Scientology church beliefs

Scientology church beliefs DEFAULT

Church of Scientology

Organization devoted to the practice and the promotion of the Scientology belief system

For the book by J. Gordon Melton, see The Church of Scientology (Melton).

The Church of Scientology is a group of interconnected corporate entities and other organizations devoted to the practice, administration and dissemination of Scientology, which is variously defined as a cult, a business or a new religious movement.[1][2][3][4][5][6] The movement has been the subject of a number of controversies, and the Church of Scientology has been described by government inquiries, international parliamentary bodies, scholars, law lords, and numerous superior court judgements as both a cult and a manipulative profit-making business.[12] In 1979, several executives of the Church were convicted and imprisoned for multiple offenses by a U.S. Federal Court.[13][14] The Church itself was convicted of fraud by a French court in 2009, a decision upheld by the supreme Court of Cassation in 2013.[15] The German government classifies Scientology as an anti-constitutional sect.[16][17] In France, it has been classified as a dangerous cult.[18][19] In some countries, it has managed to attain legal recognition as a religion.[20]

The Church of Scientology International (CSI) is officially the Church of Scientology's parent organization, and is responsible for guiding local Scientology churches.[21][22][23] Its international headquarters are located at the Gold Base, in an unincorporated area of Riverside County, California near San Jacinto.[24]Scientology Missions International is under CSI and oversees Scientology missions, which are local Scientology organizations smaller than churches.[25][26] The Church of Spiritual Technology (CST) is the organization which owns all the copyrights of the estate of L. Ron Hubbard.[6]

All Scientology management organizations are controlled exclusively by members of the Sea Org, which is a legally nonexistent paramilitary organization for the "elite, innermost dedicated core of Scientologists".[6][25]David Miscavige is the highest-ranking Sea Org officer, holding the rank of captain.


The first Scientology church was incorporated in December 1953 in Camden, New Jersey[22][23] by L. Ron Hubbard, his wife Mary Sue Hubbard, and John Galusha. By that time, the Hubbard Association of Scientologists International (HASI) had already been operating since 1952[27][28] and Hubbard himself had already been selling Scientology books and technologies. In 1953, he wrote to Helen O'Brien, who was managing the organization, asking her to investigate the "religion angle".[29]p. 213 Soon after, despite O'Brien's misgivings and resignation, he announced the religious nature of Scientology in a bulletin to all Scientologists,[30] stressing its relation to the concept of Dharma. The first Church of Scientology opened in 1954 in Los Angeles.[31]

Hubbard stated, "A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology."[32] After the formation of the Church of Scientology, Hubbard composed its creed. The Scientology creed emphasizes three key points: being free to enjoy religious expression, the idea that mental healing is inherently religious, and that healing of the physical body is in the spiritual domain.[14]

Hubbard had official control of the organization until 1966 when this function was transferred to a group of executives.[33] Although Hubbard maintained no formal relationship with Scientology's management, he remained firmly in control of the organization and its affiliated organizations.[34]

In May 1986, subsequent to the sudden death of L. Ron Hubbard, David Miscavige, who was at that time the Commanding Officer of the Commodore's Messenger Organisation, assumed the position of "chairman of the board" of the Religious Technology Center (RTC), a non-profit corporation that administers the trademarked names and symbols of Dianetics and Scientology. Although RTC is a separate corporation from the Church of Scientology International, whose president and chief spokesperson is Heber Jentzsch, Miscavige is the effective leader of the movement.[citation needed]

In 1996, the Church of Scientology implemented the "Golden Age of Tech" (tech pertaining to the entire body of Scientology religious techniques) releasing a training program for Scientology auditors, while precisely following Hubbard's teachings. It was followed by the launch of "The Golden Age of Knowledge" in 2005, where Hubbard's announcements of milestones in the research and development of Dianetics and Scientology were released. Between 2005 and 2010, the church would complete its 25-year program to restore and verify the church's "scriptures". The church released the second phase of the Golden Age of Tech in November 2013, based on the original work of Hubbard. The Super Power Rundown a new component of auditing, was released in Clearwater, Florida.[35]


Main articles: Scientology and Scientology beliefs and practices

The Church of Scientology promotes and teaches Scientology, a body of beliefs and related practices created by L. Ron Hubbard, starting in 1952 as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics.[36]

Scientology teaches that people are immortal spiritual beings who have forgotten their true nature. Scientology's central mythology developed around the original notion of the thetan. In Scientology, the thetan is the individual expression of "theta", described by Neusner as "the cosmic source and life force". The thetan is the true human identity, rendering humans as "pure spirit and godlike". The religion's mythology holds the belief that "in the primordial past, thetans applied their creative abilities to form the physical universe". Contrary to the biblical narrative that shows that the universe was created by a divine, sole creator, Scientology holds that "the universe was created by theta in the form of individualized expressions".[37]

The story of Xenu is part of Scientologist teachings about extraterrestrial civilizations and alien interventions in Earthly events, collectively described as space opera by Hubbard.[38] Its method of spiritual rehabilitation is a type of counseling known as "auditing", in which practitioners aim to consciously re-experience painful or traumatic events in their past, to free themselves of their limiting effects.[39] Study materials and auditing courses are made available to members in return for specified donations.[40] Scientology is legally recognized as a tax-exempt religion in the United States[41][42][43][44] and the Church of Scientology emphasizes this as proof that it is a bona fide religion.

According to the Encyclopedia of American Religions, Scientology is "concerned with the isolation, description, handling and rehabilitation of the human spirit".[45] One purpose of Scientology, as stated by the Church of Scientology, is to become certain of one's spiritual existence and one's relationship to God, or the "Supreme Being".[46]

One of the major tenets of Scientology is that a human is an immortal alien spiritual being, termed a thetan, that is presently trapped on planet Earth in a physical "meat body". Hubbard described these thetans in "The Space Opera" cosmogony. The thetan has had innumerable past lives and it is accepted in Scientology that lives preceding the thetan's arrival on Earth lived in extraterrestrial cultures. Descriptions of space opera incidents are seen as true events by Scientologists.[47]

The Church claims that they provide methods by which a person can achieve greater spiritual awareness.[48] Within Scientology, progression from level to level is often called The Bridge to Total Freedom. Scientologists progress from "Preclear", to "Clear", and ultimately "Operating Thetan".

Scientologists are taught that a series of events, or incidents, occurred before life on earth.[49] Scientologists also believe that humans have hidden abilities which can be unlocked.[50][51]

Hubbard's image and writing are ubiquitous in Scientology churches. Churches built after Hubbard's death include a corporate-style office set aside for Hubbard's reincarnation, with a plaque on the desk bearing his name, and a pad of paper with a pen for him to continue writing novels.[52][53] A large bust of Hubbard is placed in the chapel for Sunday services, and most sermons reference him and his writing.[54]

Headquarters, bases, and central orgs

The highest authority in the Church of Scientology is the Religious Technology Center (RTC). The RTC claims to only be the "holder of Scientology and Dianetics trademarks", but is in fact the main Scientology executive organization.[6] RTC chairman David Miscavige is widely seen as the effective head of Scientology.[6] CSI provides a visible point of unity and guides the individual churches, especially in the area of applying Hubbard's teaching and technology in a uniform fashion.[55][56] At a local level, every church is a separate corporate entity set up as a licensed franchise and has its own board of directors and executives.[57][58][59][60]

Scientology organizations and missions exist in many communities around the world.[61] Scientologists call their larger centers orgs, short for "organizations". The major Scientology organization of a region is known as a central org. The legal address of the Church of Scientology International is in Los Angeles, California, 6331 Hollywood Blvd, in the Hollywood Guaranty Building. The Church of Scientology also has several major headquarters, including:

Saint Hill, West Sussex, England

Main article: Saint Hill Manor

Hubbard moved to England shortly after founding Scientology, where he oversaw its worldwide development from an office in London for most of the 1950s. In 1959, he bought Saint Hill Manor, a Georgian manor house near the Sussex town of East Grinstead. During Hubbard's years at Saint Hill, he traveled extensively, providing lectures and training in Australia, South Africa in the United States, and developing materials that would eventually become Scientology's "core systematic theology and praxis".[62] While in Saint Hill, Hubbard worked with a staff of nineteen and urged others to join. On September 14, 1959, he wrote: "Here, on half a hundred acres of lovely grounds in a mansion where we have not yet found all the bedrooms, we are handling the problems of administration and service for the world of Scientology. We are not very many here and as the sun never sets on Scientology we are very busy thetans."[62]

The most important achievement of the Saint Hill period was Hubbard's execution of the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course (SHBC). It was delivered by Hubbard from March 1951 to December 1966 and "is considered the single most comprehensive and rigorous training course for budding auditors in the church". Scientology groups called "Saint Hill Organizations" located in Los Angeles, Clearwater (Florida), Copenhagen and Sydney still teach this course.[62]

This became the worldwide headquarters of Scientology through the 1960s and 1970s. Hubbard declared Saint Hill to be the organization by which all other organizations would be measured, and he issued a general order (still followed today) for all organizations around the world to expand and reach "Saint Hill size". The Church of Scientology has announced that the next two levels of Scientology teaching, OT 9 and OT 10, will be released and made available to church members when all the major organizations in the world have reached Saint Hill size.[63][64]

Flag Land Base, Clearwater, Florida, United States

Main article: Fort Harrison Hotel

The "worldwide spiritual headquarters" of the Church of Scientology is known as Flag Land Base, located in Clearwater, Florida. It is operated by the Floridian corporation Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization, Inc.

The organization was founded in 1975 when a Scientology-founded group called "Southern Land Development and Leasing Corp" purchased the Fort Harrison Hotel for $2.3 million. Because the reported tenant was the "United Churches of Florida" the citizens and City Council of Clearwater did not realize that the building's owners were actually the Church of Scientology until after the building's purchase. Clearwater citizens' groups, headed by Mayor Gabriel Cazares, rallied strongly against Scientology establishing a base in the city (repeatedly referring to the organization as a cult), but Flag Base was established nonetheless.[65]

In the years since its foundation, the Flag Land Base has expanded as the Church of Scientology has gradually purchased large amounts of additional property in the downtown and waterfront Clearwater area. Scientology's largest project in Clearwater has been the construction of a high-rise complex called the "Super Power Building", or Flag Building, which "is the centerpiece of a 160-million construction campaign."[66]

The Church of Scientology's CST chairman of the board, David Miscavige, led the opening and dedication of the 377,000-square-foot Flag Building on November 17, 2013. The multi-million cathedral is the new spiritual headquarters of Scientology. The fifth and sixth floor contain the "Super Power Program", which includes specially designed machines that Scientologists believe allow users to develop new abilities and experience enlightenment. The building also includes a dining facility, course rooms, offices and small rooms for "auditing" purposes.[67][68][69]

Organizations in Hollywood, California

Los Angeles, California, has the largest concentration of Scientologists and Scientology-related organizations in the world, with the church's most visible presence being in the Hollywood district of the city.[70] The organization owns a former hospital on Fountain Avenue which houses Scientology's West Coast headquarters,[71] the Pacific Area Command Base – often referred to as "PAC Base" or "Big Blue", after its blue paint job. Adjacent buildings include headquarters of several internal Scientology divisions,[71] including the American Saint Hill Organization, the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles, and the Church of Scientology of Los Angeles. All these organizations are integrated within the corporation Church of Scientology Western United States.

