What is an Apostate, or “ex-member”?

As posted on ScientologyMyths.info:

From the American Heritage Dictionary: “One who has abandoned one’s religious faith, a political party, one’s principles, or a cause. Usually apostates are called ex-members or former members.”

Lonnie Kliever, Professor of Religious Studies at the Southern Methodist University, says about apostates:

“There is no denying that these (apostates) present a distorted view of the new religions to the public, the academy, and the courts by virtue of their ready availability and eagerness to testify against their former religious associations and activities.”

The full Study: The Reliability of Apostate Testimony About New Religious Movements

I personally think these people SUCK. Too wimpy to sort out their grievances – if they are no made up to begin with – and too much of a coward to address their personal issues.  Disgusting. The Church of Scientology always has an open door for those who change their mind and stop being assholes. And they will, I am positive.

So. Back to something worthwhile.

– L

Why are ex-members poor sources of true information on Scientology?

Ex-members, called apostates, are an acknowledged phenomenon with known, predictable patterns, as documented by sociologists and religious scholars. To quote just one, Bryan Wilson, Ph.D. of Oxford University in the United Kingdom:

“The apostate is generally in need of self-justification. He seeks to reconstruct his own past, to excuse his former affiliations, and to blame those who were formerly his closest associates. Not uncommonly the apostate learnt to rehearse an “atrocity story” to explain how, by manipulation, trickery, coercion, or deceit, he was induced to join or remain within an organization that he now forswears and condemns. Apostates, sensationalized by the press, have sometimes sought to make a profit from accounts of their experiences in stories sold to newspapers….”

“Academics have come to recognize the ‘atrocity story’ as a distinctive genre of the apostate and have even come to regard it as a recognizable category of phenomena.”

This happens with other groups as well and even in marriages or broken friendships. The one who leaves sometimes goes a long way to explain how bad the relationship was or tries to justify that he abandoned his friends. This is a social mechanism and sometimes quite fantastic to listen to, but not a good measure to find the truth.
Some former members might complain about “bad experiences” they had or claim to have had. So, obviously they decided not to do something about it and left the organization. Maybe it was not the right thing for them. Just as most other religious organizations Scientology does not hold members who do not want to be members. Scientology practices do not work properly if done under pressure or false premises. So who wants to go, should leave or help to remedy perceived wrongs. Ex-members who try to make a living as “experts” on the faith they abandoned are clearly not neutral and not a good source for anything related.

An unbeatable way to find out something about Scientology is to go to a local church or mission and look around, get a tour and get informed. You can also go to a library and get a Scientology book. A pretty comprehensive book is one called “What is Scientology?” which tells about the Scientology belief and the organization structure (the book is also online since more than 10 years here).

There are also 18 basic books of L. Ron Hubbard in which he describes his findings and works in chronological order. Last but not least there are plenty of websites with free books or excerpts of Scientology material which the Church has put out over the last years. If you are more interested what the Church of Scientology, the organization, does and supports, you should have a look at the Church’s website.

DOCUMENTATION:
Bryan Wilson: Apostates and New Religious Movements
Kliever: The Reliability of Apostate Testimony About New Religious Movements
What is Scientology? Book online
Scientology Handbook online

I saw an accurate media report today – What is Scientology?

No shit, really! The Los Angeles Times this morning came out with a great interview called “What is Scientology?” And guess what? They actually answer the question!

http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-what-is-scientology-20120712,0,2872139,full.story

Ok, without the help of Laurie they probably had not gotten the point. But it’s a start.

– L

Los Angeles Times, 12 July 2012:

What is Scientology? A Scientologist offers her point of view
July 12, 2012, 7:00 a.m.

The tabloids tell us that Scientology was at the root of the breakup between Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. If the “sources” fueling the entertainment media’s frenzied coverage of the divorce are correct, Holmes realized Suri was reaching an age where her religious instruction would begin in earnest, and could not bear it. Neither Cruise nor Holmes nor their representatives are confirming any of this.

