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Scientology is a system of beliefs and practices created by American pulp fiction author [1][2] L. Ron Hubbard in 1952 as a self-help philosophy. By 1960 Hubbard had redefined it as a "religion by its basic tenets".[3] The Church of Scientology, by far the largest organization promoting the belief system of Scientology, is sometimes referred to simply as "Scientology".

The Church of Scientology presents itself as a religious non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of the human spirit and providing counseling and rehabilitation programs. Church spokespeople claim that Hubbard's teachings (called "technology" or "tech" in Scientology terminology) have saved them from addictions, arthritis, depression, learning disabilities, mental illness, cancer, homosexuality[4][5] and other perceived problems.

The controversial organization has attracted much criticism and distrust throughout the world because of its closed nature and strong-arm tactics in handling critics.[6] Lawmakers, including national governing bodies of several countries, have characterized the Church as an unscrupulous commercial organization, citing harassment of critics and exploitation of its members.[7] Scientology's principles have been characterized as pseudoscientific by scientists, medical doctors and psychotherapeutic practitioners. Although some religious scholars have deemed Scientology a religion [8] it has frequently been perceived as a cult and a pseudoreligion. [9][10]

There are approximately 55,000 Scientology adherents in the United States according to a survey published by the U.S. Census bureau.[11] The worldwide number of adherents is disputed. The Church of Scientology claims between 8 to 10 million followers. suggests there may be 500,000 adherents worldwide [12] while other groups say the number is likely to be less than 100,000 in total.[13]

Beliefs and practices

Main article: Scientology beliefs and practices

L. Ron Hubbard, circa 1970.

Scientology's doctrines were established by Hubbard over a period of about 34 years, beginning in 1952 and continuing until his death in January 1986. Most of the basic principles of the Church were set out during the 1950s and 1960s. Scientology followed on the heels of Dianetics, an earlier system of self-improvement techniques laid out by Hubbard in his 1950 book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. By the mid-1950s, Hubbard had relegated Dianetics to a subfield of Scientology. [citation needed] The Church says that Scientology is concerned with "the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others and all of life," [14] but they say that Dianetics is only concerned about getting rid of the reactive mind.[15] Scientology also covers topics such as ethics and morality (The Way to Happiness), drug and chemical residues as they relate to spiritual wellbeing (the Purification Rundown), communication, marriage, raising children, dealing with work-related problems, educational matters (study technology), and the very nature of life (The Dynamics).

Scientology practices are structured in a certain form of series or levels, because Hubbard believed that rehabilitation takes place on a step-by-step basis; for example, that the negative effects of drugs should be addressed before other issues can be addressed. According to Hubbard, these steps lead to the more advanced strata of Scientology's more esoteric knowledge. This is described as a passage along "the Bridge to Total Freedom", or simply "the Bridge," in which each step of the Bridge promises a little more personal freedom in the area specified by the Bridge's definition.

Some central beliefs of Scientology:

  • A person is an immortal spiritual being (termed a thetan) who possesses a mind and a body.
  • Through the Scientology process of "auditing", one can free oneself of "engrams" and "implants" to reach the state of "Clear", and after that, the state of "Operating Thetan". Each state is said to represent recovering the native spiritual abilities of the individual, and to confer dramatic mental and physical benefits.
  • The thetan has lived through many past lives and will continue to live beyond the death of the body.
  • A person is basically good, but becomes "aberrated" by moments of pain and unconsciousness in his or her life.
  • What is true for you is what you have observed yourself. No beliefs should be forced as "true" on anyone. Thus, the tenets of Scientology are expected to be tested and seen to either be true or not by Scientology practitioners.
  • Psychiatry and psychology are evil and abusive. [16]
  • Humans retain many emotional problems caused by early stages of evolution (see Scientology History of Man).

Scientology claims to offer an exact methodology to help a person achieve awareness of his or her spiritual existence and better effectiveness in the physical world. "Exact" methods of spiritual counseling are taught and practiced which are claimed to enable this change. According to the Church, the ultimate goal is to get the soul (thetan) back to its native state of total freedom, thus gaining control over matter, energy, space, time, thoughts, form, and life. This freed state is called Operating Thetan, or OT for short.


A Scientology recruiter introduces an E-meter to a potential convert. Such introductory audits are typically presented as "free stress tests".

Main article: Auditing (Scientology)

The central practice of Scientology is "auditing" (from the Latin word audire, "to listen"), which is one-on-one communication with a trained Scientology counselor or "auditor". The auditor follows an exact procedure toward rehabilitating the human spirit. Most auditing uses an E-meter, a device that measures very small changes in electrical resistance through the human body when a person is holding onto tin cans and a small current is passed through them.[17]

The auditing process is intended to help the practitioner (referred to as a preclear or PC) to unburden himself or herself of specific traumatic incidents, prior ethical transgressions and bad decisions, which are said to collectively restrict the preclear from achieving his or her goals and lead to the development of a "reactive mind". The auditor asks the preclear to respond to a list of questions which are designed for specific purposes and given to the preclear in a strictly regulated way. Auditing requires that the preclear be a willing and interested participant who understands the questions, and the process goes more smoothly when he or she understands what is going on. Per Church policy, auditors are trained not to "evaluate for" their preclears; i.e., they are forbidden from suggesting, interpreting, degrading or invalidating the preclear's answers. The E-meter is used to help locate an area of concern.

Scientologists have claimed benefits from auditing including improved IQ, improved ability to communicate, enhanced memory, alleviated dyslexia and attention deficit problems, and improved relaxation; however, no scientific studies have verified these claims.