The Church of Scientology successfully campaigned to have the city of Los Angeles rename one block of a street running through this complex "L. Ron Hubbard Way". The street has been paved in brick.[72]

Scientology's Celebrity Center International is located on Franklin Avenue, while the Association for Better Living and Education, Author Services and the official headquarters of the Church of Scientology International (in the Hollywood Guaranty Building) are all located on Hollywood Boulevard. The ground floor of the Guaranty Building also features the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition, a museum detailing his life that is open to the general public. The Celebrity Centre was acquired by the church as the Chateau Elysee in 1973, built to accommodate members in the arts, sports and government.[73]

Another museum in the area is the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death, located on Sunset Boulevard, which is operated by the church-affiliated organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

Main article: Gold Base

The headquarters of the Religious Technology Center, the entity that oversees Scientology operations worldwide, is located in unincorporatedRiverside County, California, near the city of San Jacinto. The facility, known as Gold Base or "Int", is owned by Golden Era Productions and is the home of Scientology's media production studio, Golden Era Studios. Several Scientology executives, including David Miscavige, live and work at the base.[74] Therefore, Gold Base is Scientology's international administrative headquarters.[75][76][77][78]

The Church of Scientology bought the former Gilman Hot Springs resort, which had been popular with Hollywood figures, in 1978; the resort became Gold Base.[79] The facilities at Gold Base have been toured by journalists several times. They are surrounded by floodlights and video observation cameras,[74][80][81][82] and the compound is protected by razor wire.[83] Gold Base also has recreational facilities, including basketball, volleyball, and soccer facilities, an exercise building, a water slide, a small lake with two beaches, and a golf course.[84]

Trementina Base

Main article: Trementina Base

The Church of Scientology maintains a large base on the outskirts of Trementina, New Mexico, for the purpose of storing their archiving project: engraving Hubbard's writings on stainless steel tablets and encasing them in titanium capsules underground. An aerial photograph showing the base's enormous Church of Spiritual Technology symbols on the ground caused media interest and a local TV station broke the story in November 2005. According to a report in The Washington Post, the organization unsuccessfully attempted to coerce the station not to air the story.[85]


Main article: Freewinds

The cruise shipFreewinds was the only place the highest level of Scientology training (OT VIII) was offered. It cruised the Caribbean Sea, under the auspices of the Flag Ship Service Organization. The Freewinds was also used for other courses and auditing for those willing to spend extra money to get services on the ship. In April 2008, the Freewinds was sealed, and work stopped on refurbishments, due to "extensive contamination" with blue asbestos.[86] According to a public announcement in 2017, the Church subsequently purchased another vessel on which to administer high-level Scientology training.[citation needed]

Ideal Orgs

Starting in 2003 Miscavige began encouraging local groups to purchase larger facilities to use as churches. These building are known within the Church of Scientology as "Ideal Orgs".[87] This push has included the acquisition of many historic buildings by the Church.[88] The Church has relied on parishioners to provide manual labor in renovations, such as through the Church's Rehabilitation Project Force.[88] The Church's investment in expensive property at a time when church membership is dwindling has been described by former members and critics of the church as a money-making tactic.[89]

Ideal Org opening events have been held in Johannesburg, South Africa;[90] Rome, Italy; Malmo, Sweden; Dallas, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Washington D.C.;[87] Phoenix, Arizona,[91] Inglewood, California;[92] Santa Ana, California;[93] Las Vegas, Nevada; Brussels, Belgium;[94] Florence, Kentucky; Clearwater, Florida; Sacramento, California; Melbourne, Australia; Mexico City, London, Quebec; Seattle, Washington;[95] Pretoria, South Africa; Padova, Italy; Los Gatos, California; Hamburg, Germany;[35] Milan, Italy;[96] Atlanta, Georgia;,,[97] Dublin, Ireland.[98] and Detroit, Michigan.[99]

The church has also purchased buildings for the purposes of setting up Ideal Orgs, but which have been delayed or canceled. In the UK, delayed Ideal Orgs have included Birmingham (purchased in 2007),[100]Gateshead (purchased 2007),[101]Manchester (purchased 2006),[101][102] and Plymouth (purchased 2009).[103] The delays have prompted calls from locals for a compulsory purchase of the historically significant buildings, which remained largely vacant and undeveloped since purchase.[104] The Birmingham org was opened in 2017.[105]

Production facilities

Golden Era Productions

The Golden Era Productions facility is located in the Hollywood Guaranty Building. It produces promotional materials for the Church of Scientology, as well as lectures, training films and other materials related to L. Ron Hubbard.[106]

International Dissemination and Distribution Center

Occupying 185,000 square feet, the dissemination center prints Church magazines and other Scientology materials in 15 languages. The center has a custom-built web press with a 55 thousand pages per hour capacity. According to a Church press release, the center's warehousing and shipping department is fully automated, with the capability to address and handle half a million items per week.[107] This system is connected "directly into the US Postal Service, with a postal representative on site."[108] The center also produces Scientology materials in various other languages as well as promotional materials and uniforms.[107]

Scientology Media Productions

The Scientology Media Productions media center was inaugurated on May 28, 2016. The five-acre complex, on the intersection of Sunset and Hollywood in Hollywood, California, has a 150-foot communications tower marked with a Scientology symbol. Originally built in 1912, it was restored by the church for content creation and delivery in print, broadcast and online media.[109][110][111][112][113] On March 12, 2018, Scientology Network started broadcasting on DirecTV as well as online at the Scientology Network website, and through AppleTV, Roku, fireTV, Chromecast, iTunes and Google Play.[114]

Affiliated organizations

There are many independently chartered organizations and groups which are staffed by Scientologists, and pay license fees for the use of Scientology technology and trademarks under the control of Scientology management. In some cases, these organizations do not publicize their affiliation with Scientology.[115][116]

The Church of Scientology denies the legitimacy of any splinter groups and factions outside the official organization, and has tried to prevent independent Scientologists from using officially trademarked Scientology materials. Independent Scientologists, also known collectively as the "Free Zone" are referred to as squirrels within the Church. They are also classified by the Church of Scientology as suppressive persons ("SPs")—opponents or enemies of Scientology. Hubbard himself stated in Ron's Journal '67 "That there were only seven or eight Suppressive Persons on the planet".

In 2010, an exception to the rule was made specifically for the Nation of Islam, which is the only officially sanctioned external Dianetics organization and the first official non-Scientology Dianetics org since 1953. Minister Louis Farrakhan publicly announced his embracement of Dianetics, and has been actively promoting Dianetics, while stating he has not become a Scientologist. He has courted a relationship with the Church, and materials and certifications are still required to be purchased from the Church of Scientology, and are not independently produced.[117][118][119]

Scientology Missions International

Main article: Scientology Missions International

The Scientology Missions International, the branch of the Church of Scientology devoted to Missions, was set up in 1981. According to the church's official website, the SMI is the "mother church" for all missions, with headquarters in Los Angeles. In 1983, there were forty missions. Currently, the church has grown to an estimated 3,200 missions, churches and groups.[120]

Sea Org

Main article: Sea Org

The Sea Organization (often simply referred to as the "Sea Org") was incorporated under the name Operational Transport Committee in the United Kingdom in 1966 for legal maritime registration purposes. The Sea Org is an unincorporated fraternal religious order founded in 1967 by Hubbard as he embarked on a series of voyages around the Mediterranean Sea in a small fleet of ships staffed by Scientologists and hired professional seamen. Hubbard—formerly a lieutenant junior grade in the US Navy—bestowed the rank of "commodore" of the vessels upon himself. The crew who accompanied him on these voyages became the foundation of the Sea Organisation. The very first members of 'The Sea Project' (1966–67) were high-level trained staff and OTIII completions personally chosen by L. Ron Hubbard from Saint Hill Manor and overseas church missions. The purpose was to establish an effective base of operations for the OTC research voyages to assist LRH to verify his discoveries and research into past-lives. Hubbard was also keen to see if he could recover any deposits of treasure that he believed that he had hidden in dozens of locations around the Mediterranean region. Teams of divers and metal-detectorists were dispatched to remote locations to dig for these alleged deposits. There is evidence of some success in locating identified targets, but only two probable eye-witness testimonies of any artifacts being recovered. One from under a temple complex on Sicily and another from an underwater temple at Carthage. Witnesses have claimed to have seen small craft unloading gold bullion onto the 'Athena' vessel and later seen in Hubbard's personal hold aboard the Apollo flagship in 1968 by staff members. (Sources: Mission Into Time and Source magazine. (Issue 9).

The Sea Org is described by the church as forming an elite group of the most dedicated Scientologists, who are entrusted with the international management of Scientology and upper level churches such as the Advanced Organization Los Angeles, American Saint Hill Organization, Flag Service Organization and Celebrity Center International. Sea Org members are also in charge of the upper levels of Operating Thetan (OT) training. The organization is known as the "monastic wing of Scientology".[121]

Scientologists who are qualified to do so are often encouraged to join the Sea Org, which involves a lifetime commitment to Scientology organizations in exchange for room and board, training and auditing, and a small weekly allowance. Members sign an agreement pledging their loyalty and allegiance to Scientology for "the next billion years", committing their future lifetimes to the Sea Org. The Sea Org's motto is "Revenimus" (or "We Come Back").

Critics of Scientology have spoken out against the disciplinary procedures and policies of the Sea Org, which have been a source of controversy since its inception and variously described as abusive and illegal. Former Sea Org members have stated that punishments in the late 1960s and early 1970s included confinement in hazardous conditions such as the ship's chain locker.[122]

In 1974, Hubbard established the Rehabilitation Project Force (or RPF) as a sub-unit of the Sea Org, to provide a "second chance" to members whose offenses were considered severe enough to warrant expulsion. RPF members are paired up and help one another for five hours each day with spiritual counseling to resolve the issues for which they were assigned to the program. They also spend 8 hours per day doing physical labor that will benefit the church facility where they are located. On verification of their having completed the program they are then given a Sea Org job again.[123]

In practice, there have even been reports of child labor and for considerably longer than eight hours a day.[124] For example, Jenna Miscavige Hill, niece of David Miscavige and author of Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape, has stated that as a child she often worked 14 hours a day and only got to see her parents once a week, and sometimes even more seldom.[125]

Volunteer Ministers

Main article: Volunteer Ministers

The Church of Scientology began its "Volunteer Ministers" program as a way to participate in community outreach projects. Volunteer Ministers travel to the scenes of major disasters to provide assistance with relief efforts. According to critics, these relief efforts consist of passing out copies of a pamphlet authored by Hubbard entitled The Way to Happiness, and engaging in a method said to calm panicked or injured individuals known in Scientology as a "touch assist". Accounts of the Volunteer Ministers' effectiveness have been mixed, and touch assists are not supported by scientific evidence.[126][127][128]

Religious Technology Center (RTC)

Main article: Religious Technology Center

Around 1982 all of the Hubbard's intellectual property was transferred to a newly formed entity called the Church of Spiritual Technology (CST) and then licensed to the Religious Technology Center (RTC) which, according to its own publicity, exists to safeguard and control the use of the Church of Scientology's copyrights and trademarks.

The RTC employs lawyers and has pursued individuals and groups who have legally attacked Scientology or who are deemed to be a legal threat to Scientology. This has included breakaway Scientologists who practice Scientology outside the central church and critics, as well as numerous government and media organizations. This has helped to maintain Scientology's reputation for litigiousness (see Scientology and the legal system).


Main article: Association for Better Living and Education

Founded in 1989, the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE) is an umbrella organization that administers six of Scientology's social programs:


Main article: Citizens Commission on Human Rights

The Citizens' Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), co-founded with Thomas Szasz in 1969, is an activist group whose stated mission is to "eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections."[129] It has been described by critics as a Scientology front group.[130][131][132]


Main article: World Institute of Scientology Enterprises

Many other Scientologist-run businesses and organizations belong to the umbrella organization World Institute of Scientology Enterprises (WISE), which licenses the use of Hubbard's management doctrines, and circulates directories of WISE-affiliated businesses. WISE requires those who wish to become Hubbard management consults to complete training in Hubbard's administrative systems; this training can be undertaken at any Church of Scientology, or at one of the campuses of the Hubbard College of Administration, which offers an Associate of Applied Science Degree.

  • One of the best-known WISE-affiliated businesses is Sterling Management Systems, which offers Hubbard's management "technology" to professionals such as dentists and chiropractors.
  • Another well-known WISE-affiliated business is e.Republic, a publishing company based in Folsom, California.[133] e.Republic publications include Government Technology and Converge magazines. The Center for Digital Government is a division of e. Republic that was founded in 1999.
  • Internet ISP EarthLink was founded by Scientologists Sky Dayton and Reed Slatkin as a Scientology enterprise. The company now distances itself from the views of its founder, who moved on to become CEO of Helio (wireless carrier), formerly known as SK-EarthLink.


