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The Cult Question
June 27, 1995

A look at New Religions features a piece on Scientology.


Part One

Part One

Part One



This half-hour presentation included a section on Scientology. The Scientology section begins well into the program, and that is where this transcript starts. The transcript was made from a video tape copy of the program. This transcript was not produced by MTV. [Text in brackets describe the visuals shown on screen. Text superimposed on screen is shown "in quotes".]

["Kurt Loder, MTV News"]

LODER: Few groups are more controversial than the church of Scientology, which was started as a self-help system called Dianetics in the 1950's, by a science-fiction writer named L. Ron Hubbard.

[Scientology organization storefront]

Today, Scientology receives multi-millions of dollars from its members, and has a brigade of showbiz celebrities ranging from Tom Cruise and John Travolta to Kirstie Alley and Juliette Lewis [celebrity stills of Lisa Marie Presley, Cruise, Travolta, Alley, Lewis] who sing its praises and are embraced at its luxurious celebrity centers. [celebrity center]

["John Travolta, Scientologist" "1992"]

TRAVOLTA: I think it's THE most important movement, on the planet...

["Amazing Science Fiction" pulp magazine cover showing an article titled "Dianetics, a new science of the mind", May 1950, 25 cents]

LODER: Dianetics, the forerunner of Scientology, was first presented in an article in a cheap sci-fi magazine. Hubbard's subsequent book of the same name became the first self-help best seller of the modern era. [book cover "Dianetics"]

Dianetics has evolved into Scientology, [book cover "What Is Scientology"] a self-described "pantheistic applied religious philosophy dedicated to self-discovery".

[John Travolta]

TRAVOLTA: God, and uh, interpretations of that, are left up to the individual. So you could be a Jewish Scientologist, you could be a bap... a Baptist in a Scientology, you could be a Catholic in a Scientology...

["HOLLAND, Scientologist" A young man stands next to a bust of Hubbard]

HOLLAND: Scientology is a religious philosophy, that's designed to make life better. It's as simple as it is... It gives you the tools, in life... sezz handle the problems, and work out certain things!

[still of an e-meter with an auditor and auditee]

LODER: Scientology's adherents take "auditing sessions" with a lie-detector-like device called an "e-meter", [still of a composite photo: Man sitting at table clutching his stomach; an inset picture labeled "engram", the inset picture being of an operating room, the camera is the POV of the patient on the operating table, looking up at the group of doctors who are saying "Ouch, your stomach is going to hurt!"; circular arrows between the man and the inset indicate a cycle]

to rid themselves of inhibiting memories called "engrams".

HOLLAND: An auditor listens, they don't evaluate for you, they don't tell you what your problem is. And, she just, er, the person just points out, where you should look! And they say well, you make the decision for yourself. No one tells you what your problem is.

[Scientology organization storefront]

LODER: But according to former Scientologists, members aren't given the church's full liturgy until after taking many expensive courses.

[Interview setting, with Loder seated on the right and Leisa Goodman on the left in front of a fireplace. "Leisa Goodman, Media relations director, church of Scientology Int."]

LEISA GOODMAN: What price can you put on personal freedom? That's...

LODER: Six, seven hundred dollars...

GOODMAN: Wuh.. It's an individual choice, isn't it? That's how much YOU put on it. But it's uh, it's an individual choice again, and uh it's up the the person. I think the other important thing is... in sum total there's no "tithing"... for example. It's a totally voluntary thing.

LODER: Um if you want to take a course you have to pay for it.

GOODMAN: Sure! You pay a, a donation, and you, get exactly what you, PAID for.

[Holland at bust]

LODER: Do you sit home at night and think gee, I wish I could take that expensive course?

HOLLAND: Well sure. But I mean that's the same way it is for a computer or a car. So I mean, you just save up!

[Night scene of a stone building with a Scientology sign on it, with many people entering it]

LODER: Although Scientology executives deny it, former longtime members say that

[Super over red background "Some of these ENGRAMS are the remnants of space aliens called BODY THETANS who were placed here by the GALACTIC OVERLORD XENU."]

eventually followers are told that some of these "engrams" are the remnants of space aliens called "body thetans" who are placed there by the galactic overlord "Xenu".

[Interview setting showing a close-up of Stacy Young. "Stacy Young, former Scientologist"]

STACY YOUNG: It's a very science-fiction world, um, it has a, galactic confederacy... [book cover titled "Scientology 8-8008, apparently showing an angel and a soldier] it's a very romantic... view of the world.

[Loder and Goodman at the fireplace]

LODER: I don't understand, there's like a galactic overlord "Xenu"... is there a whole staff of characters... or is that not true?

GOODMAN: Ohh uhh... I don't think... I don't really know what you mean. What you're talking about.

[Book cover titled "Scientology, the Fundamentals of Thought; L. Ron. Hubbard]

LODER: Originally Scientology started out, not as a religion, but as a collection of psycho-therapeutic nostrums, promoted and sold, by Hubbard. [still of Hubbard]

[close up of J. Gordon Melton "J. Gordon Melton, Director, The Institute for the Study of American Religion"]

J. GORDON MELTON: Scientology grew out of what uh, began as an attempt to uh, help people deal with certain mental problems, uh as a psychology.

