Andrew Sullivan: The Politics Of Scientology


Patron with Honors
Andrew Sullivan: The Politics Of Scientology

The Politics Of Scientology

Since 1970, "the German government has waged a long-running legal and political battle" against Scientology, believing it to be an extremist, authoritarian cult that's a threat to democracy." Jamie Kirchick marshalls evidence that the Germans are right:
In his 1951 book, the Science of Survival, Hubbard devised a system of "tones" to measure human emotions. "The sudden and abrupt deletion of all individuals occupying the lower bands of the tone scale from the social order would result in an almost instant rise in the cultural tone and would interrupt the dwindling spiral into which any society may have entered," Hubbard wrote. "It is not necessary to produce a world of clears [the Scientology term for enlightened person] in order to have a reasonable and worthwhile social order; it is only necessary to delete those individuals who range from 2.0 down, either by processing them enough to get their tone level above the 2.0 line or simply quarantining them from the society." Promulgating less-mangled formulations of this idea is banned in Germany and other European countries.
For more on Scientology, check out David Sessions' essential glossary of terms. I'm not in favor of banning them myself. They are a pretty obvious cult, with rather crude methods of emotional, financial and even physical manipulation. But in a free country, it seems to me that cults are phenomena we should expose but not ban. Some of them, with a bit of squinty-eyed syndrome and a century or two of maturation, can even become simulacra of religions.