Saturday, 9 October 2010


For Don't Panic

Poor old L. Ron Hubbard, he must be turning in his grave at the news that Druidry has just been classed as a religion in the UK. Even the cape-wearing river spirit-botherers can get the tax breaks for Xenu’s sake! What are you Scientologists doing wrong? Look no further, consult my Olly the Octopus guide; the Holy Grail for getting your cult a religious classification.

Identify a Convincing Supreme Being

It’s an open secret that, after parting with their life savings, Scientologists earn the right to learn that evil space lord Xenu flew all the souls on earth here on DC8 aeroplanes. This simply won’t do. Try being less specific. A certain amount of immateriality and illusiveness works well. An omni-present all knowing, but somehow intangible divine presence hidden behind the conventional fabric of space-time is much harder to pick holes in.

Imbue your Scriptures with Authenticity

This is admittedly much easier to do under the auspices of a Roman dictatorship, or with an army of angry Arabic warriors to ‘persuade’ people. It doesn’t help if the author of your scripture is renowned for his fantastical works of fiction and on record as saying, "I'd like to start a religion. That's where the money is".

A miracle or two would probably help; a resurrection or a plague of locusts can work wonders. Failing that, time is probably your best ally. Maybe in a thousand years no one will remember how much of a charlatan L. Ron was considered in his day.

Isolate and Incubate your Followers

Unfettered access to knowledge is the enemy of the would-be modern-day Moses. Most successful religions gently encourage a voluntary disconnect from reason with incentives like other worlds with fountains of honeyed ambrosia and limitless virgins to spoil. This tends to be more effective than blackmail and steeling teenagers from loving families at persuading governments of the purity of your intentions.

Generate a Sustainable Income from your Followers

Remember throughout all your acts of boundless kindness and altruism that you’re running a business here. The Vatican didn’t get where it is today by giving away all its wealth to those in need now did it? However, the trick to getting those tax breaks is making it look like you’re a charity, so a voluntary system of collections based on peer pressure and guilt is preferable to a compulsory pay-per insight structure.

Choose your Scapegoats Wisely

Better to rail against the exponents of different metaphysical conventions than psychologists. It’s much more difficult to argue with people who actually know what they are talking about. Try picking on someone with assertions as speculative as your own, the Jews are a popular choice.

Oh, and Avoid Appointing People who are Clearly Unhinged as Missionaries of your Faith

Getting Tom Cruise to preach Scientology is a bit like getting Michael Stipe (or me!) to sell shampoo.