Scientology Super Bowl ad generating buzz

I occasionally get a package from the Church of Scientology and the glossy production and clever wordsmithing are always impressive.

The Church of Scientology Celebrity Centre in Los Angeles, Calif. is shown in this Associated Press photo.

Still, the contents always end up in my wastebasket. I don’t believe that Scientology is a legitimate religion. Call me a skeptic, but the evidence of intimidation and general creepiness is too overwhelming to ignore.

Lately, the evidence against Scientology has been piling up. In October, Vanity Fair detailed the disturbing influence wielded by Scientology leaders over the life of prized disciple Tom Cruise.

Last month, Lawrence Wright published his investigative book, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & the Prison of Belief,” a highly critical look the church’s practices and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard.

In response, Scientology went on the offensive with a multi-million-dollar promotional campaign designed to soften its image. Perhaps you saw the church’s ad during the Super Bowl.

“Some will doubt you,” the narrator says in the ad as images of ethnically diverse young people is shown. “Let them. Dare to think for yourself, to look for yourself, to make up your own mind.”

The ad, which aired in New York, Los Angeles and other major markets, urged “rebels” and “free thinkers” to consider joining the church.

The estimated cost of this year’s Super Bowl commercials was $3.7 million to $3.8 million for 30 seconds.

Jeff Sharlet, an assistant professor of English at Dartmouth College who has written about religion and the news media, told the New York Times the ads were an attempt to position the church as nonconformist and appealing.

“It’s what marginal religions are doing more than evangelizing,” Mr. Sharlet said. “They are trying to say ‘You can trust us.’ ”

Sorry, but I can’t. This group has always seemed more like a cult than a real religion to me.

What are your gut instinct thoughts about the Church of Scientology?

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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