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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Scientology: Image vs. Substance

It is obvious to an outside observer that the Church of Scientology does not act, or react, in a logical manner. To an outside observer, the actions of the church don't make a lot of sense.

Why did the church over-react to the leak of the infamous Tom Cruise video? Their reaction did far more damage to the church than the actual leak ever would have.

Why did the struggling church just spend $40 million dollars on a gaudy, and very expensive, renovation of their Fort Harrison Hotel?

Why was the SuperPower building even started?

Why does the church keep purchasing building after building, while their existing churches are empty and even closing?

Why does the Church of Scientology continue to claim 8 million members and continue to claim they are the "fastest growing religion in the world" when even they know it is a lie?

There is a reason. From David Miscavige's point of view, all this makes "perfect sense".

It's all about image.

When the church claims 8 million members and claims to be the "fastest growing religion in the world", they are trying to sell that image of the church. They know it's a lie. They know they don't have 8 million members, not nearly. They know they are shrinking. Really, they do know all that. What they are trying to do is create and sell the image that the Church of Scientology is huge, and expanding.

It's only about image.

They reacted so poorly to the Tom Cruise video, and continue to react so badly to the Anonymous protests, because they believe these things damage their image. When they believe their image is threatened, they will go all out to defend it. Understand that they are defending the image, not necessarily Scientology or Scientologists.

The new buildings are all about image. The purchase of a new building creates the image of expansion. They know they aren't expanding. One might even guess that they know sucking every last penny from their parishioners is destroying any hope of real expansion. They don't care as long as they can promote the image of "expansion".

And some newspapers seem to fall for it. A few newspapers and news agencies that don't bother to investigate, talk about the "expansion of the Church of Scientology" -- but all that is really happening is the church bought some big, empty buildings -- while closing churches!

The Super Power building was started, in a big rush and fanfare, during the Lisa McPherson trial, because the church knew that their image was being damaged. The Super Power building was started to sell the image of a popular, flourishing church. Something that was "good for the community".

They go after celebrities so urgently, and treat them so very, very well, because being the "church of celebrities" is an image they desperately want.

It's all about image.

But exactly why is image so very, very, very important to the Church of Scientology? Why does the image of expansion take priority over real expansion? Why is image of helping more important than the actual well-being and even the survival of Scientologists? Why does image appear to be the sole motivation for virtually all the Church of Scientology's actions?

Why? Because, when you get right down to it, that's all there is to the Church of Scientology. Image is all they've got!

They try to have the image of a successful, expanding, thriving church -- but they are shrinking, failing, collapsing.

Narconon attempts to create the image of tremendous success in helping people get over drug addiction with a "90% cure rate" -- but their actual results are pretty dismal, much lower than other programs.

The church's "Youth for Human Rights" front group is all about image. If the church has the image of being a "Human Rights supporter", who would expect them to be the biggest Human Rights violator? The church wants you to look at the image, not what the church is really doing!

The church tries to create the image that they have the solution to toxins in the body, the solutions to study problems, the solutions to world conflicts -- but their actual results are non-existent. They attempt to create these images without actually producing anything.

The Church of Scientology strives for the image of a group that has "all the answers" to everyone's problems, but they can't come up with one bit of evidence that their solutions actually help. There are no actual, proven, workable solutions -- just that false, and very tattered, image.

It must be said that they come by this honestly. L. Ron Hubbard's stories about himself and his "technology" were all about image. He wanted people to think very highly of him and so he lied. He claimed amazing things for his life, he claimed miraculous results from his "technology". None of it was real.

Today, Scientology's leader carries on that grand, illusive tradition. David Miscavige's fanciful event presentations are all about image. Scientologists leaving his events are often so impressed with "how well everything is going" -- but can't actually put their finger on any specific facts or anything actually done.

Today, now that the Church of Scientology's image is so badly damaged, now that Scientology is the punchline of so many jokes, now that the curtain of secrecy has been torn away and the lack of results is becoming obvious to all but a few True Believers, what is left?

The sorry image of failure, abuse and fraud.

When history judges the Church of Scientology, we can be pretty sure that that will be the church's ultimate image: Failure, abuse and fraud.


  1. Thanks for your article. It was well written, to the point and very accurate. I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Nice article, thank you. Point well made.

  3. Superb piece! Absolutely a great, short essay. It would make nice flier content. We can haz?

  4. @barb

    Thanks! And, as always, yes, u can haz!

  5. Evidence in support of your comment:

    Lying about Scientology's growth is mandated by Scientology scriptures.

    Excerpt from HCO Policy Letter of Sept. 16, 1965, titled "Foundation" (Green volume 6 I think), by L. Ron Hubbard:

    "The Distribution Division in advertising the Foundation Services and in coaching Field Staff Members is to bring about the following general effect on the broad public and lower course applicants:

    "1. That Scientology is successful and expanding."

    (In case someone wonders, "Distribution Division" is a division within a Scientology-linked organization responsible for advertising Scientology, also internally known as "Div 6".)

  6. Beee-utiful! As usual!

  7. Ah, if only we could get more Clams to read your blog...

    But then, as you pointed out elsewhere, they're not big on reasoned discussion. Or, indeed, facts.

    One request - Could you do a piece on the Scientology Definition of Communication? Because it seems to me that what passes for communication in CoS is more focused on communicating an idea in one direction, rather than a two-way information exchange

  8. I've recently had some interactions with a group of scientologists and this acticle helps explain my experiences. They are some of the most delusional people I've ever met and image is king (and money too). They also like to claim a commitment to the highest of ethical behavior. Of course that too is smoke and mirrors, but I guess if they say something enough times then in their world, that makes it true.

  9. Re: Communication

    Yes, there is an article somewhere there. Scientologists do not learn better communication through Scientology. That is a huge Scientology myth. What they learn is a highly crippled version, which is geared solely towards control. Naturally, there is no interaction, especially with any divergent opinions!

  10. Re: Talking with Scientologists.

    Yes, that is, inevitably, a very frustrating experience. It is, to put it accurately but bluntly, the cult mind-set. Scientology is "right no matter what", and so any rational discussion about it is impossible.

  11. the funny thing is, I've shown up to raids in LA, where I rode my motorcycle up there, only to have Scientologists make fun of my $600 leather jacket (Hein Gerich) and expensive leather jeans.

    Apparently they have a fixed idea of what things are worth, and it always makes me snicker when I point out that my jacket alone costs more than what they spend on food each month!

  12. I would love to see a graph estimate of cos growth over time, includubg recent decline.

  13. Re: Graph

    Not going to happen. Even the church has no data -- because their statistics are all false* and have been forever, they really have no idea how many Scientologists there were or there are.

    * It's one of the fatal flaws in Scientology's "Admin Tech". Because they punish "down statistics", eventually all their stats are always "up" -- and very false.

  14. I'm just saying an estimate. I know that it is not a simple problem, just looking up in an almanac.

  15. Yeah. Still, until ARIS started their surveys recently, there was no verifiable data at all.


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