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Scientology is a system of beliefs and teachings, originally established as a secular philosophy in 1952 by author L. Ron Hubbard, and subsequently reoriented from 1953 as an "applied religious philosophy".

It is most prominently represented by the Church of Scientology.


Scientology as a religion

The nature of Scientology is hotly debated in many countries, regardless of official statements. Scientology is considered a religion in the United States and Australia, and thus its practice enjoys the constitutional protections afforded to religious practice (First Amendment to the United States Constitution; Australian Constitution, s 116). In the United States the church obtained "public charity" status (IRS Code 501(c)(3)) after extended litigation. Some European countries (including the governments of several European nations) do not consider the Church of Scientology to be a bona fide religious organization, but a commercial enterprise, or a cult (see the list of alleged cults).

The Church of Scientology pursues an extensive public relations campaign arguing that Scientology is a bona fide religion. The organization has a number of sources supporting this position, often cited by its spokespersons. As an example, they note the following studies on the religious doctrines of Scientology conducted by prominent experts of religion from various faiths:

Critics usually dismiss these studies as biased, contending that the studies were commissioned by Scientology to produce exactly the results that Scientology wants the public to hear. Furthermore, some of the Church of Scientology's history of using its full commercial weight in litigation against private individuals has attracted criticism as not being in keeping with the image of a religion.

On the other hand, there are also some academic papers that Scientologists contend were commissioned by critics, which do not come to the conclusion that Scientology is a religion:

In the U.S., in October of 1993 the Internal Revenue Service, after reviewing voluminous information on the Church's financial and other operations, recognized the Church as an "organization operated exclusively for religious and charitable purposes." The Church states that the tax exemption is proof that it is a religion. This subject is examined in the Wikipedia article on the Church of Scientology.

In 1982, the High Court of Australia ruled that the State Government of Victoria could not declare that the Church of Scientology was not a religion (Church of the New Faith v. Commissioner Of Pay-roll Tax (Vict.) 1983, 154 CLR 120). The Court addressed the issue of belief, rather than possible charlatanism: "Charlatanism is a necessary price of religious freedom, and if a self-proclaimed teacher persuades others to believe in a religion which he propounds, lack of sincerity or integrity on his part is not incompatible with the religious character of the beliefs, practices and observances accepted by his followers."

Origins of Scientology

Scientology was expanded and reworked from Dianetics [1] an earlier system of self-improvement techniques originally set out by Hubbard in the 1950 book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Immediately prior to this work, Hubbard was intensively involved with the occultist Jack Parsons in performing the occult rites developed by Aleister Crowley. Some critics have pointed out the many similarities in Hubbard's writings to the doctrines of Crowley [2].

By the mid-1950s, Hubbard had relegated Dianetics to being a sub-study of Scientology, although it is still promoted and delivered by Scientology organizations. The chief difference between the two is that Dianetics is explicitly secular, focused on the individual's present life and dealing with physical and mental or emotional problems, whereas Scientology adopts a more overtly religious approach [3] focused on dealing with spiritual issues spanning multiple past lives as well as the present day.

Hubbard was repeatedly accused of adopting a religious facade for Scientology in order for the organization to maintain tax-exempt status and avoid prosecution for false medical claims; these accusations have dogged the Church of Scientology to the present day, bolstered by numerous accounts from Hubbard's fellow science-fiction authors that on various occasions he stated that the way to get rich was to start a religion [4].

The word scientology has a history of its own. Although nowadays associated almost exclusively with Hubbard's work, it was coined by the philologist Alan Upward in 1907 as a synonym for "pseudoscience". [5] In 1934, the Argentine-German writer Anastasius Nordenholz published a book using the word positively: Scientologie, Wissenschaft von der Beschaffenheit und der Tauglichkeit des Wissens, or Scientology, Science of the Constitution and Usefulness of Knowledge. [6] Nordenholz's book is a study of consciousness, and its usage of the word is not greatly different from Hubbard's definition, "knowing how to know". However, it is not clear whether Hubbard was aware of these earlier usages. The word itself is a pairing of the Latin word scio ("know" or "distinguish") and the Greek λόγος lógos ("reason itself" or "inward thought"). It seems plausible that Hubbard's meaning derived, like that of Nordenholz, from a simple translation of these root words.

Beliefs and practices

Main article: Scientology beliefs and practices

Scientology's doctrines were established by Hubbard over some 33 years from 1952 through to his death in January 1986, issued in the form of thousands of lectures, books, essays, and policies. Most of the basic principles of Scientology were set out during the first 15 years of its existence, with Hubbard devoting much of his later life to the more esoteric upper levels (or "Advanced Technologies") of the Scientology belief system. The church describes his actions as improving and expanding on the workability and use of these principles.

The central beliefs of Scientology are that a person is an immortal spiritual being (referred to as a thetan) who possesses a mind and a body, and that the person is basically good. The life one should lead is one of continual spiritual and ethical education, awareness, and improvement, so that he/she can be happy and achieve ultimate salvation, as well as being more effective in creating a better world. Scientology claims to offer specific methodologies to assist a person to achieve this.

Another basic tenet of Scientology is that there are three basic interrelated (and intrinsically spiritual) components that are the very makeup of successful "livingness": affinity, reality (or agreement), and communication, which equate to understanding. Hubbard called this the "ARC triangle". Scientologists utilize ARC to enhance their lives, primarily based upon the belief that raising one aspect of the triangle increases the other two.

In an attempt to clarify the concept of conscious, subconscious, and unconscious minds, Hubbard wrote that the mind of man is structured in two parts: the "analytical mind" and the "reactive mind". He described the analytical mind as the positive, rational, computing portion, while the "reactive mind", according to Hubbard, operates on a stimulus-response basis. Scientologists believe the reactive mind is the root of an individual's travail, as well as the root of mankind's inhumanity and inability to create lasting, prosperous, sane societies.

