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Church of Happyology

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You'll be so happy, you'll puke rainbows!
The Church of Scientology has a reputation for being very protective of its public image, and of being extraordinarily sensitive to what it considers defamation. This has been demonstrated by the church breaking out the lawyers to suppress any potential source of mockery by lawsuit, along with hiring private investigators to dig up dirt on critics (and in a few cases, even framing critics for various crimes).

Naturally, this just makes them easier to mock.

Lampooning this religion directly, or even uttering its name and a word against it, may expose unwary parodists to severe civil penalties. Parodies therefore frequently use a "Church of Happyology", a stand-in religion that is well enough veiled to stave off lawsuits, but still transparent enough to allow clued-in people to identify the actual target.note 

You can tell a Happyology-style parody religion from another Parody Religion by the presence of celebrity characters trampolining on couches, an evil alien overlord, multiple tiers of membership that require large sums of money to advance through, the withholding of certain outlandish doctrines or beliefs from members until the reach a certain level, and devices that are sort of like lie detectors being used for counseling sessions. You might also see some of the hyper-specific Orwellian terminology like 'suppressive persons', if a creator thinks subtlety is overrated. Hapless Self-Help is usually both a part of the ideology and can be a sister trope; it's not always religious.

See also Cult, Religion of Evil, Path of Inspiration, Corrupt Church, and Scam Religion. Compare Church of Saint Genericus. Compare and contrast Scout-Out and other forms of Writing Around Trademarks.

For clarity, the name "Happyology" here refers specifically to the parodies, not to the real religion. Don't sinkhole here when talking about the Church of Scientology in real life.



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    Audio Plays 
  • The Eightfold Truth in Big Finish Doctor Who. The Eightfold Truth was an organisation set up by Clark Goodman in 1987. The organisation helped humans to feel better about their lives and gave them something to believe in. The Eightfold Truth was secretly controlled by the Eight Legs, who used the organisation to gather followers for when they traversed the astral plane to Earth in 2015.

    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: The Triune Understanding cult in The Avengers (Kurt Busiek) was clearly supposed to represent this. The Triune Understanding was depicted as a fast-growing movement claiming to maximize human potential, but gradually revealed to have connections with an invading alien race.
  • Countdown to Final Crisis: In the tie-in Lord Havok and the Extremists, Dreamslayer (a Captain Ersatz of Marvel Comics' Dread Dormammu) is the leader of the Church of Dreamology. Since she's an ex-nun, possessed by a demon, who does evil things for good reasons, it's not clear how good or evil the religion itself might be.
  • Earth 2: A Superman clone named Brutaal, who identified himself as the original Superman but now working for Darkseid, begins destroying all the shrines and places of worship on Earth (including one whose sign read "SCIENTOL" with the rest being cut off by the panel), with the villain declaring all religions "fiction".
  • E-Man: The comic had the Church of Technolography, led by Elrod Flummox, who talks almost entirely in bizarre psychological jargon. See for yourself.
  • Monsters Unleashed: Vol. 2 has a literal Church of Happyology (well, someone's been reading TV Tropes!). They have more in common with a lovecraftian cult, but nonetheless still slip into this trope:
    McTavish: When I founded, this was the purpose, and TODAY THAT PURPOSE WILL BE FULFILLED.
  • The 2006 volume of Mystery in Space had the Eternal Light Corporation, a profit-driven religion. As the Weird notes after throwing off their brainwashing, "any religion that insists you sign a non-disclosure agreement should be considered suspect".
  • The Simping Detective: The Church of Simpology, a cult that takes money from its members and brainwashes, whilst also encouraging Simping, Mega City One's clown trend.
  • Superman: The Elseworlds story Superman Last Family Of Krypton features a positive portrayal of a Church of Happyology - Raology, founded by Kal-El's mother Lara. The positivity of the portrayal is helped by the fact that Kryptonians have been worshiping Rao for thousands of years, so it isn't a newly-designed-by-one-man phenomenon like most other Churches of Happyology, but rather an immigrant bringing their old religion to their new home and then going for converts.
  • Ultimate Marvel: The Church of Shi'Ar Enlightenment, a religion with many rich and famous members. They assist the Ultimate X-Men. Turns out they, and their offshoot sect the Hellfire Club, actually believe that Jean Grey is the reincarnation of their alien Phoenix God. Gee, what are the odds?

    Comic Strips 
  • In The Far Side, a door-to-door proselytizing cow hands another cow a "Cowentology" pamphlet and suggests she ask herself "Am I a happy cow?"