Regardless, the rumors and related coverage raise the question: What is Scientology?

Critics portray Scientology as a cultish religion brought to the masses via science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, one that allegedly encourages its members to part with the contents of their wallets in order to achieve higher levels of spiritual awareness.

But what about the other side? There are plenty of people who believe Scientology has helped them achieve great personal fulfillment and happiness — and no shortage of celebrities who say Scientology gave them the emotional foundation they needed to withstand the rigors of Hollywood.

We asked Laurie Hamilton, a second-generation Scientologist and ordained Scientology minister who does consulting work, to talk about her experiences with Scientology and to offer readers a primer on it from her point of view. She declined to reveal specifics about where she lives or works for fear that some clients might hold her beliefs against her.

What follows is an edited transcript of an interview conducted via email at Hamilton’s request because she wanted black-and-white clarity to her answers.
What is the reaction within the Scientology community to the Cruise/Holmes breakup?

That’s a little like asking what the reaction is in the Catholic community. Catholics as individuals may have opinions, and may know that Katie is Catholic, but I doubt that as a “community” they have an opinion.  Scientologists are nothing if not individualistic.

My own personal reaction to the break up was threefold. As a fan:  “Bummer — they looked really happy together.” As someone over halfway through the 37th year of my first and only marriage: “Wonder why they couldn’t make it work?” As a Scientologist: “Oh, great. Here comes all the BS, prejudice and ill-informed commentary again.”

Does Scientology consider itself a religion?

Yes. We believe in a god and in a supernatural origin of the cosmos — and that by doing Scientology, we can regain our direct awareness of the ultimate truths of things for ourselves.

What is Scientology? (Admittedly, this is tough to answer in brief. But we’re trying to give readers a primer on its basics.)

Scientology is a religion. It is a philosophy. It is a way of life. It is a hella-big toolbox full of ways to deal with life, success, failure, and life’s vicissitudes. It approaches life and living from the idea that there are root causes and mechanisms for all natural, spiritual and human events, issues and states of affairs. Scientologists as a whole tend to agree that L. Ron Hubbard (whom we refer to almost exclusively simply as “Ron,”) had a unique insight and a particular knack for figuring out these root causes and using them to develop a useful methodology for dealing with life, preparing for the hereafter, and achieving mental and spiritual clarity, strength and equilibrium.

What Scientologists are trying to do by way of their study and use of the subject, and by being counseled according to its methods, is to become more themselves, jettison mental and spiritual junk that they have accumulated over time, and to become happier and more effective in their lives so that they can retain mental and spiritual clarity and grow as individuals — not backslide and fall back into traps and misery that they knew before, and which is all-too-commonly the human lot.

We take the view that we are not bodies or minds, but that we are spiritual beings who have bodies and minds, and that the hierarchy is: Spirit is greater than mind is greater than body. This is a natural outgrowth of the idea that the physical universe is here only because we (spiritual beings in general, including you) are here, rather than the other way around. Theoretically, you and I are the ultimate cause of everything, though we have fooled ourselves over time into believing that we are not, that it is all being done to us, that the universe is the ultimate reality and we are just muddling through.

Can you talk about the role of Hubbard’s teachings to today’s Scientologists?

Part of being a Scientologist is the agreement held in common with other Scientologists that Ron had it right, that as to Scientology we will do it the way he said and not some other way, and that we won’t try to develop or change Scientology to be different or “better,” but we will adhere to Ron’s teachings on the subject.

Scientology is the body of thought as contained in Ron’s dozens of books, hundreds of lectures and tens of thousands of individual bulletins and letters respecting technical theories and procedures and organizational policies. Scientologists are people who take these writings as authoritative, and whose life experience is that they have found a way to a better life through Scientology.

You take issue with the portrayal of Scientologists as blind followers or believers.

