Michael Shermer Article

In a strong and provocative L. A. Times op-ed on Anonymous, Michael Shermer of the Skeptic’s Society pulls no punches.

Imagine reading this press release:

Hello, Jews. We are anonymous. Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye. … Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind — for the laughs — we shall expel you … and systematically dismantle Judaism in its present form. …

The rantings of crazed neo-Nazis, right? No. Substitute “Jews” and “Judaism” with “Scientologists” and “Church of Scientology” and you are reading from a statement issued by a group of anti-Scientologists calling themselves “Anonymous.” This statement was released Jan. 21 (read in a YouTube video by a Stephen Hawking-like computerized voice). It was followed by another on Feb. 10 that coincided with demonstrations at Scientology centers around the world at which protesters donned masks (the Guy Fawkes variety from the movie “V for Vendetta”) and waved posters that read, among other things, “Honk If You Hate Scientology.”

Again, imagine if that sign read “Honk If You Hate Jews.” How innocuous would such a protest be in that case?

And yet this latest turn against the organization founded in 1954 by science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard has an air of farcical comedy to it. Why? Why aren’t civil rights organizations and anti-hate-speech activists pouncing on these protesters? The reason, I suspect, is that most of us do not consider Scientology a religion, at least not a religion that resembles in the slightest the world’s major faiths.

Be sure to read Michael’s full op-ed piece and visit his important website from the Skeptic’s Society.

Explore posts in the same categories: Anonymous, Newspaper

23 Comments on “Michael Shermer Article”

  1. Anonymous Coward Says:

    Gee, I wonder why we don’t consider them a religion. Slashdot is running a story today about how Scientology is pulling e-meter auctions off of eBay. Imagine if Judaism did this with Torahs? Can someone say “class action lawsuit”.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/yro/08/02/19/1943206.shtml

    Just to give an idea on how many people read slashdot I did a little comparison.

    http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details/mozilla.com?h=300&h=400&range=3m&site0=slashdot.org&site1=4chan.org&site2=xenu.net&site3=scientology.org&site4=xenutv.com&size=Medium&w=610&w=700&y=r&z=3&z=3


  2. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt10 that coincided with demonstrations at Scientology centers around the world at which protesters donned masks (the Guy Fawkes variety from the movie “V for Vendetta”) and waved posters that read, among other things, “Honk If You Hate … […]

  3. brain Says:

    The article was pretty good overall. I wished he would have touched on more reasons why people don’t like the church of scientology. It’s not that it’s just weird and ridiculous. It’s actually DANGEROUS. He should have touched on the illegal activities, fraud, abuse, and control. People don’t have to come up with escape plans to leave the catholic church in the middle of the night.

  4. Jason Says:

    Mark,

    I have followed your site for years and love the pieces you do.

    I actually work in the town that David Miscabbage speaks about having The Way To Happiness replace the Bible on the nightstands, Ashland Oregon.

    It’s kinda of scary but I am glad you and your “crew” do what you do.

    Here is a sight I found today and man o man it kind of freaked me out.

    Enjoy.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/02/19/1943206&from=rss

  5. Jesus Says:

    Hello my children,

    i say scientology is not a religon, or i will smite the.

    Love,
    jesus (aka hay-zuse)

  6. Narcissus Says:

    It’s a good essay that started rather poorly. I fear many people read only the first couple of paragraphs and formed a negative opinion of Anonymous based on a false impression.

    As I understand it, the Feb 10 protests were against the Co$’s suppression of free speech and its harm to individuals and families. It was not against people’s right to believe in body thetans and Xenu. It was against a fake church that practises thuggery as its modus operandi. So it’s wrong for Schermer to give people the impression that Anonymous is targeting individuals (like “Jews” in the essay’s misleading start). Anonymous is targeting an ORGANIZATION, not every ordinary joe and jane who takes courses at $cientology centres.

    At least, that’s how I understand it.

  7. Sweeney Says:

    In the original broadcast, the first line was NOT “Hello Scientologists.” It was “Hello LEADERS of Scientology.” Big difference.

