Southern Religion

Scientology schism (over management)

Scientology blundered toward the new year with a pugilistic response to questions about why three of its top spiritual achievers publicly left the cult, er, church.

Joe Childs and Thomas C. Tobin of the St. Petersburg Times wrote that “Geir Isene of Norway and Americans Mary Jo Leavitt and Sherry Katz” announced their split with Scientology:

Isene left first, a decision that emboldened Leavitt, who inspired Katz. Such departures are rare among the church’s elite group of OT VIIIs, who are held up as role models in Scientology. The three each told the St. Petersburg Times that they had spent decades and hundreds of thousands of dollars to reach the church’s spiritual pinnacle.

All three stressed their ongoing belief in Scientology and say they remain grateful for how it helped them. Yet they took to the Internet — an act strongly discouraged by church leaders, who decry public airing of problems — to share their reasons for leaving. They said they hoped it would resonate within the Scientology community.

Scientology’s response was similar in assaultive tone to the reaction to Catholic Online [here]. Tommy Davis of Scientology wrote in a letter to the Times:

Your biased approach to stories regarding my religion is by now well documented. You, Joe Childs in particular, actively seek out only those individuals who have something negative to say about the Church; if they do not fit your agenda then you attempt to coach them and coax them into doing so by “educating” them about Scientology until you have “adjusted” their viewpoint accordingly and when that does not work you simply put words in their mouth. This is your pattern, which was unknown to the Church until recently, and has been your modus operandi for the better part of two decades.

All this habitually fists-up rhetoric from an organization whose evangelism is so slickly finished it puts most of the competition to shame. Consider this leaked, internal push for their Ideal Org program. Maybe it is a little too long. And doesn’t mention the V-like Ideal Org uniforms. But consider pitch:

Okey-dokey. You too can help convert your friends to a money-sucking program that promises mastery of immortality. A program where outcomes can be a lot worse than denial of communion.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Cults, WWW | , , , , | 2 Comments

Evangelism repositioned, de-acidified, sugar- and money-coated

Gone are the halcyon days of Jerry Falwell declaring 9/11 the result of “throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked.” Evangelism, writes Sarah Posner in the Guardian, has been “rebranded:”

The re-branding was the product of evangelicalism’s survival instinct in the face of the parody-ready Falwell prototype. One of America’s leading evangelicals is now Rick Warren, whose mega-bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life (2002), begins:

“This is more than a book; it is a guide to a 40-day spiritual journey that will enable you to discover the answer to life’s most important question: What on earth am I here for?”

The new evangelicals write books not about how God will smite you, but how God loves you and wants nothing more than your greatest personal, spiritual, and material fulfillment. The middle of the decade saw the publication of televangelist Joel Osteen’s Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential (2004) and TD Jakes’ Reposition Yourself: Living Life Without Limits (2007). Joyce Meyer’s Seven Things That Steal Your Joy: Overcoming the Obstacles to Your Happiness (2004) and Approval Addiction: Overcoming Your Need to Please Everyone (2005) are equally at home at Bible study and coffee klatch, in the church bookstore and at Wal-Mart.

Oh me, oh my.

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Religion | , , , | Comments Off on Evangelism repositioned, de-acidified, sugar- and money-coated

Two churchmen sentenced for sex crimes, one so inadequately

An Argentine judge sentenced former Archbishop of Sante Fe Edgardo Storni to eight years incarceration for abuse of his power to sexually exploit a male seminary student. That sentence punctuated a long running scandal in which a book was published documenting the abuse, the Vatican launched and abandoned an investigation and a succession of victims saw their cases dismissed by various judges.

Not similarly concerned with the abuse of power in such relationships, a California judge sentenced “the youth group leader at Miracle Land Korean Baptist Church in Cypress was sentenced to 90 days for having sex with a 15-year-old girl.”

Both abuses occurred in close association with church events, making obvious the link between clerical authority and the sexual incidents.

Both assailants enjoyed the public support and protection of their church communities, as though their were something acceptable about their crimes. That misguided view of clerical sex crime contributes to the isolation of and harm to victims.

Most ethicists agree that betraying the trust of and abusing the authority of the ministry to secure sexual favors does not and cannot result in mutual consent.

The result is instead a form of rape.

Punishment at every level should fit the crime, should it not?

[H/T: Christa Brown]

December 31, 2009 Posted by | Catholic, SBC | , , , , | Comments Off on Two churchmen sentenced for sex crimes, one so inadequately