A prime principle in Scientology is Ron’s statement on personal integrity, “What is true for you is what you have observed yourself. And when you lose that, you have lost everything.” — L. Ron Hubbard. That prime principle is one reason why you find Scientologists to be perfectly happy to disagree with each other about nearly anything. It reminds me of the Jewish tradition of healthy debate.

The Church of Scientology is the way we keep everything organized and preserve the fidelity and the practice of Ron’s writings so that we can spread the word, and not fall victim to gradual changes, and therefore losses in effectiveness, in using the techniques he developed.

Can you discuss Scientologists’ opposition to drugs?

Part and parcel of our principles is that psychoactive drugs are bad for you and limit your spiritual growth. Abuse of them can physically damage your nervous and endocrine systems, and this physical damage can make it so that you can’t benefit from our practices anymore. You’re just too damaged for them to work. So we like to speak out against the abuse of both recreational and “medicinal” psychoactive drugs.

Name three of the most basic beliefs in Scientology. What do members have to believe in, in order to be Scientologists?

There is no belief, per se, in Scientology, because folks are asked to come to experience and therefore know things, but not to believe them until they have observed them. However, some basic principles are:

You are a spirit (we use the word “thetan” to refer to your spiritual self), who has a mind and a body. You are eternal. This is not your first corporeal life, and is unlikely to be your last. You are basically good. When you behave badly, it is due to having the wrong answers about how to solve your problems, and/or because you have strayed from healthy and constructive purposes. Having done bad, one tends to limit and punish oneself in ways that can do lasting damage. Some of Scientology’s techniques are aimed at unraveling self-inflicted damage.

What is ARC?

Understanding can actually be broken down into elements of Affinity (liking or willingness to be near), Reality (sameness, accuracy or agreement with a referent) and Communication (the exchange of unaltered information). The increase of these factors increases understanding, life, “love,” vitality, success, camaraderie, emotional state, etc. The decrease of these factors decreases the foregoing. The decrease of one of these elements with regard to a particular person, activity, thing or subject, will reduce the other two elements. So you hear Scientologists talk about ARC — and when they do so, they are referencing understanding, friendship, cooperativeness, etc. It’s a little like “Shalom” or “Aloha” as a word. It multitasks.

What are three of the most commonly held mistaken beliefs about Scientology?

1) The belief that Scientology or Scientologists are odd, secretive, “different” in some way, or that their exposure to Scientology causes them to view the world through a filter, etc. We’re regular folks.

2) That we have something against medicine or doctors. We are some medicine-takin’, doctor-goin’ fools, with respect to anything that might be a physical ailment, and for which there is some known/approved medical treatment/remedy. Yeah, some of us think herbs, vitamins, chiropractors are a good first line of defense, but when a dog rips a hole in my hand, you will find me in the ER getting stitched up, and then at the pharmacy filling my scrip. Further, I may seek an “assist” from a Scientologist friend to help me not be bogged down by trauma or “phantom” pains from the bite. Or, I might just see the doc and get the antibiotics and leave it at that.

3) I gotta say, I recently read an article which named Tom Cruise as the “No. 2 or 3 ranking” Scientologist. What? He’s not even a Scientology staffer or anything like that. How’s he gonna have a “rank?” He’s a private Scientologist like me — except I’ve BEEN on staff, and he never has, to my knowledge. This is all tied up in this weird idea that Scientology or Scientologists or the Church of Scientology somehow have some say in what high-profile Scientologists do with their lives, how they behave, what kinds of things they say, who they hang out with, what projects they pursue, etc. Hogwash.

