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"Anonymous" Takes Scientology Protest to the Streets 740

This past Sunday members of the group "Anonymous" that has been running an attack on the church of Scientology took their battle from the tubes of the internet to the pavement of real life, staging a protest outside the central Phoenix Church of Scientology. "The protesters said they gathered Sunday in lieu of the birthday of Lisa McPherson, a Scientologist once cared for by church staffers. Her 1995 death sparked media attention and a civil wrongful death suit against a branch of the Church of Scientology. A wrongful death suit by her family was a public-relations nightmare for the church for years until it was settled in 2004. The Church of Scientology declined to comment on the Phoenix protests. It did provide a news release calling members of Anonymous cyber-terrorists."
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"Anonymous" Takes Scientology Protest to the Streets

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  • by Quattro Vezina ( 714892 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:37PM (#22384348) Journal
    Scientology likes suing people for libel. Let's turn the tables on that. Maybe members of Anonymous should sue Scientology for libel for making accusations of terrorism.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      IANAL, but I'm fairly certain they would need to reveal their identities in order to do that, which would really the defeat the whole purpose. Besides, think of the hassle it would cause for them to have to come up with a new name with the same degree of awesome!

  • Not just Pheonix (Score:5, Informative)

    by Donniedarkness ( 895066 ) * <Donniedarkness@g ... .com minus punct> on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:38PM (#22384366) Homepage
    This was happening all over the world. According to wikinews (last time I checked), there were 9200 participants worldwide (although sadly, only 40 here in Nashville).
  • what (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:38PM (#22384376) Homepage
    Anonymous, eh? Cowards.
    • Re:what (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Spy der Mann ( 805235 ) <spydermann.slashdot@ g m> on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:56PM (#22384678) Homepage Journal
      Anonymous, eh? Cowards.

      Funny that you mention that. Slashdot allows Anonymous Cowards to post precisely for the same reason: To protect them from retaliation.
    • Re:what (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Deanalator ( 806515 ) <> on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:40PM (#22386736) Homepage
      I got a surprisingly large amount of that on Sunday. Many people came up to me and said that they agreed with what we were doing, but it was too bad we were all dressed up like terrorists. One woman even likened us to the Taliban.

      From what I understood, the whole point of rule 17 (the mask rule) was that we were not representing ourselves, we were representing a cause. Of course, after what happened to people like Paulette Cooper, and Dave Touretzky (a computer science professor at CMU), many people were afraid of retaliation from the church, but I think for most people (using my friends as a random sampling) it was a show of solidarity.

      I think the most tragic thing about this is that it sounds like terrorists have now ruined the once noble image of the ninja mask. Maybe next time we can all get big smiley emoticon style masks.

      I also find it interesting that the official CoS statement called us "terrorists". Where I was at, it was very civil. Towards the beginning, some jackass tried to grab a video camera from an Anonymous (too many thetans), but after that CoS members were very nice. Many of them taking our fliers and engaging in friendly conversation.

      We were there to deliver information that has been suppressed by the church, to the church members, and to the general population. Attempting to "terrorize" anyone is counterproductive to freedom of information. Fear causes people to react without logic. If the church of scientology actually came to terms with their sketchy past, and confronted these problems instead of waging information warfare to deny their history, I would not have needed to go down there yesterday.
  • by AlphaLop ( 930759 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:41PM (#22384424)
    These fools don't know who they are messing with, it's all fun and games until someone drops your ass into a volcano..... :)
    • Re:Take Caution (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:41PM (#22385276)
      I was at the Tucson protest.

      One of the Scientologists tried to follow some of the Tucson anons after they left, following them three times around a block in circles until they ran a red light to get rid of her.

      They *do* try to pull shit like this.

      Advice to the lady in the red Yaris with the fucking *ugly* green shoes: We have your license plate number. Buy a dog, and make sure you have good curtains.
  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:42PM (#22384436) Journal
    The video that they forced off of YouTube can, thanks to Gawker, be found here [].

    As a non-scientologist, this is scary. Possibly the most scary part of it is the editing. I have no problem with people having convictions but when he talks about "fightin' the fight" and "people needing them" and "people depending on them" ... I get a little frightened that people around me think like that. You may be able to argue that it's little different than Christianity or Islam but what I really fear are the people who are part of Sea Org [] or offshore from the states and may have given up their rights as a civilian & American to have some sort of special standing in this group.

