Is Scientology the new cult? It might seem I’m a bit behind the times with this, but in reality I’m not.
Hundreds of years ago (and still today it may seem), if the ruler of a country closed itself off to the catholic church, refused to abide by their rulings and teachings, they could fear abandonment by other countries that stood with the church. This also made them a target for invasion. Even more, if a country refused Christianity, especially Catholicism, it was rewarded with crusades, considered just war. Those crusades hid behind a facade of religion, but their underpinnings were to claim land and fortune in “heathen” areas, along with general fear of a Byzantine civilization they did not understand.
We can see how Scientology takes those basic principles from the history books to propel itself forward. Royalty is replaced with celebrity. Tithing is replaced with contributing. The old catholic idea that you could “buy your way into heaven” is being subliminally touted by Scientology.
Though Scientology was started in the 50’s, it wasn’t well-known until the past two decades. Personally I contribute most of that to the popularity and advancement of the internet. Starting a religion in California would only be visible to other Californians. However, starting one, purposely seeking out Hollywood celebrities, then having the tabloids that follow those celebrities discover your new religion could be seen as subliminal advertising.
Here you have unpaid “followers” groveling at the churches feet, bank accounts open, doing all they can to be let into the new elitist church. These celebrities, and any other followers whose bank accounts prove sufficient for use, could be seen as lost children, begging for a guiding hand from a father figure. Scientology gives them that. For the rest of the world’s population, we didn’t notice what was going on, it didn’t involve us, why should we care if some celebrities want to go bankrupt for their salvation?
Now it seems Scientology is everywhere. They have massive land holdings throughout the world, built up with compounds that overshadow smaller cults like the Fundamental Latter Day Saints (FLDS). If you’re not sure who that is, it’s the original version of Mormonism They hold to the original beliefs, where modern Mormons, while still privately practicing some of the more controversial rituals, have denounced the doctrines of plural marriage (at least 3 wives per man), placement marriage (a young woman of marriageable age- when she first gets her period- is placed with a man, typically much much much older, as the prophet of their group has been told to do by god), and home schooling. Without having stripped themselves of those fundamentalist practices the mormon church would not seem as harmless as it does now. Also, Utah would not be a state.
Mormons put out ad campaigns to show they’re “just like us”, likely because of Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Since anyone outside of the southwest United States is possibly only vaguely aware of what a Mormon is or does, these ad’s are there to calm you down, try to reassure you it’s not a cult. If you Google “Mormon” you get mostly positive links to their church, their ideals, but the closest you’ll come to facts on the first page results is their Wikipedia page.
Mormonism has tried to show they’re friendly, mainstream, and nothing to fear. No one needs worry about the “magical underwear” they wear that they believe protects them from harm. Or the wedding ceremonies that are open to only baptised members of the church. Recounted tales abound of bodies being anointed by oils from their Elders into initiation, and if you dare ask about their “sacred” ceremonies you will get either a wall of silence or be insulted for trying to gain information on things they hold sacred. You rarely, if at all, hear anymore about the bunkers of food they store for when the end of the world comes. Only if you’ve really looked will you see that they have so many children, and for one purpose. You might be thinking more kids equals more Mormons, and what that is true, there is a deeper purpose. More kids means that your place in heaven will be larger. Kids are like money for heaven, the more you have, the more space you get. Mormons believe you will get anything from maybe a small parcel of land, and island, or if you’ve procreated enough, your own planet. You can see from that why the fundamentalists continue, 5 wives can mean 50 children if you’re lucky, maybe more.
I won’t bother going into the base of their beliefs, but will shorten it to say they believe a man named Joseph Smith looked into a hat at some gold plates, and words from god were on them. Laugh all you want, but unless you have also decided that the stories of Noah’s Ark and the Ten Commandments are ludicrous, you’re in the same boat of tall tales.
Back to the issue at hand.
