What Katie Holmes is Saving Suri From: Scientology's Interrogation of Children

Categories: Scientology

NEW: Secrets of Scientology marriage counseling -- Katie was right to stay far away from it.

There seemed to be more public derision than sorrow yesterday greeting the news that Katie Holmes had filed divorce papers in New York while her husband Tom Cruise was in Iceland filming a movie.

There was consensus among the tabloids that this split is over Katie's concerns about the couple's child, Suri, and Tom's religion, Scientology. She's seeking sole custody, which suggests this could be a long, tough fight between the celebrity duo.

If Katie is attempting to pull Suri out of Tom's strange world before the girl gets any older, we asked several of our ex-Scientologist sources to explain what, at 6 years old, Suri was about to get into.

We talked with them about the oddities of Scientology schooling, and about the religion's form of counseling -- called auditing -- which can begin as young as Suri's age. But what may have convinced Katie to run was the frightening prospect that faces all Scientology kids beginning at 6 years old: a form of interrogation known as "sec checking."

[See also: there was more blockbuster Scientology news yesterday, involving the defections of L. Ron Hubbard's granddaughter, Roanne Horwich, and the father of church leader David Miscavige, Ron Sr., who each have escaped from Scientology's secretive international headquarters -- "Int Base" -- east of Los Angeles. And: Our open letter to Tom Cruise.]

There are many things that set Scientology apart from other organizations. Its "auditing," for example, was developed by founder L. Ron Hubbard when he published Dianetics in 1950. That summer, it became a brief fad in the United States to use Hubbard's technique of counseling to help another person go into a kind of semi-trance and "remember" the experience of their birth. Within a couple of years, Hubbard was encouraging people to go back even farther and remember past lives, and the process was enhanced with the introduction of a device called an "e-meter" that measures skin galvanic reaction.

At the same time, Hubbard was building Scientology as a highly regimented, formal organization, and some of the techniques he had developed to counsel people were turning out to be very effective as measures of control.

In 1960, for example, Hubbard introduced a policy of "security checking," called "sec checking" by Scientologists. It involves using the e-meter as an interrogation device, and Hubbard wrote lengthy lists of questions that a member should be asked by an "ethics officer" to make sure they weren't hiding any covert hostilities to the organization. (Although Hubbard died in 1986, his thousands of policies are still iron-clad law in Scientology, and only those policies written by Hubbard himself -- he's still known as "Source" -- can be considered legitimate.)

To this day, Scientologists submit to sec checking when they are suspected of being out of compliance with some policy or other.

Even if they're only six years old.

In 1961, Hubbard developed a policy of security checking children. It's still in effect, and now that Suri is six, she can be subjected to this lengthy interrogation by an ethics officer of the church.

"You get conditioned to tell them everything they want to know," says Marc Headley, who grew up in Scientology but escaped from Int Base in 2005. "It's all just information gathering."

Headley says that between the Scientology concepts introduced in its "study tech" at Scientology school, courses taken at the local org, and the sec checking, "all that stuff is cultural programming, and once it's in place, it's done," he says.

"I was sec checked when I was 7," says Claire Headley, Marc's wife.

"Jenna Miscavige Hill was getting sec checked at 12 or 13. I can think of numerous minors who received sec checking. It's probably more prominent in the Sea Org, but I don't think it was limited to the SO," she adds, referring to the niece of church leader David Miscavige, and to the Sea Organization, Scientology's elite hardcore.

Katie Holmes has had six years to understand how Scientologists are controlled through the use of interrogations, and it would not have been lost on her that children are sec checked in part to gather information about their parents.

"It's a way to 'third party' people -- to find out who is saying derogatory things to others," Headley says. "They're going to find out what's going on. I mean, just read the thing."

Well, here's your chance to read the list of questions that L. Ron Hubbard came up with in 1961, and that to this day is used to interrogate the children of Scientologists, including the older children of Tom Cruise when they were this age, Headley tells me.

Read the list, and it should become clear why Katie Holmes wanted nothing to do with it for Suri.


HCO WW Security Form 8

The following is a processing check for use on children.

