Going Clear: Scientology vs. Mormonism

Review

Posted May 31st, 2015

How similar are Scientology and Mormonism? What do L Ron Hubbard and Joseph Smith have in common? How about Brigham Young and David Miscavige? And when is a cult not actually a cult? Infants Bob, Glenn, John, Randy, and Scott discuss these questions as they review the recent HBO documentary Going Clear.

Bob

Glenn

John

Randy

Scott

  • Thomas Moore

    Can we please stop with the Dr. Stephen Hawking thing. It’s not even close to “cute” any longer. Please, Please, Please!!!!???

    • Randy_Snyder

      Thanks for the interesting link and honest feedback.

    • Angelique Angel

      I was creeped out that the reporter was so drawn to Joseph Smith’s lips that he stated that they were sensual lips. Also, he writes that Joseph Smith was a drunk, yet he’d never met the man before and probably spent very little time with him after the interview. It seemed clear to me that the reporter was not giving Joseph Smith a fair interview.

      • Ron Hill

        Just because he had a unfavorable opinion of him doesn’t necessarily negate all his observations. By the same logic a favorable opinion of him would negate observations too. The reporter’s description of JS and his loquacious, self obsessed nature is in perfect harmony with other accounts of and impressions of JS that I’ve read, even his own writings which are full of building himself up.

        “talking of himself incessantly….a dupe to his own impostures”

        This observation rang so true and was quite astute. Like LRH, there’s a psychological by-product of being a conman where the person has a hard time not being a dupe to their own impostures, believing their own con. This was a fascinating element with the docu Kumare.

        • Angelique Angel

          If someone came to interview me, I’d be talking about myself a lot because I’d figure that this was the point of the interview. Joseph Smith did impressive things in his lifetime, and if I’d have been him, I’d be talking about the things that I knew should be stated and I’d be proud of the accomplishments.

          Yes, sometimes people do like to write in a way that appears self-important and contrived, but I’ve not read any of his writings that come across as such to me. From my study of him, I’ve found him to be a genuinely good man and a man called of God.

          • Glenn

            Here, Angelique. Read this:

            “I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam… Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, 6:408–409).

          • Randy_Snyder

            Angelique, do you actually listen to our podcast or did you accidentally happen upon this message board? Genuinely curious.

          • Ron Hill

            It’s one thing to answer questions about yourself, and quite another to dominate a conversation with stories of your own importance, most unsolicited, which the reporter reported as the case with JS. I’m sure the reporter had interviewed other people about themselves and had not experienced what he did with JS to such degree. As such, he found this aspect of his character worth putting into print to help describe the man.

            Joseph Smith was a person very much ruled by his own ego. It’s no wonder then that he created a theology so very appealing to a person’s ego. Mormonism is the most egotistical religion I know.

            I applaud and encourage your study of him, but would caution that you will not get a complete picture if you stick to church approved or created sources. The correlated church materials force him into a flat two dimensional character, which is sad, because he was so much more rich and interesting.

            If you’d like, I could recommend some well researched and recognized books to further your study, but let me know what you’ve already read.

  • Wendy

    Reading the New Yorker piece about Paul Haggis and Scientology was the beginning of my disaffection with Mormonism. The fact that his whole reason for leaving was their treatment of gay people made it impossible for me to separate the Scientology-crazy from the Mormon-crazy.

    • Brad Phillips

      Yes. I noticed that correlation when I read Going Clear a while back. Once I saw that, I kept noticing other similarities like the ” hidden, deeper doctrine ” and social control over the members. I guess crazy can be easily replicated and sold to the masses if you are the right kind of person.

  • Polly Anna

    I did think that was Matt. 😉

  • Chicago

    Heber Jentzsch, the nominal president of the Church of Scientology (a slave of Miscavage), grew up in Mormon polygamy. I think Joseph Smith most resembled LRH during Smith’s megalomaniacal Nauvoo phase — when he was dressing up with epaulets and gold braid and fancied himself the most learned of men. The cocky grandiosity on the King Follett Sermon is quite Hubbardesque. Most importantly, both religions are created within a post-18th-century materialistic framework. Mormons may not understand this, but their most unusual claim from the perspective of “Orthodox” Christians is not the BoM mythology re: the Ancient Americas, it is the notion that “Heavenly Father” is a physical being, with toes and fingers, living on a planet, somewhere in this universe.

