Scientology: Religion or Cult?

Jodi - posted on 11/18/2009 ( 28 moms have responded )

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In Australia, Scientology is currently a hot topic of debate in Parliament. It was declared a religion through our High Court in 1983, but there are many now questioning whether it should, in fact, be considered a church (in Australia, an organisation considered a church receives many tax benefits). There are now calls for a Parliamentary enquiry.



Scientologists are crying violation of free speech and religious freedom.



So where do you draw the line between what is a church of religion and what is a cult?





Here is one article on the issue (but there are many of them at the moment):

http://www.news.com.au/story/0,27574,26365915-421,00.html



Senator Nick Xenophon says Scientology is 'a criminal organisation'

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd says he has concerns about the Church of Scientology but wants to see what material independent senator Nick Xenophon has before committing to a parliamentary inquiry.



Senator Xenophon yesterday accused the Church of Scientology of being a criminal organisation, the Herald Sun reports



The South Australian parliamentarian said he had been contacted by a number of former Scientologists, after he questioned the organisation's tax exempt status in a recent television interview.



"They have provided long and detailed letters to me about the workings of this organisation," he told the Senate.



"These people rightly see themselves as victims of Scientology."



Senator Xenophon said their correspondence implicated the organisation in a range of crimes, including forced imprisonment, coerced abortions, embezzlement of church funds, physical violence, intimidation and blackmail.



"I am deeply concerned about this organisation and the devastating impact it can have on its followers," he said.



Asked about the Senator's claims, Mr Rudd described them as "grave allegations".



"Many people in Australia have real concerns about Scientology," Mr Rudd said.



"I share some of those concerns. Let us proceed carefully and look carefully at the material he has provided before we make a decision on further parliamentary action."



Asked about the Church of Scientology's tax exempt status, Mr Rudd said he was advised the High Court had dealt with the matter back in the 1980s.



"I am so advised, but I stand to be corrected," he said.



"Therefore the true question is the actual nature of the operations that involve Scientology now.



"I don't want to rush into any judgment on this, other than to say he's (Senator Xenophon) raised concerns and made some serious allegations."



Senator Xenophon said the Church of Scientology had been convicted of fraud in France and was facing similar charges in Belgium.



A number of the organisation's former high-ranking executives in the US had also recently spoken out against its leader, David Miscavige, saying they had seen him assaulting staff and urging others to do the same, he said.



"What we are seeing is a worldwide pattern of abuse and criminality," Senator Xenophon said.



"On the body of evidence, this is not happening by accident, it is happening by design.



"Scientology is not a religious organisation, it is a criminal organisation that hides behind its so-called religious beliefs."



The Church of Scientology issued a statement to the media responding to Senator Xenophon's comments.



"This is an outrageous abuse of Parliamentary privilege from a Senator would not even meet with Church representatives several months ago to discuss his concerns,'' the statement read.



"Senator Xenophon's attempt to marginalise Scientologists by saying that they should not be believed, is fascistic and violates freedom of speech and the right to religious beliefs.''



"Scientology has fought for and upheld religious freedom around the world and is accepted as a religion throughout the world. In a few countries, the Church has been forced to litigate the issue of its religiosity, either affirmatively or in response to outrageous unfounded charges.



"Inevitably, the Church has prevailed in these cases and its religious bona fides have been unequivocally recognised."

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Sarah - posted on 11/19/2009

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Not going to be a popular view here, so apologies!!

Religion, Cult, pretty much the same thing i reckon.

Jenny - posted on 11/19/2009

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I think all organized reliigon is a cult. Having a relationship with your personal god is one thing but once you are held to set a human created rules and regulations, it's just not right. The Mormons for example are expected to tithe 10% of their income. That is why they have such immense politcal power (see Prop 8). Expect a huge force behind Mitt Romney in 2012, they are even softening their stance on gay rights in anticipation (which is not a bad thing but I don't doubt for a second it's politically motivated and kind of weird given the Prop 8 fight).



The thing with Scientology though is it elevates the human to god-like status. It's easy to see why it attracts so many wealthy people and celebrities. Send us money and you too can be immortal!

Sara - posted on 11/19/2009

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The beliefs that scientology is founded on is not crazier to me than thinking that an angel comes down from heaven, gives you a secret decoder ring that helps you translates gold plates you found in Ohio into a new gospel. It's no crazier than thinking a virgin gave birth to the son of God, who then was crucified for our sins and came back to life 3 days later. For scientolgists, it's a spaceship...all that being said, I do think that scientology takes the cake...

JL - posted on 11/19/2009

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Sorry...I am not a fan of "organized religion" it tends to blur the lines between spirituality and fanatacism....which endures the idea religion/cult..hmmm, not much difference sometimes.

