The Church of Fear 207

I attended a launch last night for John Sweeney’s exposure of Scientology – “The Church of Fear”. Get down your bookshop and order a copy now. Carter Ruck and intense legal pressure was only the most “legitimate” form of the threats directed at John to stop this book, including a determined effort to have him sacked from the BBC. Every major UK publisher turned down the book and in the end John’s agent effectively self-published.

I met several escaped (that is the right word) Scientologists at the reception and I have to admit I had not previously realised just how vicious and dangerous this cult is.

I know that some regular commenters here are baffled at my friendship with John Sweeney, particularly after the mocking tone of some of “The Ambassador’s Last Stand”, his BBC documentary of my 2005 campaign against Jack Straw in Blackburn. On that one, no other tone would have got it on screen but after half an hour of fun at my expense, it socked you absolutely between the eyes with the harrowing truth of Jack Straw’s complicity in torture. You may recall that it was shifted at the last moment from 8pm to late night – there was a reason.

I disagree with John about quite a lot – most sharply about Julian Assange. But he is a big-hearted, passionate and honest man, which is what really matters. I have never confined my friends to those who share my political opinions – or I might not have any!

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207 thoughts on “The Church of Fear

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  • Phil

    “the word “ghetto” is offensive to minority ethnic groups living in slum areas.”

    Some of my best friends live in slums.

  • Habbabkuk

    Two more nice items from what I might modestly call my “Mary – Watch” series.

    Today Mary posts “I note we have the unveiling of a Kate portrait…today as a diversion..”

    From what would that unveiling be diverting us, Mary? The bad deeds of the bad men in general, or did you have something specific in mind?

    Yesterday, Mary couldn’t resist ending another of her wonderful posts with this gem : “PS – did anyone know (Chris) Grayling is the Lord Chancellor? He has no legal background, though.”

    Had Mary been less eager to lash out at all and sundry, she might have taken the trouble to tell us that the Lord Chancellor’s role as the head of the judiciary in England and Wales was traansferred to the Lord Chief Justice back in 2005 (by the Constitution Reform Act of that year). He is now responsible for the efficient funstioning and independence of the courts. Not, therefore, a job where a legal background is a sine qua non, quite independent of the fact that he has civil servants and advisors at his disposal.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    The moral dilemma cited by Kempe actually happened in real life in the Second World War according to Jonathan Glover in ‘Causing Death and Saving Lives.’

    The story goes that the British government had the opportunity to feed false reports (via a double agent) back to the Germans about the accuracy of the V1 and V2 rockets. Essentially they were pretty accurate mostly falling on central London, but the British considered feeding reports that claimed the rockets were falling to the north of London. The thinking was if the flightpaths were changed the rockets would fall on less populous areas south of London, thus killing fewer people.

    This idea was considered but rejected, the presumed thinking being that the Government was reluctant to ‘play God’ in this manner.

  • Pan

    “…the presumed thinking being that the Government was reluctant to ‘play God’ in this manner.”

    Really? Presumed by who?

  • KingofWelshNoir


    ‘Really? Presumed by who?’

    I mean that whenever this story is related, and I’ve heard it a number of times, this is the generally accepted interpretation. Sorry, I can’t give you chapter and verse, but the story is definitely related in the work I cited by Jonathan Glover.

  • Jives

    John Goss,

    Further to your shilling link.

    Ive noticed that when incompetent shills/trolls fail in their mission and are ignored by most posters they then become focused on one person.

    This then is no longer shilling but an exercise in cyber-bullying and psychological intimidation.

    At its most serious this becomes a serious matter for the authorities or at a lesser level certainly worthy of serious scrutiny by a moderator and resulting,possibly,in a banning from the forum.

  • KingofWelshNoir

    A Node

    A primitive form of your teleportation booth already exists: it’s called sleep. The old self is annihilated and a new one generated some time later. The new one assumes it is a continuous extension of the old one but has no way of actually knowing it for sure. Or of knowing how long the gap of non-existence lasted. It could be centuries for all the new self knows.

    The philosopher Derek Parfit writes extensively on this issue, including numerous thought experiment variations on the teleportation booth.

  • Phil

    Jives 11 Jan, 2013 – 6:26 pm
    “Ive noticed that when incompetent shills/trolls fail in their mission and are ignored by most posters they then become focused on one person.”

    Very nicely said. I was composing something far less eloquent.

