One of the toughest nuts to crack in our civilisation (or what passes for one) has been Scientology, which has succeeded in bullying many of its critics into silent oblivion. (I refer to this crew as the "Bologna Club," a term going back to the 1930’s and referring to a time when my family and L. Ron Hubbard crossed paths.)
Now it seems that Tom Cruise’s ebullient video about Scientology’s benefits has created a backlash in enturbulation.org, which is organising protests against the Church of Scientology. They make a clear distinction between the religion and the church as follows:
We are not against Scientology.
Scientology, like all religions, is a belief system, a way of perceiving and decoding the world around us. We believe in the basic, inalienable right to a personal religious creed. A man, or woman, can believe whatever he or she chooses to believe; it is their prerogative, and they should never be attacked, persecuted or discriminated for it…
We are against the Church of Scientology.
The CoS is harmful to society, and to its own members. Its institutional purpose is, as stated by its founder, its own prevalence and expansion, mainly in an economic way. It considers the religion, the belief, the faith to be not an end, as it should, but a means, a mere tool. Indeed, it is degrading towards its own religious base and all those who believe in it.
I’m not sure that such a distinction can be made in the case of Scientology; it seems to me to be an institutional religion. But I wish the enturbulators well; they’re taking on a tough bunch, and in a world that runs from controversy, you have to give them their due.