I have spent considerable time writing my observations of the Amway cult. In discovering the bad truths of Amway, the topic of Scientology seems to come up over and over again. Indeed, David Brear first brought the similarities of Scientology to Amway to my attention, and he is correct in writing that no totalitarian cult can be thoroughly understood in isolation. To this premise I am in total agreement. The more I have studied Scientology, the more convinced I am that Amway and Scientology are founded on the same bad premises as other malevolent totalitarian cults and regimes. David Brear, in his insightful blog , and his numerous contributions and comments elsewhere, has examined this same topic very thoroughly, therefore I will attempt to narrow the scope of this blog post to to the significant similarities Amway has to Scientology (or Scientology has to Amway). Of course there are significant differences that can be raised as well. One might say that Amway promotes itself as a ‘business’ while Scientology promotes itself as ‘religion’ and a ‘church’. As David Brear continuously reminds his readers, the only banner that totalitarian organizations never place over themselves is “totalitarian.” I agree with this premise. Banners such as ‘business’ or ‘religion’ is at the heart of all deceptions which are to follow. These banners are the foundation—the big lie—for which all subsequent deceptions hang.
The lines between religion and business blur and become meaningless terms as these cults apply these to themselves. Indeed they provide the ‘cover story’ and promote the utter confusion that permit these pernicious cults to proceed and exist. They are much similar to the banner of ‘government’ which gave cover to ‘fascist,‘ ‘nazi,’and ‘communist’—all totalitarian regimes. Even the term ‘capitalist’ might be included amongst these adjectives.
I find it significant that both Amway and Scientology are ‘challenged’ repeatedly about their banners. Amway, while claiming to be a ‘business’ organization, has been shown to be organized like the mafia in operation and organization. Adherents aspire to religiously follow orders from their ‘kingpins’ which head up their particular ‘family’, or ‘corporate structure.’ Scientology’s status as a religion has been significantly challenged as well. Oddly enough, Scientology has been accused as operating more as a business rather than a religion. During founder L.Ron Hubbard’s life many millions of dollars were funneled to him while he hid away from view. Aspirants in his cult are steered onto a path known as the ‘bridge to total freedom’ which is a pay as you progress up this bridge to total freedom--which eventually culminates with the exorcism of alien ‘body thetans’.
The Scientology journey into the cosmos begins with ‘auditing’ (a bastardized form of psychoanalysis) where the new adherent is asked to reveal the ‘ruin’ in their lives while holding in each hand ‘cans’ which are attached to an ‘e-meter’ which measure slight changes in skin resistance. Scientology ‘market’ these e-meters for several hundreds of dollars each and are considered ‘artifacts’ of the church. (I have discovered what I estimate as several hundreds of these artifacts for sale on ebay. Readers might remember that I pointed out how many of Amway’s ‘tools’ are for sale on ebay as well.)
The ‘business’ of Scientology incorporates the sale of countless books and media presentations. (All of founder L. Ron Hubbards extensive publications are considered sacred text.) In a sense, Scientology promotes itself as being in possession of myriad cosmological ‘secrets’ that it is willing to share with anyone for a significant price. (Those familiar with Amway probably know where I am going here.) Amway also markets all the secrets about their own ‘bridge’ to ‘financial freedom’ all in the form of countless ‘tools’—books, tapes, DVDs, and other ‘sacred’ media such as “Communicate” (wherein downline adherents have a ‘bat phone’ or ‘hotline’ from and to their upline cult leaders.) Just as in Scientology, all these ‘sacred artifacts’ are pushed ‘religiously’ on the Amway cult and significantly are deemed ‘self-help’ which will lead followers to higher levels on the Amway pathway to ‘financial freedom.’
