Thursday, August 19, 2010

Battlefield Mirth

In 1953, L. Ron Hubbard incorporated three churches into what soon became the Church of Scientology. 39 years later, the Church of Scientology received tax exempt status from the IRS, a major milestone for recognition as a legitimate religion.
Because if anyone knows about spirituality—it’s the IRS… they specialize in damnation.

Plenty of people can stand on their soap box and complain about Scientology:
  • Sure, L. Ron Hubbard was a failed science fiction writer.
  • Sure, he was quoted several times to say “The way to make a million dollars is to start a religion."
  • Sure, Hubbard included his “Space Opera” involving the genocide of aliens on Earth in the religion's belief system.You have to pay your way to gaining access to that information. Thankfully, the Internet is full of disenchanted leakers.

But at the end of the day, as questionable as any of that is, (and it gets more interesting—more to follow) if it makes people happy… eh, what the hell? More New Zealanders declared themselves to be Jedi than Buddhists or Hindis in a 2001 census. What’s the difference?

Still, to most people, Scientology is a cloaked spaceship of mysteries. So what information is really out there?

Here’s a (true) summary of Scientology and its beliefs

1. In 1950, L. Ron Hubbard began his self-help system, not actually intended to be a religion. Dianetics was developed as a non-scientifically-tested consoling technique. His ideas were first submitted to the Astounding Science Fiction magazine. Key word for potential believers: “Fiction, noun/adj. Def: Not factual.”

2. Hubbard wanted his consoling technique to be medically accepted by the Journal of the American Medical Association. It wasn’t.

3. When some Dianetics practitioners came to Hubbard believing they had experiences that occurred in past lives, he went with it. He developed the idea of a thetan. Like a soul, but it's an alien! 

4. In 1951 Hubbard introduced the “e-meter”--metal handle bars that read thetan levels... or small amounts of electricity that it runs through your body. Whichever.

5. In 1957, the U.S. IRS grants tax-exempt status, but begins reexamining the decision the next year. Imagine the Monday meeting the next week: you gave WHAT to WHAT???

6. In the mid-60s, faith and membership was not based on doctrine (which sometimes conflicted with itself… not that that happens in other texts…), but on following Hubbard himself. You have to wonder if there were any awkward moments if he ever made a joke. "Do we write that part down?"

7. In 1963, the FDA seized “e-meters” as equipment illegally being claimed as medical devices. “Science” is legally required for doctors. E-meters now carry a disclaimer that they are religious artifacts. Disclaimer: this yamaka not a medical device.

8. In 1967, the IRS removes Scientology’s tax-exempt status since it operated commercially to benefit Hubbard. 25 year litigation begins and ends in favor of the Church. Who do people root for: the IRS or Scientology?

9. In 1979, the FBI’s Operation Snow White leads to the arrest of eleven senior members of the church for a number of crimes relating to the effort to purge unfavorable records about Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard. It would have been funnier if they only arrested 7 people/"dwarfs". The FBI has a terrible sense of humor.

10. A break-off group called “Free Zone” starts as a separate faith. It’s founded by Hubbard Scientology Flagship Apollo Sea Org Captain “Bill” Robertson. I want that title.

11. In 1993, the cosmology of Scientology, usually kept exclusive to high-up members, is released to the court and makes its way to the Internet. This involves the description of Xenu:
  • Xenu was the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy

  • 75 million years ago, he brought billions of people to Earth on DC-8-like spacecraft and killed them near volcanoes with hydrogen bombs

  • The “souls” lived on as thetans, which were then captured, forced to wear 3-D glasses about “misleading data” (all other religions, e.g. Catholicism). And I thought Avatar was preachy.

  • Those souls attached to humans and are what make us sad.
Hubbard has been documented to be drinking a lot during the stage of his life where he wrote this, and also taking several stimulants and depressants at the same time.

Some people get extremely upset that there is an entire religion devoted to something that sounds like the kind of thing Jar Jar Binks would follow. Some people follow the doctrine zealously and use it to try to improve their life.
But both groups are ENTIRELY missing the point! Think of the new freedoms that this opens up!
With the right resources, following, and lawyers, we can have any of these types of tax-exempt churches:
  • Devotion to the worship of Google.
  • All hymns are Vanilla Ice songs
  • The spiritual drink is from Jamba Juice
  • Following the Will of Samuel L. Jackson
  • Brett Favre's permanent retirement will bring about the Apocalypse
  • Survival of watching one full season of The Vampire Diaries is a Rite of Passage

No comments:

Post a Comment