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alt.religion.scientology critical FAQ 2.0.8


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Archive-name: scientology/skeptic/faq
URL: http://www.newsfrombree.co.uk/faq.htm
Maintainer: Hartley Patterson <hpttrsn@daisy.freeserve.co.uk>
Posting-Frequency: monthly

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
An Alt.Religion.Scientology FAQ (2.0.8)

1. What's an FAQ?

FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. Newcomers to popular newsgroups, 
forums and websites often have the same questions they want answered, a FAQ 
is intended to be an aid to those who get bored of repeating the same 
answers every week.
This FAQ expresses the author's views not those of any other ARS poster, 
though on occasion he does state what he believes to be the majority view. 
FAQs do not require unanimous approval of every word in them, just 
sufficient truth not to get buried under a mountain of abuse. ARS has no 
Charter so it does not have an 'Official' FAQ.
The author is not nor has ever been a scientologist and is a critic of the 
Church of Scientology (CoS).
Internet URLs are signalled by ***. If you cannot use them as links 
directly, cut and paste into your browser.

2. What is Scientology?

This is an FAQ for ARS not for Scientology so the answer will be very 
brief:

American author L Ron Hubbard (1911-1986), founder of Scientology, first 
presented his ideas in the bestselling book "Dianetics - the Modern Science 
of Mental Health" (1950). Scientology, an expansion of Dianetics, followed 
in 1952, the Church of Scientology appeared in 1953.
CoS headquarters are in Los Angeles and its main training facility is in 
Clearwater, Florida. The CoS claims to have branches in 64 countries; about 
half of CoS members are believed to be US citizens with another third in 
Europe.
The CoS also claims to have over 10 million members, however its own data 
and independent sources suggest an active membership of 50-100,000. In 
addition there are scientologists who practise their faith outside the 
Church. Some have set up their own organisations, though the CoS remains 
the largest group. The CoS considers them all to be 'squirrels', the 
scientology term for heretics.
There are a number of CoS enterprises that promote Hubbard's teachings such 
as Narconon (anti-drugs), Criminon (anti-crime), CCHR (anti-psychiatry), 
Applied Scholastics (schools) and WISE (business). When convenient the CoS 
claims that it does not control these groups, internally circulated 
documents show otherwise.

There is a wealth of information about Scientology on hundreds of Internet 
websites, more than you will ever have time to read. Type 'Scientology' 
into a Search Engine such as Google and you'll find them. Please try 
Searching first for answers, only when you can't find something specific 
should you post questions to ARS.
*** Wikipedia, the Internet encyclopaedia, has a wide range of referenced 
articles about Scientology:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology
As an exercise you might like to open your web browser now and put any 
words or phrases you don't understand in this FAQ into a Search Engine.

3. What do scientologists believe?

Scientology is an 'applied religious philosophy'. It is not directly 
derived from Christianity or any other religion, being an original belief 
set devised/researched by L Ron Hubbard. Concepts that are considered 
important in some religions such as a personal relationship to God do not 
exist in Scientology. The CoS sometimes claims that Scientology is 
compatible with other religions. This is untrue.
A common mental block is assuming that the organisation and the beliefs are 
the same. The Catholic Church and Christianity are not the same, and 
neither are the CoS and Scientology.
These are important points that newcomers often take some time to grasp as 
they try to fit Scientology into preconceptions of whose existence they are 
not aware.

4. I have some questions for scientologists, are there any here?

Ordinary members of the CoS do not usually post to ARS and are discouraged 
from doing so. It is also likely that they could not answer the questions 
you want to ask for doctrinal reasons. Scientologists are not encouraged to 
discuss Hubbard's teachings amongst themselves or to explain them to 
outsiders but to read them and advise others to do so.

5. Can someone please Email me a copy of the secret scriptures?

You are referring to those unpublished writings of L Ron Hubbard that 
constitute advanced courses in Scientology such as the OT (Operating 
Thetan) levels. Anyone considering trying out Scientology should be aware 
that the CoS holds that these levels should be studied in order and that 
premature contact with the secret scriptures could result in serious harm. 
According to Hubbard, he almost died whilst researching them. The copyright 
to all Hubbard's writings is owned by the CoS. If you know how to use 
bittorrent searching for this file may allegedly be of interest:
*** Scientology-Dianetics-LRonHubbard-Complete
The esoteric language used in advanced courses is not comprehensible to 
beginners. Really, honestly, you should search the Internet for summaries 
rather than going for the original texts.
*** OT III Scholarship Page
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/OTIII

