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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Mailbag

    Mr. Lebby misunderstands the point of protests

    Garrett Lebby’s letter (“”Anti-scientology posters around campus””) in yesterday’s Wildcat misses the point of the anti-Church of Scientology (CoS) movement. He compares the current protests to the Nazi persecution of the Jews (invoking Godwin’s law!), which is a complete mischaracterization.

    The current protest is not against the scientologists’ beliefs but against the methods employed by the CoS. (There are other groups of scientologists who practice despite relentless persecution from the Church; Anonymous and their allies object to the CoS’s emphasis on profit above all else, isolation of their members from family, suppression of information about their beliefs (Google “”OT III””) and violent and unabashed illegal retribution against their critics.) Make no mistake: The CoS has killed its own members, slandered its critics, and brought frivolous legal action against anyone who publicly discusses their beliefs. A little reading on the Internet will reveal just how far the CoS is willing to go to gain followers from whom to make money.

    The movement has nothing at all to do with Nazism. Anonymous is not after the elimination of scientology as a belief system – in fact, they simply want to publicise those beliefs – and certainly bears no ill will toward the ordinary members. The current movement is more like the Protestant Reformation, a protest aimed at revealing the abuses of a church hierarchy for the benefit of the ordinary believers. Just as Martin Luther wanted Christians to be able to read The Bible for themselves, Anonymous wants everyone to have unfettered access to the beliefs and practices of scientology so they can make their own decisions.

    Mr. Lebby cites religious freedom in his letter. If anything, the Church of Scientology (distinct from scientology, the belief system) is an opponent of the honest, open religious freedom that is so crucial to America. Why should any honest religion be ashamed of its own beliefs? Any Christian will talk to you about Jesus; any Jew will talk to you about Abraham; but no Scientologist will talk to you about Xenu. Is it an infringement of religious freedom to stand on a street corner with a sign that says “”Read the Bible. Learn for Yourself?”” Of course not. Anonymous believes that everyone has the right to make a choice – an honest, informed choice – about religion, and about the organization in which they practice it.

    The Church of Scientology, and their greedy and malicious practices, are the targets of the protest. Anonymous has no quarrel with any honest believers of any religion, just as Martin Luther had no quarrel with Christianity. Believe or don’t believe; that is your choice. But learn the facts.

    As a great religious leader of the past said: The truth shall set you free.

    Walter Freeman
    physics graduate student


    Church of Scientology’s rights don’t deserve protection

    In response to Garrett Lebby’s criticism of the anti-Scientology materials posted around the campus (“”Anti-scientology posters around campus””). The protection of religious freedom is an admirable goal; we all recognize each individual’s right to practice his or her faith as he or she sees fit. However, simply because an organization claims that its activities follow from religious doctrine does not place them immediately above reproach. Consider the Westboro Baptist Church’s picketing of funerals with slogans such as “”God hates fags,”” “”Thank God for Dead Soldiers”” and, after the Sago Mine disaster, “”Thank God for Dead Miners”” (with similar pickets having been planned for the Virginia Tech students’ funerals): The message stems from religious belief, but it is abusive of others’ rights and is an affront to decency. Places of worship and their benign outreach programs deserve religious protection; religiously-motivated infringements upon others’ rights do not.

    The Church of Scientology’s activities demonstrably fall into the latter category. Even putting aside the many accusations of financial scams and the wrenching apostate (ex-member) testimony against the CoS, legal records show that it is the Church of Scientology that has consistently acted to suppress free speech, stifle detractors’ testimony and litigate opponents into forced silence, practices upon which the campus protest attempts to shed light. Yesterday’s letter to the Wildcat paints this peaceful campus demonstration as an assault on religious freedom tantamount to, unbelievably, the “”Nazi’s”” attack on the Jewish faith, but its author forgets that religious freedom is not the only freedom: a civil, uninvasive and non-economically motivated informational demonstration is the very embodiment of protected free speech. As much as Scientologists and others possess the right to believe as they choose, UA students and others possess the right to hold and advocate their own beliefs, whether through discussion, debate, demonstration or the posting of campus bulletins. Next time, before writing in criticism of such a protest, it might be wise to do a little research on the subject (easily accomplished through xenu.net, Wikipedia’s Scientology entry or even Time magazine’s 1991 exposé; the unsavory practices of the CoS are anything but a recent revelation).

    Robert Stout
    computer science junior

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