Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Why do I oppose the Scientologists? 31/8/2005

As readers may have seen over the last few weeks I’ve been critical of the so-called Church of Scientology who recently arrived in Botswana to spread their rather strange teachings.

Since I first started writing about them many friends, colleagues and acquaintances have asked me what it is about the Scientologists that attracted my attention. What is it about them that I actually object to?

Several people even asked if maybe I once was a Scientologist who now has some grudge against them. For the record let me state that I have never been a Scientologist, am not now a Scientologist and have no plans to become a Scientologist!

To be perfectly honest when all this started I wasn’t entirely sure why I was so opposed to them. Yes, I knew something about their background, some of the things they’ve got up to elsewhere in the world, some of their criminal convictions and also some of their “confidential scriptures”. I knew about their deeply bizarre but fascinating founder, L Ron Hubbard. I knew about how he was a science fiction writer turned religious guru, a consistent liar about his war record and his academic achievements and how he claimed to be a world-leading scientist when in fact he had no scientific achievements to his name.

But then I thought to myself that many religions have histories they’re not proud of or sects they prefer not to think about. Look at certain elements of extremist Islam these days, look at some of the ultra right-wing, white supremacist, so-called Christians lunatics you get in remote parts of the USA, look at Hindu fanatics burning mosques. None of them are perfect. However, even those who have what I consider strange beliefs or eccentric founders nevertheless do good work, act in a neighbourly manner and are charitable.

So what’s different about the Scientologists? Why do I oppose them?

Well firstly I object to groups that make completely nonsensical claims. As I’ve written several times already one of their core beliefs is only made available to those who have reached what they call “Operating Thetan Level 3”. This is that 75 million years ago Xemu, the Emperor of the Galactic Federation, decided to cure his over-population problems by murdering excess aliens by bringing them to Earth and killing them with hydrogen bombs. The souls of these people were then brainwashed with a "three-D, super colossal motion picture" for 36 days. These souls managed to escape and now haunt our minds and cause all our mental health problems. At the same time apparently this Xemu guy implanted both Christianity and Islam in our collective memory. This is only the beginning, there’s a whole lot more of this material available on the Internet (which, despite their comments really CAN be a source of good material if you know where to look and who to trust).

I try my best to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs but this is just plain silly isn’t it?

I object to groups and people who lie and who spread lies, even if they do it innocently. I suspect that many of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers who have come to Botswana are decent but deluded people. However I particularly object to people who think they can come to Botswana, my wonderful adopted home, and think they can get away with deceit because they see us as a developing and unsophisticated country. Luckily I think they may have picked the wrong country this time!

I object to them because they play on our weaknesses. They exploit our worries and our concerns and suggest that they have instant and easy solutions. They claim, for instance, to be helping to solve the whole passion killings problem. They claim to help reduce crime, drug addiction and marital problems. They claim that they can help us so long as we book ourselves on their courses which of course cost more and more the further you progress.

I’m not a particularly religious person but I have profound respect for those devout followers of faiths that are generous, charitable and neighbourly. I respect churches that get out there and do good work, feed and clothe orphans, communicate a message of love and tolerance and who don’t hide their beliefs but proclaim them with joy and with pride. And above all who do it for nothing and without publicising it!

This is not what I see from the Scientologists. That’s why I oppose them.

No comments: