In the interests of transparency, I must disclose that I am a committed, practising atheist. I must also say that this piece is neither suitably researched, nor reviewed for accuracy. This is because I lack the academic imperative to look closely into a subject about which I have already made up my mind. The assertions made are based almost entirely upon personal opinion and anecdotal data readily available in the public domain.
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Why choose these three very different organisations to write about?
It’s simply because they share fundamental similarities. They are each based upon belief systems, they each have global reach, they each function on their capacity to have power over people, and they are each corrupt in their own particular way.
I’ll use Scientology as a baseline.
It’s obvious to many that this organisation is not only corrupt, but dangerous and destructive of human life. Drawing comparisons with the other two organisations may raise some eyebrows, especially in any adherents to those religions who might read this work.
L. Ron Hubbard is the Muhammad or Jesus Christ of Scientology. Now fortunately deceased, Hubbard was either a brilliant con man who remained a cynical parasite until his death, or a charlatan who came to actually believe the crap that he peddled to gullible or vulnerable people, or a nut case who accidentally made a huge fortune from selling nonsense to needy people who were susceptible to his charms.
“Dianetics” is Hubbard’s equivalent to Christian or Muslim faith. The technicalities of the “religion” are irrelevant to this piece of writing, but anyone with a few hours to spare, and a predilection for discovering the bizarre, can quickly and easily research the topic.
It is Scientology’s recruitment strategy which makes it relevant to this discussion.
All organisations, religious and otherwise, recruit members in order, initially, to survive, and then so that they may grow and gain power. The fundamental purpose of organising is the attainment and use power, with a variety of purposes in mind. Some of these purposes are socially benign, some more aggressively positive, and some range in degrees of negativity from nuisance level to diabolical.
Some organisations, such as the Mafia and the major drug cartels, are evil from the outset, whilst others become evil over time. Whilst Scientology may have fitted comfortably into the first category, aspects of Christianity and Islam have undoubtedly found their place in the second.
Hubbard’s growth strategy was based upon identifying people who had a need for his “religion”. These people seem to possess one of two common personality types, which make them susceptible to the brainwashing which is a phenomenon common to all three of the organisations discussed here.
Many people who live with fear and uncertainty need to have an anchor point, to which they may attach their reason for existence. Others have a need to feel that they are making a contribution to society, through what they see as the use of positive action. Whether fear-based or altruistic, it is the need to seek affirmation through contact with like-minded individuals, which drives these people to organised “religion”.
Hubbard set out to find people whose belief systems could be manipulated because of their need for acceptance by people similar to themselves.
It appears that he used three principle methods to attract these individuals – evangelism, direct action recruitment and family progression.
Having established a base through his own spruiking of the benefits of engaging in Scientology, Hubbard went on to more direct methods of recruitment by, for example, setting up shop fronts in major cities, where suggestible passers-by could be roped into doing “personality assessments”, in order to determine their suitability for acceptance into Scientology and the pursuit of its grand plan to rid the world of all evil. In America, these have been extremely successful.
The third recruitment avenue has been through familial links. Parents and siblings who wished to retain contact with Scientology followers became followers themselves, and children were born into Scientology, being given no choice but to conform. The links to recruitment into Christianity and Islam may be apparent here.
With needy people recruited, Hubbard’s growth strategy involved indoctrination by saturation. He developed a structured system whereby participants would pay increasingly large sums of money, in order to buy the privilege of climbing the long and expensive ladder to Scientology nirvana. During the ascent, acolytes would convince themselves, and each other, of the rectitude of the journey.
Some followers, those who were considered special enough to join one of the militaristic arms of the organisation, would refrain from having children, going so far as to procure unnecessary abortions, in order to more fully worship Hubbard and his teachings.
Those others who had children were required to indoctrinate their offspring in order to increase Scientologists’ numbers, and to limit criticism from within the “religion”.
An offense, such as criticism of the organisation, resulted in the miscreant being excommunicated, not only from the “church”, but from all family members as well.
The evil of Hubbard and his band of followers knows no bounds.
So, the salient features of Scientology are these: complete domination of the participant by the organisation, absolute indoctrination as a means to ensure compliance, and fearsome retribution enacted for non-compliance.
Islam is different to Scientology in that it is a recognised religion with a more ethical and spiritual base, and which worships a deity or similar entity. It is also a little older than Scientology, having its origins as far back as the 6th or 7th century, or even earlier.
Islam’s god is called Allah, and, like Christianity’s god, he is all powerful and prescribes modes of behaviour for his followers. Allah’s teachings have been conveyed to earth principally via Muhammad (or Mohammed), a prophet.
