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Saturday Night Live’s genius spoof of Scientology: Lyrics and images

SNL4A very happy Easter to our readers, whether you celebrate the holiday or not. In case you missed the excitement last night, Saturday Night Live aired a pitch-perfect parody of Scientology’s 1990 video “We Stand Tall” which was featured prominently in Alex Gibney’s documentary Going Clear.

Gibney’s film aired on HBO Sunday night and has been repeating since then, but the amount of work that went into SNL’s spoof suggests that this has been in the works for weeks — either since Going Clear‘s theatrical run began on March 13 or perhaps as far back as when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.

There are so many amazing little Easter eggs in this thing, and we’re doing our best to unpack it. But of course, we know our eagle-eyed readers are going to spot some things that we’ve missed. Here, give it a close look…


And thanks to reader Zana and others who got the lyrics down for us:

“In 1990, the Church of Neurotology made the following music video.
It has been updated based on new information about the church.”


Reach out your hand and follow me
I have the code, the code to the key
The key to the secret, the secret of space
It’s Neurotology

Religion and science intertwined
Aliens live inside of our minds
A billion-year contract we have signed
It all makes sense to me

We’ll always believe this,
We are invested, invested till death
We’re in this forever,
Never to leave it until our last breath

We are here
Our path is clear
We are finally free with Neurotology

The gorgeous religion, old and true
Started in 1982
Our founder brings us endless life
‘cause he can never die

Our brain machines can fix our minds
Our brain machines can save mankind
Each brain machine costs twenty grand
And that is fair and fine

We, we are the children,
The children of Meepthorp, the science is there
We, we are a family, joined by the knowledge
The knowledge we share

We are light! We are life!
We are proud to be

Ooh we, ooh we, we believe
Ooh we, ooh we, we believe
Ooh we, ooh we, we believe
Ooh we, ooh we, we believe
Ooh we, ooh we, we believe…

We, we are the future
We’re like a rocket into the sea…
We used to be starfish
Enslaved by the seagulls
But now we are free

We are home
We are one
We will always be

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the frames to appreciate just how much work went into the thing and how well the writers knew their Scientology!


Notice how they not only renamed Dianetics, but the triangle is diametrically opposed to the usual thing! Oh, we crack ourselves up.


The lighting, the costumes, the postures, the non-HD film effect: So much went into this thing to capture the feeling in the original video — including the fake enthusiasm of actors pretending to be Scientologists actually having fun!


A fun bit of background — in 1990, when “We Stand Tall” was made, Scientology was pretty much at its height. Marty Rathbun has told us that peak membership occurred around 1991, and it’s all been downhill since then.


We only wish Scientology book covers were this honest! And how about that book in the distance. Is that title “Ignoring the Brain”?


One of many little things that tell us that while SNL is having fun, it did its homework. One version of the actual billion-year contract Sea Org members sign has in large letters “Sea Organization, Religious Commitment.”


The quasi-naval uniform, complete with lanyard, the goofy trophies. Yep, she’s just written a big check and she’s Silver Meritorious!


…and then she bailed. What a great homage not just to Scientology’s current crisis of dwindling membership, but also to Going Clear, and the way each ex-Scientologist has a card come up to list the year they left.


This just gets better and better. Yes to the title of the book, and that people have disappeared. It’s funny stuff, but there’s a serious purpose. Where are the missing, such as Shelly Miscavige? And Rena Weinberg? And Barbara Ruiz? And Heber Jentzsch? And Clark Carr?


A fun reference to Scientology’s recent age. The year AD 65 begins next month, on May 9. Can you believe Scientology is still a thing? Well, maybe not for too much longer.


This mini-sequence of Bobby Moynihan as L. Ron Hubbard is worth the price of admission on its own. We get the Commodore snapping a salute…


…explaining his brain machine…


…and illustrating his lecture with a stick figure labeled “God.” The song at this point refers to the Founder as someone who can “never die,” until pink eye took him out, apparently. And that’s another wonderful little detail which shows how the writers were paying attention — in Going Clear, Alex Gibney explains that while L. Ron Hubbard made many wild claims about being machine-gunned and blinded in the war, his medical records show he actually only suffered from some arthritis and conjunctivitis — also known as “pink eye.”


Now we get a look at the brain machine in action. We love that the dial shows “good” on one side and “400” on the other.


Another pair of unfortunates who recall Sea Org members who were tossed overboard from the deck of the Apollo, or suffered disconnection and lost family. A great way to remind people that the point really is about people being harmed by toxic church policies.


Meepthorp is apparently Neurotology’s Xenu, and another example of the sheer work they put into this thing. Getting those posters made must have taken time and a pretty penny.


