Social Question

truecomedian's avatar

Is Scientology really crazy?

Asked by truecomedian (3932points) December 5th, 2010

Is it really as bad as people say, does practicing Scientology produce negative results?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

36 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Well, perhaps you should ask these people.

ragingloli's avatar

In terms of their beliefs (evil overlord Xenu dropped countless aliens into volcanoes and their escaping Body Thetans now haunt humans and must be cleansed), they are not crazier than any other religion.
What makes them dangerous is their behaviour:
They use brainwashing techniques, they financially suck their members dry, they force their members to cut any relations to friends and family outside their cult, they indiscriminately sue, harass, threaten and even kill critics and people that managed to escape their grasp and they infiltrate business and governments for their overall goal to gain control of society and eventually the world.

jenandcolin's avatar

yes. it is crazy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I do think it’s crazy but no crazier than other religions.

Zyx's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Didn’t see any reason to respond until now.

Scientology is not a religion, it’s a cult that’s not just moronic but also extremely dangerous.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Zyx Well, they certainly don’t think so – nor do the people who granted them religion status. Thinking one religion is a cult and another isn’t is subjective, based on one’s definition of cult which varies and one’s faulty idea that their religion is somehow sane.

Zyx's avatar

Sanity does not preclude having an opinion on matters of which you can’t know anything. This is religion. Organized religion can and should be similar to a social networking site. When organized religion is formed to make a few non-believers rich and powerful the organization becomes known as a cult. But “The church of scientology” and “scientology” aren’t by definition the same thing so maybe you’re right and for 1% of scientologists it’s no more crazy than any other religion. But the rest of them are still in a cult.

Facebook is also a cult, goodnight.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

I am not sure if this is allowed, but what the hey:

“Definition of CULT
1
: formal religious veneration : worship
2
: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents
3
: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents
4
: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health cults>
5
a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad b : the object of such devotion c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion ”

Source: Merriam-Webster

Now that there is a posted definition, does it fit? I think Scientology fits more than others, at least from the sounds of it. Is there any Scientologists on Fluther?

Zyx's avatar

Now you’re making me justify my words, what a drag.

I don’t believe in dictionaries.

That was less trouble than I had anticipated.

Blueroses's avatar

“You don’t get rich writing science fiction. If you want to get rich, you start a religion.”
(Hubbard’s) Response to a question from the audience during a meeting of the Eastern Science Fiction Association on (7 November 1948), as quoted in a 1994 affidavit by Sam Moskowitz.

Sounds like a cult to me.

HearTheSilence's avatar

Sorry @Zyx, but @Simone_De_Beauvoir is right.

All religions that are not Christianity are deemed a cult. This includes Catholisism which is now considered a sect of Christianity. The Mormon religion was also considered a cult until they were able to reproduce so rapidly (which was the point) and gain sect status as well. Simply because we don’t believe in a religion doesn’t mean it’s a cult. Others would be offended if their Christian religion was called a cult which it was until it was able to establish enough followers to be called a religion—Zoroastrianism came first. I spent way too much time taking religion classes, all of my Anthropology of religion PhD holding professor and my religion PhD holding professors said this, so I trust them to be right.

I am not defending any religion nor am I bashing others. I am simply using Christianity as an example since it is the most common in English speaking Countries.

The religion of Scientology isn’t exactly crazy, it’s the people that follow the religion that seem to be. Their ideals and beliefs are far fetched for many of us, understandably so, which is why we see them as crazy. Although more people in the United States believe in aliens than they do in any one religion, we still see their beliefs as far fetched and insane.

To quote the movie 12 Monkeys, “There’s no right, there’s no wrong, there’s only popular opinion.”

Mikewlf337's avatar

@HearTheSilence You’re wrong. I never heard anyone consider Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, or Buddhism a cult.

