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Jan 22, 2013

'No aliens living inside us': Scientology educates the media

A media guide released by the Church of Scientology is aimed at dispelling myths around the religion -- turns out they're not descended from aliens, but they do teach English to African migrants.

There’s no mention of Tom Cruise, the evil ruler Xenu or the Galactic Confederacy. But a media guide produced by the Church of Scientology has been sent to journalists to “address a number of misunderstandings” about the religion.

Church spokesperson Virginia Stewart denies the guide’s release is related to a new controversial book that examines the inner working of the church. “It just happened to be when we finished it,” she told Crikey.

The guide focuses on the Asia-Pacific region, but also covers general details about the church, such as that the word “Scientology” means “knowing how to know”, the religion’s ultimate goal is “true spiritual enlightenment and freedom for all” and it is entirely funded by its members. The guide also explains its two most common symbols:

Controversial, and core, beliefs — the church’s aversion to traditional psychiatric treatments and medicine, the use of e-meters to measure electrical charges in the body (used to “locate areas of spiritual distress or travail during auditing”) and the secretive Sea Organisation Order (individuals sign a billion-year pledge dedicating themselves to the SeaOrg and must leave if they have children) — are covered. It also addresses the “alien myth”, clarifying that “Scientology has no religious belief that we are descended from aliens or have aliens living inside us”.

More specific to Australia is a list of volunteer work that Australian Scientology ministers have been involved in. There was a small number of volunteers involved in the clean-up after the 2011 Queensland and Victorian floods, the Christchurch earthquake and the NSW bushfires, while Scientologists also provided English literacy classes for African migrants in Melbourne.

Pulitzer prize-winning writer Lawrence Wright penned a 26-page article on the Church of Scientology, largely based on interviews with ex-Scientologist and Hollywood screenwriter Paul Haggis, for The New Yorker in 2011. It offers a fascinating insight to the little-known religion and reveals that the FBI were investigating allegations of slavery in the SeaOrg. Haggis also claimed church leader David Miscavige is a controlling and vicious figure, and the church encourages members to cut themselves off from any family or friends who are not Scientologists.

But Stewart says the article had “no impact” on the church here in Australia and she has yet to meet anyone who even read it. “No one has mentioned it to us at all,” she said.

The article led to Wright’s book Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief, which was released last week in a blaze of interviews and promotion. Stewart says she’s unconcerned. “It’s just mushing together allegations from other sources, there’s no new revelations,” she told Crikey. “I think he was just making money. Write a book and make money, that’s my personal view.”

Last week The Atlantic removed a paid advertisement for the Church of Scientology that was written to appear like a normal article (its comments were also moderated to only allow pro-church comments) after a public backlash. It is now reviewing its advertising and content policies.

When asked about The Atlantic incident, Stewart replied: “I think that there’s some people who no matter what you do, they still don’t like it. There’s people who don’t like religion, doesn’t matter if you’re a Scientologist or a Catholic.”

More damaging to Australian Scientologists are the local tabloid current affair shows. After one TV show displayed an aerial map of the church’s headquarters in Dundas, Sydney, “hooligans came and abused us”, Stewart says. “All of a sudden, rocks and things are being smashed, graffiti, our cars are being egged. It’s horrible,” she said.

The release of the media guide is to encourage more balanced reporting, Stewart says. “With the more non-online media, we would often get calls,” she said. “With online, it’s changed all of that. Something comes in and it just goes straight out. For online media, the balance we’ve experienced, we don’t get as much of a say or get asked. We’re very happy to answer questions.”

The 2012 census showed just 2136 Australians identified as Scientologists, but the church claims the figure is much higher and Scientologists fear identifying themselves. The only numbers the church can provide are flimsy — it claims to have 250,000 people on its Asia-Pacific mailing list, which includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan and Taiwan.

Stewart acknowledges the media coverage of the religion is completely out of whack to the number of Scientologists in Australia. “We’ve been told by media, ‘[it’s] because you keep getting the ratings up’.”

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28 comments

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28 thoughts on “‘No aliens living inside us’: Scientology educates the media

  1. klewso

    So “Tom Cruise” is for real?
    …. nudge, nudge, wink, wink – I saw “Meet Dave” the other night!

  2. Shaniq'ua Shardonn'ay

    It would be worth looking into their Drug Rehab activities, very suss and very costly as treatment is somewhere around $25,000 and smells a little like induction (lots of saunas).

  3. Maroubraman

    Whether Crikey or anyone else believes there are 200 Scientologists in Australia, or 2,000, or 200,000, is a bit irrelevant. Here are some objective facts:

    – There have been Australian Scientologists since the 1950s.

    – The unanimous 1983 decision of the Australian High Court which confirmed that Scientology is a religion is described on the Australian Government website as “the most significant Australian authority on the question of what constitutes a religion.” In that ruling, the High Court justices observed that, “Freedom of religion, the paradigm freedom of conscience, is of the essence of a free society.”

    – Regardless of any petty dispute over the NUMBER of Scientologists in Australia, here are two reliable facts:

    a) There are many hard working, honest, decent, intelligent people in all walks of life all over Australia who attribute increased personal happiness and spiritual understanding to their practice of Scientology, and;

    b) There are hostile critics who say all manner of negative things about Scientology.

