-negative one in neutralised wording. I hope this alleviates the problems mentioned above. -- Andre Engels

As a researcher of religions and a lover of a good spy story (being a PI myself) I once read 'way too much about Scientolgy controversy from both sides. I added bunches of material in that vein. I'm afraid there is now more about the controversy than the beliefs, but if that's where people's attention is...

I (Jimbo Wales) have a problem with this paragraph:

Those who oppose Scientology style themselves "critics." These range from press with critical statments to make, having had no contact with the church themselves; to apostates who may have left the church following disagreements or who may have been expelled on moral grounds; to avowed enemies of the church who planned to infiltrate it, plant documents, and foment fraudulently based criminal prosecutions. Other critics speak from the point of view that the beliefs and practices of Scientology are in one manner or another antipathetic to their own religious convictions, and therefore deserving of censure.

A few points I'd like to make about this:

1. The use of the scare quores around the word "critics" suggests that these opponents aren't _really_ critics, but something else, perhaps something less than true critics.

2. The list of types of people who are critical of the church reads like the church's own version of the story. Only 4 types are mentioned (a) members of the press with no actual contact themselves (b) apostates (c) avowed enemies who would gladly resort to fraud and criminality and (d) advocates of other religions, who oppose it on those grounds, exhibiting one supposes religious intolerance.

This list makes it sound like the good church of Scientology is just being harassed. My own reading of the criticisms, though, is quite different. I am by no means a Scientology-basher, but when I got interested in this issue a few years ago, I thought that the critics (and they are real critics) had quite a good case.

Our write-up need not end up supporting the critics or the church, but the current writeup (this paragraph anyway) is decidedly pro-scientology.

The "good" church? I think convictions for stealing gov't docs surely puts the question to that...

As to "critics," what suggestion would you make? I was similarly disposed to you when I first undertook to do my own bit of investigating. My reading, however, did not turn up any independent critics without their own agenda. One such who held herself out as a completely objective academic expert (notwisthstanding that she published at least one book accusing all "cults" of brainwashing or something, which her peers pretty roundly criticized) turned out to be making a major portion of her income testifying against Scientology and other groups in court. I have read probably thirty to fifty independent appraisals, some quite detailed, from academics, psychologists, clerics, investigative reporters and the like and they were neutral, not critical. The persons listed in the paragraph do style themselves "critics." And I have noted that's what opponents of Scientology do, publicly. They don't say "I hate this church and want to close it." They say - "I have criticisms." One guy in particular, whom I saw a news video on (taken without his knowledge) is sitting there with a reporter whom he believes to be an FBI agent or something, plotting to destroy the church from inside. He calls himself a "critic" and says the church does not like him because he "criticizes" it. In contrast, those reporting on the subject who do not refer to themselves as critics also, it seems a) have no agenda and b) are neutral, not critical.

If you don't mind, could you refer me to an otherwise unbiased critic? If you will do so, I will immediately include his class of people in paragraph. I just don't want people misled by the idea that the othwise neutral term "critic" means that the person so styled speaks without a predisposing agenda. Until I actually see someone who does not oppose Scientology and yet who is critical of it, I'm not sure how that paragraph should read...

O.k., I think I can help with this. Of course in some sense, all people who are critical of X must oppose X to some extent, right? So pointing out that all the critics of Scientology are opposed to Scientology is either redundant or (as in this case) it sounds like a way of dismissing the critics, i.e. to say that no objective person actually opposes Scientology.

So, let me be your hypothetical critic. My own views do not belong in Wikipedia, of course, but consider what my view is. I am critical of Scientology. I think it is total bunk as a theory about the world. It's just as much bunk as Christianity or Marxism as a theory about the world. It's untested or, where tested, provably false in important ways.

Yet, I can hardly be seen as someone who is "opposed to" Scientology, unless any criticism at all is to be discounted because it is criticism. I don't suppose that I've ever written publicly about it until just now. Not that I can recall, anyway. I'm an objective outsider, with no particular emotional investment in the question, and it seems quite clear to me that the critics have many valid points. Check out the XENU documents, for example. Nutso stuff.

I would object equally to a paragraph in an essay on Christianity that suggested that everyone opposed to Christianity is either a heretic, uninformed, biased, etc.

Court records make great credible sources. I've cleaned the text up a bit and removed the most blatant pro-CoS bias, and added some factual material about their history (Though I would personally prefer to be much harder on them).

One wonders why you would prefer this. Have they done something to you?

Yes, they've done something to all of us: they are solely responsible for shutting down the "penet" anonymous Usenet posting service, and have done much to further the cause of internet censorship. They've also caused a lot of harm (possibly including murder) to many good people, including my friend Keith Henson. They are truly an evil organization, and will stop at nothing to silence critics. That, of course, is a personal opinion not worthy to put in an article here, but I stand by it nonetheless.

One also wonders why you changed the first line " fiction author L. Ron..." to " L. Ron...", while marking your change as a "minor edit" so it wouldn't show up in the recent changes list. At that time, that's exactly what L. Ron was, a science fiction author, which is an interesting bit of background information (though admittedly not necessarily relevant to the religion itself).

Well, I am pleased to see you own up to the nature and the source of your position. If more people were as honest, then more truth would come to the whole picture. Unfortunately, the world is full of people disguising personal hatreds as "impartial analysis."

In my travels, I have quite literally lived and conversed with Moonies, Hare Krishna, Buddhists, Pentacostals, Scientologists, astrologers, numerololgists, followers of the I Ching, a palmist, World Messaianists, Mormons (one of my daughters was baptised in that faith), Baptists, Born-agains, Catholics, Jews, Moslems, Tarot readers, General Semanticists, Theosophists, Wiccans, Jehovah's Witnesses (in cities 400 mi. distant from each other, some of the kindest and most generous neighbors I ever had), Seventh Day Adventists and others. As to each of the above I have found the decided majority of adherents to each given school of thought to be good people, concerned about their community and their world, and trying to do and be the best they could for themselves and others.

Here is what I learned: Return good for good. Return good for evil. Judge none. Be no man's enemy. Such evil as you seek to punish will taint you. Life is too short to hate.

I would never disagree. I have nothing against any rank-and-file Scientologist; they are victims of the organization, not perpetrators. It is the organization itself that I consider a criminal conspiracy. I happen to think that it is a moral duty to point out evil and work to eliminate it. If you call that "hate", well then we'll just have to disagree about that.

I'm quite touched with your wholehearted attempt to save humanity from the evil of this world. However, you seem to have never experienced the full power of scientology to destroy your family.

No, WojPob, I have not. And neither, I believe you would find, have most of the people who write and talk about it.

LDC - The church of JC of LDS was also officially regarded as a criminal conspiracy by the US gov't in early days, and the army was dispatched to do away with it. In a hundred years, we will see whether the C of S more closely paralled the Mafia or the Mormons (I do so love a good alliteration). One things puzzles me, however. In a criminal conspiracy, one will uniformly find the members (of the conspiracy) seeking to realize a personal benefit from the fruits of the crime - hopefully fruit which justifies the scope of the crime and effort undertaken to plan and commit it. Arguably, Hubbard (dead at the moment) was the primary criminal master mind. Who would that be now, and how are they benefitting from it?

Hell, let's throw some nitro-glycerine and liquid-ox on the fire, shall we? I agree with you that the comparison to Mormonism is apropriate, but you probably won't like why. I'm a native Utahn and former Mormon, and I'll tell you, that curch is very much like a criminal conspriacy. The Morman church literally owns that state. Where else in the US would a major city sell a block of downtown main street to a church to rip up and make a park out of it? We're talking right in the heart of the stinking city. Public transit is shut down on Sundays, understandable if there's a lack of demand. They fire the system up, however, if the Church is having a conference in town that week. The Morman Church has also persecuted internet sites that were critical of it, IIRC for copyright violation. You also have the fact that the CoJCoLDS listed as a fortune 500 company. They don't have classes like the scientologists, but you can't get a temple recommend if you don't pay tith (note: temple recommends are like Mormon membership plus, i.e. the only way to be "sealed" to your spouse for all eternity, you need to get a temple marriage, etc).
But then I dislike organized religion in general. Every time someone says, "trust me," my instinct is to find out why that person would think I shouldn't trust them/their views. Don't get me wrong, the vast majority of the people I know are Mormans (including my parents), I've found them to be about average as far as people go. My beef is with churches as organizations, especially when they ask for money or demand sacrifices to them (as opposed to for the community, one's family, et al.).--BlackGriffen

I just noticed this above, and had not responded to it:

"One also wonders why you changed the first line " fiction author L. Ron..." to " L. Ron...", while marking your change as a "minor edit" so it wouldn't show up in the recent changes list. At that time, that's exactly what L. Ron was, a science fiction author, which is an interesting bit of background information (though admittedly not necessarily relevant to the religion itself)."

I considered the change a minor edit. My understanding, from a couple of Hubbard biographies (one unauthorized) is that science fiction was less than half of his writing (see the Dianetics entry). I personally first read anything by the man in like '67 or so, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek little novel called "Buckskin Brigades" if I recall. At the time I thought of him as a minor sort of Zane Gray. So to call him a science fiction writer would probably be like introducing Thomas Jefferson as a farmer. Sure, he was one - but that was not his chief, or even secondary avocation. Then, too, each time I have seen him introduced that way, it has been the lead-in to a Scientology hit piece. So, I thot why not drop it?

BTW - I did not notice who put in the Fishman thing. When I looked him up a minute ago, this was the #1 item on the hit list: / Jehovah's site . I thot at first - nah, different guy. A couple of paragraphs in, it's like - oh. Same guy.

