(Note: Much has happened since this article was written in 1991, notably CAN has been taken over by the Church of Scientology, or one of its connections. Therefore one is unlikely to get unbiased data or advice on the church of Scientology from them. Those interested could look at the following site: http://www.csj.org/)
[[footnote]]This is a rewritten version of an article which first appeard in the Danish magazine "Uafhængige Synspunkter " no. 15 in December 1989.
"Something very peculiar about being a Scientologist was that I never was able to talk about Scientology! As a member I was warned against 'giving verbal data', which was punishable. My only source of my ideas of Scientology should come from Hubbard himself. And to discuss with a non-member was just as impossible, as they did not understand our terminology and jargon. It was only when I left Scientology, that after a while I felt free to break that tabu. With some years delay I was able to exchange ideas with other ex-members. Such a relief, such a joy!
"As Scientologist I felt I had the answers -- the key to the universe, the real meaning to existence. Now I know the the reason for life -- if indeed there is one -- is not such a simple affair. But nevertheless I can wake in the morning, go to work, meet other people, have thoughts and opinions and altogether have a rich and fruitful life -- something which suprised me greatly. And nevertheless I do not have all the deep insight into life which I once thought I had. Perhaps the purpose of life is not nearly so important as life itself."
The above is taken from a brochure from CAN, Cult Awareness Network.
It is a fact that Scientology is classified by CAN as a 'destructive cult'. And what is that? CAN says: "A destructive cult can be defined as a closed system or group, whose members have been recruited by false methods and held in the group with the help of manipulative techniques which alter the pattern of thought or control the mind.
"The system is brought down over the head of the individual with the purpose of altering his personality and behaviour. The leaders are all powerfull, the ideology is totalitarian, and the individuals will is junior to the groups. The destructive cult sets itself over society by making its own values with little or no respect for the surrounding societys laws, ethics and morals."
CAN classifies Scientology as a destructive cult.
But is it true that scientology is a destructive cult?
The decision is yours!
The question is easier to ask than answer, but if you have had connection with the Church of Scientology, or know others who have , I think it would be well worth your while to have a good look at the question. A book which can be very helpful is "Combatting Mind Control" by Steven Hassan.
My answer is that Scientology as I experienced it at the end of the 70's and beginning of the 80's was a destructive cult. I do not think it was when I came in in 1954, and I have spend much time puzzling over when it became destructive. (By the way, see what LRH says on gradient scales).
Basically there are two methods to get someone into a trap -- the carrot and the whip. Perhaps you could call the bait cheese.
If that which attracted one into the C of $s trap was cheese, then my idea is that it was the finest and most nutritious Gorganzola cheese. If you have decided that C of $s is a destructive cult, I'd say you have two little tasks, which it would be well worth your while to do. The first is common to all (former) members of destructive cults (CAN estimates that there are more than 2,000 destructive cults in the USA alone; total membership about 2,000,000). The task consists of freeing yourself of the oppressive mental effects (possibly also physical) which the group has had on you. The result of this can be enormous, because one has almost certainly learned a lot about life by being churned up in the Mill of a destructive cult. One may have to use time and effort to get oneself in a state to use that knowledge.
But former members of C of $ have one more task, which will also be extremely rewarding. That is to retrieve the wonderful Gorganzola cheese they have enjoyed, so they can use it for the benefit of themselves and others in a free environment. For LRH has passed on to us an enourmous amount of very useful knowledge of life (certain bits of which have been used backwards, that is to say destructively, by the church). We have spent time and money with Scn. Lets make sure we get all we can out of it.
Scientology does not stand alone with regard to knowledge of the mind. Much new knowledge of the mind has appeared in recent years. Actually most of it is probably not 'new', but it certainly, with modern communication means is much more widely known. Some of the destructive cults on CANs list are old -- but the majority are new, and this is just because knowledge of the mind is so much more easily available, regardless of whether it be used for good or bad.
In scientology we know both how to creat a super-destructive cult, and how we can help others to avoid bad groups and how we can help them who have been through the mill of a destructive cult. Exit counselling is the name given to such work, done, note carefully, with the recipients free will, and not enforced. It is up to you how deep you go into the question, but all who have had connection with the C of $ should (I believe) understand the situation, and consider whether it would not be a good idea to work a bit in that area.
I believe that the whole question of destructive cults is just one of many which indicates that this planet has come to a decisive point, with two ways ahead of it. One route leads to a heavily technically oriented ineffective and boring slave planet (where the majority are in fact slaves -- wage slaves, if you will). The other brings us much nearer heaven than we are today. It is not just Gorbajovs and Stalin's that influence the way the planet goes. It is also you.
A free press
Something of what made scientology destructive was its monopoly and press censorship. One of the means of making the true Gorganzola cheese available to all would be to refuse to accept censorhip on matters of the mind. International Viewpoints is just one of many free scientology magazines, and there are of course others representing other fields of knowledge on the mind. Supporting us also is a good, positive action.
