Causes of Criticism

I believe that that the body of work known as Scientology is extremely valuable and that its application, correctly done, can be beneficial to anyone.

I also believe that the management and staff of the modern day church are trying their best:

(a) to promote and deliver Scientology;
(b) to act within the law;
(c) to bring the organization closer to being a respected mainstream religious movement.

The church has faced considerable pressures during its formative decades. Its representatives have not always acted in the most appropriate manner. Some of its problems - but by no means all - have been iatrogenic.

In this essay I have categorized four of the major reasons for the attacks.


1. The Psychological Imperatives of Apostacy (or: By Golly, I was right to leave!)

There is an interesting sociological phenomenon whereby someone who leaves a religious group sometimes seeks to justify their renunciation of belief by damning most everything to do with it.

Their testimonies can be superficially convincing to outsiders. However they are generally biased because of their desire to cut their ties, to show they are definitely against their former church, and to prove to everyone (including themselves) that their new life plan and future is the right one. 

There are a few good pages on the Religious Freedom Watch site about this phenomenon. They quote an eminent, a remarkably eminent, scholar:

'Professor Bryan Ronald Wilson is the reader Emeritus in Sociology at the University of Oxford. For more than 40 years, Professor Wilson has conducted studies of Scientology, Christianity and many other beliefs. He is one of the most well-known British scholars of religion and provides here a thought provoking study on the subject of apostates and apostasy.'

Here's a relevant piece from his essay. This is where he discussed examples from history of the same phenomenon we can see today:

'In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, at a time of crisis in Christian belief, there were some celebrated cases of apostasy from the Roman Catholic Church. They were represented as occurring in that church because of the rigour of its requirements of belief and practice; because of its resistance to modernism; and in particular because it encouraged the most devoted of its votaries to join monastic orders or congregations. Some of the lurid stories of monastic life, purportedly related by apostated monks and nuns -- the celebrated case of Maria Monk was widely publicised -- turned out to be largely fictional, but were much used by the anti-Catholic propagandist media of the day. In the present age of religious pluralism, in which a spirit of ecumenism prevails among many of the major Christian denominations, and in which the so-called "switching" of allegiance from one of these movements to another is not uncommon, the charge of apostasy is less frequently heard. But since c. 1960, with the appearance in western society of various new minority movements which have distinctive religious teachings and which require a strong sense of specific commitment, a member who departs is likely to be regarded as apostatizing, and all the more so, of course, if that member then proceeds to ridicule or excoriate his former beliefs and to vilify those who were previously his close associates. '

For anyone who reads a.r.s. it is an essay worth reading in its entirety.

I'll now go on to the next point. In this modern age of materialism and the massive lawsuit there has sometimes been another reason for coming out against Scientology: 

2. Money

According to the St. Petersburg Times of May 18, 2002, a guy called Bob Minton spent $10,000,000 on his fight against the church.


It's not unreasonable to suggest that at least a ~few~ heads in the small critical community might have been turned by the possibility that they might receive some of that largesse.

"Scientology critic Robert Minton has funnelled $10-million into a global anti-Scientology crusade, financing lawsuits against the church and supporting some of Scientology's most strident opponents."

Note carefully in the above that to get the money you had to be 'strident'.

I think a good assessment of what happened with Bob was made back in 1998, by a poster called RonsAmigo. In light of recent revelations, it seems remarkably prescient.

Here's RA's response to one of Bob's posts about Scientology:


From RonsAmigo (10 Feb 1998):

Robert S. Minton:
> But most of all management of Scientology fears that drawing attention to
> these things will strike a cord in the heart of Scientologists--who have no
> voice, no human rights, no civil rights, no legal rights, no free speech,
> no free thought. In other words, NO CHANCE, until they can break the chains
> that THE Church of Scientology chooses to bind them in.

Perhaps you are sincere in your intent, but your rather strange assertions
just make you look silly to Scientologists. Where on earth did you get the
idea that I and other Scientologists have, "no voice, no human rights, no
civil rights, no legal rights, no free speech, no free thought"?

When you first came on the scene, my initial impression was that you were a
sucker being taken for a ride. Reading your "Emancipation Proclamation",
reaffirmed that impression. Don't underestimate the skills of the con-artists
you have climbed into bed with. That you now believe and espouse the kind of
nonsense that you do, is sure evidence of either their skills, or of some deep
seated desire to be victimized. (What we Scientologists call "motivator
starvation.") What you need to realize, is that the "Scientology" depicted on
ARS, is not the Scientology that exists in the real world. For that reason,
when those truly familiar with Scientology as it exists in the real world read
your words, their reaction is more than likely going to be laughter at you, or
pity for you.

In the real world, Scientologists are pretty much like everyone else. They go
to work, love their kids, go to the movies, have their dreams and goals etc.
Many are involved in social betterment activities (redefined on ARS as
"Scientology front groups") such as Criminon, Narcanon, Literacy Program, Etc.
They do these things because it is the right thing to do, and helping others
to make dramatic changes for the better is personally very rewarding. And of
course we occasionally partake of Scientology training or auditing.

