Irony, if not hypocrisy, abounds.
Regardless of what you might think of Scientology's founding Thetan, L. Ron Hubbard — does the "L" stand for Loopy? — you do have to give the Very Model of a Modern Major Ersatz Messiah his due. Checks, credit cards and, of course, cash, happily accepted.
In one of his lifetimes — presumably his last — in addition to making up a "religion," Hubbard's fertile mind cranked out a prolific stream of pulp science fiction stories.
Yet despite all of Hubbard's creativity in imagining all manner of scientific and technological advances, it seems the one innovation he never quite grasped before checking out to that E-meter in the sky was (ta-da!) the arrival of the Internet, which, when it isn't being used to spread pornography has become the greatest source of infinite information literally available to anyone with a keyboard.
There's probably one of those goofy Scientology acronyms we could apply to Hubbard's oversight. But oooops works rather nicely.
The threat to Scientology that the Internet poses was brought into vivid relief days ago, when the Tampa Bay Times' Joe Childs detailed the experience of one of the sect's highest ranking parishioners, Sara Goldberg, of Clearwater, who had risen so high in the organization she probably knew John Travolta's ecclesiastical nickname, Mr. Baldy.
At any rate, Goldberg got all sideways with the "faith's" sailor suits — which are adorable, by the way — when out of a perfectly natural case of human curiosity she logged onto the Internet to research the faith-debased Church of Scientology.
Goldberg's interest in learning more about the organization was piqued after hearing about numerous exposes of the "church's" abuse and harassment of members reported by Childs and Tom Tobin of the Times, who had interviewed several defectors from the clutches of the organization's pope of paranoia, David Miscavige.
And because she refused to disassociate herself from son Nick Lister, who had also committed the mortal sin of perusing the Internet for information of the People's Temple of Gloom, Goldberg soon found herself persona non Kirstie Alley.
You might say the one thing that Adam & Eve and Scientology have in common is the tempting Apple.
Now one can certainly debate the common decency of a so-called religious group bullying a mother to chose between her son and her ideological beliefs. So much for compassion. So much for empathy. So much for mercy.
But even more inane is Scientology's rejection of its own predicate as a religious organization. You've probably seen a recent commercial produced by the sect that extols its unique nexus between "technology and spirituality."
Or there was the ad a few years ago that pimped Scientology this way: "To the rebels, the artists, the free thinkers and the innovators who care less about labels and more about truth, who believe nonconformity is more than a bumper sticker, that knowledge is more than words on a page."
So one on hand you have a "religion" embracing technology, rebels, artists, free thinkers, innovators, nonconformists and seekers of truth. But Hubbard help you if actually think freely, or seek out inspiration or pursue the truth.
It is a sad commentary that a so-called faith would be so insecure, so afraid, so suspicious of its brethren that it not only fears any interest in independently researching the sect on the Internet, but bans the practice as an article of disgrace should one engage in intellectual inquisitiveness.
What does this make Sara Goldberg? The Galileo of Clearwater?
For all its phony claims about opening the mind to endless possibilities, Scientology's Stasi of Scripture can impose all the onerous sanctions it wants on its followers for simply being human. But in the end, all the threats and silly kangaroo courts and banishments can't suppress the fundamental need for people to learn.
Goldberg was ultimately accused by the sect of "low ethical condition" behavior. On that point, the Scientologists can legitimately claim to have some expertise.