  8. tcarmen Says:

    Provocative as it is, I feel the author failed to point out several facts about the Anonymous message. It’s been stated numerous times in many videos that it is the organization’s crimes, not the followers or faith, that Anonymous is trying to make the public aware of. Anonymous has even made statements that suggest it allies itself with Freezoners. I agree that “Honk if you hate Scientology” is a poor picket sign.

  9. Anon. Says:

    Hello, L.A. Times. We are anonymous. Over the years, we have been watching you. Your campaigns of misinformation; suppression of dissent; your litigious nature, all of these things have caught our eye. … Anonymous has therefore decided that your organization should be destroyed. For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind — for the laughs — we shall expel you … and systematically dismantle journalism in its present form. …

  10. David Says:

    Yet another op-ed deliberately blurring the lines between “race”[*] and religion (opinion) and organisation in order to make a silly point.

    While I think the Anonymous message was pretentious and ill judged, it doesn’t deserve this sophomore level essay as a rejoinder.

    * – From the Nazi perspective.

  11. The Hordesman Says:

    That guy needs to start read the facts before making an idiot out of himself.
    And since when was scientology an ethnicity?

  12. Guy Says:

    Change “Scientologists” with “Blacks” and we’re KKK. Change “Scientologists” with “Infidels” and we’re Terrorist. But, change “Church of Scientology” with “Money hungry, violent and dangerous Corporation” and we’re Fighting the good fight.

    Anyone who has any sense about them could see how crappy their ‘point’ is.

  13. Xenuphobe Says:

    Not so provocative. One could in fact replace Jews with Nazis. The example would remain the same. The point is there are dangerous organizations that need to be modified heavily (Scientology) or wiped out entirely because of the threat they pose (Nazism, Scientology).

  14. vicky Says:

    Yes, what Guy says.

  15. ten Says:

    The portion posted here make it seem like a pro-Scientology piece, but if you follow the “op-ed” link and read the whole thing you will see that it really is not. Mark, maybe that link should be more prominent; most people are probably going to miss it.

  16. Trembling Eagle Says:

    yeah
    odd section to quote…..has this blog been hacked?

  17. Joe Says:

    Rather than replace “Scientology” with “Jews” replace “Scientology” with “Nazis”…you have your answer.

  18. John Croft Says:

    Replace “Scientology” with Jim Jones’ “People’s Temple” or replace it with “Heaven’s Gate”. They are both religions too but after the mass suicides we agree (I suspect) that they are bad religions. Can Scientology be compared to a “bad religion”. Can I disrespect a faith (Satanism is another bad one) if there are elements of it that are hideous? It doesn’t take much analysis of Hubbards writing (their “Sacred Scripture”) to conclude there are a lot of hurtful things in Scientology. There are a lot of lies and a lot of bad science to the point where it doesn’t matter if they practice through Freezone or the so-called Church, practicioners are wasting their money.

    I took my first course there as a teenager in 1970 and they wanted me to believe that I could levitate an ashtray before I could finish the course. No one ever has levitated an ashtray, on that first course or anywhere else. If this is religion, I don’t like it, no matter where it is being practiced.

  19. Bird Says:

    In CoS’ scriptures, if you replace “suppressives” by “jews” I think you can get a clear picture of why people oppose the scientology organization.

  20. Jason Says:

    You have to read this. The comments are the best part.

    http://www.dailytidings.com/2008/0221/stories/0221_scientology.php

    This is just weird.

  21. Artoo45 Says:

    Here’s one of those cult apologists with a counterpoint . . .
    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-rosenfeld22feb22,0,2442274.story

    The usual crap about how we are denying their right to believe what they want. The huge and cogent response from the anonymous crowd in the comments section warmed my heart however.

  22. oddvincent Says:

    Definitely read the entire article before passing judgement. The very next paragraph is:

    “One clue to this interpretation can be seen in other protesters’ signs: “Religion Is Free, Scientology Is Not” and “Trade Secrets Are For Business, Not Religion.” I’m a scientist who studies belief systems for a living, so take it from me: Scientology is unlike any other religion in history. Although the Church of Scientology is recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt religion (despite years of litigation by the IRS to collect taxes on its income), no other religion I know of considers theological doctrines and core religious tenets to be intellectual property accessible only for a fee.”

  23. Anonymous Says:

    The difference between Jews and the Church of Scientology is that Jews don’t actually engage in conspiracies.


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