During the Saturday Night Live (SNL) episode this past Saturday, April 4, hosted by Michael Keaton, the SNL cast spoofed the Church of Scientology in a musical skit about the Church of Neurotology. Though the name of the “church” was changed, likely to avoid a lawsuit, there were obvious references made during the musical video to reported practices and beliefs of the Church of Scientology.
After HBO came out with its documentary on the Church of Scientology, Going Clear, it appears as if other networks and TV shows are now considering the Church of Scientology as fair game to be parodied and spoofed. Saturday Night Live is one of the first to join in and poke fun at the Church of Scientology, following the HBO documentary, though others have done so in the past.
During the Saturday Night Live skit, there are also arrows drawn on the screen pointing to various people singing in a large congregation of members of the fictional Church of Neurotology, some with the words “Missing” added, “Chained to toilet as punishment,” or, “lives in a hospital.” In one case, the added words mention that a follower was “Thrown off a boat.” There is a reference made to a Church of Neurotology jail, to someone being hired as a janitor and being paid just 10 cents an hour, and to diagnostic metal brain caps that cost followers $20,000.
There is even a reference to the leader of the Church of Neurotology being immortal. An arrow pointing to the cast member playing the leader, Bobby Moynihan, has the words included that he died of “pink eye.” Close to the end of the Saturday Night Live skit, the text that describes one former member of the Church of Neurotology reads that he “switched to Scientology.”
It used to be that the media was hesitant about making fun of or saying anything negative about the Church of Scientology, in part, out of a well-justified fear that the organization would threaten them with a lawsuit. With more and more of the rather unusual practices and ideology of the Church of Scientology being exposed by documentaries like HBO’s Going Clear, and with more and more former followers going on talk shows and writing tell-all books, the Church of Scientology has become the fodder of jokes by comedians and skits on TV shows such as Saturday Night Live.
Tom Cruise and John Travolta are two of the rich and famous stars who still are followers of the Church of Scientology, though it has been suggested that they have been blackmailed into remaining members. While both of these actors have often been joked about on Saturday Night Live and by many talk show hosts and comedians, going after the Church of Scientology, itself, is something that Saturday Night Live would probably have shied away from doing as little as five years ago.
With fewer and fewer people now taking the Church of Scientology seriously, because of all of the revelations that keep coming out about the church that was the brainchild of science fiction author, L. Ron Hubbard, one of the only methods that the organization has for trying to silence criticism is through the court system. Though that has been an effective deterrent in the past, to an extent, the threat of legal action did not stop the cast from spoofing them. Legal considerations were, though, probably why Saturday Night Live did not call the musical skit The Church of Scientology skit.
The song that Saturday Night Live cast members sing in the Church of Neurotology skit is apparently a spoof on actual songs written by L. Ron Hubbard and sung by church members, as well as being a spoof on the practices of the Church of Scientology. It is supposed to resemble a 1990 period music video of the Church of Neurotology members singing about their beliefs. Some of the cast members who appeared in the skit, other than Bobby Moynihan, were Keenan Thompson, Kate McKinnon, and Aidy Bryant.
Since the HBO documentary, Going Clear, has aired, the Church of Scientology has denounced the film, saying that it was filmed “by bullies toting cameras.” Also, the organization described the ex-Scientologists who participated in the documentary as being “disgruntled former Church members.”
Saturday Night Live‘s spoof of the Church of Scientology in the Church of Neurotology musical skit was one of the highlights of a great episode, hosted by actor Michael Keaton. Rather than be willing to laugh at itself, in the past, the Church of Scientology has often resorted to threats of taking legal action as a method to defend itself from accusations. Check out the humorous Church of Neurotology skit by the cast of Saturday Night Live, below!
Written By Douglas Cobb
Saturday Night Live Church of Neurotology Video/YouTube