July 20, 2007

When Germans think they're being anti-Nazi by singling out one religion to discriminate against.

How bizarre. Tom Cruise is filming a movie called "Valkyrie" -- the story of the man who nearly assassinated Hitler -- in Germany. But some Germans are upset about it, because they don't like Cruise's religion, Scientology.
The German press has given blanket coverage to the film but some officials have baulked at the choice of Cruise to play the Nazi officer Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, who was executed by firing squad after the failed bomb attack of July 20, 1944.

They cite the actor's ties to the Church of Scientology, which is viewed here as a commercial outfit that exploits vulnerable people, as making him unfit to play a German martyr.

"Stauffenberg stood for the most noble motives a person can have," Frank Henkel, the general secretary of the Berlin chapter of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union, told rolling news channel NTV.

"I consider Tom Cruise as a self-proclaimed ambassador of Scientology inappropriate for the role."

The remarks came after sharp criticism from a number of politicians and even Stauffenberg's eldest son Berthold, 72, who has told the press that Cruise "should keep his hands off my father."
So, in your mind, the adherents of one religion are ignoble? What an absurd attitude to take exactly at the point when you're contemplating your Nazi history.

118 comments:

Fen said...

So, in your mind, the adherents of one religion are ignoble

Sorry Ann, but Scientology is not a religion, its a scam.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry, Fen, it's a religion too. Think a little more about what religion is. It is. You just disapprove of it.

Ann Althouse said...

Those other religions -- none of them are scams?

mcg said...

Of course some religions are pure scams. So what? We use our judgement to separate the two and act accordingly. Granted, in this country our tradition and Constitution make it a bit more difficult. But we still do it.

Bruce Hayden said...

I am not sure then of the difference between a cult and a religion. Maybe one of degree, but if so, then Scientology might end up on the cult side of the line.

I guess I will probably never give them the benefit of the doubt, from the way that they abused copyright laws and discovery rules a decade or so ago to try to shut down their detractors.

What they would do would be to go into a judge and get an ex parte writ of search and seizure for some guy's hard drive (and invariably, attached computer). Think the equivalent of search warrants for civil disputes. And, yes, they often showed up with armed cops to protect the peace.

Usually, the courts were not sophisticated enough back then to put decent protections on their writs. But no matter, if they had done so, the Scientologists would have violated them anyway, as they were found to have done.

They were putatively looking for their stolen sacred scriptures on the hard drive, based on copyright claims (of course, that is an interesting question in itself - who is the author if it is divinely inspired). Nevertheless, what they really wanted were the email and address books on those computers, in order to track down their critics (who often got the same treatment soon thereafter).

So, they always pulled the email and address books. Invariably, that exceeded the provisions of the writ. But often, it directly violated protective provisions incorporated for just this. And so, they got sanctioned (i.e. fined). But with Tom Cruise, John Revolting, et al., that was not an issue, it was only money, and not that much in the scheme of things.

So, that is why I don't give them the benefit of the doubt, and happily call them a cult.

rcocean said...

Yes, Scientology is a "religion" but a bad one.

The US government can't favor one religion over another. But that doesn't mean everyone else can't criticise it as a cult or agree that its a commercial exercise designed to exploit the needy and vulnerable.

I'm more upset over Cruise's being cast for the part given his lack of acting skills and his uber-americaness (sic). He's completely unqualified to play a German Count/Col circa 1944.

It's a great story, so I hope the plan is to surround him with great English/European actors and use his name to sell the movie.

TMink said...

Don't care much for Scientology. Don't know much about phrenology.

Or something like that. Still, it is a Western value to allow people the freedom to beliee what they will. That is a good thing, and it should include both the above mentioned ologies.

As far as a Religion or a cult, perhaps a serious answer has something to do with the freedom to leave the cult or religion with cults holding more control over their adherents. I think that the more people that follow a spiritual approach, the less likely it is to be called a cult. And the more I appreciate the teachings and followers of the approach, the more likely I am to call it a religion.

Very subjective!

Trey

MadisonMan said...

The case of Jeremy Perkins from Buffalo is a particularly sad one and shows what happens when people enter cults like scientology.

Simon said...

"'Stauffenberg stood for the most noble motives a person can have,' Frank Henkel, the general secretary of the Berlin chapter of ... [the CDU, told rolling news channel NTV. 'I consider Tom Cruise as a self-proclaimed ambassador of Scientology inappropriate for the role.'"

Well, Frank, when you make a movie about the Stauffenberg assassination attempt, you feel free to go ahead and not cast Tom Cruise.

(Which isn't to say that I disagree with Fen, BTW).

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Those other religions -- none of them are scams?"

If Fen had said "this email is spam" would an apt question be "all those other emails -- none of them are spam?" Sure, some of them are, but that isn't probative as to whether this email is spam.

mcg said...

From the web site of the German Embassy in D.C., here is a background paper on the German position on Scientology. It's an interesting read.

http://www.germany.info/relaunch/info/archives/background/scientology.html

mcg said...

Here's a clickable link for the above.

Ann Althouse said...

You are witnessing how persecution of religion takes hold and you are not objecting. You really should.

Fen said...

Think a little more about what religion is. It is. You just disapprove of it.

Its not that I disapprove of it. I recognize and respect all religions, from Mormonism to Islam. Scientology uses religion as a cover, takes advantage of people's spirituality to draw them into a financial pyramid scheme.

chickenlittle said...

To German, having Cruise play von Stauffenberg is like asking Goebbels to play the role.

Germans are highly suspicious of such "religion" and we forget that the nazi movement was also grounded in spiritual philosophy, for example, the so-called "Thing Movement" promulgated by Goebbels during the '30s.

mcg said...

No, Ann, we are witnessing how a scam can use religion as a cover, and how difficult it makes any fight against the underlying scam.

Fen said...

Germans are highly suspicious of such "religion" and we forget that the nazi movement was also grounded in spiritual philosophy

True. All religions begin as cults [Mormanism being the most recent to make the jump], but not all cults evolve in religions.

Ann: Think a little more about what religion is.

I am, and I'm thinking that if you classify Scientology as a religion, your definition would also have to include Nazism.

Brutus said...

