File:Scientology Symbol Logo.jpg

Scientology is a body of beliefs and related practices initially created by American speculative fiction author L. Ron Hubbard. The major organization promoting Scientology is the Church of Scientology, a hierarchical organization founded by Hubbard, while independent groups using Hubbard's materials are collectively referred to as the Free Zone. Hubbard developed Scientology teachings in 1952 as a successor to his earlier self-help system, Dianetics.[1] Hubbard later characterized Scientology as an "applied religious philosophy" and the basis for a new religion.[1] Scientology encompasses "auditing", a spiritual rehabilitation philosophy and techniques,[1] and covers topics such as morals, ethics, Purification (a type of detoxification), education and management.

Hubbard also laid the foundations and policies for the establishment and management of Scientology organizations with the first Church of Scientology being established in December 1953.[2] Today organizations affiliated with the Church of Scientology form a complex network geared towards introducing Scientology into society.[3] Religious Technology Center owns the trademarks and service marks of Scientology.[4] These marks are licensed for use by the Church of Scientology International and its affiliated organizations.

Scientology and the organizations that promote it have remained highly controversial since their inception. Journalists, courts and the governing bodies of several countries have described the Church of Scientology as a cult and an unscrupulous commercial enterprise, accusing it of harassing its critics and abusing the trust of its members. Scientology officials argue that most of the negative press is motivated by interest groups and that most of the controversy is in the past.

Origin and definitionEdit

Hubbard established Scientology's doctrines during a period from 1952 until his death in January 1986, establishing the basic principles in the 1950s and 1960s. Scientology was, at first, secular: "Scientology would be a study of knowledge," Hubbard stated in 1952.[5] Hubbard later began to characterize Scientology's beliefs and practices as a religion in 1953; by 1960 he defined Scientology as: "a religion by its basic tenets, practice, historical background and by the definition of the word 'religion' itself."[6] In 1969 he wrote that "It is fundamentally an applied religious philosophy."[7] Hubbard recorded his doctrine in archived writings, audio tapes and films.[8][9][10]

The Church of Scientology defines scientology as "the study of truth."[11] The word itself is a pairing of the Latin word scientia ("knowledge," "skill"), which comes from the verb scire ("to know"), and the Greek λογος lógos ("reason" or "inward thought" or "logic" or "an account of").

Although today associated almost exclusively with Hubbard, the word "scientology" predates his usage by several decades. An early use of the word was as a neologism in an 1871 book by the American anarchist Stephen Pearl Andrews presenting "the newly discovered Science of the Universe".[12] Philologist Allen Upward used the word "scientology" in his 1901 book The New Word as a synonym for "pseudoscience,"[13] and this is sometimes cited as the first coining of the word.[2] 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 ("Scientologie, Science of the Constitution and Usefulness of Knowledge").[14] 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"[15] (from epistemology). Whether Hubbard was aware of these earlier uses is unknown.

The term "Scientology" and related terms are trademarks held by the Religious Technology Center which grants the mother church of the Scientology religion, the Church of Scientology International (CSI), the right to use the trademarks and to license their use to all other Scientology churches and entities. Other organizations that promote the use of related techniques, developed by or based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard, are the World Institute of Scientology Enterprises and the Association for Better Living and Education.[16][17]


Main article: Scientology controversies
File:Scientology warning leaflet.jpg

Of the many new religious movements to appear during the 20th century, the Church of Scientology has, from its inception, been one of the most controversial, coming into conflict with the governments and police forces of several countries (including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada[20] and Germany) numerous times over the years.[21][22][23][24][25][23][26][27][28][29][30][31]

Reports and allegations have been made, by journalists, courts, and governmental bodies of several countries, that the Church of Scientology is an unscrupulous commercial enterprise that harasses its critics and brutally exploits its members.[21][22] Some critics of Scientology have recanted under duress.[32] In some cases of US litigation against the Church, former Scientologists appearing as expert witnesses have since stated that they submitted false and inflammatory declarations intended to incite prejudice against Scientology,[How to reference and link to summary or text] and harassed key Scientology executives, by advancing unfounded opinions to get a case dropped or to obtain a settlement.[33]

Germany categorizes Scientology as a business, rather than a religious organization, and has even gone so far as to consider a ban on Scientology.[34] Belgium, France, Ireland, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom have not recognized Scientology as a religion.[35] Scientology has also not been recognized as a religion in Israel or Mexico. A recent judicial investigation in Belgium is now in the process of prosecuting Scientology.

