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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cross Purposes

posted by on May 6 at 10:35 AM

The Fremont Market assured us yesterday that we won’t be seeing Scientology “vendors” at their European-style flea market/rummage sale/antiques fair again—nor will we be seeing Jews for Jesus vendors or Mormon vendors or Jehovah’s Witness vendors. The Scientologists slipped into the market “under the pretense of being ordinary ‘booksellers,’” wrote Fremont Market’s Jon Hegeman in an email. “Ministries, religious organizations and professional outreach ‘services’ are not what we usually do. Their volunteer ‘ministry’ won’t be here again.”

Good to know.

And here’s something else I’d like to know: When did the Scientologists make off with the cross? You know, the cross—symbol of Christianity for two thousand years now. And how did they do it without a peep of protest from Pat Robertson or Pope Benedict or Bill Donohue or Rev. Wright or John Hagee or Concerned Women for America or Tim Burgess?

I first noticed Scientology’s appropriation of the cross when Tom Cruise accepted some big Scientology award for being a totally awesome Scientologist…


When I saw that cross I shrugged and gave the Scientologists the benefit of the doubt. I mean, maybe that little spiked burst in the middle of the cross meant that it was supposed to be a star, not a cross, which would be appropriately sciencefictiony. Still, it looked a lot like a baroque Christian cross to me. But on Sunday at the Fremont Market I noticed that the yellow Scientology tent had crosses all over it—and the star-like spikes had been replaced by soft, round squiggles.


So… the spikes are gone… replaced by squiggles… squiggles that seem to resemble… gee, does any one else think those squiggles on that cross suggest perhaps a human form? Isn’t that a head? And aren’t those two arms and two legs? And a pair of epaulettes and a couple of armpit goiters?

When did the Scientologist’s cross become a crucifix?

Come now, Scientologists, out with it: What are you up to? For famously litigious religious sectarians/cultists/book vendors, you don’t seem shy about copyright violations when it comes to the sacred symbols/logos of other religions—violations in spirit, I realize, not in fact. Is your use of the cross intended to fool people? “Oh look, Marge, a cross. Must be a real religion after all. Say, let’s get a good, Christian personality test.” Or was your crack team of imagineers pooped after making up a whole bunch of new horseshit to get your religion off the ground—which you had to do in order to compete with older, more established religions that made up their horseshit centuries ago—and so, in a state of complete creative exhaustion, you opted to swipe some other religions sacred symbol instead of doing the hard work of coming up with your own?

And, hey, are any actual Christians bothered by this? Has anyone checked with the pope about this? Wright? Hagee? CWfA? Tim Burgess?

RSS icon Comments


Since Jesus never existed, I figure they've got as much right to use it as the Xtians.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | May 6, 2008 10:42 AM

The cross seems to be pretty empty as a symbol now. Only the Catholics seemed to have given it any substance and that was because they made it really gory.

Posted by vooodooo84 | May 6, 2008 10:45 AM

The Scientologists are pretty nutty, but you've gotta admit that getting dropped off by aliens seems a helluva lot more feasible than the Old Testament.

Posted by Mahtli69 | May 6, 2008 10:45 AM

The scientologists don't believe we were dropped off by aliens...they believe "Suffering" (in the form of body thetans) was dropped off by aliens. It just happens to glom on to us pretty well.

Maybe they are appropriating the Roman symbol of crucifixion as a metaphor for overcoming body thetans? Maybe it was part of the symbol of those DC-10s when they dropped off the frozen aliens into the volcanos of Hawaii? Maybe it's just a sham and using an existing religious symbol gives legitimacy to a quasi-religious pyramid scheme? We all know LRH thought Jesus was a pederast and people only invented Christianity because of brain-washed body thetans.

Posted by Mr. Joshua | May 6, 2008 10:53 AM

Dan, I think the cross is pretty well covered by fair use laws.

Posted by erostratus | May 6, 2008 10:55 AM

I know, erostratus, which is why I wrote that the copyright violation was in spirit, not in fact.

Thank you for playing Slog.

