Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Scientology and Critics

More answers to Google Ninja's questions:

Thirdly, the world has been hearing more and more from longtime ex-scientologists who are telling us incredible stories of abuse at IntBase, and in the SeaOrg. I realize that you believe this is just slander, but it is happening more and more. The sheer number of people who used to be scientologists in good standing who are now talking about this are getting harder and harder to dismiss.

I can only answer this from my own personal experience. I was in the Sea Org. I enjoyed my time there. There were no "abuses." My two kids were both in the Sea Org for several years. They enjoyed it and they saw no "abuses."

I have many friends who are currently in the Sea Org and so do my kids. These friends are happy and they are aware of no "abuses." My kids know people who used to be in the Sea Org and those people were happy with their time there and saw no "abuses".

So my opinion is based on my own experiences and those of people I personally know and have spoken to. I don't want this next sentence to sound harsh, if is merely a statement of fact: My opinion is not based on reading things on the Internet written by people I don't know and have never met.

I think if you examine the people complaining carefully you will find that the term "sheer numbers" does not actually apply. Like any other organization there is a turnover. People come and people go. If you count the number of complainers and count the number of people who are currently in the Sea Org or who have left and are not complaining, you will find that the proportion of complainers is very small. (This is also what sociologists have found - see the links below.) Trouble is you don't hear from the people who are not complaining because ... they are not complaining.

If you compare the number complaining to the total number of happy and satisfied Church of Scientology members, you will find the proportion of complainers is tiny.

The false impression of "sheer numbers" comes from the fact that if you come up with a good "atrocity" story then you get attention. So when an obscure actor wants some attention, perhaps to help his failing career, he comes out with an attack on his former religion. A girl who has some familial tie to a top Scientologists wants some attention, so she comes up with an atrocity story. (BTW, my son knows this girl from his time in the Sea Org and he knows her stories are not true.)

Where is the proof that any of these "abuse" stories are true? Did these people go to the police? No. Did they file charges? No. Did they report the abuses to Church authorities? No. They left and went straight to the Internet and began making accusations that cannot be substantiated.

I knew a person who is now a very loud critic. When she was a Scientologist I never heard one complaint from her. Not one. And I was a friend of hers, I spent time with her. If she had been dissatisfied she could have easily told me or other friends. But all I ever heard from her was that everything was great. Then one day she disappeared and next thing I know she's out there yelling about how bad it all is.

Firstly, I know for a fact that the things she yells about aren't true. I knew her. Secondly, if any of these claims were true then why didn't she report them to the correct authorities in the Church? The Church has many self-correcting mechanisms set up to fix things when they go wrong. These mechanisms handled such things as the Guardian's Office going off the rails in the late 1970's. She didn't use these mechanisms because the abuses didn't exist, but she saw a chance to make some big bucks. In the late 90's an ex-banker was trying to extort money from the Church. This woman ran off to join him and his crew. A simple, if debased, motivation.

If you read (and I do mean actually read) what sociologists have to say about such people, after extensive research, you will see that these atrocity stories are not reliable and you will also begin to understand the motives these people have for saying the things they say.

- The Reliability of Apostate Testimony About New Religious Movements
- Apostates and New Religious Movements.)

If you are truly interested in this topic and in understanding it then I urge you to read these two articles. They are by highly respected sociologists who are also religious scholars.

I'll answer the rest of your questions tomorrow.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Brilliantly explained.

As a Scientologist of almost 10 years with similar experiences to yours, I can say without doubt this accurately describes how things really are.

I know many hundreds of extremely satisfied Scientologists for every one of these supposedly mistreated/unhappy ones complaining online... who are in actuality far fewer than it seems at times because of the 'noise' made by them.