Scientology: Religion or Cult?
The Church of Scientology is one of the most controversial organizations around today. Is it a religion? A cult? There are so many people who spend their lives talking about how wonderfully life-changing it is, while many more are coming forward with absolute horror stories. Although the organization does its best to keep everything under wraps, we’ve put together some of the facts. Let’s begin with the man who started it all…
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard was a college dropout and a US Navy deserter, making a living off of writing science fiction books. Hubbard was convinced that writing for “a penny a word” was a waste of time, and to really get rich, he would have to start his own religion. So that’s exactly what he set out to do, and, although he is now dead, we are still very much feeling the effects of his mission.
The Book That Started It All
As Hubbard began to seek the foundation for his new religion, he looked into different theories about the human mind. He studied Freudian theory, Buddhist concepts, the occult, hypnosis and hypnotherapy, and other forms of mental theory. He took all of his findings and published the book that would begin one of the most controversial religions in the world. He called the book “Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health.”
Although Hubbard was not a doctor, nor was he a scientist, he claimed that the book was medically and scientifically based, and that its teachings should be used as a mental health therapy. The Dianetic process was as follows: The “patient” who would work with an “auditor”, would recall all past traumatic experiences in reverse order, so as to “clear” them from their subconscious. The auditor would record all of these traumas in a file.
Hubbard continued looking for more ways to improve upon his budding religion, and happened upon a type of lie detector called an “electropsychometer.” Hubbard believed that the device would be helpful in his Dianetic auditing, and began implementing it into the practice. Of course, he made sure to obtain a franchise on the device, and renamed it the Hubbard Electro-Meter or E-Meter for short.
These auditing sessions are the cornerstone of the Scientology process. However, auditors tend to prompt very personal questions out of the people they are auditing, with a focus on sexual matters. The church tries to gain as much personal information as possible, to be used as blackmail in case the auditee ever decided to leave the church, or worse, speak out against it. This could be why so many celebs are still members.
The Birth Of Scientology
Up until this point, Hubbard’s Dianetics only focused on the human mental condition, and not the human soul or spirit. That’s where the idea for Scientology came in to play. Where Dianetics focused on the body, Scientology was the to focus on the soul. Hubbard claimed that not only had he “discovered” the human soul, but he had come up with a way to free it from its entrapment in its physical form. And here’s where things start to get really weird.
Thetans are, in short, the definition of the human spirit. According to Scientology, man does not have a body (his physical presence), a mind (a collection of images) and a spirit, rather man is a spirit (thetan) and has a body and a mind. So to this belief, we are really just a thetan, who is trapped in a physical body which has a mind to use.
Thetans (Part II)
While every body needs a Thetan to operate it (hence they are called “Operating Thetans”), most bodies are infested with “Body Thetans.” These are displaced Thetans who are stuck in, on, or around a body. These disincarnate Thetans are, according to Scientology, the cause of all ailments and illnesses, both mental and physical, a human body can experience. They can only be gotten rid of by properly performing the auditing process. But how did these Body Thetans get there in the first place?
While there is a good number of celebrities who are madly in love with the Church of Scientology, there are many more who strongly oppose the very concept of it. Celebrities including Jim Carrey, Elvis Presley, Jennifer Lawrence, and Leah Remini (to name a few) have spoken out against Scientology, many after dabbling in it to see what it was about. Even Charles Manson tried a few Scientology classes and claimed that it was too crazy.
According to L. Ron Hubbard, the reason for these Body Thetans being stuck, has to do with an evil intergalactic space alien ruler named Xenu. About 75 million years ago, Lord Xenu was the dictator of the Galactic Confederation. The Confederation was made up of 26 stars and 76 planets. Among these planets was Earth, which back then was referred to as “Teegeeack”. Lord Xenu was about to be overthrown, so the evil ruler of the galaxy had to do something.
To try and save himself from being impeached from his position, Xenu decided to tackle the over-population problem that was plaguing the galaxy. He rounded up individuals from a number of planets, froze their bodies, and dumped them all on Teegeeack (Earth) near a cluster of volcanos. Then, Xenu dropped hydrogen bombs on the volcanos, destroying the bodies of the abducted aliens, and flinging their Thetans into the air.
