The Church of Scientology has a new recruitment tactic. Instead of asking strangers on the street if they’d like to take a “free personality test,” the “religious group” (or something else?) has launched a digital TV network.
Scientology TV launched yesterday evening at 8 PM EST on streaming platforms Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, DirecTV, and a dedicated app. And it’s not explicitly a recruitment tactic. In his introductory speech on the network, Scientology head David Miscavige (or as Tom Cruise calls him, the “leader of leaders”) made sure to note that the programming’s aim isn’t “to convince you or to convert you,” but rather “to show you” what Scientology is all about. Here’s the trailer for the network:
Other shows on the TV network include Voices for Humanity, Destination Scientology, and L. Ron Hubbard: In His Own Voice. The last will feature sound bites from Hubbard himself across a three-part series. At the time of this writing, Scientology TV’s live feed featured a community of Scientologists talking about ending gang violence between the Bloods and the Crypts.
To many, the network’s launch looks like a PR move in reaction to the spate of popular negative media surrounding the church. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, an HBO documentary lauded by critics and based on the Lawrence Wright book exposing the church’s horrific practices, received both a Peabody Award and a Best Documentary award from the Writers Guild of America. It currently lives on Netflix.
Lean Remini, former Kings of Queens actor and ex-Scientologist, also has a popular documentary series, Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath. It debuted on A&E in 2016 and continues to feature former Scientologists who have since left the group and speak about abusive experiences they endured as members.
Scientology has long taken an aggressive approach to defectors who speak out against the “religious group.” For instance, if you Google “What network is Leah Remini’s show on,” the first result is an ad for a Scientology website “dispelling common misconceptions about Scientology” and calling Remini a “face of hate and discrimination.” Perhaps a TV network that attempts to humanize Scientology and features regular Jane-type members marks a new approach to combat growing public…skepticism of the group.
There’s no word yet on whether Scientologist celebrities, like Tom Cruise, John Travolta, and Elizabeth Moss, will appear on the network.