Thursday, January 26, 2006


From the BBC:

More than half the British population does not accept the theory of evolution, according to a survey.

Furthermore, more than 40% of those questioned believe that creationism or intelligent design should be taught in school science lessons.

The survey was conducted by Ipsos MORI for the BBC's Horizon series.

Its latest programme, A War on Science, looks into the attempt to introduce intelligent design into science classes in the US.

Over 2000 participants took part in the survey, and were asked what best described their view of the origin and development of life:

22% chose creationism
17% opted for intelligent design
48% selected evolution theory
and the rest did not know.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

More on South Park and Scientology

South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker were interviewed by this month's US GQ - check it out here.

The whole interview's great. Here's what they say about Tom Cruise and Scientology:

Sean Penn was upset about his portrayal in Team America. Do you hear from celebrities you’ve mocked on South Park?

TP: We have this running joke: As soon as we put someone in, we know the next day we’ll hear from his publicist saying how great the show was. It didn’t happen with Tom Cruise, though, I’ll tell you that.

I thought the greatest thing about that episode was the subtitle you guys had, where you say, “This is what Scientologists actually believe.” Just completely straightforward: This is what they believe.

TP: It was just like, Here it is, animated. A lot of religious stories, if you animate what they say, look pretty ridiculous. You could animate the entire Book of Mormon and it would be hysterical.

What took you so long to take on Scientology? Was the network worried about it?

TP: To be honest, what kept us from doing it before was Isaac Hayes [who does the voice of Chef]. We knew he was a Scientologist. And he’s an awesome guy. We’re like, Let’s just avoid that for now. But we’re friends with Penn Jillette, and Showtime wouldn’t let him do an episode of Bullshit! on Scientology. We’re going, That’s fucked up. And hearing other people say, “You can’t do that,”—you can only say “You can’t do that” so many times to Matt and me before we’re gonna do it. Finally, we just had to tell Isaac, “Dude, we totally love working with you, and this is nothing personal, it’s just we’re South Park, and if we don’t do this, we’re belittling everything else we’ve ripped on.” So we realized we had to do it, and now that we’ve done it, now it’s like we’ve sort of opened the floodgates. People will be less scared.

Did the network have any notes on the episode?

TP: They didn’t want us to say “pyramid scheme.” A pyramid scheme is illegal, and if you’re saying that they’re breaking the law, you run into a whole different category of slander; it’s not really parody anymore. It’s always fascinating, what you can and can’t do. And it’s always so easy to get around. You can rip on anyone.

Another highlight:

TP: We’re almost disappointed when we don’t hear from anyone. The notes are really inconsistent. In the first year, they’re like, “You can’t say ‘fag.’ There’s no way. And you can’t say, ‘That’s gay,’ because it’s offensive to homosexuals.” It’s like, Yeah, but that’s how kids talk. Finally, Mr. Garrison could say ‘fag’ because he said, “I’m gay. That means that now I can say the word fag. ” Now, nine years later, Garrison can scream, “We’ll see about this, you fudge-packing fags!” to two gay people who want to get married. It’s funny to watch the evolution. I don’t know if evolution is the right word, but it’s funny.

Do you ever worry about going too far? I thought the Rent parody in Team America, with the song lyric Everyone has AIDS! / AIDS, AIDS, AIDS, AIDS! walked right up to that line.

MS: Did you see the new “We All Have AIDS” campaign? I was actually at Barney’s—which I’m kind of embarrassed to say—and they were selling these T-shirts. It’s like, Will Smith and Archbishop Tutu and Tom Hanks and all these fucking people. And there are these T-shirts that say WE ALL HAVE AIDS. Meaning we as a planet. And I’m sitting there going, “I don’t fucking have AIDS.” You know what I mean? I know a guy who is HIV-positive, and he’s like, “Dude, I don’t have AIDS, and I’m fucking glad.” As ridiculous as you try to make it, a year later everyone is saying, “We all have AIDS.”

Oh, and in case anyone in the world still hasn't seen the Tom Cruise episode, here's that link again. Click here

Vice is nice and a Matrixist speaks

A review of The Joy Of Sects in Vice magazine:

Sam Jordisan, the author of that Crap Towns book, should clean up with this because everyone's secretly fascinated by religious cults - who hasn'’t wondered what those zoned-out Hare Krishna folk do when they're not chanting around town and cooking vegetarian curry? —and you can see Channel 4 picking up the rights for a light-hearted 50 Craziest Cults Ever countdown show presented by Jimmy Carr. From Scientology and The Manson Family to the Nation of Islam, the Moonies and Breatharianism (the one where you 'live'” on light alone; not so popular), most cults are accounted for and gently satirised. Except, that is, the biggies, Christianity and Islam, which are just better established and wealthier than minnows like Matrixism, based on the Matrix film trilogy believe it or not, and Tasmania's nutty Hermes Far Eastern Shining. This is fun bathroom literature but it leaves you saddened thinking about how desperate and confused tens of thousands of people must be to allow themselves to be brainwashed into believing that someone or something can provide all the answers to their problems, especially if they first hand over a stack of cash and their 14-year-old daughter.


