Scientology’s Chilling Effect

Scientology’s Chilling Effect

Article Link ( New York Times )

  • In the following article, Joe Nocera of the New York Times addresses the Church of Scientology as being one the most controversial contemporary new religious movements (NRM’s). As Nocera starts, he explains first that the story of Scientology cannot be told unless it includes the “issue of intimidation”. That is, throughout its appearance and disputable reputation in social media, Scientology as a movement has never prohibited itself the opportunity to criticizes anyone who does not see the Church as beneficial to society. This is because, the critical and offensive nature of the Church is part of what makes up Scientology’s core doctrine. Necora attempted to explain what he means by using what is known as the Chilling Effect.
  • Taking us through history, specifically with the role of journalism and media alongside the development of Scientology, Nocera provides numerous and notable examples of journalists and news reporters who have been aggressively targeted for their opinions of the Church and its approach as a new forming religion. From the times of Richard Behar to Paulette Cooper, its is clear that the Church has inhibited and discouraged the exercise of natural and legal rights, that is free speech. Hence, becoming so being so controversial.
  • But Personally, Nocera’s most notable example in his article is that of Wright and Gibney, who just recently produced and submitted a critical documentary on on the Church of Scientology titled: Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief. It is notable because though another opportunity was taken for a chilling effect on Wright and Gibney’s film by the Church, instead what was see were two producers who could care less of the institutions opinion and quote on say that their response is “nothing they we can’t handle”. Personally, Necora concluded to one main and very important point; that after a handful of articles against the Church from journalists and reporters, it is evident that through time, Scientology’s goal to install fear in its enemies has failed. In fact, the Church of Scientology has proven to be its own worst enemy.
  • Though the article written by a journalist himself, Nocera looks at other journalists. Our discussions in class got me thinking about the many different perspectives this article could have taken. For example, not discussed are the critical, scholarly perspectives attacked by the Church. As mentioned before, the Church itself has proven to be its own worst enemy and its negative approach towards critical and and scholarly publications on itself have created more negativity than if they had just ignored it. Also, as the article mentioned most of the Church’s targets are on those who were ex-members or more specifically the “suppressive person”. I think an in depth analysis on the S.P and their disconnection policy would have helped to drive home Nocera’s point.



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