I Tried To Join The Church Of Scientology And This Is What Happened
Scientology, like women, is one of those things I’ve always been aware of but never really understood.
I vaguely recalled Louis Theroux making a film on it (Scientology, not women) but generally speaking, I’ve always thought it was a strange cult that believe that aliens control us all. I also never really got why they view Tom Cruise as a messiah-like figure – sure, he’s good in Top Gun and at least one of the Mission Impossible films (I can never remember which), but using him as a poster boy for your religion is a bit much. Anyway, for most people, that’ll pretty much be the extent of what you know about Scientology.
I was eager to find out if this opinion was in any way accurate, so with my curiosity and investigative powers in tow, I decided to immerse myself in the world of Scientology and find out if it was for me. Here’s what happened…
The church I went to is located a short walk from St. Pauls Cathedral near the bank of the River Thames, and it was decorated much more extravagantly than I expected, with grand staircases, white marble floors, and ostentatious banners marked with the Church’s various symbols plastered all over the walls.
One thing that struck me was the amount of books that were there. I suppose all religions are rooted in the teachings and beliefs of at least one book, but this was more like a library than a church. There were Scientology books and DVDs being sold at every opportunity – and if I hadn’t known any better – I’d have thought I’d just stumbled into a gift shop of a museum. I suppose they’ve got to make money somehow – which was actually a theme I noticed throughout my time there.
There were also quite a few kids knocking about, studying and reading, which surprised me. I quite liked seeing it though, they reminded me of young Jedis training in the ways of The Force. Brainwashed, you will be.
Also, nearly everyone working there was really attractive, which caught me off guard a bit.
An attractive girl selling a polished turd could convince me to buy it – so she’d have no problem in getting me to sign up for a religion. This was a worrying prospect, so I went and found the one average looking bloke in there and asked him to show me around.
I was taken into a huge room with a number of TVs located in various parts of it. The man suggested I watch a series of short videos on the various aspects of the religion and its founder to understand it a little better.
I was first subjected to a barrage of information about L. Ron Hubbard – the man who first started developing Scientology in the 1950s. They were waxing lyrical about his life, and how wise and intelligent he was, all the while conveniently glossing over the fact he’s one of the most published fantasy writers in the HISTORY OF MANKIND.
Seriously, this guy has written more about made up shit than anyone else in the world – which isn’t exactly something you want ascribed to the founder of your religion – I’ll admit. Obviously, I didn’t mention this in front of the perfectly nice Scientologist man – who to be fair to him – did make me a bloody good cup of tea.
Then I was hit with another shit storm of information – this time about their beliefs.
Basically, the aim of Scientology is to create a utopian world where every person can reach their full potential and there’s no real bad in the world. The way to achieve this is by everyone reaching a spiritual state known as “clear” – where you are completely free as an individual.
This is done through a practice called “Dianetics” which helps you to erase all the bad memories from your past that interfere with your happiness and sanity, and prevent you from reaching the ‘clear’ state. Through answering questions in an auditing session (which is pretty much just one-on-one therapy session) you can slowly progress on this path towards enlightenment and be ‘clear’.
Not that bat-shit crazy, right? Well, again, what the videos and the nice man failed to mention, was any of the far-out shit that Scientologists believe in. There’s quite a bit of mental stuff, but there’s one thing in particular I think you’ll enjoy.
Individuals that become really badass in Scientology become known as ‘Operating Thetans’, and when you reach Level III (there are 15), they let you in on all the really weird shit.
At this stage you get taught about “Incident II”, an event 75 million years ago when Xenu, the dictator of the “Galactic Confederacy”, brought billions of his people to Earth in a spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs due to overpopulation on his own planet.
Part of these citizens’ souls (thetans) managed to survive to this day, and they negatively effect us all whilst existing within us.
This isn’t the kind of shit they tell you on your first day though – as I quickly realised – and it’s estimated that to reach Level III, it costs people anything up to $100,000 (roughly £60,000). Not daft these Scientologists, are they? Clearly, I didn’t have that kind of money on me, so the chances of me hearing about it were non-existent, but at least you got to hear some of it for free.