There may be some similarities here, between Islam and Christianity, with Moses delivering the Ten Commandments, and Jesus Christ spreading the teachings of his god. Both religions are governed by teachings recorded in holy books.
In both religions, devotees must submit totally to their god’s will, if they are to be rewarded in a life after death. The children of Muslims are brainwashed from birth and forced to adopt Muslim beliefs and practices. In modern societies some young Muslims are rebelling against the constraints of the religion and choosing to live a secular existence. This pattern is mirrored within many branches of the Christian religion.
Sharia Law is intended to rule the lives of Muslims. Among other things, it regulates dress and marriage practices, and, in a fundamental application, prescribes extreme punishments for non-compliance. However, many contemporary Muslims, like their enlightened Christian counterparts, choose to follow only certain aspects of their religion, foregoing, for example, arranged marriages, discrimination against women and male dominance.
Key similarities with Scientology lie in three principle aspects.
In each case there are strict demands for specific behaviours to be used by followers. Scientologists must complete a set, and expensive, course of study in order to reach their goal of complete enlightenment. Devoted Muslims must pray, and pray, and pray some more, facing in a specific geographical direction, from a kneeling position, at prescribed times. They must adopt a dress code, designed by men to ensure that women are de-personalised. Women must submit themselves to male control, in an intensely patriarchal organisation.
Failure to adhere to these draconian codes of conduct results in the most extreme forms of punishment.
With respect to Scientology, this is banishment, not only from the organisation, but from the transgressor’s family. Supplemented by physical and emotional harassment, these punishments have led to suicides.
The situation in the more fundamentalist Muslim families can be more extreme, with male family members murdering female transgressors, in Muslim sanctioned “honour killings”. In less severe cases offenders may simply be ostracised for life.
The second aspect of similarity lies in the requirement that followers become entirely subjugated by the dictates of each organisation. Complete adherence is the minimum requirement. Whilst adults may initially engage in the organisation with some semblance of free will, children are systematically indoctrinated, from birth, having no opportunity to question the beliefs of their parents and teachers.
This programming is so effectively conducted, that the child of a Scientologist or fanatical Muslim, may never give consideration to the rationality of their own behaviours.
Finally, these two organisations are similar in that they lure, and retain, followers with the promise of a never-ending, euphoric, spiritual existence.
In Islam, and known as Akhirah, life after death is determined at a Day of Judgement, when the dead are brought before Allah. On a balance of good deeds against bad, the dead will be raised into Jannah (Paradise) or condemned to Jahannam (Hell). The parallels with Christian beliefs will be apparent.
This promise of reward is a key factor in securing the services of jihadists who, in a perversion of the faith, are willing to commit suicide in the furtherance of the cause of Islam.
Scientologist also pursue the reward of life after death. Upon Hubbard’s death, his fanatical successor, David Miscavige, announced that L. Ron had left behind his earthly body, because it was no longer of use to him, and would continue to operate as a spiritual entity, in pursuing the practice of Scientology. Devoted parishioners could also achieve this state of extreme enlightenment, once their earthly bodies had reached their use-by date, as long as they had spent enough money in order to climb the spiritual ladder.
As Shia and Sunni are sects of Islam, Catholicism and Protestantism are two denominations of Christianity. Protestantism itself, is then divided into sundry groups, such as Anglicanism, Lutheranism and Methodism.
Catholicism, with more than a billion members, is perhaps the most successful Christian group, certainly in commercial terms. It bears more than a passing resemblance to both Scientology and Islam, albeit in different ways.
Rather than utilising shop front recruiting agencies, as Scientology does, Catholicism, like Islam, relies upon conversion through evangelism, and in-house expansion through family indoctrination.
Records indicate the existence of the church at Rome, in the time of Jesus and the apostles, during the first century AD. At that time, Christianity was spread by word of mouth, through the work of missionaries, whose task it was to convince people of the Christian beliefs. The carrot which they dangled for compliance with Christian behaviours was attractive indeed – everlasting life.
Islam, and later Scientology, both employ a slight variation on this theme, as motivation for adherence to their particular principles. It’s possible, and maybe probable, that these organisations plagiarised Christian teachings, for their own ends.
Like all successful large-scale organisations, commercial and otherwise, Catholicism, unlike some branches of Islam, has an in-built hierarchy. In general, devotees of Islam have a direct relationship with their god, no clerical intermediaries being necessary. Of the two principal sects, Shiites are closer in their management structure to Catholics, having mosques and some formal clerical leadership.
At this point I must state that, since I am not a theologian, the following will undoubtedly contain errors and omissions, and my comments are purely conjecture.