    I have to disagree with this though: “resulting,possibly,in a banning from the forum”.

  • thatcrab

    Fair point Jives, it has been a quite a show but is the hired entertainment just spitting in peoples drinks for a rise now?

    Michael Stephenson, thanks for the heads up on Lauren McNamara’s AMA on reddit. See the top threads are flooded with people criticising her for commenting before the trial, even though she says “Adrian Lamo, who I believe is also expected to testify, has been writing entire columns about the case. I was never advised against it, and I’ve been speaking with the media for some time already without issue.” , The Reddit community is capable of the occasional burst of conscience but important threads are often swamped out.

  • Jives

    A Node 1.37 am,

    How can i be so sure Scientology is an exploitative scam and sinister crock of shit?

    Personal experience. Mid 1980s a very good friend of mine,in youthful curiosity,aas stopped by them and decided to chat awhile.Given a book,which he promised to return,in exchange for his address.

    He was then hassled for months by them,at his door.Quite menacing in a happy clapper sorta way.

    Despite repeatedly telling them he wasnt interested and to stop coming to his door they persisted.

    Until one day when they called round and my friends Mother was visiting him.

    A fearsome Glaswegian woman,she left them in no doubt what would happen if they ever showed again.

    Strangely enough they didnt. 🙂

  • Phil W


    “However, the unredacted version of the statement that has now been obtained reveals critical information was omitted. It describes how the detainee in question complained of being tortured during interrogations. How he described being beaten repeatedly with a metal bar. How the foreign secretary and armed forces minister had personally authorised his handover.”

    Would this be Jack Straw?

  • sjwest

    Craig instead of ‘cof’ may i suggest the complex by John Duignam [Nicola Tallet] isbn 98711903582848 instead Duignam being an ex cult member. I had to get a copy from Ireland as nobody had the guts to sell it in the uk.

    If a book is published in the uk then ‘safe’ is good word for it with the co$.

  • macky


    My usage of the term “Conceit of the Greater Good”, is not so much referring to the artificialness of the “what would you do” fanciful scenarios, but rather that the very idea of a Greater Good is itself a delusion. This is easy to see when the so called Greater Good is being identified with a Cause, a Religion, etc, because all those who are not subscribers/believers of those Causes/Religions etc , will have no vested interest nor benefit in the realisation of other people’s “Greater Good”. However when the attempt is made to portray a “Greater Good” as a universal, as something that everybody has a stake in, then the delusion becomes an extremely dangerous delusion. To apply this to the train lever scenario, why is the “Greater Good” of the person alone on his own track, superseded by your judgement of the “Greater Good”, especially if you profess to believe all life is sacred & of equal worth; we also have to consider the ramifications resulting from pulling that lever; firstly we are consciously choosing to commit murder, consciously choosing to spill innocent blood, consciously choosing to be Judge, Jury & Executioner over people we know nothing about; we are also consciously choosing to intervene in the unknowable; we would be gambling our definite murder of one person against the unknowable future,
    perhaps if we had left that lever alone, the train would have derail at the last moment of its own accord, perhaps the five men that you saved by murdering the one man, would all die the next day in a similar incident, or perhaps there is an latent serial killer or a future mass murderer amongst those you saved, who will go on to kill scores & scores of peoples later.

    Beware of those who claim to know & act for the “Greater Good”, it is the usual camouflage of those with short-sighted and/or nefarious purposes; all those Humanitarian Bombing supporters, are now confronted by a countless number of corpses who all bear witness to the lie of their “Greater Good”.

    Lastly, if you had enough time to take in the situation, I find your instinctive decisiveness & suppression of moral consideration, quite surprising.

  • Cryptonym

    KingofWelshnoir wrote:

    “The story goes that the British government had the opportunity to feed false reports (via a double agent) back to the Germans about the accuracy of the V1 and V2 rockets. Essentially they were pretty accurate mostly falling on central London, but the British considered feeding reports that claimed the rockets were falling to the north of London. The thinking was if the flightpaths were changed the rockets would fall on less populous areas south of London, thus killing fewer people. This idea was considered but rejected [… ].