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Sarah - posted on 11/21/2009

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From Wikipedia --



Cult pejoratively refers to a group whose beliefs or practices could be considered strange or sinister.[1] The term was originally used to denote a system of ritual practices. The narrower, derogatory sense of the word is a product of the 20th century, especially since the 1980s, and is a result of the anti-cult movement, which uses the term in reference to groups seen as authoritarian, exploitative and possibly dangerous.



The popular, derogatory sense of the term has no currency in academic studies of religions, where "cults" are subsumed under the neutral label of "new religious movement", while academic sociology has partly adopted the popular meaning of the term



Could be considered strange or sinister...yep, I think that refers to ALL religions, if you don't believe in a particular religion, some of their beliefs are definetly strange to you :-) Heck, I'm Catholic and find some parts of Catholism strange!

Johnny - posted on 11/20/2009

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LOL Loureen! My niece is a Jedi. Although she believes it to be a personal pursuit of a spiritual path, and would never consider attending a temple or following a leader. She even put it down as her faith on the last census. The way in which she practices make it seem like more of a philosophy than a religion. But that can be a fine line. I'm sure there are Jedi who follow more of a traditional religious type path attending temples and following leaders.

As for scientology, it's a cult religion. All religions are cults IMO. I completely agree with Jenny's post on the matter. To me, they all have equally crazy theologies that are based in fiction. The Bible, the Quran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, the Rig-Veda, the Buddhist Sutras, etc. are all just nice stories to me. But if I had to be religious I'd definitely join the Mormon's because they do seem to have some of the coolest stuff. Love that underwear.

Charlie - posted on 11/19/2009

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Actually the Jedi nights ( of star wars fame ) are an organised "religion" or otherwise known as Jediism .

Jediism is a non-theistic new religious movement based upon the philosophical and spiritual ideas of the Jedi as depicted in Star Wars media. The real-world Jedi assert the existence of the Force, and advocate adherence to the Jedi code. According to recent censuses in some English-speaking countries, over 500,000 people declared their religion as Jedi, in addition, a few Jedi churches/temples exist around the world.

I have a friend who is dedicated Jedi their beliefs are somewhat similar to Buddhist or Taoism .

Sara - posted on 11/19/2009

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Quoting Jenny:

I think all organized reliigon is a cult. Having a relationship with your personal god is one thing but once you are held to set a human created rules and regulations, it's just not right. The Mormons for example are expected to tithe 10% of their income. That is why they have such immense politcal power (see Prop 8). Expect a huge force behind Mitt Romney in 2012, they are even softening their stance on gay rights in anticipation (which is not a bad thing but I don't doubt for a second it's politically motivated and kind of weird given the Prop 8 fight).

The thing with Scientology though is it elevates the human to god-like statues. It's easy to see why it attracts so many wealthy people and celebrities. Send us money and you too can be immortal!



Great points, Jenny.  I totally agree!

Esther - posted on 11/19/2009

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Quoting Esther:



Quoting Katherine:

Now 'the church' is accepting the possibility of alien life. Love how they 'evolve'.






ALL religions do that. The LDS church no longer claims that black people are evil and that multiple wives are the way to go. Christianity no longer condones slavery. I'd say that's still pretty in line with religions in general. God know (pun intended) that we're all keeping our fingers crossed that some radical islamists will undergo a similar evolution.






Oh yeah, and I'm still holding out hope that Christians will "evolve" on the issue of homosexuality (and I think they will & some have). Does that then make it a cult?

Isobel - posted on 11/19/2009

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Before we get in trouble for bible bashing...it should be mentioned that I believe that the Torah, the Quaran,...all but the kama sutra...are fiction. ;P

Esther - posted on 11/19/2009

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Quoting Katherine:

Now 'the church' is accepting the possibility of alien life. Love how they 'evolve'.



ALL religions do that. The LDS church no longer claims that black people are evil and that multiple wives are the way to go. Christianity no longer condones slavery. I'd say that's still pretty in line with religions in general. God know (pun intended) that we're all keeping our fingers crossed that some radical islamists will undergo a similar evolution.

Esther - posted on 11/19/2009

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Quoting Sara:

And (no offense to anyone) the Book of Mormon...



Yes, I agree Sara. That seems just as far fetched. And how is the bible any less "fictional"? Maybe it's not, but there is no more proof that Jesus came back from the dead or made wine out of water, or walked on water, than there is that aliens have come to snatch our bodies or that God spoke to Joseph Smith and told him to get lots of wives.

Jodi - posted on 11/19/2009

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In my view, it is equivalent to creating a "religion" for the Star Trek or Star Wars fans.....

