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Neurotology Religion Definition Essay

This article is about the belief system and practices. For the organization, see Church of Scientology. For other uses, see Scientology (disambiguation).

Not to be confused with Religious Science, Christian Science, or Scientism.

Scientology is a body of religious beliefs and practices developed in 1954 by American author L. Ron Hubbard (1911–86). Hubbard initially developed a program of ideas called Dianetics, which was distributed through the Dianetics Foundation. The foundation soon entered bankruptcy, and Hubbard lost the rights to his seminal publication Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health in 1952. He then recharacterized the subject as a religion and renamed it Scientology,[4] retaining the terminology, doctrines, the E-meter, and the practice of auditing.[5][6] Within a year, he regained the rights to Dianetics and retained both subjects under the umbrella of the Church of Scientology.[7][8][9][10][11][12]

Hubbard describes the etymology of the word Scientology as coming from the Latin word "scio", meaning know or distinguish, and the Greek word “logos”, meaning “the word or outward form by which the inward thought is expressed and made known”. Hubbard writes, “thus, Scientology means knowing about knowing, or science of knowledge”.[13]

Hubbard's groups have encountered considerable opposition and controversy.[14] In January 1951, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners brought proceedings against Dianetics Foundation on the charge of teaching medicine without a license.[15] Hubbard's followers engaged in a program of criminal infiltration of the U.S. government.[16][17]

Hubbard-inspired organizations and their classification are often a point of contention. Germany classifies Scientology groups as an "anti-constitutional sect".[18][19] In France, they have been classified as a dangerous cult by some parliamentary reports.[20][21]


See also: Timeline of Scientology and History of Dianetics

L. Ron Hubbard

Main article: L. Ron Hubbard

Further information: Early life of L. Ron Hubbard and Military career of L. Ron Hubbard

L. Ron Hubbard (1911–1986) was the only child of Harry Ross Hubbard, a United States Navy officer, and his wife, Ledora Waterbury. Hubbard spent three semesters at George Washington University but was placed on probation in September 1931. He failed to return for the fall 1932 semester.[22]

In July 1941, Hubbard was commissioned as a Lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Naval Reserve. On May 18, 1943, his subchaser left Portland. That night, Hubbard ordered his crew to fire 35 depth charges and a number of gun rounds at what he believed were Japanese submarines.[23] His ship sustained minor damage and three crew were injured. Having run out of depth charges and with the presence of a submarine still unconfirmed by other ships, Hubbard's ship was ordered back to port. A navy report concluded that "there was no submarine in the area." A decade later, Hubbard claimed in his Scientology lectures that he had sunk a Japanese submarine.[24]

On June 28, 1943, Hubbard ordered his crew to fire on the Coronado Islands. Hubbard apparently did not realize that the islands belonged to US-allied Mexico, nor that he had taken his vessel into Mexican territorial waters.[25] He was reprimanded and removed from command on July 7.[25] After reassignment to a naval facility in Monterey, California, Hubbard became depressed and fell ill. Reporting stomach pains in April 1945, he spent the remainder of the war as a patient in Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland, California.[26] According to his later teachings, during this time Hubbard made scientific "breakthroughs" by use of "endocrine experiments".[27]

On October 15, 1947, Hubbard wrote a letter to the Veterans Administration formally requesting psychiatric treatment, but admitted that he was unable to afford it.[28] Within a few years, Hubbard would condemn psychiatry as evil, which would grow into a major theme in Scientology.

Excalibur and Babalon Working

Main article: Scientology and the occult

In April 1938, Hubbard reportedly reacted to a drug used in a dental procedure. According to his account, this triggered a revelatory near-death experience. Allegedly inspired by this experience, Hubbard composed a manuscript, which was never published, with the working titles of "The One Command" or Excalibur.[29][30] The contents of Excalibur formed the basis for some of his later publications.[31]Arthur J. Burks, who read the work in 1938, later recalled it discussed the "one command": to survive. This theme would be revisited in Dianetics, the set of ideas and practices regarding the metaphysical relationship between the mind and body which became the central philosophy of Scientology.[32] Hubbard later cited Excalibur as an early version of Dianetics.[33][better source needed]

In August 1945, Hubbard moved into the Pasadena mansion of John "Jack" Whiteside Parsons, an avid occultist and Thelemite, follower of the English ceremonial magician Aleister Crowley and leader of a lodge of Crowley's magical order, Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO).[34][35] Parsons and Hubbard collaborated on the "Babalon Working", a sex magic ritual intended to summon an incarnation of Babalon, the supreme Thelemite Goddess.[16] The Church of Scientology admits to Hubbard’s involvement with Parsons while claiming that it was for the purpose of naval intelligence.[36]