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Beyond the Black Rainbow is centered around the Arboria Institute, which is basically Scientology on drugs. Lots and lots of drugs.
  • In Bless the Child we have The New Dawn. It pretends to be a self-help organization but is really a religion. At the same time, it pretends to be an honest religion but is really an evil scam with leader-worship and a secret hatred of Christianity. It also harasses defectors and has an army of lawyers. Their propaganda and centers also look just like Scientology's and claims people are actually possessed by countless demons (thetans in Scientology).
  • Mindhead from Bowfinger plays with the trope. On the surface, they are most definitely a parody of Scientology. However, when the audience sees that Kit Ramsey is a powder keg of paranoia and rage just waiting to explode, it turns out that Mindhead is a comparatively positive influence on his life that is just barely keeping him grounded. Sure, they're controlling his life and are implied to be milking him for money, but without their help Kit probably would have been locked away years ago.
  • In The Master, Lancaster Dodd is the charismatic leader of a California cult called "The Cause". Director Paul Thomas Anderson admitted to drawing on the early history of Scientology for the movie but also said The Cause is just the backdrop for a character study. Much of the doctrine of The Cause is clearly lifted from Scientology and Dodd resembles L. Ron Hubbard.
  • Rock Slyde has the Church of Bartology. Its leader, Bart, has taken over or infiltrated many businesses and office buildings, brainwashing his followers with mind-controlling cookies and fast food. His cult involves a lot of pyramid-themed imagery, fitness programs, and pilfering your bank account. It doesn't recruit people off the streets because the Average Joe can't afford his "religion".
  • Eventualism from Steven Soderbergh's Schizopolis: "Eventualism isn't designed to answer all questions. It's designed to question all answers. It's not about healing pain. It's about the pain of healing." Also, the book is written by T. Azimuth Schwitters and features a volcano on the cover. The creators are adamant that it's most certainly not a parody of any real religions.

  • Kim Newman's Anno Dracula short story "Castle In The Desert" has L. Keith Winton, the vampiric author of Plasmatics: The New Communion and founder of the Church of Immortology.
  • The Rosicrusophists and their screenwriter/prophet Dr. Frank Wood (or Ubiquitous Lothar Fitz-Chang, depending on your mood) of the comic neo-noir Get Blank, with their Misguided Enemies, their Ladder to Fulfillment, and their expensive and insane courses, are clearly not in any way based on a highly-litigious religious group.
  • In Greg Bear's Heads, one of the eponymous frozen heads is that of none other than K. D. Thierry, the founder of a creepy Space Opera religion called Logology. At the end of the novel, the protagonist ends up being infused with the frozen final thoughts of the heads, Thierry's being an acute knowledge of the hoax he created and abject terror in the face of the hell he believes awaits him.
  • On the anarchist planet of Bakunin in the Hostile Takeover (Swann) series, Communes based on an extreme cult of personality are called "hubbards" as an obvious reference.
  • In the novel Martian Rainbow by Robert L. Forward, Gen. Alexander Armstrong organizes a globe-girdling cult as a pyramid scheme, featuring himself as next messiah and Lord of the Church of the Unifier. He enforces his rule with a doomsday device made from an orbiting asteroid that will destroy the Earth unless he activates a safety switch with his handprint once every 24 hours. His identical twin brother Augustus saves the Earth by taking Alexander's place when he dies of a heart attack, cutting off their right hands with a band saw and getting his brother's hand surgically attached to his arm so he can operate the switch on the doomsday device. Then he rolls up the organization, buying out the leadership for cash and ordering them to disperse. Naturally, he can't admit to any of this and has to pretend to be his brother from then on.
  • Norman Spinrad's novel The Mind Game is about Transformationalism, another example of a not-so-thinly-veiled reference.
  • The short story Pango and the Slave Souls by German author Gisbert Haefs has the "SciOntoLogen". The mentor of the protagonist points out that this is just Gratuitous Latin / Gratuitous Greek for "the teaching about knowledge about being" and that they should rather be called "SciOntoLiars".
  • Clive Cussler's Plague Ship has Responsivists, the big bad organization of the novel. While they don't worship any aliens, they go to great lengths to preserve their public image, react violently to members leaving their movement, and have a lot of Hollywood celebrity endorsement.
  • Repairman Jack takes on one of these that is not even really thinly veiled, the "Dormentalist Church", in Crisscross, though the text makes a pointed reference to that other church as a distraction for the cyber ninja lawyers.
  • In Snow Crash, media and business magnate L. Bob Rife funds a church of this kind to literally take over the world. Rife's church is, at least on the surface, a Christian sect rather than a brand-new invention, but when the title of one of its tracts is "How America Was Saved From Communism: Elvis Shot JFK", it gives you an idea of just how far from reality they are. Oh, and they're a part of Rife's drug distribution network, to boot.
  • Spenser directly compared the California-based HELIOS to the Church, including bringing up Hubbard, in Angel Eyes.
  • The Philip K. Dick short story The Turning Wheel included a religion whose messiah was known as The Bard Elron Hu. At no point is he ever referred to as Elron Hu, Bard. This is a particularly early reference, as it was originally published just a few years after Dianetics.
  • Children of the Revolution from the short story collection Zombies vs. Unicorns features a cult/religion founded by a science fiction author that requires a lot of money to progress and is quite popular among rich famous people... but with zombies.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 30 Rock:
    • The show frequently makes reference to the "Church of Practicology", which was supposedly created by Stan Lee. Or, as its members believe, by "an alien king living inside Stan Lee". At one point, Tracy Jordan wants to switch religions and is shown being interviewed by the Church of Practicology, but his ramblings are so insane even they won't have him.
    • One obscure reference is when Jenna, talking about school reunions, says "I would have gone to my school reunion, but the boat I was educated on sank." In the same vein, she makes several references to owning a house in Clearwater, Florida. A certain religion is not just headquartered there but may have pretty much taken over the local government.
  • In Season 2 of The 4400, the "4400 Center" was a thinly veiled takeoff of Scientology. Members were charged more and more money, with the promise of gaining an ability. In Season 4, Jordan actually starts giving them out.
  • The Arrangement (2017) centers around the Institute of the Higher Mind. The titular arrangement is the marriage of IHM member and superstar movie actor Kyle West and unknown actress Megan Morrison.
  • An episode of Boy Meets World dealt with a suspicious person who was gathering teens into his cult of personality:
    Cult Leader: We're all equal here.
    Cory or Eric: Cool. What's this room?
    Cult Leader: That's the Celebrity Room. You can't go in there.
  • Season 2 of The Boys (2019) introduces the Church of the Collective, which seems to have traits in common, including a Dianetics-esque holy book, a hatred of therapists, charity work that is more interested in evangelism than helping people, a use of Frivolous Lawsuits against the IRS to secure their tax-exempt status, and processes designed to gain blackmail information from new recruits. The Deep ends up joining early on in the season, as a consequence of his Humiliation Conga in the previous season. The Church turns out to have close ties to Vought International, specifically helping them rehabilitate the images of wayward superheroes while collecting blackmail info on them to keep them in line.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: In Season 5, Jake signs himself up to NutriBoom, a clear Pyramid Schemenote , only in order to get a NutriBoomer to help him out. When he tries to cancel it, it turns out that not only it is impossible to leave without paying $10,000, Jake and Boyle have a thug sent to follow them around and intimidate them, and the inner circle of the company is a cult-of-personality slavishly devoted to their CEO. The CEO's wife has been missing for a while and members are required to sign a statement asserting that she is definitely alive and happy, which in no way resembles questions about the welfare and current whereabouts of Shelly Miscavige. In the show, the CEO's wife really is alive and happy - she's the one actually running the whole con from behind the scenes, at least until Jake and Charles stumble on the truth.
  • UK kids' show Byker Grove had the Psychandrics, a cult crossed with a pyramid scheme; the goal was to try to convert as many new members as they could. Main character Duncan (Declan Donnelly) was ensnared when he fell for one of the girls already in the cult, and almost got dragged away to their main compound in Mexico, never to return. He escaped (with the girl), but they returned a couple of years later, saying that they had ditched their old Leader and reformed (though they still behaved like cult members), and dragged the girl ended up going off with them anyway.
  • Stephen Colbert is more likely to just call out the real Scientology but did once start his very own Church of Happyology: The Faith-Based Faith of Stephen with a PH. Colbert has declared himself the religion's New Galactic Overlord. He wears a shiny cape.
  • Community has Reformed Neo-Buddhism. Among their other beliefs, someone outside the church questioning your rank is enough for your rank to fall, higher-ranked members can see the color blurple, have psychic powers, and can eat ghosts.
  • A Diagnosis: Murder episode has Earthonomy, a cult with ridiculous mafia-like connections. They kill a reporter who was investigating them and attempt to kill another reporter. One suspect is even a closeted gay actor obviously based on... a certain actor. It turns out the killer was a hitman hired by the head of Earthonomy, who was having a homosexual affair with the gay actor.
  • Dinosaurs has the book "Dino-Netics: The Science of Selling Books," by L. Mother Hubbard.
  • One episode of Everybody Loves Raymond started off with Robert joining something similar to a Scientology group, and acting like he was lobotomized. Then he invited Raymond, and it was accidentally revealed that the only reason that Robert was invited in the first place was to get to Ray. Robert, naturally, was crushed. However, both of them used the group to stage an intervention in order to get Marie and Debra back on speaking terms.
  • On Friends, when Rachel gets the phone numbers of some of the actors at Joey's soap opera party, he discourages her from calling one because he's in a cult.
    Joey: This guy is in a cult, okay? It'll cost you $5,000 to get to Level 3, and I don't feel any different.
  • The IT Crowd has Beth Gaga Shaggy's Spaceology, though this seems to be a parody of the book The Secret and also a parody on Cosmic Ordering with "space-star ordering". We have a Suspiciously Specific Denial: "Spaceology is a religion, not a cult."
  • In The L.A. Complex, the Church of Scienetics (a portmanteau of Scientology and Dianetics) gets involved at one point. There's a reference to "Nexu" (pronounced knee-zoo, which is similar to Xenu).
  • A very thinly-veiled Scientology-like religion appears in Law & Order, complete with extensive member files, celebrity members, and stalkers, who are accused of driving a woman to suicide. The episode "Bogeyman" played with this: In this case, while the group in question is paranoid and does keep dossiers on their critics, it turns out that they're not actually guilty of any crime, and that the murder under investigation was committed by one of their critics to set them up. The head of the religion is named Ellison Conway, which likely refers to Harlan Ellison (who claims to have been present when Hubbard conceived of Scientology) and Gerry Conway (who wrote the Scientology-inspired Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode listed below).
  • The Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Con-Text" (based on a real-life case) features a Scientology-esque self-help group called "GraceNote". Members of GraceNote fork over tons of cash to take classes and spout psychobabble like "transforming your context" and "optimizing your psychic drive". There's even a bit where one of the suspects tells the detectives they don't understand because they're "not clear". Interestingly, Scientology member Karen Black was one of the guest stars. (This was likely coincidental, as episode writer Gerry Conway said he was just thrilled for the Five Easy Pieces star to be in the episode.)
  • In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a mentally unstable girl was advised to stop taking psychiatric meds by a very famous rock star who rails against psychiatry on TV. She proceeds to falsely accuse two boys of rape and then mow down a bunch of people in the car. Then said rock star uses her as a soapbox to preach against psychiatric drugs.
  • Lie to Me: "Beyond Belief" features a self-help phenomenon/cult called Scientific RePatterning, or SPR. Among other less-than-friendly aspects of the organization, an initiate of SPR spies on Lightman's house and members break into Lightman's locked house while his daughter is home to deliver a pamphlet for their organization. Also, a fairly large part of the plot revolves around sexual misconduct with younger initiates.
  • The Church of Spirentology in Made in Canada. The cult claims their goal is to help their members become "transparent", but they seem more interested in making money.
  • The Mentalist: Some episodes involve a cult called Visualize that threatens legal trouble if any of their secrets get out. Its role gets more important as the story progresses; the leader might even know how to catch the Big Bad. Or know the Big Bad. Or be the Big Bad. Or have been an evil Obi-Wan to the Big Bad in the past... Your guess is as good as anyone else's at this point.
  • The depiction of "Selfosophy" in the Millennium episode "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense." Frank Black teams up with Chung to investigate an assassin obsessed over the movement's self-help tapes. Chung had actually been a friend of founder/fellow-hack-writer Juggernaut Onan Goopta who struck it rich through his dubious advice books. Aside from the necessary name change, writer Darin Morgan pulls no punches in his jabs at the church: from its first facility being a converted insane asylum in Seattle spreading to New York City and all throughout California to depicting its staff as lawsuit-happy Stepford smilers a hair's breadth away from snapping who fawn over converted celebrities including Bobby Wingood .
  • An episode of Monk featured an otherwise standard cult whose members would disseminate their leader's literature on the street while wearing distinctive uniforms. Monk's friends are worried that the constantly-depressed Monk will be susceptible to the cult, and they're right (though he gets over it).
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus had an early (if broad) reference in the "Crackpot Religions Ltd." sketch. (Scientology was run from England in the 1960s.)
  • Reasonablism in Parks and Recreation. The founder started by writing a book to help people organize their offices, called "Organize It". Then he had another interesting thought. Maybe there was a 28-foot tall lizard with a volcano for a mouth, who controlled the universe.
    Chris: Why does the cult call themselves the Reasonablists?
    Leslie: Well they figure if people criticize them it will sound like they're attacking something very reasonable.
    Ben: That's weirdly brilliant.
  • In Peep Show, Jeremy and Super Hans briefly join a cult at the end of Series 5. The mythology revolves around "negative orgones" that cause human unhappiness. The cult takes personality tests and forbids thinking.
  • Rumpole of the Bailey: In "Rumpole's Return" the defendant believes he has fallen afoul of a powerful religious group, based in Florida, which has ordered him to be framed for a crime. The church all live in a large compound to which outsiders are forbidden and members are locked in, and joining it requires signing a legal contract giving them all their possessions and money. Scattered around the compound are large paintings of "The Master" who is apparently the only way to paradise.
  • Runaways (2017) (based on the Marvel Comics series of the same name) features The Church of Gibborim, founded by main character Karolina's grandfather (David Ellerh, whose surname may be a nod to L. Ron Hubbard) and currently headed up by her mother Leslie. A Zigzagged example in that the alien who inspired the religion is very real and is Karolina's biological father, and most of the members are seemingly nice people who genuinely believe they're putting their faith into action for the good of the less fortunate; but the Church is nevertheless shown to be a cult whose leaders seek out the wealthy and famous as members for their influence, while abusing their power to entrap,murder and consume the impoverished and homeless teenagers their charity takes in. It's later shown that the Church has a habit of "reconditioning" members, and a facility dedicated to such is even called "The Crater" (likely a reference to the trope non-namer's infamous The Hole facility). One such denizen ends up being Leslie, in what is absolutely not a plot based on the speculation of the current fate of Shelly Miscavige.
  • Saturday Night Live did a spoof advertisement for the Church of Neurotology, based on a real promotional video released by Scientology, in a season 40 episode hosted by Michael Keaton.
    "A gorgeous religion, old and true, started in 1982."
  • Schitt's Creek: In Season 6, Alexis convinces Stevie, Ronnie, Jocelyn and Twyla to take a stair-stepper exercise class called Elevation that turns out to be a thinly disguised pyramid scheme and cult that is training its members to elevate to a gateway and rendezvous with a UFO. Twyla knew it was a cult the whole time but was just trying to support Alexis's career.
  • In Season 4 of Ugly Betty, Daniel Meade joins "The Community of the Phoenix", which recruits high-profile followers and has several similar parallels to Scientology. After allowing the Church to make decisions in his personal and professional life, he's saved by Betty just as he reaches Level 7.
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had the Church of Cosmetology, which in one episode was just the cult one of Kimmy's bunkermates joined, but in the What If? episode had the connections much clearer, like how it tries to attract actors or how its leader is married to someone who is never seen but is "definitely alive".
  • Wild Palms prominently features a thinly-disguised Hubbard figure, accompanied by thinly-disguised Sea Org members in naval uniforms, and "Synthiotics", at the center of its plot.


  • In the I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue Mockumentary In Search of Mornington Crescent, Barry Cryer suggests that Mornington Crescent is connected to a cult based around cooking and cleaning. Domestic Scientology, founded by Hubbard's mother to get him to help around the house.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Wizards of the Coast decided to cut out the middle man and make (a sect of) Scientology an evil conspiracy in d20 Modern led by a psychic alien.
  • The climactic adventure in the Call of Cthulhu sourcebook "Delta Green" is ... unsubtle.
  • The Assassins expansion to Illuminati: New World Order includes a card for the "Church of Violentology".
  • Mage: The Awakening has "Panography", a church full of Banishers (mages whose Awakenings went very wrong and who view other mages as evil sorcerers) dedicated to hunting down the "alien entities" that possess certain people (that is, mages). It's essentially a straight name switch - their slightly unbalanced movie star member "John Maverick" even looks like Tom Cruise. The fact that the abbreviation for the specific group that contains the Banishers is M.A.D. (Militant Auditing Division), only adds to the hilarity. Though the real Scientology seems to exist in this universe as well, being mentioned in Hunter: The Vigil: Compacts and Conspiracies.
  • From Magic: The Gathering there's the Orzhov Syndicate in the Ravnica plane. It poses itself as a church, but it's really a fantasy-version Mafia. From the same plane, the Selesnya Conclave as well; though much better intentioned, they are still fundamentally a cult, that deals with dissenters via quietmen and actually brainwash the populace, unlike the Orzhov.
  • Inverted in the Shadowrun game's Universal Brotherhood, a cultish movement that did not warn its members against evil alien entities that could manipulate or possess them, because that's precisely who was running the cult.
  • Dark Heresy: The adventure Rejoice For You Are True features a particular cult of the God-Emperor called "The Joyous Choir" whose central dogma is that the God-Emperor wants his subjects to be happy, and they can be happy by finding their true place in His plan. People are even judged on how close they are to their place in the Emperor's will by use of an electronic scanning device, and based on the results of that scan they receive coaching from the cult's priests. Many young planetary nobles have joined, and have indeed enjoyed greater prosperity for themselves. Of course, a rational-minded outsider will point out that by forming various cooperative and trade agreements between nobles who are members, of course they will find their fortunes benefit. The daughter of a particular nobleman, a friend of the Inquisitor the players are working for, goes missing after joining the cult, and the party gets sent in to investigate. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with The Usual Adversaries. Instead, it's a front for a secular criminal syndicate operation that manufactures a Fantastic Drug from psyker brains. The Choir's hokey scanning devices are actually designed to detect people with latent Psychic Powers.

    Video Games 
  • Baldur's Gate III: The House of Grief is a variant. It distributes self-help pamphlets, holds several tiers of membership that cost more and more money in exchange for 'complementary' gifts like soothing lotions, and holds pseudo-theraputic sessions. However, all that is a means to fleece outsiders to support the real cult of Shar, which is a legitimate (if evil) religion.
  • The Chzo Mythos series has Optimology, a religious organization that serves as a front for cultists who worship a pain elemental.
  • The Church of Unitology in Dead Space. According to the developers, Unitology is not specifically based on Scientology, but rather religious cults in general, but there are still plenty of things that should sound familiar: it enlists wealthy and high-ranking members of society, and one's standing in the Church is directly proportional to how much money and power they give to the Church. They're extremely secretive about their methods and are often described as cultish. Prequel comics feature the Church (several times referred to as a "cult") as a major plot point. They are directly responsible for unleashing the alien threat featured in the game by transporting a mysterious "marker" they believe is directly related to their beliefs to a human colony, then the mining ship where the game takes place, and are hinted to have been aware of its effects all along.
    • According to the background information you can collect throughout the game (including a log you get by beating it), Unitology is the only major religion to survive the expansion of humanity beyond Earth, becoming Humanity's One True Faith in the process. This is partly the result of the Church's massive movement to undermine and infiltrate the Earth Government after their leader was assassinated. They now have enough pull to have anti-Unitology books officially banned on Earth and her colonies. Furthermore, it turns out the cult was right in a lot of their tenets, though it's kind of hard to have your tenets be "wrong" when they're basically painting a shiny coat on the instruction manual for the Eldritch Abominations that your founder played a key part in discovering and translating. Of course, a lot of people would consider an "afterlife" of becoming a mutilated corpse controlled by alien/genetically-engineered parasites that are connected to a Hive Mind that exists only to kill and absorb all other living creatures to be worse than mere nonexistence.
    • And as it turns out in side-story materials, the so-called 'founder' of Unitology, Michael Altman, had absolutely zero interest in starting a religion (he was actually an agnostic). His image and work on the Marker were hijacked by the Church's true founders in the government and was ultimately killed by them in order to turn him into a martyr.
  • One of the monuments spouting INKT propaganda in de Blob is the Church of Inktology.
  • In the fourth Destroy All Humans! game, the Lunarian cult parodies this, run by S. Scott Calvin.
  • The Order from Deus Ex: Invisible War.
  • The "Hubologists" from Fallout 2, a cult created by a pre-war Con Man by the name of Dick Hubbell. The game actually went so far as to have the Hubologist "celebrity spokespeople" "Juan Cruz" and "Vikki Goldman" tell you that their religion was not, in fact, connected or based in any way, shape, or form upon any group in the real world. After attempting to take over San Francisco they all die in the end in a failed attempt to explore space, if not by the Player Character's own hand. They make a comeback in Fallout 4 under the leadership of a Dara Hubbell who claims to be Dick's direct descendant, and you can wipe them out again if you tamper with their "spaceship".
  • The particularly crass MMORPG Forum Warz gives us a two-for-one deal with the Church of Saiyantology - and that's just the sixth or seventh of all the bizarre subcultures they've declared fair game to mock.
  • The Epsilon Program in the Grand Theft Auto series. In the words of their leader Cris Formage, they're not a cult but "a fellowship of like-minded adults who tithe money in exchange for salvation and merit badges", and their success may be partially attributed to their leader's charismatic, James Earl Jones-esque voice. Their headquarters is located in the Cayman Islands (a notorious tax shelter), and their holy text, the Epsilon Tract, has never even been written.
    • They were first introduced in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas on Lazlow's radio talk show, where Formage is interviewed alongside another self-help huckster, Darius Fontaine.
    • Grand Theft Auto IV features Brandon Roberts, an Epsilonist and egotistical actor who is interviewed on Public Liberty Radio in a parody of Tom Cruise's incoherent interviews from the mid-'00s. While he never mentions the Epsilon Program by name, he does toss out a "Kifflom", their go-to greeting. Random hobos and soapboxers will also occasionally throw out references to their beliefs indicating that they are members.
    • Grand Theft Auto V has an entire sidequest in which Michael joins the Epsilon Program, allowing a deeper insight into the cult than ever before. They convert you from an "antithesis" to a "thesis" through illicit favors, inane brainwashing rituals, and hefty donations (starting at $500 and escalating to $50,000). Conversely, people who are looked down upon are referred to as "Objectionable Persons". One person Michael meets during this sidequest, Marnie Allen, was previously seen in IV as a drug-addled streetwalker and credits the Epsilon Program with saving her life, though it's implied that she's just traded one addiction for another. If Franklin or Trevor visits their website and tries to join, they will both be immediately rejected with a message of "Access Denied! Your IP has been logged as that of an Unsaveable!", causing them both to respond with dialogue mocking the cult.
    • The real kicker, however, comes in Grand Theft Auto Online, where we get the ultimate look at just how much of a Crapsack World the GTA universe really is. The first time you get killed, you find out that Cris Formage really does have magical powers, which he uses to resurrect you (which explains how respawns and Passive Mode work) while gloating about both his sexual conquests and how all the naysayers were wrong. In other words, in the GTA universe, the one true faith is an exploitative weirdo cult.
  • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, there's a book in the Phatt Library called "Dynanetics", by L. Ron Gilbert (Ron Gilbert being the creator of the series). Guybrush's comment: "Who does this guy think he is, anyway?"
  • Operation Abyss New Tokyo Legacy has the Tojo Peace Foundation (TPF) and its student club version, the Peace Research Club. They use celeberties to recruit, and offer assessments and counseling that actually just serves to lure people in.
  • The Apocalypse Cult Team Flare in Pok√©mon X and Y. They have to pay large sums of money to join the group, describe themselves as scientists despite bearing no resemblance to the scientist class, are heard trying to memorize mantras like "There are no real absolutes", and seem completely convinced that the group is the only future and everyone else is doomed. The members are described as being cult-like early on - one NPC even says that a friend of a friend turned joined the group and went out for lunch with him and wouldn't stop talking about it being the future (which is something that happens often in real life). They also speak in very childish manners, often whining about their losses or blaming the loss on bad luck. Their main aspirations are invading all the big companies and historic buildings, and blackmailing people into selling them to them. Also, their battle sprites have them looking like they're Brainwashed and Crazy.
  • As part of the '80s satire of the Syndicate in Red Alert 3: Paradox, the Church is implied to be a part of the Syndicate's hierarchy, and its Navy is manned by members of the Sea Org.
  • Seeing as how it's a shameless ripoff of GTA (and proud of it), Saints Row 2 features an even more blatant parody of Scientology: the Church of Philosotology, run by an "R. Lon Hibbard", whose beliefs are almost carbon copies of various Scientology tenets. They also run the Forgive and Forget stations, which let you lose any unwanted heat from police or gangs, for a price (in true Scientology tradition).
  • Prismatologist Hugh Bliss from the episodic adventure game Sam and Max: Season 1 peddles a book called "Emetics", pictured above. Then it turns out Bliss is actually a sentient bacteria colony that feeds on endorphins, and is plotting to turn everyone on Earth into blissed-out drones so he'll have an unlimited food supply. Therefore, in order to "save" the world, Max has to personally punch everyone in the face.
  • In Sam & Max Hit the Road Lee-Harvey, the aide of a country-western singer, reads a book called "Dialenics" by Elrod Hubbel, which he says is changing his life. Since he's in the entertainment industry, it makes sense.
  • In The Secret World, the Morninglight are a New Age-inflected self help cult that preaches happiness through cultivating one's inner potential and reaching "the next level of existence". There exist numerous direct parodies of various facets of Scientology, from the Cult of Personality around the founder Philip Marquard to the free "personality test" that's obviously rigged to tell anyone who takes it that he or she belongs in the Morninglight. Oh, and Loki is one of the leaders. And let's not even get into where the name came from. In Tokyo, you explore the wreckage of the Fear Nothing Foundation, a "social club" that turns out to be a front for the Morninglight, while the South Africa levels see you infiltrate their Cult Colony. Given that the game's world is that of a Cosmic Horror Story, you'd expect nothing good of them, and you'd be damn right. They're pawns of the Dreamers who are directly responsible for the Tokyo bombing, having originally been created by Lilith as part of a scheme to control the Dreamers through a Scam Religion that was actually devoted to her only for the true believer Marquard, lured by the Dreamers' promises of power, to betray Lilith, take control of the organization, and devote it to unadulterated worship of evil alien gods.
  • Ultima VII: Practically every single thing about the Fellowship mirrors Scientology in some form or other. Batlin is a spitting image of Hubbard, the Fellowship have practices similar to Fair Game and Disconnection, and the Avatar is even given a Personality Test early on, which, as you can see here, is obviously rigged against them.
  • Warcraft III:
    Kel'Thuzad: I always wanted to start my own religion... So I did!
    • Several other Scourge units (the more intelligible ones, at least) do the same.
  • The Church of the New Dawn in Watch_Dogs 2 is a cult that demands exorbitant amounts of money from its followers, kidnaps members who doubt their teachings (including their celebrity spokesperson) and keeps them in a reeducation camp, and bases its teachings around fake ancient Sumerian tablets. Naturally, since Dedsec is a parody of Anonymous, you're basically playing through a more violent version of Project Chanology.
  • Yakuza 0 has the Order of Munan Chohept Onast, a cult loosely based on Aum Shinrikyo and potentially the Moonies that cons and brainwashes its members.

  • In Insecticomics, A priest of Unicron starts his own religious show, "The Hour of Devour", which presents worshipping the Chaos Bringer as this. Fallen finds out and is pissed because he actually has some respect for his job as Unicron's herald, and sees the priest's show as a mockery of service to the forces of chaos. Eventually, he mellows out and lets the priest go on as he pleases.
  • Jack devotes an arc to this. The name of the arc is a giveaway.
  • Last Res0rt:
    • The Star Org / Endless take it from a different angle, running with a starfaring naval branch that's curiously powerful for something that's just supposed to be part of a church. At least two of the players (White Noise and Xanatos) are ex-Star Org soldiers; White was left for dead after he was caught hacking into a space station's life support (supposedly on orders) and has since become a "heretic" and renounced his faith, while Xanatos is implied to have mutinied. Xanatos still talks in some of the Star Org's slang though, regularly calling the fans "cogs" among other things. They also consider psychiatry a "black art".
    • Xanatos eventually confides in Addy that he had never left the Org, and his "mutineer's ear" and the associated story behind it was a plot to try and win White's confidence in order to assassinate him.
  • In Penny and Aggie, the crazed Cloudcuckoolander Xena is a devotee of this religion. Although the comic avoids mentioning the church by name, she's been known to slam the field of psychology (including parroting Tom Cruise's denial of chemical imbalances), make reference to engrams and souls imprisoned in volcanoes, and note that her name is similar to that of a certain galactic dictator central to the religion's foundational myth. She's even been known to moan "Mr. Hubbard" in her sleep.
  • Subnormality, amazingly, hits this one out of the park in only three words.

