Scientology and Proposition 8: Debunking the Church Myth That It Stays Out of Politics

Categories: Scientology

KirstieAlley.jpg
Kirstie Alley, ballot neutral.
One of the most interesting things about Lawrence Wright's recent article about Scientology in the New Yorker was the way he exposed the hypocrisies and outright lies of the wacky organization's top members and spokespeople.

But there's a key assertion peddled by Scientology that Wright didn't really debunk, and it's central to the story of the defection of director Paul Haggis, the main subject of the 25,000-word article.

Scientologists like Tommy Davis and Kirstie Alley claim that Haggis should not have expected the church to get involved in a political issue like California's Proposition 8, because Scientology never gets involved in such ballot issues.

Oh yeah? Well, let's take a look at Scientology's own publications to see if that's true.

Haggis left Scientology after 30 years for several reasons, but chief among them was the way the church handled California's controversial anti-gay-marriage referendum, Proposition 8, in 2008. Haggis was incensed that the San Diego chapter of Scientology had been listed among the proposition's supporters, and he complained about it to church spokesman Tommy Davis.

Davis responded that a lone member of the San Diego organization had been responsible for putting it on the list, and told Haggis that the man had been "handled" over the incident.

For Haggis, that wasn't good enough. The father of two lesbian daughters, Haggis wanted the church to make up for the gaffe by taking a public stand against Proposition 8.

According to Wright's article, Davis told Haggis that Scientology couldn't get involved. "Davis explained to Haggis that the church avoids taking overt political stands," Wright notes.

Kirstie Alley has echoed that statement. When Haggis first defected and made it public that he was angry over the church's failure to stand against Proposition 8, she took to Twitter to ridicule him.

"NOT true my church supported prop 8...My church advocates human and civil rights for ALL and does not take political stands," she tweeted.

Later, she added, "FOR THE RECORD..the Church of SCN. does NOT USE ANY $ TO support PROP 8 or NOT support PROP 8. PROPS R'nt US."

Alley and Davis were no doubt keeping in mind that religious organizations are supposed to keep out of politics as a condition of their tax-exempt status. (Scientology regained its tax-exempt status in 1993 after a legendary battle with the IRS, which had for decades considered Scientology a money-making business, not a religion. We've written about that battle before.)

But a little checking could have easily put the lie to what Davis and Alley were peddling.

In 2004, just four years before the Proposition 8 campaign, Scientology went all-out against another California initiative it didn't like, a proposal to increase taxes on the state's wealthiest people to help fund mental health care.

Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act, was a double nightmare for Scientology. Not only does the church consider the psychiatric profession to be a nefarious plot to enslave mankind, but the ballot initiative proposed to add a 1 percent state tax on the incomes of Californians who make $1 million or more. Scientology relies to a great degree, recent defectors say, on a small number of very wealthy members. Now, money would be taken from those rich folks and celebrities to go directly to the church's worst enemy!

Scientology made it very clear how it felt about the ballot initiative. Just take a look at all of the articles in Scientology's official magazine, Freedom, that blasted the initiative:

Freedom63.jpg

Scientology also produced a mass-mailing that contained a photo of a Columbine High School victim and the warning that the initiative would benefit the "same psycho-pharma racket whose proliferation of mind-altering, violence-inducing drugs on our schoolchildren in recent decades has fueled the explosion of school violence fatalities."

The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that Proposition 63's supporters called Scientology's newsletter a "blatant violation of campaign law." The paper noted that Scientology did not report the mailing to campaign finance authorities.

Scientology's mailing apparently had little effect. Proposition 63 passed with 53.8 percent of the votes in the 2004 election.

Just four years after that effort to discredit Prop 63, Alley and Davis claimed that Scientology couldn't even do so much as make a public statement against controversial Proposition 8. Funny how things change.

ALSO: Another great update at Marty Rathbun's excellent blog, "Moving On Up a Little Higher." In the wake of Wright's article, actor Jason Beghe told Marty he was contacted by a man who claimed to be a journalist wanting to hear details about Wright's investigation.

Rathbun, who only a few years ago was perhaps the second-most powerful person in all of Scientology, warns journalists that the man is actually a Scientology informer who was recruited by notorious church private eye Eugene Ingram, and that he poses as a journalist to get information from other reporters as they investigate Scientology.

Cloak and dagger! Keep your wits about you, news gatherers.


