Does Scientology Advance Humanism?

A few nights ago I was in Hollywood visiting a friend. For fun, we walked around on Hollywood Blvd.taking in the sights around Grauman’s Chinese Theater. Along with the stars on the sidewalk and a few people in costumes, we ran across an area decorated in traditional Christmas colors. There were big ornaments, Christmas trees and a small Santa-style house facade with a sign that read “L. Ron Hubbard’s Winter Wonderland”. You can see the photo yourself below.

According to D.J. Grothe, there are a number of Scientology offices and churches in the Hollywood Blvd. area. The Scientology church (or as a friend referred to it, “The Blue Monstrosity” is just a few miles away on Sunset Blvd. This site has more photos and an explanation of what goes on there.

In the past several years Scientology was in the news regarding its heavy-handed approach to its members who “rebelled”.  It was also revealed by former high level members that the church teaches that we all descended from aliens. The myth of Xenu plays a large part in the belief structure, but is generally not revealed until members have reached the upper echelons of the church.

All religions have implausible stories ranging from alleged Virgin Births to  the seeding and manipulation of life on this planet by alien overlords. All religions have stories of abuse linked to them. But what all religions don’t have is a secular bent. Scientology, while to qualified for church status, would probably not be considered a religion.

While the sign doesn’t say anything about Christmas or any other December holiday, it implies that Scientology also celebrates Christmas. The structure and message on the other sign implies that they have the same giving, peace-loving attitude as Santa or religious people.

Even though this is a fringe movement, is Scientology, through these implications, furthering the concept of a secular Christmas? Does Scientology further a humanist holiday or are they only furthering their own agenda?



  1. latsot said,

    December 11, 2010 at 9:07 am

    It would be cool to do a google maps mashup plotting scientology churches against local affluence. It’s officially on my list of Cool Things To Do and no doubt I’ll get round to it in seven years or so.

  2. ZenMonkey said,

    December 11, 2010 at 9:42 am

    I just can’t reconcile the cult of Scientology — because that’s what it is — with humanism. Scientologists prey on the weak, separate them from their families, and take total control of their agency. That isn’t humanism, it’s crazyism.

    • December 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm

      I have only read anecdotal accounts of a few people on Is there other evidence besides those anecdotes to substantiate what those people are saying? If there is, I would really love to see it for myself.

    • latsot said,

      December 11, 2010 at 12:49 pm

      Is it diiferent to any of the more established religions? They all do exactly the same thing too, don’t they?

      • December 11, 2010 at 3:21 pm

        While I’m not a fan of religious dogma, there IS a religion that, as far as I know, doesn’t kidnap their members or force them to submit to excorcisms. I’ve never heard of Lutherans acting like that.

      • latsot said,

        January 3, 2011 at 11:22 am

        > there IS a religion that, as far as I know, doesn’t kidnap their
        > members or force them to submit to excorcisms. I’ve never heard
        > of Lutherans acting like that.

        Me neither, but they *do* indoctrinate children who are unable to defend themselves. I tend to think of this as child abuse, however otherwise benign the religion might appear to be.

        I was brought up in a similarly weak-tea religion: anglicism. While my family is fairly liberal in outlook, they taught me that heaven and hell are really real. They wasted no opportunity to tell me how horrible hell is and how obviously I’m destined for it. They delighted in every chance to point out my sins in lurid detail. I was just a normal kid doing what those things do.

        Even now, when I’m pushing forty, my parents sit in judgement of me on religious grounds. They alternately sneer and weep at my atheism, fully and patronisingly expecting a presto-chango deathbed conversion, which isn’t going to happen.

        They still expect me to respond to religious injunctions and they’re surprised and sometimes appalled when I don’t. They expect me as an adult to respond to the lies they drilled into me as a kid. If that isn’t child abuse, I don’t know what is.

  3. December 11, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Have you ever watched Battlefield Earth? If I didn’t know it was based on an L. Ron Hubbard book I would have said it was written by someone strongly espousing Humanism. I know everyone says it’s the worse films ever made but that’s just hype. I can think if at least 2 that are worse.
    One of the things Diabetics teaches is that Humans often make bad decisions because of subconscious fears. If people learn to recognize and control those fears, they can make better choices. It’s a shame Hubbard went nuts with the whole the Xenu thing. If it wasn’t for that (and the cult stuff and abuse stuff) Scientology has some good ideas. Oh, wait I forgot – they also have John Travolta and Tom Cruise. I take it back. Scientology sucks.

    • latsot said,

      December 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

      Scientology really doesn’t have any good ideas at all. For example it wasn’t much of an idea when those people turned up with their stupid tricorders in the aftermath of various natural disasters. What it was was a complete fucking disgrace. They could have flown in actual doctors but they flew in their egos instead.

      Same goes for the Catholic church doing the best it can to spread HIV and to punish women for being women. Ditto Islam.

  4. Sgerbic said,

    December 11, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    I just had to see how you were going to propose that they were supporting humanism. I must say I do see your point. More Santa less nativity scenes is a good thing. But $cientologists as humanists? Ha!

    When pigs fly!

  5. Josh said,

    December 12, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    While I do think the COS has a slightly more humanist tilt than say, Christianity or Islam, I also think they have a trait so bad it disqualifies them from any redemptive status. They practically burn money. There are abundant accounts of high pressure on members to give to their church. And I have first hand experience with the kind of lavish opulence they routinely install in their centers because my family has done business with them over the years. Without exaggerating, the COS has a standard of wealth (and with pockets that deep, arguably power) comparable to whet you would expect from high level catholic churches. Although to be fair I don’t have much experience with the catholic church. So keeping it in companies I have seen dealings with, probably just as rich and powerful as Blackwater, the mercenary company. In addition they have a reputation for being aggressively litigious towards anyone who spoke bad about them, and you have all the ingredients for the worst kinds of religious organizations. Undue demand on members, blatantly untrue mythology, abuse of wealth and power, isolation from the rest of society, and aggression towards challenging ideas. I think these traits can all be shown true of the COS with a ten minute browse around google, and I don’t see how a minor emphasis on a few humanist values would outweigh them.

  6. latsot said,

    December 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

    @Maria: “I’ve never heard of Lutherans acting like that.”

    I don’t know much about Lutherans but from what I understand they are roughly equivalent to Anglicans here in the UK. They are relatively benign and weak-tea compared to those of a more fundamental bent. I was brought up in this kind of environment and while nobody kidnapped me I was brought up to believe that satan would eventually kidnap me. I was placed several times a week in the care of creepy vicars who chose to use dubious theatre to scare me.

    It’s not the same thing, but I’d argue that it’s on the same spectrum.

  7. February 16, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I’m a baptist, so I’d take my 2 cents with a grain of salt, but from what I understand scientology can be a form of secular humanism. They both rely heavily on the idea of human survival as the ultimate goal. They don’t focus on spirituality and the afterlife like all other religions. Oh, and both scientology and secular humanism are religions. I’m sorry to burst your bubbles but humanism is older than the bible.

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