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.