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When Scientologists attack

Title: When Scientologists attack
Date: Friday, 18 May 2007
Publisher: Washington Blade
Author: Kevin Naff
Main source:

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Gays should be wary of ‘church’ that has helped advance the reckless idea that homosexuality can be cured.

THE CULT OF Scientology is back in the news this week, after a video of a BBC reporter shouting down a church spokesperson hit YouTube.

The BBC’s John Sweeney claims he was followed and harassed while working on a documentary about Scientology. The spokesperson in question is the son of actress Anne Archer.

“I have been shouted at, spied on, had my hotel invaded at midnight, denounced as a ‘bigot’ by star Scientologists, brain-washed — that is how it felt to me — in a mock-up of a Nazi-style torture chamber and chased round the streets of Los Angeles by sinister strangers,” Sweeney said.

On Monday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed another Scientology spokesperson who denied that the church attacks its critics. It’s a false claim, as the church has a record of suing media outlets and others who dare criticize it, including CNN’s parent company Time Warner.

Last year, Rolling Stone magazine published a lengthy expose on Scientology by Janet Reitman. In it, she notes that science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, who created Scientology, drafted a policy called “Fair Game,” which maintained that all who opposed Scientology could be “tricked, sued or lied to and destroyed.”

I WATCHED COOPER’S interview with interest, after my own run-in with the Scientologists a few weeks ago. I wrote a blog post about the new Hairspray film being released in July that stars prominent Scientologist John Travolta and urged gays to boycott the movie. The tongue-in-cheek nature of the post was lost on Scientologists.

As a devoted Waters and Divine fan since the mid-’80s, I find the new film a lame waste of time. The original is cinematic perfection, an engaging blend of Waters-esque gross-out humor and a socially conscious message told through music, dance and teen angst. It wasn’t self-aware, pretentious or sanctimonious.

And Travolta has no business reprising an iconic gay role, given his cult’s stance on gay issues. It’s well known that Scientology has claimed to “cure” homosexuality via reparative therapy. Travolta’s role in the film is even more galling given all the gay rumors that have followed him for years.

Following that blog post, I received angry e-mails from purported gay Scientologists, claiming that the church is welcoming and supportive. One gay Scientologist even contacted the president of the Blade’s parent company in New York, telling him that my post was “…an all-out slander of a perfectly upstanding religion. … You should be ashamed that [Naff] works for your publication.” Others wrote that Scientology has never tried to “cure” gay members.

More false claims. Michael Pattinson, a gay former Scientologist, sued the church in 1998, claiming that it lied to him about its ability to “cure” him of his homosexuality.

“Scientology considers being gay as an ‘aberration’ that needs to be erased,” he wrote in an essay that has been widely circulated online. “However, they don’t erase it and are in actual practice anti-gay (as I and others got sent to ‘ethics’ correction for such behavior).”

According to Wikipedia’s entry on Scientology, “The lawsuit also argued that the Church of Scientology had often told Pattinson that actor John Travolta was proof that Scientology can transform a homosexual into a happy heterosexual. Travolta’s lawyer asserted that his client was not gay, and is happily married to a woman.”

AS REITMAN REPORTED, a Scientologist’s harmful or negative acts are called “overts.” She wrote, “Another overt is homosexuality, which Hubbard believed was a form of sexual ‘deviance’ best treated by therapy, or institutionalization. … Scientology as an institution takes no formal position on issues like gay marriage, but homosexuality, sexual promiscuity or any other form of ‘perversion’ ranks low on Scientology’s ‘tone scale,’ a register of human behavior Hubbard described in his 1951 book Science of Survival: Prediction of Human Behavior.”

In that book, Hubbard wrote of homosexuals, “Such people should be taken from the society as rapidly as possible . . . for here is the level of the contagion of immortality and the destruction of ethics. No social order will survive which does not remove these people from its midst.”

And in case there was any doubt about just how bizarre these folks are, consider this description that Reitman offered of church beliefs:

“They assert that 75 million years ago, an evil galactic warlord named Xenu controlled seventy-six planets in this corner of the galaxy, each of which was severely overpopulated. To solve this problem, Xenu rounded up 13.5 trillion beings and then flew them to earth, where they were dumped into volcanoes around the globe and vaporized with bombs. This scattered their radioactive souls, or thetans, until they were caught in electronic traps set up around the atmosphere and ‘implanted’ with a number of false ideas — including the concepts of God, Christ and organized religion.”

There’s no law against being bizarre or crazy, so why should gays care about Scientology and this latest row? Because the so-called church has helped advance the false notion that homosexuality can be cured. Whether it’s coming from Scientologists or the group Parents & Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, it’s a reckless claim long ago debunked by every credible medical association in the world. And the “ex-gays” are not a dim bunch of 1950s holdovers quietly praying for salvation. They are active in chapters around the country, filing lawsuits to force their backward, unscientific views into high schools.

PFOX filed a lawsuit this month against a Northern Virginia school board for refusing to distribute its fliers to high school students there. And in progressive Montgomery County, Md., school officials have endured a lengthy, litigious ordeal just because they wanted to teach a few benign facts about homosexuality in health classes.

Those who espouse therapy as a means for “curing” homosexuality conveniently ignore the implications of their own logic. If you can be cured of being gay, then it follows that after a few weeks of comparable therapy, that straights can be cured of heterosexuality.

Whether it’s the Church of Scientology, PFOX or Love in Action espousing the false notion that sexual orientation is changeable, it’s important for the rest of us to denounce and counter their false claims so that another generation of gay kids doesn’t grow up on a diet of destructive lies about the true nature of human sexuality.