Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Critical, as in thoughtful, wrap-up story on CofS

An excellent article on the current state of Scientology. Lots is going on at this point in time and this pulls all the pieces together in a clear, relatively concise, coherent manner.

Good reading.

A must for anyone interested in this subject at all, no matter what your views or leanings:

Monday, September 21, 2009

2009 East Coast SP Party (Suppressive Person)

Patty likes to garden, entertain and save people from Scientology – a religion/cult she experienced from the inside out.

This was her perfect weekend.

Friday afternoon barbecue through coffee Sunday morning, her backyard garden was filled with former Scientologists, friends of former Scientologists and young people who protest against Scientology – they’re called Anons for the global leaderless cyberspace community that takes up free speech and civil rights issues.

The ex Scientologists are heroes to these kids, and rightly so.

They were brave enough to leave a life some had known for more than 20 years by breaking with the religion/cult and doubly brave to go online to describe what they saw and say is an organization of dirty tricks, physical abuse and lies, lies and more lies.

The Church of Scientology isn’t too fond of these foes, and the CofS is a tough enemy to have. L Ron Hubbard told his followers that his truth was the only truth and any non believer needed to be defeated.

For a prolific science fiction writer that could create a religion complete with space aliens, LRH apparently couldn’t imagine the World Wide Web. Too bad for his CofS.

The combination of former Scientologists sharing their messages online with the power of young cyber protesters may be the strength of sheer numbers and commitment to start turning war -- Scientology versus everyone else -- into conflict and battles into skirmishes until the wind is taken out of the CofS sails, and the religion/cult fades to black.

Ironically, CofS may be bringing on its own demise.

When the religion/cult hierarchy started coming down hard on these cyber protesters who take their Internet energy to the streets and physically protest at church sites, it just strengthened the protesters’ resolve. When CofS minions took down license plates, filed lawsuits and generally harassed church detractors, they merely fueled the fire.

Left alone, these bloggers/message board readers/Web site creators likely would have found other causes after the protest was organized last year and executed.

Back to Patty’s backyard this past weekend. One of the main guys admitted just that. Had the CofS not dragged him into court, he likely would have moved on. The first global protest last year was meant to be a one-time thing.

But, when you try to suppress free speech, it riles people. Thankfully.

For the fourth year Patty held a weekend party where those fighting against the CofS united to swap stories, seek inspiration from those who broke away and thank those who hit the streets to protest.

Good food and drink, deep conservations, maybe some plotting, and a rather raucous awards ceremony -- just what Patty likes.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Getting some answers

I didn't intend for this blog to be so Scientology oriented, but once I started looking into the religion/cult, it just started taking over. It's so hard to get a real handle on it that it makes it difficult to let go.

I always want to know more. My basic problem is not figuring out why people would be Scientologists in the first place. I can understand a person's quest to improve their life and try on different belief systems. What I can't quite get, is what Scientology offers that keeps people interested and engaged -- two things that seem to mark religion, no matter a person's beliefs.

Still, can thousands of members be wrong? They must be getting something out of it, aren't they? Can that many people be brainwashed, as detractors contend?

My research so far has painted a pretty ugly picture of the Church of Scientology, or at least of its leadership and it's actual organization, as separate from believes.

I hope to get some understanding later this month when I join a group of former Scientologists at an annual weekend gathering I've been fortunate enough to be invited to. As a journalist it's a great chance to talk to a lot of people from different locales in the same setting -- and what a boon to talk to people face to face rather than through e-mail and social media.

I'm guessing some of these people abhor Scientology while others honor all or parts of it. Their stories will be fascinating, and I hope to share a few here. Something made them join, something made them stay and, then, something made them leave.

I hope to be enlightened. I long to know the attraction and substance that keeps people involved in this controversial religion/cult.

Anything that defies logic -- or at least my logic! -- moves me to desire a greater understanding. I want to know why people believe what they believe.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You call this investigative?

All over Facebook and Twitter we're reading about the Church of Scientology's investigative piece in its own-produced Freedom magazine that supposedly contradicts the St. Pete Time's reporting this summer on the cruelty and abuses of the highest church leader on anyone below him.

Investigative? Please.

An investigative piece requires trained journalists questioning people,attributing that information and then seeking out alternate voices. It's called credibility. Who did the reporting in the 80-page Freedom magazine article? Only one side seems to be "reported" in this story.

Look at this. It's the explainer on page 79: "Investigative Reporting in the Public Interest Freedom Magazine has long been a voice for the Church of Scientology. Today,that voice exposes journalistic injustice within St. Petersburg Times—the trickery, the deception, the arrogance. But we know we are not alone. So to all who have been capriciously targeted by the Times: public servants, community leaders and members of the business community—let Freedom hear from you... And together, we can take a stand for decency and fair coverage,"


Fair coverage? Where exactly is that within these pages? This so-called investigative report lectures from a specific point of view -- the antithesis of investigative reporting; the antithesis of intelligent questioning. Worst of all, this article has nothing to do with freedom. Such abuse of noble words and ideals hurts.

I revere good journalism. This isn't it. This is spouting off.

Friday, July 31, 2009

100 spiritual & religion Tweeter feeds

And, my christiac is included. I'm honored.


Monday, July 27, 2009

Scientology. What's the attraction?

I've seen the blogs, news stories, Tweets and all manner of opinion on Scientology and throughout have wondered what would be the attraction in the first place. That story doesn't seem to have been written. I hope to one day.

Meanwhile, I've come across on Marty Rathbun's blog ( and on the site something called 31 factors. Within telling what some claim David Miscavige is doing wrong, is a glimmer of what could be right about this religion, what would attract people to it's teachings and ways. Makes for fascinating reading.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cults and cons

Take a look at this:

It's about a Catholic Church sect under fire for corruption, including abusing and brainwashing followers.