Main article: Scientology and the legal system

The controversies involving the Church and its critics, some of them ongoing, include:

  • Scientology's disconnection policy, in which members are encouraged to cut off all contact with friends or family members considered "antagonistic."[36][37]
  • The death of a Scientologist Lisa McPherson while in the care of the Church.
  • Criminal activities committed on behalf of the Church or directed by Church officials (Operation Snow White, Operation Freakout)
  • Conflicting statements about L. Ron Hubbard's life, in particular accounts of Hubbard discussing his intent to start a religion for profit, and of his service in the military.[38]
  • Scientology's harassment and litigious actions against its critics encouraged by its Fair Game policy.[38]
  • Attempts to legally force search engines such as Google and Yahoo to omit any webpages critical of Scientology from their search engines (and in Google's case, AdSense), or at least the first few search pages.[39]

Due to these allegations, a considerable amount of investigation has been aimed at the Church, by groups ranging from the media to governmental agencies.[21][22]

Although Scientologists are usually free to practice their beliefs, the organized church has often encountered opposition due to their strong-arm tactics directed against critics and members wishing to leave the organization. While a number of governments now view the Church as a religious organization entitled to protections and tax relief, others view it as a pseudoreligion or a cult.[40][41] The differences between these classifications has become a major problem when discussing religions in general and Scientology specifically.[42]

While acknowledging that a number of his colleagues accept Scientology as a religion, sociologist Stephen A. Kent wrote: "Rather than struggling over whether or not to label Scientology as a religion, I find it far more helpful to view it as a multifaceted transnational corporation, only one[sic] element of which is religious." [43][44]

Scientology social programs such as drug and criminal rehabilitation have likewise drawn both support and criticism.[45][46][47][48]

Auditing confidentialityEdit

In some instances, former members have claimed the Church used information obtained in auditing sessions against them.[49][50][51] The Church maintains that its auditing records are kept confidential, although on 16 December 1969 the organization authorized the use of auditing records for purposes of "internal security."[52]

Supporters of Scientology assert that no actual violation based solely upon use or revelation of auditing records has been documented[53] and such a violation of their Auditing Code is a high crime per Scientology justice codes.[54] "The Court refers to GO 121669 for justification for abolishing the clergyman-penitent privilege. Yet nowhere does the program call for a) external dissemination of the preclear folder or b) use of information against anyone. To cause preclear folders or preclear folder information to be released from the care and control of authorized Church ministers is to cause the destruction of its parishioners' religious freedom and would be a severe violation of Church ecclesiastical policies." (Declaration of Reverend Ken Hoden)[53]

However, a California court ruling recorded that "The practice of culling supposedly confidential [counseling folders or files] to obtain information for purposes of intimidation and/or harassment is repugnant and outrageous." The court found that former members of the church knew that their confidential data might be used by "the Church or its minions" for "intimidation or other physical or psychological abuse" and noted: "The record is replete with evidence of such abuse."[55]

Supporters of Scientology responded by stating: "Guardian's Office policy letter written by Mary Sue Hubbard had allegedly authorized the practice of culling information from counseling folders. Any such directive is not part of the Scientology scriptures and was long ago canceled. The Guardian's Office was disbanded by current Church management when it was found to have veered wildly off Church policies as laid down by Mr. Hubbard."[56]

Scientology as a religionEdit

Main article: Scientology and other religions
Main article: Scientology as a state-recognized religion

Scientology states that it is fully compatible with all existing major world religions and that it does not conflict with those religions or their religious practices. However, due to major differences in the beliefs and practices between Scientology and especially the major monotheistic religions a simultaneous membership in Scientology is seen as not compatible with the major world religions. For its part, Scientology only allows a passive formal membership in a second religion. Parishioners are not allowed to engage in other religious activities or ceremonies.[57]

The Church pursues an extensive public relations campaign for the recognition of Scientology as a bona fide religion.[58] Scientology does have "beliefs in something transcendental or ultimate, practices (rites and codes of behavior) that re-inforce those beliefs and, a community that is sustained by both the beliefs and practices" which are elements that a religion must contain .[42] Scientology is considered as a legitimate religion in Spain,[59][60] Taiwan,[61] Tanzania, Zimbabwe, South Africa,[62] Australia, Sweden,[63] New Zealand,[64] and thus enjoys and regularly cites the legal protections afforded in these nations to religious practice. Other countries, mostly in Europe, have regarded Scientology as a potentially dangerous cult, or at least have not considered local branches to meet the legal criteria for being considered religion-supporting organizations.[65]

