Polling data and sociologists tell us that the category of “religious nones” is growing. Mainline denominations are bleeding members at unsustainable rates. Even the overall growth of evangelicalism has become stagnant, and the only reason that’s true is because it’s growing among Hispanics and African-Americans. However, one religion that seems to be growing and thriving is the weirdness that is Scientology.
To be clear, I’m not convinced that Scientology should be classified a religion and not a cult. I’ve always thought of it as a pyramid scheme with eternal rewards in place of a pink Cadillac. How it could be growing is beyond me. I mean, I know that I immediately lock the doors, pull the shades, and turn off the lights whenever I see a neighbor approaching with an Amway flipchart. However, since movie stars seem especially susceptible to Scientology, the religious cult has taken on an aura of glamour for some people. Never underestimate the selling ability of a pretty face, I guess.
Those pretty, vacuous faces have helped Scientology open two new, state-of-the-art churches. In the parlance of Scientology, the religious cult has opened two “Orgs.” If you’re curious where the cultish sounding “Org” comes from, Scientology’s website explains,
To meet increasing worldwide demand for Scientology services and community initiatives, the Church of Scientology launched a program to transform all Scientology Churches into what Founder L. Ron Hubbard termed “Ideal Organizations.” An Ideal Org is configured to provide the full services of the Scientology religion to its parishioners, while also serving the community with social betterment and outreach programs.
To date, dozens of Ideal Orgs have opened their doors in major cities across four continents, and new ones are dedicated each month.
A little over a week ago, Scientology tweeted: ” In a history-making weekend, not one but TWO new Churches of Scientology opened in Silicon Valley and Salt Lake City!”
Feb. 17/18, 2018: In a history-making weekend, not one but TWO new Churches of Scientology opened in Silicon Valley and Salt Lake City! View the event stories and galleries here, Salt Lake City: https://t.co/7I608nClhw and here, Silicon Valley: https://t.co/VLYYLzBuQp … pic.twitter.com/W4eWpgAwjn
— Scientology (@Scientology) March 1, 2018
According to Scientology.org, Salt Lake City is no stranger to Scientology. Members of the organization have engaged in robust social betterment efforts there like creating legislation to protect family rights and also to stop children from being forcibly sedated with psychotropic drugs. A detox program crafted by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is purported to have to saved the lives of approximately 100 Utah police officers who were exposed to severe toxicity generated from illegal “meth labs.” The site also states that the Scientology Volunteer Ministers in Salt Lake contributed approximately 30,000 hours for disaster response in 2017.
In addition to the Salt Lake City Church, the Church of Scientology also opened another new “Org”/Church the very next day on February 18th, in the storied ‘Silicon Valley,’ located in Mountain View California. Scientology leader David Miscavige was on hand to dedicate the new Church as well. According to Scientology.org, 2,000 plus parishioners, guests and dignitaries attended and it is the first time in Scientology history that two Churches were inaugurated within such a short span of time.
World Religion News added, “This seems a bit extraordinary when compared to the growth rates of many other mainstream religions over the last several years.”
That fact does seem “a bit extraordinary,” if not downright troubling. In a world increasingly filled with hurting, scared people longing for transcendence, Scientology is stepping into the void. It’s a shame that evangelicals aren’t doing a better job of, you know, evangelizing the lost.