The Anderson Report, an official inquiry conducted for the state of Victoria, Australia, found that auditing involved a form of "authoritative" or "command" hypnosis, in which the hypnotist assumes "positive authoritative control" over the patient. "It is the firm conclusion of this Board that most scientology and dianetic techniques are those of authoritative hypnosis and as such are dangerous. ... the scientific evidence which the Board heard from several expert witnesses of the highest repute ... which was virtually unchallenged - leads to the inescapable conclusion that it is only in name that there is any difference between authoritative hypnosis and most of the techniques of scientology. Many scientology techniques are in fact hypnotic techniques, and Hubbard has not changed their nature by changing their names." [18] (See Scientology and hypnosis). Licensed psychotherapists have alleged that the Church's auditing sessions amount to mental health treatment without a license [citation needed], but the Church disputes these allegations, and claims to have established in courts of law that its practice leads to spiritual relief. So, according to the Church, the psychotherapist treats mental health and the Church treats the spiritual being. A 1971 ruling of the United States District Court, District of Columbia (333 F. Supp. 357), specifically stated, "the E-meter has no proven usefulness in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease, nor is it medically or scientifically capable of improving any bodily function." [2] As a result of this ruling, Scientology now publishes disclaimers in its books and publications declaring that "By itself, the E-meter does nothing"[19] and that it is used specifically for spiritual purposes.

During the auditing process, the auditor may collect personal information from the person being audited in a manner similar to a psychotherapy session or confessional. The Church maintains that its auditing records are kept confidential, after the manner of confession in Catholic churches; however, at least one organizational directive (GO 121669) specifically authorized the use of these auditing records for purposes of "internal security".[20] Auditing records are referred to within Scientology as "PC (preclear) folders" and are said to be stored under lock and key when not being added to during auditing sessions.[citation needed] In some instances, former members have claimed the Church used information obtained in auditing sessions against them.[21][22][23] While such a claim would be actionable as extortion, blackmail or harassment within most legal jurisdictions, no such claim has to date been legally confirmed against Scientology based upon use or revelation of auditing records.

Silent birth and infant care

Main article: Silent birth

Hubbard stated that the delivery room should be as silent as possible during birth. This stems from his belief that birth is a trauma that may induce engrams into the baby. Hubbard asserted that words in particular should be avoided because he stated that any words used during birth might be reassociated by an adult later on in life, with their earlier traumatic birth experience. Hubbard also wrote that the mother should use "as little anaesthetic as possible". According to Hubbard, babies should not be bathed after birth, but should be wrapped up tightly and left alone for a day or so. Hubbard also wrote that breastfeeding should be avoided (in contravention of common medical advice, which stresses its importance for the health of both the mother and the child[24]). As an alternative, Hubbard offered a concoction which he called the "Barley Formula", made from barley water, homogenized milk, and corn syrup or honey. Hubbard claims that "I picked it up in Roman days." (Corn syrup is made from maize grain, which was unknown to Europeans before colonization of the New World.) [25] However, this formula is potentially unsafe; honey can cause infant botulism when given to infants under twelve months of age.[26][27][28]

Hubbard had no qualifications to give pediatric advice and his claims regarding the care of babies and infants are disputed by the majority of doctors and health care professionals. Patricia Devine, MD, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist who directs the Labor and Delivery Unit at Columbia University Medical Center, said "There's absolutely no scientific evidence that taking [noise] away at the time of delivery will have any effect on outcome for the baby or mother."[29]

ARC triangle

Main article: ARC (Scientology)

Another basic tenet of Scientology are the three interrelated (and intrinsically spiritual) components that make up successful "livingness": affinity (emotional responses), reality (an agreement on what is real) and communication (the exchange of ideas). Hubbard called this the "ARC Triangle". Scientologists utilize ARC as a central organizing principle in their own lives, primarily based upon the belief that improving one aspect of the triangle increases the level of the other two.

Tone scale

Main article: Tone scale

The tone scale is a characterization of human mood and behavior by various positions on a scale. The scale ranges from -40 ("Total Failure") to +40 ("Serenity of Beingness"). Positions on the tone scale are usually designated by an emotion, but Hubbard also described many other things that can be indicated by the tone scale levels, such as aspects of an individual's health, sexual behavior, survival potential, or ability to deal with truth. The tone scale is used by Scientologists in everyday life to evaluate people. According to Scientology, the lower the person is on the tone scale, the more complex and convoluted his or her day-to-day problems tend to be, and the more care and judgment should be exercised regarding communication and interchange with the individual.

Past lives

In Dianetics, Hubbard proposed that the cause of "aberrations" in the human mind was an accumulation of pain and unconscious memories of traumatic incidents, some of which predated the life of the individual. He extended this view further in Scientology, declaring that thetans have existed for tens of trillions of years (several orders of magnitude greater than mainstream science believes the age of the universe to be). During that time, Hubbard explains, they have been exposed to a vast number of traumatic incidents, and have made a great many decisions that influence their present state. According to an early lecture of Hubbard's, it is, as a practical matter, both impossible and undesirable to recall each and every such event from such vast stretches of time. As a result, Hubbard's 30-year development of Scientology focused on streamlining the process to address only key factors. Hubbard stated that Scientology materials as described in books, tapes, and research notes include a record of everything that was found in the course of his research. Not all things found have been experienced by all beings (for example, not everyone was Roman or Chinese).

According to Hubbard, some of the past traumas may have been deliberately inflicted in the form of "implants" used by extraterrestrial dictatorships such as Helatrobus to brainwash and control people. Scientology doctrine includes a wide variety of beliefs in extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions in Earthly events, collectively described by Hubbard as "space opera". There is a huge Church of Spiritual Technology symbol carved into the ground at Scientology's Trementina Base that is visible from passing aircraft or from satellite photography such as that found on Google Maps. Washington Post reporter Richard Leiby wrote, "Former Scientologists familiar with Hubbard’s teachings on reincarnation say the symbol marks a “return point” so loyal staff members know where they can find the founder’s works when they travel here in the future from other places in the universe."[30][31]

Operating Thetan levels and the Xenu incident

Xenu, as depicted by the BBC's Panorama

The "Hidden Truth" about the nature of the universe is taught to only the most advanced Scientologists, those who have achieved the level "Clear", in a series of courses known as the Advanced Technology.

