Religious freedom, like most of our Constitutional Rights today, is treated equivocally by lawmakers and misunderstood by the public. There seems to be little or no protection for traditional Christians, and unlimited freedom for even the most subversive cults. The text of the First Amendment is clear:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..."
Although never interpreted this way in our Postmodern dystopia, this text for 200 years put a positive obligation on the government to insure that Americans were free to worship as they chose. But it also follows that, since our government is religiously neutral, it also has an obligation to suppress religious cults which pose a clear and present social threat, as it has with any other criminal enterprise. The Reagan Administration was the last to uphold these principles. Under Reagan, the FBI broke up numerous dangerous cults.
President Putin is pursuing a similar policy in Russia, and recently the Russian Federal Police put down the Scientologist Cult, and the Russian Supreme Court upheld the move. Now here in the US, cults like the Moonies, Scientologists, and Wahhabis write public policy and participate in the Corporate Media. They usually attack traditionalist Christians, and now the Scientologists in particular are attacking Russia.
The Scientologists are heavily represented in the Corporate Media and Wall Street. Currently, they are attempting to censor Pravda which has been exposing Scientologist crimes on Youtube. The cult has been pressuring Youtube to block Pravda on spurious 'copyright grounds'. Tactics of this kind are typical for Scientologists, and also illustrates the subservience of Youtube to such groups. The Scientologists have routinely resorted to legal harassment of any media outlet critical of them.
Pravda interviewed Stanislav Apetyan, an expert on censorship who stated: "There are many stories of the incorrect and censorship-oriented policies of Youtube. Unfortunately you are not the first, and won't be the last victim of these circumstances."
Apetyan explained that the process---so familiar to Americans who are forced to deal with political and corporate bureaucracies on a regular basis---is easy for interest groups to initiate behind the scenes, carry it out in a technically legal fashion, and create legal obstacles which are nearly impossible to reverse or appeal. It's what the Smart Boys call gaming the system.
"Most likely the Scientologists submitted the complaints through normal channels and Youtube, as always, treated in the case in a negligent manner." he explained. "Administrators of the video hosting service often delete videos on unfounded complaints... Technically, one can appeal the decision, but that is very difficult as Youtube is reluctant to cooperate on such issues."
The Scientologists' actions illustrate the danger of allowing cults to achieve power. Under the pretext of freedom of religion, they work to subvert freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and the religious freedoms of others. Their activities are not unlike the Nazis and Communists who once claimed Constitutional protections while advocating overthrowing democracy.
But the difference is that our leaders in the past did not permit partisans of these extremist ideologies to control access to public opinion as these cults do now. It was formerly the case that political extremists were barred from holding positions in the media or public schools. From its inception, the Scientologist Cult was monitored by the FBI as a subversive group. In the 1970s, the cult was caught infiltrating the Justice Department and obstructing attempts to bring their leaders to justice. The FBI initiative under President Reagan jailed many of the cult leaders. Unfortunately, these activities were suspended under the kinder, gentler approach of the Bush Senior Administration; and shrewd politicians know---as Bush knew---that a cult's money is just as good as anybody else's. President Clinton awarded the cult tax-exempt status in 1993.
Fortunately, Russia is taking a stand. As Apetyan told Pravda:
"If we talk about the treatment of Scientologists in Russia, one can say that no one outside of their disciples trusts them. Their numbers today in Russia are absolutely insignificant. Worldwide, this organization has a very dubious reputation. There is no such issue here as the matter of trust."
But in the United States today, where the motto In God We Trust has given way to trust in that medium on which the motto is printed, the estimated $1.5 billion in assets the Scientologists hold buys a lot of trust.