Be sure the child can understand the question. Rephrase it so he or she can understand it. The first question is the most potent.

Children's Security Check

Ages 6--12

What has somebody told you not to tell?
Have you ever decided you did not like some member of your family?
Have you ever taken something belonging to somebody else and never given it back?
Have you ever pretended to be sick (ill)?
Have you ever made yourself sick (ill), or hurt yourself to make somebody sorry?
Have you ever wanted something very much, but never told anybody about it?
Have you ever gotten yourself dirty on purpose?
Have you ever refused to eat just to worry someone?
Have you ever remembered something about yourself and not told anybody, because you thought they wouldn't believe you, or be angry at you?
Have you ever refused to obey an order from someone you should obey?
Have you ever told another child something that wasn't true, just to frighten or upset him?
Have you ever bullied a smaller child?
Have you ever deliberately got another child, or a grown-up, into trouble?
Have you ever pestered older children, or grown people, who were trying to work?
Have you ever been mean, or cruel, to an animal, bird or fish?
Have you ever forgotten to give food or water to a pet entrusted to your care?
Have you ever broken something belonging to someone else?
Have you ever deliberately spoiled clothing of yours because you didn't like it?
Do you have a secret?
Have you ever noticed something wrong with your body that you were afraid to tell anybody about?
Have you ever done anything you were very much ashamed of?
Is there anything about you your parents could not understand, even if you told them?
Have you ever failed to finish your schoolwork on time?
Have you ever flunked an examination at school?
Have you ever deliberately given a teacher trouble?
Have you ever tried to make others dislike some teacher?
Have you ever tried to make another child unpopular?
Have you ever broken, damaged, or taken, any school property?
Have you ever lied to a teacher?
Have you ever been late to school, or late to a class?
Have you ever stayed away from school, when you could have gone?
Have you ever cheated by copying someone else's work, taking notes into an examination, or looking up answers in a book when you weren't supposed to?
Have you ever spoiled things for somebody?
Who have you made guilty?
Have you ever done something you shouldn't when you were supposed to be in bed or asleep?
Have you ever told others bad stories about someone?
Have you ever tried to make others believe that your parents, or teachers, were cruel to you?
Have you ever offered as an excuse for something you have done wrong that you are only a child, or that you haven't grown up yet?
Have you ever felt that your parents and home were too good for you?
Have you ever felt that your parents and home weren't good enough for you?
Is there anything you should tell your parents, and never have?
Have you ever done something to your body that you shouldn't have?
Have you ever done anything to someone else's body that you shouldn't have?
Have you ever told anyone that you did something, when you hadn't really done it?
Have you ever told anyone that you hadn't done something which you really had done?
Have you ever ganged up on another child and made fun of him because he was different from the rest of you?
Have you ever made fun of another because of the way he looked?
Have you ever decided never to talk to someone again?
Have you ever made your parents or teachers work harder than they should?
Have you ever decided that you were too bright, or too smart for the other kids?
Have you ever annoyed an adult by something you did or said?
Have you ever hurt a child?
Have you ever made a child cry?
Have you ever made a child sulk?
Have you ever kept another child from having something that really belonged to him?
Have you ever found anything and failed to return it to its owner?
Have you ever told stories about someone behind their back?
Have you ever lied to escape blame?
Have you ever not told the whole truth about something so as to protect someone?
Have you ever felt ashamed of your parents?
Have you ever felt ashamed of your friends?
Have you ever disappointed your parents?
Have you ever run away when you should have stayed?
Have you ever felt sure your parents wouldn't understand something that had happened in school, so you didn't tell them?
Have you ever not told teachers something about your family because they wouldn't understand it?
Have you ever failed to keep another child's secret?
Have you ever felt it was just no use talking to someone?
Have you ever hurt someone you didn't mean to?
Have you ever been sloppy about your clothes or possessions?
Have you ever cried when you shouldn't have?
Have you ever been a coward?
Have you ever made too much fuss over a little hurt?
Have you ever tried to make your parents believe you were doing better in school than you were?
Have you ever told on anyone?
Have you ever teased younger children?
Have you ever made a mess and not helped to clean it up?
Have you ever broken or damaged something and never told anybody it was you who did it?
Have you ever let someone else get punished for something you did?
Have you ever cried till you got your own way?
Have you ever decided "Someday, when I'm grown up, I'll get even"? If so, with whom?
Have you ever picked on someone smaller than yourself?
Have you ever upset anyone by throwing a temper tantrum?
Have you ever hurt anyone by telling them you didn't love them any more?
Have you ever made out that you were more badly damaged than you were in order to make someone stop picking on you?
Have you ever pretended to like someone that you didn't like in order to satisfy your parents?
Have you ever done anything wrong according to your own religion?
Have you ever not understood why someone was angry with you?
Have you ever pretended not to understand what you had done wrong?
Have you ever pretended not to understand what someone wanted you to do?
Have you ever been in places where your parents didn't want you to go?
Have you ever spied on anyone?
Have you ever made friends with people your parents didn't approve of?
Have you ever thought someone was crazy?
Have you ever broken up a friendship?
Have you ever let your team, or school, or club down?
Have you ever tried to keep someone from making friends with another child?
Have you ever pretended not to hear your parents or teacher?
Have you ever made a fuss about doing something that your parents or teacher wanted you to do?
Have you ever done something to someone that you'd hate to have done to you?