6. What is a newsgroup?

Newsgroups (most of which form Usenet) are part of the Internet. They are 
not forums or discussion boards, which use webpage based software. 
Specialised newsreader programs include Agent and Gravity; Email programs 
such as Microsoft's Outlook Express have integrated newsgroup readers, so 
you don't need any new software to access them.
*** Wikipedia on Usenet
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newsgroup
To access newsgroups with a newsreader you need to connect to a newsgroup 
server. If your Internet Service Provider (ISP) does not provide one then 
free access to scientology newsgroups is available from nntp.lightlink.com.
*** Reviews of Newsgroup access providers
http://www.newsgroupreviews.com
Portals such as Google offer newsgroup access on webpages but we don't 
recommend them unless you have no alternative. Google Groups in particular 
is unstable and difficult to read.
*** How to set up a newsreader
http://www.newsfrombree.co.uk/stolgy_19.htm
If you have technical problems accessing ARS then it is definitely On Topic 
to ask for help. We have a team of geeks awaiting your call.

7. So who's in charge?

No one. A few newsgroups are Moderated: contributions are diverted to an 
Email address where a human or robot moderator removes unwanted posts such 
as spam. Most, including ARS, are not ? what you post is what everyone will 
see. Think before you press Send! That's not to say anarchy rules: normal 
laws such as libel and copyright apply and your ISP may well have a clause 
in its Terms of Service (TOS) about causing offence on the Internet.

8. Can I delete or change my posts?

You cannot edit posts once sent, you can try to delete them but some news 
servers ignore the Cancel command - another reason for thinking before 
posting. There is a searchable Usenet archive currently hosted by Google. 
If you posted something really embarrassing, you can delete it from the 
archive.

9. Can I post anonymously?

Usenet doesn't check to see if you are using a real Email address so you 
can post as anon@nowhere.net if you like. Please try to pick a unique 
nickname and address so you won't be confused with someone else.
There is a normally invisible Header (some newsreaders can display it, 
there are two examples below) attached to posts that gives details of where 
you posted from, if you want to hide that as well you can use Anonymous 
Remailers, a system that is in practical terms untraceable.
A simpler way is to ask someone you trust to post your message for you.
By default, your ISP customer services department is staffed by idiots who 
know nothing about the law or customer care. They will reveal your identity 
to anyone sending them an Email full of legal phrases.

10. What are all these strange words?

Scientology has a lot of jargon that inevitably gets used here. We're not 
going to apologise for this any more than alt.fan.tolkien posters should 
apologise for talking about mathoms and ringwraiths.
There are several glossaries available on websites.

11. Wasn't ARS started as a joke by someone using a fake Email address?

The creator had serious intent, but here is his setup post:

* From miscaviage@flag.sea.org Wed Jul 17 12:46:28 1991
* Path: rpi!zaphod.mps.ohio-state.edu!think.com!snorkelwacker.mit.edu!ai-
* lab!flag !miscaviage
* From: miscaviage@flag.sea.org (David Miscaviage)
* Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology.ctl
* Subject: newgroup alt.religion.scientology
* Message-ID: 80235@flag
* Date: 17 Jul 91 08:06:31 GMT 
* Control: newgroup alt.religion.scientology 
* Sender: news@ai.mit.edu 
* Lines: 0 
* Approved: miscaviage@flag.sea.org

ARS was little used for a while, but as the Internet spread ex-
scientologists discovered it and the CoS became increasingly concerned 
about the 'false and derogatory' information being posted. When extracts 
from its 'secret scriptures' were posted beginning around Christmas 1994 
the CoS retaliated with lawsuits and raids against the suspected posters. 
At the same time forged cancels began to hit ARS. The forger, nicknamed 
'Cancelpoodle' after the legitimate spam canceller 'Cancelmoose', attracted 
the attention of the wider Usenet and Internet community ? no one had 
seriously tried to wipe out a newsgroup like this before.

