Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Christians have no right to call Scientologists crazy

Apr 3, 2015

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for FOX

By Pamela Engel and Michael B Kelley

Astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil DeGrasse Tyson is defending Scientology in light of HBO’s highly critical documentary on the church.

HBO’s documentary “Going Clear” did not show the church in an entirely positive light — Scientology has a built a reputation for tormenting members who leave it, reportedly with either surveillance or harassment.

The film highlights the celebrities who made the religion intriguing to the world as well as the horrific stories of abuse from former members.

But Tyson, in an interview with The Daily Beast, declined to bash the controversial church, saying people are free to believe whatever they want.

“So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy? Let’s realize this. What matters is not who says who’s crazy, what matters is we live in a free country,” Tyson, known for his skeptical views of Christianity, said. “You can believe whatever you want, otherwise it’s not a free country—it’s something else. If we start controlling what people think and why they think it, we have case studies where that became the norm. I don’t care what the tenets are of Scientology. They don’t distract me. I don’t judge them, and I don’t criticize them.”

There is dispute, however, about whether or not Scientology is a legitimate religion.


Read the full article by clicking the name of the source located below.

68 comments on “Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Christians have no right to call Scientologists crazy

  • Of course it’s a religion. They expect you to give them money. They expect you to accept b.s. as truth without skeptical analysis/proof. They expect you to aggressively censor doubters/non-believers/critics. They have merchandise. They constantly need to remind people that they are truth, sometimes with force of law if they are the local majority. They do not hold up to the scientific method.

    Report abuse

  • If we start controlling what people think and why they think it, we
    have case studies where that became the norm.

    I thought that US is already doing that for years and years. They control the minds of their population via media for years and years. How he does not know that? Poor brainwashed.

    I don’t care what the tenets are of Scientology.I don’t judge them, and I don’t criticize them

    Pity.

    From source: And it is notorious for convincing people to join its
    system, having them pay for “readings,” and allegedly employing types
    of blackmail to keep people in the organization.

    Similar to any other politics.

    Report abuse

  • @OP – “So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy? Let’s realize this. What matters is not who says who’s crazy,

    Some religions are more crazy than others. What matters is how crazy and destructive they are, and how many destructive followers they recruit, not who says so!

    what matters is we live in a free country,” Tyson, known for his skeptical views of Christianity, said. “You can believe whatever you want, otherwise it’s not a free country—it’s something else. If we start controlling what people think and why they think it, we have case studies where that became the norm.

    There is a problem with tolerating the intolerant. IF “politically correct” people assert they are to be tolerated without restraint, THEY will start ( err – have started), controlling what people think and why they think it.

    I don’t care what the tenets are of Scientology. They don’t distract me. I don’t judge them, and I don’t criticize them.”

    Not caring about destructive forces, and not criticizing the crazy power hungry preying on your fellow citizens, is hardly the attitude of responsible citizens. People need legal protection from such exploitation and such exploiters.

    Report abuse

  • Christians have no right to call scientologists crazy

    Ironically for Tyson, they do in a free country.

    You can believe whatever you want, otherwise it’s not a free country

    That’s not a reason not to voice one’s own critical opinions. I realise it’s fashionable for people to pretend religious beliefs should not be contradicted publicly, but all religious beliefs contradict some other religious beliefs so, if this idea were applied consistently, religious views could not be publicly voiced. That really would stop society being free.

    There is dispute, however, about whether or not Scientology is a legitimate religion.

    Religions don’t have the right epistemic qualifications to have a legitimacy standard. It’s like saying Harry Potter alchemy is illegitimate. The article attempts to delegitimise scientology by pointing to some of the ways it has misled or manipulated people. But it doesn’t make sense to suggest that, if only currently respected religions did those things too much, they’d suddenly be fair game for criticism in a fair society. Everything should be critiqued.

    Religions, if you analyze them, who is to say that one religion is rational and another isn’t?

    The hypocrisy of US Christians aside, someone like Tyson should be saying they’re all irrational. However, I’m glad he critiques the age criterion our society seems to use.

    Report abuse

  • @OP link – Here’s what Tyson told the Beast about Scientology’s status as a religion: “Religions, if you analyze them, who is to say that one religion is rational and another isn’t?

    Durrrr – anyone who is competent in rational thought, should be able to present an analysis! Is he talking about “reason”, or confusing it with “evidence”?

    It looks like the older those thoughts have been around, the likelier it is to be declared a religion. If you’ve been around 1,000 years you’re a religion, and if you’ve been around 100 years, you’re a cult.

    This is just woolly semantics! Wooo with worshipping followers is a religion. The alleged differences between “religions” and “cults” are just “Trrrrrooooo Scotsman fallacies.

    Report abuse

  • If they breach the golden rule, “First, do no harm” then they are a legitimate target for rational evidence based criticism. If the harm they do, exceeds normal civilized norms, then that harm should be sanctioned by society. Refusing medical treatment for children for example.

    Any irrational view, be it religious or other, is a fair target for commentary, satire and rebuttal. Why De Grasse is technically right in what he says, as far as he went, but he failed to go on and address the harm to humans and society cause by irrational beliefs. Scientology does harm. The belief should be freely held. The harm should be sanctioned.

    Report abuse

  • A religion is a con that convinces people that:

    in return for contributions, that can influence what happens to them after they die.
    convinces people they have supernatural spies.
    they have a crackpot myth they claim explains everything.
    requires its members to harass some group.

    Why would not scientology quality?

    Report abuse

  • The hypocrisy of US Christians aside, someone like Tyson should be
    saying they’re all irrational.

    Exactly. It is great mistake when people of science (in this example) take religions as something rational, thus giving them legitimacy.

    Report abuse

  • As simple a distillation of religions as I ever expect to come across.

    However, I have a problem with the proposition that people are free to believe what ever they like; that’s only acceptable if they keep it to themselves.

    I think of religious belief as being like sexual proclivities, which are fine if kept confidential between consenting adults, but which under no circumstances should be imposed on anyone else.

    But religious dogmas are constantly being foist upon people.

    Report abuse

  • Criticising and mocking silly beliefs, exposing conmen, are exactly the kind of rights that should be protected in a free country.

    Nobody is denying Scientology its right to exist, however its practice, harrasment, and fraudulent character should definitely be investigated more thoroughly.

    Christians can bash Scientology all day long, and in return you can point out the hypocrisy of it all

    Is that what you were trying to say, Neil?

    Report abuse

  • “Some religions are more crazy than others. ”
    I disagree, they are all crazy. I grant you some may be more physically dangerous than others but they are all fucking batshit crazy. Evidentially all religions recognise the imbecility of all religions other than their own. QED.

