Monday, 7 January 2008


Diana author Andrew Morton has done it again. An expert at catching the headlines to promote his books, his latest claims that Tom Cruise is the de-facto second in command of Scientology.
Whether this is true or not, I don’t know, but it is an interesting claim. I have, for years, had an interest in cults for research purposes, and Scientology is quite different to the majority of other ‘alternative religions’.

Initially, it was a form of psychotherapy.

But L Ron Hubbard advanced this approach into a spiritual philosophy with a specific science fictional interpretation. And I immediately realized that this perfectly echoed ideals of the times.
This is what makes a religion so successful – the ability to connect with the contemporary culture. And Scientology did it with style. But for this to continue, it had to also connect with a wider ‘mythology’.

As an American-based religion, that had to be Hollywood.

A mythology is a series of contemporary stories, and Hollywood satisfies this interpretation perfectly. And in echoing this mythology, it was inevitable it would recruit the stars.
So successful has Scientology been in this endeavour that we can no longer call it a ‘cult’. Neither, I think, can we call it an ‘alternative religion’. Love it or loathe it, Scientology is on the verge of being a new, ultra modern ‘world’ religion.

© Anthony North, January 2008

See my Cult Watch for more on cults


Anonymous said...

Scientology is not a religion. Why on earth do they celebrate Christmas when Christ Mass has nothing to do with aliens or L.Ron Hubbard? How much money do they actually make from these "auditing" courses and what do they record when people are pouring out their secrets? What about their policy of "disconnect"? This is all very cult-like. The only reason they call it a religion is so that they can scoop up tax payer money...that and get their hound lawyers to sue anyone who criticizes them.

anthonynorth said...

I suppose it depends on your definition of 'cult', Anonymous. Some people think Islam is a cult. It seems to me people use the term, today, to dismiss a religious system they don't like.
Certainly, Scientology began as a cult, with their engrams, invading Thetans and e-meters, but I think it's moving out of 'cult' status, and will soon have to be taken seriously.
Personally, I dislike Scientology and everything it stands for, but it has the 'theology', real estate, and now numbers of a religion.
As for a definition of a religion, they are all a representation of initial animism, with a prevalent cultural image placed upon it. Modern cultural images would include science fiction, Hollywood and capitalism.
Scientology is echoing these, so can be defined as a religion in the terms I use.