Archive for control

Scientology: The Tom Cruise Edition

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 9, 2009 by arievergreen

Gawker has been running some scary stories about Scientology lately, all connected to Tom Cruise. It sounds like the recent revelations from high-profile defectors are making serious litigation a real possibility.

More on Paul Haggis’ split with Scientology

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by arievergreen

David Gibson’s Is Scientology a Cult? Is Paul Haggis the Next Martin Luther? gives a little more information about the director’s split with Scientology over their support for Proposition 8.

Interestingly, Gibson suggests Haggis could improve rather than reject Scientology:

One mark of a “real” religion is its ability to reform or adapt. Some religions could be said to begin as cults and over time transform into religions. Similarly, religious traditions, or parts of them, can also degenerate into cults. But cults generally don’t last long because they are so obsessive and rigid that they cannot change in the face of challenges. Perhaps Haggis needs to start his own branch of Scientology. It’s a model that has worked before.

Judging by the inability of many “real” religions to, say, grant women and queer folks and people in other religions equal consideration and respect, I’m not sure that such a reform movement would do much to improve upon Scientology. Wouldn’t its transition from a questionably-culty new religion to a bonafide 100% legitimate religion just give them more power to control people?

Read Scientology: Ecclesiastical justice, Part 3 of 3 in a special report on the Church of Scientology, for a glimpse into the controlling world of this belief system.

Previously:
Links roundup: What’s up, religion?

“He had complete control over me mentally and therefore because I was his property and I was his, he was able to do what he did to me”

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by arievergreen

Elissa Wall escaped from a forced marriage and has written a memoir about it. She has also worked with the media to challenge people to intervene in similar child-bride situations.

She said, “I didn’t want to be married at 14. [Sect members] honestly believe, and I did and so did my mother, that God sent down inspiration from heaven, like a strike of lightning, down to the prophet. This was God’s word. And we were to follow it, obediently and happily.”

How can a 14-year-old girl raised in this kind of environment be expected to resist her oppression, or even to know she has a right to live her own life? And how can we prevent similar abuses in other situations where humans say they’re carrying out god’s will?

Maybe the most important question is, how can any of us argue with someone’s faith? Can one have a rational discussion with someone who says their actions are justified by an all-powerful metaphysical being that they really, really believe in? If a society believes that religion is an acceptable defense for some oppressions (denying the morning-after pill to desperate teens, denying abortions to women, denying marriage to queer folks, and so on), isn’t that a slippery slope we’re on? How can we give institutional support to some practices, and decry others as immoral, if we’re all using “god’s word” as a justification for our actions?

Links roundup: What’s up, religion?

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2009 by arievergreen

I’ve been saving these ones up – stories of ordinary people who are subjected to oppression for religious reasons. (And several of them resist successfully!) Isn’t religion supposed to improve our quality of life, not destroy it?

Conservative Bible Revision: “just crazy”

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2009 by arievergreen

As if living by one’s interpretation (or one’s leader’s interpretation) of a very old book wasn’t enough, now some folks want to rewrite the book. Scary…

Lo and behold, the Bible has gotten too liberal, according to a group of conservatives. And it needs a little editing.

That’s the inspiration behind the Conservative Bible Project, which seeks to take the text back to its supposed right-wing roots.

So how can the Bible be conservatized? The group has proposed a Wikipedia-like group editing project. Some of the ideas would only bring the translation closer to the original. But others would fundamentally change the text.

Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop; defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.

I wonder what they think “peace” means now? Is it something you have to buy from Halliburton? Read the rest of the article. (Huffington Post)

“He said he was the voice of God on Earth”

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2009 by arievergreen

At knifepoint, Elizabeth Smart was abducted from her girlhood bedroom, she said, then led to a secluded mountain campsite, where a self-proclaimed prophet made her his 14-year-old polygamous “wife” in a quickie ceremony.

She testified that her captor raped her three or four times a day and threatened to kill her if she yelled or tried to escape.

“He told me he was a prophet,” Smart said under cross-examination by Mitchell’s lawyer. “He said he was the voice of God on Earth and that he would reign over God’s children until Jesus came.”

But she also said his religious revelations seemed to come only when he wanted something, or when he was trying to calm his wife.

Mitchell’s lawyers maintain he is incompetent and suggested that evidence of his delusions can be found in his religious rambling and writings, including a 27-page manifesto he called “The Book of Emmanuel David Isaiah.”

Smart said he read from the book repeatedly during her captivity, often sang hymns and laced his conversations with religious language. Throughout her captivity, Smart was forced to wear a white, ankle-length robe, a head scarf and two veils across her face.

Read the rest

Many Women Targeted by Faith Leaders, Survey Says

Posted in Wrongness with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 1, 2009 by arievergreen

One in every 33 women who attend worship services regularly has been the target of sexual advances by a religious leader, a survey released Wednesday says.

The study, by Baylor University researchers, found that the problem is so pervasive that it almost certainly involves a wide range of denominations, religious traditions and leaders.

Carolyn Waterstradt, 42, a graduate student who lives in the Midwest, said she was coerced into a sexual relationship with a married minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for 18 months. He had been her pastor for a decade, she said, and told her the relationship was ordained by God.

Garland said, “when you put it with a spiritual leader or moral leader, you’ve really added a power that we typically don’t think about in secular society — which is that this person speaks for God and interprets God for people. And that really adds a power.”

Read the rest