Opus Dei marriage equality

In his July 2014 TV3 debate the presenter Vincent Browne asks his panel if marriage equality is a step too far for Catholic Ireland.


Catholic Ireland? The 50s are long gone, Vincent. It is ironic, the term ‘Catholic’ means universal; one would assume then that, at least in the strictly linguistic sense, the term must embrace a diversity of marriage options.

Looking at the diverse range of issues raised by talking heads from a smorgasbord of stances is a dizzying exercise. The field, I fear, has been muddied. The core issue trampled.

Let me start with the actual wording of the proposed amendment to the Constitution: The Thirty-fourth Amendment of the Constitution (Marriage Equality) Bill 2015 (bill no.5 of 2015)

Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex

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A Letter from Aisling to a Senior Scientology Executive

Aisling has been a friend of mine for some time. I have been there for her as she made the decision to immerse herself in the Scientology mindset. I did not agree with her, but I did not stop her. Nor did I disconnect from her. We have been in touch throughout the couple of years since. I was careful to just to frame any problems I had with Scientology as just that, my problems, not hers. Recently she woke up and saw Scientology for what it really is. She reached out to me and I was happy to offer my support in her decision to make the break with them. She has allowed me to post this open letter to the Commanding Officer Office of Special Affairs Church Of Scientology  UK, on my website. I do so in support of her. If there is any reactive attack from the Scientology people then we will both be in the firing line, thus we are that much stronger.This is Aisling’s letter.

I was standing in a doorway in Dublin on a dark and rainy evening back in March 2013.

I’m not from the city so I wasn’t sure which direction I needed to take. A woman came along and stood next to me in the doorway. She noticed I was upset and asked why but I couldn’t tell her because I was ashamed. She went on to offer me her spare umbrella and when I told her I was ok and she should keep it , she told me it was fine and she had a spare one in her bag  . She said this old umbrella had served her well and I was welcome to it. So I took it and said I’d nothing to repay her with and she said if I said a prayer for her that would be plenty. The umbrella is now mine. It’s black with leopard print edges and it was a random act of kindness from a stranger that made me cry.

I don’t know who the woman was but I won’t forget her because what she didn’t know was I couldn’t say a prayer for her or feel I even had the right. I couldn’t tell her I have a different religion because on that night back in March I was ashamed of the religion I was a part of but no longer choose to be a member of.

That religion is Scientology and the reason I was ashamed of us that night is, from my point of view, because it was the first time I met a woman by the name of Margaret Mc Nair, who introduced herself to me as Head of OSA.

I was sitting in Dublin Mission waiting for an event to begin. I can’t claim to be a regular attendee at events because I’m not. I can’t claim to know everything there is to know about Scientology because I do not. I am certainly not claiming to be a good or perfect person either because I’m not. But I do know right from wrong. I do know that there is a basic need and obligation on me to treat people as I want to be treated. And I believe in the simple truth that love is stronger than hate, regardless of religion.

Margaret McNair, I watched you bully and harass people present that night, and blatantly ignore more than one polite, respectful and apologetic answer, I watched you manipulate people until in the end you won. But what did you win? Money? I think to subtract money as you did is not a win but an example of something ugly.

A Game is what you and many others in the room call it. I have played the ‘Birthday Game’ (an internal production and fund raising PR effort) myself, where I have been asked to get a donation in before 2pm on Friday. And I’ve done so willingly, not feeling harassed or hounded or if I ever did feel I was being pushed, I was more than willing to say no. But I’ve never in my time in Scientology witnessed firsthand the treatment you subjected to certain individuals in the room on that night,

Of course these individuals might never see it as I do now.  Maybe at the time they might not have felt bullied or harassed. But watching you, as I was from my seat and hearing you speak to the man sitting right next to me, I was disgusted and ashamed to be in your company.

I want you to know that having spent the past months thinking of my position and my options, Having looked at the work of Citizens Commission on Human Rights (a Scientology anti psychiatry and psychology front group) and the statements we, as Scientologists make, I have reached the conclusion that as long as people such as yourself are allowed to continue behaving as you did, then I want nothing more to do with Scientology.

