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Scientology-It's Still Around, BUT... PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by James Randi   

A few years ago a magician friend dropped by the JREF with a very strange gift, a stack of bright red 12” x 8” x 2” books that would have taken up 19” of shelf space in the Isaac Asimov Library – if they’d been of any use other than door-stops. This was a set of Technical Bulletins from the Church of Scientology [COS] running from 1950 to 1979 – almost 7,000 pages of drivel that I now keep in a back cupboard to avoid being embarrassed. It had belonged to my friend’s mother, who bankrupted the family by her devotion to Hubbard and Scientology. However, I’ve found a use for this bound waste paper: when I’m interviewed on the subject, I trot out any volume – each some 5.5 pounds – to show a reporter just how vapid the contents are. I’ll give you an example of my having turned at random to one page in one of books, for a media visitor. To very slightly clarify the picture, I must translate a pair of the exotic terms used here.     “Mest” is an acronym used in Scientology formed from the first letters of the words matter, energy, space, and time, which Hubbard said were the component parts of the physical universe. In the COS, it’s frequently used in place of the term, "the physical universe," and is favored because it’s much more obscure. “Beam power” is something Hubbard said a “thetan” has, and a thetan is, to quote directly from the COS’ Holy Writ:   

The true identity of a person – an intrinsically good, omniscient, non-material core capable of unlimited creativity. In the primordial past, thetans brought the material universe into being largely for their own pleasure.  

Or so we’re told by Hubbard. Just one adjective here – “omniscient” – seriously rings my alarms. Does LRH’s sci-fi background show here, do you think…? Vocabulary out of the way, here’s a selection from the page randomly selected by the reporter, describing in Hubbardspeak what a non-thetan does. It’s word-for-word and mercifully short, just 180 words:    

He is confronted by life, he does not confront it.  

He is usually a bit blind to things as his ability to look AT is turned back on him by his lack of beam power. Thus he gives the appearance of being unaware.  

His emotional feeling is overwhelm.  

His mental state is confusion.  

He starts for B, winds up at –A*.  

Other not too well intentioned people can play tricks on a Qer and Aer. When they don't want to answer or comply they artfully bring about a Q and A.  

Example: Bosco does not want to staple the mimeo issue. He knows his senior Qs and As. So we get this. Senior: Staple that issue with the big stapler. Bosco: I hurt my thumb. Q and A Senior: Have you been to see the Medical Officer? Bosco: He wouldn't look at it. Q and A Senior: I'll go have a word with him. (Departs.) Bosco gets back to reading "Jesse James Rides Again" humming softly to himself. For HIS trouble is, he Qs and As with the Mest Universe!  

*That’s “minus A”    

I’m sure that’s all clear now, right? Very expensive words straight from the fevered encephalon of Ron Hubbard, folks! But just who was this intellectual giant? Lafayette Ronald Hubbard [1911-1986] was born in Nebraska. His life story is told in two very different versions. According to the COS, he was an explorer, a war hero, a scientist, and "the most published and translated author of all time.” Whether that was true or not, most of it, we discovered, was accomplished by the Scientology adherents who – in response to urging from the church leaders, would go out and buy up quantities of Hubbard’s books to fluff up the market and bring him up in the sales ratings, and then distribute them to local libraries – a popular way of inflating an author’s ranking. I first became aware of this when I asked the Fort Lauderdale Public Library why they had so many copies of LRH books on sale at every book-surplus sale they held.    

To critics, Hubbard was essentially a literary hack, a silver-tongued bum, a college drop-out, and a junior Navy officer who had the unique distinction of having opened fire on some Mexican islands during World War II. The 1950 publication of his book Dianetics, gave the public a glimpse of his thoughts on the workings of the human mind, but had no religious message, being a sort of amateur psychiatric view that traumatic events in one's past are the source of all mental – and most physical – problems. Hubbard taught that an auditor trained in the “science” of Dianetics, could neutralize those events, and thus the problems could be “cleared.”    

Well, the COS continues to blather on through their bumbling spokesmen, but there are signs that they’re having to fluff up their membership figures even more than usual, and presently, only Australia, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Kyrgystan, Portugal, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, and the USA, grant Scientology the privileges of a legitimate religion, while other countries, notably Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Greece, and the UK, refuse Scientology that status.  

