Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Inside Scientology

How did a struggling science fiction writer without college degree or real-life accomplishments elevate himself to god-like status whose every utterance is considered tech, or divine dogma, by what is reported to be millions of adherents in 165 different countries?  L. Ron Hubbard did it through fiction, fraud, and force.  It is not hyperbole to call LRH, as he is known by Scientologists, a Svengali or to ascribe machiavellianism to the founding of Scientology.

Janet Reitman, in her book Inside Scientology: The Story of America's Most Secretive Religion gives her readers a glimpse behind the curtain. The Oz allusion is quite purposeful as Reitman shows Hubbard to be far from a divine being, but rather a manipulative, egomaniacal, and petty bully who wrote and rewrote his moral code to suit his purposes at every turn.  "Whatever else might be said about Lafayette Ron Hubbard, he undoubtedly had a strange and unique genius.  One of the most effective hucksters of his generation, he understood the common American yearning for self-transformation and exploited it by connecting this impulse to two of the great American passions of the 20th century: science and religion."  Hubbard would borrow heavily from occultist Aleister Crowley's Thelema as he developed his ever-evolving system.  ". . . Scientology, like Thelema, is drawn from the Western esoteric tradition...in which secret knowledge and secret levels of enlightenment are core principles."

There you have it in a nutshell - Scientology is another in a long line of Gnostic belief systems that promise its followers knowledge and power that only they would have.  Hubbard wrote Dianetics, a book purporting to lead to enlightenment, which is still promoted and practiced by Scientology Centers today.  These centers don't, however, promote what Hubbard told his literary agent about the book in 1949.  "The book would be so powerful, Hubbard joked, that a reader would be able to 'rape women without their knowing it, communicate suicide messages to [their] enemies as they sleep. . . evolve the best way of protecting or destroying communism and other handy household hints."

Reitman writes, "Scientology is a faith that is both mainstream and marginal.  Known for its Hollywood members, it is run by a uniformed set of believers who rarely, if ever, appear in the public eye.  It is an insular society - one that exists, to a large degree, as something of a parallel universe to the secular world, with its own nomenclature, ethical code, and, most daunting to those who break its rules, its own rigorously enforced justice system."  She gives example after example of children raised in the church whose education is practically nonexistent outside of Scientology dogma., where threat of what can only be described as slave labor keeps adherents from questioning church leaders, where wives are told to divorce doubting husbands and vice versa, and where pregnancy is frown upon in the Sea Org so abortions are demanded of members. She writes of Lisa McPherson, a scientologist who died under the "care" of Scientology watchers who eschewed medical care after McPherson had a psychotic break, and of an organization which uses its vast bank accounts to harass through the court system any detractors, quite possibly including the US government which, after years of investigations and lawsuits, granted the church tax-exempt status.

One of the scariest parts of Scientology is the way it is wrapped in humanitarian outreach, self-help courses, very effective drug rehab centers, and the pretty faces of Hollywood which hides its destructive elements from the public.  Reitman also describes the great lengths church leaders go to in hiding the more unsavory aspects of the Scientology organization from its celebrity members themselves.

Reitman interviewed former Scientologist Mike Henderson who assessed his time in the church which ended in disillusionment:  "...you're not going to have the ability to use every ounce of your intelligence, and develop psychic powers, and be able to leave your body at will.  And that's what we thought when we got into Scientology. . . I don't know what's in store for me down the road, but I know I won't get there with Scientology," he said, with resignation.  "And after 34 years and $600,000, that is the saddest thing I can say about my life."

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Professing to be wise, they became as fools. . ."  ~ Romans 1:20-22