Ann, you're taking a very abstract, holier-than thou position on this. Fen doesn't need to "think a little more about what religion is." And to say that we are witnessing how persecution takes hold is really a stretch. The criticisms here of, and the German authorities' concerns about, Scientology are based on mothing more than the demonstrated conduct and activities of the Church of Scientology itself. The Scientologists have a long record of doing things, things that most people would agree are bad, that other religious groups simply do not do. Read that statement on the German embassy's website. And then name another religious group that engages in such conduct.

mcg said...

I'm thinking that if you classify Scientology as a religion, your definition would also have to include Nazism.

Or the practices of Islamic terrorists.

Maxine Weiss said...

That Native Americans who own casinos----their religion includes gambling?

And the Government sponsors Native American religions, by giving them free land, and putting Totem Poles on every public highway.

Althouse still hasn't answered my Totem Pole question.

Maxine Weiss said...

A Totem Pole is a religious symbol like the cross. Indian Casinos = Churches ???

Roger said...

What is and is not a religion is too abstract for me. So I have an historical question with respect to von Stauffenberg: Is there any evidence that the count was anti nazi? My understanding is that he felt Hitler was destroying the German army and thereby threatening the Nazi state. If thats so, he tried doing the right thing but possibly for the wrong reasons. Anyone more knowledgable please correct me.

Justin said...

Simon said...

If Fen had said "this email is spam" would an apt question be "all those other emails -- none of them are spam?" Sure, some of them are, but that isn't probative as to whether this email is spam.

Actually, a better analogy would be: Alhouse said "This email is offensive" and Fen replied, "No it's not. It's spam." Althouse's point in saying "Those other spam emails aren't offensive?" is that the email can be both offensive and spam. Likewise, Scientology can be both a cult and a religion. Whereas Fen implied that it cannot be both.

AllenS said...

Ann, why don't you tell us what religion is, or means. Do you know any Scientologists? Do you know anything at all about Scientology? Have you ever been invited to take a Scientology sauna to cleanse yourself of radiation?

The man's son doesn't want Cruise to play his father. One would think that Cruise would take that into consideration, but he doens't have any moral foundation, only the thought of making money.

Bissage said...

I'm curious enough to ask, though not curious enough to look it up: Was it acceptable for a Jewish actor to portray a "German hero" in Nazi Germany?

Gahrie said...

Regardless of whether Scientology is a cult or a religion, surely it is illiberal to ban it?

Germany is rather less free than the United States, and the ability to effectively ban religious belief (Scientology) and political belief (Nazism) are just two ways.

Ann Althouse said...

I was about to answer AllenS, but Bissage said about what I wanted to say. What if the son objected to a Jew playing the role? We'd all get the irony of that.

Justin's response to Fen was apt.

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon said...

Fen said...
"[Ann said: Think a little more about what religion is.] I am, and I'm thinking that if you classify Scientology as a religion, your definition would also have to include Nazism."

That's a pretty inflammatory accusation to hurl in the bare form presented. You ought to either expand on that - I mean, try to explain the point (if there is one and it wasn't just meant to be abusive) - or retract it.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Seems to me that someone who truly "stood for the most noble motives a person can have" would have turned against Hitler for starting the war, not for losing it.

Jeremy said...

I'm having trouble posting. Let me try this again.

Yes, Scientology calls itself a religion, but it behaves more like an organized crime syndicate. I don't think "what if he'd objected to a Jew playing the role" stands up. Wikipedia has an unusually balanced set of articles on it that make it a better starting point than, say Xenu.net or some of the other anti-Scientology sites. Keith Henson is currently undergoing a court battle that may help illustrate some of the organization's tactics, assuming you go beyond what's on the site (which is set up for his benefit) and look around on your own.

Saying Tom Cruise shouldn't be cast because of his identity as a spokesperson for Scientology isn't reasonable (although I think his identification with Scientology has hurt his image somewhat), but I think calling this religious persecution is a stretch.

Positroll said...

You are witnessing how persecution of religion takes hold and you are not objecting. You really should.
No, we shouldn't. Why?
1. Scientology is not a religion. This has been held inter alia by the German Supreme Court in Labor Law (dec. of 22.march 1995) - and rightfully so.
2. Even if it were: Freedom of religion is not paramount in German consitutional law. Human dignity is (Art. 1 Basic Law). A religion / "religion" having Adolf Hitler as their messias could be banned - and rightfully so.
3. Scientology is a totalitarian belief system incompatible with the "freie demokratische Grundordnung" (free democratic order) which the German constitution is bound to protect. Considering the results the free market place of ideas led to in 1933, the founding fathers of the German basic law (including notably the U.S. military governor) thought it wise to allow for some limits to freedom in order to protect it. Good decision, IMHO. History weighs heavy here.
4. Still, Scientology is not banned. Neither is Tom Cruise forbidden to take part in a movie in Germany.
5. The Ministry of Defense only decided that he will not be allowed to do so within the probably most "sacred" area the German military has.
6. Imagine Hollywood asking permission to make a movie on the American civil war with an outspoken KKK member as lead actor. Do you think the director would get permission to shoot part of the film at Arlington cemetery ???

AllenS said...

"I was about to answer AllenS, but Bissage said about what I wanted to say."

You can still tell me what religion is, or means.

Bissage said: "Was it acceptable for a Jewish actor to portray a "German hero" in Nazi Germany?"

That doesn't tell me a thing about what religion is, or means.

Pogo said...

Scientology is a sect, one originally set up as an IRS dodge, and expanded into a Ponzi scheme operating under the cover of religion.

Despite their great efforts, and bullying of critics, it has never really gained popular legitimacy, and is going through another phase best described as "those nutballs"?, wherein their credibility is reaching its cyclical nadir.

It is at present like the Urantia Brotherhood, or other heretical early religions. Its current economic basis is nothing more than a scam, and its secretive and litigious nature endear it to no one. They operate like a cult at present, so they are treated like one.

But it is rather funny for the Germans to be so sensitive here. They'd just love not to wear the Hitler albatross any longer, but that freedom isn't here yet. Gee thanks, Adolf.

Positroll said...

