Tag Archives | Cults

Scientology On Its Last Legs?

Founding Church of Scientology in Washington DC. Photo: Ben Schumin (CC)There once was a time when the media were scared to report on the madness that is the "Church" of Scientology for fear of costly litigation. No more. While there have been occasional reports over the years, last year ABC News went hard after Scientology leader David Miscavige. Now the New York Times runs a front page story suggesting that the "Church" is losing members fast and may have as few as 25,000 members in the United States, versus the millions claimed by the organization:
Raised as Scientologists, Christie King Collbran and her husband, Chris, were recruited as teenagers to work for the elite corps of staff members who keep the Church of Scientology running, known as the Sea Organization, or Sea Org. They signed a contract for a billion years — in keeping with the church’s belief that Scientologists are immortal. They worked seven days a week, often on little sleep, for sporadic paychecks of $50 a week, at most. But after 13 years and growing disillusionment, the Collbrans decided to leave...
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Baby ‘Starved to Death’ Because He Did Not Say Amen

On the AP via the Sydney Morning Herald:

(Left) Ria Ramkissoon and her son Javon Thompson, (top right) Queen Antoinette and (bottom right) Trevia Williams.

For more than a week, Ria Ramkissoon watched passively as her one-year-old son wasted away, denied food and water because the older woman she lived with said it was God’s will. Javon Thompson was possessed by an evil spirit, Ramkissoon was told, because he didn’t say “Amen” during a mealtime prayer. Javon didn’t talk much, given his age, but he had said “Amen” before, Ramkissoon testified in a US court in Baltimore.

On the day Javon died, Ramkissoon was told to “nurture him back to life”. She mashed up some carrots and tried to feed the boy, but he was no longer able to swallow. Ramkissoon put her hands on his chest to confirm that his heart had stopped beating.

Ramkissoon and several other people knelt down and prayed that he would rise from the dead.

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Failed Prophecies, Good For Business? Everything You Know About God Is Wrong

The following is part of John Gorenfeld's article "'End of the World Prophet Found in Error, Not Insane': A Failed Prophet's Survival Handbook," one of over 40 articles in the Disinformation anthology, Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion, edited by Russ Kick. For more on John Gorenfeld, check out www.gorenfeld.net.

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CrystalBallThought about becoming an end-of-the-world prophet? It's not the make-or-break enterprise you might think, as much as your gut feeling may be that mobs of angry parishioners await the fortune-teller who talks them into making room on the calendar for the final trumpets, the Rapture, World War III, the return of Jesus, global computer meltdowns, or post-game shows on life hosted by great messiahs stepping out of the pages of history — only for the poor dupes to find themselves paying bills the next week. Time and again, it hasn't worked that way. The beauty of blown prophecies is that failure is the beginning of success. That is, if you adopt the techniques of history's most successful faulty prophets. Through time-tested rebranding methods, they've reinvented failure as proof that they were righter than anyone could have imagined. The very glue holding your congregation together can be a mistaken prediction and what you've invested in it. Thousands of apostles of Shaini Goodwin of Tacoma, Washington, known to admirers as the "Dove of Oneness" and to the Tacoma News Tribune as a "cybercult queen," hold out for a Judgment Day that will justify all of her bad guesses.
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Everyone’s a Skeptic — About Other Religions… Merry Swik, Discordians!

The following article “Everyone’s a Skeptic — About Other Religions” is written by James A. Haught, one of over 40 articles in the Disinformation anthology, Everything You Know About God Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Religion, edited by Russ Kick.

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RedPillBluePillReligion is an extremely touchy topic. Church members often become angry if anyone questions their supernatural dogmas. (Bertrand Russell said this is because they subconsciously sense that their beliefs are irrational.) So I try to avoid confrontations that can hurt feelings. Nearly everyone wants to be courteous.

But sometimes disputes can’t be avoided. If you think the spirit realm is imaginary, and if honesty makes you say so, you may find yourself under attack. It has happened to many doubters: Thomas Jefferson was called a “howling atheist.” Leo Tolstoy was labeled an “impious infidel.”

Well, if you wind up in a debate, my advice is: Try to be polite.… Read the rest

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Leave Churchill Out of Scientology, Says Family

From The Independent:

Fight them on the beaches if you will. But the descendants of Sir Winston Churchill have decided that a more effective way to prevent the Church of Scientology from hijacking the memory of Britain’s wartime leader involves stern cease-and-desist letters and the threat of a costly PR battle.

In an unlikely dispute that pits Sir Winston’s grandchildren against followers of the late L Ron Hubbard – the science-fiction writer who believed, among other things, that mankind descended from aliens who arrived on Earth via spaceships – the controversial church has been asked to remove Churchill’s image and quotations from its fundraising literature.