  • James

    Not to change the subject but… Tom!!!!! What the hell man! Are you getting lazy? When are you going to do another show? I need my Tom fix! I bet my girlfriend would fork out a couple hundred to get you back just to shut my ass up!

  • Wanderer

    I enjoyed the discussion, but what’s with the random ending?

    • Glenn

      If you listen to it backwards you’ll eventually figure it out.

  • Orrin Dayne

    Perhaps Tom Cruise was more believable than John Travolta in his support of Scientology is that Tom Cruise is better at playing the cocky guy role … you all remember that one movie where Tom Cruise plays that cocky guy?

    • Randy_Snyder

      You mean that one movie like Top Gun, Cocktail, A Few Good Men, Days of Thunder, Far and Away …”Tell me you like my hat” (in his best Lucky Charms leprechaun accent).

  • A true stab from the past. Yes I, too, went and borrowed $1100 on my Datsun (that’s Datsun not Nissan) pickup to get 25 hours of “Life Repair” auditing (I think it’s a lot more expensive now). I was kind of disappointed when the auditing ended and my life was pretty much the same as it ever was—less $1100.

    For a few decades there, I was searching for the Kwisatz Haderach (or Cuisinart Hat Rack, as my best old ex-friend Ray called it), the universal super being of Dune mythology. What I really wanted was to meet someone who was obviously, or at least demonstrably, more spiritually, mentally and metaphysically capable and aware than myself—a guru, if you will—who could teach me to be a guru, too (or super being or whatever). I met some folks who were richer than me and some who were better entertainers than me and some who claimed rilly, rilly deep spritchul insights, but I struck out completely finding anyone with any kind of super powers whatsoever and that included the WHOLE of my encounter with Scientology. You’ll notice all of their purported dirty tricks and harassment techniques are dull-ass uninspired shit that anybody’s ex-wife might pull. No, there’s nothin’ spritchul goin’ on in Scientology. Or anywhere else, as far as I can tell. Zen Buddhism has some cracks where the light gets in occasionally, but they’ll come right out and tell ya they got no super powers. Oh, well.

    You guys should review “Sons of Provo.” Maybe that’s too old now. Anything to do with boy bands is kind of over the hill and far away these days. Though didn’t one of the mega boy bands of the ’90s recently reunite to do a final pre-grave “My Testicles Hurt When I Sing Like This Now” tour? If PBS pledge drives are any indication, you can bring ANYTHING back for one last reflux-inspired belch.

  • Ron Hill

    One creepy part in the docu was the one where they were celebrating his dead birthday and saluted his big picture on the wall. Our drive to follow and revere a leader can really become perverted. There are also a lot of parallels with JS and Ellen G White, a founder of the 7th Day Adventists.

  • My only question after seeing this movie, when are they going to do the Mormon version?

    Blow the lid off the whole group.

  • Wes

    Ah, at least I posted this a few days before your analysis: https://mormonbandwagon.com/wes/going-clear-correlaries-to-lds-teachings/. Very fun discussion – I agree that both Scientology and Mormonism are great examples of the human nature/psychology, more than proving something unique and special to these two religions.

  • Rick Douglas Richards

    what no L. Tom Perry smack-down? Come on guys I’m gagging for it.

  • alfajerk

    Great episode as always!
    More fun with cults: the films “The Source Family” and “A”, the excellent novel “Masters of Atlantis” by Charles Portis

  • Daved6

    Just like you can take any two people and with some level of creative license, describe their similarities, you do can do the same with two religions, or ideologies.
    I realize your shtick is to play these games and I’m pointing out the obvious again. But using the fawning ex-LDS crowd for your games, seems a little disingenuous at the very least.

