I had to start another mini-series highlighting some of the other more interesting religions in the world because, let’s face it, Christianity is not the only one! I figured the best way to start this series is with one of the more ridiculous religions out there: Scientology.
What it’s all about:
Scientology was created by a man named L. Ron Hubbard who, after writing a sort-of self-help book called, Dianetics, determined that his findings were the foundation for a new religion. Dianetics was a psychotherapy book which used the method of auditing as a counseling technique to help people recall traumatic events. Through recalling these traumatic experiences, people were then able to become aware of and release their conscious or unconscious, negative responses to them — a process known as clearing.
These techniques are put to practice in the Scientology religion using Auditors and E-Meters. Auditors are higher level operating thetans (otherwise know as OTs) who are trained and trusted with helping pre-clears (those who have not cleared yet) discover their full spiritual potential. E-Meters are religious artifacts that send tiny electric pulses through one’s body, calculate the response and reflect that response back to the machine using a sensitive, reactive needle. The Church of Scientology describes the E-Meter as follows:
“The E-Meter measures the spiritual state or change of state of a person and thus is of enormous benefit to the auditor in helping the preclear locate areas to be handled. The reactive mind’s hidden nature requires the use of a device capable of registering its effects—a function the E-Meter does accurately. Different needle movements have exact meanings and the skill of an auditor includes a complete understanding of all meter reactions. Using the meter, the auditor ensures that the process covers the correct area in order to discharge the harmful energy connected with that portion of the preclear’s reactive mind. When charge lessens, the person heightens his ability to think clearly in the area being addressed and his survival potential increases proportionately. As a result, the preclear discovers things about himself and his life—new realizations about existence, the milestones that mark his gains.” (source)
After a person completes this auditing process and “clears” they then begin to move up to different levels within the religion. Different levels of people know different things and each level provides more knowledge, techniques and answers for why we are here and what we are meant to do. Each level is sworn to complete secrecy and before the records were released as evidence in a court case in 1995, no one really knew what Scientologists actually believed. The church claimed the secrecy was/is to prevent those who were not yet ready from being exposed to the information and taking it out of context. That information? Buckle your seat belts kids because here we go:
I mentioned the word, Thetan previously and you all are probably curious as to what that is. Well, a thetan is you — your essence, your soul. It is “the individualized expression of the cosmic source, or life force.” (source) A long, long time ago, thetans created the material universe for their own pleasure. They did not create it in the sense that it was then physically there, but in the sense that they all agreed it was there and therefore, it was. When the thetans began to believe in their universe and feel that it was a physical reality, they fell from grace and lost their memory of their true spiritual selves. This resulted in the thetans believing that they were physical beings. Thetans never die but are instead reborn when they “assume” new physical forms. According to L. Ron Hubbard, there have been various cosmic catastrophes imparted on the fallen thetans that he refers to as “space opera.”
So, how did humans come to Earth to be assumed by thetans you ask? The answer is obvious:
Xenu, a tyrant ruler of the galactic confederacy, brought billions of people to Earth 75 million years ago on planes, landed them by volcanos and then detonated hydrogen bombs causing the thetans to attach themselves to those humans that were still alive.
I’m serious. You can’t make that shit up. Well… I guess L. Ron Hubbard can.
Anywho, that event was the initial cause of all human trauma and as each thetan assumes body after body, each traumatic event experienced while in that body is brought forward to the next. People who reach higher OT levels are able to tap into all of these traumatic events (the ill effects of the thetan) and release them, allowing themselves to be more in tune with their original spiritual presence. The idea is that they become more and more in-tune with their spiritual presence as they assume body after body. There is even a Scientology symbol carved into the ground in Trementina, New Mexico that marks a spot for loyal followers to return back to when traveling from other galactic locations. This symbol is visible from the air and, buried beneath it, are stainless steel copies of L. Ron Hubbard’s works encased in titanium for preservation.
Why it’s harmful to society:
Uh… do I really have to go there? It’s completely ridiculous, that’s why! Ok, ok. Believing that a virgin in the middle east birthed a white baby that walked on water, and healed the sick and dying/already dead, died a mortal, torturous death nailed to a cross but was somehow later strong enough to not only return to life but move a giant boulder away from his grave door (couldn’t use that strength previously to push his way past his prosecutors and torturers to freedom and safety) to float up into the sky and save everyone from the sins that his own father made them commit is just as ridiculous! So, fine. I’ll go there. 🙂
Arguably the most harmful thing about this religion is that it was thought up entirely by one man and yet gained so much trust amongst its followers that it rapidly grew and continues to grow today. The scriptures consist solely of the writings of L. Ron Hubbard and the teachings/sermons during Sunday services are meant to only help one understand them, not interpret them. Christianity is harmful in the same way except that, at least in this case, we know who the author of the book is and with no room for interpretation, there can only be one sect of Scientology!
Because of its rapid growth and acceptance, Scientology has been regarded (and rightfully so, I believe) as a brainwashing cult. It is by far the most expensive religion to be a part of as each audit, and each OT level require a HUGE amount of money to complete. This tends to be why it appeals only to rich people, including celebrities. Hubbard actually decided early on in the creation of Scientology that celebrities would play a key role in the dissemination of his religion and had his followers go after specific celebrities to initiate conversion.
Scientology is not recognized by some states internationally as being a genuine religion and was even stripped of its religious organization status by America in the 1970’s. It was later reinstated in the 1990’s with its religious, tax-free affiliation after a long, drawn out legal battle ensued. The fact that any state or country would even waiver on the decision of whether a practice is actually a religion or not should be a huge red flag to any potential follower. Religions are wacky anyways, but if it is so wacky that a country won’t even recognize it, you should be even more hesitant to join.
Another harmful idea born out of Scientology is their belief that the practice of psychiatry is harmful and should be abolished. They believe that psychiatrists can not adequately and responsibly help their patients retrieve traumatic experiences and that they are even less capable of helping them deal with these experiences appropriately and in manner that won’t cause further harm to the patient. Scientologists feel that psychiatric practices are abusive and therefore do not seek help from professionals if/when they should.
Why it’s not as bad as the others:
This quote is direct form the Church of Scientology website:
“Scientology believes Man to be basically good, not evil. It is Man’s experiences that have led him to commit evil deeds, not his nature. Often, he mistakenly seeks to solve his problems by considering only his own interests, which then causes trouble for both himself and others. Scientology believes that Man advances to the degree that he preserves his spiritual integrity and values and remains honest and decent. Indeed, he deteriorates to the degree that he abandons these qualities.” (source)
Ultimately, the view that humans are basically good is a beneficial one that can only positively progress society. It still holds everyone accountable to themselves, but not just for themselves, for the greater good. The focus of this religion is to become more in-tune with yourself in order to be a more useful and effective member of society. It talks a lot about helping others and making a positive impact on the world.
The Church of Scientology has been responsible for several human rights movements centered around non-discrimination of race, color and creed in either government sanctions or otherwise — which is a good thing. However, their creed talks only about the rights of “men” and makes no real mention of any of the more active human rights campaigns today (i.e. homosexual marriage, women’s equality, etc). So, while they might be on the right track, I doubt the Church of Scientology will be spearheading the success of any big human rights campaign.