Scientology (again)

After seeing today’s news that Germany had banned a Tom Cruise movie from filming in military owned sites due to the star’s connection with the cult, I thought it would be fun to repost this piece I put up back in May 3 of last year. Below is the post originally presented a bit over one year ago.

May 3, 2006

Andrew Sullivan today calls for a boycott of the Tom Cruise vehicle Miss:ion: Imp:oss:i:ble: 3.

How creepy is Tom Cruise? The Washington Post asks; and readers answer. All I can say is: after the way this guy treated South Park, we owe it to ignore him and any movie with which he’s associated. The Boycott “MI:3” movement starts here. Blogospheric solidarity much appreciated.

Well Andrew, I am completely with you on this one, but the boycott does NOT start with you. I was walking around Manhattan with my camera on April 16th and snagged this photo on 9th Avenue somewhere between 45th and 50th Street.

It seems that some people have already had the idea.

As it so happens I ended up passing through Times Square a few minutes later, where there was a pair of tables full of copies of Dianetics, a pair of e-meters, and a bunch of money-crazed bad pulp scifi worshipping Scientologists trying to indoctrinate passers-by. (I normally avoid Times Square, but I wanted to stop by Midtown Comics on the way home and couldn’t remember exactly which cross-street it’s at, only that it’s near the corner of 7th and 40-something. For the record, it was 40th Street.)

All of the following photos taken on April 16th on the west side of Times Square with a Canon EOS 300D and 65mm Hartblei Super Rotator lens.

The Scientologist bible-which unlike the actual Bible has no literary merit.

A shill for Scientology distributing pamphlets to the dazed tourists that wander Times Square.

A Scientology evangelist tries to explain his religion to a new prospect in a way that seems uncrazy.

A man gazes at the e-meter, wondering what is in store for him if he accepts the offer of a free “stress test.”

A close-up of the black e-meter from the other table. Isn’t it glorious?

He strokes the beautiful e-meter gently.

“Don’t you just want to grab those handles?” the Scientologist whispers in his here. God, the temptation.

He gives in, another one for the team.

“Mission accomplished boys!”

For more background information on Scientology, see Operation Clambake. They also have links view to the infamous South Park episode that so riled Tom Cruise, and led to Isaac Hayes’ departure.

25 thoughts on “Scientology (again)”

  1. Ah!! I’m having a geek moment! I saw those pictures of the e-meter and wanted to take it apart to see what’s inside!

    Scary thing is, I know little about electronics.

  2. Since it was over a year ago, I’m afraid I have no idea what I bought that day at the comic bool store.

    The guy who runs Clambake is clearly a rabid anti-scientologist, but I wouldn’t call him crazy without knowing anything about him. Actually, I did end up watching MI:3 in the theater and even liked it pretty well, but I do think that protest through boycott is a perfectly valid form of expression. I will sort of agree with you that boycotting someone for their religious beliefs is distasteful, but Tom Cruise is not just a believer but something of a spokesman for the Church of Scientology, and I think that for someone who believes in and disapproves of a lot of the more negative stories about the organization, a boycott would be fine.

    My attitude is that in general I will try art/entertainment product regardless of the creators’ beliefs. I would even, for example, watch a new Mel Gibson movie, despite his being an anti-semetic ass and me being Jewish.

    I have heard that the e-meter has the same basic circuitry as those love testers you used to see in diners all the time. I think a potentiometer. Of course it’s hard to get one you can dissect, but they’ve appeared on ebay in the past.

  3. Well, I have seen the movie (I was invited by a company, so I didn’t have to pay for it, fortunately). I didn’t really find it cool. It was a lot of ideas from other movies. Like the Jackie Chan one which happens in Rotterdam. Or the dying and resuscitation scene, etc… As for boycotting a movie because of the religious beliefs of someone, I don’t see the problem. As Mutantfrog mentioned Mel Gibson, its Passion of Christ was boycotted by many and for good reason. Now Scientology is maybe a “religion”, but in all honesty, their aversion for shrinks is a bit suspicious to me. Just like their recruiting methods. And the number of adepts who came back saying they had been ruined by the cult is a bit too many to be ignored.

    Not surprisingly, in countries a bit less paranoid about freedom of religion than the USA, Scientology has been attacked in courts of laws… Personally again, I don’t think that claiming to be a Religion should be an excuse for complete immunity.

  4. I’m not saying it was one of the best movies I saw all year (or even all month), but I went with some friends to see a different movie, which wasn’t open yet so we picked what looked like the best option. Compared to the crap-fest of Mission Impossible II, it was surprisingly entertaining.

    It’s important to make distinction between religious beliefs and religious organizations. Look at the large number of Catholics who are sincere in their beliefs, but uncomfortable attending a church with a history of sheltering pedophiles.

  5. sheltering pedophiles?
    Now I understand why the Catholics are increasing in Japan!