Adherents of Amway and Scientology may spend many years of life following after and paying for the secrets to their respective ‘bridges’ before the unpalatable truth of their ‘negative’ experience becomes known. Many awaken from their ‘dream’ and discover that they have been victimized by a pernicious cult: that there is no ‘heaven on earth’, nor a future ‘heaven’ in outer space with L. Ron Hubbard.’ Adherents leave, sometimes bitter, sometimes ambivalent. Both cults significantly instill in their adherents that failure is solely the responsibility of the individual. Failure may be linked to not trying hard enough, not attending enough functions, not believing, not buying enough ‘tools’, for being ‘negative’, for being a ‘suppressive person’, for not ponying up outrageous sum of money for auditing or courses or function attendance.
Another significant similarity that both cults practice is best described using the Scientology term ‘disconnection’ whereby an adherent must ‘disconnect’—stop associating with all those persons in ones life who take a ‘critical’ viewpoint and fail to support the adherent’s in devotion to the cult. Amway teaches one to separate oneself from all ‘negative’ persons, to include close family members. Married couples are encouraged to join together and children are drawn along with their parents newly found endeavor, many times banished to their rooms while cult meeting are held in the parlor. Scientology deems all negative outsiders as SPs (Suppressive Persons) and enforces ‘disconnection’. Adherents of both cults are taught to avoid all negative ‘entheta’ media, especially all negative web pages and critical press. In the past, children of Sea org members were sent to concentration like camps where they were put to labor and indoctrinated into Scientology's strict dogma.
The Amway upline ‘masters’ invade downline ‘believers’ homes and may act in a highly dictatorial manner. They are known to go through an adherent’s pantry and deem non-Amway products as ‘negative’.
For core adherents of Scientology, especially those who have signed billion year contracts to join the ‘Sea Org’ have been isolated, and had cell phones , televisions, and computers confiscated. Scientology has been known to enforce ‘disconnection’ between married couples, children, family and friends. Even worse, persons deemed traitorous or suppressive may be sent to what I can only describe as a Scientology prison called ‘Rehabilitation Project Force’ (RPF) where they are required to perform gruelling work, wear rags, and eat ‘slop’ all as a form of ‘penitence’. (Indeed these abusive practices far exceed anything Amway adherents encounter, although many demands of time and finances are demanded of the ’core’ Amway aspirants which I consider financially abusive in, but not to the extremes that ‘core’ Scientologists are exposed).
Scientology incorporates the ‘totalist paradigm’ whereupon believers are shut off access to the outside world so that their perceptions of reality can be manipulated without inferences. The goal at this stage is to provoke expectable patterns of behavior that will appear to arise spontaneously, adding to the impression of Omniscience on the part of the controlling group. Those who are involved in the manipulation are guided by a sense of higher purpose that allows them—actually compels them—to set aside ordinary feelings of human decency in order to accomplish their great mission. Those who are being manipulated may come to endorse the goals and means of the cult—or simply abandon the will to resist. In either case, the adherent is robbed of the chance for independent action or self expression. “Their freedom,” as David Brear affirms, “ has become slavery.” In Amway, adherents laughably become ‘independent business owners’ but in reality are anything but ‘independent.” Another ‘great lie’! Folks in Scientology, Amwayology, and nearly all significant cults, are exposed to ‘thought reform’. Generally adherents are taught to believe that these manipulations do not exist. They are exposed to ‘Ideological Totalism’—the ever present human quest for the omnipotent guide, the great leader, or precise science: all of which Amway and Scientology provide universally. Their secrets are all for sale while adherents’ believe’ to their own detriment. These mysteries are offered in a manner which lead the follower to believe that their overall well being is being enhanced, even if they do not reach the promised ‘nirvana.’ I’ve heard Amway adherents claim that their experience as being the equivalent of a college education. I might note that in both cults, traditional education is downplayed while the cult dogma is preached.
The parallels between Scientology are too immense to cover in just one blog post. I hope to return to this topic again soon. There are way too many similarities to enumerate in this one sitting. My ‘entheta’ is to reach those who are being manipulated by these business and religious frauds!Listen to The Thinking Atheist Podcast "Scientology Unmasked"