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ToS: Baloney's FAQ - Scratch makes the cut!

To: alt.magick.tyagi,alt.satanism,alt.pagan,alt.magick
From: "Mr. Scratch" 
Subject: ToS: Baloney's FAQ - Scratch makes the cut!
Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2001 23:15:55 -0700

On 17 Jun 2001 wrote:

> Archive-name:      religions/temple-of-set
> Title:             Balanone's Temple of Set FAQ
> Posting-Frequency: monthly, quarterly to soc.religion.paganism
> Last-modified:     2001/06/03
> Version:           1.2.5
> URL:     
> Copyright:         (c) 1997-2001 Temple of Set
> Maintainer:        Balanone 

> 5.4     Our Reputation(s)
> Lupo the Butcher, in his "alt.satanism FAQ file", states/stated: "The
> most vocal of groups which border upon Satanism, is the Temple of Set
> of Michael Aquino and friends, which splintered away from the Church
> of Satan in a disagreement over monetary policy. They have a number of
> nasty habits, including the public publishing of names, addresses and
> workplaces of former members as a harassment tactic, disinformation
> regarding Satanic and occult groups, including their own, and a good
> deal of "we are the one true way" posturing."
> See the section on Satanism for a summary of the schism with the
> Church of Satan.
> We do not normally publish the name, addresses, or any other
> information concerning former members.

Yes, they do not "normally" do so; if you are ToSsed out of the Temple,
and keep your mouth shut, the ToS will let you go about your business, and
will only trash your reputation via gossip and accusations within the
Temple itself.  However, if you voice your complaints in public, as Lupo
LeBoucher has done, one may very well expect to find just such information
addressed to Usenet or some other public forum.

> We do not harass former members. Thousands of exmembers have left the
> Temple of Set for many different reasons, without any activity such as
> Lupo complains about.

Mmm-hmmm...people who quietly slinked away, without making you face any
consequences.  As I said, those who don't lie down are given an entirely
different treatment.

> 7.4     Unfriendly Others
> The REF document identifies a few people whose messages, documents, or
> web pages you're likely to run into on the Internet, and who are
> biased against the Temple of Set for a variety of reasons.

From the ToS REF: "Mr. Scratch was a member of the Temple of Set for about
a decade, and even a member of the Priesthood of Set for a few years. He
was expelled from the Temple of Set late in the year 2000 because of an
event the High Priest saw as revealing a disregard for the Temple's
confidentiality and security which was not acceptable in a Priest."

"Mr. Scratch's view and interpretation of this episode is very different,
as he seems to delight in posting to alt.satanism. Suffice it to say I
accept and agree with the High Priest's decision. "

(*Mr. Scratch throws his arms up and shouts out a Homer Simpsonesque

I finally made the notorious "enemies" list!

Yes, I suppose you could say I disagreed with the High Priest's reasons
for kicking me out.  I was ostensibly booted from the organization for
maintaining a friendship and having dinner with someone the High Priest
didn't like (Lupo).

When I joined the Temple of Set, I was not aware that I was to turn over
my own decision-making processes to the Temple's bureaucracy, nor did I
realize that some appointed theocrat now had the power to dictate my
personal life.

Say, why didn't Kerry Delf make the list?  She was also booted for being
nice to the wrong people, and has given the ToS much the same kind of
exposure as I have as a consequence.  On the other hand, perhaps Balanone
is smart enough to recognize that Aquino has already caused the Temple
considerable humiliation by being caught lying in an attempt to besmirch
her reputation, and has decided the matter is best left alone.

> 7.6.1   A Cult?
> "Is this a cult?" No. [...] most people reserve the word "cult" to you
> mean something dangerous to society or its members, and no, we're not
> a cult since we are beneficial to our members, and we're not
> anti-social by any means.

I think many of us agree that the word "cult" is often used in a rather
emotional manner, and yet we all have a certain sense as to what a "cult"
is.  For better or for worse, we follow the example of Justice Potter
Stewart when judging a group for whether or not it is a cult; "I can't
define it, but I know it when I see it."

The ToS FAQ says that the definition of a cult is a group that is not
beneficial to its members, and is anti-social -- and since the Temple of
Set doesn't consider itself such, its leadership does not like to be
referred to as a "cult."

Now, I would guess that a great many of the groups that we consider
"cults" would say the same thing about themselves.  The Scientologists
certainly consider themselves beneficial to their members, and not
anti-social.  Same with the Moonies, the Children of God, and the
Jehovah's Witnesses...the list goes on and on.  Pretty much NO group that
we would consider a "cult" considers itself as such, and I think most of
them would say they are "beneficial" to their members, and are "not
anti-social."  Very few religions have been built by stating up front that
they think human society is worthless, and that they intend to abuse any
adherants they may come across.  Those that do so generally don't fare too

But let me put it to the prospective Setian who is considering this
question of the ToS's "culthood" this way...