    • Right. Just like you can take any podcast and with some level of creative license, critique and complain ambiguously in reference to some higher undefined standard, in an effort to avoid simply saying I don’t agree or I don’t like it.

      If you’re going to make a point, own it. Why exactly is it a problem to compare [these] two religions or ideologies? And what particularly is disingenuous about that? It’s kind of silly to infer that all ideological comparisons are bad and disingenuous… If you’d prefer, just skip answering those questions and tell us what’s really bothering you about what was said/discussed.

      • jonny

        I think Daved6’s point is clear enough: you can compare any two ideologies and find similarities. And by only looking at the similarities, it infers that the two things are similar in quality or virtue. E.g., Obama and Hitler. It plays on our minds associative power, and it’s a close cousin to the causation/correlation equivocation. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_equivalence.

        An honest assessment would, at the very least, take a serious look at the dissimilarities as well.

        • Wait, so comparing our comparison of Mormonism and Scientology to another random comparison of Obama and Hitler is totally valid and clear as a comparison, but the original comparison between Mormonism and Scientology has all sorts of problems? Oh, the irony!

          And we talked about it for two freakin’ hours and did point out some dissimilarities. Did you listen to the podcast? Also, did you know we’ve talked about causation vs. correlation before on the show? An “honest” critique would, at the very least, recognize that both comparing and contrasting were present.

          • jonny

            The difference between the comparison I made in my comment and what you’ve done is not difficult to spot. I won’t insult you by pointing it out, because you’ve clearly got the brains, but if you’re stumped, please let me know and I’ll explain.

            If you feel that your podcast took a serious look at the dissimilarities, you’re entitled to your view (though I suspect you do not, because you say “[we] did point out *some* dissimilarities”). But I think most reasonable listeners will understand that you’re employing a technique designed to persuade listeners to adopt your opinions about the mormon church, in a way designed to play on the mind’s flaws rather than its virtues. The fact that you understand (or at least claim to understand) correlation and causation leads me to believe that you understand all of this, or are at least capable of doing so if you take a dispassionate view of your work.

          • Glenn

            Well, come on Jonny… an assessment that focuses more on similarities than dissimilarities is not “dishonest” as you are suggesting. It’s just what we saw and what we talked about. That’s it. It was never meant to be a comprehensive assessment. Just our opinions. Our clearly biased, amateur opinions. We don’t have the agenda of “persuading listeners” you are ascribing to us and you are out of line suggesting that our approach was not honest.

            By the way, I’m the guy that gave scientology a very high score on our imaginary sinister scale, and mormonism a very low score — highlighting the dissimilarities in sinisterness.

            This is an entertainment podcast that we do passionately, for fun. So if you are looking for something dispassionate from people who have different views than we do, then you’re simply in the wrong place.

          • jonny

            Fair enough. But if an amateur, biased, entertainment podcast is what you guys are, you should, as Bob says, “own it” rather than get defensive when people complain about your intellectual rigor.

          • Glenn

            I’d say that our tagline at the beginning of EVERY EPISODE “the philosophies of men, mingled with humor” is a pretty strong claim of “owning” it. We call ourselves “Infants on Thrones,” duh.

            But you’re sure full of a lot of “you shoulds” for other people that you don’t really know. What’s that all about, Jonny?

          • jonny

            If you can’t take the “shoulds” then maybe you shouldn’t be dishing them out on those who comment on your site like Daved6. (there I go again with the shoulds.)

          • Randy_Snyder

            Looks like the David troll recruited a fellow disingenuous pseudo-intellectual troll to be his wingman. Why don’t you two start your own podcast. Your first dreadful episode could be about how atheists like me want to stuff you into first, the troll box, then second, the pseudo-intellectual box. Riveting shit. BTW Jonny boy, David is clearly a masochist if he hates this podcast bc he listens and comments on a ton of them. Maybe we’ve hooked you too? Welcome aboard! Lol

          • Daved6

            Settle down, Randy. I don’t know Jonny from Adam, as they say. I don’t hate the podcast, you silly pouter. I like you guys. I know you get upset when it comes to criticism and all you want to do is lash out at me for it, but some criticism, talking it through, could actually help.
            Or you can continue to get upset if you like. “you aren’t as smart as me…..I will beat you in a debate about nothing because I love to tell people I’m the smartest…” My goodness, bro. Just stop pouting. I think you’ll realize there are other people out there with other points of view and these people, aren’t all that bad.

