Monday, June 25, 2007

Germany nimbly dodges the Scientologist takeover

In today's Germanic nations and fringe religions with questionable tax status news, Germany has banned Tom Cruises' latest movie from filming on German military sites because the star has "publicly professed to being a member of the Scientology cult."

Continuing with the official candor, Berlin declared that Scientology "masquerades as a religion to make money."

Strong words, although I do have to quibble with the German's characterization of Scientology's true intentions. While I'm sure back in L. Ron's time it was solely about stuffing the coffers, these days Scientology also functions as a helpful support group where closeted male actors can exchange tips on butching it up -- or at least on how to behave so bizarrely the debate over their sexuality becomes secondary.

Still, for whatever reason, Europe, Germany in particular, has an intense intolerance of Scientology that is even more wacky than the weird, wild religion itself.

What does a Scientologist have to do to gain a little status on the Continent? Call for the execution of an author? Kill a cartoonist? Would a pope do the trick? He's pretty old anyway.

Not that Scientology is all spaceships and giggles. The church does have a history of using private investigators as weapons of harassment against its critics, and Scientologists have been known to sweep up a young starlet and brainwash her into a life of Stepford-like servitude -- although, when that happens, the rumor is she is quite well-compensated and rarely forced to wear a veil.

Anyway, what if Scientology was, as the Germans suggest, simply about the bottom line. Would the world be a worse place if all religion was based solely on the pragmatic pursuit of Deutsche Marks (er, Euros), instead of the noble irrationality of fighting over whether your supernatural force is more omnipotent than the other guy’s supernatural force?

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