In the third and final novel of the Maddaddam trilogy, Zeb opens up to Toby about his family life, including his father, a “preacher” who created a theology based on oil. The Rev had created and set up more than a dozen donation sites, that collected money from his faithful followers, that was sent straight to his personal bank accounts. The whole idea about creating a theology in order to make money, reminded me about articles that I have read on the Church of Scientology.
Scientology is a set of religious beliefs, created by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, for a self-help book he was writing in 1950 called Dianetics. The religion itself is described as the study of self-knowledge. Scientologist believe that people are immortal aliens, known as thetans, who are trapped in human bodies on Earth, and who have no recollection of their true “nature”. Each thetan, is said to have lived multiple past lives on Earth as well as other planets. They believe that by going through multiple teachings, that are referred to as an auditing, that they will them be able to shed themselves of their human form in order to regain their true form. Through taking these classes offered by the church, they believe that they will not only reclaim their true thetan form, but they will become closer to the Supreme Being regain their abilities that have been suffocated by their human form, such as controlling life, energy as well as matter.
The Church of Scientology has an estimated annual revenue of $500 million, coming from its corporations, and its private donations. The Church charges close to $500/hour for auditing sessions scheduled at Scientology centers. These sessions do not have a fixed duration, the process runs until the member has completed their journey, no matter how long it takes, therefore, members end up spending a tone of money. Their global membership is reported to cost on average, 8 – 15 million. In 2016, the U.S Supreme Court, ruled in favour of revoking the Church of Scientology’s tax-exempt status that was given to them in 1993. They are able to work as an organization in the U.S, but they are now prohibited to work as a non-profit religious organization. An investigation done on the church, concluded that they are a “criminal operation with a sole purpose of making money”.
Reports made from past members of the religion state that the Church has held members against their will in “rehabilitation camps”, as well as having its members search for incriminating data of past members that are used to then keep them silent through the use of blackmailing. These methods are used to punish members as well as past members who have violated the “rules” of the church, or to silence previous members so that the truth is not revealed to the public about what their organization is really doing behind closed doors. In 1979, members of the Church were held responsible for the LARGEST theft of U.S government documents, which leads us to believe that they are not really a religion, they are a cult, scamming its members, and using their status to exploit peoples weakness and fallibility.
If you’d like to know more, there’s a documentary that was aired on BBC in 2010, by John Sweeney called “The Secrets of Scientology” (its a bit long but really interesting!)