Critics of Scientology bring up unusual topics such as Xenu and thetans and aliens …

You are a thetan. I am a thetan. Think of it as “soul” or “spirit” or “identity.” We have our minds and our bodies, but we are not these things. We don’t have mass or motion or wavelength or a position in time or space. We can perceive, and we can imagine/decide/postulate things. As such, it’s not useful to try to think of the real “you,” in measurable material terms. There is a general view among Scientologists that people’s personal histories predate the very existence of the material universe as such, and that had we not been here already, matter, energy, space and time would not be here. That view naturally subsumes the idea of ancient and future civilizations rising and falling over time, and the potential of intelligent life in more than one place in the universe. We do not otherwise take “aliens,” etc. into account in our daily thinking or Scientology practice. The vast, vast majority of Scientologists have never even heard of such things, except in the context of “how did we arrive at the state of affairs of human society today?”

Ron put forth some early theories as to how intelligent life might have happened to arise on this particular planet, and these theories [take] into account the possibility that you and I existed for a very long time before Earth was habitable and that the presence of water, carbon compounds, and the resulting evolution of life here provided an opportunity for you and I to be alive here rather than somewhere else.

The idea of the existence of timeless, deathless spiritual beings necessarily assumes that we exist independent of the state of affairs on this speck of rock at the edge of the Milky Way. It also implies that  it would be rather conceited of man to think himself the only intelligent life in the universe. We think of ourselves (many Scientologists do — if they have experience, recollection or perception they see as supporting the view) as spiritual beings who preexisted this planet, and we may not be alone in the universe. Scary, no?

Do you think Scientology is secretive?

No. The Masons are secretive. The CIA is secretive. Anonymous is secretive.  We’re a bunch of folks studying stuff you can access on the shelves of any library in Los Angeles.

Critics say the highest levels of Scientology are only available to those who pay large sums of money to access it. Is that true?

It is true that the very top levels are reserved for people who are ready for them. Access to very advanced principles can be either useless or upsetting to people who can’t digest them. As a person who has done most of them, I can tell you they are as controversial (from the point of view I had going in) as recipes in a cookbook. They are ways to look at, and to do things which leave one with a forever-improved outlook on life and existence in general.

Some people pay handsomely once they are at that level. I didn’t. I exchanged my labors and some little (not a lot of) money as well. Were I not giving something for what I got, there would have been no building to do it in, and nobody to do it. So I’m cool with that. I and my family are persons of very modest means. So were most of the people who were on the upper levels at the same time I was. And yet, there we were. I met John Travolta one day while I was there. Another time, I bumped into Kirstie Alley in an elevator. Sure there were well-off people there, and I suspect they were donating a good deal more than I was — because it was easy for them to do so, and they didn’t mind. I pinched my pennies and did the same stuff they were doing right alongside them. Anyone who really wants to do it can do it.

What do you say to ex-members who refer to Scientology as a cult?

I say “Good job of self-justification, jerk.” Apostates have to denigrate that which they formerly held dear. It’s a human psychological necessity.

Critics say some people join Scientology and become completely absorbed in it.

Adherents to a cohesive “theory of life” that helps them to define not only who they are, but who their friends and not-friends are, and how life works, and the reasons for everything, may get eyeball-deep in it because it is working for them. They may join the most hard-core adherents in a total dedication to the cause.

Some religions have monks and such who dedicate themselves to all-religion-all-the-time. Scientology has a small order of deeply dedicated staffers, adults only, which does not admit all comers. It’s called the “Sea Org,” (short for sea organization) because it began at sea as Ron’s crew on a boat manned by his closest supporters. The vast majority of Scientologists are grocers, mechanics, secretaries, baristas, cabbies and the like.

What are two or three things you would like people to know about Scientology?

1) Scientology is not “weird.” It is logically and internally consistent, and answers a lot of questions and solves a lot of problems. It’s not a plot, conspiracy or cabal, we don’t want any members who don’t want to be members, we don’t want to brainwash you or your kids, and we are not trying to take over the world. We would like less war, less insanity, less criminality; people who are free, kind to their fellow man, and not suffering from the psychic wounds that make some seem evil or without hope. We want people to be able to rise through their own accomplishments, and without harming others along the way.

