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Of all the Discworld religions, Nugganism is one of the stranger ones1 (similar to Scientology2 on Roundworld, in that aspect), with it's many decrees against abominations. Is it supposed to be an allegory for Scientology, or is there insufficient evidence to support that theory?


  1. Apart from the worship of Offler, that is.
  2. Disclaimer: I don't know an extensive amount about Scientology.
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    I always felt that he was a parody of middle management of offices - fussiness over trivial things, like paper clips, desk organisation. Even the book of Nuggan (ring binder) implied it. – Kami Apr 13 '15 at 10:19
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As far as I can tell, they're not directly analogous. Many of the things that are "abominations" to Nuggan are explictly allowed under Scientology (see below).

If anything, Nugganism appears to be a reflection of the state of Turkmenistan, where their eccentric ruler; Saparmurat Niyazov banned beards, gold teeth, the keeping of dogs and cats, lip-syncing, opera, ballet, circuses, smoking and makeup. Much like Nugganism, these bizarre decrees were read out on State Radio on a daily basis and added to a list of forbidden activities.

Given that this was a major story in the UK during the time that Pratchett was writing The Last Hero and Monstrous Regiment, it's certain that he would have been aware of it.


...followers [of Nuggan] are forbidden to eat chocolate, ginger, mushrooms and garlic. - The Last Hero

and

Q. ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL DIETARY LAWS OR RULES AGAINST SMOKING OR DRINKING IN SCIENTOLOGY?

A. No. There are no dietary laws whatsoever - Scientology FAQ


Her mother had taught her to read, which was acceptable to Nuggan, and her father made sure that she learned how to write, which was not.

A woman who could write was an Abomination Unto Nuggan, according to Father Jupe; anything she wrote would by definition be a lie.Monstrous Regiment

and

Q. WHAT IS THE SCIENTOLOGY POSITION REGARDING WOMEN MINISTERS?

A. The Scientology ministry is open to men and women. Because people are spiritual beings, gender of a minister is not an issue in Scientology. - Scientology FAQ


Pictures of living creatures were an Abomination in the eyes of Nuggan. Monstrous Regiment

and

Watch videos of Scientologists like Fraser, an Art Gallery owner from London Scientology FAQ

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    Just about everything is an abomination unto Nuggan, not just foodstuffs: garlic, cats, the smell of beets, people with ginger hair, shirts with six buttons, anyone shorter than three feet (including children and babies), sneezing, rocks, ears, jigsaw puzzles, chocolate, and the colour blue (to name some of them). -- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monstrous_Regiment_(novel)#Plot_summary – Agi Hammerthief Apr 12 '15 at 19:46
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    Interesting answer! Is there any evidence for Turkmenistan theory? Turkmenbashi surely was ridiculous enough, but are there any facts that support your claims that he was an inspiration? – default locale Apr 13 '15 at 5:08
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    @defaultlocale - actual evidence? No. But if you read the attached article, the similarity is startling. – Valorum Apr 13 '15 at 7:32
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I don't think it's supposed to be a parody of any religion in particular, but rather more religion in general. Scientology has some very odd beliefs, but they generally don't try to ban much of modern-day life.

The many "abominations" of Nugganism have elements of the religious laws of Judaism, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehova's Witnesses, Islam, and many other real-world religions.

  • See my answer. I think Pratchett was parodying the State of Turkmenistan. – Valorum Apr 12 '15 at 20:05
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One of the stranger practices of my uncle who is of the Hare Krishna faith, is that he is forbidden from eating mushrooms and garlic. We never could figure that one out, and he always claimed it was too complicated to explain when we asked.

That said I think it's probably just a poke at religion in general. I was raised jewish, and a lot of things are arbitrarily banned - you can only eat fish with bones and animals with cloven hooves. Why? Because god says so. Why? We don't know. Now shut up and eat your gefilte fish.

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    Actually quite a lot of Jewish traditions make perfect sense when you consider the original context – Valorum Apr 13 '15 at 17:58
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    This isn't an answer to the question. – Ben Crowell Apr 14 '15 at 2:05
  • @BenCrowell - It's actually better than it looks. I think the mushrooms and garlic bit was taken from Ayurveda. – Adamant Apr 24 at 23:30
  • I believe you may be talking about the Sattvic Diet. The idea is that many foods might be enjoyable, but are disruptive to the system unnecessarily and should be avoided for that reason. – Ruadhan2300 Apr 25 at 12:38

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