Jodi - posted on 11/19/2009

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Quoting Loureen:

Its should be a dead giveaway that a FICTION writer made this " religion " up , A FICTION WRITER , i mean c'mon .



That's where I have the issue Loureen.  I cannot see that it can be considered a religion on the basis of something that was totally made up.  But then, there are probably many that would consider the Bible to be an entirely fictional work too.....



 

Charlie - posted on 11/19/2009

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Its should be a dead giveaway that a FICTION writer made this " religion " up , A FICTION WRITER , i mean c'mon .

Katherine - posted on 11/19/2009

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Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices created by science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986), starting in 1952, as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics.[1] Hubbard characterized Scientology as a religion and in 1953 incorporated the Church of Scientology in New Jersey.[2][3]

Scientology teaches that people are immortal spiritual beings who have forgotten their true nature.[4] Its method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counseling known as auditing, in which practitioners aim to consciously re-experience painful or traumatic events in their past in order to free themselves of their limiting effects.[5] Study materials and auditing courses are made available to members in return for specified donations.[6] Scientology is legally recognized as a tax-exempt religion in the United States and some other countries,[7][8][9][10] and the Church of Scientology emphasizes this as proof that it is a bona fide religion.[11] In other countries such as Germany, France and the United Kingdom, Scientology does not have comparable religious status.

A large number of organizations overseeing the application of Scientology have been established,[12] the most notable of these being the Church of Scientology. Scientology sponsors a variety of social service programs.[12][13] These include a set of moral guidelines expressed in a brochure called The Way to Happiness, the Narconon anti-drug program, the Criminon prison rehabilitation program, the Study Tech education methodology, a volunteer organization, and a business management method.[14]

Scientology has been surrounded by controversies since its inception. It has often been described as a cult that financially defrauds and abuses its members, charging exorbitant fees for its spiritual services.[6][15][16] The Church of Scientology has consistently used litigation against such critics, and its aggressiveness in pursuing its foes has been condemned as harassment.[17][18] Further controversy has focused on Scientology's belief that souls ("thetans") reincarnate and have lived on other planets before living on Earth.[19] Former members say that some of Hubbard's writings on this remote extraterrestrial past, included in confidential Upper Levels, are not revealed to practitioners until they have paid thousands of dollars to the Church of Scientology.[20][21] Another controversial belief held by Scientologists is that the practice of psychiatry is destructive and abusive and must be abolished.[22][23]


ENOUGH SAID. Absolutely a cult, and I too am not for organized religion, or catholicism for that matter. Now 'the church' is accepting the possibility of alien life. Love how they 'evolve'.

Esther - posted on 11/19/2009

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I think Scientology is absolutely crazy but I'm going to have to go with religion. As insane as it may be to me, most religions have some pretty insane aspects to them. Like virgin births & magic underwear. I guess aliens snatching bodies isn't that much weirder than that.

Lindsay - posted on 11/19/2009

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I honestly don't know enough about Scientology to have an informed opinion on it. Though, I strongly feel that you should NEVER feel obligated to pay for a religion. If you freely choose to give to your church of choice, that is one thing but to be expected is what would raise my eyeborws more than anything else!

[deleted account]

When I was in college, I boarded with a lady who was a Scientoligist. She had some strange ideas and was almost constantly broke because most of her paycheque would go to the 'church'. She was a retired school teacher who took in 3 boarders each year and tutored on the side so she could afford to be a scientoligist. I didn't think it was right for a church to demand so much of it's members.

Whether something is a cult or religious organization depends on which side of the fence you are standing on. Once upon a time Christianity was considered a cult.......

Sara - posted on 11/19/2009

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Yeah, but it would be remiss not to mention since it was brought up that the Catholic Church and the Vatican had knowledge that some priests were molesting children and covered it up. They should be held accountable for that...sorry, off topic i know...

Isobel - posted on 11/19/2009

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yup...I think all organized religions are cults...sorry.

I guess the difference is though, that some cults are relatively benign while others are deadly. IF these allegations are true, then the individuals involved should be tried and sentenced, not the "cult", "religion" itself.

Could you imagine if the world decided that Catholicism was a cult that condoned child molestation?...cause there is an equal validity to that claim as there is to that of the scientologists.

I apologize in advance to any Catholics out there. I do not believe that it's a cult that believes in child molestation...I believe that priests who are found guilty of molestation SHOULD be tried on their own (and that it should be the same for Scientology)..not the church as a whole....that's all I'm saying.

Ez - posted on 11/19/2009

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Cult!!!
The idea that you have to pay for faith is abhorrent. I saw an interview of people who have recently left the religion and one couple spent millions to get to the upper tier of the organisation.

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