The contents of these Advanced Levels courses are held in strict confidence within Scientology. They have never been published by the church, except for use in highly secure areas. The most advanced of all are the eight Operating Thetan levels, which require the initiate to be thoroughly prepared. The highest level, OT VIII, is only disclosed at sea, on the Scientology cruise ship Freewinds. Because Scientology is a mystery religion, the more closely guarded and esoteric teachings imparted at these higher levels may not always be entirely consistent with its entry-level teachings.

In the confidential OT levels, Hubbard describes a variety of traumas commonly experienced in past lives. He also explains how to reverse the effects of such traumas. Among these advanced teachings, one episode revealed to those who reach OT level III has been widely remarked upon in the press: the story of Xenu and his Galactic Confederacy.

Scientologists argue that published accounts of the Xenu story and other colorful teachings are presented out of context for the purpose of ridiculing their religion. Journalists and critics of Scientology counter that Xenu is part of a much wider Scientology belief in past lives on other planets, some of which has been public knowledge for decades. For instance, Hubbard's 1958 book Have You Lived Before This Life documents past lives described by individual Scientologists during auditing sessions. These included memories of being "deceived into a love affair with a robot decked out as a beautiful red-haired girl", being run over by a Martian bishop driving a steamroller, being transformed into an intergalactic walrus that perished after falling out of a flying saucer, and being "a very happy being who strayed to the planet Nostra 23,064,000,000 years ago". In comparison, modern astrophysical observations have established the age of the Universe at 13.7 billion (13,700,000,000) years, to within about 1% confidence.

Scientologists argue that most members of the organization have not attained a sufficiently high level to learn about Xenu. Therefore, while knowledge of Xenu and Body Thetans is said to be crucial to the highest level church teachings, it cannot be regarded as a core belief of rank and file Scientologists. Such information is not published in commonly available materials, and as such may not be part of what the vast majority of ordinary Scientologists believe.

Critics point out that Scientology literature does include many references to extraterrestrial past lives (even to low levels on the bridge), and that internal Scientology publications are often illustrated with pictures of spaceships and oblique references to catastrophic events that happened "75 million years ago" (e.g. the Xenu incident).

This material ties in to the general purpose of Scientology, which is to learn about these "whole track" incidents on the OT Levels to confront the negativity the mind still holds from these incidents, and as a result to be free of the ill effects of these "whole track" incidents.

Scientology and other religions

A Scientology Center on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.

Scientology teaches that it is fully compatible with all existing major religions. The Church of Scientology has publicly stated:

"Scientology respects all religions. Scientology does not conflict with other religions or other religious practices." (What is Scientology? 1992, p.544)

However, the Church of Scientology has been questioned by other religious groups, including the Church of England[32] which complained in March 2003 to the Advertising Standards Authority about the Church's advertising poster promoting Narconon--the drug rehabilitation program based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard. The poster claimed "250,000 people salvaged from drugs." The Church of England Diocese of Birmingham challenged the claim. Upholding the complaint, the ASA considered that, "without clarification, readers were likely to interpret the claim '250,000 people salvaged from drugs' to mean that 250,000 people had stopped being dependent on street or prescription drugs because of Scientology. The Authority "accepted that more than 250,000 people had undertaken the Church's Drug Purification and Drug Rundown programmes, which were designed to free people from the effects of taking drugs," but "the Authority understood that, within Scientology, the concept of 'drug use' referred to a variety of behaviours that ranged from heavy use of street drugs to occasional ingestion of alcohol or prescription medicines and exposure to chemical toxins."

In May 2001, the Russian Orthodox Church criticized Scientologists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Unificationists and Mormons as being dangerous "totalitarian sects".[33]

The Lutheran Church[34] in Germany has at times criticized Scientology's activities and doctrines, along with those of several other religions. According to the U.S. State Department's 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, "The Lutheran Church also characterizes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Church of Christ, Christian Scientists, the New Apostolic Church, and the Johannish Church as 'sects,' but in less negative terms than it does Scientology."

Many members of the Roman Catholic Church reject Scientology, because of the CoS's views on Jesus, and believe Scientology to be a form of gnosticism.

Scientology's claim of religious compatibility to entry-level Scientologists is soon modified by the additional teaching that the various levels of spiritual prowess which can be reached through Scientology are more advanced than those attainable in other religions. Critics maintain that, within Scientology, "spiritual abilities" tends to be synonymous with "mystical powers" rather than with "inner peace". Hubbard himself cautioned against the unwise or improper use of powers in his book History of Man.

In its application for tax exempt status in the United States, the Church of Scientology International states:

"Although there is no policy or Scriptural mandate expressly requiring Scientologists to renounce other religious beliefs or membership in other churches, as a practical matter Scientologists are expected to and do become fully devoted to Scientology to the exclusion of other faiths. As Scientologists, they are required to look only to Scientology Scriptures for the answers to the fundamental questions of their existence and to seek enlightenment only from Scientology." (Response to Final Series of IRS Questions Prior to Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) As a Church, October 1, 1993)

Critics claim that a select group of advanced practitioners eventually discovered that Hubbard had left little doubt in his writings and lectures about the dim view he took toward existing major religions. In some of the teachings Hubbard had intended only for this select group, he claimed that Jesus had never existed, but was implanted in humanity's collective memory by Xenu 75 million years ago, and that Christianity was an "entheta [evil] operation" mounted by beings called Targs (Hubbard, "Electropsychometric Scouting: Battle of the Universes", April 1952). Some critics have claimed that one of the highest levels, OT VIII, tells initiates that Jesus was a pederast (it is decidedly unclear whether the version of OT VIII in the Fishman Affidavit, where this claim originates, is genuine). Thus, critics claim, Hubbard makes clear his belief that advanced Scientologists are to identify Jesus and Christianity more as a force of evil than as a force for good.