The Catholics developed ministries and churches as a way of spreading the word of their god and attracting membership through the promise of a better life, now and in the hereafter. As the religion became larger and more organised, a hierarchy of ministers grew, with the more important ministers becoming bishops. The bishop of the congregation of Rome gained even greater power and importance because of the religion’s base there, and eventually this role morphed into that which became known as Pope.
It was probably before this point that human nature began to impact upon the growth and development of the religion, and the corruption of the fundamental teachings of Jesus began.
I suspect that part-time ministers, who also had to make a living, saw that they could do a better job in ministering and converting, if they went full-time. To do this they would have to find some way to pay the bills. Enter the religious donation.
The ministers who gave the coolest sermons and inspired the largest number of followers, would have earned the greatest number of donations and would also have established themselves as skilled ministers, at a level above the ordinary preacher.
It’s possible that some unscrupulous people saw ministering as a way to make money without having to resort to manual labour, and that they pretended piety whilst behaving hypocritically.
Fair or fake, ministers began to gain power. The larger the congregation, the greater the power and the greater the accumulation of funds, funds specifically given by followers, in order to enhance and grow the religion, as a tribute to their god.
The more powerful and wealthy ministers were able to build specific places for meetings, all to spread the word of Jesus and to glorify their god.
Some of these churches were undoubtedly very humble, providing only a sheltered area in which devotees could gather to share their worship, but the more successful evangelists were increasingly able to build more and more lavish structures, and to fill these with icons made of precious metals and jewels, all paid for by the faithful.
As the religion expanded, so did the opportunities for corruption, human nature being what it is.
Followers of religions, like followers of sporting clubs or political groups, will range along a continuum of commitment from mild to zealous. Some believers will be comfortable in their relatively passive acceptance of the teachings of the religion, whilst others will feel such a strong commitment that they must involve themselves to the “nth” degree. It’s part of human nature.
Some will become so immersed in the culture of the religion, that it consumes their existence. The iconography and rituals of the religion may actually become more important than the beliefs themselves.
Fanatics, using the money provided by their mass of followers, may build and occupy amazing churches and cathedrals, and even go to the extent of creating a separate religious state, housing an enormous and incredibly lavish palace. The leader of such a religion may come to be regarded as a god’s human presence upon the earth.
What Jesus Christ would have thought of such exploitation of his teachings is open to speculation. What had started out as promoting a belief in certain principles of acceptable human behaviour, may have morphed into a vast commercial enterprise.
Corruption in the Catholic Church is, perhaps, no worse than corruption in other mainstream churches. Although legendary, it probably attracts more attention than others, due the church’s higher public profile, and the nature of its corrupt practices.
[When it comes to “religious” corruption, L. Ron Hubbard wrote the textbook, and it has been refined by David Miscavige. Scientology makes the Catholic Church look squeaky clean.]
The origins of celibacy may extend as far back as the second or third century. It was probably based upon superstition, which led to a belief that priests could not be devoted to both their god and their wives. In order to be the most pious, a person must devote himself entirely to serving his god and his church. Split allegiances were not acceptable.
In these times, devout women, too, chose to remain celibate, in order to dedicate themselves to following the teachings of Christ. As early as the fourth century, women made vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
The rules regarding celibacy in the Catholic church seem to have varied enormously over time, with married priests presiding over their flocks at some times, whilst at others it was rigidly enforced.
What the church did not understand in the earliest days, was the fact that celibacy is an entirely unnatural state. The human drive to reproduce is one of the strongest of the primal drives, and cannot be denied, much less eradicated. The church was, is and always will be, on a hiding to nothing in its quest to have priests and nuns remain celibate. You simply can’t fight human nature.
However, the Catholic church continues to try.
What cannot be stated with any degree of certainty, is a causal link between this ludicrous practice and the incidence of paedophilia, and sexual assault of Catholic nuns, by priests, which has become increasingly publicised in the last decade.
Whilst this issue is of a most serious nature, it is not the purpose of this writing to investigate it in any depth. It can simply be stated that Catholic priests have sexually assaulted and raped numerous children and nuns.
It is the intent of this writing to examine this matter from the perspective of the church as an organisation, and one with enormous commercial interests.
Scientology has been on the receiving end of terrible publicity in recent years, created primarily by people who have “seen the light”. The organisation has gone to extraordinary lengths to counter this publicity, spending huge amounts on challenging the data produced by its critics. It has resorted to mental and physical intimidation, but the dirt still keeps on coming.
This organisation is fighting for its survival, for the maintenance of its power over its followers, and for the on-going financial rewards this dominance brings. This “religion” is far more concerned with the maintenance of its structure, and its attendant benefits to those in power, than it is to any spiritual or ideological matters.