Mikewlf337's avatar

Scientology sells its teachings. Any respectable religion will not sell it’s teachings. You don’t pay to learn a religion. Yes scientology is crazy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Mikewlf337 Yeah? How luck you are, my friend…let me help you out

here are some people explaining why Islam is a cult
here are some people explaining why Christianity is a cult
here are some people explaining why Judaism is a cult
here are some people discussing Hinduism as a cult
here is a person talking to why Buddhism can be seen as a cult…

point is EVERY religion can be seen as a cult if that’s what you want to see it as and as to what a ‘respectable’ religion is…I see no objective way of defining that…there are plenty of ways money enters every religion and its teachings…ever heard of those preacher/televangelists (the worst kind of scum, imo) screaming on TV making gullible grandmas give their last savings in the name of the Lord?

Mikewlf337's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I don’t see many religions as cults. Yes many gullible grandmas have givin their last savings to televangilists. Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, etc don’t require you to pay to learn their teachings. Only scientology actuall sells its teachings as a fee and to learn more you need to pay more. literally selling thier teaching in tiers and charging higher pricing for more advanced teachings. Some Christians churches require tithing but even the bible says that it isn’t required. Just say give not grudgingly. True some churches collect money for secular reasons. Some people consider any religion they are not a follower of a cult but I don’t. I consider all religions a spiritual belief. I believe in mine but I even consider the other religions something to be respected as the belief of others and I don’t consider them cults. Cults are a label based on a point of view of the majority of the population. Usually outside the norms of the majority of the population. Wether or not something is considered a cult is not really what this question is about. I read some things about scientology that make me believe that it was all about and only about making money from the start. I guess what I am trying to say is label something a cult is no more than a point of view of those outside of the cult.

anartist's avatar

“Crazy” is a meaningless perjorative term.
However a “religion” that uses extreme measures to break your ties with family and other loved ones who do not share your beliefs seems to be a very unhealthy, even morbid sort of a thing.

filmfann's avatar

Scientologists aren’t just crazy. They are full goose bozo crazy. That’s way past bat-shit crazy.

Jeruba's avatar

I think the key concept here is destructive cult. That’s an idea that has been described and written about extensively, including listing their defining characteristics. Not every cult is a destructive cult. Those that are are the dangerous ones.

Nullo's avatar

Scientologists are quite sane. Mislead, but sane. Mostly. I doubt the sanity of the Hollywood crowd, but that’s on general principles.

tigress3681's avatar

@Mikewlf337 I havent heard mainstreams considered cults either.

Assume http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cult is a good definition, because I have always used Websters as an authority, although I am sure we could use the OED online.

1: formal religious veneration : worship (mainstream applies here)
2: a system of religious beliefs and ritual; also : its body of adherents (mainstream applies here although Christians call this the Church, as in the people, not the building)
3: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also : its body of adherents (mainstream are the ones writing the history/definition, so they get to decide if it is orthodox or not, right?)
4: a system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator <health cults> (Christ was said to cure diseases)
5a : great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially : such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad (all religions?)
b : the object of such devotion (all religions?)
c : a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion (the very definition of mainstream, it is not a small group of people)

*whispered parts in parentheses are my comments. Definition 5 is bold because I think that is the basic primary definition of a cult.

YARNLADY's avatar

This discussion is one of the best I have seen on Fluther in a long time. Thank you all for the well documented and well stated comments.

My own opinion is the same as @Blueroses. It is so obviously a fake, I can’t understand the attraction, but I feel the same way about all religions.

Soubresaut's avatar

I’m not sure how bad it is, but is was created by Hubbard in the early 50s for a bet. He bet another scientist he could make a religion that would “work” and people would believe. He bet he could make a ton of money off of this new religion he would make. He openly admitted sometime after establishing Scientology (which he named so because he was a scientist…) he made the entire thing up.

I don’t think comparing it to other religions is fair. Many argue that since people are willing to believe Scientology the same way others believe other religions, then all religions are just as fake.