Hubbard claimed that Islam was the result of an extraterrestrial memory implant, called the Emanator, of which the Kaaba is supposedly an artifact. Mainstream religions, in his view, had failed to realize their objectives: "It is all very well to idealize poverty and associate wisdom with begging bowls, or virtue with low estate. However, those who have done this (Buddhists, Christians, Communists and other fanatics) have dead ended or are dead ending." (Hubbard, HCOPL of January 21, 1965)

Based on an interpretation of Buddhist writings which described, among other things, a man from the west with hair like flames around his head who was said to be due to return some 2,500 years after the first Buddha, the red-haired Hubbard sometimes identified himself with Maitreya, the Buddha of the future. (Hubbard, Hymn of Asia, 1952).

The revealed beliefs in Scientology at higher levels become increasingly contradictory with other religions. The concept of past lives in Scientology is at odds with Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Beliefs concerning the origins and age of the Earth, the root of evil, and the nature of man make it impossible to uphold the beliefs of most other religions while also being a Scientologist.


Meaning of the word 'Scientology'

Although today associated almost exclusively with Hubbard's work, "Scientology" was originally coined by philologist Alan Upward in 1907 as a synonym for "pseudoscience". [1][35] 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 ("Scientology, Science of the Constitution and Usefulness of Knowledge"). [3] 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".[36] However, it is not clear to what extent Hubbard was aware of these earlier uses. The word itself is a pairing of the Latin word scientia ("knowledge", "skill"), which comes from the verb scire ("to know"), and the Greek λογος lógos ("reason" or "inward thought" or "logic" or "an account of").

"Scientology would be a study of knowledge," Hubbard stated in 1952.[37] In the 1965 edition of Scientology: The Fundamentals of Thought, he added, "Scientology is that branch of psychology which treats or (embraces) human ability. It is an extension of Dianetics which is in itself an extension of old-time faculty-psychology of 400 years ago." In 1960 L. Ron Hubbard redefined Scientology as: "a religion by its basic tenets, practice, historical background and by the definition of the word “religion” itself." [38] In 1969 he wrote that "It is fundamentally an applied religious philosophy."[39] although it is claimed that this was for tax exempt qualifications.

Immediately prior to his first Dianetics publications, Hubbard was involved with occultist Jack Parsons in performing rites developed by Aleister Crowley[40]. In a 1952 lecture, Hubbard praised Crowley's works and referred to him as "my very good friend". [4] Some investigators have noted similarities in Hubbard's writings to the doctrines of Crowley, [5] though the Church of Scientology currently denies any such connection. An influence that Hubbard did acknowledge is the system of General Semantics developed by Alfred Korzybski in the 1930s. [6] Scientology also reflects the influence of the Hindu concept of karma, as well as the less metaphysical theories of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and William Sargant.

In a lecture given on July 19, 1962 entitled "The E-meter", Hubbard said:

"So Suzie and I went down to the library, and we started hauling books out and looking for words. And we finally found 'scio' and we find 'ology'. And there was the founding of that word. Now, that word had been used to some degree before. There had been some thought of this. Actually the earliest studies on these didn't have any name to them until a little bit along the line and then I called it anything you could think of. But we found that this word Scientology, you see—and it could have been any other word that had also been used—was the best-fitted word for exactly what we wanted."

The current Church of Scientology writes, "The word Scientology literally means 'the study of truth.' It comes from the Latin word 'scio' meaning 'knowing in the fullest sense of the word' and the Greek word 'logos' meaning 'study of.'"[41]

The Church of Scientology

Main article: Church of Scientology

The official, Christian-like symbol of the Church of Scientology.

A Church of Scientology was first incorporated in Camden, New Jersey as a non-profit organization in 1953. Today's Church of Scientology was established in 1954. 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 rehabilitation programs (Criminon);
  • Activities to reform the field of mental health (Citizens Commission on Human Rights);
  • Projects to implement Hubbard's educational methods in schools (Applied Scholastics);
  • A "moral values" campaign (The Way to Happiness);
  • A political action committee, (Citizens for Social Reform) to promote social programs with legislators at the US federal and state levels;
  • World Institute of Scientology Enterprises, or WISE, which licenses Hubbard's management techniques for use in businesses;
  • A consulting firm based on Hubbard's management techniques (Sterling Management Systems);
  • A publishing company, e-Republic, which publishes Government Technology and Converge magazines and coordinates the Center for Digital Government;
  • A campaign directed to world leaders, as well as the general public, to implement the 1948 United Nations document "The Universal Declaration of Human Rights" (with particular emphasis on the religious freedom elements).
  • An organization dedicated to bettering plant and animal life on Earth that applies Scientology tools, such as "The Dynamics" (Earth Organization)

Independent Scientology groups

Main article: Free Zone (Scientology)

Although "Scientology" is most often used as shorthand for the Church of Scientology, a number of groups practice Scientology and Dianetics outside of the official Church. Such groups are invariably breakaways from the original Church, and usually argue that it has corrupted L. Ron Hubbard's principles or 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.

Controversy and criticism

Main article: Scientology controversy

Church of Scientology on Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada.

