Anti-Scientologists Display Frenzied Hysteria & Dysfunctional Negativity Over CNN’s “Believer”

reza aslan cnn believer
Reza Aslan is Audited by Rey Robles in CNN’s “Believer”

Last night, CNN broadcasted an episode of their series “Believer” on Independent Scientology groups in Los Angeles and Israel.

Before he’d even seen the episode, Tony Ortega tweeted over 20 times that Reza Aslan, the series host and creator, was “dishonest”.

Chris Shelton bleated out on Twitter that the episode was a “near criminal act”. The hysterical Scientology critics were out in full for Reza Aslan last night, and their cognitive distortions were on full display.

I was going to write a big blog post about their cyber-bullying of Reza Aslan last night, but it’s not worth it.

What is worth it is the firm realization I came to watching these critics whip each other up into a toxic lather of negativity and hysteria.

1. If their purpose is to stop the abuse in Scientology, then the survival of Independent Scientology is an important solution which can draw business away from the Church and force it to compete on price and on the fair treatment of their parishioners. Law enforcement has already shown they do not care about the spiritual abuse in Scientology. Besides – maybe – the Danny Masterson case (which is alleged to have occurred in the early 2000s) there is no evidence of actual criminality by the Church of Scientology in almost 30 years. That fact alone should act as a moderating influence on a critic’s behavior, attitude, and choice of words. Negative daily blog posts from Tony Ortega have proven impotent in curbing Scientology spiritual abuse. By not supporting, and by even tearing down Independent Scientology, these toxic critics have become so embedded into their own evidence-free world, that they are now dysfunctional to their own cause.

2. Being around critics like this, day in and day out, year in and year out, has been damaging to me personally. When I compare the attitudes and approach to life that I’ve adopted since surrounding myself with people like Tony Ortega and others in the Scientology critic community, to when I used to shun people like this in my life, the damage to my mood and outlook is clear to me. Just reading their tweets in preparing for the broadcast of the show – and watching the cyber-bullying they waged on Reza Aslan – put all this in very stark contrast for me.

3. There is no convincing these people that they have fallen into a delusional pit of negativity and cruel distortion. For the last year, I’ve written a lot about this. Only they can pull themselves up out of that pit. And they will when they are ready. Probably not Tony Ortega, though. That guy has so much of his self-identity invested in his negativity and nihilism that he is probably never coming out. For those who have not yet decided to jump into the pit down there?

My advice after much experience: Don’t let him pull you in.

4. I’m not going to subject my mind or my blog to this much negativity any more. A year is enough. It does no good to get down into the mud and wrestle with these people. Everyone just gets muddy, and they love it.

So I’ll just say this: Reza Aslan’s episode of “Believer” on Independent Scientology changed my life for the better last night. It reminded me of an approach to belief and spiritual pursuits that is positive, constructive, and life-giving.

Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you respond to it. Your beliefs about an event or experience in your life can become so negative that your own belief can harm you. You can also choose to have positive and constructive beliefs about that same experience or event which are just as true – or truer – than the negative belief. But the positive belief can build you up, nurture, and strengthen you.

The person with negative beliefs about his experience of the world is not smarter or more superior than the person with a positive belief. Why? Because the person with the negative belief is harming himself, and the person with the positive belief is not.

Thank you, Reza Aslan, and to the producers of CNN’s Believer.

You have reminded me of an important lesson about belief that I’ve needed to remember for a long time since leaving Scientology.

24 thoughts on “Anti-Scientologists Display Frenzied Hysteria & Dysfunctional Negativity Over CNN’s “Believer””

  1. Apart from those who disapprove of the Independent Scientology/FreeZone stuff and are upset with Reza for going easy on them, I think another factor is that ya just can’t please all the people all the time. Chris Shelton actually wrote some very interesting critiques of the show. But in any case, I don’t have to agree with him to like him. Hell, I like Alanzo but don’t always have the same take on things as he does. I like Tony Ortega but don’t always agree with him. That’s just the way it goes.

