This last week­end I watched the doc­u­men­tary Going Clear. I have heard and read some about Sci­en­tol­ogy before the doc­u­men­tary, and so I knew to expect there to be some strong sim­i­lar­i­ties between Sci­en­tol­ogy and Mor­monism. I rec­om­mend every­one, faith­ful or not, see the doc­u­men­tary. It does a great job of walk­ing through from the begin­ning to the present day prac­tices. As I watched the doc­u­men­tary, I not­ed sev­er­al items that par­al­lel some of the trou­bling aspects of Mor­monism (as well as oth­er reli­gions). Here are the ones that seemed the most rel­e­vant, and that I may not have expect­ed from a sup­pos­ed­ly “sci­ence,” or at least faux-sci­ence based reli­gion.

Eternal consequences

… your own des­tiny for the next end­less tril­lions of years depend on what you do here and now with and in Sci­en­tol­ogy.” (KSW pol­i­cy let­ter)

This is of course a key part of Mor­monism, for exam­ple:

Now is the time for us to choose between good and evil, for our actions bring con­se­quences in this life and in the eter­ni­ties. ” (Teach­ings of Pres­i­dents of the Church: Wil­ford Woodruff), and

… for after this day of life, which is giv­en us to pre­pare for eter­ni­ty, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of dark­ness where­in there can be no labor per­formed.” (Alma 34:33)

This is of course not some­thing unique to Mor­monism — most reli­gions have this for­ev­er-ness of con­se­quences. It is a huge prob­lem for all reli­gions, just see Wikipedi­a’s Prob­lem of Hell.

Give the Glory to God/Religion

When you’re in the orga­ni­za­tion, all the good that hap­pens to you is because of Sci­en­tol­ogy. And every­thing that isn’t good is your fault.” — Spanky Tay­lor

As humans, we error on the side of cau­tion in iden­ti­fy­ing pat­terns — we make many type I errors, or “false pos­i­tives.” This attri­bu­tion of any­thing good to God is rein­forced every tes­ti­mo­ny meet­ing, if not every week. It is also in the Book of Mor­mon, for exam­ple:

12 Where­fore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the dev­il;” — Moroni 7:12

Consequences of leaving

… [Tra­vol­ta] got inject­ed with a lot of con­fi­dence. And then you get this pho­bia induce­ment: If I leave, it’s all going to go down the tubes” — Spanky Tay­lorthe cycle

This is a huge fear of many Mor­mons. One of the prin­ci­pal themes of the Book of Mor­mon is that of a “pros­per­i­ty gospel,” known as the “pride cycle” or “cycle of right­eous­ness and wicked­ness” in which obe­di­ence brings bless­ings and pros­per­i­ty. The link between right­eous­ness and pros­per­i­ty is not implied, it is explic­it­ly stat­ed repeat­ed­ly in the man­u­als and talks (see image).

Brigham Young said sev­er­al things on the top­ic as well, for exam­ple:

Let a man or woman who has received much of the pow­er of God, visions and rev­e­la­tions, turn away from the holy com­mand­ments of the Lord, and it seems that their sens­es are tak­en from them, their under­stand­ing and judg­ment in right­eous­ness are tak­en away, they go into dark­ness, and become like a blind per­son who gropes by the wall” — Teach­ings of Brigham Young, Chap­ter 12

Hidden Truths

There are hid­den ‘truths’ that are revealed once you obtain high­er lev­els. These truths are Sci­en­tol­ogy’s “cre­ation sto­ry.”

You need to be in Sci­en­tol­ogy for 7–8 years and sev­er­al hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars before you get the actu­al sto­ry.”

The Mor­mon tem­ple also presents “sacred” truths by telling the cre­ation sto­ry. You only need to be LDS and pay tithing for a year to go to the tem­ple, but it is still a huge com­mit­ment by that point.

