Anonymous holds a successful, peaceful demonstration

I attended the Los Angeles protest organized by Anonymous today in Hollywood. It was a peaceful demonstration of several hundred people. No official spokesperson from the Church of Scientology appeared. Only one person on site self-identified as a current Scientologist, a bass player by the name of Billy Sheehan, who used to play for David Lee Roth after Van Halen broke up. Mark Bunker of XenuTV was interviewing him when I arrived, and I spoke with Billy a couple of times later during the day. As it turns out, Billy grew up Catholic out in Buffalo, NY, so I had a chance to ask him about what drew him to Scientology, what he thought of the Catholic Church, etc. Other highlights that I captured in audio were:

  • Ken and Grace Aaron, former members of Scientology and founders of The Committee on Religious Shunning, as they were being interviewed by E! News about the church’s policy of “disconnection” which has left them without contact with their son Zachary for almost eight years
  • conversations with a few members of Anonymous about their creed — “We will not forgive; We will not forget”
  • a conversation with Tommy Gorman, who grew up in the Church of Scientology and who volunteered in the office of special affairs in Mountain View, about his experiences and how he and his family managed to escape the cult, after his 16-year-old girlfriend was raped by a member of the church.

All of this audio has been edited together and is available here if you want to listen online, or here if you want to subscribe to my podcast in iTunes.

LA Times coverage on their blog here. Other people on site who covered the event were staff from the E! network, as well as a guy named JungleBoy who posted his video on LiveVideo.com.

UPDATE: The Church of Scientology released this statement to organizations in the mainstream press:

‘Anonymous’ is perpetrating religious hate crimes against Churches of Scientology and individual Scientologists for no reason other than religious bigotry.

And Anonymous has responded with a new message:

Ladies and gentlemen of the public and the press,

Today, working in concert with concerned citizens from all over the world, Anonymous has staged a large number of simultaneous public demonstrations at Church of Scientology centers around the globe. Now that we have made evident the sincerity of our intentions and the strength of our dedication, we would like to take this opportunity to clarify our objectives to the press and to the public. There have been a number of myths and misconceptions surrounding the nature of our means and intentions. Among these is the idea that our declaration of war is to be interpreted as a threat of physical harm against individuals affiliated with the Church of Scientology.

Allegations that Anonymous wishes to physically harm any human being as a part of our campaign against the cult of Scientology are patently untrue. As stated in one of our productions, the intention of Anonymous is to ‘systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form’. Our struggle is directed against the toxic ideals and behavior of the corrupt, violent, and abusive leadership of the Church of Scientology, not against the lives of those who have become entangled with it. Know this: though we oppose all that they stand for, even the highest officers of this cult will not be harmed physically by Anonymous. Our battle is one of ideas. As we speak, it is being fought and won in the hearts and minds of the worlds honest citizenry and their leaders. The ideological nature of our struggle brings us to another common misconception regarding the objectives of Anonymous in this campaign.

Although many of us are put off by L. Ron Hubbard’s religious doctrine, we do not oppose the right of individuals to follow beliefs of their choice. As set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. Anonymous, as a whole, honors the spirit of this declaration. We fight against the atrocities – not the beliefs – of the brainwashing cult known as the Church of Scientology. The acts of defamation, intimidation and murder perpetrated by this criminal organization galvanize our resolve to fight against it. Our righteous indignation is directed against the hypocrisy of this institution, not against the faith of its members. As an illustrative example of our stance, we would like to draw your attention toward a group of individuals who practice L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings, but have disaffiliated themselves from the Church of Scientology. They are known as the Freezone. Anonymous bears no animosity toward an organization such as this one.

Many of you may wonder how Anonymous plans on launching into the task of dissolving the Church of Scientology. As a fundamentalist, totalitarian organization that seeks control of information and manipulation through fear, the Church of Scientology possesses inherent flaws. Anonymous is studying these flaws, and has made them the basis of a long-term strategy.

Our first major objective is the revocation of this cult’s tax-exempt status wherever it has managed to obtain one. Indeed, the privileges awarded to the Church of Scientology under US law are significantly more generous than those enjoyed by major religions. As set out by the appellants in Sklar v. Commissioner, training offered through the Church of Scientology is tax deductible, while that obtained through legitimate religious institutions is not. The status of the Church of Scientology as a tax exempt religion is an affront to honest religious organizations. However, its special status with the US IRS which places it above and beyond other religions is not merely an affront, but a slap in the face.

