Scientology: Science or New Age Cult?

Scientology, officially known as The Church of Scientology, was founded by L. Ron Hubbard (1912-1986), and popularized through his 1950 book, DIANETICS: The Modern Science of Mental Health (over eight million copies sold). Dianetics was originally intended to be Hubbard's psychotherapeutic answer to the techniques of modern psychiatry. (The word "Dianetics" means "through the soul," and promises to reveal "the single source of all man's insanities, psychosomatic illnesses, and neuroses.")

Hubbard formalized his theories into a religion in order to obtain tax-exempt status and freedom from governmental interference for some of his organizations. Scientology currently claims to have about one million followers and six million sympathizers in more than 600 "churches, missions, and groups around the world." Hubbard's reputation as an explorer, science fiction writer, and parabotanist (he was one of the first to expound the idea of communicating with plants) enlarged to make him the worldwide spokesman for this fast-growing cult. The cult claims "celebrity centers" in more than 100 cities in more than 15 countries. The cult appeals strongly to intellectuals and the "gifted," relying extensively on endorsements from celebrities and corporations that employ dianetics. Various world locations for Scientology include Washington, D.C., Sussex, England (where it operates a thirty-room mansion and a fifty-seven acre estate), and Los Angeles.

Hubbard was a best-selling author for more than 50 years, with over 589 published works to his credit. His fiction sales total over 22 million copies, and his non-fiction works have sold more than 23 million. Many may have first come in contact with Scientology through a clean-cut young man or woman at the door offering a "free personality analysis." But the 200 questions posed are part of the recruiting program for the Church of Scientology, which is nothing but an applied religious philosophy offering "a clear, bright insight to help you blaze toward your mind's full potential?"

In a nutshell, Scientology teaches that all humans descended from a race of uncreated, omnipotent gods called thetans, who gave up their powers to enter the Material-Energy-Space-Time (MEST) world of Earth. Gradually, they evolved upward by reincarnation to become humans who could not remember their deified state. Scientologists are encouraged to awaken their dormant thetan potential by removing all mental blocks called engrams. By doing so they can realize their true personhood, achieving total power and control over MEST. Scientology offers a psychotherapeutic process for breaking through the engrams "picked up from traumas in prior lives," to "realize" once again one's true identity as an "operating Thetan" (God) beyond the limitations of MEST.

Scientology, thereby, does nothing more than incorporate certain aspects of New Age pseudoscience, psychotherapy, and various occult practices into the ancient lie of promised godhood. Below are the highlights of what Scientology believes concerning its source of authority, roots, tactics, sin and salvation, Christ, and spiritual practice:

1. Source of Authority. L. Ron Hubbard and his 1950 book, Dianetics, is the authority for Scientology. [The Church of Scientology's current Church president is Heber T. Jentzsch.] Scientology has even found it necessary to publish a dictionary with 7,000 definitions for the use of over 3,000 Dianetic words. In his next book, Science of Survival (1951), Hubbard released his findings on the spirit of Man. This book contained the foundation of the religion of Scientology, dealing with what Hubbard considered the fundamental truths concerning the essence of life, what came before, and the hereafter. This was later followed by another basic book, SCIENTOLOGY: The Fundamentals of Thought. Hubbard's own definition of Scientology is "Knowing how to know … Know thyself … and the truth shall set you free"-an obvious twisting of the words of Jesus Christ in John 8:32-"And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."

2. Its Roots. Even though Hubbard himself declares Dianetics to be "the spiritual heir of Buddhism in the Western world," there is evidence of even darker roots. Hubbard was at one time closely linked with British satanist Aleister Crowley, and there are strong indications that the word dianetics, in reality, had its origins in the worship of the goddess Diana.

3. Its Tactics. Scientology attempts to give the appearance that it is both a science and a religion. Fifty hours of Scientology counseling can cost $2,350. Some former members say they invested up to $30,000, which may explain some claims that the organization's take is over $1 million per week. Members are usually well-scrubbed, respectable, middle-class types. (Scientologists talk at length about their anti-drug abuse program called Narcanon.) Church ministers wear the conventional black priest-suit and white collar, and even sport crosses, though they point out it isn't representative of Christ's crucifix. When their teachings and tactics are questioned, Scientologists are not prone to turn the other cheek. Hubbard says, "you only get hurt when you duck." Scientology's alleged tactics of harassment, intimidation, and defamation of critics are well known once an FBI raid on church quarters revealed a "hit list" of enemies.

4. Sin and Salvation. A major creed of L. Ron Hubbard states that "man is good." This tenet is consistent with the Dianetic belief that man is descended from the gods and may someday evolve to reclaim his thetan potential. "Salvation" involves a process of working through levels of self-knowledge and knowledge of past lives (reincarnation) to awaken the pre-existent deity within and regain total godhood. As would be expected, the existence of an eternal heaven and hell is denied.

5. Christ. Christ is deemed merely a "cleared" individual, i.e., "just a man."

6. Spiritual Practice. Other doctrines and practices of Scientology include astral travel, regression to past lives, and the "urge toward existence as spirits." Through the use of a so-called "E-meter" (something like a lie detector), members undergo exercises and counseling to eliminate negative mental images and achieve a "clear state." Scientology promises members higher intelligence and greater business success through Scientology courses that cost thousands of dollars. "Upper-level" or "OT3" teachings of Scientology are available only to members who graduate through preliminary Church of Scientology programs. Scientologists tell their members that if they get into Level 3 before going through the preliminary levels, they could "dematerialize or develop [fatal] illnesses." Scientology is creating a powerful group of brainwashed robots who believe they have found a solution for their own problems as well as a master plan for every person and nation in the world, now and forever.

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