Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Opinion

Ruth: A so-called religion shuns a truth seeker (w/video)

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.

Comments
Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

Editorial: Tighten substitute teacher rules in Hillsborough

A substitute teacher at a Plant City elementary school berated a class of fourth graders — and then the school principal. Another compared a student to a stripper. Others were caught napping, hitting children, making sexual remarks, giving students b...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

Editorial: Balancing the playing field for workers’ compensation

For the longest time, injured workers in Florida were basically at the mercy of the whims of employers to treat them fairly. A 2003 law aimed at reducing the cost of workers’ compensation coverage for businesses had the desired impact, but it also di...
Published: 01/16/18

Another voice: Why just Florida?

Cynicism has always been a part of politics, but rarely are politicians so brazen and self-serving as President Donald Trump and his interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, have been over the past week. First they announced a new offshore drilling plan that ...
Published: 01/16/18
Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Editorial: King’s legacy still relevant in digital age

Today’s holiday honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. couldn’t be more timely. At a moment when the nation’s civic dialogue is choking on personal and political division, it is hard to remember an earlier time when role models were role m...
Published: 01/15/18

Another voice: 38 minutes of fear in Hawaii

In 1938, Orson Welles panicked the nation with a false alarm about a Martian invasion in the radio broadcast The War of the Worlds. That was farfetched, of course. But what happened on Saturday, sadly, was not so hard to imagine — or believe.Authorit...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

Editorial: Florida’s chance to make it easier to restore civil rights

As it has for decades, Florida stubbornly clings to an inhumane, inefficient and indefensible system of justice that permanently sentences more than 1.5 million residents to second-class citizenship. This state automatically revokes the right to vote...
Published: 01/13/18
Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

Editorial: Speak out against Trump’s vulgar remarks

President Donald Trump’s vulgar outbursts during a White House meeting on immigration are racist and indefensible no matter how he parses them. They are not presidential, they undermine U.S. foreign relations and they do not reflect America’s values....
Published: 01/12/18

Editorial: Pinellas commission stands up for accountability

The Pinellas County Commission has gotten the message that it should not be a rubber stamp. Commissioners sent a clear signal this week they will demand more accountability of local agencies by refusing to approve nominees for the board for CareerSou...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Editorial: Progress on Tampa Bay graduation rates

Tampa Bay’s four school districts all reached a significant milestone last school year: achieving graduation rates over 80 percent. It’s believed to be the first time Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando counties all surpassed that threshold, a...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Take deal; build wall

President Donald Trump says he is optimistic a deal can be struck to shield "Dreamers," the young undocumented immigrants whose lives he put in jeopardy by stripping them of work permits and deportation protection, beginning March 5. His price, and t...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/11/18