Further information: Scientology and celebrities

See also: List of Scientologists

In order to facilitate the continued expansion of Scientology, the Church has made efforts to win allies in the form of powerful or respected people.[134] Scientology has had a written program governing celebrity recruitment since at least 1955, when L. Ron Hubbard created "Project Celebrity", offering rewards to Scientologists who recruited targeted celebrities.[135] The Church operates Celebrity Centres for the use of artists, politicians, leaders of industry, sports figures, and other prominent individuals.[136]


Main article: Scientology controversies

Though it has attained some credibility as a religion in many countries, Scientology has also been described as both a cult and a commercial enterprise.[1] Some of the Church's actions also brought scrutiny from the press and law enforcement. For example, it has been noted to engage in harassment and abuse of civil courts to silence its critics, by identifying as Fair Game people it perceives as its enemies.[137][138]

In 1979, several Scientology members were convicted for their involvement in the church's Operation Snow White, the largest theft of government documents in U.S. history.[139][140] Scientologists were also convicted of fraud, manslaughter and tampering with witnesses in French cases,[141][142] malicious libel against lawyer Casey Hill and espionage in Canada.[143][144]

In his book World Religions in America, religious scholar Jacob Neusner states that Scientology's "high level of visibility" may be perceived as "threatening to established social institutions".[145]

The film Going Clear, based on the book by the same name, also documents controversies surrounding the organization.

Classification as church or business

From 1952 until 1966, Scientology was administered by an organization called the Hubbard Association of Scientologists (HAS), established in Arizona on September 10, 1952. In 1954, the HAS became the HASI (HAS International). The Church of Scientology was incorporated in California on February 18, 1954, changing its name to "The Church of Scientology of California" (CSC) in 1956. In 1966, Hubbard transferred all HASI assets to CSC, thus gathering Scientology under one tax-exempt roof. In 1967, the IRS stripped all US-based Scientology entities of their tax exemption, declaring Scientology's activities were commercial and operated for the benefit of Hubbard. Controversy followed the church on those years, but its growth continued in the 1960s. New churches were formed in Paris (1959), Denmark (1968), Sweden (1969), and Germany (1970). In the 1970s the religion spread through Europe: in Austria (1971), Holland (1972), Italy (1978), and Switzerland (1978). Centers of Scientology were in 52 countries by the time the 80s came in and grew to 74 by 1992.[146] The church sued and lost repeatedly for 26 years trying to regain its tax-exempt status. The case was eventually settled in 1993, at which time the church paid $12.5 million to the IRS—greatly less than IRS had initially demanded—and the IRS recognized the church as a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.[147] In addition, Scientology also dropped more than fifty lawsuits against the IRS when this settlement was reached. Scientology cites its tax exemption as proof the United States government accepts it as a religion.[148] In January 2009, removal of the tax exemption was rated as number 9 in items for the incoming Barack Obama administration to investigate, as determined in an internet poll run by the presidential transition team soliciting public input for the incoming administration.[149] The U.S. State Department has criticized Western European nations for discrimination against Scientologists in its published annual International Religious Freedom report, based on the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998.[150][151][152]

In some countries Scientology is treated legally as a commercial enterprise, and not as a religion or charitable organization.[citation needed] In early 2003, in Germany, The Church of Scientology was granted a tax-exemption for the 10% license fees sent to the US. This exemption, however, is related to a German-American double-taxation agreement, and is unrelated to tax-exemption in the context of charities law. In several countries, public proselytizing undergoes the same restrictions as commercial advertising,[citation needed] which is interpreted as persecution by Scientology.

Although the religious nature of Scientology has been questioned both in the United States and around the world, Scientology has been acknowledged as a new religion as manifested in the Church's court victories and the gain of religious rights and privileges that are exclusive to legally established religious bodies.[153]

Unlike many well-established religious organizations, Scientology maintains strict control over its names, symbols, religious works and other writings. The word Scientology (and many related terms, including L. Ron Hubbard) is a registered trademark. Religious Technology Center, the owner of the trademarks and copyrights, takes a hard line on people and groups who attempt to use it in ways unaffiliated with the official Church (see Scientology and the legal system).

Illegal activities

Main articles: Operation Snow White, Operation Freakout, Scientology controversies, and Fair game (Scientology)

L. Ron Hubbard appointed Mary Sue Hubbard to take control of certain aspects of legal protection for the Church in 1968, and the Office of The Guardian was created with its head office situated at Saint Hill Manor. Under The Guardian's Office (later renamed the Office of Special Affairs or OSA), Church members and contracted staff from Bureau One: Should be defined here  later organized and committed one of the largest penetration of United States federal agencies ever perpetrated by an organization not affiliated with a foreign government (that is, one such as the KGB). This operation was named Operation Snow White by Hubbard.[154] In the trial which followed the discovery of these activities the prosecution described their actions as such:

The crime committed by these defendants is of a breadth and scope previously unheard of. No building, office, desk, or file was safe from their snooping and prying. No individual or organization was free from their despicable conspiratorial minds. The tools of their trade were miniature transmitters, lock picks, secret codes, forged credentials and any other device they found necessary to carry out their conspiratorial schemes.[154]

The Church has also in the past made use of aggressive tactics in addressing those it sees as trying to suppress them, known as Suppressive Persons (SPs) first outlined by Hubbard as part of a policy called fair game. It was under this policy that Paulette Cooper was targeted for having authored The Scandal of Scientology, a 1970 exposé book about the Church and its founder. This action was known as Operation Freakout. Using blank paper known to have been handled by Cooper, Scientologists forged bomb threats in her name.[154] When fingerprints on them matched hers, the Justice Department began prosecution, which could have sent Cooper to prison for a lengthy term. The Church's plan was discovered at the same time as its Operation Snow White actions were revealed. All charges against Cooper were dismissed, though she had spent more than $20,000 on legal fees for her defense.[154]

On January 22, 2013, attorneys for the organization, as well as some of its members, reacted toward the CNN News Group for its airing of a story covering the release of a book published by a former member, entitled 'Going Clear', published earlier the same year. CNN News Group then chose to publish the reactionary correspondence, with confidential information redacted, on its web site.

Of these activities the current Church laments:

how long a time is the church going to have to continue to pay the price for what the (Guardian Office) did ... Unfortunately, the church continues to be confronted with it. And the ironic thing is that the people being confronted with it are the people who wiped it out. And to the church, that's a very frustrating thing.[154]

According to a 1990 Los Angeles Times article, in the 1980s the Los Angeles branch largely switched from using church members in harassment campaigns to using private investigators, including former and current Los Angeles police officers. The reason seemed to be that this gave the church a layer of protection.[155]

The Scientology organization has continued to aggressively target people it deems suppressive. In 1998, regarding its announcement that it had hired a private investigator to look into the background of a Boston Herald writer who had written a series on the church, Robert W. Thornburg, dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University, said, "No one I know goes so far as to hire outsiders to harass or try to get intimidating data on critics. Scientology is the only crowd that does that."[156] It has apparently continued as recently as 2010. In 2007 when BBC journalist John Sweeney was making Scientology and Me, an investigative report about the Church and was the subject of harassment:

In LA, the moment our hire car left the airport we realised we were being followed by two cars. In our hotel a weird stranger spent every breakfast listening to us.[157]

Sweeney subsequently made a follow up documentary, The Secrets of Scientology, in 2010 during which he was followed and filmed on multiple occasions and one of his interviewees was followed back to his home.[158]

Members' health and safety

See also: Lisa McPherson and Elli Perkins

Some key activities of the Church of Scientology carry risks for members, and the deaths of some Scientologists have brought attention to the Church both due to the circumstances of their demises and their relationship with Scientology possibly being a factor.[159] In 1995, Lisa McPherson was involved in a minor automobile accident while driving on a Clearwater, Florida, street. Following the collision, she exited her vehicle, stripped naked and showed further signs of mental instability, as noted by a nearby ambulance crew that subsequently transported her to a nearby hospital. Hospital staff decided that she had not been injured in the accident, but recommended keeping her overnight for observation. Following intervention by fellow Scientologists, McPherson refused psychiatric observation or admission at the hospital and checked herself out against medical advice after a short evaluation. She was taken to the Fort Harrison Hotel, a Scientology retreat, to receive a Church sanctioned treatment called Introspection Rundown. She had previously received the Introspection Rundown in June of that year. She was locked in a room for 17 days, where she died. Her appearance after death was that of someone who had been denied water and food for quite some time, being both underweight and severely dehydrated. Additionally, her skin was covered with over one hundred insect bites, presumably from cockroaches. The state of Florida pursued criminal charges against the Church. The Church has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and now makes members sign a waiver before Introspection Rundown specifically stating that they (or anyone on their behalf) will not bring any legal action against the organization over injury or death.[160] These charges attracted press coverage and sparked lawsuits. Eight years later, Elli Perkins, another adherent to Scientology's beliefs regarding psychiatry, was stabbed to death by her mentally disturbed son. Though Elli Perkins's son had begun to show symptoms of schizophrenia as early as 2001, the Perkins family chose not to seek psychiatric help for him and opted instead for alternative remedies sanctioned by Scientology. The death of Elli Perkins at the hands of a disturbed family member, one whose disease could have been treated by methods and medications banned by Scientology, again raised questions in the media about the Church's methods.[161]

In addition, the Church has been implicated in kidnapping members who have recently left the church. In 2007, Martine Boublil was kidnapped and held for several weeks against her will in Sardinia by four Scientologists. She was found on January 22, 2008, clothed only in a shirt. The room she was imprisoned in contained refuse and an insect infested mattress.[162][163]

On Friday March 28, 2008, Kaja Bordevich Ballo, daughter of Olav Gunnar Ballo, Norwegian parliament member and vice president of the Norwegian Odelsting, took a Church of Scientology personality test while studying in Nice. Her friends and co-inhabitants claim she was in good spirits and showed no signs of a mental breakdown, but the report from the Church of Scientology said she was "depressed, irresponsible, hyper-critical and lacking in harmony". A few hours later she committed suicide by jumping from her balcony at her dorm room leaving a note telling her family she was sorry for not "being good for anything". The incident has brought forward heavy criticism against the Church of Scientology from friends, family and prominent Norwegian politicians.[164]Inga Marte Thorkildsen, parliament member, went as far as to say "Everything points to the Scientology cult having played a direct role in making Kaja choose to take her own life".[164]

Missionary activities

Members of the public entering a Scientology center or mission are offered a "free personality test" called the Oxford Capacity Analysis by Scientology literature. The test, despite its name and the claims of Scientology literature, has no connection to Oxford University or any other research body. Scientific research into three test results came to the conclusion that "we are forced to a position of skepticism about the test's status as a reliable psychometric device" and called its scientific value "negligible".[165]

Further proselytization practices – commonly called "dissemination" of Scientology[166] – include information booths, flyers and advertisement for free seminars and Sunday Services in regular newspapers and magazines, personal contacts[167][168] and sales of books.[169]

Legal waivers

See also: Introspection Rundown

Recent legal actions involving Scientology's relationship with its members (see Scientology controversy) have caused the organization to publish extensive legal documents that cover the rights granted to followers. It has become standard practice within the organization for members to sign lengthy legal contracts and waivers before engaging in Scientology services, a practice that contrasts greatly with almost every mainstream religious organization. In 2003, a series of media reports examined the legal contracts required by Scientology, which state, among other things, that followers deny any psychiatric care their doctors may prescribe to them.[170]

I do not believe in or subscribe to psychiatric labels for individuals. It is my strongly held religious belief that all mental problems are spiritual in nature and that there is no such thing as a mentally incompetent person—only those suffering from spiritual upset of one kind or another dramatized by an individual. I reject all psychiatric labels and intend for this Contract to clearly memorialize my desire to be helped exclusively through religious, spiritual means and not through any form of psychiatric treatment, specifically including involuntary commitment based on so-called lack of competence. Under no circumstances, at any time, do I wish to be denied my right to care from members of my religion to the exclusion of psychiatric care or psychiatric directed care, regardless of what any psychiatrist, medical person, designated member of the state or family member may assert supposedly on my behalf.

