Saturday, May 14, 2011

An Ordained Minister of the Church of Scientology Joins the CHSCA

John M. Knapp presents his new non-profit, the Center for Healing Spiritual and Cultic Abuse as a new anti-cult organization. However, he invited a lot of people who have nothing to do with anti-cult field. One of the people who joined CHSCA advisory board is an ordained minister of the Church of Scientology, though I am not sure if John Knapp knows about this.

On May 5, he announced that Dennis Erlich joined CHSCA advisory board. BTW, his last name is spelled Erlich, not Ehrlich as Knapp spells it. Although Knapp knows that Erlich has a Reverend title, he probably never considered how Erlich obtained it and what church ordained him.

In January 2009, when Dennis Erlich joined "freedomofmind" group (I was a member of that group), he was asked this question. There were long debates about it and Erlich actually answered this question two times. His first answer was:
I've been a registered minister in the state of California since 1969. In 1982 I walked away from the cult and began enlightening people on the subject. This became my new ministry. In the mid 90s inFormer Ministry incorporated in California as a non profit religious/educational corporation. In 1997 we registered with the IRS and received 501c3 non profit status.

The other ordination I got was a humorous one from the founder of the mock-cult of SubGenius. That's for-profit humor publishing group. I proudly display the "Dobbshead" on my site.

His second answer was more clear and detailed:

I thought it was clear that I was originally ordained as a minister in 1969 by scientology.

As far as the "sanctioning agency" back in those days ministers were required to register with the State of California, which I did. After I walked away I didn't withdrawn my registration, so I am still on file in Sacramento that way.

Throughout the 80's and 90's I ministered to hundreds of people who had left cults. I am credited with talking a bunch of recovering cultists who were seriously contemplating suicide, "down from the ledge." I ran dozens and dozens of cult recovery focus sessions in Los Angeles and published inFormer Newsletter for ex-members.

In 1997 I incorporated inFormer Ministry in California as a non profit religious/educational corporation (#2011733) and it was awarded Federal 501(c)3 status a year later.

The ministry with the help of its volunteers has produced public events for the City of Los Angeles Mayors Office and Cultural Affairs Dept. For a number of years we wrote and helped produce the Hollywood Christmas Parade on behalf of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

I have filed my taxes as a minister every year since 1969.

Since the State of California and Federal Government has "officially recognized me" as a minister, I have no problem continuing with that title. I guess those would be the "sanctioning bodies" if there is one.

InFormer Ministry is now its own "sanctioning body" and non-denominational religious order.

So, officially, Dennis Erlich is still a registered minister of the Church of Scientology. He was ordained by the Church of Scientology and this is how he obtained his Reverend title. In addition, as Erlich made clear, his inFormer Ministry is actually based on his Scientology ministerial credentials. Also, ministerial ordination usually requires a formal training and it is obvious that the only formal training Erlich had for his ministry was the training in the Church of Scientology. For more information, you may read this article.

Well, he left Scientology a long time ago and since then has been an anti-Scientologist and anti-cult activist. He even created his own apparently anti-cult inFormer Ministry. However, this is still a serious question how a person can be an anti-Scientology activist and a registered minister of the Church of Scientology at the same time and how he can use his cult ministerial credentials for anti-cult activity.


oneperson said...

Interesting post Lom. I also read the content at the links you provided.

Twisting of facts and events in order to justify and rationalize abuses and harms....all the while proclaiming healing, transparency, and honesty.

That's the last thing people exiting abusive relationships need. It simply further injures the trust muscle...which has already been deeply harmed.

Here's a post regarding the "trust muscle." This is written by a Christian, so is shared from that angle:
Link to post

oneperson said...

Just reread my comment and realized I don't address anything in regard to Erlich's ordination being from the CoS.

It's not so much the title being attributed from a questionable organization that gets to me (though that aspect should be recognized and not dismissed); but rather, it is harmful tactics (and subsequent rationalization of those tactics) that gets under my skin...especially if the person is in the position of *authority* and *trust,* self-proclaimed or otherwise.

In the links that you provide in your post, it sounds like that (abusive tactics and not owning up) is at least part of what happened.

Humans make messes and when we choose to justify instead of admit the mess and endeavor to reconcile the's no different than a so-called "cult."

AnonLover said...

Dennis Erlich is not only an ex-member of the church of scientology, many consider him an ex-anti-scientologist in the sense that his settlement with the church after a huge legal battle took him out the mainstream critics circle.

The final chapter of that legal battle here:

Then there's his newer ministry... which was intended to be a strategic maneuver against scientology's tax exempt status. But it didnt quite work out that way once granted, and thus many dont see Erlich as an anti-scientology advocate because of the old adage "if you cant beat him, join him"

So technically Dennis is an ordained minister of his own ministry, the allegiance you hint at are not only ancient history but not as relevant as you seem to think.

Reason being - people change over the decades, and for Erlich to even be interested in this appointment indicates he's changed from days long gone when he was still active in the anti-cult game. So i think he's earned an opportunity like this to put all his years of experience with cults to a good use that can help others.