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New Religions: The Cult Question

Based on founder L. Ron Hubbard's 1950 book "Dianetics," church was suggesting an alternative way to overcome physical and mental stress, which drew challenges from the American Medical Assn. and the American Psychological Assn. The late Hubbard, later to move to England and then into seclusion, blithely explains (via an old tape) that Scientology doesn't deal with insanity.

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Host-writer Kurt Loder declares, "Asked which new religion might generate the new Waco-style catastrophe, deprogrammer Rick Ross points a jittery finger at the Church Universal and Triumphant." Loder's loaded statement is hardly in-depth reporting or research, and who's Ross anyway? As it turns out , Loder admits that a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agent said the Montana church "poses absolutely no threat." Scientology comes under Loder's less-than-new gaze as he quotes from a description reportedly made by a church source: It's a "pantheistic-applied religious philosophy dedicated to self-discovery." Actor John Travolta, a follower of Scientology, explains: "God and interpretations of that are left up to the individual."

Based on founder L. Ron Hubbard’s 1950 book “Dianetics,” church was suggesting an alternative way to overcome physical and mental stress, which drew challenges from the American Medical Assn. and the American Psychological Assn. The late Hubbard, later to move to England and then into seclusion, blithely explains (via an old tape) that Scientology doesn’t deal with insanity.

Loder discourses on the secrecy maintained by the church. Long a magnet to journalists, Scientology’s restricted agenda and recruitments have been sources of speculation and concern long before Loder’s implications, and have been widely reported.

A seg on the fundamentalist International Churches of Christ, with a glimpse of leader Kip McKenn (with nothing about him or the movement’s beliefs), suggests there’s too much recruiting and too much time demanded of young people by the church, but no explanation of why that’s bad — except by a fall-away who claims he didn’t have enough time for his schoolwork.

Of course there are phony, scary cults out there, and they should be responsibly exposed. But investigations need more than repeats of rumors and suspicions and of partial testimonies. Besides being old hat, “New Religions” plays more to schlock than to shock.

New Religions: The Cult Question

(Tues. (27), 10-10:30 p.m., MTV)

Production: Taped by MTV News & Specials. Exec producers, Lauren Lazin, Dave Sirulnick; producer/director, Rob Fox; co-producer, Jesse Ignjatovic; editor, Eric Singer; writer, Kurt Loder. #Host: Kurt Loder. MTV News looks briskly at a couple of religious groups without probing very deep, delivers gratuitous stabs at one religion that's long been under journalistic siege and passes too lightly over several questions. The presumed exposes barely brush dust off the subjects; the report, if put on cassettes, might sell well at supermarket newsstands. Prime sample:

Cast: Host-writer Kurt Loder declares, "Asked which new religion might generate the new Waco-style catastrophe, deprogrammer Rick Ross points a jittery finger at the Church Universal and Triumphant." Loder's loaded statement is hardly in-depth reporting or research, and who's Ross anyway? As it turns out , Loder admits that a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms agent said the Montana church "poses absolutely no threat." Scientology comes under Loder's less-than-new gaze as he quotes from a description reportedly made by a church source: It's a "pantheistic-applied religious philosophy dedicated to self-discovery." Actor John Travolta, a follower of Scientology, explains: "God and interpretations of that are left up to the individual."

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