    Report abuse

  • No, Tyson is right. In a free society you can believe in whatever you chose, just don’t break the law. In a free society you can even believe that the Republican Party has merits, that John Isner is a better tennis player than Novak Djokovic, or that Portsmouth are the greatest football team in the world.

    Report abuse

  • Everybody thinks and believes exactly what they want. That is how we are all individuals. The idea that irrationality is abnormal is itself irrational. The only legitimate criteria to decide what cannot be said or done is the Law.

    Report abuse

  • Steve Apr 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Everybody thinks and believes exactly what they want. That is how we are all individuals. The idea that irrationality is abnormal is itself irrational. The only legitimate criteria to decide what cannot be said or done is the Law.

    The thing is, – that the laws of nature punish people who make whimsical irrational decisions – as anyone who has stepped on to air outside a 20th floor window has discovered while they were waiting for some “new physics” to replace the law of gravity!!!

    Report abuse

  • Of course anyone has the ‘right’ to criticise the Mafia or Scientology, who follow similar methods. Just beware of the possible outcome !

    NGT has just gone down a peg in my estimation, although it’s still pretty high.

    Effing Christians criticising Scientolgy ! I have to laugh ! In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king !

    Report abuse

  • That not what I said , of even suggested, at all. Legitimate being used in its formal legal sense of “conforming to the Law” , not in its sense of ” being able to be defended with logic or justification”

    What I said was merely stating the facts.

    Everyone is perfectly free to criticise, both in thought and action, everyone else, and everyone does criticise everybody else.

    And if you disagree with the law you try and change it, or you can break it.

    Report abuse

  • Steve Apr 4, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    The laws of nature do not “punish” anything! To step out of a 20th floor window is suicide not a irrational whimsy!

    You and I may recognise it as suicide, but creationists on this site , have in all seriousness (using faith-thinking) suggested that laws of physics are arbitrary matters of personal opinion, which are subject to being overturned when “new physics” turns up.

    http://wallstreetinsanity.com/guy-hallucinating-on-drugs-jumps-off-roof-thinking-he-was-diving-into-a-pool-warning-graphic-video/

    Reality does punish those who use “revelation” in place of evidenced reason, (anti-vaxers, end-timers, climate-change deniers, etc.) and even worse, it “punishes” their children and other people who become subjected to their whimsical views.

    Report abuse

  • 26
    Miserablegit says:

    There is an obvious difference between RCC and Scientology, one will deny you all contact with family non believers the other will attempt to get you to convert all family non believers.

    Report abuse

  • “In a free society you can believe in whatever you chose, just don’t break the law.”

    Precisely. And I would add: “and when one religion decides that it gets to be the arbiter of the law, then we have a problem, a big problem”.

    And thus: In order to have a free society, the govt MUST BE SECULAR.

    And this is why our current Republican party frightens so many of us.

    Report abuse

  • 28
    Matthew says:

    “There is dispute, however, about whether or not Scientology is a legitimate religion.”

    Really? I’d love to hear someone define “legitimate religion” so that it excludes Scientology.

    Report abuse

  • Anything considered a religion does not deserve serious regard, although there should certainly always be freedom to believe or not believe as you wish. “Religion” is just archaic thinking. We need to move beyond religion to embracing any and all realistic philosophies based on genuine experience and reason. Subscribing to any kind of of dogma or worshiping anything is to enslave the mind. A true freethinker rejects all religion. Granted that tolerating the freedom of thought many choose to exercise can be extremely difficult.

    Report abuse

  • It doesn’t matter if a religion was formed 2000 years ago or yesterday. It has dogma, tenets, beliefs, rituals and traditions. What religion doesn’t have –what they all lack– is objective evidence that supports the reality of their beliefs. And in that, no one is better than any other.

    Report abuse

  • Matthew Apr 5, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    Really? I’d love to hear someone define “legitimate religion” so that it excludes Scientology.

    I’d love to see someone credibly define a “legitimate religion” as anything other than a cult recognised as legitimate by the legal system of the time and place.

    (Legitimate Aztec religion? Legitimate Ancient Greek religions? Legitimate Japanese God-Emperor?)

    Report abuse

  • My delusion is better than yours is not a case that would ever win in a court of law I’m sure. Always been of the opinion that any one religion (pot) has no right to call the other (kettle) black. It seems to me that the less likely a religion is to commit atrocities against their own members and against others depends on how closely aligned the beliefs of their members are. Countries are more likely to enjoy a democracy through the Judeo/Christian world view simply because their actual beliefs are as varied as their fingerprints. Conversely, when enough members of any one religion get together to synchronize their beliefs we get death cults like Isis, hate groups/churches, oppression of women and other festering sores on the progress of humanity. Thankfully this wishy-washiness of religion was recognized centuries ago by the founding fathers to be so unstable as to require being kept separate from state. Laws cannot be made based upon faith because laws based upon faith cannot be defined…except as a stepping stone to bigotry and discrimination of course. Democracy and secular law are not perfect but unlike religion and like science their focus is life and continue to be a work in progress.

    Report abuse

  • It seems that Neil forgotten or unknown, that very important part of the problem of religions, creeds and other stupid beliefs is that besides being based on totally false to rational and scientific level things are dangerous because they are imposed through psychological manipulation is exerted on people Termian being believers. You would need to brush up on great researchers and experts as Lifton, Langone, Zimbardo, Hassan …

    Neil’s position I found it a bit disappointing but I think he is an astrophysicist and that does not give you all that necasita cococimientos to assess the Scientologists and the like. Often, people with positions that I admire like Neil, the great Hitchnes and especially Dawkins, find missing this assessment of psychological manipulation that there is always behind these groups and religions. It is true that we should be free to believe what you want, but Mr. Neil, members of a sect, a group of manipulation or religion are not exactly free. No freedom, no never, but this clearly is something that shows easily. Documentaries like this are intended to demonstrate the total lack of freedom are not mere criticism or retaliatory attack. They are necessary because reported the theft of a freedom, a life. Lives that often Termian badly, with serious mental problems, health and money, and in the worst cases even end in suicide. Fear, he extortion, descocomiento (against you both fight), despair, pressure, deprivation of food and sleep … are techniques and sources of manipulation. We invite you to read interesting books on the subject that have been my professional support but I doubt that reads : _ (

    http://www.lucifereffect.com/

    http://www.csj.org/infoserv_profile/langone_michael.htm

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Jay_Lifton

    It remains curious prove yourselves that often (not always) a fellow experts dedicated to handling groups or sects ground criticize them not having a more rational and clear-cut stance regarding beliefs, they sometimes focus on techniques that make you believe and not the content of the message, this is how they understand God in freedom 🙁 For me science and reason to understand the psychological manipulation are parts of a whole.

