Friday, November 28, 2008

A Question from "Magnolia"

Hey Magnolia,

Thanks for your question. You say: I'm curious by nature. I've been searching for a while sites about Scientology. The majority of them, no offence intended, say it is "trash". I can't help but ask myself "why?".

There are sites on the Internet attacking Scientology, but they are not the majority. I just did a search on the word "Scientology" on the three leading search engines and I found 69% of the sites that came back on the first page of results were positive and 14% were neutral. So that leaves only 17% negative. That is not a majority.

There are millions of Scientologists all over the world who are very happy with their religion and how it helps them in life compared to a small number of very noisy people who attack it. The majority who like it are busy getting on with their lives and helping others. The minority are so consumed with hatred that they spend hours and hours each day spreading lies and distortions.

Here is a video of Scientologists giving their opinions about their religion

So now the question, "Why do they attack my religion?"

There are a several answers:
First is the fact that any religious movement and any group that seeks to improve the world and help their fellow man will be attacked by a small minority of bigots:
Scientology is just another group being attacked by the same type of Internet crazies.

There are those who make a living out of attacking new religious movements:
One of the main methods used by these bigoted extremists is to spread lies about a new religion on the Internet. In a paper presented at the annual conference of the Association for Sociology of Religion (ASR), in Chicago in August 1999, Massimo Introvigne said:
Authoritative scholars of information terrorism via the Internet, such as Denning (1999, 101-129), include "perception management" in their studies, in the form of "offensive operations [which] reach the minds of a population by injecting content into the population’s information space". She lists systematic "lies and distortions", fabrications, hoaxes, social engineering, "denouncement" ("messages that discredit, defame, demonize, or dehumanize an opponent"), and -- strictly related to the latter -- "conspiracy theories". Denning also includes harassment through hate mail or "spamming", and even systematic copyright infringement (90-94). The latter, she argues, may in fact become part of a terrorist "offensive information warfare" when aimed at destroying an organization or corporation through the destruction of copyright as one of its most valuable assets.

The sites you have come across calling Scientology "trash" are using "messages that discredit, defame, demonize, or dehumanize an opponent" as described here.

In the same article Introvigne says:
The Church of Scientology is the subject of the largest number of such assaults.

He describes one of the largest websites that attacks Scientology:
Among hundreds of pages, one can hardly find any reconstruction of Scientology’s beliefs, or a philosophical, or theological, criticism of its worldview.

This particular website also attacks individuals who are Scientologists, attempting to encourage others to discriminate against them:
It is difficult to be amused when reading Hausherr’s Web page laundry lists of individual Scientologists and of "companies and organizations owned or managed by people listed as Scientologists". Some are well-known Scientologists such as Kristie Alley or John Travolta. Most, however, are private individuals unknown to the general public. Companies "owned or managed by people listed as Scientologists" (an ambiguous concept) range from law firms to architects, computer businesses, and to Elvis Presley Enterprises (Priscilla Presley is a Scientologist). Finally, there is a list of "miscellaneous support for Scientology", including both academics and other scholarly "cult apologists" (Hausherr maintains an encyclopedia of cult apologists in the form of a FAQ, and posts it regularly to Usenet groups), as well as others accused of being "soft" on Scientology. The latter include the CNN (accused of having "a long record of supporting Scientology"), the IRS (because of the 1993 settlement), the Los Angeles Police Department, and even a lawyer who actually fought against Scientology but settled in terms Hausherr did not approve of. It is unlikely that CNN or Elvis Presley Enterprises will really suffer from being listed in Hausherr’s Web page. A doctor, dentist, or architect in a small town, or a small business, on the other hand, may be easily discriminated against. If "Scientology is evil", nobody should associate with an "evil" business. And who would want a Scientologist as a doctor or architect if Scientologists are "often mentally ill"? Although no actual violence is advocated, the list, a main feature of Hausherr’s site, becomes in fact a "hit list".

Why Tilman Hausherr maintains his hate site is a difficult question to answer but then hatred and bigotry are difficult to understand in this modern world.

Then there are those who see Scientology as a threat to their livelihood:

Does that answer your question?

No comments: