Monday, March 11, 2024

Give Scientology a break!

     Preconceptions can blind you, so you see what's festering in the back of your mind rather than what's shining right in front of your eyes.
     Take stories about the opening of a new Scientology center in the South Loop. The accounts focused on the accusations directed at the church, that it is a "criminal enterprise."
     Scientology stories always trot out the controversies.
     While downplaying what is, to me, the bigger news: somebody opened something in downtown Chicago. The corpse is twitching! The headline in the Sun-Times was "Church of Scientology expands in Chicago," which is like topping a story on the Resurrection with "Ex-carpenter goes for walk."
     I should show my hand here. All religions are scams, to one degree or another. Which is not to say they are without value. People can derive deep emotional moral satisfaction from being defrauded — the past decade of American history proves that. Life is squishy, painful and short, why not embroider existence with some mystic hoo-ha?
     Look at the charges outlined in the Sun-Times story: "The California lawsuit, filed by former Scientologists, accuses the group of, among other things: unpaid child labor, identity theft, covering up sexual assaults ..."
     Are there not well-established churches — no names, please! — also regularly rocked with at least a few of those accusations? I believe there are.
    That said, Scientology does have a way of standing out from the crowd.
     "An anti-democratic authoritarian personality cult that will not tolerate critical comments (however justified) about its policies or leaders," is how Stephen A. Kent, sociology professor emeritus at the University of Alberta, described Scientology.
     In Scientology's defense, there's a lot of that going around.
     Of course, opening a new business isn't the hard part. It's the staying open part that is the trick. And here, like any hopeful restaurant or internet startup, Scientology's new center faces challenges, as Kent explained when we spoke.

To continue reading, click here.


  1. Defending $cientology?
    Have you lost your mind Neil?
    $cientology is a money grubbing cult, that's never been a religion, not matter what it & the IRS say!
    It was created out of the vile mind of a terrible pulp science fiction writer named Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, who after a disaster of a time in the US Navy as an officer, who should've been court-martialed for his incompetence, went to a convention of science fiction writers after the war & told them, "If a fellow wanted to become rich, he'd start his own religion"!
    Hubbard wrote an incomprehensible book claiming to know more about the human mind that doctors & especially psychiatrists, who he wanted to replace with his loony Dianetics, that book he spewed out.
    His cult relies on a simple galvanometer that measures skin resistance, that he called an E-meter, while asking people hundreds of questions while they hold the cans of the E-meter & the needle changes.
    For this, $cientology charges thousands of dollars.
    After Hubbard died, dropped his body, in $cientology terms, the cult was taken over by an even more vile creature named David Miscavige. Miscavige is the one who concentrated on getting Hollywood celebs into it, such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta & Kirsty Alley. He even has a special building in Hollywood just for celebs.
    Miscavige has also created a private prison for $cientology executives he's mad at, called the rehabilitation Project Force, where they're locked up in one of the cult's compounds in the mountains of Southern California & they must do menial labor, until he's happy with them again.
    He's also locked up his own wife, Shelley for almost 20 years now!
    There's also a group within $cientology called the Sea Org, where the adherents sign a billion year contract with the cult. What the Sea Org slaves do & they really are in a form of slavery is send out letters to people begging them to "improve their status" in the cult by buying more & more expensive services from it. The cult owns large amounts of property throughout Southern California & has been buying up a lot of Downtown Clearwater Florida, where the cult has some major facilities. The people of Clearwater hate the cult, because it's ruined a large part of the downtown area.
    The cult has less than 15,000 members worldwide, but what supports it are the foolish billionaires it's suckered in & give it millions every year. It's believe to have at least a billion dollars in the banks due to the "whales" as their known as. The cult also prohibits its members from calling the police when one of them commits a crime against another one, like the rapes actor Danny Masterson committed against three women members, who were told by the cult's "ethics" people, they would be kicked out if they went to the police & reported the rapes. Finally after years of that abuse, they did go to the police & after two trials, the first was a mistrial, Masterson was found guilty of two rapes & was sentenced to 30 years in prison last year.
    The cult also hire numerous private detectives to follow people & try to ruin their lives. It has a written policy called "Fair Game", where they will attempt to destroy the lives of anyone that opposes it. They went after a woman named Paulette Cooper so thoroughly, she was almost put in prison for crimes she never committed, but that the cult framed her for.
    You really need to read the daily anti-$cientology blog of former Village Voice editor Tony Ortega, The Underground Bunker, which chronicles the numerous unending depredations of the cult & Miscavige at
    There's so much more awfulness of them, but I'll end it here.

