All of them, those in power, and those who want the power, would pamper us, if we agreed to overlook their crookedness by wilfully restricting our activities.
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The film would star a former science fiction writer named L. Ron Hubbard who founded a religion — or what his critics call a "cult." Also included in the cast would be Charles Manson, John Travolta, numerous former cultists turned "deprogrammers," and billions of Thetans, or immortal beings trapped in "meat bodies" on the planet earth — and don't forget Hubbard's renegade son, who works in a Nevada casino and suspects his father is either dead or hopelessly insane.
Scenery in this fantastic movie would include a remodeled home in the heart of Santa Rosa; a decadent galactic empire that's hundreds of thousands of years old; a local classroom in which students talk to [ashtrays] and silently stare at each other for hours; and the former home of the Maharajah of Jaipur in Sussex, England. To give the film an "R" rating, add some black magic, allegations of heavy drug usage, and reports of bizarre sexual activities amongst some of the cult's early leaders. Props? How about a machine which doubles as a religious artifact and a lie detector?
Add to the script the FBI, Interpol, the IRS, the Food and Drug Administration and hundreds of lawsuits. Top it all off with numerous charges of brainwashing; a couple of juicy conspiracy theories; and plots to intimidate the media and infiltrate the U.S. government. Jumble up the script until it's totally confusing, and screen the movie amidst chilling memories of a jungle in Guyana.
Such a film may or may not tell the full story of Scientology, since the tale is changing almost daily. But the story isn't a movie, and as sensational as the aforementioned elements may seem, they're all parts of the world of Scientology.
This week the News-Herald begins an extensive series of articles on the Church of Scientology — researched and written by Assistant Editor Dennis Wheeler, whose award-winning series on the "Moonies" of the Unification Church ran in the News-Herald last year.
Future stories in the series will include Wheeler's first-hand accounts of his experiences in the cult's "Communications Course" in Santa Rosa; an exclusive interview with L. Ron Hubbard, Jr., son of the cult's founder; a look at how the cult deals with "Suppressive Persons"; and interviews with Scientologists and former Scientologists.