Posted by: NotAScientist | August 2, 2008

Way of the Master: Operating Thetans?

It always struck me how easily the boys over at Way of the Master ridicule other religious faiths. In most cases I won’t really argue with them. Other religions and their corresponding stories can be quite silly. But so is Christianity.

In a special edition of their radio show a few months back, broadcasting from England, Todd Friel (our intrepid, evangelical and former stand-up comedian host) braved London’s pub district and ended up witnessing to some young Brits who had been dancing with a group of Hare Krishnas. You could hear the distaste dripping from every word as Todd told these kids how wrong they were to dance with the Krishnas when they didn’t even know that they were committing idolatry!

But that’s not what I want to dwell on. Because after covering how his religion is the only correct one, Todd fell into the tried and true WOTM witnessing method. The Brits, it isn’t necessary to say, were non-hostile but unimpressed.

So I started to think. Todd has always maintained that Christianity (or at least his brand of it) is unique among all the world religions. Yet there was something strangely familiar about his witnessing. And then it hit me.

Could Todd Friel be a Scientologist!?!?

No, I’m not serious. But it does make a certain amount of sense, doesn’t it? If you’re still scratching your head then let me break it down for you.

What I’m hinting at is the similarity between the evangelizing methods of the Way of the Master and the Church of Scientology.

THE PITCH:

Ray, Todd or occasionally  their poster-boy Kirk Cameron will approach people in public places and begin with one of two gambits. Either they will ask if you believe in god (not much of a gambit in America, where approximately 80% of the population says they are believers, the majority of those being some sort of Christian) or they will ask if you think you’re a good person. In either case the probability is that you will respond positively to their opening questions, and they’ve got you on their hook.

The Church of Scientology is slightly less public with their pitch, but they operate under the same general guideline. They ask a question that has the most probability of getting a positive answer. In their case, it’s “Would you like to take a personality test?” And of course, who wouldn’t? Everyone thinks they have a great personality (or at least close to the same percentage who think they’re a good person), so who wouldn’t want to take a test that proved it? But just like the WOTM guys, they’ve caught you!

THE TEST:

Here’s where the real similarities start becoming clear.

By now we’re all relatively familiar with the witnessing method that Ray Comfort created. He or Todd or Kirk runs you through the Decalogue, asking if you’ve ever broken them. Never mind the fact that you may not believe in god, he tells you, what’s important is that if god exists then these are his commandments, aren’t they?

So you go through them. And if you’ve ever lied, then you’re a liar. And if you’ve ever stolen anything, you’re a thief. Maybe you’re not a murderer or an adulterer. But don’t worry! They have that covered as well. Because of course the bible says if you’ve ever had hateful thoughts about someone or looked at a person with lust, you’re a murderer and an adulterer. Suddenly you’re not so happy about stopping to talk with Todd, are you?

The key difference in this step is that the Church of Scientology has the decency to tell you that you’re taking a test. Unfortunately a Scientologist stress test makes no more logical sense than the WOTM method.

They take you in a room with their own version of Ray or Todd, whom they call an auditor, and they hook you up to an e-meter. It supposedly detects responses in your body and mind to questions given by the auditor. It should be noted that these e-meters don’t do anything. But that’s beside the point. The needle on the readout wobbles back and forth, and your friend across the table records its “readings” as if they actually meant something. I should point out that no one who has had an e-meter reading has ever been told that they don’t need the services of the Church of Scientology. Sound familiar?

THE SOLUTION:

So now you’ve failed the test. Not only have you wasted a good ten minutes speaking with Todd “Freakishly Tall” Friel, but you’ve found out that you’re a dirty, filthy sinner. But there’s hope!

In actuality EVERYONE is a dirty, filthy sinner. Yes, even Todd, Kirk and Ray. And while we all certainly deserve to go to hell and burn for eternity, there is a way to avoid that. To gain forgiveness we must give ourselves to Jesus, admit that we’re horrible and unworthy, praise god’s name and become evangelical and spread his word.

Oh, and why not purchase some of the Way of the Master training videos to learn how? (Order now, only $99.95!)

