I was walking down London’s Queen Victoria Street, suffering from aching feet. It was 27 degrees and I had just crossed the Thames seeking a Pret a Manger from which a cold smoothie might be bought. A young man gave me a leaflet- would I like to watch a short, 10-minute film? It was being shown just a 30-second walk up the road. Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, the leaflet said. It was my physical health that was beginning to flag, but the thought of a sit down in a cool room sounded most appealing.

I entered the Church of Scientology, London. The smiling receptionist welcomed me and bade me wear a mask before taking my temperature. Another young lady appeared, and escorted me to an upstairs lobby where, along with another gentleman, we were invited to watch a film about reading people’s emotions. As soon as it finished, another lady, older this time, took us to another area where three more films were to be shown. These were not just about psychology, but spiritual stuff- an introduction to the scientology church. The films were a tad boring, and I gazed around, looking at huge stocks of books we would presumably be asked to buy before we left. Thankfully, the third film ended while the older lady was still introducing two new prospective proselytes to the first film. “Thank you, that was most entertaining!” I shouted with a cheery voice, before heading down the marble staircase and out through the lobby into the warm air of a July afternoon. Unencumbered by any hardbacked L. Ron Hubbard tomes, I went to buy my Pret. Had they plied me with ice-cold beverages and slices of lemon drizzle, they might have had a better chance of converting me.

The Church of Scientology has been described as both a cult and a multi-million-dollar business venture, both of which the organisation is keen to deny. Although formally recognised in Britain as a genuine religious organisation and granted VAT-exemption for its non-profit status, the whole 15 minutes struck me as odd. The videos were all about me trying to help myself. A quote from L. Ron Hubbard, the group’s founder, was stuck to a wall:

"Man is basically good, and it is this basic goodness we want to set free.”

There’s the problem, here's the catch. If I am basically good and just need setting free, then Mr Hubbard’s organisation will doubtless do sterling work. But what if I- indeed, all of us- are basically bad? What if we were born with ingrained wickedness, corruption and natural selfishness? Then scientology’s psychological input is wasting its time. Only Christ’s cross can remedy our condition, a version of which appears on the organisation’s motif, but about which I heard nothing in the videos I was asked to watch. It is not emotional literacy or thinking skills you need, but the Gospel, by which I mean the real thing, and not the musings of American writers of science fiction.