Hubbard, L. R. (1961, 21 September). Security Check Children. The Technical Bulletins of Dianetics and Scientology. (1991 ed., Vol. VI, pp. 290-5). Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, Inc.

It's disturbing stuff, especially when you picture a child of Suri's age holding the sensors of an e-meter, being interrogated by an adult determined to have her confess her transgressions.

I asked Headley what a child would have to do in order to be subjected to this treatment.

"A tantrum. Or really, anything non-optimum," he said.

Frightening. No wonder Katie wants nothing to do with it.

UPDATE: We hear from our legal expert, Scott Pilutik, who offers us some thoughts on Katie's reasons for filing her divorce in New York.

It's really interesting that she filed in New York as opposed to California. I see news services attributing that to New York courts being tougher enforcing privacy, which may indeed be a factor. But so is, I'll bet, her wanting to establish her residency here for the purpose of the sole custody argument. Cruise won't be afforded the same deference celebrities are shown in LA, and if the underlying issue is Scientology, the New York courts will be far more likely to exercise skepticism. And even if a New York court winds up awarding joint custody (the greater likelihood, given how you basically need to be a violent deadbeat crackhead in order to lose partial custody), the court could force him to come to New York to exercise it. Which is why I think Cruise's attorneys' first move will be to sue for divorce in California, and simultaneously move to dismiss in New York for lack of jurisdiction and for forum non conveniens.

Thanks for that assessment, Scott. We're going to keep you close by as this thing develops.

Tomorrow: we return with our regular Sunday Funnies post, in which we look at the latest wacky and tacky mailers that Scientologists send each other for fundraising. And we also have some interesting photos to show you.

Also, please remember to check our Facebook author page for other updates and schedule changes.

Tony Ortega has been the editor in chief of the Village Voice since March, 2007. He started writing about Scientology in 1995. You can reach him by e-mail at tortega@villagevoice.com, and if you ask nicely he'll put you on his mailing list for notifications of new stories. You can also catch his alerts at Twitter (@VoiceTonyO), at his Facebook author page, on Pinterest, a Tumblr, and even this new Google Plus doohickey.

New readers might want to check out our primer, "What is Scientology?" Another good overview is our series from last summer, "Top 25 People Crippling Scientology." At the top of every story, you'll see the "Scientology" category which, if you click on it, will bring up all of our most recent stories.

As for hot subjects we've covered here, you may have heard about Debbie Cook, the former church official who rebelled and was sued by Scientology. You might have also heard about the Super Power Building, Scientology's "Mecca," whose secrets were revealed here. We also reported how Scientology spied on its own most precious object, Tom Cruise. (We wrote Tom an open letter that he has yet to respond to.) Have you seen a Scientology ad on TV lately? We debunked some of the claims in that 2-minute commercial you might have seen while watching Glee or American Idol.

