Variety Magazine

Published in Variety Magazine:

Posted: Mon., Feb. 11, 2008, 2:00pm PT

Scientology should be met with tolerance

Letter to the editor
Dear Peter, I was disappointed by your recent column on Scientology and Tom Cruise. You say some things that are surprising coming from a man of your intelligence and education. You seem to recognize that, in America, we are all supposed to be free to practice — and even preach — the religion of our choice. Then, you appear to deny this fundamental right to Scientologists because of “their beliefs and protocols.” You add “To be a Scientologist is not like being a Lutheran.” Evidently you mean that Scientology’s “beliefs and protocols” are less worthy and make it a “cult,” rather than a valid religion deserving of protection.
Yet, when Lutheranism began, it was also branded a heretical cult, and its adherents were massacred and burned at the stake for their beliefs.

Indeed, in its early days, Christianity was reviled as an evil and heretical cult. Remember, its leader was crucified.

And, when their religions were in their early phases of development, Mormons and Christian Scientists were condemned as practitioners of dangerous, cult-like beliefs.

History tells us that every new religion has been greeted with disdain, discrimination and often murderous rage by its more established predecessors.

You ridicule as bizarre what Andrew Morton falsely describes as the core beliefs of Scientologists — what you call their “beliefs and protocols.” You suggest that these are wild fantasies, rather than legitimate religious tenets.

Oh? How about creating Eve from Adam’s rib, or the Red Sea parting for the children of Israel, or God speaking to Moses from a burning bush or Jonah living in a whale.

How about Christ rising from the dead or walking on water? How about Catholic children being taught that, in taking Holy Communion, they are eating Christ’s flesh and blood?

Then there’s the Angel Moroni’s descent into upstate New York to show Joseph Smith the buried golden tablets on which the Book of Mormon is based.

I do not mean to ridicule these beliefs. They are widely held by Jews and Christians of all denominations. I cite them only to illustrate that every religion has some “beliefs and protocols” that may defy modern scientific thinking. But you and Morton single out for ridicule the beliefs he incorrectly attributes to Scientologists, as if “legitimate” religions believe only in things consistent with contemporary physics and biology.

I expect this of Morton. His book is replete with bigoted and demonstrable lies — and tired, old lies at that. It manages to be both bogus and boring at the same time.

I expect more of you. I expect that singular hallmark of intelligent and educated people … tolerance.

As to Tom Cruise, he is more than a Scientologist, just as I am more than a Jew and Barack Obama and John McCain are more than Christians. Tom is a loving husband, a devoted father, a hard working, dedicated actor and producer, and, as anyone who knows him will tell you, a fine, decent, generous man. He deserves better from you.

You have my permission to publish this letter, but only in its entirety, so that the context is not lost.

Bertram Fields
Law Offices of Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP

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