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Scientologists Descend on Bridge Site

Scientologists Descend on Bridge Site

They’re ubiquitous at almost every disaster zone, assisting the wounded and consoling grieving families, from Ground Zero to Indonesia to New Orleans and now Minneapolis. The Church of Scientology and its globe-trotting team of volunteer ministers have been active over the last several years, arousing the ire of critics who read unholy motives into the group’s charitable works.

Every religion does this. They do it to ingratiate themselves and proselytize. What’s so different about Christian groups descending on tsunami victims and passing out bibles? Or missionaries in Africa tying their aid to ideology? Alper discusses this in The God Part of the Brain. A very high percentage of conversions occur when a person is in a high-stress situation such as divorce. It’s hard to imagine a higher stress than a natural or man-made disaster when a person has had a close brush with death. Preying on these weak and vulnerable people is bottom-feeding of the worst kind. But let’s not single out Scientology. The religions are all equally guilty.


Comments (2 comments)

Abogada de la Diabla / August 7th, 2007, 2:09 pm / #1

I agree that is distasteful when religious folks show up at high-profile sites like this. It would be interesting to do a scientific study and catalog the occasions when Scientologists intervene — however small or large — and determine whether they show up as much when people in their very own community are suffering, however shrouded in obscurity. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with churches helping make the world a better place, especially right where they live. But when they come in their own brand of remedy, their help may not even be the best thing. Don’t they have their own way of helping people with PTSD? They can keep their stupid engram machines or whatever to themselves. I wonder how many mentally ill people they help that hang in the vicinity of their gigantic L.A. building.

Monica Pignotti / August 15th, 2007, 12:55 pm / #2

Yes, Scientology has a long history of doing this and I agree that they’re not the only religion doing this, but it’s not only religions that are descending on scenes of disasters. Some new age and other highly questionable therapies that make grandiose claims are doing this as well. A phrase that has been coined for this is “trauma tourism” and it has been shown that some of these interventions can actually do more harm than good. Here is an interesting article on this topic:
http://www.reason.com/news/show/33116.html
And here’s a link to an NPR show about how one new age therapy that involves tapping on meridian points descended on the scene of Hurricane Katrina when they managed through a contact to get in at Charity Hospital, leaving one of the victims interviewed blaming herself when the therapy didn’t work:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5309328
The fervor with which some of these therapies are promoted in the absence of good evidence is not much different from religious zeal.

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