Scientology and Religious Freedom Restoration Act

The blowback over Indiana governor Pence’s signing into law ‘The Religious Freedom Restoration Act’ has gone viral.   Prominent citizens, politicians and human rights groups are aghast as the act’s potential for instituting discrimination against those who don’t toe the line to fundamentalist Christian sexual orientation standards.  In defense of signing the act into law Indiana’s governor Pence has said it was based on the 1993 federal ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act.’  See New York Times for more on the Act.

What perhaps few know is that one of the most energetic proponents of the federal act that serves as Indiana’s model was none other than the church of Scientology.  Scientology crows about its achievement on its own website:

“In 1991, Scientologists supported passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed into law on November 16, 1993. The Church of Scientology International was an active member of the Coalition for the Free Exercise of Religion, a broad-based religious and civil liberties group that strenuously worked for passage of the act.”  Scientology website

Scientology was so involved in its passage that its president was invited to the White House for the President Clinton’s signing of the original federal act. (President Heber C. Jentzsch crowed about it on Larry King Live)

What scientology doesn’t tout is that it shamelessly exploited the Act even before its final enactment.  As it was wending its way through Congress, which scientology was directly and indirectly lobbying, scientology was using its imminent passage as leverage in obtaining tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.

Scientology has used the federal Act for more than two decades to not only discriminate against the LGBT community, but also to immunize itself against charges ranging from human trafficking, to wrongful death, to fraud.

Scientology cited to the act in successfully dismissing criminal charges against it in the case of Lisa McPherson, a 36-year old woman who died in scientology’s custody on its premises.  St Petersburg Times

Recently scientology successfully argued for dismissal of a high profile lawsuit for fraud brought by former members in Tampa Florida, citing to the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  The Underground Bunker

Coincidentally, the highly publicized documentary ‘Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief’ premieres this Sunday on HBO.  Its director and producer have both been quoted far and wide of late questioning how scientology gets away with the abuses they chronicle in the film (including its tax exempt status).  They need only examine more closely the current media fire emanating in Indiana to find a considerable part of the answer.  Folks concerned with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act who look deeper might find that it potentially carries far more grave consequences than currently meet the eye.

34 responses to “Scientology and Religious Freedom Restoration Act

  1. Marty thank you for this information. What can we do about this? Your input will be highly appreciated, and I look forward to your reply.

  2. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    Wow. I never knew that. Course I’m not American, and don’t pay much attention to your laws.

  3. Thanks for posting, I never knew that,now people can look into it.scientology always gets on the wrong end of things.thanks Marty

  4. All the OT 8 Scientologists need to do something miraculous.

    Where’s the OTs?

    Where’s the real OTs super Scientologists doing their OT miracles and really doing the world any good?

    Scientology’s gotten away with keeping their money, now at least if they don’t have OT super Scientologists, then Scientology ought to do something giving back to society with all their accumulated money!

    If Scientology’s not giving refunds and repayments anymore, then at least they ought do something with their accumulated wealth, and change their “making the able more able” policy to helping society for real.

    • Michael Fairman

      “OT’s” seem to have accomplished little or nothing unless it benefits the church in some way. Isn’t that all PR? VM’s, Criminon, Narconon, all the “social betterment” programs were put there to draw more people into the church. No appreciable effects have been created by these “super duper cause over life , beings” in areas of art, medicine, the humanties, the sciences, civics, etc., etc. What they have been stellar examples of are averice, elitism, and religious fundamentalism.

      Of course Scientolgists supported the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. They, like the bigots who pushed this abominable legislation through in Indiana (and now pending in Arkansas), see their religion as the only path to spiritual freedom (or salvation) Those who do not believe or criticize are subject to destruction, disconnection (or hell). The future ramifications can already be seen in the rhetoric of the Robertsons (Phil and Pat), Ted Cruz and his father, and a host of fundamentalist Christian clergy. Where can this lead? Look to the Inquisition and the Nuremberg Laws. But as was posted later on in this thread, there are enough enlightened men and women of reason to banish the Dark Age, which is looming over the horizon.

  5. Religions should not put forth hate and discrimination. Stepping back and looking, of course this has Scions smelly hands all over this.Thanks Marty!

  6. It is amazing that the Age of Reason / The Enlightenment launched in the 17th century, yet 300 years later we humans insist on using blind faith, religious pretense, and an ethics of divine command to override reason and rational inquiry.