Membership statistics

It is difficult to obtain reliable membership statistics. The International Association of Scientologists (IAS), the official Church membership system since 1984, has never released figures.[171] Church spokespersons either give numbers for their countries or a worldwide figure.[172] Some national censuses have recently included questions about religious affiliations, though the United States Census Bureau states that it is not the source for information on religion.[173]

In 2007, the German national magazine Der Spiegel reported about 8 million members worldwide, about 6,000 of them in Germany, with only 150–200 members in Berlin.[174] In 1993, a spokesperson of Scientology Frankfurt had mentioned slightly more than 30,000 members nationwide.[175]

The organization has said that it has anywhere from eight million to fifteen million members worldwide.[176][177][178][179][180] Derek Davis[181] stated in 2004 that the Church organization has around 15 million members worldwide.[182] Religious scholar J. Gordon Melton has said that the church's estimates of its membership numbers are exaggerated: "You're talking about anyone who ever bought a Scientology book or took a basic course. Ninety-nine percent of them don't ever darken the door of the church again." Melton has stated that if the claimed figure of 4 million American Scientologists were correct, "they would be like the Lutherans and would show up on a national survey".[183]

The "Scientologists Online" website presents "over 16,000 Scientologists On-Line".[184]

Statistics from other sources:

  • In 2001, the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) reported that there were 55,000 adults in the United States who consider themselves Scientologists.[185] A 2008 survey of American religious affiliations by the US Census Bureau estimated there to be 25,000 Americans identifying as Scientologists.[186][187]
  • The 2001 United Kingdom census contained a voluntary question on religion, to which approximately 48,000,000 chose to respond. Of those living in England and Wales who responded, a total of 1,781 said they were Scientologists.[188]
  • In 2011, Statistics Canada, the national census agency, reported a total of 1,745 Scientologists nationwide,[189] up from 1,525 in 2001[188] and 1,220 in 1991.[190]
  • In 2005, the German Office for the Protection of the Constitution estimated a total of 5,000 – 6,000 Scientologists in that country, and mentioned a count of 12,000 according to Scientology Germany.[191]
  • In the 2006 New Zealand census, 357 people identified themselves as Scientologists, although a Church spokesperson estimated there were between 5,000 and 6,000 Scientologists in the country.[192] Earlier census figures were 207 in the 1991 census, 219 in 1996, and 282 in 2001.[188]
  • In 2006, Australia's national census recorded 2,507 Scientologists nationwide, up from 1,488 in 1996, and 2,032 in 2001.[188][193] The 2011 census however found a decrease of 13.7 percent from the 2006 census.[194]
  • In 2011 support for Scientology in Switzerland was said[by whom?] to have experienced a steady decline from 3,000 registered members in 1990 to 1,000 members and the organization was said to be facing extinction in the country. A Church of Scientology spokeswoman rejected the figures insisting that the organization had 5,000 "passive and active members in Switzerland".[195]
  • In 2011, the "Scientology Association of Finland" had approximately 120 members.[196]


See also: Scientology Finance and Tax status of Scientology in the United States

The Church of Scientology and its large network of corporations, non-profits and other legal entities are estimated to make around 500 million US dollars in annual revenue.[197]

Scientologists can attend classes, exercises or counseling sessions for a set range of "fixed donations"; however, membership without courses or auditing is possible. According to a sociological report entitled "Scientology: To Be Perfectly Clear", progression between levels above "clear" status cost $15,760.03 in 1980 (equivalent to $49,502 in 2020) (without including additional special treatments).[198] Scientologists can choose to be audited by a fellow Scientologist rather than by a staff member.[199]

Critics say it is improper to fix a donation for religious service; therefore the activity is non-religious. Scientology points out many classes, exercises and counseling may also be traded for "in kind" or performed cooperatively by students for no cost, and members of its most devoted orders can make use of services without any donations bar that of their time. A central tenet of Scientology is its Doctrine of Exchange, which dictates that each time a person receives something, he or she must give something back. By doing so, a Scientologist maintains "inflow" and "outflow", avoiding spiritual decline.[200]

Government opinions of Scientology

Main article: Scientology status by country

While a number of governments now give the Church of Scientology protections and tax relief as an officially recognized religion,[202][203][204] other sources describe the Church as a pseudoreligion or a cult.[205] Sociologist Stephen Kent published at a Lutheran convention in Germany that he likes to call it a transnational corporation.[206]

Early official reports in countries such as the United Kingdom (1971), South Africa (1972), Australia (1965) and New Zealand (1969) have yielded unfavorable observations and conclusions.[207][208][209][210]


Main article: Scientology in Australia

There is currently no legal restriction in Australia on the practice of Scientology. In 1983 the High Court of Australia dealt with the question whether the Church of Scientology is a religious institution and as such not subject to payroll tax. The Court unanimously confirmed the Church of Scientology to be a religious institution.[211]

On November 18, 2009 the Church came under fire from an Independent senator in the Commonwealth Parliament, Nick Xenophon. Under parliamentary privilege in the Senate, Xenophon declared that the Church of Scientology is a criminal organization.[212]


Main article: Scientology in Belgium

In September 2007, a Belgian prosecutor announced that they had finished an investigation of Scientology and said they would probably bring charges. The church said the prosecutor's public announcement falsely suggested guilt even before a court could hear any of the charges. In December 2012, Belgian officials completed their file on Scientology and brought charges of extortion, illegal medicine, various breaches of privacy, and fraud.[213][214]


Main article: Scientology in France

In France, a parliamentary report classified Scientology as a dangerous cult.[215] On November 22, 1996, the leader of the Lyon Church of Scientology, Jean-Jacques Mazier, was convicted of fraud and involuntary homicide and sentenced to eighteen months in prison for his role in the death of a member who committed suicide after going deeply into debt to pay for Scientology auditing sessions. Fourteen others were convicted of fraud as well.[216] In 2009, members of the church were sued for fraud and practicing pharmacology without a license,[217] and the Church was convicted of fraud in October 2009, being fined €600,000, with additional fines and suspended prison sentences for four officers.[218]

In an interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporationcurrent affairsradio programThe Current with Hana Gartner, former high-ranking Scientology official Mark Rathbun commented that the decision to convict the Church of Scientology of fraud in France would not have a significant impact on the organization.[219] "On the France thing I don't think that's going to have any lasting impact, simply because they got a nine hundred thousand dollar fine I think – which is like chump change to them. They've got literally nearly a billion dollars set aside in a war chest", said Rathbun.[219]


Main article: Scientology in Germany

In Germany, official views of Scientology are particularly skeptical.[220] In Germany it is seen as a totalitarian anti-democratic organization and is under observation by national security organizations due to, among other reasons, suspicion of violating the human rights of its members granted by the German Constitution,[221] including Hubbard's pessimistic views on democracy vis-à-vis psychiatry and other such features.[222] In December 2007, Germany's interior ministers said that they considered the goals of Church of Scientology to be in conflict with the principles of the nation's constitution and would seek to ban the organization.[223] The plans were quickly criticized as ill-advised.[224] The plans to ban Scientology were finally dropped in November 2008, after German officials found insufficient evidence of illegal activity.[225]

The legal status of the Church of Scientology in Germany is still awaiting resolution; some courts have ruled that it is a business, others have affirmed its religious nature.[226] The German government has affirmed that it does not consider the Church of Scientology to be a religious community.[226]


As in most European countries, the Church of Scientology is not officially recognized in Ireland as a charitable organization, but it is free to promote Scientology beliefs.[227] The Irish government has not invited the Church of Scientology to national discussions on secularization by the Religious Council of Ireland. The meetings were attended by Roman Catholic bishops, representatives of the Church of Ireland, Ireland's Chief Rabbi, and Muslim leaders.[228]


In Israel, according to Israeli professor of psychology Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, "in various organizational forms, Scientology has been active among Israelis for more than thirty years, but those in charge not only never claimed the religion label, but resisted any such suggestion or implication. It has always presented itself as a secular, self-improvement, tax-paying business."[205] Those "organizational forms" include a Scientology Organization in Tel Aviv. Another Israeli Scientology group called "The Way to Happiness" (or "Association for Prosperity and Security in the Middle East") works through local Scientologist members to promote The Way to Happiness.[229] An Israeli CCHR chapter runs campaigns against perceived abuses in psychiatry.[230] Other Scientology campaigns, such as "Youth for Human Rights International" are active as well.[231] There is also an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group that opposes Scientology and other cults or missionary organizations in Israel,[232]Lev L'Achim, whose anti-missionary department in 2001 provided a hotline and other services to warn citizens of Scientology's "many types of front organizations".[233]


On October 17, 2013, a Dutch court ruled that "the Amsterdam arm of Scientology is a charitable organization and exempt from paying taxes."[234] reported that the court ruled "The Scientology Church in Amsterdam be treated in the same way as other church and faith-based organisations and allowed to claim tax breaks".[235] The appeal court also ruled that "Scientology's classes don't differ significantly from what other spiritual organizations do, or can do."[234] The court noted "Scientology movement's training programmes are not the same as those offered by commercial companies because people who cannot afford them pay a reduced fee or get them free" and that "the courses are aimed at spiritual and theoretical enlightenment."[235]


The European Court of Human Rightsruled in April 2007 that Russia's denial to register the Church of Scientology as a religious community was a violation of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of assembly and association) read in the light of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion)".[236] In July 2007, the St. Petersburg City Court closed down that city's Scientology center for violating its charter.[237][238]


On October 31, 2007, the National Court in Madrid issued a decision recognizing that the National Church of Scientology of Spain should be entered in the Registry of Religious Entities. The administrative tribunal of Madrid's High Court ruled that a 2005 justice ministry decision to scrap the church from the register was "against the law". Responding to a petition filed by the church, the ruling said that no documents had been presented in court to demonstrate it was anything other than a religious entity.[239][240]

United Kingdom

Main article: Scientology in the United Kingdom

The UK government's 1971 official report into Scientology was highly critical,[241] but concluded that it would be unfair to ban the Church outright. The UK government does not classify the Church of Scientology as a religious institution and it is not a registered charity.[188][242] However, in 2000, the Church of Scientology was exempted from UK value added tax on the basis that it is a not-for-profit body.[243]

In December 2013, the UK Supreme Court officially ruled that Scientology is a religion, in response to a 5-year legal battle by Scientologist Louisa Hodkin to marry at the Church of Scientology chapel in central London. With the new ruling, the Registrar General of Births, Marriages and Deaths now recognize weddings performed within Scientology chapels and redefined religion so that it was "not ... confined to those with belief in a supreme deity."[244][245][246]

United States

Main article: Scientology in the United States

In 1979 Hubbard's wife, Mary Sue Hubbard, along with ten other highly placed Scientology executives were convicted in United States federal court regarding Operation Snow White, and served time in an American federal prison. Operation Snow White involved infiltration, wiretapping and theft of documents in government offices, most notably those of the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

In 1993, however, the United States IRS recognized Scientology as a "non-profit charitable organization", and gave it the same legal protections and favorable tax treatment extended to other non-profit charitable organizations.[247] A New York Times article says that Scientologists paid private investigators to obtain compromising material on the IRS commissioner and blackmailed the IRS into submission.[248]

The following actions will be considered to be a material breach by the Service: ... The issuance of a Regulation, Revenue Ruling or other pronouncement of general applicability providing that fixed donations to a religious organization other than a church of Scientology are fully deductible unless the Service has issued previously or issues contemporaneously a similar pronouncement that provides for consistent and uniform principles for determining the deductibility of fixed donations for all churches including the Church of Scientology.[citation needed]

In a 2001 legal case involving a married couple attempting to obtain a charitable deduction for a donation to a Jewish school, Judge Silverman stated:[249]

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.

