Much has been discussed here about the similarities between JWs and Scientology. When I read this article on Salon.com, it brought home to me the methodology that all cults, including JWs, use to indoctrinate believers.
It’s only after years of training, after they have told the church every private fact about themselves, that Scientologists hear about Xenu and humankind’s alien origins. Unsurprisingly, even after many years, Haggis and others still found the creation myth hard to stomach. Haggis even wondered if it was an “insanity test.”
Curiously, none of those interviewed in the film exited Scientology at that junction. As Haggis put it, “you have already paid for the next [session],” your social life centered around the church, and, besides, you weren’t required to believe it. “If you were told [about Xenu the galactic overlord] on day one,” wonders the journalist Tony Ortega, “how many people would join?” He describes the Scientologist strategy as a “bait and switch.” But Scientology has perfected something more nuanced–a technique that separates the process of investing in belief from that of belief itself: By the time Scientologists are told about the creation myth, they have many persuasive emotional reasons to believe in it, or rather, to try to believe it.
Scientology’s persuasiveness is not in the logic of its beliefs but in its ability to control behavior. People believe in Xenu and thetans because it becomes exceedingly difficult not to in light of all they have committed to the church.