Is Scientology Self-Destructing?

"Scientology leader David Miscavige has been trumpeting his church's 'milestone year,' but the mysterious religion is alienating scores of its most faithful followers with what they call a real estate scam. With anger mounting and defectors fleeing, this may be more than a fleeting crisis; it may be a symptom of an institution in decline."—Alex Klein at Buzzfeed: "Is Scientology Self-Destructing?" [Related: "Dread Cthulhu Leads His Cult to Milestone Year," here at Boing Boing.]


  1. “For Schippers, losing so much for so little was a disturbing wake-up call. “It was around then I realized, I was in a fucking cult.” He pauses, can’t quite find the words. “It’s… a mindfuck. Just a total mindfuck.”

    DM is scientology’s PTS.

    Everyone be sure to watch Dangerous Persuasions on Investigation Discovery (IDSC)  Wednesday at 10:00pm EDT for more on the cult.

  2. The fact that Scientology could pay off a major US magazine, thereby trashing it’s reputation, shows that Scientology is far, *far* off from self-destructing. As long as they have members, they have a revenue stream, and so long as they have revenue, they’ll find a way to survive, unfortunately.

    1.  They’re not that powerful if the Atlantic has to pull the article after it’s up for less than a day because of the numerous derogatory and sarcastic comments. The Internet Age hasn’t been kind to Scientology generally, and what amounts to an ad buy-in with a venerable yet struggling publication shows that they don’t seem to have adjusted, however much money they’ve got at the moment.

    2. But the revenue can’t keep going too long.  The article says that a a defector estimated the total worldwide population of scientologists at 40k, and a different one saying that the number in the states was 25k in the US in 2008, which was a decline of more than half from 2001.  

      It also says that to do the fundraising for these buildings, every member there needed to take out pretty much as many loans as they possibly could. 

      So their numbers are dropping precipitously, and the people actually in the org are bled pretty much dry and they’re still buying and building new centres. It’s not going to be too long before they’re cash flow negative. At that point, even if the article is right in saying that they’ve got a billion dollars in the bank, that can only give them a few more years to keep going, at their present rate.

    1. I’ve been fighting Scientology as an advocate of free and open speech since early 1995. The last five years, since Anonymous decided to go after Scientology, have been the most fun. It’s been (in Scieno terms) “win after win after win after win after win…”

  3. They’ve had more than a few of these giant waves of defections due to ham-fisted exploitation of the members over the years. I suppose that sooner or later one of them will prove to be fatal but you can’t count them out just because they’ve finished with a new crop of suckers.

    The more certain test will be when David Miscavige leaves this veil of tears to join L. Ron. Totalitarian organisations don’ t handle power transitions well. Of course, it’s not even certain that Miscavige is actually at the top of the heap. There’s plenty that would say it’s actually a couple of legal firms that make all their money suing people and raking in the Hubbard copyright $$.

  4. Stranger in a Strange Land may have been the first book about Scientology and Heinlein seemed to think that there would be a steady supply of suckers to keep it going.

    1. I, umm, think you have that backwards. SiaSL led to Church of All Worlds, not Scientology, though there are rumors of a bet between Heinlein and Hubbard over who could create a religion from scratch first. 

    2. *BUZZ!*  Wrong, thank you for playing.  Admiral Bob had no intention of creating his own religion when he wrote that, it just so happened that someone decided to create the Church of All Worlds.  And having had experiences with members of the Church of All Worlds (including one of the founders), I can say without bias that they are FAR less toxic than $cientology.

      1. Heinlein must have known about Scientology when Stranger was written and I think he commented on it and religion generally with comments such as this:

        “you have to charge ’em, Jubal. The marks won’t pay serious attention to anything that’s free.”

    3. Any credence to the idea that LRH ripped off his material from the then relatively obscure LDS? 

      1. What on earth? The only connection between Scientology and the Latter Day Saints I can imagine is Romney’s love of Battlefield Earth. What other LDS could you mean?

  5. I mentioned this to my thetan at a recent clambake.  With an otherworldly calm, he said, “I wouldn’t give Xenu’s left enturbulation inhibitor for the rundown words on Buzzfeed.  While the points are anchored soundly, and not dynamic by even a third, the wrongness of Klein’s covert hostility is obnostic to even the most basic degraded being.  If he doesn’t button it, he’ll be audited for sure.  Do I make myself clear?”

    I went straight to the desserts.

  6. “…may be a symptom of an institution in decline. … Is Scientology Self-Destructing?”

    Thank Xenu!

  7. Obviously there’s a lot wrong with Scientology. People don’t tend to like “wrong”. But for various socioeconomic reasons “wrong” can persist virtually unchallenged for a while. However once enough people are pissed of, things like the English church, enlightenment, Protestantism, rebellions etc. happen. They might not permanently right all wrongs, or get rid of the source root altogether. But it’s fair to say we’re no longer burning people on stakes for allegedly worshiping Satan, so some things must’ve improved. In Scientologies case, this process is just compressed, it won’t take 500 years. Modern times, everything moves faster.

      1. Perhaps those whizkids at Yahoo! or Netscape will create such a beast.  Imagine… the same controls that are available on your home VCR, but modified to control Internet-distributed video, or i-Video as I call it.  One day, the richest among us could even have a “random access” capability, moving forward or backward to any point in the recording as though meters of tape weren’t being spun across electromagnetic sensor devices.  

        I know, I know; it all sounds like Science Fiction.

  8. FWIW:  Acts 5:

    34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;

    35 And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

    36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.

    37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

    38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:

    39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

Comments are closed.