No. It means that people are gullible. (Gullible, by the way, isn’t in the dictionary…)

It’s different in that the others came about thousands of years ago, from mostly the same basic beginning roots that later took off into different directions, spread with cultures and languages and dialects.
It’s different in that the others were based off of real people—regardless of whether those people were connected to a god or not, they existed; there’s historical proof they at least existed.
It’s different in that the others didn’t start as ways to make money. Some very clever religious businessmen later figured out how to make money off of people’s beliefs. Scientology was created for the money.

I think it produces negative results in that it makes people look naive and beliefs as a whole look foolish. It was created by a man making what he saw as a joke. And he’s still laughing.

Xena's avatar

Yes, Scientology is really crazy. Aliens and whatnot. Honestly, it’s so crazy that I can’t even begin to get into it. Where do I start?

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s a dangerous cult. That’s worse than being crazy.

HearTheSilence's avatar

Scientology is a cult just as much as Christianity is. Don’t think Christianity is a cult? Well guess what, Scientology isn’t either. Just because you don’t agree with it doesn’t make it a cult.

Soubresaut's avatar

@HearTheSilence—It’s not about agreeing with it or not. It’s about the guy who created it openly admitting he made up the most ridiculous thing he could think of that would still play on the human psyche, just to prove to everyone how much people are willing to believe anything; just to prove that because people are willing to believe anything, you can make money off of it.

Yes, there are cults that base themselves off of the Christian religion. That’s true for every religion, and everything. There are extremists. There are people who will use it for money.

And maybe there are some non-cult sides of Scientology. (Not that I know of, but I don’t know near everything.)

Still, you can’t compare Scientology to Christianity, because the base intentions of the two, (as well as Scientology compared to most any other religion,) is wildly different.
Scientology’s main aim is to make a profit, and uses belief in something greater as its selling point. Other religions, at their core, are about belief in something greater, and some people have turned that profitable.
It’s different, in a seemingly subtle but very important way; and that’s a fact.

Nullo's avatar

@HearTheSilence ‘Cult’ in the popular usage means, “a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.” Christianity, being mainstream (indeed, defining the mainstream), does not fit this definition. Scientology does fit, and so is safely called a cult.

HearTheSilence's avatar

Christianity has been proven to not be the first religion established that follows the same belief system of a messiah born from a virgin mother, and yet it prevails because there are so many followers. I don’t knock either religion, I don’t claim any religion myself so I gain nothing out of this banter. My point is that all religions are a hoax, just because one person admits to their belief system being a lie doesn’t mean the others should be looked at as fact-based. All religions set out to make money, if they didn’t, we wouldn’t have priests, pastures, and evangelist. Churches ask you to give 5–15% of your pay check to them, others ask for “donations” and then make you feel miserable by throwing out reasons why they need the money to help others. Some churches use some of that money to actually help others, and that’s great. But the majority of that money goes to their own selfish expenses. I once had the disgusting experience to serve a table of religious men (won’t say what religion to avoid more heat) and they racked up a bill of well over 300 dollars. Why so high? They drank themselves stupid. I once went to my childhood church and flat out asked my priest about Zoroastrianism and why he doesn’t tell people that it existed and he simply say, “I’m here to give hope, not to teach history lessons.” To which I said, oh so you fill people with lies to make them hopeful that your bull is going to give them a better life? I’m sorry but I can’t subscribe to lies. I’d rather be told the truth than live with blinders on my eyes. If others want to have blinders on and believe that Lord Zanu or whatever is real, then so be it. How can so many thousands of people be called a cult when they have already established religion status. It’s not only rude, but prejudice in a sense. Simply because the religion was based on false pretenses and lies doesn’t mean those that do take into consideration it’s belief system should be looked down upon. I don’t believe in God, but I don’t look down on those that do. I don’t smoke pot and yet I live in California, the so-called pot capital of the United States, but I don’t look down on those that smoke it. The thing is, just because we don’t agree with something, or with someone’s belief in religion doesn’t mean they should be crucified for it (pun intended).