    In spite of making this critical comment, I would like to clarify that I love Neil hear or read their opinions, explanations … It is fuel for the advancement of this our world.

    Sorry for the quality of my English. Please note that use of translators will not always be correct in expression. Because of my low level of English I can not interact as much as I would like but today I could not resist.

    Thank You!

    Report abuse

  • Astrophysicist and cosmologist Neil DeGrasse Tyson is defending Scientology in light of HBO’s highly critical documentary on the church.

    I don’t care what the tenets are of Scientology. They don’t distract me. I don’t judge them, and I don’t criticize them.”

    While Neil is doing good work for science education as a popular broadcaster, he sometimes wanders outside his areas of expertise and puts his foot in his mouth. –

    I pointed this out on a previous occasion!

    https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/08/neil-degrasse-tyson-to-gmo-critics-chill-out/#li-comment-150314

    Report abuse

  • Tyson gets this completely , utterly wrong. It’s not just about having some irrational beliefs

    One can be a christian and not belong to any church. It could even be quite nominal, with some vague beliefs and maybe a prayer or two. Same goes for other religions.

    Being a scientologist MEANS being a MEMBER of the church of scientology. This organization uses a form of mind-screwing (auditing) with some relation to hypnosis, and it wasn’t accidental-it was designed as such. They bleed you of huge sums of money and/or have you slave away for them. They use actual blackmail (using the information revealed in auditing) to keep people in the organization. Again, it’s not just about beliefs, but the practices of the people (which were specifically enshrined by L Ron), and the fact that if you’re a scientologist, then you’re IN the organization.

    Report abuse

  • 36
    Reneebrown says:

    Laura, I was able to follow your thinking. Your English may not be perfect, but the quality of your ideas more than makes up for that.
    The tendency to be silent about religion is very harmful for people who are coerced into believing. It reinforces the idea, that not only should we not criticize other people’s religion, but that we should not critique the religion we grew up with. When people like Dawkins criticize religion in public, he is at the same time showing people that it is okay to critique their own religion.
    -Renee

    Report abuse

  • Alan 4: “The hypocrisy of US Christians aside, someone like Tyson should be saying they’re all irrational.”

    Tyson is dumb like a fox. “That chicken coop over there doesn’t interest me a bit. I assure you, Farmer Jones, I don’t let chickens distract me at all and don’t they have the right to keep their meat on their bones just like other prey…er, animals?”

    Take a step back and consider this great man’s obligations and role as a science educator. He has to educate diverse audiences in a family-friendly way taking pains to avoid offending on religious or political subjects. He can’t start a rant about “batshit crazy Catholics” lecturing to an auditorium filled with God-knows-how-many Catholics, men women, children. For the most part, Tyson chooses to illuminate science in a neutral way letting the science speak for itself. Like our best educators, he charms and captivates injecting humor to convey the subject matter. He knows he would lose his bully pulpit in a flash if he started promoting atheism, the Democratic party, and LGBT movements while excoriating the religious public as comprised of ignorant, crazy cretins.

    Tyson lets his skepticism and scorn for religion come through by implication. He has a gift for using satirical irony to imply what he really believes, maintaining a tone of mock agnosticism”

    “So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy?

    He’s making a joke at the expense of all religions, Catholicism and Scientology, without resorting to ham- fisted insults. He expects you to get the punchline: all religions are equally “batshit crazy” if you look at their premises and practices.

    Tyson takes a golden opportunity for affirming freedom of belief, conscience and inquiry in an open democratic society.

    Some on this thread are disappointed that Tyson doesn’t go into the morass of fraudulent or abusive acts perpetrated by Scientology and call for legal prosecution. (You can watch the HBO documentary for that.)

    Once more we’re missing Tyson’s sense of integrity (and legitimate self-interest) in protecting his effective role as a popular science educator. Tyson disseminates scientific knowledge of the cosmos to a mass audience that embodies the insight of a natural/physical order devoid of supernatural origins or interventions. He cannot afford to “lecture” his audience on the imperatives of atheism and send them rushing for the exits. He can’t afford to denounce Republicans (George W. Bush) who increased science agency funding, Republicans who like other partisans are besotted with his knowledge, delivery and charisma. He has to “respect” the beliefs of anti-gay Christians within a scheme of the free exchange of ideas, knowing full well that his influence has put such ignorance on the path to near extinction.

    If you follow Tyson’s inputs at various panel discussions and symposia on “science and religion,” you will find one of the finest skeptical minds of our time. There’s noting to see her, ladies and gentlemen. Move on.

    Report abuse

  • Reneebrown: Thank you very much for your comment 🙂 It made me feel good to know that I wrote long run-response makes sense to you. Maybe now I will encourage more involved in interesting discussions here I read many times.
    I totally agree with you, criticize our own dogmas and beliefs is the first step to freedom of deceit and manipulation of all kinds, Christ, Buddha, Xenu … apply to the rest is always easier because it carries the same personal burden or education.
    It is somewhat curious that when the “religion” is about an alien, Neil will be more moderate … is it you can not help but sympathize more with them for professional bias? lol … is a joke 😉

    Report abuse

  • Oh, nonsense Melvin.

    In equating the irrational beliefs of christianity with the irrational beliefs of scientology, he’s actually repeating things scientologists say themselves to defend their cult. Again, the problem is not what people believe.

    “I don’t care what the tenets are of Scientology. They don’t distract me. I don’t judge them, and I don’t criticize them.”

    So, if he had a criminal mafia group in his town, he wouldn’t judge or criticize them?

    Another problem is scientology is rooted in a belief system- dianetics- that claimed to be scientific. Hubbard claimed to have done extensive “research”. And as scientology is an extension of diantics, not a replacement, it’s based on pseudo-science, not just faith/belief. So why shouldn’t Tyson criticize their bs?

    Report abuse

  • Deft: For a comprehensive understanding of Tyson watch his interview with Bill Moyers on Youtube. Brilliance, skepticism and humanism mingled in a way that will dissolve your hostility like cotton candy.

    Google: Neil deGrasse Tyson on Science, Religion and the Universe | DevoutNone

    Report abuse

  • Dissolve my hostility? lol

    I don’t think criticism is the same as hostility.

    Anyway, I don’t need a comprehensive understanding of him to voice the view that his statements about scientology were simply ignorant. I’ve seen some ex-cult members say the same.

    He dropped the ball on this. Scientology is more than happy with his statements.

    BTW, a quick Google search shows that Tyson had no problem saying nutball Ken Ham’s creationist beliefs were “crazy”. So I’m not buying the idea that he has to be diplomatic (mealy mouthed) on the subject of scientology.

