CoS vs. Xenu in Swedish school debate

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catarina
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CoS vs. Xenu in Swedish school debate

Post by catarina » Sun Apr 22, 2001 12:15 pm

I made this post to alt.religion.scientology yesterday (April 21), perhaps Clambake readers will also enjoy it:
------------------------------------------

Sweden: CoS attends school debate, meets Xenu

The largest secondary school in my home town Ängelholm, in southern Sweden, has for 4 years running arranged a 'Day of Religions' for the 18-year old students. Representatives for several different religious faiths or philosophies are invited. They each get to hold three 45-minute
presentations in the morning, and the students can choose to attend presentations from three different groups. After lunch break, there is a
panel debate in the main hall with all the groups on stage and the students free to ask questions. The debate is led by a religious historian from the University of Lund, Ylva Vramming.

This year, there were representatives for the Swedish Lutheran Church, Islam (I'm sorry I don't recall what particular congregation but seemed like a moderate, main-stream one), Zen Buddhism, Latter Day Saints, Jehova's Witnesses, "Word of Life" (charismatic evangelism), Spiritualism (what some call Spiritism) and New Age. Not represented by practitioners but presented
by scholars were Orthodox Judaism and Nordic Heathens. Åke Wiman presented some cult critical and skeptic viewpoints (not representing any particular organization). And - lo and behold! - there was also one representative from the Church of Scientology. In previous years, they have declined to participate when they heard that Åke would be there. From last year I missed the Hare Krishnas, who were supposed to come, but they have gone down in numbers in Sweden and may not have people to send anymore.

Myself, I assisted Åke. (Yes, we're yet another pair of happy customers of the superior ARSCC(wdne) Love Match Services, Inc.) I wish I would have had the opportunity to visit all the presentations, but at least we had some nice talks with different people at lunch time.

I'm pleasantly surprised to be able to say that the CoS rep did not exhibit any rude or mad-dog behavior. When we introduced ourselves at the start of day, it was obvious that she didn't know who Åke or I were. It also turned out later that she was not OSA, but from the job description she gave the students (I didn't ask for her post title) probably the FBO (Flag Banking Officer) of the small - 15 staff - org in Malmo.

For the first two lectures, I assisted Åke, but when the third round was about to start one of the arranging teachers asked me if I wanted to sit in on the CoS presentation. I said I didn't want to cause any disruption, but he insisted so I thought ok, I'll just keep a low profile.

The presentation was mostly standard fare - the 8 dynamics, the tone scale, dianetics auditing, the e-meter, the goal to become Clear. The CoS rep said she had been a member for 6 years and soon after joining had found that she was Clear from a past life. Then the students could ask questions. They mostly kept a reasonably respectful attitude (- Why do you like Scientology?), although many had pointed questions (- You don't seem to have
any religious message, so why do you call yourself a religion?) and a few didn't bother to conceal their amusement
(Student: - This guy Hubbard who wrote the Dianetics book, wasn't he a science fiction writer?
CoS rep: - Yes, he wrote some science fiction to finance his research...
Student: - So a science fiction writer writes a book and you folks BELIEVE in it? Bwahahaha!)

When the discussion turned to the cost of courses, and the CoS rep started the "there are 4 dollar courses" spin, I finally gave in to the temptation to open my mouth and said: - If anyone wants to know what the courses cost in reality, then I have an official CoS price list upstairs. A few minutes later, one student asked me who I was, and I replied that I was a former scientologist. Then I got a bunch of questions from the students which took up most of the remaining time. The CoS rep seemed unprepared for how to deal with this, but only asked me a few civil questions about when and where I had been involved, and didn't cut me off. No silly OSA antics, but then I suppose she wasn't OSA trained. I kind of liked her.

At the end, one guy who had been listening introduced himself as a reporter for the local newpaper, and asked to talk to me and two of the students. See article at the end of this post.

After the interview, I joined the rest of the lecturers and teachers in the dining hall. The CoS rep was there so I went over to her and apologized for stealing her show, which she accepted.

The panel debate after lunch was fairly uneventful. The CoS rep stayed in the background.

So what was the number one Scientology topic that interested the students? X-E-N-U! During Åke's presentations, during the CoS presentation I attended, and during the conversations I got into with students in the hallways, they wanted to talk about Xenu. Why did the CoS want to keep this story secret? What did the CoS rep think of the story? Did she really think that it was
dangerous for people to read it? The CoS rep said - probably truthfully - that she had not done the course yet and didn't know what to think about it. But this dodging the question clearly failed to impress the students.

Remember, these were not ex-scientologists or anti-CoS net activists, but pretty average 18-year olds in a small Swedish town. The following are a few of the things, not that I told them, but that some of these kids *told me* about the Church of Scientology:
- the Xenu story, in great detail
- the founder was a science fiction writer who wanted to get rich
- to do all the courses will cost about 3 million SEK (300,000 dollars)
- their Europe center is in Copenhagen, and it's like a military-style community
- Hubbard made it a religion because religions don't need to pay taxes in the US
- they give you personality tests but it's phony, because they always say you have bad problems and need to join Scientology

When one girl asked me where you could read the secret texts of Scientology, I didn't have time to answer before her fellow students chimed in:
- It's on the internet!