Tom Cruise is filming a movie called "Valkyrie" -- the story of the man who nearly assassinated Hitler -- in Germany. But some Germans are upset about it.
Just to clarify: Nobody (well, at least no politician or otherwise important person) is talking about forbidding Tom Cruise to play Stuaffenberg. Sure, many people are not happy about it and say it. But in fact, the movie will even receive public subisides from a German government agency promoting Germany as a location for movie shoots. The whole discussion only came up because of the the German defense ministry denied permission to shoot the movie at the Bendler-Block, the original location where Stauffenberg and his fellow resistance fighters where killed after the coup failed. This place is part of the ministry buildings and a public memorial. And yes, I think they made the right decision.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that Positroll brings up an interesting point, that no matter how much the German system looks like ours, there are fundamental differences in it that might result in a different result than if it happened here in the U.S. We are applying our 1st Amdt. metrics to a government that has set other priorities.

And the reason for these different priorities are because of the two histories of the two peoples. Many of our founders were the descendants of religious nonconformists who had come here to flee religious persecution, and hence we put religious freedom in our First Amendment. But the Germans were reacting to something very different - including the misuse of quasi-religion as a partial basis for Naziism.

Cedarford said...

Bruce Hayden - I am not sure then of the difference between a cult and a religion. Maybe one of degree, but if so, then Scientology might end up on the cult side of the line.

I think the difference is that a cult is a newer religion, some call them heresies, that deviate significantly or just on a few key doctrinal points, unacceptablely so - from the established religion holding sway.
The Romans called Christianity a cult. Islam was once a small cult that rapidly spread by the sword into the "respect us or you will die", mainstream, Religion of Peace.
Shinto was a cult to the established Zen Buddhists who themselves were considered a cult by mainland Asia Buddhists.

Mormons? Another cult. Fortunately for all of us, most cults die out or kill themselves off, with or without kool aid. Think of them like restaurants. Most have a short lifespan, only a few survive long term.

The German problem is one where they selectively target some extreme organizations whose leadership has engaged in shady activities, but not others. Then they compound that problem in their typical German fashion by extending disapproval of the religion or extreme organization down to the individual of the group they have targeted.

They haven't learned much, it seems. It was one thing back in the 1920s and 30s to rail against the Jewish Bolsheviks responsible for the slaughter of millions, or against certain criminal bands of gypsies....but rather than target specific offenders or leaders - the Germans took it out collectively and indivdually on Moishe the local hardware store owner, his wife Rachel, his kids. And the honest gypsy clan that showed up every fall selling Romanian saffron, honey.

Germany is so PC they would theoretically feel they were compelled to be silent about a Jew, a Muslim, a Wiccan from an approved non-extremist Pagan sect, or a black Canadian actor playing von Stauffenberg.......but not to an individual their present leaders label as "officially coming" from a "bad religion".

Germans. Forever creating their own ethnic humor and not getting the joke.

Simon said...

Bruce - I don't think Ann's saying that. I think she's asserting religious tolerance as a good thing, platonically, regardless of country, not that these events raise 1st amendment issues.

Balfegor said...

Count Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, who was executed by firing squad after the failed bomb attack of July 20, 1944.

Huh. I'd thought he and the other conspirators got meathooks and piano-wire, not the firing-squad. Am I remembering some other conspiracy against Hitler?

mcg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cedarford said...

allens - Do you know any Scientologists? Do you know anything at all about Scientology? Have you ever been invited to take a Scientology sauna to cleanse yourself of radiation?

The man's son doesn't want Cruise to play his father. One would think that Cruise would take that into consideration, but he doens't have any moral foundation, only the thought of making money.


A great sickness in America is the recent notion that Victimhood or family relation somehow empowers them to dictate policy to all society.
No. They have an equal voice. Tom Selleck played Eisenhower and was cast without John Eisenhower or Julie Nixon Eisenhowers permission. They approved of the great job Tom S did, but that is irrelevant. Idi Amin's family was not asked for their "dispensation" for Forrest Whitaker to play him, and the Sacred Victim Families of 9/11 had no control of casting or script in "Flight 93".

As it should be.

Positroll - . Imagine Hollywood asking permission to make a movie on the American civil war with an outspoken KKK member as lead actor. Do you think the director would get permission to shoot part of the film at Arlington cemetery ???

Well, we all know that the Hollywood players and moguls would never let a KKK member have an acting career. Just being a mainstream conservative is thought to cost actors roles there...

But hypothetically, if they cast a present KKK member to play a war hero at Arlington, even one of the many KKK members that won Medal of Honor or similar high awards in the Spanish war, Philippines insrrection, WWI, WWII, Korea - the Fed Gov't would have no basis to object. Anymore than they did to Danny Glover - notorious anti-American, Che Guevara fan, friend of Castro and Hugo Chavez - shooting scenes at Arlington a few years back.

Roger said...

Balfegor: the count and two others were shot that nite; 8 others were executed by slow strangulation involving hooks and wire.

mcg said...

extending disapproval of the religion or extreme organization down to the individual of the group they have targeted.

I don't think you can characterize this particular case that way, even if it is true of others. This is not just a random individual Scientologist we're talking about here. Tom Cruise is possibly the most well-known Scientologist on the planet. He is an outspoken advocate for Scientology and its beliefs, particularly its anti-psychiatry tenets. He has actively lobbied for changes in the German position on Scientology, including a meeting with the U.S. ambassador to that country.

So again, this is not a matter of them "drilling down" as it were to the average Joe Dianetic. This is truly an ad hoc (or not) leader of the movement.

mcg said...

A great sickness in America is the recent notion that Victimhood or family relation somehow empowers them to dictate policy to all society.

I'm with you on this score! But I'm not familiar enough with this story to know just how far the family member's objection was taken. I mean, it's entirely reasonable for him to express it, and even for that expression to be published. But if he had the expectation that his view had some sort of moral force I agree that's going too far.

Positroll said...

CF: Then they compound that problem in their typical German fashion by extending disapproval of the religion or extreme organization down to the individual of the group they have targeted.

Germans. Forever creating their own ethnic humor and not getting the joke.


Wow. Talk about stereotyping ...
Of course, Tom Cruise is just the average Joe happpening to be a member of the "religion" of scientology. Not their most important propaganda asset. Not on a crusade to teach those damned Europeans about real religious freedom and not leaning on the US ambassadors to put pressure on Germany and France. Sure ...

Balfegor: Hung. No firing squad.

hdhouse said...

lets amend the constitution to read "freedom for my religion" rather than "of"....will that make everyone happy?

just two thoughts on this....one was that the Nazi didn't just persecute jews..they were pretty inclusive, equal opportunity types..so to center on one religion misses the point.

two is perhaps we dislike Cruise and project that to scientology..or that scientology appears moronic (probably is) and wierd compared to older, more establish (dogmatic) religions...