    Whatever the case, I will not ever affiliate myself with a Scientologist and after reading Have You Lived Before This Life [], I will do everything in my power to convince those that I know and love to avoid Scientology.

    The thing that concerns me about Scientology is that after reading some books by Hubbard about it, I have found very little criticism of it. A book [] & some articles [] with the most notable one being Time Magazine. It seems like such an easy target. It takes seconds to find books criticizing Catholics or Muslims ... why are there so few publications attacking Scientology? There is definitely something scary about a very powerful organization and if they have people dumping money into them, I do not doubt they are capable of silencing anyone (unfortunately, even Slashdot []).
    • by KublaiKhan ( 522918 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:57PM (#22384700) Homepage Journal
      It is a tenet of the Church of Scientology (the organization; I make no judgments about the beliefs of individual members) that any "SP"--that is, a 'suppressive person', or in more plain language, anybody who criticizes the church--is to be harassed, sued into oblivion, and otherwise removed as a threat by any means necessary.

      Though the CoS claims that it revoked its official "fair game" doctrine that specifically endorsed these tactics in 1968, there have been a number of scientology defectors who have confirmed that they were instructed to carry out similar exercises against those whom the CoS has declared to be "SP".

      This is, by the way, one of the reasons why Anonymous has been careful to conceal its members' identities. During the protest, the Scientologists are known to have videoed the protests; and taken special effort to photograph any members of Anonymous who were not wearing a mask, any cars that members of Anonymous entered, and in some cases, cars that stopped and received literature that Anonymous was handing out. It does not take any imagination at all to determine what the CoS is likely to do with this information.
    • why are there so few publications attacking Scientology?

      This is one of the motivators for Project Chantology []. The CoS attempts to silence critics through law suits and other scare tactics has pissed off a lot of young people. This includes the DMCA take down notice sent to youtube in response to the Tom Cruise video, which started this movement. These are same kind of people that got upset when Digg removed the AACS key [], we all know how well that went for the MPAA.

      People who speak out against the CoS are ha []

    • by h4ck7h3p14n37 ( 926070 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @10:21PM (#22387118) Homepage

      Something you have to understand is that Scientologists _know_ they have the answers to everything (because L. Ron Hubbard said so). If a member has any doubts, then they're "out of ethics" and have to report for additional training (at their expense). The CoS does not use the same meaning of the word ethics that you or I would. To them, ethics is doing and believing exactly what you're told. If you don't understand something, or have questions, then you are assumed to simply not understand the material; because if you did understand the material, you wouldn't have any questions.

      The organization is set up so that it slowly isolates members from normal society, both physically but also mentally. Everything the CoS teaches becomes the truth and any conflicting information is actively ignored. The group as a whole forms a sort of feedback loop whereby members receive positive affirmation from the group when they do, experience or feel something the CoS wants them to feel regardless of whether or not it's true. This is why some people claim that Scientology has helped them, it's not because of the "tech", it's because they feel acceptance and safety within that group.

      The church has several ways of dealing with dissent and criticism. The first is by declaring someone a suppressive person, or SP. SPs are considered to be very, very evil people as they're trying to suppress or prevent the CoS from saving mankind (yes, that's their stated mission). People who leave the church, or people outside of the church that are trying to talk someone into leaving are "declared" SP which means that Scientologists are forbidden from speaking to them about anything meaningful. If you're a Scientologist and someone is an SP it doesn't matter whether or not they're your father, mother, brother or daughter, they're dead to you. The second way is through their "fair game" doctrine which basically states that the CoS will not punish a member for anything they do towards an SP, be it harassment, extortion, assault or murder.

      David Touretzky (yes, _that_ Touretzky) has some great information about Scientology available on his homepage []. There's a fantastic article available that describes exactly how someone gets sucked into the cult, little by little. Note I say cult and not religion because the CoS _is_ a cult. They simply call themselves a religion in order to attempt to shield themselves from "interference" from government and to take advantage of IRS tax breaks (so they can keep more money). In addition, they have members sign contracts that absolve the church of any responsibility should something like you dying from their Introspection Rundown happen. Check out this contract [] they have you sign. Pay particular attention to this sentence,

      I understand, acknowledge and agree that the Introspection Rundown addresses only the individual's spiritual needs and I freely consent, without reservation, and without condition or limitation, to Church members conducting the Introspection Rundown, and that I accept and assume all known and unknown risks of injury, loss, or damage resulting from my decision to participate in the Introspection Rundown and specifically absolve all persons and entities from all liabilities of any kind, without limitation, associated with my participation or their participation in my Introspection Rundown.

