Pop Culture
Feb 12, 2022, 02:13AM

Soaking in Scientology

Don’t ever let them play the freedom-of-religion-card because one way or another they’ll have you soaking in it.

Assists 17.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

How many ads will Scientology run during the Super Bowl? The price for a 30-second commercial is $6.5 million. I bet two. It bothers me that they’re buying familiarity, acceptance, and a mystery sandwich, hoping that you’ll take a bite. Despite all the negative books, documentaries, jokes, bad PR and information available about the cult, some people will buy in.

Speaking of commercials. Madge was a manicurist in Palmolive dishwashing soap commercials. The slogan was “It softens hands while you’re doing the dishes.The campaign ran from 1966 -’92. Madge acted with the attitude of someone who’d seen it all. She’d take one look at a woman's sorry hands, put one in a soaking bowl and while working on the other hand urged the customer to switch to Palmolive. The customer would resist Madge, who’d say, “You're soaking  in it!” The customer would pull her hand out of the soap dish and Madge would relax her with the benefits of the product and the commercials would end with a return of the customer to thank Madge.

After the recent death of director Peter Bogdanovich, I remembered how in 1981 he naively introduced a little dose of Scientology in his film, They All Laughed, and that reminded me of how else the general public have been unwittingly soaking in it. There was one scene that may have been the first time something from Scientology made an appearance in a movie. The actress Colleen Camp offered a “touch assist” to John Ritter. She tells him that it’ll relieve all his pressure, make him feel like a cloud in pants. I remember hearing this for the first time as I sat on the balcony of a theater in Los Angeles. I laughed and was shocked that she got away with actually doing a touch assist. It was a funny scene and the micro dose of Scientology was benign.

Back then the cult was still relatively under the radar. This was about 10 years before the expose articles in the Los Angeles Times and Time were published. There had been a scathing article in 1969 and a book The Scandal of Scientology in 1971 by Paulette Cooper but the powers in the cult did a good job at quashing those. You might say, aren’t all religions cults? No, you knucklehead. First, the religious status of Scientology is a joke. I say this as a former “ordained minister” of the cult. Scientology is an evil business that outgunned the IRS to get what they wanted.

That touch assist scene that I mentioned in They All Laughed? I asked Bogdanovich about it a few years ago. Was it an improvised scene or written into the script and did he know it was a Scientology tool? He said the actress Colleen Camp had given him a touch assist on set one day and that he liked it, so when she suggested having fun with it in the film he went along. Innocent enough, but to all those that had no idea of the Scientology connection, they got soaked.

A Scientologist will show you a room full of declarations from cities around the world for “L. Ron Hubbard Days” and glowing press to counter anything that you might think you know. They’ll tell you the horrors of psychiatry with vivisections, shock treatment, kids on Ritalin and worse and you’ll be inclined to agree with them on some issues about mental health. They’re insinuating their way into the culture in ways that you might not notice.

Scientology strives for acceptability. Members will show up at disaster sites as ministers and offer low-level Scientology treatments, as if they were a spiritual Red Cross. Give the Hubbard study technology a chance and you might form habits that are very practical. In the late-1990s the California State Dept. of Education temporarily gave approval for use of the five volumes of the Study Technology series as supplemental textbooks, meaning they could be purchased with taxpayer funds and used by schools throughout the state. These days all food has a label with ingredients, nutritional or supplement facts so that one can see what they might ingest. Even if there were such a label on Scientology, cult members wouldn’t be allowed to read what all went into their practice and how it was sourced. Don’t ever let them play the freedom-of-religion-card because one way or another they’ll have you soaking in it.


Register or Login to leave a comment