Abraham Lincoln has been quoted as saying “I never tire of reading Tom Paine.”
Neither do I. Paine’s The Age of Reason was of tremendous help to me in moving beyond fixed, negative patterns of thought instilled by the church of Scientology (Miscavology).
I believe the following passage from Age of Reason describes the mindset that is leading church followers down the dwindling moral spiral:
I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists of professing to believe what he does not believe.
It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of a priest for the sake of gain, and, in order to qualify himself for that trade, he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive anything more destructive to morality than this?
Here is another passage that exposes the dark historical precedence for practices Miscavige has institutionalized in order to capitalize on people’s consciences (realize, this was written more than 200 years ago):
The Idea, always dangerous to Society as it is derogatory to the Almighty,–that priests could forgive sins,— though it seemed to exist no longer, had blunted the feelings of humanity, and callously prepared men for the commission of all crimes.
Paine describes four tricks traditionally used by organized religion in order to control and corrupt people – Mystery, Miracle, Prophecy, and Revelation. I’ll open for discussion how revelation has been used to herd Scientologists in a later post. But, I’ll complete this book recommendation with a passage on the initial three. I think you might recognize these devices continually employed in the church of Scientology – most particularly and directly by Miscavige during the events that most occupy his time, public events.
Upon the whole, Mystery, Miracle, and Prophecy, are appendages that belong to fabulous and not to true religion. They are the means by which so many Lo heres! And Lo theres! have been spread about the world and religion been made into a trade. The success of one imposter gave encouragement to another, and the quieting salvo of doing some good by keeping up a pious fraud protected them from remorse.