I saw this today. Coincidentally yesterday I watched a video of actor Jason Beghe talking about his experiences with Scientology and why he left.

Seems Scientology and the Legionaries of Christ have something in common. Beghe wold use the word "con."

My mind is boggled by what I've read about these two religions/cults. I wonder how people can be so fooled. I also wonder if I could be conned. Mostly I wonder, though, how can you figure out who to believe.

A search into people's beliefs doesn't necessarily make things more clear.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Today's flower children?

I'm working on a couple of stories from eco-Judaism to a Life in Abundance book traveling to 50 churches before being sent to Africa to Scientology. Scientology? I've been fascinated since I discovered earlier this year that in a house in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix, L. Ron Hubbard
wrote out his new religion: Scientology.

The St. Peterburg Times' recent series on the leadership in the church was eye opening. Closer to home, though, I'm talking to Phoenix Chanology, a group of dedicated, self-proclaimed computer geeks who are loosely associated with a global group call Anonymous in protesting what they consider to be human rights violations by the church.

The group protests monthly wearing V for Vendetta masks and holding a big arrow-shaped sign with the word "CULT" on it, pointing it directly behind them at Phoenix's Church of Scientology headquarters. They are orderly, mannerly and have an impressive collection of documents and backup material.

I remember flower children, sit-ins, tear gas and bullets from when I was young and in high school and then college. Protests were against the Vietnam War -- which always gave me a queasy feeling because my older brother was there and I needed to support him -- no matter what.

The war today's group is fighting is one against information -- lack of information, misinformation and distorted information.

They want people to know all there is to know about Scientology. They want to give potential congregants the skinny on the religion/cult.

In the battle of information, the troops that command the greatest computer skills will win. I can't help but think these cyberspace cadets have an edge.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Scientology inspires good journalism

Greater voices than mine have spoken out about the St. Petersburg Times’ three-part series on the current leadership in the religion – cult? – of Scientology. Still, I have a few thoughts on what’s in the stories and about the stories.

All these “ethics files” smack of paranoia and control. I was a manager long enough to know that documenting employees and their misdeeds is all about an entity surviving and the employee failing.

Leaders and spokespeople that scream their responses seem perilously close to appearing out of control in a kind of “thou protests too much” guilt persona. And, most congregants want their leaders to live the teachings of their church, and most teachings don’t promote yelling as a way to get to a higher place.
It’s up to others to decide what this series means to Scientology, but allow me to make a few comments on what it means to journalism.

The dogged, intelligent work of Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin shows boldness, compassion, and a commitment to verifiable facts and a responsibility to report both sides. That David Miscavige tried to pull an end run in a campaign of no comment by a last-ditch effort to quell the series – really, he wouldn’t have been available until to July? Is that what he tells his followers when they have questions? – in no way undermines the series.

These reporters didn’t rush to print, but nor were they going to be cowered by suppressive tactics. It was time to tell the tale after months of good, solid reporting.

That the stories are nicely written on top of everything else shows the power of good journalism to tell a good story. A relevant story that touches peoples’ core.
Stories like these are why this profession has Constitutional protection. And this type of work lives up to that protection during a time when too many newspapers are abdicating their nobility. Kudos to the St. Petersburg Times for lighting the way back to good journalism.

That the newspaper series has exploded into all parts of the Internet only goes to show the power of the two to join and give readers of all kinds something worthy to talk about.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Does family count?

Last night I was getting to know a little more about a dedicated group of protesters questioning whether Scientology is more cult than faith, more business than religion. I hope to write a profile on this young, passionate contingent of do-gooders.

What was a philosophical discussion quickly turned personal, however, when a man came up to our table at a local IHOP obviously upset and with something on his mind.

"I overheard you talking about Scientology and I just have to say it's ruined my brother. He married a Scientologist, became one and now they've moved to Dubai and won't have anything to do with the family," he told us. He went on to condemn Scientology for many things -- some of which the protesters had been telling me about.

It occurred to me that many religions and cults aim to conquer and divide. They want their believers to fully embrace their doctrine and leave their former lives behind.

Are family and faith mutually exclusive?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I wanted to know ...

I was attending a neighborhood meeting in the Arcadia area of Phoenix recently and got to wondering why people are okay with speaking out about something they don't like, but don't seem okay about finding out more about it from the horse's mouth.

District 6 Councilman Sal DiCiccio held a neighborhood forum on the Phoenix Goddess Temple because neighbors were concerned this group would be disruptive to the neighborhood. Whispered throughout the audience were accusations of prostitution. Whether the Female Goddess-centered group is a religion or not is for others to decide, but when one of the goddesses stood up and said she would be happy to explain what goes on at the temple and explain that it isn't prostitution, no one wanted to know.

Hmmm. Here's someone openly confronting what people are whispering about, yet no one took her up on her offer of explanation. Why?

I'm looking to do a story on NIMBY's and what power they have in bringing things into their neighborhood or kicking them out. Earlier in the year, not too far from the temporary Goddess Temple site, neighbors were up in arms when they thought the Church of Scientology was turning a one-time home of L. Ron Hubbard's into a museum.

Wonder what else neighbors in that particular area have objected to? Will be looking into that story.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Faith Matters

I make my living freelancing so I'll be pitching stories to various publications. However, if I don't get a taker on a story, I'll likely post the story here.

Please let me know what you'd be interested in reading about. I'll look into it and blog outright on some subjects, while doing full reporting on others. When stories get published, I'll post links.

I look forward to serving you, the reader.