      Notice it says "only the individual's spiritual needs", which means that it doesn't meet your physical needs and you can die from their "ritual" like Lisa McPherson [] did.

      I could go on and on about things like church members being locked into compounds with patrolling armed guards, related organizations like Narconon treating drug abuse problems with long saunas and megadoses of niacin or actual proved conspiracies like Operation Snow White and Operation Freakout, but I'd prefer the reader follow some of the links I provided and educate themselves.

  • by TheGreatGraySkwid ( 553871 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:42PM (#22384438) Homepage
    The linked article is pretty lame. Anybody got a link to better coverage of Phoenix?

    There's an LJ Account [] from a participant in London that's a great read; sounds like something I would have been proud to participate in!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 11, 2008 @06:44PM (#22384478)
    ...what the phrase "in lieu" *means*?

    "...they gathered Sunday in lieu of the birthday of Lisa McPherson..."
  • Clarification (Score:3, Informative)

    by cheese-cube ( 910830 ) <> on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:03PM (#22384780) Homepage
    As has been stated on the Raid Wiki [], Anonymous is not protesting against the religion of Scientology itself, Anonymous is protesting against the organisations behind it, primarily the Church of Scientology, RTC and OSA.
  • Bad Actors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:08PM (#22384852)
    It says a lot about Scientology - and actors - that so many actors buy into Scientology.

    These are the actors from the very same tiny group of the overall population who also feel they should tell you how you should be voting, how the war against terrorism should be run, and why their opinions matter more than anyone else's do, and deserve more airtime (and make-up) than any "ordinary" citizen. The people who drop out of college, and even high school - and are proud of that fact!

    • Re:Bad Actors (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:04PM (#22385562)
      It says a lot about Scientology - and actors - that so many actors buy into Scientology.

      No. It just tells you about Scientology. And people I guess. But nothing about actors.

      These are the actors from the very same tiny group of the overall population who also feel they should tell you how you should be voting, how the war against terrorism should be run, and why their opinions matter more than anyone else's do, and deserve more airtime (and make-up) than any "ordinary" citizen. The people who drop out of college, and even high school - and are proud of that fact!

      No. Actors tell us how we should be voting because we keep asking them. We ask them how to dress, how to talk, where to eat, how to vote... we pay them to entertain us. They aren't special, and they aren't born thinking they are. We train them. We put them on TV, we interview them. We follow the minutia of their lives.

      They don't force themselves on us. WE chase them. Sure, at this point its become a bit symbiotic, they use the fact we can't get enough of them to further inflate their value and the activists among them spread their views, but the fundamental issue is US. If we the public could stop caring about them... if we treated them like any other professional like a bricklayer, electrictian, IT admin, PHB, or whatever, the constant media coverage would vanish. E!TV would go away. Tabloids would print something else. Etc.

      So... bottom line. Actors are regular people who after spending years in the spotlight often develop some ego issues. But its we the public that first manufacture and then nurture their defective personalities. The industry surrounding them from the media circus, to the agents and publicists exists because -we- demand it.

      Now, scientology KNOWS the public is obsessed with celebrity. So they court celebrities. They literally wine and dine them, and then take them back home to (mind) fuck. The CoS wants big prime-time A-list scientologists as evangilists, and they'll do or pay whatever it takes to seduce them. Plus, once solidly hooked, they have considerable funds and assets for the church to get its fingers into to fund its next celebrity acquisition, its legal battles, and so on.

      So again, if we the public could stop obsessing over celebrities, CoS would lose interest in converting them. Or, more accurately, its interest would drop to the same level it has in converting the rest of us.
  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <> on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:36PM (#22385200) Homepage

    The Church of Scientology says a group that has been protesting against the church are religious bigots that are merely perpetrating religious hate crimes
    That can't apply to the Scientologists - they are not a religion, they are a business that conns money out of those who it brainwashes/fools.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumG ( 50515 )

      hey are not a religion, they are a business that conns money out of those who it brainwashes/fools.
      Sounds like a religion.