We’re glad we pointed out in Going Clear that Sea Org members work such long hours and take home such a paltry weekly check, the math works out to about 40 cents an hour. We mention it a couple of times in the movie, and we think it might have had an effect on someone.


You all noticed the Nazi salute to the Commodore, didn’t you?


Anyone know if John Travolta watches Saturday Night Live?


Having written about Scientology’s litigation tactics for some 20 years now, this may be our single favorite frame.


Hearsay! We love that for as long as servers continue to remain powered with electricity, a search on Scientology will probably pull up this video as an early result.


Someone knows their stuff. Did you catch the half-second shot of a cheetah running and dissolving into an image of the Founder? You do know about Dianetics and “the black panther problem,” right?


This shot is on screen for less than a second, but a lot went into it. The effort here is really something.


The only thing this shot needs is a diminutive but earnest ecclesiastical leader, ready to deliver a speech…


And here’s our first look at the Miscavige character, wearing a suitably awful shirt!


Can’t help wondering if, when they published “The Truth Rundown” in 2009 revealing the level of physical abuse Miscavige was heaping on his employees, Joe Childs and Tom Tobin of the Tampa Bay Times had any idea that their work would end up in such a perfect SNL sketch.


If only Debbie Cook — who was once held in “The Hole” so she could stand in a trash can for 12 hours straight with cold water poured on her — could tell us how deeply satisfying it must have been to see this frame.


We hear this reference to Scientology got the biggest laugh from the studio audience.


Another laugh that is so funny because it’s so near the truth.


Another shot that is visible for less than a second, but we marvel at the amount of work that went into it.


What a great closing shot. There’s the Going Clear reference with the fruit flies. The Miscavige character is a billionaire. And we also can’t help thinking of the “Dauntless, Defiant, and Resolute” video put out by the Copenhagen org. Scientology, you are so busted.


So please tell us what your favorite parts of the parody were, and what you take away from it.

UPDATE: Former Sea Org executive Mark Fisher posted a really informative comment about the making of “We Stand Tall,” the 1990 Scientology video that SNL’s spoof is based on. We’re adding Mark’s comment to the post, with slight edits for clarity…

Some history on the We Stand Tall Video. I was there and involved in its production. What I remember about this song and video is that it was done sometime in the late winter/early spring in 1990. It is just a few weeks or days before I was removed from my post of working for David Miscavige for “disaffection” over the removal of my ex-wife Julie and her being sent to the Rehabilitation Project Force (the Sea Org’s prison program).

The song was written by Rick Cruzen if I recall, and I am sure Peter Schless (famous for writing the music for the 80’s hit “On the Wings of Love”) probably contributed to the arrangement and chorus. The song and video was going to be used at some event — either March 13th (L. Ron Hubbard’s birthday event) or the Freewinds Anniversary Cruise. The male singer is David Pomeranz, whose claim to fame is this song and also some songs on the 1986 Road to Freedom album. I don’t remember who the female singer is. The Gold Movie shoot crew did the filming and I think Ted Horner was involved in directing it to make sure it came off the way Miscavige wanted it.

All of RTC, CMO International Management and the Exec Strata were brought to the LRH Music Studio to record the chorus and film what you see in the video. We were told to wear nice casual sweaters if I recall. Miscavige of course wanted to stand out so wore that hideous Hermes shirt. The key executives of Scientology Management were all positioned in the front row, and you know how you ranked in the hierarchy based on your position in the video. I was in the second row and you can see my head behind Marc Yager’s. Miscavige is standing on an “apple box” because he is so short. An apple box is a wooden box used in movies to make short actors look taller when shot from the waist up.

Someone was there as the Music Director. I think Rick Cruzen or Peter Schless, to run down the lyrics we all had to sing. And then we shot the video a few times with the cameras moving across the large studio from left to right and then back again. I remember we had to do it a few times because Miscavige was not happy with how Ray Mithoff looked when he was singing, and he seemed to not be on time with the rest of us. But it didn’t take too long to do and we were done.

The video was then edited and mixed and released at the event. It was a big hit at the time and Gold produced the video and cassettes for sale and they sold thousands of them. I think at the time we were all very proud of the song and the results, being the dedicated Kool-Aid drinkers that we were. And although it is very cheesy and corny today, the song does have a hook to it and I challenge you to get the chorus (“Hey La De Dah, Hey La De We Stand Tall!”) out of your head. (I’m joking!)

SNL did a brilliant parody and Mike is right. Once SNL gets ahold of you and makes fun of the truly ridiculous, it is hard to get that image out of the public’s mind. Best example — when Tina Fey did her Sarah Palin impersonation. Palin was never really taken seriously again.

Hey, speaking of cool films, Mark “Wise Beard Man” Bunker could use your help finishing up post-production on his documentary about Scientology, “Knowledge Report.” Head on over for his latest update and appeal.


Posted by Tony Ortega on April 5, 2015 at 06:15

E-mail your tips and story ideas to or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


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  • Anonymouse

    OK, this might have already been posted already, my apologies if it has, but here is an interview with Tom de Vogt on Media Mayhem, as usual, Alison really does a good job.

  • Tsunetomo

    Jeez, that thing has nearly half a million views.

  • Dolly Jean

    I have become quite educated over the last few years about all the facets of Scientology both from personal friends in, from books I’ve read about it, and mostly from the ‘dreaded, Black PR’ internet. I found this SNL spoof hilarious, especially after I saw the original one that it was patterned after! I feel a bit foolish though to admit I didn’t get a few of the parodies–One is why are they saying it began in 1982? And what is the significance of the ‘brain machine’ needle going to 400? Also the reference of the guy switching to Scientology? (I admit I can be a bit dense at times…!) Anyway, I really laughed a lot and watched this several times today–I hope it has some lasting impact and that it will shine some light on the darker sides of this ‘church’. And that those secretly out will find the courage to speak out and make their voices heard, because it might not seem much to one person, but as a collective whole, it adds up and could have a far reaching influence in exposing the injustices that ones in are just blinded to.

    • chukicita

      I think 1982 was just a way to show that it really isn’t an old and vaunted and established human belief system, although it tries to make people believe so by purchasing historical properties.
      Notice that none of the symbols on the ‘brain machine’ – including the number 400 – really have anything to do with each other. So no ‘measurement’ can really make sense.

    • PickAnotherID

      1982 = Year DM took over $cientology using RTC.
      400 = Tone Scale Level 40 x 10

    • Robert Eckert

      The reference to “switching to Scientology” is probably meant to booby-trap any attempt by the cult to sue. They can say “what do you mean Neurotology = Scientology? Of course Neurotology is something different! See right here?”

    • scottmercer

      I feel like the reference to scientology in the video is to say see, we are not parodying scientology as such, just the beliefs that inform it and similar groups (like there are any groups similar to scientology).

  • FromPolandWithLove

    SNL spoof current number of views: 541 158. Yeah straight up and vertical viral :):):)

    • Bryce Byerley

      Dare I say 47x expansion?

  • Sunny

    What a treat this was!
    I spent Easter with my mothers side of the family (my mother has been disconnected from me and my brother and our children since 2004. She is in The Sea Org. Both my brother and I are ex-Sea Org, I am SP declared). Of course my mother was not there.
    My grandfather told me that my mom had visited them a couple of years ago and could not wait to get back to Scientology. She told them that she was very happy and it was her home.
    I resolved that maybe I could just let her go. I mean, seriously, if she is happy there, then let her be. There is nothing me or my brother would be able to do to change her mind. She has been in the Sea Org since 1975 and still says she is happy there. So yesterday I resolved to just let her go. If she is happy, then so be it!
    Then I watched the SNL music video and holy crap. She is as happy as all of them! And sadly so blinded from the truth.
    And I am back where I started before Easter. She has to be woken up before she ends up like one of these people in the video!

    • L. C. Spencer

      Sunny, my heart goes out to you. I got my brother back, but have had to let my dad go. After this many years and this much evil behavior by him, I’ve come to realize that even if he does show up wanting to be back in my life, he won’t be the person I naively adored as a child. (He had a much more destructive personality than your mom, who sounds sweet though misguided.)

      You never know. If the legal and financial screws continue to tighten in the wake of all this, the SO may get cut loose, or at least the older members/non-inner circle might. It would be an awful way to wake up, but still, an opportunity. And if that doesn’t happen, you’ll know you were right and maybe you can get back to that place you were before Easter. I’m sorry your mother’s gone, because you must be a wonderful daughter. Rather than holding a grudge that she chose the Sea Org over her own children, you’d like to get her back.

      I used to fantasize about rescuing my dad. Return of the Jedi came out soon after my mom escaped with us kids, and when I saw Luke rescue Darth Vader from the dark side, I burst into tears in the theater because that was what I wanted to do. And then, one grows up and finds one can’t save one’s parents 🙁

      I am very glad you and your brother are out of the Sea Org. And we’re all very glad you’re here. Peace…

  • And I’m Cute, Too

    Oh, I have got to watch this, and soon! Who on their writing staff researched this to make it work so well?

    In high school (late ’80s ~ early ’90s), I started watching SNL regularly. I loved it, and was fascinated by its long history and amazing humour. But after a while, it seemed to lose its lustre. The sudden departure of Nora Dunn (I think) was one of the turning points, and after that it had a hard time getting back its mojo. This video alone has restored my respect in this show.

    If SNL can skewer Scientology this fearlessly — and accurately — it must be the beginning of the end.

    • BroadwayDutchessDarling

      I totally agree. For me, the loss of the great Phil Hartman and the lovable Chris Farley as well as the departure of Nora Dunn and firing of Norm MacDonald ended a magical era of SNL for me. I have had a very difficult time enjoying the direction of the show since that time… until now! This stunningly acute satire of the “cherch” gives even the most jaded viewers (me) an interest in watching the show again. The beginning of the end for the petty little bitch means the beginning of reuniting families and freeing victims of “ecclesiastical” trafficking! Huzzah!

  • Jack Steen

    I wonder if all this ‘new’ attention brought on by the documentary will send Miss Cabbage and Teeny Tommy and the rest of the cash-worshippers to hari-kiri en masse…or at least send them fleeing to their underground bunkers in New Mexico where they will stage an armed protective barrier around the napkin-jottings of ElRon as the IRS forces gather at the gates ?

    Sure hope Vinnie Barbarino is able to take that former mortician from Forest Lawn with him that they keep on staff at the Celebrity Centre to keep his wigs and makeup fresh !

  • Great vid , wonder what the PLB or COB thought.

  • Hoosiermama

    Great job SNL!

  • Lighthouse

    I can’t listen to the video in my country. Sigh! But I did get a good laugh from the pics. Good work done! 🙂

    May scientology never be the same.

    • Amdirel

      I can’t watch the official one either but just put ‘snl scientology’ into the youtube search bar and there should be several options to choose from. It is really awesome. 🙂

    • Lighthouse

      The video, for some reason, can now be seen by me. It’s hilarious. So funny. I wonder what the dwarf is going to do about it? If anything.

  • PoisonIvyHerself

    Just donated to Mark. He deserves all our support – let’s help use Going Clear’s momentum to get more info out there!

  • Minion Gayle

    Oh my God, that was beyond awesome. I love when SNL reminds us why we used to love them so much. I don’t think I could pick a single favorite shot, there were too many. The most I can do is narrow it down to all the “updates” telling you where the participants were now.

  • beef

    OMG this is frickin awesome! Thanks SNL!

  • El Con Blubbard

    I love Saturday Nite Live’s spoof on Scientology. It was priceless and we can’t stop watching it!

  • Jgg2012

    This SNL parody is now on the front page of Youtube, a fairly popular website. Scientology is now getting a lot of exposure, though I’m not sure that they want it. It might lead to the IRS getting complaints about you-know-what, and maybe 2000 lawsuits as well.

  • godoftheheavens

    Glad to see that SciFiToiletPee is now FAIR GAME!

  • AintMizBahavin

    waving hi to all the bunkeroos in between gasps of laughter at the two best parodies ive seen in years

  • Suppressive Tomato

    It always feels good to be on the right side of history. Congrats, Tony … and to all those in The Bunker for supporting his work. And special appreciation to all of the exes who have spoken out and let the abuses be known. It takes a lot of courage and I admire all of you.

  • Melissa Kay

    At 2:09 and the 17th image above (Nazi salute) look at the tall woman with reddish-blonde curly hair next to the short dark-haired guy. The back of Nicole and Tom’s heads have a cameo! I wonder if this is an edited version. If not I’d sure love to see the full version. It really does sound Iike they’re singing, “Hooey, hooey, we believe…” There have to be more Easter eggs in this video.

  • godoftheheavens

    POLICY ENTITLED R2-45. ITS AN ETHICS TERM (not the definition found in
    Websters dictionary) that says you can kill someone with a Colt 45 if
    you feel they are getting in the way of KSW (keep Sci.Fi.Toilet.Pee
    THIS CULT? ENOUGH with Apple Box Davy Miscavage, stealing and
    enslaving people for his own personal gain which as of today is upward
    of 3 BILLION dollars.

  • SkyBill40

    It was epic, no doubt. I laughed so hard the entire time that my wife came into the room to see what I was on about.

  • Brenda Lee

    I can relate. I teach cult education and have helped people escape from the Watchtower/Jehovah’s Witnesses. I lost my family to this destructive cult. They have shunned me over 34 years now. My son, now 24, doesn’t even know them. So much of this is familiar. Here’s the video I did to warn others about the Jehovah’s Witnesses: In nit, you’ll hear me try to reconnect with my mom after decades. How does she respond? Does she lovingly embrace me or hang up on me? What do you think?

  • ClamInAHalfshell

    Holy cow, this is brilliant! I’m sorry I missed it the first time!
    (And I’m back…in case anyone remembers me from way back when…)