Thesis statement: Scientology is a cult-like religion
that implements persuasive tactics in the form of coercion, rationalization,
and obscurity to accumulate a massive following. These
tactics are employed through the use of fear (threat of disconnection,
defamation, surveillance, etc.), economic strain (i.e. financial obligations to
the Church), science-based reasoning, and the promise of achieving spiritual
enlightenment (through unclear means). The persuasive strategies employed by
the Church have lasting negative effects on the lives of members in terms of
their social and familial relationships, independence, and overall wellbeing
(i.e. physical and mental health).
Einstein, M. (2011). The
evolution of religious branding. Social Compass,
58(3). 331-338. doi: 10.1177/0037768611412138
Einstein performed a qualitative
analysis of three video commercials released by
Church of Scientology. The researcher argues that the Church utilized problem/solution
advertising to increase traffic to their website and in
amplify the size of their congregation. Further, Einstein suggests that this
brands the religion as trendy and modern in an effort to appeal to
adults, aged 18 to 36. This article offers important insight as to how the
of Scientology curates an alluring brand identity to persuade individuals
join the religion.
Kent, S. A. (1999). The
globalization of Scientology: Influence, control, and opposition in
transnational markets. Religion, 29(2).
147-169. doi: 10.1006/reli.1998.0154
Kent determined that the Church of
Scientology implements marketing
to discredit the validity of psychiatry, as a practice, in addition to the
Criminal Police Organization. Kent asserts that this is done in order
further reinforce L. Ron Hubbard’s (founder of the church) values and ideas
a variety of cultures and countries. This study illuminates the techniques
to amass a widespread following of believers.
Locke, S. (2004). Charisma
and the iron cage: Rationalization, science, and scientology. Social Compass, 51(1). 111-131. doi: 10.1177/0037768604040794
Locke proposes that there is a sense of
ambiguity in regard to the public’s
of science. The researcher argues that this feeling of uncertainty is
manipulated by social groups as a tool of persuasion to validate and legitimize
ideologies. Locke discusses the ways in which Scientology relies on science to rationalize
the values and beliefs of the church. This source will help me to better
understand the specific science-based information and tools/equipment (e.g.
E-meters) used by the Church of Scientology.
Spaulding, C., &
Formentin, M. (2017). Building a religious brand: Exploring the foundations of
the Church of Scientology through public relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 29(1). 38-50. doi: 10.1080/1062726X.2017.1281137
Spaulding and Formentin performed a
historical case study in order to identify the ways in which L. Ron Hubbard used
public relations strategies to advance the church’s values and beliefs and
build a following. The researchers recognize celebrity endorsement and image
management as core practices utilized by Hubbard. This paper supports the
assertion that the Church aims to rationalize their beliefs through the use of credible
Spohrer, E. (2014). The
seeker-consumer: Scientology and the rhetoric of consumerism. Journal of Religion and Popular Culture,
26(1). 107-123. doi: 10.3138/jrpc.26.1.107
Spohrer performed a rhetorical analysis
of the Church of Scientology’s website from 2005 to 2010. She claims that the
website uses a rhetoric of consumerism to sell products and services (e.g.
courses, books, videos, etc.) in addition to the grander notion of capitalism
to those seeking religious counsel. In this regard, religion is commodified and
marketed to the target audience with the underlying goal of generating revenue,
rather than driving spiritual connection and enlightenment. This paper will aid
in explicating the way in which Scientology has evolved into a financially
Urban, H. (2008). Secrecy
and new religious movements: Concealment, surveillance, and privacy in a new
age of information. Religion Compass, 2(1).
66-83. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-8171.2007.00052.x
Urban identifies five forms of religious
secrecy present in New Religious Movements (since the late nineteenth century).
Urban argues that the notion of religious secrecy prompts questions about
respecting religious freedom, on the one hand, and protecting national security
on the other. The arguments presented in this journal will help demonstrate how
obscurity is used as a persuasive technique by the Church of Scientology.
Young, J. L., &
Griffith, E. E. H. (1992). A critical evaluation of coercive persuasion as used
in the assessment of cults. Behavioral
Sciences and the Law, 10(1). 89-101. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2370100109
Young and Griffith performed a critical
analysis of court cases and literature to argue that researchers should not
assess cults according to their use (or lack thereof) of coercive persuasion. Rather,
academics should focus on analyzing the capability of those who join a religious
group to form a decision. The authors highlight various cases where forceful
techniques were claimed to have been used in religious groups. The cases
analyzed for this article offer specific examples of the recruitment tactics
employed by new religions, such as Scientology.