In the late 1940s, Hubbard practiced as a hypnotist[37] and he worked in Hollywood posing as a swami.[38] The Church says that Hubbard's experience with hypnosis led him to create Dianetics.[39]


Main article: Dianetics

In May 1950, Hubbard's Dianetics: The Evolution of a Science was published by pulp magazine Astounding Science Fiction.[40][41][42][43] In the same year, he published the book-length Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, considered the seminal event of the century by Scientologists.[44] Scientologists sometimes use a dating system based on the book's publication; for example, "A.D. 25" does not stand for Anno Domini, but "After Dianetics".[45]

Dianetics uses a counseling technique known as auditing in which an auditor assists a subject in conscious recall of traumatic events in the individual's past.[46] It was originally intended to be a new psychotherapy and was not expected to become the foundation for a new religion.[47][48] Hubbard variously defined Dianetics as a spiritual healing technology and an organized science of thought.[49] The stated intent is to free individuals of the influence of past traumas by systematic exposure and removal of the engrams (painful memories) these events have left behind, a process called clearing.[49] Rutgers scholar Beryl Satter says that "there was little that was original in Hubbard's approach", with much of the theory having origins in popular conceptions of psychology.[50] Satter observes that in "keeping with the typical 1950s distrust of emotion, Hubbard promised that Dianetic treatment would release and erase psychosomatic ills and painful emotions, thereby leaving individuals with increased powers of rationality."[50][51] According to Gallagher and Ashcraft, in contrast to psychotherapy, Hubbard stated that Dianetics "was more accessible to the average person, promised practitioners more immediate progress, and placed them in control of the therapy process." Hubbard's thought was parallel with the trend of humanist psychology at that time, which also came about in the 1950s.[50] Passas and Castillo write that the appeal of Dianetics was based on its consistency with prevailing values.[52] Shortly after the introduction of Dianetics, Hubbard introduced the concept of the "thetan" (or soul) which he claimed to have discovered. Dianetics was organized and centralized to consolidate power under Hubbard, and groups that were previously recruited were no longer permitted to organize autonomously.[53]

Two of Hubbard's key supporters at the time were John W. Campbell Jr., the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, and Campbell's brother-in-law, physician Joseph A. Winter.[54] Dr. Winter, hoping to have Dianetics accepted in the medical community, submitted papers outlining the principles and methodology of Dianetic therapy to the Journal of the American Medical Association and the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1949, but these were rejected.[55][56]

Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health spent six months on the New York Times bestseller list.[15][57][58] According to religious studies professor Paul Gutjahr, Dianetics is the bestselling non-Christian religious book of the century.[45](subscription required) Publisher's Weekly gave a posthumous plaque to Hubbard to commemorate Dianetics' appearance on its list of bestsellers for one hundred weeks. Studies that address the topic of the origins of the work and its significance to Scientology as a whole include Peter Rowley's New Gods in America, Omar V. Garrison's The Hidden Story of Scientology, and Albert I. Berger's Towards a Science of the Nuclear Mind: Science-fiction Origins of Dianetics. More complex studies include Roy Wallis'sThe Road to Total Freedom.[45]

Dianetics appealed to a broad range of people who used instructions from the book and applied the method to each other, becoming practitioners themselves.[43][59] Dianetics soon met with criticism. Morris Fishbein, the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association and well-known at the time as a debunker of quack medicine, dismissed Hubbard's book.[60][61] An article in Newsweek stated that "the Dianetics concept is unscientific and unworthy of discussion or review".[62] Hubbard asserted that Dianetics is “an organized science of thought built on definite axioms: statements of natural laws on the order of those of the physical sciences.” [63]

Hubbard became the leader of a growing Dianetics movement.[43] He became a popular lecturer and established the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where he trained his first Dianetics counselors or auditors.[43][59]

Some practitioners of Dianetics reported experiences which they believed had occurred in past lives, or previous incarnations.[59] In early 1951, reincarnation became a subject of intense debate within the Dianetics community.[64] Hubbard took the reports of past life events seriously and introduced the concept of the thetan, an immortal being analogous to the soul.[59] This was an important factor in the transition from secular Dianetics to the religion of Scientology. Sociologists Roy Wallis and Steve Bruce suggest that Dianetics, which set each person as his or her own authority, was about to fail due to its inherent individualism, and that Hubbard started Scientology as a religion to establish himself as the overarching authority.[65][66]

