Christians using lamentable tact?

‘So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun!’ This statement is not from the BBC, Panorama or journalist John Sweeney. It’s a pity really. It is, however, from an old official press-statement written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of cult TV series South Park. It proves (along with further statements asserting that Scientology would ‘NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies’) that Parker and Stone are comic geniuses publicly lampooning Scientology’s embarrassingly sci-fi roots, but more importantly that they apparently know no fear. So that’s two things Panorama does not have in common with South Park. Actually there’s probably more.

News last week revealed that Panorama had to edit its investigation into the controversial ‘church’ after John Sweeney lost his cool during an interview and Scientologists posted video of it on the internet. The episode is destined, I think, to enjoy cult popularity. Not just because it’s fun to get the ‘c’ word so detested by Scientologists into an internet-searchable document without actually referring to their ‘church’ as such, but because it prompted so much discussion that it was hard to find sanctuary (‘Sanctuary’ was a hit song by The Cult. Just thought you’d like to know).

Now I’ve never been a fan of Scientology (Westboro Baptist, where are you when you could make yourselves useful?). Speaking purely objectively, I find it creepy. Founder L Ron Hubbard, according to The Independent, once addressed a convention of writers, saying:’ If a man really wants to make a million dollars he should start his own religion.’ Four years later he apparently started Scientology. Its understandable that Panorama wanted to investigate it.

Commentators spoke of journalistic freedom and the rest of us about how scary the ‘church’ is. Apparently it breaks up families and friends, but then Jesus said he came to bring a sword and would do the same. It is litigious (Dear Church of Scientology, please don’t sue me for saying that…), paranoid and defensive, but have you seen some of the Christians out there? Ever been to a book-burning, signed a petition against a new mosque or campaigned outside a dirty movie?

Is it possible that we are ashamed of another major reason why we object to Scientology: that it traps people in a religion that denies people salvation through Christ? And (the theologically liberal may want to look away now) isn’t that what we feel about every other religion? Is it possible we care so much what people think we have internalized what should have been tactful arguments for public use? Look at some other news stories.

It’s easy to point the finger at Paul Wolfowitz as he resigns over love-induced corruption. It’s more difficult to admit that our own Prime Minister and closest allies took us into a war on false information and we will probably never prosecute them. It’s easy to say how worried we are about young Maddy, but less so to explain why we have not given much thought to the 75 others currently listed on the UK missing children website. It’s easy to point fingers or even applaud that the police are investigating a possibly illegal late term abortion, less easy to explain why we have failed to make that distinction of weeks seem anything other than hypocrisy or why we seem to love unborn children but not their mothers. It’s easy (well kind of) to oppose Scientology (and I believe we should with every fibre). Examining our own cultishness, developing boldness to assert our God’s uniqueness and remembering what we stand for while remaining tactful is not, but it would probably do us some good.

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One Response

  1. it’s like noone thinks the acronym this piece’s title creates is fnny. sigh.

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