Monday, March 29, 2010

Militias and Scientology

Anderson Cooper began Monday's AC360 with a preview of this week's series on the rumored violence at the upper levels of Scientology's hierarchy. After the preview it was on to breaking news about another arrest in the Michigan militia case. John Avalon and Mark Potok (Southern Poverty Law Center) discussed the history of the group and the initial lack of reaction from the government. As Avalon said 'this should be a wake up call' and hate ultimately leads to violence.Who would have thought that members of the Republican National Committee would visit a California sex club on the Party's dime? And that Committee Chairman Michael Steele may have accompanied them? This could be the final nail in Steele's coffin, he's had quite a few oops moments recently. Tom Foreman brought us the story. Both he and AC pleaded innocence as how one would drop two thousand dollars in a bondage themed night club in one night.The centerpiece of tonight's AC360, and presumably the week, is Scientology. Anderson Cooper began with a brief history of the group:
*Scientology was begun in 1954 by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard
*Its stated goals are to help its members live in a civilization without insanity, criminals or war
*After Hubbard's death in 1986 David Miscavige became the leader of the group
*Scientology has 170 'churches' around the globe and claims 10 million members
Some facts and figures:
*The American Religious Identification Survey says that Scientology membership, in the US, has dropped from 55,000 in 2001 to 25,000 in 2008.
*Last year a French court found four Scientology leaders and the 'church' guilty of fraud and fined over 1 million dollars
*The 'church' was granted tax exempt status in 1993, in the US, after years of wrangling with the government
*The 'church' is a vocal critic of psychiatry and has an anti-psychiatry museum
*Scientology courts celebrities and has a celebrity center in LA

I have tired very hard not to refer to Scientology as a religion and/or a church. I'm not sure if it's because of some of its wacky pronouncements or the fact that it was established by a science fiction writer, but to me the teachings and the organization define the word cult. Time Magazine did an excellent cover story on Scientology in 1991 called The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power that stands the test of time, IMO. If you want to check it out follow the link.
AC's interview for this first installment of the series was with Marty Rathbun, a former high ranking official in Scientology. Rathbun says that David Miscavige treats people around him like slaves and beats them down. Church officials not only deny it but blame Rathbun for any violence that took place within the hierarchy of the 'church'.Tom Foreman was at the 360 News and Business Bulletin desk on Monday night:
• 32 people killed in a Russian subway bombing'
• An arrest in the Juarez murders of three people with ties to the US Consulate
•10 children and young adults were killed by the drug cartel for not stopping at a fake checkpoint
•US government will sell its shares in Citigroup
•Scientists confirm fatty foods are as addictive as drugs
•Charges announced in Mass. against students who bullied a student who then committed suicide
•The Obama administration warned the health insurance industry they better provide coverage for all children with preexisting conditions come September
•Joe Jackson is suing MJ's doctor Conrad Murray
•NY politician has urged teens to quit sagging their pants
The Shot was teased by a producer on Twitter and AC on the program as the cutest video ever. I was underwhelmed at the clip of a loris being tickled.

We were looking forward to AC's interview with Sean Penn, who is still in Haiti, that was supposed to air tonight. After the program one of 360's producers Tweeted that it was taped today but the program ran out of time and will air it later in the week. We expect AC will be returning to Haiti in the next two weeks or so and are anxiously looking forward to his updates on the country's progress. ~Phebe

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judy said...

I was underwhelmed by the entire 360 program. It did not hold my attention and I agree Scientology is more like a cult than a religion, but call it what you may.
It really doesn't deserve promotion.
I did like the loris being tickled and I agreed with AC the little hands were like fists, but then that's me and animals.
Looking forward to AC's first hand report from Haiti... from a professional.

On_Love_Street_With_Jim_Morrison said...

The scientology piece by Anderson was fantastic. One of the best things he's ever done. He really needs to do more reporting like this. The sea organization sounds really weird. The whole thing is just bizarre. The denial from the Scientology about the abuse allegations seems rather weak. Its a good report and I can't wait to see the rest this week.

The interview with Sean Penn should be good if it ever airs. However I am sure I am in the minority, but I am in no hurry for Anderson himself.

On_Love_Street_With_Jim_Morrison said...

Oops blogger ate part of my post, what it should say is: The interview with Sean Penn should be good if it ever airs. However I am sure I am in the minority, but I am in no hurry for Anderson himself to return to Haiti.

EmmKay said...

I actually really loved the show tonight. I thought it jumped into some interesting topics pretty quickly. I have no comment on what Scientology decides to call itself, but still fascinating to see an inside peek. And despite their claims of rudeness, AC seemed very balanced and thorough in the reporting.

Anonymous said...

What disturbed me about the whole Scientology story is that there has been no explaination as to WHY all this fighting and hitting is happening. Is it just random violent acts? Hitting just to hit for some kind of punishment for something? Was there an argument? Is it just some crazy member of the church comes up and hits you upside the head, then beats you down? What is it provoking the attacks in the first place??? Weird...

MichellenLomita said...

I enjoyed Monday's 360. The show lived up to its advertising as unconventional, and I'm most interested in atypical subjects. Traditional news discussions bore me. The Scientology series started a bit slow; can 360 maintain it four more days with the violence angle? Adult assault victims are responsible to report the crime to the police, and if anyone chooses to join a cult and suffer abuse, that's their problem. The liveliest part of the panel was the heated exchange between AC and their spokesperson, but even that fizzled out. I had to laugh when Anderson's response was just "Really!".

I agree with you @ACAnderFan, I am not looking forward to Anderson's return to Haiti. He already spent four weeks there, and Sean has overexposure with the interviews.

Austin said...

@ Anon – 11.52 am - I too was surprised by the lack of information as to WHY these beatings took place. I wish they had incorporated that aspect in to the piece.

The other thing that surprised me was the reaction as to why the ex-wives did not contact the police to report the abuse. I really do hate it when women are pressed on an issue they retaliate with “you are being rude” comment. That just drives me nuts. I do not condone scientology and their teachings, but if you believe in something take a stand and have an open discussion - don't hide behind comments like "you are being rude" when pressed for answers. By no means was Anderson being rude when he pressed them about not reporting the abuse. I think it’s each person’s responsibility to ensure they take a stand against violence of any kind, be it being done to women, children or grown men for that matter. Violence should never be condoned in any form, and for these women to not report it, it’s shameful.

I can’t wait for the Sean Penn Haiti interview as well as Anderson’s return to Haiti. With the Global Donor Conference taking place in New York this week with emphasis on Haiti, as well as the Canadian Summit taking place Canada this week that Sec. Of State Hillary Clinton will be attending, I’m sure Haiti will come up again, and I’m certainly glad CNN is maintaining its promise to keep Haiti in the lime light.

Jacq said...

Good show last night. I think AC did a nice job with the Scientology segment. It is all too weird and strange that's all I can say.

The loris being tickled was the best. It still makes me smile.

I know AC is probably ready to go back to Haiti, but I hope he takes better care of himself this time. His cough lingered after his last visit, and he was worn out. AC is a trooper, but he has to take care of himself first.