Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Panorama on Scientology

I have just watched John Sweeney's Panorama on the Church of Scientology. It has its heated moments.

I am always just a bit sceptical about "new religions", which after all have not stood the test of time. As a religion I can't think of one much newer than Scientology. It also has to be said that there is nothing that Scientology has done to make me any less sceptical.

I'll give you an example. Scientology used to operate a centre on Duke Street in Brighton. They used to have people out canvasing people in the street, asking what to me seemed like questions a salesman would specifically ask if they were looking for the vulnerable or impressionable.

There were three questions, like "if you could be any one in the world who would you want to be?" "if there was anything you could change about yourself what would it be?"

I can't remember the third. Perhaps I was just born old, perhaps it is the cynical salesman in me, but I just knew those questions were a fishing trip looking for a "buying signal". I was only 18 at the time, and it has to be said that the foot soldiers of Scientology are not trained to look for 18 year old door to door salesman who know a pitch when they hear it.

However the most striking thing about the Panorama program was an interview with a critic of Scientology who was also an ex convict with a remarkable record of lewd crimes as well as drugs. Obviously it would have been wrong for Panorama to present what ever he said as being from a pillar of the community, and to be fair they didn't.

During the interview, which I presume the Church was not informed of, a representative of the church turned up, one Tommy Davis, with a dossier on the man being interviewed.

Just how did they know? Why did they care?

Were they following John Sweeney about?

However you can tip the whole Panorama program in the bin, in favour of a quote from my late father, Bernard, who said:
In 1947 L Ron Hubbard said that the best way to make a fortune was to found a religion, in 1948, he did.
Nuff said.

The Panorama home page is here, and the article on the subject is here.

14 comments:

bimbo said...

I am not a religious person and I do not know if scientology has any religious beliefs. All I do know is that if one individual finds comfort in believing something, whether it comes at a price or not then it is worth something. I just do not know how after all these years when christians, jews and many other religions have been ridiculed and intimidated over their beliefs,why one person would go out of their way to protest so much. I don't care, if the people paying into this are happy then leave them be. However I will say if you look at John Travolta as an example them he has it made, but if I had to use Tom Cruise as an example then I wouldn't follow it personaly. It just goes to show you, I think that no matter what the faith, some are stronger than others. One point I would like to find the answer to though is how do poor people follow this religion if they truly believe?

The Real Sporer said...

bimbo-'cmon, lighten up. sometimes things just seem silly. i've worn the same University of Iowa football cap since 1981. Many think that is a silly superstition but it comforts me.

Another modern religion, LSD appears to go quite well with scientology. Have you seen Tom Cruise in action?

bimbo said...

Do you mean by that, tom Cruise in films? He does ok but if you mean in real life and interviews then he seems a little bit unbalanced. I'm not in the best position in life but I think I'm a hell of a lot saner. Anyway like I said if anything in this life make you feel better including your football cap then it can't be all bad for the individual. Faith, in no matter what it is has to be a good thing than having nothing at all.

Peter the Punter said...

No need to scratch your head on this one, Benedict.

Scientology is a racket.

Close your file.

Maggie Thatcher Fan said...

I was interviewed by them in Duke St in the early 80's, the only thing that made me stop was the the (female!!) interviewer scored 10/10 on the fanciability chart. I was asked to attend a meeting, and I smelt a rat. They never tell you who they are until they've got you in their clutches.
Peter the Punter is spot on, its a racket.

Benedict White said...

Bimbo, my concern is how much money it takes of people. Most religious organisations seem less motiviated by the money they can take off people.

Peter, what makes you think I was scratching my head?

MTF, When I ran into them in Duke Street I already knew who they were!

Anonymous said...

They had a place in Manchester I used to pass going to a sandwich shop ,every time they would try to stop you ,every time I would swear at them, after a 5 or 6 times they stopped annoying me ,I didn't swear at them ,people think it's being ignorant in not talking to people when they are stopped ,me I take it somebody is after my money.

Benedict White said...

Anonymous, In many ways that is exactly what they were after.

youdontknowme said...

I saw the episode last night and if I needed convincing any more about not converting to scientology this would have done it for me. It was the BBC that made the programme though so it isn't 100% reliable.

Peter the Punter said...

I was speaking figuratively, Benedict.

Guess I should have said that nobody need scratch their head over this one.

Sounds like you did indeed have them sussed from the outset.

Btw, what you going to do with that £20 from Mr Smithson? May I suggest you frame it?

Benedict White said...

youdontknowme, I think you can take my Fathers word for it, an officer in the British Army and a gentleman. Besides which the quote is very common.

Peter said it was a scam. It is a very clever way of selling expensive "self help courses" frequently on credit.

Peter, yes I did!

What to do with the £20? Now there is a question! I think I need to earn it first!

Lord Nazh said...

climate porn is newer than scientology, and potentially more harmful :)

Yes, a Scientologist said...

Some interesting posts from several people who have a very tenuous esperience of Scientology, but they have the rightto their opinion, which will be as accurate as the data they have received.

There is however more data.

The "best way tomake a million" quote allegedly from L Ron Hubbard is, I'm afraid, urban myth - not made any truer by constant repetition. Years ago I knew the name of who really said it, but time has helped me forget.

In case you have not guessed, yes, I am a Scientologist, have been since 1966. I am in no way official, have in fact been inactive for a few years now, but still see the huge benefits accruing from several of Scientology's social programmes such as Narconon and Effective Education.

I have put 5 children through a school which uses L Ron Hubbard's "study technology", and I have 5 damn fine children. Yes I know, there are plenty of other children out there who are equally fine, but I think we have to admit that there are one or two who have not quite made it to sane adulthood, no ?

Some who are functionally illiterate and innumerate having graduated through the schoolsystem ?

Some who are tempted into gangs, drugs, shootings and knifings ? None of this of course has ANYTHING to do with the current educational regime, does it ? Or does it ?

If anyone has given 30 mins to John Sweeney,I request that in the interests of fairness and by way of right-to-reply, you also view these 3 x 9 or 10 minute videos. They seem to be made by someone who really KNOWS how to do, and present, investigative journalism. Yes, those dreadful Scientologists.

These are rather like a damn good fisking via video.

Click below to see the videos.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=9psX5SlXb_g

www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1iCI3iykYM

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rtp1y_IkLag

Enjoy ....

Mr Pea said...

Scientology is a ruthless global scam, but don't take my word for it - you could read Time Magazine's 1991 article - "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power". Scientology sued Time for libel and lost... the article is on the web for all to see.

It's not a question of beliefs, rather the abuses that accompany the fostering of a dangerous, totalitarian mindset.