Other stories have looked at Scientology's policy of "disconnection" that is tearing families apart. You may also have heard something about the Sea Org experiences of the Paris sisters, Valeska and Melissa, and their friend Ramana Dienes-Browning. We've also featured Paulette Cooper, who wrote about Scientology back in the day, and Janet Reitman, Hugh Urban, and the team at the Tampa Bay Times, who write about it today. And there's plenty more coming.

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Geez what a horrible cult...sad sad sad...I cannot say enough here!


Tantrums as a reason for sec checking? Suri  would be checking till the day she died!


Scientology - the "church" for retards and f**kups.


You idiots deserve all the bad things that happen to you.


Do the rest a favor and drink poison like all the other "churches" of f**kups.


  Just the fact that you are doing it shows deep distrust, and that's offensive. 


  Because she is only six, stupid.

Marianna Perebenesiuk
Marianna Perebenesiuk

 Well, yes, it's rather striking because the legislation on children's rights gives the investigators much more freedom to act than in the case of adults.

Caroline Phillips
Caroline Phillips

Or you could make them listen to Car Talk, that might do the trick :)

Caroline Phillips
Caroline Phillips

What is wrong with our society that we allow an organization to interrogate children with no consequences ? 


to anybody coming to this post late I would like to apologise for the below post - as I'm sure you're aware there are quite a few aggressive loonies out there who like to hijack forums with their grunts of desperation. you only have to look at the vast majority of posts here to see what an amazing exception this person is. rather than insult or denigrate this harmed individual I would recommend that he/she seeks some kind of help as I think their next step might be some kind of self-harm. there are people here who can recommend numerous help sites on the net if needed. common sense discourse is probably beyond this poor soul but we can only hope.


You are either extremely stupid, or a troll. Since scientologists can't write or think very well, and have terrible spelling and grammar, this tells me you are not a scientologist.  Which makes you a Troll.  QED

Marianna Perebenesiuk
Marianna Perebenesiuk

And speaking of NAZIS as you cry it, just slow down please : my grandfather spent two years in their camps (although not a jew) and the family of my husband escaped their gas chambers by a miracle (a neighbour told them to go away on time, since they always refused to wear the yellow star they managed to escape). You're abusing of real tragedy and real genocide, so I'd ask you just to respect the victims and the memory of my family. To be clear about it. What the nazi did : they went to people's homes, asked everybody to take a small bag of what they need because they are going to prison, transport them to the railway station, put them in trains that go directly to the camps, then on the place they would divide them in groups, asking to take off the clothes to take a shower, and when people are in shower rooms they would let it the gas which caused their rather long deaths. DO YOU THINK ANY OF THAT IS HAPPENING TO YOU OR YOUR FRIENDS OR ANY PERSON IN THE ORGANISATION? If not, well, just don't speak of it.

Marianna Perebenesiuk
Marianna Perebenesiuk

 What a mess! Sorry, I just can't get through your whole thinking, because it's a bit disarticulated, but I'll try to react as I can. First of all, speaking to children, knowing how they are going is a part of normal regular parenting. Every mom or dad actually speaks frequently to his child, asking him how he slept, how he spent his day, what's new at school and so on. And this is all about SHARING, not confessing, it's about sharing all moments of life, good and bad, about helping and guiding. Children who TRUST their parents are honest and frank, only scared children try to hide something. Interrogating and intimidating children (with auditing and other related practice) only makes them more scared so that they are obliged to lie more in order to please your views as soon as he is afraid for your love and approuval. That's a practical point. Now let's come to more serious points. Contrary of what you may think or be told, the world doesn't spin around the CoS. Democratic societies, such as the US society, have a constitution and laws that provide ALL their citizens with rights and garantee the protection of these rights. As soon as all rights are respected and we know that all citizens are safe and enjoying this protection, no one ever cares of what any individual or group does. The problem is that the sci educational practice violates that laws as well as many international conventions on human's or child's rights. You are clearly talking about abusing children without even being aware of it. I'm sorry to say that, but the ONLY reason why it's hasn't been condemned yet is the secrecy of the organization who hides all that facts and do not allow the authorities to their facilities. It's much more dramatic than you think : it's not about criticizing the scientology (the laws vilotations are quite evident), it's only about the dysfunction of the justice system that allows it going on. But it's only a matter of time. Ok, I'm sorry for you, but once again, one can not do whatever he wants justifying it by the fact that that's how he believes, it's not true. Otherwise we would need no laws and no courts and any murderer would say that he believes that killing people is an enlightening spiritual practice, he would just ask his victim to sign a release form that he or she shares this belief. The exemple is a bit far-fetched, but it's of the same logic. You should understand it. And the last point, you say : "It sounds really healthy if the child is able to admit their wrongs or criminal acts" If a child commits any CRIMINAL act he will deal with investigation and justice in our real world, the expertize will also state at what extent a child is simply aware of the criminal nature of the act and whether he is to be declared responsable of it. As to the wrong acts, as I've already said any normal parent can achieve it by simply talking to his dear child say half an hour a day (which is not huge if you are not withheld in some kind of hardworking for the CoS for 12 hours a day). A little bit of love, a little bit of respect and understanding, half an hour a day and you don't need to inerrogate your child by a third person as if he was a criminal.