@Nullo You might do well to take a class on religious anthropology, then tell me what the meaning of the word cult is. And um…. Scientology is mainstream…. Perhaps it’s location that is making people have different opinions. I live in Los Angeles, we have basically every religion anyone can choose to subscribe to. Here, Scientology is an established religion, thus—not a cult.

Nullo's avatar

@HearTheSilence I got the definition from the dictionary. As for the application, it is, as I said, divergent from the many and varied flavors of Christianity, the latter which account for the majority of professions of faith in the United States.

It is actually unsurprising that there would be lookalikes, according to the Biblical worldview. On the one hand we have God, who wants to save all of mankind. On the other we have Satan who, to spite God, wants to drag the lot of us into Hell. Satan cannot match God in terms of (for lack of a better word) strength and knows it, and so must rely on misleading people. What better deception than one that looks like the truth?

HearTheSilence's avatar

You’re speaking to me about gods and devils as though I believe in it. I’ve already established the fact that I don’t buy into it. And as I’ve said, I think it’s geographical location that is causing the difference in opinion. I see Scientology churches and it doesn’t phase me, I see churches, mosque, synagogues, temples… does nothing for me. It neither rages me or unsettles me. Everyone has a difference of opinion, it’s just shocking that people can’t allow others to believe in what they believe without being called crazy in a derogatory manner, and a cult on top of having established their religion (no matter how wrong or right it is.) It’s not the people’s temple… they’re in the neighborhood and they’re not forcing people to join by knocking on your door or handing out leaflets. They’re also not throwing words of brimstone and threatening me with hell and damnation as other religions. If you ask me, Scientologist are more calm and nicer than other religious fundamentalists. Those that threatening me with hell and damnation, I laugh in their face and say “go to heaven for the weather and hell for the company—I’ll see you there.”

Nullo's avatar

No, I’m telling you how most Christians view the world, in an effort to explain to you that your ‘proto-Christianity’ argument is weaksauce.

I’m not talking about opinion, with regards to the CoS, I’m talking about applied dictionary definitions.

Let us delve once more into common Christian-paradigm thought, shall we?

According to the Bible, non-Christians are going to die for all of eternity. Death is widely considered to be a Bad Thing. God concurs, and so He sent His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not suffer eternal death, but rather be given eternal life.
It’s not very fun, thinking about how your neighbor is very probably damned; this sentiment, added to The Great Commission and the examples of the likes of Paul, Peter, Barnabas, Stephen, etc. etc. etc. is the driving force behind proselytism.

Okay, now go back and re-read that paragraph again.

HearTheSilence's avatar

“I am not defending any religion nor am I bashing others. I am simply using Christianity as an example since it is the most common in English speaking Countries.” as I’ve already said before, perhaps you’ve missed my previous post.

People can believe in whatever religion they want, it doesn’t make one right or another wrong. That’s why the government doesn’t step in unless their are laws being broken.

mattbrowne's avatar

@HearTheSilence – Most forms of Christianity are not cults. But Scientology is. According to Michael Shermer, who is a historian of science and author, a cult is characterized by

1) Veneration, glorification and inerrancy of the former or current leader to the point of virtual sainthood or divinity
2) Acceptance of beliefs and pronouncements on all subjects without applying critical thinking
3) Persuasive techniques from benign to coercive are used to recruit new followers and reinforce current beliefs
4) Hidden agendas exist and the true nature of the group’s beliefs and plans is obscured from or not fully disclosed to potential recruits and the general public
5) There is deceit, therefore recruits and followers are not told everything they should know about the group’s inner circle, and particularly disconcerting flaws or potentially embarrassing events or circumstances are covered up
6) Sometimes there is financial exploitation and recruits and followers are persuaded to invest money and other assets (in very rare cases there’s also sexual exploitation)
7) There is absolute truth which also means that the group has discovered final knowledge on any relevant number of subjects
8) Absolute morality is also being claimed, which means the group’s system of right and wrong thoughts and actions are are applicable to members and non-members alike. Those who strictly follow the moral code become and remain members and those who do not are dismissed or punished

ragingloli's avatar

@mattbrowne
Apart from no.1, these criteria also apply to most other religions. (unless you see Jesus as the former cult leader, in which case it applies to all)
just sayin’

HearTheSilence's avatar

@mattbrowne Okay so let’s look at your HISTORIAN OF SCIENCE (mind you, not a religious historian, or even an anthropological historian which would have rendered you actual credit towards your claims).