Also in 1951, Hubbard incorporated the electropsychometer (E-meter for short), a kind of electrodermal activity meter, as an auditing aid.[64] Based on a design by Volney Mathison, the device is held by Scientologists to be a useful tool in detecting changes in a person's state of mind.[64] The global spread of Scientology at the latter half of the 1950s was culminated with the opening of churches in Johannesburg and Paris, while world headquarters transferred to England in Saint Hill, a rural estate. Hubbard lived there for the next seven years.[67]

Dianetics is different from Scientology in that Scientology is a religion while Dianetics is not. The purpose of Dianetics is the improvement of the individual, the individual or “self” being only one of eight "dynamics."[68]

Church of Scientology

Main article: Church of Scientology

In January 1951, the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners began proceedings against the Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundation for teaching medicine without a license, which eventually led to that foundation's bankruptcy.[69][70][71] In December 1952, the Hubbard Dianetic Foundation filed for bankruptcy, and Hubbard lost control of the Dianetics trademark and copyrights to financier Don Purcell.[72] Author Russell Miller argues that Scientology "was a development of undeniable expedience, since it ensured that he would be able to stay in business even if the courts eventually awarded control of Dianetics and its valuable copyrights to ... Purcell".[73][74]

L. Ron Hubbard originally intended for Scientology to be considered a science, as stated in his writings. In 1952, Scientology was organized to put this intended science into practice, and in the same year, Hubbard published a new set of teachings as Scientology, a religious philosophy.[75] Marco Frenschkowski quotes Hubbard in a letter written in 1953, to show that he never denied that his original approach was not a religious one: “Probably the greatest discovery of Scientology and its most forceful contribution to mankind has been the isolation, description and handling of the human spirit, accomplished in July, 1951, in Phoenix, Arizona. I established, along scientific rather than religious or humanitarian lines that the thing which is the person, the personality, is separable from the body and the mind at will and without causing bodily death or derangement. (Hubbard 1983: 55).”[76]

In April 1953, Hubbard wrote a letter proposing that Scientology should be transformed into a religion.[77] As membership declined and finances grew tighter, Hubbard had reversed the hostility to religion he voiced in Dianetics.[78] His letter discussed the legal and financial benefits of religious status.[78] Hubbard outlined plans for setting up a chain of "Spiritual Guidance Centers" charging customers $500 for twenty-four hours of auditing ("That is real money ... Charge enough and we'd be swamped."). He wrote:

I await your reaction on the religion angle. In my opinion, we couldn't get worse public opinion than we have had or have less customers with what we've got to sell. A religious charter would be necessary in Pennsylvania or NJ to make it stick. But I sure could make it stick.[79]

In December 1953, Hubbard incorporated three churches – a "Church of American Science", a "Church of Scientology" and a "Church of Spiritual Engineering" – in Camden, New Jersey.[80] On February 18, 1954, with Hubbard's blessing, some of his followers set up the first local Church of Scientology, the Church of Scientology of California, adopting the "aims, purposes, principles and creed of the Church of American Science, as founded by L. Ron Hubbard."[80][81] The movement spread quickly through the United States and to other English-speaking countries such as Britain, Ireland, South Africa and Australia.[82] The second local Church of Scientology to be set up, after the one in California, was in Auckland, New Zealand.[82] In 1955, Hubbard established the Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C..[59] The group declared that the Founding Church, as written in the certificate of incorporation for the Founding Church of Scientology in the District of Columbia, was to “act as a parent church for the religious faith down as ‘Scientology’ and to act as a church for the religious worship of the faith.”[83]

The Church experienced further challenges. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began an investigation concerning the claims the Church of Scientology made in connection with its E-meters.[60] On January 4, 1963, FDA agents raided offices of the Church of Scientology, seizing hundreds of E-meters as illegal medical devices and tons of literature that they accused of making false medical claims.[84] The original suit by the FDA to condemn the literature and E-meters did not succeed,[85] but the Court ordered the Church to label every meter with a disclaimer that it is purely religious artifact,[86] to post a $20,000 bond of compliance, and to pay the FDA's legal expenses.[87]

In the course of developing Scientology, Hubbard presented rapidly changing teachings that some have seen as often self-contradictory.[88][89] According to Lindholm, for the inner cadre of Scientologists in that period, involvement depended not so much on belief in a particular doctrine but on unquestioning faith in Hubbard.[88]