the crazy is strong in this one, lol


Wow--two Godwins.  You lose, moron.

Dr. Zuzz
Dr. Zuzz

Child raping is not part of church teaching.  That is the product of flaming homosexual liberal pigs invading the Catholic Church.  Do you even know what you are talking about?  Obviously NOT!!


I really think that if you have an adult with some kind of a sci fi toy lie detector ask a child 50 questions that are all about confessing negative behaviors you would seriously traumatize the child for life. That list is appalling.  I just hope Suri is never left alone with anyone who would even consider this inquisition to be in any way normal or beneficial.

Dr. Zuzz
Dr. Zuzz

How do you know what was done for centuries?  Perphas you would not be such a worthless loser if you actually knew what you were talking about.

Dr. Zuzz
Dr. Zuzz

You are a secular suck ass, go to Cuba and be around more scum bags like yourself.

Dr. Zuzz
Dr. Zuzz

Please shut up, your ignorance is disgusting!

Dr. Zuzz
Dr. Zuzz

Of course all of the nations founded on a belief in no God, like USSR, China are just the place for pin heads like you!

Dr. Zuzz
Dr. Zuzz

You are poison.  You can, if you fund someone stupid enough to marry you, have your own kids and destroy them with your pin head scum way. I am sure your kids will end up losers like you. Hope abortion saves us all from your kids.

Dr. Zuzz
Dr. Zuzz

MORON!! Once again!! Yes she is a liberal!!!  How stupid are you??

Dr. Zuzz
Dr. Zuzz

You have to REALLY dig up some crap don't you.  This woman says she is not a scumentologist.  The liberal pig scumentologists are all squealing how much they love scum entology.  Jon Fagolta is their poster childer.  HE IS A LIBERAL PIG!!!  You are a moron. Get your facts straight.


This is the most negative reinforcement forced on children I've ever seen! 


I don't care how good looking someone is, how famous they are, how much money they have, or how good of a person I think they are, if they started telling me they believe in "alien souls," it would only be good for a laugh, not a marriage.


Sec Checking List = VERY, VERY Bizarre!  ANYONE who would subject their child to this is VERY, VERY WEIRD!!!  Anyone who would practice some kind of kooky "religion" like this is a KOOK!  I just lost more respect for Tom Cruise.  Katie needed to NOT MARRY him.