Of the many new religious movements to appear during the 20th century, Scientology has from its inception been one of the most controversial. The Church has come into conflict with the governments and police forces of several countries (including the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany) numerous times over the years, though supporters note that many major world religions have found themselves in conflict with civil government in their early years.

The Church pursues an extensive public relations campaign supporting Scientology as a bona fide religion. The organization cites numerous scholarly sources supporting its position, many of which can be found on a website the Church has established for this purpose. [7]

Different countries have taken markedly different approaches to Scientology. Scientology is considered a religion in the United States, Thailand, Taiwan, Spain, and Australia, and thus enjoys and regularly cites the constitutional protections afforded in two of these nations to religious practice (First Amendment to the United States Constitution; Australian Constitution, s 116). In Canada, the Church of Scientology is considered a religious non-profit organization. In 1992, Scientology became the only[42] religious organization convicted in criminal court on two counts of breach of the public trust (for an organized conspiracy to infiltrate government offices) following a trial by jury. In the United States, the church obtained "public charity" status (IRS Code 501(c)(3)) and the associated preferential tax treatment after extended litigation. Applications for charity status in the UK and Canada were rejected in 1999. Some European governments (including notably, Germany, Belgium, France, and Austria) do not consider the Church to be a bona fide religious organization, but instead a commercial enterprise and / or a cult.

Other countries, mostly in Europe, have regarded Scientology as a potentially dangerous cult, or at least have not considered local branches of the Church of Scientology to meet the legal criteria for being considered religion-supporting organizations. In Germany, for instance, Scientology is not considered a religion by the government, but a commercial business. Fifteen of the sixteen German states, positing that Scientology had potentially anti-democratic tendencies, have to a greater or lesser degree and for varying periods subjected Scientology and Scientologists to state surveillance since the early 1970's. No criminal or civil charges have been brought as a result of this surveillance. Two German states and the political party, the CDU (Christian Democratic Union) have passed rules or regulations limiting the participation of Scientologists in politics, business and public life. In several court cases Scientology lost filed complaints against continued surveillance because the courts held the opinion that Scientology still pursues anticonstitutional activities. In Berlin surveillance ceased because the court prohibited the use of paid undercover agents, in Saarland surveillance was stopped by the court because there was/is no current danger recognizable. The United Kingdom government does not recognize Scientology as a bona fide religion. The Church has been subjected to considerable pressure from the state in Russia. In Belgium, the minister of justice refused Scientology as a candidate for the status of recognized religion. [8] Also in Belgium, a trial against Scientology is due to begin in 2006. [9]

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 religious bona fides of Scientology have been repeatedly questioned. Hubbard was accused of adopting a religious façade for Scientology to allow the organization to maintain tax-exempt status and to avoid prosecution for false medical claims [citation needed].

These accusations continue to the present day, bolstered by numerous accounts from Hubbard's fellow science-fiction authors and researchers, the most notable being Harlan Ellison, Neison Himmel, Sam Merwin, Sam Moskowitz, Theodore Sturgeon, Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, and Lyle Stuart, who reported to have witnessed Hubbard stating on various occasions that the way to get rich was to start a religion. [10]. The Church claims that "One individual once claimed L. Ron Hubbard made such a comment during a lecture in 1948. The only two people who could be found who attended that very lecture in 1948 denied that Mr. Hubbard ever made this statement" and that therefore it is an "unfounded rumor." The Church's claim does not address any of the other individuals who have stated that they personally heard Hubbard make such a statement, some claiming that he said it on multiple occasions. The Church also suggests that the origin of the "rumor" was a quote by George Orwell which had been "misattributed" to Hubbard. However, Robert Vaughn Young, who left the Church in 1989 after twenty years, said that he had discovered the Orwell quote, and suggested that reports of Hubbard making such a statement could be explained as a misattribution of Orwell, despite having encountered three of Hubbard's associates from his science fiction days who remembered Hubbard making statements of that sort in person.[43]

The many legal battles fought by the Church of Scientology since its inception have given it a reputation as an extremely litigious organization, characterized by forcing litigants to enter into a lengthy and costly legal process using a number of highly trained lawyers, expert at prolonging cases.

The ongoing controversies involving the Church and its critics include:

  • Scientology's harassment and litigious actions against its critics and enemies.
  • Some critics charge Scientology with being a cult of personality, with much emphasis placed on the alleged accomplishments of its founder.
  • Scientologists claim that government files, such as those from the FBI, are loaded with forgeries and other false documents detrimental to Scientology [citation needed], but have never substantiated this accusation.
  • Unexplained deaths of Scientologists, most notably Lisa McPherson, allegedly due to mistreatment by other members.
  • Scientology's disconnection policy, in which members are encouraged to cut off all contact with friends or family members critical of the Church.[44]
  • Criminal activities by Scientologists, both those committed for personal benefit (Reed Slatkin, Gabriel Williams, and others) and those committed on behalf of the Church and directed by Church officials (Operation Snow White, Operation Freakout, Fair Game, and others).
  • Claims of brainwashing and mind control.
  • Use of high-pressure sales tactics to obtain money from members.
  • Lobbying search engines such as Google and Yahoo to omit any webpages that are critical of Scientology from their search engines (and in Google's case, AdSense), or at least the first few search pages (now however, a search for Scientology on Google and Yahoo brings up the Wikipedia page, with both critical and official Scientology websites).
  • Differing accounts of L. Ron Hubbard's life, in particular accounts of Hubbard discussing his intent to start a religion for profit. [11]

This last criticism is referenced, among other places, in a May 1980 Reader's Digest article, which quotes Hubbard, "If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." [45]

