Civil Rights and Science Fiction

I remember reading L. Ron Hubbard’s science fiction before the Church of Scientology was widely known. Not surprisingly, the religious movement began in New Jersey – a state where anything seems possible (except finding a job or having a stable government). Over the weekend, however, a New Jersey Star-Ledger story noted that some former members of the Church of Scientology are trying to sue their religion for violation of labor laws and unreasonable pay. Lawyers predict such a case cannot win in court, and I personally wonder how such cases of enforced labor differ from other brands of organized religion that require that extra push from their members. Doesn’t the church reserve the right to demand, voluntarily of course, that citizens forfeit their legal rights?

When I was young and naïve (instead of being old and naïve, as I am now), I took my first teaching job at Nashotah House. I was not yet thirty. It was, of course, a conflicted situation: a bunch of men living in the Wisconsin woods trying to maintain a monastic presence nestled between the sinful cities of Madison and Milwaukee. (And a few women, always the minority of the student body collective.) One of only two non-clergy on the faculty, I was surprised when, in response to what was an unreasonable administrative demand I was told, “When you signed your contract, you gave up your civil rights!” I’m not a lawyer, but I learned an important legal lesson – never mess with the saintly sorts that make up the church administration. Religion is big business. And religious bodies can afford big lawyers.

I feel sorry for the plaintiffs in this legal dispute, but they are in a wide and vast company. Organized religions are human constructs, and human constructs will always favor climbers. Climbers who reach the top will always build fortresses to protect their personal interests. In the church they’ll call it ecclesiastical authority and trace it right back to Jesus handing Peter some metaphorical keys. No, the church is not above the felonies and misdemeanors that secular courts just can’t judge. Potential members should read the contract, including the fine print. And don’t be taken in by the bits that sound like science fiction.

Inventor of new worlds

8 thoughts on “Civil Rights and Science Fiction

  1. Henk van der Gaast

    It could only be made worse by having religious narcissists around..

    I had a different bully response at that stage.

    If there was a process called pariahisation, it was the thing I practised.


  2. I get why it is wise to be careful to read the fine print. But you can see why some folks just choose to opt out !

    Some want to change the system from within and others to create another option. Both are tough, eh?


    • Steve Wiggins

      It seems like a no-win situation, Sabio. That’s why I find the “hardwired religion” research so fascinating. We may be evolved to believe, even if it leads to our own destruction. (Boy, am I ever an optimist this morning!)


  3. Henk van der Gaast

    Dang Steve! There you go steppin’ on our toes again.

    I sort of threw my sciam subscription away in the mid nineties when they finally printed that rot.

    We may have a region of our brain that allows for limited social cohesion signalling. Its where we get our clan behaviour from (you guys had to call these morals ).

    No matter what we believe we tend to clump together in those clans. From personal observation I notice that a lot of born again atheists are just associating with a voice.

    Yep, I admit it. I’ve seen a lot of atheist stooges, just like religious ones.

    Love another like you love yourself? Not even for atheists.

    Off the rant pedestal and back to cleaning house for boy party on weekend!


    • Steve Wiggins

      The clan phenomenon is real enough to any who bother to open their eyes. What is surprising, however, is how those who have been taken in by religious schemes don’t seem to band together like other groups. Perhaps it is a side-effect of having their trust destroyed. Yes, stooges come in all varieties, religious and secular. The religious ones seem more interesting to me since they have scriptures that warn against that kind of thing.


  4. Is the Church of Scientology becoming a church persecuted? Why? And! For what reasons?

    From a short paragraph introducing Scientology comes a great example of Religious Freedom…As left to the individual.

    “In Scientology no one is asked to accept anything as belief or on faith. That which is true for you is what you have observed to be true. An individual discovers for himself that Scientology works by personally applying its principles and observing or experiencing results.”

    Concept Complex? No! A clear paragraph…Yes.

    With the violence in the Middle East and the confusion of all formal and Conservative views of Faith that must be followed and the “Make your money my Money” paradigm; Formal Religion is most sick from inside to outside and now to the Sexual Abuse scandal Rocking and Rolling thru the Catholic Church.

    Narrow minds and stupidity are persecuting Scientology. Why? And! May Respect and Understanding and Peace and Love be with all of us


    • Steve Wiggins

      Absolutely Phil! One of the common themes throughout this blog is my core belief in religious freedom. My comments are not intended to offend or make light of anyone’s religion. Scientology, however, is experiencing the same growth pains that all religions face, imho.


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