I read that you could not use religion against someone as to why they would be an un-fit father, so I would be interested to understand what tactics the defense might be able to use (within reason), to shed light on some of scientology's creepy cult-like practices, without necessarily talking about the religion?  How could you NOT use information about the children in scientology who are subjected to working manual labor and kept from their parents and family as members of the sea org? How could you NOT point out that scientologists who are not 100% or who deflect, usually end up separated (or forced to separate) from their family members.  Look at what happened to Nicole Kidman!  I am so worried about Katie not getting sole custody!  Tom and the cult will use every possible second of visitiation w/ little Suri to brainwash her!  I dont care what anyone says....it is a cult. Here are books on Scientology written by ex-Scientologists: 'Counterfeit Dreams' - By Jefferson Hawkins Scientology presents a glittering public façade... It is an image that Jefferson Hawkins helped to craft in his 35 years as a top marketing executive for the Church of Scientology. Yet behind that façade is a hidden world of physical and mental abuse... Counterfeit Dreams is a must-read for anyone who wants to know the truth about today’s most controversial cult. Read online. New Yorker article.   'Scientology: Abuse at the Top' - By Amy Scobee Amy Scobee tells the eye-opening account of her 27 years inside the Church from innocence at age 14 to her nightmarish experiences in the highest management body at Scientology's secret International Headquarters. Hear of the abuses she both witnessed and experienced first hand.  'My Billion Year Contract' - By Nancy Many“Nancy Many’s book is the first full-length study to provide insight into how some of Scientology’s techniques and policies may cause or contribute to severe mental health problems among members.”- Stephen A. Kent Professor, Department of Sociology, Adjunct Professor, Department of Religious Studies, University of Alberta'The Scandal of Scientology' - By Paulette CooperA chilling examination of the nature, beliefs, and practices of the "Now religion." The book the Scientologists tried to stop!                


That's not everyone's experience with the Church, though. Churches are run in different ways by different people. Some good, some good. If you had a bad experience, obviously you would disagree with the basic tenets of the church. I would, too. But I, too, was raised Catholic, although I didn't go to Catholic schools, and I currently teach at a Catholic School. I wasn't raised with the hell and damnation, heavy-handed YOU ARE A SINNER, etc., and we certainly don't teach it. I'm mostly ambivalent about church now, I don't regularly attend, but that's less about how I was raised. I'm currently reading "Inside Scientology" by Janet Rietman, and it sounds like they are certainly brainwashing and indoctrinating people. Talk about mind control. You have to pay for EVERYTHING. Many members work in the organization and can take as many as ten years to become "Clear." Ten years of paying for services to gain control of yourself and gain happiness? Once you achieve that, you're moving on to something else, which costs more money. At least I know that if I give to the Catholic church, it's because I want to, not because I have to for "eternal salvation." 


Can you really compare something that happened thousands of years ago with today? If you're going to compare the Catholic church to Scientology, do so using today. How in today's times can the two compare? I don't think it's fair to use something from so long ago, especially considering the times. Are the Protestants any better if we're going off of religious history in England, etc. If I were to walk away from the Catholic Church today, I could. No questions, no harassments, no financial ruin, no signed statements vowing confidentiality about what I had been involved in, etc. I don't think the same can be said for Scientology, based on what I've read.


As someone who was once a part of the organization, I can tell you the Sec check part is very true. As a kid I never knew what it was called, and frankly forgot about these questions all together. After reading this over I remember this day, down to the pattern on the chair and they way the room smelled.  


 Thanks, Synthia.  Yes, this is just sensational, speculative journalism.  I really don't mind news stories that make Scientology look bad but, really, the absolute truth about Scientology makes them look bad enough without the sensationalism. Sure, it is possible that a six-year-old child COULD be subjected to this horror, but unlikely, especially a celebrity child. What Katie is doing is getting Suri away from ALL Scientology's indoctrination and thought control.  Suri is six and that is the earliest that Hubbard allowed children to be audited.  It was going to start NOW and Katie took action to ensure it never happens.


