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Monday, 31 March 2008

The biggest racket in the world

As with many of these ramblings, there is absolutely no point to what follows; these are just the musings of an idle mind.

In Tottenham Court Road, not far from my office, there is a little Scientology office, where people are lured in by being asked to take a stress test.

You’ve probably seen the sort of thing, and I think we can safely say that all those who take it are informed that: a) they are indeed afflicted by stress; and b) the good Scientology folk will be able to help.

Since nobody who does not feel under stress would ever take the test, I take my hat off to the scamps who thought up this excellent wheeze - and doff it very deferentially indeed to the late L. Ron Hubbard who founded the cult.

Ron was a science fiction writer, and as you may know he started Scientology after a conversation at a science fiction convention, where he said that the easiest way to make a few million is to start a new religion – then proceeded to make his point, big time.

It occurs to me that some of the biggest rogues in the world have done well out of the religion racket. This will hardly come as a revelation to you, but did you realise how easy it is to get started?

For the most part there is absolutely nothing in law to stop you either starting your own religion or becoming affiliated to an existing one.

For example the Reverend Ian Paisley got his title simply by buying a US mail order degree in theology, and he did pretty well out of it, ending up encouraging a lot of people to kill a lot of other people before becoming joint Chief Minister of Northern Ireland.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson at least had a go at studying theology, but failed and had to wait till somebody gave him an honorary degree. That hasn’t stopped him from making an astonishingly good living out of aspects of God, often through shaking down large corporations – (shaking down is a colloquialism for blackmail.)

I spend a lot of time in the US, as you may know, and often watch TV evangelists, all of whom do pretty well out of the gullible; you might say that from a marketer’s perspective Jesse is business to business, whereas the TV rogues are in business to consumer.

The Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr who has been twisting the tail of the US troops in Iraq was, so to speak, born into the business, as his father and grandfather were Ayatollas.

Interestingly, you don’t have to pass any exams to become a Muslim cleric; you just study and then preach and eventually become generally recognised as a cleric and if you keep going long enough eventually you become an Ayatollah. Moqtada hasn’t reached that level yet, but I guess when he has been responsible for enough dead people, they’ll give him the title.

Governments, being inherently stupid, are particularly gullible when religion comes into it.

In this country the government has paid enormous attention to various organisations with the word "Muslim" in their names, which are almost entirely self appointed. They are madce up of "activists" - ie, troublemakers - who come up with a fancy title and then announce to the world "We are the Muslim Council" - or Parliament, or whatever will impress idiots like the Bliar - and everyone takes them seriously, when they represent nothing but their own self importance and desire to make trouble.

I imagine ordinary honest Muslims must find this deeply galling, especially when some of the creeps involved do so well they get Knighted FOR "services to the community" which tend to consist of helpful statements like "all Jews are pigs". Maybe London's mayor, Ken Livingstone is a closet Muslim, by the way.

“Religion,” said Marx, “Is the opium of the people” – then founded his own.

The older I get, the more I tend to feel the main curses in this world are people with strong beliefs – and people who exploit those people’s beliefs.

Often those people are called politicians. Look at G W Bush. He is a triple threat; a born-again Christian with too much money who is also politician.

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