I FINALLY got the chance to watch the A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. It is such a well done docuseries and I would encourage everyone to check it out. For the past few months I’ve been extremely busy and I’ve also struggled with the direction I’d like to go with my blog. There are many informative atheist blogs that I have and will continue to reference from time to time. However, that is not the purpose of these writings. I believe that understanding cult thinking is essential to distinguishing religions. Because most would agree that there’s a big difference between say the local baptist church and Westboro Baptist Church. We see Mormons such as Mitt Romney, and while our opinions on the man may differ, it is unlikely that anyone is comparing him to Warren Jeffs. My point is that many church’s carry the same religious marker yet only some use that marker to create a cult or a cult like environment.
So what is it that creates these cultish states, and more specifically what can be done about them? I believe that the very first place to start is the rights of a child. In the second season of Leah Remini’s Emmy nominated show (you’re welcome for the plug Leah) she begins to delve into how Scientology affected the children raised within its walls. The stories are heartbreaking, full of emotion, and in some cases absolutely horrendous. These children suffered dearly for their parents religious beliefs and that suffering plagues them to this day. What is even more depressing is the fact that countless children across our country and the world today continue to suffer atrocities in the name of religion. While I certainly want to touch on the sufferings of those in other nations at a later time, for now I am focused on America.
Lack of education and medical help, physical abuse, homelessness, lockdown camps, child marriages, molestation and rape, malnunutrition, isolation, and more are currently what the children in these cult and fundamentalist environments face. Children who never asked to be a part of these so called faiths and who find it incredibly difficult to leave behind the only thing they’ve ever known. Not only because of the emotional trauma of walking away from friends and family, but also the lack of resources as their disposal. Most of these children attend unaccredited schools run by their churches and find it difficult to secure a job once they leave or escape. Others who do have a high school diploma that’s acceptable still wrestle with adjusting to reality. From my own experience, simply realizing that the world was billions of years old was earth shattering. I grew up being taught, in my science classroom, that the world was 6,000 years old. The holes in my education were laughable in some ways and just sad in other ways.
This is one reason why we see a slightly higher increase in addiction and suicide among former cult/fundamentalist* survivors. Facing the world as an adult for the first time is scary for anyone, but facing a world you never even knew existed is utterly terrifying. It is morally wrong to subject children to these kinds of conditions no matter what the parents may say. Children are human and therefore entitled to basic human rights and those rights should not be ignored when covered by the veil of religion. Our society would never tolerate a stranger beating a child with a wooden board. We would never allow a doctor to refuse medical treatment to a little one or a teacher in a public school to teach an outright lie. Yet for some reason, when it comes to religion, all of this is acceptable.
I have begun to partner with a few friends and we are dedicated to exposing the truth of these cults so that everyone is forced to see what they’re trying to ignore. And for my part, I am specifically dedicated to fighting for the rights of children and to protecting them from religious abuse. I hope you as the reader will continue to follow along.
*I often refer to cults and fundamentalists differently because while I believe that while they overlap, there is still some distinction. However I do maintain that BOTH are dangerous and harmful to all their followers but especially children.