    – The Australian media, including Crikey, are generally generous to the critics. There is no danger in shouting with the mob. But readers never hear anything positive. There ARE many positive stories. But if any media outlet were to report any such story — even if just to give the ridicule a little balance — they might be criticized yourself for saying something positive. I have long held the foolish hope that Crikey might be the first media forum to have big enough round things to actually entertain such a balanced message.

  4. Kster Ings

    It seems like some Australian’s did read the New Yorker article. It was an Australian producer that made this parody about scientology and gaming theory based on the article:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqE89qKsYSg

  5. Kerry Trelogan

    This sentence is (I’m sure) unintentionally misleading or could be misread:
    “Controversial, and core, beliefs — the church’s aversion to traditional psychiatric treatments and medicine…”

    Scientologists have NO aversion to _physical_ medicine. They’ll see a doctor as soon as not, take their antibiotics as prescribed, and never withhold medicine from anyone.

    Where they draw the line is at taking psychiatric drugs like Luvox, Zoloft, Prozac, Ritalin, Abilify and all the other dozens.

    The side effects of PHYSICAL drugs might give you hives, mess up your liver, or give you a tummy ache. But the side effects–on too many people–of psychiatric drugs have been mass murder, killing family members and/or suicide.

    Here’s one firearm site’s compilation of 65(!) hard-evidence examples of just that:
    http://www.ignatius-piazza-front-sight.com/2013/01/20/front-sight-blog-youve-been-punked-video/
    Note the many video links at the bottom of the page.

    American politicians want to blame guns, but the weapons of those driven bonkers by psych drugs include knives, sword(!), explosives, cars, even a bus.

    Please get this point: Psychiatrists tell us that the crazy people they treat will sometimes kill people. They’re dodging their responsibility.

    These people didn’t START OUT that crazy. They started out just upset, troubled, anxious, lonely, or feeling guilty. Only AFTER taking psych drugs for simple conditions did they go stark-raving murderous on friends and family.

    Want that at your dining-room table?

  6. John P

    Even the brief excerpts of the Scientology media guide is disingenuous on multiple fronts. In other words, they’re lying… again…

    1. It’s accurate that they don’t believe that “man is descended from aliens.” That’s because they believe that man is actually a disembodied immortal spirit that reincarnates, and you can be reincarnated as an alien or as a human each time. So you’re not strictly descended from aliens in the evolutionary sense, you always were an alien.

    2. Your body does not *have space aliens living inside […].” The “body thetans” that people spend years trying to exorcise (which can be thought of as dead space cooties) cling to your skin. They are not “inside” your body, but Scientologists do believe they are real, and they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to rid themselves of these invisible little critters.

    3. If you look at the “charity” work that Scientologists claim to do, much of it is photo opportunities to take back to their cult headquarters and prove to themselves just how worthwhile they are. Scientology “volunteers” were repeatedly thrown out of the disaster site at the twin towers in New York following the September 11 attacks for getting in the way and trying to hand out cult literature. For that waste of everyone’s time, a Scientologist employee of the NY Fire Department, who lied about his credentials, presented the Scientology organization with a fake “Medal of Valor,” an award which is only given to firefighters who lost their life in the line of duty.

    4. Lawrence Wright’s book is a best-seller only days after it is released. It’s not surprising that Stewart “has yet to meet anyone who even read it,” given how the cult censors its members’ reading material. At one point, the cult also distributed software for members to install on their computers that would screen out sites critical of Scientology or web pages containing a list of terms critical of the cult. There have been over 2,000 news articles on Google News discussing the Wright book, so if Stewart is not hearing much about it, she’s doing her best head-in-the-sand ostrich imitation.

    5. Lawrence Wright is know for being an especially meticulous researcher, and he has been interviewing people for the book full-time for two years. He has conducted over two hundred interviews. This is anything but a slap-dash effort to cash in on the craziness that surrounds this malevolent and dangerous organization.

    6. “Maroubraman”s comment above is a stock denial of a cult member attempting to deflect attention from the negative press, particularly by claiming some form of discrimination or victimization.

    “There are hostile critics who say all manner of negative things about Scientology.” This is indeed true. What Maroubraman fails to note is that many of these critics are very careful to provide extensive supporting documentation for the charges they bring. In other words, much of the negative commentary about this dangerous organization is based on events that actually happened and are accurately described.

  7. Whingey Bingey

    Lol! I bet they didn’t mention what they really think of journalists!

    PROCEDURE ON ENTHETA PRESS In the case of a bad magazine article which is signed, use the Following procedure:

    1: Tell them by letter to retract at once in the next issue.

    2: Hire a private detective of a national-type firm to investigate the _writer_, not the magazine, and get any criminal or Communist back-ground the man has. (Because all subversive activities foolishly use criminals they “have something on” and men who have been paid to attack attack us, you’ll have data incoming from the detective agency if they do their work well.

    3: Have your lawyers or solicitors write the magazine threatening suit. (Hardly ever permit a real suit -they’re more of a nuisance to you than they’re worth.)