Thank you for your response. The priest does act as a proxy for God, but the basis of the authority doesn't matter to me as much as the practical effect - the Church being involved in the lives of its flock, hearing their secrets and sins starting from an early age, and remaining the authority on absolution. The Church also maintains its own authority by being the authority on what is right and what is wrong. It categorizes, for instance, not regularly attending church as a mortal sin. The basis of the authority matters to the believer but to the non-believer it's just a difference between one bit of nonsense for another. I'm not sure what Scientology views as the basis for its authority but I'd guess that it's based on some belief in itself as being both benevolent and wise. The recordings to me seem fairly trivial because the Scientologists, just as the Church, could probably use these confessions to ill effect if they wanted to even without the recordings. In fact, over the Catholic Church's lifespan, it wouldn't surprise me if they had. People dislike Scientologists in part because there's a belief that the Scientologists would actually currently use the recordings to humiliate wayward members of their flock. That's not really the case with confession and the Church. That sounds to me more like a moral problem with current leadership than a problem with the religion itself, although I don't know enough about Scientology's teachings to say that they're inherently good, neutral, or evil. It could be that Scientology could be reduced down to some benevolent principles as well. It could also be that the content of the teachings is irreparably evil. That's actually a point you bring up - that the motives of Scientologists aren't pure enough. I don't really view either organization - the Church or Scientologists - as having pure or benevolent motives although admittedly, the Catholic Church is much better at handling public relations and diplomacy than Scientologists but the Catholic Church has had a couple thousand years of practice and just as long to establish its legitimacy. My view of both organizations and all organized religion is one of cynicism and skepticism so my expectations of the virtue of a religious leadership that claims to have the answers of our origins, of true morality, and/or to our existence are low to begin with. The alleviation in confession might have some psychological benefits but I think its purported purpose is largely spiritual. The priests hear the sins, asks some questions, maybe gives some advice, and tells the person to say a number of prayers. The effect is supposed to be a spiritual absolution, a forgiveness by God through this priest. Scientologists might argue as well that this process gives alleviation to a person feeling guilty. Yes, the pledge and so forth is a form of indoctrination. Nationalism is a fairly widespread phenomenon globally. In America, that means a combination of an inability to respect self-criticism or foreign criticism, a ridiculous belief in a far rosier past than what actually existed in our country, a profound ignorance of U.S. policy around the world particularly when that policy runs contrary to what are supposed to be American values, and an inability to handle cognitive dissonance so that if the truth really does portray us in a negative light, many people will simply reject it, regardless of the evidence. The mass ignorance is nationalistic in a sense because it's an idea that what's beyond our borders isn't really worth knowing much about. That all being said, America does do a lot of things right, particularly free speech. I don't think pledges, mantras, or rituals are inherently bad, particularly if they're pledges or rituals that help a person keep a genuinely open mind and to think for themselves. Even if they're not, there are some benefits to them. Organized religion and patriotism as social control can be beneficial to a society even if they trample to some degree on an individualism, because they can make collective morality, action, and harmony easier to achieve within the society. There are differences across denominations and religions but there are parallels as well. The Catholic Church is a good point of comparison because so many people in the world are Catholic. Others might see value in believing in a religion - like an afterlife or that the Catholic Church is God's representative on Earth here to guide us to Heaven or that the Scientologists really can provide an answer to living a happy life. I don't but I can tolerate others that do.