I frankly don't care. I doubt that the average german cares except in the associate with the Nazi religious persecutions.

Positroll said...

Balfegor: the count and two others were shot that nite; 8 others were executed by slow strangulation involving hooks and wire.

Hmm, after checking some books I get different versions. However, I think Roger is right ... I stand corrected ...

Ron said...

Stauffenberg stood for the most noble motives a person can have

Exactly how impure does one have to be to be able to sit close enough to Hitler in a meeting to plant a bomb next to him? Let's not starting handing out the "most noble" awards just yet...

Mike said...

Scientology is a religion, no matter what its critics think. Is it a cult? It depends on what definition you apply. The definitions I have read for "cult" are highly subjective and can be applied to any religous organization on the planet.

I doubt anyone on this forum has even looked up the word "cult" in a dictionary.

And, based upon some of the more critical comments toward Scientology, it is abundantly clear that these people do not have even a rudimentary fundamental understanding of what Scientology is.

Mike said...

Ann;
Thank you for taking a stand for religous freedom.

Simon said...

Mike, are you yourself a scientologist?

Mike said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

'Have you ever been invited to take a Scientology sauna to cleanse yourself of radiation?"

What in the world does this mean?

By the way, I'm the old Mike, not the one who just posted above.

Mike said...

Yes, Simon I am a Scientologist.

Mike said...

Hey Mike, if you're going to post here regularily, change your name. Mike is taken already. And this Mike does NOT want to be associated with Scientology.

And while you're here, what does a "sauna to cleanse yourself of radiation" mean?

Mike - The Original

AllenS said...

Mike,

I was asked to take this sauna by a girl I was dating. It's been a while, but if I remember correctly you take these nicotine pills, or something like that, and then take this very hot sauna to sweat out the radiation in your body. I can't remember the cost, but it was expensive. The relationship started to go downhill after that. If you want to know more, try Google.

Revenant said...

The German government's position, based on the criminal activities of Scientologist leaders in Germany, is that Scientology is a criminal enterprise -- not a religion.

It certainly acts more like a business than a religion, and there's no denying the criminal activities it engaged in in Germany, so I think I'm with the German government on this one.

Mike said...

Thanks, Allen S.

The body doesn't have "radiation" in it. That's nonsense. Some of the atoms in your body are radioactive, but a sauna isn't going to dislodge them.

Mike - The Original

AllenS said...

Mike, here's more:

Niacin is nicotinic acid - a vitamin of the B group, which is prepared SYNTHETICALLY in a process that includes the oxidation of nicotine. The toxic effect is the DILATION OF THE VEINS, and this leads to hot flushes - high dosages also lead to abdominal cramps, tiredness and skin blemishes.

Hubbard had this to say about niacin:

"Niacin's biochemical reaction is my own, private, personal discovery. In the middle of the 1950's I was doing work on radiation, and I worked out that it must be niacin that operated on radiation...Niacin runs out radiation. The outpoint in medical thinking has been that they thought Niacin itself turned on a flush. Niacin all by its lonesome does not turn on any flush. What it starts to do is immediately run out sunburn or radiation. "


A real religious experience.

blake said...

The German government's position, based on the criminal activities of Scientologist leaders in Germany, is that Scientology is a criminal enterprise -- not a religion.

Wasn't that more or less their same view of Jews? A money-grubbing criminal enterprise? Is this not, in fact, Ann's point?

Mike said...

I know about niacin, I take it for lipid control. Now they have a time released version. The old stuff was capable of inducing a religious experience all right; you thought you were going to die!

This "radiation" stuff he talks about is utter hogwash.

Thanks Allen S.

Mike - The Original

Simon said...

Mike (the new Mike): well, that's fine - but it's good form to declare your stake in the matter.

It's kind of like when you get people doing drive-by postings saying how awful such and such a judge is, and what they don't tell you is that the judge just ruled against a string of nuisance lawsuits by that person. Or when you read a post on a blog that discusses a case before the Supreme Court, and you come away thinking "wow, the lower court really got it wrong," but the author doesn't tell you that they're lead attorney for the appellant. Say your peace, but declare interests first. :)

Ann Althouse said...

Let's assume it's true as some of you are saying that Scientology is a big, fraudulent scheme designed to swindle people. It still doesn't justify discriminating against an individual adherent. Cruise may be foolish -- many religious believers are not thinking critically about why they believe -- but he does not deserve to be treated badly because of his religion. He's just another person who joined a religion that isn't true -- like X million/billion other human beings.

chickenlittle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mike said...

I have no "stake" in anything here. I was not aware that stating whether or not one was a Scientologist was a prerequisite to posting.

Should I sew a Gold Star on my lapel as well?

PS: To "Mike" the Original, when I chose my "name" there were no other "Mikes" who had ever commented.

Mike the 2nd

Original Mike said...

Ann said: "Let's assume it's true as some of you are saying that Scientology is a big, fraudulent scheme designed to swindle people. It still doesn't justify discriminating against an individual adherent."

I agree. My response to Frank Henkel: "I consider Tom Cruise as a self-proclaimed ambassador of Scientology inappropriate for the role."

would be, "Ask me if I care"


I changed my name, by the way. This has happened too many times.

Original Mike
Formerly known as Mike

Sloanasaurus said...

I don't see the problem with Cruise and the whole scientology thing. Scientology is dumb, but then so is global warming, which is another pyramid scheme that the Germans are trying to urge the rest of the world to adopt. Cruise isn't smart enough to organize global concerts for scientology.

Maybe the Germans are upset that after 60 years they haven't been able to put together a decent movie about the assassination attempt on Hitler.

Pogo said...

Re: "It still doesn't justify discriminating against an individual adherent."

Not by the US government. The film company may aquiesce to customer demands, however. That's what the Dixie Chicks discovered: when entertainment gets involved with politics, politics gets involved with entertainers. But usually no longer on their terms.

Simon said...

Mike, of course you have a stake or interest in the reputation of (and in defending) a religion that you're an adherent of! You're not a neutral third party, and your motivations inform how your comments should be read. If you want an objective assessment of Kentucky Fried Chicken, you don't ask Colonel Sanders.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"Let's assume it's true ... that Scientology is a big, fraudulent scheme designed to swindle people. It still doesn't justify discriminating against an individual adherent."