The Church of Scientology exercises little or no control over the lives of
Scientologists. (although Scientologists are expected to live moral lives and
to abide by the laws of the land if they wish to remain eligible for
Scientology services)

The vast majority of Scientologists hold David Miscavige, Heber Jentz and the
other leaders of our church in very high regard. We appreciate the weight of
the responsibility they have taken on, and the personal sacrifices they must
make on a continuing basis in order to continue to serve us. Their
communication lines are very open to us. Many of us get a chance to chat
personally with them from time to time, and of course they are always willing
to engage in the exchange of notes, letters, etc.

Please realize, that the entire purpose of ARS is to create antagonism toward
Scientology and Scientologists. AND THAT IS ALL THAT IT'S REALLY ABOUT. The
most atypical events are reported as typical. The wildest, stupidest lies,
rumours, and half truths are blindly embraced by most ARS "critics." While you
may take many of the reports of ex-Scientologists at face value, most of us
are very skeptical of them because: A) Many of us knew those making such
reports while they were still Scientologists and did not then hold them in
high esteem for very good reasons. B) It becomes obvious that many of the ex
Scientologist are "ex" because for whatever reason, they never figured out
what Scientology really is. C) More than a few ex-Scientologists were then,
and are now, just plain nuts. They didn't make it in Scientology, because
Scientology is not set up for the treatment of the insane. Outsiders often
jump to the wrong conclusion, and assume that Scientology is responsible for
their condition. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The real strength of the Church of Scientology lies in the unity and common
purpose of both its staff and its public. That strength grows stronger every
day, as does our ability to successfully apply our technologies and our
abilities to flourish and prosper. (both as a group and as individuals)

The Church Of Scientology will still be here long after ARS is but some
footnote in a dusty, never read, obscure volume. And every day, despite the
best efforts of those who live to create antagonism against the Church,
thousands of people find it, correctly assess the real value of it, and become



The concept that one might be able to make money by attacking the church didn't, of course, start with Minton:

Over the years a  number of people have worked for groups that have been dedicated to attacking and destroying the church and other minority religions. Their actions and their criticism were simply aspects of their jobs.


3. Bad Experiences

Some people truly had bad experiences in the church. Finally, they became despondent or angry and decided to take their bat home.

Procedures were misapplied. Or maybe they were applied well, but the procedures themselves were then subsequently found to be in need of revision. Sometimes bad or stupid people were in positions of responsibility within the church... 

Because of these things, some people have stories which are both regrettable and true. These  add a certain something to the critical mix. It becomes hard to differentiate truth from lies, the straight tale from the slanted one.

On the whole, I believe that bad experiences are reasonably rare, although that doesn't help the individuals affected. I think this is one reason the church management have been tightening up in so many areas. To make sure that things are kept as straight and on-policy as possible. A balance has to be kept between (a) allowing groups and individuals to do as they think best, and (b) running a tight ship according to centralized policies. Over the past few years we have seen movements in various areas towards the latter.

4.  Confusion

Some web critics actually have very little idea what Scientology really is, or about what happens at a Scientology church. They have a lot of data but it happens to have largely stemmed from biased sources. If anyone feels that they themselves might be in that position (very unlikely i know) I would suggest browsing through the following collection of links:

A Collection of Scientology Articles and Information

RonsAmigo once speculated about why two critics had gotten themselves into legal trouble:

'Most who visit ARS are of sufficient intellect to spot it for what it is, a two-for-a-quarter usenet hate group. Some few however swallow what they read here hook, line and sinker. They sincerely believe that the "Scientology" that they read about on ARS actually exists in the real world. They find a cause. They find comradeship. ... It's all one big on-line video game where the horrible Scientology monster is fought by daring net gladiators around the globe.

'Some few of the few (unbalanced individuals) carry their ARS fantasy world over into the real world. Here they get into trouble. When they break real world laws, they may well pay a real world price.  When they sincerely believe and live their life as if the delusional world of ARS and the real world are one, they set themselves up for a heap of trouble. When they engage a lawyer who is fully as unbalanced mentally as they are and who is himself immersed in
the SAME delusion .....  well they're in for a very severe reality adjustment when their delusion collides with the real world.'

He was talking about Grady Ward and Keith Henson:

Also, here is the 'mea culpa' of another guy who believed the things he read on ars - and then got into trouble with the police when he took illegal actions based on those beliefs.

Ron Hubbard wrote:

'Not all the people, of course, who make the attacks upon Scientology, its organizations, its auditors or LRH, do so from any other motive than confusion.'

L. Ron Hubbard. Ability Magazine. Circa Mid March 1955. The Scientologist. A
Manual on the Dissemination of Material.

Quite right in my opinion.


People tend to believe those things which are beneficial for them. I like Scientology, and I prefer to believe that the church is improving and doing well. For others it is going to be difficult for them to see the force of the kind of viewpoint expressed by RonsAmigo above.

I suspect most of the contributors to ars are not money-motivated. They are fighting the good fight based on the information they have.

Once they have started attacking the church it is easier to keep on believing the line of thinking that has led them to that course of action. It takes a good deal for a critic to start seeing the other point of view. Various mental and social factors come into play.

Such changes ~do~ happen though. I've been pleased to see a number of critics become more moderate as the years have passed.

Freddie T

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