The literary agency Curtis Brown, which represents several members of the Churchill family, has written to the church’s London branch protesting at a range of advertising leaflets and posters that liken the Allied struggle against Nazi Germany to Scientology’s efforts to recruit new members.

[Read more at The Independent]

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How Right-Wing Cult Leader Sun Myung Moon Bought Washington

From Alternet:

With money, media and promotion of a conservative political agenda, a self-styled Messiah and convicted felon became a frequent guest at the White House.

“Moon looked on the media as almost the nervous system for a global empire. Moon was the brain, and the media are to be, or were to be, the communications vehicle for his body politic surrounding the globe.”

In January 1992, PBS Frontline broadcast a film I directed that documented the amazing rise, fall and subsequent resurrection of Sun Myung Moon, founder of the Unification Church movement. The documentary showed how, through an adroit combination of money, media and the consistent promotion of a conservative political agenda, a self-styled Messiah and convicted felon had rapidly reinvented himself and was soon hailed at the White House.

At the time, few Americans paid much attention to Reverend Moon – and those that did had bizarre recollections of him and the “Moonies,” as his followers once called themselves: mass weddings of complete strangers, flower-peddling in the street, and repeated allegations of mind control and brainwashing.

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Scientology Employees Forced To Watch Tom Cruise Videos

Just when you think Scientology can't get more bat-shit crazy, it does ... the gift that keeps on giving. It would be more fun to be a Scientologist if the Tom Cruise videos were like this: On RadarOnline:
Having left Scientology after more than 15-years Marc Headley is lifting the lid on the bizarre religion in his explosive new book Blown for Good. And in an exclusive interview with RadarOnline.com, the author is speaking out about his experiences at the, much talked about, compound. "Everyone there thought Tom Cruise was just brilliant," said Headley, who left nearly five years ago. "Absolutely all the employees looked up to him. "They think he is an exhilaration, which is very high up on what they call the 'tone scale'...
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Goldman Sachs Official Says Jesus Embraced Greed

Matt Taibbi writes:

I didn’t believe this story was true at first — thought it had to be a spoof. But it turns out to be true. The great banks of the world have gone on a p.r. counteroffensive in Europe, and are sending spokescrooks in shiny suits into churches to persuade the masses that Christ would have approved of the latest round of obscene bonuses.

Goldman Sachs international adviser Brian Griffiths explains it this way: that Christ’s famous injunction to love others as one would love oneself actually means that one should love oneself as one would love oneself. This seemingly baffling outburst by a Goldman executive in what appears to have been a prepared speech — someone actually wrote this, and thought about it, before saying it out loud — gets even weirder when one tries to figure out what could possibly have motivated this person, and by extension his employer Goldman Sachs, to make such statements in such a place as St.

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Mad Scientologists Caught in a Web of Their Own Making

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Draw near, infidels, for these are dark days for the Knights of Hubbard. Do not despair entirely – the Church of Scientology remains rich, has excellent lawyers and, according to the International Scientology News, ”every minute of every hour, someone reaches for L. Ron Hubbard technology … simply because they know Tom Cruise is a Scientologist”.

So unless the world’s supply of fools is melting away, they can hold off trying to lure disaffected Kabbalists into their cultish communion. And yet, it has not been the best of weeks for our operating thetans. In France, Scientology was found guilty of defrauding followers after a judge effectively debunked the idea of the church’s trusty E-meter, a crude polygraph used to encourage Scientologists to purchase everything from books to extreme sauna courses.

In Los Angeles, the Oscar-winning director Paul Haggis cut his ties with Scientology in protest at what he branded their tolerance of homophobia, adding that the church’s claim it does not tell people to ”disconnect” from unsupportive family members was untrue – his wife had been ordered to do so.

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Cult Busters: How Governments Decide Whether a Religion is Real or Not

From Slate:

A French court fined the Church of Scientology $888,000 on Tuesday after a couple claimed they’d been manipulated into buying between $30,000 and $73,000 worth of church products. The verdict is “a historical turning point for the fight against cult abuses,” said the leader of France’s “government cult-fighting unit.” How does this special cult-busting unit distinguish between cults and bona fide religions?

Vaguely. French law doesn’t define the term “cult.” Rather, it uses the expression “cultlike movements” to describe groups that demand unreasonable financial contributions, encourage nonparticipation in elections, promote anti-social behavior, or cut members off from their families. It’s easier to target bad behavior, the thinking goes, than to get into a semantic debate over what is and isn’t a cult. The French government has, however, tried to define the term in the past. In 1995, a special parliamentary commission compiled a list of 10 cultish characteristics, including the indoctrination of children, a mentally unstable membership, and the attempt to infiltrate public institutions.

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