[Stacy Young]

YOUNG: The psychiatric and the psychological community, they... the scientific community... they became very critical, of his methods... [still of Hubbard with a meter attached to a tomato] because they felt that they were very unscientific.

[Newspaper clippings headlines: "'Cure-all' Machine Like Lie Detector" "Scientology Practitioner, Phoenix Man Jailed on Medicine Charge" "Scientologists and F.D.A. Clash in Court"]

LODER: The Scientology movement found itself fending off accusations of practicing medicine without a license [close-up of Hubbard] and Hubbard began distancing himself from the shrink establishment.

[Footage of Hubbard, speaking. "L. Ron Hubbard, Founder of Scientology" "1966"]

L. RON HUBBARD: Uh psychiatry has to do with the insane. And we have nothing to do with the insane whatsoever. They are insane... Well, they're insane."

[book cover titled "A Description of the Scientology Religion, from the Scientology handbook"]

LODER: Once the group declared itself a religion, Scientology mounted a lengthy court battle with the Internal Revenue Service for tax exempt status.

[Internal Revenue Service building, news clipping "IRS files show wealth amassed by Scientology" clip text reads in part "...Scientology holds assets of nearly $400 million, including a cruise ship..."]

At one point, eleven Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife, [still of Mary Sue Hubbard; clippings "Church of Scientology found guilty"; "Trial told of break-ins, espionage - Sounds Like Spy-entology"] were convicted of conspiracy and burglary, of IRS offices.

[Loder and Goodman at fireplace]

GOODMAN: Actually the people who did that, were booted out of the church. It's got _nothing_ to do with Scientology. And, um...

LODER: Mr. Hubbard's wife was one of them.

GOODMAN. Yup. They were... eh. They were... They were kicked out... because...

LODER: Did he dump her? jss.. get a new wife and...

GOODMAN: No not necessarily we're [unintelligible - "trying to tell you"?] that they were not accepted in the church as staff members, any more.

[clipping "Church declared tax-free, The IRS says Scientology can be called a religion"]

LODER: In the end, the IRS granted Scientology the tax exempt religious status it wanted. [IRS office "IRS office, Washington, DC"] A move IRS spokesman now decline to discuss.

[Scientology building at night]

It should be noted that although Scientology was in constant contact with MTV about this program, [lobby of Scientology building] church executives refused to be interviewed until just a few days before its initial broadcast. [Stacy Young petting a dog, photo of Stacy Young as a young girl] Disturbed that we would be airing parts of our interview with Stacy Young, a Scientology staffer for fifteen years and a one-time colleague of Leisa Goodman. [photo of five people meeting around a table]

[Loder and Goodman at fireplace]

GOODMAN: Let's put it this way she worked under me. For some time. And I didn't ... Her level of competency was not... up to where it should be. Certainly her level of ethics... was far below... the other staff members.

LODER: She was there for fifteen years...


LODER: That's a long time...

GOODMAN: That's right! And um, it's a long time to... uh... to not succeed too, an... and Stacy did not. And frankly... I mean to be honest with you, we were... we were... glad to see her go.

[show main title card "New Religions: The Cult Question"]

LODER: Scientology also took offense at the title phrase, "The Cult Question".

[Loder and Goodman at fireplace]

GOODMAN: The definition of "cult" is a closed, secretive group. And that's not Scientology.

LODER: well Scientology has a lot of secrets right I mean, the OT levels and...

GOODMAN: There's some levels very high up... very, just very... a tiny fragment of Scientology... is something that you don't learn about when you first walk in the door.

[document with insets "Code of a Scientologist" "10. To work for freedom of speech in the world."]

LODER: Scientology also claims to be a supporter of free speech. [clipping "Suit-Happy Scientologists"] Although opponents say that doesn't seem to apply to those who in any way criticize the church's practices.

[cover of TIME magazine: "Scientology, The Cult of Greed"]

When TIME magazine ran a cover story in 1991 describing Scientology as a "ruthless global scam", [superimposed over TIME cover: " 'Scientology poses as a religion but is really a ruthless global scam' TIME magazine"] the group filed a $416 million dollar libel suit. And that case is still in court.

[superimposed over red screen: " 'The purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win' L. Ron Hubbard"]

The group is said seldom to win such suits, but the legal costs of fighting them can wreak financial havoc on defendants.

[Stacy Young]

YOUNG: Scientology is willing to spend, any amount of money they need to... They don't care how much it costs... The, the purpose is not to make any money off of the litigation, the purpose is to, um, silence the critic.

[Loder and Goodman at fireplace]

GOODMAN: We will... use... the legal arena to defend our first amendment rights... umm. We're not a "turn the other cheek" type of religion...

[Program continues with another subject...]

Transcript courtesy of Xenubat


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