Anonymous vs. Scientology

You may have recently heard about Anonymous, a group of internet activists who have been protesting the Church of Scientology both online and in person. The supporters of Anonymous call them an extremely effective activist group. Scientology supporters call them religious bigots and cyber-terrorists. The media has called them Hackers on Steroids. But who is Anonymous really? And why are they against Scientology?

Just to get this one out of the way: Does ESK support Anonymous?

Yup. We most certainly do.

While we do not, in any way, shape or form, support illegal activities, the protests and pickets that Anonymous has recently staged has raised public awareness regarding the dangers of Scientology. Anonymous is actively and constructively working to ensure that the general public is aware of what goes on behind the Church of Scientology’s closed doors, and we at ESK feel that any action that educates is a positive action.

Anonymous’ actions have also been instrumental in assisting those who have never spoken out feel that they may now do so without fear of reprisal.

So who is Anonymous?

Well, that’s hard to say – we’re not sure that anyone except individual Anonymous members actually know who Anonymous is.

Originally, Anonymous was a loosely connected group of similar-minded people from all over the world who networked online, played pranks on websites, traded information and media, and were general internet rabble rousers. Anonymous has no leaders, and anyone can join Anonymous. Members of Anonymous keep their personal information and real names hidden from the public view and from each other, which helps support the decentralized framework of the group.

How did Anonymous start protesting Scientology?

Anonymous originally began attacking the Church of Scientology in late January 2008, when the CoS took legal action to remove the now infamous Tom Cruise video from the internet. Members of Anonymous began researching Scientology’s history of copyright litigation, and became infuriated at Scientology’s repeated attempts to censor information online.

The highly-interconnected nature of Anonymous, and the fluid trade of information the Anonymous network enabled them to quickly conduct further research on Scientology’s activities. As information on Scientology’s more lurid undertakings became available, such as Operation Freakout, Operation Snow White, the Disconnection policy, slave labor in the Sea Org, etc., members of Anonymous became increasingly outraged. Anonymous then banded together and began launching internet attacks against Scientology websites with the stated purpose of getting the world’s attention.

It worked. The media slowly caught on, and a storm of reporting about Anonymous’ new cause hit the airwaves. Anonymous then allied with long-time Scientology critics and ex-members, and stormed the gates with a series of world-wide protests at Scientology centers on Feb. 10, 2008. Their next set of protests is planned for March 15, 2008 in most major cities around the world.

What was Scientology’s reaction to Anonymous?

Externally, Scientology has been largely silent, with the exception of issuing a press release calling Anonymous cyber-terrorists, communists, Fascists, Nazis, religious bigots and KKK members, which was released in the St. Petersburg Times.

Internally, reports indicate that Scientologists believe that Anonymous is being funded by evil psychiatrists. When the February 10, 2008 protests took place, many Los Angeles churches closed their doors, locked up, shuttered the windows and urged members to stay home.

After the protests, some members of Anonymous have reported being followed, having their tires slashed, being filmed through their windows, and other strange occurrences. It has not been proven that Scientology agents did these things, but the timing is rather suspect.

AH HAH! You must be members of Anonymous! Otherwise, how would you know all that?

Would that we were so cool. Actually, all this info is freely available online on the Anonymous message boards, which can be found here. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t see us at one of Anonymous’ protests some day.

Er… OK, well then what was Anonymous’ response to Scientology’s allegations?

Anonymous has not denied that it launched internet attacks against certain Scientology websites, but insist that they have not pursued this line of activism for some time now, and now plan only on using protests, viral marketing, government lobbying and media attention to attain their goals.

In response to the rest of the allegations, from what ESK can tell from the Anonymous forums, it seems Anonymous members just giggled a little and kept doing what they’re doing.