    1. I'm disappointed in you Clark St. Did you actually read the column, or are you just reacting to the headline? Is it REALLY a defense of Scientology? Or a smackdown disguised as a defense?

    2. Parts of what you wrote were a defense of it.
      The problem is that it's so vile a cult, you can't try to be coy about them, you must attack them head on & never waver!

    3. And you wrote a big panting block of copy that few people, including myself, will read. I think I'll keep my own counsel here. Sometimes, as Mies said, less is more.

    4. Thanks for sharing, Clark.
      Wanna make some new friends in East Rogers Park?
      Say hello to my little friends...the Paragraphs

    5. The joke is a few thousand people, it’s a cult; a few million; it’s the Catholic Church. With all due respect, Clark Street, what you wrote seems more like a “rant” attacking people vs. a counter-argument challenging ideas.

    6. Dianne you forgot the born again evangelicals!

    7. You're so right, Private! I really meant to be more inclusive than mentioning only Catholicism . . . but it is interesting, where do we make the distinction between cults and churches relative to discounting or discrediting their belief systems and rules?

  2. So interesting to read, reminds me to rewatch The Master. What happened to their big location near Belmont on Lincoln? Ventured into the church of Aldi new 6 Corners store, very underwhelming...will stick with the Joolz.

  3. Right. The less said about Scientology the better.

    As Pete Townshend wrote a long time ago, "Go to the mirror, boy."

  4. But, but, they have a Cable Channel! How can they be all bad if they have a Cable Channel? Easily led minds want to know.

  5. No need for rants. Lawrence Wright has done it all for you in Going Clear, which is a great read. If you would like a fun take by a local writer try Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee. His book covers the early years of, and writers for, the abovementioned sci-fi 'zine. They were all pretty weird and misogynistic. Only Isaac Asimov comes off as a decent human being.

  6. I don't remember the decade when I encountered Dianetics. It was a used paperback that I picked up somewhere or that someone gave me. I had no idea about the subject or LRH so at some point I began one page one. I might not have made it to the double digits before setting it aside. To me it was as impenetrable as Tolkien, Rushdie, or the Book of Mormon. When I learned what Clark St. knows I was also outraged. Scientology preys on the weak and is guilty of serious abuses. But it has also thrived on gullible people looking to improve themselves, people who should really know better. I could recommend you watch a video of Jason Beghe, "Chicago PD" star, about his experiences in and on the way out of the cult, but he takes way too long to get to the point. He was a searcher. He was an achiever trying to better himself and paid a million dollars before he realized it was a scam. I think he was embarrassed, finding it hard to come clean, so he beat around the bush forever. It's hard to give him a pass, he was old enough to know better. Like the shut in old people that send Peter Popoff part of their Social Security checks for Jordan River water, he was duped. My outrage is that Popoff was unmasked by James Randi but has been allowed back on our airways. Scientology has committed greater crimes, approaching Inquisition levels and should be shut down as well. Grizz, I have tried to separate paragraphs on this format and failed. I am trying as a type this as well, so perhaps Clark is no more keyboard literate than Me.

    1. I've never been able to make paragraphs here.
      Let's see if indenting works.
      And I too was shocked to come across Popoff a few weeks ago, I think on channel 26.1 early in the morning. Along with a truly weird black preacher & his equally weird wife, both dressed more like pimps than preachers, from a church at 105th & Avenue J.