Tax-exempt status and status as a religion

Scientologists claim that Scientology is a bona fide religion. They cite many sources to support their position, many of which can be found on a website established for this purpose.[46] Scientologists claim that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax exemption granted to the Scientology related businesses gives their religion a U.S. government stamp of authenticity.[47] However, the tax-exempt status the IRS gives to charitable organizations is not necessarily the stamp of a "bona fide religion", nor does the US Government make that claim, because the IRS also grants this same tax-exempt status to non-religious entities, such as the Red Cross, the United Way, and tens of thousands of other groups, including kids soccer clubs and local neighborhood theatre groups. All are granted tax-exempt status because of IRS Tax Code, section 501(c)(3), while none are necessarily considered "bona fide religions".[48]

Scientologists spent a lot of time and effort to get their IRS tax exemption back after they lost it in a 1967 IRS audit. As part of those efforts during the late 1970's, Scientologists infiltrated the United States Internal Revenue Service and stole confidential documents in what was termed "Operation Snow White". Eleven high-ranking Scientologists, including Hubbard's wife Mary Sue Hubbard, served time in federal prison for their criminal acts during this infiltration of the IRS.

In the early 1990's church leaders, David Miscavige and Mark Rathbun, visited with the IRS in Washington, DC to negotiate a settlement in an effort to gain tax-exempt status. It wasn't until October 1, 1993, that the U.S. Internal Revenue Service formally announced that the Church of Scientology and its myriad corporate entities had been granted tax exemption again. A year before the exemption, though, on August 24, 1992, Scientology's Church of Spiritual Technology (CST) had traded to the federal government one of three known vaults it had built for millions of dollars, the one at the Trementina Base. Even though CST had paid over $250,000 for the property in 1986 and had invested millions in development of the property, according to the Federal Register record, CST traded it all to the government, vault included, for a similar parcel of land in the same New Mexico county valued at only $28,000.

The settlement document was sealed by the IRS, but it was leaked to the New York Times and they subsequently published it. The New York Times also asserted in a March 9, 1997 article that, in its efforts to obtain tax-exempt status, Scientologists paid private investigators to obtain compromising material on the IRS commissioner.[49]

Because Scientology courses are allowed to be deducted from income taxes, some people have wondered why religious courses for other religions are not allowed the same deduction. In the case of MICHAEL SKLAR; MARLA SKLAR v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL No. 00-70753, the Sklars argued they should be allowed a tax-deduction for their payments for courses their son took at a Jewish school. On January 29, 2002 the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld the IRS's opposition. Judge Silverman concurred, saying:

"An IRS closing agreement cannot overrule Congress and the Supreme Court. If the IRS does, in fact, give preferential treatment to members of the Church of Scientology—allowing them a special right to claim deductions that are contrary to law and rightly disallowed to everybody else—then the proper course of action is a lawsuit to put a stop to that policy."[50]

In 1982, there was a similar ruling by the High Court of Australia, in Church of the New Faith v. Commissioner Of Pay-roll Tax. The court ruled that the government of Victoria could not deny the Church the right to operate in Victoria under the legal status of "religion", even though the state found that the Church practiced charlatanism. All three judges in the case found that the Church of the New Faith (Church of Scientology) was a religion. One judge said "It follows that, whatever be the intentions of Mr. Hubbard and whatever be the motivation of the [Church of Scientology], the state of the evidence in this case requires a finding that the general group of adherents have a religion. The question whether their beliefs, practices and observances are a religion must, in the state of that evidence, be answered affirmatively. That answer, according to the conventional basis adopted by the parties in fighting the case, must lead to a judgment for the [Church of Scientology]." A second judge said, "Conclusion. The applicant has easily discharged the onus of showing that it is religious. The conclusion that it is a religious institution entitled to the tax exemption is irrestible." The third of the three judges concluded, "The conclusion to which we have ultimately come is that Scientology is, for relevant purposes, a religion. With due respect to Crockett J. and the members of the Full Supreme Court who reached a contrary conclusion, it seems to us that there are elements and characteristics of Scientology in Australia, as disclosed by the evidence, which cannot be denied."[51]

Scientology as a commercial venture

  1. REDIRECT Template:Main

Scientology pays members commissions on new recruits they bring in, so Scientology members routinely try to "sell" Scientology to others.[52] In addition, Scientology franchises, or missions, pay the church roughly 10% of their gross income.[53] Charges for auditing and other Church-related courses run to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.[54] Scientology maintains strict control over the use of its symbols, icons, and names. It claims copyright and trademark over its "Scientology cross," and its lawyers have threatened lawsuits against individuals and organizations who have published the image in books and on Web sites. Because of this, it is very difficult for individual groups to attempt to publicly practice Scientology on their own, without any affiliation or connection to the "official" Church of Scientology. Scientology has sued a number of individuals who attempted to set up their own "auditing" practices, using copyright and trademark law to shut these groups down.

The Church of Scientology and its many related organizations have amassed considerable real estate holdings worldwide, likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as a large amount of other funds from the practice of auditing.[52]

In June of 2006, it was announced that Scientology would be sponsoring a NASCAR race car. The Number 27 Ford Taurus driven by Kenton Gray displays a large Dianetics logo with volcano. [12]

Scientology and psychiatry

Scientologists regularly hold anti-psychiatry demonstrations they call "Psychbusts"

Main article: Scientology and psychiatry

Scientology is publicly and vehemently opposed to psychiatry and psychology.

This theme appears in some of Hubbard's literary works. In Hubbard's Mission Earth series, various characters praise and criticize these methods, and the antagonists in his novel Battlefield Earth are called Psychlos, a similar allusion.