2) Scientologists are not “weird.” We’re ordinary folks who do ordinary things — with a little more insight, success, and a little less upset than before we had Scientology, we like to think.

3) It’s not about power, and it’s not about money. No one in Scientology profits from it. We do insist that if anyone wants our help, that they earn it with work, or with some material contribution that we can use to keep the lights on, pay the rent, keep a roof over the staff’s heads, pay our “supervisors” (think teachers), counselors, clergy, etc., maintain our cars and vans, mow the lawns, provide private spaces for counseling and quiet, orderly rooms and texts, etc. for training, chapels for services and ceremonies, get the word out, etc. We don’t pass a contribution plate at services. We only ask those who are actually getting something to give anything. Everyone else is allowed to hang around to their heart’s content for no exchange at all.

 

Meet a real Scientologist

On BBC Radio last Sunday:

Blowing off some steam…

It should be possible to “blow off some steam” without getting arrested. This guy left the actual practice of scientology far behind him.

Defectors Say “Church of Scientology…”

Defectors…. what a nice term, try that out for size, defect-ors. Something’s not right about them.  Commonly these people are called “apostates” and they are known for inventing the most ridiculous stories about their former friends. I wrote about them earlier. But here is a new viewpoint, just ticking into my Google Alerts:

It is unfortunate that some government officials and media continue to rely on discredited apostates to justify discriminatory policies against the Church of Scientology and its members. Virtually all punitive government actions targeting Scientology in the past decades were based on unsubstantiated anecdotal testimony from disgruntled apostates. When the evidence was finally reviewed by objective government officials or judicial bodies, the Church emerged completely vindicated while the false allegations of apostates were exposed and discredited. (Author Jeff Smado links to my site, ha!)

Interesting symbiosis, and I might add that it has mostly been anti-religious governments officials (as opposed to neutral) that use those losers. So, basically, is it far-fetched to assume that someone is sponsoring “ex-Scios” for some other agenda?

– L

What’s wrong with those Aussie Politicians? Australian politician duped (again) into waffling against Scientology

Reading the media this morning. Super-nonsense. Gosh, what’s wrong with these Aussie Politicians? Believing every POS served to them?

Here’s a little background education lesson:

tl;dr: The history of the Church includes a series of battles won to overcome unfounded allegations as it expanded into new nations. In every instance the Church has persisted and ultimately prevailed. And in Aussie-Land it has just been 30 years that some Senators fell on their face – squarely – when trying to spread false information about Scientology (It looks like a new generation of dupes grows every 30 years there).

Attacks against the Church of Scientology

The Church of Scientology has been safeguarding the existence of the Scientology religion for five decades. Over the years this involved many court cases to be fought, and many controversies have gone down the drain of history… But here are some of the more important dates in history of Scientology defense:

Most significant is the 1993 decision of the IRS, which brought an end to a 40-year conflict. Following a two-year investigation-the most extensive of any charitable, nonprofit organization in IRS history-the Service rejected all of the false allegations that have formed the basis of attacks across the world. The IRS concluded: That the Church of Scientology is organized “exclusively for religious and charitable purposes.”

The unfounded allegations that spawned any perceived controversy regarding Scientology originated in the United States. Beginning with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), these false claims and allegations were rooted in religious bigotry during a time of distrust: the beginning of the Cold War and the influence of McCarthyism. As with any new idea, Scientology was greeted with suspicion. Unfounded rumors were repeated as “fact.”

These unfounded charges were disseminated by the IRS to foreign governments. Because the Church’s headquarters were located in the U.S., these false reports were given great credence by foreign governments in targeting foreign Churches of Scientology, resulting in oppressive attacks and laws. Yet, these allegations-each and every one-have been
disproved.