In 1966, Hubbard purportedly stepped down as executive director of Scientology to devote himself to research and writing.[59][90] The following year, he formed the ship-based Sea Organization or Sea Org which operated three ships: the Diana, the Athena, and the flagship the Apollo.[59][91] One month after the establishment of the Sea Org, Hubbard announced that he had made a breakthrough discovery, the result of which were the "OT III" materials purporting to provide a method for overcoming factors inhibiting spiritual progress.[91] These materials were first disseminated on the ships, and then propagated by Sea Org members reassigned to staff Advanced Organizations on land.[91]

Hubbard in hiding, death, and aftermath

In 1972, facing criminal charges in France, Hubbard returned to the United States and began living in an apartment in Queens, New York.[92] When faced with possible indictment in the United States, Hubbard went into hiding in April 1979. He hid first in an apartment in Hemet, California, where his only contact with the outside world was via ten trusted Messengers. He cut contact with everyone else, even his wife, whom he saw for the last time in August 1979.[93] In February 1980 he disappeared into deep cover in the company of two trusted Messengers, Pat and Anne Broeker.[94][95]

In 1979, as a result of FBI raids during Operation Snow White, eleven senior people in the church's Guardian's Office were convicted of obstructing justice, burglary of government offices, and theft of documents and government property. In 1981, Scientology took the German government to court for the first time.[96]

On January 24, 1986, L. Ron Hubbard died at his ranch in Creston, California.[97]David Miscavige emerged as the new head of the organization.

Splinter groups: Independent Scientology, Freezone, and Miscavige's RTC

Main article: Free Zone (Scientology)

While Scientology generally refers to Miscavige-led Church of Scientology, other groups practice Scientology. These groups, collectively known as Independent Scientologists, consist of former members of the official Church of Scientology as well as entirely new members.

In 1950, founding member Joseph Winter cut ties with Hubbard and set up a private Dianetics practice in New York.[98] In 1965, a longtime Church member and "Doctor of Scientology" Jack Horner (born 1927), dissatisfied with the Church's "ethics" program, developed Dianology.[99] Capt. Bill Robertson, a former Sea Org member, was a primary instigator of the movement in the early 1980s.[100] The church labels these groups "squirrels" (Scientology jargon) and often subjects them to considerable legal and social pressure.[101][102][103]

On January 1, 1982, Miscavige established the Religious Technology Center (RTC).[104] On November 11, 1982, the Free Zone was established by top Scientologists in disagreement with RTC.[105] The Free Zone Association was founded and registered under the laws of Germany, and espouses the doctrine that the official Church of Scientology led by David Miscavige has departed from Hubbard's original philosophy.[106]

The Advanced Ability Center was established by Hubbard's personal auditor David Mayo after February 1983 – a time when some of Scientology's upper and middle management split with Miscavige's organization.[107]

More recently, high-profile defectors Mark Rathbun and Mike Rinder have championed the cause of Independent Scientologists wishing to practice Scientology outside of the Church.[108][109]

Beliefs and practices

Main article: Scientology beliefs and practices

According to Scientology, its beliefs and practices are based on rigorous research, and its doctrines are accorded a significance equivalent to scientific laws.[110] Scientology cosmology is, however, at odds with modern science, with claims of memories going back "76 trillion years":[111] much longer than the age of the universe. Blind belief is held to be of lesser significance than the practical application of Scientologist methods.[110] Adherents are encouraged to validate the practices through their personal experience.[110] Hubbard put it this way: "For a Scientologist, the final test of any knowledge he has gained is, 'did the data and the use of it in life actually improve conditions or didn't it?'"[110] Hubbard defined Scientology’s aims as: “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war; where the world can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where man is free to rise to greater heights, are the aims of Scientology."[112][113] L. Ron Hubbard described Scientology as an "applied religious philosophy" because, according to him, it consists of a metaphysical doctrine, a theory of psychology, and teachings in morality.[114] The core of Scientology teaching lies in the belief that “each human has a reactive mind that responds to life’s traumas, clouding the analytic mind and keeping us from experiencing reality.” Scientologists undergo auditing to discover sources of this trauma, believing that re-experiencing it neutralizes it and reinforces the ascendancy of the analytic mind, with the final goal believed to be achieving a spiritual state that Scientology calls “clear.”[115]

Theological doctrine

Scientology does not preach or impose a particular idea of God on Scientologists. Rather, people are expected to discover the truth through their own observations as their awareness advances.

