Once upon a time, in the early 1950’s to be more precise, a man named L. Ron Hubbard woke up after a night of intense acid-induced dreams. Through the fog of sleep and remembered cacophony of colour, an idea the shape of a light-bulb/dollar-sign materialised. As a science-fiction writer, Mr Hubbard was no stranger to fabricating alternate realities that were a combination of embellished truth, warped physics and general bullsh*t. So, he set about writing a book using his light-bulb/dollar-sign shaped idea, which went on to become a 1950’s bestseller, because people are mostly stupid and are also dying to believe in something.
The book was called “Dianetics” and within its almost 700 pages was the secret to self-improvement… to living a new and better life through a changed mind set; just like every other self-help book that has been written. Ever. Initially, the “field” of Dianetics was about self-improvement, but then it became something larger, far more sinister and profitable. More and more people subscribed to the lifestyle, which was a good thing if it was intended simply to improve the way you lived instead of, like some flesh-eating virus, melting the region of your brain dedicated to logic and rational thought.
But, Mr L. Ron Hubbard wasn’t happy with being a bestselling author. He believed his idea had more traction than simply convincing a few housewives to think positively about being married to layabout apes. He believed his idea’s potential was stratospheric and that it could make him ridiculously rich and ridiculously powerful *insert megalomaniacal laugh*. Many years thereafter, Hubbard was famously overheard uttering the following words…
“If you want to get rich, just create a religion.” – L. Ron Hubbard
Image Credit: Los Angeles Times photographic archive, UCLA Library
So he was right. In 1953, the Church of Scientology was officially established in Camden, New Jersey and from there it spread like a pestilence. The worst epidemic the world has seen since the Black Plague and reality television.
The Best Things in Life Aren’t Free
Jesus Christ wasn’t a millionaire. His parents couldn’t even afford a bed in a state hospital and his old man probably blew his birthday gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh on hookers. Not that I blame the guy… his wife was a virgin after all.
Buddha is famous for living on the bare essentials and even got fat to scare away all the beautiful young girls who were throwing themselves at him. I’m not sure about the Prophet Mohammed, but I wouldn’t trust anyone who’s content to spend eternity with 10,000 virgins. Can you imagine how boring the conversation would be?
The point is, and I shall endeavour to expound upon this later, is that religion shouldn’t be about making someone rich. Religion should be spiritual, not commercial. Today, however, L. Ron Hubbard is obnoxiously wealthy and is influencing people in a way that scaring the shit out of Katy Holmes. He’s also dead, but the legacy continues. So, what started off a self-help system has today become a massive religion that doesn’t seem to make any damn sense at all…
What Is Scientology?
Scientology is a belief framework and a way of life. I wasn’t kidding when I said that Mr Hubbard (not related to “Mother” of cupboard fame) was a science fiction writer. And this is evident in the core teachings of scientology, which were, prior to being leaked by a defector of the religion, not openly available to the public and beginner subscribers.
Scientology teaches us that we are immortal beings who have forgotten our true nature. Also there’s something about a malevolent alien called Xenu who, 75 million years ago (dinosaurs were still happily frolicking about the planet), sent billions of people to the Earth. Xenu was an evil dictator and, in true Kim Jong-Un style, condemned these people to death via hydrogen bombs and volcanoes here on planet “Teegeeack” AKA Earth.
The souls of these murdered masses have remained on our planet and are, according to scientology scriptures, responsible for causing modern people spiritual harm. The story of what happened is called the Space Opera and if THAT’S not science fiction, I don’t know what is! What’s unbelievable about scientology is that so many people have bought into it. I knew there were hoards of stupid people on the planet, but this many?
Take Us To Your Banker
More than the ridiculous lore behind scientology, there is a way of life supported by certain practices. There are levels of teachings and modules that you need to learn and master. You also need to learn to free your sub-conscious of all past emotional and physical hurts and this is done in a kind of counselling or spiritual rehabilitation called “auditing.”
Just like school, you have to pay to progress from one grade to the next. There are free online courses for beginners, but if you really want to get anywhere, you have to start shelling out the Benjamin Franklins. These payments are cheekily termed “fixed donations” – as if the money you pay is going towards feeding starving orphans. If you become obsessed with scientology, you’d better be the CEO of a company or an A-list celebrity, because it’s going to cost you dearly to infiltrate the upper echelons of this cult, I mean, religion.
The reported cost of reachng the very highest level in scientology lies in the region of $100,000 and $130,000. This may be all right for someone who earns a staggering amount of money, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, but I’d sooner sell my kidneys on the black market than pay THAT amount of money to belong to a religion. On principle alone.
What this all means is that one’s involvement in scientology is governed by one’s paycheck rather than one’s physical, psychological and mental dedication. Scientology may purport to have noble goals, just like any other religion I suppose. But the clear difference is the fact that it seeks to hide its “knowledge” from everyone UNLESS you pay your buy-in fee. This is at stark contrast to the most important philosophies underlying science, the knowledge yielded by which is free and available to all.
Scientology isn’t a religion. It’s a business, amongst other nefarious things…
Operation Snow White
In the 1970’s, the Church of Scientology took it upon itself to eliminate any unsavoury evidence that pointed towards its higher-up members’ involvement in criminal activity. This included L. Ron Hubbard. It did this by illegally infiltrating a number of private organisations and government agencies – including the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – in more than 30 countries.