    4: Use the data you got from the detective at long last to write the author of the article a very tantalizing letter. Don’t give him your data on him. Just tell him we know something very interesting about him and wouldn’t he like to come in and talk about it. (If he comes, ask him to sign a confession of collusion and slander – people at that level often will, just to commit suicide – and publish it in a paid ad in the paper if you get it.) Chances are he won’t arrive.

    But he’ll sure shudder into silence.

    5: Give any new data you have from the detective to your attorneys for their use against the magazine.

    […] WHEN BEING INVESTIGATED lf you are being investigated or if the Central Organization is – sit tight, don’t co-operate.

    Be legal according to the laws of the land in the first place.

    After that kick investigators or reporters downstairs.

    Press interviews usually end up as entheta or they are cover-ups for an investigation Never co-operate. Be indifferent.

    Don’t let the central organization co-operate with “press” ever That’s a lesson hard to learn. Press people are so persuasive They are going to “help” so much. Look at a newspaper. ls it helping anybody?

    Press and other queries are counter-investigation.

    Never spook if investigated. And don’t co-operate. Sit tight.

    Be siIent. Make the investigator talk. Gradually put him into session if you can.

    Put him in birth or get him three feet back of his head. But don’t co-operate or volunteer data. lt’s not that you’ve anything to hide. It’s just that investigators can’t duplicate. They pervert things they “hear” Your whole answer to anyone is “This is an institution that has a definite high standing throughout the world, Why don’t you see our attorneys?”

    This kills press and cops alike.

    l’ve seen an outside investigation of a guiltless organization put the whole place in a flap and cost it two days’ work or more. I’ve seen an organization fall apart by suspending operation for ten days while it permitted itself to he investigated.

    So don’t co-operate. If you don’t scare or cringe, the menace fades away.

    — L. Ron Hubbard “Manual of Justice” (Public Domain)

    From http://www.xenu.net/archive/go/man_just.htm

  8. Whingey Bingey

    In answer to Maroubraman, my ex molested my daughter. When people abuse other people it doesn’t matter what other good qualities they have. I don’t care that we once enjoyed a nice game of Scrabble. I don’t have to say or think anything nice about him and I have a right to be angry.

    The Church of Scientology (all 2,000 of them) would be better off thinking about why people are so bitter about their time as Scientologists. They are creating their own “bitter defrocked apostates”. Here’s a hint Scientology. Why not try apologising? Why not try reviewing your the policies that consistently bring you this negative press and word of mouth? Even the Catholic church does that sometimes.

  9. Maroubraman

    Hello Whingey Bingey. I agree that you have a right to be angry toward your ex.

    On the other hand, regarding Scientology, your comment sort of proves my point.

    You seem desperate to believe that there are only 2,000 of “them.” Fine. I wouldn’t waste time arguing that. As I said, numbers are irrelevant (except of course to those who believe it is okay to discriminate against a minority BECAUSE they are a minority and thus it is “safe” to be in the majority mob).

    But here is how you unintentionally confirmed my original point: You say “people are so bitter about their time as Scientologists.” That statement is only true if you are referring to the tiny minority of “people” who are EX-Scientologists. You never hear in the media ANYTHING about the tens of thousands (sorry) of PEOPLE who are leading happy, successful lives, enjoying the company of friends, family and workmates who may or may not also be Scientologists.

    As you illustrate, EX-spouces are often bitter about their former partners. Sometimes, as apparently in your case, but not always, the anger is justified by the underlying facts.

    But, in your own case, for example, if you were to extrapolate from your misfortune and conclude that all men are evil, all relationships are bad, and love is an illusion, I think you would be doing yourself a disservice.

    And, in a free society, even your ex should have the right to have his “side” of the story heard, and for the matter to be decided based on FACTS.

  10. Whingey Bingey

    “Controversial, and core, beliefs — the church’s aversion to traditional psychiatric treatments and medicine…” You got it in one Crikey. Here is one example from the Affidavit of Tory Christman:

    6. A few months after joining the Sea Organization I realized I needed to re-order the medication I was on for Epilepsy. I was routed to a person they called the Medical Liaison Officer, or the MLO. This was a young man I was told was studying nutrition. He had no actual medical training that I knew of. He informed me that I needed to get off of my medication, and that he would write out a program to get off of it. In Scientology if you have ANY illness it is considered there is something wrong with you, not just physically, but that this is a very bad thing, caused by you being connected to someone who is suppressive to you. At least that was the beginning pitch I heard.
    […]

    9. Finally one morning in the shower I knocked my front teeth out during a Grand Mal seizure. All during this time my mother was begging me to go back on all of my medication. Being new in Scientology, I assured her Dianetics and Scientology would handle this. Finally, after so many seizures and so much trauma, I realized no matter what these people thought, I wasn’t going to live if I kept doing this. At that point I decided to go back on my medication in full, no matter what.

    […]

    19. After attesting to OT 3, I once again tried to get off of my medication, only to end up in a hospital with status epileptus, or many seizures. I finally went back on all medication, and have stayed on it, and have never had a seizure since.

    http://www.xenu-directory.net/documents/christman200101.html

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