All large organisations, commercial, military, religious, protect their reputations, at almost any cost, since reputations are the foundation upon which commercial or ethical success is built and maintained.
The damage done to the Catholic organisation by the sexual assault crimes committed by priests should be incalculable and should place the very existence of the organisation in jeopardy. Hence the massive cover-ups, unconscionable behaviours which extend as far as the Vatican itself, but human nature has, once again, intervened to save the church.
With an almost primitive need to believe, Catholics, whilst condemning the rogues, appear to have closed ranks. In order to protect themselves and their beliefs and the strength of the church, many Catholics have chosen to adopt an almost denialistic stance.
They condemn the behaviour of the guilty priests, and even agree that the church has questions to answer about the cover-ups, but protect their beliefs in the ideology by suggesting that “these miscreants are not true Catholics, not part of our church”.
The denial doesn’t end at the level of the lay member. Following the quashing of his guilty verdict for paedophilia, Cardinal George Pell, a senior Vatican bureaucrat, was aggressively defended by his Pope, who attacked the veracity of Pell’s alleged victims. The wheels of justice are still turning where Pell is concerned, but, in the eyes of the Vatican, Pell is as pure as the driven snow.
An organisation, commercial, military, religious, protects itself, even at the expense of its people, and the truth.
Like Scientology, the Catholic church is an extremely successful business. However, the Catholic church is a multi-billion dollar organisation, which helps to explain the origins of incredible amounts of church money which are spent in maintaining the Pope’s lifestyle in his Vatican palace.
Contrast this with:
“The Catholic Church has asked some priests receiving JobKeeper to donate almost half of the payment back to the organisation.
ABC Investigations has obtained letters sent to priests about the taxpayer-funded payment which ask them to hand back some of the money to help make up for a plunge in donations from parishioners.
The letters, sent to clergy in the Diocese of Parramatta in Western Sydney, say an “amount between $500 and $700 per fortnight is recommended” to “assist with future payments and the balance sheet”.
“The closure of churches and the stopping of public masses has had a drastic effect on not only our parish communities, but also the pastoral revenue collection,” another letter reads.”
Is it any wonder that the church is judged by some as nothing more than a money-making enterprise, with a hierarchy so divorced from reality as to have lost sight of its fundamental purpose?
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So, despite catering to the genuine spiritual and cultural needs of many of its adherents, Scientology rips off thousands of people for their life’s savings and persecutes those who dissent, to the point of suicide, all in the guise of religion. It is an evil, shameless organisation, and it should be destroyed.
There are many Muslims, like many Christians, who follow the basic pro-social, community-welfare centred, family-oriented teachings of their religion. These are genuine believers, people who need to feel that there is a finer purpose to living, and a way to achieve life after death. They find comfort in the belief that a greater power exists, one which can explain the evil in the world, and lift from them, the burden of their own active or passive participation in that evil.
These followers can do great good, living their lives according to a positive set of human values, but nothing disguises the fact that Islam also uses and abuses women in the pursuit of male dominance. Its most extreme zealots commit unspeakable acts of terror, in order to protect the power base of the males who control the organisation.
Some terrorists are irrational fanatics who believe everything the religion teaches, and, as such, may be said to be following, in good faith, some principle or belief, warped thought it may be, but others are nothing more than sacrilegious thugs.
The Catholic church canvasses all aspects of human behaviour, from the righteous to the despicable. Over centuries, it has changed dramatically. Once it simply fulfilled the needs of those who required emotional, moral and physical support, people who, perhaps, felt that they lacked the necessary strength to accept total personal responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
Hidden within, and too often by, the workings of this huge organisation, evil has flourished. It is not good enough to say that the rotten apples on this tree are few. They have been, and continue to be, protected by the church, and, as a result, the church has lost credibility.
Scientology, Islam and Catholicism must all bear the mark of shame, but it is for their denial to children, their right to free will, that I offer the most scathing criticism.
Children are born without beliefs and without prejudice. With the exception of the behaviours associated with primal drives, their behaviours are all learned, taught by older children and adults. They learn by experience.
It is an almighty and immoral presumption, that adults are entitled to pass on only their own beliefs to their children, conditioning those children to follow behaviours which they are not permitted to question.
Sadly, too many people of faith are so self-centred that they cannot conceive of any view other than their own, as legitimate. As a result, too many children are prevented from making their own minds up about the feasibility, or otherwise, of religions.
Parents who take seriously their responsibilities as teachers of their children, will always present them with a balanced education. With respect to religion, this means teaching, not solely about the parents’ chosen faith, but alternative beliefs as well, encouraging children to research and choose a belief system which suits them, even if it doesn’t include a religious component.