Does that principle apply only to individual adherents of religious views, or does it hold good for individual adherents of non-religious belief systems? What's the difference, as you see it? Is it ever acceptable for someone to be penalized in some manner -- not by the state, but by private actors - for holding certain views, religious or otherwise?

(Not intended to be sarcastic, even if it sounds it. Written in good faith.)

Original Mike said...

Now I know what it's like to be a victim of identity theft.

Formerly known as Mike

paul a'barge said...

Those Germans know fascists when they see them.

That's why they're coming down hard on Scientology.

You might think this is all nuance and everything, but to their victims it's hardly nuance.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Maybe the Germans are upset that after 60 years they haven't been able to put together a decent movie about the assassination attempt on Hitler.

Probably because its a real downer. Considering it failed and some 2000 people were summarily executed including some who were unaware of the plot yet were associated with the plotters. Hitler had some of the executions filmed so he could watch them again. That's really holding a grudge.

Balfegor said...

Those Germans know fascists when they see them.

That's why they're coming down hard on Scientology.

You might think this is all nuance and everything, but to their victims it's hardly nuance.


I'm not sure I'd call it nuance . . . Scientologists are a little creepy, have those snazzy faux-military uniforms, and allegedly engage in various kinds of abuse of initiates behind closed doors, but I don't think that rises, to the level of, say, stringing up apostates from meathooks with piano wire, videotaping their slow deaths, and sharing the video with the rest of the top leadership as a warning. At least as far as I've heard.

Original Mike said...

That's really holding a grudge.

Well, they did try and kill him. Try to see it from his point of view (just kidding).

aka Mike

Sloanasaurus said...

Hitler had some of the executions filmed so he could watch them again. That's really holding a grudge.

According to Obama, as long as Hitler would have stuck to just having gas chambers, everything would have been hunkie dorie.

To bad for old Saddam, he only needed to stick it out a few more years to wait for President Obama. Then he could have gassed the Kurds with complete impunity.

Zeb Quinn said...

Does a religion become a religion by simply declaring itself one?

Original Mike said...

"Does a religion become a religion by simply declaring itself one?"

Apparently.

Maybe we should insist that any wannabe religions have to be around for 200 years first. You know, they need to pay their dues.

aka mike

Revenant said...

Wasn't that more or less their same view of Jews? A money-grubbing criminal enterprise? Is this not, in fact, Ann's point?

If you can't see the difference between condemning a group for the crimes it has committed and condemning a group for the crimes paranoid racists falsely claim it has committed, there's no point in talking to you.

Mike the 2nd said...

We are not looking for objective viewpoints. It is the subjective viewpoints that are dangerous. I have seen my philosophy dragged through the mud on this blog. It has been called a "cult (the negative connotation)", "facist", a "scam" and other negative terms.

It does not deserve such treatment. It is an organization that defends itself vigorously and legally. I am sure that in the process of expanding to the worldwide proportions it currently is at, some mistakes were made. Some toes were stepped on. Scientology is not perfect it is just workable.
Those of you being critical are ignorant of the very basic fundamental precepts of the Scientology philosophy. None of you are religious scholars. None of you are pschyatrists (because I am sure you would have announced your presence). Yet all of you are all experts on Scientology and are willing to pronounce it "evil". Based on what? Biased web-sites? A story someone told you? A bad experience in a Scientology org?

You all are ready to condemn a very capable philosophy just because you cannot comprehend its relevence!

Revenant said...

It is an organization that defends itself vigorously and legally.

And unethically, and illegally -- which is how it got in trouble in Germany in the first place.

Those of you being critical are ignorant of the very basic fundamental precepts of the Scientology philosophy.

Maybe Scientology should stop suing people who publish and publicize its religious documents. That might help with the "ignorance" problem.

Mike the 2nd said...

Reverent:

What you have said regarding Germany is simply not true. They did not do anything illegal. They are on the wrong side of the big bucks pharmacuetical companies -- that is their only crime. If what you said was true then the German government would truly have a case against them and would therefore be able to legally outlaw them all together. The fact is that only the Christian Democratic party is against Scientology.

And to publish something that you have no right or authority to publish is "copyright infringement" and no one has the right to do that. They are merely protecting themselves.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Try to see it from his point of view (just kidding).

Heh...well considering that I am a self described conservative, some folks (and you know who you are) would say that I already do.

mcg said...

Is it a philosophy or is it a religion?

Hoosier Daddy said...

It has been called a "cult (the negative connotation)", "facist", a "scam" and other negative terms.

I'm not defending Scientology one way or another but when they start declaring holy wars and demanding the heads of apostates, then I'll worry about them. Otherwise, I don't give them much more thought than I do to Wiccans. To each their own.

mcg said...

]it is an organization that defends itself vigorously and legally.

Hey, what are a few FBI raids and prison terms between friends, eh?

Revenant said...

Mike, I don't want to get into a big internet discussion about Scientology's wrongdoings, because I know what happens to people who anger the leaders of your organization. You've either been suckered by criminals or are actively helping them, and in neither case are you worthy of my time.

The facts are out there, despite Scientology's attempts to sue, harass, threaten, and prosecute people who bring them to light. Anyone interested is just a Google search away from knowing everything that's wrong with Scientology -- including the illegal activities they engaged in in Germany that got them in trouble there in the first place.

Revenant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Revenant said...

when they start declaring holy wars and demanding the heads of apostates

Click on the link in my above post, Hoosier. And look up the "Fair Game" policy, too.

downtownlad said...

All religions should be treated like this. It is not fair to single out Scientology.

blake said...

If you can't see the difference between condemning a group for the crimes it has committed and condemning a group for the crimes paranoid racists falsely claim it has committed, there's no point in talking to you.

Revenant,

How do you distinguish between the two? I mean, from where I'm sitting, you sound like a paranoid--not racist--but certainly prejudiced against a religion and its members, who are according to you, either suckers or criminals themselves.

I've heard the same viewpoint expressed of Catholics (by otherwise normal seeming people). But even the Catholic church gets in serious trouble when it does something wrong.

If expressing incredulity that Scientology, somehow, gets away with far worse and that looking to the German government for moral guidance on which religions are truly worthy makes me not worth speaking to, I can live with that.

Mike the 2nd said...