As we tell the world how it is that we are ‘The most ethical and the sanest beings on the planet’, as we say ‘we understand the mind and we can make things better.’

As we make grand speeches of ‘Leaving nobody behind’ and ‘Being there to save the most vulnerable members of society.’

And yet where are we as people sleep rough every night of the week in towns and cities across Ireland?

Where are we when people don’t have the means or access to a decent education?

Where are we when we could do something small, something as random as giving a stranger an umbrella? On our own and as individuals we can be kind and generous and loving, and we are, but as a group, we’re failing. And not just that, but we’re pretending we’re not. And knocking those who remind us of that when we should building bridges of peace, not inciting hatred or attacking ‘the enemy’.

We are not practicing what we preach. We are not treating each other well and we can learn a lot from just stopping for a moment and taking a long hard look at ourselves as individuals.

We say we’re proud to be the ones helping mankind, keeping the peace and making things better. That there is always something that can be done about it. Well, in the last couple of months I’ve had a long hard look at that and I’ve realised in striving to do the greatest good for the greatest number, we as Scientologists are guilty, me included, of losing sight of the fact that in looking at the ‘greater good ‘ we become toxic to the ones we love. We hurt them and they become a kind collateral damage. That’s not something I’m willing to do anymore.

Commanding Officer OSA UK, Thank you for my ‘wake up call.’ I’m making some changes.

I still want to be better and help make the world a better place, but from now on, I’m starting with me.



Unpicking John Travolta


Travolta and Alex Gibney’s HBO documentary ‘Going Clear’

Back in the early 2000s we all happily went out and bought Adidas and Nike sports and leisure gear despite a veritable avalanche of journalistic exposès in the media and the attention drawn to the exploitation issue by activist groups such as ‘Team Sweat’ that detailed  the horrendous sweatshop conditions workers endured to bring these cool logos to our stores.

In the decades after WWII, to the endless frustration of the allies, Germans continued to deny any knowledge of NAZI atrocities; this in the face of thoroughly documented, photographic evidence taken in Belsen and Buchenwald. We are dumfounded that a radio host, Alex Jones, can maintain that the Sandy Hook atrocity was a hoax, notwithstanding the gut wrenching testimonies of parents and teachers witness to the blood soaked carnage that described the crime scene.

Where cognitive dissonance is manifested as the denial of the existence of human rights abuses and blood crimes and when this is encountered in a friend, political figurehead or media personality it is galling. To those of us who have suffered or seen firsthand abuses meted out, the denial of its existence hurts on a visceral level. It is demeaning. It undermines our sense of self. It fills us with rage and impotent fury.

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The Lesser Apostate

Tom Cruise helped me escape Scientology.

 The impending HBO release of Alex Gibney’s and Lawrence Wright’s documentary and the sheer volume of interest it has 7481067070_52bf7148a9_kengendered, in print and on the web, pushed me to revisit my own Scientology experience and beyond that, to try to contextualise it in terms of the path my life took before my fateful encounter and to try to make some kind of sense of the broken pieces of my life since I left Scientology behind.

This is what I came up with.

Trepidation accompanied a profound sense of liberation when, on the 16th of July 2006, I gave up on religion and such ideation, for good. I will try to reassemble the scattered pieces of the event herein before I become too old and addled to reconstruct this seminal moment in my convoluted life’s narrative.

Tom Cruise and I had something important in common. We were both fanatical adherents of the Church of Scientology. Otherwise the differences in the lifestyles that defined us could not be more stark. My blind faith in Hubbard had been shaken a few years before when I happened upon incontestable evidence that my all-knowing savior and guru had been telling porkie-pies the whole time.

Twenty two years of life at the very core of Scientology – the elite, communal living, unquestioning, ecclesiastical hierarchy, came to an abrupt end thanks to the Top Gun star. L. Ron Hubbard founded this ‘elite’ operation in the Spring of 1967. He christened it the ‘Sea Organization’ and then set off with a select few in a bunch of creaky old ships to mine the pockets and life energy of the vulnerable and credulous.

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