From the Church of Scientology FAQ on Psychiatry:

What the Church opposes are brutal, inhumane psychiatric treatments. It does so for three principal reasons: 1) procedures such as electro-shock, drugs and lobotomy injure, maim and destroy people in the guise of help; 2) psychiatry is not a science and has no proven methods to justify the billions of dollars of government funds that are poured into it; and 3) psychiatric theories that man is a mere animal have been used to rationalize, for example, the wholesale slaughter of human beings in World Wars I and II. [13]

L. Ron Hubbard was bitterly critical of psychiatry's citation of physical causes for mental disorders, such as chemical imbalances in the brain. Although there are many questions remaining, the statements by Hubbard deny that psychiatry, through the scientific method, has shown some psychiatric disorders are related to anatomical and chemical cerebral anomalies. Furthermore, it is evident much of his criticism is based upon old and flawed information regarding psychiatry [14]. (electro-shock therapy, for example, is now only used under anaesthesia and muscle relaxants, and lobotomy is a defunct procedure). He regarded psychiatrists as denying human spirituality and peddling fake cures. He was also convinced psychiatrists were themselves deeply unethical individuals, committing "extortion, mayhem and murder. Our files are full of evidence on them." [15] The Church claims that psychiatry was responsible for World War I [16], the rise of Hitler and Stalin [17], the decline in education standards in the United States [18], the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo [19], and even the September 11 attacks [20]. However, for all these statements, the Church has failed to present any evidence supporting this view of psychiatry. Scientology's opposition to psychiatry has also undoubtedly been influenced by the opposition of numerous psychiatrists to the Church, resulting in pressure from the media and governments. Additionally, after the publication of Dianetics in which Hubbard tried to present a new form of psychotherapy, the American Psychological Association advised its members against using Hubbard's techniques with their patients until their effectiveness could be proven. Because of this critique Hubbard came to believe psychiatrists were behind a worldwide conspiracy to attack Scientology and create a "world government" run by psychiatrists on behalf of Soviet Russia:

Our enemies are less than twelve men. They are members of the Bank of England and other higher financial circles. They own and control newspaper chains and they, oddly enough, run all the mental health groups in the world that had sprung up ...
Their apparent programme was to use mental health, which is to say psychiatric electric shock and pre-frontal lobotomy, to remove from their path any political dissenters ... These fellows have gotten nearly every government in the world to owe them considerable quantities of money through various chicaneries and they control, of course, income tax, government finance — (Harold) Wilson, for instance, the current Premier of England, is totally involved with these fellows and talks about nothing else actually. (Hubbard, Ron's Journal 67 [21])

In 1966, Hubbard declared war on psychiatry, telling Scientologists "We want at least one bad mark on every psychiatrist in England, a murder, an assault, or a rape or more than one." He committed the Church to eradicating psychiatry in 1969, announcing "Our war has been forced to become 'To take over absolutely the field of mental healing on this planet in all forms.'" [22] Not coincidentally, the Church founded the Citizens Commission on Human Rights that same year as its primary vehicle for attacking psychiatry.

Around the same time, Hubbard claimed that psychiatrists were an ancient evil that had been a problem for billions of years. He cast them in the role of assisting Xenu's genocide of 75 million years ago. In a 1982 bulletin entitled "Pain and Sex", Hubbard declares that "pain and sex were the INVENTED TOOLS of degradation", having been devised eons ago by psychiatrists "who have been on the [time] track a long time and are the sole cause of decline in this universe." (Hubbard, HCO Bulletin of August 26, 1982)

Celebrity Scientologists, notably Tom Cruise, have been extremely vocal in attacking the use of psychiatric medication. [23] Their position has attracted considerable criticism from psychiatrists, physicians, and mental health patients and advocates who cite numerous scientific studies showing benefit from psychiatry. In addition, there is evidence Scientology adherents destroyed scientific data in a lengthy campaign to discredit research. [24] Nevertheless, this position is still defended and promoted by Scientologists. [25]

It should be noted that the CoS is just one of a small minority of groups that are involved in the Anti-psychiatry movement. CoS is one of the few organizations that oppose the study and application of psychology (a non-drug based form of therapy).

Scientology versus the Internet

Main article: Scientology versus the Internet

Scientology leaders have undertaken extensive operations on the Internet to deal with growing allegations of fraud [citation needed]and exposure of unscrupulousness within Scientology. The organization states that it is taking actions to prevent distribution of copyrighted Scientology documents and publications online by people whom it has called "copyright terrorists". Critics claim the organization's true motive is an attempt to suppress free speech and criticism.

In January 1995, Church lawyer Helena Kobrin attempted to shut down the Usenet discussion group alt.religion.scientology by sending a control message instructing Usenet servers to delete the group on the grounds that

(1) It was started with a forged message; (2) not discussed on alt.config; (3) it has the name "scientology" in its title which is a trademark and is misleading, as a.r.s. is mainly used for flamers to attack the Scientology religion; (4) it has been and continues to be heavily abused with copyright and trade secret violations and serves no purpose other than condoning these illegal practices. [26]

In practice, this rmgroup message had little effect, since most Usenet servers are configured to disregard such messages when applied to groups that receive substantial traffic, and newgroup messages were quickly issued to recreate the group on those servers that did not do so. However, the issuance of the message led to a great deal of public criticism by free-speech advocates.

The Church also began filing lawsuits against those who posted copyrighted texts on the newsgroup and the World Wide Web, and pressed for tighter restrictions on copyrights in general. The Church supported the controversial Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. The even more controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act was also strongly promoted by the Church and some of its provisions (notably the Online Copyright Infringement Liability Limitation Act) were heavily influenced by Church litigation against US Internet service providers over copyrighted Scientology materials that had been posted or uploaded through their servers.