The success story quoted talks about lifes purpose. I find this adequately explained in sc. axiom 48, and when one understands that, one does not waste much time speculating 'What is the purpose of life?' Some of the time you save not speculating on that, might well be used to make life more fun for a few of the many inhabitants of this rather glum (but very beautiful) planet. In our scn enheritance we have man tools for this..
I will close with some of the material published by CAN, The Cult Awareness Network. There is a lot more, including a special pack on scientology and a monthly magazine which sometimes gives news items (often court cases) about scn. It might be worthwhile writing direct to them.
The following is from "Packet on Mind Control" by CAN (Cult Awareness Network).
Characteristics Of A Destructive Cult
Despite the great variation among destructive cults, certain characteristics are common among them. WARNING: Not every destructive cult has each of the characteristics listed below.
Deceit -- vagueness and secrecy about beliefs and goals of group, belief that the group's ends justify any means; this deception is sometimes called 'heavenly deception'.
Coercive Persuasion -- pressure for recruit to be involved in the group and believe in the group's ideals; then coercive persuasion through fear, guilt and dependence in order to keep the member in the group.
Lack of Privacy -- lack of privacy makes it difficult for the recruit to contemplate the group's confusing tenets.
Reunciation of and Alienation from Family, Friends and Society -- recruit's family and friends and their value systems are renounced; often those outside the group are said to interfere with the member's spiritual path, and are referred to as "satanic". Group-arranged marriages are frequent.
Absolute Obedience to Leaders -- it is more important to obey the leaders than to question. Obedience must be total, whole-hearted.
Rejection of Previously Held Values - previously held values are replaced by a new value system claiming that the cult is pure and moral, and the rest of society is misguided or satanic.
Isolation from Society -- television, radio, newspapers, books are often replaced by group meetings and readings prepared by the group.
Confession -- members are persuaded to share their inner-most feelings and secrets; these secrets are employed by the leaders to humiliate members and to dissuade the member from leaving the group.
Guilt -- corollary to confession, guilt is employed to force members to work harder for the group and to be more dependent on the group.
Fear -- employed in order to instill group loyalty; the group predicts tragic consequences to the member's family if the member were to leave.
Emotional Highs and Lows -- making members have, alternately, highs and lows produces confusion, disorientation, and added dependence on the group. The group leaders are untrained and unprepared to deal with psychological consequences of highs and lows.
Preoccupation with Fundraising and Recruiting -- two main objectives of destructive cults are fundraising and recruiting; often members are persuaded to donate earnings and savings and even inheritances. The work day can be incredibly long.
Charismatic, Dogmatic Leader -- leader demands total devotion, and may claim supernatural power and unique, simple solutions to world's problems.
Retention Techniques -- members find it hard to leave the group because the group renders them dependent on it through confession, guilt, and fear and alienates them from family, friends, and society.
Outward Features of Destructive Cults
Warning: Not every destructive cult has each of the characteristics listed below.
Love Bombing -- new recruits are touched, hugged, flattered (e.g., "You are so spiritual" or "You are psychic!").
Chanting and Singing -- constant, repetitive chanting that is quasi- hypnotic.
Sleep Deprivation and Fatigue -- long hours of recruiting and fundraising, inadequate sleep induce disorientation and stifle critical thinking.
Diet -- excessive starch and carbohydrates and lack of proteins also inhibit critical thinking, making members increasingly dependent on leaders.
Games -- strenuous games with confusing rules build dependence on leaders; children's games tend to make members act like children and therefore dependent on leaders.
Loaded Language -- such terms and phrases make members feel in and exclusive. Examples: forsythia disease (spring fever), cooking (love- bombing), True Parent (leader of one group), food sharing (personal sacrifice), heavenly deception (lying to achieve group's goals).
Isolation from Society -- isolation from family, friends and society prevents contact with people of opposing views, and tends to inhibit critical thinking.
Hypnosis and Meditation -- to produce an altered state of consciousness
Potential Effects of Destructive Cults on its Members
De facto slavery.
Loss of free will and control of one's life.
Diminished intellectual ability; dramatic change of life goals
Reduced capacity to form human relationships
Childlike dependence on leaders
Hallucinations, nightmares, panic
Guilt, psychotic or suicidal tendencies
Questions to Ask Yourself About a Group
Does the group seem to have simplistic answers to complex world issues?
Does the group allow or encourage questions and discussion about its tenets?
Does the group encourage members to study and understand other religious and philosophical traditions?
Does the group require members to disavow their traditions and beliefs?
Does the group encourage normal contact with member's family and friends?
Does the group encourage members to continue studying as before?
Does the group allow new members to have quiet times alone?
What is the mechanism for a member disassociating from the group?
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