Scott Pilutik

I am an attorney and consultant living and working in Manhattan, focusing primarily on church/state constitutional law. I'm a recognized expert on the Church of Scientology organization. I also have strong interests in intellectual property law where it intersects with emerging media, and free speech.

I support the efforts of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU, Creative Commons, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. I am a member of the New York County Lawyers Association and the New York State Bar Association. I also enjoy (watching) hockey and (doing) photograhy.

Online I can be found on Facebook, Twitter. My resume can be viewed here. I can be reached by phone at 212.645.6241 or by e-mail at pilutik[at]

Religious Correctness

The title of Russell Shaw’s piece at Huffington Post is unambiguously titled: “Tom Cruise’s Firing: Anti-Scientology Religious Bigotry“. I tried to post a comment there, but the login server appears to be having difficulties, so I’ll rant, briefly, here instead.

The author and a few commenters rely on the mistaken notion that the defining aspect of a cult is ‘belief’, when in reality, it is the degree of *control* exerted over adherents that separates a religion from a cult. In order to establish the amount of control necessary to create a fanatical base, cults rely on a greater degree of ‘us v. them’ rhetoric, in order to separate its target from the mainstream, and more closely bind it to its tendered replacement.

Scientology exhibits this sort of control in a number of ways: by the fact that it routinely requires its members to disconnect from their families (those families that ask uncomfortable questions about where all that money disappeared to); adheres to a “greater good for Scientology” mentality, by which nearly any action can be justified, so long as its goal is to “Keep Scientology Working,” or “KSW” in Scientology’s dense, insular, extensive lexicon; maintains something called the “Rehabilitation Project Force” (“RPF”), which is essentially a labor camp for members who are being punished for violations, which can include “bad thoughts about Scientology” or its current leader.

Shaw’s platitudinous argument that criticism of Tom Cruise is bigotry has a simplistic appeal, but cannot withstand scrutiny. What’s interesting about this argument is its similarity to arguments raised by Evangelical Christians that the prohibition on teaching creationism in science class is some form of religious persecution. It’s part of a larger “Religious Correctness” movement that is slowly becoming visible, the rules of which require that religions be shielded from criticism by charges of “Bigotry!” What’s especially ironic about this, of course, is that many religious beliefs intrinsically sanction bigotry and discrimination. And the same people who now cry “bigot!” at every slight are the same people who were only snarling about “Political Correctness” only a few years ago.

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