RNB Roundup: Scientology, undercover, exposed, stressed out — and more

“RNB Roundup” is a collection of clippings, snippets, links, commentary and other items that, in one way or another, relate to the topics normally covered in Religion News Blog. The current page is dedicated entirely to Scientology.

Note: This page may grow throughout the day€¦ Too, linked items may be online for a limited time only. Get them while they’re hot.

Undercover at Scientology’s Berlin office

If you read German, take a look at Stern magazine’s report of an undercover adventure by reporter Fredy Gareis at Scientology’s Berlin office. Else, use Google’s translation magic.

Using the name Thorsten Brock, for five months Gareis represents himself as an unemployed specialist in American studies, and a fan of Tom Cruise and his success. He also tells the Scientologists that his girlfriend, Sandra, is against Scientology.

What follows is pretty much par-for-the-course. The sales pitches, for instance. Or the pressure to ‘handle’ his girlfriend. The false healing claims (I learn that a Scientologist can cure diseases. “Even skin diseases?”, I ask. He: “Exactly.” Me: “And if I go on: Can I cure cancer?” He: “Totally. You are the cause of the physical universe.”)

And of course the E-meter sessions (“Are you here for stories for newspapers?” “Is there anything that you are not telling me?” “You can tell me everything,” says Philip, “it remains between us.”)

The reporter concludes his article by relating a meeting with two Scientologists:

How can it be that here two smiling 19-year-olds are attempting to destroy my relationship, and to financially and mentally fleece me? Light falls from outside on Carina’s blond hair. The 19-year-old bares her teeth and with a laugh says, “We are like Rottweilers. We never let go.”
– Source: Stern, Issue 21/2008, May 24, 2008 — freely translated.

Sometimes even Scientologists speak the truth.

Scientology Exposed PSA: Hypocrisy

Using Scientology’s very own words against them.

This unauthorized video was made using re-edited footage from Scientology’s own PSA for their front-group “Youth for Human Rights” — one of the many front-groups the cult uses to recruit members into Scientology. The video is juxtaposed alongside footage from numerous interviews and news stories detailing Scientology’s long history of abuses.

Scientology’s Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF), puts coerced participants through regimes of harsh physical punishment, forced self-confessions, social isolation, hard labour, and intense doctrinal study, all as part of leadership-designed efforts to regain members’ ideological commitment. The confinement that participants experience, combined with forms of physical maltreatment, intensive ideological study, and forced confessions, allows social scientists to speak of the RPF as a “brainwashing” program.
– Source: Scientology Exposed PSA: Hypocrisy

Learn more about the Rehabilitation Project Force in this article by professor Stephen A. Kent, Department of Sociology, University of Alberta.

Next Global Anonymous Protest: June 14

Details at Enturbulation.org’s activism forum.

Jason Beghe Turned Away at NY Scientology Building

Puzzled at the phrase, “We smell cult”? You’ll understand after you watch this video of Rev. John Carmichael, the head of the Church of Scientology in New York City.

Jason Beghe tried to get inside the Scientology building on E. 46th Street yesterday, but was turned away by three beefy security men who told him it was their job to keep him out.

The confrontation happened while a contingent of about 50 protesters from the anti-Scientology “Anonymous” movement cheered on Beghe from across the street. Members of Scientology itself didn’t make an appearance during the late afternoon protest.

Beghe, who had tipped off the Anonymous activists that he’d be making the attempt to talk to Scientology officials, was pleased with the turnout, but disappointed that he didn’t get to discuss Scientology with any church members.

A native New Yorker, Beghe flew out from Malibu this week for a short trip to his home town. Wednesday, he stopped by the Voice offices to discuss what he’s been doing since his attention-grabbing public defection from Scientology occurred in the form of a series of videos that hit the Internet in April.
– Source: Tony Ortega, Village Voice, May 27, 2008

When you watch the videos — or even just this three-minute teaser — you’ll have good idea why the Scientology folks are not eager to see Beghe.

In short, Beghe feels Scientology doesn’t work as advertised. But then, pseudo-science and quackery rarely — if ever — does.

Previously Village Voice reported that Jason Beghe wants Scientology to give him his confessional files:

“I want my folders back. There’s no reason for Scientology to maintain them. I paid a million dollars for that shit,” Beghe tells the Voice.

Followers of L. Ron Hubbard believe that they can develop superhuman abilities through a process called “auditing,” which includes discussing past disappointments and bad behavior while holding the sensors of an “e-meter,” a machine that measures electric current in the skin. What a parishioner admits to during auditing then becomes material that is recorded in folders as they progress through Scientology’s many levels, including beginners who are “pre-clear” or “pc,” and more advanced believers who seek to become “operating thetans” or “OT.” Such sessions cost Beghe as much as $1,000 an hour.