Reverent:
Why don't you mention that these "Scientologists" were operating out of the mainstream and once there actions were uncovered were asked to leave. Not one individual is now a church member.

I am not going to quote doctrine but the Fair Game Policy is not Church policy. What is church policy is to act ethically and only then will the Church expand -- and that 's what it has done exceedingly well for over 50 years. The '70's were rough for the church, but it survived intact. If the church does not act ethically then it will not expand. On the other hand, if we are unfairly attacked, then it is morally right to defend ourselves. Believe me, the people critical of Scientology have vested interests or are completely ignorant of its basic tenents.

Revenant said...

How do you distinguish between the two?

Well, one good way to distinguish between the two is that the leaders of Scientology were criminally prosecuted for the behavior in question and eventually admitted to it in court. I guess you could pull some lame-assed argument about how there were show trials for Jews too, but I'm not even going to dignify that with a response.

I mean, from where I'm sitting, you sound like a paranoid--not racist--but certainly prejudiced against a religion and its members, who are according to you, either suckers or criminals themselves.

The fact that you're an ignorant moron is not my problem, blake.

Revenant said...

Why don't you mention that these "Scientologists" were operating out of the mainstream

L. Ron Hubbard was outside of the mainstream of Scientology? That's a first.

amba said...

Stauffenberg wasn't a "Nazi." Even during WWII, German fighting for Germany does not necessarily = Nazi. Ignorant equation.

The SS were Nazis. The Wehrmacht (the name literally means "defense might" or "protection power") was the German army. Predated Naziism. Full of aristocratic career officers, some of them quite noble people in more than one sense, and innocent young draftees. That's not to say they were all angels, but many of them were fighting for their country despite deep distaste for Hitler, and some of them decided to do something about it.

The Wehrmacht was not the SS. Read about it.

Fen said...

Fen: I'm thinking that if you classify Scientology as a religion, your definition would also have to include Nazism.

Simon: That's a pretty inflammatory accusation to hurl in the bare form presented.

Its not meant to be. I'm only pointing out that Ann is defining religion very loosely, enough to include Nazism.

You ought to either expand on that - I mean, try to explain the point (if there is one and it wasn't just meant to be abusive) - or retract it.

/snippets

"...the alienating character of science and technology misused as means for [Nazi] ruling became central concepts of pseudo-religious secret cults"

"...The degree to which conspiracy fantasies were pure projections of their own secret intentions is demonstrated by the way they were first nurtured in occult-science groups of a secret society kind. These groups and their obscurantism were of considerable significance in the early development of the Nazi Party, its ideology, and its later cadre organization in "orders.13"

"...Heinrich Himmler and Wirth founded the "Study Group for Spiritual History" "Deutsches Ahnenerbe" (German Heritage)-which propagated such pseudosciences and which was, for example, responsible for the deep-freeze experiments (with subsequent coition, "an ancient folk-remedy"!) in the concentration camps, as well as for the collection of skeletons in Strasbourg plentifully supplied from murdered "inferior race" specimens.19"

"...The race of full-blooded and whole Aryan Man was not the result of natural selection alone. Instead, as the esoteric writings indicate, he was the result of a careful and conscious breeding process by higher and different kinds of being, such as the Theozoa, Elektrozoa, Angels, et sim., which once lived on this Earth.32"


http://www.greylodge.org/occultreview/glor_005/nazimyth.htm

Fen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fen said...

Mike 2: On the other hand, if we are unfairly attacked, then it is morally right to defend ourselves.

Moral? Scientology advocates deception and violence to "defend" itself from free speech:

"One of Hubbard's policies was that all perceived enemies are fair game and subject to being tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed. Those who criticize the church -- journalists, doctors, lawyers and even judges -- often find themselves engulfed in litigation, stalked by private eyes, framed for fictional crimes, beaten up or threatened with death. Psychologist Margaret Singer, 69, an outspoken Scientology critic and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, now travels regularly under an assumed name to avoid harassment."

http://aolsvc.timeforkids.kol.aol.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,972865-9,00.html

Mike 2: Believe me, the people critical of Scientology have vested interests or are completely ignorant of its basic tenents.

Sorry, but I choose to believe the people who have fled Scientology:

All we wanted to do was to reconstruct our lives, without the fear that we would be locked in a room and interrogated for days and even beaten to force compliance or - if one will not comply - be dragged off to a gulag and be kept under guard while working at hard labor until we were "rehabilitated."

Regardless, good luck to you.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LoafingOaf said...

Those other religions -- none of them are scams?

They all are, far as I can tell.

I guess people are singling out Scietology because it's allegedly designed to be a scam.

That would put Scientology in a slightly different category (though it's still a religion) and might justify some special concern about it (I don't know enough about it).

But I agree with this 100%:

Let's assume it's true as some of you are saying that Scientology is a big, fraudulent scheme designed to swindle people. It still doesn't justify discriminating against an individual adherent.

And I raise an eyebrow that most people here dont't appear to agree with that. Some of you subscribe to religions I hate and believe are scams, but I would never want to discriminate against you for it.

I guess you guys are viewing Cruise as a pop culture missionary for his church. Sometimes he is, though I don't think that's a crime. And here he's just playing a character in a movie not about Scientology, which I don't believe warrants any protest at all.

-------

One of Hubbard's policies was that all perceived enemies are fair game and subject to being tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed

I'm pretty sure I've read some sh*t from Prophet Muhammad saying some of the same things.

Sorry, but I choose to believe the people who have fled Scientology:

"All we wanted to do was to reconstruct our lives, without the fear that we would be locked in a room and interrogated for days and even beaten to force compliance or - if one will not comply - be dragged off to a gulag and be kept under guard while working at hard labor until we were 'rehabilitated.'"


I know I've read some ex-Muslims saying stuff just as chilling.

Since others are attacking their least favorite religion, I thought I'd attack mine. :)

Original Mike said...

I'd like to ask about Scientology. Though I'm an atheist, I've always thought that the conventional religions had the redeeming quality that they have a message of morality, compassion, and treating your fellow man with respect (however much adherents to religion often seem to ignore said message). Does Scientology have such a component?

Theo Boehm said...

If you don't mind, I'm reposting a comment I wrote last night, but which I've tightened up and edited a bit:

*   *   *   *   *   *  

A brief aside regarding Nazis.

...German fighting for Germany does not necessarily = Nazi. Ignorant equation.

