Skepticism

Scientology is afraid, very afraid

Tom Cruise is a serious religious figure? According to a new biography, he’s the #2 man in the Church of Scientology. And the church authorities don’t like the way their religion is portrayed in the book.

AUSTRALIA’S major book retailers have bowed to pressure from the Church of Scientology and will not stock the controversial biography on Tom Cruise by British writer Andrew Morton. Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography will hit American shelves on January 15 and has already generated its fair share of controversy.

The book won’t be coming out in the UK either, and the Church of Scentology has threatened to sue the US publisher for defaming Cruise’s character. (I thought he’d done a pretty good job of making an ass of himself over the past several years.)

The extremely litigious religious group has already threatened legal action against Morton in the US under the country’s celebrity defamation laws because Morton has shown a “reckless disregard” for the truth.

Holy shit, these people are concerned about “reckless disregard” for the truth? How can they even keep a straight face?

I always thought that L. Ron Hubbard, a science fiction writer, had made up Scientology as a joke. (It’s not a bad idea. Mr. Writerdd is always saying that the easiest way to get rich is to make up a church and take advantage of the gullible.) I mean doesn’t this sound like the plot of a sci-fi B movie?

Xenu (also Xemu), pronounced /ˈziːnuː/, according to science fiction writer and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, was the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy” who, 75 million years ago, brought billions of his people to Earth in DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them using hydrogen bombs. Scientology holds that their essences remained, and that they form around people in modern times, causing them spiritual harm. From Wikipedia.

Maybe this book is good, and maybe it sucks. But let’s all buy copies just to piss off the Church of Scientology.

writerdd

Donna Druchunas is a freelance technical writer and editor and a knitwear designer. When she's not working, she blogs, studies Lithuanian, reads science and sci-fi books, mouths off on atheist forums, and checks her email every three minutes. (She does that when she's working, too.) Although she loves to chat, she can't keep an IM program open or she'd never get anything else done.

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11 Comments

  1. Yeah,

    And keep a few spares lying around for that person you'll know in a few years who'll look at you seriously and say "What's wrong with Scientology?"

    I'll just have a big stack of them, under my desk at work.

    rod

  2. Here's the thing:

    I have little to no compassion for the 'church' of Scientology, nor for Mr. Tom Cruise. But I also have little to no reason NOT to believe this to be the typical "unauthorized" celebrity bio, which would mean that much that has been printed therein is false, inflated, or otherwise misleading.

    Now, Scientology is a sham, yes, and an overly litigious one. They (supposedly, based on what little they admit and what the few people who have gotten away have said) believe in outright wacky ideas, or at least hold the pretense of such wacky ideas as the base for their pseudo-psychology practices. They are dangerous, secretive, and hostile, which is why a large portion of the world views them as little more than a particularly well-moneyed cult.

    BUT…

    Did you read the remainder of that Australian article? The book seems to be engaging in somewhat conspiratorial ideas. It claims that Katie Holmes was impregnated with the frozen sperm of L. Ron Hubbard…which seems a bit over-the-top to me. It seems like this book is going to be a sensationalistic piece of tabloid fodder.

    HOWEVER, I don't necessarily think that Scientology should have the ability to get it banned or be able to sue its author. People should be allowed to read lies and misrepresentations should they so desire. They do anyway, in the regular tabloid press. Unlike some people, though, I don't think they are suing because the author has gotten anything right…I think they just like to sue.

    I'd ALMOST like to see it come to trial in the US. It'd be interesting for them to follow our libel laws and PROVE that the statements made against them are false, as it would involve airing a certain amount of their sci-fi BS to the public, something they are not currently too keen on doing. I think you have to donate some vast sum of money before you even find out exactly what it is they believe.

    Anyway, it's an interesting story even if I'm not so sure I believe a word Morton says.

  3. Jumping Jehosephat.

    So the adherents to Scientology KNOW that the founder was a science fiction writer. And the religion is based on outer-space stuff. If this isn't evidence that there are enough idiots out there for everyone smart enough to make a very comfortable living by starting their own religion, then I don't know what is. Maybe us skeptics should try a new plan: we will all start our own woo-based companies or religions (redundant I know) and get rich, but the marketing plan will be that we deny our products/revelations to work/be true, but have shills testify. So, like, you know, the company makes no claims – just has good ads.

  4. There are some days when I think to myself, "There's no way people actually believe in Scientology. Surely it's just one massive hoax that the high-profile Hollywood stars are playing, a satire of the inanity and corruption of other religions. One day they'll reveal that it was just a prank all along, a demonstration to other religious groups of their own folly."

    And then I realize (a) I have little to no respect for most of Hollywood anyway, and (b) yes, they actually do believe this crap.

  5. Unfortunately, Scientology wasn't just a joke… a year or few before he founded it, Hubbard wrote an article in Analog where he said flat out that if a science fiction writer really wanted to make money, he wouldn't be writing science fiction, he'd start a new religion.

    So, he knew exactly what he was doing, and chose to abuse his abilities to exploit the public….

  6. Surely, many religions are invented by someone saying "I know this" or God told me" or "It's all written on a load of holy golden tablets, but *you* can't see them"?

    In some ways, you could argue that Hubbard (even if he was self-deluded from the word go, or started off scamming and ended up believing in his own invention) was actually being a bit more obvious than most founders, leaving enough of a trail to make most sensible people wary.

  7. I have always maintained that Scientology *had* to be one of those "one dollar bets" between Hubbard and Heinlein.

    Unfortunately, even if it started out as a hoax, I think Hubbard came to believe his own hype, and certainly those who follow him (at least below a certain level) do. And that's the really scary part.

    I don't know if I could bring myself to line Andrew Morton's pockets, but doing it in order to do my part to tweak the Scientology nuts would be almost worth it.

  8. I guess the ideal solution would be for $cientology to waste loads of money on lawyers, have some interesting stuff come up in court, and end up with the book being pulped, Morton getting nothing, and the book appearing on the internet for everyone to read for free.

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