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Forcing Faith

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July 3, 2012 by admin

It’s always amazed me that certain religions, which claim to have a route to illuminating and transcendental truths, so often resort to underhand, aggressive and even immoral methods to get people to see things their way. People, it seems, cannot be trusted to come to the light purely through the self-evident beauty and purity of the truth itself: they must be forced.

Among the cults most notorious for this kind of behaviour, the Church of Scientology (CoS) stands the most frequently accused of malicious and unethical tactics.

Most of us have experienced the cult’s mendacious ways. When I lived in London, I lost count of the number of times I was offered a ‘personality test’ by glassy eyed Scientology footsoldiers in Tottenham Court Road. As we all know, the so-called test is just the false cover for a psychological trap designed to suck in the dishearted, disenfranchised or vulnerable.

That’s bad enough. But at least in the street you can hurry by with little more than a faint creeping of the scalp. Two men in the US weren’t so lucky, they say. They have brought legal action against their ex-employer – software company Diskeeper – for unfair dismissal. The men refused to go on training courses laid on by the firm. The reason they give is that these were Scientology-based courses.

Diskeeper’s boss, Craig Jensen, is a Scientology evangelist. His name previously hit the headlines because the company’s product was included in Windows 2000. Rumours abounded about the possibility of the software sending data from users’ hard disks to the Church of Scientology. The idea so disconcerted the Government of Germany (where the CoS is outlawed) that it demanded that Microsoft show it the source code before approving Windows 2000 for government use. Microsoft refused but provided a tool to delete the utility. That didn’t help quash the rumours.

So, what kind of message does Scientology have that it can only get it across by tricking or forcing people into hearing it?

Of course, the CoS is famously averse to criticism. A book, The Complex, by ex-Scientology warrior John Duignan remains unavailable from Amazon’s UK store – indeed, as far as I can work out, it’s unavailable from all branches of Amazon except the US. Even there, it was pulled for a while, with rumours that Tom Cruise himself was behind the intimidation of Amazon.

What is it they fear? If what the Scientologists claim is true, we would all migrate naturally to their way of thinking. If the attacks on the cult are untrue, surely they could gain no traction against the power of the church’s message.

Any philosophy or science that relies on legal threats, intimidation, coercion, violence and forcible indoctrination to assure belief and allegiance among its members is inherently suspect. These are the tools of totalitarianism, and totalitarian regimes – as we all know – are built on lies.

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