The first fallout from the disinformation campaign was the 1965 “Inquiry” into Scientology in the State of Victoria, Australia, culminating in enactment of repressive legislation that essentially made it a crime to practice Scientology. Once the false allegations against the religion were repudiated, these discriminatory banning laws became a major embarrassment to the Australian Government-so much so, a former Australian Senator and Deputy Premier of Western Australia traveled to the United States in 1976 to attend the Churches of Scientology International Prayer Day and apologized to all members of the Church, stating that the ban on Scientology had been the “blackest day in the political history of Western Australia.”

Subsequently, Scientology was fully recognized by the Australian High Court, which came to the “irresistible” conclusion that Scientology is a religion. Today, this landmark decision forms the basis for determining what a religion is for purposes of Australian and New Zealand charity law and has become the standard for courts and governments throughout the Commonwealth.

Similarly, in Italy during the 1980s the Church overcame intensive government repression, including government action shutting down all Churches of Scientology, based on the same false allegations about the religion. This ultimately resulted in another Supreme Court decision, now standing as the foremost decision by a national high court on the subject of religion on the European Continent.

And in Spain, those same sorts of allegations reached a crescendo with assaults on Scientologists and Church leaders. No greater example exists of how false allegations can create oppressive atrocities-including false arrests and imprisonment. In fact, that investigation and trial went on for 17 years. After a yearlong trial, the case finally concluded in 2001 with 100 percent vindication wherein the three-judge panel announced, “Absolvemos Libremente”-absolved without reservation.
El Pais captured the discriminatory essence of these proceedings and the attempt to assault the religion in an article in December 2001 entitled “Acquittal for Those Persecuted.” This decision of the Provincial Court in 2001 after years of proceedings eliminated any further question regarding Scientology’s religious bona fides and allowed the Church to begin the process of obtaining full religious recognition in Spain.

Once the Scientology religion prevailed by achieving total victory in the criminal proceedings, full religious recognition in Spain was inevitable. The Church of Scientology is now officially recognized as a religion in Spain. On October 31, 2007, the National Court in Madrid issued a unanimous landmark decision affirming the right to religious freedom in Spain by recognizing that the National Church of Scientology of Spain is a religious organization entitled to the full panoply of religious rights that flow from entry in the government’s Registry of Religious Entities.

In France and Belgium, discriminatory practices have targeted the Church of Scientology as well as other faiths. The infamous parliamentary “blacklists” in these countries-targeting 173 religions including Southern Baptists, Evangelical Christian groups and Sikhs in France, and 189 religions including Hasidic Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baha’is, Zen Buddhists, Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, Pentecostals, Amish, Quakers, five Catholic groups, and the YWCA in Belgium, in addition to Scientology, led to a system of religious intolerance. Yet, as has become the pattern, continued persistence in exposing the falsehoods behind that discrimination has resulted in wholesale condemnation of these lists by human rights groups and other governmental bodies. As a result, the French government officially revoked this “blacklist” in a May 2005 Circular of the Prime Minister denouncing the use of the list.

In Russia the Church of Scientology Moscow was denied the right to re-register as a religious organization under the 1997 Russian Religion Law. Deprived of essential rights afforded to registered religious organizations in Russia, the Church applied for protection of its fundamental religious freedom rights to the European Court of Human Rights. In April 2007 the Human Rights Court issued a unanimous landmark decision in favor of the Scientology religion. Specifically the Court found that Russia had violated the rights of the Church of Scientology under Articles 11 (the right to freedom of association) “read in the light of Article 9” (the right to freedom of religion) of the European Human Rights Convention when it refused to re-register the Church of Scientology Moscow.

One cannot view the battles for religious freedom in Europe solely in the context of Scientology. These issues are much broader and have to do with the state of government and religion across the Continent. The reason the issues are often connected to Scientology is because the Church of Scientology is the most prominent of all the new religions. Scientology is most often associated in the media with religious freedom questions as it is the most recognizable new religion to the public.

Churches of Scientology are free to operate anywhere in the world. Where intolerance and discrimination exist, the Church sets the precedents for religious freedom and human rights for everyone.

  • What is this blog?

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