... the Church of Scientology has no set dogma concerning God that it imposes on its members. As with all its tenets, Scientology does not ask individuals to accept anything on faith alone. Rather, as one’s level of spiritual awareness increases through participation in Scientology auditing and training, one attains his own certainty of every dynamic. Accordingly, only when the Seventh Dynamic (spiritual) is reached in its entirety will one discover and come to a full understanding of the Eighth Dynamic (infinity) and one’s relationship to the Supreme Being.[116]

Many Scientologists avoid using the words “belief” or “faith” to describe how Hubbard’s teachings impacts their lives. They perceive that Scientology are based on verifiable technologies, speaking to Hubbard’s original scientific objectives for Dianetics, based on the quantifiability of auditing on the E-meter. Scientologists call Dianetics and Scientology as technologies because of their claim of their scientific precision and workability.[117]

Reactive mind, traumatic memories, and auditing

See also: Dianetics and Auditing (Scientology)

Scientology presents two major divisions of the mind.[118] The reactive mind is thought to record all pain and emotional trauma, while the analytical mind is a rational mechanism that serves consciousness.[120] The reactive mind stores mental images which are not readily available to the analytical (conscious) mind; these are referred to as engrams.[121] Engrams are painful and debilitating; as they accumulate, people move further away from their true identity.[122] To avoid this fate is Scientology's basic goal.[122] Some engrams are taught by Hubbard to happen by accident while others are inflicted by “thetans who have gone bad and want power,” as described by the Los Angeles Times. These engrams are named Implants in the doctrine of Scientology. Hubbard said, “Implants result in all varieties of illness, apathy, degradation, neurosis and insanity and are the principal cause of these in man.”[123]

L. Ron Hubbard described the analytical mind in terms of a computer: “the analytical mind is not just a good computer, it is a perfect computer.” According to him it makes the best decisions based on available data. Errors are made based on erroneous data, and is not the error of the analytical mind.[117]

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.[124]David V. Barrett, a sociologist of religion who has written widely about the subject, says that according to Scientology, the “first major goal is to go Clear.” Clearing was described to represent “the attainment of Man’s dreams through the ages of attaining a new and higher state of existence and freedom from the endless cycle of birth, death, birth … Clear is the total erasure of the reactive mind from which stems all the anxieties and problems the individual has.”[125]

Scientology asserts that people have hidden abilities which have not yet been fully realized.[126] It teaches that increased spiritual awareness and physical benefits are accomplished through counseling sessions referred to as auditing.[127] Through auditing, people can solve their problems and free themselves of engrams.[128] 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.[129] Accordingly, those who study Scientology materials and receive auditing sessions advance from a status of Preclear to Clear and Operating Thetan.[130] Scientology's utopian aim is to "clear the planet", that is, clear all people in the world of their engrams.[131]

Auditing is a one-on-one session with a Scientology counselor or auditor.[132] It is similar to confession or pastoral counseling, but the auditor records and stores all information received and does not dispense forgiveness or advice as a pastor or priest of another religion might do.[132] Instead, the auditor's task is to help a person discover and understand the universal principles of affinity, reality, and communication (ARC).[132] 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.[128][132]

Scientology teaches that the E-meter helps to locate spiritual difficulties.[132] Once an area of concern has been identified, the auditor asks the individual specific questions about it to help him or her eliminate the difficulty, and uses the E-meter to confirm that the "charge" has been dissipated.[132] As the individual progresses up the "Bridge to Total Freedom", the focus of auditing moves from simple engrams to engrams of increasing complexity and other difficulties.[132] At the more advanced OT levels, Scientologists act as their own auditors ("solo auditors").[132]

Douglas E. Cowan writes that the e-meter “provides an external, material locus for the legitimation of [Scientology] practice.” Scientologists depend on the “appearance of objectivity or empirical validity” of the e-meter rather than simply trusting an auditor’s abstract interpretation of a participant’s statements. He also states that without the e-meter, “Scientology could not have achieved whatever status it enjoys as a new religious movement.” He also argues that without it, the Church may not have survived the early years when Dianetics was just formed.[133]

Emotional Tone Scale and survival

Main articles: Emotional tone scale and Science of Survival

Scientology uses an emotional classification system called the tone scale.[134] 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.[135]