Although its religious status is often controversial, the Church of Scientology itself, on the other hand, holds that many of these issues were laid to rest by the recognition in 1993 by the United States Internal Revenue Service of being "operated exclusively for religious and charitable purposes."[66][67]

Scientology as a cult and hypnosisEdit

The Anderson Report, an inquiry conducted in 1965 for the state of Victoria, Australia, found that the auditing process involved "command" hypnosis, in which the hypnotist assumes "positive authoritative control" over the patient. "It is the firm conclusion of this Board that most scientology and dianetics techniques are those of authoritative hypnosis and as such are dangerous. . . . The scientific evidence which the Board heard from several expert witnesses of the highest repute … which was virtually unchallenged—leads to the inescapable conclusion that it is only in name that there is any difference between authoritative hypnosis and most of the techniques of scientology. Many scientology techniques are in fact hypnotic techniques, and Hubbard has not changed their nature by changing their names."[68] Hubbard was an accomplished hypnotist, and close acquaintances such as Forrest Ackerman (Hubbard's literary agent) and A. E. van Vogt (an important early supporter of Dianetics) witnessed repeated demonstrations of his hypnotic skills.[69] (See Scientology and hypnosis). Licensed psychotherapists alleged that auditing sessions amount to mental health treatment without a license. The Church disputes these statements and said that its practice leads to spiritual relief. According to the Church, the psychotherapist treats mental health and the Church treats the spiritual being. Using the synonym of alternative religions, Barrett (1998:237) and Hunt (2003:195) place Scientology in the sociological grouping of personal development movements together with the Neurolinguistic Programming, Emin, and Insight.

In France, the Church of Scientology was categorized as a sect (or cult) in the report of the National Assembly of France in 1995.[70] A more recent government report in 2000 categorized the church as an "absolute sect" and recommended that all its activities be prohibited.[71] The United States has no such classification in its legal system.[42]

The Cult Awareness Network famously received more complaints concerning Scientology than any other group. They therefore listed the Church of Scientology at the top of their cult list, until they went into bankruptcy from suits initiated by Scientology (1996). Ultimately, they were bought in Bankruptcy Court by the Church of Scientology (1997), which now operates the new Cult Awareness Network as a promotional arm of the church.[72][73][74][75][76]

The federal government of Germany, as well as its states, have to a greater or lesser degree and for varying periods since 1997 placed Scientology and Scientologists under surveillance by its intelligence agency based on anti-democratic tendencies.[77] No criminal or civil charges have been brought as a result of this surveillance. On a Federal level, Scientology lost a complaint against continued surveillance by the federal Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz because the court gave its opinion that there are indications that Scientology is pursuing anti-constitutional activities. As of April 2007 the case was pending in appeal.[78][79] In Berlin, the court prohibited the use of paid undercover agents.[80] In Saarland, surveillance was stopped by the court as inappropriate because there is no local branch of Scientology and few members.[81]

Allegations of Scientology's cult status may be attributed to its unconventional creation by a single authoritative and charismatic leader.[82]

On May 12, 2007 Journalist John Sweeney of BBC Panorama made highly critical comments regarding Scientology and its teachings, and further reported that since beginning an extensive investigation he had been harassed, surveilled, and investigated by strangers. Sweeney wrote, "I have been shouted at, spied on, had my hotel invaded at midnight, denounced as a "bigot" by star Scientologists and chased round the streets of Los Angeles by sinister strangers. Back in Britain strangers have called on my neighbors, my mother-in-law's house and someone spied on my wedding and fled the moment he was challenged." In another passage, "He [Scientology representative Tommy Davis] harangued me for talking to […] heretics. I told him that Scientology had been spying on the BBC and that was creepy." And in another passage, "In LA, the moment our hire car left the airport we realized we were being followed by two cars. In our hotel a weird stranger spent every breakfast listening to us."[83][84]

The Church of Scientology called John Sweeney's documentary (first aired May 14, 2007) into question and produced its own documentary in which it claimed to have documented 154 violations in the BBC's and OfCom's guidelines.[85]

The Church documentary also claimed that the BBC had organized a demonstration outside a Church building in London in order to film it, following which e-mailed anonymous death threats had been made against the Church. The BBC described these allegations as "clearly laughable and utter nonsense" whilst representatives of the picket group stated that the BBC had simply turned up to a scheduled picket date that was part of an ongoing protest since 1996.[86] Sandy Smith, the BBC program's producer, commented that the Church of Scientology has "no way of dealing with any kind of criticism at all."[87]