From the moment you request to join the Temple, the hierarchy begins to
build a dossier on you.  It starts out with a picture of your driver's
license, your physical address, your home and work phone number, your
interests, and so on.  Then, for the rest of your career in the Temple,
personal information about you is compiled into your file.  Whenever you
screw something up -- it goes into the file.  Which Priests do you work
with, and whom you are in touch with?  Into the file.  When a person finds
themselves being questioned by the hierarchy, this file comes out.  You,
as a member, do not have access to the file.

What do you suppose this information is for?  Do you really think it is
done for your "benefit," as per the Temple's claim to its non-cult

Then, you may find as I did, that your personal freedom is infringed upon.  
In my case, they disliked my friends.  For Lupo, they disagreed with what
he retained in the alt.satanism FAQ (i.e. he would not allow it to be
turned into ToS propaganda).  For Eardly Scott, they didn't like that he
was willing to sell his products to their "enemies," the Church of Satan.  
There are any number of forms of personal interaction that the Temple
hierarchy will step in to prevent if they so desire.  These are not
"unethical" behaviors, mind you, these are simply personal choices about
what you think is best for you.  They presume to control their initiates,
and you will be punished if you do not conform.

The Temple will deem itself responsible to police your thinking.  
Recently, a wave of purges was initiated by the hierarchy against
postmodernists in the Temple, denouncing, punishing and expelling whomever
they deemed a postmodernist, a PoMo sympathizer, or who used PoMo
terminology in their conversations.  The Temple has also worked to
chastise those who disagree with the hierarchy's extremist animal-rights
political views, bringing their heel down on those who defend any kind of
hunting or scientific animal testing.  While some small philosophical
differences are tolerated, for the most part you will be expected to march
in psychological lock-step with the hierarchy.

Does any of this seem in keeping with a group that supposedly champions
autonomous self-deification and independent Will?

Is the Temple of Set "anti-social"?  Well, consider that they refer to the
entire society at large as it exists outside the Temple of Set as "the
World of Horrors," and speak of the rest of the human population as if
they were despicable or dangerous animals.  The ToS leadership bears
considerable antipathy, even hostility, toward those on the outside of the
Temple, lashing out at whomever they consider remotely capable of turning
on them -- even if the persons in question have done them no harm, or have
even helped them.  During my time in the Temple, I frequently found the
rhetoric of the hierarchy toward the larger non-Setian culture so virulent
and isolationist, that I often wondered if they would barricade us in some
remote compound if they only had the resources.

They strongly denounce those who maintain friendly contact with ex-Setians
who have been driven or kicked out of the Temple.  In some cases, a Setian
can expect to be expelled if they are found communicating with that person
(in this sense, the ToS practices a very real form of ex-communication, or
"shunning").  Like many groups we recognize as "cults," they demand
unconditional loyalty from their members in this regard, and will not
tolerate the possibility that members' thoughts and perceptions would be
tainted by an opposing view from someone who has had a negative (or more
objective) experience of their organization.

The curious thing about this is that the individual Setian member probably
doesn't recognize these cult-like tactics for what they are.  Most of them
are like loyal citizens of some national dictatorship -- their minds are
bent into conformity and obsequiousness.  This has gone on for so long, in
an atmosphere where one can only gain acceptance by toeing the line, that
many of them are simply incapable of understanding the psychological
techniques that have shaped them into conformists and unwitting yes-men.  
Since they are not among the dissidents, and have not experienced the
injustice and repression for themselves, they either don't think they will
be targeted in the future, or they simply fail to recognize that the
leadership has succumbed to tyranny in the first place.  The hammering of
the Initiate's mind into submission is a slow process, one they may not
even be able to see happening, even as they undergo the metamorphosis from
independent seeker of knowledge to a nodding and compliant appendage of
the ToS superorganism.

As I've said in the past, I once heard a former member of the Children of
God cult tell his tale, and he recalled that he had denied the CoG's
culthood to a reporter by saying "Hey, its not like we're camping out on
people's doorsteps, trying to recruit them."  A few months later, when
recruiting stats for his region were low, and his CoG leaders were
desperate, he found himself sitting on a potential recruit's front porch,
waiting for the recruit to come home.  At about 4:00 AM, he realized "I
believe I am camped out on someone's doorstep here."  I just have to
wonder when my Setian friends will realize that they are camped out on
that doorstep.

So, is the Temple of Set a "cult"?  Dunno.  But consider that it is a
strictly hierarchal organization that places considerable punitive powers
in the hands of its administrative body.  It is a group that compiles
secret files on its members.  It tells them what they can and can't do,
what they can and can't say, what they can and can't think, who they can
and can't talk to; it coerces its members into not communicating with its
critics, shuns its ex-members who complain about the group, and denounces
the impure and tainted world outside its controlling body.


(*Mr. Scratch shrugs his shoulders and cants his head ambiguously*)

You be the judge.

Mr. Scratch
Priest of Set

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