Orson Scott Card teaming up with Scientology?

Did anyone else catch Orson Scott Card’s recent interview in the magazine, Freedom, published by the Church of Scientology International?  Not sure how or why, but I was sent a copy in the mail (I’m not a subscriber).  The interview is kind of trippy and suggests just how ostracized Card must feel these days.

Card claims that journalists are all required to share a political worldview,

Right now we have a monolithic mainstream media. They all go through the same journalism schools where, if you don’t subscribe to the same politics, you don’t graduate. You don’t get the grades. You find yourself driven out of the field. Very few people who are not completely compliant with that viewpoint make it through. So guess who gets hired in the newsrooms? People who already all think alike.

That strikes me as both not true and the foundation of a conspiracy theory.  There are clearly left-leaning news outlets (e.g., The Nation) and right-leaning news outlets (e.g., Fox News).  If Card was correct, we wouldn’t see any diversity among journalists.

I particularly like the innuendo throughout the interview,

At the same time, vicious smears spread just as quickly. Somebody decided that because I had a well-reasoned, controversial opinion on a hot-button issue that I was evil and had to be silenced.

I can only assume that the “well-reasoned, controversial opinion” Card is referring to here is his views on homosexuality, like these quotes or this Salon.com article illustrate.

I think his point about universities not bringing controversial speakers to campus is fair,

I mean, we still call them universities, but anyplace that has a speaker somebody wants to invite—and people demonstrate to not allow that person to speak—that’s not a university anymore. That’s a seminary to train true believers.

But to claim that we have a state religion that is “political correctness” isn’t really accurate.  If we have a state religion, it’s heteronormative Christianity.

My favorite question, given that it comes from some un-named source inside the incredibly authoritarian Church of Scientology is this one,

How can we swing the pendulum back from political correctness at all costs to a place where institutions—academic and otherwise—support inclusive, reasonable discourse?

When has Scientology ever engaged in “reasonable discourse”?  And how is Card saying that being gay should be illegal “reasonable discourse”?

Card again attacks the universities as the culprit for a monolithic discourse,

All you have to do is open up the universities to professors who actually have divergent views. The trouble is that we drove them out before they got doctorates; they couldn’t get approval for their dissertation project. There are some who tough it out anyway, but they aren’t tenured professors.

Looking past the irony that he is one of those professors, the numbers just don’t agree with him.  College professors are more liberal than the general public, for sure, but they are not monolithic in their political views. Anyone who has a hard time believing this really just needs to step into a college of business at a university, where a sizable percentage of the professors are right-leaning.

Card goes so far as to call universities, “fascist,”

Start with tenured university faculty. They all sound like they believe the same thing, but they don’t. They just can’t say so because they know they’ll be attacked. I think most academics hate the fascist state that exists in most American universities. They want it to end, but they’re afraid. Somebody brave needs to speak up and put a stop to it.

This statement doesn’t come close to my experience in academia.  Most of my research has to do with religion, and I am constantly running up against religious conservatives and religious moderates who dislike what my findings say about religion (not surprisingly, I’m quite critical).  Far from facing a liberal backlash because I’m too conservative, I spend most of my time fighting for more liberal/progressive views because most other academics are too moderate or conservative in their views (this could be specific to my area of research, but I don’t think it actually is).  I don’t consider this fascism; I consider it the slow advance of science, which is inherently conservative.  Card doesn’t seem to realize that.

Card ends with some interesting thoughts.  First, he claims we’re in a McCarthy-like era against conservatives,

Right now, it’s like the height of the McCarthy era, when the mere allegation that you might be a communist was enough to seriously damage your career and your reputation.

This sounds to me like him being bitter about how his homophobia tarnished his reputation.  I loved Ender’s Game, but really don’t like the fact that the author is a homophobe.  As a result, I’m reticent to admit that it was the favorite book of my childhood, and am reticent to suggest it to my son, who also loves science fiction.  I can understand that he’s frustrated, but advocating for unequal treatment for a huge segment of the world’s population can result in criticism (and should).

Finally, he seems to think that religion is the only solution for holding back the floodwaters of so-called liberal “progress,”

But the social justice warriors are running up against more and more walls that won’t crumble, in churches. Sure, there are plenty of mainline churches that crumbled immediately because they didn’t want any attacks on them, but you run up against Orthodox Jews—they’re not going to bend. You run up against Mormons—we tried to cooperate, but we’re not bending. You run up against the Southern Baptists, they’re not going to roll over and play dead; they fired a minister who did. You run up against the Scientologists—they’re not going to change their doctrine for the sake of popularity, because they stand for something. They’re not going to bow.

Any bets on when the Mormons will bow?  I give them less than 20 years on allowing gays and lesbians being able to fully participate in the religion.

I really like this article because it shows that conservative religions are losing.  How could Mormons and Scientologists possibly find common ground given their disparate beliefs and exclusive truth claims?  They find common ground when they realize they have a common enemy: secularization and progressive views on gender and sexuality.  If you need evidence that conservative religion is dying, look no further than Scientology asking a Mormon for his thoughts on how the two can withstand the coming onslaught of nonreligious people who hold egalitarian worldviews.  The writing is on the wall for exclusive, bigoted religions, and they know it.


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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1 Response

  1. chanson says:

    I agree with you, and yet somehow this doesn’t surprise me coming from Orson Scott Card. He has turned into such a crank — ranting all sorts of things that are obviously nonsense. So now he’s willing to embrace any kind of kindred spirits who think his rants are brilliant and make sense…

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