Scientology – Cult or Church?

May 23, 2008 at 5:30 pm (Anonymous, Church of Scientology, cult, Human Rights, Scientology) (, , , , , )

There are plenty of people not members of the Church of Scientology who have gathered some personal experience. Usually they don’t get a voice but this one has been heard. found this interesting. The original is at (yes, the “hacker site”).

Harvey Silverglate is a former president of the ACLU of Massachusetts and a current board member. He is also a libertarian and co-author (with Alan Kors) of “The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s Campuses.”

Here is what his viewpoint is on Scientology.

Subject: RE: Arnie Lerma replies to Scientology's Internet position paper
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2002 15:21:14 -0400
	I realize that my objectivity may be questioned, because during
a 5-year span in the 1980s I represented the Church of Scientology in a
series of bogus "religious fraud" cases brought against the Church in
Boston and elsewhere. However, I did get to learn a lot about
Scientology during this period. Anyone who takes the trouble to study
the Church will understand that while it is of course true that
Scientology is careful to portray itself as a religion in part to ward
off governmental and individual attacks for "fraud", in fact the reason
it is able to do so, with considerable success, is that there is,
conceptually, no difference between Scientology and any established and
accepted religion of which I'm aware. If one reads the Supreme Court and
Court of Appeals case law as to what constitutes a religion, one
realizes that there is an enormously wide and diverse group of belief
systems that qualify -- belief systems that are traditionally theistic,
and belief systems that are very different. Scientology is the
quintessential non-theistic belief system. Sceptics ask Scientologists:
"How can you believe that stuff?" The very question would appear to
admit that Scientology is a religion! Why is it harder to accord First
Amendment protection to Hubbard's "religious technology" than to accord
such protection to espousal of belief in the Trinity?
	Hence, the operative question is NOT why Scientology emphasizes
its religious nature. It is OBVIOUS that one reason is to gain First
Amendment protection. So, what's wrong with that? The operative question
is whether Scientology's belief system qualifies for First Amendment
protection. The answer is equally obvious: Absolutely. It is neither
easier nor harder to believe in Scientology than to believe in One God.
There is absolutely no distinction between Scientology and a more
traditional religion, from a First Amendment perspective and analysis.
It is fair for critics to criticize Scientology's methods and zeal, but
it is equally fair, and equally easy, to criticize any more traditional
religious organization. Has the Scientology organization done some
things worthy of criticism? Yes, and it has at times admitted error. But
nothing that Scientology nor Scientologists have done since its founding
in the 1950s even compares to the atrocities committed by the world's
major religions over centuries. It takes the world's major religions
centuries to admit error; Scientology has a better record.
	Were I a Scientologist, and had I suffered the decades of
persecution that Scientology suffered at the hands of the Internal
Revenue Service and the Department of Justice, I, too, would emphasize
the religious nature of the belief system. I am not a true believer, and
I do not agree with all of Scientology's policies. (For example, I
disagree legally and philosophically with the Church's very restrictive
position on copyright issues.) But it is frivolous, and bigoted and
narrow-minded, to refuse to recognize that, for First Amendment
purposes, Scientology is as much a religion, and as much entitled to
First Amendment religion-clause protection, as any of the more
traditional, commonplace belief systems.
						Harvey A. Silverglate
						Silverglate & Good

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