To date (2008) such a suit is not known to have been filed. In further appeal in 2006, the US Tax Court again rejected the couple's deduction, stating:

We conclude that the agreement reached between the Internal Revenue Service and the Church of Scientology in 1993 does not affect the result in this case.[250]

However, this matter is still ongoing. On February 8, 2008, three judges in the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals "expressed deep skepticism" over the IRS's position that treatment of Scientology is "irrelevant to the deductions the Orthodox Jews, Michael and Marla Sklar, took for part of their children's day school tuition and for after-school classes in Jewish law".[251]


See also


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  20. ^Weird, Sure. A Cult, No.Archived November 7, 2017, at the Wayback Machine Washington Post By Mark Oppenheimer, August 5, 2007
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  25. ^ abDavis, Derek; Hankins, Barry (2003). New Religious Movements and Religious Liberty in America. Baylor University Press. pp. 48–49. ISBN .
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  55. ^"At the top of the structure is the Church of Scientology International (CSI), the mother church for all Scientology. Located in Los Angeles, CSI provides overall direction, planning and guidance for the network of churches, missions, field auditors and volunteer ministers which comprise the Scientology hierarchy it spans, and ensures these various organizations are all working effectively together." What is Scientology? Published 1998 Bridge Publications ISBN 978-1-57318-122-8
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  58. ^The Church of Scientology (Studies in Contemporary Religions, 1) By J. Gordon Melton Publisher: Signature Books in cooperation with CESNUR, September 2000 ISBN 978-1-56085-139-4 "The various missions, churches, and organizations, all autonomous corporations which fellowship with the larger movement, receive licenses to use the church's trademarks, service marks, and copyrights of Hubbard's published and unpublished works from RTC."
  59. ^"Each church corporation is organized on a nonprofit basis with its own board of directors and executives responsible for its activities. What is Scientology? Published 1998 Bridge Publications ISBN 978-1-57318-122-8
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  62. ^ abcWestbrook, Donald A. (2015). "Saint Hill and the Development of Systematic Theology in the Church of Scientology (1959–1967)". Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review. 6 (1): 111–155. doi:10.5840/asrr2015577. ISSN 1946-0538.
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Scientology beliefs and practices

Scientology beliefs and practices

The Church of Scientology maintains a wide variety of beliefs and practices. The core belief holds that a human is an immortal, spiritual being (thetan) that is resident in a physical body. The thetan has had innumerable past lives, some of which, preceding the thetan's arrival on Earth, were lived in extraterrestrial cultures. Based on case studies at advanced levels, it is predicted that any Scientologist undergoing auditing will eventually come across and recount a common series of events.

Scientology describes itself as the study and handling of the spirit in relationship to itself, others, and all of life. Scientologists also believe that people have innate, yet suppressed, power and ability which can be regained if cleared of unwanted behavioural patterns and discomforts.[1][2] Scientology is described as "a religion to help people use scientific approaches to self-actualize their full potential."[3] Believers reach their full potential "when they understand themselves in their true relationship to the physical universe and the Supreme Being. "[3] There have been many scholarly studies of Scientology and the books are freely available in bookshops, churches and most libraries.[3]

The Church of Scientology believes that "Man is basically good, that he is seeking to survive, (and) that his survival depends on himself and his attainment of brotherhood with the universe," as stated in the Creed of the Church of Scientology.[4]

Roy Wallis of Columbia University describes Scientology as "a movement that straddles the boundaries between psychology and religion, [offering] a graded hierarchy of 'auditing' and training" with the intention of releasing the individual's full potential.[5]

Scientology does not require that their members must exclusively believe in Scientology, distinguishing it from biblical religions. Scientologists may profess belief in other religions, such as Protestantism and Catholicism, and may participate in their activities and sacred rites. Jacob Neusner emphasizes this in the section on Scientology in his book World Religions in America.[6] According to J. Gordon Melton, "Scientologists aim to utterly make the world instead of taking refuge from it," as they participate in culture instead of being isolated.[7] Scientology is inherently nondenominational and open to individuals, regardless of religious background; according to Mary A. Mann, it contains the elements necessary for a global religion and caters to people of all different ethnicities and educational upbringing.[8]

Core beliefs and practices

"Reactive mind" and traumatic memories

See also: Dianetics and Auditing (Scientology)

A Scientologist introduces the E-meterto a potential student

Among the basic tenets of Scientology are the beliefs that human beings are immortal, that a person's life experience transcends a single lifetime, and that human beings possess infinite capabilities.[9] Scientology presents two major divisions of the mind.[10] The reactive mind is thought to absorb all pain and emotional trauma, while the analytical mind is a rational mechanism which is responsible for consciousness.[12] The reactive mind stores mental images which are not readily available to the analytical (conscious) mind; these are referred to as engrams.[13] Engrams are painful and debilitating; as they accumulate, people move further away from their true identity.[6] Avoiding this fate is Scientology's basic goal.[6] Dianetic auditing is one way by which the Scientologist may progress toward the Clear state, winning gradual freedom from the reactive mind's engrams, and acquiring certainty of his or her reality as a thetan.[14] Hubbard's differentiation of the reactive mind and the analytical mind forms one of the basic tenets of Dianetics. The analytical mind is similar to the conscious mind, which processes daily information and events. The reactive mind produces the mind's "aberrations" such as "fear, inhibition, intense love and hate and various psychosomatic ills" which are recorded as "engrams."[15]

Scientology believes that people have hidden abilities which have not yet been fully realized.[16] It is believed that increased spiritual awareness and physical benefits are accomplished through counseling sessions referred to as auditing.[17] Through auditing, it is said that people can solve their problems and free themselves of engrams.[18] This restores them to their natural condition as thetans and enables them to be at cause in their daily lives, responding rationally and creatively to life events rather than reacting to them under the direction of stored engrams.[19] Accordingly, those who study Scientology materials and receive auditing sessions advance from a status of Preclear to Clear and Operating Thetan.[20] Scientology's utopian aim is to "clear the planet", a world in which everyone has cleared themselves of their engrams.[21]

Auditing is a one-on-one session with a Scientology counselor or auditor.[22] It bears a superficial similarity to confession or pastoral counseling, but the auditor records and stores all information received and does not dispense forgiveness or advice the way a pastor or priest might do.[22] Instead, the auditor's task is to help a person discover and understand engrams, and their limiting effects, for him- or herself.[22] Most auditing requires an E-meter, a device that measures minute changes in electrical resistance through the body when a person holds electrodes (metal "cans"), and a small current is passed through them.[18][22]

Scientology believes that watching for changes in the E-meter's display helps locate engrams.[22] Once an area of concern has been identified, the auditor asks the individual specific questions about it, in order to help him or her eliminate the engram, and uses the E-meter to confirm that the engram's "charge" has been dissipated and the engram has in fact been cleared.[22] As the individual progresses, the focus of auditing moves from simple engrams to engrams of increasing complexity.[22] At the more advanced OT auditing levels, Scientologists perform solo auditing sessions, acting as their own auditors.[22]


Main article: Auditing (Scientology)

One central practice of Scientology is an activity known as "auditing" (listening) which seeks to elevate an adherent to a state of "clear", one of freedom from the influences of the reactive mind. The practice is one wherein a counselor called an "auditor" addresses a series of questions to a preclear, observes and records the preclear's responses, and acknowledges them. An important element in all forms of auditing is to not suggest answers to the preclear or invalidate or degrade what the preclear says in response. It is of utmost importance that the auditor create a truly safe and distraction-free environment for the session.

The term "Clear" is derived from a button on a calculator that deletes previous calculations. According to Scientology beliefs, Clears are "optimal individuals" and "they have been cleared of false information and memories of traumatic experiences that prevent them from adapting to the world around them in a natural and appropriate fashion." Scientologists believe that clears become more successful in their daily lives, "be healthier, experience less stress, and possess better communication skills."[23]

"Auditing" is sometimes seen as controversial, because auditing sessions are permanently recorded and stored within what are called "preclear folders". Scientologists believe that the practice of auditing helps them overcome the debilitating effects of traumatic experiences, most of which have accumulated over a multitude of lifetimes.[24] The folders are kept in accordance with the Priest/Penitent legal parameters which do not allow these folders to be seen or used for any other purpose or seen by any others who are not directly involved in supervising that person's auditing progress.

Auditors are required to become proficient with the use of their E-meters. The device measures the subject's galvanic skin response in a manner similar to a polygraph (lie detector), but with only one electrode per hand rather than multiple sensors.[25] The E-meter is primarily used in auditing, which "aims to remove (engrams) to produce a state of 'clear.'"[26] Auditors do not receive final certification until they have successfully completed an internship, and have demonstrated a proven ability in the skills they have been trained in.[original research?] Auditors often practice their auditing with each other, as well as friends or family. Church members pair up often to get their training, doing the same course at the same time, so that they can audit each other up through the various Scientology levels.

According to scholar Harriet Whitehead, the Church of Scientology "has developed a fine-tooled hierarchically organized system of audit (training) sessions where the technology of these sessions, in fact, is the treatment leading to processes of renunciation and eventually reformulation in the individual," which is similar to psychoanalysis.[27]

Emotional tone scale and survival

Main article: Science of Survival

Scientology uses an emotional classification system called the tone scale.[28] The tone scale is a tool used in auditing; Scientologists maintain that knowing a person's place on the scale makes it easier to predict his or her actions and assists in bettering his or her condition.[29]

Scientology emphasizes the importance of survival, which it subdivides into eight classifications that are referred to as "dynamics".[30][31] An individual's desire to survive is considered to be the first dynamic, while the second dynamic relates to procreation and family.[30][32] The remaining dynamics encompass wider fields of action, involving groups, mankind, all life, the physical universe, the spirit, and the Infinity, often associated with the Supreme Being.[30] The optimum solution to any problem is held to be the one that brings the greatest benefit to the greatest number of dynamics.[30]

ARC and KRC triangles

The ARC and KRC triangles are concept maps which show a relationship among three concepts to form another concept. These two triangles are present in the Scientology logo.

The KRC triangle is the uppermost triangle. It combines the components of "Knowledge" "Responsibility" and "Control". A Scientologist must gain Knowledge of, take Responsibility for, and effectively exert Control over elements of his or her environment.

The ARC triangle is the lower triangle. It is a summary representation of the knowledge the Scientologist strives for.[6] It combines three components: "Affinity" is the degree of affection, love or liking, i.e. an emotional state.[6] "Reality" reflects consensual reality, that is agreements on what is real.[6] "Communication", believed to be the most important element of the triangle, is the exchange of ideas.[6] Scientologists believe that improving one of the three aspects of the ARC triangle "increases the level" of the other two but the most important aspect of this triangle is "communication" mainly because communication drives the other two aspects: "affinity" and "reality".[33] Scientologists believe that ineffective communication is a chief cause of human survival problems, and this is reflected by efforts at all levels within the movement to ensure clear communication, the presence of unabridged standard dictionaries for example being an established feature of Scientology centers.[6] Scientologists believe that the three elements are fundamental between individuals “in that to communicate with a person one must have some affinity for him or her,” as Dorthe Refslund Christensen describes it. According to Scientology doctrine, the break in the flow of ARC that hinders survival must be handled in auditing.[34]

The two triangles are connected by a letter "S", standing for SCIO (Latin: "I Know"). Church of Scientology doctrine defines scio as 'knowing in the fullest sense of the word'. It links the two triangles together.

The Dynamics

Hubbard introduced the Scientology cross in the 1950s as the central symbol for the church. He described the eight points of the cross as symbolizing the "eight dynamics" or eight measures for survival that all human beings have, which includes the urge to service as a spiritual being and the urge to survive as a godlike entity.[35] Hubbard writes that survival is moving away from death and towards immortality, and that human beings are constantly on the search for feelings of pleasure and motivated by the avoidance of pain.[36]

  1. The first dynamic is the urge toward survival of self.
  2. The second dynamic is the urge toward survival through sex, or children. This dynamic actually has two divisions. The second dynamic (a) is the sexual act itself and second dynamic (b) is the family unit, including the rearing of children.
  3. The third dynamic is the urge toward survival through a group of individuals or as a group. Any group or part of an entire class could be considered to be a part of the third dynamic. The school, the club, the team, the town, the nation are examples of groups.
  4. The fourth dynamic is the urge toward survival through all mankind and as all mankind.
  5. The fifth dynamic is the urge toward survival through life forms such as animals, birds, insects, fish and vegetation, and is the urge to survive as these.
  6. The sixth dynamic is the urge toward survival as the physical universe and has as its components Matter, Energy, Space and Time, from which we derive the word MEST.
  7. The seventh dynamic is the urge toward survival through spirits or as a spirit. Anything spiritual, with or without identity, would come under the seventh dynamic. A sub-heading of this dynamic is ideas and concepts such as beauty and the desire to survive through these.
  8. The eighth dynamic is the urge toward survival through the Supreme Being, or more exactly, infinity.


