“Coping with Institutional Fragility: An Analysis of Christian Science and Scientology”
Wallis, Roy. “Coping with Institutional Fragility: An Analysis of Christian Science and Scientology,” Pages 25–43 in Salvation and Protest: Studies of Social and Religious Movements. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1979.
In this chapter of Salvation and Protest, Wallis draws parallels between Christian Science and Scientology to illuminate his study of the processes leading to sectarianism. They are examples of ‘manipulationist movements’ that began loosely structured and became “outstandingly successful in developing a highly cohesive sectarian form” (25). He draws on Bryan Wilson’s concept of ‘manipulationist movement’ as “a secularist sect, for which only the means to salvation are religious; the goals are largely those of secular hedonism” (cf. Religious Sects 1970, 141). Wallis concludes such movements face three distinct problems: the problem of ideological precariousness, the problem of authority, and the problem of commitment. In particular, regarding Christian Science, he argues first that ideological precariousness is evident from the secretiveness of its higher teachings. Some of its hidden doctrine is available only by special instruction. Students are not to read or study other metaphysical systems. Second, the problem of authority is evident in that teaching has a much higher priority than devotional activities. Loyalties are directed primarily towards the practitioner rather than the wider collectivity. Third, a high degree of commitment is enhanced by ideological insulation and the prohibition of alternative sources of opinion. These problems tend to inhibit development of a cohesive collectivity.