Posted by Dan Savage | May 6, 2008 10:56 AM

It's not trademarked.

The Romans can claim prior art.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 6, 2008 11:10 AM

And a pair of epaulettes and two armpit goiters?

Ah, best funny of the day. :)

Posted by Nay | May 6, 2008 11:12 AM

I agree that's creepy, but I wish you could stop calling the Fremont Sunday Market "European-style". It's not, remotely; it's a flea market and a craft market, both of which are as American as apple pie. No "European", whatever that means, would be confused by it. Why are you?

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 11:13 AM

Well, okay then. But, what I think is funny about this use of the cross is that Scientology doesn't access any of the meaning of the cross. It's a symbol of sacrifice, specifically a symbol of a perfect sacrifice to a god that requires a sacrifice to atone for sin. Besides cash -- which is the most perfect sacrifice we've got nowadays, and one that the Christians still expect too -- the salvation mechanism in scientology just doesn't have an analogue.

Which means you're absolutely right. The scientologists using the cross is a little like Fascist groups wrapping themselves in the American Flag; it's only used to fool.

Posted by erostratus | May 6, 2008 11:14 AM

Sic Ken Hutcherson on 'em. After all, isn't the Cruister supposed to be like, um, gay or something?

Posted by Spoogie | May 6, 2008 11:18 AM

It's how they describe themselves, Fnarf.

Posted by Dan Savage | May 6, 2008 11:19 AM

Perhaps the Scientologists are mainstreaming ala the Mormons in the '30's, although the cynic in me believes they are attempting to shed some the cult/wacko status that bars them full rights countries like Germany. I agree with you in wondering about the appropriation of Christian symbols as an expedient. I predict we will soon be hearing that Jesus, and perhaps some other religious figures, were what the Scientologists call "Clears". Although up until now tey have always denigrated established religions as being blocks to self-fulfillment.

Posted by inkweary | May 6, 2008 11:20 AM

"The original flea market is likely to be the Marché aux puces of Saint-Ouen, Seine-Saint-Denis, in the northern suburbs of Paris. It is a large, long-established outdoor bazaar, one of four in Paris. They earned their name from the flea-infested clothing and rags sold there."

Not to mention the grand bazaar in Instanbul which has been operating since the 1400s. And every ad-hoc street market in the world where rural farmers would bring their goods for sale.

Posted by El Seven | May 6, 2008 11:21 AM

@1. ha ha ha and all that. Now that you've made your funny, look it up. There is plenty of evidence that Jesus existed and was an influential figure. Be an atheist or an agnostic if you want, but be an accurate one. Too many people continue to promote that silly idea. Since they don't believe in God, then the whole mess must be fiction. The logic is as bad as Mudede's.

Posted by MR. Language Person | May 6, 2008 11:23 AM

What passes for argument in the Google Age:

"Look it up!"

Posted by pox | May 6, 2008 11:33 AM

Ugh. You people out on the west coast have some screwy religious folks. Thank goodness I live in the god-fearin' midwest and will soon be moving to the godless east coast.

You all frighten me.

Posted by Michigan Matt (soon to be Balt-o-Matt) | May 6, 2008 11:35 AM

@11 that's a great idea. Prayer Warriors vs. Scientologists...maybe they'd eventually cancel each other out?

Posted by Hernandez | May 6, 2008 11:39 AM

Sorry, Dan, but you're calling CWfA "actual Christians?" That's pretty dubious right there.

Posted by Greg | May 6, 2008 11:44 AM

Given that there's no objective means of determining who the "real Christians" are, they're Christians if they call themselves Christians.

Posted by pox | May 6, 2008 11:48 AM

Oh boy, I love when Dan gets snippy in the comments.

#16, you said "in spirit, if not in fact"

Usually that would mean it could be in fact, but if not, it's in spirit. Given that it's ambiguous and sloppy writing, though, who knows. So #5 was warranted, I think, and funny.

#12, you're a stenographer now?

Thanks for the follow-up on yesterday's post, though. Thanks for playing Slog!

Posted by w7ngman | May 6, 2008 11:51 AM

The cross, as well as the yin/yang, the star of david, and the crescent, were all symbols of the Galactic Federation, but X--- reprogrammed our thetan's memories to see them as a multitude of different beliefs, so that they would be confused and never be able to remember the truth.

Haven't you paid for your OTIII yet?!

Posted by K | May 6, 2008 11:54 AM

Well, @15, I have "looked it up," and by that I mean a lot more than Googling it, and there is not one whit of evidence that the "Biblical" Jesus ever existed.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | May 6, 2008 11:54 AM


Posted by Dan Savage | May 6, 2008 11:55 AM
Posted by w7ngman | May 6, 2008 12:01 PM

@9 - actually, Fnarf's lack of travel experience pops up again - it does remind me of public markets I've seen in France and Italy, the ones where you can pick up some good Bandes Desinees from a stall, while examining a nice sundress and gazing at flowers for sale with or without vases.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 6, 2008 12:05 PM

@16, 23.
In the internet and comment board age, posting a thorough argument is often ridiculous and impossible. "look it up" is a simple way of saying, "Don't make absurd claims without being prepared to be called absurd." To use another deeply flawed medium, actually makes some good points, but still misses many. Moreover, even many historians who are not Christian (Jewish, atheist, whatever...) concede that there was probably a radical about the time attested to as the time of Christ who preached to Jews about reform and promoted many (perhaps not all) of the ideas attributed to Jesus and attracted many followers, and that this person is probably the origin of the Christian religion. The miracles and exact words are impossible to prove, and historians won't, but the idea that Jesus did not exist at all attracts about as few historical experts as scientists who promote the idea that evolution does not exist.

Also, 5280, we may be in agreement as to your second post, when you clarified from "Jesus" to "'Biblical' Jesus" per my statements above.

Posted by MR. Language Person | May 6, 2008 12:22 PM

Nope, I'm not bothered by it.
Maybe they traded the star like spikes for the loops to be more like the Ankh.
Maybe they make it up as they go. If one thing doesn't please them then they switch up and try something else.

Posted by irl | May 6, 2008 12:36 PM

@26: you're hilarious, Will. "Lack of travel experience". Unlike you I've actually had my eyes open when I've been places. You have repeatedly demonstrated that you have no idea what you're looking at or even what city you're in. Was your trip to Italy and France as much of a fantasy as your trip to "Auckland", where you went to the "National Museum" and failed to understand any of the exhibits? Are you sure you weren't in Oakland, California -- Paris, Texas -- Rome, Georgia? How could you tell?

I'll bet you're fetching in your sundress though.

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 12:44 PM

@27 - I agree with that. I took a History of Western Civilization class in college that talked about Jesus when we had progressed up to that period of time; not as the "son of god" but as a man - a teacher specifically. He's documented in the history books, but it's the people who invented christianity that turned him into "biblical Jesus".

Posted by DanFan | May 6, 2008 12:55 PM

Will! Fnarf! Stop it or I'm going to have to separate you two!

Posted by Dan Savage | May 6, 2008 12:56 PM

I ain't stoppin' nuthing until Will disappears for good.

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 1:57 PM

Since according to ELRON Jesus and God are false memory implants (Thanks Xenu!)...why do the $cientologists use the Xtian cross?

Maybe more people should ask them...

Posted by Sean | May 8, 2008 11:36 AM


They use the cross to show the "8 dynamics" and imply that it is a religion and not a self help study like Hubbard say it was at the start. And unfortunately I do not know what the eight dynamics are. It's something like family, friends, spouses/children, co-workers... I dunno. There's too much crazy stuff all mixed in to keep it all straight any more.

Posted by CoS critic | May 8, 2008 11:11 PM

Looks like you've pretty much rumbled them here. I'd never noticed the second version you show, which is more obviously Christian than the first. Combined with the word 'minister', I'd say it's a clear attempt (excuse the pun) to mislead. They used to have an 'S' symbol overlaid on a couple of triangles - don't know what happened to that. What next: rebranding Dianetics 'Another Testament of Jesus Christ'?

