Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Times They Are A Changing

There were two articles about the Church of Scientology in the Times today; here and here.

They focus on CoS's bid for respectability through the work of its various affiliate groups, and an apparent attempt to avoid paying taxes in Britain following a redefinition of the word religion across the EU (though a posted comment seemed to suggest that the change in religious status of the church would still not lead to charitable status). An earlier article on their tax avoidance (and possible evasion) habits is here.

A quote from the Times tax break article:

Ms Yingling said: “The biggest discrimination is that you are looked at as a second-class citizen because of the failure to recognise Scientology as a charity. They can call you names like ‘nefarious cult’, which you wouldn’t do to the Church of England.”

Ms Yingling may have got that the wrong way round, I feel. It doesn't have charitable status in part because it is considered by many to be a nefarious cult. Oh and I admire the use of "failure to recognise Scientology as a charity". It is not that Scientology has failed to convince, but that the authorities have failed to recognise.

Much of the "good work" that Scientology does is through its various affiliate groups and that gives them a bit of a no-win situation. If they do not announce the various affiliation then they are accused of being underhanded, sly and devious. If they do announce it then they are accused of using the groups to unjustly raise the profile and respectability of Scientology and Dianetics. Compare, for instance, the almost tongue-in-cheek Youth for Human Rights International (stealth Scientology) versus the dayglo decals and pamphleteering of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers. The former host award ceremonies to honour individuals who may very well have issues with the Church of Scientology. The latter turn up at high profile disaster areas such as at the time of the 9/11 attacks, the 7/7 bombings or recently the Virginia shootings[1]. Much of their work at such sites is involved with ensuring victims do not receive psychiatric help. This site levels criticism of varying quality at the organisation, should you be interested.

Concurrently, the grapevine has it that David Miscavige is all set to announce on the fourth of July that the name of L Ron Hubbard is to be excised from all public facing documentation. They have, it would seem, realised that L Ron Hubbard is a bit of a liability when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of the people around them. In the past when the Church has broken the law it has always been able to put the blame onto individuals, Operation Snow White being the prime example. It's worth mentioning of course that LRH was considered a non-indicted co-conspirator in that instance. It seems that this misdirection of blame must take a step further, with Scientology tech just "being" without necessarily having to be ascribed to an individual. It is as though having gone around exposing the crimes of their critics, it has finally dawned on them that the logic swings both ways, so if Hubbard himself is not without crime, where does that leave the sacred and copyrighted texts of the Church.

These are, I must stress, just rumours at present, but the implication of destroying all existing editions of Hubbard's work and replacing them with re-edited versions are massive. Not least is the fact that CoS has spent a small fortune having Hubbard's canon etched onto metal plates and buried in the desert for future space aliens to benefit from should the OT VIII's stand by while humanity blows itself up.

Added to that is the overnight obsolescence of every Scientologist's library on the planet. Suddenly they are going to have a range of very expensive books to order in. We've seen in the past that floating OTs have often found the launchpad they've needed to leave Scientology in the flagrant money-making acts of the Church. Tory Christman was sold on freedom from the Church as soon as she was unsold on the idea of shelling out, as an OT VII, on more tech than she had been told would be required.

Lastly, the re-edit of the books may yet lead to more trouble from an ideological point of view. Hubbard is supposed to be source, but if Miscavige is tempted to dicky around with the tech too much, how will it survive an ensuing compare and contrast exercise? Hard-core scientologists will bow to the discouragement of such exercises in critical thinking, just as they will blindly agree to replace their dead books. Again it will be the floating scientologists whose doubts will be amplified by yet more inconsistency in the tech.

[1]Speaking of which, Travolta no doubt thought the timing of his "Psych drugs turn people into murderers" would key in perfectly with the release of the toxicology reports on Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho. Surely with news of his psych drug use to back up Travolta's claims it would be a real slap in the face for psychiatry? Only, of course, they didn't find any psychiatric drugs in Cho's bloodstream, undermining Travolta's j'accuse. Ironically it would seem that not enough psychiatric help was what led to the massacre. Cho was a psychiatric outpatient.

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