"The Daily Texan" (University of Texas--Austin), 6/1/1997 ==================== 06/01/1997 Church of Scientology based on fiction but should be left alone Roahn Wynar TEXAN COLUMNIST The Church of Scientology (COS) may be a crackpot cult but nevertheless it should be left alone.
Earlier this month, the German government stepped up its longtime feud with the church by putting it under "public notice of official surveillance."
The German government correctly assumes the COS is trying to infiltrate and use the state apparatus to promote Scientology. The church has a history of such activity. In the seventies, COS members infiltrated U.S. government offices and destroyed records pertaining to their activities. As a result, COS founder L. Ron Hubbard's wife was jailed.
However, the German government is wrong to actively stifle any organization. They should be far more frightened of limiting free expression than of citizens getting wrapped up in stupid ideas.
Without crackpots, freedom of expression is just no fun.
Without a doubt, Scientology is not a religion. COS makes specific claims about the physical world that are falsifiable. Religion is based on faith, not science. Specifically, COS claims individuals "cleared" through sufficient "auditing" have many amazing talents -- see outstanding actor and Scientologist John Travolta in Phenomenon.
Those who reach the exalted level of Operating Thetan, the scientologist's highest level of advancement, claim to have even more powers: telepathy, self-healing and astral projection.
Don't expect to see demonstrations, though. The E-meter, a device used to identify the presence of emotional traumas called "engrams," is basically a resistor network with the scientologist as one of the resistors. A religion that is based on a resistor network is in trouble from the start. The overall gist of the Scientology space opera is faith based: Evil warlord named Xenu solves overpopulation by compressing everyone into a Hawaiian volcano 25 trillion years ago, Galactic Federation is destroyed etc. A story no more or less falsifiable or logical than other religions. L. Ron Hubbard is important because he figured out how to break the "implant" that Xenu put in our brains. This "implant" is the source of all our personal problems.
German government is wrong: Scientology is not particularly dangerous to the German government. The Parliament fears a Scientology assimilation of the German people modeled after events of the early thirties. Thus they forbid Scientologists from becoming members of Parliament. The U.S. Navy has been infiltrated by a cult called Total Quality Management (TQM) based on the teachings of manager/author W.
Edwards Deming. TQM is a "human performance" cult that promises big gains in productivity and labor harmony if you buy hundreds of copies of his book and attend his seminars or hire consultants. It has gotten so bad in the Navy that each unit has been required to designate a TQM officer whose job it is to preach "Deming" method. The Navy is still going strong despite zillions of lost people -- hours pursuing "TQM education." Why doesn't Germany crack down on this obvious money grubbing farce?
German government is correct: Scientology saps the energy and money of anyone it can. It takes tens of thousands of dollars to complete the higher levels of COS auditing. Many members who don't have the cash gladly work for COS and pay with labor and time.
Freedom of expression provides color to a culture. No government can protect someone from ideas, good or bad. So as the German agents dress up as the needy and the gullible and suffer through hours and hours of auditing to get inside, we can relax in America knowing that when the FBI took its agents off of Dr. Martin Luther King, it probably sent them into COS and they have been there ever since -- secretly, of course.
Wynar is a graduate student in physics.