    These same laws that Christians promote will be, and are being, used to the disadvantage of society. The somewhat benign home schools are the gateway to bringing madrasas and Sharia law to the US, where fundamentalist Islam can be taught. And fundamentalist Islam — with its divine command ethics (Allah said to cut off their heads) justifies its ghastly and babyish behavior under the guise of “religion.”

    All the conveniences of modern life — and all our horrors of weaponry too — came from the application of reason. None came from revelation or faith.

    While I myself feel that reason should trump any faith — for why would we want to believe in anything that is not testable and reliably real? — it remains a fact that many humans want faith. It doesn’t matter that a given faith works or not — “it works” being one of Scientology’s vacuous claims; they all “work.” It is not logical to worry that we should believe in a given faith because it won’t hurt if we do and if we were wrong, how dire the consequences could be. That faulty thinking — Pascal’s Wager — applies to all religions.

    Each of us currently holds no belief in the thousands of religions and gods that have haunted the minds of humans for millennia, coming and going with time and cultural changes, yet we blindly hold that our one current religion must be correct. (Some have commented that the difference between an atheist and a true believer is that the atheist just disbelieve in one more religion than the thousands of other religions a true believer disbelieves in.)

    What astounds me about Scientology is that is fundamentally dishonest. Just read the Larry King interview with Heber Jentsch, who is a profound liar. He denies the fair gaming of Werner Erhart and he cites the supposed Narconon 78% success rate, as just two examples.

    Islam holds similar ethics — it is fine to lie to a non-believer — because they are so certain they are _right_, just like a Scientologist is. Scientology is doubly duplicitous. It advances claims as religious beliefs, and then lies that those beliefs have scientific validation.

    Rather than voting for restoration of religious freedom, maybe we should vote for — and insist on — fulfilling the Age of Reason that has brought us to the threshold of the stars.

  7. On a related topic, what is happening in the Monique Rathbun lawsuit? When is the next court time? Why the current delay?

  8. Mark — if I’m not mistaken — Richard Reiss was a college roommate or friend of Bill Clinton. University of Georgetown.

    Richard Reiss was the Senior CS at Flag. Highly respected. Highly looked up to by “everyone” — he recently died unceremoniously — unremembered, unthanked.

    It was Richard who got Heber to the White House.

    Both Heber and Richard have been forgotten. Heber in the hole.

    Richard is now long gone.

    Yet again … thank you for your memory, for coming forward and reminding each of us …

    that in the end it is only ones own innate wish to be whole that brings freedom. This comes only when one is truly willing to dig deep into the crevasses of ones own heart and mind.

    Love,
    Windhorse

  9. Mark: It seems to me that you may be throwing out the baby with the bath water here. I have no doubt that scn would try to use this law to their advantage, For that matter, when have they NOT tried to work the system? Misusing ANY law as they saw fit!

    On the other hand, I also feel sympathetic with small businesses that are forced to make a decision between their conscience (whether you or I hold to the same convictions as they do is immaterial) and their livelihood by well-financed powerful special-interest groups who use the law with a thuggery that would make Miscavige proud!

    • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

      Todd,

      My wife was talking to some people in the states about ‘Religious Freedom’ a while back. She told them that what would be great, is for stores that have religious objections to serving LGBTQA people to have signs in the window, so that she could avoid those stores. The people she was talking to were horrified. There was no need for her to avoid those stores, she isn’t a Lesbian. Yes, my wife explained, but a lot of my friends are, and if you aren’t willing to serve them, I’m not willing to shop in your store.

      Needless to say, that didn’t go over well. It went over even less well when they did a bit of thinking, and realized how much business those stores might lose.

      • In a dark period of Germany’s history, there was a national boycott of Jewish shops, organised in part by the NSDAP (nazis). As a visible minority, I suspect they were an easy target for people’s fear and anger at a changing society.

        What happened to “Love thy neighbour”?

        • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

          That’s my question as well. You aren’t loving your neighbor if you refuse to serve them.

  10. If faith does not lead to knowledge of what is real: the truth, then it does not have a respected place in civil society.

    What would be the worth of a teaching that said you have to only believe that you can play the piano but you can never achieve knowledge of actual playing.

    Faith only isms are old world approaches. “Only way” stories and myths that include demonizing those outside their group.

