It has been over two weeks since Tom Cruise and company descended on Dublin in a whirlwind of promotion, camera flashes and fawning over the movie star. If one was to believe grumpy cynics online, one would think that everyone was happy to see Tom and the visit had gone without incident. This is not the case.
Cruise is one of the most high profile members of Scientology. For those who don’t know, Scientology has a large celebrity following who are often pushed to the forefront of the organisation and give ringing endorsements for the group. Founded in the 1950s by sci-fi author L. Ron Hubbard, Scientology was the follow-on to his self help book “Dianetics”. The organisation, which is recognised in some parts of the world as a religion, has provoked huge controversy and been the subject of a number of documentaries and exposés.
Most of the time the general public is left with memories that someone mentioned odd beliefs about souls and aliens, but more serious allegations include exploitation, fraud, censorship, abuse, violence and harassment. The organisation is also accused of being one of the most litigious groups, threatening journalists, broadcasters and web companies. For the Irish branch at least, they say this is not true and that for all their time in Ireland they have only engaged in one legal action. ”In short we are probably the least litigious group in Ireland.”
Scientology arrived to Ireland with the late L. Ron Hubbard, who set up the first group in Merrion Square when he came to Dublin in the fifties. While this group lasted a few years, there was a period of twenty years were there was no organised presence in the country. The first Mission of Dublin was set up by an Irish Scientologist in the eighties and, after a few changes in location, now calls Abbey Street, Dublin home.
The group describes membership as quite modest, with several hundred adherents. When Krank.ie asked a spokesperson about rites and rituals, they said that their practices derive directly from their teachings, the most fundamental being that each person is an immortal spiritual being, inhabiting a body and possessing a mind.
We seek personal and collective spiritual enlightenment, with an emphasis on individual responsibility. We teach that traumatic experience suffered by the individual through life’s ups and downs is a barrier to enlightenment, along with ignorance and unethical behavior. So our practices include spiritual counseling to address past trauma, and study courses of our extensive to help people learn the tools to cope with current life in a better way.
As with other religions, (e.g. Mission, Church, Cathedral, Basilica etc, in the Catholic Church) there is a hierarchy of religious organisations within our Church. In Ireland, currently, we hold Mission status only – this limits the level of Scientology practices in which we engage. Higher level Churchs abroad deliver higher level practices.
Among those who regularly protest against Scientology are members of online collective Anonymous. The Irish people describing themselves as Anons may be small in number but the group is active and holds protests outside the Irish Scientology HQ at Middle Abbey Street in Dublin.
There are many reasons to protest the Scientology organisation. You could protest because ofFair Game, a policy written by Scientology’s founder stating that SP’s (critics of the organisation) ”May be deprived of property or injured by any means by any Scientologist without any discipline of the Scientologist. May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.” You could protest because of their practice of Disconnection which has split up many families. You could protest because of the many strange deaths associated with Scientology. You could protest because of their attempts to infiltrate governments, their fraud, their deceptive recruiting techniques, their victims and their use of methods that are akin to brainwashing. You could protest for any of these reasons.
Anonymous is hard to define, given that so many different people may fall into the definition. The term is used as a blanket description of certain online subcultures and is often used to describe a group acting at one time or another as a singe entity. People taking part in one Anonymous event may not agree with others and there are occasionally cases of infighting and disputes over the name. For example, members of Anonymous who take part in hacking attacks in the name of free speech might not agree with Anons protesting against Scientology and vice versa. Some members of Anonymous take part in none of the activism that has become synonymous with the group in the last few years.