Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"What you believe does not mean you are not accountable for how you behave."

When confronted with overwhelming evidence of its abuses and crimes, the tiresome response of Scientology is usually to claim religious persecution. Scientology hides behind aggrandized and, frankly, delusional conceptions of what religious freedom actually means in order to continue its litany of fraud, deception, and crime. On trial in France for organized fraud and unlicensed practice of pharmacy, the Scientology refrain was that they were the victims of a modern-day inquisition.

Any and all claims of religious persecution made by Scientology when its more dubious operations and methods come under scrutiny are red herrings—nothing more nor less.

Such claims are deliberate attempts to derail legitimate inquiry through intentionally disingenuous distraction. Furthermore, likening investigation and prosecution of Scientology crimes to the Holocaust is more than a validation of Godwin's Law. It is sickening, inappropriate, and disrespectful to the victims of the Holocaust and their surviving families. Scientologists are not being herded up and exterminated. What is happening in one country after another is that the corrupt Scientology organization is being exposed, investigated, and being subjected to laws that every organization—religious or otherwise—must follow.

When the Catholic Church was forced to answer for child sexual abuse among its clergy, was this a case of religious persecution? Are priests permitted to systematically break the law, leaving a trail of victims in their wake, and claim immunity from prosecution because they are members of a religious order?

Does outrage at Sharia Law "honour" killings constitute anti-Islam bigotry? Is the fact that such killings are prosecutable crimes in non-Muslim countries mean that Muslims in those countries are being persecuted?

The answer to these questions is a resounding NO. And the same moral and legal principles apply to Scientology. This is irrefutable and immutable.

Scientology variously refers to Anonymous as a hate group, religious bigots, anti-religious extremists, and cyber-terrorists. Such accusations are also red herrings. The goal of Anonymous is to expose the ongoing abuses and crimes within Scientology. We use the Internet as it was intended: to disseminate information to every corner of the world. (And we happen to be very good at this.) It is the unmitigated force of incontrovertible truth, through the unrestrained spread of information, that continues to force Scientology to answer for its crimes.

Do not call us religious bigots, because we are not. Nor are we a hate group, because we do not hate you; rather, what we hate are your crimes and human rights abuses.

Do not cry religious persecution where there is none. We do not care what you believe. We are not protesting your secret (not to mention expensive) "scriptures" that tell the story of how humans became infested with the souls of space aliens who were blown up in volcanoes 75 million years ago by the evil galactic overlord Xenu.

But most importantly, do not assume that your past successes in hiding behind an undeserved cloak of religious freedom will in any way guarantee that you can continue to do so with impunity. It's just not going to work anymore.

On November 17, Australian Senator Nick Xenophon made a speech (PDF here) calling for an investigation of illegal activities of the Church of Scientology in that country. Probably his most succinct assertion, and the title of this blog entry, was that "[w]hat you believe does not mean you are not accountable for how you behave."

This is the case not only for Scientology but any organization and any individual with a modicum of moral fibre. If Scientologists were truly "the most ethical people on the planet," as they claim, then they would understand this moral imperative. It appears they don't, and this will be their downfall.

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