  6. Greg: It gives it away a bit if you post the Church of Scientology website as your own.

    Isn’t reading the Scientology websites rather like asking a KKK member about the history of the KKK?

    Why did you miss out They have an interesting bio of Clambake’s founder. Of course, they don’t actually link to Clambake:
    “Finally [the founder of Clambake] claims that Religious Freedom Watch doesn’t link to his site. Why should one bother to link to a site that is all opinions, has no facts, and is a platform for hatred.”

    Wow – cutting rebuttal of his arguments there.

    Thanks for the links to the scientology websites – they make for interesting reading. Of course, I could get those links from Clambake.

    Religious Freedom Watch says:
    “It is a position of Religious Freedom Watch that, “Freedom of Speech is a fundamental human right for which our fathers fought hard to guarantee a free and democratic society. It is unfortunate that there are elements in the society who abuse this right to harass religions, races, genders, with injurious lies and intimidation.””

    Great – now, can the Curch of Scientology please extend that respect of the freedom of speech to family members cut off from their families, and to ex-scientology members complaining about their treatment by the Church.

    Freedom of speech means tolerating opinions that are insulting to you, and trusting in a free marketplace of ideas to promote the truth. Copyrighted holy scriptures and dirty smear campaigns run contrary to the spirit of freedom of speech.

  7. Not that I think Scientologists hide behind tu quoque arguments, but is believing that an alien boogyman is responsible for depression and misery really that much different from believing that a virgin gave birth once, a dude with a big beard could control tides or indeed that the sun once got pissed off with her brother and went to hide in a cave?

  8. The difference is these old schools do not have Hollywood celebrity as spokes person…

    It just came to me that Tom Cruise could be the only Hollywood celebrity who is not selling his or her brave soul to the world of Japanese TV commercials.
    Considering Scarlett”Lost in the Translation”Johansson is selling latte in TV,one must admit that money can’t buy Tom’s noble soul….

  9. “The difference is these old schools do not have Hollywood celebrity as spokes person…”

    I’ll be sure to tell Mel Gibson that. To my knowledge Cruise hasn’t yet made a movie of the origin story of his sect. If he does, it should be a blast.

  10. You got me there,Bryce.
    I should’ve known more about his apocalyptic vision when I saw”The Road Warrior”
    back in 8th grade…

  11. Scientology used to advertise on TV. I still remember the commercials of their bible/book arising from an exploding volcano. As a child I always used to think Scientology was an amazing geological society.

    Anyways, your picture of that odd machine solves a personal longstanding question! A while back my friend explained how, once when he was very bored, he decided to answer a newspaper ad for a personality test and counseling session. He drove to a nearby office and lo and behold, it was a Scientology center. He was curious and wanted to know what they would do. Well, he had his personality tested, and described being tested with a weird machine (probably featured in the picture). When he got the results of the test he was lectured to by a handful of people (like one person to five) who told him he lacked self confidence, people would always pick on him, he would never succeed and so forth. The answer to all his problems was their book.

    He scrambled out of there without ever looking back.

  12. “To my knowledge Cruise hasn’t yet made a movie of the origin story of his sect.”

    Much to the contrary, they made their origin story out of the movies. I think Toho depicted the entire story of Scientology long before Tom Cruise got into it.

  13. I think Joe just means that Scientology is itself based on B-grade pulp scifi.

  14. Cruise can’t do the Scientology origin movie because Travolta (sort of) beat him to it with “Battlefield Earth”, as well as that “Phenomenon” flick where he lives up to his potential as a human and dies. There’s a lesson in there for all of us.

  15. Scientology — isn’t it the only religion in the world you have to pay money to belong to? I don’t even think they’ll give you a free book, for goodness sakes!

    I always had to laugh at their building in NY. I don’t know what it looks like now, but ten years ago, it actually had “SCIENTOLOGY — THE HOLLYWOOD CHURCH” in huge letters across the front.

  16. Looks like our Tom was canceled from his scheduled film location from German Defense Ministry.He is now making film of Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg,the could-be Hitler assassin, in Germany.The Germans are obviously not pleased with Scientlogy dude playing their national herp.

  17. I just thought it is about time that you guys are start missing my bad spelling,so…..

  18. Tom Cruise should be judged on the basis of his acting abilities, not his personal brand of superstition. Ditto for Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, and Barbra Streisand’s political views. They’re entertainers, not rocket scientists (or even decent political pundits).

    And, I admired Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” for its honest portrayal of the post-classic Maya.

  19. “And, I admired Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” for its honest portrayal of the post-classic Maya.”
    Now I have an arugument about that lirelou.Maya civilization had already declined when conquistadores came to Mexico.Perhaps Gibson had confused Mayas to Aztecs?
    How about that Vietnam movie.”We were Soldiers”?One of the guy of the regiment went to the combat zone nothing but his own colt 45?

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