General Question

allen_o's avatar

Should scientology be treated as a religeon?

Asked by allen_o (1485points) May 5th, 2009 from iPhone

Even though it was created by a science fiction author and is regarded as a cult by many, does it deserve it’s tax free religeous status in the US

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33 Answers

asmonet's avatar

All religions were created by someone, why should we single this one out?

allen_o's avatar

@asmonet, because we know who Ron L Hubbard is, we know he was a chronic liar and we know that scientology lead to members disconnecting from non believers. Plus a religeon that you have to pay to be a member is not a religeon, it’s a cult

Bluefreedom's avatar

I guess if Satanism can be recognized as a religion (and it is), Scientology should be afforded that status also. Even though some people indiscriminately pick and choose religions that they think shouldn’t be recognized due to their own reasoning or beliefs, which they have every right to do, it doesn’t automatically disqualify the validity of those religions. I’m sure practitioners of Scientology would have some strong opinions on this question such as them not considering themselves a ‘cult’ and them expecting to be afforded the same or similar benefits that other religions expect.

I may not agree with all the religions out there and in everything they believe in and even though everyone has the right to question or doubt someone else’s beliefs or their religion, that doesn’t make views to the contrary any less important in the whole scheme of things, in my very humble opinion. Everyone should have the right to believe in, worship, and follow whatever belief systems they want to without fear of persecution, discrimination, or interference from outside influences.

basp's avatar

all religions, by definition, are cults. Scientology is no different in that respect.

cheebdragon's avatar

Why do you care what they spend their money on?

asmonet's avatar

@allen_o: You don’t pay to be a member, you pay for seminars, retreats and courses. Even Catholic churches charge for similar events.

cookieman's avatar

Sure, why not?

All religions are made up anyway.

maybe, just maybe, this is the one

Harp's avatar

The criteria that the IRS uses to define a religion for tax exemtion purposes are seriously screwed up anyway. Here they are, just for reference:

a distinct legal existence,

a recognized creed and form of worship,

a definite and distinct ecclesiastical government,

a formal code of doctrine and discipline

a distinct religious history,

a membership not associated with any other church or denomination,

an organization of ordained ministers,

ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed studies,

a literature of its own,

established places of worship,

regular congregations,

regular religious services,

Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young,

school for the preparation of its ministers.

Pretty much only mainstream Judeo/Christian religions can meet this description, but the IRS realizes that there would be serious constitutional issues if it excluded Quakers because their meetings have no prescribed character or officiating minister, or Buddhists because they don’t have Sunday schools, etc.

The rules exist so that the IRS can have some legal basis for excluding flagrantly fraudulent organizations, but because of the unwieldy nature of the rules and the inconsistency with which they’ve been applied, they’re extremely vulnerable to legal challenge. And the Scientologists have demonstrated that they’ll throw all of their considerable legal muscle against any challenge.

allen_o's avatar

@basp. Haha, good point!

I don’t know, there is just something about scientology that scares me, when you read about OT levels, xenu and e-meters I feel like there is some kind of sinister hidden agenda, a church of Scientology has just opened near me in Manchester, England, and people are actually buying into this shit, I don’t mind Scientology being in America, lots of crazy things happen in America, but I thought the English would have a bit more common sense

reijinni's avatar

In my mind, they are a money-grubbing cult.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

Scientology is just like any other crackpot religion, like Christianity, Mormonism or Bahai, or even Jews for Jesus. If they need tax exempt status, let em have it. The Catholic church has it, and if the Catholics had to pay taxes, my property tax bill would drop 20%. That’s close to $330. Money I could use elsewhere.

I started the Orgasmic Church of Evelyn a few years ago, and I suppose you could call it a religion. I don’t have tax exempt status simply because I am too lazy to apply for it. Besides, OCE is more of a humorous hobby than a legitimate business.

On a more serious note, OCE could never be a successful religion because it doesn’t ask for or charge $$$ to belong. Like the air that we breathe, it is pretty much free. If it became as popular as any of the more successful cults, it would probably ruin the fun of it. That, and I’d have to make up a bunch of rules, and I don’t want to tell people what they have to do, I’d prefer they figure it out on their own. As Evelyn says, life is about choices, make your own and be happy.

westy81585's avatar

Scientology is not a religion (in fact it didn’t even consider itself one until it decided it wanted the protections that religions are granted and the tax deductions).