Let’s go back to the Scientologist testing room. Surprisingly you’ve failed their exam as well. But it’s not because you’re a sinner. The reason you failed their test isn’t even your fault!

It turns out you failed because you’re full of “engrams”. These are, essentially, bad memories that cause everything bad in your life, from stress and anxiety to psychological disorders and medical problems. (Never mind that these engrams are caused by the souls of dead space aliens…they’re not going to tell you that right off the bat!) But there’s hope!

The only way to get rid of these evil vibes and become “clear” is by more auditing. With more training, you can become an “operating thetan”, which means you start to have the ability to affect the world with your thoughts. Only a few years of auditing sessions and you can become a superhero. (Just like Tom Cruise!)

Unlike the first test, further sessions begin to cost money. Not to worry. If you can’t afford the price it costs to become clear, you can work it off by becoming an employee in one of Scientology’s many centers.

THE BREAKDOWN:

Looking at just the surface, no one would ever guess that the Way of the Master brand of Christianity and the Church of Scientology have anything in common. I like to think I’ve disabused you of that opinion.

Both approach you with seemingly positive motives.

Both administer a test that you not only fail, but which is designed specifically so that no one can pass it.

Both tell you the way to salvation, which conveniently can only be found through their organization.

They are creating a problem where no problem exists and then claiming that only they can solve it. This has been the method of every religion that seeks converts, and I doubt it will change any time soon.

Does this mean that Christianity is wrong? No. Does this mean that Scientology is wrong? No. All it means is that the methods of the salesmen, no matter what their product, is exactly the same. And that’s the point. How can you choose between two ideologies that have the same message (“Our way or the highway!”) and employ the same tactics?

(Hint: Choose neither.)

So the next time you laugh because Scientology is so ridiculous, remember one thing: The difference between the WOTM and the CoS is just the difference between how much they take from your bank account.

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Responses

  1. All major religions have a certain exclusivity about them. Muslims will quickly tell you that only Islam offers the one path to heaven. Christianity, scientology, Judaism, Hinuism, Islam, etc. believe that every other religion is wrong when it comes to how we receive eternal life, escape hell, what have you. How one witnesses does not make any religion more wrong or right than another. What makes Christianity unique is the shed blood of Jesus Christ, the only hope we have, regardless of religious affiliation.

  2. My intention was not to use this as a reason or proof against the truth of Christianity or Scientology. I merely wanted to present what I viewed as a humorous similarity in evangelizing methods for these two particular religions.

  3. As far as the materials from Way of the Master, I have talked with Todd Friel and got materials from them for free. Plus pretty much all you can learn from them is free off their website anyway. Materials are for convenience.

  4. True Justin, but the first ‘stress test’ is also free.

    If all you needed was the free material, why does Ray, for example, keep coming out with more books? To sell, mind you, not to give away.

  5. Well, until recently, selling materials was the only way to support the ministry. Besides, people want his resources. Oh well, it was a funny comparison, but even you must realize where it comes short.

  6. http://anyonecare.wordpress.com/2008/08/02/great-links-great-christian-literature/

  7. This is pretty hilarious stuff, thanks for the laughs. 🙂

  8. Wow, you’re blog attracts way more religious people than mine. Then again, you seem to have the ability to write accessibly, compared to my high-falutin’ logical business over at (shameless plug) humbuggery.net

    In any case, love the stuff, keep it up.

    /joe

  9. Religious preaching=sales pitch; I like the analogy. Some religions charge more for their product than others, and at least CoS tells you it’s a test of some kind.

    This brings me to another point, though. Typically, in sales, you want to convince the person that he or she needs your product. By presenting it in a way that explains why this product is the only way to solve your problems, they have already set you up for the sales line. By using very basic (normal, even) criterion as the cause of the need, the fallacy has already been used long before the sales line is used. Thus, the listener, unless critically analyzing the sales pitch, will completely miss it.

    You can also compare this to the Ponzi scheme which require you to get more investors in the promise of high returns.. In this case, you’re marketing their religion for them because it’s your way to paradise. Once the resource of investors is completely tapped out, the scheme collapses, but by that time, the original starter of the scheme is so filthy rich, it doesn’t matter.


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