Photos by Candice M. Giove
The Santa that came out of The Church of Scientology’s revolving doors was in most respects perfectly credible. He had the grin and the girth, and even a genuine, whitish beard.
But the Scientology Santa also wore a red jacket embroidered with the message “Get it! Read it! Dianetics.”
This riled the anti-Scientology Anonymous protesters across the street to shouts and mocking laughter. For one thing, The Church of Scientology doesn’t even believe in Christmas. “They say Jesus Christ didn’t exist and yet they’re pretending they’re celebrating the birth of him,” said Anon Little Sister.
But nothing about The Church of Scientology building on West 46th Street would indicate that. Trees, wreaths and garland adorn its facade, perhaps making it more inviting to those who arrive at its doorstep to see the free 15-minute film offered inside.
“They’re trying to give people the impression that they’re harmless and that they believe in the same things that we do,” said Anon 1917, as he looked up at their decorations. “They really need to make a volcano and have lights to make it look like its erupting.”
The disingenuously hung holiday flair reminded PokeAnon of his brief experience as a Scientologist. “[They say] Scientology could be a complement to your religious beliefs,” he explained. “It doesn’t have to be your sole religious belief.”
After years of adhering to dual faiths, upper level Scientologists ultimately learn that their other religious beliefs were “implanted” in their minds. Peddling their teachings in this fashion is nothing short of a “bait and switch,” PokeAnon said.
“If they stand out on the street corners telling people that an alien genocide is responsible for your problems and you’re haunted by alien ghosts, people wouldn’t have as many problems with them,” he said. “I have a feeling they wouldn’t have as many members by a long shot, because that just sounds like the science fiction L. Ron Hubbard created.”
The Anon’s festive protest also featured their own Santa, this one beardless, who secured his red pants around his waist with silver duct tape. He shouted names off of a “naughty and nice” list written earlier by HatGirl, and held a sign warning passersby that Scientology was on his bad side.
“The reason Scientology’s on my naughty list is Lisa McPherson,” he said. (As reported here, Anons held a vigil last week to mark the 13-year anniversary of her Scientology-related death.)
Most protestors wore Santa hats or dressed head-to-toe in a holiday theme. Antler-wearing Little Sister plucked candy canes from a plastic shopping bag and handed them out to people who walked by their protest pen. PokeAnon passed out literature.
And then a young woman in a pink scarf approached the barricade. “Don’t get insulted, but what do you guys get out of this?” she asked. “Is this because of Katie Holmes?”
The pair offered a condensed version of their views on Scientology. PokeAnon proffered a flyer with Anon-related web sites and encouraged her to look at Scientology-backed sites as well.
Little Sister also told the curious woman about the cease and desist letters The Church of Scientology’s lawyers have sent to her and other New York City Anons.
“They say I’m a terrorist for handing out flyers,” Little Sister said.
The woman laughed. “You just look like a reindeer.”