In the letter, Beghe demands his “pc, pre-OT and ethics folders” as well as any videotapes of his years of therapy. Beghe says that he’s not concerned about the material that was recorded in his files or what Scientology might do with them, but in part he wants to make a point about the church continuing to hold onto privileged information.

“More people have left Scientology than are currently in it. And yet they maintain these files about what people have said to them in private sessions. Why would you want these people to hold onto this stuff?” says Beghe, who appeared in films such as Monkey Shines, G.I. Jane, and Thelma & Louise and TV shows such as Melrose Place, Picket Fences, and Everwood. “I can tell you with certainty that I’m never going back into Scientology. So I’ll never need their help again.”
– Source: Tony Ortega, Village Voice, Apr. 29, 2008

Tom Cruise Launches Web Site Devoted to Himself

Few stars have seen themselves pilloried more on the Web than Cruise, who has watched numerous embarrassing moments ricochet around the Internet at warp speed. Who can forget watching the clips of Cruise appear on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” way back in June 2005, in the early days of Web 2.0?

The event — the beginning of Cruise’s publicity crisis — is alluded to on the new site, which links to his recent interview with Winfrey. Sitting at his Telluride, Colo., home, the talk show host refers to it as “the sofa incident.”

More than that, though, videos of Cruise speaking passionately about Scientology became viral hits earlier this year, prompting many parodies, including one by actor Jerry O’Connell.

So it makes sense that Cruise might want to protect his brand a little bit by using the great powers of the Internet.
– Source: AP, via FOX News, May 29, 2008

Incidentally, at the time Oprah thought that Cruise’s couch jumping was wilder than it seemed.

While a number of newspapers simply titled the story, “Tom Cruise launches website,” the Akron Beacon Journal’s site was more to the point: “Cruise’s attempt at damage control produces Web site.”

Meanwhile, AP reports, in that same story, that [E]ven Cruise himself says he’s now more guarded after so much criticism over his religion and personal beliefs. “When I’m dealing with my humanitarian issues, I’ll talk about my humanitarian issues,” Cruise told Winfrey. ”And when I’m promoting a film, I’m just going to promote the film. And that’s just the way it’s going to be.”

The desire to equate Scientology with ‘humanitarian issues’ is understandable but — given the church’s track record and reputation — entirely inappropriate.

Kirk Cameron: Scientology is kooky

GROWING PAINS star KIRK CAMERON has hit out at TOM CRUISE’s Scientology religion – warning people not to get caught up in the faith as it has similar qualities to a “cult”. The former teen idol turned to Christianity after his time on the hit U.S. TV series…

He tells America’s OK! magazine, “I think Scientology is kooky. I think L. Ron Hubbard had some imaginative ideas, but the bottom line is that it’s false, not real, and my advice to people is don’t get mixed up in cults and false religions but seek out the true and living God and try to honour him with all your heart. You can do that by reading the Bible.”
– Source: ContactMusic.com, May 28, 2008

Cult! Cult! Cult!

Surely you’ve heard this story:

A teenager who was facing legal action for calling the Church of Scientology a “cult” has today been told he will not be taken to court.

The Crown Prosecution Service ruled the word was neither “abusive or insulting” to the church and no further action would be taken against the boy.

The unnamed 16-year-old was handed a court summons by City of London police for refusing to put down a placard saying “Scientology is not a religion, it is a dangerous cult” during a peaceful protest outside the church’s headquarters near St Paul’s Cathedral earlier this month.
– Source: Schoolboy avoids prosecution for branding Scientology a cult, The Guardian, May 23, 2008

Anyone want to guess how many “Scientology is a dangerous cult!” signs will show up at the next Anonymous protest?

• Not sure what a cult is? See the Cult FAQ
• Not sure what makes Scientology a cult? See these research resources.

Someone needs to take a stress test

The video shown below is introduced in part as follows:

Rev. John Carmichael, the head of the Church of Scientology in New York City, made an appearance at a “Free Stress Test” table to try to prevent Anonymous from informing the public about the dubious nature behind the test itself and bigotry within the book they are attempting to sell, “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health” by L. Ron Hubbard, by calling the cops on us.

After the entire debacle explodes in Carmichael’s face with none of us being charged for a crime and his own organization slapped with a fine for not having a street vending permit to run the “stress test” tables in the first place, Carmichael slowly gets more and more crazy as nothing seems to be going his way.

Anonymous Sends John Carmichael Off the Deep End!

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday May 31, 2008.
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