You would think freezing the aliens, dumping them into volcanoes, and then dropping h-bombs on them would be enough for Xenu, but he was not finished yet. Xenu captured the blasted Thetans and forced them to watch 36 days of 3-D programming, which stripped them of their identities and reprogrammed their minds using “various misleading data” about God, the Devil, and information about every religion in existence today.
Because these alien Thetans were left to wander around Earth for millions of years, they began attempting to latch onto individuals (Earthlings) born on the planet. That’s why, according to Scientology, human beings are born with clusters of disembodied Thetans which stick to them and cause the ailments of every kind. Scientology implies that these alien Thetans are the reason for all human suffering, and only the religion knows how to remove them.
Getting Rid Of Thetans
As a Scientologist, you are awarded with the only opportunity in the world to get rid of your Body Thetans, but it comes at an enormous price. It’s no secret that Scientology requires payments for anything and everything involved with advancing in the religion. Members have shelled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Church to be able to advance to the next level of healing.
By the end of his life, Hubbard’s mental and physical health was rapidly deteriorating. He was hyper-paranoid, and was on anti-anxiety drugs (forbidden in Scientology). He had also had a stroke, and had slurred speech and slow motor skills. He died alone in his luxury motorhome. Oddly enough, a few days before he died, he had signed a new will, forbidding an autopsy. The Church told its members that he had shed his healthy body and ascended into new heights of power.
By the time Hubbard passed away, a new leader was already taking over the Church. David Miscavige already held a high position in the Church, as deputy to Hubbard. So when he died, it was Miscavige who stepped up to take his place. Almost immediately, Miscavige began showing his true colors as an abusive leader. There have been allegations that he has separated families, forced members (including children) into slavery, and verbally and physical abuses members as punishments for wrong doings.
Sea Org is the name of the religious order of the higher ups in the Church. David Miscavige is, of course, the leader of the organization. Ex-members have described the conditions at Sea Org as totalitarian, abusive, and lacking in human rights. The members of Sea Org, apart from the ones in Miscavige’s close circle, work 100+ hours/week of manual labor, get under $20 a week for food, and are separated from their children and families immediately upon joining.
The Billion Year Contract
When you decide you’re ready to join the ranks of Scientology, or if you are a child of Scientologist parents and you have no choice, you must sign a one billion year contract. No, that’s not a typo. Scientology believes that you will get reincarnated, so you must dedicate not only this life, but one billion years worth of all the rest of your lives. If you don’t sign, you aren’t dedicated enough to the Church, and you may not continue rising up the ranks.
The goal of a Scientologist is to become “Clear.” This means that he has gotten rid of all of his Body Thetans that are bringing him down and keeping him stuck. The levels go from OT (Operating Thetan) I to OT VIII. With each level you gain, the clearer you become and the more you get to learn about Scientology and the more powerful you become. Of course, with each level, you pay a very high cost.
Scientology didn’t just stop at Dianetics. It also began creating programs for different aspects of life. One of them was the drug rehab program, Narconan. The program involves a cold turkey Purification, which includes exercise, saunas, and very high doses of vitamins and natural supplements. The program has been deemed extremely dangerous without scientific baking. A number of patients have died there.
Like Narconon, Criminon is another program created by L. Ron Hubbard to rehabilitate convicted criminals. The program involves the same “Purification Rundown” as Narconon, with supplements, exercise, and sauna usage, wth educational materials geared towards prisoners. Some of the material fed to the criminals is taken from Hubbard’s book The Way To Happiness, exclaiming things like “Don’t tell harmful lies” and “Do not murder.”
Although Scientology is classified as a religion in most places and its buildings are called churches, you can practice whatever religion you’d like, and still be a Scientologist. That means you could be Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, or anything else and still be able to be a practicing Scientologist. Scientology is not meant to take the place of worshipping God, it is supposed to be complimentary to it.
The Church of Scientology has become very attractive to ultra famous celebrities. While many of them have left the Church, with claims of abuse and misconduct, many more support the Church with everything they’ve got. Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Elizabeth Moss, and Kirstie Alley, just to name a few, are adamant supporters of the Church, and continue to attribute their success to it. They vehemently deny all negative press that the Church of Scientology receives.
Although Scientology did start in the United States, it has had quite a long reach since then. You can find members of the Church in 165 countries, including New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Sweden and Taiwan. However, there are a few countries which strongly oppose Scientology, and believe it to be a business such as Italy. Some countries, like Greece, Germany, and Chile take it a step further and recognize Scientology as a cult.