The central methodology of Scientology is called "auditing", (from the Latin root aud-, to listen), which is one-on-one communication with a Scientology-trained "auditor". The auditor assists a person to have realizations about himself and unravel the reactive portion of his mind, ie, emotional "charge", specific traumatic incidents, his own ethical transgressions, and bad decisions of his past that tend to lock him into a life not totally under his own control.

The Church states that the goal of Scientology is a world without war, criminals, and insanity, where good decent people have the freedom to reach their goals.

The Church of Scientology

Main article: Church of Scientology

The Church of Scientology was first incorporated in the United States as a nonprofit organization in 1954. Today it forms the center of a complex worldwide network of corporations dedicated to the promotion of L. Ron Hubbard's philosophies in all areas of life. This includes drug treatment centers (Narconon), criminal rehab programs (Criminon), activities to reform the field of mental health (Citizens Commission on Human Rights), projects to implement workable and effective educational methods in schools (Applied Scholastics), a campaign to return moral values to living (The Way to Happiness), an organization to educate and assist businesses to succeed (World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, or WISE), and a crusade directed to world leaders as well as the general public to implement the 1948 United Nations document, "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights".

The Church of Scientology has been, and remains, a highly controversial organization. Countries have taken markedly different approaches to Scientology. In the United States, Scientology declares itself to be a religion and regularly cites religious protection under First Amendment to the United States Constitution; other countries, notably in Europe, have regarded Scientology as a potentially dangerous cult and have significantly restricted its activities at various times, or at least have not considered that the branches of the Church of Scientology met the legal criteria for being considered religion-supporting organizations. In Germany for instance, they are not seen as a religion by the government but as a financial organization. Scientology has also been the focus of criticism by anti-cult campaigners and has aroused controversy for its high-profile campaigns against psychiatry and psychiatric medication.

The many legal battles fought by the Church of Scientology since its inception have given it a reputation as one of the most litigious religious organizations in existence. (See also: Scientology and the legal system)

Independent Scientology groups

Main article: Free Zone

Although "Scientology" is most often used as shorthand for the Church of Scientology, a number of groups practice Scientology and Dianetics outside of the fold of the official Church. Such groups are invariably breakaways from the official Church and usually argue that it has corrupted L. Ron Hubbard's principles or has otherwise become overly domineering. The Church takes an extremely hard line on breakaway groups, labeling them "apostates" (or "squirrels" in Scientology jargon) and often subjecting them to considerable legal and social pressure. Breakaway groups avoid the name "Scientology" so as to keep from being sued, instead referring to themselves collectively as the Free Zone.

Free Zone groups are extremely heterogeneous in terms of doctrine—very unlike the official Church. Some Free Zoners practice more or less pure Scientology, based on Hubbard's original (Church-published) texts and principles but without the supervision or fee system of the official Church. Others have developed Hubbard's ideas into radically new forms, some of which are barely recognizable as being related to Scientology.

Controversy and criticism

Main article: Scientology controversy

Of the many new religious movements to appear during the 20th century, Scientology has been one of the most controversial almost since its inception. The Church of Scientology has come into conflict with the governments and police of several countries (including the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany) numerous times over the years.

Critics claim it to be a commercial organization with a long history of defending its teachings by use of copyright and trade secret law, and sometimes using high pressure sales techniques to extract money from its members. Former members and critics of the organzation often accuse it of being a cult, and the Church of Scientology is frequently included on lists of organizations accused of "cult" behavior. (See also: List of purported cults)

Another point of controversy is Scientology's infiltration of the United States Internal Revenue Service in what Scientology termed "Operation Snow White". Eleven high-ranking Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife Mary Sue Hubbard, served time in federal prison for their involvement in this infiltration.

The ongoing controversy involving the Church of Scientology and its critics involves:

  • Criminal activities by the Church of Scientology and its members.
  • Claims of "brainwashing" and mind control.
  • Scientology's disconnection policy.
  • Accounts of L. Ron Hubbard discussing his intent to start a religion to make money
  • Differing accounts of L. Ron Hubbard's life, (critics charge Scientology with being a cult of personality, with much emphasis placed on the alleged accomplishments of its founder)
  • Deaths of Scientologists due to mistreatment by Scientology.
  • Scientology's harassing and litigious actions against its critics and enemies.

Scientology vs. the Internet

Main Article: Scientology vs. the Internet

Leaders of Scientology have undertaken extensive operations on the Internet to deal with growing allegations of fraudulence and exposure of unscrupulousness within Scientology. The organization states that it is taking actions to prevent distribution of copyrighted Scientology documents and publications online; however, its critics (and many Internet users) claim the organization is attempting to suppress free speech. In January 1995 Scientology lawyer Helena Kobrin attempted to silence the discussions taking place on the alt.religion.scientology newsgroup by issuing a control message intended to remove the newsgroup from all Usenet servers, and started to sue people for posting copies of its scriptures on the group, acts that resulted in thousands of Internet users around the world taking a closer look at Scientology. From mid-1996 and for several years after, the newsgroup was subject to another form of attempted suppression dubbed "sporgery" by some, in the form of hundreds of thousands of forged spam messages posted on the group. Although the church neither confirmed nor denied that it was behind the spam, some investigators claimed that some of the spam had been traced to church members. Scientology's response to criticism was to issue a statement insisting that their actions were actually an assault against hate speech, making numerous claims about hate and violence directed against Scientology.

See also

Further reading

External links

Official Scientology sites

Other pro-Scientology sites

Current news and discussions

Critical links

Last updated: 08-29-2005 09:12:32
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