Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Last week Scientologists were at the Porter Square T stop, doing a disturbingly good business. Every time I passed by, there were new people sitting at the tables, taking the “stress test” or talking earnestly with the recruiters. I’d like to believe most were practical jokers with too much time on their hands, willing to waste Scientologists’ time for the sake of satisfying their curiosity and funny bones, but the amount of paperwork being filled out indicates that’s not true. In fact, these were suckers.

Oh, sorry. Seekers.

My anger at the Scientologists, shown in a couple of brief exchanges between errands, surprised me. It first came up when I saw some guy signing a receipt, probably for his starter copy of “Dianetics,” and urged him, “Please don’t do this.” Immediately three of the recruiters started coming at me from around the table, making soothing sounds and asking me if I was feeling any stress.

They asked me if I’d considered Scientology and I scoffed at joining a made-up, superexpensive religion that kept people in line with lawyers and secret police. (I have this crazy belief that the best religions don’t cost a lot of money or terrorize people who want to quit.)

This didn’t seem to matter to the recruiters. When I passed by the next time, I again was asked if I had any stress. They wanted to give me their infamous stress test, in which you hold two metal rods, one in each hand, while they ask questions that invariably show you have stress and need to join Scientology. I asked a recruiter how many of the past 100 tests she’d administered revealed no need for people to join Scientology to become “clear.”

She said there’d been “two or three.”

I doubt it. Or I wouldn’t have used the word “invariably.”

At bottom, though, the test is ridiculous. Even were it to be real, not a rigged-up device designed to get people to join the religion — I guess that word should be in quotes — the fact is that people shouldn’t be free of stress. If you have no stress, you’re probably either a child, inanimate object or moron.

If you have money, though, Scientology will take you anyway.


jesse said...

In any religion there is a thin line between recruitment and evangelism. The latter term in recent years has taken on the negative and persistent characteristics of the former. But the problem is mainly this: if I'm a member of a religious group, and find this group to be significantly benevolent in my own life, where and when is it appropriate to express my enthusiasm for this part of my life? At work? At school? An orgy?

The best sceneario is probably to wait until someone expresses interest to you. Most religions are, in theory, about caring for others (especially the less fortunate). However, religion runs astray from this purpose when it seeks out "lost souls" on the street corner. If someone is genuinely interested in religion--and why would you want anyone but the genuine--they will seek you out.

Ron Newman said...

Next time, try handing out some leaflets that say

Learn the truth about Scientology

Scape7 said...

Jesse and Ron have the right ideas. I agree with Jesse that religions should be welcoming and not forceful, and Ron links to Operation Clambake, which is an excellent resource for learning the truth about Scientology: It's junk, and scary junk at that.

In fact, I'd have linked to Operation Clambake myself if I could only have, believe it or not, remembered the name.

Ron Newman said...

Operation Clambake is also located at


Anonymous said...

Hey Marc, please put on a mask and join Anonymous. The Scientologists are attacking kids in Boston now - not just content to subjugate their own members and siphon our tax dollars through front companies like "Applied Scholastics".

These are scary times, and we need anger and laughter in equal measure to get through. Come on out and bring friends! See the wiki at http://non.violentuprising.com to see what is planned in Boston coming up soon!