Scientology emphasizes the importance of survival, which it subdivides into eight classifications that are referred to as "dynamics".[136][137] An individual's desire to survive is considered to be the first dynamic, while the second dynamic relates to procreation and family.[136][138] The remaining dynamics encompass wider fields of action, involving groups, mankind, all life, the physical universe, the spirit, and infinity, often associated with the Supreme Being.[136] The optimum solution to any problem is held to be the one that brings the greatest benefit to the greatest number of dynamics.[136]

Toxins and purification

Main article: Purification Rundown

The Purification Rundown[139] is a controversial "detoxification" program used by the Church of Scientology as an introductory service.[139][140] It features high-dose dietary supplements and extended time in a sauna (up to five hours a day for five weeks).[141] Scientology claims it the only effective way to deal with the long-term effects of drug abuse or toxic exposure.[140]

Narconon is a "drug education and rehabilitation program" founded on Hubbard's beliefs about "toxins" and "purification".[142][143] Narconon is offered in the United States, Canada and a number of European countries; its Purification Program also uses high-dose vitamins and extended sauna sessions, combined with auditing and study.[142][143]

Introspection Rundown

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."[144] The Introspection Rundown came under public scrutiny after the death of Lisa McPherson in 1995.[145]

Rejection of psychology and psychiatry

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

Scientology is vehemently opposed to psychiatry and psychology.[146][147][148] Psychiatry rejected Hubbard's theories in the early 1950s and in 1951, Hubbard's wife Sara consulted doctors who recommended he "be committed to a private sanatorium for psychiatric observation and treatment of a mental ailment known as paranoid schizophrenia."[149][150] Thereafter, Hubbard criticized psychiatry as a "barbaric and corrupt profession".[151]

Hubbard taught that psychiatrists were responsible for a great many wrongs in the world, saying that psychiatry 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."[149][151] Hubbard created the anti-psychiatry organization Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which operates Psychiatry: An Industry of Death, an anti-psychiatry museum.[149][151]

From 1969, CCHR has campaigned in opposition to psychiatric treatments, electroconvulsive shock therapy, lobotomy, and drugs such as Ritalin and Prozac.[152] According to the official church website, "the effects of medical and psychiatric drugs, whether painkillers, tranquilizers or 'antidepressants', are as disastrous" as illegal drugs.[115]

Body and thetan

Main article: Thetan

Scientology beliefs revolve around the immortal soul, the thetan.[122][153] Scientology teaches that the thetan is the true identity of a person – an intrinsically good, omniscient, non-material core capable of unlimited creativity.[122]

Hubbard taught that thetans brought the material universe into being largely for their own pleasure.[122] The universe has no independent reality, but derives its apparent reality from the fact that thetans agree it exists. Thetans fell from grace when they began to identify with their creation rather than their original state of spiritual purity.[122] Eventually they lost their memory of their true nature, along with the associated spiritual and creative powers. As a result, thetans came to think of themselves as nothing but embodied beings.[124]

Thetans are reborn time and time again in new bodies through a process called "assumption" which is analogous to reincarnation.[122] Scientology posits a causal relationship between the experiences of earlier incarnations and one's present life, and with each rebirth, the effects of the MEST universe (MEST here stands for matter, energy, space, and time) on the thetan become stronger.[122]

Space opera and the Wall of Fire

See also: Operating Thetan and Space opera in Scientology doctrine

The Church of Scientology holds that at the higher levels of initiation ("OT levels"), mystical teachings are imparted that may be harmful to unprepared readers. These teachings are kept secret from members who have not reached these levels. The church says that the secrecy is warranted to keep its materials' use in context and to protect its members from being exposed to materials they are not yet prepared for.[128]

These are the OT levels, the levels above Clear, whose contents are guarded within Scientology. The OT level teachings include accounts of various cosmic catastrophes that befell the thetans.[154] Hubbard described these early events collectively as "space opera".

In the OT levels, Hubbard explains how to reverse the effects of past-life trauma patterns that supposedly extend millions of years into the past.[155] Among these advanced teachings is the story of Xenu (sometimes Xemu), introduced as the tyrant ruler of the "Galactic Confederacy". According to this story, 75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and detonated hydrogen bombs in the volcanoes. The thetans then clustered together, stuck to the bodies of the living, and continue to do this today. Scientologists at advanced levels place considerable emphasis on isolating body thetans and neutralizing their ill effects.[156]