...some of them quite noble people in more than one sense....but many of them were fighting for their country despite deep distaste for Hitler....


Amba is exactly right about this.  And I didn't have to read about it.  I learned about it from someone who was there.  My old boss's father was a Baltic Baron, a Junker, who was too young for WWI.  After the war, young Baron von ***** pursued a broad education, including a stint at the Sorbonne.  He got a doctorate in History from one of the German universities with a mind to entering the German Foreign Service.  He wanted to take up one of the traditional functions of the aristocracy, transformed as it might be in the 20th century.  This meant service to a new Republic rather than to the Kaiser, but it was better than no service at all.

Unfortunately, our little Austrian Corporal came along, and like many aristocrats, Baron von***** decided he didn't want to get tangled up with this low-rent crew.  He retired to the life of a modest gentleman farmer.  As mentioned, the Baron was a Junker, the traditional military class of the nobility who were also traditionally never very prosperous. So he made do in the time-honored way of relatively impoverished aristocrats.

Thus the 1930's passed like a pleasant, if somewhat pinched idyll, with his growing family, the estate, and his business interests occupying Papa von*****.   When the War broke in its fury, he did what always had been expected of members of his class.  He clicked his heels and marched off to do his duty as an officer, in his case of the artillery.  He vanished on the Russian front in 1941, never to be seen again.  His family, who had American connections, managed to escape ahead of the Russians to the American lines, and came to this country shortly after the war, having lost everything.

If all this sounds a bit like the von Trapp family in The Sound of Music, it is because there was more than a little truth in that portrayal.  The relationship of the aristocracy in German and Austrian society to the Nazis was tortured at best.  The military and aristocratic elements had been badly shattered by WWI.  The remaining nobility did not suddenly became infused with Jeffersonian democratic ideals as a result.  They wanted to return Germany to a traditional, ordered society, with its power rebuilt, and themselves at the top.

The Nazis were populist revolutionaries, whose goal under Hitler was a mystical Greater Germany with a "modern" socialist economy to give it the power to overcome Germany's enemies.  The Nazi inner circle, under "the Leader," were the new rulers.  This was a usurpation of the traditional aristocracy's raison d'ĂȘtre.   Considering that Nazi ideology was populist, and that they stood to substitute their crackpot, racist neo-paganism for Christianity in Europe, it is hardly surprising that many considered Nazism to be fundamentally against everything the old aristocratic order stood for.

Thus, it is a mistake to easily place Nazis on the "right" in a political continuum.  If the ancient, feudal aristocracy is placed on the "right," a traditional grouping dating from the French Revolution, then where are their enemies, the violent, revolutionary, "socialist," pagan Nazis?  The "right-left" mode of political categorization, largely inherited from 19th century European revolutionary rhetoric, is simply inadequate to describe the 20th century's totalitarian catastrophes.

We toss around "Nazi" and "Hitler" in modern political invective.  But it wouldn't be the worst thing to give the whole matter some more thought, and perhaps learn a little more history before we do.

Daryl said...

You are witnessing how persecution of religion takes hold

Scientologists are persecuting us.

Their entire cult should be dismantled, piece by piece, by trial lawyers here in America. They've killed enough people that a few multimillion dollar verdicts should tear it apart (much like the Catholic Church was rocked by the priest molestation scandals--and just like with the Catholic Church, Scientology's scandals go all the way to the top)

The only reason it hasn't been is that lawyers are scared to go after it, because they know Scientologists will come for them personally, much like the mafia goes after people and their families.

Anything the Germans can do to persecute those creeps is fine by me.

As long as Scientologists use lawsuits to harass critics, use surveillance to harass critics, lodge false charges against critics, infiltrate government agencies (e.g., the IRS) to gather information to blackmail people and harass critics, and in general spread their evil tentacles into our way of life, they should be persecuted wherever they are found.

Scientologists want to act like figures from a Streicher cartoon, and then cry that people are treating them like Jews circa 1937. Their rank and file membership are deluded idiots and their leadership are evil swine.

They turn people against their own families. They trick people into joining by telling them that Scientology is compatible with Christianity, when it's obviously not ("Jesus Christ is an implant"). They lie about Xenu being a part of their religion. They use extreme psychological pressure--and sometimes worse, for instance, holding people against their will--in order to get money from people. They target apostates and critics for harassment. When people finally do leave the Church, they're often bankrupt and psychologically broken.

How dare you equate them with patriotic German Jews. Jews were victims of the Holocaust because all of the propaganda about them trying to run the world was false. The propaganda about Jewish misdeeds and poor character was false. The worst things people say about Scientology are all true. That's the difference.

Daryl said...

original mike: I'd like to ask about Scientology. Though I'm an atheist, I've always thought that the conventional religions had the redeeming quality that they have a message of morality, compassion, and treating your fellow man with respect (however much adherents to religion often seem to ignore said message). Does Scientology have such a component?

No. Scientologists believe that people are full of space alien ghosts called "Thetans" that corrupt them, can cause illness, and are otherwise bad news.

Only by the precepts and rituals of Scientology (paying big $$$$ for "auditing" time with a $4 E-Meter) can people remove these ghosts.

Therefore, people who are not Scientologists are either sheep or they are enemies of Scientology. They are corrupt because of their Thetans and are a bad influence that Scientologists should withdraw from (except to proselytize).

They don't have any message of compassion. Scientologists are supposed to give so much money to the Church that they don't have any left over for charity.

All of the charity organized by the Church of Scientology is fake. For instance, they run a drug treatment program called "Narconon," based on fake science about vitamins. The idea is to recruit weak people (recovering drug addicts) into their cult. They're a thoroughly nasty organization.

They don't have any conception of morality. They believe they are in an all-out, intergalactic war with Xenu, and that anyone who stands against them is an enemy and is "fair game." Fair game means no means of attacking that person are off limits (spreading lies about them to defame them, giving false information to the government so they will be arrested, breaking into the IRS to steal information about them, etc.)

David said...

All the stuff about the specifics of Scientology seems irrelevant. The question here is whether a government should condition its support for a film-making project on the personal beliefs of a cast member.

The presentation of the character of Stauffenberg and the other Resistance members will be defined primarily by the screenwriter. If German military authorities care about the accuracy of the presentation, their first concern should be with the screenplay.

