It's pretty sad when murderers have better ethics than most "spiritual" folks:
"I killed. I deserve to be killed."
"He preserved a church and created a people, but that success damaged and even destroyed some lives."
The other reason that Anderson deserves recognition as an honorary scholar of new religious movements is that his curiosity about new religions has brought him into conflict with a culture that still approaches the religious other through an un-nuanced “us vs. them” mentality. Most religion scholars who deal heavily with new religious movements have been branded as “cult apologists” at some point in their careers. At stake in this accusation is an assumption that “whoever is not for us is against us,” and that anyone who is not actively attempting to debunk and discredit minority religions has decided to defend them unconditionally.
I have written for here and elsewhere that for some commentators, ridiculing Scientology seems to have become a kind of hobby. There are, of course, plenty of reasons not to like the Church of Scientology. Not the least of these are the serious allegations that have been leveled against the Church by former members, especially the children of Scientologists who were raised in Scientology schools or pressured to serve in the Church’s elite order, Sea Org.
But as disturbing as these stories are, I am more interested in the motivations of groups like Anonymous, who organized angry protests in front of Scientology buildings, and journalists like Tony Ortega, who in two years produced 465 articles attacking the Church of Scientology.
In a world threatened by the possibility of nuclear conflict in the Middle East, global warming, and growing economic injustice, why direct so much energy toward a religion that is culturally and politically irrelevant outside of Hollywood? What is the sense of satisfaction some people find in crusading against Scientology? Popular animosity toward Scientology is interesting because it seems to point toward much larger patterns in how Americans respond to minority religions.