This enormous effort was termed “Operation Snow White” by the Church of Scientology itself and is purportedly the largest infiltration of the United States government to have ever taken place. There were as many as 5,000 undercover agents sneaking around hallways at night, riffling through classified files, tapping telephone lines and stealing and destroying documentary evidence of certain individuals’ iniquitous activities.
When this all went to trial, Mr Hubbard’s wife and second-in-command – Mary Sue Hubbard – pleaded guilty to charges that included burglary of government property and the obstruction of justice. Another 10 upper echelon scientology executives were convicted of an impressive spectrum of crimes.
Top 10 Legitimate Reasons Scientology Should Hitch a Ride on the Porcelain Express:
1. Scientology was fabricated by a science fiction writer. I mean, hello?
2. You have to pay dollar bills to become more devout. If you don’t have enough money, you are doomed to remain in the lower levels. It doesn’t matter how committed or devoted you are to your creed. If you’re poor, you’ll never get anywhere, which is kind of like real life, but religion shouldn’t be that way.
3. The “Space Opera” is the single most ridiculous theory I’ve ever heard explaining how humankind came to be. Forget everything rigorous science has to say. Bring on the evil aliens and thetans! Eat the placenta!
4. Scientology only reveals certain teachings to people who have spent tens of thousands of dollars. Only once you breached the loftier echelons of the cult, can you learn about the Space Opera and how everything came to be – or something to that effect. We, the public, aren’t actually supposed to know about Xenu. This information was leaked by defector Steven Fishman, after which it spread like hilarious wildfire across the Internet. I love the Internet.
5. Scientology is legally recognised as a religion in a many countries, including Australia, South Africa, the United States, Sweden, Italy and New Zealand. This means that it’s TAX-EXEMPT. That’s right: janitors and street-sweepers get taxed. Scientology “churches” do not.
6. Scientology is dangerous. If you defect from the religion and threaten to spill the beans, or even if you are a critic of it (oops) you could face severe consequences. Some of these include serious harassment, getting sued, physical and psychological abuse and character assassination. I take solace in the fact that there’s no amount of character assassination they could do to me that tequila doesn’t already on a good night out.
7. It was invented in less than 60 years ago. At least Christians have dedicated thousands of years to building culture, society, parables and doctrines. At least Christianity has history. Scientology is the new kid on the block and yet people are doggedly committing themselves to it as though it were something REAL.
8. Members in the upper echelons of scientology are, allegedly, routinely defrauded and their dirty secrets swept under the proverbial rug. *coughoperationsnowwhitecough*
9. Scientology believes that the field of psychiatry is destructive and abusive and must be scrapped. This may be true in certain circumstances, but I’d hate to know what a couple of people I have met in my life would become without their daily dose of lithium.
10. Scientology markets its teachings and doctrines as fact and sound science. It nurtures ignorance and idiocy and treats natural inquiry as iniquity: as something to be punished.
Suitably horrified? There’s just one more thing…
Operation Freak-Out! Da da da-da da
Great… now I have that song in my head.
Operation Freak-out was a clandestine plan of the Church of Scientology to silence one of its more avid and eloquently spoken critics, Paulette Cooper. This author and journalist published a rather famous book in 1971 titled “The Scandal of Scientology” – I don’t suppose I need to tell you what it was about. Operation Freak-out was intended to either have Ms Cooper imprisoned or escorted in a straight jacket to a mental asylum!
It was upon reading this latter point that I ceased to be entertained by the ridiculous notion of scientology and actually began to find it quite terrifying and insidious. For a “modern” religion, scientology would seem to promote an extremely backward and dangerous way of thinking. Opposition, challenge and questioning are extremely healthy forces that drive democracy and the enquiring mind. They force us to examine what many take for granted and to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the world, both physically and spiritually. By gagging those who question it, this “religion” is resorting to bullying tactics to silence those who simply aren’t convinced. I’d like to think that they could handle criticism with a little more grace than going all “Lord of the Flies” on yo ass.
How was Operation Freak-out exposed? In 1977, the FBI uncovered documentary evidence of the plan whilst performing an investigation of the Church. This came on the tail of an all-out campaign of harassment against Paulette Cooper. Luckily they were caught in time and an out-of-court settlement was reached… hopefully involving a LOT of money.
Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message
Tom Cruise is obnoxiously wealthy and all the credit in the world to him for it. He’s a fantastic actor, he can run really fast and he looks good without a shirt on, so he’s earned his slice of pie (albeit the size of a small galaxy). Tom Cruise also resides in the top echelons of the scientology hierarchy and this isn’t because he has dedicated decades of his life to planning sermons, providing wayward sheep with guidance, denying himself most worldly pleasures, inappropriately fondling choirboys and whatever else it takes to become a priest nowadays. It’s because he paid for it.
Scientology, or at least the founding principles laid out in the 1950’s bestseller Dianetics, has some truly winning concepts. If applied in the right manner, it’s easy to see how this “religion” can be a very good thing and a very good influence. However, these positives stand stark against the various approaches scientology takes in managing its members and in dealing with its opposition. Also, let’s not forget about the Space Opera.
The only thing that science and scientology share is a similar etymology (word origin) and that is -scio meaning “knowledge”. But where science is the rational pursuit of knowledge, scientology is another creature altogether and apparently a very dangerous one at that.