Sunday, August 05, 2007

scientologists not a cult?

So argues Mark Oppenheimer in the Post today. He does admit that the Scientologists and their beliefs are weird. And Oppenheimer makes the argument (correctly) that new religions seem weirder than old ones simply because the old ones have stood the test of time and the "weird" things (killing the son of God, for example) are simply accepted and seem "normal" nowadays.

But some of Oppenheimer's points don't work. He says the Scientologists have to charge big bucks to catch up with the Catholics, who have been getting donations for nearly 2000 years. Of course, the Catholics have had nearly 2000 years worth of expenses, too. And they do lots of charitable work. And Oppenheimer says Scientology is no different than Judaism since many Jews pay admission fees for certain high-holiday services. But if you need advice from a rabbi, priest, or imam he or she isn't going to charge you $200 for 12 sessions.

Oppenheimer also skips one of the key differences between Scientology and other religions. Scientology began as a self-help book (Dianetics) written by L. Ron Hubbard. Then old L. Ron realized that if this was a RELIGIOUS text rather than a classic self-help book, he could catch some tax breaks.

So I guess I could agree in one way - Scientology isn't a cult. It's a financial scam.



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