Excerpts and descriptions of OT materials were published online by a former member in 1995 and then circulated in mainstream media. This occurred after the teachings were submitted as evidence in court cases involving Scientology, thus becoming a matter of public record.[155][157] There are eight publicly known OT levels, OT I to VIII.[158] The highest level, OT VIII, is disclosed only at sea on the Scientology cruise ship Freewinds.[158] It has been rumored that additional OT levels, said to be based on material written by Hubbard long ago, will be released at some appropriate point in the future.[159]

A large Church of Spiritual Technology symbol carved into the ground at Scientology's Trementina Base is visible from the air.[160] Washington Post reporter Richard Leiby wrote, "Former Scientologists familiar with Hubbard’s teachings on reincarnation say the symbol marks a 'return point' so loyal staff members know where they can find the founder’s works when they travel here in the future from other places in the universe."[161]

Ethics, suppressives, and disconnection

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

The Ethics system regulates member behavior,[162][163] and Ethics officers are present in every Scientology organization. Ethics officers ensure "correct application of Scientology technology" and deal with "behavior adversely affecting a Scientology organization's performance", ranging from "Errors" and "Misdemeanors" to "Crimes" and "Suppressive Acts", as those terms defined by Scientology.[164]

Scientology asserts some people are truly malevolent, and Hubbard taught 20 percent of the population were suppressive persons, which includes some hopelessly antisocial personalities who are the truly dangerous individuals in humanity: "the Adolf Hitlers and the Genghis Khans, the unrepentant murderers and the drug lords."[165][166] Scientology disconnection policy prohibits most contact with Suppressive Persons.[165][166] The church denies that a disconnection policy exists, and quotes Hubbard's definition of disconnection as "a self-determined decision made by an individual that he is not going to be connected to another."[167]

A Scientologist who communicates with a suppressive person risks being declared a Potential Trouble Source.[168][169] Defectors who turn into critics of the movement are declared suppressive persons,[170][171][172][173] and the Church of Scientology has a reputation for moving aggressively against such detractors.[174]

Fair game

Main article: Fair Game (Scientology)

The term Fair Game is used to describe policies and practices carried out 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.[16][17] 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.[16][17]

Hubbard and his followers targeted many individuals as well as government officials and agencies, including a program of illegal infiltration of the IRS and other U.S. government agencies during the 1970s.[16][17] They also conducted private investigations, character assassination and legal action against the Church's critics in the media.[16] The policy remains in effect and has been defended by the Church of Scientology as a core religious practice.[175][176][177]

Scientology ceremonies

In Scientology, ceremonies for events such as weddings, child naming, and funerals are observed.[122] Friday services are held to commemorate the completion of a person's religious services during the prior week.[122] Ordained Scientology ministers may perform such rites.[122] However, these services and the clergy who perform them play only a minor role in Scientologists' religious lives.[178]

The arts

Hubbard theorized in 1951 that the "aesthetic mind" is a phase of mental activity that "deals with the nebulous field of art and creation." In August 1965, Hubbard published the book Art that defines art as "a word which summarizes the quality of communication." He also claimed that art is "the least codified of human endeavors and the most misunderstood." The book is used as a textbook for art courses in Scientology.[179]


Main article: List of Scientology organizations

The internal structure of Scientology organizations is strongly bureaucratic with a focus on statistics-based management.[162] Organizational operating budgets are performance-related and subject to frequent reviews.[162]

Membership statistics

A 2001 survey estimated that 55,000 people in the United States claimed to be Scientologists. Worldwide estimates of Scientology's core practicing membership ranges between 100,000 and 200,000, mostly in the U.S., Europe, South Africa and Australia.[128] The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey found that the number of American Scientologists had dropped to 25,000.[181][182][183][184] A 2008 Trinity College survey concluded there were only 25,000 American Scientologists.[185] Scientology is also declining in the United Kingdom.[186][182] In 2011, High-level defector Jeff Hawkins estimated there were 40,000 Scientologists worldwide.[182]

Although the Church of Scientology claims to be the fastest growing religious movement on Earth, the church's estimates of its membership numbers are reportedly significantly exaggerated.[187][188][189]

Sea Org

The highest ranking people in the Scientology hierarchy are the members of the Sea Organization, or Sea Org.[162] The organization includes some 5,000 of Scientology's most dedicated adherents, who work for low pay, and sign a billion-year contract.[162][190]

Rehabilitation Project Force

The Rehabilitation Project Force (RPF) is a controversial part of the Scientology "justice" system.[164] When Sea Org members are found guilty of a violation, they are assigned to the RPF.[164] The RPF involves a daily regimen of five hours of auditing or studying, eight hours of work, often physical labor, such as building renovation, and at least seven hours of sleep.[164]