It’s AT BEST a story contrived by some wack job, run by a group of people who are stealing money from the poor saps they sucker into it.

You say give them tax exempt status… news for you, they have a tax exempt status that NO other religion has, they’re allowed to deduct all these “courses” that they offer for “education.” Something no other religion can do (there are actually a litany of lawsuits pending).

This is a “religion” that hires private investigators to harass anyone that so much as does a news story on them. A religion that saw 11 founding members (including the creators wife) go to jail back in the 70s for the largest infiltration of the US government in history (they stole info from the IRS and other government organizations, pertaining to investigations of them). A religion that just a year ago garnered monthly protests from concerned citizens, that numbered worldwide in the tens of thousands.

If you want to scare/education yourself about this cult, go to youtube and just look up some info.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Watch what you say, they have lawyers.

One of the best TV series of the 1990s, Fox’s Millennium, did a great parody of a, uh, religion called “Selfosophy” that might bear some resemblance to the subject of this question (off mike: Mr. Dershowitz, can I say that?). You can still get the series on DVD; this is one of the rare humorous episodes of a very dark, scary show. Well worth a watch.

casheroo's avatar

I agree with @asmonet It’s all made up.

allen_o's avatar

Well said westy

basp's avatar

There is something about all organized religions that I find disconcerning. Basically, in orgaized religion, you have one person or a group of people telling all the followers what to believe and how to live your life.
Then again, to each his own….

allen_o's avatar

Do you think that the world really needs a new religeon?

DrBill's avatar

Join me at The Church of the Poisoned Mind

mattbrowne's avatar

No, it should not be treated as a religion, but as a dangerous (criminal) organization. I agree with the views of the German government on this issue. Scientology is unconstitutional.

From Wikipedia:

The German government does not recognize Scientology as a religion, and regards some of the goals of Scientology as conflicting with the German constitution.

Critics maintain that Scientology is ‘a business-driven, psychologically manipulative, totalitarian ideology with world-dominating aspirations,’ and that it tricks its members into parting with significant sums of money for Scientology courses.

The German domestic intelligence service, whose brief is to protect the German constitution, regards the aims of Scientology as running counter to Germany’s free and democratic order, and has been monitoring Scientology in a number of German states since 1997.

allen_o's avatar

very interesting matt…

Qingu's avatar

I think it’s obviously a religion. I don’t think any religion deserves tax-exempt status, though. At least not by default. They can get the same tax-exempt status as other non-profits if they can establish their non-profit-ness.

I don’t really see how the German government’s complaints don’t apply equally to many forms of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, which also brainwash and threaten their members and extract large sums of money from them.

westy81585's avatar

@Qingu Go watch some youtube videos, and you’ll see they’re a criminal organization, NOT a religion.

Qingu's avatar

I’ve probably seen them. Again, what’s the significant difference here? Evangelical megachurches also threaten their members, demand tithes, shun apostates, and spend vast sums of money litigating and lobbying for political purposes. Should they be treated as criminals?

And haven’t I made it clear that I get really annoyed when people say “go watch these Youtube videos!” instead of arguing their points?

tiffyandthewall's avatar

is nearly every religion not completely ridiculous? please, let’s not pinpoint scientology of all religions to debate the credibility of.

westy81585's avatar

@Qingu @tiffyandthewall I will highlight a couple of my “favorite” points of the so called religions of Scientology.

They will send private investigators to harass people who speak out against them. Organize protests and false slander. A woman in the 70’s who wrote a book about the religion in a negative light, they actually found handwritten documents from the churches leader on instructions that all members should make every move to insure this woman ended up in an asylum or prison, thru false methods. If you spoke out against them right now, you’d likely have a few hundred lawsuits on your hand. At the protests last year, the people who applied for the protest permits had their names on public record. Many of them found themselves hit with thousands of lawsuits from the “church,” ranging from bomb threats, intimidation, conspiracy to murder, etc.

The “church” considers psychology and any associated drugs to be the root of all evil. They blame the holocaust on it. I believe the exact quote was to call it a “NAZI science.” Which is very ironic since most of their teachings are just backwards versions of psychology. Members are forbidden from using psychiatric drugs or seeking treatment of the sort. One kid a few years back born into a scientology family heard voices. The doctors said he needed drugs and extreme psychiatric care, his mother said no, the scientology prescribed vitamins would do. Well too bad for her the voices in her sons head told him to stab her 50+ times one day.