    I wasn’t going to get into this distracting game of ‘Scruples’, whoever introduced it and fed it, as it seems like some board game or trash TV game show rehashed, artificial and fairly irrelevant surely? But the case you cite as never happening and being rejected, wasn’t rejected, certainly did happen from accounts by Chapman’s (Agent Zigzag) many biographers and several other and more authoritative histories I’ve come across over the years. Double agents weren’t the only means, there were bogus V1 impact sites shown in the press, in identifiable locations, too far north, which were carefully staged. In the case of V-1s where fuel load alone was the determining factor in where they would reach, such policies met their Machiavellian aims. Far from saving lives though by not landing on prestige buildings and high rent areas in central London, they instead landed on some populous regions of Kent with equal or worse deadly effect, though the actual V1 payload was insignificant. Their principal debilitating effect was on the capital’s morale, which had cracked totally, defeatism was rife even though D-day was past and the Russian armies had long trounced the Nazis and made the outcome a foregone conclusion if nukes or chem/bio weapons weren’t introduced by any party. Saving lives never was of the least concern, don’t kid yourself; something far more important -pre-existing class and power hierarchies were at stake. As for playing god, well that is sidling back to the topic, and in the Church of State, HMG IS GOD and so is Gus O’Donnell and above all sails QE2, who, as someone pointed out on a recent comment, as head of state is responsible in law for countless UK war crimes, which fact must have taken the shine of her jubilee soirees. With Blair gone fugitive and a papist antichrist to boot, next in succession must surely be IDS.

    May it please God to raise up that high and mighty prince William, prince of Orange, to deliver us from popery and arbitrary tyranny. I’m joking of course but to what can 17th century religious mania be attributed? Lead and mercury poisoning, ergot, mushrooms, LSD …

  • glenn

    Macky: We – as a society – take on this “greater good” responsibility all the time. Vaccinations are an example. Whenever you bring out any medicine or vaccination, you know that a small percentage will suffer a very bad reaction – brain damage, bodily damage, or death. That will happen to some innocents, guaranteed, but it’s considered worth it because it is a much lesser harm than the certain damage caused by some disease (smallpox, polio, etc.).

    We inflict that risk even on our own children, because it’s for the greater good. It’s not even for the good, directly, of the individual – it’s for a herd immunity without which we’d all be in greater danger. Not vaccinating your child is a very selfish act for just that reason.

  • yes

    Don’t underestimate the reach of the Scientologist organisation. The German state found it impossible to give people proper protection from them. The French state found it impossible to prosecute them successfully – the court papers kept going missing. It’s interesting John Sweeney encountered such resistance to getting his book published.

    In London, the Scientologists turned out in force with “Volunteer Ministers” to ‘help out’ on the streets after the 7/7 bombings. They also hassled survivors afterwards.

    They have very good relations with the London Metropolitan Police. Yes, really. Since the 2005 bombings, the police have agreed to give them “current, fast-time” information on security alerts.

    Chief Superintendant Ken Stewart even appeared in one of their films praising their work ‘manning cordons’ after the Aldgate tube station bombing.

    Protecting people from psychiatrists, they claim. I think something else is going on.

    Out of interest, anyone know what airline their top bods fly with? Just askin’, like. Have they penetrated airport security yet, or is that not on the agenda, given the Zionist presence at Frankfurt, Schiphol, and Heathrow?

    And that’s not idle talk. There is absolutely no way the CoS would have got away with their response to the attempted German clampdown against their organisation, unless they were given the OK by the Zionists. Their response included publishing big adverts in leading newspapers showing Jewish inmates of Nazi concentration camps. The intention was to say that the German state move against Scientology were of a similar kind.

    Not sure I buy John Sweeney’s line on the CoS and Mesa – it seems very far-fetched – but hell…I’ll have to read the book.

  • Villager

    10 Jan, 2013 – 11:37 am
    I’m a Murrayist. Is that a cult? Show me a church not based on fear.

    10 Jan, 2013 – 11:40 am
    “I’m a Murrayist. Is that a cult?”

    Close, only one letter out.

    10 Jan, 2013 – 11:45 am
    yep, Celt
    Craig, that riposte seems to have gone unappreciated. (Beautiful word that riposte, and way before the invention of the internet.) And brilliant answer by you thinking on your feet. Shows you’re well on your way to recovery. And on your health, i would say to you again, please take a look at Ayurveda–if i can help in anyway, please feel free to email me.

  • Villager

    11 Jan, 2013 – 12:06 am
    “No sorry, I don’t follow that logic at all. By not doing anything you’re complicit in the deaths of five.”

    So let’s take a different dilemma. A doctor has six patients in his hospital all of the same rare blood group. Five of them will die soon if they don’t receive a transplant, the other is healthy apart from a broken leg.

