Scientology – in the process of trying to restore itself? Or a contradictory church that few understand?

Lawrence Wright writes a tell-all book on the Church of Scientology. As a former member himself, he reveals the negative side to the New Religious Movement. Wright does not discredit the church in its original teachings, but the way it has exploded into something much harsher, sometimes violent and stricter than it needs to be. He calls it a “prison of belief” than has been glamorized because of its notable celebrity following. The issue with this glamorized church is just that, glamorized. Wright reveals it as something wonderful from the outside, but violent once on the inside. Regular non-celebrities will never be treated the way members such as Tom Cruise are treated. In his book, he is warning the public about the ‘true’ ways of the Church of Scientology and that people may be extremely taken advantage of when included into this group. According to the course, Wright has been “deprogrammed” from the religion and feels it is his duty to warn others of its shortcomings.

KH #341

5 thoughts on “Scientology – in the process of trying to restore itself? Or a contradictory church that few understand?

  1. Scientology has been in the news frequently, with much of that attention being attributed to Tom Cruise, for which he is remembered more for his couch jumping antics on Oprah. Lawrence Wright is just one of many people to have left the Church of Scientology, and go on record of warning people not to be deceived by it. Many people will agree with Lawrence Wright and his book, but how objective they are is up for question. The media plays a massive role in shaping a person’s views/beliefs, and in essence ingrains a certain bias in people. If there are multiple media outlets that pick up the same story, and all their views agree on one point with no counterargument, the viewer will undoubtedly pick up the same view. Like any New Religious Movement (NRM), Scientology has been vilified by the media and any news outlet is more than willing to feature a former member of a movement who has “escaped” or been “deprogrammed” that will speak out against it. There is a saying, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth”. Continuous guests opposed to a certain movement featured on media speaking always of the negative aspects will no doubt influence the public. And that is where the problem lies with “escaped” people who are featured on media outlets. There is always demand for ones that speak out unfavourably against a movement, but I have never seen any feature ones that have just left on their own free will and don’t condemn the movement, and say it wasn’t such a bad ordeal at all. An example of this comes from a CBC documentary our class watched regarding the Unification Church. The most intriguing moment came when the host interviewed two former members of the Unification Church who had “escaped”. They claim to have been taught how to efficiently commit suicide if the time ever came, however upon further research, the Unification Church never advocated nor taught that. I think this bias stems from the anti-cult movements of the 70s and 80s, especially after what happened in Jonestown. Of course there are NRMs that are indeed dangerous and the public does deserve to know, but in this day and age, it seems just about any and all NRMs are grouped together under the category of ‘Dangerous’. Deprogramming presents challenges in itself. As stated in the book ‘Understanding Cults and Religions’, deprogramming can lead to a loss of choice and instead creates dependency. In a sense, deprogrammed persons lose their ability to think for themselves and will rely on the guidance and advice of others, whom might be biased against the movement from the start. Lawrence Wright isn’t the first, nor will he be the last to leave the Church of Scientology, and he will not be the last to reveal the “true” workings behind the church, but it’s up to people to overcome their own biases and do a little research themselves into just how “true” some accounts of former members of movements are.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with the ideas behind the media. Maybe the move from traditional media to online/user based media will help make a change and give more sides to each story… This would benefit new aged religions and cults I would think.


  3. It is unfortunate that Scientology, one of the most controversial New Age Religious Movements, is constantly entering the media under a negative light. Wright’s description of Scientology as a “prison of belief” does not reflect the majority of New Age Religious Movements. It has been shown that previous members of most of these movements do not have negative experiences or emotions regarding their previous memberships. This is just another example of how “cults” have acquired their negative connotations.

  4. Is it possible for us to define what constitutes religion or provides contradictory to the church? In this article alone, the author Lawrence Wright seems to provide a contradiction himself. He once found scientology to be an acceptable way of life as he was a member, however, more recently provides opposition in stating that it is unacceptable and negative. Is it suitable for us to decide what constitutes a religion and try and convince people for or against one because of such individual opinions? With there being so many vast definitions of what a religion should be, why decide if something is satisfactory or not based on personal beliefs. Rodney Stark, historically attempted to create one universal definition in which all separate religious movements could apply. “A set of institutionalized rituals identified with a tradition and expressing and/or evoking sacral sentiments directed at a divine or trans-divine focus seen in the context of the human phenomenological environment and at least partially described by myths or by myths and doctrines.” If one was to follow this particular definition, it would be safe to conclude that scientology can be classified as a religion. It is also unnecessary to provide a bias against a movement considering itself religious and classify it as glamorized based on the acceptance of it by celebrities. Would we claim the same about Buddhism or Christianity if multiple famously known people were advocates for such? Religious movements have become more modernized as has society and therefore it is necessary to allow everyone and their beliefs to prosper with out interference.

  5. Scientology is such an interesting movement. It is true that it is definitely part glamorized. It appeared when Scientology became “famous”, notably thanks to Tom Cruise, that the celebrity was shedding good light on the church, and probably brought in more converts. Now though, as the years have gone on, and the weird and wacky tales have arisen from the church and it’s celebrity followers, it seems the glamorization has switched direction and has, had a truly ill effect on the reputation of the church – especially in the media.

    The objectivity of Lawrence Wright is seriously questionable, as he was a member of the church himself. The idea of a “tell-all” book, to me personally, reeks of something pissed off that needs to vent. I would be more interested in an objective look at Scientology, but as it seems today, that is nearly impossible as the church is pretty secluded and secretive about its comings and goings.

    – LValentina #341

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