Matters arising: I was a little unsettled that, within fifteen minutes of my posting the previous post, a sciborg should make a comment. And that comment included a link to the CoS site After the tsunami as a demonstration of Good Works carried out by the Church.
So, what did the CoS do when the tsunami struck, wiping out the littorals of several countries, killing untold numbers of people, devastating entire communities? They sent a bunch of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed sciborgs to perform what the CoS terminology calls "assists." And what was the substance of these assists? Massage. While people were crying out for food, shelter and their relatives, the sciborgs were getting all touchy-feely. Naturelement, the form of massage administered was one devised by Lafayette Ronald Hubbard himself, a man who once had a posse of pubescent girls to administer his own deep tissue relief (they wore hot pants and halter tops - this was the Seventies, after all - and waited upon his every need, apparently).
The nature and purpose of such assists was revealed by some leaked correspondence after 9/11. It seems that the only two groups who saw the destruction of the World Trade Center as a win were Al Quaida and the Church of Scientology. The CoS rushed its volunteers to Ground Zero and did its best to thwart the efforts of the "psychs" - genuine mental health professionals. The CoS felt more than a little pleased that it managed to fool Fox TV into displaying a phone number for its call centre by using a bogus name.
Another sciborg commented that I should not be mentioning the name of Lisa McPherson. See, I have gone and done it again. Lisa McPherson was a member of the CoS who suffered a mental health crisis. Members of her local CoS coven intervened to stop her receiving the treatment she needed. She died soon after, while in the custody of the CoS. Quite what horrors she endured are undocumented, but the before and after photographs (not safe for lunch) say a great deal. Of course, this happened several years ago in another country, but has the CoS ever explained or apologised for what happened? Of course, no. And is this the only case of maltreatment by the CoS of someone who should have received proper psychiatric care? Again, and of course, no.
The hostility, some might say paranoia, of the CoS towards the psychiatric profession is remarkable. L Ron Hubbard, like Basil Fawlty, had a horror of psychiatrists, being himself completely barking. His Church shares this dread, working tirelessly to replace psychiatry with Dianetics, its own science of mental health, which involves removing Thetans from the patient's body.
The CoS also maintains a taxpayer-assisted campaign against the psychiatric profession. A few months ago, the estimable Mr David Do and I visited an "exhibition" mounted by the CoS in Auckland's Victoria Market. It purported to show the evils of psychiatry, in part by showing that, in Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, psychiatrists were, respectively, Nazis and Communists. The CoS was mentioned only once in the entire show, and then only in a newspaper article which had been reproduced as a display. Instead, the show was presented as the work of the Citizens' Commission on Human Rights, which is one of the many front organisations for the CoS. All this would be laughable nonsense, were it not for cases like that of Lisa McPherson.
As I said, all this is taxpayer-assisted. The IRD, in its wisdom, decided that the CoS qualifies as a church for accounting purposes and so does not have to pay income tax. As you would expect, I object to any religious organisation enjoying this benefit. But what particularly rankles in the case of the CoS is the deceit and the cost.
Let me explain with a counter-example: Catholics. The Doctrine of the Trinity (that God, like oil, is three-in-one but also one-in-three) is palpable nonsense - incomprehensible and, for that matter, unbiblical. But, for all the Doctrine's theological, philosophical and historical wants, the Holy Catholic Church makes no attempt to hide it. Go into any Catholic church and you will find a pamphlet on what Catholics believe. The CoS, by contrast, does not tell you what it believes - that human beings are covered in Thetans, which are the spirits of beings who were brought to this planet, deep frozen, by Xenu in spacecraft which look just like the McDonnell-Douglas DC-8 and who were stacked around volcanoes (some of which do not exist), into which Xenu dropped atom bombs (as one of my commentators noted: yes, that retarded). The CoS instead tells you that you are stressed.
The CoS determines that you are stressed by giving you a test with the E-Meter. As I noted earlier, this is no more than a Wheatstone Bridge - a device for measuring electrical resistance. I am but an humble Art Historian and know nothing about electrical resistance other than that it is measured in Ohms, a word which is impossible to say without smiling (in fact, saying the word Ohm would probably do more to reduce stress than anything the CoS has to offer). The sciborgs who administer these tests might really, really believe that these devices are discovering something, but the CoS, which manufactures the E-Meters, knows what they are making. So far, I have yet to read any argument from the CoS that the electrical resistance of the human body is caused by stress or the presence of Thetans. It may well be that Mr Tom Cruise has fewer Ohms than you or I, but I have yet to see any evidence to that effect.
It is not until one is well-advanced in the practice of Scientology that the CoS tells one why there is a picture of a volcano on the front cover of L Ron Hubbard's best-selling Dianetics - The Modern Science of Mental Health. By that stage, one will have spent an awful lot of money getting to this point of knowledge. Which brings me to my second objection to Scientology: the cost. The Catholics pass round a plate, and may ask you to consider them in your will, but they do not charge you to go to Mass. The CoS, having hooked the initiate with the stress test, charges him to do courses. To get to the level of mental health exemplified by Mr Tom Cruise costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As one of my commentators noted, this is clearly a business, and a particularly dodgy one at that. Other self-improvement businesses, such as Pilates instructors or practitioners of the Alexander Technique, do not enjoy the tax benefits of being a religion. They go about they work and declare their earnings, without the colossal subsidy that we, the taxpayers of New Zealand, provide the CoS.
The accumulated cash has put the CoS in the position where it can buy the building occupied by Whitecliffe College of Art. As Lyndon noted elsewhere, this purchase particularly annoyed me. Fortunately, my friend the Leverhulme girl has now graduated and so will not have to suffer the indignity of attending the College's new premises in Manukau (City of the Future), which surely would have broken her dear heart. But the purchase will give the CoS a presence is does not enjoy in its current headquarters in Panmure. The CoS will also be a lot closer to the CBD, so we can expect to see many more stress tests taking place on the streets of Auckland.
Which brings me to membership. Mon frere Craig Young asks how many members the CoS has in New Zealand, which is an interesting question. The CoS claims eight thousand adherents but the most recent Census, in 2006, showed that only 357 souls were willing to stand up and be counted as followers of L Ron. This discrepancy of numbers reveals a simple fact of the CoS - that it cannot tell the truth about anything. Like its founder, the CoS is a pathological liar. And because of an IRD decision that the CoS calls a "victory," we pay for these lies.
Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope in the suggestion, by one commentator here, that the E-Meters may be in breach of rules for electrical devices. Perhaps the folly of the IRD will be corrected by Fair Trading departments. Or perhaps we can do something. As Anonymous observed, we are from Internet - and we are here to help.