    If faith cannot walk hand in hand with reason scrutiny, it does not fit into our world of tolerance, inclusion, appreciation of those outside our group.

    “Only way” religions, are a curse in civil society. By their very nature they are commanded to condemn those outside their group as inferior or even evil.

    We want to know. We want to directly perceive truth. We do not need another ring leader of distorted myths to lead us astray yet again.

    The age of direct perception is upon us. It is the new “religion.”

    The universe itself is the temple and we are all it’s parishioners.

    The Eternal Dharma. The Way of the Tao. The way of directly perceiving truth minus con men, madman and half baked sages.

  11. Communicatoric I/C

    Thank you. This is an important article. Not only for the LGBT community, but for all who oppose religiously justified discrimination.

    As I saw noted elsewhere, it is now apparently legal for Scientologists to discriminate against psychiatrists in Indiana.

  12. Edgars Freibergs

    First as Hoosier :

    Mister Rathbun both you and Rinder deserve a metal for bravery. Its not easy standing up and speaking out against abuse and wrong doing in something you both have devoted nearly your entire lives too. Bravo to you two both for listening to your Conscience instead of former ‘religions’ dogma.

    As a Religious minority my self. I’m a practicing Wiccan of 30 years and Hoosier (Indiana Resident)

    I totally support Religious Freedom Restoration Act. And this isn’t about the LBGT community. This is about freedom of Conscience, Freedom of Religion and listening to your heart instead of the Will of the Majority or for that matter the Will of the State.

    If Scientology has a hand in crafting it originally. Well even they have a right to practice their beliefs under the Constitution and Bill of Rights of this country. Just as we who oppose it have a right to protest it loud and clear.

    My state of Indiana isn’t the first state to have such a law on the books 19 other states already have it since 2008.

    Swarens: Gov. Mike Pence to push for clarification of ‘religious freedom’ law Care of the Indianapolis Star Newspaper

    http://www.indystar.com/story/opinion/columnists/tim-swarens/2015/03/28/swarens-gov-mike-pence-push-clarification-religious-freedom-law/70611906/

    Full Text of Indiana’s religious freedom law Care of the Indianapolis Star Newspaper

    http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/27/text-indianas-religious-freedom-law/70539772/

    Just some thoughts,

    Hoosier, Religious Minority Member, and Fan of your blog.

    • Mark C. Rathbun

      Thanks for your feedback. Unfortunately, RFRA (federal and state) has always been about immunizing reprehensible – and otherwise actionable – conduct. The courts have bent over backward to protect religion for centuries, but to some that was not enough.

      • RFRA has ‘always been about immunizing reprehensible conduct’? Seriously? Like forcing Muslim men to be clean shaven for a job? Like forbidding a Sikh woman from carrying a ceremonial dagger (when other knives were allowed)? Like firing two Native Americans for using peyote in a ritual? Like forcing an Orthodox Jew to serve jury duty on Yom Kippur? The RFRA was written to undo the Smith decision and was backed by both groups on the right as well as the ACLU on the left.

        The problem is not the RFRA. The problem is that Scientologists like yourself fought to have Scientology recognized as a religion and the IRS caved. Since you were a member of the group at that time, and a highly placed leader, you need to take responsibility for that.

    • I am not an Indiana resident; I am not even an American citizen, but I have lived there long enough to take to heart certain issues.
      For a long time, while I was a member of the church of scientology, I held the absolute belief that I was part of a minority that was trying to do good in the world.
      I am now no longer a member of that group; mainly because I am gay. That particular group has shown me what true discrimination is all about: fanatic belief in words interpreted by a group mind. (This means that someone on higher echelons interpreted Hubbards words in a certain way and therefore they became law through group-mind agreement).
      This is the same insanity that occurs with Christianity and other monotheistic religions.
      You, being a wiccan, should know how it feels to be demonized by these “organized religions”.
      I, being gay, know a thing or two about what these “organized religions” can do to make you feel wrong, sick and, in short, segregated from the rest of humanity.
      It would be awesome if these people were actually concerned with religious freedom. However, this bill has got really nothing to do with that. It has more to do with having the freedom to discriminate against those that are different. It is a bill designed to give them freedom to use their religion (in this case Christianity) to hurt others and make them feel second-class citizens.
      It’s just not what America is supposed to be about. From an external viepoint, this is the grossest attack on your constitution that I have ever seen.
      And, by the way, it IS about the LGBT community. Just prior to this bill passing, DOMA was being repealed in Indiana and same-sex couples were finally going to be able to marry in your state. This is just right-wing retaliation, in my book… but enough with politics.
      I believe one of the fundamentals tenets of wicca is the Rule of Three, whereby, when one does a spell, one will be affected, whether positively or negatively, three times stronger. If one envisions what they are doing with their religion as working a spell, can you imagine how this will affect them? Can you imagine the hurt and degradation they are inflicting on the LGBT community due to their vaunted religious superiority?
      Can you envision the amount of spiritual backlash this will have on the perpetrators and those that endorse such ideals and behaviors?
      So, here’s my insofar unstated question, why support something that actually causes more damage than good?

