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A Scientology Center in Los Angeles, California.
Scientology is a system of beliefs, teachings and rituals, originally established as a secular philosophy in 1952 by science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard, then recharacterized by him in 1953 as an "applied religious philosophy."

Scientology is officially represented by the controversial Church of Scientology. The Church presents itself as a non-profit religious organization dedicated to encouraging development of the human spirit. Providing counseling and rehabilitation programs, the Church offers itself as an alternative to psychiatry, which Scientologists believe to be a barbaric and corrupt profession. [1] ( Church spokespeople attest that Hubbard's teaching (called "technology" or "tech") has freed them from drug and alcohol addictions, depression, learning disabilities, mental disorders and other problems.

Scientology, however, has been the object of many allegations that sharply contradict the Church's self-description. Critics—including officials and the courts of several countries—have characterized the Church of Scientology as an unscrupulous commercial organization; it has often been described not as a religion, but a man-made cult that harasses its critics and exploits its members. Many of the Church's most controversial actions are, critics argue, a direct reflection of Hubbard's Scientology teachings.


Origins of Scientology

Scientology was expanded and reworked from Dianetics [2] (, an earlier system of self-improvement techniques originally set out by Hubbard in the 1950 book, Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health. Immediately prior to this work, Hubbard was intensively involved with the occultist Jack Parsons in performing the occult rites developed by Aleister Crowley. Some critics have seen many similarities in Hubbard's writings to the doctrines of Crowley [3] (

By the mid-1950s, Hubbard had relegated Dianetics to being a sub-study of Scientology, although it is still promoted and delivered by Scientology organizations. The chief difference between the two is that Dianetics is explicitly secular, focused on the individual's present life and dealing with physical and mental or emotional problems, whereas Scientology adopts a more overtly religious approach [4] ( focused on dealing with spiritual issues spanning multiple past lives as well as the present day.

Hubbard was repeatedly accused of adopting a religious facade for Scientology in order for the organization to maintain tax-exempt status and avoid prosecution for false medical claims; these accusations have dogged the Church of Scientology to the present day, bolstered by numerous accounts from Hubbard's fellow science-fiction authors that on various occasions he stated that the way to get rich was to start a religion [5] (

The word scientology has a history of its own. Although nowadays associated almost exclusively with Hubbard's work, it was coined by the philologist Alan Upward in 1907 as a synonym for "pseudoscience". [6] ( In 1934, the Argentine-German writer Anastasius Nordenholz published a book using the word positively: Scientologie, Wissenschaft von der Beschaffenheit und der Tauglichkeit des Wissens, or Scientology, Science of the Constitution and Usefulness of Knowledge. [7] ( Nordenholz's book is a study of consciousness, and its usage of the word is not greatly different from Hubbard's definition, "knowing how to know". However, it is not clear to what extent Hubbard was aware of these earlier usages. The word itself is a pairing of the Latin word scio ("know" or "distinguish") and the Greek λόγος lógos ("reason itself" or "inward thought"). Hubbard said, in a lecture given on the 19th of July 1962 entitled "The E-meter":

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

Beliefs and practices

Main article: Scientology beliefs and practices

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

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

Those that reach the higher teachings (OT III) within the Church of Scientology will learn all about Xenu, the evil intergalactic ruler who implanted "thetans" or alien spirits, in earth's volcanoes 75 million years ago, after which they escaped and invaded human bodies. The ultimate belief of Scientology is that you are possessed by the spirits of aliens murdered 75 million years ago by "Xenu" and you have to exorcise these spirits. The cost of reaching OT III approaches $360,000.

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

Other important teachings that even new Scientologists are likely to encounter include the existence of "suppressive persons", whose destructive actions can directly impede the Scientologist's progress, and the evils of psychiatry: Scientology says "psychs" have caused us grave problems for thousands of years.

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

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

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

The Church of Scientology

Main article: Church of Scientology

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

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

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

Independent Scientology groups

Main article: Free Zone

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

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

Controversy and criticism

Main article: Scientology controversy

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

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

The Church of Scientology pursues an extensive public relations campaign arguing that Scientology is a bona fide religion. The organization cites numerous scholarly sources supporting its position, many of which can be found on a website the Church has established for this purpose [8] (

Critics dismiss many of these studies as biased, contending that the studies were commissioned by Scientology to produce the results that Scientology desired. Academic papers that conclude that Scientology is a not a legitimate religion have also been published (some are available online in the Marburg Journal of Religion [9] (

In the U.S., in October of 1993 the Internal Revenue Service, after reviewing voluminous information on the Church's financial and other operations, recognized the Church as an "organization operated exclusively for religious and charitable purposes." [10] ( The Church offers this tax exemption as proof that it is a religion.

In 1982, the High Court of Australia ruled that the State Government of Victoria could not declare, as they had, that the Church of Scientology was not a religion on grounds of charlatanism (Church of the New Faith v. Commissioner Of Pay-roll Tax (Vict.) 1983, 154 CLR 120]).[11] (

"Charlatanism is a necessary price of religious freedom, and if a self-proclaimed teacher persuades others to believe in a religion which he propounds, lack of sincerity or integrity on his part is not incompatible with the religious character of the beliefs, practices and observances accepted by his followers."

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

The ongoing controversies involving the Church of Scientology and its critics include:

  • Scientology's harassing and litigious actions against its critics and "enemies."
  • Differing accounts of L. Ron Hubbard's life, (critics charge Scientology with being a cult of personality, with much emphasis placed on the alleged accomplishments of its founder). Scientologists claim that government files, such as the FBI, are loaded with forgeries and other false documents detrimental to Scientology.
  • Deaths of Scientologists due to mistreatment by other members.
  • Scientology's disconnection policy, in which members are encouraged to cut off all contact with friends or family members critical of the Church.
  • Criminal activities by some members of the Church of Scientology.
  • Claims of "brainwashing" and mind control.
  • Accounts of L. Ron Hubbard discussing his intent to start a religion to make money.