See also: Purification Rundown

According to L. Ron Hubbard's book The History of Man, published in 1952, there are two entities housed by the human body, a genetic entity (whose purpose is to carry on the evolutionary line) and a "Thetan" or consciousness "that has the capacity to separate from body and mind." According to Hubbard, "In man's long evolutionary development the Thetan has been trapped by the engrams formed at various stages of embodiment." Scientology training is aimed at clearing the person of all engrams, thus creating an "Operating Thetan." "Among the abilities of the Operating Thetan is the soul's capacity to leave and operate apart from the body."[37]

People are viewed as spiritual beings that have minds and bodies and a person's "spiritual essence" is called the Thetan.[38] Scientology teaches that "a thetan is the person himself, not his body or his name or the physical universe, his mind or anything else." According to the doctrine, "one does not have a thetan, he is a thetan."[39]


Exteriorization is a practice in which a thetan functions independently of the physical body, sometimes as a result of auditing process R2-45.[40][41] According to Lawrence Wright, author of “Going Clear,” exteriorization “is the sense that one has actually left his physical being behind,” and a commonly reported occurrence among Scientologists.[42]


In Scientology, the human body is regarded as similar to that of other religions in that, at death, the spirit will leave the body. "Life and personality go on. The physical part of the organism ceases to function."[43] Scientology believes in the "immortality of each individual's spirit," therefore making death not a significant worry. The spirit acquires another body necessary for growth and survival. To achieve an individual's true identity is the primary goal.[23]

According to Scientology doctrine, salvation is achieved through “clearing” engrams and implant, the source of human misery, through the auditing process. Salvation is limited to the current life and there is no “final salvation or damnation,” author Richard Holloway writes. “Life is a not a one-shot deal. There is only the eternal return of life after life.”[44] According to Scientology beliefs, "the individual comes back. He has a responsibility for what goes on today since he will experience it tomorrow."[45][46]

According to Scientology beliefs, Scientology itself is a blend of science and spirituality, with belief in an immortal spirit and in improving that spirit here on Earth using Scientology's methods. Scientologists do not typically dwell on Heaven or Hell or the afterlife, instead focusing on the spirit. Many Scientologists also belong to other churches.[47]

In the Scientology book, A History of Man, Hubbard discusses that a human's past experiences make up that person's present identity. These include experiences as atoms, seaweed, plankton and clams, pointing to the belief in recurring lives.[48]


The Church of Scientology states that it has no set dogma on God and allows individuals to come to their own understanding of God.[49] In Scientology, "vastly more emphasis is given to the godlike nature of the person and to the workings of the human mind than to the nature of God."[23] Hubbard did not clearly define God in Scientology. When pressed about their belief, Scientologists mention the "eight dynamic" which they say is the "God dynamic".[50]

Scientologists believe in an "Infinity" ("the All-ness of All"). They recite a formal prayer for total freedom at meetings, which include the verses "May the author of the universe enable all men to reach an understanding of their spiritual nature. May awareness and understanding of life expand, so that all may come to know the author of the universe. And may others also reach this understanding which brings Total Freedom ... Freedom from war, and poverty, and want; freedom to be; freedom to do and freedom to have. Freedom to use and understand Man's potential – a potential that is God-given and Godlike." The prayer commences with "May God let it be so."[51][52]

Scientologists affirm the existence of a deity without defining or describing its nature. L. Ron Hubbard explains in his book Science of Survival, "No culture in the history of the world, save the thoroughly depraved and expiring ones, has failed to affirm the existence of a Supreme Being. It is an empirical observation that men without a strong and lasting faith in a Supreme Being are less capable, less ethical and less valuable." Instead of defining God, members assert that reaching higher states of enlightenment will enable individuals to make their own conclusions about the Supreme Being.[53]


The church considers itself scientific, although this belief has no basis in institutional science.[54] According to religious scholar Mikael Rothstein[54] Scientologists believe that "all religious claims can be verified through experimentation".[55] Scientologists believe that their religion was derived through scientific methods, that Hubbard found knowledge through studying and thinking, not through revelation. The "science" of Dianetics, however, was never accepted by the scientific community.[54] Rothstein also writes that there is a possibility that Scientology partly owes its existence to the conflict with the conventional scientific community, which hindered Hubbard's original intention.[56] Religious scholar Dorthe Refslund Christensen notes that Scientology differs from the scientific method in that Scientology has become increasingly self-referential, while true science normally compares competing theories and observed facts.[54]

Hubbard originally claimed and insisted that Dianetics was based on the scientific method. He taught that "the scientific sensibilities [carry] over into the spiritual realities one encounters via auditing on the e-meter." Scientologists commonly prefer to describe Hubbard's teachings with words such as knowledge, technology and workability rather than belief or faith. Hubbard described Dianetics and Scientology as "technologies" based on his claim of their "scientific precision and workability." Hubbard attempted to "break down the barrier between scientific (objective, external) and religious (subjective, internal) forms of knowledge." Hubbard describes Scientology's epistemology as "radically subjective: Nothing in Scientology is true for you unless you have observed it and it is true according to your observation." This is a type of self-legitimation through science which is also found in other religions such as Christian Science, Religious Science, and Moorish Science Temple of America.[57][58]

Sociologist William Sims Bainbridge cites Scientology's origins in the subcultures of science fiction and "harmony" with scientific cosmology. Science fiction, viewed to work for and against the purposes of science, has contributed to the birth of new religions, including Scientology. While it promotes science, it distorts it as well. Science fiction writer A.E. van Vogt based the early development of Dianetics and Scientology on a novel based on General Semantics, a self-improvement and therapy program created by Alfred Korzybski for the purpose of curing personal and social issues.[59]

Members of the Church believe that Hubbard "discovered the existential truths that form their doctrine through research," thus leading to the idea that Scientology is science. Hubbard created what the church would call a "spiritual technology" to advance the goals of Scientology. According to the church, "Scientology works 100 percent of the time when it is properly applied to a person who sincerely desires to improve his life." The underlying claims are that Scientology is "exact" and "certain."[60]Michael Shermer, writing for Scientific American in 2011, said that Scientology's methods lacked enough study to qualify as a science, but that the story of Xenu and Scientology's other creation myths were no less tenable than other religions.[61]

B. Hubbard, J. Hatfield and J. Santucci compare Scientology's view of humanity to the Yogachara school of Buddhism, saying that both have been described as "the most scientific" among new and traditional religions respectively. B. Hubbard et al. cite the use of technical language and the claim that teachings were developed through observation and experimentation. They also emphasize that many investigators and researchers consider Scientology to be a pseudoscience because of its absolute and meta-empirical goals.[62]

Scholar Kocku von Stuckrad stated that Scientology is an example of the phenomenon of both the “scientification of religion” and the “sacralization” of science. Donald A. Westbrook elaborates that there is apparently an “ongoing and dialectical relationship” between religion and science in Hubbard's teachings.[63]

The Bridge to Total Freedom

The Bridge to Total Freedom is the means by which Scientologists undertake personal development. Processing is the actual practice of auditing which directs questions towards areas of travail in a person's life to get rid of barriers that inhibit his or her natural abilities. This process is supposed to bring greater happiness, intelligence and success.[64] Training is also given in the process of auditing others.[65] The Bridge to Total Freedom is considered a metaphor for the spiritual life of the believer, and is also a detailed outline of the process a Scientologist undergoes in order to develop spirituality. It follows a strict hierarchy with ascending levels.

The main goal of the first stage is to be freed from limitations of the MEST universe (MEST standing for matter, energy, space and time), while the second stage is about regaining creative powers as a spiritual being which have been lost according to the teachings of Scientology.[66]

Rejection of psychology and psychiatry

Further information: Scientology and psychiatry, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, and Psychiatry: An Industry of Death

Scientology is publicly, and often vehemently, opposed to both psychiatry and psychology.[67][68][69] Scientologists view psychiatry as a barbaric and corrupt profession and encourage alternative care based on spiritual healing.

The psychiatric establishment rejected Hubbard's theories in the early 1950s.[70] Ever since, Scientology has argued that psychiatry suffers from the fundamental flaw of ignoring humanity's spiritual dimension, and that it fails to take into account Hubbard's insights about the nature of the mind.[71] Scientology holds psychiatry responsible for a great many wrongs in the world, saying it has at various times offered itself as a tool of political suppression and "that psychiatry spawned the ideology which fired Hitler's mania, turned the Nazis into mass murderers, and created the Holocaust."[70][71]

The anti-psychiatry organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) was founded by Hubbard in 1969. It operates Psychiatry: An Industry of Death, an anti-psychiatry museum.[70][71]

Through CCHR, Scientology has made claims of psychiatric abuse. The anti-psychiatry organization has had political accomplishments: In 1986, it published a manifesto against psychiatry and psychotropic medication, which was included in a document by the United Nations which saw wide circulation; In 2006, a bill drafted by the group was passed by the Arizona senate "mandating an additional consent form be presented to subjects considering participation in psychiatric research." The form in question "differentiates real disease from mental illness." A similar CCHR bill was rejected by the Florida house, "mandating that a long, ominous-sounding statement about the dangers of psychoactive drugs be presented to parents prior to school referral for mental health evaluation." The movement has gained momentum[clarification needed] across the US.[72]

How Scientology defines ethics

Main article: Ethics (Scientology)

Scientology teaches that progress on The Bridge to Total Freedom requires and enables the attainment of high moral and ethical standards.[65] According to Hubbard, the goal of ethics is to remove impediments to survival, and ethics is essentially a tool to "get technology in", meaning Scientology's use of the term technology.[citation needed]Stephen A. Kent describes Scientology ethics as "a peculiar brand of morality that uniquely benefitted [the Church of Scientology] ... In plain English, the purpose of Scientology ethics is to eliminate opponents, then eliminate people's interests in things other than Scientology. In this 'ethical' environment, Scientology would be able to impose its courses, philosophy, and 'justice system' — its so-called technology — onto society."[73]

Applied teachings

See also: L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology bibliography

The church makes it clear that Hubbard is considered the sole source of Dianetics and Scientology: "The Scientology religion is based exclusively upon L. Ron Hubbard's research, writings and recorded lectures – all of which constitute the Scriptures of the religion."[74] His work, recorded in 500,000 pages of writings, 6,500 reels of tape and 42 films, is archived for posterity.[75] The Religious Technology Center holds "the ultimate ecclesiastical authority and the pure application of L. Ron Hubbard's religious technologies."[76]

Individuals applying Hubbard's techniques who are not officially connected to the Church of Scientology are considered part of the "Free Zone". Some of these individuals were litigated against for using and modifying the practices for their own use and that of others, thereby infringing the law on patent, trademarks, or trade secrets.

Toxins and "Purification"

Main article: Purification Rundown

The Purification Rundown[77] is a controversial detoxification program developed by Scientology's founder L. Ron Hubbard and used by the Church of Scientology as an introductory service.[77][78] Scientologists consider it the only effective way to deal with the long-term effects of drug abuse or toxic exposure.[78] The program combines exercise, dietary supplements and long stays in a sauna (up to five hours a day for five weeks).[79] It is promoted variously as religious or secular, medical or purely spiritual, depending on context.[80][81]

Narconon is a drug education and rehabilitation program founded on Hubbard's beliefs about toxins and purification.[82][83] Narconon is offered in the United States, Canada and a number of European countries; its Purification Program uses a regimen composed of sauna, physical exercise, vitamins and diet management, combined with auditing and study.[82][83]

"Handling" of psychosis

Main article: Introspection Rundown

The Introspection Rundown is a controversial Church of Scientology auditing process that is intended to handle a psychotic episode or complete mental breakdown. Introspection is defined for the purpose of this rundown as a condition where the person is "looking into one's own mind, feelings, reactions, etc."[84] The Introspection Rundown came under public scrutiny after the death of Lisa McPherson in 1995.[85]

"Word Clearing" and "Learning on a Gradient"

Main article: Study Tech

On November 12, 1952, Hubbard delivered a lecture entitled "Precision Knowledge: Necessity to know terminology and law" emphasizing the importance to precise terminology. Scientology defined methods of correcting "misunderstoods" ("misunderstood word or symbol"). Scientologists have their own Technical Dictionary[86] featuring modified definitions of existing English words. Scientology dictionaries also include specialized terminology such as "enturbulate" and "havingness."