Tony Ortega is the editor-in-chief of The Village Voice. Since 1995, he's been writing about Scientology at several publications. Among his other stories about L. Ron Hubbard's organization:

The Larry Wollersheim Saga -- Scientology Finally Pays For Its Fraud
The Tory Bezazian (Christman) Story -- How the Internet Saved A Scientologist From Herself
The Jason Beghe Defection -- A Scientology Celebrity Goes Rogue
The Robert Cipriano Case -- A Hellacious Example of Fair Game
The Paul Haggis Ultimatum -- The 'Crash' Director Tells Scientology to Shove It
The Marc Headley Escape -- 'Tom Cruise Told Me to Talk to a Bottle'
The Aaron Saxton Accusation -- Australia turns up the heat on Scientology
The Jefferson Hawkins Stipulation -- Scientology's former PR genius comes clean
The Daniel Montalvo Double-Cross -- Scientology lures a young defector into a trap


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30 comments
Phil1912
Phil1912

I was a Sea Orge member for 17 months and I did find the 'tech' side of things helped me want to live my life instead of damning my luck that I was alive. I am out of it 13 yrs now and still find that I desperatly miss auditing  etc. I find the technology works but theres seriouse room for improvement with regards to whats here about Scientology.  Good job on exposing the 'overts' and maybe one day they'll clean up their act.

KeepOnLearning
KeepOnLearning

Again, Ortega lies to make a fake story seem convincing to the uninformed.

ONE STAFF MEMBER in San Diego caused the hubbub.

NOT the entire Church, not even the San Diego organization.

Brush2081
Brush2081

The people in charge of the Scientology Church are preying on the weak minded people of are society. Example : Chisty Alley,Tom Cruise,John Travolta ......

Dora Namity
Dora Namity

Thank you so much Tony Ortega for your brave and continuous reporting on this dangerous cult.

MarkStark
MarkStark

Good job Tony, at pointing out their duplicity, mixing their Xenu "religion" with politics, when it comes to "the evil psychs."

CoS has a way of trying to play both sides on the Prop 8 issue and Haggis. For their flock [especially the celebrity zombies] they would like to re-frame the Haggis defection as being all about a misunderstanding or a "bad apple" mistake w/one Org in San Diego, about Prop 8, with Haggis being some kind of over-reactive nutcase who is losing it. Maybe overly sensitive because of his daughters and what they thought of it, or whatever.

"Come on Paul, we all have tons of gay friends" kind of thing Anne Archer pulled on him.

As you know, Scientology trains their members to regard everyone outside the cult as brainwashed and insane, and they themselves only wake up and become truly sane through LRH tech and his way to happiness, being a Scilon for the next trillion years, clearing the planet, getting the Space Org built, and clearing the Universe.

Apostates who speak out are labeled "psycho" like Marty Rathbun, or the "Adulteress" like Amy, the latter term which is outrageously weird in itself, given her supposed infraction.

The cult focus off Prop 8, but on Haggis and Prop 8 is all about NOT wanting their membership reading or thinking about:

Haggis's research about Miscavige's violenceHigh-profile defections, the "Adulteress" etc.Haggis mentioning the constant hounding for $Haggis 'n' XenuTommy Davis, SpokescreatureHaggis's wife, the DISCONNECTION and manipulation in THAT storyL. Ron's fraudulent war record and fake blindness etc.Haggis's case

I mention the latter, because Scilons are supposed to only point people to an Org, and sign them up, even in a few cases like Katselas, getting a 10% cut. They can give brief enthusiastic statements about their "wins" like "it saved my life" or "it really works" but they aren't supposed to talk about their case. Members aren't supposed to ever speak of the failure of Scientology on any level, or the expense, or the cliquishness and vulnerability of the Hollywood crowd, who cling to it because it's their secret club. It's like those secret clubs at Harvard, except with mostly uneducated Hollywood people.

Haggis inadvertently made a "closet" joke on Tom Cruise's set, actually defending Scientology. And he gets reported to Tommy Davis, for violation, or that he's some kind of security risk.

What is the other side of Prop 8 the CoS tries to play?

It is their public side. Their members are so FREE FREE FREE to believe anything they want, and the cult is so accepting of people of all races, creeds, colors, sexuality and income levels...except the poor or even lower middle class. But that's what the VMs are for!

And LRH tech has already touched over a billion of their lives, through Tom Saint Cruise alone. (See Tom Cruise video, and the counter they show proves it.)