  13. Conniving and crafty for self serving purposes Scientology Inc, one of the THE most criminal entities around that is “Tax exempt” claims “interfaith activity” and tries to pretend it walks shoulder to shoulder with other religions.;
    What utter hogwash.
    Scientology Inc enforced baby slaughter for 25 years by enfo9rced abortions.
    There is no God in Scientology. There is no worship.
    There is no supreme being. The 8th dynamic, is YOU, your *higher self*.
    nN w people walking in the door often ask the question and it is answered evasively with a hush. The answer will be discovered on OT levels or some such.
    Why not say straight out that this is a *Cherch* with no God? Why not acknowledge that ?
    By the way the *Way to Happiness* moral code which suddenly emerged in the 1980s was from Religious Academics stating what components make a Religion, one of which was a Moral code like the “Ten Commandments.”
    Religious Cloaking.

  14. Barack is busy golfing.

  15. dchoiceisalwaysrs

    I see OSA has been hard a work. Setting up front groups and carrying out Hubbard’s game plan to take over governments and ‘say what is the law’

    Hubbard wrote many issues regarding this and the following contains just a small taste.

    from http://www.holysmoke.org/cos/crime-cult-goal-world-domination.htm

    ” Confidential Hubbard policy statements put on public record by a federal judge in Washington show that Hubbard, a 67-year-old former science fiction writer, ordered sweeping clandestine campaigns by his “guardians” [Guardians Office / Office of Special Affairs] aimed at “establishing the indispensability of Scientology” in the world.

    The goal of the assistant guardians, according to Hubbard’s policy statements, is “to sweep aside opposition sufficiently to create a vacuum into which Scientology can expand.”

    In 1969, Hubbard wrote, “Our war has been forced to become to take over absolutely the field of mental healing on this planet in all forms. Our total victory will come when we run his (the enemy’s) organization, perform his functions, and obtain his financing and appropriations.” Another memo to assistant guardians, – one based in Clearwater and others around the country – outlined these Hubbard “targets”:

    o) “Depopularizing the enerny, to the point of obliteration.”

    o) “Taking over the control for allegiance of the heads or proprietors of all news mediums.”

    o) “Taking over control a allegiance of key political figures.”

    o) “Taking over control or allegiance of those who monitor international finance … ”

    o) “Winning overwhelming public support” “……..

    ……

    Here is a post that I made over on exscn.net (ESMB) that I feel may help with some direction on how to stop OSA in its clandestine tactics. Not only do the Abuses of Human rights need to end, the insidious manipulation of our society and our government need to be exposed in a fashion similar to how I understand “Going Clear” ( I haven’t seen it) exposes the other facets of manipulation.

    “I agree with Justice Stevens regarding the unconstitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    http://web.archive.org/web/200104110…/II1gupta.html

    ……. Justice Stevens, concurs with Kennedy on the decision, but takes a different angle at the unconstitutionality of the RFRA. Stevens explains that the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) is a ‘law respecting an establishment of religion’ that violates the First Amendment to the Constitution.”

    Because the RFRA allows for specific religions to obtain rights beyond the rights given to regular citizens, he concludes the act must consequently go beyond simple freedom of religion, since it establishes special provisions for religious groups. Stevens uses the case of Wallace v. Jaffree27 as a precedent for this line of thought and concludes that “governmental preference for religion, as opposed to irreligion, is forbidden by the First Amendment.”28

    and….