Scientology as a commercial ventureEdit

Main article: Scientology as a business

The Church of Scientology and its many related organizations have amassed considerable real estate holdings worldwide, likely in the hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as a large amount of other funds from the practice of auditing.[38] Hubbard was accused in his lifetime of adopting a religious façade for Scientology to allow the organization to maintain tax-exempt status and to avoid prosecution for false medical claims.[88] There have been numerous accounts from Hubbard's fellow science-fiction authors and researchers, notably Harlan Ellison, Neison Himmel, Sam Merwin, Sam Moskowitz, Theodore Sturgeon, Lloyd Arthur Eshbach, and Lyle Stuart,[69] of Hubbard stating on various occasions that the way to get rich was to start a religion.[89] This is referenced, among other places, in a May 1980 Reader's Digest article, which quotes Hubbard, "If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion."[90]

The Church says that "One individual once claimed L. Ron Hubbard made such a comment during a lecture in 1948. The only two people who could be found who attended that very lecture in 1948 denied that Mr. Hubbard ever made this statement" and that therefore it is an "unfounded rumor." The Church's statement does not address any of the other individuals who have stated that they personally heard Hubbard make such a statement, some saying that he said it on multiple occasions. The Church also suggests that the origin of the "rumor" was a quote by George Orwell which had been "misattributed" to Hubbard. However, Robert Vaughn Young, who left the Church in 1989 after twenty years, said that he had discovered the Orwell quote, and suggested that reports of Hubbard making such a statement could be explained as a misattribution of Orwell, despite having encountered three of Hubbard's associates from his science fiction days who remembered Hubbard making statements of that sort in person.[21]

Scientology pays members commissions on new recruits they bring in, encouraging Scientology members to "sell" Scientology to others.[38] In addition, Scientology franchises, or missions, pay the church roughly 10% of their gross income.[91] On that basis, it is often likened to a pyramid selling scheme.[92] Charges for auditing and other Church-related courses run to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.[93][94] Scientology maintains strict control over the use of its symbols, icons, and names. It claims copyright and trademark over its "Scientology cross", and its lawyers have threatened lawsuits against individuals and organizations who have published the image in books and on Web sites. Because of this, it is very difficult for individual groups to attempt to publicly practice Scientology on their own, without any affiliation or connection to the Church of Scientology. Scientology has sued a number of individuals who attempted to set up their own "auditing" practices, using copyright and trademark law to shut these groups down.

In conjunction with the Church of Scientology's request to be officially recognized as a religion in Germany, around 1996 the German state Baden-Württemberg conducted a thorough investigation regarding the group's activities within Germany.[95] The results of this investigation indicated that, at the time of publication, Scientology's main sources of revenue ("Haupteinnahmequellen der SO") were from course offerings and sales of their various publications. Course offerings—e.g. "The Ups and Downs of Life", "Hubbard's Key to Life", "Intensive Auditing", etc.—ranged from (German Marks) DM 182.50 to about DM 30,000—the equivalent today of approximately $119 to $19,560 US dollars. Revenue from monthly, bi-monthly, and other membership offerings could not be estimated in the report, but was nevertheless placed in the millions.

In June of 2006, it was announced at the Book Expo America a Dianetics Racing Team joined NASCAR. The Number 27 Ford Taurus driven by Kenton Gray displays a large Dianetics logo.[96][97]

Scientology and psychiatryEdit

Main article: Scientology and psychiatry
Scientology psychiatry kills

Scientologists regularly hold anti-psychiatry demonstrations called "Psychbusts"

The Church of Scientology is one of a number of groups involved in the anti-psychiatry movement, and one of the few organizations that publicly oppose the study and application of psychology in addition to psychiatry, claiming that psychiatry was responsible for World War I,[98] the rise of Hitler and Stalin,[99] the decline in education standards in the United States,[100] the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo,[101] and the September 11 attacks.[102] The Church's point of view on these issues is documented mainly by Church groups and magazines such as those published by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights and Freedom Magazine.

Scientology and the InternetEdit

In the 1990s Scientology representatives began extensive operations to deal with growing allegations against Scientology on the Internet. The organization states that it is taking actions to prevent distribution of copyrighted Scientology documents and publications online by people whom it has called "copyright terrorists."[103] Critics say that the organization’s true motive is to attempt to suppress the free speech of its critics.

