How kind, I received a free dvd a few days ago. It came through the post.
The dvd came from “Freedom TV”. They must be very coy because the senders did not say who they were anywhere on or in the package. In small print I found a name, “Freedom Magazine”, so I Googled. It was as I expected.
But why be so coy, why not say on the envelope or on the enclosed letter, or on the disc that it came from the Scientologist sect?
The dvd was entitled “BBC Panorama Exposed”. It was the dvd the title that had started to ring bells as I remembered that the controversial sect had recently been the subject of a Panorama programme which portrayed them in a negative light. I also knew of the associated publicity around the BBC reporter who lost his temper.
Certainly, according to the short bit of the dvd I could endure, the reporter was subject to hours of their promotional materials and presentations. I think I would have flipped too. But why didn’t they clearly state who they were when they sent me the dvd?
The Scientology sect was accused of trying to infiltrate British politics earlier this year after it emerged that they paid thousands of pounds to both the Labour and Tory parties. Members of Labour’s ruling executive committee, approved the payment from a charity which is closely linked to the Scientology sect.
Labour allowed the charity, the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), to pay between Â£3,500 and Â£13,500 for a stall at the party’s annual conference in Manchester. Tory bosses also sanctioned a stand at their annual gathering in Bournemouth.
But then MPs expressed concern after it emerged that they were part of an extensive lobbying operation by Scientology members to promote its drug treatment programme, Narconon, and the criminal rehabilitation scheme Criminon. Then too, it seems the Scientologists were not quick to identify themselves.
Perhaps they are slow to reveal their true identity because they know they are regarded with suspicion. Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker said:
“Scientology is a dubious cult at best and it’s worrying that it seems to have infiltrated both Labour and the Tories in this way.”
The Home Office has refused to sanction Narconon because it “does not meet the minimum standard for drug treatment delivery. It has never been funded by the Prison Service.”
Critics of Narconon claim it is a front for Scientology. The programme, which claims to helps wean addicts from drugs, is funded by Â£15,000 payments from participants for a six month course. But the website for ABLE, the charity behind it, admits they “receive much support from Scientologists and from churches of Scientology”.
The Daily Mail revealed that Scientologists infiltrated the City of London police handing thousands of pounds worth of gifts to officers. The group – which is worth Â£200million worldwide – handed out free invitations to film premiers and a Â£500 a head charity dinner where the guest of honour was Tom Cruise.
The Charity Commission in Britain has refused to register the Church of Scientology, which has faced repeated claims that new members are manipulated and enticed into spending thousands of pounds on Scientology courses.
The conclusions of some law courts are damning too. In 1994 the Californian Court of Appeal accepted that the techniques of Scientology constitute “brainwashing” and “thought reform”. High Court judge Mr Justice Latey once branded the “religion” founded by science fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, as “corrupt, sinister, immoral and dangerous”.
They have never been unpleasant to me. True I was forcibly ejected from one of Scientology’s establishments but they did do it with smiles on their faces.
The story goes like this. It was in the late 1970s when my then fiancÃ© Penny (now wife) and I were passing a shop front with posters in the window advertising Dianetics. We were stopped on the pavement outside, and invited in to talk. We accepted the invitation.
Penny and I were separated. I was sat at a table with few of their people while across the the room Penny was in a similar situation. There were just a few more tables with similar groups.
I eventually got their gist. If I was willing to pay them a great deal of money I could go through a rather expensive course (or series of courses). They told me that I had done things wrong in my life called “criminalities” which I felt guilty about. They told me their courses would remove the guilt feelings. My agreement about guilt feelings obviously pleased them. Their faces dropped a little when I asked if “criminalities” were the same thing as “sin”.
They pressed on. They talked for a while and I could hear the buzz of conversation on the various tables.
I asked a question, and the atmosphere changed. I asked, though they could help me be rid of my guilt feelings for the things I had done, could they help me be rid of my actual guilt?
When asked, “What guilt” I said, “Guilt before a holy God for my sin.” I said, “You can take my guilt feelings away but can you take my guilt away, can you bring me forgiveness?” I went on, “You see, my Jesus has not just taken my guilt feelings away, without charging me for a course, but He had also taken away my guilt, having the authority to forgive sins.”
I went on to tell them about some of the great changes Jesus had brought about in my life.
I could hear that the buzz at the other tables had died down. Perhaps the other punters, overhearing me, also wanted to know if forgiveness was available.
I could hear Penny telling her table some good news about Jesus. You would have thought they would have been pleased about this good news as we all seemed to have wanted similar outcomes.
My new friends seems particularly alarmed at the mentioned of Jesus. I could hear Penny mentioning Jesus too.
What happened next was unexpected and happened very quickly. With a smiling Scientologist at each elbow I was brought to my feet and frog-marched to the door. As I neared the door Penny, being escorted in identical manner joined me with a smile.
We have both looked back on that day with a sense of fun. This is us still smiling.
For interesting comment on Scientology see xenu.net.
For an introduction to Scientology see modemac.com.
Thanks to the Evening Standard article for some of the material in this post.