          • Daved6

            if your podcast was nothing but humor, you’d have a point, Glenn. But you know as well as any, it carries some weight and meat. You want certain points to be taken seriously.
            You can’t just keep saying, “oh we’re just having fun” in order to not feel compelled to answer for it.

          • Just because we are an entertainment podcast run by amateurs doesn’t mean we have an “intellectual rigor” problem. We are fine owning the one but call bullshit when the other is used as a placeholder for “me no likie” or “I don’t agree.”

          • jonny

            Feel free to respond to my comment above if you really think you’ve been intellectually rigorous. Your colleague Glenn decided to pull the ol’ “this is just a comedy” retreat.

          • jonny, I’m not going to argue that we are intellectually rigorous because we never made that positive claim, nor do we need to for our podcast to have value. The burden is on you to support your negative claim of a lack of intellectual rigor. I’m not convinced, but you are welcome to believe that is the issue if it helps you dismiss the similarities presented between two ideologies. I understand the attraction. It’s always easier to feel better about your own position or opinion when you convince yourself there’s an intellectual rigor problem with others that feel differently.

          • jonny

            “It’s always easier to feel better about your own position or opinion when you convince yourself there’s an intellectual rigor problem with others that feel differently.” Truer words. I’ll refer you back to your original reply to Daved6.

          • And I’ll refer you and Daved6 back to my original point that you are both reaching for some way to invalidate what you’ve heard rather than just admit that you don’t agree or don’t like it.

          • jonny

            Isn’t it better to say why Daved6 doesn’t like the podcast (it’s a disingenuous comparison) rather than just say “I don’t like it?” I’m sure you wish the only criticism of your podcast could be reduced to a simple opinion, but that wouldn’t be very interesting, would it. Can you imagine? “I don’t like it. I don’t like it. I don’t like it.” Boring. Now granted, it would be much easier to deal with, and maybe as a comedy-when-its-convenient operation, you guys would prefer it that way. But given your defensiveness, I suspect you care a little more deeply than that.

          • No, “I don’t like it” is better because, ironically, it’s a more genuine response. In this case, making vague claims about something being disingenuous is less saying why you don’t like it and more just a classic form of righteous indignation: i.e., boldly proclaiming something is X negative word (“bad” or “disingenuous” or whatever) because you don’t like it. It’s just the same simple opinion trying to come off as so much more, and that’s why I’m calling it out.

          • jonny

            The fact that, in your mind, you reduce Daved6’s critique to “I don’t like it” speaks volumes. “It’s always easier to feel better about your own position or opinion when you convince yourself there’s an intellectual rigor problem with others that feel differently.” Truer words. At least Glenn acknowledges that you guys are in this for the fun of it.

          • You and your intellectual rigor really want the last word, don’t you? Complete with the repetitive “I know you are but what am I?” Lol.

            I don’t have an intellectual rigor problem with you or David. That’s the critique you both seem to have of us. My critique of the critique was clear: similarities described between two ideologies is not a convincing basis for dismissing said comparison as disingenuous.

            And I too, with spaghetti monster God as my witness, hereby acknowledge that we do this podcast for fun.