Aren't the big differences that Confession in Catholicism is an inviolable contract between Priest and Deity (the Seal of the Confessional) rather than a means of obtaining information on the deeds or percieved misdeeds of parents and family friends and, secondly, that for adult Catholics Confession is not recorded either on audio or video recording - which it has been reliably stated occurs for some (or possibly) many Scientologists - which sounds more like a Stasi-style operation. However, it could be noted that Confession rather than (or as well as) performing a service of social control performs a matter of conscience alleviation - a role which, with the decline of religion, has been taken for many healthy people by the psychiatrist's couch (which is almost certainly the reason for the war between CoS and Psychiatry). But, in my opinion, neither psychiatry nor Scientology seem to offer the basic 'closure' required after a confession of guilt (especially if it is a legally permissable misdeed) - the act of contrition and forgiveness - something that might just alleviate the guilt. Psychiatrists never say you've done wrong but you are or can be forgiven - they say 'I'm not here to judge'. As a non-American I find it intriguing that you don't mention the regular flag pledges (which very small children learn) and the profession of what is effectively a 'faith' in the United States of America, the Constitution and so forth - this could easily be seen by an outsider as another form of indoctrination. (That's not a criticism of America merely an observation that life is full of rituals, rites, mantras and pledges to ideals and philosophies.) There is also the issue of motivation: if you broaden Catholicism to be more accurately a subset of Christianity and consider the basic principle (other than belief in God, Christ and the Resurrection) to be 'love thy neighbour as thyself' the motive seems pretty beneficial - that some have ignorantly or wilfully misinterpreted this is not the belief system's fault; however, the motivations of CoS seem far less clear cut and altruistic. Hubbard said: 'It is all very well to idealize poverty and associate wisdom with begging bowls, or virtue with low estate. However, those who have done this (Buddhists, Christians, Communists and other fanatics) have dead ended or are dead ending.' Again, if you look at Christianity more broadly, most of the different denominations don't require the Sacrament of Confession and those that do don't require verbalized confessions (e.g. CofE, etc.) so there is no invasiveness; as for coerciveness, many non-conformist denominations do not believe in infant baptism as they consider children capable of making up their own minds on matters of faith and those that do believe in infant baptism require a confirmation service which is entirely optional and can occur any time AFTER the candidate has come of age. It is, of course, far easier to cease being a Catholic, Anglican, Baptist or whatever than it is to cease being a Scientologist: I can't recall the last time I read of an Anglican Bishop ordering a stakeout or harassment of a former member. While clearly there are certain parallels between these various doctrines there are certain serious differences. And, while Christians of all denominations like donations, they tend to offer their services free of charge (well, they do in the UK anyway) and there's only one 'level' - in the church or out of it. It's very easy to disparage religions or faiths but many people need something to believe in even if it means that they are just fooling themselves that there is something better waiting for them after a lifetime of minimum-wage, abusive conditions, poverty, hunger, appalling childhood scars, doubt, misery and despair. Who really wants to believe that their life really is essentially a meaningless worthless pantomime with an unhappy ending which is quite probably prolonged, painful and humiliating?


Basically, this stuff sounds like going to confession in Catholicism but maybe a bit more invasive. The Catholic Church trains kids at an early age to tell them everything so they can "absolve" them of their sins but it's also to indoctrinate them into the Church and get kids to view the Church as the authority. The fact of the matter is that people view Scientology as a coercive cult so all this is immediately going to sound ominous. They view the Catholic Church though as fairly benign so you don't have Village Voice articles about the boogeyman of Catholic confession. Imagine another ominous article detailing how a 12 year old has to go through a ceremony to swear they believe in Scientology and to become adult members of its religion. I don't know if Scientologists have that, but imagine they do. Now picture another article beside it detailing the sacrament of confirmation in the Catholic Church and the general public's disparate reaction to both. I have to laugh though when people of other faiths get spooked and hysterical about Scientology when you have these parallels of coercion and invasiveness with other religions. ALL organized religion is a means of social control. In that regard, Scientology is just doing what of the millions of idiotic one true faiths have done since the beginning of religion itself - indoctrinating its flock at an early age and doing its best to keep them in the fold. I can tolerate that nonsense with the Catholics and think I can, barring strong new evidence as to why I shouldn't, tolerate that nonsense with the Scientologists.

Still creeped out
Still creeped out

I wandered into their literacy center in Hollywood a long time ago, thinking I'd ask if they were looking for volunteers (at the time, I had no idea it was one of their fronts). Next thing I knew, I was being "trained" with a few others; I left as soon as I could and never returned. The people who worked there seemed robotic; it's the only way I can describe them. My inner alarm rang loud and clear as soon as I realized who had written the literature. I went through the "study techniques", and even played with clay, and couldn't see the logic in any of it. Even the poor kids who were supposed to be the beneficiaries of these so-called groundbreaking concepts didn't seem to know what to do, and the tutors seemed to emphasize repetition, repetition, repetition, without any explanation. (I guess once you repeat something enough, you'll come to believe it.) So I applaud Katie Holmes for trying to remove her daughter from this situation.


He is a sawed off religious wacko & a closet faggot.  She should keep him 100 miles away from the kid and the sorry excuse for a church


Despite the small number of Scientologists in the UK it would be interesting to know whether these practices have ever been 'formally' brought to the attention of the Brtish authorities. I have a strong suspicion this may breach child protection laws - state-recognized religions have been investigated for such things, I see no reason why unrecognized organizations wouldn't be - other than the necessity of a formal complaint, of course.

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