Beginning in the middle of 1996 and for several years after, the newsgroup was attacked by anonymous parties using a tactic 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 its involvement with the spam, some investigators claimed that some spam had been traced to Church members. Former Scientologist Tory Christman, after she left the church, confessed to having been part of the sporgery project, taking money supplied by the Office of Special Affairs to open up Internet accounts at various ISPs under false names, accounts from which she later saw forged and garbled communications going out.[55]

In June 2006, Max Goldberg, owner of the website, was sent a cease and desist regarding the alleged infringment of trademarks and copyrighted Scientology material used in some sites. In response, Goldberg put up a Scientology section on the front page and a slightly satirical disclaimer.

Scientology and Celebrities

See also: List of Scientologists
See also: Scientology and Celebrities

The Church of Scientology has consistently sought to recruit artists and entertainers, particularly Hollywood celebrities. The Church runs special recruitment facilities for public figures designated Celebrity Centres. They can be found in Hollywood, New York City, Nashville, Las Vegas, London, Paris, Dallas, and Vienna, though Hollywood is the largest and most important. Scientologists give this description:

L. Ron Hubbard recognized the importance of the artist to society. Thus he created Celebrity Centre International — a Church of Scientology that specializes in delivering Dianetics and Scientology services to celebrities, professionals, leaders and promising new-comers in the fields of the arts, sports, management and government.

These sites are not celebrity-exclusive. They offer Scientology courses to non-celebrities, and courses start at the most basic beginner levels. At the Celebrity Centre, or simply CC as most Scientologists refer to it, it is possible to run into one of the few Scientology celebrities, but it is mostly full of non-famous people.

Publicity has been generated by Scientologists in the entertainment industry such as John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Jenna Elfman, Kirstie Alley, Catherine Bell, Leah Remini, Beck Hansen, Josh Pettersen, Chick Corea, Isaac Hayes, Juliette Lewis, James Packer, Doug E. Fresh, Greta Van Susteren, Judy Norton Taylor, Tom Cruise, and Cruise's converted fiancée Katie Holmes.

Critics say the attention and care given to celebrity practitioners is vastly different from that of noncelebrity practitioners. Andre Tabayoyon, a former Scientologist and Sea Org staffer, testified in a 1994 affidavit that money from not-for-profit Scientology organizations and labor from those organizations (including the Rehabilitation Project Force) had gone to provide special facilities for Scientology celebrities, which were not available to other Scientologists:

"A Sea Org staffer ... was taken along to do personal cooking for Tom Cruise and Miscavige at the expense of Scientology not for profit religious organizations. This left only 3 cooks at [Gold Base] to cook for 800 people three times a day ... apartment cottages were built for the use of John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Edgar Winter, Priscilla Presley and other Scientology celebrities who are carefully prevented from finding out the real truth about the Scientology organization ... Miscavige decided to redo the meadow in beautiful flowers; Tens of thousands of dollars were spent on the project so that Cruise and [Nicole] Kidman could romp there. However, Miscavige inspected the project and didn't like it. So the whole meadow was plowed up, destroyed, replowed and sown with plain grass."[56]

Tabayoyon's account of the planting of the meadow was supported by another former Scientologist, Maureen Bolstad, who said that a couple of dozen Scientologists including herself were put to work on a rainy night through dawn on the project. "We were told that we needed to plant a field and that it was to help Tom impress Nicole ... but for some mysterious reason it wasn't considered acceptable by Mr. Miscavige. So the project was rejected and they redid it."[57]

Diana Canova, who experienced Scientology both before and during her period of TV stardom, expressed it in a September 1993 interview: "When I started, I wasn't in television yet. I was a nobody - I'd done some TV, but I was not one of the elite, not by a long shot - until I did Soap. Then it became…I mean, you really are treated like royalty." [27]

Broadway veteran Michael B. Delp was also once affiliated with Scientology for at least 5 years and has continued to speak out against it. "Early on in my career I was influenced by what the Travolta's, Cruise's, and Juliette Lewis' of my acting craft were doing and if anything, that's what drove me to study Hubbard's teachings. I was sceptical upon entering, but became more relaxed and comfortable with Scientology in the early years. As I climbed OT levels; the more I began to learn, the more I was turned off by the whole thing and I couldn't justify the financial cost. In a way, the whole thing reminds me of one of those pyramid schemes and the Church gets the celebrities to do the advertising for free. I've just moved on and have chosen to forget those years." People Magazine 2004.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

See also

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
  • All articles Category:Scientology
  • Pseudoscience
  • List of Scientologists
  • List of Scientology references in popular culture
  • Symbols of Scientology
  • Free Zone
  • Scientology and psychiatry
  • Space opera in Scientology doctrine
  • Scientology controversy
  • Homosexuality and Scientology
  • Scientology versus the Internet
  • Alt.religion.scientology
  • Cult checklist
  • List of purported cults
  • List of religious organizations
  • Scientomogy
  • Subgenius
  • Pseudoreligion
  • Tom Cruise



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This article forms part of a series on
Engram · Dianetics: MSMH · Clear
Scientology Doctrine
Thetan · Supernatural abilities
Space opera · Xenu · Human evolution
Past lives · Medical claims · Altered texts
Study Tech · Auditing · Disconnection
Rundowns · Comm Evs
MEST · ARC · Tone scale · Reactive mind
L. Ron Hubbard · David Miscavige
Tory Christman · Lisa McPherson
Arnaldo Lerma · Karin Spaink
Public groups and recruitment
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Narconon · Criminon · Celebrities
Sea Org · Church of Scientology
Celebrity Centre · Trementina Base
Office of Special Affairs · Gold Base
International Association of Scientologists
Religious Technology Center
Suppressive Person · Fair Game
Snow White · Operation Freakout
Scientology vs. Internet
Patter drill · South Park
The legal system · Fishman Affidavit
Scientology as a Business