Ok, they spelled my name wrong, but gently satirical was just the tone I was aiming for. And channel4, are you listening? You too book buying public! I'm supposed to be cleaning up, not wondering how the gawd-help-me I'm going to pay my tax bill etc.

Meanwhile, since I'm blowing my own trumpet, here's a correspondence I had with the Acting Secretary of Matrixism:


Sam Jordison wrote:


I thought you might be pleased to know that matrixism has made it into a UK book called The Joy Of Sects:

How's that for hacking?



Hi Sam,

Thanks for the write-up. I actually purchased the book as a Christmas present to my self this December. I was however a little disappointed that you stated that the religion began as a spoof. All in all though I was very pleased with the treatment you gave Matrixism. I'll be sure to recommend the book to our fellow matrixists.

Also I will pass the information along to W***. I believe she was the person who you first corresponded with. You will be sad to know that she gave up being our secretary because she couldn't deal with the death threats and such.

You might also be interested to know that Matrixism has been referenced in "Religion and Popular Culture" by A. Possamai. The nifty aspect of this refernce is that it is part of an academic series. It is therefore a scholarly reference and can be sited when writing academic papers. Of course your hack will reach many more people! Again thank you and kudos.

Some things have changed in the FAQ of our website that you will probably be interested in reading.


Mark X


So I was wrong about it being a spoof - for, which Matrixists, I sincerely apologise. I'm also alarmed by the "death threats and such". What's "and such". Poor W***!

All the same, a very heartening email - especially after all the reviews I've been getting on amazon complaining about my research techniques and 'spritual fence sitting'. ON THE SUBJECT OF WHICH, it's a toilet book! Who cares about my spiritual journey? And I did do lots of first hand research. Months of it. Hard grind. Getting into some very weird situations. The cheek! Also, I know I'm in a state of heightened paranoia viz cults, but it struck me that the people writing my one star reviews appear to reading from the same hymn sheet. It's almost as if I've touched a nerve... Haha.

Here's a link for Matrixism by the way:


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An unholy alliance

Christian Voice is being helped by the far-right British National Party in its campaign against Jerry Springer The Opera.

The Opera begins its national tour at the Theatre Royal in Plymouth on Friday (booking info. available here).

According to this weekend's Observer, Local BNP leader Graham Green said: "We are totally opposed to this theatre production, and our members have been helping to hand out pro-Christian leaflets."

The paper also reports that the leader of Christian Voice, Stephen Green, said: "There may have been BNP members present at our meeting - there may also have been Labour supporters. We don't ask people for their voting records."

His stated desire to bring back a Britain that is more like the 1950s takes on a darker (or should that be whiter?) hue in the light of this knowledge, however.

An ommission

It's been pointed out to me that I failed to post the best/worst Christian album sleeve of all time a few days ago... So here we go:

Words fail me.

I've also learned that most of these are taken from a book called The Worst Album Covers In The World Ever by Nick DiFonzo. Wish I'd thought of that...

Catholic Guilt - continued

Readers of The Joy Of Sects may remember several allusions there to the Vatican's not entirely honourable record during World War II. It looks like we're about to learn a lot more about this unsavoury subject, thanks to a court case in the USA.

The US supreme court has just dismissed an appeal by the Vatican Bank to dismiss lawsuits brought against it by representatives of holocaust survivors so a trial should be taking place soon. The allegations brought by these complainants link Giovanni Battista Montini to the theft of property of Jewish, Serb, Russian, Ukrainian and Roma victims during World War II in Yugoslavia (Montini was the Vatican's deputy secretary of state under the pope during the war and later became Pope Paul VI). It's also been alleged that Montini helped Croatian war criminals escape justice after the war and played a key role in the Vatican's 'Rat line' system which helped Klaus Barbie ("the butcher of Lyon"), Adolf Eichmann, Dr. Josef Mengele and Franz Stengel, the commander of the Treblinka death camp, among others, get out of Europe using Church and Red Cross papers.

This article in Haaretz contains a more detailed summary of the issues. Perhaps not the most reliable news source, but certainly worth reading.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


... may not have the best tunes after all.