          • Daved6

            Honestly, Bob, I didn’t realize there was a Bob on the podcast. I missed ya, I guess. Sorry about that. I listen to some episodes and feel compelled to comment. Surely this little comment thread is no place to really hash this out and frankly, I spot listened to the episode. Skipped here and there and thus have missed a bunch. But I think my original point is clear, as Jonny has eloquently said. If you’re comparing two religions it ought to go deeper than just playing around, in order to make a valid assessment. I hear Glenn suggest, in essence, the comparison was meant to be fun and the podcast is not a place to make it all serious, thoughtful nor exhaustive. I hear you say, the podcast carries some weight, even though we theme it with humor, and I stand by the comparison. I find both lacking integrity on the grounds that Glenn knows there is more to it than just playing around and you know there is far less to it than any intellectual rigor.
            The whole effort comes off as disingenuous because no one seriously sees much more than a few similarities between the religions–the types of similarities you’ll see among many religions. “oh how dare you” says the avid IoT fan, “Smith and Hubbard are the exact same” as they consider only similarities that many people have in common with the two as if that means anything. You’re taking advantage of the misplaced anger people feel towards many people (like their mommies and daddies).

          • Ryan Gregson

            Wait, you’re accusing them of being disingenuous and of lacking intellectual rigor, when you in fact are basing your critique on a ‘spot listening’?! When I saw going clear, I recognized many similarities to Mormonism. I think those similarities are worth exploring, as IOT have done. I also saw differences in scale, severity, and otherwise. The podcast acknowledged those as well (maybe something you would know if you had listened). If they emphasized the similarities, it’s because that was the subject of discussion, and they correctly assumed that the audience is intelligent enough to recognize the differences themselves.

          • Daved6

            Hey Ryan, I’m not saying you don’t have a point, but it’s possible to recognize disingenuous without having listened to the whole. If any of us are being disingenuous none of us would know, if say, in order for us to conclude disingenuous, we’d have to really exhaustively know where the other is coming from. Exhaustive is really what this episode was quickly turning into for me; thus my having to skip around.
            I’m just trying to help them by supplying them with some criticism.

          • Daved6

            Odd that your complaint about me is that I’m not genuine in my disagreement, because you don’t like the idea that your podcast episode came off as disingenuous. Feel free to read my comment below. Hopefully it helps ya understand a little more where I’m coming from.
            And don’t fret. Things will work out. You’re going to be alright.

          • Daved6

            You need to get on the same page as Glenn, then. He wants to pass off his anti-intellectual efforts as just having fun. You want, and as it should be, to make clear, that you have something to say. That’s great. But don’t pout because someone easily sees through ya.

          • Daved6

            Kind of a cop out, Glenn. I suppose we could all just play off anything we do as having fun. Thus anything disingenuous and/or irresponsible that we do, we don’t have to worry about. “oh we’re good. We’re just having fun. We don’t really know what we’re talking about, see? So it’s not bad.”
            Sounds like my teenage son. The problem is, you’re much much smarter than that. We can all see that.
            I feel a bit of “okay you got us a little” in your post, Glenn. That explains why this comes off a little bit more sad. “but we’re passionate about it, so it’s okay” says ye. “don’t listen because we’ don’t want to have to answer for our irresponsible ways”, says ye.
            It’d be quite nice if we all proceeded with more integrity, no?

          • Gabriel von Himmel

            So much for the reasoning of men having fun.
            I sniff the smell of burning suphur, while holding court with a ouiji board.
            With the pledge of intellectual rigor, I’m sure it will all be sorted out in the end for truth to prevail. Scientologism and Mormonality are feral pets in the same cage.

  • Malarkey

    Going Clear was one of the biggest wakeup calls for me. So many uncomfortable similarities.

  • hetaira

    Loved the book and the podcast – looking forward to the film. You might enjoy the Dead Authors Podcast “interview” with L. Ron himself! http://thedeadauthorspodcast.libsyn.com/chapter-45-part-1-l-ron-hubbard-featuring-andrew-daly

  • WTF DUDE

    So far hating this episode. Listening to it on the road. Pulled over just to post this comment. Who is this fucking dude that keeps saying that Mormonism and Scienology Is equal to the human condition and that Mormonism is not a cult but is comparable to Comcast? PEOPLE DONT GET DIVORCED OVER COMCAST. Jesus Christ. Never heard such a boring know it all in my life. Kick this guy off the podcast as he doesn’t seem to have any clue of the damage and destruction Mormonism can do l.