    Report abuse

  • Ok, someone who knows a good deal more about this than I do informed me-

    Neil Gaiman (the author) is a very good friend of Tyson. Gaiman is now out of scientology, but he still has family in it. There is a possible motivation for Tyson pulling his punches on the cult.

    Report abuse

  • Ok, someone who knows a good deal more about this than I do informed me

    Your source raises an interesting speculation worth pursuing.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson is a good-will ambassador for science who wants to entertain, educate and enthrall as wide an audience as possible through multiple media and in multiple venues. I’ve never found Tyson reluctant to voice his skepticism about the existence of God or supernatural phenomena. At the same time he usually frames his skepticism within a language of of tolerant agnosticism sensitive to the fact that many members of his audience adhere to faith traditions or cleave to beliefs in supernatural forces transcending the physical universe beyond the reach of the scientific method. Clearly he admires Richard Dawkins, Christipher Hitchens, Sam Harris etc. but he chooses to play a different role consistent with his goals. But he does not hedge in his interview with Bill Moyers, “Faith is incompatible with science.”

    The title of the article is misleading and intended to provoke the ire of ardent atheists and the broad public who despise cult abuses: Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Christians have no right to call Scientologists crazy Tyson more than implies that conjuring up “Jesus” in the Christian Eucharist and the exorcism of “Thetans” in Scientology are equally nonsense, empty fabrications of supernatural agency serving irrational hopes and fears in the absence of scientific evidence. He “respects” the right of people to believe whatever religious, spiritual or paranormal gibberish they choose on condition they do not harm others under penalty of criminal or civil law, and within the context of a free society whose government otherwise exercises no police power over the open marketplace of ideas.

    Tyson holds great admiration for Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, and the late Christopher Hitchens with some critical qualifications (I haven’t research this exhaustively), but he chooses wisely, I believe, not to assume their roles. He can’t project his captivating narrative of the cosmos, which speaks for itself to confirm the atheist-agnostic worldview we share on this blog, while alienating his audience and the general public public with snarky proclamations of how ignorant and pathetic they are for believing in God. He has to put that issue to one side in order to hold his audience and do his job.

    I recommended Bill Moyer’s entertaining 25 minute interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson so that the man-in-full, his charm, brilliance and humanity, could be viewed speaking incisively on manufactured controversies thereby dispersing paranoid impressions taken away from reading cold text.

    Report abuse

  • Again, IT ISN”T ABOUT BELIEFS. It’s not about atheism, agnosticism, jesus, xenu, or anything else. It has nothing to do with advocating for atheism, offending the religious in general, not offending the religious in general, or anything else like that.

    It’s about tyson saying he won’t “judge” or “criticize” scientology, an organization specifically and very consciously founded to brainwash people, screw up their lives, and steal their money. An organization that has as official, explicit policy in writing that families should be separated, that it is “fair game” to spy, harass, slander, and do anything one can to ruin people who criticize the cult. An organization that approves of physical abuse and has had a bunch of members who died after not receiving medical care. This organization Tyson won’t “judge” will purchase houses across the street from people who criticize it, and film them 24-7.

    I’ve also noted that they don’t just make ‘spiritual’ claims, but specific ones they claim have their own (laughable) scientific research to back up.

    Tyson really stepped in it, and there is nothing ‘paranoid’ about saying so. . You’ve said I’m both hostile and paranoid at this point. Anymore ad hominems you wish to throw out there?

    BTW I’ve heard Tyson speak before. It’s rather bizarre that you think the specific criticisms of his specific remarks have something to do with unfamiliarity with him.

    He has provided “comfort” for scientologists, who use the same sort of rhetoric when confronted about the cult in public venues/interviews.

    Report abuse

  • It’s about tyson saying he won’t “judge” or “criticize” scientology, an organization specifically and very consciously founded to brainwash people, screw up their lives, and steal their money. An organization that has as official, explicit policy in writing that families should be separated, that it is “fair game” to spy, harass, slander, and do anything one can to ruin people who criticize the cult. An organization that approves of physical abuse and has had a bunch of members who died after not receiving medical care. This organization Tyson won’t “judge” will purchase houses across the street from people who criticize it, and film them 24-7.

    Why not simply recommend watching the HBO documentary??? Everything you say is “true” but much more coherently conveyed with narrated footage than in your fiery summary.

    What’s wrong with Tyson not getting in on the outrage? He makes it clear that it’s not his business to interfere with voluntary adoption of faith-based beliefs in a free society. That along with other incisive observations constitute the frame for his reaction. He chose not to say anything further about prosecuting Scientology outside his area of expertise as a scientist and a science educator. He leaves those matters properly in the hands of law enforcement and the courts.

    But Scientology is not voluntary and “worse” than Christianity… ( Sorry, Scientology is a voluntary organization and toxic Christian cults are actually far more pervasive than popular opinion assumes). There oughta be a law! Someone call the cops! Any organization that engages in fraud, harassment, abuse, stalking, abduction… (the list goes on) in the name of religious freedom should be prosecuted. Statutory laws are on the books to address such crimes and misdemeanors but the problem is enforcement. It’s not against the law to join cults, adopt revolting dogmas, donate money to “Divinely ordained causes,” apply peer pressure on fellow members and so on. Plaintiffs must step forward, witnesses must testify and cases proven. A number of lawsuits against Scientology are pending. The documentary reports the cult is on the decline in membership and under siege in spite of vicious reprisals.

    Tyson makes it clear that it’s not his job to play whack-a-mole with 50 year old cults or 2,000 year old religions. He does not care what followers “believe” because their beliefs are based on faith not evidence, and as such are literally nonsense. Within his frame of reference he may make more of an impact by invoking the ultimate intellectual criticism of the supernatural over the long run than indulging in the instant gratification of pretending to be arresting police officer, jailer, judge, jury and hangman of David Miscavige.

    Report abuse

  • You and Tyson should buy Procrustean bunk beds.

    Let’s try these statements on for size….

    “It’s not my place to judge or criticize the jim jones church”

    “It’s not my place to judge or criticize the solar temple”

    Tyson is being disingenuous (and maybe not just him). Scientology became a tax-exempt organization because the MEDICAL CLAIMS of Dianetics began to cause hubbard problems, so he needed a shield. Then again, I’ve made the point repeatedly, but it passes you by blissfully. Scientology is not just about religious claims, but all sorts of pseudo-scientific ones.

    Report abuse

  • 47
    Ssemakula says:

    Not caring about destructive forces, and not criticizing the crazy power hungry preying on your fellow citizens

    Isn’t that what all religions do? At what point do we define crazy power hungry from power hungry. Is the fellow who is trying to control your sexuality crazy power hungry? Is the fellow who is telling you what to teach in schools crazy power hungry? Is the politician telling what we should do crazy cover hungry?