[with thanks to Al.]

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Trapped in the closet

The Sun newspaper today reports that the South Park episode during which one of the characters labels Scientology "a big fat global scam" and Tom Cruise refuses to come out of the closet will not be shown in the UK.

Apparently Paramount are afraid that the actor will sue them if they show the programme again.

Luckily, UK audiences can watch the episode here.

It's very funny.

Isaac Hayes' Chef character does not make an appearance. Sadly.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Praise Be.

Another review:

From the February Boys Toys.

"With an estimated 200 established religions and 500 extreme cults in Britain alone, it's about time someone catalogued them all. Stepping up to the plate then is Sam 'Crap Towns' Jordison to tell us all about Matrixism and of course the Children Of God's Happy Hookers for Jesus. Praise Be."

Three out of four stars.

Sects in The Sun

Am delighted to report that The Joy Of Sects has had a write up from The Sun online - here.
The bit about The Flat Earth society is especially funny - wish I'd thought of those gags.

Have also had a very pleasing review in Nuts magazine:

'Endless strange cults are listed here, from ancient groups who wanked in public to Swiss weirdos who killed themselves while waiting for aliens to arrive. Nutters.'
Four stars.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Well, did Tom Cruise dance with aliens?

An article I wrote that appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on 1 Jan 2006.

"Hello, we're from the Church Of Jesus Christ Of The Latter Day Saints…"

"Great," I said, "Come in."


Mormons who are out cold-calling don't normally expect that kind of response. Abuse, yes. Door slamming, undoubtedly. There was even one sad occasion involving hot pursuit with a blow-torch, the two smart young men informed me after I'd finally persuaded them to cross my threshold and drink some water - not tea, they don't touch caffeine. My enthusiasm had floored them. It was only when I explained that I was writing a book about cults, cranks and religious eccentrics that they began to understand. They were so unsettled that they agreed to talk to me anyway.

It was less than a week since I'd signed my contract and I was already completely obsessed. I knew that I was because of the wistful half-smile on the face of my long-suffering girlfriend Eloise when she came downstairs to discover me and my new Mormon friends deep in conversation about the angel Moroni. The last time I'd seen that look had been in a multi-storey car-park in Luton where I was taking pictures of obscene graffiti for my previous book about Crap Towns. It's the kind of expression I imagine a doting mother adopts when her young child proudly presents the 'art' it's created on the walls of her living room.

Back then, Elly had allowed me to persuade her to spend extended periods of time in Thurso and Morecambe and even Hull. Small wonder that she blanched visibly when I started to rant enthusiastically about Findhorn, a foundation in the windswept far North East of Scotland established because of the communicative powers of the local cabbages…

Trooper that she is, she didn't complain. Not when she found her house full of Jehovah's Witnesses, nor when a peaceable evening stroll a few weeks later ended in us being chased up the road by a member of the Jesus Army who was shouting: "To think that Jesus died for you."

However, I still count it fortunate that Elly was spared my most debasing experience. This occurred in the Scientology Centre on London's Tottenham Court Road where I blew a whole afternoon's patient research with one foolish remark:

"This isn't quite what I was expecting," I said. "I was told there's lots of stuff about aliens."
"What a load of crap!" yelled the now furious, but hitherto cloyingly polite representative. "Where did you hear about that?"


"Come on! It's bullshit! Do I look the kind of person that would believe in aliens?"

"Er… maybe I read it in relation to Tom Cruise or something. Something about…"

"Oh please. Tom Cruise is one of the nicest people I've ever met. Do you think he looks like the kind of person that you'd find dancing around with aliens?"

It was a question I honestly couldn't answer.


Appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on 1 Jan 2006.

I had to leave the Scientology Centre pretty quickly as a result of this exchange.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Judge tells priest to prove that Christ exists

An interesting story in yesterday's Times. An Italian judge has ordered a priest to appear in court this month to prove that Jesus Christ existed.

Gentle Wind Blown Out Of Court

Those that have read the entry on the Gentle Wind Project in The Joy Of Sects (they're the ones with the spiritually inspired healing devices and sand filled alien-desgined 'pucks'), will be glad to know that the organisation's lawsuit against former members Jim Bergin and Judy Garvey has been dismissed from the federal court in the USA.

Bergin and Garvey's account of the abuses they and others suffered at the hands of the leaders of the GWP (the cause of the lawsuit) should therefore be easily accessible for the forseeable future. It's a great victory for freedom of speech on the internet. To celebrate this freedom and see what all the fuss was about I'd recommend taking a look at