Lts (jg) L. Ron Hubbard and Thomas S. Moulton in Portland, Oregon in 1943
Founding Church of Scientology in Washington, D.C.
A Scientologist introduces the E-meter to a potential student
Scientologists on an anti-psychiatry demonstration
According to a Church account, the Scientology cross represent the spirit "rising triumphantly, ultimately transcending the turmoil of the physical universe to achieve salvation".[180]

Times when religion played a major role in the lives of the majority of people living in Europe and the United States have gone long ago. Nowadays, religion is just one of the social institutions (perhaps, even facultative institutions) performing certain functions, namely providing moral guidance and consolation to those who seek them. The same cannot be said about faith in its relation to the transcendent; faith in God, or in a higher power, or whatever else, is probably a much more influential aspect of modern life than it is widely believed. Even atheists have faith in something. At the same time, it turns out that many people tend to confuse these two terms, substituting them with each other. Therefore, it is important to distinguish the line between them.

Let us start with religion. According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, the word “religion” has three definitions: 1) the belief in a god or in a group of gods; 2) an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods; 3) an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group ( defines religion as “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs” ( If we carefully analyze these definitions and combine them by a main criteria, the definition of religion would look like as follows: “Religion is a set of authoritative rules, dogmas, and rituals explaining the Universe in terms of supernatural powers, and organized in a harmonious system recognized by a group of people.”

As we can see, this definition considers the main aspects of any religion: authority, organization, and a reference to transcendence. This is what allows us to speak of religion as mostly a social institution. Now, let us pay attention to faith.

Once again, according to Merriam-Webster, faith is, “1) belief and trust in and loyalty to God; 2) belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion; 3) firm belief in something for which there is no proof; 4) complete trust, something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially: a system of religious beliefs” (Merriam-Webster). Oxford Dictionaries define faith as “strong belief in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual conviction rather than proof” (Oxford Dictionaries). Finally, generally defines faith as belief that is not based on proof.

Summing up these definitions up, we can define faith as a belief or a system of various beliefs (including religious ones) which a person accepts and exercises without any additional proof of their truthfulness.

As we can see from the definitions provided above, religion requires faith, otherwise those who confess a religion would sooner or later start analyzing and questioning the fundamental dogmas underlying it. In its turn, faith—although being a natural component of any religion—does not necessarily relate to transcendence, divinity, or mystics; in fact, a person can believe in anything they want to believe. Whereas religion (given it is a conventional religion—Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism—or its commonly-recognized branches) necessarily provides moral guidance, serving as a beacon to those who seek comfort and direction, faith can relate to almost anything, and thus does not guarantee a person’s morality.

For example, a person can believe that God, even if it exists, is indifferent, and thus will watch over a person and/or punish him or her for violating commandments; therefore, for this person, everything is morally acceptable since they believe there will be no punishment following his or her actions. Or, a person can believe Jesus was a woman, or their deceased relatives guide and guard him/her as spirits (as in the Japanese Shintoism), and so on.

Generally speaking, religion is more about mass character and embedding oneself into a system of commonly-recognized theses and rituals, and faith is more of an individual, personal act, and does not necessarily correspond with existing norms (although mostly it does). An individual’s faith in something may change over time, or change its object; religions change extremely seldom, and the three major world religions are proof of this thesis. It does not mean, however, that any of these two are better or worse than the other one; both faith and religion can make people heroes and saints (like Jesus or Buddha), or force them to do horrible things (the Inquisition). A religion often provides its followers with proofs of dogmas: bleeding or crying icons, walking on burning coals, and so on; faith does not require any proof, and is something a person may believe in against all rational, logic, and common sense arguments.

In evaluating the differences between faith and religion, it is important to emphasize mass character and the organizational aspect of any religion. A religion is mainly a social institution, a form of organizing people’s way of thinking, and manipulating them (in all the meanings of this word) and constantly empowering its influence by providing proof for its dogmas. Faith is more individual, irrational (meaning that a person may believe in something without ever looking for a proof for their beliefs), and does not necessarily correspond with the conventional moral and ethical values. Therefore, considering all the aforementioned, although the terms “faith” and “religion” sometimes intersect closely, they are not interchangeable, and should be used with attention.

Works Cited

  1. “Religion.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
  2. “Religion.” N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
  3. “Faith.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
  4. “Faith.” N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
  5. “Faith.” Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford Dictionaries, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
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