The Personality Test
I’m not going to lie though, even after watching all of the Scientology propaganda and knowing what I know about this Xenu chap, at the time, I was still feeling pretty taken in by the whole thing. They’re oddly persuasive and make arguments that are hard to disagree with. Become a better version of yourself. Great. Strive for a better world where nobody is held back by negative thoughts. Sign me up. Resisting the temptation to not get drawn in by it was proving remarkably difficult.
Once I’d finished the vid, the pleasant chap (who might just be the
only nicest Scientologist I’ve ever met) asked me if I fancied doing a personality test to see if the cult religion really was for me.
Figuring that I’d come this far and was finally beginning to infiltrate the inner circles of Scientology, I followed him deeper down the rabbit hole – which actually just turned out to be a lovely, mahogany-rich office.
There he told me I had to answer 200 questions with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that would reveal the true nature of my personality, and if I was being held back by certain things.
The questions were so random, asking me if the idea of death seems abhorrent to me (I wouldn’t say ‘abhorrent’), or if I have a muscular twitch (not that I’m aware of), or if my voice monotonous (it is). It was all very intense, but I answered as honestly as possibly, and after half an hour, I’d managed to answer them all.
Now, I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty confident, outgoing person who lives life to the fullest and doesn’t dwell on the negatives, so I was interested to hear my results. As it turns out though – I’m nothing like that – and in actual fact, I’m a fucking psychopath.
The woman that I sat down with told me I was unstable, depressed, nervous, inhibited, irresponsible and withdrawn – which was obviously news to me. She said I had a number of issues preventing me from reaching my full potential and that I was a ‘dangerously self-destructive person.’
Honestly, the way she was going on about how mental and fucked up I was, you’d have thought she was analysing Charles Bronson’s personality results.
If you don’t believe me, just look at the sheet below with my results on. In nearly every aspect I’m way below the ‘normal’ coloured area.
She was really delving into my past like nobody’s delved before, grilling me about past relationships (romantic and with my parents) my failings in life, what’s holding me back, why I’m (apparently) miserable and depressed, and a vast array of other questions I was not prepared to answer at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday morning.
I thought it was ironic that a Scientologist was insinuating I was mental, but to be honest, at the time I was in such a state of bemusement that I was not far off begging her to remedy my personality defects.
This virtual stranger had clearly seen enough, finding out everything she needed to know about me. She even commented that my results were some of the most damning she’d seen in a while, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. She came to the conclusion that I needed to be fast-tracked onto a self-help course that the church offer to build my confidence. The church offer a shed load of self-improvement courses (that go hand in hand with dianetics and auditing sessions) that you have to complete in order to help you understand yourself better to become ‘clear’ (not that again), and this was the first one she thought I should study for.
I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights…
My New Life On The Path To Becoming A Scientologist
The course she suggested is pretty intense and lasts about four days part time at a cost of £34. It was never going to be free, was it? Thinking about it now, it’s obvious they set you up on a tame course at first that probably can lead to small life improvements. But that’s how they rope you in – you see the positives, you get a taste for it, and suddenly you’re signing up for the £200 courses that get a little bit more far-fetched with each one you do. Then, before you know it, you’re a fully-fledged Scientologist, which I might actually be at this rate.
In the heat of the moment though, I was panicking, and couldn’t think properly, so I paid the woman the £34 and put my name down for the first seminar next week. (I just can’t say no to people, it’s a problem that’s plagued me for years.)
I honestly couldn’t tell you what happens next, but given that I’ve paid the money and I’ll be picking up the books in a few days, I feel obliged to go along and see the course out.
This was what I was worried about when I first went along, and sure enough, my fears have been realised and it’s got me by the balls. I can’t fucking lie to people either, so they’ve even got my actual mobile number and address too. Yep, I’m screwed.
Who knows, I may go to the class, find it fairly useful, and leave it at that – but who we are kidding – I’ll go, make a few friends, love it, and sign up for ‘effective time management’ or ‘successfully raising children’ classes.
I guess it’s farewell for now then as I embark on my path to enlightenment. I never thought I’d grow up to be in a cult, but now that I am, I feel a strange sense of purpose and belonging…
Images via GIPHY/Getty/L. Ron Hubbard/iStock