We’ve all heard of it; we’ve all shaken our heads at the mere concept of it. According to the Church of Scientology, they have over 3.5 million members, but in reality it is closer to about 45,000 members. Either which way, that number seems too high when you understand the principles behind this religious movement. One has to wonder, how on earth can they even capture a small segment of the religious market? The answer is PR; they are public relations masterminds. Now this is not to say these tactics are ethical in any way, shape or form, but it is the backbone of their success since the start a little over a half a century ago.
L. Ron Hubbard Sr., the founder of Scientology, began as a science fiction writer and evolved into a religious leader after the success of his psychotherapy book, “Dianetics”. One might ask: how does a science fiction writer have any place starting a religion? Well, he really doesn’t.
When reading about the basic beliefs of Scientology, it even sounds like it came from a science fiction writer. Allow me to emphasize on the word fiction.
In most cases, the role of PR is to manage the spread of information between an organization and the public. In the case of Scientology, they take it to the next level; instead of managing the flow of information, they dictate it. Listed are a few of their tactics, and seriously, this is only a few. A novel could be written about the unethical PR tactics created to protect their pseudo-religion and all of the scandalous facets embodied within it.
Attack the Attacker
This method, which basically tries to turn the attention from the church to anyone trying to oppose them, was created by Hubbard himself. It outlines the “correct procedure” for attacking enemies of Scientology:
- Spot who is attacking us.
- Start investigating them promptly for felonies or worse using own professionals, not outside agencies.
- Double curve our reply by saying we welcome an investigation of them.
- Start feeding lurid, blood, sex, and crime- actual evidence on the attackers to the press.
With a full staff of lawyers always on hand, they will not hesitate to file a lawsuit against anyone who contests them. Hubbard claims: “The purpose of a lawsuit is to harass and discourage rather than to win….Don’t ever defend. Always attack.” The Church of Scientology is infamous for their participation in masses of lawsuits.
Another tactic of Scientology is to focus on acquiring prominent members; they have made celebrities a focus since the 1950s. Hubbard even integrated “project celebrity” to his agenda. Celebrities have been a vital force in Scientology since the beginning, gaining Scientology heavy publicity, other famous prospects and loads of money. Their long list of celebrity members acquire the privileges of the Scientology royalty treatment attained as a member with high status, as well as countless connections in Hollywood. Many celebrities, because of the money they’ve poured into their faith, have reached a high-level within the church. At the Operating Thetan 3 level, they learn of the “super secret” behind the origins and get a full understanding of the galactic overlord, Xenu. I guess at that point you’ve heard it all and nothing can seem too outlandish. How they or anyone can buy into these science fiction notions as a way of life is beyond me. Regardless, many of our favorite famous icons do. Who is your favorite celebrity Scientologist?
Sponsorships and Best Sellers
To also better their image, they employ PR powerhouse Hill and Knowlton to improve their fringe-group image. They have also been a main sponsor in Ted Turner’s Goodwill Games by joining forces with household names, Sony and Pepsi. They also encourage members to buy a cornucopia of Hubbard’s works and other Scientology related material. They insist on this to make it on the top sellers list and make them seem more appealing to the public.
The Church of Scientology is a group of many faces. To better their relationship with the public, they set up benevolent groups that offer services to help humanity. But as the old saying goes, a wolf in sheep’s wool and it is still a wolf. They are merely trying to sneak in and infiltrate all levels of society. The list of groups that has ties to Scientology is immense to say the least.
The Church of Scientology is an example of extreme public relations. They incorporate intense direct selling, powerful media moguls, unethical PR tactics, blackmail and lawsuits to keep their business going. If you are interested in learning about the fundamentals of public relations, The Church of Scientology conveniently holds online classes for free! However, chances are they will consider you a member if you enroll. The truth about Scientology is deeply hidden by its forceful tactics to hide the reality of Scientology. So I will end with this, if I become missing at any time in the near future, you know who took me.