This article is a excellent account of the recruitment procedure of the Church of Scientology – and a sign of things of come. When he enters the New York Church of Scientology, Collier is armed with an anecdote, and his close reading of Lawrence Wright’s Book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief”.
He describes the strangest feature of Scientology’s recruitment procedure. Scientologists avoid any discussion of their beliefs – imagine Christian missionaries who refuse to discuss the Crucifixion or reveal the doctrine of redemption until you have paid a tithe to their Church.
Instead, Scientologists rely on a ‘sales script’ that exploits pseudo-science (the e-meter and a bogus ‘personality test’). What he experiences is exactly the same practised procedure that Scientology has employed since it began, and has been documented over the years by journalists and academics.In outline, the Scientology recruiter’s plan is to:
- Uncover the outsider’s insecurities (in conversation and through the ‘results’ of the personality text – which always indicates serious deficits).
- Undermine the visitor’s confidence by claiming that these worries represent a serious personality flaw which is holding them back
- Strongly promote the idea that one or more basic Scientology courses can correct these perceived character flaws.
- Take money for the ‘course’
There is (subtitled) footage of Scientology recruiters in action in this French documentary (in part one, beginning at 08:33). One of the few changes that have made to this procedure is that the salesman/missionary now carries a portable credit card reader.
Collier draws heavily from Lawrence Wright’s Book “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief” – which is the basis for a major documentary film by HBO by the Academy Award-winning documentary film-maker Alex Gibney, to be released on 2015.
Thanks to the public interest that is likely to be generated by this documentary film, Collier’s piece is likely to be only the first of many which examine all aspects of Scientology. He captures the curiously dated atmosphere of Scientology and is to be commended for having done his research, and for getting his facts right.