  2. Alanzo,
    Wow… wonderful observations. Wise, common sense and spiritual writing. And your ability to change and move away from fixed ideas…impressive. Reza did not ignore the negative he encountered in the subject, mainly in the CoS. Its all there. But he did not and he does not let himself fall into this pointless delusional pit of total negativity and cruel distortion – as you so well described. He is curious and wise enough to look for the positive. Met the man, he is wonderful, wise, lively and brilliant – all from being positive and looking for what IS, more than for what ISN’T. And sure, it is fine to disagree with him on whatever one does. I have much more to say, being an Indie, and part of reza’s episode, but so busy with life of positive attitude above anything else, this will do for now.
    Hemi ♥

  3. Hi Alanzo,

    I did not watch the ‘Believer’ show so I cannot comment on its content.
    I would like to comment on the content of this blog. You said “You can also choose to have positive and constructive beliefs about that same experience or event which are just as true – or truer – than the negative belief. But the positive belief can build you up, nurture, and strengthen you.”

    Reminds me of the old joke about Mussolini, which goes something like
    “……yeah, but at least the trains ran on time”
    (Which might make sense to those who have spent time in Italy)

    Or maybe a better analogy would be “not all of Hitler’s ideas were bad”

    I’m of the belief that Scientology is the poisonous tree and anything that falls from it is fruit of the poisonous tree.

    Sure, LRH ‘borrowed’ some of his ideas from good and decent sources. But I view LRH as a reverse Midas. Everything good he touched, wound up looking like his nasty rotten teeth.

    So, yes, you can look at the positive side of what you learned in Scientology and try to salvage the good out of the bad. But I think that is like trying to pick the corn out of the dog’s poop. Why bother? IMO, best to put it all behind you and think for yourself (not you personally, the ‘royal you’ (like the royal we, get it?)
    I agree that it’s not healthy to always focus on the negative, but I think anyone trying to focus on the good of Scientology is just (ultimately) fooling themselves.
    Even Leah Remini said the Scientology classes taught her to go into a room and look people in the eye and to be more confident. If I were her, I would not give any credit to LRH. Her abilities come from inside her, not from anything LRH may have passed along to her.

    As far as ‘Believer’, does it concern you that Aslan did not mention how small the Indie community really is? I think that was one (of many) bone of contention some people had with the show. (That Aslan made the Indie groups out to be a reasonable alternative, when in fact it’s a very small group that people seem
    to leave quickly)

    • No, that he didn’t mention the size of the Indies didn’t bother me.

      Chee – you’re an Ex right? I think I remember seeing somewhere that you were an Ex. If that’s true then my point will be easier to make. If it’s not then you aren’t going to get it.

      Do you remember who you were when you were a Scientologist? What you stood for? How you tried to help others and be ethical?

      That is the most important good that I am talking about – who you were as a Scientologist – and not necessarily the good in Scientology.

      It’s that good which is a complete waste to be negative about. A lot of Exes really think the worst of themselves as Scientologists and it really is self-destructive and actually WRONG. As in not true. The whole environment on the Internet is geared toward thinking the worst of yourself as who you were when you were in Scientology. It’s very damaging for Exes.

      And wrong. As in not true.

      So that is a good example of how a positive and constructive belief is way more beneficial than a destructive one.

      Do you see what I mean now?

    • Chee – Few people on the scn blogs are promoting that anyone continue or newly pursue scn. It’s almost all past tense, people looking at what did or didn’t work for themselves. I’m confident that I’ve separated truths from half-truths, and for myself I acknowledge that I learned a lot in scn. It’s an individual matter.

      “pick the corn out of the dog’s poop” is a party line of the hate blogs, just groupthink. Look at your own comment again, Chee. References to Mussolini and Hitler, “the poisonous tree”, “his nasty rotten teeth” etc. It’s groupthink. Marty raised hell when he coined the term Anti Scientology Cult, but I’ll bet he woke some people up.