Ah, but we here in the USA, have to be “politically correct,” especially in an election year…  

Sigh.

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written by Matt_D, January 31, 2012
If you're going to deny Scientology recognition as an official religion because it's an obvious scam, why not deny Mormonism? Why not simply remove recognitions for religions period? The only thing that separate Scientology and Mormonism from, say, Catholicism, is that they were founded recently enough that we still clearly remember what con artists their founders were.

Religious institutions ought not get special status in the US, whether sane people think they're obvious scams or not.
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Speaking of UFO cults...
written by Chaosium, January 31, 2012
I've been trying to get in touch with the JREF (the Asimov-library specifically) as I have quite a number of books and materials in FL relating to UFOs to donate (local in FL and can drop off), I haven't been getting any responses back from my calls and emails.

Is there anyone other than mblanford and djgrothe that could help with this? I'm sure they're handling multiple roles at the JREF, but I can't hold onto these books forever and I'd rather they go to the library than go to more credulous sources.

Thanks much smilies/cheesy.gif

C
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written by Professor Wernstrom, January 31, 2012
The big issue with Scientology is that they have a special super-duper tax exemption that no other religion has. Money spent on Scientology courses is tax deductible while money spent at similar courses with other religions is not deductible. Beyond that, there was significant evidence of misconduct by Scientology in obtaining their tax status.
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written by Bill Thompson, January 31, 2012
Australia accepts Scientology?
I was thinking of moving there.
Now I am not so sure.
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Just a thought: For the same resaons that Scientology is not accepted as a religion in some countries, could Mormonism be subjected to likewise? Could Islam?
written by Bill Thompson, January 31, 2012
Just a thought: For the same resaons that Scientology is not accepted as a religion in some countries, could Mormonism be subjected to likewise? Could Islam?
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Scientology as "special".
written by Chaosium, January 31, 2012
I believe Scientology is focused on because it's not yet "established" and entrenched into American society, therefore it is more surprising that its abuses are tolerated, while other more "acceptable" western faiths are far too far integrated into our current government and dominant culture to easily target.

They're not off the sights, but they're definitely bigger fish. Scientology's also far more devious than even the Christian Right towards private investigators, acts of terrorism towards the FBI, IRS, etc.
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written by yarro, January 31, 2012
Mest is also Dutch for manure.
How appropriate.
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Definition
written by GusGus, January 31, 2012
Don't forget that the definition of "cult" is "the other guy's religion!"
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written by Dean_Fox, January 31, 2012
The situation is more complex in the UK. The church of scientology is not recognised as a charity for tax purposes, nor would it be even if it were recognised as a religion because the UK does not automatically grant charity status to any group claiming to be a religion. Australia is set to follow the UK example by introducing a charities commission to determine if an organisation is a charity or not.

The USA would do well to consider that the US constitution does not prohibit the taxing of the income of religious organisations. All it does is say the state cannot prohibit the practice of religion just because it is a religion.

The USA would be much better off taxing income that is not directly plowed back in to charitable ventures. Charitable ventures being doing things that for others that they want or need without expectation of any form of return for the effort. Others could be loosely defined to include animals. A tweak could include other environmental (green) endevours.

Charity tax exemption should be divorced from religion and should only be granted based on actual charitable acts; which does not include circulation religious promotional material.
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That First Amendment
written by StarTrekLivz, January 31, 2012
The drawback in the USA is the "test" clause in the Constitution and the First Amendment: since there is freedom of religion, there is also no test permissible as to what a "real" religion or church is. It's the course the Joseph Smith and the original Mormons took, the refuge of the "Aryan" Churches (neo-Nazi groups disguised as religion), the "Hutaree" here in my own state of Michigan, and other scoundrels.
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written by Dean_Fox, January 31, 2012
Forget testing what is and is not a religion. Just stop granting carte blanch tex exemptions to religions and only give them tax deductions on actual charitable work.

Rememer tax exemption is public subsidy by any other name. The state has a duty to ensure public subsidies are actually providing a desired benefit.

In reality any set of beliefs can be classed as a religion the church of scientology proves this. Religions need to be prevented but they should all operate by the same rules and here again the church of scientology actually has more exemptions than any other religion. This is madness perpetuated by the myth that the constitution somehow says the state cannot tax a religions income like any other organisation.