  7. My dad had a church on west 63rd street (Manor House Liquors). It was a neighborhood tavern where for almost fifty years friends and families communed and found the strength to endure life's challenges. Not founded on fairy tales!

  8. I certainly hope you and Professor Kent are correct. The one thing that gives me pause is remembering a book in a sociology of religion course I took c 1968. It described a new cult from Korea that recruited people to sell flowers at intersections and was pretty clearly going nowhere. Before long, the Moonies had bought the Washington Times and were sending Cong. Danny Davis to Africa.

  9. The issue about the Scientology center opening is twofold. First, your "defense" of it; or your critique of its critics doesn't seem to appreciate that it truly is a dangerous cult. I was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic high school, and attended many religious retreats in my youth. At NU I took several courses on the study of religion (almost majored in it), and then in grad school audited a course about cults out of pure interest. Some years ago I went down a rabbit hole and read extensively about Scientology's origins, practices, treatment of those who leave, and their legal troubles. There is absolutely a real and clear distinction between the practices of mainstream religions and of cults and Scientology is unquestionably the latter. Regardless of how you view his writing, Clark St is, frankly, correct in his facts them.

    Second, their location is certainly of their specific design and of extreme concern. Aided by urban planning, the South Loop area is home to large numbers of college-age students. That demographic -- young people away from home for first time, trying to define themselves, not-fully-formed minds led frequently by passionate emotions -- is *the* prime target audience for cults. Hari Krishnas, Moonies, Scientology . . . all of them specifically target young people and methodically separate them from their families. This is not something to take lightly and should be watched very, very closely.

  10. Suggestion: watch ‘Going Clear’ on HBO or even the South Park episode about Scientology. You clearly don’t know how evil this ‘religion’ is.

  11. The foundational myth of Scientology is supposedly this completely whackadoodle tale of Xenu the space god creating humanity in a volcano a million years ago, or something like that.

    The problem for religions conceived in the modern era is that all that shit sounds much more ridiculous now than it would have when the Abrahamic religions were being formulated. Those folks at least had the advantage of not knowing much about science or the nature of the world. It's a little harder to get away with now that we've learned a few things.

    IMO one of the reasons Joseph Smith loaded the Book of Mormon with such ponderous language -- "and it came to pass that" blah blah blah -- is that he was trying to mimic the Old Testament. This would give his tale of gold spectacles and the Angel Moroni etc. a little added gravitas, instead of what it was -- a lot of crap he made up.

  12. Ultimately all religions are a load of shite. And if it gives some peeps comfort, then fine, but leave me out of it.

  13. I can definitely agree that Scientology's choice of location next to a Columbia College dorm is absolutely a deliberate choice, and not a good one, but they are entitled to operate wherever they like.

    My years in college were filled with signup attempts from all kinds of religions and other outfits, not all of them obvious, such as strangers who would strike up a conversation with you in public areas, seem fascinated with your conversation, but then attempt to steer the topic onto their turf with a recruitment pitch. Scientology in particular was known for their money grabs, and endless programs you were supposed to advance through, each one requiring more money than the last, but what makes them more notable is the highly aggressive way they go after critics of their organization.

    According to an earlier Sun-Times article, they bought the building way back in 2007, but perhaps it's more affordable now downtown for them to actually set up shop and go after the neighbors. I have to agree with the others here that it is not an organization to be treated lightly.

    (Incidentally, if you want actual paragraphs separated with linebreaks in the comments here, you need to press your Enter key twice when starting a new paragraph.)

  14. I'm no Trump, but I'd guess tax- free real estate is a good investment.

  15. I think they probably give celebs some what of a pass. But it is true they try and separate people from their families. And I do that people who were friends in the cult get snubbed if one leaves. Leah Remeni was friends with Kristy Alley. When Remeni
    left Alley never talked to her again.

  16. The FLDS (extremist Mormons) use their so called "religion" for an excuse for mid aged men to marry under age girls.


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