Thursday, April 29, 2010

"A being is only as valuable as he can serve others"

That quote from L. Ron Hubbard is a wonderful description of the value of volunteers. The quote was used during an award ceremony held at the Historic Fort Harrison Hotel as part of National Volunteer Week when five Florida groups were recognized for their invaluable work.

Recognized at the event were Project Medishare, Feeding America Tampa Bay, United Way Tampa Bay, the United Relief Force Foundation and the Willa Carson Health Resource Center.

For more on the ceremony and pictures: Church of Scientology Holds National Volunteer Week Recognition Luncheon at Historic Fort Harrison Hotel

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Alternative Media (Guest Post)

This is a guest post from Anthony Fox, the former editor of No Agenda News.

I've been seeing some terrible stories about Scientology in the news recently and pretty much every one of them leaves me wondering, "What do the Scientologist's have to say about this?"

The mainstream media quite often leaves me, and many others, with unanswered questions. The alternative media came into existence as an attempt to answer those questions.

As the mainstream media becomes more and more connected to big corporations; promoting the corporate agenda at the expense of the individuals, small businesses and organizations; the alternative media grows in response.

So what is the alternative media?


Alternative media are media (newspapers, radio, television, movies, Internet, etc.) which are alternatives to the business or government-owned mass media. Proponents of alternative media argue that the mainstream media are biased. While sources of alternative media can also be biased (sometimes proudly so), proponents claim that the bias is significantly different than that of the mainstream media, hence these media provide an "alternative" viewpoint. As such,advocacy journalism tends to be a component of many alternative outlets.

Because the term "alternative" has connotations of self-marginalization, some media outlets now prefer the term "independent" over "alternative".
Most, if not all, alternative media does at least some reporting on media bias, as it is the reason alternative media exists.

I saw what I believed was media bias in the reporting on Scientology. So I did a piece on it 'Attacking Scientology' and a follow up 'Attacking Scientology Revisited' where I relate my experiences with the 'Anonymous' group after posting the original piece. I did these articles, not because I'm a member of the Church of Scientology (I'm not) or because I think Scientologists need to be defended. I did them because it was an opportunity to take a shot at the corporate owned media. And if you read the articles, you'll see, I hate bullies.

My name is Anthony Fox and I am the former editor of No Agenda News. I'm a member of the alternative media.

This is what I want:

I want you to find alternative media blogs.

I want you to subscribe to those blogs.

I want you to leave comments on those blogs.

I want you to tell other people about those blogs.

I want you to create links to those blogs on other websites, blogs, and forums.

I say these things, not only because they are true for me, but because they are true for all bloggers. And, bloggers are the foundation of the alternative media today. If you want your story to be reported in the alternative media, bloggers are the key. Scratch their backs and they may scratch yours.

Here's how you can use this:

I want you to find alternative media blogs. - Where do you find alternative media blogs? There are a number of excellent blogs and websites that aggregate the content of other blogs. The majority of the content on No Agenda News, when I was editor, was aggregated. I also had a list, called a blog roll, on the right hand side of the blog which was composed largely of sites that do aggregation. Follow a site that does aggregation and when you see a story that appeals to you, track it back to the authors personal blog.

Find author's that write about things that matter to you and are relevant to the type of stories you want to suggest they look into.

I want you to subscribe to those blogs. - Subscribe to a site that aggregates the kind of stories that interest you and subscribe to the personal blogs of the authors that write those stories. This requires a newsreader. I recommend Google Reader it's the most popular and it's what I use. You'll need to find the RSS feed to the blog you're trying to subscribe to, you may see an icon similar to this RSS Feed Icon or a link that says 'RSS' or 'Atom Posts' or any of dozens of other possibilities. If it's too hard to figure out, move on to the next blog.

I want you to leave comments on those blogs. - If the author has a lot of people commenting you probably will want to find another blog. The author may not moderate their comments, which means they don't read much of them, and you want to stand out as someone who takes a particular interest in their work.

Don't leave comments anonymously. I probably don't need to say that here, huh?