At the very least the notion of "fixed donations" needs to be taxed. Anything that is paid in anticipaition of a product or service in return is not chairty and any income derived should be taxed as per relevant business tax laws.
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written by Dean_Fox, January 31, 2012
Religions need to be prevented should read "religions need not be prohibited" - put this down to an atheists freudian slip.
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written by MadScientist, January 31, 2012
@Bill Thompson: Scientology is such a small cult in Australia that hardly anyone has heard of it. As in the USA, to receive recognition as a religion (and rake in those special tax exemptions) you just have to fill out the right forms and meet the specified requirements. At the moment there is some legal action to compel the CoS to pay fines and pay people many years of unpaid salaries. I don't know much about the details, but I hope the government was sensible enough to freeze CoS assets in Australia so they don't just move money out of the country. I'm also hoping the courts rule against the CoS of course. Anyway, the Australians are fighting the CoS scam (though the Fedeal and State governments are too close to other religious cults and in fact give public money to religious groups).
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written by CNS100, January 31, 2012
Two points:

1) I wouldn't denigrate these volumes. They are actually valuable documentation -- factual evidence -- of how crazy and destructive Scientology is.

2) In the U.S. context, the tax break for churches and religions should actually be declared unConstitutional. The tax break requires government to decide what is and what isn't a real religion, in direct violation of the First Amendment prohibition of "any law respecting an establishment of religion..." (Emphasis mine.)
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written by lytrigian, January 31, 2012
The issue with Scientology's status is quite distinct from the question of whether or not it's a valid religion. The issue is that it's in fact a very profitable business which escapes taxation by masquerading as a church. No one who knows how much Scientology courses cost can doubt it. They've also had issues related to payroll and taxes.

As for churches in general, the main advantage written into the tax code for them is that they're presumed to be eligible for tax-exempt status, whereas other non-profits have to apply and be approved for it. I don't see that as a very disturbing situation: churches *are* non-profit as a rule.

Church personnel, incidentally, are NOT tax exempt. Priests and minsters must pay income taxes on their salaries just like the rest of us.
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written by Bill Thompson, January 31, 2012
I saw a youtube video about feral children and Oxana Malaya. The doctor in the video talked about how the human brain can be wired at a young age and any information that is contrary to how someone thinks is regarded as a threat. This explains why Scientologist call people "NAZI". It is their only option left.

"I hear Nazi Germany still has openings." No Nazi Germany does not have openings. Grow up, man.

Just as feral children can never fully recover. I have found few people who were raised in strict religious ritualistic societies who have critical thinking skills even if they denounce their religion.
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written by Bill Thompson, January 31, 2012
I see the Sea Org has not blocked this web site yet.
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written by Bill Thompson, January 31, 2012
How about this clause. Any religion started by just one person for obvious quest for power, money and especially sex, is a cult.

That would mean Scientology, Mormonism and the Branch Dividians are cults.

But that would also mean Islam is a cult too. Gosh durn it!
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written by lytrigian, January 31, 2012
written by Professor Wernstrom, January 31, 2012
The big issue with Scientology is that they have a special super-duper tax exemption that no other religion has.

No time to cite a source on that, I see. "Super-duper" is a legal term with which I am not familiar.


http://joshgerstein.blogspot.com/2008/12/jewish-parents-lose-again-in-15-year.html among many others.
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written by Dean_Fox, February 01, 2012
With respect to the church of scientology, it is the example the demonstrates the need to change the rules on tax exemption for religions.

Scientology is just another half baked belief. The problems aren't with the beliefs they are with the organisation built around them, namely the church of scientology.

Like any other religion scientology is a mixture of common sense ideals, bizarre pseudo-logic, pseudo-moralistic potentially dangerous ideology, good old fashioned snake oil and a hefty dose of mythology.

Like any other religion it is open to interpretation now that L Ron Hubbard is dead.

At present there are 3 possibly 4 groups of scientologists. They are: fanatical scientologists, independent scientologists, ex-scientologists and public scientologists.

The fanatical scientologists are the true believers in David Miscavige. They follow David Miscavige and his dictates as to how scientology is to be interpreted. These people are true followers, they need to be directed, they are loyal to a fault and see this as their greatest strength. They need to belong to the group and yearn acceptence at any cost.

Independent scientologists (includes freezone) disagree with imposed interpretation and interpret scientology individually. In doing so the impose their own moral ideology which for the most part is good; their interpretation is idealised which negates the nastier stuff. These people need something to believe in but are able to turn that belief in to something that suits them. They like to be part of a group but they question authority and are don't blindly follow.

Ex-scientologists see no benefit at all to scientology and no longer practise it. They usually also see the church of scientology for the corrupt, corrupting and visciously dangerous organisation it is.

Public scientologists interpret scientology for themselves however they are desperate to preserve the church of scientology organisation even though they recognise it as "not perfect"; they excuse, rationalise or are blind to the organisations' "imperfections". These people have a need to be part of "something bigger" and don't want to loose it so will compromise themselves to preserve it. Debbie Cook is in this group but is being pushed in to the independent group.

We see these kinds of people with almost all religions.

In the UK many will claim a religion (church of England) but never go to church and are not part of a group based on their adopted religion. These are a bit like independent scientologists, although they are not focused on a belief system in daily life.

Suicide bombers are unquestioning fanatics.

Many, but not all, athiests are ex members of religious groups.

Religious beliefs are unnecessary but for the most part the problems with religions stem from fanatical followers and the organisations (churches) to which they subscribe.

Churches should not automatically be granted tax exempt status. Even in the USA they shouldn't because it forces the IRS in to deciding what is and is not a religion which is unconstitutional. Tax exemption should only be granted to organisations that perform desirable and needed charitable acts.
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written by Caller X, February 01, 2012
Churches should not automatically be granted tax exempt status. Even in the USA they shouldn't because it forces the IRS in to deciding what is and is not a religion which is unconstitutional. Tax exemption should only be granted to organisations that perform desirable and needed charitable acts.


Good luck rewriting the tax code. Your proposal shifts the IRS's decision from religion to actions. I suspect the tax exemption
a)has less to do with religion or actions than how a group is incorporated and
b)has less to do with what the organization does than what it does not (e.g. lobbying).

Anyway, who's to say that Stripclub Make-a-Wish isn't a "desirable and needed" charitable act?
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@lytrigian
written by Caller X, February 01, 2012
http://joshgerstein.blogspot.c...-year.html

Thank you for that. As I mentioned, I was unable to find "super-duper" in Blackstone.

Who knew the IRS was capable of making bad decisions?
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written by Bill Thompson, February 01, 2012
@MadScientist THanks for the information. I appreciate it. There is no way ti IM people here but you can join me in the forum area here I guess.
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written by Dean_Fox, February 01, 2012
Good luck rewriting the tax code. Your proposal shifts the IRS's decision from religion to actions. I suspect the tax exemption
a)has less to do with religion or actions than how a group is incorporated and
b)has less to do with what the organization does than what it does not (e.g. lobbying).

Anyway, who's to say that Stripclub Make-a-Wish isn't a "desirable and needed" charitable act?


Thank you, I deal with the Europe and the British Commonwealth countries though; I only make suggestions to the Americans.

For the most part European and British Commonwealth countries are well on the road of divorcing religion from automatic charitable status; the church of scientology would not get charitable tax exempt status in the UK even if it were otherwise considered a religion; it operates on loop holes which are being closed down; I've mastered patience since I started dealing with politicians and state entities.

New Zealand was converted a few years back and Australia is now in progress thanks to the Church of Scientology.

Strip clubs? They take money for providing a service, that is the antithesis of charity despite them being quite desirable; are you sure you understand the basic concept of charity? If however they provided free strip shows there maybe an argument for charitable status depending on clientel and benefit to the quality of life of individuals and communities.
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If You Can't Beat Em Join Em!
written by xxi_centuryboy, February 01, 2012
So can we all become Ministers for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, donate all the money we make to the Church (ourselves) and not pay taxes on those donations?
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@Dean_Fox
written by Caller X, February 01, 2012
Strip clubs? They take money for providing a service, that is the antithesis of charity despite them being quite desirable; are you sure you understand the basic concept of charity?


Condescension, nice!

If however they provided free strip shows there maybe an argument for charitable status depending on clientel and benefit to the quality of life of individuals and communities.