Fundies can rejoice that the nutty cult will keep that Travolta character in the closet, and that L. Ron -- Xenu bless his soul -- at least tried to CURE homosexuality, so his heart was in the right place. And those who couldn't be cured, like Hubbard son Quentin, knew best to "dispose" of themselves, "quietly, without sorrow."

The cult knows that Prop. 8 is a thought-stopper for a lot of people. Fortunately, the Haggis/Wright combo has so much going for it, in the way of interest for more intelligent, thoughtful people.

Joe the Plumber does not read the New Yorker, or stories about Hollywood directors and their Scientology. Doesn't matter. This is the perfect story for the age of the web, because it had so much substance, resonance, good research, documentation, and insight.

As Wright mentioned, if is fascinating because of why people believe what they do, and how could a guy with a mind and accomplishments like Haggis get trapped in it? Now we all understand a little more about that.

There was no incentive for many cult members or especially Hollywood celebrities, to muddy their path, with thought about the Lisa McPherson tragedy. They dismissed it as unfortunate, never read the details, and accepted that cult management would handle it. It didn't have anything to do with them.

But, when a person with the mind and stature of Paul Haggis leaves so publicly, it really does have to do with them. In many people's mind -- well mine anyway -- a thoughtful, intelligent apostate like Paul Haggis is more telling, than if three stooges like Cruise, Alley and Travolta walked out together, even though few people outside the cult knew Haggis was one, until he left.

One writer/director = ten actors.

Mat Pesch
Mat Pesch

I worked as a staff member for the Church of Scientology in its Sea Organization for over 27 years. As staff members we did not watch tv, read the newspapers, etc so we had no idea who we should vote for.

At election time the staff were given a list of suggested people to vote for. It was a sort of inside joke that the churches Office of Special Affairs (OSA) could not tell the staff who to vote for, they could only "suggest". On election day the staff were driven by church buses to the polls to vote.

Brussell1000
Brussell1000

1) Overtly political activity.2) Inurement - Scientology's leader illegally enriches himself and his freinds.3) Refusal or delay in refunding monies for services never rendered.

These are just three of the activities Scientology engages in on a regular basis that disqualify it from tax exempt status. Where is the IRS?? We pay millions in extra taxes each year because these criminals are held accountable. They need to pay, and they need to pay NOW!

Church of shit-ology
Church of shit-ology

There have been so many CRIMES exposed recently regarding the cult of Scientology (fraud, private inurement, abuse, kidnapping, illegal imprisonment, illegal wiretapping, human trafficking, coerced abortions, harassment, stalking,etc)........it makes you wonder if there is ANY law enforcement left in the US that actually does what it's paid to. Thanks for the publicity, maybe we can EMBARRASS the IRS and FBI into doing their jobs!

Guess who
Guess who

Excellent story. The cult of Scientology should have its tax exempt status revoked - why isn't the IRS doing it's job?????

Louanne
Louanne

Yes, someone on psychotropic drugs would run such a stupid, misleading headline. Geez...

Still Ben
Still Ben

Just because a religious organization has an opinion on a social/political issue doesn't mean they are involved in politics. Scientology has certain beliefs and they were voicing those beliefs regarding Prop 68, what's the big deal?

Caden Cotard
Caden Cotard

I'm curious to how many people pay attention to this story if it doesn't have anything to do a celebrity - minor or otherwise. Disconnect Haggis from the conversation and no one pays attention to someone leaving a religion following a crisis of faith. This is only another example of how most media revolves completely around the fascination with celebrity to convert an otherwise boring story into a profitable click magnet. Were this anybody else off the street - or even any other type of faith - and this wouldn't have even been pitched to an editor, let alone written by one.

Oh no! Brown Cow...
Oh no! Brown Cow...

...Then again, what large religious organization stays out of politics??

Jennifer Lynn
Jennifer Lynn

Good News for South Asian Muslims:

May be one of your friend or family member is the lucky person on whom the Church of Scientology invested $30 million.

According to the blog of Marty(Mark)Rathburn former high ranking official of Church of Scientology,the Church has spent $30 million on making a TV Services on Kennedy (Jhon F Kennedy) assuming a South Asian Muslim as Re-incarnation of US President John F Kennedy. Details are given in Marty Rathburn blog, which I copied here for reference.

Post by Modern Shaman for Marty Rahtburn blog:

Hi Marty , I am sure, if someone else told you this story you would have dismissed it as STUPID joke to undermine the accuracy and objectivity of your blog, but believe me what I am going to tell you is true but unbelievable.