File:Anonymous Scientology 4a by David Shankbone.JPG

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

(1) It was started with a forged message; (2) not discussed on alt.config; (3) it has the name "scientology" in its title which is a trademark and is misleading, as a.r.s. is mainly used for flamers to attack the Scientology religion; (4) it has been and continues to be heavily abused with copyright and trade secret violations and serves no purpose other than condoning these illegal practices.[105]

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

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

Beginning in the middle of 1996 and for several years after, the newsgroup was attacked by anonymous parties using a tactic dubbed "sporgery" by some, in the form of hundreds of thousands of forged spam messages posted on the group. Although the Church neither confirmed nor denied its involvement with the spam, some investigators said that some spam had been traced to Church members. Former Scientologist Tory Christman, after she left the Church, confessed to having been part of the sporgery project, taking money supplied by the Office of Special Affairs to open up Internet accounts at various ISPs under false names, accounts from which she later saw forged and garbled communications going out.[106]

In early 2008, another protest against the Church of Scientology was organised by the Internet-based group Anonymous, which originally consisted of users of the English speaking imageboards 4chan and, the associated wiki, and several Internet Relay Chat channels.

File:Anonymous Scientology 9 by David Shankbone.JPG

On January 14, 2008, a video produced by the Church of Scientology featuring an interview with Tom Cruise was leaked to the Internet and uploaded to YouTube.[107][108][109] The Church of Scientology issued a copyright violation claim against YouTube requesting the removal of the video.[110] In response to this, Anonymous formulated Project Chanology.[111][112][113][114] Calling the action by the Church of Scientology a form of Internet censorship, members of Project Chanology organized a series of denial-of-service attacks against Scientology websites, prank calls, and black faxes to Scientology centers.[115] On January 21, 2008, Anonymous announced its goals and intentions via a video posted to YouTube entitled "Message to Scientology", and a press release declaring a "War on Scientology" against both the Church of Scientology and the Religious Technology Center.[114][116][117] In the press release, the group states that the attacks against the Church of Scientology will continue in order to protect the right to freedom of speech, and end what they believe to be the financial exploitation of church members.[118] A new video "Call to Action" appeared on YouTube on January 28, 2008, calling for protests outside Church of Scientology centers on February 10, 2008.[119][120]

On February 2, 2008, 150 people gathered outside of a Church of Scientology center in Orlando, Florida to protest the organization's practices.[121][122][123][124] Small protests were also held in Santa Barbara, California,[125] and Manchester, England.[126][122] On February 10, 2008, about 7,000 people protested in more than 93 cities worldwide.[127][128] Many protesters wore masks based on the character V from V for Vendetta (who in turn was influenced by Guy Fawkes), or otherwise disguised their identities, in part to protect themselves from reprisals from the Church of Scientology.[129][130] Anonymous held a second wave of protests on March 15, 2008 in cities all over the world, including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Vancouver, Toronto, Berlin, and Dublin. The global turnout was estimated to be between 7000 and 8000.[131] Anonymous will hold its third protest against Scientology on April 12, 2008.[132][133] Named "Operation Reconnect", it will aim to increase awareness of the Church of Scientology's disconnection policy.[107]

Scientific criticismEdit

A 1971 ruling of the United States District Court, District of Columbia (333 F. Supp. 357), specifically stated, "the E-meter has no proven usefulness in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease, nor is it medically or scientifically capable of improving any bodily function."[134] Scientology now publishes the following disclaimer in its books and publications: "By itself, the E-meter does nothing. It is an electronic instrument that measures mental state and change of state in individuals and assists the precision and speed of auditing. The E-Meter is not intended or effective for any diagnosis, treatment or prevention of any disease"[135] and that it is used specifically for spiritual purposes.

Professor Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, has described Scientology as "gullibiligy" and its statements as "purely made-up."[136]

See alsoEdit



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  3. Web Site: What is Scientology, Churches of Scientology and Their Activities
  4. Web Page: Trademark notice
  5. Scientology: Milestone One an audio lecture in Wichita, Kansas on 3 March 1952 with transcript, 1952 Published by Golden Era Productions, Hollywood CA
  6. HCOB 18 April 67 (HCOB of 21 June 1960 Revised) "Religious Philosophy and Religious Practice"
  7. LRH ED 4 Int, 22 February 69 "Attachment (letter to doctor)"
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  12. Andrews, Stephen Pearl (1871). The Primary Synopsis of Universology and Alwato: The New Scientific Universal Language, New York: Dion Thomas. At p. xiii, "Scientology" is defined as "the Science of the Scientismus, or of that Secondary Department of Being, or Stage of Evolution, in which Scientism, the Spirit or Principle of Science (or of that which is analogous with Science) preponderates". (Google Books link)
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