    • It was even funnier experiencing it!

      Especially when Chris Shelton called the Believer episode a “near criminal act”.

      I could not stop laughing at that one.

      • Chris used to be “The Galactic Patrol” posting on blogs and forums. Policing thoughts and declaring criminals is his thing. His forte now is appearing in videos as a thought police.Karen de mocked him up. Gotta run now, I have become a number one offender. XXOO

        • Laughter – true – Hey Oracle – I made a reply to you on Marty’s blog which didn’t show up. I thanked you for mentioning your mathematical “background”. It helped me understand how you’re able to apply various scales and conditions in your life. Even though they’re often criticized, there’s an order and logic to them, much like math. Also, I’m not a Trump fanatic. That was for the sake of conversation. 🙂

  4. I did not see the special but it certainly brought the curiosity out in people. As much as they could watch it without head raids from the thought police.

  5. I thought it was a good show. Some people came across as idolizing Elron, but that’s the general idea of the series as I see it, allowing people to believe in or idolize what they want.
    The “OT9” guy in Vegas got free publicity. I’ll bet some more mystical ex-Scientologists or Indies are looking him up. The beat goes on.

    • Here’s a quote from someone on one of Marty’s topics which I found interesting. He describes his path after “10 years of Saint Hill Scientology” and OTVII

      “Studies of many paths including Sufi and Theosophy have enabled me to become OTVIII. This is far more than Truth Revealed. More akin to the Eightfold Path, Appreciation, Freedom, Responsibility and Understanding just about sums it up. I have built and tested a better bridge.”

      For some reason, possibly an anti-scn mindset, I at first rejected his statement. But I almost immediately reconsidered. Such states of awareness are widely cross referenced in philosophy and religion. Why not?

      • Yes, why not?

        I think that incorporating all I’ve learned from my “spiritual intentions” are available to me to mix and match – like the sales rack at TJ Maxx.

  6. I don’t know about Twitter feeds, but the Bunker blog last night (I checked it out a couple of times) was depressing. I did post a positive comment about theAslan peice which was largely ignored.

    4-5 years ago I enjoyed participating there, there were a number of intelligent contributors (of varying perspective). Most appear to have moved along, or like myself comment rarely.
    What remains is a “mean high school” version with the snarkiest voices always the loudest. Discussions of Legos appears to have become a sub thread.

    As a long time admirerer of Tony Ortega I hate to admit this, but Ortega himself seems to have lost his grounding, adopting an “I told you so” or “I told you first” attitude that adds nothing to the commentary.
    Interestingly, people seem to have lost the perspective that they are conveying opinion, and instead declaim their truth.

    The Resa Allan peice had very good production values (better than Aftermath), and was an interesting look at the world of the indies. Didn’t really directly address the Church, or its issues much. It was OK, not great but interesting.
    Time to shake off the Bunker, and move along to new territory! At least it helped me make my decision about going to HowdyCon. I’ll take a pass.

    • I think it’s a grooving and re-grooving of neural pathways. You get so tunnel-visioned that you lose all your perspective, and you can’t think in new ways, and process things differently.

      I think Tony is extremely intelligent and is doing a great service generally. But he’s been hunkered-down too long.

      He’s lost his mo-jo. That was very clear on Twitter last night – along with all his flying monkeys. They’ve lost their monkey-mojos, too.

      It can happen to any of us.

      I hope he finds a way to metamorphosize and become an even more beautiful moth. (Not butterfly, but moth)


  7. I haven’t seen the show, but I just wanted to say that I don’t think you should give up or anything. It’s possible that more people than you might think ARE taking to heart what you’ve been trying to point out. I also want to take this opportunity to say thanks for creating somewhere this can even be said without a bunch of nutcases and “questioners” polluting up the place.

    • Well thanks, V.

      It is important to have a place that is not under the control of the hysterically negative types that pass for scientology critics these days.

      The behavior that I witnessed on Twitter last night was incredibly discrediting to scientology criticism.


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