Let me give you some thing much more bigger just merely spending Church resources of painting of bus and motor bike of celebrities, its HUGE, in million of dollar.

February 2010 History Channel (which is well known for Church of Scientology sympathizer) announced a $30-million series “ The Kennedys”,the channel’s first scripted program, which the help of a Canadian production house. But in January 2011, just fews days ahead of its scheduled premier, the channel suddenly dropped it from its schedule; amid suggestions Kennedy family members and supporters were unhappy with the project

But the question is who has funded the mini series, which is supported by Scientologist like Katie Holmes, Tom Wilkinson and I believe Barry Pepper ,because of the starring role in Battlefield Earth. Thought I never heard anything about Kinnear but he does seem tied to 3 or 4 previous movies involving scientologist celebrities like Kelly Preston.

It just jumped out as Scientology funded all around based on the cast. I didn’t knew if that means anything about the material or just a chance to fund some acting careers. But according to my sources it all started in summer of 2009 , when a South Asian guy entered the Toronto Org for touch assist , blaming it on “watching of Ted Kennedy’s funeral” on television. The guy was UNKNOWN to the local scientology community and as per Church records , he did STCC in 2001. That was the last day he was seen in the Church , however, OSA become interested and the Miscavage clan decided with in six months , with out any Auditing or any physical contact or communication with the GUY that he is the re-incarnation of JFK. In Feb 2010, the project was announced which was completed with jet speed in just 10 months.

Now here is the best part, the GUY is not even a Scientologist, he is a Muslim, and several Scientologist came from various parts of North America, to get the glimpse of that GUY, witnessed him in Muslim attire and performing Muslim prayer in summer of 2010. At present the where about of this GUY is unknown, but Scientology community at large taking it as new method of enforcing some sort of David MISCAVGE AGENDA—may be more funds in the name to save the “Reincarnated (Muslim) US President”

How on earth this project was undertaken ? what was the criteria ? who was the final authority on siphoning of Church funds for that project ? Is it as per the agreement with IRS?

Source: http://markrathbun.wordpress.c...

Guest
Guest

I heard Hiram Montserrate is now under investigation by the feds for some sort of fraud, remember when he shilling for Scientology's New York Rescue Workers Detoxification Project and proposed an L Ron Hubbard day? It'd be great to know houch they bought him for.

Navalator
Navalator

In the late 50s and the 60s I frequented the gay beach in Laguna Beach in California where LRH was a well know proselytizer for his new "religion" called Dianetics. He would induce members of the gay community to have "informational dinners" for their friends and acquaintances where he would introduce the tenets of the religion and then try to sell shares in his new religion promising the investors massive rates of interest and profits. He would actually perform a kind of trance induced reliving of the guest's earlier life and cleanse him of his problems right before your very eyes.

We likened LRH to the evangelical drama queen and media celebrity Aimee Semple McPherson. We would snidely comment that all he needed to complete the charade was a temple in Hollywood and a flowing blood red chiffon dress.

His whole approach was that if the crazy evangelical preachers could make millions out of the duped true believers he could do the same thing but with a different slant. It was conventional wisdom on the beach that LRH had a really cute, very young, Filipino "house boy" who was actually his male lover although he represented that he was actually married to his business manager who was a woman. He was a charismatic character who attracted underemployed artists, actors and musicians (of which there was a plethora in Hollywood, Venice and Laguna) who would make all kinds of in-kind contributions to his new cult.

Even now you can walk Sunset or Hollywood Boulevards and be accosted by these very handsome, squeaky clean, Mormon-like young men offering you a FREE personality test, which is a ruse to induce you to join the cult, at a considerable initiation fee. I have never seen an ugly man in Scientology but I have seen a lot of zombie girls who have been enslaved as char women and bed warmers.

He failed to show up on the beach one season and it was rumored that his pedophilia got him into trouble in La Jolla (San Diego), California where he had an ostentatious house memorable of a movie set where his houseboy had an entire personal wing. As the story played out he reportedly fled the States avoiding an arrest warrant and settled in Monaco (which at the time did not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.) where we was living on a yacht populated with very young boys as "crew" members. By this time he apparently was worth millions of dollars form the income generated through his religious pyramid scheme and collection of notorious people (Cruise, et al).

Then out of sight, out of mind.

It is ironic that Scientology would be against gay marriage. My God, we don't to find out that Tom Cruise is gay!!!!!