You're so worldly and broadminded that you totally didn't get it. Since you're from out of town I'll cut you some slack. Mind you, over here that does not mean "I shall tailor you half a pair of trousers" rather "I'll make allowances for your limitations". The Make A Wish Foundation is a CHARITABLE organization which pays for kids with cancer and such to go to Disney World or bungee jumping or whatever. Stripclub Make-a-Wish would perform similar CHARITABLE work for deserving adults who wanted to go to a stripclub but would otherwise be unable so to do.

Sod off, now! There's a lad!

.
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written by Dean_Fox, February 01, 2012
You're so worldly and broad minded that you totally didn't get it. Since you're from out of town I'll cut you some slack. Mind you, over here that does not mean "I shall tailor you half a pair of trousers" rather "I'll make allowances for your limitations". The Make A Wish Foundation is a CHARITABLE organisation which pays for kids with cancer and such to go to Disney World or bungee jumping or whatever. Strip club Make-a-Wish would perform similar CHARITABLE work for deserving adults who wanted to go to a strip club but would otherwise be unable so to do.


My apologise for being condescending, a bad habit developed from answering often incredibly dense comments by church of scientologist apologists.

Make-a-wish strip clubs as you describe them would be charitable.

Thanks for the slack, much appreciated. smilies/smiley.gif
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written by lytrigian, February 02, 2012
Good luck rewriting the tax code. Your proposal shifts the IRS's decision from religion to actions. I suspect the tax exemption
a)has less to do with religion or actions than how a group is incorporated and
b)has less to do with what the organization does than what it does not (e.g. lobbying).

a) As I said earlier, the main advantage churches have is that they are presumed to be valid 501(c)(3) providing certain conditions are met, without having to go through the normal application process for non-profit organizations. There are good reasons for going through the process anyway, and many do Despite what some imply elsewhere in this discussion, religious personnel as individuals are not exempt from income or any other tax.

b) You're absolutely right that a church will lose its tax-exempt status if it engages in political activity. It can do issues advocacy, but it cannot promote or endorse any candidate for any election.

See http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf

At first glance Scientology clearly does not qualify. They owe their status, as well as the exemption available to members for buying their services, to the one thing they're really good at: A protracted lawsuit that dragged out for years that the IRS ultimately settled on rather than deal with it any further. The class fee exemption was part of the settlement. If anyone's at fault, it's the judges for letting their lawyers get away with their hijinks.
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Oh the Horror!
written by Willy K, February 02, 2012
Last evening I saw a slick TV ad for the COS. smilies/cry.gif

I believe it was during an episode of a new sitcom called Rob! on the CBS network.

The ad was filled with (bogus?) statistics about their size and growth. I suppose someone here could do a better fact check that I could.

What little I did find seems to indicate that Rob Schneider, the star of the sitcom, is not a COS fan. Maybe they targeted his show as some sort of retribution? smilies/cry.gif
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written by Eriksson, February 11, 2012
Mr. Randi mentions that Sweden is among the countries that recognizes Scientology as a religion, this may seem silly but the thing is Sweden looks quite rationally (hear me out here...) on the subject of religion. After all, religion is nothing more than a set of beliefs, a world view that one group of people has. And the only way to determine whether people hold those beliefs is to ask them, you can't pinpoint a muslim with a blood test. So if 1000 people say they believe in the tooth fairy and live by a set of rules that they think the tooth fairy has given them that is no different than catolicism or hinduism, apart from its number of followers. So in Sweden, that is really all it takes since there really IS no difference.

Not long ago a new religion got recognized in Sweden, "kopimism" or copymism, the view that software should be free and copying and distributing trademarked software should be legal. They only had to be a reasonably large group and apply for it and then they got the go-ahead.

This may seem appaling to some skeptics, but is it really? Really?

This means that the big 5, Christianity, Buddhists, followers of the Tora, muslims, and hinduism is rightfully placed in the company of any lunatic religion or just-for-fun world view. Allah and god sits beside the spaghetti monster. Isn't this what we like to see and try to tell people?

The problem is not that the governments recognizes religions, the problem is that you are REWARDED for confessing to a religion with tax exemptions, this problem remains in Sweden, but I think it is the right end of things to point your attention to. Nevermind the number of religions, just let the organizations pay tax like every other organization. Benefits for the mentally disabled should be about individuals and not organizations.
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