Yesterday I watched the controversial episode of the BBC documentary series Panorama called “Scientology & Me.” While I knew this to an extent, it was pretty shocking to visibly see the lengths the Scientologists will go when someone is being critical of their “religion.” (I use religion in quotes because it is not recognized as a religion in the UK — it is still basically defined as a cult there.) When you start investing the Scientologists, they start investigating you. It’s quite scary.
The whole thing got me thinking. Why is Lafayette Ron Hubbard the only science fiction author with his own invented religion? He’s not even that great of an author — mostly pulp novels. There are arguably much better sci-fi authors that could have religions of varying quality, entertainment value, and seriousness. On the one hand, I am rather glad that the current regard for H.P. Lovecraft mythos is all tongue-in-cheek. On the other, why can’t we have a competing religion to Scientology by Jules Verne, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick (now THAT would be out there), Umberto Eco, Lewis Carroll, H.G. Wells, William Gibson, or even Cory Doctrow? Heck, I’d even settle for a Gene Roddenberry religion–it would undoubtedly end up more open and accepting than Scientology. “Three more hours of service until I get my Spock ears!”