  • I wonder... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:39PM (#22385248) Homepage Journal
    How comes so few are interested where does Anonymous come from.

    And so many are so misguided as to Anonymous motives.

    If your mother was drowning, Anonymous wouldn't move a finger. He might laugh, or throw rocks. Anonymous is the motor force behind raids on Habbo Hotel, against random journals on DeviantArt or LiveJournal, they aren't interested in any political agenda. They are a Horde, a bunch of random people interested in spreading chaos and observing its results. They dont' give a shit about Church of Scientology. They just picked it as a commonly disliked target (so attacking it will likely draw support to them) and raided it the same style they raid Habbo, except IRL. Noisy, disruptive and creative, deep chaos that has some artistic feeling to it, and they got to make a lot of fuss about it. But don't be mistaken, they could have raided Mormons, IRS, Public Transport department, Citybank or anything they'd feel like raiding, no political agenda whatsoever. They prefer extreme, weird, mysterious targets but that's not because they really hate them, that's because the public will be more interested.

    Yeah, that should mark me as Fair Game to Anonymous. Rules 1 and 2 not broken though.
  • Hate crimes (Score:3, Insightful)

    by popmaker ( 570147 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @07:41PM (#22385272)
    Scientology spokesmen accuse Anonymous of hate crimes. Has Anynomous hurt anyone yet, physically?

    I'm guessing not, but the question must be asked.
  • Shocking! (Score:5, Funny)

    by BeeBeard ( 999187 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:01PM (#22385530)
    The article practically insinuates that a church that was originally started as a tax shelter has been involved with some sort of misdeed! But that's just ridiculous. I can practically feel my Thetan levels rising!
  • other cults (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sentientbrendan ( 316150 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @08:17PM (#22385778)
    What's really disturbing to me, is that neither the state nor the federal government does much about Scientology or other cults.

    In Washington we have these LaRouche cultists all over the place []
      but especially at colleges, and especially at the UW. They show up on school property rain or shine, and organize various brainwashing events. What's worse, is that they try to make themselves look like some kind of political organization, but actually they're just trying to brainwash you, try to get you to drop out of school, and scam you out of your money.

    Instead of doing something about it, the government and the school let them use school facilities to hold their brainwashing sessions, and let them stay on campus harassing students day in and day out.

    In California, where the Scientologists are powerful, I'm told that there's a similar situation. The organization is powerful enough that the government would rather look the other way, lest they suffer some kind of smear campaign.
    • Re:other cults (Score:4, Informative)

      by Nim82 ( 838705 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:45PM (#22386784)
      For the politicians to do anything, they need to think it will get them votes (i.e have popular support) or alternatively be of benefit to them (shares in industries, backhanders etc). Scientology is very unprofitable for anyone to deal with.

      The mainstream media for the most part give them a wide berth, leading to a lack of public awareness. Out of interest I asked some older people I know what they thought the CoS was; a lot thought it was a Christian spin-off with a scientific tilt. The BBC have not yet even noted the fact 500 protestors gathered in London (let alone the fact ~8000 mobilised simulatenously around the world). Sure there were more important stories, but the fact is they managed to find far less notable filler stories to tell the world. My guess is it's a taboo subject they don't want to go near after the CoS's attack on informative Panorama investigation. Same applied with many other major media outlets who dodged it or downplayed it.

      Still at least here in the UK the London Police supported the Anons, I distinctly heard one officer (after being harassed to do something by a Cultist) walk off to another and say 'fucking freaks'.

      Hopefully the media will have no choice but to approach the subject as more people get involved in the movement against the crazy cult. Once they get onboard you can guarantee the Politicians will begin to notice.
  • GET INVOLVED. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seebs ( 15766 ) on Monday February 11, 2008 @09:50PM (#22386830) Homepage
    So, don't just laugh at this.

    Get involved.

    They can sue a few people. They cannot sue EVERYONE.

    So join protests. Write your legislators. Stuff like that.

"Call immediately. Time is running out. We both need to do something monstrous before we die." -- Message from Ralph Steadman to Hunter Thompson