    Do you think the doctor should kill the one to save the five?
    Right Said Fred, now what if the doctor allowed the first of the 5 to die and then used his organs to save the other 4?

  • Villager

    11 Jan, 2013 – 8:49 am
    “The answer, of course, is no. Thou shalt not kill is the rule, by pulling the lever you would be murdering the one workman.”

    Fred’s dilemma is an old one that I have best heard expressed in the utilitarian vs kant debate. It is beyond me to summarise the arguments as I prepare to go to work but it is a fascinating and important question. I will return later if anyone is up for discussing this. Although I am very, very far from an expert and prepared to change my pov.

    I agree with fred and kant – against gut instinct, don’t touch the lever.”

    Phil/others, here they are very well summarised for those interested:

    Also very interesting re Jeremy Bentham:


    Bentham’s Auto-icon
    As requested in his will, Bentham’s body was dissected as part of a public anatomy lecture. Afterward, the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the “Auto-icon”, with the skeleton padded out with hay and dressed in Bentham’s clothes. Originally kept by his disciple Thomas Southwood Smith,[33] it was acquired by University College London in 1850. It is normally kept on public display at the end of the South Cloisters in the main building of the college, but for the 100th and 150th anniversaries of the college, it was brought to the meeting of the College Council, where it was listed as “present but not voting”.[34]
    Bentham had intended the Auto-icon to incorporate his actual head, mummified to resemble its appearance in life. However, Southwood Smith’s experimental efforts at mummification, although technically successful, left the head looking distastefully macabre, with dried and darkened skin stretched tautly over the skull. The Auto-icon was therefore given a wax head, fitted with some of Bentham’s own hair. The real head was displayed in the same case as the Auto-icon for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks. It is now locked away securely.[35]
    A 360-degree rotatable, high-resolution ‘Virtual Auto-Icon’ is available at the UCL Bentham Project’s website.


  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    Holy Moly; Just seeing ‘Battlefield Earth’ with John Travolta cavorting like an atavistic theorist without a paddle, makes me want to disgorge all my dinner. Is friendship enough to tolerate that load of emetic inventory? Alex Jones/ Jim Jones have as much allegiance from the devotees of simplistic cosmology.

  • exexpat

    OT: just watched a brilliant documentary

    Park Avenue – Money, Power and the American Dream

    part of the “why poverty?” series first broadcast on BBC4 in November

    Simply explains how the koch brothers and a few others control the whole game in the US and beyond.

  • Villager

    10 Jan, 2013 – 12:15 pm
    “Apparently religiosity correlates with insecurity – I read it somewhere. Studies on some island showed than the fishermen on the calm coast were quite secular, those on the stormy coast more devout. So maybe we’re headed in the same direction as the USA, where chronic social insecurity leads to all that holiness.”
    Or what you are saying is that religion, like nationalism/patriotism are supposed to achieve security. Whereas, in actual fact, what they do us the exact opposite, actually create insecurity, through setting up conflict. My religion is better than yours etc. Its that simple really, it doesn’t matter which organised religion you belong to, or which country you feel patriotic about.

  • glenn

    Villager: It didn’t go unappreciated. Such a classic response is almost expected now, the bar is very high.

    Yes: Living in America when the German gov’t wanted to declare the CoS a cult, rather than bestowing on it the benefits an organisation receives for the dubious distinction of being a “religion”, we were astonished at the opprobrium (sorry, I just like that word) being heaped on Germany.

    Not content with simply reporting unquestioned the CoS’s version, with lots of uninterrupted talk-time from their PR people, news channels showed tape of the Nuremberg Rally, German tanks storming over some ancient battlefield, and rows of marching solders giving the straight-arm salute, while commenting on the dangers of suppressing freedom and oppressing minorities.

    This was on all channels for the best part of a week, it really was quite blatant.

  • kingfelix

    “Ive noticed that when incompetent shills/trolls fail in their mission and are ignored by most posters they then become focused on one person.”

    Very nicely said. I was composing something far less eloquent.

    I have to disagree with this though: “resulting,possibly,in a banning from the forum”.

    — Why are you, Phil, acting like some arbiter of reason re: trolls, after being such a rude and ignorant idiot just two posts ago. You need a look in the mirror.

    And talking about Kant! Best get your coat on, those shelves won’t stack themselves.

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