Thursday, January 11, 2024

"How TikTok Accidentally Created a Scientology Heartthrob"

Rolling Stone

Sources formerly close to the church say Sebastian is likely what is known in the community as a “body router,” typically a young, attractive staffer who is assigned to stand outside the Church of Scientology Information Center, hand out literature, and invite passersby into the building to learn more about the church.


Over the past month, Sebastian has achieved TikTok heartthrob status. Ironically, anti-Scientology protesters are partially to blame. For the past few months, a grassroots movement of Los Angeles-based content creators have been attempting to disrupt foot traffic from tourists by protesting outside the Center. Though Sebastian generally ignores the people who have gathered there — as many as 50 at a time — his movie-star good looks have led to the creation of various fan accounts (some ironic, some less so) and the #FreeSebastian hashtag, based around videos of protesters attempting to engage him and convince him to leave the church.


What’s undeniable is that, as the protest movement has grown and the Center has become a de facto destination for TikTokers, it has become significantly more chaotic.