It's important to leave comments that show you read and understood what the author was writing about. This might seem obvious, but apparently, it's not to most people who leave comments. If your comments are relevant to the post it will be noticed.

While you do want to engage the author, you don't want to seem desperate and lonely. If you get into a conversation with the author don't change the topic when that one is exhausted, wait for their next post and discuss that.

Keep in mind your goal is to develop a relationship with the author. Don't twist their arm or spam them.

I want you to tell other people about those blogs. - Tell people about the amazing article you read and let the author know. It wouldn't hurt to set up an account on one of the social bookmarking or social news sites: StumbleUpon, Delicious, Reddit etc. (I'm assuming you're already on Twitter, Facebook, Buzz or something similar. You are, aren't you?)

I want you to create links to those blogs on other websites, blogs, and forums. - Links are a way for people to find the authors blog and they also help the blogs SEO (search engine optimization) which makes the blog more likely to be found by people searching for the content contained in the blog. With this also, let the author know.

Forums are also good places to meet and engage bloggers. No Agenda Forum and Above Top Secret are forums I follow for alternative news, though I am sure there are many others. I suggest following them in your newsreader.
I hope this information is useful and gets used. I really would like to hear what the Scientologists have to say for themselves.

(Grahame's Note: When Anthony left No Agenda News and it became a reviews blog I updated this post to refer to "alternative media blogs" instead of specifically No Agenda. I attempted to alter the content of the post as little as possible so tell me if I didn't achieve that.)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Guest Post - No Agenda News

For the first time on this blog I'm having a guest post and it's not from a Scientologist.

It's a guest post from Anthony Fox, the editor of No Agenda News.

It will be posted in the next couple of days. So stay tuned.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Scientology: A different view of the Sea Organization

Frank Flynn is an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies and has qualifications about a mile long. Not only does he teach courses covering many areas of religion, but he has also published books and articles on the subject.

In addition he was a Franciscan monk for six years so they guy knows what he is talking about when he writes about religious orders.

Here is a declaration he wrote in a recent court case where someone was challenging the religious status of the Sea Org, the religious order of the Church of Scientology. In it he compares the Sea Org with other religious orders. It's a fascinating read.

Declaration of Frank K. Flynn regarding the Sea Organization


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Haiti still being helped by Scientology Volunteers

The disaster in Haiti is no longer headlines, but it still goes on. When that amount of distruction occurs it takes a long time for the normal supply lines, those that bring food and other essentials, to start flowing again. Therefore emergency supply lines and the people to make them work are still needed.

So, the Volunteer Ministers of the Church of Scientology are still working hard to keep those emergency supply lines working: Scientogy "Lifeboat" Arrives in Haiti

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Scientologists Gather Signatures for Human Rights

March 21st was the United Nations Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, something that is very much needed in this world.

Volunteers from Churches of Scientology from all over the world went out on that day and gathered signatures on petitions to ask for mandatory human rights education.

You can read the complete article here: Scientology Volunteers Gather Signatures on Human Rights Petitions in 21 Countries

Monday, April 12, 2010

Work begins on the largest Church of Scientology in the Midwest

The building used to be the Science Museum of Minnesota but now it is being turned into the largest Church of Scientology in the Midwest.

Work has just begun on the 80,640 square feet building in St. Paul and the good news is being reported by the local media: Church of Scientology Starts Work at St. Paul Site.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Scientology: Legal Victory in France

Last time I studied French was in High School, so to say my French is rusty is a huge understatement. I got this story after translating the original article using Babel Fish. Babel Fish is good, but sometimes its translations are not totally clear.

So, with that disclaimer, here is a link to the original article: Victoire de l'Église de Scientologie contre l'UNADFI

and here is a link to the English translation: Victory of the Church of Scientology against the UNADFI

Friday, April 09, 2010

Church of Scientology wins court case in US

Here is the press release:

Church of Scientology International & Religious Technology Center Win in Court Against Former Member

U.S. District Judge rules in favor of Church of Scientology affirming religious nature of the work of Scientology staff

Los Angeles (Vocus/PRWEB ) April 5, 2010 -- On April 2, 2010, the United States District Court, Central District of California (Case No. CV 09-3987 DSF (FFMx)) granted a motion by the Church of Scientology International ("CSI") and Religious Technology Center ("RTC") dismissing a claim for alleged violations of federal and state labor laws based on the plaintiff’s years of religious service at CSI and RTC.

