Scientology in Popular Culture
Influences and Struggles for Legitimacy
by Stephen A. Kent and Susan Raine, Editors
July 2017, 373pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3249-9
$75, £58, 66€, A103
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3250-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Scientology’s reputation and recruitment efforts have both benefited from and been damaged by popular culture.

This multidisciplinary study of Scientology examines the organization and the controversies around it through the lens of popular culture, referencing movies, television, print, and the Internet—an unusual perspective that will engage a wide range of readers and researchers.

For more than 60 years, Scientology has claimed alternative religious status with a significant number of followers, despite its portrayals in popular culture domains as being bizarre. What are the reasons for the vital connections between Scientology and popular culture that help to maintain or challenge it as an influential belief system? This book is the first academic treatment of Scientology that examines the movement in a popular-culture context from the perspective of several Western countries. It documents how the attention paid to Scientology by high-profile celebrities and its mention in movies, television, and print as well as on the Internet results in millions of people being aware of the organization—to the religious organization’s benefit and detriment.

The book leads with a background on Scientology and a discussion of science fiction concepts, pulps, and movies. The next section examines Scientology’s ongoing relationship with the Hollywood elite, including the group’s use of celebrities in its drug rehabilitation program, and explores movies and television shows that contain Scientology themes or comedic references. Readers will learn about how the Internet and the mainstream media of the United States as well as of Australia, Germany, and the UK have regarded Scientology. The final section investigates the music and art of Scientology.


  • Discusses Scientology within the framework of popular culture, which is how most people outside the religion come in contact with it
  • Approaches the study of Scientology from multiple viewpoints, enabling readers to have an informed, multicultural perspective on the religious group's beliefs and practices from which to form their own opinion
  • Presents information about Scientology derived from one of the largest university archive collections on the subject worldwide, with a number of documents never before having been referenced in scholarship
Stephen A. Kent, PhD, is professor of sociology at the University of Alberta, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on the sociology of religion and the sociology of sectarian groups. He has published articles in numerous sociology and religious study journals. His 2001 book, From Slogans to Mantras: Social Protest and Religious Conversion in the Late Vietnam War Era, was selected by Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2002. He has received awards for both undergraduate and graduate teaching from his department and his university. In 2012, Kent received The Margaret Thaler Singer Award for advancing the understanding of coercive persuasion and undue influence from the International Cultic Studies Association.

Susan Raine is assistant professor in the Sociology Department at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Canada. Her research interests include the study of the negotiation of identity and selfhood in religious movements, and of science fiction and UFO influences in the formation of alternative religions and spiritualities. Previously, she has conducted research on alternative religions such as Heaven's Gate, the Children of God/The Family International, and Scientology.


"An interesting popular culture approach to Scientology, this book has a useful bibliography, good notes, and an excellent index. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates."—Choice, February 1, 2018

"A resonating examination of The Church of Scientology’s contemporary religious impact, Scientology in Popular Culture: Influences and Struggles for Legitimacy, edited by Stephen A. Kent and Susan Raine, provides an in-depth analysis of the modern impacts of the Church of Scientology. . . . Quite beneficial to scholars in a variety of fields and also those outside of academia. . . . Separately, each chapter stands alone, rife with interwoven analysis and insight. Considered together, the chapters speak to and build upon one another to offer a new and deeper understanding of Scientology and its role in popular culture. As a well-written and timely volume, readers will be drawn to its multifaceted discussion of Scientology and its relationship with popular culture." —International Journal of Cultic Studies, June 29, 2018
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.