- Charges its members exorbitant fees for membership, as well as for initiation into the higher ranks and access to the more "sacred", mind-blowing doctrines of the Church.
- An emphasis on "knowing" the doctrines of the Church.
- Very difficult to leave. Dissenters are slandered.
- Requires members to shun and disaffiliate with those it perceives as "antagonistic" towards the Church.
- Heavy into proselytization. Membership often recruited under what many later feel is "false pretense".
- Founder created several books with "unusual" beliefs.
- Makes claims to the power of healing and cleansing using non-traditional methods.
- Makes the membership and investigators feel guilty and insecure, as to establish dependency to the organization. Promises "redemption".
- Historically involved in criminal activity, including extraordinary cover-ups of the darker sides of its organization.
- Doesn't believe in the Abrahamic God.
- Keeps both historical records and financial records under tight wraps.
- Church leadership takes a cut of the income, the exact amount which is kept as a heavily guarded secret.
This makes me wonder, what exactly makes some religions a societal good, and others bad? Because I can't think of a single attribute belonging to Scientology, which does not also belong to another religion I consider a force for good. Maybe that's why it still maintains its religious status. Still, Scientology is one of the few religions I can't help but feel we'd all be better without. I'm trying to figure out why. Any thoughts? Are there any beliefs or practices which should make a religion illegal? Is there a line we should draw, between legitimate, helpful religions and those which harm society? Or are religious groups such as Scientology the price we must pay for the freedom of religion?
[Side note: I do not believe or imply that the LDS Church is a cult or should be outlawed. I believe it is, as a whole, a strong force for good, and am grateful for the joy and meaning it brings to so many people. Despite all my complaints, disagreements, and grievances against the Church, I still like it quite a lot, and am happy to be a part of it.]