In the times before Scientology reached the level of recognition it has now, that worry of cult status was assigned to the Mormons. Rightly so, they have compounds that they keep people in, violate state and federal laws with their teachings and practices, and numerous stories have come out about people who were able to escape the cults clutches. Mormons are having a bit of luck in this era. As they don’t have many famous members outside of Mitt Romney, national news media rarely pays them any attention. John Travolta and Tom Cruise throwing millions into Scientology bank accounts, now that’s bound to get someones attention. Letting your child suffer and die because of Scientology teachings does too. Much later after his son’s death the Travolta family did admit the boy had autism, as Scientology is firmly against psychiatric treatment, even attempting to outlaw it. Keeping a well-known actress locked up away from the world as much as possible is terrifying to western society, especially with raging fears of Muslim beliefs and reports of treatment of women in the middle east.
Scientology has done something the other cults have failed to achieve, even some recognized churches. While they still are considered a cult by popular society, they are a very very wealthy one. They have compounds that would rival palaces. Especially the Celebrity Center, which, as you can guess from the title, is in Hollywood, and only open to the churches celebrity members. Stories of people escaping from Scientology are few and far between. There have been rumors of them employing a sort of brute squad to monitor and hush any defectors. This brute squad could also be an assassination team, used on members such as Lisa McPherson.
Their ties to Hollywood have opened them to areas that even the catholic church’s PR group can’t access, and they can spin a story better than any other religion. If they were to rewrite the bible, I would not be surprised to see more “common” people ready to drink their kool-aid. As a typical cult, they begin indoctrination as soon as possible, with babies being featured in PR campaigns, and children as young as six being asked to sign contracts for a billion years to dedicate themselves to the church. There are rumors of their compounds having jails, where attempted defectors and church criminals are kept.
Defectors who manage to escape and approach the press speak of mental, physical, and verbal abuses from all levels of the church, even by their current leader David Miscavige.
Joining the church of Scientology, and properly researching it can prove difficult. In typical cult form they are private about their teachings and practices, and use laws normally used by corporations to protect their symbols, publications, and sermons under copyright and trademark laws. Cynthia Kisser, previously of the Cult Awareness Network (which has since been taken over by the church of Scientology) reported to Time magazine in 1991 “Scientology is quite likely the most ruthless, the most classically terroristic, the most litigious and the most lucrative cult the country has ever seen. No cult extracts more money from its members.” When I originally wrote this piece I was able to find the article on the Time website, I cannot find it at this time, but it does appear some of what was written has been adapted to a book. This kind of removal or burying of facts (and people) is common by Scientology.
Anything posted about them in news print or articles online receive harsh attacks to the writers, publishers, and companies that dare try to tarnish the Scientology image. Despite first amendment and freedom of the press rights, Scientology uses its high paid lawyers to keep “company secrets” under wraps. It seems that their “attack the attacker” policy is working. This may be why so little is known about the truth behind Scientology public facade, so when we all got a good peek at a famous scientology member speaking about his beliefs, our fears of their cult brain washing were confirmed. His wife leaving him, the fear that the tabloids report she constantly has, and the fact that their daughter Suri is now six (typical age for indoctrinization into scientology), all point a wavering finger at the cults abuses.
Whats next for Scientology? Who knows. The celebrities that avowed themselves to them are getting older, and they may not find younger celebrities as willing to join, as willing to give up their hard earned cash for a place at the table. Those searching the best seller list may find Scientology books on there, as their leader David Miscavige encourages the group to Buy massive quantities of its own books from retail stores to propel the titles onto best-seller lists. We do know their bank accounts will continue to grow. They offer various types of sessions for counseling, to be cleared of spiritual transgressions, and something they call “auditing” which is really their own brand of psychotherapy. Notes into the lives of L. Ron Hubbard and David Miscavige show not spiritual men, but men hungry for money and power.
While this author does not support any religion or cult mentioned here, I do support people’s freedom, and as these organizations become more mainstream and accepted, I foresee a faltering in western society as it empties its pockets and minds in hope of false salvation.