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Neil deGrasse Tyson is defending Scientology.
The famed astrophysicist and host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey told The Daily Beast, “So, you have people who are certain that a man in a robe transforms a cracker into the literal body of Jesus saying that what goes on in Scientology is crazy?”
Tyson was asked about Scientology in connection to the new HBO documentary Going Clear. Tyson said he hadn’t yet seen the film, but still opened up about his feelings on the religion.
“Let’s realize this,” Tyson continued. “What matters is not who says who’s crazy, what matters is we live in a free country … If we start controlling what people think and why they think it, we have case studies where that became the norm. I don’t care what the tenets are of Scientology. They don’t distract me. I don’t judge them, and I don’t criticize them.”
Tyson also questioned the argument that Scientology shouldn’t be granted tax-exempt status like other religions. “But why aren’t they a religion?” he asked.
“If you attend a Seder, there’s an empty chair sitting right there and the door is unlocked because Elijah might walk in. OK. These are educated people who do this. Now, some will say it’s ritual, some will say it could literally happen. But religions, if you analyze them, who is to say that one religion is rational and another isn’t?”
“It looks like the older those thoughts have been around, the likelier it is to be declared a religion,” Tyson added. “If you’ve been around 1,000 years you’re a religion, and if you’ve been around 100 years, you’re a cult.”
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