I personally think, however, that in order to fight against cultism, and the range of fanatical actions it comes with, you do need to tackle the beliefs justifying and underlying the behavior. Of course you need to do this in a reasonably respectful manner rather than in the offensive manner so typical of fanatical critics.
For example, Scientology makes fantastic claims about the results of its practices. The discrepancy between these and the actual results achieved should be a warning sign to members that something is at odd with Scientology.
The way Scientology escapes this contradiction is by constantly finding excuses and justifications, namely and most of the time, that you need to do higher levels, since the root cause of the problem, they say, lays deeper.
Critics are victim of the same phenomenon in their own right. They explain the cognitive dissonance between their fantastic claims about Scientology and what anybody can observe getting a bit deeper in the question, by even more fantastic and paranoid claims, such as Scientology bought the justice system, etc. I have gone into that phenomenon on my page about cognitive dissonance and through the anti-Scientology myths I used as examples on my web page.
There is, however, a reason why Scientology will never achieve the fantastic claims they promise, and this is because it does not tackle with the real root cause of human dysfunction.
Scientology first claims the cause is the reactive mind, then they claim you need to go through the “Wall of Fire” before achieving the promised results, then they claim there are still higher levels but they will only be revealed once more people go clear…
They never tackle with what many enlightened individuals have pointed as the root cause of human dysfunction: the human ego. Quite on the contrary, Scientology tends to strengthen the ego, precisely because it promises all kinds of marvels if, through time, you dutifully follow its path.
Now here is the good news. Tackling with the human ego doesn’t have anything to do with time, nor is it anything that somebody can give you or retain from you. All it takes is to become conscious of it, and it’s absolutely and totally free. No technology, no amount of money, no methodology or some other person, no magical process or magical potion can make you spiritually free, and by virtually promising such is where Scientology fails.
Scientology can do marvels at the psychological levels, and many persons have attested to this. It is the reason why these persons still stick with Scientology in spite of all the nasty criticism and ugly oppression they are the target of.
Their error, however, is to identify the positive results Scientology can bring at the psychological level, with its promises at the spiritual level. They think that because they have achieved such results at the psychological level, they will achieve similar results at the spiritual one. It isn't a conscious association, because they simply are not aware of the difference between the two.
Critics make the opposite error. They sort of recognize that the spiritual promises made by Scientology cannot be attained, but they fail to recognize and acknowledge that positive results can be achieved at the psychological level. They thus trash the whole subject and thereby lose considerable credibility with current Scientology members and with moderate onlookers.
Critics need to acknowledge that positive aspect and dissociate it with their criticism on the spiritual aspect of Scientology, and therefore stop with their debunked claims of brainwashing and mind-control in an attempt to explain it all, as well as stop portraying Scientology belief system as the Xenu story, which it isn’t.
Scientologists, on the other hand, need to realize that although they may have benefited greatly from Scientology otherwise, it is not going to help them reach any of its promises at the spiritual level, because of the very nature of spirituality. They need to realize their spiritual dependency on the subject and the trap Scientology represents at this level.
Which bring us back to the start of this post, the necessity of tackling with the belief system itself.
In this respect, I find the work of a critic (and I believe also anon) of some use. His name is “Chef Xenu” (badly chosen name if he wants Scientologists to listen to him, which in fact he may not). He goes through various L. Ron Hubbard writings, highlighting various aspects. I certainly do not always agree with all of what he says or does, very far from it, but I think this is the sort of things that would be potent in getting members to reflect on the subject, and in promoting a criticism based on understanding rather than (as is the case presently) sheer fear.
Check out his latest analysis, where he highlights various claims made by L. Ron Hubbard about the super-natural intelligence Clears are all of a sudden supposed to be endowed as a result of going through Scientology processes. Anybody who personally knows Clears, even though they may recognize them as likable personalities and otherwise sound, will recognize that there is no truth whatsoever in these tintinnabulations. In this particular case these may not even be typical spiritual claims, but they are fabulous nevertheless, and clearly go out of what Scientology can actually deliver.
Here is my favorite:
“A Clear, for instance, has complete recall of everything which has ever happened to him or anything he has ever studied. He does mental computations, such as those of chess, for example, which a normal would do in a half an hour, in ten or fifteen seconds.” L. Ron Hubbard - Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health (page 208).This is only one of the various topics Chef Xenu highlighted (sometimes unfortunately in a pejorative way) through L. Ron Hubbard's writing. I already mentioned his work in this blog before, and you should be able to find more of these through a Google Group search.
Enjoy – or not – but at least there is something there that goes a bit further than the display of sheer bigotry we sadly have to witness on a daily basis in guise of “criticism”.