LOS ANGELES—According to a report released Monday by the American Institute of Religions, the Church of Scientology, once one of the fastest-growing religious organizations in the U.S., is steadily losing members to the much newer religion Fictionology.
"Unlike Scientology, which is based on empirically verifiable scientific tenets, Fictionology's central principles are essentially fairy tales with no connection to reality," the AIR report read. "In short, Fictionology offers its followers a mythical belief system free from the cumbersome scientific method to which Scientology is hidebound."
Created in 2003 by self-proclaimed messiah Bud Don Ellroy, Fictionology's principles were first outlined in the self-help paperback Imaginetics: The New Pipe-Dream Of Modern Mental Make-Believe.
Fictionology's central belief, that any imaginary construct can be incorporated into the church's ever-growing set of official doctrines, continues to gain popularity. Believers in Santa Claus, his elves, or the Tooth Fairy are permitted—even encouraged—to view them as deities. Even corporate mascots like the Kool-Aid Man are valid objects of Fictionological worship.
"My personal savior is Batman," said Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Greg Jurgenson. "My wife chooses to follow the teachings of the Gilmore Girls. Of course, we are still beginners. Some advanced-level Fictionologists have total knowledge of every lifetime they have ever lived for the last 80 trillion years."
"Sure, it's total bullshit," Jurgenson added. "But that's Fictionology. Praise Batman!"
While the Church of Fictionology acknowledges that its purported worldwide membership of 450 billion is an invented number, the AIR report estimates that as many as 70 percent of the church's followers are former Scientologists.
Church of Scientology public-relations spokesman Al Kurz said he was "shocked" when he learned that Fictionology is approaching the popularity of his religion.
"Scientology is rooted in strict scientific principles, such as the measurement of engrams in the brain by the E-Meter," Kurz said. "Scientology uses strictly scientific methodologies to undo the damage done 75 million years ago by the Galactic Confederation's evil warlord Xenu—we offer our preclear followers procedures to erase overts in the reactive mind. Conversely, Fictionology is essentially just a bunch of make-believe nonsense."
Hollywood actor David McSavage, who converted to Fictionology last year, attempted to explain.
"Scientology can only offer data, such as how an Operating Thetan can control matter, energy, space, and time with pure thought alone," McSavage said. "But truly spiritual people don't care about data, especially those seeking an escape from very real physical, mental, or emotional problems."
McSavage added, "As a Fictionologist, I live in a world of pretend. It's liberating."
A tax-exempt organization, the Church of Fictionology stands poised to become a great moneymaking power if it continues to grow at its current rate—a situation Kurz called "outrageous."
"In recruiting new members, Fictionology preys on the gullible with fanciful stories and simple-minded solutions," Kurz said. "Fictionology is depriving legitimate churches of the revenue they need to carry out charitable works worldwide—important charitable works like clearing the planet of body-thetan implants."