Other objectives set out by Anonymous at the present time include – but are not limited to – exposing the criminal practices of the Church to public scrutiny, neutralization of its fraudulently obtained assets and corresponding operations, the liberation of members coerced and blackmailed to work for the Church in illegitimate ways, declaration of the Church and its shell corporations as prohibited criminal organizations and the criminal prosecution of the persons responsible for particularly heinous acts performed in the name of this Church.

Throughout our struggle, we maintain the following thesis: that the Church of Scientology was founded for purposes incompatible with a society holding dear a respect for human rights and the rule of law. These nefarious purposes can only be achieved through criminal enterprise, and remain objectives of the Church to this day. We further maintain that this criminal enterprise is operated by its leaders knowingly and willingly, and that the true extent and tone of the Church’s activity is outrageous and sickening. These statements are not contrived, but based on conclusions derived from extensive study of Church history. Our sources include its own documents, the testimonies of its victims, the words of those who have escaped it and educational materials that the Church would keep secret for fear of exposure. We therefore consider the Church of Scientology a despicable criminal organization which, through the indoctrination of its members, predation upon those in need, the dissemination of lies regarding its nature, by way of sadistic retaliatory practices against its critics and through its cynical abuse of civil liberties has forfeit any right it had to exist.

On several occasions, figures within the media have casually dismissed Anonymous as nothing more than a gaggle of restless youth. We remain entirely undeterred by their remarks. Virtually all age groups, creeds and professions are represented within our ranks. Many who are not affiliated with Anonymous have expressed support for our campaign. Their words serve to further underscore the broad demographic base of our initiative. If you remain doubtful of our strength and resolve, we invite you to observe them for yourselves.

Actions speak louder than words. In the name of those who have been silenced by the criminal organization that is the Church of Scientology, Anonymous will be heard. Our cause is just. We shall prevail.

We are Anonymous.
We have Awoken.
We stand as One.

5 thoughts on “Anonymous holds a successful, peaceful demonstration

  1. Hark! Do I hear an atheist loudly insisting that all these accusations are equally valid against the Catholic Church? What?! Not yet? Wait for it…

  2. Posted anonymously purely due to laziness…

    Mylex writes:

    Does anyone else think that religion is merely a social virus and a border line mental illness?

    I accept those of faith but due to their actions struggle to respect them.

    Most religions target people during difficult transitions in their lives, offering friendship and support before their deceiving indoctrination is on the horizon. Ever had a salesman offer you something for free before giving you the hard sell?

    Religion is a personal thing. (it’s in your head) if it makes you happy.. then it’s a good thing.

    Pick a religion that doesn’t destroy whole families and then drag them though the courts.

    Does Tom cruise scare the wot-not out of you? It did to Paramount pictures. However I don’t think that his words are completely endorsed by the tax haven of Scientology. He has an ego on him that not even they could contain.

    Please don’t reply to this with bible verse. This really isn’t the forum for it.

    I don’t hate you… I just want to hear you think for yourself.

    Luke 19:27 (Just kidding)

  3. Hi Mylex,

    I imagine someone does. I don’t. As you might have guessed.

    Struggle is okay by me. Sounds honest enough. Heck, I struggle to respect my fellow believers (and myself) oftentimes. Hypocrisy is a reality that I experience daily, in my own life. Doesn’t make me think religion is merely a social virus or a mental illness.

    Religion is personal, not private, though. It’s most definitely not in my head. Either it’s true, an objective reality, or it’s not. Just trying to be consistent with Aristotle’s principle of non-contradiction…

    Not sure I get the comment about “whole families.” BTW, have you ever met one? I haven’t, since I believe in original sin. Every family, even the family of the Church, is not yet whole, but is on the way, I believe.

    I don’t hate you either. Welcome to the conversation. Thinking for oneself is encouraged here.

  4. I’m sure someone will say it. Then it will be time to show the absurdity of the accusations.

    I mean, just how toxic and tyrannical is this teaching of the Catholic Church?

    (CCC, paragraphs 675-677):

    The Church’s ultimate trial

    Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the “mystery of iniquity” in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh.

    The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.

    The Church will enter the glory of the kingdom only through this final Passover, when she will follow her Lord in his death and Resurrection.

    The kingdom will be fulfilled, then, not by a historic triumph of the Church through a progressive ascendancy, but only by God’s victory over the final unleashing of evil, which will cause his Bride to come down from heaven. God’s triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the Last Judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world.

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