The 19th century German philosopher Max Scheler said that an apostate was ‘engaged in a continuous chain of acts of revenge against his own spiritual past’.
American sociologist Lewis Coser defined an apostate as not just a person who experienced a dramatic change in conviction but “a man who, even in his new state of belief, is spiritually living not primarily in the content of that faith, in the pursuit of goals appropriate to it, but only in the struggle against the old faith and for the sake of its negation.”
Wikipedia defines Apostasy (Greek apostasia: “a defection or revolt”) as the formal disaffiliation from, or abandonment or renunciation of a religion by a person. It can also be defined within the broader context of embracing an opinion contrary to one’s previous beliefs.
Once I learned of the hypocrisy and cruelty in L Ron Hubbard’s, David Miscavige’s and Mike Rinder’s Church of Scientology, I – like hundreds or thousands of other Scientologists – quit Scientology and began exposing them on the Internet. Since Marty, Mike and Dave had shuddered into silence almost every news media company by the late 90’s, I felt it was my civic duty to get on to the Internet and do what I could.
What I wasn’t noticing was that, in doing this, I was also adopting a new ideology which cohesed our group of Scientology apostates – the ideology of the anticult movement.
The anticult movement is a framework of attitudes and ideas that are centered around
1. A belief in brainwashing
2. A belief in minority religions as ‘cults’
3. A feeling of self righteous fury against the abuses we are told that go on in ‘cults’.
This framework of ideas are packaged with a set of attitudes and emotional habits which get applied to whichever minority religion you wish: The anticult movement’s Scientology Division is called Anti-Scientology; the Mormon Division of the anticult movement is called Anti-Mormonism; JWs the same, etc.
Each division of the Anticult movement has a group with leaders and followers who have all taken to the Internet to ‘expose the abuses’ of their former religion, to enlist as many people as they can to take up their cause so that the power of government can be used to bring justice to the abuse and “take out the cult”.
It was a whole package of beliefs and feelings I adopted, and I rode that puppy for years.
I had no idea that I was engaging in a familiar pattern that human beings have been engaged in for thousands of years and which has been studied and recorded by sociologists for hundreds of years.
I just felt a moral duty to tell the world what I knew about Scientology, and to help and support those others like me to do the same.
It was when I began to notice the same blind loyalty, the same hypocrisy and the same cruelty in Anti-Scientology that I was trying to escape in Scientology, that I began waking up from Anti-Scientology, too. And just like when I left Scientology, my Anti-Scientology ideology began falling apart on me, and I felt a moral duty to write about and to expose what I saw there.
The same purpose that I felt as a Scientologist “to make the world a better place” was flipped and morphed into apostatic purpose of “taking out the cult of Scientology” which has flipped again into “warning the world about the hypocrisy and cruelty and religious persecution of Anti-Scientology and the Anti-cult movement.”
Each previous group of mine has branded me a heretic, shunned and banned me, and sought with whatever they can muster to discredit me, and to even harm my commercial life. Because they are members of a tribal species – human beings – each group applies the same tribal hypocrisy and cruelty to their former members, critics and enemies.
Each one of these phases of my life had some legitimacy. And they all had some bamboozlement, as well.
Much like a rebellious teenager who is waking up from the dominance of mom and dad’s ideas about things, I’ve stumbled through each of these phases, shaking my fist and yelling at the injustice of it all.
And earned my own individuality and ineffable understanding as a prize.
What has seemed to propel me through the middle times between these phases was how lonely it has been: It was lonely when I no longer wanted to drink and party with my friends from high school and college – which propelled me into Scientology. And how lonely I was when I no longer wanted to be a Scientologist – which propelled me into anti-scientology. And how lonely it is now in my present anti-scientology apostasy.
But that’s the price you have to pay, I guess.
Like graduating from kindergarten, once you’ve learned something, you’ve learned it.
There is no going back.
Happy Easter, y’all.