Xenu has landed in Sweden.

Netizens, take a bow!


Catarina

*******
Summary of article from Nordvästra Skånes Tidningar, 21 April 2001 (not available on the web):

"_What does God want?_

"The theme day about religions was, for the fourth year in a row, arranged for the final year students. This year, it was dominated by the smaller congregations. The basic idea of the day of religion is to give the students a good opportunity to practise critical thinking.

"- It's all about realizing the importance of tolerance and understanding for the various ways of looking at the world. This is a good way to try to instill democratic values in young people, says one of the religion teachers at the school, Markus Eek.

"Jacob Jorlen and Jacob Sodermark are students on the science program and they appreciate the theme day.
- I learnt something totally new today, says Jacob Jorlen. It seems I had completely misunderstood Islam and what the Quoran says.
Jacob Sodermark thinks it's good to hear believers talk about their own religion rather than teachers.
- A teacher can only study up on the subject - it's a different thing to listen to someone who practices it.
The last lecturer the two listened to was a scientologist. They thought she was bad, and the risk that anyone would be convinced they considered to be practically non-existant.
- Clearly, the positive outweighs the negative with these lectures. Perhaps one person is convinced to join the Church of Scientology, but 100 realize that they should not do it, so it's a good thing, says Jacob Jorlen.
They get agreement from Catarina Pamnell, who is a former scientologist:
- If this had been allowed to stand alone, out of context and without counter-arguments - then it could have been dangerous. But the students are
well prepared and there is also the panel debate this afternoon.

"There is a wide variety of opinions among the panel members. The representative of Word of Life starts by claiming that God didn't create the
cucumber in his image, but Man. Genetically speaking, we're cousins of the trees, counters a New Age proponent.
After also listening to nine different descriptions from the different congregations on their view of homosexuality, one girl in the audience stands up and asks:
- Do you really think that God wants us to have a panel debate about what beliefs are right or wrong?

"A quote from Ylva Vramming, religious scholar, on religion:
- All that religion is, could be summed up as a stick. You either use it as support when your leg hurts. Or you grab it and hit your fellow man. But the choice is not the stick's. It's yours.
************

Judith Anderson

Post by Judith Anderson » Sun Apr 22, 2001 5:32 pm

Out of the mouths of babes

Great truths come

pippi
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Post by pippi » Sun Apr 22, 2001 7:35 pm

Catarina,

Your class, style, and integrity are really quite remarkable ... no wonder you made such a lousy Scientologist :)

Hugs,

Pippi

curious
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Post by curious » Mon Apr 23, 2001 8:37 am

Catarina:

Thanks for the snapshot of a day at a local Swedish high school. It appears that your typical eighteen-year-old student in the small town of Angelholm can think for themselves. Very encouraging.

But tell me, what in the world is a "Nordic Heathen?" I've never heard of this religion before, at least not in this country (USA). I have this fantastic vision of a Viking with horns coming out of either end of his skullcap walking into the town's high school carrying a huge axe. If this is true, it must have made for a very interesting discussion with the high school kids!

P.S.

I read recently somewhere that the Vikings actually sailed up the Hudson river in what is now the state of New York approximately one thousand years ago. Think of the interesting encounters they must have had with the Iroquois Indians who were sailing down the river in their canoes. Now
that is something I wish I could have witnessed, even more so than Xenu's adventures. Fact is stranger than fiction!

Curious

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catarina
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Post by catarina » Mon Apr 23, 2001 9:01 am

Curious,

Some pre-christian beliefs and customs have had a revival in the Scandinavian area, under various names such as "heathens", "asatru" (belief in the asa or "viking" gods) or "forn sed" (the ancient way). Here is a brief summary in English from one such group in Norway:
http://www.bifrost.no/etru.html

One of the first groups to officially register as a religious congregation under the new Swedish law - what the CoS loudly tout as "being an officially recognized religion" although it is basically only a simple act of registration - was one such group, Samfälligheten för Nordisk Sed (in Swedish only).

On the whole, they seem a much more peaceful lot than the Viking imagery may suggest...

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catarina
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Post by catarina » Mon Apr 23, 2001 9:09 am

Pippi,

Thanks, dear *blushing* I did make a lousy scientologist, but I honestly have no illusion of superiority over the people who are presently involved in the CoS - I'm sure some of them are also lousy scientologists who simply can't manage to rid themselves of all notions of integrity and compassion. It's just a matter of time...

pippi
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Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2001 11:13 am

Post by pippi » Mon Apr 23, 2001 12:41 pm

Yes Catarina, I agree and everytime I see a Scientologist, even an obnoxious bullbaiter harrasing a picketer, I tell myself that this could be the next Catarina, Stacy Brooks, a Woodcraft, ... or any of the ex-scientology posters here, and that these people deserve to be treated with some respect even if they are currently part of a system which does not respect either its own members or others.

David Miscavige, Heber Jentzsch and a few other have my unreserved contempt and scorn however.

5th Element

Post by 5th Element » Mon Apr 23, 2001 5:47 pm

Catarina: Thanks for this post! In the midst of all the negativity which co$ and o$a struggle to spread, it is refreshing to hear that even young adults are immune to their cult fantasies.

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