Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Church of ScientoIogy and Me

On April 12th, a group called Anonymous will be staging another worldwide protest against the shady practices of the Church of ScientoIogy.  

People who know me well already know about my run(s)-in with the Church and its affiliates.  Quickly stated, I support ScientoIogy as a faith-- Although I'm not religious, freedom of worship is an obviously vital part of free society, and the right is defensible in any discussion about freedom of speech.

The Church itself, however, has come to abuse my ideal of religious tolerance in a very contradictory way:  One that explicity promises superpowers for right price, forces "disconnection" with friends and family, twists copyright law to destroy splinter groups and silence dissenters.  The problem isn't the tenets of the faith, but the Church's power and savvy as a business to operate outside the law.  As a Church, they're not only tax-exempt, but immune to the sort of criticism that would normally provoke public outcry.

Fortunately, the ruse looks like it's coming to an end, as The Church of ScientoIogy is having more and more trouble flying under the radar.  This is largely a product of collaborative knowledge on the Internet and is, in my estimation, the first of many organizations facing the full brunt of Internet activism.  It's really an amazing effort-- During the last round of protests, over 150 showed up at the Church's headquarters in Florida.  There were thousands more protesters worldwide.

But the most interesting parts to me are the extremes it represents.  On one hand, there is Anonymous:  A group with no central leadership, no experience, no financial or political power, armed only with knowledge and a sense of making things right.  On the other hand:  The Church of ScientoIogy.

This is a perfect microcosm of what could happen on a much larger scale.  Even if you're not interested in the protests against the Church, they are setting a prescident for other (bigger) social issues.

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