Brussell1000
Brussell1000

...these criminals are <not> held accountable.

sorry, typo</not>

Caroline
Caroline

Kudos to that. We know there are people being held against their will in Scientology's, ahem, "re-education" camps. Likely some of those are children. Children separated from their parents for months or years at a time. Children forced to perform slave labor when they should be in school. Children forced to sign billion year contacts. It's insane. Why the hell isn't law enforcement doing something?Shameful.

Guest
Guest

What's you point,OSA? You're boss, David MIscavige allegedly drinks a fifth of scotch a day, and probably more recently;ROFL), and alcohol is a psychotropic drug.

billstewart2...
billstewart2...

Scientology not only has opinions about Prop 68 and publicized them loudly, and that's called being involved in politics. That would be fine if they were honest about it, but they're not - after they also supported Prop 8, when Haggis criticized them about it, they denied that they were involved in politics ("oh, no, we're a religious organization, we don't do politics")

Sorry, that's called lying - doesn't that throw you off the Bridge to Total Freedom? And if it doesn't, then I'm not impressed with the kind of bridge they're trying to sell you.

marcus abian
marcus abian

please visit news.google.com , type 'scientology' into the search box, remove any filters you might have in place (do it from a public library if you want), and read one random article per page, go back 10 pages, see what the general sense is that you get about this organization, now ask yourself if this organization should be partially funded by the taxpayer in the form of tax relief/exemptiom, this organization which has multiple, independent accounts of terrible things happening to its members

Yan
Yan

Tom Cruise is the laughing-stock of the internet, and on top of it is creepy. Why in the world anyone would consider it an "honor" to pimp his ride is beyond me. There are lots of people that can't stomach going to his movies anymore. And after this whole slave labor story blows, I can imagine a lot more will boycott his films. Or even picket them.

Old OT7
Old OT7

Disconnect Haggis and you STILL have a story! I'm old OT7, formally the highest level attainable. As I and other ex-members have come to know, scientology is a scam on a global scale. After OT3, the so-called "Wall of Fire," where Hubbard came up with the inter-galactic space story while strung out on drugs and alcohol, it's all about "body thetans." Hubbard wrote that every man, woman and child have between 2,000 & 3,000 (more if you're rich!) disembodied space aliens attached to their bodies! And for between $500 and $1,000 PER HOUR, they will help you get rid of these space cooties.

To see OT3, their most "sacred scripture," go to: www.xenu.net. Scroll down the home page to the bottom where it says, "Always Remember To Laugh." Click on "South Park Takes On Scientology." Let it ramp up and enjoy the show! Why do they sue people to keep this quiet? Because if they told you upfront what they actually believe, you'd be ROTFLYAO (Rolling on the floor laughing your a** off!). After which you'd be walking out the door with all of your bank accounts intact!

Kevin N
Kevin N

Cadens comment is spot on! It is all about the celebrity factor. There was not one mention in Wrights article about the individuals who have lost their life due to Scientology's anti-psychiatry stance- excepting Lisa McPherson. Who, I will add was by choice a Scientologist. So, what about the others? the suicides, the suspicious deaths and the trail of broken lives that resulted. Haggis, should have apologized "publicly" to the families that have been harmed by Scientology - the unknowns- the victims that NO ONE cares about!

marcus abian
marcus abian

You haven't searched the news in the last two years for articles about scientology, then.

Tracy Wheelwright
Tracy Wheelwright

Scientology isn't particularly large. Far from the "8-12 million" they claim, there are only about 40,000 people in the world who would admit to being Sientologists. In the USA, only about 25,000. These numbers are plummeting rapidly.

marcus abian
marcus abian

ones that do not wish to have their tax exempt status even potentially threatened

on the other hand, businesses which exist to funnel the profits of the lower tier members up the pyramid in order to fund the frivolous whims of the tiny man in charge of the business, they probably wouldn't have any issues with blatantly campaigning for or against a candidate or ballot measure because they are a business and not a tax exempt organization

see what i did there

Guest
Guest

*howtypo,sorry

KristyG
KristyG

You cannot entirely separate church and state. That is the myth. Even the Catholic church has numerous times insinuated itself into political affairs. If a political principle directly contradicts a church's teaching, I don't see why it would be wrong for them to take action.

Guest
Guest

Scientology'd only principle is "Make more money, make others produce so as to make more moeny". Those are L Ron Hubbard's words.

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