It seems to me that in many minds, the July 20 plot is viewed primarily in terms of Stauffenberg. There were actually many other members, some of whom became opponents of Naziism much earlier than Stauffenberg did. Hans Oster, in particular, deserves enormous credit.

I hope the film will give due credit to some of these other individuals.

Original Mike said...

LMAO, Daryl. I assumed you were pulling my leg, but perusing Wikipedia, looks like you aren't.

I'm ready to declare, Ann.

Not A Religion.

How do I define a religion? I don't, but I know one when I see one, and this ain't it.

Ann Althouse said...

Original Mike: Your test of whether something is a religion is whether the beliefs are laughable? Now that's laughable.

Original Mike said...

No, Ann. My test is I know one when I see one. If it's good enough for pornography, it's good enough for religion.

A little more seriously, I think a religion has to have a component of "doing good" (or at least "preaching good"). Scientology seems to fail that test.

And my test is certainly not "is it laughable?". I think ALL religions fail that test.

Ann Althouse said...

It's obvious that you are rejecting as religion whatever you personally find ridiculous. I'm saying the ridiculousness test is laughable even if it's objective. That you want to make it subjective too doesn't impress me.

Original Mike said...

OK. Let's go to the dictionary:

"Belief in or reverence for a supernatural power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe."

That's a pretty standard understanding of what a religion is. Does Scientology fit that? I don't know. If it does, I'll concede they belong in the same club as Christanity, Islam, etc. (Probationary membership, they haven't been around very long).

Original Mike said...

Ann said: "It's obvious that you are rejecting as religion whatever you personally find ridiculous."

This isn't accurate. I consider Christianity a religion, even though I, personally, consider the historical subtext (God sent his son, etc.) to be ridiculous.

Ann Althouse said...

Original Mike: If the U.S. government were to use that dictionary definition of religion, it would almost surely violate the Establishment Clause. And you'd have to exclude Buddhism. I recommend reading the Supreme Court cases, Seeger and Welsh, interpreting the conscientious objector statute. Excerpt from Welsh:

n resolving the question whether Seeger and the other registrants in that case qualified for the exemption, the Court stated that "[the] task is to decide whether the beliefs professed by a registrant are sincerely held and whether they are, in his own scheme of things, religious." 380 U.S. at 185. (Emphasis added.) The reference to the registrant's "own scheme of things" was intended to indicate that the central consideration in determining whether the registrant's beliefs are religious is whether these beliefs play the role of a religion and function as a religion in the registrant's life. The Court's principal statement of its test for determining whether a conscientious objector's beliefs are religious within the meaning of § 6(j) was as follows:

The test might be stated in these words: a sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualifying for the exemption comes within the statutory definition.

380 U.S. at 176. The Court made it clear that these sincere and meaningful beliefs that prompt the registrant's objection to all wars need not be confined in either source or content to traditional or parochial concepts of religion. It held that § 6(j) "does not distinguish between externally and internally derived beliefs," id. at 186, and also held that "intensely personal" convictions which some might find "incomprehensible" or "incorrect" come within the meaning of "religious belief" in the Act. Id. at 184-185. What is necessary under Seeger for a registrant's conscientious [p340] objection to all war to be "religious" within the meaning of § 6(j) is that this opposition to war stem from the registrant's moral, ethical, or religious beliefs about what is right and wrong and that these beliefs be held with the strength of traditional religious convictions. Most of the great religions of today and of the past have embodied the idea of a Supreme Being or a Supreme Reality -- a God -- who communicates to man in some way a consciousness of what is right and should be done, of what is wrong and therefore should be shunned. If an individual deeply and sincerely holds beliefs that are purely ethical or moral in source and content, but that nevertheless impose upon him a duty of conscience to refrain from participating in any war at any time, those beliefs certainly occupy in the life of that individual "a place parallel to that filled by . . . God" in traditionally religious persons. Because his beliefs function as a religion in his life, such an individual is as much entitled to a "religious" conscientious objector exemption under § 6(j) as is someone who derives his conscientious opposition to war from traditional religious convictions.


I think it's quite obvious that for Cruise, Scientology is a religion.

Original Mike said...

Most of the great religions of today and of the past have embodied the idea of a Supreme Being or a Supreme Reality -- a God -- who communicates to man in some way a consciousness of what is right and should be done, of what is wrong and therefore should be shunned. If an individual deeply and sincerely holds beliefs that are purely ethical or moral in source and content, but that nevertheless impose upon him a duty of conscience to refrain from participating in any war at any time, those beliefs certainly occupy in the life of that individual "a place parallel to that filled by . . . God" in traditionally religious persons.

This was my first point, above. Scientology doesn't seem to have a moral component, so it seems to fail this test. (Admittedly, I don't know much about Scientology. If it does provide ethical or moral guidance, I'd say it is a religion).

That said, I'd like the Court to take a more liberal view as to what is a religion than I, a private citizen who's opinion carries no threat of coercion. I don't think it's a religion. I'm not saying the Court should have the same opinion. Nor was a legal ruling the subject of this thread.

And I don't think whether or not Cruise thinks it's a religion is in question. Nor relavant to whether I hold the same opinion.

knoxwhirled said...

Try to see it from his point of view

LOL!!

In Sympathy, As A Fellow Victim of ID Theft,

knoxwhirled
(Formerly Knoxgirl *sigh*)

knoxwhirled said...

By-the-by, has Maxine ever come out as a Scientologist? (No offense if you're not, Maxine, but I always thought you were...)

Original Mike said...

Thanks for the sympathy, Knoxgirl (once more, for old time's sake).

What's my grade, Ann? I made a reasonable argument contrary to the opinion of the Professor. That ought to be worth at least a B, huh?

Mike

Ann Althouse said...

You did well, Original Mike, by focusing on the idea of a moral or ethical source. That comes up in the context of analyzing why a man with no religion would claim conscientious objector status. I don't know the extent to which Scientology involves moral and ethical thinking. If it doesn't, you have a good argument, so you can have an A. If not, you can have your B.

I was focusing on the Court's test: "sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualifying for the exemption comes within the statutory definition." I think Scientology clearly is that for Cruise.

Original Mike said...

You may recall that I have a pet peeve about people claiming that atheists have no framework from which to behave in an ethical or moral manner.

Looks like I shot too low. A little research might get me that A. Hey, if this physics thing doesn’t work out, maybe I have a knack for the law.

Thanks, Ann! You made my day.