A TikToker's Joke Scientology Video Went Viral. Now, Its Helping the Church Recruit
On September 8th, Jordana Victor, a 22-year-old criminology student at Carleton University in Canada, uploaded a video of herself on TikTok taking a Church of Scientology personality test. Called the Oxford Capacity Analysis assessment (despite the fact that it has no affiliation whatsoever with Oxford University), the test presents itself as a “factual, scientific analysis” that “identifies the 10 vital personality traits that influence your entire future,” and has long been an introductory measure to the Church of Scientology.
In the video, a smiling Victor shows herself answering such questions as “Do you bite your fingernails or chew the end of your pencil?” and “Is the idea of death or even reminders of death abhorrent to you?” over a slick techno remix of Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘n’ Nite.” “It’s so long but so worth it tbh,” Victor captioned the video.
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it’s so long but worth it tbh #scientology
♬ original sound – christina
Victor tells Rolling Stone that she made the video in response to a viral TikTok featuring influencers like Charli D’Amelio and Lil Huddy showing off Scientology necklaces, which has since been deleted (the video appeared to be a prank pulled by fellow TikTok influencer Frankie Jonas, who claims to have found the necklace in a thrift store). She says she’s a fan of personality tests, and she remembered taking the test when she had visited her local Scientology center a few years ago with some friends “as a joke.” “I was like, oh, this would be so fun if I took it again and used the same music as the Charli D’Amelio video, to hop on the trend,’” she says.
The video of Victor taking the test went massively viral, garnering more than 2.5 million views over the past month. While many of the comments on the original video criticized Victor for promoting the Church of Scientology on TikTok — due to its extensive history of allegations of human rights abuse and legal intimidation, allegations they’ve long denied — others clearly had their curiosity piqued. “Done loads of tests like these before but this one was literally the best,” one person commented.
As a result, members of the Church of Scientology have embraced the video, with one woman affiliated with the Church posting that it led to “several hundred” OCA tests being submitted to German Scientology centers. “Power of social media! Copy the idea! Let’s do more and more of these!,” the woman wrote on Facebook (she did not respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for corroboration about the claims she made in her post). Victor herself has also posted screenshots on TikTok of people affiliated with the Church DM’ing her with praise for the video.
When reached for comment, Victor Gagnon, a staffer at the Church of Scientology in Ottawa, confirmed that the virality of the video led to an increase in test submissions. “I would say it went from a few a week and during that week there was 28 I think that came in,” he says, adding that the Church is now exploring using TikTok more as a recruiting method as the result of the success of Victor’s video. (A request for comment to Church headquarters in California was not returned by press time.)
Generally speaking, the Church of Scientology has not historically had an active presence on TikTok. “They prefer Facebook and email,” says Tony Ortega, a journalist who has been vocal in his criticism of the community. Ortega wrote a blog post about Victor’s video, describing it as an effective marketing tactic: “Cute girl posts TikTok video about taking the Scientology personality test, making it look intriguing,” he wrote of the video, adding, “Why didn’t Dave [Miscavige, the head of Scientology] think of this earlier?”
But videos promoting the Church, whether inadvertently or not, have also gone viral on the platform. Earlier this month, a TikTok of two attractive young women happily frolicking in the Church parking lot, filling out sign-in forms and showing off their copies of Dianetics and other Scientology promotional materials went viral.
In response to Victor’s video, the executive director of the Church of Scientology in Ottawa, where Victor is based, posted her own TikTok video providing a more detailed walkthrough of the OCA. She has also posted videos showing off Scientology promotional materials. And another influencer on TikTok, Mikayla Arrington, has posted videos with the hashtag #ScientologyTok answering viewers’ questions about her life as a Scientologist and refuting “rumors” about Scientology, such as the oppressive reported conditions in the Hole, a facility where so-called SPs, or “suppressive persons,” are allegedly sent to receive religious discipline. “There has not been one investigation where anyone has been found to be in danger or held against their will. There is no proof it has ever happened,” Arrington states in the video, contrary to numerous testimonies from former Scientology executives.
Victor tells Rolling Stone she has no affiliation with the Church of Scientology and denies endorsing or glamorizing it in any way. “It obviously wasn’t my intention to promote it,” she says. “The video was very light-hearted.” She does follow the Church of Scientology in Ottawa on Instagram, but when asked about this, she says that she only followed them because she was “curious” to see if they’d repost her video. She also says she doesn’t feel any responsibility for having promoted the Church with her video, whether purposefully or not. “At the end of the day, I feel like there is so much information available on Google,” she says. “If you Google it, most of the information you will find is negative and there is enough information online, so I don’t feel responsible in a way for anyone that does end up joining.”
But Victor says she has also gotten many messages from Scientology members since posting her video. “Some are thanking me for how many new people have done the test and then there’s some trying to convince me to join or buy their books,” she says. Such messages, however, have not encouraged her to join the Church.
“The way they talk to you is kind of like those girls in pyramid schemes when they’re trying to sell you a hair product,” she says. “I would say they’re very overly enthusiastic.”
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