Blog: Deconstructing Scientology: Chapter 13 - 2016-12-01

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F0.png Deconstructing Scientology: Chapter 13 December 1, 2016, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large

Hello and welcome back for another round in my take down of the academic apologists who can't seem to say enough good things about the Church of Scientology and its right to exist as a tax-free religion. I'm referring of course to the collection of essays in this book, Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and containing an array of apologetics essays by sociologists, psychologists and religious scholars. Except for just a couple of exceptions so far, this book has pretty much been an academic promotional piece for Scientology and unfortunately, this chapter is literally one of the worst of these. Let's just get right into it.

This week we are looking at Chapter 13, The Nature of the New Religious Movements - Anticult "Culture War" in Microcosm: The Church of Scientology versus the Cult Awareness Network by Anson Shupe. He was an American sociologist who according to Wikipedia was noted for his studies of religous groups and their countermovements, family violence and clergy misconduct. He also was associated with the old and new Cult Awareness Network, which we will talk about, including acting as an expert witness for Scientology in their famous case that ended up destroying the old Cult Awarness Network and even writing pro-cult literature for Scientology in their own publications. In other words, this guy was quite literally one of the very worst of the cult apologists. According to the Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, Schupe was the one who contributed a number of concepts that have acted as ammunition for Scientology to deride its critics such as terms like "apostate" and "anti-cultism" and he worked with other destructive cult apologists to create a framework of justification for their practices and existence, most notably David Bromley. You may recall that Bromely was the author of Chapter 4 of this book and I did not have very many good things to say about his apologetics nonsense either. Bromley was one of those other pro-Scientology academics-for-hire but he sort of burned that bridge when he described the whole Xenu narrative in his essay in this book.

Shupe died in May 2015. I can't speak to his other work, but if this article is representative of how and what he wrote, you'll see why I have nothing but contempt for him professionally. I don't know what he was like personally and I don't care. I'm not here to deride the man as an individual. This is a take down of his professional academic work, not him as a human being.