Scientology Gets Its Ass Kicked In the Desert

[Tommy Davis on the hot seat, from KESQ]

SEE UPDATE, after the jump.

Wise Beard Man tipped us recently that KESQ, a local television station in Palm Springs, California, has put together a pretty terrific 5-part investigation of Scientology.

Why Palm Springs? Well, one of Scientology's stranger facilities is located in the California desert, well away from the prying eyes of big-town journalists. For years, the Hubbard cabal in Hemet, California has been able to push around local politicians and law enforcement, convincing them, for example, that protesters at the desert site should be jailed for things like random Usenet posts.

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So it's encouraging that even out in the middle of nowhere, Scientology can't escape a thorough drubbing by an alert media.

Our favorite part, naturally, was the episode in which a KESQ reporter made reference to the Voice as he was grilling one of our favorite Scientology tools, Tommy Davis, a church spokesman and son of actress Anne Archer.

KESQ's Nathan Baca asked Davis, "Somebody from the Village Voice apparently said the Church of Scientology is about 'ridding the body of space alien parasites.' And your reaction then and now is exactly to that claim?"

Davis answered, "You know, here's the thing. There are outrageous claims out there on the Internet about what Scientologists believe."

Very clever response, Tommy. Yes, the stuff Scientologists believe is pretty outrageous, and it is plastered all over the Internet. Davis, with that answer, is implying that the "outrageous" material isn't true, but of course, it is true. Because the stuff we at the Voice, and many others, have written over many years regarding the actual beliefs of Scientologists is based on court records and other sources of L. Ron Hubbard's own writings.

But here comes the best part. Davis himself then asserts that the "easiest and most transparent way" to learn about Scientology is "through L. Ron Hubbard's books and lectures."

Baca's ready for that, and he whips out one of Hubbard's many arcane and very stupid manuals about space aliens and federations of planets and counseling tomatoes, and whatever.

"I can stop you," Davis says. "I'm familiar with the material. I think what you're getting at is the confidential scriptures of the Church."

But Baca won't be dissuaded: "Is this not about the fundamentals of your belief?"

And here comes the classic Scientology dodge. Davis says that discussing the beliefs of his church is offensive: "For you to talk to me, you as somebody who is not a Scientologist to talk to me about what my beliefs are or to ask me to explain any core religious belief, that's an offensive concept. Nobody should ever be asked to do that."

No, certainly not! After all, a Christian would be deeply offended if you asked him about this 'Jesus' fellow. And who would ever think it appropriate to question the spokesman of a religion about the core beliefs of his faith? Oh, the rudeness!

Look, we've said it many times, and we'll say it again: Scientology should never be treated as a legitimate faith by local governments as long as it insists on charging people hundreds of thousands of dollars before telling them the most basic, most fundamental of its core beliefs.

Christians aren't shy about telling you that believing in Jesus will get you everlasting life. Jews aren't reticent about telling you that they have a special compact with God. Muslims, well, they are a bit touchy about Mohammed, but what more is there to understand about Islam than a total devotion to an all-powerful Allah? The rest, in every case, is just detail, and if you really want the rest, all you need to do is spend a few bucks for a used Bible or Koran at your local thrift store. And of course, it goes without saying that you don't have to believe any of them.

Scientology wants a small fortune before telling you that your body is crawling with invisible space-alien parasites, and that L. Ron Hubbard discovered the only way to get rid of them, by holding onto a couple of soup cans connected to a sweat-meter while being grilled about your most embarrassing secrets.

Sounds like loads of fun. And it's utter bullshit, of course. But too often, Americans who are squeamish about religion in general buy into the idea that Scientology somehow shouldn't have to explain itself, even as it impoverishes the gullible.

So congratulations to KESQ for calling Tommy Davis on that nonsense.

UPDATE: From the comments, a classic Scientology response: "The religious practices of Scientology are primarily the auditing process wherein a spiritual being is guided by a trained auditor in various processes to better his spiritual condition."

Why are Scientologists afraid to be a little more specific, as in, "The religious practices of Scientology are primarily the auditing process wherein a spiritual being pays tens of thousands of dollars per spiritual level to be interrogated by a trained auditor about his most privately-held secrets in order to find the things holding back his spiritual condition, things which our most highly-esteemed leader tell us are actually the disembodied souls of ancient space aliens, as laid out in our leader's sacred texts, which may not be altered or negated in any way."

Why, Scientologists, why? Why can't you just own up to that the way people of other faiths are happy to tell about the origin stories and arcana of their own belief systems?

Oh, are you afraid it might be tough to get those high prices if people knew what they were getting into on the front end of the deal?

Just asking.


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