The Yah-Boo-Dankerties

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

You got an ...ology? You're a scientist!

" was 1969 when the Scientologists appealed to be considered a religion and it was decided at that time that their chapels did not constitute a church and were not a religion."

Oral Questions to the Minister of State for the Home Office, House of Lords, 17 December 1996, Hansard, vol. 760, cols. 1392-1394

So says the UK government, whatever that's worth. But the visit I made this week to the Church of Scientology on Tottenham Court Road - and the Abu Ghraib style electromachine ordeal that they put Jake the Peg through - got me thinking about religious recruiting tactics.

[DISCLAIMER: These are my personal opinions and observations. They're based on my own experience, and I'm the first to admit I know nothing about the insides of Scientology. Hopefully that's how it'll stay.]

So the woman offers me a stress test. Having previously decided that I'll be the uncooperative 'bad cop', I start firing the questions.

- What happens in this test?

- I take this machine, she replied, and hit you over the head with it.

This might have been meant as an icebreaker - a familiar "relax, silly!" - but to me it sure seemed defensive... Passive-aggressive, even. Jake sat down and clutched the electrodes: he was so nervous, she had to turn the dial up to 11 to get a zero control reading.

The eye-contact from the woman, Jake told me, was peircing and constant. She visibly angered when two passers-by scoffed "Church of Tom Cruise" in her direction.

Jake asked her what changes Scientology had made to her life and she told him it had made her more confident in social situations, and it'd given her life purpose.

This was what I used to say when someone asked me that on an Alpha course.

Now I'm not saying that the Alpha and the Scientology are at all the same: for one I believe the content of one is true and the other is balls. But I did notice the similarities in style re: the recruitment tactics, and wondered about the sense of using laypeople as the first point of reference for curious investigators. When I led Alpha groups I certainly spoke past the level of my understanding, and was encouraged to do so by the powers that H.T.B. Now I found myself on the receiving end, I noticed the creepiness and the unconvincing tidiness of that approach.

Then again, maybe this unconvincing persuasion is the best way of saving more people from getting infected by too-shallow worldviews.


  • What's the purpose of a ruddy electro-stress test? Why was Jake the one to be tested? How does it feel Jake? Bollocks I bet. Bum-Hole says I.

    By Anonymous Ricky M, at 11:45 AM  

  • I was too scared to be tested. I have a "suggestible personality", specially where religion's concerned.

    By Blogger Savs, at 8:08 PM  

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    By Blogger mikeprehiem8723, at 4:15 PM  

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    By Blogger markfisher4812, at 5:25 AM  

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