2) (This is almost every religion out there lol)
3) (There’s a church my mom subscribes to in which they hire actors to claim they’ve found Jesus. It makes me giggle, but at the same time, frustrates me that gullible people like my mother subscribe to it.)
5) (ummmm yeah, I had mentioned before that a group of religious men came into my restaurant and got stupid drunk, which is against their religion to over indulge especially on alcohol. And I also mentioned that I asked a priest why he didn’t teach about the true origins of “Christianity”)
6) As I said before, almost every single church tells you to “donate” a percentage of every check to your church. Others guilt you into giving it [as I mentioned before]. As for sexual exploitation, you must not hear about the numerous accounts of, mainly, boys coming forth saying they were sexually abused by priest.)
8) (This is almost every religion out there also lol)

Hmmm… I guess if a so-called religious group doesn’t meet the 8 characteristics, then they get to fly under the radar.

Either way, I’m repeating myself, everything I’ve mentioned before has been stated a numerous amount of times, if not by me, by others. To reiterate for the last time:

“All religions that are not Christianity are deemed a cult. This includes Catholisism which is now considered a sect of Christianity. The Mormon religion was also considered a cult until they were able to reproduce so rapidly (which was the point) and gain sect status as well. Simply because we don’t believe in a religion doesn’t mean it’s a cult. Others would be offended if their Christian religion was called a cult which it was until it was able to establish enough followers to be called a religion—Zoroastrianism came first. I spent way too much time taking religion classes, all of my Anthropology of religion PhD holding professor and my religion PhD holding professors said this, so I trust them to be right.”

“I am not defending any religion nor am I bashing others. I am simply using Christianity as an example since it is the most common in English speaking Countries.”

“Perhaps it’s location that is making people have different opinions. I live in Los Angeles, we have basically every religion anyone can choose to subscribe to. Here, Scientology is an established religion, thus—not a cult.”

“I think it’s geographical location that is causing the difference in opinion. I see Scientology churches and it doesn’t phase me, I see churches, mosque, synagogues, temples… does nothing for me. It neither rages me or unsettles me. Everyone has a difference of opinion, it’s just shocking that people can’t allow others to believe in what they believe without being called crazy in a derogatory manner, and a cult on top of having established their religion (no matter how wrong or right it is.) It’s not the people’s temple… they’re in the neighborhood and they’re not forcing people to join by knocking on your door or handing out leaflets. They’re also not throwing words of brimstone and threatening me with hell and damnation as other religions. If you ask me, Scientologist are more calm and nicer than other religious fundamentalists. Those that threatening me with hell and damnation, I laugh in their face and say ‘go to heaven for the weather and hell for the company—I’ll see you there.’”

And lastly…

“There’s no right, there’s no wrong, there’s only popular opinion.” (which ties in with my difference-of-opinion-mainly-due-to-location concept.)

Either way, I’m removing my needle from the record, there’s no point in stating the same things over and over again.

mattbrowne's avatar

No, it doesn’t apply to almost all forms of religion. You probably need to learn more about these various forms and not make the error to equate religious fundamentalism with all of religion. When you have a theory of something i.e. all religions are cults, you interpret the results inside your theory. When Columbus arrived in the New World, he saw Asian spices and roots. His theory said he should be in Asia.

Your conclusions also seem to be based on personal anecdotes. Pseudoscience points to anecdotes. Science points to reputable studies.

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