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Scientology: faith and doubts

February 26, 2008

Re "A leap beyond faith," Opinion, Feb. 18

When I was 17, I left the Church of Scientology. When I was 22, my parents and all members of my immediate family were pressured by the church to "disconnect" from me. When I heard of the protests by Anonymous on behalf of all those who have lost their families, homes and savings accounts to Scientology, I thanked God that someone was finally willing to listen. Reading Michael Shermer's Op-Ed article, I was surprised to find myself frustrated and misty-eyed. Why is it that journalists repeatedly and insistently focus on the sensationalist aspect of the Xenu story when reporting about Scientology, ignoring child labor, physical assault, psychological abuse and other travesties that go on every day behind those walls?

Kendra Wiseman

Los Angeles

Shermer says that the recent protest of Scientology by the group calling itself Anonymous had the air of a comical farce. He's dead on there, but other than that, his reasoning is dead wrong. How can a man of science who studies belief systems for a living make evaluations about a religion he hasn't studied? The basic books and lectures on which the religion is based are available to anyone who cares to read and listen to them. These books and lectures can be purchased not only in Scientology churches but in bookstores and over the Web, and they are available for borrowing in libraries all over the world. I highly recommend that he take the time to read up on his subject before he makes a farce of himself again.

Karen Morrissett

Tujunga

I appreciated Shermer's article. It provided an objective view on the criticism of the Church of Scientology. As an avid fan of science fiction, I have to admit that I enjoyed L. Ron Hubbard's novel, "Battlefield Earth." Nevertheless, I consider the church to fall into the same category -- space opera.

Many countries do not consider the church a tax-exempt religious organization. Furthermore, some in the German government consider this faux religion an example of evil totalitarianism. I trust their judgment when it comes to determining that. Criticism and hatred of the church is nothing new. But if it will voluntarily start to treat itself as a financially transparent (and legally responsible) for-profit organization, then it nevertheless deserves the right to exist.

Joseph Emerson

Torrance

Shermer argues that because Scientology is a new religion, its members are not entitled to the rights afforded other religions, and that different beliefs justify the hate crimes of the cyber-terrorist group Anonymous.

Every new religion has had to fight ignorance and intolerance, and Scientology is no exception. The allegations raised by Shermer have long since been disproved and the church vindicated. In the U.S., documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed these charges to be false, leading the Internal Revenue Service to recognize all churches of Scientology as tax-exempt. After years of discrimination in Australia, the Charity Commission uses Scientology as the benchmark for the definition of religion. Italy's Supreme Court found that Scientology's fundraising system is fairer than that of the Catholic Church. In little more than half a century, Scientology has been acknowledged as a religion by courts, government agencies and religious scholars the world over.

No matter one's personal beliefs, hate crimes should never be condoned against any religion.

Heber Jentzsch

President, Church of

Scientology International

Los Angeles

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