    Either we say we have freedom to believe any bat shit or we say that our thinking should be controlled by some law or person. We cannot have it both ways.

    Report abuse

  • Tyson makes it clear that it’s not his job to play whack-a-mole with 50 year old cults or 2,000 year old religions.

    That oft hackneyed phrase applies in this instance.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

    If it breaches the golden rule, “First, do no harm”, then it needs to be resisted. Whatever it is. Today the subject is scientology. (Spell check wants me to CAPITALIZE this but I refuse.) The harm needs to be called out. That’s why I think De Grasse is wrong in this instance. Sure, support the right of the irrational to think irrationally, but the line is drawn when the irrational put in practice, the harm their particular irrationality demands. De Grasse should have completed his statements with a sound condemnation of the HARM, that is done by scientology, and the need to prevent that harm.

    Report abuse

  • Excoriating any religion is outside of Tyson’s interests. Aside from a few lighthearted cracks, he could care less what someone is willing to subject themselves and others to. Why should he? He’s an atheist for heaven’s sake!

    It’s kinda sad though.

    Report abuse

  • Yep.

    This looked a little self serving. Tyson has, for instance, been notably non confrontational in the past, in the interests of cultivating (or at least not discouraging) Republican funding support for the sciences in general and his bit in particular. (I’ll try and find the references).

    If he wants to play it this way and appear the scientist rather than the TV personality, he would do better to offer no comments at all, rather than this statement of “not my business” giving implicit approval for abusive practises.

    Report abuse

  • “If he wants to play it this way and appear the scientist rather than the TV personality, he would do better to offer no comments at all, rather than this statement of “not my business” giving implicit approval for abusive practises”

    Thanks. You put it much more succinctly and clearly than I did.

    Report abuse

  • What on earth does being an atheist have to do with this- ” he could care less what someone is willing to subject themselves and others to”?

    Atheism is simply the disbelief in deities. That’s all. It certainly doesn’t preclude criticizing a cult when it is brainwashing and harming people. And ONCE AGAIN, the cult doesn’t just make spiritual sorts of claims, but very explicit pseudo-scientific ones.

    Certainly scientology also pushes its nose into affecting people who are not members, as well. Go and learn more about it.

    Report abuse

  • “It’s not my place to judge or criticize the jim jones church”

    That’s crazy. You’re only exemplifying why analogy is the weakest form of argument. Scientology has never been accused or charged with murder, Leaders and functionaries may have much to answer for in court but not for hundreds of bloated bodies rotting in the sun.

    Scientology became a tax-exempt organization because the MEDICAL CLAIMS of Dianetics began to cause hubbard problems, so he needed a shield.

    The “shield” the organization acquired in 1993 was tax-exempt status from the federal government because the government recognized Scientology as a religion. The quasi-mystical, pseudo-scientific view of the cosmos and the lucrative ethereal therapies are based on faith and have no connection to scientific evidence. Tyson confines his criticism of religions and cults, including respectable Christianity and despised Scientology, for their adherence to beliefs which are fabrications without objective evidence. He’s presenting an object lesson: Religions and cults; cults and religions whatever their social status in history are top to bottom incompatible with science and reason.

    When Tyson says, “It’s not my place..”, he means, “It’s not my place to take your place in a free society; it’s not my place to control what you are free to believe by forcing my beliefs on you. If you harm others then you’ve lost your immunity from public sanctions and legal prosecution under criminal or civil law.

    Scientology is a voluntary religious organization. People are free to donate their last penny to any “cause” they choose. If cults physically abuse, abduct or forcefully detain, harass or stalk individual members then social and legal remedies are available. Cults cannot be prosecuted for holding “crazy” beliefs, isolating themselves voluntarily from society or family, applying peer pressure to insure conformity, or soliciting donations. Questions of brainwashing, psychological coercion, preying on the young, the elderly, the emotionally unstable, the poorly educated or cognitively defective fall into a gray area where statutory law is vague and criteria for enforcement must be limited to a handful of egregious cases.

    Cults are widely criticized, deplored and feared for obvious reasons we’ve thrashed over here. Believing that Tyson does not share our common decency on the topic is a straw man. Tyson chose a context where the scientific method versus faith came under his critique. The refreshing surprise was Tyson’s putting all beliefs in supernatural phenomena and forces on an equal footing with NONSENSE. To suggest that Tyson wants to curry favor with Scientologists would border on slander if it were not laughably absurd. Yes, he is a public figure, a precious one who popularizes science, and horrors of horrors, he appears on TV and wants to keep his job and get paid for it. Yes, he must be diplomatic to keep the good will of his devoted audience across political, religious and cultural constituencies. He cannot become the shrieking militant putting everyone in his place if he is to survive in the public square. He cannot become a fool and he cannot suffer fools.

    Report abuse

  • I know you’re very intent on defending Tyson using this sophistry, but you really should learn the facts before you attempt to do so.

    ” Scientology has never been accused or charged with murder,”

    Wrong.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lisa_McPherson

    “Scientology is a voluntary religious organization”

    No, it isn’t. What it is is a cult, and a criminal organization… just one example…

    In 1978, a number of Scientologists including L. Ron Hubbard’s wife Mary Sue Hubbard (who was second in command in the organization at the time) were convicted of perpetrating the largest incident of domestic espionage in the history of the United States called “Operation Snow White”. This involved infiltrating, wiretapping, and stealing documents from the offices of Federal attorneys and the Internal Revenue Service.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology_controversies#Allegations_of_criminality.3B_criminal_convictions_of_members

    “He cannot become the shrieking militant putting everyone in his place if he is to survive in the public square.”

    This is a hilarious argumentum ad absurdum. He could have easily avoided his dumb statement on scientology and not become a “shrieking militant”. You’re getting more comical with each comment, dude.

    “quasi-mystical, pseudo-scientific view of the cosmos and the lucrative ethereal therapies are based on faith and have no connection to scientific evidence.”

    Yes, no connection to scientific evidence. But they CLAIMED to do scientific research. That’s the point. Tyson could/should have easily noted the rampant bullshit in that claim.

    Report abuse

  • I made a reply that seems to have been swallowed up…

    ” Scientology has never been accused or charged with murder, ”

    Wrong. Lisa McPherson

    “The “shield” the organization acquired in 1993 was tax-exempt status from the federal government because the government recognized Scientology as a religion. ”

    Is that what really happened? Or did the IRS shit a brick because the cult was threatening them with 1000’s of individual lawsuits and they caved?

    I should have been clearer though- scientology was created as a religion to deal with the problems dianetics was having. No other reason.

