16
Scientology Missions
International (SMI):
An Immutable Model
of Technological
Missionary Activity

Bernadette Rigal-Cellard

The following study looks at the way religions undergo transformations when they migrate from the country in which they were born to other cultures. With all the problems it has engendered in Europe in particular, where it is mostly held as the Trojan horse of American imperialism, the Church of Scientology offers a perfect case study. How do its missionaries, called mission holders, react to their new environment: Do they try to adapt to it, or, on the contrary, do they seek to adapt it to their own vision of the world? I will present here only the foundation of SMI, its European missions, its franchise system, and the duty of the mission holders.


The Foundation of Scientology Missions
International (SMI)

Strangely enough, SMI, that is the mission system, properly speaking, was set up only in 1981 once the Church had already expanded worldwide. Before this date the term used, instead of mission, was “franchise.” The authorities have explained that the foundation of a specific branch devoted to missions corresponded to a new era, “a new dawn within the Church” (Qu’est 1998, 483), when several administrative changes were operated to put an end to the activities of the Guardian Office (GO), which had been created in 1966 to counterattack the criticisms leveled against the Church, but which

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