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Op-Ed: Anonymous D-Day against Scientology - International protests, and point made

By Paul Wallis     Feb 11, 2008 in Internet
Anonymous have delivered on their day of action against the Church of Scientology. Masked protests, around the world, were held outside Scientology buildings. Protesters wore Guy Fawkes masks and carried picket signs.
People all over the world showed up, mainly a few hundred at a time, more or less, for the protest. LA had the largest group, estimated at about 800. Anonymous has been conducting an internet campaign against the Church of Scientology, releasing secret documents, and raising a lot of issues about how the Church operates.
The LA Times entertainment blog put together a lot of good links, including a YouTube video and a live link to Wikipedia and Wiki News to cover what turned out to be a significant event.
(The links include some descriptions of Scientology beliefs, informative to those like me who’ve never been interested enough to find out. Some of this stuff apparently comes direct from L Ron Hubbard’s books.)
One of the issues raised was the Church’s tax-exempt status.
That’s a sensitive point, because it also reflects the Church’s status as a religion.
There's not a lot of dialog between Anonymous and the Church, which describes Anonymous as “cyber terrorists… perpetrating religious hate crimes”.
Just about every English speaking country on Earth seems to have taken part. The numbers weren’t huge, but Anonymous made its point about being able to organize something global.
The Church and its members gets a lot of flak from some areas, particularly its high profile members, like Tom Cruise. It’s been lampooned on South Park, and accusations of a sort of Masonic clique in Hollywood and the entertainment industry are routine.
Well, networking’s not a crime, just a normal daily insult to talented people in every medium.
Less amusing are the allegations of brainwashing, cult practices, and income – siphoning from staff and members.
None of these allegations have ever been put to a legal test anywhere on Earth, as far as I know, but negative statements from former members are many.
One quote from the LA Times is from a former Church member:
Asked to explain the sudden groundswell of opposition to Scientology, Lynn Fountain Campbell, who said she'd been part of the church for 40 years, said, "It's just reached a critical mass. People just aren't scared anymore."
"They try to make people shut up," Campbell added, "and I'm not the shutting up type.
A few hundred protesters may not seem many, but the equation is that for every person who demonstrates, a hundred or a thousand stay home.
What interests me is that in all these years the Church has never really acknowledged public concerns, just denied allegations, and otherwise remained silent.
That approach doesn’t work. A "code of silence" is always broken, as the Catholic Church, which is a bit bigger than the Church of Scientology, discovered recently and expensively.
The Anonymous protests are aiming at matters within legal jurisdiction. They could set off a response at legislative level.
At Congressional level, silence would not be an option.
It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
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