This is a look into the world of Scientology, written by a devote Christian.
ENG 121 C37
20 April 2011
“Who’s Drinking the Kool-Aid Now?”
There are over 20 acknowledged, mainstreamed, religions in the world currently. Some of which worship multiple Gods, some worship a singular God, while others worship a belief rather than a being. Throughout time, religion has evolved and new ones have emerged. In 1970, L. Ron Hubbard, a noted science fiction writer, established one of the newest religions called Scientology (the Latin word for “knowledge” and “skill”), a religion based on the beliefs portrayed in Hubbard’s bestseller book titled “Dianetics” and are openly opposed to the belief of Jesus Christ. Scientology, by definition is referred to as a “belief system developed by L. Ron Hubbard, based on a person being an immortal spiritual being whose survival depends on him/herself and his/her attainment of brotherhood with others and the universe is a practice it’s followers are continuously learning” . Currently, the Church of Scientology claims they have approximately 8 million active members, however, this seems to be up for negotiation as other sources claim this number to be much closer to only a few hundred thousand active members. Regardless the count, this new religion has caused quite the uproar within media, in other religions and certainly in the judicial system. Between all the talk there seems a common belief among other religious leaders that Scientology is, in fact, a new aged cult. A cult makes up of a leader and followers, which has a pyramid structure, where members on the top direct those below. They use intimidation factors, extort money and demand extreme loyalty and often abuse the followers mentally, physically, financially and spiritually. Deciding if these traits are in fact true or not within the Church of Scientology is one’s personal judgment, but it is my position that yes, Scientology is in fact a cult.
The basic believe of Scientology is that man is basically good, not evil and negative experiences are the factors that cause people to commit evil deeds, opposed to our nature. Scientologists believe that if you enhance the individual’s abilities and knowledge that they can solve any problem solo. It’s also believed that one’s true soul lives on in something Hubbard termed as “thetan”. The thetan is the person himself, not his body, his name or physical universe and is the individual. Scientologists experience something called “exteriorization” in which the thetan leaves the body and can detach from the physical form and through this brings a sense of clarity to themselves. Hubbard shares with his followers that thetans are small masses that weigh about 1.5 ounces, and once you die, these thetans leave your body and return to Venus on a landing station where they are “told lies” about their past life and re implanted into a new one. As you progress in your studies with Scientology and advance in your knowledge, you actually advance in steps and levels. At the highest level Scientologists are given information about the religion, as well as the thetan, that is secretive and only shared with others in the same level.
Another practice within Scientology is termed auditing. Auditing is a counseling practice that higher up’s in the Church of Scientology encourage others to experience this spiritual rehabilitation in which those who participate consciously re-experience painful or traumatic events from their past in order to move on and find their true talents and being. Auditing is literally an exercise that is done on a small computer-like machine. Not only does this process do this, it also costs a pretty penny. According to Time Magazine’s 1991 May edition;, “Scientology doctrine warns that even adherents who are "cleared" of engrams face grave spiritual dangers unless they are pushed to higher and more expensive levels. According to the church's latest price list, recruits -- "raw meat," as Hubbard called them -- take auditing sessions that cost as much as $1,000 an hour, or $12,500 for a 12 1/2-hour "intensive." Through auditing you experience enlightenment and you can advance quicker through the the levels within the church. The higher up you are, the more information you’re given. This practice has become a entry point for new recruits and a huge source of income for the church. In that same article in Time Magazine, a story tells of a story of a recent widow, Harriet Baker, who recently lost her husband to cancer at 73. Grieving she is intrigued with a Scientologist that turned up on her doorstep selling her a process that will “free her pain” for only $1,300. However, $15,000 later, the Scientologists then discovered that her house was debt free and so they encouraged her to take a $45,000 mortgage out against her home and finally, when Harriet realized that she was being scammed, was out the money she put in to have the auditing and eventually lost her home. Another story shares of a dentist and his wife; Mr. & Mrs. Glover Rowe, who partook in the auditing and was told that unless they got immediate help, Mrs. Rowe would soon abuse their young child. Concerned, they immediately checked into a hotel close to the church and attended daily auditing sessions that upped closed to $23,000. After they became suspicious of how the church knew so much information about them, they realized that their hotel room was tapped. They immediately fled the church but were chased after by foot and car.
The Church of Scientology is also extremely familiar with the judicial system. When Hubbard established the church he registered the church with a tax exempt status, which often times churches do. However, after the IRS received numerous tips they began an investigation of the church and found money laundering occurring within the church as well as Hubbard himself, storing more thatn $400 million dollars in bank accounts in Switzerland and other off-shore locations. Immediately the IRS removed the tax exempt status and, to date, sparked the longest law suit in IRS history; a 25 year case where the Church of Scientologist sued the IRS. Unfortunately, the high courts ruled in the churches favor but this was only one of many cases found. A non-profit named the “National Cult Awareness” group became increasingly annouying to the church and so the church sued them for millions of dollars. The Church, again, won this battle and put the non-profit out of business. Ironically members of the church bought the very organization that sued them and currently operates it under the same name. They filter calls and emails from concern individuals in the United States and try to help them determine if they are involved in a cult or not. Prior to the lawsuit, the National Cult Awareness group said the number one call they received were from people dealing with Scientology. Note to self: don’t call that hotline anymore, apparently they might be a little bais! During my research I also found out that “The church's most fearsome advocates are its lawyers. Hubbard warned his followers in writing to "beware of attorneys who tell you not to sue . . . the purpose of the suit is to harass and discourage rather than to win." Result: Scientology has brought hundreds of suits against its perceived enemies and today pays an estimated $20 million annually to more than 100 lawyers”.
Despite all of this information there are still people who believe that the words of Hubbard, a science fiction writer to be true. They devote their time, their believes and more importantly their money to this religion in hopes of finding the truth. We’ve all seen the spectacles portrayed by Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Kristy Alley. Their believe that modern day medicines, psychologists and outside elements are bad often times result in questionable behavior from people who believe and see the benefits. Cruise’s famous interview with Matt Lauder from the Today Show, his jumping charade on the Oprah Show as well as John Travolta’s unfortunate loss of his son made mainstream society question if the use of proper medication would of helped. Are the members just all drinking Kool-Aid now or are we going to hear of a mass-suicide in the near future or will we simply just see more unknowing individuals lose their wealth, their mind and their way inside of another cult?
1. Neusner, Jacob (2003). World Religions in America. Westminster, John Knox Press. WEB. P. 227
2. Behar, Richard (1991). The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power. Time Magazine WEB. May 6, 1991 P. 50. http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Fishman/time-behar.html
3. Strömsholm, Peik J (1996) L Ron Hubbard and Jesus Christ. University of Vaasa. WEB. Sept. 28, 1996 http://libertytothecaptives.net/scientology_vs_christ.html