    “The quasi-mystical, pseudo-scientific view of the cosmos and the lucrative ethereal therapies are based on faith and have no connection to scientific evidence”

    But scientology/dianetics/hubbard claimed there was reams of scientific research done. Which opens them to criticism from a public science advocate….I don’t understand how this point can continually elude you, if it does.

    “Scientology is a voluntary religious organization”

    It’s not a religious organization. It is a criminal enterprise. Which is why the founder of the cult’s wife, the second in command of the entire organization, went to prison in the largest wiretapping case in US history.

    “Questions of brainwashing, psychological coercion, preying on the young, the elderly, the emotionally unstable, the poorly educated or cognitively defective fall into a gray area where statutory law is vague and criteria for enforcement must be limited to a handful of egregious cases.”

    None of that obviates the fact that people are free to criticize them for it…

    “that Tyson does not share our common decency on the topic is a straw man. ”

    I can only go by what he actually did. I dont take worshipful attitudes towards people.

    “. He cannot become the shrieking militant putting everyone in his place if he is to survive in the public square”

    lol Yes, the only alternative to making the remarks he did is to become a shrieking militant….

    I can’t imagine anyone is swayed with this display of sophistry

    Report abuse

  • The extended interview with Tyson in the Daily Beast asked him several brief questions concerning the HBO documentary on Scientology along with others on diverse topics. His answers avoided the tunnel vision outrage calling for a drone strike on Scientology headquarters, and instead addressed
    the visionary ambition for secular humanists about how to structure societies and governments that respect freedom of religious belief while basing laws, programs and policies on objective evidence without reference to supernatural authority, the kind of evidence that science and reason bring into ascendance. He spoke to institutional reforms which will separate state and religion and over time condition people to flourish together in consensus, empathy and peace in the political arena regardless of private beliefs. His vison for a society which encourages citizens to be “good neighbors” rather than chasing down evil doers and bashing their heads in with truncheons carries promise.

    Arguments have started to talk past each other and it’s time for them to end. An eight minute video of Neil deGrasse Tyson gives articulation to his refreshing viewpoint mingling brilliance, skepticism and humanity that display an extraordinary mind and personality that none of the comments on this thread capture. Google: youtube Neil deGrasse Tyson – “Do you believe in god?” If anyone wishes they may have the last word. I’ve had my say.

    Report abuse

  • “His answers avoided the tunnel vision outrage calling for a drone strike on Scientology headquarters, ”

    Yes, because that’s what the critics of Tyson’s remarks and scientology have called for. Drone strikes.

    Just like NOT making the remarks he made would have entailed becoming a “shrieking militant”. lol

    The reason we are talking past one another is because you purposely do so, ie not addressing my point about the pseudo-scientific research claims of the cult.

    Tyson damaged his reputation. Make no mistake. Many sympathetic outlets have criticized him on this, and he has offered no further thoughts/retractions/explanations.

    Report abuse

  • Tyson damaged his reputation. Make no mistake. Many sympathetic outlets have criticized him on this, and he has offered no further thoughts/retractions/explanations.

    Reasonable people may disagree. There is nothing fatally decisive about our different points of view pro or con. I took the trouble to look up some public reaction, visiting several small websites first. The samples averaged about 25 comments each with opinions, many ambiguous, about evenly split. Dissatisfied with the sample size I went to SALON and read an article by Steve Neuman titled “The Scientology paradox of Neil deGrasse Tyson…”, echoing your criticism and prompting 93 comments. I understand the site promotes atheist discussion. Here is what I found breaking down the comments:

    Of the 93 comments, multiple comments reduced the forum to 60 individuals.
    16 comments were “neutral’ – off topic, quips, or too ambiguous for classification.
    Of the 44 comments remaining 34 were supportive of Tyson and critical of author Steve Neuman (77%) and 10 supported the article’s point of view castigating Tyson (23%).

    Other sites factored in could provide a more balanced metric of “public opinion.” My guess based on the sampling above is that only a small niche of critics feels strongly about Tyson’s comments and among those the division probably favors Tyson. Most respondents were concerned about the abuses of cults and religions, especially about the specific abuses of Scientology exposed dramatically in the HBO documentary.
    And rightly so.

    Perhaps Tyson will offer an apology for glossing over the abuses of Scientology when questioned about a documentary he had not seen choosing instead to reiterate his comprehensive view on the role of science and religion in society and government which he has espoused for decades. I doubt if his reputation and popularity will suffer any lasting damage. We’ll wait and see. If Tyson’s ratings unlikely go south because of this hysterical hoopla, atheist-agnostic skepticism, science advocacy and education, and secular humanism will loose one of the greatest friends it ever had. Nothing to smile about.

    Report abuse

  • As it seems N.G. Tyson does not advogate the need to rise awareness on the need of being critical as did Carl Sagan for instance. Inrestingly enough, or maybe not, he presented the Cosmos serie.
    Why is he too critical of people assuming themselves as atheists, aren´t they free to do so according to the same principle of freedom (although a very “cheap” one on his mind as it seems, hope his brain does not pull out of his oppened head for advocating such contraditory principles of freedom).

    Report abuse

  • Melvin
    Apr 11, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    Tyson damaged his reputation. Make no mistake. Many sympathetic outlets have criticized him on this, and he has offered no further thoughts/retractions/explanations

    Reasonable people may disagree. There is nothing fatally decisive about our different points of view pro or con.

    . . .But only those using confirmation bias and unevidenced circular “reasoning”!

    I took the trouble to look up some public reaction, visiting several small websites first.

    You could look up the AIG website and find massive praise for Ken Ham’s gross dishonesty from his unthinking fans!

    Deft has provided the evidence of their dishonesty and criminal activities.

    Your rhetoric shows your dedication as a Tyson fan! It’s pity that bias causes you to generate apologetics for his woeful answers to questions about dishonest conduct and pseudo-science.

    It’s a bit like the greedy money grabbers who take the view; “I’m a film star without morals, and being well paid, so I don’t care if the film makes heroes out of gangsters and is being funded by the Mafia”!

    Report abuse

  • Reasonable people may disagree. There is nothing fatally decisive about our different points of view pro or con.
    **. . .But only those using confirmation bias and unevidenced circular “reasoning”!**

    You seem to have mounted a podium in the public square and declared a state of emergency banning all those who disagree with you and thereby banning the public square. I’ve noted this attitude in your approach to differing views as a matter of reflex. I believe in the public square and the value of most points of view. I try to appreciate the insights of others who see the subject differently from me. Learning the “other side,” or in reality, many other sides, to an issue teaches us that multiple perspectives help us deal pragmatically with ambiguity rather than demanding the “right or wrong” answer.