    …It is from this circular power struggle between the Courts and Congress that much of the dissenting opinion involving Boerne v. Flores arises. If one takes a look at the law from a more religious point of view, rather than strictly as a breach in the 14th Amendment much larger issues arise, as to what the interpretation of the freedom of religion clause should be. As Justice O’Connor states in her opinion:

    “I agree with the Court that the issue before us is whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is a proper exercise of Congress’ power to enforce §5 of the Fourteenth Amendment. But as a yardstick for measuring the constitutionality of RFRA, the Court uses its holding in Employment Div., Dept. of Human Resources of Ore. v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990), the decision that prompted Congress to enact RFRA as a means of more rigorously enforcing the Free Exercise Clause. I remain of the view that Smith was wrongly decided, and I would use this case to reexamine the Court’s holding there.”29

    If one assumes the Smith ruling and its interpretation was incorrect, as O’Connor does, it can also be interpreted that Congress’ intention in enacting the RFRA was “remedial” in nature.

    She goes on to cite numerous Supreme Court interpretations of the free exercise clause to which the Smith decision is contradictory or “gravely at odds.” It is for this reason that she encourages the court to grant the Smith decision another evaluation, because it does not “faithfully serve the purpose of the Constitution,”30 she argues.

    ………… Clearly the reasoning behind the decision that the RFRA is unconstitutional is very complex. In a sense, there are two major issues at play. First, one must interpret the Constitution as defining the balance of power among the branches of the government. To this day the rights and duties Congress has in upholding the Constitution and amending law are still unclear. While Marbury v. Madison has long been accepted as giving the Courts the ultimate say on the law, the definition of Congress’s power “to enforce” in the 14th Amendment is still confused and disputed.

    Second, one must interpret the first amendment as the Court has done in the past century, and its freedom of religion clause. There remains “intolerable tension in free-exercise law,”31 largely due to disagreements over what religious acts and beliefs are covered under the first amendment clause.

    Obviously, religion cannot be used as an excuse for disobeying religiously neutral laws, and there is a line at which acts committed in the name of religious beliefs, and laws established for everyone in the country collide.

    The Supreme Court and Congress through their judgments and bills are both trying to redraw and redefine this line, yet they meet increasing perplexity and conflict in determining what the Constitution’s free exercise clause really means.

    ============

    This is why I say the 1st amendment needs to be overhauled. Madison saw this and discussed it during the formation of the constitution. For example he argued that “…Besides, [pg 88] Religion itself may become a motive to persecution& oppression. These observations are verified by the Histories of every country antient & modern…..” (The quotation from Madison appears to come from Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787.
    http://ashbrook.org/library/document/notes-of-debates/)

  16. When freedom of religion is used to harm other people, it ceases to be a freedom or right. Freedom of belief, faith, religion is not, and should not, be construed as a right to do harm in the name of that belief.

    Religion is not being “attacked” in the USA or in Europe. There are natural developments away from religion for some, and toward it for others, depending in part on how they deal with life’s uncertainty. Seen from Europe, it sounds like the USA is set to become the next theocracy, at least in law. Look to Turkey to see how that’s working out.

    With a justice system that relies largely on firing power (money), whose interests are really being protected, and when will we start seeing shops with lists such as: “No LGBTs, blacks, muslims or dogs allowed”?

    All of this looks like divide et impera. Little people being turned against each other over little, irrelevant concepts.

    • One irony is that they may refuse to sell to gays, but will buy and wear clothes designed by gays, and use apps and gadgets produced by companies run by gays. Their cognitive dissonance must be enough to terminate thinking.

  17. Marty
    About twenty other States in including the State of Texas have similar legislation in its law books and only the State of Indiana is the heat for it.I am not religious and i do support The Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    • This was interesting.
      I understand that the law, in itself, does not seek to discriminate — of course.
      However, one must understand that DOMA was in the workings of being repealed in Indiana and then this bill is approved and certain right-wing exponents are going to use it to propagandize it as an effective stop to DOMA’s repeal.
      This is why it’s making such headlines. I understand that anti-gay discrimination might not be a major issue in Indiana and might never have been in the past. Still, there are a few who will try to use this bill as a weapon — it’s how this stuff goes.

  18. Very interesting post, Mr. Rathbun. Do you know if Scientology is involved in any of the current state RFRA battles, such as Indiana, Georgia, Arkansas, Texas, etc? Any suggestions as to where to start looking for its fingerprints?

  19. Pingback: Scientology and Religious Freedom Restoration Act | mlarkento

  20. Agreed, but that doesn’t mean isn’t newsworthy to demonstrate that the entity is still active in pushing these laws at the state level.

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