Yeah, Fishman's a flake, which I why I didn't quote him or offer him as an example of anything. I only mentioned the court case to verify the source of the OT documents.

The comparison with Mormons is interesting but flawed. The Mormons were primarily persecuted because of the practice of bigamy, which they eventually gave up (at least officially) in order to better get along with the neighbors. I personally think that laws against consensual polygamy are stupid and opressive, and that they had every right to fight back. But once they abandoned that practice, their critics fell back to saying nasty things about them instead of having them jailed, and the Mormons let them. The CoS on the other hand unleashes the might of its legal team against those who merely /speak/ against them (including, admittedly, some who speak falsely). I believe quite strongly that the only legitimate response to speech--even false speech--is more speech, and if the CoS had only done that I would consider them harmless crackpots like Moonies or Krishnas. But when you use the force of government to supress your critics, you are in effect taking up arms to supress /their/ ideas, and it is /you/ who bears responsibility for escalating the conflict beyond words. which I presume you would deny access to courts for things like libel, slander, copyright infringements. Well, that's your opinion and you're entitled to it...

So, for kicks, I went to some of the source material (historical documents written contemporaneously with the events) on the Mormon expulsion from Illinois, the Missouri Extermination Order by Governor Boggs, etc.

In brief - the Mormons did not sit still for utterances against them, but fired back in their own newspapers, in the absence of legal protection agains libel and slander on the American frontier in those days. The accusations against them at the time appear mostly to have been petit larceny, sharp business practice, unsightly buildings, over-agressive acquisition of land, and open derision of others' beliefs. I was unable, in about four hours of looking, to find anything on polygamy in connection with these events, though it was key in holding up the application for statehood by Utah, and the subject of treaty talks between the Mormon forces and the U.S. Army around that time.

Interestingly, the Mormons as the local militia went under arms on at least two occasions under a duly constituted non-mormon general to quell mob violence against them - ie they could be seen to "...use the force of government to suppress (their) critics..."

Absent the context of Wild West shooting and violence, it would appear the parallel between their and the Scientologists' response to threat is fairly apropos.

I was reading from my The Essential Koran (Thomas Cleary - 1993, selected readings in which its easier to find some quotes I like) last night. Some of my earlier passion for defending those of faith and good will was rekindled. I think I will be a thorn in everyone's side on this and related issues, as the self-appointed defender of faith. All faith.

I think it will be best if we conscientiously avoid baiting anyone of any faith in these pages. So, as it seems that the mention of specific words from the purportedly quoted "Operating Thetan" materials in the main article is, to Scientologists, like waving a red flag in front of a bull while stinging it with a cattle prod, I replaced it with a non-quote reference to the same material.

You don't seem to have replaced any quote in particular, merely the name of the evil galactic overlord with his title. Out of curiosity, why is that an important difference?

If you've been around the net on this subject, you already know the answer to that question. Scientologists did not start getting freaked about supposed leaks of this "Operating Thetan" material unless certain specific terms were used. If you leave out the actual names and terms, they don't seem to mind.

I have this old book (1952, I think) called Scientology, a History of Man that has almost all the same stuff in it (and more - talk about a science fiction scenario!) as the "Operating Thetan" materials on the web, but without specific names and certain terms. If they are willing to sell this book to the public and put it in libraries, as I have seen, then it's not the general subject matter of the materials they don't want bandied about. It's things like names and exact events - I think. So - in deference to tender feelings, I deleted the name. Anyone is free to correct me if this understanding is wrong, but that's why I did it.

Question from a non-native speaker: Does 'criticize' mean that you speak bad about something or that you evaluate something? The existence of :Film critics points to the latter. --Yooden

Yooden, both are legitimate AND common usages in English. In fact, I'd guess that in popular speech 'criticize' more commonly means 'speak bad about' and that in university speech it is more likely to mean 'evaluate.'--MichaelTinkler

OK, that sounds familiar. Hereabouts though, 'criticize' (well, the translation) is certainly of a better quality than 'speak bad about' (as I so eloquently called it) aka 'bitch'. It involves reasoning and evidence. Thus, any criticism is inherently a Good Thing, as anyone on Wikipedia should acknowledge.

There seems to ba a mixup of 'Scientology == CoS' and 'Scientology != CoS'. Could someone clear this up? --Yooden

I was given to understand that the policy of "fair game" was not officially revoked, rather that Hubbard ordered his followers to refrain from using that term. Has the policy officially been revoked by the CoS? -D

The current church practice is pointed to; that of requiring members who have significant turmoil in their lives stemming from the antagonisms of family and friends to cease participation in church services and not resume them until differences with those close to them have been ironed out.

How does the writer of this sentence know this to be the case? If it's just a policy proclamatation, what value is that? At the risk of an inflammatory analogy, Catholic Church policy was firmly against buggering orphans under their care, but it sure happened a lot, and the church hierachy of the time preferred to pretend it wasn't happening rather than deal with the problem. --Robert Merkel