    Deft has provided the evidence of their dishonesty and criminal activities.

    No, deft and you are holding an opinion from a point of view. (The evidence derives from watching the documentary and reading an article from Wikipedia then putting “the facts” under a description from a point of view.) I simply don’t construct my opinion from your point of view and I’ve said why. Many of the comments on other sites expressed “my” opinion on the controversy almost verbatim, adding points “I” had not thought of but wish I had. Whether pro or con the comments were generally thoughtful and worthy of consideration (there are exceptions of course).

    To be fair, I grant that Tyson might have have viewed the documentary contingently to his advantage beforehand briefly referring to the abuses of Scientology before launching his central argument on the incompatibility of faith and science. He spoke spontaneously within the context of a wider interview – under no obligation to have seen and assessed Going Clear – a wider interview that included questions on many other diverse topics. And herein lies my objection. He said nothing throughout the interview inconsistent with a well-reasoned argument on the ethics guiding the role of science and religion in civil democratic society. You maintain he should have said more about the menace of Scientology and that you believe arguably that Scientology is not a religion or a (religious cult) and that Tyson was mistaken not to recognize this, etc. Maybe so. Or not. Maybe, so what?

    Your rhetoric shows your dedication as a Tyson fan! It’s pity that bias causes you to generate apologetics for his woeful answers to questions about dishonest conduct and pseudo-science.

    I may be misreading the implication that you are not a Tyson fan. Why not? What’s missing from your indignation are your thoughts about what should happen to Neil deGrasse Tyson going forward. Should he be shunned from our tiny inbred atheist community? Should the public hold mass protest demonstrations wherever he holds a lecture? Should there be a call for a boycott of his reprise of Cosmos on TV? I could be wrong, but the controversy seems to matter but slightly to a handful of pipsqueaks and will probably evaporate like water on a sidewalk when the sun comes up.

    Report abuse

  • “hysterical hoopla,”

    ” paranoid impressions ”

    “your hostility”

    This is how Melvin characterizes those who have criticized Tyson’s stupid remarks on scientology.

    lol

    btw, comments on articles are a very poor sample set. If you did the same analysis of articles about climate change , you’d come to the conclusion that at least 80% of the population were complete deniers.

    Report abuse

  • Alan said “Deft has provided the evidence of their dishonesty and criminal activities.”

    Melvin responded “No, deft and you are holding an opinion from a point of view. (The evidence derives from watching the documentary and reading an article from Wikipedia then putting “the facts” under a description from a point of view”

    lol Wait, are you suggesting it isn’t a fact that Mary Hubbard went to prison in the largest criminal case of wiretapping in US history? How is that not a criminal activity? If it didn’t happen, please do post the evidence of it from the parallel universe you appear to be inhabiting.

    “Should the public hold mass protest demonstrations wherever he holds a lecture? ”

    So, whenever people criticize other people , then mass protests must follow? Just like people criticizing scientology must be advocating for drone strikes against them, as you previously stated. This is either a really juvenile rhetorical strategy, or … I’ll let other readers speculate for themselves.

    “but the controversy seems to matter but slightly to a handful of pipsqueaks ”

    Pipsqueaks? Why do you feel the need to characterize people commenting about his dumb remarks that way? Do you think it helps your case? lol

    Report abuse

  • Melvin typed “No, deft and you are holding an opinion from a point of view. (The evidence derives from watching the documentary and reading an article from Wikipedia then putting “the facts” under a description from a point of view”

    So we are very, very clear. This is from the Washington Post. It’s a newspaper, not wikipedia. This really happened. It’s a Fact, not a “fact”. For whatever reason Melvin is trying to deny reality. There’s a certain irony there given the topic…lol

    5 Scientologists Get Jail Terms for Conspiring to Rob, Bug and Spy on U.S.

    By Timothy S. Robinson and Kenneth Bredemeier, Washington Post Writers

    December 7, 1979, Friday, Final Edition

    Five of the ranking leaders of the Church of Scientology, including the wife of the group’s founder, were sentenced yesterday to prison terms of up to five years each for their roles in a massive criminal conspiracy to plant church spies in government agencies, steal government documents and bug at least one government meeting.

    U.S. District Judge Charles R. Richey imposed the sentences in a day-long proceeding at the U.S. Courthouse here in which the defendants admitted their wrongdoing, but attempted to justify their act by contending they overreacted in response to what they perceived as government harassment of their religion.

    Four other defendants will be sentenced today.

    Richey took the unusual step of ordering the defendants immediately to begin serving their terms while their appeals of their convictions are pending. He said he was taking that step because the defendents’ planned appeal of their conviction was frivolous, because of the substantial evidence against them, because they are from California and had no ties to the Washington community, and because they posed a danger to the community.

    Only Mary Sue Hubbard, whose husband L. Ron Hubbard, founded the group approximately three decades ago, remained free after sentencing yesterday.

    She was given a conditional five-year term and a $10,000 fine and was ordered to undergo a three-month study by the prison system before any final sentence is imposed. Richey said she could remain free for at least another 10 days because of unspecified health reasons.

    “I publicly want to say I accept full responsibility for the charge of which I have been convicted,” Hubbard said at one point in the proceedings. “I sincerely regret my wrongdoing. I have done everything within my power to see nothing like this ever occurs in the future.”

    Richey replied later to Hubbard that she had to live with her conscience, but that “you and I agree we have a precious system of government in the United States. For anyone to use the benefits of those laws or to seek under the guise of those laws to destroy the very foundation of the government is totally wrong and cannot be condoned by any responsible citizen.”

    He told her that “we do not have a perfect system,” but “one must understand courts have a responsibility to consider the interests of society and the system of justice” in imposing sentences.

    He compared the conspiracy of the high church officials to that of high government officials during the Watergate scandal, and gave her the same type of conditional maximum sentence that U.S.District Judge John J. Sirica gave the original Watergate burglary defendants.

    The Scientologists have contended — and continued to do so yesterday — that the government had harassed the church since its founding by allegedly keeping false reports in government files, investigating the group, and refusing to grant it blanket religious tax-exempt status.

    The severity of the sentences and the refusal of the judge to release the defendants on bond pending appeal provoked strong reactions from church spokesmen.

    Spokesman Denis McKenna termed the sentences “vicious” and said they were “a mockery of justice . . . a perversion of the criminal justice system. The judge has ignored the broader issues and appears to have let vindictive and fanatical prosecutors do his thinking for him.”

    The church members sentenced yesterday had suggested through their attorneys that they be allowed to participate in community service programs rather than go to jail.