Critics of Scientology have accused Hubbard of "loading the language" and using Scientology jargon to keep Scientologists from interacting with information sources outside of Scientology.[87][88]

Scientology teaches that that material must be learned "on a gradient", that is, in order without skipping or skimming material.[89]

In Scientology doctrine, the idea of communication has a high status. In the book Sects, Cults, and Spiritual Communities, Petrowsky and Zellner state that in the Scientology belief system, “misinformation or miscommunication is analogous to original sin, inhibiting individual growth and relationships with others.” The “misunderstood word” is a central teaching in Scientology. Failure in reading comprehension is attributed to it.[23]

Interpretation and context

Scientology discourages secondary interpretation of its writings.[90] Students of Scientology are taught to direct others to those original sources, rather than to convey any interpretation of the concepts in their own words. Emphasis is placed on keeping the writings in context.

Silent birth

Main article: Silent birth

Advocated by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, silent birth describes "the process of childbirth where labor and delivery is done in a calm and loving environment." To provide quiet surroundings for the delivery of the baby, individuals in his/her immediate vicinity are prompted not to speak. According to Scientology practices, silent birth is "mandatory to provide the best possible environment for the pregnant mother and her new baby." Shouting, laughing or making loud remarks must be avoided while the baby is being pushed out. According to The Multimedia Encyclopedia of Women in Today's World, "its origins are fundamentally rooted in the principle that women, particularly expectant mothers, be given the utmost care and respect."[91]


Main article: Scientology holidays

There are several holidays celebrated by Scientologists, notably L. Ron Hubbard's birthday in March, the Anniversary of the first publication of Dianetics in May, Sea Org Day in August, Auditor's Day in September and the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) Anniversary in October.[92] Most official celebrations are scheduled on weekends. Scientologists also celebrate[vague] holidays such as Christmas, Easter and New Year's Eve, as well as other local celebrations.[93] Scientologists also celebrate religious holidays depending on other religious beliefs, as Scientologists very often retain their original affiliations with religions in which they were raised.[94]

Sunday services

A Scientology Sunday service has a sermon, similar to other religions in the United States. It typically begins at 11am and Hubbard's writings are read aloud during the service. Much like other religions’ services, music is played or sometimes musical performances are enjoyed.[95] The minister speaks on Scientology doctrine, announces that weekly activities of the community and recent updates from churches around the world. Scientologists also say “A Prayer for Total Freedom,” asking the “author of the universe” to help them as they seek enlightenment.[96]

The way Scientology's service has been executed has not changed. The minister chooses from a limited selection of possible sermons and group processing exercises. He creates the sermon within the parameters of a literal interpretation of Hubbard's canonical teachings, functioning similar to other indigenous theologians who work with canonical texts.[97]

According to religion scholar James R. Lewis, Sunday services are more for interested non-members and the holidays and events are more for existing members of the church.[98]


The church's rituals can be categorized four ways: first, rituals performed for spiritual transformation; second, collective ceremonies usually called events, including Hubbard's birthday; third, rites of passage including weddings and funerals; and fourth, those that mimic Christian rituals, such as Sunday services. Events include the anniversary of Dianetics, the anniversary of Freewinds and Auditor's Day.[99]


Scientologists also undergo training aside from auditing, which consists of several levels of courses about daily life improvement using various tools, and auditing techniques, so that members are able to perform the same procedure to other Scientologists.[98]

Applications of "Ethics" and "Disconnection"

Main articles: Ethics (Scientology), Suppressive Person, and Disconnection (Scientology)

Scientology has an internal justice system (the Ethics system) designed to deal with unethical or antisocial behavior.[100][101] Ethics officers are present in every org; they are tasked with ensuring correct application of Scientology technology and deal with violations such as non-compliance with standard procedures or any other behavior adversely affecting an org's performance, ranging from errors and misdemeanors to crimes and suppressive acts, as defined by internal documents.[102] Scientology teaches that spiritual progress requires and enables the attainment of high "ethical" standards.[103] In Scientology, rationality is stressed over morality.[103] Actions are considered ethical if they promote survival across all eight dynamics, thus benefiting the greatest number of people or things possible while harming the fewest.[104]

While Scientology states that many social problems are the unintentional results of people's imperfections, it asserts that there are also truly malevolent individuals.[105] Hubbard believed that approximately 80 percent of all people are what he called social personalities – people who welcome and contribute to the welfare of others.[105] The remaining 20 percent of the population, Hubbard thought, were Suppressive Persons.[105] According to Hubbard, only about 2.5 percent of this 20 percent are hopelessly antisocial personalities; these make up the small proportion of truly dangerous individuals in humanity: "the Adolf Hitlers and the Genghis Khans, the unrepentant murderers and the drug lords."[105][106] Scientologists believe that any contact with suppressive or antisocial individuals has an adverse effect on one's spiritual condition, necessitating disconnection.[105][106]

In Scientology, defectors who turn into critics of the movement are declared suppressive persons,[107][108][109][110] and the Church of Scientology has a reputation for moving aggressively against such detractors.[111] A Scientologist who is actively in communication with a suppressive person and as a result shows signs of antisocial behaviour is referred to as a Potential Trouble Source.[112][113]

"Fair Game"

Main article: Fair Game (Scientology)

The term Fair Game is used to describe policies and practices carried out by the Church against people the Church perceives as its enemies. Hubbard established the policy in the 1950s, in response to criticism both from within and outside his organization.[114][115] Individuals or groups who are "Fair Game" are judged to be a threat to the Church and, according to the policy, can be punished and harassed using any and all means possible.[114][115][116]

Hubbard and his followers targeted many individuals as well as government officials and agencies, including a program of covert and illegal infiltration of the IRS and other U.S. government agencies during the 1970s.[114][115] They also conducted private investigations, character assassination and legal action against the Church's critics in the media.[114] The policy remains in effect and has been defended by the Church of Scientology as a core religious practice.[117][118][119]

Splinter groups: Independents, Miscavige's RTC, and "Squirreling"

Hubbard's beliefs and practices, drawn from a diverse set of sources, influenced numerous offshoots, splinter groups, and new movements.

While Scientology generally refers to Miscavige-led Church of Scientology, many other groups practice Scientology. These groups, collectively known as the Free Zone or as Independent Scientologists, consist of both former members of the official Church of Scientology, as well as entirely new members. In 1965, a longtime Church member and "Doctor of Scientology" Jack Horner (b. 1927), dissatisfied with the Church's "ethics" program, developed Dianology.[120] Capt. Bill Robertson, a former Sea Org member, was a primary instigator of the movement in the early 1980s.[121] The church labels these groups as "squirrels" in Scientology jargon and often subjects them to considerable legal and social pressure.[122][123][124]

On January 1, 1982, Miscavige established the Religious Technology Center (RTC).[125] On November 11, 1982, the Free Zone was established by former top Scientologists in disagreement with RTC.[126] The Free Zone Association was founded and registered under the laws of Germany, and believes that the Church of Scientology has departed from its original philosophy.[127]

The Advanced Ability Center was a breakaway organization from the Church of Scientology established by former Scientologist David Mayo after he left the Church in February 1983 – a time when most of Scientology's upper and middle management split with David Miscavige's organization.[128] David Mayo had been Hubbard's own auditor.[128]

More recently, high-profile defectors Mark Rathbun and Mike Rinder have represented and stood for the cause of Independent Scientologists wishing to practice Scientology outside of the Church.[129][130][131]

Use of contracts

The Church of Scientology requires that all members sign a legal waiver which covers their relationship with the Church of Scientology before engaging in Scientology services.[132][133]

See also


  1. ^"Road To Total Freedom". Panorama. BBC. April 27, 1987.
  2. ^Farley, Robert (May 6, 2006). "Scientology nearly ready to unveil Super Power". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved December 7, 2008.
  3. ^ abcGutjahr, Paul C. (2001). "Reference: The State of the Discipline: Sacred Texts in the United States". Book History. 4: 335–370. doi:10.1353/bh.2001.0008. JSTOR 30227336. S2CID 162339753.
  4. ^Lewis, James R. (March 2009). Scientology. Cary, NC: Oxford University Press. ISBN .
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  1. Locking diary
  2. Refurbished paper shredders
  3. Religious porch signs

Scientology: What exactly is it?

Yet there's a lot more to this religion than just its ties to Tinseltown. Scientology is probably one of the most successful new American faiths to have emerged in the past century. But despite its success -- and like a lot of other belief systems -- what Scientologists believe and how they perceive a higher power is often misunderstood.
Religious scholar Reza Aslan explores the origin and central ideas of this faith on his CNN show, "Believer."
Here's a look at the basics about Scientology:
Scientology describes itself as a religion that was founded in the 1950s by L. Ron Hubbard.
At the core of Scientology is a belief that each human has a reactive mind that responds to life's traumas, clouding the analytic mind and keeping us from experiencing reality. Members of the religion submit to a process called auditing to find the sources of this trauma, reliving those experiences in an attempt to neutralize them and reassert the primacy of the analytic mind, working toward a spiritual state called "clear."
The process involves a device called E-meter, which Scientologists say measures the body's electric flow as an auditor asks a series of questions they say reveals sources of trauma.
"Auditing uses processes - exact sets of questions asked or directions given by an auditor to help a person locate areas of spiritual distress, find out things about himself and improve his condition," according to the Church of Scientology's website.
The church goes on to say, "Science is something one does, not something one believes in."
Auditing purports to identify spiritual distress from a person's current life and from past lives. Scientologists believe each person is an immortal being, a force that believers call a thetan.
"You move up the bridge to freedom by working toward being an 'Operating Thetan,' which at the highest level transcends material law," says David Bromley, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. "You occasionally come across people in Scientology who say they can change the material world with their mind."
Bromley and other scholars say the church promotes the idea of an ancient intergalactic civilization in which millions of beings were destroyed and became what are known as "body thetans," which continue to latch onto humans and cause more trauma.
Advanced Scientologists confront body thetans through more auditing.
Bromley says the church discloses that cosmic history only to more advanced Scientologists. The church's media affairs department did not respond to requests for comment to this story.
In a 2008 CNN interview, church spokesman Tommy Davis was asked whether the basic tenet of the Church of Scientology was to rid the body of space alien parasites.
"Does that sound silly to you?" laughed Davis. "I mean, it's unrecognizable to me. ... People should really come to the church and find out for themselves what it is."
L. Ron Hubbard was the founder of Scientology. Born in Nebraska in 1911, Hubbard was the son of a U.S. Navy officer who circled the globe with his family, according to Scientology expert J. Gordon Melton, a fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies in Religion who writes about Scientology on the religion website Patheos.
Hubbard attended the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., but left before graduating to launch a career as a fiction writer, gravitating toward science fiction.
After serving in World War II, Hubbard published a series of articles and then a book on a what he described as a new approach to mental health, which he called Dianetics. His book by the same name quickly became a best-seller.
The success provoked Hubbard to establish a foundation that began to train people in his auditing techniques. In 1954, the first Church of Scientology opened in Los Angeles, with other churches opening soon after. Hubbard died in 1986. The church is now led by David Miscavige.

Why is the church so controversial?

Many groups and individuals have challenged Scientology's legitimacy as a religion.
Scientologists have faced opposition from the medical community over the religion's claims about mental health, from the scientific community over its claims about its E-meters and from other religious groups about its status as a religion.
"It's part therapy, part religion, part UFO group," says Bromley. "It's a mix of things that's unlike any other religious group out there."
For a long time, the Internal Revenue Service denied the Scientologists' attempts to be declared a church with tax-exempt status. But the IRS granted them that status in 1993.
Many members say the church is largely about self-improvement.
"What I believe in my own life is that it's a search for how I can do things better, whether it's being a better man or a better father or finding ways for myself to improve," Tom Cruise told Playboy magazine. "Individuals have to decide what is true and real for them."

What does Scientology teach about psychiatry?