12. Didn't a CoS lawyer try to delete ARS?

*** Here you go:
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.config/msg/a8bbf4ca497633c6

* Control: rmgroup alt.religion.scientology
* Newsgroups: alt.config,alt.lotto.players,alt.lotto.players.ctl 
* Path: uunet!cs.utexas.edu!howland.reston.ans.net!ix.netcom.com!
* netcom.com!hkk 
* From: hkk@netcom 
* Subject: cmsg rmgroup alt.religion.scientology 
* Message-ID: 
* Followup-To: alt.config 
* Sender: hkk@netcom.com (Helena Kobrin) 
* Organization: NETCOM On-line Communication Services (408 261-4700 guest) 
* Date: Wed, 11 Jan 1995 22:52:23 GMT 
* Lines: 17 
* Xref: uunet control:1568915
* 
* We request that you remove the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup from
* your site.
* The reasons for requesting its removal are: (1) It was started with a
* forged message; 2) not discussed on alt.config; (3) it has the name
* "scientology" in its title which is a trademark and is misleading, as
* a.r.s. is mainly used for flamers to attack the Scientology religion;
* (4) it has been and continues to be heavily abused with copyright
* and trade secret violations and serves no purpose other than condoning
* these illegal practices.
* Please confirm that you have removed this newsgroup from your system.
* Helena K. Kobrin Counsel for trademark and copyright owner

As mentioned earlier 'Path' above reveals that Helena was posting from 
Netcom, as is also shown by her Email address.

*** Wendy M. Grossman's article 'alt.scientology.war' (1995) covers the 
early days:
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/3.12/alt.scientology.war.html
*** and on Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientology_versus_the_Internet

13. And the CoS is still hostile to ARS?

ARS is nowadays just a minor front in a still expanding 'war' between the 
CoS and its critics which includes pickets, media exposure, law suits and 
other activities outside the scope of this FAQ. In 1998-9 another attack on 
ARS was made, thousands of spam posts each day that forged the names of 
real posters and were dubbed 'sporgeries'. Its only lasting effect was to 
attract the attention of more Internet users, as regular readers quickly 
learnt how to filter out the spam.

*** Google has some stats on ARS (most frequent posters, monthly number of 
posts) at
http://groups.google.com/group/alt.religion.scientology/about

14. This is a hate group trying to destroy the Scientology religion.

Was that a question? The CoS says so, yes. Naturally no one here is going 
to admit to being a hatemonger or a religious bigot! You'll just have to 
read ARS and make up your own mind on this.
Amongst critics, opinion differs about the 'destroy' bit. Some say they are 
here to stop the alleged abuses committed by the CoS and are not concerned 
with scientology as a set of beliefs. Others do not believe the two can be 
separated ? any scientology based organisation is bound to end up as bad as 
the CoS.
Critics presently have no formal organisation; such bodies have in the past 
provided the CoS with targets to infiltrate, undermine and destroy as was 
the fate of the Cult Awareness Network and the Lisa McPherson Trust. The 
sometimes referred to 'ARS Central Committee' does not exist, being a 
humorous reference to CoS paranoia about imagined plots against it.

15. I want to spread the bad news. Is there some simple information I can 
pass on to others?

*** What Scientology Won't Tell You: An Information Pack
http://www.xenu.net/archive/infopack/

16. Will posting on ARS cause the CoS to make trouble for me?

If you are a CoS member, post without permission and disagree with CoS 
policy or doctrine you will probably be Declared. If you are not a CoS 
member or ex-member then simply expressing your opinion is safe enough, the 
CoS has too many critics nowadays to pursue them all.
The CoS has however a documented history of attacking its perceived 
enemies, sometimes in long term and carefully planned 'dirty tricks' 
operations. Before doing anything other than posting you should find out 
about these.

17.  So what is On Topic for this newsgroup?

Anything connected with Scientology or the Church of Scientology; since 
this is supposed to be a newsgroup, news and new information are 
particularly on topic.
Posts that are just long reprints from webpages or books about scientology 
are on topic but not encouraged, it's better to put in a hyperlink or a 
reference.
Some people have been posting here for a long while, have become friends 
and can wander off topic to discuss cats, cookery or life on Mars. This is 
normal human behaviour.
You may see posts about psychiatry. Scientology beliefs include a strong 
dislike of psychiatry; opinion differs on whether this makes psychiatry a 
suitable topic for ARS. The posts seem to be intended as spam, as the 
posters are not interested in actually discussing psychiatry.