    Richey, known in the past to be one of the federal judiciary’s strongest and most outspoken proponents of that concept, said he specifically considered and rejected such sentences in this case because of the need for punishment and the hopes of deterring others from committing such crimes.

    The highest official in the church’s “guardian” office, Henning Heldt, said he “broke the law and will not do it again.” But, he added, “most people aren’t confronted with a government agency trying to destroy their religion and make a mockery of their religion.”

    Assistant U.S. Attorney Raymond Banoun, said Heldt’s statement was an indication that the illegality of his acts had not sunk in. “They have learned nothing. They go after anyone critical of them.They’re not concerned about anyone else but themselves. They weren’t concerned about the rights of others and they never have been.”

    Richey said he was “not fully convinced” that Heldt was remorseful and felt a prison sentence was necessary to vindicate the judicial system. He sentenced Heldt to four years in prison and fined him $10,000.

    Another church leader, Duke Snider, also said he believed the government was trying to destroy his religion. Banoun again disagreed, saying Snider had simply “violated the law and had to realize such actions will not be condoned.”

    Richey sentenced Snider to four years in prison and fined him $10,000.

    The next church member sentenced, Gregory Willardson, said he realized a year ago that what he had done was “wrong, improper . . . illegal” and said it would not happen again. Richey called Willardson “one of the major architects of this heinous crime” and sentenced him to four years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

    The fifth Scientologist sentenced yesterday, Richard Weigand, told the judge that he recognized “the error of my thinking.” But Richey called Weigand “the central figure in the coverup conspiracy,” and gave him the same four-year prison term and $10,000 fine that he had imposed on three other defendants.

    The evidence used by the government against the church was gathered in FBI raids on church headquarters here and in Los Angeles on July 8, 1977. The church has vigorously litigated the legality of those raids — said to be the largest ever conducted by the FBI — and will continue to press that issue on appeal.

    In August 1978, 11 church leaders were indicted in the conspiracy.

    Seven of the defendants were convicted of a single count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. One defendant was found guilty of conspiring to illegally obtain government documents and the ninth was convicted of a misdemeanor theft count.

    Two other indicted church leaders live in England and are awaiting extradition proceedings.

    Report abuse

  • Melvin
    Apr 12, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Reasonable people may disagree. There is nothing fatally decisive about our different points of view pro or con.

    . .But only those using confirmation bias and unevidenced circular “reasoning”!

    You seem to have mounted a podium in the public square and declared a state of emergency banning all those who disagree with you and thereby banning the public square.

    This is comical!! I have just shot down fallacious arguments as I usually do!

    I’ve noted this attitude in your approach to differing views as a matter of reflex. I believe in the public square and the value of most points of view.

    That is a position of pretending ambiguity, which can only be maintained from a viewpoint of ignorance of the issues and the failure to seek evidence.

    I have said it and backed it up many times before. ALL OPINIONS ARE NOT EQUAL and are not of equal value! Evidence backed rational arguments shoot down made-up rhetoric!

    I try to appreciate the insights of others who see the subject differently from me. Learning the “other side,” or in reality, many other sides, to an issue teaches us that multiple perspectives help us deal pragmatically with ambiguity rather than demanding the “right or wrong” answer.

    Happy fudgists would be no use at marking exam papers or checking engineering calculations. Wrong answers exist, and need to be identified and discarded.

    Report abuse

  • I look forward to the publication of your exhaustive study of the documented crimes committed by the leadership and/or members of the self-identified Church of Scientology throughout its history. I doubt if you will cover ground not already covered by other sources like -choosing one at random- The Washington Post.

    I don’t understand how you believe I am defending Scientology or how you believe I’m ignorant of the abhorrent, crimes, abuses, tactics and ideology which are a matter of public record. Thanks for all the horrific examples but I don’t need anyone to explain the data to me. I’ve explicitly stated that Scientologists cannot claim immunity from criminal or civil prosecution or from [social] media condemnation. Anyone who harms another in violation of the law should be prosecuted or sued.

    You claim that Scientology is not a religion because L. Ron Hubbard and his advisers put forward pseudo-science fictions for justifying beliefs and practices. I don’t understand how you can be intractable about a semantic dispute. Many institutions claim both religious and scientific grounds for their faith traditions. Other churches use the term “science” in their title, including Science of Mind and Christian Science. The Intelligent Design faction of Christian fundamentalists marshaled “scientific’ evidence presented by credentialed scientists in court which the judge rejected in the Dover case in Pennsylvania. Even William Lane Craig argues that objective historical evidence for the resurrection is irrefutable.

    Always you return to widespread fraud, profiteering, blackmail, extortion, coercion, detention, blackmail, spying, harassment, stalking, etc. I celebrate when Scientologists guilty of these acts are flushed out, tried and convicted. It would be no skin off my nose if the earth opened up and swallowed this atrocious organization tomorrow. The dilemma is that decent people also voluntarily join the cult (not at a rate to prevent membership decline) and voluntarily donate/pay money for programs and causes. Substantively, Scientology also functions as a legal church and a voluntary organization in spite of legal prosecutions and general public outrage. But isn’t this dreadful; isn’t that dreadful? Goddammit yes! By saying something neutral about organizational characteristics aren’t you ostensibly saying something “good” about thugs and therefore defending Scientology? Goddammit no!

    If you would like to see Scientology outlawed, for example under the RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), please make your case.

    I admit sowing confusion about my use of the term “opinion.” I did not intend to imply that your unanimously shared revulsion for Scientology was documented on unreliable research. I elided my intention to imply that the research was irrelevant to the central controversy about remarks Neil deGrasse Tyson made spontaneously in response to a question about Scientology and the HBO documentary he not yet seen, posed in the context of a brief informal multi-question interview. Some felt betrayed that he wasn’t prepared with a script to excoriate Scientology with an encyclopedic litany of its abominations. It was his choice to focus on the irrational claims and practices of Scientology as a faith tradition, albeit recent, that shared unevidenced, implicitly absurd beliefs with other faith traditions, specifically Christianity. His remarks were prologue to expounding on the proper role of religion and science in democratic secular society. Of course anyone is empowered to take offense at sins of commission or omission and come down on various sides of an issue. Realize that we are addressing a controversy, however, with differing views. Perhaps hysteria is overtaking the controversy itself and taking on a life of its own.

    I’m all ears for further assessments of the remarks made by NEIL DeGRASSE TYSON.

    Report abuse

  • Religions, like ideologies, offer opportunities for enthusiastic followers to line up behind sociopathic leaders to be fleeced, with the long term promise that when the religion/ideology is more successful and the leaders are in positions of real power, they will all be oppressing the non-believers together.
    Oh, and after death (in the case of religions only), the followers will get privileges unavailable to the non-believers.

    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.