In the ruling granting summary judgment dismissing the wage and hour claims, Judge Dale Fischer today agreed with the Church of Scientology that the members of its religious order, known as the Sea Organization, which is comprised of the Church’s most dedicated members, are not subject to labor laws. Because the plaintiff chose to join a religious institution under her Church’s doctrine, her work was not subject to the payment of wages, the Court stated.

Judge Fischer specifically found that the plaintiff "was employed by a religious institution," that is, Church of Scientology International and Religious Technology Center, "was chosen for her position based largely on religious criteria," and "performed religious duties and responsibilities." The Court stated that like members of other religious orders, the plaintiff was only able to hold these positions based on her commitment to Scientology.

The plaintiff was a member of the Sea Organization from 1991 until 2005. During her years in the Sea Organization, the plaintiff held many positions within Scientology. Both CSI and RTC are recognized as churches by the IRS. The Sea Organization is a religious order for the Scientology religion and is composed of the most dedicated Scientologists in the world—individuals who have committed their lives to the volunteer service of their religion.

The first Sea Organization members formulated the one-billion-year pledge to symbolize their eternal commitment to the religion, still signed by all members today. As volunteers and members of a religious order, Sea Organization members work long hours and live communally with housing, meals, uniforms, medical and dental care, transport and all expenses associated with their duties provided by the Church. They also receive a small allowance to purchase personal items, as all of their other expenses are fully covered by the Church.

Sea Organization members are at the forefront of spearheading the Church's massive social mission, including the largest non-governmental drug education campaign on Earth, the largest human rights education campaign on Earth and many more programs that touch the lives of everyone. Today, some 6,000 members of the Sea Organization occupy staff positions in upper-level Scientology Church organizations around the world, ensuring that the religion is available to the millions of Scientology parishioners who live and work outside the Church.

CSI and RTC note that while the plaintiff has chosen to litigate her case in the media, the Churches will continue to present their case in court.

Karin Pouw
(323) 960-3500 phone
(323) 960-3508 fax

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Scientology: Renovations to the Online Presence

Not only are major renovations occuring to Churches of Scientology around the world, but the online Church has also just had a major makeover. Check out the new look of the Scientology Web Site.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Scientology Ex-Members

A small handful of ex-members of the Church of Scientology have been getting some attention in the media recently.

When you take "that species of journalist whose interest is more in sensational copy than in an objective statement of the truth."1 and you connect them up with the noisiest of ex-members, each of whom is "likely to be suggestible and ready to enlarge or embellish his grievance"1, you will understand why the resultant media attention occurs.

Of course, the truth is nowhere near as entertaining as the fictional accounts of a disgruntled ex-member who "acts from a personal motivation to vindicate himself and to regain his self-esteem, by showing himself to have been first a victim but subsequently to have become a redeemed crusader."1

Courts and other official investigators ignore the testimony of such people because it is well known that ex-members "always act out of a scenario that vindicates themselves by shifting responsibility for their actions to the religious group."1

Of course, not all ex-members have complaints. In fact, the majority have been found by sociologists to harbor no ill-will against their former faith and because of this, ex-members with an axe to grind have been given the name "apostates" to differentiate them from the benign majority of ex-members.

For a more detailed discussion of "apostates" and their recent allegations see this article: Defectors About Scientology - Breaking with Scientology

(1) Quoted from "Apostates and New Religious Movements" by Prof. Bryan Wilson

(2) Quoted from "The Reliability of Apostate Testimony About New Religious Movements" by Lonnie D. Kliever, Ph.D.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Scientology: What is the Sea Organization?

Here is a great article giving a very complete description of the religious order of the Church of Scientology, The Sea Organization (Sea Org): Church of Scientology Sea Organization.

This is probably the most comprehensive article I've seen on the subject.

Thursday, April 01, 2010