Undercover in the Church of Scientology

There are some people, some people, who have the gall to suggest that Scientology is a cult. But then some people say that the Apollo Moon Landing was real! Snort! And some people say Paul McCartney didn’t die in 1966! Scoff! Thankfully, logic and free speech are easily curtailed. For instance, at an anti-Scientology protest in May, a 15-year-old boy made the mistake of using the ‘c’ word, and ended up being served a court summons by the City Of London Police. A decision which is in no way undermined by 2006 revelations that the police have accepted thousands of pounds worth of gifts from the Scientologists. Relax, guy!

So, in the spirit of open-mindedness and mutual respect, I recently visited one of the Church’s London bases to learn more about what ‘the world’s fastest growing religion’ could offer me. A pleasant young woman greeted me, introducing herself with a name that sounded like some kind of polymer used to coat the underside of starships in the future. Instead, let’s just call her Barbarella. Smiling benignly, Barbarella led me inside to undergo the innocuous-sounding ‘stress test’. I was hooked to the E-meter, a machine that wouldn’t look out of place in Thunderbirds, consisting as it does of two small metal cylinders, which the patient holds, attached by wires to what amounts to a tarted-up water gauge. It probably would have seemed impressive in the 50s, but it’s 2008, and I’d say there’s about as much chance of gaining inner knowledge with an E-meter, as there is of playing GTA4 on an Abacus. Nevertheless, putting my cynicism aside, I submitted to the process.