Posted by Dave | May 11, 2008 8:36 AM


There are no contemporary or independent accounts of Jesus. The oldest known accounts were written down by followers who never met him or independent writers noting the emergence of a group calling themselves Christians who claimed to be followers of a man named Jesus.

It can be speculated and argued that he existed or not. I think there probably was a man behind the myth, but there is no way to establish this.

Posted by GPS | May 11, 2008 8:44 AM

Meanwhile, the fabulously well-connected Moonie cult is working on a "Tear Down the Cross" initiative, with no peep from their GOP friends.

Posted by Larry Post | May 11, 2008 9:40 AM

The Scientology Cross is the OTO/Rosicrucian cross (aka the "crossed-out cross). Hubbard was a member of Aleister Crowley's OTO.

See chapter 7 of bare-faced messiah:

Posted by Anon | May 11, 2008 11:41 AM

Yes, Anon has it closer. Check out the OTO and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a precursor of the OTO whose members included W.B. Yeats. The "Rosy Cross" goes back to oh, 17th, 18th Centuries or so, and when you combine that with some mystic kabbalah, toss in alchemical symbolism and some numerology, you've got the Golden Dawn. You are right on with your assumption that the squiggles represent the human body, 'cause it's all about transmutation, the union of spirit and matter, and transcendence of perceived human limitation...
Hubbard understood the potential for such symbols to catalyze an entelechial desire. And he knew folks would pay for esoteric knowledge of the means to personal perfection--thus the science of spirituality.
There's an interesting book on Hubbard's connection to Crowley--Jack Parsons called 'Sex and Rockets.' Parsons founded the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and after some ritual sex magic (of which Hubbard played scribe) he accidentally blew himself up. Before that though, Hubbard screwed him out of some dough and a woman and Crowley called him a hack. Appropriate, since Hubbard's 'Dianetics' obviously plagiarized much of Crowley's method in 'Magic in Theory and Practice'--updating it for the coming 21st Century.

(No, I'm not a Scientologist. I just study this stuff, and appreciate any opportunity to make it can imagine.)

Posted by Joy | May 11, 2008 3:41 PM

The reason for the cross is sadly simple: the Scientologists wanted tax-exempt status, so they had to make themselves into a religion. Not an easy sell, especially when you've already started marketing yourself as a self-help system ("Dianetics", which Hubbard wrote before deciding to become a psychopathic liar).

Hence, the wholesale theft of religious trappings. The cross, clerical collars, "youth ministers", Sunday services... And because the blatant theft of these generally religious traits made it difficult to say they WEREN'T a religion, they got tax-exempt status. Easy.

My personal opinion is that they pulled off a very neat trick in doing this, because what they essentially did was challenge the courts to not just figure out if THEY were a religion, but define religion in general. And no one wants to start thumping the Christian hive with a stick, now do they?

Blech to the whole thing.

Posted by Grace | May 11, 2008 3:51 PM

@40: Apparently, the IRS went to war with them, force them to pay taxes...that's what started it to become a whole "religous" thingie.

Posted by ??? | May 11, 2008 4:06 PM

So when can we expect the scientologists to start using islamic symbols? Maybe Mohammed is just too hot stuff to handle yet. But think of the inroads with a billion plus muslims to convert through manipulation.

Posted by Mark | May 11, 2008 6:40 PM

Quick, what is the "Society for Christ"? And what is the "Universal Christ Church"? These are names used by two of the most prominent Spiriualist groups in the late 1800s/ early 1900s. Of course spiritualism (communication with the dead through mediums) had very little if any relation to Christian belief.

It's nothing new for unpopular religious groups to adopt the trappings of more mainstream religions in order to gain social acceptance. (And, yes, most social scientists who study religious groups do consider Scientology a religion today, regardless of how it started.)

It's certainly legitmitate to criticize Scientology for this and many other things. But I wouldn't single them out as uniquely awful in this regard either.

Posted by Paul P | May 12, 2008 6:24 AM

Fnarf, Will doesn't need to travel. He can survey all of creation from his 100-story tower.

Posted by Gabriel | May 12, 2008 10:05 AM

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