We went into that creepy Scientology shop on Tottenham Court Road
We almost joined a cult after visiting their “life improvement centre”
Before we set off, we sat down at Speedy’s for a pre-emptive chat.
“Seriously they’re nuts. Space Gods. Tom Cruise. The whole shebang. They base their entire lifestyle on a poorly received Star Wars spin-off.”
“Yeah, let’s make this clean and sharp. If we get in too deep, we’re buggered”.
Fifteen minutes later, we were in the catchily named Dianetics & Scientology Life Improvement Centre on Tottenham Court Road. A tasteful mix of wood paneling, leather sofas and modern flourishes, including large plasma TVs set into the walls. It was all a bit too normal.
What struck us most was Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s bestseller, Dianetics – it was absolutely everywhere.
When we asked why the walls were covered by hundreds of copies of the same book, they just said “well I suppose we just like to keep the place nice and tidy”, which seems to imply the alternative was having the thousands of books simply strewn all over the floor.
They’d love that, wouldn’t they. The psychos.
The receptionist then sat us down to some propaganda about the life of L Ron Hubbard.
Not only was he a decorated cub scout, renowned science fiction author, daring explorer and dedicated philanthropist, but he also
rode a horse before he could walk, fought valiantly in World War Two as a pilot and sailor, and “probably” helped thousands of wounded soldiers regain their health.
That last one was odd, wasn’t it? You wouldn’t get the bible prefacing a line with “probably”.
“In the beginning God probably created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was most likely formless and empty. Darkness, I reckon, was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God may well have been hovering over the waters.”
After watching the videos, which seemed to involve L Ron Hubbard giving someone a public massage, our main problem was that we still didn’t know what Scientology was actually about. If anything, it just seemed like a glorified self-help guide. But then again, so’s the Bible.
Depressingly, we’d yet to experience anything too harmful. No brainwashing, no extortion, no ritual suicide.
So we felt it was time to explore the deep end, and perhaps risk getting ourselves killed, or eaten. We asked the receptionist if we could take the “personality test”.
They took us into a big room with a lot of desks. Each desk had a big clock on it, and on the wall was a big L Ron Hubbard quote. I can’t quite remember what the quote was, but it said something along the lines of “Scientology is really good”.
The test was a bit like a Buzzfeed quiz but longer, and you had to do it with a pen. Except, instead of finding out at the end which Disney princess I am, or which West Yorkshire market town I’d like best, I found out that I’m drastically under-performing in my social and personal life.
After we were given the results, we chatted to the receptionist. At one point in the conversation, Ben asked whether people were ever insulting about scientology to her and she dropped a bombshell. “Nope, not at all. It’s all the media, you see”, she said.
“For instance on the news they say, ‘there’s people killing each other on the streets’, but when I go outside everything’s fine! I don’t see people killing each-other! It’s all the media”.
She recommended we pay a visit to their church in Blackfriars. So we did.
It was like a Christian church, but instead of Jesus on the cross it had an ersatz L. Ron Hubbard standing next to one.
During a tour of the church’s library, we asked the guide how she’d got into the religion. It all started when she was a hippie in the sixties. We didn’t listen to the rest of the story.
She gave us a better idea of what the religion is about – essentially we’re all soulful beings, like Jamiroquai. We suffer because of past lives that our souls have encountered. Scientology helps liberate us from these past souls.
We asked her the same question from before about people insulting the religion, and she straight out nuked us. “Yes. People come in all the time, just to take the mickey. They hear all sorts of stuff on the media, you know about space Gods and Tom Cruise and the like…I mean, I don’t believe all that rubbish.”
We were shocked. “No, of course I don’t. I mean, all religions have weird stuff going on. The bread is the body of Christ? And then, knowing that, they go ahead and eat it? What about that?” She was right. That is gross.
So the more we thought about it the more we thought that “yes, they’re weird. But that’s because religion is weird.” Scientology, evidently, is about more than the sum of its beliefs.
The people, perversely, seem incredibly happy. So if you’re gonna criticise them just know that the very reason they’re so happy is because they make it their business to ignore people like you.
And, just like that creepy 60 year-old man loudly masturbating in the UCLU toilets, if you leave them alone, they’ll hopefully do the same to you.