And last but not least that I’ll cover here, disconnection. Scientology will actually “tell” and force you to break of relations with family and friends who realize you’re being conned and try to tell you. There are websites dedicated to this from disconnected family members trying to get in touch with loved ones they’ve not heard of in years.

They’re criminals, not a religion.

Qingu's avatar

@westy81585, hiring PI’s? For a thousand years, the official policy of the Catholic church was to imprison, torture, and kill people who spoke about against Christianity. A significant number of Muslims today support killing apostates and blasphemers today.

Scientology opposes psychology for stupid religious reasons. Evangelicals oppose evolution and geology for stupid religious reasons. Some Christians in America oppose all medical technology and rely solely on prayer.

As for disconnection, evangelicals do it, Muslims do it, and they’ve been doing it for centuries.

I think the problem is that you have a rosy view of what the word “religion” means. You seem to think that if something is harmful or irrational, it can’t be a religion. In fact, all religions are harmful and irrational, or have been for significant portions of their history.

westy81585's avatar

@Qingu This is the year 2009 in America. No other religions do those things anymore (and most haven’t for 100’s of years). And evolution compared to medical psychiatry, are two very different things. The complaints with evolution are merely on how man came to be here. Scientologies complaints on psychology do not compare.

And I dunno what religions you’ve been seeing, but I’ve never seen ANY other religion practice disconnection, let alone to the level Scientology does.

Qingu's avatar

@westy81585, first of all you seem to be saying that the definition of “religion” is different in 2009 then it was in 1800 or 1200, or in 2009 Saudi Arabia. That makes no sense.

Secondly, you said “no other religions” do these things anymore, which is absolutely false. As I said, evangelicals routinely brainwash and threaten their members and ask them to cut off ties to unbelievers. You said “America,” but Muslims living in Western countries—not to mention Saudi Arabia—do the same thing, and some believe blasphemers (i.e. critics) should be killed.

Thirdly, you’re arguing that denying evolution isn’t as bad as denying psychology because psychology provides more benefits to humanity. That’s debatable; I think evolution clearly provides benefits too as it’s the biological basis for immunology and other areas of medicine, but that’s beside the point—because there are Christian groups today who believe that prayer is a valid substitute for medical treatment.

All religions started as cults. All religions, at many points in their history, did the exact same things that you are complaining about with scientology—and many more, such as torture and genocide. Again, your problem seems to be that you have a rosy definition of what the word “religion” means. Or perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the history and current practices of non-Scientology religions. But limiting the word “religion” to belief systems that you personally don’t object to is fallacious.

westy81585's avatar

@Qingu Dude I dunno how better to explain it to you. You say you want me to explain it but you’re not understanding anything I’m saying. Maybe I’m just not speaking clearly enough.

So I say AGAIN. Go to youtube, watch some videos, check out some websites, and decide for yourself. I think you’ll see pretty quickly why Scientology can’t even shake a stick at one of the main religions of the world as far as legitimacy.

I mean for example, they have no god. Whatsoever.

Qingu's avatar

@westy81585, once again, I don’t respond to entreaties to “watch videos” or “read this website.” Make your own arguments, please.

And as I said, I am quite familiar with how fucked up Scientology is. I’m familiar with Xenu, with the brainwashing and the aggressive PI’s and legal threats. It is absolutely a cult. You are not responding to my counterpoint: that all major religions have been or currently are just as bad.

Zen Buddhism does not have any gods and is widely considered a religion. That said, the thetans in Scientology seem to function much like religious spirits. The gods of most polytheistic religions are not functionally any different than alien overlords like Xenu.

And what do you mean by “legitimacy”? Please be specific: why is a story about a space emperor and volcanoes less legitimate than a story about talking snake in a magic garden?

mattbrowne's avatar

Whenever threats are involved organizations will lose their status as a religion. Many islamist extremist organizations are under observation by the domestic intelligence service. In a few cases this led to indictments and trials and court rulings declaring the organization illegal and they ceased to exists (officially). It’s not done too often. People go underground and are harder to observe.

allen_o's avatar

What do you think of operation snow white?

reijinni's avatar

@allen_o , I hope they get a new roommate named ‘Bubba’.

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