"I am Scientology's worst nightmare. I am an intelligent young person, who will grow up and lead the thoughtless away from Scientology. I, and my intelligent peers are the greatest enemy of Scientology, and you await our arrival with fear. I don't blame you."
- H. W.
|Flash! Scientology exploits WTC tragedy!
Just when you think there is no depth the ambulance-chasing cult will not sink to, they surprise you by going even further. The Church of Scientology has taken "Casualty Contact" to a whole new low.
During the September 14, 2001 prayer service at the Washington National Cathedral following the horrific terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Fox News displayed a scrolling infoline at the bottom of the television screen. While ironically warning viewers that the "NYPD warns of cruel scams," this infoline subsequently offered an 800 number for "National Mental Health Assistance: 800-FOR-TRUTH."
As can be seen from an official page at the official Dianetics Web site, www.dianetics.org, 800-FOR-TRUTH (800-367-8788) is a well-known and long-established marketing number for the Church of Scientology. Clearly with a misleading name such as "National Mental Health Assistance," they were attempting to confuse the public into thinking they were reaching the National Mental Health Association, a legitimate nonprofit organization addressing mental health issues.
To their credit, Fox News quickly pulled the offending number from the screen when they were informed of its true nature, admitting it was a "stupid screw-up" to have put it there.
This is not the only instance of Scientology attempting to exploit this terrible disaster. At a September 12 memorial ceremony in Nashville, young Scientologists took advantage of the crowds to hand out invitations to the Church of Scientology. And some netizens have reported receiving emails asking for donations to fund the distribution of L. Ron Hubbard's insipid booklet The Way to Happiness.
I do not fault individual Scientologists who wish to help out with the relief effort in any way they can. However, it must be said that the organization itself is exploiting this tragedy for its own gain. When the Church of Scientology becomes humanitarian, you can rest assured their motives are purely self-centred.
Warning! The Bridge is Out
"What's this page for?"
In October 1996 when I started this Web page, I was following the lead of a hundred other netizens who were concerned that the so-called "Church" of Scientology, an authoritarian religious group, has declared war on the Internet. The Church's bullying of its critics on the Net started in late 1994 and continues to this day. This is simply the latest battle in the same war they have waged against their critics in the traditional media for decades.
In my experience many people are unfamiliar with Scientology. They might be familiar with science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard or Dianetics, but not Scientology. Or, more commonly, they confuse Scientology with Christian Science. If you fall into one of these categories, I have written an overview of Scientology belief that I hope might clear things up a bit.
I have never been a Scientologist, nor have I ever met one to my knowledge. As a result I have drawn some fire from Scientologists and others for saying the things you'll read here. Some people believe it is not proper to criticise Scientology unless the critic has had some involvement with it. In my opinion, this reasoning is unsound. I do not need to have been a slave to oppose slavery. I do not need to have been poor to oppose poverty. And I do not need to have been a Scientologist to oppose Scientology.
Hey, isn't this religious persecution?
Critical discussion of religious beliefs understandably makes many people uncomfortable. After all, those of us who live in a liberal democracy take religious freedom for granted, and often assume that a person's religious beliefs are his own business and no one else's. Religious plurality fosters a healthy open-mindedness toward beliefs of other kinds.
The purpose of a true open mind, however, is to close it around truth. True open-mindedness does not involve only a willingness to listen to different opinions and tolerate them: it also involves a responsibility to evaluate them, accepting the good and rejecting the bad. Uncritically accepting any viewpoint is not the sign of disciplined thought but intellectual laziness, not an open mind but an intellectual breezeway.
I am an advocate of freedom of conscience where religous belief is concerned. There are many Scientologists who believe the Church has helped them become happier, better, and more fulfilled people. But mere belief in something does not make it so. Millions have claimed to have been helped by astrology, crystal healing, Transcendental Meditation and apparitions of the Virgin Mary. It is not enough to accept a belief; the merit of a belief needs to be examined as well.
This two-part essay sums up my opinion on critical speech where Scientology is concerned:
"Where can I find more information?"
From a lowly beginning of one or two Web pages opposing Scientology, the critical presence on the Internet has proliferated wildly since 1995. Please take a look at my recommended Internet resources for further information about the Church of Scientology.
"Scientology burns my toast. What can I do?"
Tell other people. Encourage your friends to read alt.religion.scientology or to look at the various Web pages. The Church of Scientology doesn't want you to know anything about them that it isn't willing to tell you itself. Its literature never mentions a.r.s. or critical Web pages. The best way to counter the Church's silence is to make it impossible to deny their involvement in unethical matters. A number of persons have posted a testimony to a.r.s. saying they have been dissuaded from joining the Church after reading about Scientology on the Internet and getting more than the Church's PR. The free market of ideas works.
Picket your local Church. Every so often someone organizes a world-wide day of protest, and there might be plans for a picket in your city. Now that pickets have caught on in Canada, I hope to be able to attend one soon. Peaceful demonstration is a legal way of expressing your displeasure at the Church's behaviour and raising public awareness. Critic Jeff Jacobsen has a Web page that details how to protest effectively and peacefully following the nonviolent methods of Mohandas Gandhi and Vaclav Havel.
"I'm not convinced."
If you've looked at my page, or some of the other Web pages, and you're still not convinced that the Church of Scientology poses a threat to your freedom of speech on the Net, or (heaven forbid) you've become interested in joining the Church, fine. I don't like it, but I'm a strong advocate of informed choice and I can't force you to believe what you won't accept intellectually. Please understand, though, that exactly the same evidence you have examined has led me and many other people to the opposite conclusion.
Scientology's Reaction to This Page
On February 21, 1998, I received a long-distance telephone call from a person identifying himself as David Lee aka David Lebeau, a private investigator known to work for Scientology. In addition to questioning me about the content of some posts I was alleged to have made concerning Scientology on alt.religion.scientology, he demanded that I explain my motives for publishing this site. I explained that I am motivated by moral indignation prompted by the Church's unethical, immoral, and illegal actions, especially the facts of Hill v. Church of Scientology of Toronto. Other critics reported being contacted by Lee as well.
Additionally, this page has been censored by the Church of Scientology. At the beginning of 1998, Scientology officials announced plans to "handle" the World Wide Web by flooding it with Scientologists' home pages. This plan was enacted not soon after, when hundreds of substantially identical Web pages entitled "My name is John Doe and I am a Scientologist" began appearing on Internet search engines. The first noted example appeared at http://www.relaypoint.net/~lewisgroup/, although over one thousand of these cookie-cutter Web pages are concentrated on Scientology's own Web server, http://myreligion.scientology.org/.
According to the license agreement accompanying the CD-ROM for building these Web pages, the page owner agrees to install and use special filtering software that protects Scientologists' eyes from "unapproved" material about Scientology. When critics of Scientology reverse-engineered part of this software, it was determined that the filtered words included my own name, and the filtered sites included the entire National Capital FreeNet where this Web page and former Scientologist Martin Hunt's reside, and the University of Waterloo Computer Science Club server, the Brooklyn Bridge's former home.
Ironically, one of Scientology's mottos is "Think for Yourself."
Critical Acclaim for This Website
"Scott McClare has degenerated so much as a spiritual being that he now thinks he is a piece of skin."
- Koos Nolst Trenite
"The freedom of speech issue is bunk as nobody has ever tried to stop McClare from posting his bile to the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup or pull the plug on his Zundel-like website."
- Rev. Al Buttnor