    Web Original 
  • Although the Church of the Immortal Robot Reagan is more or less an outright parody of the aforementioned sect, its creators claim that it's just a "more honest" version since it's a cult that's really a moneymaking scam that openly admits it's a moneymaking scam.
  • One of the fan songs on the Dr. Horrible DVD mentions them by name. "That was a joke: I'm evil, not crazy!"
  • Hackles had the Squidentologists.
  • In KateModern, Gavin even refers to the Hymn of Oner Steve as "L. Ron" at one point.
  • The Hymn of One from lonelygirl15. A religion that posts several vague happy-sounding YouTube videos to the internet while being rumored to be much more terrifying behind the scenes.
  • In a side short of the Parle Productions series The Marauders, James Potter convinces Peter Pettigrew that there is a "Church of Potter", then renamed to "Pottertology".
  • P.S.I. - Paranormal Security Institution alleges that Hubbard was an intergalactic performance artist who wanted to see if anyone would buy into the most idiotic religion ever devised. And he found that it worked too well.
  • The somewhat infamous ScientLOLojyuuichi, a Scientology-themed version of a very popular Animutation called Hyakugojyuuichi.
  • The SCP Foundation has the Fifth Church, who once almost destroyed reality with a self-help book.
  • "Religiotology" from the Smosh video "I WAS BRAINWASHED!" is more a parody of cults in general. However, there are several clear references to Scientology such as their members rigging their "sexiness test" to give low scores in order to get people to attend seminars, their founder being Com Truise and propaganda posters that invoke the covers used for Dianetics. Their Manchurian Agent-styled brainwashing is presumably for some equivalent of Scientology's Fair Game policy.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series just came right out and said it.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: In the third part of "Dalmatian Vacation", Anita meets "The Society for Achieving Utopian Consciousness via Extra-Terrestrial Rebirth and Desert Operational Lacrosse Team" (or Saucer Dolts) in the desert. They are waiting for the mother ship to take them to another planet but can't agree which one.
  • The Flame Keepers Circle from Ben 10 started as this, but the nature of their god Diagon and their relationship with him makes them more like a Cult of Cthulhu.
  • BoJack Horseman: Todd, despondent and looking for a purpose in life, almost joins Scientology but is persuaded to join Shenanigags, the improv club next door, instead. However, it turns out that Shenanigags is a cult, and a rather dangerous one at that.
    Todd: I just hope I impress the elder council. I want to become a Level Two so I can finally achieve clarity on the main stage with the chosen ones.
    Diane: Uh oh, Todd's in a cult.
    Todd: What? No, improv is not a cult! It's just a dogmatic school of thought taught by a for-profit organization with the promise of social and professional opportunities.
    BoJack: It's a cult. I know what I'm talking about. I learned a little about cults during that year I was a Scientologist... because coincidentally during that year I read a book about cults.
    Wanda: Wait, are you saying Scientology is a cult?
    BoJack: No. Scientology is not a cult. Improv is a cult. I want to be very clear - this is about improv.
  • The Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers episode "Case of the Cola Cult", which features a cult centered around the worship of soda, could be a critique of Scientology or of religion in general. There certainly are eerie parallels to Scientology in the episode (such as very rich mice giving all of their riches to a phony religion, only to have those riches embezzled by the cult leader's corrupt second-in-command). It's unclear what the writers were really going for, but it was certainly something pretty deep for a TV cartoon made by Disney. All of which was likely to shoot right over the heads of the target audience.
  • Family Guy:
    Tiny Tom Cruise: You could consider a sizeable donation to the Church of Spaceship Beep-Boop.
    Brian: You mean the church of...
    Tom: Torture, kidnapping, and extortion? That's the one!
    Stewie: And we can't get in trouble because we didn't use the actual name!
  • Futurama:
    • Despite the "-ology" name, the Temple of Robotology is more a loose (very loose) parody of Christianity: you promise to be good, and if you don't the Robot Devil takes you to Robot Hell, however this didn't stop "concerned citizens who weren't Scientologists" from complaining. In the DVD Commentary, Matt Groening says he received a call from a Scientologist about it; he apparently just decided to say it was the "church", not the "temple", rather than point out there are no other similarities.
    • In "Where No Fan Has Gone Before", there is also the Church of Trek, with a sign saying "The sci-fi religion that doesn't take all your money."
  • Alex Hirsch wanted to do an episode of Gravity Falls where Grunkle Stan forms a religion called Stanetology. It never got made because "legal department frowned on this".
  • Rex the Runt: An episode had the "Church of Chemicalology", preached by celebrity talking sausage Johnny Saveloy. He lures in converts with promises of fame and fortune, then sucks out their life force to prolong his own life.
  • Sealab 2021 has a meta-episode where the actor who plays Sparks is asked why he took the part:
    Sparks: I think the main impetus was... my Gundam told me to.
    Interviewer: Gun... what?
    Sparks: Gun-dam. He's my mentor in Astrotology.
    Interviewer: Right... the Hollywood cults.
    Sparks: (furious) It's not a cult! (calms) It's a religion.
    Interviewer: Not according to the IRS...
    Sparks: (furious, with fanatic fervor) Ho, there will be a day of reckoning for you, non-believer! A totalling of sums! And a snapping of necks! And you will count yourself among the damned!
  • The Simpsons: The Movementarians from "The Joy of Sect". Devote all your money and labor to them and they will (eventually) take you to Blisstonia, noted for its high level of bliss. It ends with a double subversion. Plus "the Leader" is the spitting image of LRH, and laments "I should have stayed with the Promise Keepers" after the whole cult falls apart. However, the Movementarians also drew from other controversial religious groups, such as the Unification Church (the mass wedding), Osho (the leader driving around in a Rolls Royce), and Heaven's Gate (riding on a spaceship to another planet). Notably, they managed to do this despite Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson, being a Scientologist.
  • South Park:
    • Inarguably the most famous example of taking on Scientology head-on was the season 9 episode "Trapped in the Closet", best remembered for its long depiction of a key event in Scientology belief, with the caption "THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE." Parodies of Scientologist celebrities like Tom Cruise and John Travolta are mocked (though more for the hordy old jokes that they're both deeply closeted). So (in)famous was that episode that a Rolling Stone magazine article on Parker and Stone featured a Photoshopped picture of them painting graffiti on a Scientology center sign. It also spawned a meme on 4chan, in which all manner of bizarre photos are captioned with "THIS IS WHAT SCIENTOLOGISTS ACTUALLY BELIEVE."
    • A few episodes after "Trapped In The Closet" was "The Return of Chef", made in response to Isaac Hayes, voice of Chef (and known Scientologist), ostensibly leaving the show in response to the episode.note  This episode plays the trope a little straighter, with Chef (appearing via low-quality sentence-mixes) getting brainwashed by "The Super Adventure Club" - a child-molesting group who travel the world to do so. It also features a montage depicting a key event in the club's belief, with the caption "THIS IS WHAT THE SUPER ADVENTURE CLUB BELIEVES." It ends with Chef getting killed off and Kyle calling out "that fruity little club" for what they did to him.
    • Prior to this, the trope had been played straight with the Season 5 episode "Super Best Friends", which features the "The Church of Blaintology", though that was intended to mock David Blain much more than Scientology. This was more famously the show's first (and ultimately only successful) visual depiction of The Prophet Muhammed and, unlike later episodes, neither the Church nor Muslim extremists said anything about it.
  • Superjail!: "Don't Be A Negaton" featured the charismatic ex-rock star D.L. Diamond and his space-cult (which borrows from both Scientology and Heaven's Gate) involving "Galactoids", "Negatons", and hallucinogenic drugs.
  • Ugly Americans had Randall join a Zombieology cult. He left because they wanted him to pay to join.
  • In The Venture Brothers episode "Spanakopita!", it's revealed that the Original Team Venture fought "L. Ron" himself. Or rather his ghost possessing a robot.


Video Example(s):


Neurotology Music Video

Parodying the Church of Scientology's 1990 "We Stand Tall" music video, this video sings the praises of Neurotology, an expensive religion that believes aliens live inside the mind. It notes how many members have left the church, gone missing, or otherwise suffered serious trauma after the video's release.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / ChurchOfHappyology

Media sources: