Natalie Solent offer the following prefatory disclaimer to her post sympathizing with Scientologists for their persecution by the French state:
I have not the slightest belief in L Ron Hubbard's foolish and occasionally sinister made-up religion of Scientology.
But of course all religions are made up! (Did Mohammed & Joseph Smith really talk to God or were they just saying that?) And most of them are frequently foolish and occasionally sinister.
Natalie gets it spot-on when she says, “Christianity, my religion, was once a cult.”
Brian Linse harps on the implied equivalence: “I'm no fan of Christianity, but to compare it to Scientology is way off base.”
Well, in terms of numbers, age and social acceptance the comparison is way off base. But Christianity was indeed a cult (small, new and socially ostracized), and it's really just as likely that the best among us will arrive at a dimension beyond space and time to live alongside an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent being as it is likely that the best among us will transform into pure energy at one with and comprehending the entire universe (or whatever it is Scientologists think). But in terms of terror wreaked and lives lost, Scientology cannot begin to compete. But maybe someday!
Anyway, Natalie's exactly right that we need to defend the right of people everywhere to commit their lives to unpopular and wildly implausible ideas. I for one daily give thanks to Thomas Jefferson and the cold, immutable laws of physics that I live in a place where I can spout off derisively about incredibly popular but still wildly implausible ideas without being stoned or tossed in the tank.