Persecution complex

They would say ‘Don’t go on the inter­net, don’t go to these sites. None of it can be believed.’ ”

Hub­bard believed that the only rea­son his ideas weren’t pro­mul­gat­ed more wide­ly was that the med­ical insti­tu­tion was con­spir­ing against him to keep the busi­ness.” — Sara

This is alive and well in the LDS cul­ture as well. The lead­ers coun­sel to avoid “anti-mor­mon” books and web­sites, and pro­fess that the world is out to destroy the church. For exam­ple, this quote:

Since the spring of 1820, Lucifer has led a relent­less attack against the Lat­ter-day Saints and their lead­ers. A parade of anti-Christs, anti-Mor­mons, and apos­tate groups have appeared on the scene. Many are still among us and have released new floods of lies and false accu­sa­tions. These faith-killers and tes­ti­mo­ny-thieves use per­son­al con­tacts, the print­ed word, elec­tron­ic media, and oth­er means of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to sow doubts and to dis­turb the peace of true believ­ers.” — Car­los E. Asay

Lying for the cause

Because Sci­en­tol­ogy is per­ceived and con­ceived by Sci­en­tol­o­gists as being the sal­va­tion for mankind, you can have peo­ple that lie with a very straight face if they believe that what they are doing is pro­tect­ing the Church of Sci­en­tol­ogy.”

See the Mor­mon­Think arti­cle explain­ing the his­to­ry about this prac­tice by LDS lead­ers, which is exten­sive. The same idea expressed in the quote above is explained in Boyd Pack­er’s state­ment:

Some things that are true are not very use­ful.” (Boyd K. Pack­er, “The Man­tle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intel­lect,” 1981, BYU Stud­ies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259–271)

Thinking for you

They tell you that you should be able to think for your­self, then they tell you every­thing you should think.”

If we can just believe some­thing, then we don’t have to think for our­selves.” — Paul Hag­gis

This is such a dam­ag­ing approach to life, yet there are so many LDS leader state­ments that are sim­i­lar:

When the Prophet speaks the debate is over”. — N. Eldon Tan­ner, August Ensign 1979, pages 2–3

Always keep your eye on the Pres­i­dent of the church, and if he ever tells you to do any­thing, even if it is wrong, and you do it, the lord will bless you for it but you don’t need to wor­ry. The lord will nev­er let his mouth­piece lead the peo­ple astray.” — LDS Pres­i­dent Mar­i­on G. Rom­ney (of the first pres­i­den­cy), quot­ing LDS Pres­i­dent (and prophet) Heber J. Grant “Con­fer­ence Report” Oct. 1960 p. 78

Any Lat­ter-day Saint who denounces or oppos­es whether active­ly or oth­er­wise, any plan or doc­trine advo­cat­ed by the prophets, seers, rev­e­la­tors’ of the church, is cul­ti­vat­ing the spir­it of apos­ta­cy. One can­not speak evil of the lord’s annoint­ed… and retain the holy spir­it in his heart. This sort of game is Satan’s favorite pas­time, and he has prac­ticed it to believ­ing souls since Adam. He {Satan} wins a great vic­to­ry when he can get mem­bers of the church to speak against their lead­ers and to do their own think­ing.” — Ward Teach­ers Mes­sage, Deseret News, Church Sec­tion p. 5, May 26, 1945

Interesting statements about Hubbard (LRH)

LRH said many times some­thing to the effect that “You don’t get rich writ­ing sci­ence fic­tion. If you want to get rich, you start a reli­gion.” LRH was a com­pul­sive liar and a con-man. While he was in the navy, he lied on his activ­i­ty reports, and after he invent­ed hero­ic war sto­ries and used those plus threats of sui­cide to con­vince Sara to mar­ry him. He was involved heav­i­ly in mag­ic for a time. He would tell sto­ries as if they were facts about far off space civ­i­liza­tions when with com­pa­ny. He was high­ly charis­mat­ic and able to con­vince oth­ers to fol­low him. Hub­bard also believed his tales, so much that even in old age he spent much of his time using his the audit­ing device. Sci­en­tol­ogy was him try­ing to under­stand his own mind.

JSJ was obvi­ous­ly a very dif­fer­ent type of per­son in many ways, but they both were drawn to mag­ic. JSJ was known in his ear­li­er years as a mon­ey digger/trea­sure hunter, but it did­n’t make him much mon­ey. He used ‘seer stones’ and oth­er objects like divin­ing rods to help chan­nel this folk mag­ic, sim­i­lar to LRH used his E‑meter. JSJ told sto­ries about the ancient inhab­i­tants of the Amer­i­can con­ti­nent to his fam­i­ly pri­or to him receiv­ing the gold­en plates, sim­i­lar to LRH’s ver­bal­ly recount­ing sto­ries with ease.

Conclusion

None of these items are unique to only Sci­en­tol­ogy or Mor­monism, but they are strong­ly tied to cult-like groups. If any­thing, I hope these thoughts make oth­ers watch Going Clear. It is def­i­nite­ly worth the time.

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