That last one ("legitimacy") is particularly fascinating because it prevents non-believers or former members ("apostates") from speaking directly about how ridiculous many of these religious hoaxes are. By way of example, let's assume today (2014) that one of ESMB's members began a thread about how they (and they alone) had discovered the secrets of God and the universe--by putting their head in a hat and using magically powered "seer stones". After this individual began making thundering announcements of who on this board was going to be "saved" and who was being sent to hell (for disobeying his messianic dogma), the members here would very quickly tear that thread (and its guru) apart in a maelstrom of rejection & ridicule.
Isn't that why L. Ron Hubbard put his own head in his hat (Pack) and channeled the word of God in declaring the "High Crime" of "joking & degrading"?
The point I think I want to make, above all others, is the extraordinary lengths that any cult will go in order to hide its astonishingly stupid origins. The continuous layering behind legitimate sounding/appearing facades prevent the world from dismissing the entire religious racket without giving it a second thought. [...]
I LOVE this posting.
For people who like exciting books on the sophisticated side of "popular science" which are still relatively easy to understand: Richard Dawkins has written a lot about this very aspect of religions (and not cults alone), using the by now pretty famous "meme metaphors".