18. Are there do's and don'ts for posting?

*** A page of Netiquette
http://www.newsreaders.com/guide/netiquette.html
Crossposting (posting to several newsgroups at once) is not encouraged; we 
have enough traffic without sharing off topic threads with other 
newsgroups. Please trim or do not reply to crossposts unless they serve a 
genuine purpose.
The more readable your post, the more people will read it. This means doing 
simple things like not reposting the full text of a long article just to 
put a short comment at the end of it (or worse, in the middle), quoting at 
least a few lines so it is clear to what you are replying, separating your 
text into paragraphs, etc.
If you repost from elsewhere please give full attribution ? author, URL, 
date ? preferably at the top. This is polite and saves others from replying 
to a quoted writer who doesn't actually read ARS.
Please don't post anything but plain text at less than 75 characters width. 
No pictures, no binaries, no HTML, no Word files.
Researchers appreciate easily located Subject lines. Ideal examples for 
Picket and Media reports:
	Picket report: London, UK 4 December 2007
	[UK Media] The Guardian 4 February 2008 Hackers declare war
Please make allowances for posters who are not native English typists.
Offering fallacious or fraudulent arguments attracts abuse and flaming on 
ARS.
*** Carl Sagan's Baloney Detection Kit:
http://www.xenu.net/archive/baloney_detection.html

19. There's a lot of rubbish on ARS, how can I get rid of it?

Newsreaders have a facility for blocking posts from people or about 
subjects; this is called killfiling. Google Groups does not. Most ARS 
readers have a carefully maintained killfile, this is an unfortunate by-
product of the popularity of the Internet, along with spam filters, virus 
checkers and firewalls.
ARS has its share of trolls, the Usenet equivalent of children who throw 
stones at windows and then run away. They are best ignored unless in 
answering them you have something of interest to say. Some trolls crosspost 
as well.
*** A special killfile minibrowser for Google Groups:
http://holysmoke.org/ggf/index.htm
*** A Google Groups killfile addon for the Firefox browser:
http://www.penney.org/ggkiller.html
OSA (Office of Special Affairs in the CoS) remains interested in ARS, 
maintaining one or more 'OSAbots' here whose posts are intended to confuse 
and deter casual readers. Some pretend to be critics and accuse real 
critics of being fake. When a 'flap' is on (some event upsetting to the 
CoS) these posts increase for a few days in the hope that they will swamp 
normal traffic.
*** A list of suspected OSAbots:
http://home.primus.ca/~ronsharp/circlejerk.html
As above, they thrive on attention. Please only reply to them if you have 
something new to say ("Scientology sucks!" is not an original concept to 
this newsgroup); often they are not actually reading ARS anyway, only 
posting to it.

20. What is Anonymous?
*** Anonymous is an Internet based community with no leaders or structure:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_%28group%29
Its interest in Scientology surfaced in a January 2008 YouTube video which 
set off another wave of Internet activism against the CoS that entered the 
Real World the following month with worldwide monthly protests.

21. Are there other Scientology newsgroups?

alt.clearing.technology (ACT) discusses the beliefs and their application. 
It is little used at present.
de.soc.weltanschauung.scientology discusses scientology in German.
free.it.religioni.scientology is in Italian.
alt.binaries.scientology (ABS) is for pictures and such, the others being 
plain text only newsgroups. A post to ARS saying 'new picture of Saint Hill 
Manor on ABS' is OK. It has poor distribution but you can access it free 
through
http://www.usenet-replayer.com/groups/alt.binaries.scientology.html
There are also a number of web based discussion boards about Scientology, 
you may find these more to your liking than ARS as they are moderated to 
remove rubbish:
http://ocmb.xenu.net/ocmb/ the oldest board, closed to new members
http://forum.exscn.net mostly ex-members
http://forums.whyweprotest.net/ Anonymous activism
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/XSO/ ex-Sea Org members only
http://reachingforthetippingpoint.net/
http://www.exscientologykids.com/eskforums/ for younger members/ex-members
http://foros.hispavista.com/cienciologia/57/ Spanish language forum
http://www.scnforum.org/ discussion of the tech and beliefs

22. Is this the only Usenet Scientology FAQ?

No, there have been a number of them in the past; 
http://www.faqs.org/faqs/scientology/ archives thirteen of them! Most date 
from the mid-1990s and the information in them is nowadays to be found on 
web pages or is out of date. There is also a fake unarchived FAQ posted by 
OSA.

***************
Special thanks to Homer Smith for lightlink and the secret masters of 
Usenet for keeping ARS alive and kicking the cult since 1991. Reprinting 
this FAQ is permitted, encouraged even, provided nothing is omitted 
including the header which points to the latest version.  


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