Due to scheduling constraints, there will be no Daily Digest tonight. We’ll resume with a double-header edition distilling down what will undoubtedly be a flood of reports of the goings-on under the Thetadome tomorrow night. I have a very early start tomorrow morning (the pilots are not happy about a pre-dawn pre-flight check of the jet) but will be back on the air in plenty of time to catch up.
Just in case you haven’t seen it, there is a big article in the Tampa Bay Times by Joe Childs and Tom Tobin which was published after Daily Digest press time last night about what’s inside the Super Power building. The article is not particularly critical of the cult, but it does contain an interesting statement:
Scientology says it’s the most important project in its 59-year history. And indications are it will represent another important first for the church in Clearwater.
Recruiting new followers will be emphasized, it appears from a Tampa Bay Times review of church publications, internal memoranda and construction plans submitted to the city.
This is extremely unexpected — the idea that Flag will now be used as a central tool for recruitment of new members, whereas previously it has been exclusively for higher-level services to existing members. It is too early at this point to tell whether this is a distillation of a low-level PR statement or whether this is a significant change in strategy. It would be extremely important to try to understand any attempt by the cult to do something different (and perhaps actually effective for once) in terms of member recruitment, which it has seemed relatively uninterested in doing in the last decade or two.
In looking through the text of the article, it is possible that this conclusion is based entirely on the contents of the first floor. But Tony’s initial article in the Village Voice with the renderings of the first floor exhibits don’t lead me to the same conclusion; it seems that they’re more about presenting tangible “evidence” for the success of Scientology to existing members who may be at risk for doubting the achievements of their “Church.”
My guess is that the cult is not going to make a major change in attempting to recruit new members, though they may say they are. But this is only a hunch at this point. If they really are embarking on a serious, credible program to attract “fresh meat,” it is important to recognize this as early as possible to try and figure out maximally effective ways to thwart that, and then to undertake coordinated action to nip it in the bud.
So my challenge to readers is to watch for any data points to try and look for those that confirm this as a major change in cult thinking versus as a “throwaway line” in a PR package. Talk is cheap, and I think that we must look carefully for evidence of behavioral change rather than just verbiage, before we believe this. But it is important that we not miss evidence of such a change if it is in fact taking place. Skepticism is a viable way to approach looking at this statement, but cynicism (unwillingness to believe that they are making such a change even if evidence suggests they’re going to try) is unwise here.
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