Blog: Deconstructing Scientology: Chapter 14 - 2016-12-08

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F0.png Deconstructing Scientology: Chapter 14 December 8, 2016, Chris Shelton, Critical Thinker at Large

This week we continue on our slugfest of apologetics contained in this book, Scientology, edited by James R. Lewis and containing essays and articles written by sociologists, religious scholars, psychologists and the like, mostly slanted favorably towards Scientology and its status as a tax-exempt religious organization. I am deconstructing this nonsense so you don't have to. This week's puff piece about Scientology's legal battles in various countries is unfortunately not an exception to most of what we have covered, so I'm going to skim lightly over this and spare you most of the obviously biased nonsense.

Author James T. Richardson is a Professor of Sociology and Judicial Studies and the Director of the Master of Judicial Studies Degree Program at the University of Nevada in Reno. According to his wikipedia article, he is notably outspoken on high-profile cases such as Elizabeth Smart and Patty Hearst and is a scientific critic of brainwashing theories. I looked into this a bit and found that he is a co-hort of Gordon Melton, who I have talked about already at length earlier in this series as one of the most intellectually dishonest academic advocates for Scientology and other destructive cults. While claiming to be objective, I've already shown you in this series how Melton all but parrots Scientology's own promotional materials, writes off any former member's testimony as unworthy of his attention and even went so far as to testify in favor of Aum Shinrikyo after they used sarin gas to try to commit mass murder. I have no patience for this man's apologetics as he is literally so blind to his own biases that he feels it is a perfectly acceptable practice for what he calls "new religious movements" to destroy families, extort millions of dollars from their members and even blatantly violate the law as a standard practice of their "religious beliefs." So when I saw that James T. Richardson was not only allied with Melton but even writing academic papers in defense of destructive cults, my hackles of course went up.

I want to clarify something about these apologetic scholars. To give them the benefit of the doubt, it appears to me that many of them do what they do because they believe in the concept of religious freedom and they want to see people express themselves however those people desire when it comes to religious expression. Now I don't have any argument with such a view when it comes to basic principles. However, what these scholars don't seem to realize is that because they are on a crusade to speak in defense of any group that calls itself a religion, their biases have blinded them to the harm that some, not all, of these new religious movements cause. They're either blind to it or they just don't care what damage these groups cause, because these academics think that you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. This end-justifies-the-means approach indicates to me that their ability to be forward or nuanced thinkers is severely hampered by their opinions and this colors everything they say or write in defense of these groups.