L. Ron Hubbard rejected psychiatry and psychiatric drugs because he said they interfered with the functioning of the rational mind. Scientologists continue to promote that idea.
The Church of Scientology's website says that "the effects of medical and psychiatric drugs, whether painkillers, tranquilizers or 'antidepressants,' are as disastrous" as illicit drugs.

How many Scientologists are there?

That's a matter of considerable dispute.
The Church of Scientology says it has 10,000 churches, missions and groups operating in 167 countries, with 4.4 million more people signing up every year.
Scholars say that, despite the global proliferation of church buildings, the membership numbers are much lower than the church claims, likely in the hundreds of thousands. Several of the church's followers are Hollywood celebrities.
10 Secrets About The Church of Scientology

What Is Scientology? 20 Things Scientologists Believe

Scientology. The word brings to mind images of Hollywood and celebrities…but what else? Scientology, at its core, is a self-help religion started by writer L. Ron Hubbard. This 20th century religion is cloaked in mystery for many. This may be because some doctrine is reserved for the knowledge of higher-level initiates.

So let’s assemble some basics of what we do know about the history, people, beliefs—and controversies—of Scientology.

Who Invented Scientology?

Scientology was invented by a man named Lafayette Ron Hubbard, better known as L. Ron Hubbard. Born in Montana in 1911, Hubbard attended George Washington University in 1930-32, but dropped out to pursue other interests.

He married and became a writer, writing in genres from western to horror to science fiction. Hubbard developed an interest in exploring and was elected to the Explorer’s Club in 1940. During the winter of 1940–41, Hubbard received licensures as a Master of Steam and Motor Vessels, and Master of Sail Vessels.

This lent itself to Hubbard’s service during WWII in naval intelligence in Australia and aboard several vessels near the American coast. The end of the war found Hubbard a patient at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, California, suffering from war-related ailments.

During this time, Hubbard began thinking about the human condition and decided to undertake a quest to discover a “science of the mind.” From this quest came the invention of Scientology.

In 1950, Hubbard introduced his ideas definitively to the world in the form of his book Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.

Why Was Scientology Invented?

Hubbard believed the basic principle of human existence is survival. Things that lead to survival are good and pleasurable, while things that are counter-survival will be negative. A normal, analytical mind, he believed, will make good survival decisions.

However, Hubbard contends, when a mind is not working properly, the reactive mind will take over and create negative images called engrams. Bad engrams can even be left over from past lives.

Hubbard believed people need to confront and eliminate these engrams to return to the way a mind should work, and he created Scientology for this purpose.

Who Is Scientology Intended to Attract?

In an interview with Business Insiderformer Scientologist Steve Hall shared that much of the allure of Scientology is the focus on self-inquiry:

“Scientology is a body of know-how that is supposed to enable a person to make rational decisions in life…But it's structured and it's called auditing. It's done in a safe environment and the counselor has a code of conduct. The auditor does not tell the person what to think and does not tell them what to say. He just guides them on a path of self-discovery. And once you've experienced it you want more, because it helps you become a better person. You're able to open up new lines of communications with people you were afraid to talk to before. The shy kids who can't talk to girls can suddenly get up the nerve, that's the good side.”

The idea of Scientology is that by undergoing certain counseling sessions, rituals, and pursuing self-discovery, people can improve themselves. Scientology is particularly attractive to those who feel that they are mentally or emotionally being held back from realizing their full potential.

Who Are Scientologists and Who Leads the Church of Scientology?

Perhaps the most famous Scientologist is actor Tom Cruise. Other famous adherents include John Travolta, Michael Pena, Kirstie Alley, Catherine Bell, Elisabeth Moss, and dozens more, while just as many celebrities are among the ranks of former Scientologists.

David Miscavige is the leader of the church of Scientology. Born in 1960, Miscavige was reportedly miraculously cured of severe allergies and asthma after a Dianetics session, after which his family joined Scientology in 1971.

At 16, Miscavige left school to join the Sea Org, a religious order that controlled all Scientology management organizations. He rose through the ranks and earned the personal favor of L. Ron Hubbard.

He became the de facto leader of the church in 1980 when Hubbard stopped making public appearances and assumed the official role after Hubbard’s death in 1986.

How Many People Are Scientologists?

Numbers are difficult to produce. Studies from The American Religious Identification Survey in 2008 and The Pew Forum in 2015 lump Scientology in with “new religious movements and other religions” or “other faiths” at about 1.2% and 1.5% of the American population respectively.

A common estimate of how many Scientologists there are in America is around 25,000.

Statistics for other countries are even harder to find. However, it is clear that Scientology is embraced by well under one percent of the population.

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Giovenale

What Are the Top 3 Beliefs of Scientology?

Scientology didn’t start out as a religion. Hubbard’s Dianetics was based more on counseling regarding unconscious scars from negative memories. However, Dianetics began to transition into Scientology with Hubbard’s discussion of “thetans,” or human immortal souls.

According to Scientology’s website, Scientology’s top three fundamental truths are these:

1. Man is an immortal spiritual being.

2. His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime.

3. His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized.

What Are Some Other Beliefs of Scientology?

Unfortunately for the noninitiate, much of Scientology belief is secret and only available to higher tiers of Scientologists. But the following are 10 of the most important beliefs in Scientology that outsiders know of:

1. Survival

The basic principle of human existence is survival. Things that lead to survival are good and pleasurable, while things that are counter-survival will be negative.

2. Engrams

According to Dianetics, each person has an analytical mind that is usually in charge of making daily decisions and judgments necessary for survival. However, in times of stress or trauma, the reactive mind (somewhat like the subconscious) takes over.

This leaves lasting scars on the reactive mind, scars called “engrams.”

3. Auditing

To get rid of these engrams, a person can go through a therapeutic process called “auditing.” In auditing, an auditor asks an individual a series of questions designed to purge engrams and allow the analytical mind to regain control. This is accompanied with the use of an electropsychometer, or E-meter, a device introduced by Hubbard which measures the strength of an electrical current that is run through an individual’s body as the person answers the auditor’s questions. E-meter readings indicate changes in emotional states and allow the identification of engrams.

4. Humans Are ‘Thetans’

In Scientology, humans are immortal souls called “thetans” that are trapped in multiple bodies over various lifetimes. According to Hubbard, thetans originated billions of years ago with the original Cause. Thetans emerged early in creation, and through their interaction created the physical universe of matter, energy, space, and time.

Over time, the thetans fell into the physical universe and got trapped. They were slowly stripped of their creative abilities and memories of who they were and eventually ended up on earth.

5. Thetans Become ‘Clear’ and More Creative

After purging the mind of engrams from all these lifetimes and the events that caused them to be stripped of their creative abilities, a thetan can become “clear.” Thetans who become clear reach a higher level of ethical and moral standards, are more creative with greater control of the environment, and are less susceptible to disease. This is the goal of Scientology.

6. Thetans ‘Ascend’

Clear thetans can ascend to higher levels in the church and become “Operating Thetans” or “OTs.” They can also expand themselves by identifying with larger realities called “dynamics.”

7. High-Operating Thetans Increase in Power and Ability

A high-operating thetan can increase survival for all of Scientology’s dynamics. The eight dynamics are Infinity, Spiritual, Physical Universe, Life Forms, Mankind, Group Survival, Family, and Self.

8. Purification

All drugs are poisons that inhibit spiritual freedom. To dislodge the toxins of drugs and chemical residues trapped in the body, people can participate in a “Purification Rundown” which involves sweating in a sauna, mega-vitamin and mineral dosages, extra oil, good nutrition, and adequate rest.

9. Man Seeks Survival

The Creed of the Church of Scientology states, “And we of the Church believe That Man is basically good. That he is seeking to Survive. That his survival depends upon himself and upon his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the Universe.”

10. Belief in a Non-Definitive ‘Supreme Being’ 

Hubbard believed there is a Supreme Being, but he and the church leave an individual to come to their own conclusions about God and His nature, instead focusing on helping members realize their “inherent spiritual essence and abilities.”

How Do Scientology Beliefs Conflict with Christianity?

Scientology is not compatible with Christianity for several reasons. Here are the main five:

1. Christians Believe Humans Exist to Glorify God

Scientology puts forth that the basic principle of human existence is survival. However, Christians believe humans exist for God, or, in the words of the Westminster Shorter Catechism,“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him for ever.”

2. Christians Believe We Die Once

Scientology puts forth that spirits called thetans occupy multiple bodies over multiple lifetimes. However, the Bible is clear, “People are destined to die once, and then face judgement” (Hebrews 9:27).

3. Christians Assert that All Fall Short

The Creed of the Church of Scientology states, “Man is basically good.” However, the Bible asserts over and over that this is not the case. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

4. Christians Believe We Need a Savior

Scientology puts forth that a person’s “survival depends on himself…and his attainment of brotherhood with the Universe” (Creed of the Church of Scientology).

The Bible makes clear that a person is incapable of saving him or herself. In John 8:24, Jesus says, “I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he [that is, the Son of God], you will indeed die in your sins.”

Only by faith in Christ can we be saved; as Acts 4:12 states, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

5. Christianity Puts God First

Scientology doesn’t put much emphasis on what a person believes about the Supreme Being. However, Christianity elevates God and seeking Him above all else. Jesus Himself said that the most important law is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

Why Do Former Scientologists Leave?

It’s hard to pinpoint a single reason why former Scientologists leave. This article from Rolling Stone offers the viewpoints of several people who left Scientology after being raised in it as children.

Those interviewed cited cult practices, manipulation, and even being sent away from their parents to live in terrible conditions in Scientology facilities. The Church of Scientology, however, denies these claims.

Among adults who join and then leave Scientology, a common complaint is the religion’s policy of heavily encouraging members to break all ties with non-Scientologist family members. Others get tired of shelling out hundreds of dollars for sessions.

Why Leah Remini Left Scientology

Leah Remini may be the most famous ex-Scientologist. Remini grew up with Scientology from the age of nine. In 2013, the actress left Scientology and dedicated herself to exposing what she called “Scientology crimes.”

Leah Remini’s documentary series “Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath” aired the final episode of season three on A&E in August 2019. The show, which was nominated for an Emmy each year of its run, was dedicated to allowing former Scientologists to tell their stories. It allowed former high-ranking officials in the religion a space to explore policies and structures of Scientology.

Remini has faced major backlash from the Church of Scientology. “Ms. Remini is showing herself to be a spoiled entitled diva who still obsessively complains about such petty matters,” The Church of Scientology International said in an official written statement. The statement continues:

“Leah Remini knows the truth she conveniently rewrites in her revisionist history. The real story is that she desperately tried to remain a Scientologist in 2013, knowing full well she was on the verge of being expelled… She now regurgitates the tired myths the Church has repeatedly debunked, circulated by…expelled former staffers…Ms. Remini is now joined at the hip with this collection of deadbeats.”

Whether Leah Remini and her TV interviewees are bluffing or not, they are not alone in these accusations. Former Scientologist Athena Dean Holtz even speaks about Scientology in her article for Crosswalk.

What Truths Can a Christian Share with a Scientologist?

Many people turn to Scientology because of the help it offers. Overcoming past trauma and living to one’s full potential are tantalizing offers. However, this can be pricey; auditing sessions are not free. A Christian can talk to a Scientologist about the free gift of God that is Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23) and the healing that Christ brings.

Scientology depends on a person saving him or herself. This is an enormous amount of pressure. Christians can share the gift of salvation that comes from Christ; He paid the price so we don’t have to (Galatians 3:13). We can be secure in his love.

Scientology is lonely. Scientologists must separate themselves from family members that don’t adhere to the religion, and the religion itself is devoid of a personal God. Christians can offer a loving community and share a God who wants deep, intimate relationships with His people (1 John 4:9-11).

Rumors and accusations fly rampant around Scientology, and much of the doctrine is secret; reserved for OTs (“Operating Thetans”). What is true and what isn’t can be difficult to ascertain. But one thing is certain: Scientology is surrounded by many hurting people.

As children of God, it is our job to reach out to our neighbors and love them in the name of Christ.

For Further Reading:

World Religions and Cults: Scientology

History of Scientology



Church beliefs scientology

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Scientology Beliefs: The Eight Dynamics Of Life

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