Scientology vs. the Internet

Main Article: Scientology vs. the Internet

Leaders of Scientology have undertaken extensive operations on the Internet to deal with growing allegations of fraud and exposure of unscrupulousness within Scientology. The organization states that it is taking actions to prevent distribution of copyrighted Scientology documents and publications online. The International Association of Scientologists have written an article called Freedom of Speech at Risk in Cyberspace[12] ( Yet, critics claimed the organization was attempting to suppress free speech.

In January 1995 Scientology lawyer Helena Kobrin attempted to shut down the Usenet discussion group alt.religion.scientology by sending a control message instructing Usenet servers to delete the group. Kobrin and the Church also started suing people for posting copies of its copyrighted scriptures on the newsgroup. These acts resulted in thousands of Internet users around the world taking a closer look at Scientology.

From mid-1996 and for several years after, the newsgroup was subject to another form of attempted suppression dubbed "sporgery" by some, in the form of hundreds of thousands of forged spam messages posted on the group. Although the church neither confirmed nor denied that it was behind the spam, some investigators claimed that some of the spam had been traced to church members. Scientology's response to criticism was to issue a statement insisting that their actions were actually an assault against hate speech, making numerous claims about hate and violence directed against Scientology.

Celebrity Practitioners

The Church of Scientology has made a concerted effort to attract and serve artists and entertainers—they have special facilities in Hollywood and elsewhere that are designated "celebrity centers." Public awareness of Scientology has been promoted by Scientologists in the entertainment industry, including such well-known actors as John Travolta, Kirstie Alley and Tom Cruise, who is perhaps the most outspoken celebrity scientologist. See List of famous Scientologists.

Popular culture references to Scientology

The 1999 satirical film "Bowfinger" includes an organisation called "Mindhead" as a thinly-veiled reference to the Scientology movement. The Mindhead organisation features a wealthy, charismatic figurehead and its adherents include prominent film celebrities.

Steven Soderbergh's Schizopolis (1996) also parodies Scientology in the illustration of a self-help corporation called Eventualism.

The computer game Fallout 2 has a "religion" named "The Hubologists". Much of the Hubologist teachings are similar to Scientology's teachings. By and large, actions that hurt the Hubologists are considered good things for the world of Fallout, and those that aid them are considered bad things for the world of Fallout.

Frank Zappa's concept album Joe's Garage talks about L. Ron Hoover's 'Appliantology'.

On Tool's album AEnima, in the song AEnema the lyrics include "Fuck L. Ron Hubbard and fuck all his clones".

Alex Cox's film Repo Man features a character telling another character to read 'Diaretics - The Science Of Matter Over Mind'.

In the TV series Millennium, the episode "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense" involves a Scientology-like religion called "Selfosophy", formed by a science-fiction writer named Onan Goopta. Selfosophy boasts of its celebrity adherents and employs a device called the "Onan-o-graph", similar to Scientology's E-meter.

The TV series The 4400 contains a cult-of-personality organization that promises special powers to people following its course of study, courts celebrities, including advancing them more quickly than non-celebrities, encourages its members to disassociate from people opposed to the organization, uses technological devices during therapy-like sessions, and confiscates psychiatric drugs from its members.

The computer role-playing game (by Origin Systems and Richard Garriot, aka Lord British), Ultima 7, also contains references to Scientology with its own religion called "The Fellowship". Early on in the game in Britannia, you will be given option to join the Fellowship and, in order to do this, you are subjected to a personlity test by the leader, Batlin. Of course, any answer to any of the questions posed is always interpretted as some flaw in your character, thus there are no correct answers that do not ultimately lead to the conclusion that you, the Avatar, need the Fellowship. The Fellowship also believes in a basic tenet, which is called the Triad of Inner Strength: "Strive for Unity", "Trust Thy Brother" and "Worthiness Precedes Reward". In the end, the Fellowship is shown to be one of the Guardian's (a powerful, but evil red extraterrestial) ploys to corrupt and destroy Britannia, with Batlin being in on the plan, along with Elizabeth and Abraham.

See also

Further reading

External links

Official Scientology sites

  • ( - Official 'Dianetics' site
  • ( - Scientology's 'Freedom' Magazine
  • ( - 'Church of Scientology' home page
  • ( - Online Text: Scientology Handbook
  • ( - Online Text: 'Theology and Practice of a Contemporary Religion'
  • ( - Scientology 'Human Rights Newsroom'
  • WhatIsScientology ( - Online Text: 'What is Scientology?'

Free Zone Scientology sites

  • ( - Freezone AO International site

Other pro-Scientology sites

  • ( - The 'Church' of Scientology
  • ( - Information on Scientology
  • ( -Recommended sites on Scientology
  • ( - 'Religious Tolerance' Site
  • ( University of Calgary: 'Religious' Status of Scientology

Critical sites and articles

Critical sites


  • Penthouse: L. Ron Hubbard Jr. Interview ( - Transcript of a Penthouse interview of L. Ron Hubbard's son, discussing Scientology.
  • Time Magazine article repost ( - Time cover story on Scientology, by Richard Behar
  • Rotten Library ( - article on Scientology
  • Quill ( Quill article: Scientology from inside out by Robert Vaughn Young

Online books

Current news and discussions

  • ( - Google link to Usenet newsgroup: alt.religion.scientology
  • ARS Week In Review ( - alt.religion.scientology Week In Review
  • ( - Religion News Blog: Scientology News Trackeraf:Scientologie

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