A story today indicates that Scientology, the so-called religion invented by British science fiction writer, L. Ron Hubbard in 1954, is about to go on trial in France as being a fraudulent organization. You can read the details at this website, but one thing struck me as a cop-out.
It is the allegation that the adult complainants who were fleeced for hundreds of thousands of dollars were “vulnerable”, as defined by psychologists. This puts them in the same category as 6-week old kittens and 5-year old children, as well as 80-year old seniors suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Surely, fully-formed adults, lacking brain tumors or serious alcohol and drug addictions cannot be classified the same way.
Where does vulnerability leave off and stupidity start?
If I am a guy who believed Bernie Madoff’s promises about much “better than market” financial returns and ended up losing everything, does society immediately brand me as “vulnerable” or was I just made stupid by giving into my greedy instincts. I am sure the latter.
So why do people who were taken to the cleaners by a fraudulent religion rate a special victim category of being “vulnerable”? Weren’t they just acting on their own self interests by embracing the lies of the liars the same as I would have been had I fallen for Madoff’s proposals?
The only reason I can think of that fits the facts is that these people were seduced by an allegedly fraudulent religion as opposed to a legitimate religion. If it weren’t for the religion aspect these people would simply be seen as stupid, unlike the followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, for example, who can never be seen as stupid because they believe the fantasies their religious leaders hand out in return for service in coin and kind to those organizations.
Let’s take the American Christian Reverend, Peter Popoff, for instance. He is a faith healer and has now branched out into financial healing. Perusing my late night fare on television I came across his program and was subjected to a pitch by Popoff to buy some magic “spiritual” water. I was promised that if I sprinkled this stuff on any of my credit cards the outstanding balances would simply disappear. I am not making this up. His patter was followed by testimonies from people who claimed it worked for them.
As you will see from this website, Popoff was investigated more than 20 years ago and declared to be a fraud. Yet, there he is still, larger than life and even richer.
Well, yes, you say, but he is a televangelist and we all know they got their training either from the ranks of used car sales people or the public relations departments of Big Tobacco. So the people who believe him, even if they are Christians, would still be stupid and not vulnerable.
Well what about the Reverend Fred Phelps, an American Baptist minister who runs around claiming U.S. soldiers die in Iraq and Afghanistan because the U.S. tolerates homosexuality, or the Church of England bishop who blamed devastating floods in the northern U.K. a couple of years ago on God’s displeasure with British homosexuality? And what about the Pope, who set up exorcism squads to cast out demons possessing the faithful (or is it the "less than they ought to be" faithful)?
I won’t even get into the business of dying in the service of your religion and getting to enjoy -- if that is really a word that could be applied to the concept -- the sexual services of 72 virgins forever.
Are all the people who believe this stuff vulnerable, or are they just stupid?