There is a feature article about Scientology in the New York Times, which on the face of it says a lot about the decline of Scientology. The terror they once inspired in reporters has waned, they're hardly more than a paper tiger now.
But the article reminded me of something cool: Catholics and Scientologists have a lot in common. This statement will horrify most good Catholics, who look on Scientology as nothing more that quackery and fraud dressed up dressed up in voodoo pseudo-science religion. (I suppose Scientologists would be horrified to learn that they're really just the new Roman Catholic Church, too.)
What is it that binds these two? They believe that they can tell God what to do, and he'll actually do it. They teach that a priest here on Earth can excommunicate someone, and God will honor it. They actually believe that some guy down here on Earth has control of your fate, that if some church guy declares you a persona non grata, you're banned from Heaven forever, denied eternal life, to either die or go to Hell.
The sheer arrogance of it is stunning. It's an insult to the concept of God.
They have this god, a guy capable of creating the universe, with its incalculable vastness, billions of galaxies and uncountable stars, who was here before time began 12 billion years ago and will be here after time ends in another few hundred billion years. And they're claiming that some human, down on one tiny planet, circling a sun off in the far outer arm of just one of those billions of galaxies, can declare that someone is to be damned forever, and this inconceivably powerful god is has to honor that decision.
Many religions have the idea that you'll go to hell unless you subscribe to their particular theology. If you're in the Church of Christ, you think all the other Southern Baptists will go to Hell just because they use musical instruments in church (Jesus, after all, never played an instrument in church so neither should we!). And if you're a Southern Baptist, you're certain that all those Protestants, Catholics, and so on, will go to Hell.
But that's different. Those Baptists and Church of Christ members are merely claiming to have the best interpretation of the Bible. Their role is passive, it's still God who is doing the condemning. But the Catholics and Scientologists take it one giant step further: They say that a human can declare that you are excommunicated, and that God will honor it!
It would be funny, except that it has caused such great misery down through history, and still does.
You can see the full NY Times article Here.